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David Poland

By David Poland

Jeff Robinov’s Next Job

It’s a classic question. The guy has had some real success at WB. But it’s a certain kind of success.

Every studio in town is both stable and in play. This is not meant as disrespect or a pointed finger at any studio chief, but at the moment, nothing is a sure bet.

Fox – Jim Gianopulos hasn’t been on his own long. This is probably the least likely place for Robinov, who has all the negatives that Tom Rothman ever had with none of the penny pinching. Fox just ain’t his kinda town.

Paramount – Does Brad Grey actually want to put the studio back to work, risking large amounts of money on more than a couple big movies a year? Unlikely. The power base on Melrose is pretty solid. No one is giving an inch, at least until Redstone dies.

Sony – Only if there is a new owner. If that were the case, it suddenly becomes a frontrunner to bring Robinov in to make a big noise with a big change. Until then, a company that’s been tightening their belt for over a year isn’t going to make a big gambling change.

Universal – I don’t see it. The team, in all its incarnations, has been together for a long time and unless the rest of the summer tanks hard, why is Comcast anxious to dive into even deeper waters? Comcast may be itchy to make a big move, but it’s not clear that big old WB thinking, which Robinov put a fresh twist on but still left large, would remotely be interesting as that move.

That leaves Disney, which is not in alphabetical order, but is the only studio that has any real chance of bringing Robinov in from the cold with a big title. Right now, they are not in the business he is in and the (fiscal) love affair with Marvel is still going strong. Bruckheimer doesn’t want anyone looking hard over his shoulder. Nor does Kathy Kennedy. So, essentially, Alan Horn and Bob Iger would have to decide that launching, essentially, a new arm of the company, heavy on boy movies, many of them pricey, to somehow balance out a potential overreliance on Marvel and Lucasfilm, is a great idea. It’s very long-shot, but really it’s the only shot Robinov will have without an ownership change somewhere.

One last note: take a look at Robinov’s supporters. Chris Nolan is ready to move onto non-comic-book films again. Worked with Inception, but no one bats .1000. It does not diminish his genius to imagine that his future will not be littered with billion-dollar movies. Ben Affleck is a terrific, still-rising filmmaker… but not a cash machine and showing no signs of being interested in becoming one. Todd Phillips now has to recover from Hangover 3, which will make a bit of money, but is not anywhere near the ballpark of the first and will likely be less profitable than Due Date. I hope Todd has the next big film percolating in his head, but it’s been a while. How much past the $500m ww mark that Man of Steel needs to hopefully break even will it get? Unclear. But The Dark Knight did 2.25x its opening week domestically. That would be $360m dom for MoS, if it has similar word of mouth. Internationally, no Superman film has done $200m overseas. So we shall see.

Look… I haven’t been the biggest Robinov fan… though I did defend him when Nikki Finke first attacked him for being a sexist pig, as his film line-up suggested that WB was then the best major studio in terms of making movies about women. I don’t know the man. I don’t wish him ill in any personal way. But he has a very mixed record and its not clear that he would significantly improve the fate of any of the other 5 majors at this point. He should get used to be being a producer and make a great life of it… or he’ll just be waiting for the next corporation that buys a studio to pick him to run it.

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5 Responses to “Jeff Robinov’s Next Job”

  1. PcChongor says:

    It seems as though ever since “Green Lantern” dropped there’s been an identity crisis brewing at Warners. Their historical expertise tends to skew more towards a dozen or so “Argo” type medium hits for every one ultra budget release, but now stockholders are seeing Marvel green and demanding a more Disneyfied approach by way of massive DC property exploitation.

    Kind of a risky model for a “standalone” studio to try and replicate considering that most of Disney’s profit stems from their vertically integrated toy and theme parks businesses.

    Methinks that investors and parent companies alike should just accept the fact that there are much easier (and far more predictable) ways to wring pennies into profits than through movies.


    Why wouldn’t HBO (or even Netflix) be a viable home for Robinov?

  2. innumeracy says:

    Lots of people can bat .1000

    Adding a zero to the end of decimal number doesn’t change it’s value, so .100 = .1000

    “Batting a thousand” would be 1.000

  3. That Guy says:

    HBO is owned by WB, PcChongor.

  4. Jizz King says:

    “No Superman film has done $200m overseas” Until now. I’m afraid that if they screw with the Nolan formula that the future DC films will be crap, profitable, but crap. Nolan’s view of our favorite Superheros may be too somber for WB so they pushed out the only guy who would fight for that vision. I think it’s a bad move. If it ain’t broke.

  5. leahnz says:

    wouldn’t it be funny if Robonov declared, after all his flops starring men, that his company won’t be making movies with men in the lead roles anymore. hahaha what a world-class asshole, i hope he ends up in charge of paula dean’s company

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon