Zombies, Ghosts & Hollywood Accounting: Intangibles and Intellectual Property Strategies

in INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY STRATEGIES IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD (Alexandre Quiquerez & José Augusto Fontoura Costa eds., 2-18, Forthcoming)

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-28

31 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2018 Last revised: 11 Oct 2018

See all articles by Olufunmilayo Arewa

Olufunmilayo Arewa

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: August 29, 2018

Abstract

Film and television projects are frequently not profitable, at least as defined contractually in characteristic industry contracts. The “Hollywood accounting” treatment that generates these outcomes is both curious and often complex. Even highly successful film and television projects, from the films Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to television programs such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural, which have all grossed significant amounts of revenues, have all been characterized as generating no profits, at least as defined in industry contracts, which has significant consequences for those entitled to profit participations. Contractual entitlements to a percentage of profits of course depend on having profits to begin with. Firms in the film and television sector have significant flexibility in how they characterize both revenues and costs. This flexibility is in part a consequence of the high degree of intangibility in that pervades film and television businesses. Practices within the industry also typically involve significant business dealings within entertainment industry corporate umbrellas. How revenues and costs from such intra-group transactions are accounted for has been a key source of a number of disputes. Disputes surrounding profit definitions in film and television highlight both the impact of intangibility and contract interpretation within the creative industries more generally.

Keywords: Intangibles, Legal Framework, Accounting, Hollywood, Movies, Film, Television, Net Profits

JEL Classification: K20, K40, M41

Suggested Citation

Arewa, Olufunmilayo, Zombies, Ghosts & Hollywood Accounting: Intangibles and Intellectual Property Strategies (August 29, 2018). in INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY STRATEGIES IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD (Alexandre Quiquerez & José Augusto Fontoura Costa eds., 2-18, Forthcoming); Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3240792

Olufunmilayo Arewa (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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