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While film executives would like nothing better than to celebrate Hollywood's unprecedented $4 billion summer by boasting about the current quality of their cinematic product and commissioning a two-page spread in the trades depicting the heads of the major studios slathering their naked bodies in peanut butter and rolling around in stacks of hundred-dollar bills the size of freshly raked autumn leaf piles, they know that the looming labor war with the various guilds requires public restraint over showy exuberance. In today's NY Times story on the studios' ongoing attempts to remind everyone about how producing nine-figure-grossing blockbusters is a terrible way to make money, execs cry poor while WGA officials lick their chops over every report of another box office record shattered:

"You have to first realize that before the first ticket is sold, you can have $300 million in costs to recoup," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Brothers Pictures. "It's hard to judge the health of an entire business based on one summer." [...]

"A record summer plays right into our hands, especially from a public perception standpoint," said one Writers Guild of America executive, who asked for anonymity because he had not been cleared to speak publicly on behalf of the union.

A spokesman for the guild did not respond to requests for comment, but John F. Bowman, the chairman of the union's negotiating committee, echoed the sentiment in a recent interview. "The studios are reaping windfall profits but pleading poverty to the talent community," he said.

To keep public opinion from favoring the avaricious guilds, who are unreasonably demanding to be paid when their work is selflessly released onto the faddish internets platform, the studios are going to need to step up their "Movies: A Decades-Old Business Where No One Has Ever Made Any Money" PR campaign. Expect Universal, home to apparent successes like Knocked Up and The Bourne Ultimatum (examples referenced in the Times piece) to balance those triumphs by reminding everyone about the massive losses incurred by historic flop Evan Almighty, The Most Expensive Comedy Story Ever Told, by announcing their desperate plans to auction off every piece of their theme park, from their animatronic Jaws to the sweat-stained uniforms ripped from the backs of newly laid-off tour guides, just to keep their cash-hemorrhaging feature business from collapsing.