Showbiz Sandbox 245: Guardians of the Celluloid – Hollywood Big Shots Rally Around Film Stock

August 4, 2014

With the entertainment industry having fully embraced digital technology, the world’s only remaining motion picture film supplier was preparing to cease manufacturing 35mm stock. However, a group of influential filmmakers, Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino among them, have convinced studios to enter into an agreement with Kodak that will keep celluloid alive for a few more years.

Digital technology was actually supposed to simplify the production and distribution of movies, music and television. Yet as the industry adapts to new tools and workflows the learning curve has been long and steep. The most recent example occurred when a digital content file was mislabeled and caused cinemas to play the wrong movie.

Meanwhile, the television streaming service Aereo can’t seem to catch a break. Even after tge U.S. Supreme Court ruled they are acting as a cable operator the U.S. Copyright Office refuses to issue Aereo a compulsory license claiming they are not a cable company.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including some controversial comments about the current conflict in Gaza, Alvin and the Chipmunks head to Broadway and the pop star Lorde curates music for the next “Hunger Games” movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 226: Back To The Future – Why TV Networks Suddenly Love Old People Again

February 24, 2014

Broadcast television networks are finally catching on to what most of us have known all along; people over the age of 50 actually watch a lot of TV. In a never-ending pursuit to attract younger viewers, networks discovered that baby boomers make up a large portion of their audience. Surely we’ll be seeing a lot more programming meant to appeal directly to this new found demographic.

Maybe some of these new, more mature shows can be turned into movies one day. That seems to be the new trend in Hollywood as studios get set to release two movies that are spun-off from canceled series (“Veronica Mars”) or are have actually already appeared on television as mini-series (“Son of God”).

Speaking of Hollywood studios, it turns out that despite crying poor on a perennial basis, they all managed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit during 2013. Not revenue… actual profit.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Cee Lo Green quitting “The Voice”, CNN quitting Piers Morgan and the end of Moviefone’s movie listing service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 225: Comcast and TimeWarner Cable Is A Marriage Made In….

February 17, 2014

The proposed merger of Comcast and TimeWarner Cable has presented industry analysts with a number of complicated questions. Providing some of the answers is David Gelles, a business reporter for the New York Times, who joins us to provide background and insight into a transformative $45 billion deal that would combine the two largest media and technology providers in North America.

Though there are no legislative restrictions, will the U.S. government try to prevent to the two cable giants from consolidating? What concessions will the regulators ask of Comcast if allowing the merger to go through? How will consolidation give Comcast leverage in negotiations with content providers? Would the combined companies have too much control over the media? Most importantly, what does all of this mean for consumers?

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the BAFTA awards were handed out over the weekend to films with strong British ties. That wasn’t the case at the Berlin Film Festival where Chinese movies took home the top prizes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” debut, actress Ellen Page’s inspiring coming-out speech, and an update on actor Shia Labeouf’s latest performance art stunt.

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Showbiz Sandbox 221: Sundance Returns To Its Indie Roots (Again)

January 20, 2014

Celebrities, filmmakers and industry executives are in the midst of their annual pilgrimage to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to digital technology it’s never been easier to make or distribute a low budget film. This has led to a glut of indie productions looking for audiences and no way to know which are worth watching.

This year’s Sundance began the day Oscar nominations were handed out and the festival’s founder was overlooked for his critically praised performance in “All Is Lost”. (Awkward). With nine films competing for Best Picture, and guild awards not being hounded out to consistent winners, it looks as if this will be one of the closest Oscar races in recent memory.

Meanwhile, an appeals court ruling may have finally killed Net Neutrality, much to the joy of Internet service providers everywhere. This means the cost of streaming online music and video may soon rise significantly.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including a Broadway bound musical adaptation of Disney’s “Frozen”, the declining appeal (and ratings) of “American Idol” and the most popular show on daytime television.

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Showbiz Sandbox 219: The Business of Show Was Profitable In 2013

January 6, 2014

Almost every sector of the entertainment industry saw record grosses during 2013. North American movie ticket sales reached a record $10.9 billion. Television audiences are tuning in to more shows than ever, especially sporting events. The top 20 concert tours made a whopping $2.43 billion. It all helped contribute to the bottom lines of many entertainment companies causing their stock prices to end the year on a high note.

The only category in which revenue declined was the music. Even sales of digital music declined for the first time since iTunes was launched back in 2003. Album sales were down 8.4% overall and some industry insiders concede this might be due to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify.

And financial numbers aren’t the only ones increasing in entertainment. So are the sizes of televisions. They’re not only getting bigger, but the consumer electronics industry is pushing Ultra HD with 4K resolution, which is twice that of current HD televisions.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the death of singer Phil Everly, the expansion and increased usage of UltraViolet and the manufactured controversy behind Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 127: Has NBC Lost Touch With Its Community?

November 28, 2011

When NBC removed the quirky sitcom “Community” from their mid-season schedule the show’s cult following went berserk. Fans launched petitions via Twitter and Facebook and in an ironic twist, got the show selected as TV Guide Magazine’s second annual Fan Favorites winner. In a desperate effort to find success with their primetime programming, NBC has given the “Community” time slot to another acclaimed comedy with mediocre ratings, “Up All Night”. Is anyone minding the store at the struggling network, or are all these calculated strategic moves?

Maybe “Community” can be saved by Netflix. That’s not such a far fetched idea now that the video rental cum streaming service is resuscitating the long-canceled “Arrested Development” by producing another 10 episodes. Yet, as Netflix moves into original content, it stock price continues to decline as some of the companies cash flow problems are made public.

Meanwhile, 30 years after it occurred, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department has decided to reopen the case of Natalie Wood’s death. The legendary actress drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1981 while boating with her husband Robert Wagner. Could investigators actually find new evidence so long after the fact, or are they following tips from sources who might have ulterior motives.

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Showbiz Sandbox 125: Are Radio D.J.’s A Thing Of The Past?

November 7, 2011

Radio listenership has eroded over the past several years as consumers have adopted streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora.  To stay competitive and survive, Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio station operator, shocked the industry this past week by firing dozens of local D.J.’s and replacing them with a national programming team.  Indie-label artists and music fans are sure to suffer as radio playlists become more homogenized and less relevant.

Google has no plans to get into radio, however rumors have surfaced that they might be trying to add a cable television operation to their broadband project in Kansas.  Launching and maintaining a cable television service is not exactly like running a search engine; it can be expensive, take years and ultimately lead to a lot of red ink.

Comedian Louis C.K. has shunned traditional cable altogether.  He’s decided to broadcast his upcoming comedy concert directly to fans via the Internet, bypassing traditional television distribution.

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Showbiz Sandbox 50: Coachella Gets Its Crowd On

April 20, 2010

This year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival was hot, sweaty and packed with great music from more than 120 bands. Though an Icelandic volcano prevented some bands from traveling to Coachella this past weekend, a record setting sold out crowd of 75,000 attended the festival in the Southern California desert. Among them were Todd Martens, the co-editor of the Los Angeles Times Pop & Hiss blog and Lauren Bradshaw, the co-editor of BuzzSugar (not to mention our very own J. Sperling Reich). They stop by to fill us in on which musical acts were worth catching and which should have stayed home.

Meanwhile the superhero comedy “Kick-Ass” opened in movie theaters last Friday, however the film did not live up to it’s name. It barely squeaked into first place over the animated 3D film, “How To Train Your Dragon”. But is “Kick-Ass” really a flop, or have we become jaded when it comes to box office analysis?

As summer draws near, so too does the end of the television season. Which shows will stick around until next fall and which will be looking at the wrong end of the network’s ax? We’ll go over all the shows which are “on the bubble”.  Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 16: Hollywood Thinks Outside The Redbox

August 17, 2009

David Poland of Movie City News joins us this week.  You might know Poland from his days at the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly or Roughcut, but he is most known as the columnist behind The Hot Button which has morphed into his blog, The Hot Blog.  He can also be seen on DP30 or his new video podcast Super Movie Friends.  You can follow Poland on Twitter by visiting twitter.com/davidpoland.

“District 9” topped the box office in North America over the weekend with $37 million, but will it have legs?  Warner Bros saved a New Line movie once again with “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” which had been sitting on the shelf since last year.  It made a respectable showing with $19.2 million.

Some interesting/baffling/exciting movie news this week. Aaron Sorkin uh, is writing, uh, a draft of the Facebook movie, which, um, is a movie about social networking.  (Listen to the episode to, ah, get the joke).  And if you think that’s crazy, Warner Bros is putting together a movie based on the Legos toys, and Bryan Singer is directing a big screen version of “Battlestar Gallactica.” Will Starbuck still be dead? Does anyone care? Read more

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