Showbiz Sandbox 293: Why Forecasting Box Office Has Become So Difficult

Though this year’s North American summer box office may wind up being the second biggest on record at $4.4 billion, movie studios are finding it far more difficult to predict opening weekend grosses. An article in the Hollywood Reporter details how tracking pre-release box office has become unreliable in an age when social media buzz and movie review aggregation have become so prevalent.

Word-of-mouth can now spread so quickly that movies like “Ted 2” can be doomed 24 hours after release, opening 33% below its estimated $50 million first weekend gross. And it’s not just flops that suffer tracking mishaps, as evidenced by “Jurassic World” bowing to $208 million, 60% more than originally anticipated.

Until now, Apple hasn’t had to worry about movie box office or even television ratings, but all that might change if rumors the company is getting into producing original content are at all true.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Aretha Franklin wound up in court last week, why DreamWorks is leaving Disney and who the Academy selected to produce next year’s Oscar telecast.

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Showbiz Sandbox 184: How Authors Rig The Bestseller Lists

When Soren Kaplan’s “Leapfrogging” was published last summer it immediately appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling business books, a position that would be maintained for only a week. That was more than enough time for Kaplan to cement his status as a best-selling author which, in-turn, helps him land lucrative speaking and consulting gigs.

That is precisely why Kaplan hired a marketing firm to purchase copies of the book upon publication to assure it would appear on bestseller lists. During an interview with the Journal, Kaplan reveals how authors buying their way onto the bestseller list is a dirty little secret the publishing industry would prefer you not know about.

Dreamworks Animation is not being completely honest either. They took huge write-downs on their most recent release “Rise of the Guardians” and faulted the film’s weak performance as the reason for laying of 400 employees. However many question whether the company’s decision to move some of their production to China may have more to do with it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the best yearly music sales since 1999, the end of Daily Variety and whether NBC is looking to part ways with Jay Leno (again).

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Showbiz Sandbox 164: Geoff Boucher Knows More About Nothing Than Anyone

Geoff Boucher shocked the entertainment and media industries when he announced his resignation from the Los Angeles Times in mid-September. After all, Boucher has been credited with pioneering a new model for entertainment writers by melding print publications with both an online brand and live events; a format he’s dubbed “tradigital”. Why wouldn’t the Times want to keep him around. (They actually did).

Boucher spent 21 years at the paper, earning a stellar reputation as an entertainment feature writer and ultimately the editor of the Hero Complex, a blog covering all aspects of pop culture. In a wide ranging interview Boucher, who says he knows more about nothing than anyone, discusses his departure from the Times, how he landed at Entertainment Weekly less than a week later, and what his future plans are.

Meanwhile, the best and brightest talent on North American television was honored this past weekend at the 64th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards. We’ve got a rundown of all the winners and a recap of the awards ceremony.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including an update on Universal Music’s purchase of EMI, electronic voting at the Oscars and how Major League Baseball is selling off its television rights for billions of dollars.

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