Beancounter Tricks

As Firesign Theatre said, “And now for the rumors behind the headlines” . . . .

The movie Batgirl was abruptly canceled and the rumors are flying. One rumor claims that David Zaslav, the CEO at Warner Brothers’ Studios is eliminating wokeness in in the studio’s movies. Wokeness, as you know, applies to anything that I don’t like–and “I” refers to whosoever is expressing their opinion.

 Of course there are other explanations being bandied about the rumorverse. However, when in doubt, I apply Deepthroat’s advice from the Watergate debacle–”Follow the money!”

As the new CEO,  Zaslav wants  to cut expenses. There’s an important business principle regarding expenses in a business. If a business cuts one dollar in expenses, it is immediately reflected as one dollar on the bottom line. On the other hand, it may require a number of dollars in increased sales to add a single dollar to the bottom line. You have to account for the price the company paid for the raw materials, the labor, etc. before you realize one dollar in profits.

In other analogous words, if Marketing runs a company, it may go into bankruptcy, but emerge and be very profitable. If accounting runs a company, it will remain in the black until the last stick of furniture is sold, the lights turned out, and the door locked.

In the second rumor, Zaslav would declare Batgirl to be a failure and account for a $70 million dollar loss, thereby shoring up the bottom line. In technical terms, this is called cooking the books, grifting, or smoke and mirrors. Hollywood is famous for this–Forrest Gump reportedly paid $40 million to Tom Hank, and Bob Zemekis while Winston Groom, who wrote the book got a box of chocolates.

I was looking forward to seeing Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman. Now I’ll have to wait. Some day, when a future CEO takes over Warner, they will find that they have a ready made movie that they can release with very little cost and make a bundle.

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