In Business This Week: HEADLINER: MADONNA
DON'T CRY FOR ME, MICHAEL EISNER
How to market the sort of movie no one wants to see anymore, with a star who's box-office poison? Call it a major event and see who shows up. That's Walt Disney's plan for Evita, set to open Dec. 25. Filmgoers have forsaken musicals, and co-star Madonna has been in one bomb after another. So in full-page ads, Disney has begun trumpeting advance sales for the L.A. and New York premieres.
Disney routinely uses the ploy for animated features. But advance sales are an untried tactic for live-action films. And Evita, which bounced around Hollywood for years before finding a producer in Andy Vajna and his Cinergi Productions, is an especially risky project.
Industry insiders say the film hits all the right notes, and publicists have put the pregnant Madonna on eight magazine covers. But will the hype give Evita enough kick when it expands to more than 2,000 theaters on Jan. 10? Don't cry yet.EDITED BY KEITH HAMMONDSReturn to top
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THE SEC FRIES A POULTRY CZAR
CHICKEN KING DON TYSON got his neck caught in the SEC's wringer. On Sept. 23, the Securities & Exchange Commission slapped Tyson and a fishing buddy with an insider-trading suit. Its charge: Tyson, former chairman of Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, slipped information about a pending acquisition to Frederick Cameron, a California rancher. Cameron bought 9,000 shares of Arctic Alaska Fisheries Corp. after getting the tip, the SEC alleges, and reaped a $46,000 profit after Tyson's announced buyout of Arctic in June, 1992. Tyson and Cameron settled the suit without admitting guilt, both paying fines of $46,125. Cameron also is coughing up his profits and interest.EDITED BY KEITH HAMMONDSReturn to top
CHINESE PIRATES PAY THE PRICE
CHINA FINALLY MAY BE GETting serious about enforcing pacts with the U.S. to clamp down on intellectual piracy. One positive sign comes from California's Unify Corp., which recently struck landmark agreements with Chinese agencies that had been using pirated versions of its software. Unify persuaded state-run Xinhua News Agency to hand over $1 million for licenses, while Shanghai Architectural Assn. is paying $3 million and the Ministry of Light Industry, $500,000. The breakthrough could be a model for similar companies producing sophisticated programs.EDITED BY KEITH HAMMONDSReturn to top
BETROTHAL IN THE OIL INDUSTRY
IT IS THE WAY OF THE OIL industry these days: The majors are shedding refineries, and independents are seeking greater retail presence for their gasoline products. Hence the $850 million merger of Diamond Shamrock and Ultramar, announced on Sept. 23, to create the nation's fourth-largest independent refiner. Ultramar, with refineries and retail outlets in California and Quebec, will complement Diamond Shamrock's Texas-based refinery operations and U.S. and Canadian convenience stores.EDITED BY KEITH HAMMONDSReturn to top