Showbiz Sandbox 318: The CinemaCon and Coachella Experience Is Priceless

April 18, 2016

Movie theater operators from around the world gathered at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week to see what Hollywood studios have to offer over the next 12 months; from big budget tentpole releases to potential awards contenders. The loudest buzz at this year’s event was caused by The Screening Room, a company that hopes to bring current movie releases into the home, day-and-date with cinemas. Following a year of record theatrical box office grosses, studios, exhibitors and filmmakers alike spoke out en masse against such an idea.

Meanwhile, the first weekend of this year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival took place over the weekend and we’ll fill you in on some of the highlights and musical acts as we debate whether big festivals have become too pricey and elitist.

During Inside Baseball, we’ll tackle the growing controversy over acting workshops; the “educational” courses where actors get pointers on how to audition. After a top casting director lost their job over the practice, there is a sense that such workshops feel like scams where struggling actors are conned into paying to audition in front of industry players.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the executive disarray at Disney, how Twitter will stream NFL games next season and why the Golden Globes are tweaking their rules.

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Showbiz Sandbox 232: Coachella Goes Over The Top, Figuratively and Literally

April 14, 2014

In its 15 year history the Coachella has grown from a two day event with a couple dozen bands to one of the world’s most important music festivals with so many VIP luxury amenities that some have argued the high-priced perks have begun overshadowing the actual music. At the same time, Coachella organizers have made it easier than ever for stay-at-home-fans to catch their favorite artists by streaming the whole first weekend live on YouTube.

Speaking of VIP entertainment experiences, there is a brewing battle over premium large format screens at multiplexes all over the world. You might know these types of auditoriums as IMAX, though not for long if your local cinema chain has anything to say about it.

Since it’s tax time here in the United States we uncover a few stories about how movie, television and theatre productions are not only skipping out on their taxes, but in fact getting huge subsidies courtesy of the tax man in most states.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Stephen Colbert’s move to replace David Letterman, the motion picture Academy’s new high profile curator and James Cameron’s complaints about the latest blockbuster movies.

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Showbiz Sandbox 217: In Hollywood You’re Nobody Till Somebody Sues You

December 17, 2013

The entertainment industry is marking the end of 2013 with a flurry of lawsuits all having to do, one way or another, with profit participation. Moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein have filed suit against Warner Bros. over profits from sequels to “The Hobbit”, a property they originally owned. Then there’s the fired creator of “The Walking Dead” who is suing AMC claiming the network owes him tens of millions of dollars for the hit television series.

Filmmaker James Cameron is no stranger to legal battles since he is constantly having to fend off plagiarism lawsuits. Last week the director said he struck a tax deal with New Zealand to film not one, but three “Avatar” sequels in the country.

Golden Globe nominations were announced last week helping solidify awards season frontrunners such as “12 Years A Slave”, “American Hustle” and “Gravity” among others. Keep in mind, only about 90 international entertainment journalists get to nominate and vote for the Globes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the new additions to the National Film Registry, the new members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and how Beyoncé surprised fans with a new album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 130: It’s The Data, Stupid (or Why Live Nation Bought BigChampagne)

December 19, 2011

As 2011 comes to an end mainstream media companies continue to struggle with how to distribute their content through the Internet. That was never more apparent than this week as concert promoter Live Nation acquired BigChampagne, a media tracking and technology company. Joe Fleischer, Big Champgne’s chief marketing officer, explains why a live-event company is interested in staying on top of the latest music industry data and how the acquisition will help Live Nation better understand their customers.

Meanwhile, as SOPA and PIPA make their way through Congress, Universal Music Group caused a stir when they tried to squash news reports of their copyright infringement lawsuit against MegaUpload. Then there was comedian Louis C.K. who used digital convergence to his benefit by selling a video of his most recent stand-up show directly to fans, making a huge profit in the process.

Matt Damon was also muddying the waters last week by revealing the in-fighting going on behind the scenes of the”Bourne” franchise. Of course, we also cover the top entertainment news stories of the week including the Golden Globe and SAG award nominations, Howard Stern’s new television gig on “America’s Got Talent” and Madonna’s new record contract.

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Showbiz Sandbox 120: Netflix Must Adapt To A Hollywood It Helped Create

September 26, 2011

Ryan Lawler has spent the last two years writing about online video and digital media trends for GigaOm, a beat he’s covered for a number of publications. Who better to help us sort out what’s been going on with Netflix over the past two weeks? Despite a plunging stock price, slower subscriber growth and increased competition from the likes of Dish Network, Lawler says we shouldn’t be too worried about Netflix. He discusses what the future holds for the company during an in-depth interview.

Meanwhile, the fall television season was jumpstarted by “Two and a Half Men” as more than 28 million viewers tuned in to see Ashton Kutcher replace Charlie Sheen. Don’t feel too bad for Sheen though; he had 6.4 million people watching him get roasted over on Comedy Central and it appears he’s settling his lawsuit with Warner Bros. for a cool $25 million.

“The Lion King 3D” continues to dominate the worldwide box office, despite the fact that it’s a 17 year old movie that most have already seen. “Titanic” and “Top Gun” are already getting 3D makeovers, and it’s likely we’ll see studios reaching back into their archives to find even more titles.

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Showbiz Sandbox 85: How To Save The Movie Business

December 27, 2010

In an age of video on demand and mobile computing, the traditional method for releasing films doesn’t seem to be working. As ticket prices rise, moviegoing and ticket sales are declining. Even worse, the fastest declining segment of moviegoers is young adults who can’t find movies that speak to their generation. Independent producer Cotty Chubb has proposed a potential solution to the problem, but it requires the participation of reluctant theater operators.

In a open letter to Relativity Media topper Ryan Kavanaugh published on IndieWire, Chubb suggests that riskier movies be released “day-and-date” at lower prices not only in theaters but on multiple platforms such as DVD and iTunes. He joins us for an in-depth discussion about his plan and how to bring audiences back to the movies.

As 2010 comes to a close we take a look at some of the year’s highest grossing and most pirated films. We also say goodbye to our co-host Karen Woodward whose career as a social media consultant has truly taken off.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines during Big Deal or Big Whoop, including the latest news from the Broadway version of “Spider-Man”, a delay in the next “DaVinci Code” movie and Steven Soderbergh’s rumored retirement. Our Inside Baseball topic focuses on SoundExchange and the music industry’s rising digital fortunes.

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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 51: Ridley Scott Believes 3D Is An “Alien” Concept

April 26, 2010

Hollywood just won’t stop talking about 3D movies, so unfortunately we can’t either. It’s hard to argue against 3D when films like “How To Train Your Dragon” keep coming in first at the box office, even after five weeks in theaters. With the announcement that “The Green Hornet” and “The Last Airbender” will be converted to 3D the debate has turned to whether it’s better to shoot natively in 3D, or add it in post-production.

Filmmaker Ridley Scott won’t have to find out when he makes not one, but two prequels to his blockbuster “Alien” since he’ll be shooting them in 3D. Disney’s head honcho, Rich Ross, also announced a couple of upcoming releases when he finally met the press last week. We’ll be getting a sequel to “Monsters, Inc.” and a “Winnie the Pooh” movie, along with a few other family friendly flicks.

If 3D films don’t excite you, then the upcoming television season may not either. We review a number of pilots that are in the works, most of which seem derivative. In fact, some of them, like “Rockford Files” and “Hawaii 5-0” are simply rehashes of previous hit shows.  Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 46: Hollywood’s Latest Meme Is 3D

March 22, 2010

A “Wimpy Kid” couldn’t beat “Alice In Wonderland” at the box office this weekend. The higher price for 3D tickets has turned “Alice” into Tim Burton’s most successful film. And Hollywood studios have definitely noticed how well audiences are responding to 3D. The new format is so hot that, much to the annoyance of James Cameron, they have gone back to convert some upcoming releases to 3D, such as “Clash of the Titans”.

With thirty three 3D films presently slated for release in 2010 this has managed to create a bottle neck at movie theaters where there is usually only enough room to show one 3D film at a time.  It’s gotten so competitive that Paramount has told theater owners that if they don’t play “How to Train Your Dragon” on their 3D enabled screen, they won’t send them a 2D print. But that means “Alice’s” engagement will be cut short. Beginning to see the problem?

While movie theaters don’t have enough 3D screens and too much content, the exact opposite is true in the home. Television manufacturers are selling 3D enabled televisions but there is nothing to watch. Have no fear though, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and the PGA Masters all have plans for 3D broadcasts.   Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 45: Changing Faces At Variety

March 15, 2010

Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” took the top spot at the box office again this week, which might be why 3D is causing quite a stir at ShoWest this year in Las Vegas. J. Sperling Reich fills us in on what theatre owners are talking about at the annual convention.

This week Hollywood suffered another untimely death, this time it was actor Corey Haim at age 38.

In happier news (for some), Jay Leno seems to be doing quite well back in his old time slot. The late night funnyman went back to “The Tonight Show” and ratings soared. What does this mean for Conan O’Brien and his chances for launching a competing late night talk show?

In music news, Billboard published a list of the Top 40 Moneymakers of 2009. Its well worth checking out as you might be surprised who makes the list. (Although it’s no surprise that U2 tops the list.)

Finally, we are joined by indieWIRE’s Anne Thompson during our Inside Baseball segment to talk about why Variety, the industry’s top trade paper is laying off staff members, including Todd McCarthy, their top film critic. Is this a sign of impending doom for the daily?  Read more

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