Feature Story / The
Spring madness started around March 20th . . .
that's day the mega-jumbo Airbus A380's first
arrival in Los Angeles, and the Feature Film with
the generic "Bond 22." is to be opening in Movie
house in November 2008, and there's no finished
script -- and no title yet.
While the Jumbo Airbus was descending to LAX's
northernmost runway, the plane seemed to dwarf the
hotels on Century Boulevard. "The engines were
bafflingly quiet as they pushed the plane to its
final stop before a crowd of VIPs and other
onlookers," wrote the guest editor.
Antonio Villaraigosa said that super-size planes
such as the A380 are "better for our airports." But
in the distance behind him, aging terminals were
already crowded wingtip-to-wingtip with jets much
smaller than the A380. An executive from Qantas
Airways, which will be the first airline to fly the
A380 to L.A., boasted of his airline's commitment
to LAX as the airport's biggest international
carrier -- even as Qantas moves some flights that
serve LAX north to San Francisco's gleaming new
perplexing comments came from Allan McArtor, head
of Airbus North America. He declared that the A380
is "perfectly designed" for LAX. In an abstract
sense, he has a point &emdash; airlines plan to
make L.A. the top destination in the U.S. for the
A380, and ideally, bigger planes mean fewer
reality, LAX is one of the worst-equipped airports
that will handle the A380. By the end of this year,
just two gates at LAX will be able to accommodate
the plane. In fact, McArtor promised airport
officials more than a year ago that L.A. would host
the A380's first U.S. stop if they fasttracked gate
upgrades for the plane. But last month, Airbus
decided to send the A380 to New York instead, even
though LAX fulfilled its part of the bargain.
Airport officials complained, and Airbus decided to
land A380s minutes apart in New York and L.A.
got the con solation prize. New York hosted a fully
decked-out plane carrying nearly 500 passengers
&emdash; mostly Lufthansa and Airbus employees
&emdash; who enjoyed full meal service on their
transatlantic hop. The plane that landed in L.A.
carried mostly test computers and other
this is to say that the A380 isn't an engineering
marvel. But the party LAX threw for the plane's
visit shouldn't delude anyone. Our airport has a
lot of catching up to do if it plans to be the A380
gateway that airlines want.
02 - / Movie
Tricks: A Times Staff
Writer once wrote: "The movie dating game . . . so
much depends on a film's opening weekend that
studios are reaching as far ahead as three years
for the best timing; -- James Bond day is on Nov.
7, 2008, and there's no finished script -- and no
title beyond the generic "Bond 22." In fact, some
of the teenagers he hopes to entice with Bond's
signature action and suaveness aren't even teens
That Friday, the Sony
Pictures Entertainment executive will open another
James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, who four
months ago debuted as the British spy in "Casino
Which is about all Blake
knows. As of today, there's no finished script and
no title beyond the generic "Bond 22." In fact,
some of the teenagers he hopes to entice with
Bond's signature action and suaveness aren't even
But, Blake said, "two things
are definite: Daniel Craig is returning, and we're
going Nov. 7. After that it gets complicated, " --
the distribution studios are reaching as far as
three years into the future to "planting the flag,"
-- on desirable weekends.
average of nearly 12 movies opening every week,
claiming prime big-screen real estate as far in
advance as possible is crucial. Studio production
and marketing costs have soared past $100 million a
movie on average. How a film performs on its
opening weekend at the box office can determine
whether the studio turns a profit.
studios increasingly rely on corporate partners
such as fast-food chains to shoulder promotional
costs and to sell movie-themed merchandise. Those
partners can require two years to craft campaigns
"Spider-Man 3," which is loaded with such tie-ins,
was scheduled a full three years in advance, during
a conference in 2004. Sony's promotional partners
on the sequel include Burger King, General Mills,
Kraft, Activision and Hasbro. DreamWorks Animation
SKG last fall snagged Nov. 20, 2009, for its
young-Viking fantasy "How to Train Your
special effects, such as creating a believable
Sandman for "Spider-Man 3," also can necessitate
working years ahead.
strategic moves and inevitable showdowns, the film
dating game can resemble chess, poker or
Paramount had planned the Jack Black
wrestling farce "Nacho Libre" for last June 2 --
until Universal plunked its romantic comedy "The
Break-Up," starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince
Vaughn, onto the same date. So Paramount delayed
"Nacho Libre" to June 16, when it opened instead
against Universal's street-racing sequel "The Fast
and the Furious: Tokyo Drift."
to ask ourselves whether it made sense to open
against another comedy -- albeit one that skewed a
little more female -- or against an action movie
that felt more urban and ethnic and had less star
power," said Rob Moore, Paramount's president of
worldwide marketing and distribution.
shift paid off: "The Break-Up" was a hit, but
"Nacho Libre" and "The Fast and the Furious" both
drew enough young fans to also be
MOVIE JARGON: In
Hollywood talk, the scheduling practice is known as
"planting the flag," which gave rise to the term
"tent poles" for the biggest films. The competition
is keenest when it comes to these costly movies, as
each studio seeks ideal launch dates such as
Few had obsessed about
release dates before opening weekends became so
crucial to the industry's economics. Two horror
comedies, "Ghostbusters" and "Gremlins," opened the
same day in 1984, and both clicked.
1998, Warner Bros. turned heads by taking out trade
newspaper ads claiming 1999's Fourth of July
weekend for its Will Smith movie "Wild Wild West."
The studio was warning rivals to find other dates
for their summer flicks. Its movie turned out to be
their tent poles, studios can pitch camp and expect
rivals with similar projects to steer clear. But
with most films they look for a cushy weekend with
little competition -- a task complicated by the
fact that everyone has the same idea.
strategy is to "counter-program," such as opening a
film aimed at women the same weekend an action
movie being marketed to youths premieres. Last
June, 20th Century Fox launched the hit "The Devil
Wears Prada" two days after "Superman Returns"
major films aimed at the same audience are on a
collision course, the question is whether studios
will blink. If one does, a chain reaction can
Cinema scheduled "The Golden Compass," a
$160-million fantasy in the style of "The Lord of
the Rings" trilogy, for Nov. 16 of this year.
But when Paramount picked the same date for Robert
Zemeckis' version of the fantasy epic "Beowulf,"
New Line switched to Dec. 7.
picture is going to be huge," said David Tuckerman,
president of New Line Theatrical Distribution. "And
I'm sure they feel the same way. It would be dumb
to keep them against each other."
then moved its fantasy "The Water Horse" off Dec.
7, ultimately landing it on Christmas.
Tuckerman keeps track of the competition on
a white, 4-by-6-foot "war board" on his office
wall. It shows every release over the next 16
danger behind every tree," he said.
moving can result in movies' bumping each other
NASCAR-style. When Warner Bros. released the
animated "The Ant Bully" on July 28, it got lost
between "Monster House" the week before and
"Barnyard" the week after. "The Ant Bully" did less
business than the others.
Blake, who is the studio's marketing and
distribution chief, said superstition and an
if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it strategy come into
"Bond 22," studio executives and the Broccoli
family that shepherds the franchise wanted to stick
with November, when 2002's "Die Another Day" opened
and last year's "Casino Royale," the biggest Bond
movie ever, came out. Two-thirds of the business
for Bond movies comes from abroad, and chilly
autumn tends to be a bang-up moviegoing season in
glanced at a 30-foot-wide acrylic war board listing
all the films scheduled for release through
nice to look to the right and see a Bond," Blake
said. "But the Fridays fill up faster than ever.
It's a constant reminder of what you're up
Public Employees' Retirement System, for example,
has steered clear of CDOs in recent years, said
Curtis Ishi, a senior investment officer at the
"We need to understand the management and how they
produce returns," Ishi said. CDOs, he said, require
"quite a bit of analysis."
CDOs - "Collateralized Debt
Obligations", or MORTGAGE POOLS are home mortgages
used as collateral, and in the 80s created a
$600million dollar fiasco, which sent many mortage
heads to prison. "Getting a handle on CDOs is a
complex challenge," reports the LA
CDO MORTGAGE POOL STORY.
Collateralized debt obligations
with a home mortgage, or CDOs, have been a hot
product with many big investors for many years:
says Troy Cory-Stubblefield, co-author of "BOA, The
in recent years Hedge Funds Collateralized by China
U.S. Treasury Bonds have been used to help
monitized the mortagage pools, and why not? It's
their money. --SEE
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