Showbiz Sandbox 292: There Is Simply Too Much Television

Television network executives have begun publicly acknowledging a predicament their audiences recognized some time ago; there is simply too much television. In the midst of what has been dubbed a “golden age” of television, viewers are becoming reluctant to sign up for yet another new or existing series.

In fact, John Landgraf, the head of FX Networks, recently told the Television Critics Association that the glut of TV content means it has become more difficult to “cut through the clutter and create real buzz” when producing a show. With so much programming available, great shows can often go unnoticed or take longer to find an audience.

Then there are countries in which content is being suppressed. In Russia a politically active Ukrainian filmmaker was recently handed a 20 year prison sentence drawing international criticism that the charges were fabricated. Bangladesh meanwhile has banned a banned a new movie because it shed light on the country’s billion dollar garment industry, which is well known for exploiting its workers.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Warner Bros. is headed to China, Spongebob Squarepants is headed to Broadway and how Netflix is about to lose more than 1000 movie titles.

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Showbiz Sandbox 267: VOD Helps Heat Up Sundance

Distributors went on a buying spree at this year’s Sundance Film Festival not only due to the quality of the movies, but also because of new-found revenue from VOD services. We give you a rundown of the titles that were acquired, how much was spent on them and whether there is any hope they will ever make that money back for distributors.

Speaking of money, musician Sly Stone could be $5 million richer after winning a court ruling last week against his former manager who he claims withheld royalties.

Singer Sam Smith, on the other hand, won’t be trying to cheat Tom Petty out of royalties for his song, “Stay With Me”. The artist agreed the song was similar to one of Petty’s past hits and added the legendary rocker to the writing credits.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including yet another Super Bowl television ratings record, when we can expect the next “Game of Thrones” book from author George R.R. Martin, and “Empire” is becoming a much needed hit series for Fox.

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Showbiz Sandbox 220: Content Owners Can’t Afford Your New 4K Ultra HD Television

Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas manufacturers stirred up a lot of buzz around 4K Ultra HD television sets. The proven and tested technology promises resolution four times greater than current high definition monitors. The biggest hurdle the industry must overcome for Ultra HD to work are the economics, specifically the high cost of delivering 4K content.

For those consumers who have given up on cable and broadcast television, commonly referred to as “cord-cutters”, the good news is they will now be able to watch wrestling via streaming video thanks to the WWE’s new online only network. However, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether they can continue using Aereo to stream local broadcast channels.

Meanwhile, this year’s awards season continues to chug along as the Golden Globes are handed out and the Director’s Guild of America announced their nominations.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus are too sexy for France, the demographics of last year’s Broadway ticket sales and whether a movie critic’s tweets can be used in advertisements.

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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 203: Star Trek Blu-Ray Leaves Frustrated Fans Lost In Space

In what seems to be an attempt to bolster sagging DVD and Blu-ray sales Hollywood studios have begun offering “retailer exclusives” on releases of their hit titles. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the latest example of how different versions of a movie are being paired with varying sets of special features based on which store the disc is being sold. Trekkies will have to purchase duplicate copies of the latest installment in the franchise in order to collect all the bonus material.

Singers Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus pulled a stunt of their own which helped twerk record sales. Cyrus set tongues wagging with her racy performance that MTV Video Music Awards, but she may be laughing all the way to the bank since her on-stage gyrations have helped boost sales of her new single.

YouTube is filled with user generated videos featuring hit songs by Thicke and Cyrus. If you use these recordings in the wrong way, you could get a takedown notice for copyright infringement. One music publisher however, may have picked a copyright fight with the wrong legal scholar.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the retirement of a legendary animator, Netflix’s foray into stand-up comedy and Hollywood’s big legal victory over a popular file sharing service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 59: Movie Piracy Becomes Unthinkable

On the weekend of June 11th the film “Unthinkable” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Sheen rocketed up the Internet Movie Database’s MovieMeter. It wound up at number three beating out such new releases as “Get Him To The Greek” and “Shrek Forever After”. The funny thing is, this film wasn’t playing in theaters and at the time hadn’t even been released on DVD. A pristine pirated version however did leak online.

Cotty Chubb, the producer of “Unthinkable”, joins us to discuss the film, whether the illegal version helped its recent release and ultimately how movie piracy is affecting the entertainment industry.

“Toy Story 3” didn’t have to worry about being pirated when it opened this weekend since most theaters were showing it in 3D. The film earned debuted in first place with a whopping $109 million. That makes it the most successful Pixar opening ever.

Piracy doesn’t seem to be affecting Michael Jackson’s estate either. In the year since the performer’s death his music and film work has earned nearly a billion dollars according to Billboard magazine.

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Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

Our special guest this week is Geoff Boucher, full time entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times and part time Wookiee. Geoff began the popular L.A. Times blog, Hero Complex, devoted to caped crusaders, zombies, wizards and all things superhero. With a tag line that reads “for your inner fanboy”, Hero Complex has quietly become a huge hit and recently won the award for best online commentary among large websites from the Online News Association.

Over the last week, Geoff wrote a series of posts on the blog that look at film franchises entering their fourth turn on the silver screen, including “Lord Of The Rings”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Spider-Man”, and “X-Men”. (Check out the reader poll: ‘The Hobbit’ Will Triumph But ‘X-Men’ and ‘Pirates’ Franchises Should Quit Now)

Meanwhile, at this weekend’s North American box office, moviegoers made “Couples Retreat” the number one film, followed by “Zombieland” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. The big surprise of the weekend was the little indie film “Paranormal Activity”. Made for peanuts, the film is now raking in millions based solely off a social networking marketing campaign. That might be why Michael Giltz and Karen Woodward are dying to see the movie. . . no pun intended. (See the movie, you’ll get the joke).  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

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