Here's an interesting nugget from Comcast's most recent 10-K report:
We are party to a contractual obligation that involves an interest held by a third party in the revenue of certain theme parks. The arrangement provides the counterparty with the right to periodic payments associated with current period revenue which are recorded as an operating expense, and beginning in June 2017, the option to require NBCUniversal to purchase the interest for cash in an amount based on a contractual formula. The contractual formula is based on an average of specified historical theme park revenue at the time of exercise, which amount could be significantly higher than our carrying value. As of December 31, 2020, our carrying value was $1.1 billion, and the estimated value of the contractual obligation was $1.7 billion based on inputs to the contractual formula as of that date.
So who is that "third party" that is earning money in perpetuity from the Universal theme parks, and who could be bought out of that obligation by Universal for an estimated $1.7 billion dollars?
If you've been following the industry for a while, you probably have heard that this third party is... Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg's financial interest in the Universal theme parks might be one reason why Disney did not get back theme park rights to Marvel in Orlando when it had some leverage to do so, since that deal could have hurt Universal Orlando's revenue.
It's also well discussed within the industry that every major project at Universal's theme parks - and even some not-so-major ones - have to be run by Spielberg before they get approval. And Spielberg often provides feedback that Universal Creative designers call valuable to their projects' development. So the Oscar-winning director is earning that money.
But, man, that is a lot of money.Tweet