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Alcon unhappy with 'What to Expect' birthing process

May 18, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • Co-financier Alcon Entertainment was unhappy about its experience working with Lionsgate on "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
Co-financier Alcon Entertainment was unhappy about its experience working… (Melissa Mosely / Lionsgate )

Don’t expect another marriage between Alcon Entertainment and Lionsgate anytime soon after the two film companies' rocky collaboration on this weekend’s "What to Expect When You're Expecting."

Best known for producing and fully financing family-oriented fare like "Dolphin Tale" and "The Blind Side," Alcon late last year made its first deal to co-finance a movie produced by another studio.

The $40-million adaptation of "What to Expect," based on the bestselling pregnancy book for preparing new parents, hits theaters this weekend with decent box-office expectations. All indications are that the film will make a modest profit.

Still, one of the founders of Alcon, a small production company used to overseeing its own films, said he regrets the decision to get involved in the movie.

"We have not found this experience to be a good one and I don't believe we would do it again in the near future," said Alcon co-chief executive Andrew Kosove.

The reason: Kosove and his partner Broderick Johnson expected to be passive financiers, merely kicking in half of the production money and half of the $36 million marketing cost in exchange for 50% of the profits.

Instead, Kosove said, it turned out to be a "time suck." He maintained that he and other executives at Alcon had to significantly assist Lionsgate in preparing the marketing campaign for the movie, which features an ensemble including Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock and Jennifer Lopez.

"I think we’ll end up making a profit on the film, but not a meaningful one in relation to the time I ended up spending," Kosove explained. "What I'm not going to do again is be conned into someone asking for our passive participation and then depending on our expertise for free."

A Lionsgate spokesman declined to comment. The company has recently been going through internal upheaval following its acquisition of Summit Entertainment and integration of that company’s staff with Lionsgate's motion picture department. That process has resulted in layoffs and a number of executive shuffles.

Next weekend, Alcon will release with its longtime studio partner Warner Bros. its first acquisition, the horror film "Chernobyl Diaries." Alcon bought distribution rights to the film in the U.S. and several foreign countries in February.

Kosove said that it’s a coincidence that both of its movies are coming out one week apart, but that Alcon purposely decided to spread its wings into co-financing and acquisitions this year to fill out its film slate.

"We’re large enough now that going an entire year with only one relelase [January's"Joyful Noise"] isn’t sufficient," he said. "We don’t need to do four or five movies, but we can't do just one."


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