Showbiz Sandbox 287: The Unofficial Line On This Year’s Comic-Con

Pop-culture fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to San Diego over the weekend for this year’s Comic-Con.  More than 130,000 attendees turned up to a show where the largest auditorium has a capacity of 6,000. Alex Billington, editor of FirstShowing, explains how some fans had to wait in line for days (literally) to get into popular panel discussions such as the one for “Star Wars: Episode VII”.

Billington waited out the neverending lines so he could fill us in on all the events, panels, trailers and collectibles designed to build hype for upcoming films and television shows like “Hateful Eight”, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Deadpool”. In fact, so many movie studios and television networks showed up at Comic-Con, and with so much content, one has to wonder if their marketing messages weren’t ultimately lost in all the noise.

Meanwhile, the Minions spinoff from the “Despicable Me” franchise opened to record box office in North America giving Universal Pictures yet another big hit this year. Surely the studio will want the animated film to stick around cinemas for as long as possible, whereas Paramount Pictures has teamed up with two theater chains in an experiment to shorten the release window on certain films.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a request from publishing groups for an antitrust investigation targeting Amazon, “South Park” continues to redefine television thanks to a new deal with Hulu and the Rolling Stones continue their reign as the concert industry’s top earner.

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Showbiz Sandbox 245: Guardians of the Celluloid – Hollywood Big Shots Rally Around Film Stock

With the entertainment industry having fully embraced digital technology, the world’s only remaining motion picture film supplier was preparing to cease manufacturing 35mm stock. However, a group of influential filmmakers, Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino among them, have convinced studios to enter into an agreement with Kodak that will keep celluloid alive for a few more years.

Digital technology was actually supposed to simplify the production and distribution of movies, music and television. Yet as the industry adapts to new tools and workflows the learning curve has been long and steep. The most recent example occurred when a digital content file was mislabeled and caused cinemas to play the wrong movie.

Meanwhile, the television streaming service Aereo can’t seem to catch a break. Even after tge U.S. Supreme Court ruled they are acting as a cable operator the U.S. Copyright Office refuses to issue Aereo a compulsory license claiming they are not a cable company.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including some controversial comments about the current conflict in Gaza, Alvin and the Chipmunks head to Broadway and the pop star Lorde curates music for the next “Hunger Games” movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 237: Cannes Lives Up To All The Hype

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan took home the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his movie, “Winter Sleep”. The slow-paced character drama set in a picturesque corner of Apollonia faced stiff competition from Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy”, Andrey Zvyaginstev’s “Leviathan” and even Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film. Overall, this year’s festival managed to surpass everyone’s already high expectations.

As May draws to a close, so too does this past year’s television season. Scripted series continue to gain significant viewership when accounting for delayed viewing, but what’s most noticeable about this year’s top 20 ratings winners is how long-in-the-tooth some of the shows are.

Meanwhile, the final cost of finishing “Fast & Furious 7” after the death of actor Paul Walker last November has yet to be tallied, however it’s shaping up to be one of the most expensive insurance claims in motion picture history.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including some creative differences at Marvel, Amazon’s silent war with publishers and the Supreme Court’s decision in an important copyright infringement case.

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Showbiz Sandbox 229: Making South by Southwest A Family Affair

Countless bands long to play at South by Southwest, the music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas every March. The event has grown into an important showcases for undiscovered, unsigned and fast rising artists. The Family Crest, an indie rock band from San Francisco, is one of the buzzworthy acts that played at this year’s SxSW. Liam McCormick, the group’s songwriter and founding member, joins us to discuss what it’s being officially invited to play at such a prestigious festival.

In an in-depth conversation, McCormick walks us through how The Family Crest has managed to follow through on all the necessary achievements modern bands strive for in search of success; they’ve funded two albums via Kickstarter which feature hundreds of musicians, they’re signed to an indie record label and NPR is touting the group’s music, which of course can be easily found on all the popular streaming services. On top of all that, television series and advertising campaigns have begun licensing their music.

Much like The Family Crest, Disney is doing quite well for itself these days, at least when it comes to Broadway. What’s surprising is that it isn’t one of the company’s hot new productions that’s the highest grossing production on the Great White Way, but rather “The Lion King”, which opened 16 years ago. It’s all thanks to the new trend of dynamic ticket pricing. We’ll explain.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why the NFL is suing M.I.A., Amazon prepares to enter the streaming music business, and “Big Bang Theory” gets renewed for three whole seasons.

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

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 149: Cannes Falls For “Amour”

This year’s Cannes Film Festival concluded with “Amour”, a film by Austrian director Michael Haneke, winning the Palme d’Or. The movie about an elderly couple in Paris features two renown French actors and was a hit with festival audiences. Anne Thompson from Indiewire’s Thompson on Hollywood blog says the jury rewarded many of the noteworthy films at this year’s festival, though entries with stars like Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman were rather disappointing.

Speaking of winners, last week Phillip Phillips was crowned the winner of this season’s “American Idol”. The big loser however may be the singing competition show itself, since it is no longer the most watched television show in the nation, a title it held for a historic seven years. That honor is now held by Sunday Night Football.

Apple rather convincingly shredded the antitrust suit tbe Justice Department filed against them and top publishers over the price fixing of e-books. Apple’s response points out a number of innacuracies in the suit and manages to bolster their own case, while notably not helping the publishers with their defense.

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Showbiz Sandbox 123: DVR Data Can Save TV Shows From Cancellation

It turns out your DVR can be helpful beyond just recording your favorite television shows. Examining which commercials you skip past might be able to help predict box office flops and monitoring which shows you watch can save a borderline series from being canceled. We’ll debate whether television networks and movie studios can benefit from the data being collected from your DVR.

Apple however may be trying to make your DVR obsolete. The long standing rumors that Apple might be working on a next generation television set have heated up once again. Would you welcome Apple into your living room?

Dozens of entries make up this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar list, though all of them will ultimately be nominated. We’ll explain how the list ultimately gets whittled down to just five movies.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including why Hulu is no longer for sale, why Jonny Depp’s “Lone Ranger” is back in production and how Amazon plans to make publishers unnecessary.

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Showbiz Sandbox 72: Grading The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals

After attending both the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals over the past month Anne Thompson of IndieWIRE may need a little time off. But since Thompson is entering the hectic Oscar season there’s no rest for the weary. She stops by to tell us about all the great films she saw in Venice and Toronto, as well as the amazing number of acquisitions. Based on Thompson On Hollywood, it was a great year at TIFF.

Ben Affleck’s second film as a director, “The Town” premiered at Toronto to rave reviews and this past weekend it surprised a few industry watchers by topping the box office.

During Big Deal or Big Whoop we argue about the week’s top entertainment headlines, including why celebrities like George Michael and Lindsay Lohan can’t seem to stay out of jail. The departure of Warner Bros. Records chairman Tom Whalley is our Inside Baseball topic, along with Google’s plans to take on Apple’s iTunes.

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Showbiz Sandbox 57: A Memo From James Cameron

It was kind of a slow news week in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to the North American box office.  Movie attendance is down 10% over last year’s summer blockbuster season.  Hollywood Reporter deputy film editor Carl DiOrio stops by with his theories as to why audiences are staying away from this year’s crop of Hollywood offerings.

The MTV Movie Awards were held last weekend and the telecast was filled with so much profanity half of it was bleeped out. Though few take the awards seriously, we’ll still fill you in on all the winners and Tom Cruise’s outstanding dance performance.

Over in television Bravo has been making a name for itself with a string of successful reality television shows including “The Real Housewives of New York”.  The network is not shy about letting the New York Times know that they use social media and the Internet to decide which shows are working, popular storylines and which cast members are break out stars deserving their own show.  Speaking of break out stars, the cast of the popular “Big Bang Theory” wants a 285% pay raise and are presenting a unified front when negotiating with the network.

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