Showbiz Sandbox 267: VOD Helps Heat Up Sundance

February 2, 2015

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 140: Nollywood Love – Inside The Booming Nigerian Film Industry

March 13, 2012

Oil rich Nigeria may be best known for political upheavals and brutal civil wars, though over the past twenty years the country has given birth to a thriving film industry. New York Times Magazine contributing writer Andrew Rice explains that what started out as a surplus of blank VHS tapes has grown into what is now called Nollywood; the world’s third largest movie business.  Nollywood films now suffer from the same issues faced by Hollywood and Bollywood; piracy and escalating production costs.

The budget for Disney’s “John Carter” was about five thousand times that of the average Nollywood film, which is probably why a $100 million worldwide opening is seen as a bit of a disappointment. Directing his first live-action film, Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton seems to be getting most of the blame for the movie’s lack of success, though it just as easily could be pinned on a studio full of senior executives that lacked experience producing big blockbusters.

Speaking of pricey failures, Fox canceled its sci-fi series “Terra Nova”. Producers hope the show will be picked up by another network, though at $4 million per episode few can afford it.

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Showbiz Sandbox 124: UltraViolet Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

October 31, 2011

More than 75 companies have teamed up to form UltraViolet, a new service that promises to give consumers the freedom to watch movies and television shows wherever and whenever they want. However, early adopters have discovered that untethering content from physical media such as DVDs can be a tedious and confusing process. As the entertainment industry experiments with rapidly evolving technologies, viewers seem hard pressed to find any benefits in moving to the cloud.

When it comes to music though, fans have already migrated to online services such as Pandora, iTunes and Amazon. Now Google is preparing to launch its own music offering which is rumored to allow users to share music with their friends and family.

And if you thought digital technology was a tough racket, so is trying to copy the success of the hit television series “Mad Men”. NBC failed with it’s 1960s drama “The Playboy Club” and ABC isn’t fairing much better with “Pan Am”, a similar knock-off. They could have picked up Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, “Anger Management” as a replacement, but FX scooped it up before anyone had a chance.

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Showbiz Sandbox 111: Can Paste Magazine Ignite A Digital Publishing Revolution?

July 11, 2011

Less than a year after ceasing publication of their print edition Paste Magazine has revived itself in a new digital format. The popular music and culture magazine shunned the traditional print medium and relaunched as a weekly web periodical chock full of long-form features, downloadable music and multimedia content. Editor Josh Jackson reveals how the new Paste mPlayer was designed from the ground up as a next-generation publication. Is Paste giving us a glimpse into the future of magazines?

Soap operas are in the midst of their own transformation. Rather than canceling “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” as planned, ABC has struck a deal to keep the shows alive on the Internet. Will loyal viewers migrate online to keep up with their favorite soaps?

The music industry has also received some good news lately. Not only will the hotly anticipated arrival of Spotify in the United States soon be a reality, but Nielsen Soundscan is reporting that music sales are up slightly this year. Does all of this mean the music business is poised to make a comeback?

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Showbiz Sandbox 103: Midnight In Cannes – This Year’s Fest Sparks Fireworks

May 16, 2011

Woody Allen’s film “Midnight In Paris” opened the 64th annual Cannes Film Festival last week, but it was Terrence Malick’s long awaited “Tree of Life” which everyone was eager to see.  The film divided audiences with some booing loudly and others proclaiming it a masterpiece.  We provide all the highlights from this year’s festival, including news about films and the scene along the Croisette.

Google decided not to wait around for record labels to offer them a decent license before launching their cloud music service.  After watching Amazon launch their own music service, Google realized they would never get an appropriate licensing deal from the labels so took matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, major television networks began holding their upfronts where they inform advertisers, and the world, what shows will air during the fall television season.  We fill you in on who made the cut, who got cut, and why.  The announcement that Ashton Kutcher will replace Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men” was the biggest television news of the week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 80: Disney Dumps Fairy Tales For Original Stories

November 22, 2010

As “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” debuted to $125 million in its opening weekend, Disney prepared to release its 50th animated feature film less than a week later. However, despite building a multi-billion dollar empire based on stories that feature princesses, according to Dawn C. Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times “Tangled” may be the last fairy tale we see out of the studio. She joins us to explain how future Disney Animation titles will focus on original stories.

Reality shows continue to dominate television news, not to mention political news. The media seemed all abuzz last week over how Bristol Palin, the daughter of Sarah Palin, had not yet been voted off “Dancing With the Stars”. She even beat out pop stars such as Brandy. There were accusations that conservative Tea Party supporters were rigging the voting on the show.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber swept the American Music Awards, winning four trophies including Artist of the Year. Unfortunately for Bieber though, nobody was watching since the telecast received the worst ratings in its history.

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