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April 2001
©Blackflix.com™
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TOP 5 U.S.
DISTRIBUTORS

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

1.) PARAMOUNT (INCL. CLASSICS)
Grossed: $313,503,134
15.77%

2.) WARNER BROS.
Grossed: $246,633,538
12.41%

3.) 20TH CENTURY FOX
Grossed: $222,007,955
11.17%

4.) SONY
Grossed: $203,586,543
10.24%

5.) BUENA VISTA
Grossed: $190,350,455
9.58%


FINE LINE SURVIVING LAYOFFS

   Despite the AOL/Time Warner layoffs that swept through Fine Line Features and its sister company New Line Cinema last month, Fine Line has promoted three staffers and added one more to their marketing and promotions division.
   "That we have been able to promote people reaffirms that Fine Line is still here, and we will continue to distribute films of high quality," Fine Line executive vp Marian Koltai-Levine said.
   Five-year Fine Line veteran Michelle Panzer has been upped to director of field operations in New York, Lina J.C. Plath to director of East Coast publicity and promotions in New York, and James Teel to director of creative services in Los Angeles. Grace Niu was hired from the newly defunct Destination Films as manager of West Coast publicity and promotions.




ANSCHUTZ TAKING OVER U.S. THEATER BUSINESS

   Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz is quietly becoming the mogul of the US theater industry.
   Anschutz and partner Oaktree Capital Management recently bought out a group of Regal Cinema bondholders who had recently made a $1.1 billion offer for control of the movie chain and the move now paves the way for Anschutz's planned take over. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal has 4,069 screens at 355 locations and in December, Regal defaulted on its bonds, saying it was considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
   But Regal isn't the only chain Anschutz is after. Denver-based exhibitor United Artists Theatre Circuit just emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a restructuring that centers on a previously announced debt-for-equity swap in which Anschutz becomes the 55% owner of the 1,604-screen circuit. The restructuring allows the circuit to cut its debt level from more than $720 million to about $260 million and speeds the closure of about 450 screens at 80 theaters where the court authorized the company's breaking of costly long-term leases.


WB, TURNER CABLE MERGER

   AOL-Time Warner announced last month that it will merge The WB broadcast network and the Turner cable networks into one group led by The WB's chief executive, Jamie Kellner. The move creates the nation's largest television group, Turner Broadcasting System , and combines The WB, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, the Cartoon Network and all of the CNN networks. Kellner says the merger allows the companies greater opportunities to combine forces creatively, through promotion and advertising sales. It also means the movie fare we see on the tube could get more diversified or more restricted, depending on the approach and attitude of the newly created TV media giant.




DIGITAL OFFER MET WITH CAUTION

   Technicolor and Qualcomm recently announced a $150 million Technicolor Digital Cinema joint venture proposal will install 1,000 digital cinema systems at theaters throughout the United States in an effort to build a critical mass of screens necessary to make electronic cinema commercially viable. Currently there are only 31 movie screens worldwide that have permanent digital projection capacity.
   Technicolor Digital says it will install the digital projection systems at no initial cost to exhibitors or distributors. The projection systems are estimated to cost as much as $150,000 each. The joint venture will try to recoup some of the cost of that investment by charging exhibitors 12.5 cents per customer at digital screenings, and charging fees to studios to distribute movies electronically.
   The announcement met immediate skepticism from the major studios and exhibitors who seem to have doubts about the viability of the plan the way it has been proposed. However, billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has quickly been grabbing control of major movie exhibitors, is planning to be the first to convert multiplexes to digital projection and add sports, theater and rock concerts to movie fare to lure audiences to megaplexes between Mondays and Thursdays, when business is slow.
   Check out the article on digital cinema on the Blackflix.com web site for more information on the future of digital cinema.