Showbiz Sandbox 117: Crunching The Numbers Behind Summer’s New Box Office Records

September 6, 2011

Big budget sequels and super hero movies helped push the bar on summer box office records slightly higher. North American grosses rose to $4.4 billion as overseas markets improved to $8.2 billion in receipts. But how much did all those blockbusters actually cost to produce and market? After all the money is counted, how profitable will the latest installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” truly be? We sharpen our pencils and do the math to answer all these questions and more.

One future blockbuster that was recently axed by Disney may actually get made after all. The studios is lowering the budget on “The Lone Ranger” by asking star Johnny Depp and filmmaker Gore Verbinski to take a pay cut.

The publishing world also seems to be doing quite well lately thanks to strong sales of digital titles. Even though the e-books may be getting all the love in mainstream media stories, Random House wants everyone to know that print books aren’t dead. In fact, the sale of hardcover and paperback books still outpaces their digital counterparts.

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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.  TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite.com 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 60: Reality TV Doesn’t Kid Around

June 28, 2010

If you are a minor working on a reality television series it turns out there are no child labor laws that protect you. A month long investigation by the Los Angeles Times found  dozens of kids appearing on reality programs without legal safeguards due to widespread uncertainty about how to classify the shows. Times staff writers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier reveal that most of the popular shows had not obtained work permits to employ minors. Gold joins us this week to provide all the details.

It was good news and bad news at the box office. Good news for “Toy Story 3”, which finished in first place for the second week and bad news for Tom Cruise, whose latest movie, “Knight and Day” didn’t open to boffo numbers. If you’d like to place a bet on how much Cruise’s next movie might make, you might never get the chance. The U.S. Congress is set to pass a financial reform bill that would prevent two box office futures exchanges from operating.

The government is also getting involved in the annual Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, and not in a good way. The events promoters was subpoenaed last week for an anti-trust investigation. Turns out the “radius clause” in Lollapalooza’s contract is preventing Chicago night clubs from booking musical acts. Maybe Coachella’s booking rules aren’t so bad after all.

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