Showbiz Sandbox 333: Predicting The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2016

Much has been made about the decline in box office this summer, with franchise sequels underperforming and certain pricey movies failing to attract an audience. Kevin Lincoln, a senior editor at New York Magazine and Vulture, takes a look at this summer’s biggest flops and predicts which mega-budget releases might suffer a similar fate as we round out the year.

In China it might be more difficult to know which movies are box office disappointments or crowd favorites since online and mobile ticketing companies have been offering hefty subsidies to cinemagoers in their heated battle for market share. This means the gross of any release is almost always higher than what moviegoers actually paid to see it.

We’ll also dip back into audience figures from the recently completed Summer Olympics in Rio. This time however we have some data about viewership in Europe, Canada and elsewhere. To nobody’s surprise, more people streamed coverage online than ever before.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix international subscribers will soon outnumber those in the United States, a changing of the guard at Twentieth Century Fox gets expedited and the late Prince’s home and music studio is set to become a museum.

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Showbiz Sandbox 320: Is Comcast the New Disney?

Comcast announced last week that it would acquire Dreamworks Animation for $3.8 billion, taking another step toward transforming themselves from a cable giant into a full fledged media conglomerate. Meg James, a corporate media reporter for the Los Angeles Times, join us to discuss how, though the deal may not have been anticipated, it makes a lot of sense for both companies.

The purchase is the most recent in a string of acquisitions that have closely mirrored the strategy Disney has executed over the past decade as they gobbled up companies such as Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Comcast has proven quite adept at turning undervalued assets such as NBCUniversal and Universal Studios theme parks into profitable entities.

Meanwhile, as the Tony Awards season officially kicks off, Broadway is suffering from what is being referred to as The Hamilton Effect. This is a condition in which you open a musical that blends hip-hop and history in a way that not only makes the show a cultural phenomenon, but the inevitable winner of this year’s much coveted Best Musical Tony.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Daytime Emmy winners, why Fox is pulling out of this year’s Comic-Con convention and how French law enforcement is preparing for the Cannes Film Festival.

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Showbiz Sandbox 234: Scandal and Politics Invade Hollywood (Again)

Two real-life controversies are presently complicating life in Hollywood where studios prefer to make lots of money and ignore complicated social issues or the sometimes tawdry private lives of their executives and talent. The first involves accusations of forcible rape by movie director Bryan Singer. The second involves boycotting a historic Tinseltown hotel over its owners politics.

In less contentious news it appears our prediction about the future of Craig Ferguson as host of the “Late Late Show” was correct, and he will indeed be departing by the end of this year. The host says the decision was entirely his own, despite what it might look like with David Letterman retiring from his show’s lead in, “Late Night”.

Tony nominations were announced last week to honor some of this year’s best and brightest Broadway productions and performers. We give you a rundown of all the front runners as well as a look at a few that didn’t make the cut.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the “Star Wars Episode VII” casting announcement, AT&T’s acquisition offer of DirecTV and Ben Affleck’s blackjack trouble.

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Showbiz Sandbox 228: The Dish On That Disney Deal With Dish

After months of rancorous public and legal battles with television networks over their ad-skipping Hopper technology, U.S. satellite provider Dish Network reached a landmark retransmission consent agreement with the Walt Disney Company. The deal calls for Dish to disable bypassing commercials for three days after a show originally airs. In return Dish is getting the rights to provide Disney’s networks via the Internet for any future IP-television offering they might develop.

Meanwhile, the city which has become known for producing movies and television shows is under siege. Not from a foreign invader, but rather Los Angeles (and California) is suffering from what is known as “runaway production” thanks to tax incentives being offered in other states and countries.

Austin Texas has also been invaded over the past week by attendees at the annual South by Southwest festival. Neil Young marked the occasion by announcing Pono, his long awaited high-def music player, along with its accompanying store filled with digital tracks for audiophiles.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Sandra Bullock’s giant “Gravity” payday, television networks start premiering their shows in summer and why time-shifting made HBO’s “True Detective” a huge hit.

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Showbiz Sandbox 210: Record Labels Look To YouTube As The New Radio

Instead of promoting new releases through traditional avenues such as radio and television, record labels are beginning to rely on YouTube as the most effective method for reaching younger audiences. As Dawn C. Chmielewski, an entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times explains, its not just musicians that are getting a boost from this new practice, but also some of the self-made tastemakers who have become YouTube stars.

Television networks are also beginning to love technology, specifically DVRs. Though the industry has long despised the timeshifting devices which allow viewers to skip commercials, executives are once again discovering how they can significantly boost ratings.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging about why the film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey” lost its male lead. Beyond being uncomfortable with his new found stardom, Charlie Hunnam was also pushing for script revisions according to some reports.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why the creators of “South Park” missed the deadline for their latest episode, “The Lion King” becomes Broadway’s first billion dollar production and the hit television series “Glee” announces its final season.

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Showbiz Sandbox 200: Should George Clooney Run For President?

Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb began buying up Sony stock earlier this year and is now pressuring the electronics manufacturer to spin-off its entertainment divisions. After comparing two of Sony’s summer releases to historic flops such as “Waterworld”, actor/director/producer George Clooney could take no more. In an intelligent, coherent and well thought out rant, Clooney argues that, “ A guy from a hedge fund entity is the single least qualified person to be making these kinds of judgments.”

Karen Woodward, our former co-host, joins us for our 200th episode and was quick to point out that Clooney not only sounded smart in his statements, but also like a future political candidate. Given the state of American politics however, Clooney might find the back stabbing nature of Hollywood more friendly.

These days it seems a little political muscle is required to work in the entertainment industry. After all, Time Warner Cable has blacked out the CBS network for millions of customers over an ongoing retransmission dispute. Meanwhile, Hollywood studios haven’t been paid all year for movies they’ve released in China.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Academy’s historic new leader, a new Doctor Who and how holograms are replacing musicians at concerts in Korea.

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Showbiz Sandbox 189: Contentious CinemaCon; Corporate Coachella

At this year’s CinemaCon movie studios showed up in full force to pitch the world’s largest gathering of cinema operators on a bounty of upcoming blockbusters. Behind the scenes however, some of the larger theater chains were haggling with studios over how to divide ticket sales for tentpole releases such as “Iron Man 3”.

Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, the promoters of the Coachella Music Festival tried to replicate the event over two weekends. They held the same festival, with the same musical acts, on back-to-back weekends. While at times it couldn’t help but seem like a greedy attempt to extract more money from attendees, there were moments of sheer magic that only happen at Coachella.

Then there is Netflix, which after being ridiculed publicly for a series of ill-advised strategic moves in 2011, has managed to turn its ship around. After successfully producing its own hit-content with “House of Cards”, subscribers have returned, profits are increasing and the stock price is on the rise. Netflix CEO is feeling so good he wrote a manifesto on the future of televsion.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Zach Braff’s successful Kickstarter campaign, how Bittorent is helping market a movie and whether “Django Unchained” will ever be released in China.

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Showbiz Sandbox 184: How Authors Rig The Bestseller Lists

When Soren Kaplan’s “Leapfrogging” was published last summer it immediately appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling business books, a position that would be maintained for only a week. That was more than enough time for Kaplan to cement his status as a best-selling author which, in-turn, helps him land lucrative speaking and consulting gigs.

That is precisely why Kaplan hired a marketing firm to purchase copies of the book upon publication to assure it would appear on bestseller lists. During an interview with the Journal, Kaplan reveals how authors buying their way onto the bestseller list is a dirty little secret the publishing industry would prefer you not know about.

Dreamworks Animation is not being completely honest either. They took huge write-downs on their most recent release “Rise of the Guardians” and faulted the film’s weak performance as the reason for laying of 400 employees. However many question whether the company’s decision to move some of their production to China may have more to do with it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the best yearly music sales since 1999, the end of Daily Variety and whether NBC is looking to part ways with Jay Leno (again).

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Showbiz Sandbox 162: Did The Justice Department Destroy The Literary Ecosystem With E-Book Settlement?

Despite strong opposition from authors, publishers, retailers and the public, the U.S. Department of Justice settled their anti-trust case with three major publishers over e-book price fixing. Even an explanatory comic strip from a well regarded copyright attorney couldn’t prevent a ruling that some industry analysts say will enable Amazon to dominate the market. However, not all involved parties have settled, with Apple, Macmillan and Penguin awaiting trial on the charges.

The headlines weren’t any better for the movie business, where theatrical attendance over the past weekend was the worst on record in more than 10 years. It probably doesn’t help that Fox announced they would make movies available for digital download shortly after they hit theaters.

On the other hand, magazine publishers have a lot to cheer about for a change, especially when it comes to the skyrocketing sales of overseas titles.

Of course we cover all the week’s top entertainment news including the return of ratings powerhouse “Sunday Night Football”, Daniel Craig’s future as James Bond and why the Oscars telecast will be singing a new tune next year.

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Showbiz Sandbox 107: The Pros And Cons Of Cloud Music Services

After months of rumors and speculation Apple finally announced their cloud music service last week. Aptly named iCloud, the new service joins similar offerings from both Amazon and Google. Though each of the services has their benefits, no two are exactly alike. Amazon and Google stream music over the Internet and require you to upload your entire music library. Apple doesn’t do any of those things. We dissect the pros and cons of all three services and wonder why anyone really needs them in the first place.

Something else that’s probably not needed is a sequel to “Tron: Legacy” but thanks to a television series spinoff of last year’s sci-fi blockbuster, we’ll probably get one. And it will probably be in 3D like its predecessor even though Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg is heartbroken over the decline of the format.

The Tony Awards were handed out on Sunday and as we predicted, “The Book Of Mormon” walked off with the most trophies, including Best Musical. But what is a Tony really worth to a Broadway show’s bottom line? We’ll try and find out.

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