The numbers do the roaring for MGM. In the first three months of this year it generated net income of $57.4M, +150.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $481.7M, +168.4%. It shouldn’t be a surprise. With the late 2012 release of the James Bond film Skyfall, and a 50% stake in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the studio had $139.5M in worldwide box office revenues, up from $0.5M last year. The company says that it has to wait for costs to be covered before it can recognize revenue from two films it co-financed: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Home entertainment also was way up — to $201.7M from $36.2M — with the home video release of Skyfall and piggy-back promotions for its James Bond library. But worldwide television licensing was -3.2% to $109.3M. MGM’s 19.1% stake in EPIX delivered $5M to net earnings, +16.3%. The results “exceeded our expectations” and “position us well to deliver on our financial goals” for 2013, CEO Gary Barber told investors.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Michael Haneke Feted By Spain, BBC To Air Record-Breaking ‘You Will Be My Son’
Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts has gone this year to Amour director Michael Haneke. The two-time Palme d’Or winner was given a $65,000 prize to go with the honor. The jury hailed his “constantly evolving” filmography and praised his “dazzling mastery” that employs “radical sincerity, keen observation and extreme subtlety” for an “original and highly personal approach to fundamental issues that concern and affect us both individually and collectively.” Established in 1980, the Prince of Asturias awards honor an individual or institution whose work “constitutes a significant contribution to mankind’s culture heritage.” Pedro Almodovar is a previous recipient.
BBC’s Cup Runneth Over With Record-Breaking ‘You Will Be My Son’
Moviegoers who went to see Gilles Legrand’s You Will Be My Son during its first week of UK and Ireland release in December were given a free glass of wine as a means to entice folks during a week that also saw the bow of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie ultimately stayed in theaters for a record-breaking six months, and indie distributor Swipe said today that it’s been acquired by the BBC for TV broadcast. The French wine film is set in St. Emilion and stars Niels Arestrup as a vintner who plots to disown his own son and pass the …
EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.
Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, here, here, here, and here.)
This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)
A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.
I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:
1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.)
The annual marketing kudos went big for Disney pics Iron Man 3, Wreck-It-Ralph, Monsters University, Brave, and The Avengers at the Golden Trailer Awards Friday night. The GTAs didn’t just fete the best movie promos of the year. They also doled out Trashiest Trailer (to A24′s Spring Breakers) and gave indie comedy Hit & Run the Golden Fleece award, awarded to a trailer better than its actual movie. Here’s the full list of winners:
The first three months of 2013 were mixed for the entertainment giant. Time Warner says this morning that it generated net income of $720M, +23.9% vs last year’s Q1, on revenues of $6.93B, -0.6%. That missed the consensus analyst forecast of $7.12B. But adjusted earnings at 82 cents a share were well ahead of predictions for 74 cents. At the cable networks, including HBO, revenues were up 3% to $3.7B with operating income +11% to $1.3B. The company says that a 1% decline in ad sales ($12M) and 4% drop in content revenues ($11M) took some of the edge off of subscription revenues which were +5% ($115M). Ad growth at Turner‘s U.S. entertainment networks “was more than offset by declines at its news networks, due to lower demand” as well as the closing of channels in India and Turkey last year. Film and TV entertainment saw operating income grow 23% to $263M even though revenues fell 4% to $2.7B. Time Warner attributes the decline to “lower theatrical performance and a decline in television licensing revenues” — adding that it was offset by higher home video sales for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Argo. Meanwhile the magazine publishing unit, which the company plans to spin off, generated a $9M operating loss (vs last year’s $5M loss) on revenues of $737M, -5%.
UPDATE: 9:20 AM: Just two days after Disney announced that Iron Man 3 would open in China on the same day as its North American release May 3, the date has changed. The sequel from the studio and Marvel Studios will now open there May 1 to capitalize on the final day of the May Day holiday.
PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY AM: This is the date Disney and Marvel Studios were eyeing all along for the pic, but Disney now has set it in stone. It’s now day-and-date with its U.S. release. Disney, Marvel and China-based producer-distributor DMG Entertainment have pulled out all the stops to promote Iron Man 3 in China, where it was partially shot, complete with a lavish 90-minute TV special about the movie that premiered over the weekend on national TV and will air in repeats until its release. The cast also includes Chinese stars Wang Xueqi and Fan Bing Bing. The release in China could mark a rebound for U.S. films in the territory: Last year, four foreign films were responsible for 56% of total sales in the first quarter, but in 2013 the only Hollywood pictures to punch above 300M yuan ($48.5M) were Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, according to reports. They were followed by A Good Day To Die Hard, Cloud Atlas and Resident Evil: Retribution.
The Motion Picture Association and the China Film Distributors and Exhibitors Association have released a study that says the film and TV business contributed $15.5B to China’s economy in 2011. Commenting on the report, Mike Ellis, president and managing director of the MPA for Asia Pacific, said, “Chinese audiences are seeking out and enjoying a variety of films, whether they are made locally, internationally or co-produced through collaborative international partnerships.” While box office is predicted to keep building regardless of where films come from, figures released recently by China’s film watchdog confirm what could be a disturbing trend for Hollywood: Local movies are taking a big bite out of ticket sales. The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said last week that homegrown films accounted for 69% of mainland box office revenues in the first quarter of 2013. The shift began with the late 2012 release of comedy Lost In Thailand, which broke about every record possible, went on to become the highest-grossing Chinese title of all time and gave a kickstart to 2013. But despite that movie’s eleventh-hour arrival, local pics still finished 2012 at a four-year low with a market share of only 48%. In the first three months of this year, however, Chinese films made 3.6B yuan ($582M) and six films broke the coveted 100M yuan ($16.2M) barrier. The top film was Stephen Chow’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which earned 1.25B yuan ($202.2M).
Last year, four foreign films were responsible for 56% of total sales in the first quarter. But this year, the only Hollywood pictures to punch above 300M yuan ($48.5M) were Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Xinhua news agency reported. They were followed by A Good Day To Die Hard, Cloud Atlas and Resident Evil: Retribution.
It was Warner Bros Pictures’ turn for studio slate presentations at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas Tuesday and President of the Warner Bros Pictures Group Jeff Robinov unveiled the studio’s packed summer lineup with its familiar mix of comedy, horror, superheroes, monsters, and sequels. Robinov looked to the future and thanked all the studio’s partners: New Line, Legendary, Village Roadshow, Alcon, and MGM (on the Hobbit trilogy). He also thanked his new boss Kevin Tsujihara who won the job of Chief Executive Officer replacing Barry Meyer. ”All of us share his vision and this will be an exciting time under his leadership,” Robinov said. Distribution head Dan Fellman initiated a bunch of baseball analogies after the success of Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros’ Jackie Robinson biopic 42 last weekend. It followed a string of 5 straight box office disappointments for Warner Bros and occasional other partners (like New Line). ”Consistency has always been a hallmark of Warner Bros Pictures. But even the most consistent player can hit a few fouls,” Fellman told exhibitors. Fellman emphasized that Warner Bros is the only studio to score $1 billion box office gross domestically 12 years in a row. And International Distrib topper Veronika Kwan Vandenberg pointed out that the studio in 2012 grossed over $4 billion worldwide thanks to hits like The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Add to that the 85th Oscar-winning Best Picture success of Argo. Plus, this year Warners Bros is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding by the Brothers Warner in 1923.
The season starts out May 10th with the 3D drama from Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby, originally intended for the 2012 awards season but held for Summer 2013 instead. Luhrmann is still tweaking the movie which will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th, but sent along a pre-taped introduction – complete with music underscoring to the film’s trailer. Footage was shown at last year’s CinemaCon but this was much different and in 3D. No question it looks like another visual triumph for the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo And Juliet which starred his Gatsby lead Leonardo Di Caprio. Luhrmann said he was inspired to use 3D when he saw a 3D screening of the Alfred Hitchcock 1950s drama Dial M For Murder (also released by Warners). Even though he said the most special effect in this movie is the acting.
Director Todd Phillips publicly chided Luhrmann before introducing The Hangover Part III trailer. “It would be nice if Baz showed up. There are a lot of directors backstage. We showed up,” he said. Phillips then fed the exhibitors’ egos by saying that comedies should be seen in theaters where everyone can laugh together. Warner’s is now referring to his sleeper smash as the Hangover Trilogy.
Next was Zack Snyder, director of Man Of Steel, who turned up with the world premiere of the film’s new trailer which will play before Oblivion starting on Friday. “There’s no competition between superheroes obviously. But if there were, he would win,” said the unabashed fan of the comic book hero. “I am sorry to even have to say this now but we shot the movie on film and anamorphic. We wanted to give your cinemas a big giant movie movie.” He also acknowledged producer Christopher Nolan’s help during their first meeting in steering him in the right direction on the film. Nolan and his co-producers Emma Thomas and Chuck Roven were in the audience but oddly not introduced to the crowd. The trailer played well and Nolan seemed pleased with the reaction when I saw him afterwards.
LAS VEGAS (APRIL 15, 2013) – RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) announced today the introduction of Precision White Screen technology for cinema projection, combining 2D white screen performance with the ability to project polarized 3D images. Designed to deliver enhanced 2D and 3D presentations with wide viewing angles similar to white screens of equivalent gain, Precision White Screen technology features edges 4 to 5 times brighter than a standard silver screen. The improved screen efficiency results in 40% more total light coming off the screen, providing more uniform brightness than a standard silver screen. Precision White Screens also feature a smooth, white surface which generates better image contrast for improved image quality in 2D and 3D.
The Weinstein Co.’s Silver Linings Playbook and leading duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper came up big at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, nabbing Best Female Performance, Best Male Performance, and Best Kiss at the annual fan-driven ceremony. Marvel’s The Avengers took home three awards including Movie Of The Year, while host Rebel Wilson and her breakout summer pic Pitch Perfect also garnered kudos. Meanwhile, Taylor Lautner of Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 snagged a win out of the film’s lone nomination: Best Shirtless Performance. Here’s the full list of winners, highlighted in bold:
In yet another causalty of the shift to digital, New Zealand’s first-ever post-production facility, Park Road, will shutter its 35mm film processing laboratory in June, according to local reports. Privately owned by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who acquired it in 1999, Park Road has been in operation since 1941 with credits that include the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong and District 9. General manager Cameron Harland said in a note to clients, “We have always been incredibly proud of the quality of the Lab and said we would be the last Lab standing. That has been true in New Zealand for the last 12 months or so, but unfortunately the shift in digital acquisition and exhibition, has meant that this part of our business has now become commercially unsustainable,” If.com.au reports. The company has urged filmmakers that need lab services to “get material to us quickly.” The remainder of Park Road’s businesses, including sound, picture, VFX and the digital lab continue to operate.
Execs at privately held MGM won’t be able to play their cards so close to the vest after the James Bond film Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey helped to push company revenues for 2012 past $1B. (It ended up with $1.38B). That’s an SEC threshold that will require MGM to publicly disclose registration information it now can keep confidential, CEO Gary Barber told investors in a conference call. Might this make MGM more likely to go public, something it said last year that it’s considering? Barber punted: “We’re coming off of a banner year” which “gives us great options for the future…We look forward to exploring all of those options. Beyond that I cannot comment further.” The CEO also had little to add about Skyfall director Sam Mendes’ decision not to take on the next Bond film. “He decided to pursue other interests at this time,” Barber said, promising to announce a new director “soon.” The screenplay is being developed now and while there’s no timetable the CEO hopes it will be released within three years. With Skyfall and Hobbit working their way through the distribution pipeline, and other films coming including The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, MGM forecasts that this year’s revenue and cash flow will be close to last year’s. That “would be remarkable,” CFO Dene Stratton says.
When you look at the numbers for the end of 2011 and 2012, you’d almost think they’re from two different companies. In the last three months of 2012 MGM generated net income of $40.2M, up from an $11.3M loss a year ago, on revenues of $902.6M, +561%. Privately held MGM will release more detailed information about the quarter tomorrow. But the statement out today notes that the company revenues for the entire year rose 97.4% to $1.38B with worldwide theatrical up $661M — largely due to the year-end success of Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “With back-to-back films each grossing worldwide box office in excess of $1B, MGM now has two of the top 15 films in box office history,” CEO Gary Barber says. Television licensing revenue was up 6.2% to $395M and home entertainment revenue was up $1M to $195M. There were no new home entertainment releases, but MGM says that the operation generated $96M in Q4 with strong results from its James Bond 50th anniversary promotions.
Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted lead the 2013 MTV Movie Awards nominations with seven each. Silver Linings Playbook follows with six nods and the final installment in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, nabbed five. The Avengers, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Pitch Perfect and Skyfall all have four noms each. Rebel Wilson, nominated for Best Female Performance and Breakthrough Performance for her role as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, hosts the annual celebration of movies, actors and music. She’ll be joined by Will Ferrell, who’ll receive MTV’s inaugural Comedic Genius Award. The show airs live on MTV at 9 PM ET on Sunday, April 14. The complete list of nominees follows:
New Zealand Scales Everest Movie ‘Beyond The Edge’
Not to be confused with Sony Pictures’ Doug Liman-directed Everest, New Zealand’s General Film Corporation has announced the start of shooting on Beyond The Edge, a 3D feature about Sir Edmund Hillary’s 1953 ascent of Mt Everest. Local actors Chad Moffitt and Sonam Sherpa will play Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay for director Leanne Pooley. Matthew Metcalfe is producing and Rialto will release in New Zealand and Australia. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King production designer Grant Major; cinematographer Richard Bluck, second unit on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and costume designer Barbara Darragh are all aboard. Altitude Film Sales has international rights. Completion is expected in September.
To date, the blockbuster has earned $301.4 million domestically. Now, with its recent release in China where it has grossed $37.3M in 10 days, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has earned an estimated $700 million internationally. That’s a global total of $1 billion to date. Peter Jackson’s pic becomes only the 15th film in history to exceed one billion dollars worldwide. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in a trilogy based on JRR Tolkien’s epic and is a production of New Line Cinema and MGM Pictures. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.
Netflix Nabs ‘Hunger Games’ For The UK & Ireland
Netflix has secured exclusive rights to The Hunger Games for the UK and Ireland before it hits the streaming service in the U.S. Netflix entered the market in January 2012 where Amazon’s Lovefilm is a strong player and where Sky continues to build its business. It hit 1M subscribers last August and has UK deals with studios including Disney, Fox, NBCU, Paramount and Miramax.
Bérénice Bejo To Star In ‘Le Dernier Diamant’
The Artist star Bérénice Bejo has booked her latest French film and will start shooting next week. The Eric Barbier-directed Le Dernier Diamant co-stars Yvan Attal, Jean-François Stévenin and Annie Cordy. France’s Vertigo Productions is producing with international sales handled by Other Angle Pictures. The heist movie follows an ex-con who is coerced into participating in the theft of a celebrated diamond during an auction in Antwerp and who becomes entangled with the diamond’s owner (Bejo).
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has pushed the release date for The Hobbit: There And Back Again to December 17, 2014 from its original date of July 18, 2014. This is the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel. Hobbit 3 now avoids going up against X-Men: Days Of Future Past and so far is solo in the December 17th spot. The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has pulled in $300.9M domestically and $979.9M worldwide since it was released on December 14, 2012. The second installment in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, will be released on December 13th.
Shares are up more than 3.6% in pre-market trading after the provider of large-screen theater services released a surprisingly strong financial report for the last three months of 2012. IMAX says it generated net income of $12.9M, +105.9% vs the end of 2011, on revenues of $77.8M, +16.6%. The top-line number was comfortably ahead of the $74M analysts expected. And adjusted earnings at 23 cents a share handily beat the consensus forecast for 16 cents. Although the company didn’t break out results for individual films in the quarter, some analysts expected IMAX might surprise them after seeing the strong box office results for Sony and MGM’s James Bond film Skyfall, and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Gross box office revenues for IMAX titles came in at a record $152M, +55.7%, with an average box office per screen of $264,400, up from $221,600.