Showbiz Sandbox 308: Hollywood Thinks It Has Netflix’s Numbers

With Netflix now available in 190 countries, the upstart video-on-demand service has grown so big Hollywood studios and television networks are getting seriously worried. Sure, they’ve earned millions by licensing their content to Netflix, but they now find themselves competing with the company for new projects, not to mention the industry’s most sought after talent.

TV networks are especially upset Netflix can claim to be a success without ever revealing their ratings. Some have even gone so far as to commission studies to determine the true viewership of Netflix programming. Meanwhile, Netflix has become concerned about viewers bypassing geographic restrictions by subscribing to their U.S. service from international territories.

When it came to this year’s Academy Awards nominations however, Netflix was overlooked in all of the major categories. So were minorities. For the second year in a row all of the acting nominations and those for best director went to caucasians, giving rise to a repeat of the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including NBC’s plans to produce a live version of the musical “Hairspray”, Al Jazeera America is being shut down and the death of actor Alan Rickman.

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Showbiz Sandbox 176: Hollywood Unchained – 2012 Sets Another Box Office Record

Once again Hollywood raked in record earnings at the North American box office in 2012, though this time it wasn’t because of increased ticket prices.  In fact, both revenue and attendance were up nearly 6% during the year as 1.36 billion tickets were sold to set a new annual box office record of $10.8 billion.

Internationally box office receipts were off slightly.  After a string of years with record grosses, Hollywood movies raked in $13.5 billion outside North America.  The new year is looking up as well since nine films pegged as Oscar contenders are all still raking in big grosses.

The music business didn’t have such good news.  Album sales during 2012 declined 4.4% in the United States where Adele spent a second year at the top of the heap.  What’s noteworthy is that digital downloads outpaced physical album sales for the first time according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the sale of Al Gore’s cable network, the rising ratings for Big Bang Theory and why YouTube is deleting views for music videos.

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Showbiz Sandbox 158: A Rundown of The Year’s Top-Earning Authors

James Patterson tops the list of this year’s highest-paid authors according to Forbes. Working with a team of writers Patterson published an astounding 14 best-selling novels in 2011 to earn an estimated $94 million. Joining Patterson were regulars such as Stephen King and John Grisham among others, as well as newcomer George R.R. Martin whose “Game Of Thrones” series has become a best seller.

The Summer Olympics came to a close over the weekend. This must be disappointing to NBC which was just getting used to actually having an audience for a change. In fact, ratings for coverage of this year’s games set viewership records in both North America and Europe.

On previous episodes we’ve mentioned Hollywood’s new-found appreciation of China and it seems to only be growing. Last week filmmaker James Cameron announced the expansion of his 3D production company through a joint venture in China and DreamWorks Animation said they had agreed to work with a group of Chinese investors to develop a $3.1 billion culture and entertainment district in Shanghai.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including how Google plans to punish copyright thieves, a rumor that dead pop stars will perform on this season’s “X-Factor” and plans to adapt a cult 80’s television show featuring an alien puppet into a hit movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 145: Rise of Playlisters Marks The Death of Music Blogs

Last week Doug Freeman, a music critic for the Austin Chronicle, wrote an opinion piece in response to a Hypebot interview in which Sean Adams, the founder of Drowned In Sound, suggested music blogs are no longer influential. Freeman joins us to explain that if blogs were simply gateways to new music discovery, then the streaming playlister is the new music blogger. New influencers and kingmakers will emerge in a shifting editorial landscape.

We also take you to the first weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival where more than 150 acts strutted their stuff to an more than 100,000 attendees. Headliners such as Radiohead and The Black Keys proved to be big hits, but Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg stole the show by performing with a picture perfect hologram of the late Tupac Shakur.

“The Hunger Games” continues to feast on the North American box office, but the number one movie in the world this past weekend was “Titanic 3D” thanks to a record breaking opening in China.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Mel Gibson’s public fight with a screenwriter, an extended run for “Game of Thrones” and an anti-trust lawsuit against major publishing houses.

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Showbiz Sandbox 138: Lessons Learned At This Year’s Oscars

Predicting who will win Academy Awards each year isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. She managed to pick 19 out of 24 winner’s at this past weekend’s Oscar ceremony, but there were a few categories which had everyone guessing. Thompson takes us backstage on Oscar night and explains how easy it is for someone covering the awards season, like herself, to over think how Academy voters will respond when ballots are cast.

Meanwhile, Google filed applications last week to become a cable television provider in Kansas City. What remains to be seen is whether the tech giant can obtain enough programming to attract customers.

Maybe Hollywood will welcome Google with open arms as they have with the glut of streaming video providers all vying to license premium content. Ironically, the industry seems to be ahead of the curve on a new technology they hope will make up for falling DVD sales.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new book from J.K. Rowling, Barbara Streisand’s new record deal and how advertising at movie theaters is being taken more seriously.

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Showbiz Sandbox 130: It’s The Data, Stupid (or Why Live Nation Bought BigChampagne)

As 2011 comes to an end mainstream media companies continue to struggle with how to distribute their content through the Internet. That was never more apparent than this week as concert promoter Live Nation acquired BigChampagne, a media tracking and technology company. Joe Fleischer, Big Champgne’s chief marketing officer, explains why a live-event company is interested in staying on top of the latest music industry data and how the acquisition will help Live Nation better understand their customers.

Meanwhile, as SOPA and PIPA make their way through Congress, Universal Music Group caused a stir when they tried to squash news reports of their copyright infringement lawsuit against MegaUpload. Then there was comedian Louis C.K. who used digital convergence to his benefit by selling a video of his most recent stand-up show directly to fans, making a huge profit in the process.

Matt Damon was also muddying the waters last week by revealing the in-fighting going on behind the scenes of the”Bourne” franchise. Of course, we also cover the top entertainment news stories of the week including the Golden Globe and SAG award nominations, Howard Stern’s new television gig on “America’s Got Talent” and Madonna’s new record contract.

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Showbiz Sandbox 126: Foot In Mouth Disease Sweeps Through Hollywood

Getting publicity in Hollywood can be a very difficult task. If you are an A-list director like Brett Ratner or a hot actor like Ashton Kutcher however, all you need to do is make a bigoted statement or fire off an ignorant Twitter post and you’ll get more ink than you ever wanted. Ratner’s homophobic slur forced him to resign as producer of next year’s Oscars, while Kutcher’s uninformed opinion on current events caused him to rethink his social media participation. Has the entertainment industry become overly sensitive or do its inhabitants just have no class? We try to figure out what all the fuss is about.

The other big news of the week was the sale of record label EMI to Universal Music Group and Sony. EMI’s owner, Citibank, decided to split the record label from its publishing arm in an effort to get the deal passed antitrust regulators. As the music industry contracts from four major record companies to three, what will it mean for indie artists and their fans?

Broadway may also be undergoing some changes soon. Long running musicals such as “Mamma Mia!”, “Chicago” and “Mary Poppins” seem to be fading fast and may need to make way for new productions such as a revival of “Porgy & Bess”, “Evita” featuring Ricky Martin and a stage version of “Bonnie & Clyde”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 120: Netflix Must Adapt To A Hollywood It Helped Create

Ryan Lawler has spent the last two years writing about online video and digital media trends for GigaOm, a beat he’s covered for a number of publications. Who better to help us sort out what’s been going on with Netflix over the past two weeks? Despite a plunging stock price, slower subscriber growth and increased competition from the likes of Dish Network, Lawler says we shouldn’t be too worried about Netflix. He discusses what the future holds for the company during an in-depth interview.

Meanwhile, the fall television season was jumpstarted by “Two and a Half Men” as more than 28 million viewers tuned in to see Ashton Kutcher replace Charlie Sheen. Don’t feel too bad for Sheen though; he had 6.4 million people watching him get roasted over on Comedy Central and it appears he’s settling his lawsuit with Warner Bros. for a cool $25 million.

“The Lion King 3D” continues to dominate the worldwide box office, despite the fact that it’s a 17 year old movie that most have already seen. “Titanic” and “Top Gun” are already getting 3D makeovers, and it’s likely we’ll see studios reaching back into their archives to find even more titles.

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Showbiz Sandbox 115: Record Industry Wages A Quiet War Over Song Rights

When the United States copyright law was revised in the mid-1970’s a little-known provision was included that lets musicians and songwriters reclaim ownership of their recordings after 35 years. Artists such as Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty and Tom Waits are set to regain control of their recordings starting in 2013 thanks to these “termination rights”. Rather than lose control of works worth millions of dollars, New York Times culture reporter Larry Rohter discusses how record labels plan to fight the provision in court.

Also picking a fight is Disney, which halted production of “The Lone Ranger” which was to star Johnny Depp and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Does pulling the plug on Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest blockbuster mean that Depp will refuse participate in another “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?

AMC has had its fair share of scuffles lately. After numerous disputes with the creators of their hit shows, AMC has become not only one of the most acclaimed cable networks in recent memory, but also one of the most troubled.

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Showbiz Sandbox 66: Why Audiences Are Avoiding 3D Movies

Though 3D movies seem to be all the rage in Hollywood these days, it turns out fewer people are actually seeing them. Ever since the release of “Avatar” 3D’s box office earnings have been trending downward. Reporter Ben Fritz and columnist Patrick Goldstein, both from the Los Angeles Times, help us understand why 3D movies aren’t grossing as much as they did just six months ago.

Meanwhile over on “American Idol” they still haven’t worked out who will be judging next season’s competition, however Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler said publicly he was asked to join the show.

Arcade Fire released their third album “The Suburbs” to critical acclaim and they celebrated by webcasting their Madison Square Garden concert on YouTube. Making the event even more special, Terry Gilliam directed the webcast. Unfortunately for the concert industry, not every band is as successful as Arcade Fire at selling out their performances. Profits are down at concert giant Live Nation and it’s chairman has jumped on Twitter to explain why.

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