Tribeca Sale: How Robert De Niro’s Film Festival Became an ‘Attention Economy’ Player

IndieWire | 8/6/2019 | Chris Lindahl
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The sale of Tribeca Enterprises to investment firms run by James Murdoch and Joe Marchese is a seismic shift for the Tribeca Film Festival, which Robert De Niro and his producing partners started in the wake of 9/11. Under its new owners, it is now only one piece of a much larger revenue equation.

For Attention Capital CEO Joe Marchese, the decision to buy a controlling stake in Tribeca Enterprises with James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems came down to this: Curation is a compelling business model in the attention economy. In an August 5 Medium post, he wrote: “With the vision, people, and partners in place, the next most exciting part about the Tribeca brand is its incredible potential. In a world where amazing stories are getting lost in a sea of ‘content’ and filters are determined by AI, there is a massive market opportunity for curators.”

Sources - Film - World - Perspective - Opportunity

Sources in the film festival world had another perspective. While some saw a rare opportunity for a film festival to grow its reach with the help of private capital, others wondered what would happen when Tribeca’s success is determined by corporate overlords.

And Marchese’s vision doesn’t seem that far afield from the Tribeca mission: “to provide artists with unique platforms to expand the audience for their works and to broaden the access point for consumers to experience independent film and media.”

Difference - Market - Opportunity - Curator - Artist

The biggest difference, perhaps, is Marchese foregrounds the market opportunity for the curator, rather than the artist. Of course, curated and celebrated works certainly stand to benefit, and curation is meaningless without access to art. Still, it’s a different calculus: While Tribeca was founded with the backing of a multibillion-dollar, multinational financial services corporation, Amex never viewed Tribeca as a revenue stream: Sponsoring the institution was a marketing cost. Under Attention and Lupa, curation is the product.

Lupa...
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