Showbiz Sandbox 305: Should “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Box Office Records Require An Asterisk?

The release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered box office records the world over and became the biggest movie opening of all time by earning $529 million. We explain why in countries such as Japan and South Korea, the latest “Star Wars” not only didn’t win the weekend, but in some cases earned less than earlier installments of the franchise. We also look at the breakdown of which formats audiences favored when buying tickets.

George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” movie was released in 1977 and was added to the National Film Registry in 1989. We weigh in on the annual list of films added to the registry by the Library of Congress, charged with selecting new entrants. It always makes for a fascinating mix; we’ll discuss what made this year’s cut there and why. Hint: It’s not always artistry that counts… and no we’re not looking at you “Top Gun.”

In music news, it turns out online radio services such as Pandora will soon be paying more to license songs. Meanwhile, Adele is trying to prevent her fans from having to pay more to purchase tickets to see her in concert. We’ll tell you about the growing backlash against the secondary market for concert tickets and what some artists are doing about it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how “Star Wars” bumped Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie out of a historic movie theater, Howard Stern signs a new deal with SiriusXM and the list of this year’s inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Showbiz Sandbox 198: One Flop Does Not A Studio Break

Though the media might like to focus on Hollywood’s failures whenever a big blockbuster tanks, the reality is most movie studios can weather a flop or two. Modern-day entertainment conglomerates include music, merchandising, consumer products and travel divisions of which the movie studio is much smaller part. Disney, for instance, made nine times as much revenue in 2012 on its television media holdings than it did with its movie studio.

Even so, without a pipeline of even modestly successful movies, an entertainment company’s entire operation can eventually suffer. That’s why even though mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is in a bit of a dry spell lately, (see “The Lone Ranger”) someone in Hollywood will always be willing to bet on his next project.

The past week also saw a seemingly endless supply of news stories concerning the health of celebrities. Placido Domingo was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism, Randy Travis is in serious condition after suffering a stroke, Elton John canceled a tour after emergency surgery for appendicitis and it was all topped by the untimely death of “Glee” star Cory Monteith at age 31.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Meredith Vieira’s return to television, a Twitter storm over “Sharknado” and Joan Rivers’ dispute with the Writers Guild.

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Showbiz Sandbox 181: Why The Grammys Telecast Matters More Than Ever

While winning a Grammy Award can boost a musician’s record sales temporarily, a knockout performance during the widely viewed ceremony can launch a career. Simply ask Mumford & Sons who stole the show during the 2011 telecast and on Sunday took home the 2013 Grammy for Album of the Year. Will the Lumineers, who performed at this year’s ceremony, follow in their footsteps?

David Wild, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine, helped write the Grammy telecast as he has for the past 12 years. He joins us to discuss how the show was put together, working with host LL Cool J and some of the elements that came off without a hitch (projecting images onto Carrie Underwood’s dress comes to mind). Wild even reveals John Mayer’s secret life as a joke writer.

Meanwhile, digital downloads are already outpacing physical sales in music and will surely do so with books and movies in the not too distant future. But what happens when you want to sell off all those media downloads in the now non-existent digital secondhand market? Amazon is trying to patent technology that will make such sales possible.

Of course we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including how “The Walking Dead” continues to increase viewership, an end to Don Johnson’s lawsuit over “Nash Bridges” and why some concerts may be sold out before tickets ever go on sale.

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Showbiz Sandbox 172: The TV Industry Has Its Head Up Its Ass

Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, realizes the ways people watch TV have radically and irrevocably changed. He believes the industry has not even remotely caught up to that fact yet. Or, as he puts it, “We have our head up our ass.” We’ll discuss the checklist Reilly provided at recent industry event which touched on every facet of the business.

As the year draws to a close the awards season has begun to heat up as both the Gotham Awards and European Film Awards were handed out last week. We’ll give you a rundown of who the big winners were and which movies are topping the first few year-end critics polls.

In theater news one can make it big with an Off-Broadway production, they just can’t make big money. A few recent hit shows are closing after barely breaking even or never turning a profit.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a list of top earning musicians, Jeff Zucker lands at CNN and why China may surpass the United States as the biggest movie market in the world.

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Showbiz Sandbox 120: Netflix Must Adapt To A Hollywood It Helped Create

Ryan Lawler has spent the last two years writing about online video and digital media trends for GigaOm, a beat he’s covered for a number of publications. Who better to help us sort out what’s been going on with Netflix over the past two weeks? Despite a plunging stock price, slower subscriber growth and increased competition from the likes of Dish Network, Lawler says we shouldn’t be too worried about Netflix. He discusses what the future holds for the company during an in-depth interview.

Meanwhile, the fall television season was jumpstarted by “Two and a Half Men” as more than 28 million viewers tuned in to see Ashton Kutcher replace Charlie Sheen. Don’t feel too bad for Sheen though; he had 6.4 million people watching him get roasted over on Comedy Central and it appears he’s settling his lawsuit with Warner Bros. for a cool $25 million.

“The Lion King 3D” continues to dominate the worldwide box office, despite the fact that it’s a 17 year old movie that most have already seen. “Titanic” and “Top Gun” are already getting 3D makeovers, and it’s likely we’ll see studios reaching back into their archives to find even more titles.

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Showbiz Sandbox 95: The Media Is Charlie Sheen’s Worst Enabler

It’s hard to believe that we’re writing headlines about Charlie Sheen for the second week in a row. Alas, the actor went on a whirlwind media campaign let the world know he was ready to go back to work on his hit sitcom. Mainstream media reveled in an endless supply of Sheen’s erratic and manic behavior, portraying him as a deluded, drugged out narcissist.

Eric Deggans, the television and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times, stops by to discuss his NPR commentary piece on how mixed-race couples are portrayed on network television. However, we get sidetracked when news arrives that Sheen has been fired from “Two And A Half Men”.

During Inside Baseball we are joined by Andrew Wallenstein of PaidContent (and soon Variety) who explains why movie studios should start a war over premium video-on-demand.

We also cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Google’s rumored music service, “American Idol’s” ratings dominance, Courtney Love’s Twitter lawsuit and Oprah’s struggling cable network.

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Showbiz Sandbox 81: Kanye West Spins His Own Hype

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 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

As if broadcast and cable networks didn’t have enough to worry about with online streaming offerings from Apple and Google, they now have startups such as ivi.TV to contend with. The company recently launched an online service that retransmits signals from broadcast television stations in New York and Seattle with more cities coming online soon. Though networks and movie studios are trying to shut the company down, its CEO, Todd Weaver, explains that ivi.TV is operating legally under current copyright laws.

Another media company dealing with legal issues is MGM who filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Fortunately the restructured studio won’t have to worry about an actor’s strike since the two unions representing thespians agreed to a new contract with studios and networks. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel fills us in on the key deal points as well as what the news means for writers and directors as they begin their own contract negotiations.

This week also marks the return of Conan O’Brien to late-night television as he kicks off his new show on TBS.

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Showbiz Sandbox 64: Buzzing About Comic-Con, Digital Comics and E-Books

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Alex Billington of First Showing and Anne Thompson of indieWIRE all attended the 41st annual Comic-Con. They stop by to fill us in on all the the movies and television shows that managed to generate a lot of buzz (as well as a few that fizzled). We recap the pop-culture convention’s highlights and breaking news items.

Of course, before Comic-Con invited movies and television shows to the party, it used to be about buying and selling comic books. However, as Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times informs us, physical comic books may be an endangered item thanks to the growing popularity of digital comics. These newfangled comics have animation, sound effects and narration. Pham also explains how e-books are changing the future of how and what we read.

E-books were the source of major controversy in the publishing world this past week. Literary agent Andrew Wylie announced he would bypass traditional publishing firms and form his own digital publishing company to release e-book versions of his client’s work, including out of print work from the likes of John Updike and and Philip Roth. Rachel Deahl, senior news editor at Publishers Weekly, tells us why this move was so controversial within the publishing industry.

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