“The Way Upfronts” brings in brands for film financing

Together with

The Future. Michael Sugar, the award-winning producer behind titles like Spotlight and The Knick, is creating an upfronts that, instead of pitching brands for advertising or product placement, is meant to help arrange financing for projects. While most brands will likely invest in individual projects, don’t be surprised if an enterprising brand uses future “upfronts” to launch a full-fledged studio arm and create a film slate.

Produced by Pringles?
“The Way Upfronts” is giving brands the opportunity to put their marketing dollars into something much more exciting than a 30-second TV ad spot.

  • The quarterly event, which will take place virtually from May 7th to 8th (future versions will be in person), will allow brands to hear the pitches of 25 in-development films.
  • The brands — which Sugar says collectively represent $60 billion in annual media spend — can then be connected with the producers and talent who are attached to the pitches they’re interested in.
  • There will also be several networking opportunities, including face time with a “host committee” made up of Scarlett Johansson, John Legend, Tom Brady, Elizabeth Banks, and Steven Soderbergh.

Sugar23, which has helped brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Procter & Gamble make moves into entertainment, is trying to show brands that they don’t have to fully finance a movie to invest in Hollywood. Instead, they can fund a script’s development or put equity into a movie to get talent onboard, all with the goal of flipping it to, say, Netflix or Amazon.

All cheaper options than a traditional commercial but have the potential for far more upside… especially in an age when people pay to skip commercials.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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