Comics Creators

Box Office Mojo


Hahaha. You got me.

I made a wrong turn and wound up in Pontiac once by accident. It’s a bit of a shithole and this was pre-GPS. So I stopped at a gas station to ask directions where I was then asked if had any drugs to sell. Although looking back, I did have my hair cut like Dexter Holland (see below) at the time. So that might have contributed. :wink:


It’s a side-effect of my MMKW.


This could go in the ‘Game of Thrones’ thread, but it has wider implications;

Does a ‘Game of Thrones’ Star’s Money Dispute Point to Immigration Fraud in Hollywood?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the 47-year-old Danish actor who plays Ser Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, must head to arbitration in his dispute with ex-manager Jill Littman over commissions she alleges are owed after being fired. That’s thanks to a ruling from a Los Angeles Superior Court last week. But what might be even more notable is what this case suggests about possible fraud in immigration applications by foreign actors working in Hollywood.

Last July, Coster-Waldau filed a lawsuit against Littman and Impression Entertainment to escape having to continually pay 10 percent of his compensation for Game of Thrones and other work. The actor alleged operating under an oral agreement with Littman, and he says the deal provided for no commissions after Littman was terminated by e-mail in 2015.


Littman has come forward with a written agreement that spelled out how she would be paid by the Game of Thrones actor. Her agency sponsored Coster-Waldau’s O-1 visa, and as part of what needed to be given to U.S. immigration authorities, she delivered to the government a signed agreement between Impression and Coster-Waldau. This agreement had an arbitration provision, and so Littman has been relying upon it to have the case adjudicated in a private forum.

Coster-Waldau resisted arbitration, and here’s where the alleged fraud comes up.

Michael Plonsker, the actor’s attorney, has been insisting that the contract that Coster-Waldau signed with Impression in 2011 was really a “sham” and that the actor was told the agreement was purely for the visa application.

In court papers, Littman’s attorney Howard King has suggested if that’s true, Coster-Waldau committed immigration fraud under the theory that it is a felony to submit false documents for a visa application. Plonsker responded by arguing that if anyone committed a crime, it’s Littman.

Interestingly, Coster-Wladau’s agent Brandon Liebman at William Morris Endeavor submitted his own declaration in the case and spoke how WME was once willing to sponsor the actor for a visa. Liebman recalls his office’s 2011 discussion with Littman requesting help in drafting an agency agreement to be used for that application.

“It would only have been used for the purpose of the visa application and would not have been considered by WME to have been a ‘real’ agreement because Coster-Waldau has told me that he did not want to enter into a written agreement with WME,” stated Liebman.

This perhaps raises some fodder for discussion whether this is a common practice,


I think it’s very likely that it’s common practice.


Not news, but a great piece of low budget, cinema history;

From Grizzly to Great White: The Death of Film Ventures International

When Jim Bertges arrived at work that morning in 1984, it was immediately clear something was amiss. The executives of Film Ventures International, an independent film distribution and production company, gathered the company’s 30-some employees to make an announcement. That announcement was simple: Ed was gone, and he’d taken more than $1 million in company funds with him.

“They came in with a briefcase that was full of cash, which was our final pay,” says Bertges, who spent more than 40 years of his career working in motion picture advertising and marketing. “They also had enough time to make some dartboards with Ed’s face on them—we were all given one so we could pepper his face with darts. They were laying us off because they knew the company couldn’t function without Ed.”

“Ed” was none other than Edward L. Montoro, founder and sole owner of Film Ventures International. Starting with nothing, he had built his company into a successful, often overachieving distributor of B-movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s, first in Atlanta and then in Los Angeles. Just a few months earlier, FVI had been preparing its slate of films for 1984. Now, Montoro was skipping town with the contents of its coffers, leaving the company to rot. In the 33 years since, Edward L. Montoro has never been seen again. What he left behind is one of the great, forgotten stories of independent cinema.

Bears, Demons and Court Dates

Only eight years before his exodus, in 1976, Montoro produced a low-budget horror movie called Grizzly, one of only a handful of films that the company fully produced rather than acquiring from overseas. An unabashed Jaws rip-off, it featured “18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating” grizzly bear in place of the shark, and audiences unexpectedly reacted with delight rather than incredulity. Raking in $40 million at the box office, Grizzly quickly became the highest grossing independent film of all time, a title it held until it was surpassed by John Carpenter’s Halloween just two years later. It was FVI’s brightest moment, and also emblematic of the company’s game plan: Find a successful film, then exploit the same market. In doing so, they were a direct precursor to modern schlock studios such as The Asylum, producers of “mockbusters” such as Transmorphers and Paranormal Entity.

“It was a different time in film promotion,” says Bertges, who headed the company’s advertising department from 1979 until the day of Montoro’s disappearance. “Pictures didn’t open wide on thousands of screens, especially the smaller pictures we were making. We’d be going from territory to territory with a few hundred prints of the film at most, focusing on one region at a time.”


Edward L. Montoro was born in Atlanta in 1928, but didn’t get into the movie business until he was in his early 40s. In the decades before, he worked a variety of jobs, from television repairman to industrial printer, but his greatest aspiration was to become a commercial airline pilot, according to Bertges. This dream was cut short in a 1968 plane crash, which resulted in serious injury and reconstructive surgery. In recuperation, Montoro instead turned to an entirely new line of work: motion pictures. His first project was a shoestring budget sex comedy, 1970’s Getting into Heaven, which was also the only film Montoro ever personally directed. When it turned a profit, he sought subsequent investment, and Film Ventures International was born.

The company immediately developed its trademark style of acquiring foreign features for promotion and distribution in the U.S., taking films like the 1969 spaghetti western Boot Hill and retitling it Trinity Rides Again to capitalize on the success of 1970’s They Call Me Trinity in America. In 1974 they scored big by doing the same with Beyond the Door, a blatant Italian The Exorcist rip-off acquired for a mere $100,000. Released in the U.S. a year after William Friedken’s masterpiece made headlines, the similar demon possession story made $15 million.


Of course, FVI provoked the ire of Warner Bros., which filed suit for copyright infringement of The Exorcist. Montoro and co. prevailed in the end, but it was simply the first in a string of lawsuits involving the company, and sometimes Montoro himself. Even the huge success of Grizzly was marred by legal action, after the filmmakers sued to reclaim their share of the profits, which Montoro withheld on the grounds that they had taken the production over budget. This time, FVI lost, and was forced to pay all proceeds that were due by the Los Angeles County Superior Court. That was the Montoro way, to push the boundaries of what he could get away with, and let the cards fall where they may.


A Shark Too Far

In 1982, Film Ventures International bit off more than it could chew with the U.S. release of Great White, another Jaws clone with an honest-to-god shark rather than a rampaging bear as proxy. Montoro, seeing dollar signs and a chance to reproduce the “nature attacks” success of Grizzly, acquired the 1981 Italian film The Last Shark, a blatant imitation of both Jaws and elements of Jaws 2. After giving it a new title, FVI embarked on the biggest promotional campaign in the history of the company in preparation for its release.

“That was by far the most promotion we ever did for a film,” Bertges recalls. “We did pop-up calendars with Great White graphics. We did these dollar bills, where we replaced George Washington with a shark sticker and sent them to exhibitors saying, ‘This is the first dollar you’re going to make on Great White!’ Ed really believed in that movie. He believed in it so much that at the NATO [National Association of Theater Owners] convention in Vegas, he sent these guys out to the ocean to bring back sharks. They put up a pool in the lobby at Caesar’s Palace and had live sharks swimming in the lobby. That’s some promotion!”


“Ed swore that the Italians he was dealing with told him they’d had no trouble with Universal as far as copyright and Jaws were concerned, so he felt safe in bringing it to the U.S.,” Bertges says. “But once it was out, Universal pounced on it right when it started making money and shut the film down with threats more than anything. It was basically ‘Pull this, or we will own you.’ Ed had been through this before with Beyond the Door, but he knew there was no way to beat this one. They took all the prints of Great White, and Universal has been holding onto them ever since.”


Exit, Montoro

In the year before his disappearance, Ed Montoro separated from his wife of many years, Joanne, who had previously served as his secretary at FVI. Bertges suggests that after years of Hollywood living, he “kind of started believing his own publicity,” which manifested in both poor business decisions in terms of which films to distribute, and some personal dalliances with other women. Around the same time, he became seriously ill and spent time at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in L.A., where he was visited by Rick Albert.


When he emerged from the hospital, though, Montoro was different. Known for his laid-back attitude, non-professional fashion and rather disheveled demeanor, he then became what Bertges refers to as “Dapper Ed Montoro.”

“This was shortly before the demise of the company,” Bertges says. “Suddenly he was wearing suits, and was very well put-together. He bought a 42-foot boat that he named “Kick in the Aft” to wine and dine distributors and filmmakers. But his wife had filed for divorce, and in California it’s a community property state—when you divorce, your spouse is entitled to half of everything you own. And Ed wasn’t about to let Joanne own half of FVI. So he decided he was going to take his money, go away and never be heard from again.”


In the years that followed, Jim Bertges worked for other B-movie luminaries such as Samuel Arkoff, and then eventually at Cannon Films and New Line, doing advertising and promotion on everything from Austin Powers to The Lord of the Rings. Rick Albert produced films of his own before becoming a prominent entertainment lawyer in L.A., where he still runs his practice today. The latter, who considered himself friends with Ed Montoro, was not particularly surprised when he disappeared. What surprised him was that the consummate film promoter never returned.

“What I find hard to believe, to tell you the truth, is that Ed would ever leave the film business for good,” Albert says. “It’s the thing that makes me think he might have passed away. Because this is where he fit, in the world of film. He wasn’t some director who was super passionate about the subject matter or the genres, although he understood them. What he loved was promotion of films. He didn’t want to write or direct, but he loved every single minute of promoting a film like Great White. That’s what it was all about for Ed.”


And yet maybe, just maybe, somewhere on a sun-drenched beach on the Gulf of Mexico, an 89-year-old Edward L. Montoro continues to sip a piña colada and have the last laugh.


Disney CEO Bob Iger’s Annual Pay Falls 17 Percent to $36.3 Million

Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger’s compensation amounted to $37.3 million in the latest fiscal year, compared with $43.9 million in the previous year, according to a regulatory filing.

Iger’s pay package for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 included a $2.5 million base salary along with stock and options awards and more. In all, Iger made 17 percent less in 2017 than he did in 2016.

Iger is shepherding Disney through some exciting times, with the pending $52.4 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox on the docket, and he said last month his plan is to remain chairman and CEO through the end of 2021.

During the most recent fiscal year, Disney stock rose 8 percent.

The company on Friday also disclosed the pay for the four other top executives, and all of them earned less in 2017 than they did in 2016: CFO Christine McCarthy made $8.9 million, down from $10.2 million; general counsel Alan Braverman made $8.4 million, down from $11.1 million; chief strategy officer Kevin Mayer was paid $8.4 million, down from $10.1 million; and chief human resources officer Jayne Parker made $5.1 million, down from $5.6 million.

Disney also announced in the filing on Friday that board members Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, would not be seeking reelection in February.

“Given our evolving business and the businesses Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Dorsey are in, it has become increasingly difficult for them to avoid conflicts relating to Board matters, and they are not standing for re-election," a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

Robert Matschullat, the former CFO of The Seagram Co., and Orin Smith, the former CEO of Starbucks Corp., are also both leaving the board. Matschullat has reached the 15-year term limit, while Smith must leave due to the board’s retirement age of 74.


Paddington kind of bombed in the US. Not surprising but still a bummer. I tried to see it on Saturday but it was sold out. I went today and liked it quite a lot if not as much as the first one.

I have been going through boxes of stuff from my childhood lately and came into this stuff. The records are from 1982 and are actually pretty terrible.


Ah, I had a Paddington just like that as a kid too. I loved those red wellies.


Aww he has a button too


A very good interview with Ellen Pompeo and her journey to being the best paid actress on US television;

Ellen Pompeo, TV’s $20 Million Woman, Reveals Her Behind-the-Scenes Fight for “What I Deserve”

On March 27, 2005, ABC debuted a medical drama titled Grey’s Anatomy from a then unknown creator, Shonda Rhimes. The show was an instant smash, and everybody involved was ecstatic.
Everybody, that is, except for the series’ star, Ellen Pompeo, the Grey of Grey’s Anatomy. “I knew I was fucked,” she recalls thinking at the time. After all, Pompeo was supposed to be a movie star.


But by 2004, her movie career had stalled and she was perilously close to broke. Then her agent, CAA’s Rick Kurtzman, brought her the script for Grey’s Anatomy. "I was like, ‘I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,’ " she remembers telling him. " ‘Are you out of your fuckin’ mind? I’m an actress.’" He convinced her to audition anyway, if only to pay the rent.

Fourteen years later, Pompeo is no longer a renter. In late 2017, she signed a new deal that will make her dramatic television’s highest-earning actress. The expansive pact covers Grey’s’ current season and a 15th and 16th season after that (though the latter two have not been formally ordered, Rhimes says, “The show will go on as long as Ellen wants to do it.”) Pompeo credits her boss and mentor — who recently signed a nine-figure deal of her own at Netflix — with empowering her to overcome any doubts she may have about her own worth and to demand the best possible deal.


"As a woman, what I know is you can’t approach anything from a point of view of ‘I don’t deserve’ or ‘I’m not going to ask for because I don’t want other people to get upset,’ " Rhimes says now. “And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world.”

Pompeo had plenty of leverage. Grey’s has been drawing nearly 12 million viewers 300-plus episodes in, making it ABC’s No. 2 drama, behind only fall 2017 entry The Good Doctor. And the show, which airs in some 220 territories around the world, is a multibillion-dollar franchise for ABC parent Disney. Rhimes recalls giving her star a simple piece of advice: “Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth. Nobody’s just going to give it to you.”


Actors typically hate discussing their paychecks in the press, but Pompeo, a married mother of three, has chosen to do so with The Hollywood Reporter now in the hope of setting an example for others as women in Hollywood seize a new moment of empowerment and opportunity. An edited version of the conversation follows.


For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — “We don’t need you; we have Patrick” — which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, “I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.”

So, what does it look like when he leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that. But the truth is, the ink wasn’t even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they’re calling me, going, “What do you think of this guy?” “What do you think of this guy?” And they’re sending pictures. I was like, “Are you people fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?” I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn’t love the storyline, so that ended.


CAA compiled a list of stats for me, and Grey’s has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney. When your face and your voice have been part of something that’s generated $3 billion for one of the biggest corporations in the world, you start to feel like, “OK, maybe I do deserve a piece of this.”



Now that we’ve got the actual numbers for the year’s overall ticket sales, it turns out that said lethargy managed to infect the rest of the annual box office, too; despite what was, generally a pretty good year from a critical point of view, Variety is reporting that U.S. movie ticket sales dropped by 6 percent in 2017, making it one of the worst years in decades. (Really, though, it was probably just Rotten Tomatoes’ fault.)

That 6 percent number may not sound huge, but it’s worth remembering that it represents roughly $80 million, and makes 2017 the least successful U.S. movie year since 1995.


Funnily enough that makes it sound less to me. It’s not that hard to make up $80m if one of those duds was actually any good.


I think the AV club may have got its maths mixed up. The 6% slip is in the number of US admissions to 1.24 billion tickets, not 1.24 billion dollars (which would result in the $80m figure).

Here’s the original Variety story.

According to that, North American box office for the year declined 2.55% to $11.09 billion, which is more like a $280 million-ish decline (based on my back-of-a-fag-packet calculations).


Thank you sir, I wasn’t wrong then in thinking it seemed relatively small.


Yes, it’s odd that one of their journalists wouldn’t realise (as you did) that the implication of 6% of the market being $80m seems way too low, as it would mean that the entire market isn’t worth much more than a billion.


I had a friend who got me into watching the show early in its run. Pompeo is definitely its heart. Strangely just a few years ago she was talking about leaving. Thankfully she and Rhimes realized there is no show without her. They’ve lost just about everyone else from the original cast, but she’s the essential element, in more ways than one. Glad to see her perspective has grown, and that her worth is appreciated, and rewarded.


I watched it for many years with my wife (but we eventually lost track around season 10).

It was quite funny because the show’s name is a pun on the Gray’s Anatomy book and her character Meredith Grey who is really the lead even though it’s an ensemble show, she narrates the intro. So when those rumours of her maybe leaving came in they found a secret half sister to also join as a doctor. Eventually she was killed in a plane crash and they renamed the hospital Grey something or other so if she ever does leave they have a get out for the name. :smile:


If it continues to slip it’ll become a real problem. I know some might dismiss the results because of a few bad movies, but I think there’s definitely a drop in movie attendance happening and I think that’s going to continue. Typically most costs are fixed and most companies run around 10% net profit, so it doesn’t take alot for a business to become unprofitable. They’ve tried to fill cinemas with things other than new movies, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. I reckon we’re going to see a cinema contraction soon, and maybe at some point we won’t need 20 screen megaplexes as there won’t be 20 movies to show.

There’s only so much time you can devote to entertainment, and we have too many options these days.


The article does a good job of laying put the ups and downs of her time on the show and her feelings about it. She decided, after careful thought, that it was her show by default and it was better to embrace that fact and run with it.

It’s the network’s job to be pragmatic and have options, but they have clearly decided that the way things are working is worth paying a fair price for.

This connects to the women’s pay issue; TV has, for many years, had a lot of shows that were built around he female characters, but as Pompeo points out, the industry perception is that men matter more.

In this case, that was proved wrong.


I don’t think this is true. It seems to be a mantra from 30 years ago, but even then you had powerful successful women. Here’s the top 20 TV stars right now:

  1. Sofia Vergara $41,500,000 F
  2. Jim Parsons $27,500,000
  3. Johnny Galecki $26,500,000
  4. Kaley Cuoco $26,000,000 F
  5. Simon Helberg $26,000,000
  6. Kunal Nayyar $25,000,000
  7. Mark Harmon $19,000,000
  8. Ty Burrell $13,500,000
  9. Mindy Kaling $13,000,000 F
  10. Ellen Pompeo $13,000,000 F
  11. Mariska Hargitay $12,500,000 F
  12. Eric Stonestreet $12,500,000
  13. Julie Bowen $12,000,000 F
  14. Kevin Spacey $12,000,000
  15. Ed O’Neill $12,000,000
  16. Jesse Tyler Ferguson $11,000,000
  17. Kerry Washington $11,000,000 F
  18. Priyanka Chopra $10,000,000 F
  19. Robin Wright $9,000,000 F
  20. Pauley Perrette $8,500,000 F

Ten men, ten women. Really it’s down to the size of the show and the leads involved, it seems to be a pretty even spread between the leads on the biggest shows (like it was with Friends). She’s also not even the highest earning woman.


Those aren’t just what they’re paid for their TV shows though. Vergara’s so high because of endorsements, licensing, etc. Modern Family’s only 25% of it:

Vergara managed to edge out the competition with a business-first mentality: Thanks to liscencing deals with Rooms To Go, Avon and SharkNinja, and endorsements for Pepsi, CoverGirl and Head & Shoulders, Vergara has created an empire that extends well beyond the small screen.

That being said, Vergara’s Emmy-nominated role as Modern Family’s Gloria Delgado-Pritchett makes up about a quarter of her income and should not be discounted.