Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Calculated Push Into Entertainment Lifts ‘Duck Dynasty’ Family’s Fortunes


Art Streiber/A&E
The Robertson family in a scene from Season 3 of “Duck Dynasty.”

Forget the ZZ Top beards and the Bayou accents, the Robertsons of West Monroe, La., are a family of traditional American entrepreneurs: ambitious, rich and spectacularly successful.
Willie Robertson is the star and a driving force behind the A&E Television Networks blockbuster “Duck Dynasty.”
Rick Wilking/Reuters
Willie and Korie Robertson at Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting. The retailer carries “Duck Dynasty” merchandise in six separate departments.

And that was true even before they were television stars.
They certainly are stars now — the subjects of the biggest reality show hit in the history of cable television, “Duck Dynasty,” which has shattered ratings records this summer, reaching a high of 11.8 million viewers for the season premiere this month.
But in the more contained world of ducks, guns and camouflage gear, the Robertsons were already celebrities thanks to the family’s core business: sales of duck gear, especially duck calls.
Now the range of merchandise attached to the Robertson name is so vast — shirts, caps, coolers, books, edibles, hunting gear of every kind — that keeping track of it has become almost impossible, said Willie Robertson, scion of the Robertson clan and president of the Duck Commander company.
Last week, he was at the corporate headquarters of Walmart and was surprised to see his face on a garden gnome. “I knew I had a Chia Pet and a bobblehead and an action figure,” Mr. Robertson said by phone. “I didn’t know I had a garden gnome. That’s awesome. I guess Pez dispenser is the last weird thing I have to see myself on.”
Chances are that pitch will come shortly. “Every day I get pitched on this, pitched on that,” Mr. Robertson said. “It’s like you’re living in a movie.”
That movie is mostly a creation of Mr. Robertson and his family, a conscious dive into the entertainment world that has lifted a regional business into an international phenomenon. The show is seen in more than 100 countries, drawing strong ratings on networks from England to Latin America.
The show does well across this country, though as might be expected, it fares best in the South, with Atlanta, Knoxville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., among the top locations in ratings.
“I thought we were booming before,” Mr. Robertson said. “Booming is a relative term.”
The family-owned business has private sales figures, but Mr. Robertson offered some indications of the level of growth. “I’ve seen figures of 2,200 percent growth,” he said.
“You couldn’t chart it as far as where we have had business growth. It’s bursting at every level, every store.”
Sales of duck calls to actual hunters are now a minority, he said, with the dominant buyers being people who “put it on their desk and toot on it.”
Sarah McKinney, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said the company’s stores across the country stocked “Duck Dynasty” merchandise in six separate departments.
T-shirts featuring “Duck Dynasty” characters are now the top sellers, Ms. McKinney said, among women and girls as well as men. And sales of “Duck” back-to-school material have soared this year, she said.
“Duck Dynasty” began on the A&E network after some members of the family appeared for three seasons on an Outdoor Channel show tailored more specifically to actual duck hunting. David McKillop, the general manager of A&E, said the network viewed a tape and realized the potential for his channel was in the family interaction.
After what he called “a vision meeting” with Mr. Robertson, A&E commissioned two pilots. The second ended with a scene of the family gathered around the dinner table.
That clicked. A&E saw an overarching theme: “A cross between ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘The Waltons.’ ” A family dinner would cap each episode, Mr. McKillop said. “It would be like, ‘Goodnight, John-Boy.’ ”
Willie Robertson is not reticent about his own role in building what is now an imposing duck-centric empire. The family business was started by his father, Phil, a Louisiana football standout who translated an obsession with hunting ducks into the now enormous duck-call business.
Willie Robertson credits some of his business acumen to experience he gained in his 20s after he left the family company to run a children’s camp business.
“I was able to watch the family business from afar,” he said. “I was able to come in with a lot of energy and a vision for growing it even bigger.”
When Mr. Robertson returned to Duck Commander, he realized his father had created a strong brand, but “he had pretty much run out of ideas,” Mr. Robertson said.
“He didn’t know how to take it to the next level, and it might have started a downward slide, like a lot of family businesses do.”
Mr. Robertson had a personal interest in entertainment, especially comedy. He was a fan of “Saturday Night Live.” He watched “American Idol” to determine what it was that attracted huge audiences.
He saw the large Robertson brood as a family of characters. The first show on the Outdoor Channel (called “Duck Commander”) was focused heavily on hunting, but Willie Robertson steered it toward purer entertainment.
“I heard you should edit for women and children,” he said.
The concept for the new show would center on “family and funny,” he said. “I’m sure if you just saw headshots of us you wouldn’t deduct that was going to come out of that.”
But he had to overcome one area of opposition. Phil Robertson, the patriarch, did not want to do the show. “He said, ‘I’m already as famous as I want to be.’ I explained to him: ‘Phil, this can expand your platform to talk about the things you like to talk about.’ ”
Those things, for the most part, are faith-based. Phil Robertson is increasingly dedicated to preaching, something he has mentioned he would prefer to be doing with most of his time. (Last week, a YouTube video posted in 2010 went viral, showing him denouncing abortion rights during a guest speaking appearance.)
“We’re believers in the Lord,” Willie Robertson said. “We think he set this all up for us.”
But A&E is not looking for a religious show. “The show is not about their beliefs,” Mr. McKillop said, with emphasis.
Mr. Robertson generally agrees. He says he has had to remind his father that he is not “Pat Robertson — and this is not the ‘700 Club.’ It’s a comedy show.”
Mr. Robertson added, “If you find something attractive about our family, how we stay together and eat dinner together and laugh and have fun, you may want to keep some of these principles in mind. We’re Christians, that’s part of the package. But if that doesn’t turn you on, fine. If you just want to laugh at it, that’s O.K.”
Given the potent appeal of “Duck Dynasty,” the prospect for many more seasons — and merchandise sales — seems promising.
Adam Hanft, a brand strategist, suggested the Robertsons have some important decisions to make. “Do they want to be a trend or a long-term brand?”
The latter requires “strategic thinking,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to say no when everyone wants more of you.”
A&E certainly wants more “Duck Dynasty” — fast. The network has managed to churn out four seasons of the show in just 18 months. Mr. McKillop said, “We’re in a great place with them for multiple more seasons.”
Mr. Robertson said: “At first the money was a big factor. We all love making money. But at some point I don’t know how much you need. The cool part is that unlike other entertainment genres, we’re always in this together as a family.”
The New York Times: A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2013, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Calculated Push Into Entertainment Lifts ‘Duck Dynasty’ Family’s Fortunes

FilmingLouisiana September 2013 in Louisiana



Warner Bros. feature film Focus will shoot September 16th to November 15th in New Orleans. Please send resumes to



Sony’s feature film 22 Jump Street starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube will shoot September 28th through December 11th in New Orleans. Please send resumes to


The independent feature film Maggie will shoot September 16th for 5 weeks in New Orleans.

Please direct resumes to or


Fox television series Salem will shoot November 4th through May 2014 in Shreveport. Please send resumes to


End Game Entertainment’s feature film Selfless starring Ryan Reynolds will shoot September 16th for 10 weeks in New Orleans. Please send resumes to


Stone Village Productions feature film Brockmire will shoot September 23rd for 28 days in Baton Rouge. Please send resumes to



CBS Studios pilot and series Ravenswood starring Victoria Justice is filming August 12th through November 20th in New Orleans. Please send resumes to


CBS Studios television series Star Crossed is shooting August 14th through December 12th in New Orleans. Please direct resumes to


Spitfire Productions feature film Dark Places starring Nicholas Hoult and Charlize Theron is filming August 26th to September 29th in Shreveport. Please direct resumes to


Fox television series American Horror Story: Coven is filming July 23rd to January 2014 in New Orleans. Crew resumes should be sent to and casting resumes to


Films in Motion feature film Left Behind starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray and Jordin Sparks is filming August 5th to September 12th in Baton Rouge. Please send resumes to

‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot to Start Shooting in Louisiana This September

‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot to Start Shooting in Louisiana This September


fantastic four reboot Fantastic Four Reboot to Start Shooting in Louisiana This September
Vancouver is a favorite shooting location for many film and TV studios, and Canada has been home to the productions of many of Twentieth Century Fox’s X-Men movies, including the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. Chronicle director Josh Trank’s reboot of Fox-owned Marvel property The Fantastic Four was all set to head north to Vancouver for the shoot, but the studio has now been tempted away by the state of Louisiana.
Plenty of factors go into the decision of where to shoot a movie, the most obvious one being the look and feel of the locations, but an equally pressing matter being one of budgeting. Luckily, there’s also a lot of incentive for local governments to offer tax breaks that will draw major productions in, as a big film shoot not only provides work for local crew, but also gives a general boost to the state’s economy, and later down the line can draw tourists to the filming locations.

The Wrap reports that Louisiana’s film production incentive program, which was nearly killed off in a bill that was stopped by the state’s lawmakers, has succeeded in drawing in The Fantastic Four in. Shooting schedules haven’t been officially confirmed yet, but the film is expected to begin production in September, and hopefully this means we’ll soon hear confirmations about the new cast members who will be playing the superhero team.
Girls star Allison Williams was in talks to play Sue Storm earlier this year, and Fruitvale Station lead Michael B. Jordan’s name has been floated as a possibility for Johnny Storm (you may remember that this sparked a little bit of debate), but nothing seems to be set in stone just yet.
Marvel fans in Vancouver who were hoping to catch a glimpse of the rebooted superhero team will no doubt be a little disappointed at hearing this news, but until specific locations are revealed, it’ll be difficult to judge whether the move will be beneficial to The Fantastic Four aesthetically.
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Louisiana location Fantastic Four Reboot to Start Shooting in Louisiana This September
An atmospheric Louisiana location in ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’
At face value, the tax credits offered in Vancouver are actually more or less on par with those offered by the state of Louisiana. According to CreativeBC, productions shot in British Columbia receive a 33% tax credit for expenditures in local labor, with a 17.5% tax credit offered to studios who use British Columbia-based facilities and labor for digital animation or visual effects. Comparatively, government site Louisiana Entertainment offers a transferrable 30% tax credit on local expenditures and an additional 5% tax credit for the use of Louisiana labor.
Other films recently shot in Louisiana include Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. With the threat of the bill to cut incentives out of the way, there will hopefully be more productions heading to the state in the near future.
To all Screen Rant readers – but Louisiana and Vancouver residents in particular – how do you feel about this location move?
The Fantastic Four hits theaters March 6th, 2015.
Source: The Wrap

Pirates put on hold, Entertainment Weekly

Captain Jack Sparrow will not be gracing the big screen again anytime soon.
The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was set for a July 10, 2015 release, but due to script and budget issues, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said today they’ll be pushing the release back at least a year, to the summer of 2016. Walt Disney Studios sent out an update Tuesday specifying that the release date is now listed as “unset” but did not have further comment on the film’s schedule.

Catch Me If You Can scribe Jeff Nathanson is at work on a rewrite of his initial script, but it’s still not in a place that’s workable for a March shoot, Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter. ”We have an outline everyone loves but the script is not done,” he said, adding: “How do you budget an outline?”

Longtime Pirates star Johnny Depp is set to return for the project to reprise his role as Jack Sparrow and to work with a new directing team — Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. There is no word on whether Depp’s busy schedule (he’s set to star in several upcoming films, including Disney’s Into the Woods, their un-dated Alice in Wonderland sequel, and Mortdecai) might exaggerate the delay even further.

“Everybody’s more cautious,” Bruckheimer said, after The Lone Ranger disappointed this summer at the box office. “With any movie, you’re never confident. But it’s a billion-dollar franchise.” The first four films have grossed more than $3.7 billion at the box office.

The fifth film, called Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, was already facing stiff competition from the other planned releases for summer 2015, which include the Man of Steel sequel, Disney’s Star Wars: Episode VII, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Pixar’s Inside Out.
“The studio has high expectations for the next film,” a studio insider told EW. “We wanted to make sure we had all the right elements in place before we went forward.”