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In the 26th episode of Deadline Strike Talk — which for below the liners signifies half a year without a paycheck that hasn’t come from Uber fares or waiting tables — host Billy Ray hits on a zeitgeist theme that gets voiced a lot by people who just feel that the business isn’t as remotely as exciting or near as much fun as it was before the folly that signatories put themselves into by chasing Netflix as it became the preeminent streamer. The result has put just about every other streamer pursuit in a position of being money losers that have strained the economics, and accelerated the demise of those conglomerates’ traditional networks, and so many other things.
Ray begins by addressing the fear that informs so many moves in Hollywood, and is anathema to great creative work. Joining him are two Hollywood veterans, John Ptak and Marc Evans. While they flourished in different areas, both were drawn to the business through sheer love of great films. Ptak worked as a theater manager and film programmer at UCLA, and found his way into agenting. First at International Famous Agency, then WMA and CAA where as partner he repped elite filmmakers and writers. He peeled off in 2006 to form Arsenal, using his experience to help production companies and financiers put pictures together. His credits include Let Me In, The Way Back and many others.
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Evans began his rise programming film in theaters out of Chicago. He began working for the producers Julia Chasman and then Laura Ziskin at the time she was producing the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films. He moved to Paramount, where he rose up the exec ranks and shepherded many of the studio’s big-budget hits under Sherry Lansing and then Brad Grey. He’s a producer now, with credits that include The Old Guard, Instant Family and Like a Boss.
Wonder why so many pictures are forgettable? Well, here the trio parses the impact of removing the filtering system that went into film development, and the deemphasizing of producers and mid-range films as studios chased the four-quadrant global blockbuster.
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