Showbiz Sandbox 266: Sundance Becomes A Little More International

January 28, 2015

Though the Sundance Film Festival has long been one of the more important festivals held each year, it was primarily known as a launching pad for American independent films and as such international attendance was minimal. That seems to have changed over the past few years as Sundance selections started receiving Oscar nominations. Now industry professionals from all over the world show up at the festival to find the next “Whiplash”, “Precious” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild”.

We didn’t have to travel from halfway around the world to attend this year’s Sundance, but we are in Park City and will fill you in on all the buzzworthy films, major acquisitions and festival news.

Meanwhile, the Producer’s Guild Awards muddied the waters in the current race for the Best Picture Academy Award. While everyone assumed “Boyhood” would walk off with the prize on its way to Oscar victory, “Birdman” swept in and unexpectedly stole it. Whether this is any indication as to how Oscar voters will cast their ballots is questionable.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why American Idol winner Phillip Phillips is headed to court over his record contract, how James Patterson is promoting his new book and Mrs. Doubtfire is headed to Broadway.

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Showbiz Sandbox 134: Video-On-Demand Rides To The Rescue At Sundance

January 30, 2012

This year’s Sundance Film Festival came to a close last weekend awarding top prizes to a wide range of movies. Independent film industry veteran Michael Tuckman sizes up this year’s festival and highlights some of its most noteworthy movies. Tuckman explains how video-on-demand has become a big part of the distribution strategy for such films, providing them with a wider audience than traditional art houses.

IFPI also showed up with some good news last week reporting that global digital music sales were up eight percent in 2011. Subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify are helping increase revenue, though they are also eating into the advertising dollars usually reserved for local radio stations.

Meanwhile, Broadway is gearing up for its spring season with a glut of hot new productions, making it difficult to pick a front-runner for Best Musical (the most valuable – if not the only valuable – Tony Award). Best Play is also up for grabs and none of the newcomers are slam dunks.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including, Simon Cowell retooling the “X-Factor” with new hosts and judges, an upbeat earnings report from Netflix and how Ticketmaster bungled the sale of tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s latest tour… again.

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Showbiz Sandbox 102: Why Music Videos Matter (Again)

May 9, 2011

Music videos rose to prominence in the 1980s to become on of the most important promotional vehicles for new music. As fans grew tired of watching their favorite musicians lip sync their way through elaborate videos MTV and the like stopped showing them. However, with the advent of inexpensive production equipment and the ability to reach a massive global audience via the Internet, musicians have begun churning out a new crop of innovative, and at times interactive, music videos, revitalizing an art form once written off as extinct.

In other music news, Warner Music Group was finally auctioned off for $3.3 billion. Now there is talk that the record labels new owner might scoop up EMI making Warner Music Group even larger than it is already. Meanwhile, in an attempt to reverse declining box office, concert promoters are trying to win audiences back with cheaper ticket prices and high-end acts.

Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, two of the Internet’s most popular movie sites, were sold to Warner Bros. We debate whether the move will influence some of the reviews and recommendations the websites have become known for.

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Showbiz Sandbox 101: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office

May 2, 2011

Starting out on the streets of Brooklyn, New York as a drug dealer in the late 1980s, hip-hop star Jay-Z has transformed himself into a recognizable brand encompassing music, clothing, restaurants, nightclubs and an NBA basketball team. Our guest this week is Forbes staff writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg who tells the improbable story of how Jay-Z rose to the top of the business world in his new book, “Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office“.

Another brand that has proven their business acumen is home video subscription service Netflix. The company, which reported record first quarter numbers this past week, soon will have a number of competitors, including the likes of YouTube, DirecTV and Comcast.

Maybe Vin Diesel can turn himself into a mega-brand, proving he can still open a film on a global scale with “Fast Five”, the fifth installment in the “The Fast and The Furious” franchise. The film earned mega-bucks this past weekend, despite being up against the summer blockbuster “Thor” in international territories.

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Showbiz Sandbox 55: I Want My Google TV

May 25, 2010

It’s official. Google is getting into the television business with help from Sony and Logitech. Will making television searchable cause viewership to rise? On the other hand, movies have apparently found a way to shrink their audience – raise movie ticket prices. While “Shrek Forever After” may have topped the North American box office, it’s $71 million debut was seen as a bit of a disappointment. Industry pundits are pointing to the rising cost of 3D movie tickets as part of the cause.

And if you think movie tickets are getting too expensive just wait until cable companies start offering “home theater on demand”. Movie studios are being pitched by cable operators on distributing their movies via video-on-demand just 30 days after they are released in theaters. However, the $20 to $30 price tag may turn potential customers away.

We wrap up our coverage of the Cannes Film Festival, where an obscure “auteur” film from Thailand took the top prize. Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich tell us about all the films they liked (and hated) at this year’s festival.

The series finale of “Lost” aired over the weekend, though it received mixed reviews and mediocre ratings. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 18: It’s All Fun And Games Until Celebrities Start Dyin’

September 3, 2009

Landing at the top of the North American box office this weekend was “The Final Destination” with “Halloween 2,” directed by Rob Zombie, coming in third. Zombie may not be part of that Old White Male club of directors that the New York Times highlighted this week, but apparently he can make a successful film. After reviving the “Halloween” franchise, Rob Zombie will continue to advance the horror porn genre with a remake of the 1958 classic, “The Blob.”

The biggest story of the week was Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics. What will this mean for “Iron Man”, “Spider-Man”, the “X-Men”, and “Fantastic Four”? Maybe we’ll find out when Disney continues its takeover of the world with their own version of Comic-Con; the D23 Expo in Anaheim. The four day event will celebrate — and sell — all things Disney with celebrity appearances and slick sneak previews of upcoming films, television shows and theme park attractions.

Speaking of theme park attractions, Michael Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide. (Okay it only feels like it’s becoming a theme park attraction.) Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 15: Ferris Bueller Is A Jerk!

August 10, 2009

Korbi Ghosh of Zap2it’s Korbi TV blog joins us again to discuss Paula Adbul leaving “American Idol,” Jeanine Mason winning “So You Think You Can Dance,” and this past week’s Television Critics Association press tour. But we begin with Box Office News:  “G.I Joe” won the weekend with over $56 million, although bad word of mouth will probably result in a steep drop by next weekend. Co-host Michael Giltz watched the movie in a packed theater and gives his review of both the movie and actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum.

“G.I. Joe” was not screened for critics (never a good sign) but that didn’t stop Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal from reviewing it based on the trailer alone.  Morgenstern writes, “At first I felt shut out, but then I realized I was missing the point of a double blessing. Paramount has spared me the pain of sitting through another military-toy epic (the recent “Transformers” sequel having been a near-death experience), Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

August 3, 2009

First off, we took care of a little internal business by welcoming entertainment journalist Michael Giltz as an official co-host.

Alonso Duralde joins us this week. Alonso is the film critic at MSNBC.com and the author of “101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men“. His reviews are featured regularly on The Rotten Tomatoes Show. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Alonso spent six years as Arts & Entertainment editor at The Advocate where he is still a contributing writer. His work has also appeared in such publications as the Village Voice, Movieline, Detour among many others. This month Alonso will be curating a the series “So Bad They’re Brilliant” at the American Cinematheque. You can follow him on Twitter at @MSNBCalonso.

We asked Alonso to join us because of a story he wrote for msnbc.com called “Do You See What I Twee?”, as it related to the latest movies. He described the essence of twee as “avoiding the fashionable, the obvious, the predictable, the mundane in an attempt to be, for lack of a better phrase, showily unshowy…It’s about replacing one calculated technique of visual and cultural cues with another.” It’s an apt description of one of the more popular movies out this summer, “(500) Days of Summer,” and its lead, Zooey Deschanel. We also just love saying the word “twee.” Read more

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