Their list of films reads like a “Best Of” list of blockbusters from the last quarter of a century. To date, the Kopelsons have produced 29 movies that have earned $3 billion worldwide, with another one on the way, securing their legacy in Hollywood history. In an industry fueled by lucky shots, the Kopelsons have more than luck on their side—they have experience.
Arnold and Anne are the perfect Hollywood couple, if such a thing can exist in a town filled with smoke and mirrors and fickle dispositions. Theirs is a love and business relationship that’s endured years, children, films, demanding directors, high-maintenance actors, and power-hungry studio execs. Their rise to the top is as unique as it is auspicious.
Arnold Kopelson started his career as a New York lawyer representing Chemical Bank, which was the leading bank on the East Coast that was financing the motion picture industry. Anne was Arnold’s legal secretary, and together they worked on massively documented loan agreements for film companies, many of which came to them looking for representation. Before long, Arnold started representing a distribution company that took him all over the world licensing independent movies. He soon learned that these territories were eager to have their own films, so Arnold decided to become a distributor himself.
Together he and Anne found a film, created a press book, and estimated what each territory would be worth. They sent the package out, along with the names and numbers he gathered from the Motion Picture Association of America, which he knew he could count on for support. Within 30 days, he got the feedback and the offers he was waiting for and made more money in his first mailing than he had made in any year of being a lawyer.
“I looked at Anne and Anne looked at me, and we said we think we have a business,” remembers Arnold. A taste of success in this new industry led them to form Inter-Ocean Film Sales Ltd, where they represented independent film producers, overseeing the licensing and financing aspects of production. “We expanded by utilizing my knowledge of banking and pre-selling some of our own projects, resulting in a bunch of contracts in various countries. We then took those contracts to a bank with a completion guarantee and were able to borrow the money to make a movie, which resulted in a profit even before we started filming.”