Entertainment Magazine

Will Ferrell Just Launched a Female-Focused Film & TV Production Company – Wait, What?

Posted on the 12 February 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

As stories about the behind the scenes business of Hollywood go, the founding of yet another production company doesn’t seem all that important.  After all, the seemingly endless parade of company vanity cards greeting us before the opening credits of a film gives the impression that production companies are a dime a dozen out there.  However, Will Ferrell’s new Gloria Sanchez Productions seems kind of important.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay (director of several of Ferrell’s films), and Chris Henchy have created Gloria Sanchez Productions as an off-shoot of their 7-year-old Gary Sanchez Productions.  Gary Sanchez, the company named after a fictional NFL placekicker, has been behind Ferrell comedies Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe CampaignStep Brothers, and The Other Guys.  They were also responsible for last year’s indie Bridesmaids-esque comedy Bachelorette and an upcoming Melissa McCarthy comedy (Tammy).  Their new Gloria Sanchez imprint will focus strictly on creating female-led film and TV projects, headed up by the Emmy and Tony-nominated Jessica Elbaum, a longtime production executive at Gary Sanchez.

According to Ferrell and McKay: “When Jessica came to us with this idea, we thought it was fantastic.  She has worked with some of the great female voices in comedy and has proven herself as a gifted producer who has a keen eye for material.”

Gloria Sanchez Productions will deal equally with established and emerging female comedic talent.

This is at first surprising considering Will Ferrell’s filmography and big, broad brand of humor does not necessarily scream “Feminist!” even if some of the humor of Anchorman is derived from how far on the wrong side of history the sexist characters are.  However, in another way this is in no way surprising but instead a shrewd business move, the likes of which we might see more of as we get deeper into 2014.  On Ferrell’s most recent film, it wasn’t a male but a female in the cast who had actually starred in the most recent big hit, i.e., the nearly $300 million worldwide take for Kristin Wiig’s Bridesmaids.  In fact, from a dollars and cents perspective it’s hard to actually argue that there is another legitimate male film comedian out there right now who can even begin to compete with the box office draw of Melissa McCarthy.  Judd Apatow just hitched his wagon to rising star Amy Schumer, directing her feature film debut Train Wreck which Hollywood is confident enough to give a summer 2015 release.

That’s just on the comedy side of things.  In general, female-led films are having a pop culture moment right now.  Female-led films like Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Heat, Gravity, and Frozen kicked (or are still kicking) ass at the box office.  Plus, 27-year-old producing all-star Megan Ellison helped finance 2 of the 9 Best Picture nominees (Her, American Hustle), and both Elizabeth Banks and Meg Ryan are lined up to make their directorial debuts.   However, it’s still hard out there for women to actually get jobs on major Hollywood films.  Only two of the top 100-grossing films of 2013 featured a female director (Carrie, Frozen), and the percentage of women working as executive producers/producers, directors, writers, editors, and cinematographers are now at lows not seen since 1998.  Many women are shifting to working in independent film and/or television.

Now, some of them might find a home with Will Ferrell, of all people, at Gloria Sanchez Productions.  And now would probably be the time someone might echo Joseph Gordon-Levitt in arguing, “Yeah, but most women aren’t funny, though, right?”  Gloria Sanchez disagrees, and, yes, I realize Gloria Sanchez is a made-up name for a company, not a real person.

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