Everyone talks about how the current media environment is shrinking opportunities for filmmaking distribution, and yet genre cinema has been on a real high and appears poised to be entering a renaissance. The last few years have seen first-time directors produce a series of horror classics right out of the gate like It Follows, The Witch, and Get Out, and Guillermo del Toro’s genre-defying monster movie-romance hybrid, The Shape of Water, just won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars.
In fact, it is that film’s success which is giving del Toro the clout to team with The Shape of Water’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, to launch an entire new label for the speciality studio to cultivate unique voices in horror, science fiction, and other traditionally “B” genres.
As del Toro says himself in a press release, “For the longest time, I’ve hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture, and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live-action production—a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other, and, above all, faith.”
Under the deal, Fox Searchlight will produce and distribute feature films written and/or directed by del Toro, a filmmaker whose legacy also includes The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, and Hellboy. Additionally, beneath the new label (which they have not announced the name for yet), del Toro and Fox Searchlight will produce, distribute, and market horror, science fiction, and fantasy films from filmmakers that del Toro hopes to cultivate.
This should be encouraging news for most genre fans, because Fox Searchlight is a studio label who continues to produce some of the highest quality Hollywood cinema every year, although they are usually more geared toward awards season favorites, such as The Shape of Water, and also Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Battle of the Sexes, Jackie, Isle of Dogs, and recent Best Picture winner, Birdman.
So such a quality-minded label putting financial backing into genre moviemaking, especially those that catch the eye of Guillermo del Toro, promises that we will continue seeing a high-bar held for lower budgeted, indie cinema, and the kind of movies that can last well past opening weekend.