July 6, 2011
When “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon” hit theaters over the Fourth of July holiday weekend fans of the franchise were relieved to discover it wasn’t nearly as bad ad the second film. That seems to be a fairly common response to Michael Bay’s latest critic-proof popcorn blockbuster. The highly anticipated movie made nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office in its first week explaining why studios love such formulaic dreck and all but ensuring another sequel.
Last week also saw the sale of MySpace. The once dominant social network Internet site which was once valued at $12 billion was sold by News Corp. at a loss for a mere $35 million. What may be more surprising than anyone actually wanting to buy MySpace is that pop star Justin Timberlake has been tapped to help turn the company’s fortunes around by focusing on music.
Speaking of music, NPR tried to figure out how much it costs to make a hit pop song by examining the finances behind Rihanna’s recent single “Man Down”. Apparently all it takes is $1.1 million in production and promotions costs and 12 minutes to right the lyrics.
June 20, 2011
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.
April 11, 2011
Labor and contract negotiations are a constant concern in Hollywood. Entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel is a contributor to The Hollywood Reporter and has written a book about the industry’s labor disputes, “Hollywood on Strike!: An Industry at War in the Internet Age“. The book grew out of his coverage of the labor unrest that began with the 100 day Writers Guild strike leading to turmoil in all union negotiations over the next two years. Handel proposes a new formula for residuals that could help avoid future strikes.
Blockbuster, the beleaguered video chain which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, was auctioned off to Dish Networks. How the acquisition will benefit the satellite television provider remains to be seen.
The Grammy Awards are getting trimmed down as they cut more than 30 categories and combine a number of others. Music industry professionals are split over whether the changes will help the awards show.
April 4, 2011
Movie studios, television networks and record labels still haven’t updated their business models to account for video and music streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Now companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple plan on introducing a whole new group of media subscription services. With premium video-on-demand on the horizon it’s no surprise the entertainment industry is concerned about all these disruptive distribution methods.
One of the biggest players in the current content licensing wars has been Netflix. Showtime and Starz began pulling shows from the video rental giant, while Fox and Paramount offered up popular series and hit movies. Cable operators have also entered the fray by allowing viewers to watch live television on mobile device apps.
The creator of “Mad Men” was embroiled in his own fight with AMC and Lionsgate over the future of the series. In the end, Matthew Weiner was able to reach an agreement on a new contract, though new episodes won’t air until 2012.
March 1, 2011
The 83rd Annual Academy Awards are finally over and, as expected, “The King’s Speech” took home most of the top prizes, including Best Picture. IndieWire’s Anne Thompson gives us her take on all the winners and losers, not to mention the poorly received Oscar telecast. One day before the Oscars Anne was at the Independent Spirit Awards and she reveals what the attendees were up to during the commercial breaks.
Remarkably actor Charlie Sheen just about managed to upstage the Oscars, and he wasn’t even there. Though that may be the only place Sheen could not be found. He continued his oddball antics by calling into radio shows, texting gossip websites and appearing on news programs causing CBS to ceased production of “Two And A Half Men”. The question on everyone’s mind now is just how much money does the network stand to lose by dumping the hit show.
Speaking of money, we discuss the music industry’s top earners in 2010 and how some of them made the list without releasing an album. We review all the week’s entertainment news including Broadway’s new number one show, plans to take “American Idol” voting online and the sale of troubled home video giant Blockbuster.
February 21, 2011
Innovative filmmakers have taken a liking to iPhones and Flip cameras that can record HD video. They’ve begun churning out creative pieces shot entirely on the tiny devices. Ruben Kazanstev co-founded the iPhone Film Festival to promote some of this new work. He is surprised at how popular the festival has been explains how the project has taken on a life of its own.
Maybe in the future big theater chains such as AMC and Regal will wind up playing movies shot on iPhones. They are taking on the studios by forming a joint venture to acquire and distribute independent films, but is such a move legal?
Charlie Sheen continues to make headlines for his erratic behavior. Many industry watchers are questioning the decision to allow the actor to return to work on “Two And A Half Men” before he tackles his substance abuse problem.
We discuss all the top entertainment news, including this year’s Bonnaroo lineup, Borders’ bankruptcy filing and plans for a Robocop statue in Detroit. During Inside Baseball we discuss how LCD Soundsystem hopes to beat scalpers selling tickets to their upcoming farewell concerts.
February 8, 2011
More than 111 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl telecast; more viewers than any broadcast in U.S. television history. That’s great news for companies that spent big money to run ads during the game. Unfortunately, most of the usually entertaining commercials were downright dreadful. Whether praiseworthy or offensive, we give you the low down on all the adverts.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is taking the Weinstein Brothers to court, suing them for the $2.7 million in “Fahrenheit 9/11” proceeds Moore claims he’s owed. Is it safe to say the Weinstein Company won’t be releasing Moore’s next film?
Turns out nobody will be releasing the White Stripes next album. Jack and Meg White have decided to call it quits. Meanwhile theater critics were so eager to see the new “Spider-Man” musical they couldn’t wait until it opened. Based on their scathing reviews, it’s probably best if it never makes it out of previews.
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.
November 8, 2010
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.
October 25, 2010
Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.
Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.
Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.
Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Read more