Warner Bros. Picks Up Partner's $120 Million Tab
If you're among the many who still seem to think the film industry is recession-proof, you might consider having a word with the gang at Village Roadshow Pictures. But don't call the production company's headquarters; the phone service might have been turned off by now, and anyway, they're likely out making the pawn-shop rounds to help raise more than $120 million they owe Time Warner.
Roadshow, which has co-financed a slate of films with Warner Bros. annually since 1998, has yet to pay its partner its half for four films made in 2008. Those films -- Gran Torino, Get Smart, Nights in Rodanthe and Yes Man -- collectively grossed $788 million in global box office; $445 million of that came domestically. (NB: Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood's biggest-ever box-office success as a director, actually expanded by 50% last week, more than four months after its release.) Not quite good enough, reports Variety, which adds that Roadshow also can't cover its 2009 debts for films including Sherlock Holmes and Where the Wild Things Are. Time Warner seems be taking the news OK, announcing that the expense left hardly a dent in its bottom line. Right.
Meanwhile, a Financial Times source said the shortfall was "triggered by events related to a third-party lender," and that a new credit facility would be arranged in short order. Here's hoping, though "third-party lender" is kind of an unusual euphemism for "karmic retribution for funding Speed Racer." There must be a better way to phrase that.
· Village Roadshow falls short on funds [Variety]