CBS Films – that scrappy upstart with the name that screams ‘OLD MEDIA’ (“Films”, really? Can you even buy film stock anymore? The world is going digital, CBS) – hits the ground running today with its first release, “Extraordinary Measures” starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser.
Most start-up production companies don’t have Harrison Ford in their first movie. Most start-up production companies have the guy or girl that’s holding the boom pole also act in a major role and provide their own food and wardrobe. But most start-up production companies aren’t called “CBS FILMS”.
Why is there a CBS Films? It seems that Viacom (before Sumner Redstone’s idiotic decision to split the company in half – thus creating this problem in the first place) has a very nice movie production company called Paramount Pictures. They also made a couple of Harrison Ford movies. I remember he played a guy named Indiana Jones for them.
You see, I think it’s ridiculous CBS Films had to be formed. It’s not going to last (sorry, Les). New movie companies just don’t make it – even backed by a large media company like CBS. Yes, go ahead and scream all you want about Summit Entertainment and their success – but after they release two more teen-angst vampire movies – they’re done.
I understand Les Moonves’ desire to run a completely vertical entertainment conglomerate. But it’s no longer 1995. The media landscape has changed. The glorious gatekeeper days are over. Ask Harvey Weinstein how hard it is to build an empire from scratch (but you may have to buy him lunch to ask that question. Dude is totally broke).
Look, I work for The World’s Largest Media Company – Manka Bros. – and they have five movie labels and all of them suck. Sorry, Khan (my boss, Khan Manka, Jr.). And they’ve been doing it for 90 years.
Even though “Extraordinary Measures” looks like the kind of movie that would give me a really good cry on a Saturday night at home – WHILE WATCHING THE HALLMARK CHANNEL – I’m sort of rooting against this one to succeed.
You see, I want CBS to buy (or wrest away) Paramount Pictures from Viacom and then immediately close CBS Films. I want News Corporation to buy all the cable channels and other assets from Viacom.
Then I want Viacom and Sumner Redstone to go away… forever. (I realize Sumner will still be Chairman of CBS – but Chairman can be overthrown – ask Steve Case – even if it’s an old coot that’s never going to die.)
So, good luck CBS Films. It’s a tall mountain to climb. I’m thinking “Extraordinary Measures” will pull down between $10-15 million this weekend. Whether that is good enough to call the first release a success… we’ll just have to find out. Less than $10 million and there will be quite a few worried CBS Films execs on Monday morning.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea