Studio Players Blame Everyone But Themselves For Multiplex Glut

Jon Favreau isn't the only one haunted by release dates these days, though the execs polled recently by Claudia Eller and Josh Friedman aren't necessarily worried about having less than two years to write all the product placement into Iron Man 2. No, their fears hinge on the surplus of new releases reaching theaters annually — 517 titles in 2007 by the authors' counts (most others put it above 600), up 49 percent from '06. And while the glut has been essentially played out elsewhere, it is kind of rare to see such a studio-friendly perspective on the "crisis," even from the pushovers at the LAT; after all, it's the specialty labels of the world — your Warner Independents, not your Warner Bros. — really battling for life in the cluttered market.

But still, Get Smart versus Love Guru is a hell of a quandary. So just for the hell of it, let's hear what the put-upon, overproducing likes of Alan Horn and even Dick Cook are complaining about today:

Adding to their costs, movie companies spend huge sums to globally promote and release their films — as much as $150 million for some big event pictures.

"In order to break through the clutter, we all feel the pressure to spend more in marketing," said Warner Bros. President Alan Horn. ...

This summer, Disney's much-anticipated sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, got upstaged by two behemoths opening in proximity, Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

"There were these giant vacuum cleaners on either side of us, and it took significant amounts of business away for our movie," said Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook.

In fact, pretty much everyone's a winner in the Times's parallel universe — even the beleaguered Weinstein Company and MGM are piling on! Meanwhile, Picturehouse is winding down its staff buyouts as we speak, and ThinkFILM is still battling rumors of its own demise. "Who?" you ask. Don't worry — the LAT will cover them after they and their, ahem, vacuums are safely liquidated.

[Photo Credit: Paul Duginski, Los Angeles Times]