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July 29 at 8:09am

Lack Of Transparency Limits Film Investments

NY Magazine has run a clear analysis on why the attempt to establish Film Future markets failed.  Our business is so far from transparent, it is laughable to outsiders.  The article articulates how we have no clear & unbiased info on how well films perform and all reporting is done by the studios themselves.  To run a commodities market, the public would need something more transparent (like other countries have) and without it court cases would abound.

Such chaos would almost inevitably lead to a call for mandated government-agency oversight of Hollywood accounting, and that, to studio thinking, would be Armageddon—albeit an Armageddon that would be celebrated by everyone who has ever been promised a net-profits check that didn’t arrive. In the space of just a couple of days this month, a jury demanded Disney pay $270 million in damages for wrongfully withholding profits on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, another found that actor Don Johnson was owed $23 million by the producers of Nash Bridges, and Nikki Finke’s Deadline website posted a leaked balance sheet in which Warner Bros. appeared to demonstrate that the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which grossed $938 million worldwide, is somehow $167 million in the red. Given that statistic, perhaps stockholders should inquire whether any studio movies ever realize a net profit, and if not, why the people who run those studios are still employed.

If we are ever going to have a sustainable investor base for our industry, we need to bring the reporting and accounting practices up to the standards of other industries.  It’s time that we develop a list of best practices of what needs to be done to reach this goal.  I will add it to my To Do List in the meantime.

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