Potsy Ponciroli had no intention of making a brave western. Ma Ponciroli – whose biggest on-screen credit for that point was co-creation of the CMT comic series still the king He intended to do his first feature film.
While searching for a different project, he comes across a remote over a century old Tennessee farm surrounded by rolling hills. As he explored the property, it got dark. And I started wondering, what if I did [a story] Where someone comes over this hill, ”recalls the director.
This simple concept became the basis for old henry, a Western drama starring Tim Blake Nelson as a humble farmer with a secret past who must protect his son from the intrusion of outlaws. And while many hadn’t heard of the movie before, it made a huge impact.
old henry With a production budget of about $1.5 million, he traveled to the Venice Film Festival and subsequently made his way to number one on the iTunes Film Chart in the US, staying in the top ten for eight weeks. The National Board of Review named it one of the ten best independent films of 2021, and former President Barack Obama called it one of his favorite films of 2021.
The film received a limited theatrical release through its co-executive producer, Shout! Studios in 35 theaters captured the movie’s fame on the iTunes chart, along with Marvel superheroes and James Bond, which caught the attention of the industry. “After the TV show, I thought I made it to Hollywood,” says Ponseroli, a Nashville resident who runs Hideout Pictures with partner Shannon Huchins. “But that was not the case. With old henryI’m finally having the conversations I’ve always wanted to have.”
Like rom-coms, sports dramas, and other genres sleeping dormant at the pre-pandemic box office in an age of slim margins for no-IP theatrical titles, Westerners are seeing traction outside of multiplexing, now claiming top spots across video services. And live broadcasts on demand.
The Western is an integral part of Hollywood history, conjuring up images of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and dozens of Inno Morricone. But lately, the genre hasn’t been fast at the box office. The new star-studded 2016 edition of Seven greats It grossed $162 million worldwide on a nearly nine-figure production budget, while Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight It has fallen steadily with a worldwide gross of $155 million, the lowest showing for a director in the 2000s. In 2018, Annapurna was adapted for Patrick DeWitt sisters sisters He earned $13 million on a high budget – $30 million. The moderate to poor box office returns were enough to keep shy studio executives away from the genre. (until 2016 Taylor Sheridan screenplay Hell or High Water, which received an Academy Award nomination, made just $37 million worldwide at the box office.)
Like American comedies, Hollywood has long viewed the West as too culturally special to travel abroad. The rise of the foreign box office as an integral part of the film’s overall financial health had a negative impact on the genre. True or not, it’s seen as a genre totally unsuitable for global stage audiences, industry insiders say. “Every filmmaker has a Western inside of them,” says an agency partner of the genre’s continuing popularity among the creative classes. But in general, there is no international about them. But now I wonder if distributors would be more open to them.”
Nearly a decade ago, Jeymes Samuel attempted to push west, The hardest they fellThrough the studio system. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter About his film, which features Idris Elba, Regina King, and an all-black cast playing fictional versions of famous black characters from the American West, Samuel recalls several studios turning down: “They were like, ‘You’ll never get that movie.'” Samuel notes that the industry’s widespread belief that films with black actors do not achieve international success has also prevented independent production of the film, with independent funders fearing a potential lack of advance sales abroad.
Eventually, collaborating with producer James Lasseter and Jay-Z, Samuel finds a home The hardest they fell on Netflix. The movie, which premiered on November 3 on the streaming device, ranked first on Nielsen’s Top 10 Videos On Demand list, racking up nearly 1.2 billion minutes of streaming views for the week of November 1-7. This service is also behind Jane Campion’s adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel The Farm dog power. According to the company, subscribers spent 27.2 million hours watching Benedict Cumberbatch star in the first four days of the service.
And on television, which has a long and sustainable history of the West from Bonanza to dead woodThis genre proves to be a dominant force largely thanks to Taylor Sheridan’s wild blow Yellowstone. In November, the Kevin Costner-fronted season premiere drew 12.7 million viewers across the Paramount Network and simulcast, according to Nielsen live-plus-3 ratings, making it the season’s premiere across broadcast, cable and premium networks.
On December 19, Yellowstone prequel series 1883 It debuted on Paramount+, with ViacomCBS noting that it was the premiere of the streaming service’s most-watched series to date and more than double the previous record. (The company does not release streaming numbers.) A third series of Yellowstone universe, titled 6666, was added to the Paramount+ live stream in February. Elsewhere in the flow, sons of anarchy Creator Kurt Sutter creates Western series that last for an hour the displaced for Netflix.
As for Ponseroli, he and his camp now watch Hollywood scramble up that distant hill. Producers and executives would reach out to ask for meetings, and one of their first questions was always if he was making another Western.
“I’ll do another western thing down the road,” he says. “Just not like my next movie.”