PRODUCER: Hey Jeff, I’ve got an awesome $10m sci-fi project.
JEFF STEELE: How much is foreign?
PRODUCER: $6m, but it’s really more of a domestic play anyway.
JEFF STEELE: Yeah well, they’re all seem to be domestic plays when their made for the wrong price.
PRODUCER: What!? Really!? Explain.
In the beginning, there were foreign sale estimates, and they were good…
These estimates are such a fundamental truth of goodness that it’s worth bolding: 70% of your budget should be covered by the gross-take-value (gtv) of your foreign sales estimates. And if you don’t, your film budget will be adjusted downward. And, you can’t fool me, I know what your thinking, “Jeff, don’t worry, I’ll just shop around for a sales agent that will give me my magical numbers.” Problem is your magicians won’t be able to deliver. So, to be smart about it! I prefer to recommend 75%-80% (gtv), due to the steep discounting lenders apply to presale contracts today. But 70% should be all film projects’ gospel. Why? Because, to mitigate your domestic risk to an acceptable one, you’ll need :
1. Elevated foreign values
2. Tax credit benefits and pre-sales
Don’t delude yourself, the domestic market is saturated with product right now (I’m sure you’ve heard of the $20m direct-to-videos) — the less reliance on the United States the better.
The 70% gospel has spoken; the gospel is good.