Showbiz Sandbox 277: CinemaCon Predicts A Bright Future For Moviegoing

April 27, 2015

When theater owners and film distributors from around the world convened last week for CinemaCon in Las Vegas they were presented with a slate of upcoming blockbusters and cutting edge innovations which forecast an optimistic future for the industry. After ending last year with the most depressed box office returns in recent memory, 2015 is shaping up to break all records with at least four films potentially grossing more than a billion dollars.

Adding to the optimistic outlook are emerging technologies that enhance the experience of going to the cinema. Upgrades such as immersive sound, laser projection and high dynamic range may help lure certain demographics back to theaters. Teenagers and young adults, for instance, have seen declining attendance since 2007 as the number of on-demand entertainment options began expanding.

Meanwhile, cable giant Comcast called off its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable after government agencies informed the company they would actively work to block the merger. Regulators believed the deal, which many feared but felt would ultimately be approved, might allow Comcast to dominate not just cable television, but more importantly high speed Internet access.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the end of “Sabado Gigante”, how WikiLeaks got involved in the Sony cyberattack and Netflix just keeps growing.

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Showbiz Sandbox 260: The Race To Build A Bigger, Louder And More Expensive Movie Theater

December 8, 2014

When it comes to giant screen cinema IMAX is still the most dominant player, but with theater owners building their own premium large format auditoriums new competitors have started to spring up. Dolby, a company known for cinema audio technology, is the latest to enter the fray with their own PLF offering that includes bigger screens, more immersive sound and, of course, a higher ticket price. Whether such offerings will catch on with moviegoers remains to be seen.

The only big news anyone in the entertainment industry wants to talk about right now is the cyber attack on Sony Pictures. Security experts say it’s shaping up to be the largest and most damaging hack against a commercial business in history. Authorities investigating the crime are no closer to catching the perpetrator than when the incident first made headlines two weeks ago.

The Grammy Awards were also making headlines last week. In fact, the annual music awards show tried to stay at the top of the news cycle by announcing nominees via various platforms throughout the course of an entire day. The real story however, turned out to be which musicians actually received nominations and which were overlooked.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the name of the next James Bond film, U2 announces a world tour and CBS gets into another retransmission dispute.

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Showbiz Sandbox 227: The Oscars Attract Big Business, Big Ratings and Big Money

March 4, 2014

If you weren’t surprised by any of the winners at this year’s Oscar ceremony, you may have Oscar prognosticators like Anne Thompson to blame. Indiewire’s editor-at-large was at the big show and joins us to discuss the telecast, the show, and all the money and effort poured into the annual awards season. Thompson also fills us in on her new book “The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System“.

The business side of the film industry isn’t the only aspect of movies that is evolving. The sound accompanying new releases is getting a few enhancements thanks to immersive 3D audio. This has created an industry battle over audio formats.

Speaking of disputes, 19 Recordings, the music label responsible for “American Idol”, is once again suing their partner Sony. This time the argument is over the issue of whether digital tracks are sold or licensed to buyers. There is a huge difference in the royalty paid for each.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Tyler Perry leaves Lionsgate, Paramount is bullied into changing the marketing for “Noah” and Dreamworks Animation takes a write-down on “Turbo”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 207: Which New TV Shows Are Hits? Ratings Alone Won’t Tell You

September 30, 2013

The new television season got off to a strong start last week with major broadcast networks celebrating higher prime-time viewership. That is what initial ratings results would lead one to believe, though such figures are increasingly inaccurate. Delayed viewing on DVRs and online has made it more difficult than ever to properly measure viewership in a timely fashion.

Changes are also afoot at the Oscars as the Academy is modifying the way animated films are nominated for Best Animated Feature. Rather than rely on a selection committee, a majority of the organization’s 6,000 members will now be able to participate in the nomination process by viewing films on screeners.

Meanwhile as the film industry moves from celluloid film to digital projection, object based audio is also being adopted over traditional channel based surround sound. Major studios recently made the issue more contentious by mandating any new audio be distributed in a common, non-proprietary format. Will this stifle future innovation in the cinema space?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why iTunes music purchases have started disappearing, Robocop returns to Detroit (literally) and “Star Wars” fans draft an open letter to director J.J. Abrams about how to make the franchise.

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Showbiz Sandbox 205: Awards Season Commences With Stellar Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals

September 16, 2013

Four of the last five films to win Best Picture Oscars first appeared at the Telluride Film Festival before officially premiering the following week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Anne Thompson from Indiewire attended both festivals this year and fills us in on the big movies everyone will be talking about during the upcoming awards season.

This past week also saw the death of Ray Dolby, the audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories to advance the art of motion picture sound. We debate whether the film industry is now discouraging future inventors from working in the space.

Meanwhile, revenue from digital movies and television shows continues to climb, up 24% this year alone. Unlike theatrical box office though, studios have remained tight lipped when it comes to providing actual sales figures, fearing actors and filmmakers will want a bigger cut.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the big winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, a racy Miley Cyrus video that racked up YouTube records and J.K. Rowling spins-off Harry Potter.

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Showbiz Sandbox 146: High Frame Rate Hijinks On “The Hobbit”

May 7, 2012

Movie theater owners were abuzz after seeing the first extended footage of “The Hobbit” a few weeks ago at CinemaCon. Most however didn’t have anything positive to say about Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” franchise. The filmmaker decided to shoot the film at 48 frames per second, twice the speed of traditional 35mm film, and many who saw the clips felt they looked like a cheap soap opera. Jackson claims the footage was from unfinished scenes, though it left many wondering if high frame rate films are really worth all the hype.

Meanwhile, two months after Disney took a bath on “John Carter” when it bombed at the box office, the studio is raking in the dough on “Marvel’s The Avengers”. While the film may go on to be the highest grossing film of the year (so far), it wasn’t enough to save the job of Disney chairman Rich Ross.

Movies are even making news on Broadway. Leading the pack of Tony Award nominees last week were two musicals adapted from films; “Once” and “Newsies”.

We also cover some of the top entertainment news stories from the past two weeks including James Bond’s new publisher, Jack White’s first number one album and a Amazon’s plans to crowd source good television shows.


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Showbiz Sandbox 143: “Mommy Porn” Is Hollywood’s Hot New Trend

April 2, 2012

Hollywood studios spent this past week waging a bidding war for a book derived from fan fiction stories on “Twilight” websites. Universal Pictures wound up paying an estimated $5 million for E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an erotic novel that has become a best selling phenomenon despite only being published as an e-book. Producers now must figure out how to handle the graphic sexual content found in titles the media has dubbed “mommy porn”.

Last week also marked the merger of SAG and AFTRA, the unions representing actors. Members of both groups overwhelmingly voted to join forces to create the largest bargaining group in Hollywood. Only time will tell if presenting a united front will give the thespians more power to negotiate better contracts.

Meanwhile, the popular music streaming service Spotify has decided to allow unlimited free listening indefinitely. While this is good news for music fans, how will Spotify, which has yet to turn a profit, pay increased licensing fees to all the record labels?

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