The LA Times published an extremely moving piece over the weekend about a new crisis in hedge fund land. Managers who, after signing on to finance shit movies you couldn’t even pay former Bear Stearns movie blogger Rich Marin to go see and review, are losing money. Like, assloads of it. And they’re upset about the losing of the assloads of money, and they don’t understand the losing of the assloads of money and they want somebody (other than them) to pay for the losing of the assloads of money. Many studios have agreed to restructure deals so that in the unlikely event that “Dough Boys” doesn’t make any dough, everybody, including Hollywood, loses a little instead of just the funds/their investors losing a lot, and less conversations like the following have to take place. (Now would be a good time to tell you that I’ve got some green in RenTec. Can’t really say how I made the minimum, someone was desperate for some smokes one night when I ran into him at Matty T’s Roadhouse (Mr. Black Lung also loves mechanical bull riding, topless), I happened to have said smokes, and he owed me one…million dollars. Times five.)
Me: Simons, what the Christ? Can you explain to me why I’m losing MILLIONS of fucking dollars? James Simons: I could tell you it was the models but really, I made a bad bet on “Dough Boys,” a slice of life comedy that serves up the story of Lou and Frank, two Bronx brothers running the family bakery. Faced with Lou’s gambling problem– of which Frank knows nothing– the shop is about to be taken from them by the neighborhood gangster. The fate of this local landmark hangs like a “pie in the sky.” Will it be a sweet dream, or a nightmare? Turned out to be the latter.
Everything’s all good now but I’m sure there were similar convos between HF guys and their pissed off clientele over the following picks:
Is that not a good enough justification for me posting this clip? Well how about this: it’s after 5, I’ve run out of caffeine, I haven’t had lunch, I’m tired and I haven’t showered yet today. This is my gift to myself, and I don’t have to justify shit to you. I might even post the Glengarry Glen Ross speech tomorrow just because I goddamn well feel like it.
Why is Oliver Stone sitting idly by while someone else makes his sequel? Old boy doesn’t much care for the Street, in its current form. For one thing, it’s no longer a place where a little guy can earn himself some ill-gotten gains on his own two feet. “Gordon Gekko couldn’t manipulate the markets like he did back then,” Stone says. “It’s so big, so huge, that to be a minor player, you need to be a major bank.”
Also, even though he has Google Alerts set for “greed,” “CEOs and secretary hos,” “Schwarzman + crabs,” and “Wall Street + movie ideas,” nothing’s jumping out at him. Plus, stuff’s harder to “get” than it was twenty years ago. “The biggest dramatic story is Enron…But frankly I read the books, and I still can’t understand what they did. It’s very hard to do a financial movie, to make stocks and bonds sexy and interesting.”
Though one of Wall Street’s original consultants, Carl Icahn, has yet to kick it (a Snapple fact the director may not have been aware of), Stone feels “the flamboyant tycoon” has been displaced by big corporations, and thus renders a Part II of his own making impossible. This may be for the best, considering Stone’s opinion of the behaviors of these men, which he compares to peacocks swelling, and characterizes as “tasteless and disgusting.” And though in doing so we may simply be creating a crib sheet from which Stone can carry out his hate-crimes, just for fun, let’s see if we can name any flamers with some material ripe for the taking. You start. Oliver Stone: Life after ‘Wall Street’ [Fortune]
The Simpsons made $72 million in its opening weekend (our favorite comic book guy scene – facing impending doom, the comic book guy muses (paraphrasing here) “I’ve done nothing in my life buy collect comic books. Life well spent!”), picking up some Hollywood slack this summer by being one of the few films to exceed expectations.
Comic book guy, meet Steve Schwarzman, proud owner of the worst IPO ever, of 2007. In contrast to the ten largest U.S. IPOs this year, averaging a 14% return in their first month, Blackstone shares have dropped 21% in July, losing $7 billion in market value. Keep in mind that we’re talking about IPOs that are larger than $500 million and that Schwarzman still made out like a bandit and got to cockblock Kravis by lowering the PE IPO bar to virtually un-limbo-able depths. Another Superlative for Schwarzman: Worst IPO [Deal Journal]
Hollywood has had a decent summer so far, amidst sequel saturation. Fortunately for the movie biz, the sequel influx has been void of any huge flops, although offerings have underperformed slightly.
Although the industry is still in denial about the margin squeeze created by the astronomical budgets of this round of sequels, without any major hitches, many insiders were still optimistic that Hollywood could have a record-breaking $4bn summer. That is until the cruel box-office foiling Deus Ex Machina of Evan Almighty flooded theaters last weekend.
Evan Almighty is the first real major studio flop of the summer. The Universal Pictures release cost over $175mm to make and brought in just $32mm in its opening weekend. Who would have thought that a film in which the US is subject to a Biblical style flood in which the majority of jokes consist of wacky CGI animal high jinks would fail?
The “Almighty” franchise’s first installment (Hurricane Katrina, according to Pat Robertson), Bruce Almighty, cost $84 but made $68mm on opening weekend and $242mm in domestic revenue at run’s end.
Universal can at least boast the one success of the summer with Knocked Up (containing a premise about as realistic as Evan Almighty), which cost less than $30 to make and has made $109mm in a month.
So far in 2007, Hollywood box-office revenue is up 3.5% on flat theater attendance, causing analysts to lower estimates of that record-breaking $4bn summer. Third Time’s No Charm For Summer Blockbusters [Wall Street Journal]
Buy your Spider-Man tickets this morning before the show sells out. The movie is currently selling out at a rate faster than Spider-Man’s metabolism would have to be to generate enough silk need to swing a human-sized object from building to building (a metabolic rate so fast that a “real” Spider-Man would most likely starve because he would be required to eat several times his body weight each day).
How fast will Sony recoup its $500mm (although Sony execs balk at this number, they remain conspicuously silent when giving hard cost figures) investment? The films in the Spider-Man franchise have made around $800mm on average, although the second film made slightly less than the first, and cost considerably more.
Unlike the first two movies, which critics acquiesced into giving decent reviews, the third installment in the franchise is apparently so ridiculous than Sony can barely buy enough reviews to earn a comfortably favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes (63% now). The Wall Street Journal review of the film carries an especially ominous warning, and especially creepy stipple portrait of Tobey Maguire (also pictured here trying to shield himself from the picture’s non-justification of why some meteoric space goo is stalking him):
Will the extremely extravagant special effects prove sufficient to sustain the picture? Surely they will, this time. Still, there’s a sense of fatigue in the scenes that don’t involve high-tensile webs and high-tension suspense. At one point Peter’s landlord, noting his tenant’s erratic behavior, says: “He’s a good boy. He must be in some kind of trouble.” He is.