Spotlight: It Took Eight Years for the Best Picture Oscar Winner to Reach the Screen

It took eight years for Spotlight, this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, to reach the big screen?

Why so long?

Participant Media executive vice president Jonathan King discussed the movie’s long journey to the big screen when speaking at Winston Baker’s two-day Entertainment Finance Forum at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, held March 1-2.

Participant, which recently made a major investment in DreamWorks to form Amblin Partners, was the first financier to board Spotlight.  King told the Hollywood Reporter: “We started talking to distributors and briefly partnered with DreamWorks, which would have been a very easy financing model because of their output deal with Disney, but they ultimately realized Disney was probably not the right distributor for it.”

“Disney is an extremely successful company at releasing big, giant hits,” said King. “But it’s not in a big studio’s business plan to make these kind of movies. Their business plan is to make Deadpool and Jurassic World. I get that, but there is still a vibrant market for these films.”

King participated in Wednesday’s panel, “Making Studio Movies Without Independent Money,” alongside two other veteran indie film executives; Sierra/Affinity CEO Nick Meyer and Thunder Road Pictures’ Basil Iwanyk, who spent years making films for Warner before striking out on his own.

Meyer, whose foreign sales and financing company is overseeing the release of Spotlight overseas, doesn’t believe the major studios are entirely abandoning prestige titles. “They are sometimes looking to distribute and market these movies. I just think sometimes they don’t want to make them,” he said. “It’s cyclical.”