Showbiz Sandbox 294: As Box Office Grows In China, So Do Claims of Fraud

September 14, 2015

China continues on its torrid pace toward become the number one movie market in the world having already surpassed its record $4.7 billion box office from last year. However, some Chinese distributors, and even some moviegoers, are claiming cinema owners are manipulating reported grosses on behalf of the government.

Recently a propaganda film titled “The Hundred Regiments Offensive” managed to sell more tickets than was possible based on its number of showings and theater count. Industry executives now say releases such as “Terminator:Genisys” are being unfairly robbed of their true earnings. Yet the market is so big, when “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” debuted last week it gave Tom Cruise the biggest box office opening of his career.

Meanwhile, parts of the world are entering autumn, a time when leaves fall from the trees and Broadway shows fall from the marquees to make way for new shows. We’ll tell you which shows have announced closings, which ones will follow soon and take a brief look at some new productions opening soon.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the return of Stephen Colbert to late night television, the new owner of National Geographic and how the late Billie Holiday and Whitney Houston will perform once again… as holograms.

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Showbiz Sandbox 259: Sony Hack Reveals Hollywood’s Digital Dilemma

December 1, 2014

Digital technology helped Hollywood significantly reduce the production cost of movies that overflow with stunning visual effects. One major downside to such technological advances is how easy it has become to steal, duplicate and distribute pristine copies of digital content. Movie studios were reminded just how vulnerable they are after a cyberattack against Sony Pictures resulted in several upcoming films being leaked online.

Netflix, on the other hand, delivers digital content legally, even if some of its subscribers happen to be access the service surreptitiously from countries where the company doesn’t operate. Netflix announced it would be launching soon in two such countries; Australia and New Zealand.

On Broadway meanwhile, productions are gearing up for what is usually a busy holiday season. A few new musicals however are off to slow starts. We’ll give you a rundown on how all the shows are doing and which are worth seeing.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Russia’s proposed boycott of Hollywood movies, why Hasbro ditched Dreamworks Animation and how Apple intends to bundle Beats Music.

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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 167: The Digital Age Crushes Variety

October 15, 2012

Last week the venerable trade paper Variety, which has been covering the entertainment industry for more than 100 years, was sold to Penske Media Corporation for $25 million. Dana Harris, the editor-in-chief of Indiewire, spent 11 years at Variety and she joins us to discuss the past, present and future of a news outlet that has struggled to adapt in an online world.

Of course, the music world is quite familiar with how digital technology can disrupt existing markets. Digital radio pioneer Pandora is pushing legislation regarding the royalties they pay to artists. This past week they made public some the big checks they’ve been writing to individual musicians.

The royalties for a bunch of super heroes are also being disputed. Stan Lee Media is suing Marvel to get a cut of all that “Avengers” money and the daughter of Superman creator Jerry Seigel is duking it out with Warner Bros. over copyright claims.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a break for Louis CK, CNN gets into the documentary film business, and how New Zealand is literally minting money for “The Hobbit”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 77: It’s Official – Hollywood To Make Nothing But Sequels

November 1, 2010

With the seventh installment of the Saw franchise and Paranormal Activity 2 topping this week’s box office, it’s not hard to see why Hollywood studios have been greenlighting sequels and prequels. They range from high profile titles such as “The Hobbit” and “Avatar”, to questionable projects such as “Top Gun 2”. Don’t even get us started on the prequel to Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”.

If big budget Hollywood movies aren’t your thing, you could always stay home and watch television, provided the broadcast networks don’t get into a carriage dispute with your cable provider and black out their signal. Fox did just that to Cablevision subscribers recently and we’ll explain why. Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien prepares for his new late night talk show with a Rolling Stone interview.

During Big Deal or Big Whoop we provide analysis of the week’s top entertainment headlines, including Charlie Sheen’s latest trouble, a new hit for AMC and a film based on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Our Inside Baseball discussion focuses on why consumers prefer to rent digital movies rather than purchase them.

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Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

October 25, 2010

Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.

Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.

Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Read more

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