The WSJ’s Jeff Trachtenberg turns his attention to the partnership between Random House and Focus Features and its first collaboration, the Sofia Coppola-directed “Reservation Road”. It’s based from a book by Jonathan Burnham Schwartz and stars Jennifer Connelly and Joaquin Phoenix. The plan is to release two or three such films each year, culled from Random House’s backlist of 33,000 titles. So far, titles in the works include Dean Koontz‘s THE HUSBAND, Ross MacDonald‘s THE GALTON CASE and Yasmina Khadra‘s THE ATTACK. The partners will share production costs, hoping to recoup their investments by selling foreign distribution rights and bringing in other investors. In exchange for its investment, Random House has a voice in picking screenwriters, directors, and actors.
Random House says its move into the film business isn’t mainly about increasing profits via movie tickets and DVDs. Rather, it’s about selling books. “We’re doing this primarily to sell more books as movie tie-ins,” says Peter Olson, CEO of Random House. “If the movies do well at the box office and as DVDs, that’s an additional bonus.” A strategy which worked in a big way with the tie-in to PERFUME (sales jumped to more than 100,000 copies sold from 13,000 copies annually for Patrick Suskind‘s novel) and which offers high hopes for Schwartz, now betting that movie will also give a boost to his next novel, THE COMMONER, published in January by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. “My hope is that it will catch some of the wind from the movie promotion,” he says.