One of Steve Carlis’ most stunning successes as executive producer is the 1996 independent drama film Sling Blade. This film not only won several awards (including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), but also was what launched Billy Bob Thornton (a former country musician turned into a screenwriter) into stardom.
Sling Blade tells the story of a mildly intellectually disabled man called Karl Childers, who spent more than 2 decades in a mental asylum after murdering his mother and her abusive lover when he was a 12-year-old boy. When he was middle-aged, Karl was released from the mental institution because they deemed him harmless to society, and Karl himself said “I reckon I got no reason to kill no one.” After that, Karl moves back to his hometown in Arkansas, gets a job as a garage mechanic, and quickly becomes friends with a fatherless boy and his mother. However, his newfound peaceful life is shattered by the mother’s abusive boyfriend (who is very cruel to the boy)… and Karl now finds himself having to deal with the ghosts from his past.
Despite having little promotion and lacking the massive budget other filmmakers spend to promote their movies, Sling Blade became a big success and played successfully for a long time. The film’s budget was merely $890,000… and by July 1997 it had grossed $24,475,416.
Without a doubt, this film succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation. It was a massive success in the box office, won an Academy Award, and movie critics pulled no punches when praising the film (some of them called it “A masterpiece in southern storytelling” and “a mesmerizing parable of good and evil and a splendid example of Southern storytelling at its most poetic and imaginative.”)
Steve Carlis was one of the key people needed to make this low-budget film a success because of his experience, instincts and insight. He’s highly respected and recognized across the entertainment industry for his passion and commitment to creating successful, award-winning films and TV shows… and for his entrepreneurial skills that allowed him to transform an independent film company into a multi-million multimedia content and service provider.