One of my first jobs in New York was working for the Gersh Agency, a talent and literary agency, at midtown. In the world of entertainment there are the “Big 5” agencies – William Morris, CAA, Endeavor, IMG and one other whose name escapes me – and then the next level of about ten smaller agencies. Gersh was somewhere in that next level. They’d have you believe they were at the top, but I’m not so sure and didn’t stick around long enough to verify one way or the other, anyway.
We did have some big clients, though. David Schwimmer from Friends was our biggest breadwinner (out of the New York office, at least – the Los Angeles office had even bigger names). Sam Rockwell was also on our list, as were Josh Duhamel and J.K. Simmons. They’d all stop by the office every now and again, and we’d roll out the red carpet so-to-speak, treating them like a-List stars and doing our best to pamper them so they wouldn’t run away to a bigger agency.
What I learned during my time there was that a film release date can tell you a lot about the film release itself. Agencies don’t actually release films – studios do – but they have some say in it. And it’s simply bad news for an agency if one of their star’s films is released in January or February. Because it means the studio thinks the film is going to bomb, and nobody wants their star to be in a bomb.
It’s a simple fact that people spend less money in January and February. Whether that’s because it’s colder throughout most of the country during those months so people stay inside more, or whether it’s because people have less money because of December’s holidays, it’s tough to say. My guess is that it’s a bit of both.
But it results in studios dumping films that they’ve already made but think are crap into the theaters during that two month stretch. Whether it’s something like Denzel Washington’s “Book of Eli” or Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” even having the biggest stars or biggest directors attached won’t save a bad film from a bad film release.
The flip side is that every agent wants their client’s films to be released during the summer, preferably some time from May til about mid-July. These are called “tent pole films” because the money they make acts as a tent pole to hold up the rest of the studio, and a tent pole film release is a great way for a star – and their agent – to build their brand and name recognition.