Showbiz Sandbox 208: Why Studios Are Reshuffling Their Executive Ranks

Movie moguls have always faced unreliable job security, though never more so than over the last two years. Beginning in early 2012 five of the six major Hollywood movie studios have fired their top executives and reshuffled existing management. We discuss what’s causing the studio shakeup and it it will affect the movies we see in years to come.

Soon enough unemployed studio big shots may be able to find work in South Korea’s film industry. With a wave of fresh homegrown talent and exciting new stories finding their way into theaters, the country’s box office has skyrocketed making it one of the world’s strongest movie markets.

When it comes to box office on Broadway, it’s become a tradition for productions to boast when they’ve broken even. This also means we can do some quick math to conclude how much it costs to keep a show up and running on a weekly basis, a figure that many productions don’t always like to share.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including David Letterman’s new late night contract, New York City Opera files for bankruptcy and a jury decides a concert promoter is not liable for the death of Michael Jackson.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 208: Why Studios Are Reshuffling Their Executive Ranks

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 150: Is George Lucas A Schmuck?

Last week legendary filmmaker George Lucas announced he would be stepping down as the head of Lucasfilm and hired veteran producer Kathleen Kennedy to head up the company that bears his name. With Lucas retiring what will happen to his blockbuster franchises such as “Indian Jones”? Will we finally get a restored version of the original “Star Wars” trilogy on Blu-Ray?

Rather than retire after his long, successful run heading up Warner Bros., Alan Horn will step in as chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Many industry insiders wonder if the executive who oversaw the “Harry Potter” series will have a creative role in what is perceived to largely be a babysitting position.

The Tony Awards will be held this weekend and we give you the lowdown on who has the best shot at taking home Broadway’s top honor.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines, including a new king of late night television, Oprah’s new book club and why Hollywood and Silicon Valley should work together to stop piracy.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 150: Is George Lucas A Schmuck?

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 146: High Frame Rate Hijinks On “The Hobbit”

Movie theater owners were abuzz after seeing the first extended footage of “The Hobbit” a few weeks ago at CinemaCon. Most however didn’t have anything positive to say about Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” franchise. The filmmaker decided to shoot the film at 48 frames per second, twice the speed of traditional 35mm film, and many who saw the clips felt they looked like a cheap soap opera. Jackson claims the footage was from unfinished scenes, though it left many wondering if high frame rate films are really worth all the hype.

Meanwhile, two months after Disney took a bath on “John Carter” when it bombed at the box office, the studio is raking in the dough on “Marvel’s The Avengers”. While the film may go on to be the highest grossing film of the year (so far), it wasn’t enough to save the job of Disney chairman Rich Ross.

Movies are even making news on Broadway. Leading the pack of Tony Award nominees last week were two musicals adapted from films; “Once” and “Newsies”.

We also cover some of the top entertainment news stories from the past two weeks including James Bond’s new publisher, Jack White’s first number one album and a Amazon’s plans to crowd source good television shows.

Play

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 146: High Frame Rate Hijinks On “The Hobbit”

Showbiz Sandbox 140: Nollywood Love – Inside The Booming Nigerian Film Industry

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.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 140: Nollywood Love – Inside The Booming Nigerian Film Industry

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 51: Ridley Scott Believes 3D Is An “Alien” Concept

Hollywood just won’t stop talking about 3D movies, so unfortunately we can’t either. It’s hard to argue against 3D when films like “How To Train Your Dragon” keep coming in first at the box office, even after five weeks in theaters. With the announcement that “The Green Hornet” and “The Last Airbender” will be converted to 3D the debate has turned to whether it’s better to shoot natively in 3D, or add it in post-production.

Filmmaker Ridley Scott won’t have to find out when he makes not one, but two prequels to his blockbuster “Alien” since he’ll be shooting them in 3D. Disney’s head honcho, Rich Ross, also announced a couple of upcoming releases when he finally met the press last week. We’ll be getting a sequel to “Monsters, Inc.” and a “Winnie the Pooh” movie, along with a few other family friendly flicks.

If 3D films don’t excite you, then the upcoming television season may not either. We review a number of pilots that are in the works, most of which seem derivative. In fact, some of them, like “Rockford Files” and “Hawaii 5-0” are simply rehashes of previous hit shows.  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 51: Ridley Scott Believes 3D Is An “Alien” Concept

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 30: “Modern Warfare” Stuns Hollywood

As predicted, the teen vampire romance “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” opened this week and earned record breaking box office. The second installment of the “Twilight” franchise made $140 million in North America, making it one of the largest openings in history. The film did manage to break the record for highest grossing midnight screening when it opened Friday morning. What might be more amazing is that the Sandra Bullock vehicle “The Blind Side” came in second with an impressive $34 million. Opening so strongly against a powerhouse tent pole like “Twilight” makes Bullock one of the more bankable stars in Hollywood these days.

Of course, even “Twilight’s” $258 million worldwide opening pales in comparison to what the new video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” raked in during its first five days in stores. Ben Fritz an entertainment business reporter for the Los Angeles Times joins us to talk about the wild success of the video game. Actually, calling it a video game is almost an insult – it’s more like an interactive action movie, and one that made $550 million within five days of its November 19th launch.

Fritz is a prolific journalist who this past week wrote tons of stories for the L.A. Times Company Town column and blog. One such story was on the controversy over the Academy Awards’ Documentary short list. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 30: “Modern Warfare” Stuns Hollywood

Play