Thomas Barrack Talks Hollywood Under President Trump

Thomas Barrack Jr. - Getty - H - 2016
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"I believe that people will be awed by the future success of a Trump presidency," the former chairman of Miramax tells THR.

Colony Capital CEO and former Miramax chairman Thomas Barrack Jr. won't be serving in Donald Trump's cabinet, although he is planning the 45th president's inauguration ceremony. 

While Barrack actively supported and advised Trump during his campaign, he says now just isn't the right time for him to make the move from Hollywood to Washington full time. Barrack is in the unique position of being both privy to Trump's positions on key issues and deeply connected to the entertainment industry. So The Hollywood Reporter asked him how he thinks show business will fare under the real estate mogul's administration. 

How do you think investment in Hollywood will be affected by Donald Trump’s presidency?

Investment will be impacted in a positive way. Tougher IP enforcement in trade deals will enhance investment. We have witnessed an incredible increase in Chinese investment over the past few years and we will continue to experience this trend. The economic policies of the Trump Administration lend themselves to greater innovation and increased investment from abroad along with investment tax credits and a lower tax base for companies at home. The industry should see a boost from fiscally expansive policies which have the potential to put more money in the pockets of consumers. 

Do you see AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner going through?

No idea. 

What do you think the environment will be like for M&A and entertainment industry consolidation in general?

Premium content is king. It’s the extraordinarily talented storytellers — the directors, the actors, the producers who define the experience and make it an experiential reality —who are the drivers of irreplaceable value in Hollywood. These curators of great content, at the end of the day, will hold the keys to the kingdom. Today, in the media business, people must work five times as hard for one-fifth the profit. The middlemen will continue to be disintermediated or absorbed and we will likely continue to see pressure on pay-TV bundles and on traditional distribution formats; there is no longer just one theatrical distribution and OTT will soon rule the realm. Those players that operate at scale with a menu of paths to monetization can use their differentiated IP to drive higher operating margins and profits. Therefore, consolidation will continue and supply chains will continue to integrate, driving more M&A.

What do you think are the biggest potential policy implications for Hollywood?

Content and IP protection and distribution capabilities abroad, including freer reciprocal entry to the Chinese market. Regulation is also important.

How do you think U.S.-China relations, led by Trump, will affect Hollywood’s increasingly interconnected relationship with the country?

China is one of the largest consumer markets in the world with an extraordinary demographic middle-class distribution payable over the coming few decades. Their box-office growth has surpassed that of the USA and will only continue to increase. Trump will renegotiate our trade relationship with China, providing better terms and protections to the media industry, increasing the exportation of films with fewer trade barriers while simultaneously protecting intellectual property rights abroad.

What would you say to Hollywood folks who are apprehensive about a Trump presidency?

Trump has built his reputation on consensus, on conciliation, on compromise and on getting things done. And I believe that people will be awed by the future success of a Trump presidency. His 100-day agenda will heal the wounds, bridge the divide and sculpt paths to make inclusive those constituencies that have felt excluded. Before Nov. 8, we all had a right to debate, argue and campaign. After Nov. 9, our responsibility is to unite behind our chosen president and provide a role model for the rest of the world on how the peaceful transition of power takes place in the greatest democracy of the world.

You’ve removed yourself from consideration for a cabinet position, but do you expect to serve as an adviser in some capacity?

I have tremendous faith in President-elect Trump and I am honored and delighted to serve President-elect Trump in assisting in the curation of his inauguration as the bridge between the candidate and the president. And going forward I will be honored to help the nation and the president in any way I can.