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Hollywood Accounting: How A $19 Million Movie Makes $150 Million... And Still Isn't Profitable

By: capt_nemo in WRGO | Recommend this post (0)
Thu, 20 Dec 12 2:52 AM | 388 view(s)
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We've written about the wonders of Hollywood accounting before. It's a series of tricks pulled by Hollywood studios to make most of their movies look unprofitable, even when they're making a ton of money. The details can be complex, but a simplified version is that every studio sets up a new "shell" company for each movie -- and that company is specifically designed to lose money. The studio gives that company the production budget (the number you usually see) and then also agrees to pay for marketing and related expenses above and beyond that. Both of those numbers represent (mostly) actual cash outlays from the studio and are reasonable to count as expenses. Then comes the sneaky part: on top of all that, the studios charge the "movie company" a series of fees for other questionable things. Many of these fees involve no real direct expense for the studio, but basically pile a huge expense onto the income statement and ensure that the studio keeps getting all of the movie income -- rather than having to share the profits with key participants -- long after the movie would be considered profitable under regular accounting rules.

Here's a hypothetical example of how this could work in practice, using round numbers just to make the point (these aren't directly accurate numbers, but the concept is). A studio funds A Movie with a production budget of $100 million. It sets up



Realist - Everybody in America is soft, and hates conflict. The cure for this, both in politics and social life, is the same -- hardihood. Give them raw truth.

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