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Hollywood Health Report

by Anne Thompson
August 18, 2009 7:43 AM
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

Each day brings more news of a troubled company needing debt restructuring or a management overhaul. The Weinstein Co. and MGM are just the latest examples. All the studios face pressure from their corporate parents in a grim recession amid declining ad and DVD revenues. Sales are down across the board, including classic rereleases, and less precipitously, specialty titles.

Each of the six media behemoths is rocked to some degree by horrid ad sales, which account for 30 to 70 % of their income. News Corp and Time Warner are coping with reeling publishing empires. NBC/Universal parent GE is dragging its troubled financing division. Disney's Robert Iger frets about ABC and theme park attendance. Sony's hardware divisions are getting slammed. All are trying to stem their losses by cutting management, production and release costs and reducing talent outlays.

On the agency side, as a sign of the new order, WME is feeling the pinch to such a degree that they've decided to pay their support staff $9.50 an hour. That's little more than minimum wage.

When this many deck chairs are about to be rearranged, folks in Hollywood start speculating. Already, with Disney's production head Oren Aviv and Universal co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde still in place, talk is swirling about who could replace them. The question is: who are the experienced players with heat right now? Names in play are Fox 2000's Elizabeth Gabler, Screen Gems' Clint Culpepper and producer Marc Platt ( Wanted ). Meanwhile, Mary Parent is responsibly fulfilling her mandate at MGM (presumably collecting several millions before the place is buried in a mountain of debt). But could Ron Meyer pull back her ex-partner Scott Stuber to run Universal?

Here's a Hollywood health report:

In Crisis Mode
The Weinstein Co.

Experiencing Upper Management Distress:
Universal/Focus Features

Under Performance Pressure
Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics

Stable and Steady:
Twentieth Century Fox/Fox 2000/Fox Searchlight
Warner Bros.

On the Rise:


  • Brian | August 19, 2009 9:26 AMReply

    Well, I helped Sony out yesterday by buying their latest "Icons of Sci-Fi" DVD package, the "Toho Collection" with THE H-MAN, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, and MOTHRA. So what did they do? They put three movies on three separate discs--so far so good--but then crammed them all together on one spindle (that thing in the middle of the case that you push to get the disc out). That's not a good way to treat discs. It may save money but...

  • SnarkWasABoojum | August 19, 2009 6:42 AMReply

    this isn't hard- whoever hires Bill Mechanic wins- he's tan, rested and ready- he's sick of producing and has doubled his experience. You're welcome.

  • Overture? | August 19, 2009 1:26 AMReply

    Overture isn't in crisis mode? They're a "mini major" who has released 2 films in 2009 with a collective box office of around $15MM.

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