Showbiz Sandbox 223: The 2013 Worldwide Box Office – Who Won, Who Lost and Why

February 3, 2014

Thanks to surging theatrical grosses in countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia, the international box office more than doubled North American earnings in 2013, topping out at a record $25 billion. Though Hollywood studio content continues to dominate globally, receipts for local productions are beginning to play a more significant role in many markets. We provide a breakdown of the annual box office for of all the major territories and explain why some fared better than others.

Speaking of breaking records, the telecast of this year’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos had an audience of 112 million viewers. That makes it the most watched television show in U.S. history. As is often the case, the commercials proved more interesting than the game.

Last week the industry also mourned the tragic death of Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from what appears to be a drug overdose. Unfortunately, obit writers were also kept busy with the passing of folk musician Pete Seeger, studio executive Tom Sherak and legendary animator Arthur Rankin Jr.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including an Oscar nomination for Best Song gets rescinded, “Back to the Future” is being turned into a Broadway musical and Disney plans to reboot Chip ‘n Dale.

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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 81: Kanye West Spins His Own Hype

November 30, 2010

The week of Thanksgiving is usually slow when it comes to entertainment news, but not this year. There was a horse race at the box office as Disney’s 50th animated feature nearly toppled the seventh Harry Potter film at the box office. “Tangled” received positive reviews and earned an impressive $69 million over the four day holiday weekend.

Also bowing last week was Kanye West’s fifth studio album which is being hailed by critics as a masterpiece. But even before critics had weighed in West had jumped on popular social networking platforms to promote the release and his image. A story in the Los Angeles Times claims the hip-hop star has become a master at creating and controlling his own hype. If that’s the case, then why does West have such a terrible reputation as a troublemaker?

Also trying to promote themselves via social media was Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. The furry blue “cookie enthusiast” is campaigning to host “Saturday Night Live” starting with a video on YouTube. Don’t laugh too hard though, since “SNL” seems to be where the Oscars are scouting for hosts. Just ask two former SNL guests James Franco and Anne Hathaway who will be co-hosting the 83rd Academy Awards.

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Showbiz Sandbox 80: Disney Dumps Fairy Tales For Original Stories

November 22, 2010

As “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” debuted to $125 million in its opening weekend, Disney prepared to release its 50th animated feature film less than a week later. However, despite building a multi-billion dollar empire based on stories that feature princesses, according to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times “Tangled” may be the last fairy tale we see out of the studio. She joins us to explain how future Disney Animation titles will focus on original stories.

Reality shows continue to dominate television news, not to mention political news. The media seemed all abuzz last week over how Bristol Palin, the daughter of Sarah Palin, had not yet been voted off “Dancing With the Stars”. She even beat out pop stars such as Brandy. There were accusations that conservative Tea Party supporters were rigging the voting on the show.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber swept the American Music Awards, winning four trophies including Artist of the Year. Unfortunately for Bieber though, nobody was watching since the telecast received the worst ratings in its history.

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Showbiz Sandbox 70: Digital or Bust – The Future of Reading

September 6, 2010

It seems a new electronic reading device is released every week. It’s no wonder the sale of e-books has begun to outpace traditional print copies. Ryan Chapman, the online marketing manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, talks about how the industry is dealing with the new technology and in certain instances, using it to their advantage.

Print editions are no longer a problem for Josh Jackson, the editor-in-chief of Paste Magazine. He discusses the recent decision to suspend print publication of the indie pop culture magazine.

In the television world, everyone seems shocked that the latest cast of “Dancing With The Stars” included the likes of Bristol Palin, the daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. They must be putting quotation marks around the word “star” in her case. Maybe her participation will cause politicos to rent a few episodes on their new Apple TV.

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Showbiz Sandbox 17: Twitter Makes Movie Critics Important Again

August 24, 2009

Anne Thompson of “Thompson On Hollywood” joins us again this week, with big news of her own: Her blog is now a part of the indieWire network, where she will shine the Hollywood light on outlet which has traditionally covered the indie scene. Thompson can now be read at, and you can always follow her on twitter at

Speaking of Twitter, is the social media platform responsible for the successful opening weekend of “Inglorious Basterds”? “Bruno” and “GI Joe” plummeted at the box office within their opening weekends, and box office watchers posit that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have a lot to do with it. Bad news travels fast. Obviously so does good news – and the best news is that studios may have to start making – gasp – watchable movies!

Friday, August 21st was Avatar Day, when fans could hustle over to their nearest IMAX theatre to watch 16 minutes of 3D footage from James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Read more