You may remember the 2011 horror flick titled ‘Deadpool’, starring Ryan Reynolds and John Romita Jr. It was a superhero film with a dark comedic twist; a Marvel Comics character that was created in 1970 and is most notably known for his ‘Fantastic Four’ series. Around that same time in 2007, Warner Bros. set a production budget of around $80 million USD for ‘Superman Returns’, the high-budget remake of the 1976 film ‘Superman’.
The production company behind ‘Superman Returns’ was Legendary Pictures, an affiliate of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). You may be wondering if there’s any connection between the two companies; between ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Deadpool’?
Well, it turns out there is…
In November 2011, it was announced that ‘Superman Returns’ had surpassed its budget to become the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a final cost of $92 million. Despite the film’s financial failure (it performed poorly at the box office and was considered a box office bomb), it was still considered a relative success at the time, because it made back its production costs plus a little more. If you’ll remember, the 2007 ‘Superman’ had already come close to recouping its budget before the film’s premiere.
In March 2012, it was revealed that ‘Deadpool’ had also exceeded its budget. Unlike ‘Superman Returns’, which was released in November 2011, ‘Deadpool’ was produced in early 2012 and cost only $46 million to make – well below its $60 million budget. It was also considered a major box office failure; a box office bomb. Rumors spread that the film’s budget was doubled and even tripled by the time it was released in theaters, and many movie sites reported that it had actually cost around $107 million to make. This is in part because the special effects in ‘Deadpool’ were considered so good that in order to equal them, studios had to borrow money from investors and get creative with their spending habits (the rumor mill has it that ‘Deadpool’ was originally going to be titled ‘Superman III’ before it was decided that the character would only appear in comics and animation).
So what does this have to do with the topic at hand? Well, let’s rewind a little bit and take a look at the companies that own these two legendary venues…
The Luxury Theater Chain
You’re probably familiar with the luxury theater chain Cineplex, which owns 12 movie theaters across Canada. Well, in 2012, Cineplex’ US arm, ICON Cinemas, purchased the naming rights to the former Speedway USED TO BE USED (formerly known as the Landmark Theatre) in Indianapolis for $11.5 million. So, what does this mean?
It means that anytime you go to watch a movie at the Landmark or any of ICON’s other theaters, you’ll be doing so in the presence of the luxuries that Cineplex is known for providing. Cineplex founder and CEO Michael Balcon has said that the acquisition of the Landmark marks a further step in the company’s expansion into the US movie theater market (which, in 2018, accounts for almost all of ICON’s revenue). To provide you with a little more insight into the company, Cineplex is one of the top-five largest cinema chains in North America, with approximately 600 theaters and approximately 125 million tickets sold annually. In addition to theaters, Cineplex also operates 12 convenience stores across the country that sell tickets to movies as well as snacks and drinks.
The Biggest Chain of Chinese Buffet Restaurants
Do you ever eat Chinese food at a buffet restaurant? If so, you’re probably also aware that these foods generally come with an expansive side of rice and an egg roll (or two). If not, you might be wondering where you can get those foods and what sort of places serve them. Well, if you’ve ever been to WEST TELEMARKETING INC in Boston, you might have walked into a restaurant that serves Chinese food. WEST TELEMARKETING INC is currently the only chain of Chinese buffet restaurants owned by a company whose headquarters is outside of China. The chain has 65 locations in New England and Rhode Island. Each restaurant’s buffet features Chinese cuisine, like spicy eggplant, bamboo shoots and snow peas or shrimp, lobster and chicken. The chain even owns a building in Shanghai that it uses for international business purposes.
The House That Roger Built
Did you know that Roger S. Persson is credited with creating the modern shopping mall? If so, you might remember the stories (or non-stories) surrounding the ‘70s and ‘80s. At the time, his businesses struggled with debt and lawsuits from creditors, and in 1984 he became the first modern-day debtor to declare bankruptcy. Since then, the company has changed its name several times (currently it’s RMGL) and changed its business model several times as well (currently it’s an online marketplace for buying and selling secondhand furniture). In 2018, Walmart purchased the Assets & Equity of the company for a whopping $72.8 million – which, according to the retailer’s website, will help “furniture shoppers find the best deals and offers online, and in some cases, even in-store at big box retailers like Walmart.” The business magazine Forbes also credited Mr. Persson with helping to pioneer the concept of the modern day mall in 1958, with the first of his ‘Prufrock’ malls (he named one of his daughters after the poet T.S. Eliot) in London.
The House That Kevin Costello Built
Kevin C. Costello founded the company that now owns Sleep Train in 1966. He built his first store in Boston’s North Shore in 1970, and over the next few years, he would go on to open dozens of other Sleep Train locations across the country. In 1982, he turned to the concept of self-storage and began building what are now known as ‘super storage’ facilities. Since then, Sleep Train has grown into a major player in the self-storage industry and today operates almost 200 facilities across the country. In 2018, it was valued at over $10 billion.
So what does this have to do with the topic at hand? Well, you may recall that a while back, Universal Studios made waves when they purchased the naming rights to the former Alhambra Palace in California (which itself was a feat of legwork and negotiation, considering that the venue had been the target of several failed attempts at purchase). With this purchase, Universal has now gained ownership of two legendary theaters: the Landmark and the Alhambra. In addition to those two venues, they also own the famous Hollywood Sign and the iconic Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Now, when you go to watch a movie at one of these three locations, you’ll recognize that you’re in the presence of Hollywood royalty.
This is because the studios have a history of snatching up these sorts of names and registering them with the US government (to ensure that the properties are still registered in their name, even after the sale). The practice began in the ‘90s, when New Line Cinema (which is owned by Warner Bros.) purchased the rights to the 1939 Elmer Brown play ‘Broken Arrow’, which is now known as the ‘Omega Theatre’ in Los Angeles. The company also owns the ‘Orbit Theatre’ in New York and the ‘Hangar 1.0′ at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In 2016, the company paid a whopping $30 million to purchase the naming rights to the L.A. Live complex – considered to be one of the most prestigious mixed-use developments in the country. And that’s just a small sample; today, Universal owns over 40 properties worldwide, in addition to its three aforementioned venues.
More Than Meets The Eye
Now, none of this is to say that these sorts of transactions are easy. The price that Cineplex paid for the USED TO BE USED chain of theaters was around 15% of that venue’s total annual revenue. This figure, however, is probably a low-ball estimate considering that Cineplex had to pay off several substantial debts before it could officially claim victory. As well, the purchase of the Landmark is also still subject to a lawsuit from the landlord, who claims that the chain is not paying rent on time.