If you think that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a hit, then talk to MGM Holdings CEO Gary Barber. His company co-financed the film, and although it has generated about $231M at worldwide box offices he tells investors who own MGM’s unlisted shares that “it is below our expectations and we booked a modest loss.” The company wouldn’t say how much it wrote down, but Barber notes that execs “were hoping we’d do 10% more than we did.” MGM has an option to co-finance the other two films in the trilogy and is talking to Sony about following through “assuming we can achieve better economics.” He was much more upbeat about the early performance of 21 Jump Street, which MGM also co-financed. “We expect it to be profitable,” Barber says. He adds that “MGM has entered 2012 as a revitalized company.” He declined to describe MGM’s strategy but says it is “evaluating all options.”
The call followed the release of the company’s annual report which dropped a few interesting tidbits about the company that emerged from bankruptcy protection toward the end of December 2010. Last year MGM spent $30.3M to repurchase about 1.5M shares, and ended the year with net income of $37.8M on revenues of $699.1M. The company disclosed that it acquired 100% of United Artists late last year, giving it the rights to Hot Tub Time Machine, Fame, Valkyrie, and Lions for Lambs. MGM says that it “may resume using the United Artists banner to develop and produce new films.” Meanwhile, MGM is co-financing New Line’s two films based on The Hobbit. It also appears to be tight with several studios including Viacom as a financing partner for Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and MTV Networks’ TV series Teen Wolf. MGM also names the members of its board, a lot of people with the word “former” in their titles. Former Fox and Discovery exec Peter Liguori’s on it. The lead director is Ann Mather, who was Pixar’s CFO and now also sits on the boards of Google and Netflix. There’s also former MySpace co-president Jason Hirschhorn and former CBS CFO Fredric Reynolds, as well representatives of major backers including Anchorage Capital, Highland Capital and Icahn Capital.