Oscar's Indie Film Financiers Take the Spotlight

At least five of the nine best picture nominees had nonstudio financing
Dallas Buyers Club’s $5.6 million production budget is more indie than Hollywood. Fewer than 15 percent of nonstudio films have a budget of $15 million or higher Photograph by Anne Marie Fox/Focus Features

The script for Dallas Buyers Club, one of this year’s nominees for the best picture Oscar, languished so long at Universal Pictures that the writers invoked a union rule allowing them to take back the project after seven years. The story, about an oilfield worker with AIDS who smuggles medicines into the country, eventually landed on the nightstand of Texas businessman Joe Newcomb, who was happy to finance just the kind of small-budget, edgy drama that major studios are mostly staying away from. “Hollywood’s got blinders on,” says Newcomb, a chemical trader from suburban Houston who wired money to the producers and let them put airline tickets and office supplies on his black American Express card. “It needs fresh blood.”

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