MPAA chief Dan Glickman made an unusual appearance at a Gotham investor confab Monday in a bid to reaffirm Hollywood’s viability to Wall Street and encourage investment.
Speaking at the UBS confab at the Grand Hyatt, Glickman made no direct pitch for funds. But his speech frequently referenced the cost of projects and the prospects for growth.
“I’m not sure where the future will lie,” Glickman told the crowd of investors and analysts. “But the average movie costs almost as much as $100 million to make and market,” he said, leaving the impression that new financing sources are always welcome.
He also noted that an abundance of talent made Hollywood a good investment. “The creative wellspring of dazzling concepts in development far exceeds the number of pictures that can be made at any given time,” he said.
Confab, which runs concurrently with a similar gathering sponsored by Credit Suisse First Boston, is an end-of-year rite in which media execs take the stage to woo investors as the latter essentially take stock of their risks and opportunities. An appearance by the chief of an org like the MPAA is less common.
Glickman came as an ambassador of sorts; evidently aware of Wall Street’s skepticism about the film biz, he emphatically defended the industry’s health.
“In 2005 news outlets were pronouncing that this industry was dead. They were looking for a body bag to toss all of Hollywood into,” Glickman said. “But the very newspaper that initiated the 2005 box office stories (the New York Times) recently declared that Hollywood has ‘reclaimed its audience.’ ”
Investment banks and private investors have upped their interest in slates and projects, and even nonstudio players like First Look and Marvel have secured credit facilities from the likes of Merrill Lynch.
But the entanglements have inspired conflicted feelings in investors. On the one hand, they’re worried about money flowing toward investments that can turn shaky. On the other, those who invest in congloms appreciate that the studio divisions of those congloms are limiting their risk by turning to outside investors.
Glickman also became a pitchman on product, emphasizing recognizable franchises such as “Harry Potter,” “Spider-Man” and “Rocky” as well as offering a more eclectic list, including “my recent favorite, ‘Borat.’ ” He acknowledged that Hollywood has a piracy problem, pitting the annual losses at $6.1 billion, but said crackdowns as well as new digital opportunities would more than outweigh risks.
And in a spin that would have made any conglom exec proud, Glickman turned a liability into an asset.
“There are millions of people who now do not view as much as we produce,” he said. “So there’s an enormous amount of room to grow.”