Showbiz Sandbox 110: “Transformers” Proves Mediocrity Makes Money

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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 67: Cheap Digital Music Downloads Are On (Arcade) Fire

August 17, 2010

The indie rock group Arcade Fire topped the album charts for the first time in their career with the release of their third album “The Suburbs” which moved more than 156,000 copies in its first week. However more than 97,000 of those albums were sold digitally at significantly reduced prices. Are digital music downloads devaluing music? Todd Martens, a music reporter with the Los Angeles Times, joins us to explain how digital downloads are affecting the music industry.

Speaking of digital media, Netflix entered into a $900 million deal with Epix which will allow them to stream films from Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate starting in September. Meanwhile the popular television streaming website Hulu is rumored to be investigating an IPO.

Sylvester Stallone may have shown up just in time to save Lions Gate with “The Expendables” which came in first at the box office, but “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” proved a disappointment despite earning rave reviews.

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