Assets of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences surged in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, to $884.1 million from $549.1 million the year before, according to an annual report posted Tuesday on the group’s website. But liabilities also rose, to $392.4 million from $101.2 million in 2015, as the Academy became a heavy borrower in its quest to build a much-delayed movie museum.
In all, debt jumped to $354.4 million from just $61.6 million the year before, as a giant museum bond issue in 2015 began to reshape the finances of an organization that historically was heavy on cash and light on borrowing.
With a little luck, and lots of effort, the much-delayed Academy movie museum should open in 2019, shortly after that year’s Oscar ceremony. But the new fiscal report makes clear that pressure from the debt offering will mount shortly afterward: A principal payment of $132.2 million comes due in 2021, according to financial statements prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (which is almost always right, the mistaken La La Land Oscar notwithstanding).
In general, Academy financials make difficult reading, partly because they deal with complex treatment of assets held by interlocking nonprofits, and partly because the time-lag in reporting turns them into a window on the past. A more recent internal review of the group’s financial status by the governors’ finance committee is expected to give insiders a more intimate, and current, assessment in the next week or so.
But the annual report to members sheds at least some light on the fiscal situation, as of June 30. In the fiscal year ended on that date, for instance, the Academy’s revenue fell to $136.3 million from about $159.6 million the year before. Income from the Academy Awards actually was up a bit, to $113.1 million from $109.3 million in 2015. But contributions fell to $11.2 million from $15.2 million, and step-up in investment income failed to offset a $32.2 million hit from the satisfaction of program restrictions — one of those complexities that make the monitoring of nonprofit finances a challenge.
Salaries were down somewhat, to $1.4 million from $1.9 million in 2015. But pension costs were up, to $17.9 million from $13.1 million. The expense of presenting the Academy Awards remained about even, at roughly $44 million for each year. Total expenses dropped to $101.3 million from $101.4 million, as interest expense rose, but spending on educational and cultural programs fell, from $8.4 million in 2015 to $3.7 million in the year ended June 2016.
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