Showbiz Sandbox 339: The Slow Death of a Sundance Hit

October 10, 2016

With its racially charged themes striking a timely chord, “The Birth of a Nation” garnered acclaim and a $17.5 million distribution deal at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. However after it became known that its director and star was once accused (though acquitted) of rape, a question was raised over whether art can be separated from its creator. Many will argue that the answer lies in the movie’s poor critical reception and tepid box office.

What was touted as a contender for multiple Oscar nominations this year, “The Birth of a Nation” may ultimately break even in theatres before going on to earn most of its money in ancillary markets. If it were up to Reed Hastings though, the film would have been released on VOD and in cinemas at the same time. The Netflix CEO claims theater owners are strangling the movie industry with their insistence on release windows.

Meanwhile, there are calls by some in Congress for the Justice Department to review the growing number of business acquisitions being made by Wanda, a Chinese conglomerate. Having purchased multiple movie theater chains and at least one Hollywood production company, some legislators believe the U.S. is allowing Chinese state-controlled companies to gain too much soft power

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why executives are disappearing from BBC’s Radio 1, how Disney cast a sequel to “Mary Poppins” without a script and what the future may hold for celebrity newscaster Billy Bush.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 219: The Business of Show Was Profitable In 2013

January 6, 2014

Almost every sector of the entertainment industry saw record grosses during 2013. North American movie ticket sales reached a record $10.9 billion. Television audiences are tuning in to more shows than ever, especially sporting events. The top 20 concert tours made a whopping $2.43 billion. It all helped contribute to the bottom lines of many entertainment companies causing their stock prices to end the year on a high note.

The only category in which revenue declined was the music. Even sales of digital music declined for the first time since iTunes was launched back in 2003. Album sales were down 8.4% overall and some industry insiders concede this might be due to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify.

And financial numbers aren’t the only ones increasing in entertainment. So are the sizes of televisions. They’re not only getting bigger, but the consumer electronics industry is pushing Ultra HD with 4K resolution, which is twice that of current HD televisions.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the death of singer Phil Everly, the expansion and increased usage of UltraViolet and the manufactured controversy behind Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 189: Contentious CinemaCon; Corporate Coachella

April 29, 2013

At this year’s CinemaCon movie studios showed up in full force to pitch the world’s largest gathering of cinema operators on a bounty of upcoming blockbusters. Behind the scenes however, some of the larger theater chains were haggling with studios over how to divide ticket sales for tentpole releases such as “Iron Man 3”.

Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, the promoters of the Coachella Music Festival tried to replicate the event over two weekends. They held the same festival, with the same musical acts, on back-to-back weekends. While at times it couldn’t help but seem like a greedy attempt to extract more money from attendees, there were moments of sheer magic that only happen at Coachella.

Then there is Netflix, which after being ridiculed publicly for a series of ill-advised strategic moves in 2011, has managed to turn its ship around. After successfully producing its own hit-content with “House of Cards”, subscribers have returned, profits are increasing and the stock price is on the rise. Netflix CEO is feeling so good he wrote a manifesto on the future of televsion.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Zach Braff’s successful Kickstarter campaign, how Bittorent is helping market a movie and whether “Django Unchained” will ever be released in China.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 100: In Showbiz, As In Life, Size Matters

April 25, 2011

It’s hard to believe we’ve recorded 100 episodes of Showbiz Sandbox. It’s also hard to believe that a 3D porno (okay, an erotic comedy) could ever smash a box office record set by “Avatar”. But that’s exactly what happened in Hong Kong, where “Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” opened to USD $2.19 million. The producers wanted to screen the film in Imax, but were refused, disappointing Karen Woodward, our guest and former co-host, who says that despite all the rumors, size does matter.

If bigger really is better, then Netflix has nothing to worry about. They are set to become the largest subscription entertainment business in the United States with over 23 million customers, beating out satellite radio and cable television. The same can’t be said about any of the music streaming services that Apple, Google and others are working on. Apparently, negotiating a licensing deal with record labels can be quite difficult. Go figure!

The Coachella Music Festival also took the size issue to heart, adding more space for attendees to enjoy the more than 100 bands which performed this year. J. Sperling Reich was there and tells us which artists are worth checking out (Lauryn Hill), and which shouldn’t quit their day jobs (Odd Future).

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 26: Hollywood Struggles With New Business Models

October 26, 2009

Freelance entertainment journalist Todd Gilchrist joins us this week to talk about movies, music, and journalism. (But he recused himself from discussing TV because he doesn’t watch a lot of it. [gasp!]) Fine. We’ll start with movies then.

“Paranormal Activity” took over the box office this week. The film has been so well received that Paramount, which distributed the film, may produce a sequel. If a film is this successful, is a studio almost obligated to make a sequel? (And will it be as bad as “Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows”?)

In other news involving Paramount , the studio has angered members of the National Association of Theatre Owners by releasing “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” on DVD only 88 days after its theatrical run. It also set the Jeremy Piven comedy “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” for DVD-rental release 88 days from its theatrical bow, not that anyone wants to see it. “We don’t know what Paramount is up to,” NATO president John Fithian said. “But it’s highly objectionable.”  Read more