Showbiz Sandbox 288: This Summer’s Box Office Is Turning Into A Blockbuster

July 27, 2015

A string of big budget Hollywood sequels and prequels like “Jurassic World”, “Avengers” and “Minions” have driven the 2015 summer box office nearly 15% higher than last year. And not just in the United States. Countries all over the world are reporting strong movie attendance, especially in China where homegrown productions have been the top grossing releases.

It doesn’t hurt that North American moviegoers are currently paying the highest ticket prices on record. Just ask IMAX which just reported the highest quarterly earnings in the company’s history.

It isn’t all good news for Hollywood studios however. The European Union is charging the six major distributors with antitrust violations over what regulators allege are illegal licensing contracts with cable operators. Should the EU prove their case, it could cause havoc by eradicating longstanding entertainment industry business models.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Emmy Award nominations, the approval of AT&T’s merger with DirecTV, why Neil Young is yanking his music from streaming services.

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Showbiz Sandbox 246: The Emmys Have A Hopeless Scheduling Problem

August 26, 2014

It’s bad enough that the Emmy Awards honor the exact same talent and television shows every year. Now, the Emmys are really growing stale by handing out prizes to shows that finished airing before last year’s ceremony. Unfortunately, as television migrates to year round programming, there is no good time to schedule the Emmys which would make them feel more timely or relevant.

The industry-at-large was likely glad to see at least one aspect of the Emmys go unchanged as shows from broadcast and cable networks continue to win the most awards over shows from streaming services such as Netflix, which went home empty handed. There also, thankfully, seems to be a voter backlash against shows positioning themselves in odd categories.

Meanwhile, August has proven to be the cruelest month for show business with the untimely death of actor Robin Williams and the passing of Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall, among others.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Amazon public relations battle with Hachette over e-book pricing, Jimmy Fallon comes out on top in the late night television war, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat may see new life on the big screen.

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Showbiz Sandbox 233: Net Neutrality – Is The Fat Lady Singing?

April 28, 2014

The concept that all data sent via the Internet should be treated equally has allowed services such as YouTube and Netflix to develop and prosper on a level playing field. However a new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission would effectively kill net neutrality by allowing companies to pay for faster access. Will the public revolt in mass protest or will big business ultimately prevail?

A similar question is being asked as the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments over whether Aereo infringes on broadcaster’s copyright by retransmitting over-the-air television signals via the Internet, or if the company’s services are legal under current law. The future of television may hinge on the answer.

There seems to be no dispute over the state of opera these days as many regional companies are suffering from a number of problems, not the least of which is declining ticket sales. Most recently the San Diego Opera announced it would be shutting down after running out of money.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Amazon’s deal to stream past HBO series, Ryan Seacrest stays with “American Idol” and why record labels are suing Pandora… again.

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Showbiz Sandbox 228: The Dish On That Disney Deal With Dish

March 11, 2014

After months of rancorous public and legal battles with television networks over their ad-skipping Hopper technology, U.S. satellite provider Dish Network reached a landmark retransmission consent agreement with the Walt Disney Company. The deal calls for Dish to disable bypassing commercials for three days after a show originally airs. In return Dish is getting the rights to provide Disney’s networks via the Internet for any future IP-television offering they might develop.

Meanwhile, the city which has become known for producing movies and television shows is under siege. Not from a foreign invader, but rather Los Angeles (and California) is suffering from what is known as “runaway production” thanks to tax incentives being offered in other states and countries.

Austin Texas has also been invaded over the past week by attendees at the annual South by Southwest festival. Neil Young marked the occasion by announcing Pono, his long awaited high-def music player, along with its accompanying store filled with digital tracks for audiophiles.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Sandra Bullock’s giant “Gravity” payday, television networks start premiering their shows in summer and why time-shifting made HBO’s “True Detective” a huge hit.

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Showbiz Sandbox 223: The 2013 Worldwide Box Office – Who Won, Who Lost and Why

February 3, 2014

Thanks to surging theatrical grosses in countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia, the international box office more than doubled North American earnings in 2013, topping out at a record $25 billion. Though Hollywood studio content continues to dominate globally, receipts for local productions are beginning to play a more significant role in many markets. We provide a breakdown of the annual box office for of all the major territories and explain why some fared better than others.

Speaking of breaking records, the telecast of this year’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos had an audience of 112 million viewers. That makes it the most watched television show in U.S. history. As is often the case, the commercials proved more interesting than the game.

Last week the industry also mourned the tragic death of Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from what appears to be a drug overdose. Unfortunately, obit writers were also kept busy with the passing of folk musician Pete Seeger, studio executive Tom Sherak and legendary animator Arthur Rankin Jr.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including an Oscar nomination for Best Song gets rescinded, “Back to the Future” is being turned into a Broadway musical and Disney plans to reboot Chip ‘n Dale.

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Showbiz Sandbox 165: Neil Young Sings The Praises Of His New Digital Music Format

October 1, 2012

Singer-songwriter Neil Young has never been a fan of digital music.  The rock legend despises the inferior audio quality of MP3s and CDs so much that he released an anthology of his of his music on Blu-Ray; the only medium that could hold digital files large enough to offer the quality Young demanded.  Taking his quest for high fidelity one step further, next year Young will launch Pono, a portable music player and audio platform that uses technology to provide studio quality sound.

Time will tell whether high quality digital audio and Young’s notoriety will be enough to attract consumers to Pono, though the Beatles aren’t waiting around to find out.  EMI is releasing the bands entire catalog of albums on vinyl LPs.  Remember those?  Now all we need is a phonograph to play them on.

Meanwhile the movie awards season has begun to heat up leaving pundits speculating whether Disney might have not one, but three, entries in this year’s Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars; “Brave”, “Frankenweenie” and “Wreck It Ralph”.  How ironic that Seth MacFarlane, creator of the hit animated television series “The Family Guy”, has been tapped to host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

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