Fox News reports:
Yesterday’s New York Times contained the strangest article on Warner Bros. studios in its Business section. I’m starting to think the Times is publishing these pieces just to test everyone’s awareness.
A big part of the article concerned Warren Lieberfarb, who was fired from his position as head of DVD sales and marketing. Writer Laura Holson states merely that Lieberfarb has retained counsel and is considering arbitration. For some reason she doesn’t mention that the counsel he’s retained is David Boies, the former U.S. attorney who brought Microsoft to its knees and also argued the Gore campaign’s side in the 2000 election imbroglio. It’s not like Lieberfarb hired just anybody.
According to the New York Post back on Aug. 11, Lieberfarb was on the brink of suing Warner for a cut of DVD sales. “Lieberfarb was given a special stock-option grant for his DVD work, but those are now worthless because the stock has fallen,” the Post’s Tim Arango reported. “Lieberfarb also believes he deserves a cut from certain patent royalties. His name is on various patents connected with the DVD, according to regulatory filings, but AOL Time Warner collects the royalties.”
The Times article briefly mentions that no one at Warner could agree on a star for a new Superman movie. But Holson completely bypasses any reference to the debacle of the “Superman vs. Batman” movie, the “Superman” movie that McG, aka John McGinty, was going to make, or the one that Brett Ratner was signed to direct.
The entire Superman/Batman catastrophe would seem to illuminate the basic chaos at Warner. It inadvertently caused one movie to be shut down, a major star to be transferred to a costly blockbuster (Brad Pitt to “Troy”) and triggered “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” a bloated-budget movie that was a flop in more ways than one…
Of course, there’s more. Under the regime Holson praises, Steven Spielberg’s daring “AI: Artificial Intelligence” tanked. Christopher Nolan’s excellent “Insomnia” sputtered. And there’s all the movies that didn’t work: “Charlotte Gray,” a pair from Clint Eastwood (“Blood Work,” “True Crime”), “White Oleander,” “Collateral Damage,” “The Majestic,” “Alex and Emma,” etc. And let’s not forget the glorious “Kangaroo Jack” and equally memorable “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”
Holson also carefully omits “Death to Smoochy,” which cost $55 million to make but grossed only $8.5 million. She calls “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” a movie that was “much maligned.” Indeed. “Pluto” cost well over $100 million to execute and took in a slight $4.5 million in ticket sales. Of course, if the figure is correct, “Pluto” somehow made $20 million in Spain, which is a slight consolation.
Luckily, Warner has some bright spots. Holson did not even hint at the new Warner Classics indie film division headed up by Mark Gill; that should start producing some quality films. In the meantime, if the studio isn’t able to turn Eastwood’s upcoming “Mystic River” into an Oscar nominee, even the Times is going to have to re-evaluate this latest odd interpretation of events.
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Source: Fox News