If the name of billionaire Philip Anschutz and his family is not well-known, widely respected and greatly appreciated in this area, it certainly should be. One of his latest quests is one that innumerable frustrated Americans, particularly parents, heartily support: making "movies that have a positive effect on people's lives and on our culture."
Anschutz, whose company headquarters are in Denver, admits he is on a mission to cleanse movies of sex, foul language and violence. He is willing to risk hundreds of millions of dollars "to deliver family fare with uplifting messages." His Anschutz Film Group has already ventured into the field with offerings such as "Around the World in 80 Days." While that presentation was far from a success at the box office, AFG will continue to try to develop wholesome fare that will be profitable.
The film business is tough and requires many qualities, including solid financing, to stay the course. The Anschutz companies would seem able to provide that backing.
The Anschutz family is deeply involved in such businesses as real estate, professional sports and oil. Their vast holdings include the Los Angeles Staples Center and the LA Kings hockey team. The name has come up in this region again because the Anschutz Entertainment Group has agreed to put $50 million and 35 years of management expertise into the downtown Kansas City, Mo., arena approved by voters this week.
The Anschutz name, of course, is not unfamiliar to Lawrence and Kansas University, which have benefited so greatly from the noted family's generosity. In 1989, Phil and Nancy Anschutz donated $6.5 million for library acquisitions at KU, and a library there now bears the name of the parents, Marian and Fred Anschutz. Philip and Fred are behind $750,000 in scholarships for KU athletes and provided about $1.5 million to set up the multipurpose Anschutz Pavilion used by students and townspeople along with those in the athletic department.
The Anschutz interests made major gifts for the Adams Alumni Center at the university and provided funding for an addition to Summerfield Hall. These are the high-profile contributions by the Anschutzes; there doubtless are many others.
Kansas City is terribly fortunate to have the Anschutz Entertainment Group to support and manage its badly needed new downtown arena. Naturally, KU has been incredibly fortunate to have its relationship with the Anschutz interests, which have made and will continue to make so many positive impacts around here.
The company's new effort to promote wholesome film entertainment is just the latest laudable venture. Let's hope the public picks up on what the Anschutz Film Group is seeking to do and gives it the support it needs to be a success.