Economics and accuracy lost in "Brangelina" baby rush

Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:05am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Even the most hardened celebrity watchers were taken aback by reports of an $11 million deal for exclusive rights to the first photographs of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's newborn twins.

Despite Hollywood duo "Brangelina" being one of the world's most famous couples, experts said it would be almost impossible to make back the money through increased sales and advertising.

But winning a bidding war boosts a magazine's profile, they added, and deals a blow to rivals in the fiercely competitive celebrity news world.

"This would be a world record and is an unbelievable amount of money to pay," said Darryn Lyons, who runs the London-based Big Pictures celebrity photograph agency.

Abe Peck, who was a long-time chair of the magazine program at U.S. journalism school Medill, described the reported deal as "verging toward the unthinkable."

The costs could be offset by selling secondary rights outside the U.S. market, for example, and owning images allows for follow-up stories quoting "friends" and "sources."

However, "if that price is accurate, it likely would become a loss leader for whoever bought it," Peck added.

"The big celebrity magazines might be willing to lose money in order to establish or maintain A-list primacy."   Continued...

<p>The media wait in front of Nice Lenval hospital where U.S. actress Angelina Jolie gave birth to twins July 14, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Pratta</p>