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December 2001
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TOP 5 U.S.
DISTRIBUTORS

   As of the end of November the current top five domestic distributors of 2001 are as follows:

1.) WARNER BROS.
Grossed: $998,198,529
13.31%

2.) UNIVERSAL
Grossed: $932,597,776
12.44%

3.) BUENA VISTA
Grossed: $859,639,280
11.46%

4.) 20TH CENTURY FOX
Grossed: $838,671,327
11.18%

5.) PARAMOUNT
Grossed: $837,163,397
11.16%


THE POT GROWS

Entertainment analysts Jill Krutick and Lanny Baker of Salomon Smith Barney predicted Monday that Harry Potter will produce $450 million to $700 million of AOL Time Warner's operating income from the theatrical release and collateral sales including network TV rights, video, and consumer products. About $100 million should show up on the books for this quarter. Shares in the company rose about 3 percent after the film's release.


FRENCH FILMMAKER SAYS HOLLYWOOD HAS GONE TOO FAR

Speaking to the French news agency Agence France Presse in Bangkok, where he attended the recently concluded Bangkok Film Festival, French filmmaker and director Jean-JacquesBeineix (Diva, Betty Blue) charged: "In its search for instant profit, Hollywood has created such an irritation among the public that the time has come for European and Asian cinema to take action." He urged that Asian and European filmmakers define a "common goal ... because Hollywood, in its pursuit of instant gratification, has gone too far."



CANADIAN GROUP SAVES LOEWS AND WANTS GENERAL

A Canadian investment group has agreed to trade $300 million of debt in the Loews Cineplex movie chain for full ownership of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported. The exhibitor had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year. The investment group is led by Onex, a publicly traded buyout firm in Toronto, has also placed a bid for the parent company of another theater chain in Chapter 11, General Cinema.


PRE-OSCAR SCREENINGS LOWER SECURITY

Two months ago, several studios, including Paramount and Warner Bros., said they would no longer hold Oscar screenings on their respective lots because of security concerns. Other studios quietly and simply cut back their screening schedules. But as studios get closer to Oscar time, all except one have restarted regular hosting of screenings on their lots. A spokeswoman for Paramount, the lone studio still conducting all of its screenings off-lot, said "that may change."


CNN POURING OUT ITS ANNUAL BUDGET IN SIX MONTHS

Even as CNN's ratings continue to fall behind rival Fox News Channel's and revenue continues to decline, its spending on terrorism and war coverage continues to soar, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The newspaper, quoting one person familiar with CNN's cost structure said given the current rate of spending, CNN will exhaust its current annual budget in just six months. Current spending could affect CNN's negotiations with its biggest draw, Larry King, who now makes $7 million a year. Although his program has fallen behind Bill O'Reilly's on Fox News, King is expected to ask for a substantial salary hike when he renegotiates his contract. "I'd like Larry King to be on CNN for many years to come," Turner Broadcasting chief Jamie Kellner told the WSJ. "We will make a generous proposal, but we have a business to run."



DISNEY CREDIT RATING IN TROUBLE AGAIN

Credit rating agency Fitch Inc. warned that the Walt Disney Co. faces further rating downgrades if its debt-reduction strategy does not go as planned during the next 12-24 months. Chicago-based Fitch changed its ratings outlook for Disney to "negative" from "stable" over concerns about Disney's senior unsecured debt which was recently downgrading to "A-minus" from "A." "If current trends remain in place for the next 12 months, a ratings change will likely occur," Fitch spokesman Albert Turner said. Disney's credit rating has also been cut by Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service. The added debt Disney assumed in buying Fox Family Worldwide for $5.2 million, a dip in Disney's earnings from a sharp reduction in vacation travel after Sept. 11, and poor ratings and lower upfront sales at ABC are all adding to Disney's currrent woes. Reducing capital expenditures and cutting costs are among the cornerstones of what Fitch calls a "credible" debt-reduction strategy.


CABLE FEES GO UP

Watching a movie at home may cost more than ever before. Cablevision Systems Corp. said it will raise its cable TV subscriber prices an average of 5.5% next year, in line with recent industry practice. The increase, which represents an average across the firm's 3 million cable customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reflects higher programming and operating costs, inflation and continued infrastructure upgrades, the company said. AT&T Corp.'s AT&T Broadband unit recently also announced a 5.5% average price hike for next year. Other cable operators have not yet publicized their 2002 rate plans.


KINOWELT SPOOKED INTO BANKRUPTCY THREAT

German licenser-distributor Kinowelt Medien said it will declare bankruptcy if one of its creditors goes ahead with plans to call in a DM100 million ($45.1 million) loan. Dutch bank ABN Amro NV recently called in a loan it has with the company. "Kinowelt is not in a position to raise the sum at this time," a Kinowelt spokeswoman said. "If it is not possible to reach an agreement with Amro Bank NV at short notice, then Kinowelt -- in order to protect its other creditors -- is likely to have to file for insolvency." ABN Amro is the largest of Kinowelt's creditors. The company owes some 400 million euros ($352.6 million) to 24 financial institutions. Kinowelt says the company has been in negotiations with its creditors for months, trying to restructure its loans and keep the firm afloat.