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When stars die, insurers count the cost

Carrie trade

THE death of Carrie Fisher, a much-loved actor in the “Star Wars” movies, left a hole in the force for fans. It may also burn a hole in the pockets of underwriters, syndicated under Lloyds of London. They may have to fork out as much as $50m to meet Disney’s claim for its loss. The studio, which owns the sci-fi saga, had wisely taken out so-called contractual-protection insurance (CPI) in case death thwarted a contractual obligation: in Ms Fisher’s case to film and promote future “Star Wars” episodes.

Contrary to the headlines, 2016 was not an especially lethal year to be a celebrity. Like the rest of us, they do die. But unlike most of us, their employers can be left with astronomic bills. When Paul Walker, an actor in “The Fast and the Furious”, a series of action movies, died in 2013 while filming the seventh instalment, Universal Pictures had to spend considerable effort (and dollars) to make his on-screen persona live on. This included hiring body-doubles and digitally inserting Mr Walker into the movie with hundreds of computer-generated images.

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Two big European makers of eyewear agree to merge

GIANT, cross-border mergers in Europe have been rare in recent years. Deals fail to happen even when mid-sized companies—such as family-owned and run specialist manufacturers in northern Italy or the Mittelstand in Germany—have the chance to gain global heft. For that blame founding owner-managers, many of whom are reluctant to lose control of treasured companies. Blame too an artisanal culture, particularly in southern Europe, in which firms’ owners say they are content to remain small and relatively obscure. Occasionally, too, nationalist politicians block efforts by perfidious foreigners to snaffle prized local brands.

Now, though, one of the largest-ever mergers in Europe actually looks set to go ahead. Luxottica, an Italian maker of fancy specs that was founded in 1961—it owns brands such as Ray Ban and Oakley—is to merge with Essilor, a spiffy French producer of lenses. The joint entity is set to combine Italian style with deft French engineering. The deal is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, creating a new entity with a market value of €46bn ($49bn), 140,000 staff and annual revenues of €15bn. It will be...Continue reading

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