Showbiz Sandbox 80: Disney Dumps Fairy Tales For Original Stories

November 22, 2010

As “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” debuted to $125 million in its opening weekend, Disney prepared to release its 50th animated feature film less than a week later. However, despite building a multi-billion dollar empire based on stories that feature princesses, according to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times “Tangled” may be the last fairy tale we see out of the studio. She joins us to explain how future Disney Animation titles will focus on original stories.

Reality shows continue to dominate television news, not to mention political news. The media seemed all abuzz last week over how Bristol Palin, the daughter of Sarah Palin, had not yet been voted off “Dancing With the Stars”. She even beat out pop stars such as Brandy. There were accusations that conservative Tea Party supporters were rigging the voting on the show.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber swept the American Music Awards, winning four trophies including Artist of the Year. Unfortunately for Bieber though, nobody was watching since the telecast received the worst ratings in its history.

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Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

October 25, 2010

Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.

Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.

Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 72: Grading The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals

September 21, 2010

After attending both the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals over the past month Anne Thompson of IndieWIRE may need a little time off. But since Thompson is entering the hectic Oscar season there’s no rest for the weary. She stops by to tell us about all the great films she saw in Venice and Toronto, as well as the amazing number of acquisitions. Based on Thompson On Hollywood, it was a great year at TIFF.

Ben Affleck’s second film as a director, “The Town” premiered at Toronto to rave reviews and this past weekend it surprised a few industry watchers by topping the box office.

During Big Deal or Big Whoop we argue about the week’s top entertainment headlines, including why celebrities like George Michael and Lindsay Lohan can’t seem to stay out of jail. The departure of Warner Bros. Records chairman Tom Whalley is our Inside Baseball topic, along with Google’s plans to take on Apple’s iTunes.


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Showbiz Sandbox 68: Who Said Jennifer Aniston Was A Movie Star?

August 23, 2010

Who would have guessed that in this day and age a Sylvester Stallone movie could top the box office for two straight weeks. But Sly’s “The Expendables” finished first with $16 million beating out five new releases including the Jennifer Aniston vehicle “Switched”. The dramedy opened to a disappointing $8.1 million prompting entertainment pundits like Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times to question whether Aniston is truly a movie star.

Generating interest doesn’t seem to be a problem for “The Social Network”, which details the founding of Facebook. More than six weeks before its release the film directed by David Fincher is getting a ton of early Oscar buzz.

Google is also making waves in Hollywood. A book about the company’s early days is being turned into a movie and Google TV has the industry worried that consumers will start canceling their cable subscriptions en masse. According to a story in the New York Times however, Americans have not been cutting their cable cords in the large numbers once predicted. Instead, cable subscriptions have increased.

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Showbiz Sandbox 65: Hollywood’s Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

August 2, 2010

Last summer a number of movies had enormous box office drop offs in their second day of release and studios blamed it on what they termed the Twitter Effect. Daniel Frankel from The Wrap joins us to explain how the social media trend that was going to revolutionize word-of-mouth hasn’t demonstrably done so. Platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and even text messaging seem to influence moviegoers more than Twitter. That hasn’t stopped studios from finding modest success on Twitter by purchasing trending topics.

A number of big television news stories broke over the past week thanks to the annual Television Critics Association press tour. Ellen DeGeneres resigned as a judge on “American Idol”, but Fox may be replacing her with Jennifer Lopez. Meanwhile, Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC, abruptly resigned under a cloud of controversy relating to rumored sexual harassment investigations and was promptly replaced by ABC Family topper Paul Lee.

In the music world Kanye West may be hoping the Twitter effect will help boost sales of his upcoming album. The hip-hop star made headlines by opening a Twitter account and turning up at Facebook headquarters to entertain employees.

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Showbiz Sandbox 64: Buzzing About Comic-Con, Digital Comics and E-Books

July 26, 2010

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Alex Billington of First Showing and Anne Thompson of indieWIRE all attended the 41st annual Comic-Con. They stop by to fill us in on all the the movies and television shows that managed to generate a lot of buzz (as well as a few that fizzled). We recap the pop-culture convention’s highlights and breaking news items.

Of course, before Comic-Con invited movies and television shows to the party, it used to be about buying and selling comic books. However, as Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times informs us, physical comic books may be an endangered item thanks to the growing popularity of digital comics. These newfangled comics have animation, sound effects and narration. Pham also explains how e-books are changing the future of how and what we read.

E-books were the source of major controversy in the publishing world this past week. Literary agent Andrew Wylie announced he would bypass traditional publishing firms and form his own digital publishing company to release e-book versions of his client’s work, including out of print work from the likes of John Updike and and Philip Roth. Rachel Deahl, senior news editor at Publishers Weekly, tells us why this move was so controversial within the publishing industry.

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Showbiz Sandbox 62: The Secret Behind Hollywood’s Accounting Practices

July 12, 2010

How is it the last Harry Potter film can gross $938 million but still lose $130 million? Journalist and author Edward Jay Epstein joins us to unravel some of Hollywood’s quirky accounting practices. He’s written two books on the subject; The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies and The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood.

“Despicable Me” topped the box office though the amount it took in from 3D screens was rather low. Could audiences be tiring of paying exorbitant 3D ticket prices? Meanwhile, Miramax finally seems to have found a buyer and Lions Gate is trying to make piece with activist investor Carl Icahn.

The Emmy nominations were announced last week and we’ll fill you in on whose up for the television’s big awards. Over in the world of music Pollstar announced that concert ticket sales are down 15% for the first half of the year.

During our Big Deal or Big Whoop segment we race through a number of top entertainment headlines, including Roman Polanski’s release, Lindsay Lohan’s jail time and Mel Gibson getting dumped by his agency. Maybe Gibson can find some work on YouTube, which plans to offer $5 million in grants to select content partners.


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Showbiz Sandbox 58: Celebrities Take Over Broadway

June 14, 2010

The Tony Awards were held on Sunday evening honoring the year’s best Broadway productions and performances. Brian Scott Lipton the editor-in-chief of was there and he stops by to fill us in on all the big winners, memorable moments and why so many movie stars are currently working in theater.

The 11th Annual Golden Trailer Awards also took place this past week and Stephen Garrett of Kinetic Trailers won two big prizes. He joins us to discuss the current state of movie promos and what its like to win the award for Trashiest Trailer.

At the box office “The Karate Kid” knocked “Shrek Forever After” out of first place after three weeks and provided a little hope for this summer’s poor ticket sales. “The A Team” on the other hand opened to poor reviews and even worse box office receipts.

In television news, the final ratings for this past season’s television shows have been released. We’ll fill you in on which shows finished on top as well as the ones nobody cared to watch. You’ll never guess where “The Jay Leno Show” came in (hint: it’s not in the top 100).

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Showbiz Sandbox 55: I Want My Google TV

May 25, 2010

It’s official. Google is getting into the television business with help from Sony and Logitech. Will making television searchable cause viewership to rise? On the other hand, movies have apparently found a way to shrink their audience – raise movie ticket prices. While “Shrek Forever After” may have topped the North American box office, it’s $71 million debut was seen as a bit of a disappointment. Industry pundits are pointing to the rising cost of 3D movie tickets as part of the cause.

And if you think movie tickets are getting too expensive just wait until cable companies start offering “home theater on demand”. Movie studios are being pitched by cable operators on distributing their movies via video-on-demand just 30 days after they are released in theaters. However, the $20 to $30 price tag may turn potential customers away.

We wrap up our coverage of the Cannes Film Festival, where an obscure “auteur” film from Thailand took the top prize. Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich tell us about all the films they liked (and hated) at this year’s festival.

The series finale of “Lost” aired over the weekend, though it received mixed reviews and mediocre ratings. Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 52: Recruiting Sandra Bullock’s Baby

May 3, 2010

Things could have gone better this past week for the hosts of Showbiz Sandbox.  J. Sperling Reich couldn’t connect to the Internet, Michael Giltz was almost washed away by a flood in Nashville, Tennessee and Karen Woodward showed up at her 20-year high school reunion only to find out that her high school crush was happily married. Thankfully there was plenty of entertainment news to discuss.

The remake of “A Nightmare On Elm Street” topped the box office, scooping up $32.2 million in North America, more than the first, second, fifth and seventh installments of the original franchise. “How To Train Your Dragon” continues to perform strongly and came in second. Oversees “Iron Man 2” opened to just over $100 million in 53 territories. The only question now is how much money will it make in North America, and will poor advance reviews affect the gross. (Don’t bet on it).

Lots of big names broke their silence this week. Director Roman Polansky blogged about being arrested in Switzerland. NBC programming chief Jeff Gaspin, told the New York Times Conan O’Brien was no longer a problem or a threat to his late-night lineup since he’s moving to cable. O’Brien gave his first televised interview since departing “The Tonight Show” to “60 Minutes”. Actress Sandra Bullock gave an exclusive to People magazine about her personal life and the adoption of her son.  Read more