Showbiz Sandbox 280: French Films Win Big In Cannes This Year

The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up over the weekend with the French drama “Dheepan” winning the Palme d’Or. In a festival filled with artistic works commenting on modern social issues, director Jacques Audiard’s film tells the story of three Sri Lankan refugees who form a family-of-convenience while fleeing to France in hopes of a better life.

Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large for Indiewire, joins us to discuss the highs and lows of this year’s Festival de Cannes, which include many of the films that took home awards, not to mention a 3D porno. But as Thompson explains, many of the big buzzworthy films were Hollywood titles screened out-of-competition; “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Inside Out” come to mind.

Time Warner Cable meanwhile, fresh from having broken up with their previous suitor, Comcast, may now be acquired in a $56.7 billion deal. Though this move was widely expected, it is an indicator of how the market is attempting to stay ahead of the fast changing ways by which audiences consume television content.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the David Letterman’s signs off the “Late Show” one final time, Jennifer Lopez is taking up residency in Las Vegas for a string of shows next year, and multi-hyphenate Barbra Streisand is penning her memoirs.

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Showbiz Sandbox 270: The Oscars Need A Reboot

What was billed as the closest Oscar race in recent memory turned out to be predictably dull as “Birdman” flew away with four awards including Best Picture. Not even host Neil Patrick Harris could make them more entertaining. Indiewire’s Anne Thompson attended the ceremony and stops by to give us her thoughts on this year’s Oscar winners and the ceremony itself.

We also take a look at the movies that could potentially be competing for Oscar trophies next year. Filmmakers such as Ron Howard, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg and even this year’s Best Director winner Alejandro González Iñárritu all have movies set for release.

In other awards prognostication news, now that the Academy Awards are over, we have the Tony Awards for live theater to look forward to. Though once it looked as if there wouldn’t be any musicals to honor, Broadway will be awash in them come springtime. Even better, there are more new musicals than revivals scheduled for this season.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Starbucks plan to stop selling CDs, the Emmys update their rules and finding an ending to “Mission: Impossible 5” has been… well, impossible.

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Showbiz Sandbox 205: Awards Season Commences With Stellar Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals

Four of the last five films to win Best Picture Oscars first appeared at the Telluride Film Festival before officially premiering the following week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Anne Thompson from Indiewire attended both festivals this year and fills us in on the big movies everyone will be talking about during the upcoming awards season.

This past week also saw the death of Ray Dolby, the audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories to advance the art of motion picture sound. We debate whether the film industry is now discouraging future inventors from working in the space.

Meanwhile, revenue from digital movies and television shows continues to climb, up 24% this year alone. Unlike theatrical box office though, studios have remained tight lipped when it comes to providing actual sales figures, fearing actors and filmmakers will want a bigger cut.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the big winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, a racy Miley Cyrus video that racked up YouTube records and J.K. Rowling spins-off Harry Potter.

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Showbiz Sandbox 199: Comic-Con and Hollywood Is A Match Made In Nerdvana

Hollywood movie studios are no stranger to Comic-Con, the world largest pop-culture convention attracting 140,000 fans to San Diego each summer. For years they have showed up with new titles hoping to drum up pre-release buzz, though at times such calculated marketing moves have backfired in spectacular fashion. Even so, Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher says audiences always welcome Hollywood back to the Con with open arms.

Boucher gives us an inside look at this year’s event, filling us in on which movies, television shows and events were huge hits (or misses) with fans. Did the announcement of a film pairing of Superman and Batman go over well with the crowd? Was everyone surprised to see a trailer for the “Veronica Mars” movie.

Last week also saw the Television Academy announce their nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards. The big news was the Netflix series “House of Cards” which earned 14 nominations and marked the first time a show will vie for an Emmy without having aired on broadcast or cable networks.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a public spat over Spotify streaming royalty rates, Keith Olbermann’s return to ESPN and a summer of big box office flops.

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Showbiz Sandbox 180: Binge-Viewing Is Transforming The Way We Watch Television

With new streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime popping up all the time, we now have the ability to watch entire seasons of episodic television series all at once.  Now Netflix is taking binge-viewing one step further by releasing all 13-episodes of their original drama series “House of Cards” at once.  Dawn Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times explains how the trend is altering narrative structures, existing revenue models and the entire television landscape.

Speaking of television, the Super Bowl proved once again to be a huge ratings bonanza with more than 108 million viewers tuning in to the football championship game.  Unfortunately a power outage delayed the airing of a post-game television show which had hoped to get a boost from carryover viewers.

Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” continues to top the worldwide box office, leading a pack of Oscar contenders that continues to attract big audiences well into the new year.

Of course we also cover the top entertainment headlines from the past week including news about a film version of the hit series “Entourage”, plans for subscription channels on YouTube and Ticketmaster (sort of) ditches its horrible security system.

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Showbiz Sandbox 169: How TV Networks Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The DVR

Major networks used to bemoan the use of DVRs out of fear that audiences would use them to skip over commercials. However, with DVRs in almost half of all US homes, they have begun touting the big audience increases some of their shows get after factoring in time shifted viewing. Scott Collins, a television reporter with the Los Angeles Times, discusses modern-day TV ratings and how the industry is coping as viewing habits change.

And if you thought television networks were in trouble, they’ve got nothing on the film industry. If you were to believe folks like film critic David Denby and a recent New York Times article, movies may not even be relevant anymore.

Talent agencies aren’t immune from all the changes affecting the industry. Last week the longtime head of ICM Partners, one of the world’s largest ten percenteries, announced he’d be leaving to start a new agency.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how a child sex abuse scandal at the BBC, the merger of publishing giants Penguin and Random House, and an Amy Winehouse musical.

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Showbiz Sandbox 164: Geoff Boucher Knows More About Nothing Than Anyone

Geoff Boucher shocked the entertainment and media industries when he announced his resignation from the Los Angeles Times in mid-September. After all, Boucher has been credited with pioneering a new model for entertainment writers by melding print publications with both an online brand and live events; a format he’s dubbed “tradigital”. Why wouldn’t the Times want to keep him around. (They actually did).

Boucher spent 21 years at the paper, earning a stellar reputation as an entertainment feature writer and ultimately the editor of the Hero Complex, a blog covering all aspects of pop culture. In a wide ranging interview Boucher, who says he knows more about nothing than anyone, discusses his departure from the Times, how he landed at Entertainment Weekly less than a week later, and what his future plans are.

Meanwhile, the best and brightest talent on North American television was honored this past weekend at the 64th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards. We’ve got a rundown of all the winners and a recap of the awards ceremony.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including an update on Universal Music’s purchase of EMI, electronic voting at the Oscars and how Major League Baseball is selling off its television rights for billions of dollars.

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Showbiz Sandbox 155: How Hollywood Handles A Real-Life Tragedy

The ripple effect caused by a deranged gunman last week at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” spread far beyond the scene of the crime in Aurora, Colorado. Warner Bros. had to instantly pivot from celebrating the studios biggest opening of the year to managing a horrific nightmare which left 12 people dead and dozens injured. We examine how the studio and the entertainment industry have dealt with being part of such a tragic event.

On a happier note, at least for cable networks, the Emmy nominations were announced last week for the year’s best achievements in television. The major broadcast networks, which used to dominate the awards, were entirely shut-out in certain categories. Is this merely a fluke, or has the tide truly shifted to cable programming?

Meanwhile, author Brett Easton Ellis has been in a public feud with Deadline Hollywood editor Nikki Finke, all thanks to a simple posting on Twitter. We’ll fill you in.

We also cover all the week’s top entertainment headlines including some sequels to popular Pixar films, an executive shake-up at News Corp. and the newest judge on “American Idol”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 152: Rupert Murdoch Shows Off His Split Personality

Last week, in-between sending Twitter posts about the break-up of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, News Crop. chairman Rupert Murdoch announced he would be splitting one of the world’s biggest media conglomerates into two different companies; one for the publishing entities, the other for the much more profitable film and television operations. Could the tycoon be trying to focus attention on something other than the ongoing phone hacking scandal he is embroiled in?

Speaking of scandals, Charlie Sheen returned to television with a bang (no pun intended). His new series, “Anger Management” set viewership records for a scripted comedy series. If the first 10 episodes prove to be a ratings hit, FX has promised to produce another 90 episodes.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 176 professionals to become members and it looks like they’re becoming more of an equal opportunity group. In fact, they have finally included hair dressers in the makeup category at the Oscars, renaming it Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news, the “Today” show’s continuing troubles, Arsenio Hall’s return to late night television and the record breaking ratings for Eurocup 2012.

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Showbiz Sandbox 142: Is The MPAA Rating System Broken?

Though the MPAA often rates more than 700 films per year, the number of rating disputes rarely reaches the double digits. This year however eight films have already appealed their ratings and it’s not even April. Has the MPAA lost touch with modern culture or are filmmakers beginning to push the boundaries with edgier content? Ethan Noble, of Motion Picture Consulting, helps guide filmmakers and studios through the ratings process. Noble, who recently tried to appeal the restrictive rating on the documentary “Bully”, provides an overview of the MPAA’s rating system and tells us whether it needs to be fixed.

Speaking of the MPAA, they released their annual report on the motion picture industry. Moviegoing may have declined 4% in North America, but overseas revenue grew more than 5% and is booming in markets such as China and Japan.

We previously predicted that Broadway shows such as “Sister Act” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” would close by now. Despite playing to half empty theaters and consistently losing money, they are still running night after night. What gives?

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