One of the few no-shows among the cast and crew for the recent Boston screening of The Strangler's Wife was Executive Producer Roger Corman, who had financed part of the Boston shoot in exchange for rights to the film. Last week, I caught up with Corman, who is LA-based, at the Mar Del Plata Film Festival on the coast of Argentina. He had been flown there in homage of his immortal half-century career as exploitation filmmaker (The Little Shop of Horrors, The Masque of the Red Death, etc.) and as discoverer of directorial talents (Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorsese,etc.).
Corman was pleased to hear that the Boston showing had attracted an audience of five hundred. Would that translate into purchases of the film? The Strangler's Wife, made by Boston's Cityscape Films, is one of a series of extremely low-budget genre movies-approximately $100,000 per film-- which Corman's company, New World, is farming to out-of-house producers. "We've found that the optimal number for distribution is 24 films a year, 2 a month, but we can't make that many ourselves. We find partners. We approve the basic lines of the scripts, and we put in money. It's not much of a gamble. We can make our money back, and there's a possibility with a good film, to make a lot of money. Everyone knows the what will succeed: thrillers, action pictures. Indies are overloading on this type of film."
Is the excitement gone in how simple it is to determine today what will be profitable? "We were more socially conscious, more original in the 60s. Our own company is guilty to a certain degree of falling into a trap of making films you can predict their sales. You want to break out of the formula occasionally."
Any projects we should look for? Corman said he's making a film about the Enron scandal, in which "someone connected with Enron is murdered to keep him quiet." He smiled about "our anti-Harry Potter film," a work called Mary McCloud Can Fly. "A little girl has magical powers, including the ability to fly. There's a vague social statement here in that she goes to a school run by the government which is the exact opposite of Harry Potter: the object it to take away these powers, to make children into conformists."