Three years after Outside Inc. bought iconic ski film company Warren Miller Entertainment, the corporate owners announced a new direction for the hallowed franchise.
Instead of filming a new adventure, the small brand will release a retrospective of the traveling film company’s decades-long history of ski movies, including never-before-seen footage. But Chris Patterson, the longtime film director for the brand, took to Instagram in late January to criticize Outside management for that decision.
Typically, Patterson and the Warren Miller film crew set off on Jan. 24 — the anniversary of Warren Miller’s passing in 2018 — to film the annual ski/snowboard movie bearing his name.
But Outside’s managers pulled the funding this year, opting to use archival footage instead. So for the first time in the company’s 74-year history, no one will be making a new film with Warren Miller’s name on it, Patterson said.
“Due to financial challenges at Outside, the executives have chosen to assemble the [movie] entirely with ‘existing footage’ — no need for a camera crew, plane tickets, lift tickets and for that matter, no need for athletes or snow,” Patterson wrote. “It’s heartbreaking and I’ve been in disbelief since hearing the news just before Christmas.”
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Outside Inc.’s decision — and Patterson’s post — led many fans to wonder if the corporate owner was trimming costs by “burying a venerable brand,” The Colorado Sun reported.
But Outside representatives framed the issue differently.
“Word of our demise has been greatly exaggerated. Greatly,” Chris Jerard, a veteran of the film team told the newspaper.
The choice to use only archival footage this year is part of a “two-year celebration” leading to Warren Miller Entertainment’s 75th film in 2024, according to a Facebook post from the group. Published the same day as Patterson’s Instagram post on Jan. 24, it says that filming will resume for the follow-up movie debuting next year.
While Outside Inc. managers haven’t publicly framed the decision as a financial one, the company has made several notable staff cuts over the last year.
In May 2022 , the company laid off nearly 100 employees. A few months later, in November, Outside cut 12 % of its staff. CEO Robin Thurston cited “ economic headwinds “ for the decision in a letter to staff published on Medium.
“Earlier this year, we began a major push to focus on profitability,” Thurston wrote. “In order to achieve profitability by Q3 2023… we must manage our costs more tightly.”
For Patterson, the choice to avoid new filming this year has a similar consequence: he and his fellow filmmakers at Warren Miller will now be looking for work this winter season.
“No film crew needed [this year], so guys like @tommday @jeffwright @colindw and me @cinemacp along with many others will be without a contract, an assignment and most importantly without the opportunity to carry on the legacy that Warren left with us, a legacy we respect and honor,” Patterson wrote. “Please keep the talented guys I’ve listed above in mind when you need a truly gifted filmmaker.”
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