– . – Producer – Avi Lerner
Producer – Avi Lerner
The Secret of My Success
As the producer behind such hits as Rambo, Righteous Kill and The Expendables, Avi Lerner is one of Hollywood’s success stories. Here he explains why an eye for talent and a head for figures is the perfect combination.
In this age of the day and date release, when a major movie is rolled out simultaneously on thousands of screens around the world, you could forgive a producer for suffering the odd sleepless night. But Avi Lerner is remarkably relaxed at the prospect of his latest film, The Expendables, being unleashed upon an expectant world in August. Of course, he has experience on his side; the 62-year-old Israeli born producer has been in the business for nearly 40 years, and possesses a track record that suggests he knows precisely what he’s doing.
“I don’t get excited or anxious about every movie,” he explains. “Of course The Expendables is the biggest one, until the next, when we release Drive Angry and then Conan. But you care about every movie you make; you want every movie to be a success. It’s a normal way of the business that we do. We know that The Expendables is going to be a hit because we can see the buzz around it. How big, that’s the question. Is it going to make $50m box office in the United States or $100m in the United States? That’s what we are waiting to see, and nobody will know until we release it on August 13.”
The talent that Lerner and Danny Dimbort, his partner at production company Nu Image and its subsidiary organisation Millennium Films, have consistently demonstrated is providing audiences with the kind of films they want to see. In order to do this in an efficient manner they package the project, sell the international rights and budget each film accordingly. “When we make a movie we know exactly how much money we’re going to get from the UK,” Lerner continues, “and how much France will pay and Germany and Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore, and so on. Plus of course what is the big amount that comes from the United States and Canada, the domestic market. And when you know you’re going to sell the movie for $80m you know you can make it for $80m. We’re not like a studio. We can’t afford to make a movie for $150m and then hope that it makes a profit. There’s no miracle to this, no big secret; we treat it like a business. I know that people don’t like to hear this but, for me, it’s a business. Most people will ask, ‘How can you say it’s a business? It’s art’, but it’s art to the extent that it can make the business strong.”