Showbiz Sandbox 333: Predicting The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2016

August 31, 2016

Much has been made about the decline in box office this summer, with franchise sequels underperforming and certain pricey movies failing to attract an audience. Kevin Lincoln, a senior editor at New York Magazine and Vulture, takes a look at this summer’s biggest flops and predicts which mega-budget releases might suffer a similar fate as we round out the year.

In China it might be more difficult to know which movies are box office disappointments or crowd favorites since online and mobile ticketing companies have been offering hefty subsidies to cinemagoers in their heated battle for market share. This means the gross of any release is almost always higher than what moviegoers actually paid to see it.

We’ll also dip back into audience figures from the recently completed Summer Olympics in Rio. This time however we have some data about viewership in Europe, Canada and elsewhere. To nobody’s surprise, more people streamed coverage online than ever before.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix international subscribers will soon outnumber those in the United States, a changing of the guard at Twentieth Century Fox gets expedited and the late Prince’s home and music studio is set to become a museum.

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Showbiz Sandbox 300: What is GamerGate and Why Should You Care?

November 3, 2015

South by Southwest (SXSW) set the tech world and media outlets aflame when they recently canceled two panel discussions on harassment in the gaming community scheduled for their 2016 conference. Organizers quickly reversed their decision realizing it sent the unintended message that the of the annual music, film and interactive festival not only tolerates online harassment but condones it.

SXSW officials claimed they were trying to protect attendees from violence threatening the panels from a group aligning themselves with GamerGate, an angry and misogynistic movement focused on sexism and progressivism in video game culture. Trying to define GamerGate is difficult since it has evolved from a debate raging through social media hashtags to real world death threats against prominent women in the video game industry. We’ll try to unravel the meaning of GamerGate and discuss whether SXSW can fully recover from the controversy it stirred up.

Meanwhile, tickets to hot franchise properties are getting hard to come by. When tickets for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” went on sale recently, web ticketing companies were crippled by demand. The same was true when tickets for the London West End production of “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child” which promptly sold out a year’s worth of performances.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the return of “Gilmore Girls”, Internet music service Pandora settles a copyright dispute to the tune of $90 million and a new Star Trek television series is headed straight to online streaming.

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Showbiz Sandbox 237: Cannes Lives Up To All The Hype

May 27, 2014

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan took home the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his movie, “Winter Sleep”. The slow-paced character drama set in a picturesque corner of Apollonia faced stiff competition from Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy”, Andrey Zvyaginstev’s “Leviathan” and even Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film. Overall, this year’s festival managed to surpass everyone’s already high expectations.

As May draws to a close, so too does this past year’s television season. Scripted series continue to gain significant viewership when accounting for delayed viewing, but what’s most noticeable about this year’s top 20 ratings winners is how long-in-the-tooth some of the shows are.

Meanwhile, the final cost of finishing “Fast & Furious 7” after the death of actor Paul Walker last November has yet to be tallied, however it’s shaping up to be one of the most expensive insurance claims in motion picture history.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including some creative differences at Marvel, Amazon’s silent war with publishers and the Supreme Court’s decision in an important copyright infringement case.

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Showbiz Sandbox 168: Why TV Audiences Abandoned Broadcast Networks

October 22, 2012

The start of the new television season has been a huge disappointment for broadcast networks with ratings down as much as 28% on Fox. Only NBC has seen an increase in viewership in key demos and after years of coming in fourth among networks, now finds itself bouncing back. Why have audiences abandoned broadcast television? Here’s a hint; it has to do with zombies.

Industry analysts fault lackluster new series and strong programming alternatives on cable for broadcast networks latest woes. We provide a rundown of which new shows might stick around for a while, those that might be put on hiatus and which have already gotten the ax.

If you paid to download any of this season’s new TV shows you may be interested to know that you are only licensing the right to view them and don’t actually own them outright. Two upcoming court cases may help resolve the issue, if they don’t wind up muddying the waters further.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the new agreement between Dish and AMC, Beyonce’s new Super Bowl gig, and the end of Newsweek as a print magazine.

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Showbiz Sandbox 157: Which Summer Blockbusters Will Spawn Sequels

August 6, 2012

Though the summer movie season isn’t quite over, its never too early to start debating which of this year’s crop of releases will have studio heads clamoring for a sequel. It’s safe to say neither “John Carter” or “Battleship” will get the sequel treatment. But what about hits such as “Men In Black”, “Ice Age”, “Madacascar” and “Ted”? The Hollywood Reporter has the lowdown on what studio heads are thinking, and it’s always fun trying to second guess them.

Speaking of summer blockbusters, the Olympics continues to pull in huge viewership for broadcasters around the world. In the United Kingdom, the host nation for this year’s games, the BBC has gone interactive with its broadcasts by allowing viewers to program special channels with coverage of any event they want to see.

Meanwhile, a number of large North American cable providers held their second quarter earnings calls last week. Despite a declining subscription base and increased content costs, profits at the companies are up and their executives couldn’t be happier. We’ll tell you why.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Snoop Dogg’s reggae transformation, rumors that Nick Jonas will join “American Idol” and a new poll dethrones “Citizen Kane” and crowns a new winner as the greatest film of all time.

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Showbiz Sandbox 153: Hollywood Loses Another Battle In The Copyright War

July 10, 2012

Fearing that it would restrict freedom of speech, basic civil rights and an open Internet, the European Parliament voted down the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) last week. The move effectively kills the international anti-piracy legislation that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have lobbied so hard for. We explain what ACTA’s defeat means for Hollywood and what anti-piracy measures you may be hearing about next.

It’s hard to believe piracy is affecting the entertainment industry. Music sales, which have been in a slow decline over the past decade, are actually up this year thanks to digital sales. Movie box office is also up with studios such as Disney having already earned $1 billion in North America alone.

Billion was also a number subscription movie service Netflix has been using a lot lately. Their customers watched more than a billion hours of content in June. That’s not only a new record for the company, but it would make them more popular than any U.S. cable network.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Hollywood’s highest-paid actor, Charlie Sheen’s slipping ratings and why we won’t be seeing “Raging Bull 2” anytime soon.

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Showbiz Sandbox 142: Is The MPAA Rating System Broken?

March 26, 2012

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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Showbiz Sandbox 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

November 8, 2010

As if broadcast and cable networks didn’t have enough to worry about with online streaming offerings from Apple and Google, they now have startups such as ivi.TV to contend with. The company recently launched an online service that retransmits signals from broadcast television stations in New York and Seattle with more cities coming online soon. Though networks and movie studios are trying to shut the company down, its CEO, Todd Weaver, explains that ivi.TV is operating legally under current copyright laws.

Another media company dealing with legal issues is MGM who filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Fortunately the restructured studio won’t have to worry about an actor’s strike since the two unions representing thespians agreed to a new contract with studios and networks. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel fills us in on the key deal points as well as what the news means for writers and directors as they begin their own contract negotiations.

This week also marks the return of Conan O’Brien to late-night television as he kicks off his new show on TBS.

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Showbiz Sandbox 75: Hollywood Stunned By A Jackass (And It’s Not Perez Hilton!)

October 18, 2010

Everyone expected the latest installment of the low-rent “Jackass” franchise to bring in a few bucks, especially since it was filmed in 3D, but nobody expected the movie to take in $50 million in its debut weekend and set records for an October opening. Another surprise from this past week came when gossip blogger Perez Hilton told the world he would no longer “bully” or “out” celebrities on his popular website. Hilton has left everyone wondering if he is being honest, or just trying to grab a few headlines.

In television news, the big story was all about the Chilean miner rescue which drew huge ratings for cable news networks. As for some of the season’s new shows, we provide an update on which ones seem to be fairing well and which may be headed into a permanent hiatus.

The nominations for the American Music Awards were announced, though instead of pulling names from Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the show relied on the Ultimate Chart published by BigChampagne.

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Showbiz Sandbox 67: Cheap Digital Music Downloads Are On (Arcade) Fire

August 17, 2010

The indie rock group Arcade Fire topped the album charts for the first time in their career with the release of their third album “The Suburbs” which moved more than 156,000 copies in its first week. However more than 97,000 of those albums were sold digitally at significantly reduced prices. Are digital music downloads devaluing music? Todd Martens, a music reporter with the Los Angeles Times, joins us to explain how digital downloads are affecting the music industry.

Speaking of digital media, Netflix entered into a $900 million deal with Epix which will allow them to stream films from Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate starting in September. Meanwhile the popular television streaming website Hulu is rumored to be investigating an IPO.

Sylvester Stallone may have shown up just in time to save Lions Gate with “The Expendables” which came in first at the box office, but “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” proved a disappointment despite earning rave reviews.

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