United Artists' big score

by Paul William Tenny

Everybody talks about how United Artists is a has-been studio with no future prospects, one that only produces a couple of bad flicks per year, as reasons for why the deal between UA and the WGA doesn't really matter.

With the epic game of chick going on in Hollywood, I don't happen to agree. Any movement in getting deals signed is a positive step forward that will put pressure on the other players to stop holding their breath and eat the massive financial hit the new guild contract will cost them: a grand total of an extra $50 million per year.

Or, put another way, about 60% more than CBS CEO Les Moonves makes all by himself in a single year.

But hey, why pay an extra $50 million per year to a bunch of filthy, greedy writers, when you can cost your own shareholders billions in revenue and tens of millions in profit by holding a lockout for a year-and-a-half?

UA was wise and said to hell with that, we want to actually make movies! And look at their reward:

United Artists has paid seven figures to option the film rights for children's literature series "Ranger's Apprentice," a project that could be directed by Oscar-winning "Crash" filmmaker Paul Haggis.

The studio said Haggis had been in discussions to adapt and direct the first movie of the series, but those negotiations were halted by the writers strike, which is now in its third month with no end in sight.

This is a good move on the part of UA both by leaning on real directing talent, and also producing films based on stories that don't suck. Cruise and Wagner have to understand that them taking over UA doesn't mean it's a personal film machine for Cruise, nor does it mean they can fund projects without mass audience appeal, kind of like what the Weinstein's are doing (and failing miserably at) right now.

Ok, so maybe it's not a "huge score", but it's still a step in the right direction. Paul Haggis will draw excellent writing talent to the picture, and a fair cast.

Let's just see how long it takes with these bricks of money stacking up before the real greed in the equation compels the other studios to break ranks and get back into the business of making movies.
in Film


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