Showbiz Sandbox 117: Crunching The Numbers Behind Summer’s New Box Office Records

Big budget sequels and super hero movies helped push the bar on summer box office records slightly higher. North American grosses rose to $4.4 billion as overseas markets improved to $8.2 billion in receipts. But how much did all those blockbusters actually cost to produce and market? After all the money is counted, how profitable will the latest installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” truly be? We sharpen our pencils and do the math to answer all these questions and more.

One future blockbuster that was recently axed by Disney may actually get made after all. The studios is lowering the budget on “The Lone Ranger” by asking star Johnny Depp and filmmaker Gore Verbinski to take a pay cut.

The publishing world also seems to be doing quite well lately thanks to strong sales of digital titles. Even though the e-books may be getting all the love in mainstream media stories, Random House wants everyone to know that print books aren’t dead. In fact, the sale of hardcover and paperback books still outpaces their digital counterparts.

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Showbiz Sandbox 113: Hollywood Studios Think Twice About Comic-Con

Attendance at this year’s Comic-Con was higher than ever. Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times and Alex Billington of First Showing were in San Diego last weekend sitting in on, if not moderating, panel discussions with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Francis Coppola and “Game of Thrones” cast members. In filling us in on all the highlights they explain why some studios skipped this year’s festivities and why next year’s convention is set to be the biggest Comic-Con yet.

There was also some sad news this past weekend as we learned about the untimely death of soul singer Amy Winehouse at the age of 27. The troubled young singer battled with drug addiction since rising to stardom in 2006 and her death raises the question over what responsibility the entertainment industry has in helping artists with drug or alcohol problems.

There was better news on Broadway where at least three recent shows turned a profit with even more shows about to follow suit. Even the much-hyped disaster “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” is shaping up to be a financial success.

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Showbiz Sandbox 112: Why Netflix Had To Raise Its Prices

You would have thought the world was coming to an end last week after popular movie streaming service Netflix raised its prices by 60%. The company’s customers took to blogs and social networks in revolt, threatening to cancel their subscriptions. However, between the cost of mailing DVDs and paying increased licensing fees for content, a Netflix rate hike was inevitable. Is Netflix still one of the best movie bargains available today, and if not, are there any alternatives?

Speaking of subscription offerings, one of Europe’s hottest music streaming services is finally available in the United States. Will Spotify be able to displace some of the entrenched players in the space like Spotify and Rdio? You can find out for yourself since we have some Spotify invitations to give away to a few lucky listeners.

Over in television-land the Emmy nominations were announced and as usual, there were a few noticeable omissions. Just ask “Sons of Anarchy” producer Kurt Sutter who chastised the Academy via Twitter for not recognizing the show’s star Katey Sagal (who also happens to be his wife).

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