I'm in Hollywood

Chapter 24

Amy Pascal was also sitting at the conference table, but she felt that things weren’t as simple as they seemed. Although she had only been in contact with Eric for a few short hours, she knew that he was unlike any of his peers. He had a gentle and calm temperament, and certainly wasn’t rash or hot-blooded enough to come up with this kind of crazy agreement. The only likely reason she could come up with was that this bet wasn’t made on a whim, but after Eric Williams’ careful consideration.

Amy Pascal didn’t bother with the people supporting the gambling agreement, after thinking for awhile, she said: “Mr. Cohen, I feel it’s still better to be cautious, there is no free lunch in this world, maybe we should slightly raise our initial offer, and share profits with Eric Williams. With the film’s box office potential, we certainly won’t make a loss.”

“Amy, I think you’re too conservative, even children are bolder.” Lester Reed retorted: “You know the potential of this film depends entirely on our likelihood to get the copyrights, right ? In addition to the box office, there’s the videotape copyrights, as well as the television ones, that’s millions in profits for us. If we choose to share, the copyright still stay in the hands of the boy, and the next time we want to make a sequel, he’ll try to wrench us dry again.”

Amy Pascal said: “We could also work on the buyout price, right, how about increasing it to 15 million dollars ? I think Eric would agree.”

“Based on the potential of such a small budget comedy in the past, under normal circumstances, 50 million $ at the box office is considered a dark horse, while most can only make about 2 million $. So, there’s more than 80% chance that we’ll get all copyrights for free, why do we have to pay 15 million $ when the brat has less than 20 % chance of winning ? He has even the guts to make such a crazy gamble when the odds are against him, so what are you afraid of ?”

“But ……” Amy Pascal looked at the eyes of her colleagues and could only see endless greed. But her woman’s unique sixth sense made her feel that something was wrong, the bet definitely wasn’t that simple.

“Amy,” Blount Cohen interrupted her: “Jeffrey Hanson and Eric Williams might be your friends, but you’re a Columbia Pictures employee, you work for the sake and interests of the company.”

Blount Cohen’s words stunned Amy Pascal, she really was friends with Jeffrey Hanson, but her career as a manager had always been professional and ethical.

And now, just because she had expressed her reservations towards the agreement, they even suspected her to be fighting for the interests of outsiders ? Amy felt a strong sense of humiliation as she clenched her hand and her pen trembled slightly. She suddenly stood up, and coldly stated: “Mr. Cohen, now that you have made up your mind, I think I’m no longer need, so I will take my leave. Good bye.”

Then, Amy Pascal hastily put the papers in front of her back in order, silently turned around and left the office.

The entire office sunk into a brief silence.

“Ah, women !” (TL: Your uncle !)

It was unknown who exactly had uttered this sigh. Someone like Amy Pascal with a high position in a patriarchal society, would certainly be subject to discrimination.

Blount Cohen was slightly regretting, Amy Pascal’s ability to work and her professional conduct were obvious, otherwise it would be impossible for her to be sitting in this office. But although Blount Cohen lacked courage, he was very prideful, he felt that even if he had spoken somewhat abruptly, Amy Pascal just getting up and leaving was an attack towards his dignity, so he conveniently decided that the fault lied with her.

After ten seconds of silence, Blount Cohen finally said: “Well, since we all agree on this gambling agreement, then Lester, from tomorrow onward, you are solely responsible of the Home Alone project.”

In the midst of everyone’s envious gazes, Lester Reed excitedly agreed. If they won the bet, this credit would certainly be considered when he’d vie for a future promotion, and the raise of his pay would then be a natural thing.

“No problem, Mr. Cohen, I will take care of this.”

The next day, Eric received a notification stating that Columbia Pictures had accepted his gambling agreement. At the same time, Jeffrey had introduced him to the firms, and after they had assessed the value of Jurassic Park, they agreed to send a team to assist Eric in supervising the implementation of the bet.

October 31st, although very interested, Eric wasn’t able to participate in the first Halloween parade of his rebirth, but had to sit with a lot of boring middle-aged men and women in one of the meeting rooms of the Columbia headquarters, deciding the specifics of the agreement.

In the conditions put forward by Eric, the contents of the agreement were gradually tuned. In order to ensure that Columbia Pictures did their utmost for the promotion of Home Alone, he made sure they would publish the details of the bet in a well-known newspaper, as well as check the number of daily theater attendances in order to increase or reduce the number of screenings, take into account the daily film schedule as well as the screening time, etc. And once Columbia violated the terms of the agreement, different penalties would be imposed for breach of contract.

Looking at the dozens of pages that had been drawn, Eric was stunned. He couldn’t help but give his thumbs up to Jeffrey Hanson for recruiting a team of such professional lawyers and accountants.

On Columbia’s side, Lester Reed who was responsible for the Home Alone project, felt that the bet was already in the bag, he didn’t take that stupid dozen pages-long contract seriously, and couldn’t help but hold Eric’s demands in ridicule as he had probably wasted at least several hundred thousand dollars on commission alone. Ah, what a waste !

Lester Reed thought that no matter how detailed the contract was, they had already estimated Home Alone’s box office potential, and even their most daring estimations didn’t exceed the currently ranked first this year, Who framed Roger Rabbit, a perfect combination of animation and live-action movie who had made 150 million dollars in the North American box office alone.

Columbia had originally proposed a December release for Home Alone, but Eric firmly opposed it. What a joke, he already knew about the movies that were about to be released at that period, those blockbusters would just strangle his project. In his past, Home Alone had been released in November and had been screened for two months, its box office was remarkable.

Eventually, Columbia compromised, and decided on November 18th as the release date, the same day as 17 Again, which was something Eric had suggested as he was a focal point of the two movies, this could help promote them and target a larger public as well since everyone didn’t have the same tastes; if they weren’t into the first they could go see the second. For this reason, even Columbia who had originally planned the November 18th release for the film Malaysia postponed it to December, freeing up about a 1000 screens for Home Alone.

Just looking at the figures, you could see that under normal circumstances, only the movies they had confidence in would start with more than one thousand screens, which showed that Columbia was very optimistic about Home Alone. But at the same time they didn’t want its box office to be over 50 million $ since they also wanted to win the copyrights, therefore the number of screens didn’t exceed one thousand.

Eric didn’t have any qualms towards this, for the Columbia executives to think like this was a normal thing, but they had signed up to a dozen pages of contract, in which it was clearly stated that if the box office reached a certain number, they had to correspondingly increase the number of screens. If Columbia refused to do it, then they could just wait to be sued, but Eric believed that the gains of one movie wasn’t enough to make giants like Columbia throw away their reputation.

After the signing, and because the contracting parties didn’t intend to conceal the agreements and instead hoped that the bet would spread, the entire Hollywood soon knew about it.

Thanks to Columbia Pictures Publicity Department, the next day, The Los Angeles Times made it its headline.

“Genius boy gambles with Columbia Pictures: demented or foolish ?”