BLOCKBUSTER CHIEF BUSTED
Bringing to an end Blockbuster chief John Antioco's latest -- and perhaps final -- feud with billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, Antioco on Tuesday agreed to step down at the end of this year and take a cut in his bonus for 2006. Under a revised compensation deal, Antioco, who had argued that he was entitled to receive $7.7 million as a bonus for 2006, will receive $3.1 million instead. The board had originally offered him $2.3 million under a pay-for-performance condition of his contract. In an interview with today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, Icahn, who holds about 16 percent of Blockbuster's shares, described Antioco's contract as "an albatross around the company's neck" and called his departure "a victory for good corporate governance." Through a company spokesman, Antioco called the deal "a fair compromise."
MORE DETAILS OF TAYMOR-ROTH FEUD
After director Julie Taymor's cut of Across the Universe, featuring music of the Beatles, was greeted with derision by preview audiences, it was recut by Revolution Studios chief Joe Roth and shown last week to a receptive audience in Phoenix, AZ that gave it a score of 86 percent, L.A. Weeklycolumnist Nikki Finke reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. But when Taymor learned of the screening, insiders told Finke, she had an angry "meltdown." One studio insider told Finke: "We were dealing with a woman who has absolutely no sense of commercial potential. At one point, [Sony Pictures Co-chairman] Amy Pascal took her to dinner and diplomatically told her 'how good it could be' if only she'd cut the movie. But Julie still refused. Indeed, that's the refrain of everyone: there's a great movie in there, somewhere. But, as [Taymor's cut] stands now, it's so complicated it's just a bad movie."
3D -- AN EXCUSE FOR HIGHER TICKET PRICES?
Presenting a movie in 3D gives studios and exhibitors a means of raising ticket prices significantly without a commensurate increase in production, marketing and distribution costs, a Paramount/DreamWorks distribution executive has suggested. In an interview with the Omeon.com animation news website, Jim Tharp commented, "Theater owners are excited by this technology, because it not only provides a more special movie-going experience but also a meaningful growth opportunity, as research suggests more people come to see 3D movies and ticket pricing has more flexibility." Tharp, who will be overseeing distribution of all DreamWorks Animation features in 3D beginning in 2009, remarked that moviegoers regard attending a 3D feature as "a premium experience." The Disney-owned El Capitan Theater in Hollywood is currently selling tickets online for Disney's forthcoming Meet the Robinsons in 3D for $13.00 for adults and $10.00 per child -- an average 10 percent premium over the theater's regular prices.
GREEN HORNET: THE LATEST BUZZ
The Green Hornet,the fictional hero who fought crime with assorted high-tech inventions first on radio, then in comic books, and later on television, is coming to the movies. Sony's Columbia Pictures announced that it had obtained the rights to the character and that he will be brought to the big screen by producer Neal Moritz (I Know What You Did Last Summer; The Fast and the Furious). Moritz said in a statement that the 1966-'67 TV series, which introduced Bruce Lee to the general U.S. public as Kato, the Green Hornet's "faithful servant," was "my favorite show as a kid." According to legend, the character of Kato was changed from Japanese to Filipino after the outbreak of World War 2, but old-time radio historians say that as early as two years before the war, Kato was described as a Filipino "of Japanese descent." At least one report about the new film indicated that Kato will become a full-fledged Japanese in it.
OSCAR WINNER FRANCIS DEAD AT 89
Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, whose films included The French Lieutenant's Woman, Cape Fear,and The Elephant Man, died on March 17 in London, it was disclosed Tuesday. Francis won Academy Awards for Sons and Lovers in 1961 and Gloryin 1989. In the late '60s and early '70s, he directed numerous British horror flicks with titles like Nightmare, The Evil of Frankenstein, and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.