Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #480: Business As Usual

Welcome to the show folks...

Today I have a couple of little stories about independent companies, so away we go...


David Bergstein's Capitol Films/ThinkFilm indie production and distribution mish-mash had a hearing today in bankruptcy court. According to one commenter at Deadline: Hollywood who claimed to be attending the proceedings, one of the lawyers for the creditors called it "the Enron of the Motion Picture Business."


And the sad part is that it's so believable.

The really sad part is that too many independent companies end up in court with creditors and management fighting over the table scraps, and a lot of people not getting paid for their work.

I know it's hard to make money as an indie producer, the risk to return ratio is not great, but it doesn't help when producers leave themselves open to the sort of allegations that are currently assailing Senor Bergstein. When you're an independent producer you have to be like Caesar's wife, not only pure, but
appearing to be pure.


Because the odds are pretty good that everything will go completely to shit when you're an indie producer/distributor. When these things go to shit, you don't want your investors and creditors saying the sort of things in court that could get your pelt nailed to the trophy wall of an ambitious State Attorney General, Assistant US Attorney, or IRS auditor. You want them to say: "Oh well, things didn't work out, but at least I can't accuse you of using company money to cover gambling markers without getting sued for libel."

But alas, it seems to be business as usual in Hollywood for indie producers to act like they're studio execs, and that their companies are their little personal fiefdoms and that they don't owe anything to their investors or creditors. Then comes the acrimony, the allegations, and all sorts of legal crap that end up costing everyone more than either side could want.


Kanbar Entertainment the producers of the animated movie Hoodwinked are as mad as a wet hornet on 'roids at the Weinstein Company over the movie's sequel Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil.

Apparently the film was supposed to be released in mid-January, alongside the toy line at Burger King, but in December 2009, the Weinstein Co. announced that the movie was going to be bumped back to February.

February came and went, and still no movie.

Now Kanbar Entertainment has made a petition to the Superior Court to force some form of arbitration with TWC over the non-release.

My question is:

Why is this news?

The Weinstein Co. is more famous for not releasing movies than for releasing them. To them it's business as usual to sit on a movie until at least 2 years past its sell by date, and then dump it in a way that ensures no one, including TWC, makes any real money off of it.

Which brings me to my next question:

Why are they still in business?

They need outside investors to give them money, and indie filmmakers to sell their films to TWC's own peculiar brand of oblivion, and I just have to wonder why. Their reputation has proceeded them, and while no one has accused them of criminality, they have been accused, repeatedly, and passionately, with being just plain bad to do business with.

Everyone who does business with them has walked away saying that the company operates on a blend of bullshit and bullying. And most of them walked away with nothing but ulcers and high blood pressure to show for their troubles.

So I think it would be news to hear a story about someone whose name isn't Quentin Tarantino being happy with doing business with TWC.

That would be news, and not business as usual.

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