How's this for a plot: Titans of industry lock horns in their insatiable lust for power. Is this "Wall Street II"? Or maybe a movie about 19th-century robber barons? No, it's about who will show the Bill Cosby movie "Leonard Part 6."
Miffed movie moguls at Columbia Pictures and Cineplex Odeon (the new theater chain in town) are engaged in a titanic snit over bookings. Cineplex raised the stakes last month by dumping the Cosby bomb from 140 theaters nationwide -- 14 locally -- not because it's bad, but because Cineplex is mad.
The company is "seething," reported Variety. Cineplex yanked "Leonard" after Columbia pulled "The Last Emperor" from scheduled bookings at Cineplex theaters in mid-December. The studio had hoped to avoid the Christmas competition by holding "Emperor" until this month. Cineplex was irked and nixed the Cosby pic in retaliation.
An "off-off-off-off-the-record" industry source, speculating that things would have been different had "Leonard Part 6" been a hit, said Cineplex CEO Garth Drabinsky is "flexing his muscles." And big ones they are -- 1,647 screens in North America, 92 of them local. Victor Kaufman, president of Columbia and chairman of Tri-Star, struck back by pulling all Tri-Star bookings from Cineplex, according to Variety.
The industry has reacted to this corporate cat fight, calling it "a mutual exercise in 'cannibalism,' " the trade bible added. Meanwhile Cineplex dismissed a report that Drabinsky had called Columbia's parent company, Coca-Cola, and threatened to pull the Real Thing from his concession stands.
What does this mean for Washington? Drabinsky, who recently gobbled up the Circle Theatres chain, didn't comment and apparently wasn't taking calls. Lynda Friendly, his spokeswoman, responded in his stead.
"No comment," she said.
"We can't comment," said a secretary to a Columbia spokesman on the West Coast.
"No comment," said a spokeswoman on the East Coast.
The dialogue was wooden, the protagonists stereotyped, but the story line wasn't bad. What isn't clear is how it will all end: Will we be able to see the next Cosby movie at the sixplex of our choice? Will moviegoers have to wash down their real buttered popcorn with Pepsi?