By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — Volatility at Universal Pictures, particularly the huge loss the studio is taking on “Battleship,” has kept NBC Universal from a steady performance this year, the chief executive of its parent company Comcast Corp. said at an investors’ conference Friday.
After noting that the NBC Universal had a 34 percent increase in operating cash flow during the first quarter driven in part by the success of films “The Lorax” and “Safe House,” Brian Roberts said the Comcast-owned media conglomerate that also operates television networks and theme parks is now facing a “negative quarter.”
A major reason is that this spring has been dismal for Universal Pictures, particularly compared to last year when it released the hits “Bridesmaids” and “Fast Five.”
“This year we have, unfortunately, a large miss in ‘Battleship’ and another one in ‘Five Year Engagement,’” Roberts said.
The overall result, he added, is a stable first half of the year for NBC Universal with one notable asterisk:
“I think you have to look at this business for what happened in the first six months: We’re flat to slightly down, right around what we expected except for ‘Battleship’ and the film volatility.”