Sometimes I wonder why corporate chiefs just don’t state the obvious when it is in fact obvious… as opposed to trying to spin it. Paula Wagner, of United Artists, said this about the studios first major film, Lions for Lambs:
“Wagner said that “Lions” represents everything that the revitalized UA stands for, and that its importance extends beyond just box office haul. She said the film helped UA secure the Merrill Lynch fund.”
“Represents everything that the revitalized UA stands for”? Like, for example, making crappy films? Wagner would look better by just coming out and saying “Lambs didn’t meet expectations, but it didn’t suck as bad as Redacted did”.
And if that one film helped them secure $500 million in financing, led by Merrill Lynch, well maybe we have some explanation for how screwed up the credit markets are right now. Perhaps the German finance minister is right in referring to “snooty” investment bankers.
Wagner says in the next graph that:
“We do recognize that it hasn’t performed as well as we would have liked, but we don’t regret making it. I think it’s very important that a film company be judged by a slate of films, not just one film,”"
Okay, judging on an entire portfolio is a fair point but she can’t really expect anyone to believe that they don’t regret at least a tiny little bit making a film that bombed badly and put a spotlight on them for something they would rather not have attention drawn to. Again, why dig the hole deeper?
The thing I’ve always found curious about Hollywood is that it really is like the venture capital business in many ways. A studio develops a portfolio of assets, in their case films instead of companies, and those assets then go on to generate returns through growing an audience, achieving multiple distribution options, and hopefully developing a durable franchise. Also, like VC, the equity holders get paid at the end.
Hollywood is a trend business, similarly with venture capital, where a major hit sees many imitators. In recent times it appears that Hollywood badly read the trend but instead of going in the other direction they insist on judging the product by it’s importance rather than by it’s financial return. In tech and with venture capital no one will suggest that a failed company was important in spite of it’s failure… in our world the body gets buried and nobody talks about it anymore.
But I’m sure that Merrill Lynch is comforted by the fact that UA’s bomb is an important bomb to someone.