Even rag trade billionaire Sidney Kimmel has heard that he’s getting out of the movie business. He told me today he’s cutting back, changing his bank terms, and probably allowing his distribution deal with MGM to expire — but not planning on shuttering his film company. Though Kimmel does acknowledge that all those changes probably fueled the film buzz that he was fed up losing money on the eve of the opening of his R-rated teen comedy pic Charlie Bartlett which MGM is distributing this weekend. (The film was postponed from a 2007 release date. It’ll probably make only a paltry $3M.)
Just in December, The New York Times fawned all over the chairman and largest shareholder of the $5 billion Jones Apparel Group because of his 3-year-old film company. But Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has lost tens of millions of dollars bankrolling indie films like Talk To Me, Death At A Funeral, Lars And The Real Girl and The Kite Runner which all tanked at the box office. “The problem was he hired a bunch of art house executives, and now he’s tired of making money-losing films,” a source told me today. “He’s unwinding.”
Kimmel acknowledges that his company is cutting back from making 5 pics a year to just 2 or 3. He says Sidney Kimmel Entertainment also is ending its bank terms with J.P. Morgan (“We don’t want to be limited by those restrictions anymore.”) but is also just days away from wrapping up a new J.P. Morgan deal that “gives us more flexibility in terms of doing whatevere we want.” He predicts his company probably won’t look to extend its distribution deal with MGM that expires in December. “We’ll release indies one off,” he told me.
But he insists he’ll go to Cannes with Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York (which is in post) and go forward with the Jennifer Aniston starrer Management (which opens in September). And he maintains he won’t be shuttering Sidney Kimmel Entertainment or even changing execs. But he does say he will become more integral in selecting the movies financed though “not playing god.”