Showbiz Sandbox 117: Crunching The Numbers Behind Summer’s New Box Office Records

September 6, 2011

Big budget sequels and super hero movies helped push the bar on summer box office records slightly higher. North American grosses rose to $4.4 billion as overseas markets improved to $8.2 billion in receipts. But how much did all those blockbusters actually cost to produce and market? After all the money is counted, how profitable will the latest installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” truly be? We sharpen our pencils and do the math to answer all these questions and more.

One future blockbuster that was recently axed by Disney may actually get made after all. The studios is lowering the budget on “The Lone Ranger” by asking star Johnny Depp and filmmaker Gore Verbinski to take a pay cut.

The publishing world also seems to be doing quite well lately thanks to strong sales of digital titles. Even though the e-books may be getting all the love in mainstream media stories, Random House wants everyone to know that print books aren’t dead. In fact, the sale of hardcover and paperback books still outpaces their digital counterparts.

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Showbiz Sandbox 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

June 20, 2011

Hollywood movie studios have been raking in the yuan at the Chinese box office over the past year. This despite China missing the most recent World Trade Organization deadline to open its market to more foreign films. Forced to work through government sanctioned monopolies, studios have been aggressive about getting their movies in front of China’s billion plus citizens. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale have headed east to star in China’s big blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou’s Heroes of Nanking.

Maybe a film from China will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the near future. Of course, contenders will have to figure out the new Best Picture nomination process put forth by the Academy last week. In an effort to create an air of suspense, the number of nominees for the year’s big film prize will fluctuate between 5 and 10 entries, depending on how balloting shakes out. We’ll explain all the new rules.

It looks as if Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, may be launching in the United States as early as July. They’ll go up against well established offerings like Pandora, which went public last week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 104: ‘Pirates’ Proves The Importance Of A Global Box Office

May 23, 2011

Despite earning more than $90 million in North America during its debut weekend, the opening of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” did not live up to many industry insiders lofty expectations for the movie. However, considering the film made an additional $260 million in more than 100 international territories, its impossible to consider the latest installment of the Jack Sparrow franchise anything other than a success.

Even so, some analysts believe any muted box office returns for “Pirates” in North America are due to the public’s rejection of 3D movies. Have audiences grown tired of viewing films in 3D? Is the once flashy new technology now passé or is the surcharge for 3D and Imax causing moviegoers to opt-out?

The Cannes Film Festival came to an end this past week with Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” taking home the Palm d’Or. Will winning the festival’s top prize help the film’s financial prospects? If history is any guide, probably not.

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