Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors this morning that financial results at NBCUniversal — his 51/49 joint venture with General Electric — could be “flat, slightly down” this quarter due to disappointments at Universal Studios. “This year we have an unfortunate large miss in Battleship and The Five-Year Engagement,” he said at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. Aside from the flops, the business is “where we expected.” But the results are head spinning following a strong Q1, with NBCU’s operating cash flow +34.3% with help from Safe House and Dr Seuss’ the Lorax. “We told everybody, don’t get used to that,” Roberts says. Elsewhere in NBCU, Roberts says that NBC’s “Bob Greenblatt is chipping away at a turnaround” for the broadcast network, while the cable networks “are great.” This summer’s Olympics in London probably won’t contribute to the bottom line, though. Comcast already accounted for the deal as an “unfavorable contract,” although Roberts says that “the Olympics haven’t begun yet so it’s all ratings dependent.” He hopes the games will “get to break even or better over the next decade” as NBCU increases showings on cable. Although Roberts initially said that there was no big surprise from the NBCU acquisition last year, he says he was startled to see “how steady the cash flow appears to be from the theme parks” with crowds flocking to Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter and the Transformers ride in Los Angeles. So will Comcast buy more programming assets? “We have a built in answer,” Roberts says. “We have to buy out GE over the next six years.” Indeed, he notes, the NBC balance sheet “is there to buy out GE.”
Apatow’s ‘Five-Year Engagement’ Bombs Behind #1 ‘Think Like A Man’, #2 ‘Pirates!’, #3 ‘The Lucky One’, And #4 ‘Hunger Games’; Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ Now $178.4M Overseas
April 27-29 Weekend Actuals
1. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 2 [2,015 Theaters] PG13
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $7.7, Sunday $4.4M Weekend $17.6M (-48%), Cume $60.5M
2. Pirates! Band of Misfits 3D (Aardman/Sony) NEW [3,358 Theaters] PG
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $5.1M, Sunday $3.3M Weekend $11.1M
3. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 6 [3,572 Theaters] PG13
Friday $3M, Saturday $5.0 M, Sunday
Universal’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt opens Friday. The studio has released this restricted trailer that more clearly places it in the vein of producer Judd Apataw and director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller’s wheelhouse, something the previous, tamer trailer couldn’t convey.
This week the big April film festivals are tripping all over each other churning out announcements of film premieres, starry panels, schedules, events and so much more. Directly competing for attention — and against each other – on opposite coasts are, of course, the ever-growing Tribeca Film Festival in New York and the San Francisco International Film Festival which seems to be going strong despite the untimely tragic passings of its last two leaders, Graham Leggat and his successor Bingham Ray. Both fests get underway on April 19th after Tribeca offers up their World Premiere opener, Universal’s comedy, The Five-Year Engagement on April 18. SFIFF will open the next evening with Benoit Jacquot’s Farewell My Queen. This week that fest announced five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh will receive their prestigious Founders Directing Award on April 27th, while Tribeca announced they will be closing their fest the next day with the World Premiere of sure-to-be summer blockbuster The Avengers from Disney and Marvel. Earlier this week Tribeca announced an intriguing panel with founder Robert DeNiro , Meryl Streep and Judd Apatow discussing Universal’s first 100 years. Tribeca is particularly agressive in trying to move up in the world film festival hierarchy. The whole team was out in L.A. last week for a party touting this year’s fest. Tribeca Fest Director Geoff Gilmore told me they really decided to go for some of the most intriguing titles this year and thinks the effort has paid off in an exciting lineup he thinks will gain strong attention.
It may be hard for Hollywood to compete with these two well-regarded fests but a pair of my favorites are also happening right in the heart of L.A. and right around
Universal’s The Five Year Engagement opens April 27, 2012 and stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. It’s helmed by Nicholas Stoller, who directed Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Stoller and Segel co-wrote this one, and Judd Apatow and Rodney Rothman produced.