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The Small Company with Memphis ties Behind “The Blind Side”

A story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal notes that small movie production companies like Alcon Entertainment – which FedEx founder Fred Smith helped to bankroll – are in an increasingly enviable position amid the economic downturn. Money to finance projects by bigger studios is drying up, leaving only a few options.

The big players can swing for the fences by churning out a few – hopefully – blockbuster pictures, although only so many projects with an eight-figure price tag can be undertaken. But that also provides an opening for smaller well-financed companies like Alcon, which produced and marketed the recent film “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock, to “fill out their release schedules and to keep their distribution pipelines fresh,” according to the WSJ.

One of Alcon’s co-CEOs told the paper the studio was looking at 20 scripts a week two years ago, a number that’s now grown to 50 scripts.

Alcon’s other films include “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “My Dog Skip.” Smith, FedEx’s chairman, president and CEO, told The Los Angeles Times earlier this year his favorite of the Alcon bunch is “My Dog Skip,” a movie Smith told the paper he defied anyone to watch “without a tear in their eye.”

One of Smith’s daughters, Molly Smith, is credited as “executive producer” of “The Blind Side,” based on the true story of a black teenager adopted by a white Memphis couple who becomes a college football player and later a star in the NFL.

Molly Smith also was the producer on “P.S. I Love You,” a 2007 film starring Gerard Butler and Hillary Swank with which she had a deep emotional connection.

She told The Daily News that a few weeks after her sister Sandra Windland Smith Rice – the oldest child of Fred Smith – died in 2005, she bought a copy of Cecelia Ahern’s debut novel “P.S. I Love You.” It’s the story of a grieving young widow coping with her husband’s death, and Smith re-read it several times.

Smith’s sister was a renowned nature photographer and wildlife champion. Molly pitched the idea for making a movie based on Ahern’s novel to Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Alcon’s partners.

“This is my first one as the main producer,” Smith told The Daily News in 2007. “I got to make a very special film about something that’s very special and personal to me.”

At the end there is a dedication to her sister “Wendy.”

Read more here: http://www.memphisdailynews.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=34598

Dansette

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