Showbiz Sandbox 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

Hollywood movie studios have been raking in the yuan at the Chinese box office over the past year. This despite China missing the most recent World Trade Organization deadline to open its market to more foreign films. Forced to work through government sanctioned monopolies, studios have been aggressive about getting their movies in front of China’s billion plus citizens. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale have headed east to star in China’s big blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou’s Heroes of Nanking.

Maybe a film from China will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the near future. Of course, contenders will have to figure out the new Best Picture nomination process put forth by the Academy last week. In an effort to create an air of suspense, the number of nominees for the year’s big film prize will fluctuate between 5 and 10 entries, depending on how balloting shakes out. We’ll explain all the new rules.

It looks as if Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, may be launching in the United States as early as July. They’ll go up against well established offerings like Pandora, which went public last week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 73: Handicapping This Season’s New TV Shows

With the new television season already underway our hosts debate which of the new series will get a full season order from the networks and which won’t make it to October. Will the revival of “Hawaii Five-O” make the cut? What will be the first show to get canceled? Let the arguments begin.

Oliver Stone got passing grades this week with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. The sequel to his iconic 1987 film topped the box office with just over $19 million. Of course, if Hollywood studios have their way, video-on-demand might start being included in opening weekend numbers. In an effort to supplement sagging DVD sales, the studios are planning to offer movies via premium VOD shortly after their theatrical release. At $25 per film audiences may just be willing to wait a few months.

Meanwhile, shares in Netflix soared when Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, though the DVD-by-mail powerhouse may be facing some stiff competition as it migrates to a movie streaming business model.

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