MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Questions for Kevin Tsujihara

I’m kinda sick of ragging on Brooks Barnes.

The clear answer to any questions about his skill/insight covering this beat is that the New York Times doesn’t give a flying flip about whether their coverage of the film and TV industry is any good, so long as they keep selling ads and getting cross-promotional opportunities from the studios.

So I wasn’t looking forward to reading his Kevin Tsujihara piece over the weekend, but it was really quite shocking. And I have been further surprised by how many people noticed how much it read like a long press release, not the result of 90 minutes with one of the 2 or 3 most powerful people in Hollywood.

Instead of ripping Brooks apart… again (like shooting fish in a barrel, after a while the gunman begins to feel like a troll)… I thought I would just offer a few useful questions that a paper as powerful as the New York Times might have bothered to ask when they are given truly unique access.

For instance… if WB is so bullish on theatrical, what do they see as the best ongoing model for funding films? Will there ever be another Harry Potter-type series, in which the studio takes the total risk on a franchise play to the tune of a $300 million investment or more in the launch film (production and P&A)? Does the studio intend on solo funding the next round of Potter-related films now being touted?

How does Tsujihara see the balance of revenues looking now, in the 5 years, and in 10 years? What percentage from domestic theatrical? What percentage from international theatrical? How much purchased post-theatrical? How much post-theatrical revenue coming from aggregators like Netflix, HBO, Amazon, etc?

Time-Warner/WB owns Flixster, which they have used – in part – as their frontman on streaming. How many years are we away from an in-house streaming website being able to make a significant amount of revenue, perhaps more than be made by selling to aggregators? How is the Warner Archive experiment working?

Disney has made a deal with Netflix that hasn’t launched yet which crosses the TV and film lines. As one of the industry’s most prolific TV producers, does Tsujihara anticipate that streaming deals will be made through the networks distributing the shows on broadcast/cable or will WB start to retain those rights for their own uses moving forward? Is there any kind of rough timeline about when the value of holding onto those rights might equal or surpass the opportunity costs of not allowing the b’cast/cable network distributors to have them as part of the initial distribution deals?

WB is bullish on theatrical, but what is the mix of large and small that Tsujihara finds attractive? Are there too many films in the marketplace? Does he see niche increasing and 4-quadrant decreasing?

Anyway… this is just a starter list… and not even a particularly aggressive one.

There are few things more aggravating than wasted journalistic opportunities. But more and more, even with 90 minutes to do an interview, journalists are accepting themselves as extensions of press offices, more proud of the get than of the work done in the room with the subject. Damned shame.

One Response to “Questions for Kevin Tsujihara”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m probably not qualified to comment on this topic, but I’d say a lot of of the outlook has to do with WB’s incredible run of success in theatrical over the last 2 years. Even with POTTER and Nolan’s BATMAN gone, they think they have a model that works. And so far, they are right. Sony seems to be, to me, the most like WB in release strategy. Yet the pattern, in the last two years, could not be more dissimilar in revenue. Has WB caught onto something that gives them confidence? Any talk of small-budgeted films is probably a smokescreen–remember Paramount starting a micro-budget division after “Paranormal Activity?”—that lasted long.

    This is why you’re valuable as a blogger…I have no idea about Tsujihara and his potential vision. WB is kind of the elephant in the room, from a media “creation-to-distribution” standpoint right now. Who knows.

Leave a Reply

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“We’ve talked about this before in the past, my obsession with the Shakespearean histories having the ideal combination of the sweet and the sour. In ‘Henry IV, Part II’ which we’ve discussed before, in the end of that story it’s very complex and haunting because Prince Hal becomes Henry the King, and he has transcended his hoodlum days and at the ceremony is Falstaff, his good friend with whom he has really fucked around and been a loser with, and Falstaff comes up to him and says, ‘Now that you’re king we can really party,’ and the king famously says, ‘I know thee not, old man.’ It becomes Henry IV’s anointment and Falstaff’s catastrophe. That’s life. I have experienced very little unfettered triumph. There are moments, such as when my children are born, but even that comes with new fears and anxieties. In a sense the better you can communicate that life is both at once, the more powerful over time something becomes. One strives for something where the threads are there because it lasts in way that is very palpable. The idea of a tragedy is powerful in literature and theater, but in cinema it doesn’t work, certainly not commercially, and less so critically. Why is that? I think it has to do with how movies are so close to us.”
~ James Gray

 

“Hollywood executives can rattle off the rules for getting a movie approved by Chinese censors: no sex (too unseemly); no ghosts (too spiritual). Among 10 prohibited plot elements are “disrupts the social order” and “jeopardizes social morality.” Time travel is frowned upon because of its premise that individuals can change history. U.S. filmmakers sometimes anticipate Chinese censors and alter movies before their release. The Oscar-winning alien-invasion drama “Arrival” was edited to make a Chinese general appear less antagonistic before the film’s debut in China this year. For “Passengers,” the space adventure starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, a scene showing Mr. Pratt’s bare backside was removed, and a scene of Mr. Pratt chatting in Mandarin with a robot bartender was added.”
~ “Hollywood’s New Script”