In 1998, producer-director Ivan Reitman teamed with lawyer-turned-studio chief Tom Pollock, 67, to create the Montecito Picture Co., named after the community near Santa Barbara where they lived. Eight years later, they became the first producers to line up about $200 million in private equity to back their movies (through a side company called Cold Spring Pictures). Their slate has been unusually successful, with hits including Disturbia (2007) and Oscar nominee Up in the Air (2009), directed by Jason Reitman. January’s No Strings Attached, the first movie that Reitman, 64, had directed in five years, grossed more than $100 million worldwide on a budget of $25 million for Paramount, where the longtime friends are based. But they also make movies at other studios, including Reitman’s planned Ghostbusters III for Sony — if Bill Murray ever gets around to reading the script.
The model for Montecito has been to keep budgets down and to bring in financing in exchange for not owning your movies, correct?
Pollock: Yes. We were the first production company to get outside financing. Studios got it, people invested in slates of studio movies, but no one had ever invested in producer-based companies. A lot of people have copied this, but we’re the only ones to make it work.
Reitman: We’ve had much better success developing ourselves, both as producers and also as investors later on. It’s worrying about the scripts, working them over, working with talented filmmakers, being involved creatively. It has really had a payoff for us.
Your Paramount deal runs until next year. Will you stay?
Reitman: It will help if you write a really nice story. [Laughs] Not that we need to remind them how much money we made for them. It depends also on whether we refinance our slate.
Pollock: It’s our intention to keep doing this as long as we are able to do it well. One of the worst things about the movie business is the frustration level because it’s harder and harder to get movies made.
Ivan, what will you direct next?
Reitman: There’s a lot of talk about Ghostbusters III. And there’s a very good script that the other cast members have read and liked. We’re just waiting for Bill Murray to read it.
You’re also developing a Baywatch movie. What’s the status?
Reitman: We still don’t have a script that’s makeable. I think it’s a big opportunity. This is a comedy, and I think we have a very interesting take — a classical idea that will be fresh for the world audience. It’s one of the best-known titles that’s out there.
Pollock: It has the opportunity to be a tentpole without costing a fortune.
And what about the sequel to Howard Stern’s Private Parts?
Reitman: I spoke to Howard. He brings it up all the time. There is a great sequel story in it. But I doubt it will happen. If he’s going to do another film, my guess is that it’s probably not going to be the sequel to Private Parts.
Ivan, after the success of Up in the Air, do you plan to produce another movie with Jason?
Reitman: No, he’s just finished directing Young Adult for Paramount. Not for us. It was a small film he did on his own. I think he is establishing his own company, which is healthy for both of us.
Pollock: We will work together again someday, but not right now.
Reitman: I’d like to direct with him somehow. I’m talking about a movie we would co-direct that has a kind of dual story perhaps that can be divided up.