Distributor FAQ: Stratosphere Entertainment

What is Stratosphere?
We’re a new theatrical motion picture distribution company based in New York City.

Who is Stratosphere?
Founded by investor Carl Icahn and former film professor Paul E. Cohen, it is currently run by Richard Abramowitz.

Total number of employees:

When did Stratosphere come into being?
In the fall of 1997.

Driving philosophy behind Stratosphere:
To get as much attention as we can for our films without spending like a studio.

What would people be most surprised to learn about Stratosphere?
The great quality of our films and the quality of our distribution of them.

How many works are in your collection?
What collection? There are currently 10 films in our library—four in release and six upcoming!

Films and filmmakers you distribute:
Some of the filmmakers we work with include Gillies MacKinnon, Katja von Garnier, Adam Bernstein, Benoît Jacquot, Rowan Woods, and Joan Chen.

What types of works do you distribute?
Good ones.

What drives you to acquire the films you do?
It’s a combination of things, but primarily we look for quality films with unique visions that we feel can be successful in the marketplace.

Is Stratosphere also involved in co-production or co-financing of works?
Not at the moment, but soon we are looking to be.

Is there such a thing as a “Stratosphere” film?
Good ones.

Best known title in Stratosphere’s collection:
The Thief.

What’s your basic approach to releasing a title?
It’s hard to say because we really take each film on an individual basis and go from there.

Where do you find your titles?
We look at films at all stages of production. And we look at them anywhere we can find them. Really.

Range of production budgets of titles in your collection:
From the low six figures and up.

Most important issue facing Stratosphere today:
Finding new films and doing a great job releasing the ones we already have.

Where will Stratosphere be 10 years from now?
Ideally, we’ll be making and releasing films.

Best distribution experience you’ve had lately:
The enthusiastic response to our line-up by exhibitors and the press.

If you weren’t distributing films, what would you be doing?
Repping them.

Other distributors you admire and why:
Some of the foreign sales agents I like are Curb, Forefront, Fortissimo, and Amazing. They are all very honest and do a good job.

The difference between Stratosphere and other distributors of independent films is:
I refuse to speak ill of our competition.

If you could only give independent filmmakers one bit of advice it would be to…?
get a decent still photographer.

Upcoming titles to watch for:
We’ve got six new films opening so far in 1999: The School of Flesh, directed by Benoît Jacquot, as adapted from a novel by Yukio Mishima and starring Isabelle Huppert; Six Ways to Sunday, by Adam Bernstein, based on the novel Portrait of a Young Man Drowning and featuring pop icon Deborah Harry; Bandits, by Katja Von Garnier, about a four women who form a rock band in prison as a form of rehabilitation; Hideous Kinky, by Gillies MacKinnon and starring Kate Winslet; Xiu Xiu, actress Joan Chen’s directorial debut; and The Boys, by Australian director Rowan Woods.

Famous last words:
Don’t walk too closely behind elephants.

About :

Lissa Gibbs was a contributing editor to The Independent and former Film Arts Foundation Fest director.