George Clooney Slams Sony Investor Daniel Loeb

George Clooney Slams Daniel Loeb
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Accuses Sony investor of creating a "climate of fear"

Calling him an “activist” who “knows nothing about our business,” George Clooney had some harsh words for Sony investor Daniel Loeb.

Loeb, who runs New York-based hedge fund Third Point Capital, has criticized Sony’s upper management in recent weeks and pointed to the poor performance of summer pics “White House Down” and “After Earth.” Third Point, which owns a 7% stake in the studio, has been pushing for a spinoff of the U.S.-based entertainment assets into a separate public entity and has called for more accountability from top Sony execs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.

“How any hedge fund guy can call for responsibility is beyond me, because if you look at those guys, there is no conscience at work,” Clooney said in an interview published Friday by Variety sister publication Deadline. “A guy from a hedge fund entity is the single least qualified person to be making these kinds of judgments, and he is dangerous to our industry.”

Clooney also said that Loeb is trying to spread a “climate of fear” at Sony.

“It’s crazy he has weight in this conversation at all,” Clooney said. “If guys like this are given any weight because they’ve bought stock and suddenly feel they can tell us how to do our business — one he knows nothing about — this does great damage than trickles down. The board of directors starts saying, ‘Wait a minute. What guarantee do you have that this movie makes money?'”

Clooney said that if hedge fund guys like Loeb continue to scare the industry, it will only lead to more “crap” coming out as studios take fewer and fewer risks.

But Clooney may not have much to worry about. Earlier this week, Nikkei broke the news that Sony’s board was leaning toward rejecting Loeb’s spinoff proposal.

Third Point is a minority stakeholder in Variety Media, along with majority owner Penske Media Corporation, which also owns Deadline.

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  1. Aside from being about finance and which studios-films profit, one need only examine the box office list of all time gross films to reflect on the nature of the industry itself. Full of comic book heroes, animated avatars, witch hunters and dinosaur parks; only three qualify for serious films, “Forrest Gump” (1994) which placed #28; “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) at #114; and “Apollo 13” (1995) which placed #187. This excludes the recent release “Lincoln”.
    What do these three outstanding real-life films have in common? Tom Hanks was in every one of them.
    It seems fitting that a hedge fund manager should be making negative comments on how an industry is run; someone who himself is in a world of high risk and depending on comic book heroes to make a buck.
    Just what actually does Third Point expect to do to bring up individual film gross and not just put money into stock? Will serious reality-related films become more frequent and make more money? Doubtful. The public will one day lose its taste for all of the fantasy related hogwash currently fueling the bottom line of film production and Third Point will find new meaning in the phrase “hedge fund.”

  2. George Clooney knows nothing about finance. If he did he’d know that without institutional capital propping up the film industry he would be working on off-broadway theater and low-budget indie film which fail to even break-even 85% of the time. Fact without Wall Street there would be no Hollywood. Hardly a “minority” position.

  3. Jim Ponsoldt says:

    george clooney is absolutely right. and we should all thank him for speaking out. hedge funds, and actually much of the wall street investment banking business today (but not all), are about short term profit maximization. greed.

    is greed good for individual businesses? sometimes, where efficiency increases are needed to maintain the business. for our entire economy? also sometimes, for the same reason–we do need proper incentives to continue making things profitably.

    but today’s hedge funds carry those goals to a destructive extreme. if left unchecked, they will ruin entertainment businesses. among other things, sometimes short term profit maximization is a really bad idea. sometimes “quality” (how quaint) and longer term goals are far more important.

    i hope film studios and distributors are able to resist the demands of the short term profit maximizers. believe it or not, smaller profit, extended over long periods of time, benefits us all.

  4. dt says:

    finally someone speaks out about this jackass. minority stakeholders should keep their mouths shut. clooney is right, that kind of talk and fear mongering is very dangerous to the business. no one would argue the worth of the two films loeb cited, but this is a high risk business, and the more comments like his are allowed to hit home, the less risk we will see, and more and more films will in fact be like those two. clooney is exactly right, for all you morons posting otherwise. it is a complex and involved business, the nexus of commerce and art at high finance levels. leave it to the experts. sure, we’d like all the big tent pole projects to turn into chris nolan-type mini-masterpieces. but those types of movies don’t exactly grow on trees, no matter how much money you throw at them. if you all think it’s so easy, you and daniel loeb go make your own movies, no one’s stopping you. let’s see how it turns out…..

  5. Fact is institutional finance provides the majority of funding for the film industry. Without it George would be doing -indie films and off-broadway theater

  6. Orson W says:

    Could there really be more lousy, artless films, produced by souless studio execs and blood sucking agencies who could care less about the art of film?

  7. Mark Brack says:

    Gees where was George Clooney when Kirk Kerkorian was destroying MGM AND THEN UA – he was in the biz during some of that albeit on TV???

  8. Colin Mac says:

    Hey George, he who has the gold makes the rules. If Sony doesn’t care for the opinions of its largest shareholder then they can offer to buy his shares. The Tentpole crap being spun out by Hollywood this Summer is much more “dangerous to the industry” then a hedge fund manager who is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

  9. Spike says:

    Sure, George, and, just as justifiably, actors should stay out of politics which THEY know nothing about.

  10. harry georgatos says:

    Even though I’m no fan of wall street hedge funds calling the shots at the end of the day if studio executives can’t tell the difference between crap like WHITE HOUSE DOWN and AFTER EARTH all the more pity. WHD which has a similar script tp OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN with half the budget to WHD is a superior piece of filmmaking to what Roland Emerrich has done. Scripts such as WHD has ten-year-old dialogue with stupid and nonsensical action with the president driving around the white house lawn with a rocket launcher and firing it at the domestic terrorists. This film doesn’t have the sophistication and craftsmanship of the DIE HARD franchise. OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN was an example in how to put this type of film together and not what Roland Emmerich came up with! AFTER EARTH isn’t worth talking about. These hedge-fund people have a point when it comes to WHD and AE. At the end of the day when it comes to films that get green lit I rather be on the demographic audience charts to films such as Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION, THE BATMAN TRILOGY and Nolan’s upcoming INTERSTELLAR then the 10 year-old crap of WHD and AE!

    • GKN says:

      Ahem… George is also a writer, director and producer himself, Spike. And if they don’t pay any attention to politics, or what’s going on in the world, who will alert all the couch potatoes like yourself who don’t keep up?

    • mcowdery says:

      What’s funny is that Loeb had the GULL to request a seat at Sony’s table in his letter to Sony which BLASTED them for TWO bad movies. Seriously? Now, was the entire letter an insult? No, of course he’s not that stupid. But what a prick. Comparing the best director (Nolan) out there to Sony Picture’s latest flops is just downright evil.

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