Inside the Making of Extract: An Indie Goes Big

Sep. 15 2009, Published 5:55 a.m. ET

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Mike Judgeʼs latest film, Extract, stars Jason Bateman as beleaguered business owner Joel Reynold. Joelʼs built his own business from the ground up, to become, as his best friend calls him, “The Extract King,” whose factory has become so successful that heʼs poised to play with the big boys of business.

To some extent, the story of the movie itself isnʼt so different. Made for just $8 million, Extract is the product of Ternion Pictures, Judgeʼs indie house that he founded with longtime writing partners John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. Since Extract opened September 4, the scrappy little film has found itself on box office top-ten lists, among studio behemoths like G.I. Joe and Inglourious Basterds. The filmʼs executive producer Glenn Lucas (and King of the Hill alum) chatted with about how Extract could change the face of film financing, why it took ten years to make and which surprising demographic is seeing it in droves.

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RADARONLINE.COM: How did Extract get off the ground?

GLENN LUCAS: It was written by Mike Judge right after the 1999 film Office Space. When that movie got out of the gate slowly in theaters, Fox only had the confidence in the film to keep it there less than two weeks. Mike put Extract away for a while. Over time, when Office Space took off, it became one of Foxʼs most successful DVD releases of all time. ... After that, Mike had more confidence in Extract. He brought it to John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. They thought it was brilliant and ready to shoot.

RADARONLINE.COM: What was your approach to funding the film?

GL: From the outset, Ternion decided to go about it a different way. We set out to make films in the lower budget range and maintain more of an ownership stake. We set a goal to raise private equity for Extract, most of which came from investors in Manhattan Beach. Investors included friends of mine, business acquaintances... .

After this was accomplished...we brought in...Miramax. Theyʼve been an amazing partner throughout the process. They got Mike Judgeʼs humor, and understand how to market to his fan base...Extract is a film like Office Space. It will stand the test of time. Performances by the entire cast are very nuanced, and most importantly, theyʼre identifiable to the everyman. We see a lot of ourselves in the characters -- which personally I think is Mikeʼs calling card.

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RADARONLINE.COM: Of course, these are tough economic times. Were there particular challenges to financing Extract?

GL: By keeping...quality high and budgets low you minimize risk...Weʼve got a new model, where you keep the budgets lower and you get quality distribution. Look at the budgets of average studio films. Most of them are in the 40, 50 million dollar range... Ternion is going to  develop a brand-name... and Mike Judge has a brand-name. Itʼs a formula that a lot of people  are taking a look at. Ternion has a show called The Goode Family and there are more TV programs in development, and more film projects, so itʼs an exciting time -- challenging but exciting. Thereʼs a little bit of an underdog mentality there, competing against bigger-budget films.

RADARONLINE.COM: Extract, like Office Space, occupies its own niche. What do you think distinguishes Mike Judge from other filmmakers?

GL: Heʼs as close as youʼre going to get to Frank Capra, because he does champion the  everyman. This isnʼt your typical Hollywood comedy formula... the humor is observational, like  King of the Hill and Office Space ... We know these characters from our own lives... .

RADARONLINE.COM: Whatʼs been the most surprising aspect of working on Extract?

GL: The most surprising thing about the film is that it plays extremely well to women... Mila Kunis is empowering, and women love Jason Bateman. Close to 45 percent of its audience has been women. Considering that most of our marketing early on had been directed toward  younger men, thatʼs great!



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