A well-known independent production house has bitten the dust.
JVC Entertainment Inc. pulled the plug on Largo Entertainment Inc., even though one of its productions, "Affliction," generated Oscar nominations for stars Nick Nolte and James Coburn.
Ironically, the critically acclaimed "Affliction" has not helped Largo in its battle to stay afloat in a world dominated by the major studios. The dark drama about family violence, which Largo financed and distributed overseas, has earned only $153,000 in foreign territories and a mere $1 million domestically.
JVC pulled out because it is too costly for independents to acquire and market films in the global marketplace.
"Largo was going to be one of the bright lights," said Harold Vogel, a New York-based independent financial analyst. "JVC has been having difficulties because of the Japanese economy."
Dave Davis, an investment banker at Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin, said JVC's trouble in Asia is only partly to blame for the demise of Largo. "This is more symptomatic of how difficult it is for independents to survive in the shark tank with the studios."
How is "The Thin Red Line," one of the five Academy Award nominees for best picture, doing at the box office? Terribly.
The World War II drama has generated just $34.4 million domestically, compared to $200 million for DreamWorks' "Saving Private Ryan." And while the other best-picture nominees like Miramax's "Shakespeare in Love" or Gramercy's "Elizabeth" are being shown on an increasing number of screens, the number of theaters screening Fox's nominee is shrinking, threatening future box-office returns.
Two weeks ago, "Red Line" was in 1,600 theaters. Now it is in 900. Last week, "Red Line" pulled in only $931,267, a drop of 40 percent.
"Maybe they are waiting until after the Oscars to rejuvenate it," Vogel said. "That's the only possible logic."
Movers & Shakers
The buzz circulating around TV circles suggests that Garth Ancier, former president of entertainment at The WB, will take over as head of programming at NBC on May 10, a week before the Peacock presents its wares to Madison Avenue media buyers. Insiders already expect there will be a number of changes in the executive corps at NBC. One agent said there has been a slowdown at NBC in anticipation of the arrival of Ancier.
What did Daily Variety Editor-in-Chief Peter Bart learn about the state of the movie business while writing "The Gross," his look at last summer's box-office results? Simple math, he said. Costs dramatically exceeded revenues. "Most of the studios ended up by the end of the summer not making money on live-action movies," said Bart, a former production exec at Paramount. What's the future going to be like? Less production, he said, and more co-production, in which studios team up with each other. "The studios feel they have to limit their risks by taking financial partners on every level," he said.
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