Showbiz Sandbox 381: Telluride and Toronto Continue To Shape Awards Season

September 18, 2017

Each year the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals are held so closely together their programming often overlaps as each vies to land titles that will be in the running for major awards (read: Oscars). Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor at large, has just returned from Telluride and Toronto and she fills us in on all the festival season favorites.

While Thompson was in Toronto enjoying movies like “The Shape of Water” from director Guillermo del Toro, film buyers were struggling to find anything to pick up. There was a general sense that all the worthwhile titles had been cherry picked before the festival even began.

Meanwhile the Emmy Awards were held over the weekend honoring the best television from the past year. At this year’s ceremony a disruptive streaming video provider made a big splash, though not the one everyone expected. Hulu took home the Best Drama Emmy for “The Handmaid’s Tale”, despite Netflix having three shows nominated in the category.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the head of NBC admitting most of its primetime viewership is not watched live, George R. R. Martin’s new TV series and MoviePass surpsasses 400,000 subscribers in under a month.

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Showbiz Sandbox 380: Hollywood Gets Pummeled by Rotten Tomatoes

September 12, 2017

With North American box office declining 15 percent over last year, Hollywood suffered its worst summer box office in 20 years. One main reason, studios believe, is the popularity of the movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which brands titles as either “fresh” or “rotten”. The site has become so influential studios now try and game the system by handpicking critics for certain releases.

Disney, on the other hand, isn’t waiting for reviews to be in on its latest Star Wars movies before tweaking them. “Episode IX” is just the latest to lose its director over creative differences with Lucasfilm, which is quickly gaining the reputation as a tough place to be a filmmaker.

Meanwhile, one of North America’s largest brick-and-mortar book retailers reports that sales are off 6% in the latest quarter as consumers shift to buying online. Don’t worry however, the company has a great plan for fixing their sales problem; open more stores.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Amazon wants to produce a hit television show, the end of an era at Vanity Fair magazine and the mystery behind who will distribute the next James Bond movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 379: Springsteen and Swift Beat Scalpers and Fans Pay The Price

September 4, 2017

New technology from Ticketmaster is allowing the likes of Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen to combat scalpers and sell tickets to legitimate fans. But at what cost? Swift is asking concert-goers to pay $63 for a physical copy of her latest album to get better seats and the ticket prices for Springsteen’s Broadway residency top out at $850.

Maybe these prices are simply musicians trying to make up for the earnings they’ve lost in record sales over the past 15 years. According to a new report from Goldmany Sachs though, the music industry is poised for explosive, make that historic; no, make that unbelievable growth. And we don’t believe it.

Meanwhile, as the summer moviegoing season in North America end in a thud with box office plummeting to record lows, bring the shares of major movie theater chains down with them. But are ticket sales the real reason behind the stock sell off.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Facebook is taking on YouTube with video content, “The Simpsons” lay off their beloved composer after nearly 30 years and a study says millennials are fleeing terrestrial radio.

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Showbiz Sandbox 378: ESPN Goes Looking For Some Fights

August 28, 2017

In the midst of a blockbuster boxing match viewed around the world between welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and MMA champion Conor McGregor, ESPN announces they spent a small fortune to secure the worldwide rights to future bouts. The network plans on providing access to the fights on their recently announced streaming service, with ESPN even getting a potential piece of any fights that go the pay-per-view route.

The Mayweather vs. McGregor match was faulted for causing the North American box office to dip to it’s lowest level in 16 years this past weekend. In fact, box office receipts which will not surpass $4 billion for the first time since 2006 thanks to an attendance decrease of 25%. Maybe MoviePass, a subscription moviegoing service, will help fill cinemas now that they’ve lowered their price to $10 per month.

Meanwhile “Handbook for Mortals” took the young adult book genre by storm over the last week, and not in a good way. The debut novel topped the New York Times bestseller list for that genre its first week out without anyone ever having heard of the book or its unknown author. Controversy ensued.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why the issue of on-set safety has gotten a lot of attention after Tom Cruise got injured making the next Mission: Impossible movie, the big editorial changes at the Los Angeles Times and how “The Walking Dead” has inspired another lawsuit.

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Showbiz Sandbox 377: Disney Breaks Up With Netflix To Launch Solo Streaming Service

August 14, 2017

After years of licensing their movies to Netflix, Disney announced last week that it will be launching their own streaming service when their current deal expires. Then in a true reordering of the media landscape, Disney also revealed it will be creating a standalone subscription streaming service for ESPN. Realistically though Disney might be one of the few entertainment companies that could successfully pull off direct-to-consumer strategy on such a grand scale.

Perhaps Disney felt threatened by content distributors like Netflix and felt compelled to make a move. After all, just days after making their announcement Netflix said it had lured producer Shonda Rhimes away from Disney’s ABC Studios to make original programming for its own service. Netflix also stole hitmaker Chuck Lorre away from CBS and cut a deal with the Coen Brothers to make one of their next projects.

Meanwhile, there’s lots of drama on Broadway, literally and figuratively. Everyone is talking about the collapse of the musical “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” which has charges of racism, unprofessionalism and bad management swirling around it. Now the show is closing long before its $12 million budget was recouped.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Warner Music Group posted big revenue gains thanks to streaming, Bruce Springsteen heads to Broadway and the emergence of a new Chinese media magnate.

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Showbiz Sandbox 376: Cord Cutters Are Using An Old Hack To Watch Television – It’s Called An Antenna

August 7, 2017

As the Federal Communications Commission seeks to further deregulate cable television companies and do away with net neutrality, consolidation within the industry has caused rates to increase dramatically. We’ll explain how more and more people are growing fed up with high cable bills and what they’re doing about it. Some millennials have even discovered an amazing hack to get the broadcast networks for free! And it’s totally legal!

We’ll also tell you about how some big name players are getting fed up with Hollywood’s opaque accounting system. Sylvester Stallone is suing Warner Bros. over profit participation for his 1990s hit movie Demolition Man while filmmaker Steven Soderbergh is taking the distribution of his latest movie into his own hands.

In China, “Wolf Warrior 2” has earned nearly half a billion dollars at the global box office and looks set to become the country’s highest grossing movie ever. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is still playing strong in theatres around the world and may surpass “Spider-Man” to claim the crown as the biggest comic book movie debut in history.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why legendary TV producer Norman Lear is boycotting the Kennedy Center Honors reception, when Bette Midler is leaving “Hello Dolly” and why Netflix acquired a comic book company.

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Showbiz Sandbox 375: The Seedy Side of Show Business is Revealed in “Walking Dead” Lawsuit

July 30, 2017

Six years after AMC fired Frank Darabont from “The Walking Dead,” the hit TV series he created and oversaw, details about why he was axed are emerging during a lawsuit filed by the filmmaker over profit participation. Citing unprofessional and erratic behavior AMC provided profanity filled emails Darabont sent to producers and executives during his tenure as showrunner. This has lead to many in Hollywood asking whether Darabont’s behavior was out of line or if he was simply trying to defend his show?

The lawsuit itself hinges on Darabont’s deal and whether the revenue AMC earns from “The Walking Dead” is significantly lower because the network is making deals with itself at a significantly reduced cost per episode. This is not the first self-dealing lawsuit to be filed by a creative in Hollywood, but given the $280 million being sought, its outcome could affect how the business operates in the future.

Meanwhile, under pressure from the Chinese government, the Dalian Wanda Group says it will no longer seek to acquire international entertainment properties, causing AMC Theatres, one of its own subsidiaries, to publicly distance itself, and leaving Hollywood wondering if funding from China might be drying up.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Amazon will start to distribute its own movies theatrically, Hulu gets nostalgic and Daniel Craig is set to return as James Bond in the next 007 movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 374: Streaming Services Rack Up 2017 Emmy Nominations

July 18, 2017

When this year’s primetime Emmy nominees were announced HBO still lead the way with 111 nominations, including 22 for “Westworld”, but streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon are quickly gaining ground with their own popular shows. Even Hulu managed to push their way into the Emmys for the first time with 13 nominations for “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

The only thing that remained the same about the Emmys from previous years is that some shows were nominated that shouldn’t have been, while others weren’t nominated but should have been. Don’t get us started on the TV episode that was somehow nominated for Outstanding Television Movie.

One series that wasn’t nominated for an Emmy was “Hawaii Five-O”, the hit CBS show which had two of its main actors depart after a contract dispute that became a flashpoint over the salaries and casting of minority talent.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why a major Chinese entertainment company is taking a hit on the stock market after criticism from government officials, Tyler Perry signs a producing deal with Viacom and Quincy Jones sues the Michael Jackson estate over royalty payments.

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Showbiz Sandbox 373: Is the Academy’s Diversity Fix Misguided?

July 3, 2017

After a controversy that faulted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for being too white, too male and too old, the organization has made great strides to broaden the diversity of its membership over the past two years. During that time the Academy invited over 1,450 new members to join its hallowed ranks, many of whom were women and people of color. Yet there are now grumblings that in the rush to bring in fresh blood the Academy may have lowered its standards for membership.

Major Hollywood studios are less concerned with the Academy’s membership than they are with whether Chinese exhibitors are reporting box office correctly. The MPAA and U.S. trade organizations have forced the Chinese government to let an international firm audit ticket sales for imported films at cinemas throughout the country.

We also review a listener email which goes to great lengths in explaining why satellite radio giant SiriusXM would want to purchase a stake in the online radio streaming service Pandora. The deal is setting up a senior management showdown over the digital music pioneer’s future business model.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Adele is canceling the final two shows of her tour at Wembley, how Sony plans on pressing vinyl records again after nearly 30 years and Oscar winning actress Olivia de Havilland lets FX know she doesn’t appreciate being portrayed in “Feud” by filing a lawsuit.

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Showbiz Sandbox 372: Firing Movie Directors Has Become A Complicated Business

June 26, 2017

Hollywood history is littered with tales of filmmakers being replaced on projects in the middle of production. But when LucasFilm fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the stand-alone Han Solo project with just a few weeks before principal photography was completed, it raised a host of questions that needs to be addressed by the industry at large.

For instance, who will receive directing credit now that Ron Howard has signed on to complete the movie? And how will residuals and profit participation be handled? In an age when blockbusters are being manufactured by media conglomerates with oversight committees, the frequency with which these questions need to be answered is likely to increase.

Meanwhile, in China the government may have its own questions about where Wanda is finding all the money to acquire cinema chains such as AMC, Odeon and Hoyts, not to mention production companies such as Legendary. There are rumors that the country’s banking regulators are looking into whether all that debt financing is on the up-and-up.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Time Warner’s plans to start making shows for Snapchat, “NCIS” continues to win awards for being the most watched television series in the world and three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis announces his retirement from acting.

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