Showbiz Sandbox 196: Hollywood’s Frivolous Five Year Plan

June 24, 2013

Hollywood movie studios have a history of announcing the release date for big tentpole films a year or more in advance. The goal has always been to secure a prime weekend that will force the competition to stear clear. Lately however studios have taken to scheduling releases five years in advance. With some untitled projects yet to start production or even complete a script, it appears that release dates are more important than the movies themselves.

With longstanding geographic monopolies in-place cable companies rarely have to worry about competition, other than from satellite providers. That may be why Time Warner Cable is facing a class-action lawsuit which claims customers, especially non-sports fans, are being forced to pay for the company-owned sports channels to help offset the cost of expensive licensing deals.

Speaking of lawsuits, the government wrapped up its anti-trust case against Apple over the fixing of prices for e-books. While the Justice Department went into the trial looking like a winner, in the end Apple may have proved it was innocent of any illegal activity.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Robert Downey Jr.’s deal to play Iron Man in the next two “Avengers” movies, Billboard disses Jay-Z and Warner Bros. shakes up its top executives.

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Showbiz Sandbox 47: Movie Ticket Prices Get Super Sized

March 29, 2010

Another 3D film took the top spot at the box office this past weekend – “How To Train Your Dragon”. It knocked the 3D “Alice In Wonderland” out of first place after three weeks. As well, in order to play the film in 3D, theater owners were forced to take screens away from “Avatar” which caused it to fall out of the top 10 for the first time since its release last December.

Though 3D films seem to be all the rage these days a question remains over how much audiences are willing to pay to see them. This past week several theater chains raised their prices for 3D and 3D Imax tickets, some as much as 26%. Lauren Schuker of the Wall Street Journal drops by to fill us in on why movie ticket prices are rising and how it might affect this year’s record breaking box office returns.

Speaking of box office returns, thanks to the Cantor Exchange you will soon be able to place a wager on how much money you think a movie will make during its first four weeks in release. Though not if the MPAA has anything to say about it. Unfortunately, you won’t have the movie review program “At The Movies” to help your handicapping efforts. The show that launched the careers of film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert was canceled. Have no fear, Ebert has plans to launch a brand new show.  Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 46: Hollywood’s Latest Meme Is 3D

March 22, 2010

A “Wimpy Kid” couldn’t beat “Alice In Wonderland” at the box office this weekend. The higher price for 3D tickets has turned “Alice” into Tim Burton’s most successful film. And Hollywood studios have definitely noticed how well audiences are responding to 3D. The new format is so hot that, much to the annoyance of James Cameron, they have gone back to convert some upcoming releases to 3D, such as “Clash of the Titans”.

With thirty three 3D films presently slated for release in 2010 this has managed to create a bottle neck at movie theaters where there is usually only enough room to show one 3D film at a time.  It’s gotten so competitive that Paramount has told theater owners that if they don’t play “How to Train Your Dragon” on their 3D enabled screen, they won’t send them a 2D print. But that means “Alice’s” engagement will be cut short. Beginning to see the problem?

While movie theaters don’t have enough 3D screens and too much content, the exact opposite is true in the home. Television manufacturers are selling 3D enabled televisions but there is nothing to watch. Have no fear though, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and the PGA Masters all have plans for 3D broadcasts.   Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 42: Tom Cruise Takes A Pay Cut, And Other Indignities

February 15, 2010

We only talk about “Avatar” for a couple of seconds in this week’s podcast, thank goodness. Instead, we focus on actors campaigning for their Oscars (and a few who aren’t). We also discuss what we call “the 3D movie brouhaha” which has made Jeffrey Katzenberg irate.

In TV news, co-hosts Karen Woodward and Michael Giltz are passionate about the Olympics and the absurdity of “Lost” (even recaps are confusing!) And, after 28 years, MTV is changing its logo to reflect that the channel is no longer just about “music television”. They may be about 10 years too late.

Co-host J. Sperling Reich jumps into one of his favorite topics – new media – and reminds us that this guy named Steve Jobs sits on the board of Disney and is one of the top shareholders. No wonder Disney CEO Robert Igor called the underwhelming iPad “a really compelling device” that could be a game changer. We’ll hold off our thoughts on the new Apple product until we see if it really will change the way entertainment is distributed.  Read more

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