Showbiz Sandbox 142: Is The MPAA Rating System Broken?

March 26, 2012

Though the MPAA often rates more than 700 films per year, the number of rating disputes rarely reaches the double digits. This year however eight films have already appealed their ratings and it’s not even April. Has the MPAA lost touch with modern culture or are filmmakers beginning to push the boundaries with edgier content? Ethan Noble, of Motion Picture Consulting, helps guide filmmakers and studios through the ratings process. Noble, who recently tried to appeal the restrictive rating on the documentary “Bully”, provides an overview of the MPAA’s rating system and tells us whether it needs to be fixed.

Speaking of the MPAA, they released their annual report on the motion picture industry. Moviegoing may have declined 4% in North America, but overseas revenue grew more than 5% and is booming in markets such as China and Japan.

We previously predicted that Broadway shows such as “Sister Act” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” would close by now. Despite playing to half empty theaters and consistently losing money, they are still running night after night. What gives?

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 79: A New Social Music Chart To Rival Billboard?

November 16, 2010

Media measurement company BigChampagne believes that ranking songs and musicians based on radio airplay and record sales is an antiquated method. Joe Fleischer, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains how they’ve added social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Pandora into the mix to create the Ultimate Chart, a new music chart giving industry heavyweights Billboard and Soundscan a run for their money.

Speaking of media metrics, the biggest entertainment launch in history occurred last week and it wasn’t a James Cameron movie. In fact, it wasn’t a movie at all, but a video game. “Call of Duty: Black Ops” earned  a record setting $360 million in its first day alone.

If that’s not strange enough for you, the biggest headlines coming out of the Country Music Awards may not have been from winners Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton or even the red hot Taylor Swift. Instead it was actress Gwyneth Paltrow who performed the title song from her upcoming movie “Country Strong”. Paltrow proved she can really belt out a tune, though whether that helps rehabilitate her career or image remains to be seen.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

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.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 73: Handicapping This Season’s New TV Shows

September 28, 2010

With the new television season already underway our hosts debate which of the new series will get a full season order from the networks and which won’t make it to October. Will the revival of “Hawaii Five-O” make the cut? What will be the first show to get canceled? Let the arguments begin.

Oliver Stone got passing grades this week with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. The sequel to his iconic 1987 film topped the box office with just over $19 million. Of course, if Hollywood studios have their way, video-on-demand might start being included in opening weekend numbers. In an effort to supplement sagging DVD sales, the studios are planning to offer movies via premium VOD shortly after their theatrical release. At $25 per film audiences may just be willing to wait a few months.

Meanwhile, shares in Netflix soared when Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, though the DVD-by-mail powerhouse may be facing some stiff competition as it migrates to a movie streaming business model.

Read more