Showbiz Sandbox 305: Should “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Box Office Records Require An Asterisk?

December 21, 2015

The release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered box office records the world over and became the biggest movie opening of all time by earning $529 million. We explain why in countries such as Japan and South Korea, the latest “Star Wars” not only didn’t win the weekend, but in some cases earned less than earlier installments of the franchise. We also look at the breakdown of which formats audiences favored when buying tickets.

George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” movie was released in 1977 and was added to the National Film Registry in 1989. We weigh in on the annual list of films added to the registry by the Library of Congress, charged with selecting new entrants. It always makes for a fascinating mix; we’ll discuss what made this year’s cut there and why. Hint: It’s not always artistry that counts… and no we’re not looking at you “Top Gun.”

In music news, it turns out online radio services such as Pandora will soon be paying more to license songs. Meanwhile, Adele is trying to prevent her fans from having to pay more to purchase tickets to see her in concert. We’ll tell you about the growing backlash against the secondary market for concert tickets and what some artists are doing about it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how “Star Wars” bumped Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie out of a historic movie theater, Howard Stern signs a new deal with SiriusXM and the list of this year’s inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Showbiz Sandbox 262: Will “The Interview” Become A Rallying Cry For Freedom?

December 23, 2014

When the U.S. government identified North Korea as the culprit behind a cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the incident quickly became a matter of international security. As the studio halted the release of an upcoming political satire it seemed as if they had acquiesced to the hacker’s demands in what many saw as a direct attack on free speech. Now that Sony has reversed course and will distribute the film, will “The Interview” become a patriotic rallying cry for freedom?

Maybe one day “The Interview” will be selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry. This year’s entries include “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “The Big Lebowski” and “Rosemary’s Baby” along with many other influential movies.

Meanwhile, an upstart performance rights organization continues to threaten YouTube over more than 20,000 songs for which it says the streaming media giant doesn’t have a license. The details of the dispute get mired down in complicated copyright law, but it just goes to underscore how important streaming revenue is becoming to entertainment companies.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Madonna’s new album gets leaked online, the hit film “School of Rock” is heading to Broadway and why HBO is giving up on overnight ratings.

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Showbiz Sandbox 217: In Hollywood You’re Nobody Till Somebody Sues You

December 17, 2013

The entertainment industry is marking the end of 2013 with a flurry of lawsuits all having to do, one way or another, with profit participation. Moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein have filed suit against Warner Bros. over profits from sequels to “The Hobbit”, a property they originally owned. Then there’s the fired creator of “The Walking Dead” who is suing AMC claiming the network owes him tens of millions of dollars for the hit television series.

Filmmaker James Cameron is no stranger to legal battles since he is constantly having to fend off plagiarism lawsuits. Last week the director said he struck a tax deal with New Zealand to film not one, but three “Avatar” sequels in the country.

Golden Globe nominations were announced last week helping solidify awards season frontrunners such as “12 Years A Slave”, “American Hustle” and “Gravity” among others. Keep in mind, only about 90 international entertainment journalists get to nominate and vote for the Globes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the new additions to the National Film Registry, the new members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and how Beyoncé surprised fans with a new album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 175: Fixing Electronic Oscar Voting In One Easy Step

December 31, 2012

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it would allow electronic voting for this year’s Oscar nominations many industry insiders felt it was long overdue.  However with a median age of 62, the Academy’s membership may not be ready to cast ballots online.  Heck, some members don’t even have computers.

Now reports have emerged that the Academy’s electronic voting procedure has hit a few speed bumps.  Members have had password problems and those that were able to log into the voting system found it difficult and complicated.  Some fear that voting for the Oscars will reach an all-time low.  Yet there may be a very simple way to overcome some of the security concerns the Academy and its members have in casting online ballots.

The National Film Registry cast a vote of their own last week, adding 25 films to its archives in the Library of Congress, declaring them culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.  Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily mean these films will actually be preserved.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines, including a lucrative holiday box office, big changes for “The Walking Dead” and a historical court ruling for screenwriters.

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Showbiz Sandbox 86: Why TV Viewing Is Rising As Moviegoing Declines

January 3, 2011

On more than a few occasions during 2010 one could hardly fault moviegoers for feeling as if they’d been duped as they left theaters. Movieline journalist and author Alonso Duralde believes that in at least seven instances films were misrepresented by their marketing campaigns. He discusses, among others, the arthouse movie that was sold as an action thriller, the riotous comedy that isn’t funny at all, and a princess tale disguised as a swashbuckling adventure.

Marketing could hardly be the primary reason 2010’s box office was down slightly from the previous year’s record earnings. With ticket sales off by an estimated 5.36% the only thing propping up film grosses were higher ticket prices, which noticeably rose over the past year.

On the other hand, Nielsen reports that Americans are watching more television than last year, around 34 hours per week. Unfortunately for the major broadcast networks which once ruled the airwaves, viewership has become fractured as it spread out across hundreds of cable channels. The only big TV winner during 2010 was living sporting events, which accounted for eight of the top ten highest rated shows of the year.

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Showbiz Sandbox 36: Can “Avatar” Beat “Titanic”? Heck No!

January 7, 2010

“Avatar” continues its takeover of the box office, while “The Hurt Locker” appears to be taking over the awards season. James Cameron’s 3D labor of love entered the list of top 10 grossing films of all time and may be poised to become the highest grossing movie ever, a title now held by another Cameron film, “Titanic”. “Avatar” is now one of only five films to ever earn over a billion dollars world-wide.

Now the prognostication begins about whether “Avatar” (and Cameron) will be nominated for an Academy Award? His ex-wife’s movie “The Hurt Locker” certainly seems to be headed that way. Director Kathryn Bigelow is earning raves for the film and she is being being heavily favored to be the first female to win a Best Director Oscar. Between Bigelow and Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated”), female directors, or at least the discussion of their recent success, is the topic du jour in Hollywood.

Another favorite topic at the beginning a year is reflection and prediction. What were the top reviewed movies of the decade? Did you see any of them? Read more