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jerryking : blockbusters   19

The financiers who struck it rich on ‘Joker’
February 7, 2020 | Financial Times | by Anna Nicolaou in New York and Alex Barker in London

The movie "Joker" has been one of the most profitable comic book movies ever ($1.1bn in box-office sales on a modest $55m production budget).....Warner Bros was not the only one cashing in on the unlikely blockbuster. Other beneficiaries include: Canadian pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies — and a pair of former investment bankers.....that external financiers were able to extract a lucrative share of the Joker’s profits underscores the timidity in parts of Hollywood, where major studios shy away from taking big risks — essentially anything that falls outside the universe of sequels and well-established franchise films. What Hollywood once derided as “dumb money” is, to an increasing extent, bankrolling some of Hollywood’s most daring creative bets.......Joker's director, Todd Phillips, was only able to gain Warner Bros' participation to back the film by signing on two co-financiers, Bron Creative and Village Roadshow, each chipping in about 20% of the production budget, thereby sharing the risk......Outside investors have been bankrolling films for a century, dating back to tycoon Howard Hughes in the 1920s. But within the business, are perceived as naive and spendthrift dupes, enamoured by Hollywood, who underestimate how unpredictable movie sales are......The major studios are making fewer movies, and even fewer ones that are not tied to existing franchises. They do not want to allow outside investors in on those movies, because they want to keep their expected riches. But for other films, such as adult dramas, studios are keen to hedge their risk.......Toronto-based, Jason Cloth, a former investment banker, runs Creative Wealth Media (CWM), which sources money from institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual funds.  CWM and production company Bron Studios, formed a joint venture in 2016 called Bron Creative.....who in turn, signed a $100m deal with Warner Bros in 2018 to finance a slate of films, which was how it got involved in Joker......Joker’s other financier, Village Roadshow, which has funded Warner Bros films for decades, is controlled by Vine Alternative Investments, a New York-based asset manager focused on the entertainment industry, and private equity group Falcon. Vine’s chief executive James Moore, a former investment banker for JPMorgan, said he noticed “there was a high correlation between how [entertainment] assets worked and how other assets in financial markets work”.........“They were long term durable cash flows that could be measured with a high degree of precision, and you could manage the risk if you managed them properly,”........Vine buys up libraries of old films and TV shows, which Mr Moore said are attractive because consumer demand for entertainment is “not terribly affected by recessions, capital market events or other exogenous factors”........the vast majority of the time when studios seek co-financing partners, sharing the risk is the right strategy......“Films based on new and unproven intellectual property carry significant financial risk that studios prudently share with outside financing partners,” Mr Ara said. “When it comes to predicting whether a picture will be a hit, as William Goldman famously said: ‘Nobody knows anything.’”.......James Cameron spent years trying to convince Fox to bankroll his futuristic science fiction movie featuring computer-generated aliens. Fox, which had been frustrated by Mr Cameron’s ballooning spending on their previous collaboration, Titanic, eventually agreed to finance Avatar. But only with the help of two private equity groups — Mr Mnuchin’s Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Media — which took on a reported 60 per cent of the financial risk. Avatar went on to break the record for global box-office sales.
asset_management  blockbusters  comic_books  entertainment_industry  films  filmmakers  financiers  financing  funding  Hollywood  investors  joint_ventures  movies  private_equity  producers  producer_mindset  risk-aversion  risk-sharing  sequels  Steven_Mnuchin  studios  timidity  Warner_Bros. 
7 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | Martin Scorsese: I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain. - The New York Times
By Martin Scorsese
Mr. Scorsese is an Academy Award-winning director, writer and producer.

Nov. 4, 2019

Martin Scorsese is an Academy Award-winning director, writer and producer. His new film is “The Irishman.”
Cinema is an art form that brings you the unexpected. In superhero movies, nothing is at risk, a director says.
Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry. You can see it on the screen. The fact that the films themselves don’t interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament. ......For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves.

It was about confronting the unexpected on the screen and in the life it dramatized and interpret.....cinema is an.art form. There was some debate about that at the time, so we stood up for cinema as an equal to literature or music or dance.......Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes...When I watch a movie by any of those filmmakers (e.g. Paul Thomas Anderson or Claire Denis or Spike Lee or Ari Aster or Kathryn Bigelow or Wes Anderson ), I know I’m going to see something absolutely new and be taken to unexpected and maybe even unnameable areas of experience. My sense of what is possible in telling stories with moving images and sounds is going to be expanded.......So, you might ask, what’s my problem? Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be?......In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever.......the fact is that the screens in most multiplexes are crowded with franchise pictures.....It’s a chicken-and-egg issue. If people are given only one kind of thing and endlessly sold only one kind of thing, of course they’re going to want more of that one kind of thing.....In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all...... certainly not implying that movies should be a subsidized art form, or that they ever were. When the Hollywood studio system was still alive and well, the tension between the artists and the people who ran the business was constant and intense, but it was a productive tension that gave us some of the greatest films ever made....Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other....For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art
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Yun Kim
VirginiaNov. 5
Times Pick
Product that sells to all ages and backgrounds is difficult to make therefore not risk free. But society only exposed to repeat formula product is indeed at risk.
art  artists  blockbusters  cinema  comic_books  creativity  cri_de_coeur  entertainment_industry  films  filmmakers  hits  Hollywood  independent_viewpoints  Martin_Scorsese  Marvel  movies  originality  original_content  risk-taking  sequels  soulless  studios  super-hero  unexpected 
10 weeks ago by jerryking
Five Studios’ Mission: Winning the Distribution Rights to James Bond -
APRIL 20, 2017 | The New York Times | By BROOKS BARNES.

On Tuesday, for instance, leaders at Sony spent an hour making their case. Kazuo Hirai, the chief executive, helped give the pitch, which emphasized the studio’s deep knowledge of Bond and its ideas for expanding the franchise’s reach. In true Hollywood fashion, Sony gave its presentation inside a sound stage on a recreated set from “Dr. No,” which was released in the United States in 1963 by United Artists and laid the foundation for the entire series.

Also vying for the Bond deal — even though it pays surprisingly little — are Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Annapurna, an ambitious upstart financed and led by the Oracle heiress Megan Ellison. (Not competing for the business are Paramount, which has been struggling and recently hired a new chairman, and Walt Disney Studios, which has been on a box office hot streak by focusing on its own family film labels.) .....The eagerness to land Bond underscores the continuing strength of the series but also the realities of the modern movie business. As competition for leisure time increases, studios have focused more intently on global blockbusters, and those are in short supply. In some ways, the Bond series was the first to go after a worldwide audience....Under its previous agreement, Sony paid 50 percent of the production costs for “Spectre” — which totaled some $250 million after accounting for government incentives — but received only 25 percent of certain profits, once costs were recouped. Sony also shouldered tens of millions of dollars in marketing and had to give MGM a piece of the profit from non-Bond films Sony had in its own pipeline, including “22 Jump Street.”...Why, then, do studios want to distribute Bond so badly? Bragging rights, mostly. Having a Bond movie on the schedule guarantees at least one hit in a business where there is almost no sure thing.

Bond is gargantuan: The 25 movies have taken in nearly $6 billion at the North American box office, after adjusting for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo. The series has generated billions more in overseas ticket sales, home entertainment revenue, television reruns, marketing partnerships (Omega watches, Aston Martin cars, Gillette razors) and video games.
Hollywood  films  movies  pitches  ideas  idea_generation  studios  blockbusters  product_pipelines  Sony  marketing  upstarts  Warner_Bros. 
april 2017 by jerryking
We’re All Cord Cutters Now - WSJ
By FRANK ROSE
Sept. 6, 2016

Streaming, Sharing, Stealing By Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang
MIT Press, 207 pages, $29.95

The authors’ point is not that the long tail is where the money is, though that can be the case. It’s that “long-tail business models,” being inherently digital, can succeed where others do not. Mass-media businesses have always depended on the economics of scarcity: experts picking a handful of likely winners to be produced with a professional sheen, released through a tightly controlled series of channels and supported by blowout ad campaigns. This, the authors make clear, is a strategy for the previous century.
book_reviews  books  digital_media  entertainment_industry  massive_data_sets  Amazon  Netflix  data  granularity  cord-cutting  clarity  Anita_Elberse  The_Long_Tail  business_models  blockbusters  Apple  mass_media 
january 2017 by jerryking
Anatomy of a Hit: How Success Is Measured in Different Creative Fields - Speakeasy - WSJ
Dec 18, 2015 | WSJ | By JON KEEGAN. How do you define a hit podcast, Broadway show or typeface? Explore the nature of cultural hits.

when it comes to other cultural works, defining a hit is not as easy. We set out to explore how success is measured—what factors matter in assessing a hit in various creative categories ranging from books to tweets:

Audience – How many people viewed the work?
Sales – How much money was made?
Longevity – How long has the work been available?
Critical acclaim – What praise did the work receive?
art  creative_class  hits  measurements  music  paintings  blockbusters  entertainment  entertainment_industry  creative_economy  auctions  YouTube  Twitter 
december 2015 by jerryking
If the artists starve, we’ll all go hungry - The Globe and Mail
ELIZABETH RENZETTI
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 19 2015

After 20 years in the music business, she says she’s seeing songwriters “leaving in droves. If you can’t make a living, if you can’t afford go to the dentist, you’re going to leave.” This is a lament you’ll hear from artists everywhere these days: We can’t afford to do this any more. The well has dried up. Freelance rates are what they were when the first Trudeau was in power. Rents rose, and royalties fell. Novelists are becoming real-estate agents; musicians open coffee shops.

The evidence of this culture shock is in front of our eyes, in the shuttered book shops and video stores and music clubs, yet it’s remarkably unremarked upon. Artists don’t actually to like to complain publicly about their lot in life, knowing the inevitable backlash from those who still believe that creating is not “a real job.... American journalist Scott Timberg argues in his new book, Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class.
artists  Elizabeth_Renzetti  Pandora  streaming  creative_types  songwriters  musicians  free  creative_class  entertainment  piracy  copyright  entertainment_industry  downloads  blockbusters  creative_economy  books  art 
january 2015 by jerryking
Are book publishers blockbustering themselves into oblivion? - The Globe and Mail
RUSSELL SMITH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 28 2014

Whatever they mean, they certainly cannot mean a shrinking talent pool.

So they must mean that they are not, in fact, interested in the real talent pool, or in a wide variety of literature. What they are looking for are bestsellers, which tend to be particularly narrow kinds of books. Most of the gargantuan advances that have made headlines in the U.S. recently are for science-fiction and fantasy books. Every publisher is looking for exactly the same book – basically, they are looking for The Hunger Games again and again. When they say “quality,” they mean “mass appeal.”...But in concentrating on bestsellers to the detriment of other literature, the publishers are simply following the model of all the entertainment industries. Providing an eclectic variety of entertainments to please a diverse audience, as the free Internet can do, just hasn’t been lucrative for the conglomerates that own film studios and recording labels. They are in constant search of blockbusters.

As they grow larger and concentrate their efforts and investments on massive, sure-fire hits – the next Marvel movie, the next Taylor Swift album – the cultural landscape seems paradoxically smaller. It becomes even more difficult to get an indie film made – the huge projects suck the oxygen (financing, distribution, media coverage) out of the biosphere.

In following this larger trend, book publishers are shortsighted. By reducing their involvement in original and challenging art, they relinquish literary fiction to the tiny presses and online magazines, and so become artistically irrelevant and, in the long run, uninteresting even as suppliers of entertainment. Pursuing mainstream popularity with ever-larger sums of money is ultimately self-destructive....Yes, such high-mindedness is all very well for someone who doesn’t have to keep a money-losing, employment-providing company afloat. And Le Guin’s vague rejection of capitalism is not a solution to the immediate problems facing publishers. But her point about taking the long view – about concentrating on valuable literature for the sake of the industry’s general health – is surely a practical one as well.
books  publishing  Russell_Smith  literature  blockbusters  art  short-sightedness  conglomerates  indie  winner-take-all  Amazon  writers  long-term  self-destructive  talent_pools 
november 2014 by jerryking
Artists struggle to survive in age of the blockbuster
Nov. 28 2013 | The Globe and Mail | RUSSELL SMITH.
In the artistic economy, the Internet has not lived up to its hype. For years, the cybergurus liked to tell us about the “long tail”....People in publishing bought this, too....In fact, the blockbuster artistic product is dominating cultural consumption as at no other time in history....The book Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment, by business writer Anita Elberse, argues that the days of the long tail are over in the United States. It makes more sense, she claims, for entertainment giants to plow as much money as they can into guaranteed hits than to cultivate new talent...There are big winners and there are losers – the middle ground is eroding. Publishers are publishing less, not more. Everybody awaits the fall’s big literary-prize nominations with a make-us-or-break-us terror. Every second-tier author spends an hour every day in the dismal abjection of self-promotion – on Facebook, to an audience of 50 fellow authors who couldn’t care less who just got a nice review in the Raccoonville Sentinel....What does any artist do in the age of the blockbuster? Nothing, absolutely nothing, except keep on doing what you like to do. Global economic changes are not your problem (and are nothing you can change with a despairing tweet). Think instead, as you always have, about whether or not you like semicolons and how to describe the black winter sky. There is something romantic about being underground, no?
Russell_Smith  winner-take-all  The_Long_Tail  artists  publishing  niches  hits  books  entertainment  entertainment_industry  blockbusters  creative_economy  Anita_Elberse  creative_class  piracy  copyright 
december 2013 by jerryking
Bottom-Feeding from Blockbuster Businesses
March 2003 | Harvard Business Review | David Rosenblum, Doug Tomlinson, and Larry Scott.

Unprofitable customers are the pariahs of the business world. Marketing experts encourage companies to analyze the economics of their customer portfolios and ruthlessly weed out buyer segments that don’t generate attractive returns. Loyalty experts stress the necessity of aiming retention programs at the “good” customers—the profitable ones, that is—and encouraging the “bad” ones to buy from competitors. And customer-relationship-management software provides ever more sophisticated means for identifying poorly performing customers and culling them from the ranks.

On the surface, the movement to banish unprofitable customers seems eminently reasonable—what company, after all, can afford to waste precious resources courting and serving customers that don’t provide any payback? But writing off a customer relationship simply because it is momentarily unprofitable is at best rash and at worst counterproductive. Customers are scarce, and every one should be approached as a potential asset. Executives shouldn’t be asking themselves, How can we shun unprofitable customers? They need to ask, How can we make money from the customers that everyone else is shunning?

When you look at apparently unattractive segments through this lens, you often see what others are blind to: opportunities to serve those segments in ways that fundamentally change customer economics.
HBR  business_models  underserved  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  blockbusters  overlooked_opportunities  customer_segmentation  customer_profiling 
june 2012 by jerryking
Technology Devices Either Sell Big or Die Fast - NYTimes.com
August 23, 2011 | NYT | By JENNA WORTHAM & VERNE G.
KOPYTOFF. In recent years, technology companies have been cutting their
losses with increasing speed...These days, big technology companies —
particularly those in the hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet
industries — are starting to resemble Hollywood film studios. Every
release needs to be a blockbuster, and the only measure of success is
the opening-weekend gross. There is little to no room for the sleeper
indie hit that builds good word of mouth to become a solid performer
over time. ...this accelerated lifecycle of high-end hardware is being
described as “Darwinian.” ...Companies kill new products more quickly
now because of the higher cost of staying competitive, ..The crush of
tech bloggers and Twitter-using early adopters .. raises the stakes
around how well new products perform in the marketplace...One needs
everything in place: the content, the applications and the
experience--to have a reasonable chance at success. [JCK: "everything in place" = ecosystems]
accelerated_lifecycles  attrition_rates  blockbusters  content  culling  Darwinian  ecosystems  hits  Jenna_Wortham  kill_rates  mobile_applications  new_products  product_development  product_launches  social_media  smartphones  speed  tablets  UX  winner-take-all 
august 2011 by jerryking
Tiger Woods and the Superstar Effect - WSJ.com
APRIL 3, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By JONAH LEHRER. The
Superstar Effect. From the playing field to the boardroom, when one
competitor is clearly the best, the others don't step up their game—they
give up. As Tiger Woods returns to golf, Jonah Lehrer looks at the
nature of competition.
Tiger_Woods  competition  overachievers  Jonah_Lehrer  GE  Jack_Welch  winner-take-all  blockbusters  superstars  high-achieving 
april 2010 by jerryking
Blockbuster or Bust - WSJ.com
JANUARY 3, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By ANITA ELBERSE. Why
struggling publishers will keep placing outrageous bids on new books
publishing  books  hits  blockbusters  winner-take-all  Anita_Elberse 
november 2009 by jerryking

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