Showbiz Sandbox 176: Hollywood Unchained – 2012 Sets Another Box Office Record

January 7, 2013

Once again Hollywood raked in record earnings at the North American box office in 2012, though this time it wasn’t because of increased ticket prices.  In fact, both revenue and attendance were up nearly 6% during the year as 1.36 billion tickets were sold to set a new annual box office record of $10.8 billion.

Internationally box office receipts were off slightly.  After a string of years with record grosses, Hollywood movies raked in $13.5 billion outside North America.  The new year is looking up as well since nine films pegged as Oscar contenders are all still raking in big grosses.

The music business didn’t have such good news.  Album sales during 2012 declined 4.4% in the United States where Adele spent a second year at the top of the heap.  What’s noteworthy is that digital downloads outpaced physical album sales for the first time according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the sale of Al Gore’s cable network, the rising ratings for Big Bang Theory and why YouTube is deleting views for music videos.

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Showbiz Sandbox 143: “Mommy Porn” Is Hollywood’s Hot New Trend

April 2, 2012

Hollywood studios spent this past week waging a bidding war for a book derived from fan fiction stories on “Twilight” websites. Universal Pictures wound up paying an estimated $5 million for E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an erotic novel that has become a best selling phenomenon despite only being published as an e-book. Producers now must figure out how to handle the graphic sexual content found in titles the media has dubbed “mommy porn”.

Last week also marked the merger of SAG and AFTRA, the unions representing actors. Members of both groups overwhelmingly voted to join forces to create the largest bargaining group in Hollywood. Only time will tell if presenting a united front will give the thespians more power to negotiate better contracts.

Meanwhile, the popular music streaming service Spotify has decided to allow unlimited free listening indefinitely. While this is good news for music fans, how will Spotify, which has yet to turn a profit, pay increased licensing fees to all the record labels?

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Showbiz Sandbox 109: Making Grammar Fun (And F*cking Funny)

June 27, 2011

When Chris Baker isn’t working on Madison Avenue for a big advertising firm, he is creating some of the world’s most exclusive websites… literarily. only lets verified celebrities and big wigs past the home page. His website M. Night School is crowd-sourcing enough funds to send director M. Night Shyamalan back to film school. Baker joins us to discuss his latest effort, “The Elements of F*cking Style“, a book that, unlike the one it parodies, employs sex, drugs and swearing to help teach readers proper English grammar.

After this past weekend, Baker may want to send Pixar back to film school. “Cars 2”, the company’s highly anticipated sequel to their blockbuster “Cars”, was given a drubbing by critics. However, critical acclaim may not matter for a film that earns $2 billion a year in merchandising.

At least nobody’s forcing you to see “Cars 2”. That might not be an option in China where the government is “suggesting” that everyone see “Beginning of the Great Revival,” a propaganda film disguised as a historical epic detailing the founding of China’s Communist Party.

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Showbiz Sandbox 55: I Want My Google TV

May 25, 2010

It’s official. Google is getting into the television business with help from Sony and Logitech. Will making television searchable cause viewership to rise? On the other hand, movies have apparently found a way to shrink their audience – raise movie ticket prices. While “Shrek Forever After” may have topped the North American box office, it’s $71 million debut was seen as a bit of a disappointment. Industry pundits are pointing to the rising cost of 3D movie tickets as part of the cause.

And if you think movie tickets are getting too expensive just wait until cable companies start offering “home theater on demand”. Movie studios are being pitched by cable operators on distributing their movies via video-on-demand just 30 days after they are released in theaters. However, the $20 to $30 price tag may turn potential customers away.

We wrap up our coverage of the Cannes Film Festival, where an obscure “auteur” film from Thailand took the top prize. Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich tell us about all the films they liked (and hated) at this year’s festival.

The series finale of “Lost” aired over the weekend, though it received mixed reviews and mediocre ratings. Read more