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Posts Tagged ‘Sahara India Pariwar’

Hollywood Hat Trick

October 25th, 2010 No comments

Scaring Up Big B.O. Horror Bucks

This weekend’s $41.5 million opening by “Paranormal Activity 2” set a record for a horror film opening, besting the 2009 “Friday the 13th” reboot’s $40.6 million opening. “Paranormal Activity 2,” was written by Michael R. Perry, Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst, with a story by Perry based on the first film’s director Oren Peli’s original characters. The new ‘Paranormal’ is directed by Tod Williams, and has already grossed $63.6 million worldwide. With a budget of about $3 million, “Paranormal Activity 2” cost roughly 200 times more than the original film, and would have to make $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office to match the profitability of the first film. So it’s ‘good news, bad news’ for Paramount, which managed expectations for the latest film and utilized a more sophisticated ‘viral’ campaign for it, resulting in the new record opening, but it’s a foregone conclusion that the once-in-a-generation success of “Paranormal Activity” won’t be repeated.

Not In My Back Story…

Another sequel to another surprise hit of last year is making news: “The Hangover 2,” which is filming in Thailand, has nixed a cameo appearance by scandal-racked star Mel Gibson. The sequel to last year’s biggest grossing R-rated comedy, which made $277 million domestically and $420 million worldwide, was scheduled to include Gibson as a reclusive tattoo artist living in Bangkok, but ‘concerns among cast and crew’ have forced director Todd Philips to re-cast Liam Neeson in the role. Cast member Zach Galifianakis recently alluded in a web podcast to a strong “protest” he was voicing about his latest project, but he never mentioned Gibson by name. It’s only the latest in a string of public-relations nightmares for the former box-office champ, following the leaking of recorded phone tirades made against Oksana Grigorieva, his former girlfriend and mother of his year-old son. Gibson’s messy private life has caused his stalwart pal Jodie Foster to put the release of her recent directing effort, “The Beaver,” starring Gibson as a man who expresses himself through a beaver hand puppet, on hold; the film may never get a theatrical release, and instead go ‘straight to video’ as something of an oddity. Insofar as Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, was offered a cameo in the first film, it seems clear Gibson has not been forgiven by Hollywood for his anti-Semitic, misogynist and racist comments or behavior – nor does it feel like that will happen anytime soon.

Don’t Cats Only Get 9 Lives?

As if the MGM bankruptcy and reorganization could get any messier, another Hollywood film studio, Lions Gate Entertainment, has made an 11th hour bid for the beleaguered Leo the Lion, which was about to face a summary bankruptcy reorganization after a creditor’s vote at the end of this week and be turned over to Spyglass Entertainment principals Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum to run. Now Lions Gate has offered a package valued at $1.8 billion, including a provision by Carl Icahn, Lions Gate’s largest shareholder, to purchase $963 million of MGM’s $4 billion in debt, making Icahn one of MGM’s biggest creditors (including the $500 million of MGM debt he already owns). As its chief creditor, Icahn would have more say over whether MGM would accept the previous plan to have Barber and Birnbaum run the show, or merge Lions Gate Entertainment with MGM, which Lions Gate chairman Jon Feltheimer says will result in a more vital company with a stronger cash flow. To complicate matters, Icahn acknowledged the presence of another MGM bidder, who has not been identified, although reports surfaced recently of interest by Sahara India Pariwar, an Indian conglomerate. As this bizarre, long march to ‘resolution’ (whatever that might mean) for MGM plays out, it’s clear that Leo the Lion still embraces drama…

MGM’s Leo the… Tiger?

September 24th, 2010 No comments

Is Leo the Lion Getting Outsourced to India?

Long-suffering film studio MGM has experienced another odd twist as it limps its way to a bankruptcy reorganization next month. Although its creditors have announced plans to place Spyglass Entertainment principals Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in charge of the debt-riddent studio, it’s possible a new buyer has surfaced: Sahara India Pariwar, a Mumbai, India, conglomerate, is said to have begun exploratory talks with MGM, which carries a debt load of $3.7 billion, offering to purchase Metro Goldwyn Mayer for $2 billion dollars.

Even if the rumors are true, there are a number of hurdles to clear before MGM can become Bollywood-West. For starters, the studio has little to offer beyond its aging library and their interest in two and a half valuable film franchises: “The Hobbit,” (with New Line/Time Warner), the James Bond films (with EON Productions) and the ‘Pink Panther‘ franchise. Since no Pink Panther films are on the horizon, MGM’s real assets are its ‘Hobbit’ share and its distribution of the Bond movies; and both of those, it seems, are NOT playing ball with any takeover by Sahara India Pariwar. The start date of the “The Hobbit” films (there will be 2) has already leaked from series star Ian McKellan, who will reprise his role of Gandalf: the films are set to begin shooting in January in New Zealand. So it seems Time Warner has stepped up to ensure “The Hobbit” gets made. As for Bond, that’s a different story altogether.

After rumors began circulating that Sahara India Pariwar was looking at MGM, some media outlets reported that EON Productions (EON, by the way, is an acronym for “Everything or Nothing,” an inside joke by legendary late producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli) headed by Cubby’s daughter and son-in-law Barbara Broccoli and her husband Michael G. Wilson, was on board for a Mumbai takeover of MGM. In a hastily-arranged press release, EON declared it had NOT agreed to any takeover by Sahara India Pariwar; as a matter of fact, EON insisted they had not been in talks at all about the Bond franchise, whose 23rd film is on hold pending MGM’s debt resolution.

 Until someone is willing to go on the record, MGM’s potential ‘sale’ is just that: a mere possibility. In the meantime, industry vets (and obvious risk-takers) Birnbaum and Barber are poised to assume control of the hobbled studio once the bankruptcy court hands the company over to its creditors and they institute their reorganization plan. If the studio is pulled from their fingers at the last minute by a successful bid by Sahara India Pariwar, don’t feel too bad for Messrs. Birnbaum and Barber. They stand to make $4.5 million if the deal falls apart.

Frankly, it’s just the latest in a sad series of affairs for once-proud MGM, which has hemmorhaged cash for most of the last three decades. Perhaps an infusion of new blood will revive the ailing Leo the Lion, but in keeping with the pathetic nature of this Hollywood tale, MGM’s big cat is really an underdog…