Showbiz Sandbox 64: Buzzing About Comic-Con, Digital Comics and E-Books

July 26, 2010

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Alex Billington of First Showing and Anne Thompson of indieWIRE all attended the 41st annual Comic-Con. They stop by to fill us in on all the the movies and television shows that managed to generate a lot of buzz (as well as a few that fizzled). We recap the pop-culture convention’s highlights and breaking news items.

Of course, before Comic-Con invited movies and television shows to the party, it used to be about buying and selling comic books. However, as Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times informs us, physical comic books may be an endangered item thanks to the growing popularity of digital comics. These newfangled comics have animation, sound effects and narration. Pham also explains how e-books are changing the future of how and what we read.

E-books were the source of major controversy in the publishing world this past week. Literary agent Andrew Wylie announced he would bypass traditional publishing firms and form his own digital publishing company to release e-book versions of his client’s work, including out of print work from the likes of John Updike and and Philip Roth. Rachel Deahl, senior news editor at Publishers Weekly, tells us why this move was so controversial within the publishing industry.

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Showbiz Sandbox 63: Mel Gibson Wishes It Were All A Dream

July 19, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film “Inception” jumped to the top of the North American box office upon release. The follow-up to the director’s blockbuster “The Dark Knight” has some critics buzzing about a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Academy Award nominations are the least of Mel Gibson’s problems. After being caught on tape screaming obscenities and death threats at his ex-girlfriend, the actor and filmmaker should be happy if his next film,“The Beaver”, simply makes it into theaters.

A number of important court decisions were handed down this past week having to do with First Amendment rights. These include a ruling about “fleeting epithets” and whether broadcasters can be fined for airing them. An appeals court told the Federal Communications Commission their definition of “indecency” was too vague and may encroach on the freedom of speech.

We go over all the week’s top entertainment headlines during Big Deal or Big Whoop, including why the R.I.A.A. has spent $17 million suing music fans only to collect $391k, whether Tom Cruise will be cast in “Mission Impossible IV” and e-book sales outpacing those of real books on Amazon. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 62: The Secret Behind Hollywood’s Accounting Practices

July 12, 2010

How is it the last Harry Potter film can gross $938 million but still lose $130 million? Journalist and author Edward Jay Epstein joins us to unravel some of Hollywood’s quirky accounting practices. He’s written two books on the subject; The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies and The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood.

“Despicable Me” topped the box office though the amount it took in from 3D screens was rather low. Could audiences be tiring of paying exorbitant 3D ticket prices? Meanwhile, Miramax finally seems to have found a buyer and Lions Gate is trying to make piece with activist investor Carl Icahn.

The Emmy nominations were announced last week and we’ll fill you in on whose up for the television’s big awards. Over in the world of music Pollstar announced that concert ticket sales are down 15% for the first half of the year.

During our Big Deal or Big Whoop segment we race through a number of top entertainment headlines, including Roman Polanski’s release, Lindsay Lohan’s jail time and Mel Gibson getting dumped by his agency. Maybe Gibson can find some work on YouTube, which plans to offer $5 million in grants to select content partners.

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Showbiz Sandbox 61: Andrew Garfield Fills Spider-Man’s Reboots

July 5, 2010

That “Twilight Saga: Eclipse: wound up at the top of the box office over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with $280 million worldwide was not a big shock, however the casting of Andrew Garfield to play Spider-Man in the next installment of the franchise came as a surprise. Entertainment journalist Michael Giltz has been following the 26-year-old actor for several years, but the selection of the unknown had most industry insiders searching for his resume.

In all likelihood the next “Spider-Man” film will be shot in 3D though the format is not a guarantee of box office gold. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan whose “Last Airbender” had a disappointing opening despite being converted to 3D in post-production. Film critic Roger Ebert was not alone in trashing the film.

This week also saw Larry King announce his retirement from the nightly talk show he’s hosted on CNN for 25 years. King’s program has been slipping in ratings recently, as have late night talkers hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman. But viewership continues to grow on cable television, not to mention on Hulu which will begin offering monthly subscriptions for expanded content offerings.

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