Showbiz Sandbox 294: As Box Office Grows In China, So Do Claims of Fraud

September 14, 2015

China continues on its torrid pace toward become the number one movie market in the world having already surpassed its record $4.7 billion box office from last year. However, some Chinese distributors, and even some moviegoers, are claiming cinema owners are manipulating reported grosses on behalf of the government.

Recently a propaganda film titled “The Hundred Regiments Offensive” managed to sell more tickets than was possible based on its number of showings and theater count. Industry executives now say releases such as “Terminator:Genisys” are being unfairly robbed of their true earnings. Yet the market is so big, when “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” debuted last week it gave Tom Cruise the biggest box office opening of his career.

Meanwhile, parts of the world are entering autumn, a time when leaves fall from the trees and Broadway shows fall from the marquees to make way for new shows. We’ll tell you which shows have announced closings, which ones will follow soon and take a brief look at some new productions opening soon.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the return of Stephen Colbert to late night television, the new owner of National Geographic and how the late Billie Holiday and Whitney Houston will perform once again… as holograms.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 291: Media Companies Come Clean On Cord Cutting

August 24, 2015

After years of denying cord cutting was happening on any level, several large media companies are finally confessing that cord cutting is a growing trend which may soon affect their bottom lines. After decades of steady growth, cable operators are now beginning to see flat or declining subscriber numbers as new content streaming services pop-up.

Clearly, the business models the television industry has relied on in the past are evolving rapidly, more so than movies or theater or even publishing at the moment. Yet some industry insiders believe the cable cord isn’t being cut, but that it’s slowly fraying as the definition of what it means to be a television network has changed.

Some media companies aren’t waiting to study market indicators before making strategic moves. Last week NBCUniversal made a $200-million investment in the online news outlet Buzzfeed, leaving many to wonder how this could possibly benefit the network.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how boy band One Direction wants to take a break, why Spotify wants to breach your privacy and Cirque du Soleil is headed to Broadway.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 286: The 2015 Mid-Year Box Office and Music Sales Report

July 6, 2015

With the year now half over we join the rest of the entertainment industry in reviewing how 2015 is shaping up at the box office and for music sales. As predicted, the worldwide box office is on track to set another annual record thanks in part to three blockbuster releases that have each earned more than a billion dollars.

China continues to be an ever more important movie market as the country’s box office surged more than 50% during the first six months of the year with imported titles leading the way. Meanwhile, Hollywood movies have fared better in India than in past years with two passing the billion rupee level, a well-established benchmark of box office success.

The picture isn’t as rosy when it comes to music revenue. North American album sales are down 4% and digital downloads have fallen more than 10%. The declines may be caused by on-demand music streaming which has increased 74% so far this year. Whatever the reason, Taylor Swift isn’t sweating it since her most recent album has sold more than 2 million copies this year alone.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the Grateful Dead perform one final concert, massive layoffs at the BBC and HBO Now is a huge hit in the iTunes app store.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 195: Hollywood Exploits 9/11 Imagery For Its Implosive Blockbusters

June 19, 2013

As “Man of Steel” sets the worldwide box office aflame, the latest Superman reboot also serves as yet another example of a Hollywood blockbuster exploiting the imagery of 9/11 for apocalyptic purposes. Kyle Buchanan, the Movies Editor at New York Magazine, would like to see filmmakers stop relying on meaningless urban destruction.  He joins us to discuss his recent article calling for an end to the “orgy of gratuitous building-battering” in big budget movies.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are two filmmakers quite familiar with blockbuster movies.  Now, the directors who helped launch the modern day tentpole release are predicting an “implosion” for Hollywood, along with a handful of other pessimistic prognostications.  We’ll tell you what they had to say in a recent panel discussion.

Last week also saw Apple finally get into the music streaming business with the announcement of iTunes Radio.  Only time will tell whether Apple will be able to compete with Pandora, Spotify and all of the other existing players in the space, though we’re not overly impressed.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a legal victory for Hollywood interns, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to “The Terminator” and The Muppets head to Broadway.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 178: Sex Sells At Sundance

January 21, 2013

The Sundance Film Festival has a reputation of programming edgy, independent films that often reflect the spirit and sentiment of the country. The festival must think the nation is in a lascivious mood since many of the films at this year’s event are rather racy.

In fact, at least three films at this year’s festival focus on pornography, including “Lovelace” a biopic of the world’s first pornstar. Whether it’s suburban lesbian mothers turning into prostitutes or two best friends having affairs with each other’s sons, Sundance has been hot and steamy.

If the number of distribution deals at this year’s festival is any indication however, Sundance is surely on the right track.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including controversial action figures for “Django Unchained”, Hanks and Spielberg head to war again, and Robert Iger’s big salary raise.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 168: Why TV Audiences Abandoned Broadcast Networks

October 22, 2012

The start of the new television season has been a huge disappointment for broadcast networks with ratings down as much as 28% on Fox. Only NBC has seen an increase in viewership in key demos and after years of coming in fourth among networks, now finds itself bouncing back. Why have audiences abandoned broadcast television? Here’s a hint; it has to do with zombies.

Industry analysts fault lackluster new series and strong programming alternatives on cable for broadcast networks latest woes. We provide a rundown of which new shows might stick around for a while, those that might be put on hiatus and which have already gotten the ax.

If you paid to download any of this season’s new TV shows you may be interested to know that you are only licensing the right to view them and don’t actually own them outright. Two upcoming court cases may help resolve the issue, if they don’t wind up muddying the waters further.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the new agreement between Dish and AMC, Beyonce’s new Super Bowl gig, and the end of Newsweek as a print magazine.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 112: Why Netflix Had To Raise Its Prices

July 18, 2011

You would have thought the world was coming to an end last week after popular movie streaming service Netflix raised its prices by 60%. The company’s customers took to blogs and social networks in revolt, threatening to cancel their subscriptions. However, between the cost of mailing DVDs and paying increased licensing fees for content, a Netflix rate hike was inevitable. Is Netflix still one of the best movie bargains available today, and if not, are there any alternatives?

Speaking of subscription offerings, one of Europe’s hottest music streaming services is finally available in the United States. Will Spotify be able to displace some of the entrenched players in the space like Spotify and Rdio? You can find out for yourself since we have some Spotify invitations to give away to a few lucky listeners.

Over in television-land the Emmy nominations were announced and as usual, there were a few noticeable omissions. Just ask “Sons of Anarchy” producer Kurt Sutter who chastised the Academy via Twitter for not recognizing the show’s star Katey Sagal (who also happens to be his wife).

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 104: ‘Pirates’ Proves The Importance Of A Global Box Office

May 23, 2011

Despite earning more than $90 million in North America during its debut weekend, the opening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” did not live up to many industry insiders lofty expectations for the movie. However, considering the film made an additional $260 million in more than 100 international territories, its impossible to consider the latest installment of the Jack Sparrow franchise anything other than a success.

Even so, some analysts believe any muted box office returns for “Pirates” in North America are due to the public’s rejection of 3D movies. Have audiences grown tired of viewing films in 3D? Is the once flashy new technology now passé or is the surcharge for 3D and Imax causing moviegoers to opt-out?

The Cannes Film Festival came to an end this past week with Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” taking home the Palm d’Or. Will winning the festival’s top prize help the film’s financial prospects? If history is any guide, probably not.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 92: The Awards Otherwise Known As The Grammys

February 13, 2011

Indie rock darling Arcade Fire provided an upset at this year’s Grammy Awards by taking home the prize for Album Of The Year. Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild helped write the Grammy telecast and he provides an insider’s perspective on the show as well as a peak backstage. Unfortunately, nobody can explain why Lady Gaga arrived in a glass coffin.

Teen pop sensation Justin Bieber didn’t take home any Grammys on Sunday, but does he really care? After all, his concert film “Never Say Never” earned an astonishing $30 million during its opening weekend.

Meanwhile, the movie industry had their own awards show over the weekend and we’ll go over who the big winners were at the BAFTAs and how they might affect the Oscar race.

We also review and provide analysis on all the week’s top entertainment headlines, including how to get tickets to LCD Soundsystem’s last concert, Pandora’s IPO, Zooey Deschanel’s move to television and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to acting.

Read more