Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Martin Scorsese Joins Paramount; Heads Are Scratched

Martin Scorsese is enjoying the biggest commercial hit of his career with the Warner Bros. movie "The Departed," so naturally he chose this moment to sign a first-look deal with Paramount. As Roger Friedman of says, this makes no sense. Friedman suggests that WB might lose its desire to launch an all-out Oscar campaign for the movie. I don't think so; an Oscar is an Oscar and I think they'll still want to go for it. (They just won with Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, but it never gets old.) Still, the timing is odd. Friedman writes, "For Paramount’s Brad Grey, the Scorsese announcement is more important to him than the director. With Tom Cruise gone, Paramount needed a name brand cornerstone talent to come on board." Scorsese, a "name brand cornerstone talent" in the vein of Tom Cruise? No. He's a great and important director, but paying him $2.5 million for the privilege of saying yes or no to his next movies is more of a vanity deal and about prestige than it is about replacing Cruise. Locking in Will Ferrell or Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks would be replacing Tom Cruise. Scorsese's biggest hit of his entire career -- and very atypical grosser -- is gonna hit $300 mil worldwide. And more often, you'd be lucky to break $200 mil. I'd say it's about as meaningful a deal as letting Tom Cruise slap the United Artists logo on his production shingle. It makes everyone feel good but it doesn't really change anything.

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