Showbiz Sandbox 197: Studios Suffer A Summer of Blockbuster Flops

Hollywood is learning the hard way that big name movie stars don’t always guarantee the success of a tentpole release. This summer at least three mega-budget titles have tanked; Will Smith couldn’t save “After Earth”, Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum couldn’t rescue “White House Down” and even the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto wasn’t enough to rustle up an audience for “The Lone Ranger”.

On the other hand, filmmaker Lee Daniels’ next film may not have a blockbuster-size budget, but it does feature an all-star cast that includes the likes of Forest Whitaker, Robin Williams and Oprah Winfrey. Now all it needs is a new name, since a 1916 Warner Bros. short has already laid claim to “The Butler” causing Daniels and distributor The Weinstein Company to call out the lawyers.

Meanwhile, as we await the court’s verdict in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple over the pricing of e-books, it turns out Amazon has quietly been raising the ante on a lot of titles, especially those from academic and small presses.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Academy’s new members, Jennifer Lopez in Turkmenistan and the cost of purchasing a Tony Award.

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Showbiz Sandbox 82: Training For The Awards Season Marathon

The end of the year always has more “best of” lists and awards show news than any media outlet knows what to do with. Over the past week nominees were announced for the Independent Spirit Awards, the Grammys and the Annies (for animated films). In Europe, they’ve already started holding awards ceremonies, with “The King’s Speech” cleaning up at the British Independent Film Awards and “Ghost Writer” topping the European Film Awards.

Competing at next year’s awards shows will likely be a few films selected for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival which will take place in January. Some outlets noted that the festival’s competition selection didn’t have enough star driven films, but artistic director John Cooper points to the premieres section which has been programmed with films sure to keep the Park City paparazzi quite busy.

In television news, it appears the degree to which networks and advertisers trust Nielsen’s rating system is decreasing by the day. They claim Nielsen’s method of acquiring its numbers is antiquated.  Meanwhile, on Broadway, all anyone wants to talk about is “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”. While most avid theater-goers believe the super hero musical is going to be awful, they all still can’t wait to see it.

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