Kevin is joined by highly accomplished film and television producer and former studio executive, Jonathan Glickman.
Jonathan Glickman, Producer and Former Studio Executive
With over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry, he has established himself as a creative force and a visionary producer with a keen eye for identifying and developing successful projects. As president of the MGM Motion Picture Group, Glickman guided a bankrupt company into a thriving studio. During his tenure, he oversaw production on Skyfall and Spectre, the two highest-grossing installments of the James Bond franchise, as well as No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s final outing in the series. Other highlights of his tenure include overseeing the production of the Rocky spinoff Creed and Creed 2 and the 2019 animated hit The Addams Family. After his tenure at MGM, Glickman founded Panoramic Media. His productions include Creed 3 and the Golden Globe-nominated tv series Wednesday, which recently became the second most-watched show in Netflix’s history.
Important lessons from growing up in a political family (3:42)
Jonathan grew up in Kansas, where his father was a congressman, and he learned an important political lesson that carried over to his career in entertainment, the public is always right. Kevin and Jonathan discuss the intersection of entertainment and politics.
“All that matters are beginnings and endings and in the end, the beginning doesn't matter”(10:19)
Kevin and Jonathan discuss the importance of a good ending and leaving the audience satisfied. Jonathan emphasized how everything should lead up to that ending in order to have people buzzing about the movie as they leave the theater.
The elevator pitch (12:47)
Jonathan discusses how he landed his first internship at Caravan Pictures by cornering Joe Roth, the head of Caravan, in an elevator and asking him for the internship. The pair discuss Jonathan’s rise at Caravan, how, as an intern, he pitched the idea for a Jerky Boys movie followed by While You Were Sleeping. Four years later, Jonathan became head of the studio.
The Creed Bake-Off (31:53)
The pair discuss the film Creed and how screening two different endings led to the decision to have Adonis Creed lose at the end of the first film. Jonathan relates that the film was shot with two endings which were shown to test audiences. Both endings tested well, but one tested higher. He also shares a story of what happened when Sylvester Stallone joined the Creed focus group.
Marketing and the streaming platforms (41:38)
With the success of Wednesday, Kevin and Jonathan turn the discussion to streaming platforms and marketing.
Wednesday as the main character (45:43)
Glickman talks about The Addams Family and why he wanted to focus on Wednesday as the main character for the Netflix series.
Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Jonathan Glickman
Producer: Kari Campano
For more information about Jonathan's upcoming projects:
For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Audienceology Book: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Audience-ology/Kevin-Goetz/9781982186678
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website: www.ScreenEngineA
Podcast: Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
Guest: Veteran Studio Executive and Producer Jonathan Glickman
There's a little-known part of Hollywood that most people are not aware of known as the audience test preview. The recently released book, Audienceology, reveals this for the first time. Our podcast series, Don't Kill the Messenger, brings this book to life, taking a peek behind the curtain. And now, join author and entertainment research expert, Kevin Goetz.
Kevin Goetz (00:23):
“Little did I know that I was stepping into a nightmare full of mystery, mayhem, and murder. I think I'm going to love it here.” (Snap, Snap)<laugh>. These are the words of the character, Wednesday, in the trailer of my next guest’s Golden Globe-nominated TV series of the same name that recently became the second most-watched show in Netflix history with over 1 billion hours viewed. Jon Glickman. Jon is a seasoned veteran with over 25 years in the entertainment business. He began his career at a company I remember working with him at Caravan Pictures, where he produced such hits as While you Were Sleeping, Grosse Pointe Blank, and the whole Rush Hour franchise. He moved on to become the president of Spyglass Entertainment, producing such worldwide successes as Four Christmases, 27 Dresses, The Count of Monte Christo, and The Vow. He then guided a bankrupt company into a thriving studio during his successful eight-year run as president of the MGM Motion Picture Group.
Kevin Goetz (01:32):
So during this time, he oversaw the tiny little production, something called Skyfall, and then of course Spectre, No Time to Die, Creed, Creed Two, and the 2019 animated film, The Addams Family. Haha, the connection, which we're going to talk about after working at MGM, he produced Respect and executive produced the Addams Family 2. Today he's founder and CEO of the production company, Panoramic Media, formally Glickmania. His company's upcoming productions include Creed 3 and The Underdogs. And if that isn't enough, along the way, Jon started the Visiting Producer Series Endowment Fund at the University of Michigan. And he currently serves on the National Board of the Story Pirates. Jon, welcome to my podcast.
Jonathan Glickman (02:23):
Thank you, Kevin. You were at many of those screenings for those movies I think, so.
Kevin Goetz (02:28):
I could comment on so many.
Jonathan Glickman (02:30):
I think so, I think so. It's interesting you remember different things about each movie. There’s like the one keepsake or many keepsakes, but the one thing that's consistent is you always remember the first screening of every movie that you make. And you're there all the time as like the emergency room doctor tells you if you're going to live or die or how to like treat the patient.
Kevin Goetz (02:50):
Well also, I sense the anxiety that you're, you recognize that here's when the rubber's going to hit the road. Like I could give all my notes, or in the case of Joe Roth, or in the case of Roger Birnbaum or the case of Gary Barber, I will give notes, but now is when you are going to hear it from the people.
Jonathan Glickman (03:09):
Yeah. The public is never wrong. That's what Adolph Zukor said, or that's the title of his biography. And it's true. You sit there and it is an incredibly exciting moment. It's probably the most fun, nerve-wracking, whatever that oxymoron is. At the same time, you're so excited and you're so swept with anticipation, but you also have this dreaded fear the entire time.
Kevin Goetz (03:30):
You've always had a, I think, a reverence for the audience. Yes. I mean you really listened to the audience almost to the point of driving a filmmaker crazy. Because why?
Jonathan Glickman (03:42):
Well, I do believe that the public is always right. And I do think that part of it's my background. I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. My father was in politics. He was a congressman. So you ran for office every two years. So you was a constant referendum from the public at all times. And it's in my blood to know what you're putting out there is being responded to by the public. And frankly, I love all movies. I'm a huge movie fan, but I really love movies that cut through the culture and movies that work and movies that have a lasting impact. And for that to work, you need to make something that the audience is supportive of and they're going to talk about. So at the end of the day, that's always the number one thing in my head how are we going to make something that the audience is going to accept and love and tell other people to go see?
Kevin Goetz (04:30):
So, speaking of your dad and, and elections, so were you nervous for him every two years when you were waiting for those results?
Jonathan Glickman (04:38):
Yeah. I mean he, it was interesting. You know, I kind of grew up in it. I was such a young kid that I was at the very beginning, I was a participant. Like they would send us off in parades. I remember one time I was in a parade in a Starsky and Hutch car. So that shows you <laugh> how long ago it was. That TV show was a big deal then. So it was part of my blood and it's still in my blood and I still follow politics. I just don't want to have anything to do with that. But I do think that as I got older, the elections got a little bit tighter. He was a democrat from Wichita, Kansas. The state became more and more red as time went by.
Kevin Goetz (05:10):
And now it's kind of more leaning purple, I think, isn't it?
Jonathan Glickman (05:12):
Yeah. There's, there's some interesting candidates that have won there.
Kevin Goetz (05:15):
So it's an independent.
Jonathan Glickman (05:16):
Yes, absolutely. So it's a, it's a, it's always had a spirit of, you know, free-thinking. But there's of course a book called What's the Matter with Kansas, about how people don't necessarily vote for their self-interest. And for a long time, that was the case. And my dad was sort of swept into that at the very end of his congressional tenure, where he would be running and there would be a group of very high net worth Republican interests, including the Koch brothers who are from Wichita also, that had their own agenda that was different than my dad's. And so you saw how it sort of narrowed, narrowed, narrowed. And then what was very interesting, and I also think with movies too, is when he lost his election, he was up about 10 points about two weeks before.
Kevin Goetz (05:56):
And he, just to be clear, he lost in the midterms of that Clinton first term. Sure, yeah. And there was some upheaval. Yes. And just like, we just experienced.
Jonathan Glickman (06:05):
Very much so and it was 1994. It was probably the biggest congressional loss in the, at the time, I think in the history. And then I think Barack Obama's first term also had something that even surpassed that loss in terms of losing democratic seats. But when he lost, he was up. And it was right when I had started working for Joe Roth and Roger Birnbaum. I remember like about six months into it. And I went down there and to Wichita worked for the last week or so, and he was up, and then you could just feel crazy momentum working the other way.
Kevin Goetz (06:39):
Oh wow. And so you knew it.
Jonathan Glickman (06:40):
You felt it.
Kevin Goetz (06:41):
Did he, did he know it?
Jonathan Glickman (06:42):
Yes. You all sort, I mean, you're in the middle of it, but even when you were up, you knew that you were in trouble. And I've been on both sides of that on the movies, the side where I've had a movie where it's felt like, this is feeling good, this is feeling good. It feels like it's going to open the 15 or so. And then like the morning, the Friday morning, you're like, maybe we could hit 20 and by the end of the night you've hit 30 for the weekend.
Kevin Goetz (07:03):
And by the same token, the other thing.
Jonathan Glickman (07:03):
I’ve been on a movie where it's like, okay, well we're never going to do worse than 11 million. The next thing you wake up and you've got 3 million.
Kevin Goetz (07:08):
So, I've always thought that, and I actually had and ran a political division at my last company, for about two years with Jamie McGurk and Victoria Hopper. Oh, great. And, we met Victoria, well, we did several trips to Washington. I remember meeting with Harold Ickes and I said to him that I believe that the election process is almost identical to opening a movie on an opening weekend.
Jonathan Glickman (07:35):
Well, your mentor Joe Farrell came from the political world. The Harris Poll. Yeah. So I do think that there is a direct correlation.
Kevin Goetz (07:44):
You live and die by your opening weekend and you live and die by your election night. Yeah. I mean, and there's just no going back.
Jonathan Glickman (07:51):
Absolutely. And you have to make decisions that sometimes feel contradictory to what you think that the audience is going to want or the electorate’s going to want. But you have to have faith at the end of the day, it's the right thing. And when it comes to the next November, they're going to understand why you made that decision.
Kevin Goetz (08:08):
Part of why I think we never really succeeded in the business that much is because they like us here in Hollywood. We don't like outsiders. And in Washington, they didn't like outsiders. And so Harold Ickes was not very keen on that analogy. He said something like, what you could undercounted it in a, there could be a sex scandal or something. I forgot what he used, but something akin to that. And it could actually really hurt your chances A week before the election, everything goes south. He said you could have a movie about a plane that goes into the World Trade Center a week before it opens. Yeah. And guess what? You're not opening. Right. So it is so similar. Yeah. Anyway. What are the, I'm not going to say Hollywood for ugly people. Let someone else say that.
Jonathan Glickman (08:52):
I almost said it, so I'm glad that you said it, but it's also, at the end of the day, it's if you have a great message, you're going to win. If you don't have that message, it's not going to work. And that's the same thing with the movie campaign. It's like, you know it, I mean, you've been an instrumental person in teaching me that in terms of both the sell of the movie, also in the playability of movies, that you better have that thing people are going to say instantly to each other or your toast.
Kevin Goetz (09:16):
No, it's so funny. I remember a particular instance, I said to the director, this movie was never scoring it and it was just never scoring. And one screening, not second screening, not third screening, finally blaming the audience, which is almost always the case. And I said to him, you know, they're saying they don't like your ending, but it's really hard to recruit people to this. So if you don't have marketability or recruitability and you don't have playability, you can't make it. You gotta have one. And you really can't affect your DNA of what you already have. So you have to change your ending and try to boost this thing up 20 points or so. And I remember he was incensed, not out in the night, but the next day I was kind of pulled off the picture and it was, I talk about it in my book, but it was really an eye-opener. But that is the truth. You can't not have something to hang your hat on.
Jonathan Glickman (10:19):
And you really want to have playability. Even if you have marketability, you want to have it. And I think that for me, where the test screening process really affected development process. There's this quote, and I don't know if it's apocryphal or if he really said it, but the great editor Walter Murch, said, all that matters are beginnings and endings and in the end, the beginning doesn't matter. But I don't know whether that's true, or not, if he said that. But I do believe that you have to have a movie when you're developing a screenplay that has the exact right scene to end this movie. And everything inside of your movie has to lead to that moment.
Kevin Goetz (11:01):
However, I will agree with Mr. Murch because people will forgive a lot of what happens before if you leave them satisfied. Yes. So you're both right.
Jonathan Glickman (11:10):
No, but I agree that's, that's the point is that if you're ending is killer, you're going to be in great shape. And what it means is that everything you've done up to the ending, in my opinion, and I'm sure in yours too, has worked to service that moment. You can't have a great ending if the movie doesn't build to that solution.
Kevin Goetz (11:28):
Well, I often say you have an ending problem, but I'll say, I don't believe your ending problem is an act three problem. I think it's an act one problem.
Jonathan Glickman (11:33):
Yeah, usually it is.
Kevin Goetz (11:34):
It usually is. Right? Yeah. You, the setup wasn't right. They're not investing in that in a comedy. They're not calling back to the right joke or the thing that was, that, you know, was going to kind of give it that goose at the end. Yeah. Which is so important.
Jonathan Glickman (11:49):
When we developed screenplays, I really focus on that last scene and how is the audience going to feel at this exact moment. It's, it's just so much more important than anything else. Even though it's informed by everything else, but having a great final scene, not a wrap up, not a, Hey, let's go off to the races. Especially now because people talk instantly when they leave the movie theater. Is this scene satisfying? Does it make them excited? Does it make them excited to see another movie? Does it give them some sort of conversation starter as they walk out the door? What is that final moment that, you know, can leave the people buzzing as they walk out of the theater? It's so essential.
Kevin Goetz (12:26):
Tell me if this is true. You brought up your early days with Joe and Roger. So the rumor is, is that you sort of accosted Joe Roth in an elevator when you were a kid at a school and begged him for an internship.
Jonathan Glickman (12:41):
Yeah, it's true. <laugh>
Kevin Goetz (12:44):
I actually, I have such respect for you. I love this. Tell, tell us about it, please.
Jonathan Glickman (12:47):
I wish I could say that I've matured over the last few years. I'm not sure if that's true, but I probably would've done the same thing yesterday. But I was at a class and I went into the Peter Stark program for a year after I graduated college. And it was my first year actually intended on staying there full-time. And every single student gets an internship if they couldn't find you one, they gave you one at National Research Group NRG, which you know very well of course. And what it meant is your internship was handing out flyers and shopping malls to get people to go to screenings. So it was not a great internship. The only internship that was available left was one for Caravan Pictures, this new company that Joe Roth who had just left 20th Century Fox after this great run and he was an interesting guy and I kind of knew a lot about him just because I was fascinated. He was a director, he was young, and he just seemed incredibly cool and the type of person that he was incredibly cool.
Kevin Goetz (13:41):
He was incredibly cool.
Jonathan Glickman (13:43):
Kevin Goetz (13:43):
I always, I always loved Joe from the beginning, man. He was, he was just the epitome of coolness. He had that thing that swagger.
Jonathan Glickman (13:51):
Yeah, he definitely did. And so, he went to speak to our marketing group. It was a class taught by Jack Brodsky.
Kevin Goetz (13:58):
Oh, Jack, boy Jack. He was something else. Yeah. He was great. And I was friends with Jack and Dorothy, his wife, may they both rest in peace, who was out in the motion picture home.
Jonathan Glickman (14:08):
Yeah. Jack was a legend.
Kevin Goetz (14:10):
He did the publicity for Cleopatra.
Jonathan Glickman (14:12):
Yeah. And famously I, well he said he gave Barbara Streisand the idea to say hello gorgeous when she won the Academy Award.
Kevin Goetz (14:19):
I heard that. Yeah.
Jonathan Glickman (14:20):
So, like real Hollywood history. So Joe went to speak at the class and I saw him in an elevator and I really wanted this internship and I didn't know that behind the scenes Joe's staff was like, we don't want an obnoxious Peter Stark intern, we can do without it this time. So that was what I didn't know I was walking into. I saw him there across the hall. I darted into the elevator instinctively and it was about a seven floor ride. And during that I said…
Kevin Goetz (14:45):
Talk about an elevator pitch.
Jonathan Glickman (14:47):
Literally, it was an elevator pitch.
Kevin Goetz (14:49):
Oh my Lord. That is beautiful. Keep going.
Jonathan Glickman (14:51):
Thankfully it was witnessed by John August who was in my class who turned into a great screenwriter himself and it has his own podcast called Script Notes. It’s fantastic. So it was watched and I said, look, I would love to be your intern. I love everything you're doing at the company and whatever else I said that was embarrassing. And then the next morning I got a phone call at, you know, 8:30 that Joe said that we're hiring you to be the intern.
Kevin Goetz (15:17):
It was one of those and four years later you were president of the company.
Jonathan Glickman (15:20):
Yeah. I mean one thing about…
Kevin Goetz (15:22):
Hold on, let's just stop. Things happen in our life. And you go, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Four years after that incredible interaction you’re president of the company, everyone should take note.
Jonathan Glickman (15:35):
I wish I could say that it was me. I think I found simpatico mentors, which is so important in this business. Joe Roth and Roger Birnbaum, who was his partner, were very much in this style of person that I think I was probably a very much like a younger version of those two guys. So I spoke their language very easily. It was at a time when there was, it was a lot easier to make movies. And I still have a piece of this, but I was never someone who could hold back ideas or opinions. And I'd been desperate to be in the movie business for so long that I had ideas for movies and I would pitch ideas as an intern at our staff meetings and I'm sure the rest of the staff was like, what is this guy doing? But they ultimately, one of them they decided to continue with, there was a bootleg tape that was out when I was in college of these guys who made prank phone calls called The Jerky Boys. And literally, I would spend the weekend just thinking, okay, what am I going to say in the room to get myself noticed? And so I was like, oh, well maybe there's a movie there. You know?
Kevin Goetz (16:32):
What did it turn into?
Jonathan Glickman (16:33):
I went in on Monday and I said they finally were able to clear these tapes. I played them for Joe and Roger and like, this sounds funny. And we went and we went after the rights and it turned into some bidding frenzy. And at the beginning of the week, I was like, okay, we're going to do this with Chris Farley and Adam Sandler and it's going to be great. And by the end of the week we had gotten the rights, I was an intern at the time with the Jerky Boys starring in the movie as themselves and Joe said, this movie needs to be in production in eight weeks with no script, nothing. So my entire experience at this point is I had made a student film.
Kevin Goetz (17:08):
Suffice to say you were no longer an intern.
Jonathan Glickman (17:10):
He put me on shortly thereafter. He kept me on.
Kevin Goetz (17:14):
And so you worked on, obviously, you worked on the movie.
Jonathan Glickman (17:16):
I worked on the movie. He basically gave me the movie to produce and I had directed a student film that was on 16 millimeter that actually was, believe it or not, edited by the co-creator of Wednesday. So it shows you these relationships last the entire time.
Kevin Goetz (17:32):
Oh, unbelievable. Serendipity or the circuitous nature of right?
Jonathan Glickman (17:36):
Yeah. And I, you know, we were friends and so we just maintained our friendship. They ended up writing actually two movies that produced before that. They wrote Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Nights. So this is not our first collaboration, but still, our first collaboration was the student film that I made, which was a horror film about credit card debt that starred an actor named PJ Clap who three years later turned into Johnny Knoxville. So it is, it's available. I can provide it for anybody if they are interested in seeing it.
Kevin Goetz (18:03):
So you had these, you did for what every producer or executive particularly of a certain age, when I say over a certain age, call it over 35 wants, is those sort of that younger or the next generation underneath them to say what's cool? Yes. What's trending? Yes. And you had that, you were dialed into that.
Jonathan Glickman (18:24):
I think to a certain extent. I was dialed into it. I remember we tried really hard to get Beavis and Butthead rights. So that's the period in which we're talking about. We didn't, they ended up staying with MTV and I love them. I love everything about it. But so I was definitely in that world. But also I had people like Joe and Roger who were very entrepreneurial, very, even though they had been studio executives, they had been producers before. And so we spoke each other's language and I have to say it was a lot easier to get movies going at that time. Not just because Joe had a really strong deal at Disney, which is where that production company was, but just, Disney was making 45 movies a year. Everybody was making more movies because everybody was trying to build their libraries. And then the aftermarkets became so lucrative that you really couldn't lose on a movie.
Jonathan Glickman (19:08):
So it was okay to take shots on it. And so I was at the right place at the, with those mentors at the right time where the business was. So they gave me this movie to produce. I really knew absolutely nothing about making a movie. I remember we shot it in New York. I was staying at the Mayflower Hotel, which is now a hotel named after someone who shall not be named. And at Columbus Circle I would wake up in the middle of the night having nightmares and gasping for air. Because I had no idea what I was doing.
Kevin Goetz (19:38):
So you dropped out of school? I dropped out of school because you never really got there. Because I, you said one year and now I understand why.
Jonathan Glickman (19:43):
I know, I feel, I still feel bad about it.
Kevin Goetz (19:46):
And I need to give let whoever's listening, I actually taught there several times, you should be getting a honorary doctorate from SC. I'm just saying this.
Jonathan Glickman (19:55):
I'll take that or I'll take a, you know, just tickets to the next football game <laugh>. But, so while I was doing it, and as I said, there was so much activity and I think you'll probably remember there was a spec market at that time where instead of movies being based on IP, writers would write screenplays on spec to see if there was a market for them. And that was a big supplier to what movies were being made. And so during that time, you'd read three scripts a night sometimes that were original screenplays. And I had read one that I thought was really a great romantic comedy that was called Coma Guy. And I read it and I liked it and I gave it to Joe and actually Joe was thinking about directing it and that's kind of what we were doing for a beat. And then Joe decided to run Disney and he left Caravan to go run the entire Walt Disney Corporation, sort of left Roger running the company. And I stayed working with Roger. And that movie turned into While You Were Sleeping.
Kevin Goetz (20:55):
It was a huge hit.
Jonathan Glickman (20:57):
So, The Jerky Boys previewed on a Friday night or not previewed, open on a Friday night. And I think this might be the biggest drop in the history of cinema, like opened the number one or number two and the next day it was like number seven.
Kevin Goetz (21:08):
Well because it was just a fan base, it brought out…
Jonathan Glickman (21:10):
Exactly. And it probably didn't have the right ending for word of mouth. And so I was like, okay, my career's over, I was 24, 25 and I was like, this is it. It's done. And Monday or Tuesday, probably Tuesday was the first preview for While You Were Sleeping. Oh, I remember it. And it was a home run.
Kevin Goetz (21:26):
I remember being there.
Jonathan Glickman (21:27):
And Joe called me the next morning and basically said, okay kid, you have a reprieve stay of execution. You know the movie tested so well, it tested so well that that movie was a Christmas movie. I mean it was always designed as a Christmas, it takes place at Christmas. And I think if you remember we previewed at the beginning of February and Joe was like, this movie's coming out in six weeks or April. Yeah. You know?
Kevin Goetz (21:48):
Joe, Joe you got, he's such a great good just like balls man.
Jonathan Glickman (21:54):
Yeah, exactly. And he thrived on that sort of gambling attitude. And so we went out and talk about a movie with good word of mouth. That movie opened at around nine and ended up making worldwide like $175 million and the domestically almost $90 million.
Kevin Goetz (22:09):
So think about what those dollars are today. What are those dollars today?
Jonathan Glickman (22:12):
I don't know. I don't know, you know.
Kevin Goetz (22:13):
No, you know, come on. It's just crazy.
Jonathan Glickman (22:14):
About $150. But it was also just the multiple that you could get on your movie back.
Kevin Goetz (22:19):
Because it played so well. And just for our listeners who don't know, there is an absolute correlation between your definite recommend, not probable recommend, but your definite recommend and the box office opening weekend multiple. Yeah. Hold that thought for one second Jon, I need to take a break and we'll pick it up right when we come back,
Get a glimpse into a secret part of Hollywood that few are aware of and that filmmakers rarely talk about in the new book Audienceology by Kevin Goetz. Each chapter is filled with never before revealed inside stories and interviews from famous studio chiefs, directors, producers, and movie stars, bringing the art and science of audienceology into focus. Audienceology, How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, from Tiller Press at Simon and Schuster. Available now.
Kevin Goetz (23:14):
We are back. I want to play a little game here. I'm going to mention a name and I want you to just give me a line or two about what you learned from these mentors. And we'll start of course with Joe Roth.
Jonathan Glickman (23:26):
For Joe, what I learned was marketability of concept. He was all about marketability of concepts.
Kevin Goetz (23:33):
He needed to see the trailer right away.
Jonathan Glickman (23:36):
A hundred percent. What's interesting about him as a person is he loves movies like me that aren't necessarily the most marketable and that have brilliant filmmakers involved. And so we were involved in some with some great moviemakers at Caravan, but at the end of the day, give him a title that sells the idea and he's the happiest person in the world.
Kevin Goetz (23:58):
Jonathan Glickman (23:59):
Roger taught me how to interact with filmmakers, talent agents. He has a very affable personality. I think he knows that's his superpower. He's also very smart and a huge fan and bringing your passion just as a fan to the job. That was Roger.
Kevin Goetz (24:17):
Jonathan Glickman (24:18):
There's so much that I learned financially and on the business level from Gary, not just on the economics of the movie business and the economics of the international movie business that I had no clue about before I met him, but also how to run a company. And now I've started this company as an entrepreneur and I know you have also, and I really admire what you've done in leaving the company. And I don't think people really understand until you've done it, what it takes to go from a corporation and become a small business owner. And that, I have to say Gary has been instrumental and an incredible mentor for me in that aspect of my life.
Kevin Goetz (24:55):
You mentioned something ironically that I started asking all of my recent guests. You used the word superpower. I have a belief that everyone has a superpower different than the actual talents that they have. It's sort of your light, your energy, your spark, and it's unique to everyone. What's John Glickman's superpower?
Jonathan Glickman (25:20):
I would say that I look at a project and I hear a project and because I'm such a fan of films and story, can see the best version of that in my head. How do we execute the best version creatively, but also to the audience marketability-wise, also.
Kevin Goetz (25:38):
Let me get this right. So the germ of the idea, how to realize the potentiality, the maximum potential.
Jonathan Glickman (25:47):
Yes. And I think sometimes to my detriment, because sometimes I'm overly enthusiastic on some ideas that just can't get there. But once I'm on board I really feel the enthusiasm and passion to get that out there to the audience and I'll do whatever I need to do to get there. Both in the creative process but also in terms of, you know, what do we need to do in the distribution and marketing aspect of that.
Kevin Goetz (26:10):
Well speaking of that, I just want to say coupled with that, you're a mensch. You're a guy who is decent and kind and, and a caring and empathetic human being. And I think that that's a major superpower by the way.
Jonathan Glickman (26:26):
I will, I'll take it. My mom's, my mom's thrilled. I'm going to send this to her.
Kevin Goetz (26:29):
Well, she should be. Both your parents did an outstanding job raising a great man. I want to though ask you to speak about your undying passion, your unwavering need to get it right to get at perfection as much as you can. And I'm going to bring a movie up that you and I worked very closely on called Respect. And this is why I call you a mensch. So we work on the movie Respect. You can tell the story, the movie played always well, but not exceptional. And I kept saying to you, I think I know what's wrong. I think I know what's wrong, I think I know what's wrong. You need to do this. And again, I don't want to, I don't want to say the story for you. And then once it was all done, whatever you called me months later, I would like to know if you could share that?
Jonathan Glickman (27:23):
Yeah, that was a film I'd worked as a studio executive at first with Scott Bernstein and Harvey Mason who were the producers. But we had worked with Aretha Franklin who was alive at the time in terms of what story we wanted to tell. And it was a situation that Ms. Franklin was, you know, you'd have a deal that was done in a couple days later, she'd call and change the terms of the deal. So it took a long time for us to lock it down, but ultimately we were able to lock it down with her. And then we were able to secure some critical music rights of major songs, major songs including, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,” which will come into the story. So we found ourselves in a race, we were able to make the film, but we really made it under extreme circumstances because A, we only had the rights to the song for a certain amount of time and there was going to be a television series that was similar. So we went really, really fast. And I have to say, the filmmakers did a spectacular job of getting the movie not just in fighting condition, but with really great playability. But a couple key things in that first screen and I remember was the song “You Make me feel like a Natural Woman” wasn't in the movie, which was, you know, probably her second most famous song next to the title.
Kevin Goetz (28:35):
They just couldn't work it in?
Jonathan Glickman (28:37):
At that point in time that was, you know, the decision the filmmaker wanted to make. And I remember after that first screening, there was a conversation about that song needs to be in there. But also it's a little bit of a trope with true-life stories now, but the audience expects to see the true-life person that the movie is about at the end of the film. When you look at a movie like The Blindside, that movie tested I remember had an A-plus cinema score, I'm not sure it gets an A-plus cinema score without that real footage of Michael Orr at the end.
Kevin Goetz (29:05):
You sort of reminded that, wow, this was someone's story and wow, look how cool that person looked compared to, you know, that sort of…
Jonathan Glickman (29:13):
Absolutely. And then you also had it with Argo where that movie ends and then you have Jimmy Carter telling the story of what happened.
Kevin Goetz (29:18):
Won the Academy Award.
Jonathan Glickman (29:19):
An A-plus cinema score. And even Freddy Mercury, you know, you end and then you have Rami being incredible, but the audience wants to see the real Freddie at the end of that movie. And so we didn't do that and the audience didn't say they wanted it, but you instinctively felt it. And I'll give you incredible credit. Not only did you say they need to see Aretha and they need to see Aretha as she is later in her life progressing through the years, but you specifically said you need to get the footage of Aretha Franklin singing, “You Make me Feel Like a Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Award.
Kevin Goetz (29:56):
Kennedy Center Honors.
Jonathan Glickman (29:57):
And it took a little bit for everybody to wrap their head around that process, but, and it's an impossible thing to get except by luck. I knew the General Counsel for the Kennedy Center Awards.
Kevin Goetz (30:08):
Of course you did.
Jonathan Glickman (30:08):
Kevin Goetz (30:09):
Thank you dad, Dan Glickman.
Jonathan Glickman (30:10):
Thank you, dad. But it was also our whole, you know, the growing up in DC you know everyone.
Kevin Goetz (30:14):
That's what I mean.
Jonathan Glickman (30:15):
Yeah. We pushed and we pushed and we pushed and we got it. And of course the next time we screened that movie, which was actually was the first time we showed it to an audience in a room, the audience starts weeping during that because it's so emotional to see the story that Jennifer Hudson portrayed so well. But to see that character turn into that person who towards the later stages of her life, was able to give such a spectacular performance.
Kevin Goetz (30:39):
And did zero to diminish her performance.
Jonathan Glickman (30:42):
No, no, nothing at all.
Kevin Goetz (30:44):
Absolutely. Exactly. And that was the worry. And I said, nope, don't worry about it. I'll tell you when I watched that Kennedy Center Honors with Aretha at the time, I remember weeping, and your movie without that didn't quite get me to weeping. It got me to a point and it didn't bring me home. And I knew it needed something that was going to inject it with that kind of elevated, like who else could do this?
Jonathan Glickman (31:12):
But also I have to say that generally when you make suggestions, you're very, this is exactly what you need and you were dead on. And it was an incredible thank experience. Thank you. Just seeing that change you and thank you.
Kevin Goetz (31:25):
Thank you. I truly wasn't fishing for, but I have to tell you that it, it meant a lot to me that you listened, but I heard the audience saying it, even the way I framed it to you of how I got there was the audience was saying, we really like this picture. We really, really like this picture. I just wish fill in the blank. Yeah. And I took that interpretation and was able to then translate it to what kind of feeling do you need to bring in? What kind of, and that embodied it for me. It was so perfect.
Jonathan Glickman (31:53):
And just how critical, again, those final moments are when you leave the theater. And the most fun screening I had with you was we had, were screening Creed for the first time. And when Ryan Kugler first pitched Creed, he didn't have the ending of the movie whether Adonis Creed was going to win or lose. And we made the movie and my boss at the time was very positive that he needed to win. That would make a big difference. And Ryan basically said, I'll shoot it both ways. But as he's making the movie, I think he realized he wanted to have an ending where Adonis Creed lost. And, but he did shoot it both ways. So we have a movie, we first we see the movie and you can tell from the first time we see the movie, it's incredible.
Kevin Goetz (32:39):
Jonathan Glickman (32:40):
And Ryan showed it to us with him losing the fight. And so in order to know what the right ending is, was we determined to go to Vegas and show the exact same movie side by side. So it was the same audience.
Kevin Goetz (32:53):
Five minutes apart.
Jonathan Glickman (32:54):
Five minutes apart, and one where he lost and one where he won. And basically, the concept was whichever one tested better was the one we were going to go with. So the first one was the one where he lost. And I have never seen this happen ever in a preview. And I've had a couple of great previews, I've had a couple of scary previews where you're like, hoping you get a police escort out the door. But the audience gave the preview a standing ovation when he lost and it was incredible.
Kevin Goetz (33:24):
Tell us why it was a callback too.
Jonathan Glickman (33:26):
It was a callback to Rocky, but also it was the emotional part of the movie. And I have to say, Ryan didn't have something in the script that came about while he was shooting the movie where very close to the end of the movie, right before the final round, Rocky's trying to get Adonis not to fight any longer. You know, he said, you can, you don't have to do this, you've proven enough. And Adonis says, I just want to prove that I wasn't a mistake because he was a child of Apollo Creed who wasn't really owned by Apollo Creed. He sort of didn't raise him. And that made a huge difference to him not having to win the fight at the end of the movie. Mm. And the same way in Rocky one, Rocky says, I just want to go the distance means he doesn't have to win, he just has to go to the distance.
Kevin Goetz (34:07):
It was the personal fulfillment, it was the personal success, which is so relatable.
Jonathan Glickman (34:12):
Yes, it really is. But then we go to the other theater and it ends with him winning and it's a standing ovation. So now you know, both endings are working through the roof and we're, we have to figure out exactly what we're going to do. But what was special about that beyond the way the movie played was Sylvester Stallone came to that preview and he, you know, when you have a a celebrity come to a research screening, usually you hide them in the back and they maybe either sit in the projection or if they do sit in the back row, nobody knows they're there. And we start doing the focus group, you're doing the focus group and you're the best runner of a focus group of all time and should never be interrupted. But about I would say 45 seconds into it when the audience is explaining how much they love the movie You were interrupted by Yo Rocky Balboa who came up and basically ruins the focus group at that point, because who's going to say anything honest around Rocky Balboa. And he sort of ran, ran the focus group to talk about the endings of the movie. And it was just, I mean it was absolutely hilarious actually on video.
Kevin Goetz (35:15):
I thought it at the time. Oh, I like that. By the way. Do you want to say the, how that ended score-wise?
Jonathan Glickman (35:20):
I think it was a 98. One of them was a 98, one of them was a 97, and then one of them had a higher definite recommend by one point and one of them had a lower.
Kevin Goetz (35:31):
See I remember it being a much bigger delta.
Jonathan Glickman (35:33):
Oh maybe it was.
Kevin Goetz (35:35):
I think when he lost the scores were about, there was at least a 10-15 point difference.
Jonathan Glickman (35:39):
It may, it was close enough that we still didn't resolve it. And then what really I think cemented it for everybody, so everybody felt okay about it. I personally wanted him to lose the whole time because Rocky one is the most emotional movies I've ever seen. Right. And just knowing that he lost and knowing that people remember that he won and not it even makes it even more exciting. But also I think on a pragmatic business level, it was, okay, what do you do with the sequel if he's won already, you have somewhere to go if he's lost at the end of the play.
Kevin Goetz (36:09):
Plus, it's what your director intended. Yeah. And I always say to people, when you're doing a side, we call them bake offs. Okay. When you're doing a bake off, a side-by-side screening and the scores are the exact same, I always say defer to your director. Right. I absolutely. Right. I mean, what are you getting by taking a stance? That's where I am really an advocate for the creative person whose sort of vision it was because, and I'm not saying I'm not minimizing it all, the vision of the studio, it's just that, as I said, the studio is not a person, the director who was there through the entire process and had that sort of singular vision. And so I always defer that way.
Jonathan Glickman (36:46):
Yeah, I agree with you a hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. Even if it's a little bit lower, I still think you go with that phrase.
Kevin Goetz (36:51):
What was one of the most horrific screenings?
Jonathan Glickman (36:53):
Oh, stories. Oh my God, there's so many.
Kevin Goetz (36:54):
I mean, I can recall a few, but I'm not going to bring them up. But you and I have been through it where you thought you had something, maybe it didn't work the way you thought it was going to work.
Jonathan Glickman (37:02):
Yeah, I would say the first screening and the movie turned around, so I'm going to give a positive version of this story, was the movie The Pacifier, which was a very…
Kevin Goetz (37:12):
Totally turned around.
Jonathan Glickman (37:13):
Disney movie. Yeah. There was a little bit of a, took a bit of a moment…
Kevin Goetz (37:19):
Jonathan Glickman (37:19):
Exactly. For people to understand Vin Diesel in this movie. It wasn't like Vin had been in anything that had appealed to families before.
Kevin Goetz (37:27):
And once they did, he changed his entire persona, his image.
Jonathan Glickman (37:31):
But it really took a long time for it. And I think we had walkouts in that first screening because it was confusing to the audience. But I've also had movies that have tested ridiculously high that just had no marketability. Which one do you, one of my favorite movies that I ever was involved with is called Keeping the Faith. Yeah. With Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman and Edward directed it and it tested in the mid 90s and was just a home run, but it was a self-selected audience.
Kevin Goetz (37:57):
Just didn't catch on. Speaking of which, and I'm really excited to get your opinion on this one. You've had so many successful movies. There's also been movies that, many movies we call the muddy or murky middle where they were made for a price and you did okay on them. Yeah. You made enough money they wouldn't get theatrical distribution today.
Jonathan Glickman (38:16):
Not a chance.
Kevin Goetz (38:17):
Tell us what your whole take is. Do you feel like that's an impediment or just a thing that you lean into now?
Jonathan Glickman (38:23):
Well, you have to realize it's in the, it's life right now. But it's interesting. I'll have people that will bring up some of these mediocre movies and they loved them. They weren't even around when the movies came out because they saw them on home video. So they didn't spend the money and the night out to go see them. And so it's always, I'm like, really? That's the movie that you like the most? But they're out there. I'll say, what is, for me personally, it was why it was critical for me to get into the television business, to get into the podcast business, to get into what other storytelling mediums. Because when I started, you could make a movie, I'll give you an example of a movie that was made a lot of money for Spyglass, a movie like The Recruit with Colin Ferrell and Al Pacino, a down the middle espionage thriller that would do okay and would do great in the aftermarket back at those days.
Jonathan Glickman (39:13):
And there was, every international country had its own pay service, so you were making a lot of money on it. But at the end of the day, in today's marketplace, that's either a limited series that you make or there's no movie there that people would get excited to go to the movie theater for that type of concept. So what you do is you start thinking in terms of if this doesn't have a theatrical sure thing, either you make that movie for so low that no one's going to get crushed for it. Or you start thinking, okay, it's either a streaming movie or is this a limited series instead of a streaming movie? I'm doing a television series right now that knock on wood is going to happen with Robert De Niro in the spring. And it's a political thriller and a limited series. It's a six episode limited series.
Jonathan Glickman (39:58):
And I think if this was 10 years ago, this would be a movie. But you're able to a flesh it up, but also you can have more impact on the audience. And as I said, cultural impact is really, at the end of the day, why I wanted to do this more than any other reason. If you're going to have a cultural impact, a limited series is probably going to give you more opportunity to do that than doing a movie for a streaming service no matter who's in it, especially if it's an original idea and it's not a sequel to Coming to America or Borat, which I think gets a bit of a bump just because of the preexisting IP. So it is what it is. I've been fortunate, every movie I've made since I've started this company has been theatrical. And even the movie that I'm making with Snoop Dogg…
Kevin Goetz (40:39):
But you say it's, I've been fortunate and I just want to recraft the narrative on that for a second. I don't think that's necessarily fortunate, I just think it's a thing. In other words, you knew what it takes to get people to leave their homes. Right? But that doesn't mean that you might have a great piece of material like the De Niro six-part that you don't see as a feature that should go on a different platform.
Jonathan Glickman (41:04):
Yeah. And I do…
Kevin Goetz (41:05):
You understand there's a distinction there?
Jonathan Glickman (41:07):
Absolutely. And I do think that I do want everything to be theatrical. I do. If I could have it my way, everything would come out. I get incredibly excited by the marketing campaigns. I get incredibly excited by the Friday night and seeing how we're going to do and the chance to really have some sort of conversation about what we're making.
Kevin Goetz (41:26):
Well, there's no question that a movie that is released theatrically gets into the zeitgeist and carries more weight in terms of getting into the conversation, as you said.
Jonathan Glickman (41:36):
Because of the marketing campaign.
Kevin Goetz (41:38):
But why don't streaming services spend money on their marketing campaigns to create that? Wouldn't it be prudent to drive more subs and more awareness and create that excitement and that eventizement?
Jonathan Glickman (41:52):
Instinctively, that's what I feel you, you've gotten a lot more transparency out of these services than I do. And I don't know if A, they care about the cultural moments as much as they care about maintaining subscribers and making films that appeal to certain people.
Kevin Goetz (42:06):
I, I'm down with that completely. But what I'm suggesting is that that's what would increase subs potentially. And, and they don't know because they've not done it. There's so many great streaming movies, there really are. Many of which you don't even know about. But if some of them, even a handful of them were taken and treated like a theatrical distribution. I mean, what I believe is that people just want to see great movies and they don't want to see mediocre movies on any platform. They want to see great movies. And if you can then bring those to the attention, does it matter if they're seen in a movie theater versus seeing them on a streaming service? In terms of the eventizement of this?
Jonathan Glickman (42:46):
I do think it's, I have to say this, and again, I'm a realist and I'm going to make streaming movies and I'm not going to say yes, but it does make a difference to see it in the theater. I saw Megan on Friday night and I was sitting in a room with people laughing at that, you know, with the movie, not at it with it. loving it and seeing that at home would not have had the same experience as seeing it even if it had a marketing campaign.
Kevin Goetz (43:10):
We saw it last night and my husband said, it's the best movie of the year. I said, but what do you mean? He said, call Jason and tell him. I said, when I see him, I'll tell him. I said, Neil, it's eight days into the year. He says, I mean it for the whole trailing 12 months. <laugh> <laugh>. He loved the movie. Yeah, it was fun.
Jonathan Glickman (43:28):
It was so fun. Being in a room with the audience shows you that, okay, this is really funny. This is like we're on a ride that is really fun. And if you're watching it at home, I don't know if that contagion of laughter would allow this movie to what I believe and I'm sure you do now have huge playability for a long time because there's people talking about it and the experience of seeing it just gives you a bigger boost out of it. Now, 10 or 15 years ago when we were making movies like The Recruit that went out theatrically, HBO would have a movie once a month and it would be an event or maybe twice a month and they would market it and attention would be paid to it. There's so many movies now that are out there on the streaming service that, I don't know how you say this particular one's getting a lot of attention. The other ones we're not going to pay attention to in terms of marketing.
Kevin Goetz (44:15):
I can tell you how I would do it. I would do the capability testing, which is our pre-green light testing with an expanded paragraph, just like you would for a recruited audience screening. Right. And I would line them all up and rotate them and see which ones really resonated for people. And so you can sort of get a picker, you'll see a hierarchy emerge. You're going to see if there are 40 movies, you'll see that seven of them are in the highest echelon. Seven of them say are below, and all the rest are in the middle. And that tells me right there that you want to, you would more highly consider the top seven to put resources behind. Absolutely. And so there's a way to do it. And then I would create trailers. Usually, the movies aren't done yet, but, or some kind of advertising material to then say, this feels more like a real movie as opposed to a concept on paper. And test them that way. Yeah. And see if the marketing is really effective. And if it is, you can go the distance.
Jonathan Glickman (45:18):
And I have to say that just on a direct level of seeing the Wednesday campaign, even though that wasn't a movie, it almost felt like a movie because of Tim Burton's involvement, because of the IP involvement. And they ran a real campaign and that show took off from minute one. Now it could have been the concept and all that, but I also think it was because they put money into it. If you were in New York City, you saw them on billboards.
Kevin Goetz (45:41):
How did you get that thing going?
Jonathan Glickman (45:43):
Well, I didn't get that specific thing going. I, when I was president of MGM, Gail Berman had come to us with the rights to The Addams family. So even though MGM TV had made the TV show in the sixties, the rights reverted back to the estate of Charles Addams. And so, they would only do an animated movie, that was all they wanted to do. And so we made an animated movie. We did it under really tight financial constraints at that time. And we did great with it. And so one of the things that I did, you know, when you work in animated movies, a lot of different people come in into the process. But we were working on ideas for the sequel, and I brought in my friends Al Goff and Miles Miller from film school because I thought they were the right types of guys. So, I brought them in and what we showed them was a brand study on The Addams Family. And one of the things that you saw about The Addams Family is A, it's a very powerful brand, but the most important character of all of them is Wednesday by a mile. Really? Yes. So the movies are about Wednesday, all of them. Paul Rudnick movies that he did with Scott Rudin and Barry Sonnenfeld about Wednesday, when you watch them again, and even if they're side plots, Wednesday's the center of it and in our animated movie.
Kevin Goetz (46:57):
Jonathan Glickman (46:58):
Poor Pugsley is right. They saw that. And their background is as television, you know, they had written movies, but they had created Smallville where they recreated the Superman mythology. Yeah. And they came up with this story and it was inspired by working on the film, but also seeing what that character meant. And so in order for the show to happen, they had to convince the estate to do it. And he was extremely enthusiastic about it. Wow. And it turned out to be a great thing.
Kevin Goetz (47:29):
It's a massive hit.
Jonathan Glickman (47:30):
Kevin Goetz (47:31):
Jonathan Glickman (47:31):
But all credit to Allen Miles for figuring that out. They really did a great job with that.
Kevin Goetz (47:35):
I want to segue before we end, and you and I could probably speak literally all afternoon and beyond. It's important for you to give back to the community. I know that's something that I'm sure was ingrained in you by your parents and you currently serve on this National Board of Story Pirates. Can you tell us about it?
Jonathan Glickman (47:57):
The Story Pirates are an incredible organization where they take stories that are written by anybody from, let's say four years old to 12 years old who create their own stories. And then they perform these stories at schools that don't have arts programs. And so they have performers, some of whom have become big stars. Bowen Yang from Saturday Night Live was a Story Pirate, Kristen Schaal. And what it does is it shows these kids who don't have any sort of creative writing programs, unfortunately, they're, they're so few and far between in our country right now, but they show them that there's a possibility for them to do this, to not just to tell stories, but to see what happens when you create something and it gets performed on such a big level. So that's their nonprofit arm. They have a for-profit arm too. They have a podcast, they have the number one kids podcast in the world, but really it's an education service, but it's a fun one.
Jonathan Glickman (48:53):
So that's a, that's a great organization. I also started last year serving on the board of the National Archives Foundation. Which is, I probably picked the exact wrong time to do it because as soon as I did, it was right when the documents were found in Mar-a-Lago. I don't have anything to do with that, but it doesn't matter. It sounds like I do <laugh> and so, but yeah, I have a lot of interest. I mean again, movies have always been a huge passion of mine, but I have other passions that I care about and I also always cared about. You know, I always like having my foot in the door.
Kevin Goetz (49:26):
And you’re a family man.
Jonathan Glickman (49:27):
Yeah. Oh yes.
Kevin Goetz (49:28):
You really are. Right? Yeah. I mean, I don't mean just your immediate family, but your parents. Yeah. And you got great and loyal friends. I know that. Yeah. Because people speak so beautifully of you. That's nice to hear. You know, Jon, thank you so much for letting me interview you today. You are really, as I said, a mensch, a talented professional with that real ability to have the left and right brain sort of align. And when I hear the characterizations of your mentors and what they've given you, it really is in service of your superpower.
Jonathan Glickman (50:08):
Well, I appreciate that and also I appreciate you as a mentor and informing me of how to execute storytelling in a way that appeals to an audience and how to adjust, and you've been a critical part of me being able to do this not just in the screening process of marketing, but in the creative as well.
Kevin Goetz (50:26):
Ah, thanks man. It's really been a pleasure having you here today. To our listeners, I hope you enjoyed our interview. I encourage you to check out Jon's films, including Creed 3 and Underdogs later in the year. His company website is ThisIsPanoramic.com. For other stories like this one, please check out my book, Audienceology at Amazon or wherever books are sold, or through my website at KevinGoetz360.com. You can also follow me on my social media at KevinGoetz360. Next time on Don't Kill the Messenger, we will welcome film and television director and producer-- Martha Coolidge. Until next time, I'm Kevin Goetz, and to you, our listeners, I appreciate you being part of the movie-making process. Your opinions matter.
Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Jonathan Glickman
Producer: Kari Campano