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Hollywood hopes Twilight, other tentpole franchises will prop up industry

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Even the most durable of tentpoles, though, can’t always prop up a studio.

The Bond films were originally distributed by United Artists, which was absorbed in the early ‘80s by MGM, which itself has been through a series of owners and bankruptcies since then. The three Craig Bonds have been distributed by Sony-owned Columbia Pictures, whose other tentpole attempts this year proved hit (the "Spider-Man" reboot) and miss (the high-earning but not-profitable-enough "Men in Black 3").

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Today, the enormous cost of making most tentpole films can make them less certain bets than studio executives would like to believe. Jobs have been lost over failed ones like "John Carter," and professional reputations are forever soiled when an idiotic idea like the "Battleship" movie fails to turn a profit.

"Studios are always looking for the next way to structure themselves," moviecitynews’ Poland explained.

Spending $350 million to $450 million to make and market the next potential "Avengers," Poland reckoned, is how studio-think is trending now.

"They’re chasing the idea of being able to know that your movie is going to sell before you make the movie," Poland concluded. "The risk is the cost of making and selling these movies, which could be enormous, versus the potential billion-dollar upside."

Most executives will tell you, though, that the way things are now, the risk is necessary.

"Listen, it’s always great, whether you’re Warners or Paramount or DreamWorks, to have the sort of backbone strength of those franchises," noted Lionsgate’s Friedman, who worked for several major studios before forming the smaller Summit.

"It helps you with your customer base, it helps you with your fan base, it obviously helps you with your economic planning on a multiyear basis. For a company our size as opposed to some of those bigger media-owned companies, it just adds a strength from an economics perspective.

"We like them," Friedman said about tentpole franchises. "We want more of them."

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