Corporate ‘raider’ Carl Icahn, angel to some and demon to others, has been a major player behind the scenes in much of the entertainment world. Said to be an inspiration for Gordon Gecko in ‘Wall Street’ (minus the crimes and prison sentence, but famously known to have said, “In this business, you want a friend? Get a dog.” ) Icahn is famous for buying controlling interest in companies that he thinks are mismanaged to try to turn them around. Find it hard to believe that a Wall Street money-man can have such an influence? Perhaps the best example is in the late 90s when Icahn purchased Marvel bonds at $.20 on the dollar as the company faltered into bankruptcy. Icahn walked into a Delaware bankruptcy court and walked out with the bondholders controlling Marvel. The first action: remove the ‘no movie’ policy that the previous management had in place. Thus, if you’ve enjoyed the Sam Raimi ‘Spiderman’ movies, X-Men flicks, and so on, then you have Icahn (and the free market) to thank, since he was leading the charge for Marvel to get into movies.
Recently Icahn had his target set on Lionsgate films, which Icahn is reported to believe would be better off putting more resources into television shows than movies, since TV has less risks (smaller budgets). In light of the recent bombing of Lionsgate’s ‘Conan’ at the box office, Icahn might seem to have had a point, but the powers in place at Lionsgate have been circling the wagons to fend him off. In light of their intransigence, Icahn announced today that he does not think it is worth his while to continue fighting over Lionsgate. Icahn is someone to watch if you want to see what is going on in the business world behind the scenes. Icahn is reported to have numerous holdings in the entertainment industry, including video game developer Take Two Interactive.