Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker on Challenges to Distributors, Awards-Worthy Slate

November 1, 2018

Michael Barker of stalwart independent and art house distributor Sony Pictures Classics took to the stage at Film London’s Production Finance Market event last month to give a keynote address on the state of the film industry and his own career.

In an ever-changing media landscape, where there’s more content widely available than ever before, Barker says he remains “very optimistic,”despite challenges to the established models of film distribution. “The challenge we all have is that there’s so much noise in the universe. There are so many options and ways to see films. It’s chaos out there, so the challenge is to cut through… The plus sign is that people are more sophisticated about movies than ever before, because of access.”

Barker also noted that studios and distributors should not disregard “the value of a diverse library,” adding, “A lot of people don’t agree with that today. It’s about making money now and quickly. The difference between independent films and studio films is that the independents can have really long tails and value.”

In a conversation with Deadline after the keynote, Barker reflected on Sony Pictures Classics’ current slate with excitement: “The Wife is doing very well. [It’s made] over $7 million in the U.S., and the lead actors [Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce] deserve to be in the awards conversation.” On the horizon for this awards season are the Laurel and Hardy biopic Stan and Ollie, and Capernaum, which stands to be a contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. “Nadine Labaki is worthy of Best Director consideration… it’s an excellent Foreign Language selection this year.”

For more on this story, read more at Deadline.