Tom Quinn has always made it his business - or at least a part of his business - to bring what he describes as 'the A-team of B-films from around the world' to US audiences.
One of his first buys when he became head of acquisitions for US theatrical and video distributor Magnolia Pictures six years ago was Ong-bak, the Thai martial-arts thriller that at the time seemed like an odd fit with the company's slate.
And last year Quinn helped launch Magnet Releasing, the genre arm that handles such titles as The Host and Splinter while Magnolia itself focuses on its traditional specialties, independent and foreign features and documentaries (such as, currently, What Just Happened and Man On Wire).
Most recently, Quinn, now senior vice-president in charge of acquisitions for Magnolia and Magnet, came up with the idea for Magnet's Six Shooter series of mostly non-US genre films.
The series started with prize-winning Swedish vampire romance Let The Right One In, continued with off-beat US superhero tale Special and continues this month with Spanish sci-fi outing Timecrimes (which Magnolia acquired for the world at the low-profile Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas).
Set to open early next year are UK thriller Donkey Punch, French creature feature Eden Log and Japanese monster comedy Big Man In Japan (for which Quinn acquired multiple territories before Magnet's launch).
The Six Shooter brand is designed to tell movie-goers 'that if you like one (film in the series), you'll probably like the other five,' Quinn explains. 'Though Magnet itself is a pretty well-curated label, this is the best of the best.'
All the films, he says, are 'doing something new within their own genre' (which is perhaps why Overture Films is reportedly set to remake Let The Right One In and United Artists is planning a US version of Timecrimes).
A couple of the titles are being launched partly through Magnolia's sister ancillary operations (company parent the Wagner/Cuban group also owns a US cinema chain and TV station HDNet). Special premiered as part of HDNet's Ultra VoD program before opening theatrically and Donkey Punch is set to appear simultaneously on VoD and in cinemas.
Most of the titles, however, are having traditional theatrical releases before going on to ancillary exploitation. And while Quinn acknowledges the US market is tough for foreign-language films and for most genre films, he is hopeful the Six Shooter series can 'breathe life into this middle space of genre film'. Let The Right One In has made a promising start, grossing $624,000 in its first month of limited release.
The aim with the series, he says, was to select genre films that can both 'appeal to an older audience, because they are review driven, but also ride the wave of a younger film culture that's grown up'.
The genre-film fanbase, Quinn contends, has 'become incredibly globalised. Any piece of film criticism or film marketing is instantly available to anyone through websites like Twitch, Ain't It Cool News and Bloody Disgusting. These sites do a great job of curating what really is the best on offer. In many ways, the internet has made a lot of these films relevant theatrically.'