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jerryking : studios   13

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  sequels  Steven_Mnuchin  studios  timidity  Warner_Bros. 
4 hours 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 
9 weeks ago by jerryking
Amy Pascal’s Hollywood Ending, Complete With Comeback Twist - The New York Times
Article on Amy Pascal, former chair of Sony Pictures, and victim of a 2014 cyberattack that ravaged the company (her private emails were stolen, published online and picked apart by the news media)....In February 2015, Sony ousted her — not over the embarrassing emails, although those didn’t help, but because her movie operation had failed to keep pace with an entertainment industry shift toward franchise films. For Ms. Pascal, this was true devastation: She had been publicly classified as outdated, an executive from another era, when stars and stories mattered more than computer-generated visual effects......Ms. Pascal, a 59-year-old woman in an industry rife with sexism and ageism, seems to have emerged stronger and happier, having reinvented herself as a producer through her company, Pascal Pictures. She will deliver three films to three different studios this year, with more than a dozen more movies on the assembly line. .....“Amy has an extremely sharp film mind, but it’s really her passionate advocacy for scripts and for talent that will make her, I believe, one of the best producers this business has ever seen,” said Thomas E. Rothman, who succeeded Ms. Pascal as Sony’s movie chairman.......the transition from studio mogul to producer is one of the most difficult pivots in show business. Producing requires hustle in a way that running a studio does not. Mustering the necessary self-motivation often proves impossible for older studio royals used to waving a scepter. The best producers put their own egos aside and let others shine. Climbing corporate rungs usually requires the opposite tactic.....“It has been a challenge to be patient and allow myself to learn, especially at this ripe age,” she said. “There’s some discomfort in that. Starting over again means you have to shut up and listen. But you don’t want to because you want to show everybody that you know something even when you don’t.”

She continued: “You think you’re making a movie when you’re a studio executive, but you’re not. The bigger the job you have in Hollywood, the less you are actually connected to the creative process. You’re in budget meetings and talking about head count all day. Your life is reactive.”....
“I never forgot that early training,” Ms. Pascal said. “When in doubt, work.”....when she lost the Sony throne, Ms. Pascal dove into producing as a remedy.....she set up a new office within days of her Sony departure and joined Ivan Reitman to remake “Ghostbusters.” It steered her mind away from self-pity, kept her focused on the future and soothed her bruised ego.....learned about ‘plussing’ ....look at something that is pretty good and figure out how to make it even better.”
bouncing_back  Sony  Hollywood  women  packaging  entertainment_industry  midlife  reinvention  producers  films  movies  studios  self-motivation  female_empowerment  adversity  data_breaches  hustle  cyberattacks  hackers  Second_Acts 
july 2017 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
Life’s Work
May 2915 | HBR | Alison Beard

"In the business of storytelling, you're looking for originality in the subject and point of view....which ideas feel authentic and new?"

Can curiosity be taught? Some people have more than others, but to use it as a tool takes work. You have to assault a topic kind of like a scientist and ask endless questions.

"But I still had to do what Lew Wasserman told me: Start manufacturing ideas"

"When people look at you, you have a chance to be a leader"
HBR  Brian_Grazer  curiosity  storytelling  films  movies  ideas  idea_generation  Hollywood  books  Communicating_&_Connecting  self-actualization  creativity  creative_renewal  studios  producers  questions  originality  perspectives  authenticity  pitches  independent_viewpoints  personal_accomplishments  creating_valuable_content  Lew_Wasserman 
april 2016 by jerryking
Engaging Movie Fans, From Teaser to Premiere - The New York Times
JUNE 14, 2015 | NYT | By MICHAEL CIEPLY.

start-up helps studios cultivate potential audiences’ enthusiasm with early sales of tickets and movie-related products.....Kernel has been quietly burrowing into one of Hollywood’s more persistent problems. That is, how to channel and exploit audience enthusiasm, which can peak with the release of an early trailer (New Line’s “Snakes on a Plane,” from 2006) or a vibrant experience at Comic-Con (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” in 2010), but then dissipate before the movie arrives in theaters...Mr. Harvilicz and Mr. Martinez began Kernel, which now has about a dozen employees. They have turned what started as an itch into a largely web-based business that proposes to help studios engage with fans while capturing dollars from the moment a blockbuster begins to generate excitement, or between releases in a long-running series like the X-Men films, from Fox and Marvel....Prices can reach $1,000, for a premium package that includes two tickets to a yet-to-be-scheduled film premiere. “It’s the second generation of crowdfunding,” said Mr. Harvilicz.

The ticket sales help studios reach theater customers without getting directly into an exhibition business that is barred to them by longstanding legal strictures.
Hollywood  movies  start_ups  films  Kernel  entertainment_industry  studios  superfans  engagement  fan_engagement 
june 2015 by jerryking
Netflix Faces New Competition in Streaming - NYTimes.com
Sept. 26, 2010 | NYT | VERNE G. KOPYTOFF. Netflix faces a no.
of well-financed & innovative companies e.g. Apple, Amazon, Google
as well as the CATV providers. This war will not be won by perfecting
the logistics of moving DVDs, but by whoever can best negotiate with
Hollywood studios..The weakness of the streaming service is movie
selection. Netflix’s catalog of 20K streaming movies does not include
many recent Hollywood hits because Netflix has been unable to negotiate
rights from all the studios....The industry is still very young &
many companies are experimenting with business models & expanding
their video libraries. Streaming requires less infrastructure &
therefore has lower barriers to entry than a system built on sorting
machines & distn. or even brick- &-mortar stores. Netflix earns
less $rev./cust. as streaming catches on because customers are
subscribing to less expensive plans, with fewer discs and unlimited
streaming. But the company is gaining subs. @ nearly 50 %/yr.
Netflix  Reed_Hastings  Hollywood  studios  competitive_landscape  streaming  licensing  business_models  YouTube  licensing_rights 
september 2010 by jerryking

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