ICAHN TO BATTLE LIONS GATE
Never one to shrink from a proxy battle, Carl Icahn on Wednesday broke off talks with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. after the company's board of directors refused to give his designees seats on the board. Icahn's action appears to set the stage for him to ally with sympathetic board members (he is a close friend of Mark Rachesky, head of MHR Fund Management, Lions Gate's biggest stockholder) in a fight to take control of the company that is best known as the producers of the Saw horror films, the Tyler Perry flicks, and the cable-TV shows Mad Men and Weeds. But its problems may have less to do with its productions than with ancillary sales. As the London Financial Times observed today (Thursday), Icahn "is stalking Lions Gate during a period in which the company is struggling to adapt to the fast-declining DVD market, which is a bedrock of its business." Like other media companies, Lions Gate Entertainment, whose subsidiaries use the name Lionsgate and which operates out of Vancouver, Toronto and Santa Monica, has seen a severe drop in its share price in recent months. Its stock is down nearly 10 percent since the beginning of the year.
WATCHMEN SCRIPT WRITER CALLS FOR FAN SUPPORT
With several box-office analysts predicting that Watchmen will experience a steep revenue plunge at the box office this weekend, David Hayter, who adapted the original graphic novel for the screen, has issued a call to Watchmen fans to return to theaters. "You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week," said Hayter in a letter posted on the HardcoreNerdity.com. "If you're thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night." He implored fans to demonstrate their power, "because it'll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we'd like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again."
LEDGER'S LAST FILM REMAINS UNSOLD
Despite featuring Heath Ledger in his final performance, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which now also features Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell playing different incarnations of Ledger's character, has yet to land a distributor, according to Entertainment Weekly. Studio executives, apparently concerned about whether the surrealistic movie will ever draw a big audience, are waiting to see the completed film before deciding to bid on it, the magazine said. But Gilliam himself predicted that people are "going to be astonished when they see the film, and there will be a rush to want it. So I'm happy to wait."
STAR TREK TRAILER A HIT
The new Star Trek movie trailer was downloaded 5 million times from Apple's iTunes website in its first five days on the site -- 1.8 million times during its first 24 hours on Friday alone, Paramount said Wednesday. The studio claimed that the trailer had become the most downloaded high-definition offering ever on iTunes. It is also available on several other movie-related websites.
SUPERHEROES HELD BACK
Thor, the latest Marvel superhero to hit the screens, is being held back a year, Marvel Entertainment said today (Thursday). Originally scheduled for release in June 2010, it now won't hit the screens until July 2011. David Maisel, chairman of Marvel Studios, indicated in a statement that production problems were not the cause for the delay. Rather, he said, marketing issues were the primary consideration. Putting off the release for a year, he said, "maximizes the visibility of our single character-focused films, leading to the highly anticipated release of the multi-character The Avengers film in 2012." The Avengers is also being pushed back a year -- from July 2011 to May 2012. Marvel has no films set for release this year, but has scheduled Iron Man 2 for May 7, 2010.