Showbiz Sandbox 26: Hollywood Struggles With New Business Models

October 26, 2009

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Freelance entertainment journalist Todd Gilchrist joins us this week to talk about movies, music, and journalism. (But he recused himself from discussing TV because he doesn’t watch a lot of it. [gasp!]) Fine. We’ll start with movies then.

“Paranormal Activity” took over the box office this week. The film has been so well received that Paramount, which distributed the film, may produce a sequel. If a film is this successful, is a studio almost obligated to make a sequel? (And will it be as bad as “Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows”?)

In other news involving Paramount , the studio has angered members of the National Association of Theatre Owners by releasing “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” on DVD only 88 days after its theatrical run. It also set the Jeremy Piven comedy “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” for DVD-rental release 88 days from its theatrical bow, not that anyone wants to see it. “We don’t know what Paramount is up to,” NATO president John Fithian said. “But it’s highly objectionable.” 

In an effort to push consumers toward buying more movies, some major film studios are considering a new policy that would block DVDs from being offered for rental until several weeks after going on sale. There is also growing concern among studios with Netflix, which reported Thursday that subscribers increased 28% from last year to 11.1 million as of Sept. 30. “If we can agree on low-enough pricing,” observed Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, “delayed rental could potentially increase profits for everyone.” Yes, you read that right – he said “agree on low enough pricing,” which means it will probably never happen.

Coming soon to a theater near you is the Michael Jackson rehearsal footage/documentary “This is It.” J. Sperling Reich and Karen Woodward continue to battle Michael Giltz over whether this will be a surefire hit or a colossal flop. Michael may be eating crow by next week.

A reader sent us an interesting story this week: film historian David Thomsen wrote about Francis Ford Coppola whining, er, warning, that cinema is falling apart. Cranky old man or wise sage? You decide.

Moving on, into warm-fuzzy territory. More than 100 programs on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and cable networks will spotlight the idea of giving back, through story lines or public service announcements. The story lines were developed for iParticipate, an industry wide initiative aimed at urging viewers to give back to their communities. Spearheaded by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, one of Hollywood’s major charitable organizations.

Speaking of charities, is Hulu essentially a charity for people who miss TV shows? The television industry is divided over whether this online portal is going to save television by bringing more viewers to the mother ship or destroy it by providing the content for free. Solutions – such as adding a paywall – are currently being discussed.

Rap artist Lil Wayne pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge, which may only serve to increase his record sales. Meanwhile, in our new favorite segment Big Deal/Big Whoop we discuss the new Oscar producers, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and the fake death of Kanye West. (Three subjects that definitely do not belong together.)

Finally, in Inside Baseball we return to the debate of whether journalists should accept gifts or trips from studios, networks, or any entity other than their own publication to write a story or attend a junket.

Paramount May Produce Paranormal Activity Sequel
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2009/10/paramount-paranormal-activity-sequel.html

Paramount DVD Release Date Angers Exhibitors
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i76276580006fdf75900dc0e13df504d3

Movie Fans May Have to Wait to Rent New DVDs
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-dvd23-2009oct23,0,1148449.story?track=rss

New Subscribers Boost Netflix Profits by 48%
http://paidcontent.org/article/419-earnings-new-subscribers-boost-netflixs-profits-by-48-percent/

The Last Picture Show: A Sequel
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/oct/16/francis-coppola-death-of-hollywood

Community Service as A TV Theme
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-volunteer19-2009oct19,0,222081.story

Joss Whedon to Direct Episode of ‘Glee’
http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2009/10/19/glee-exclusive-joss-whedon-to-direct/

Southland picked up by TNT
http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2009/10/southland-inches-closer-to-tnt.html

Can Hulu Save Traditional TV
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/140/the-unlikely-mogul.html

Will Hulu Get A Paywall in 2010?
http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/will-hulu-get-pay-wall-2010

Do NBC Universal, Fox and Disney Need to Rethink Their Hulu Strategy?
http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=139869

Lil Wayne Pleads Guilty To Gun Charge
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/nyregion/23lilwayne.html?scp=3&sq=lil%20wayne&st=cse

Roman Polanski Faces 2 Years In Prison If Returned To LA, Swiss Officals Say
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/10/roman-polanski-faces-2-years-in-prison-if-returned-to-la-swiss-officials-say.html

Two Regulars out on Melrose Place
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i62edbb41c75b175b972d527017f0cbf2?utm

Kanye West Not Dead Despite Net Rumor Frenzy
http://www.billboard.com/news/kanye-west-not-dead-despite-net-rumor-frenzy-1004029292.story

Oscar has two new producers
http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/oscar-has-two-new-producers-bill-mechanic-and-adam-shankman/

Pricey Tropical Junket Pays of For ‘Couples Retreat’
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2009/10/pricey-tropical-junket-pays-off-for-couples-retreat.html

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