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OnMedea: Viacom: January 2010 Archives

Viacom: January 2010 Archives

CBS Films - R.I.P.

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cbs_films_rip.jpgI'm actually surprised there isn't more inside media coverage of the disastrous debut of CBS Films' first release - "Extraordinary Measures" starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser ($6.0 Million opening weekend from over 2,500 theaters - finishing 8th behind "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" in its 5th week). 

I realize the Jay/Dave/Conan/Jeff Zucker drama is a much sexier story but CBS Films' failure is another example of the cocksure executive that believes he can do no wrong. 

Les Moonves, former bit player on "The Six Million Dollar Man" turned powerful CBS media mogul, is the exec on the hot seat this time.  (Personally, I can imagine Jeff Zucker pushing this story just to get his name out of the press.)

Four years ago, when Sumner Redstone was completing the disastrous Viacom / CBS split, Mr. Moonves wanted Paramount Pictures so badly that when he didn't get it, he decided he could create a new Paramount Pictures from scratch - CBS Films.

It's a cold Monday morning at Black Rock today.

I'm assuming there will be two maybe three more failed releases in 2010 and then a decision to "refocus CBS' energies on our booming cable network distribution platforms and new media" (translation: the end of CBS Films).

The R.I.P. tombstone above is generous in giving CBS Films a four year lifespan (2007-2010) considering the first release wasn't until this past weekend - but I think three years of staffing up and development does count as being in business.

newscorp_buys_viacom_small.jpgAnother possibility for CBS would be to acquire Summit EntertainmentAt least then they would have two guaranteed hits in the pipeline - the final two "Twilight" movies.

Or... my personal dream plan, somehow have CBS either acquire or wrest away Paramount from ViacomNews Corporation buys the cable channels from Viacom (assets they sorely need).  Viacom shuts down thus getting us one step closer to saying bye-bye to Sumner Redstone forever.

Regardless of what happens, CBS' old media experiment is not going to make it.  But Les Moonves can take solace in the fact that a very exciting Super Bowl is coming to CBS and he still runs one of the top two broadcast networks in the country. 

There was a time when that would have been enough for one man.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

CBS Films' Big Test

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CBS_Films_logo.pngCBS 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.

extraordinary_measures_movie_poster_01.jpgMost 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. 

newscorp_buys_viacom_small.jpgYou 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_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

About Jill Kennedy

Jill Kennedy - Blogger - OnMedea Jill Kennedy is an Ivy League MBA / refugee from Lehman Brothers.

Manka Bros. (and the Manka Business Channel) hired her (for a very low sum) to cover the world of media (not the world of Medea) in her own words without corporate interference.

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About Medea

Medea Medea was a real bitch from classical mythology - as most famously dramatized by Euripides.

She was a sorceress and wife of Jason, whom she assisted in obtaining the Golden Fleece. When Jason deserted her, she chopped up their children. One could say, Medea acted as rationally as a major media company.


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