Showbiz Sandbox 308: Hollywood Thinks It Has Netflix’s Numbers

With Netflix now available in 190 countries, the upstart video-on-demand service has grown so big Hollywood studios and television networks are getting seriously worried. Sure, they’ve earned millions by licensing their content to Netflix, but they now find themselves competing with the company for new projects, not to mention the industry’s most sought after talent.

TV networks are especially upset Netflix can claim to be a success without ever revealing their ratings. Some have even gone so far as to commission studies to determine the true viewership of Netflix programming. Meanwhile, Netflix has become concerned about viewers bypassing geographic restrictions by subscribing to their U.S. service from international territories.

When it came to this year’s Academy Awards nominations however, Netflix was overlooked in all of the major categories. So were minorities. For the second year in a row all of the acting nominations and those for best director went to caucasians, giving rise to a repeat of the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including NBC’s plans to produce a live version of the musical “Hairspray”, Al Jazeera America is being shut down and the death of actor Alan Rickman.

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Showbiz Sandbox 307: Can Guild Nominations Forecast Oscar Winners?

This year’s Academy Award nominations will soon be announced and we wonder if one can predict who might take home Oscar gold by watching the annual honors handed out by Hollywood’s labor guilds. We’ll tell you how won Golden Globes, which have proven less reliable in forecasting Oscar winners, and take a look at who the Brits shine a spotlight on via the BAFTAs.

Much like the movie business, publishing has become a global game. That makes the recent broadside by groups representing authors around the world especially notable. They’re calling on publishers to offer author contracts that are more equitable and represent the way business is done in the 21st Century.

Director/Producer Gavin Polone believes Hollywood studios and television networks are only hurting themselves when they decide to cook the books when it comes to reporting earnings to profit participants. He argues that the talent and creatives they cheat on the backend have no incentive to keep costs down on the front end.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix went worldwide, actor Sean Penn went to Mexico to interview the head of a drug cartel and the death of legendary musician David Bowie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 237: Cannes Lives Up To All The Hype

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan took home the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his movie, “Winter Sleep”. The slow-paced character drama set in a picturesque corner of Apollonia faced stiff competition from Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy”, Andrey Zvyaginstev’s “Leviathan” and even Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film. Overall, this year’s festival managed to surpass everyone’s already high expectations.

As May draws to a close, so too does this past year’s television season. Scripted series continue to gain significant viewership when accounting for delayed viewing, but what’s most noticeable about this year’s top 20 ratings winners is how long-in-the-tooth some of the shows are.

Meanwhile, the final cost of finishing “Fast & Furious 7” after the death of actor Paul Walker last November has yet to be tallied, however it’s shaping up to be one of the most expensive insurance claims in motion picture history.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including some creative differences at Marvel, Amazon’s silent war with publishers and the Supreme Court’s decision in an important copyright infringement case.

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Showbiz Sandbox 116: Will Hollywood Miss Steve Jobs?

Last week’s news that Steve Jobs was stepping down as the CEO of Apple caused headline writers all over the world to work overtime. Sure Jobs became a household name by helping revolutionize personal computing, but he also helped shape the modern entertainment industry with products such as iTunes, the iPod and the iPad. And we shouldn’t forget his role in founding a little animation company called Pixar. We discuss what Jobs departure from Apple means to Hollywood and why some entertainment execs may be secretly relieved to see him exit the stage.

On the other hand, news that filmmaker Ridley Scott was working on a sequel to his sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner” didn’t seem to please anyone. Some showbiz pundits went so far as to call the idea “catastrophically bad”. We’ll explain why.

Over in the world of television, one of the husbands on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” committed suicide causing Bravo to re-edit episodes for the upcoming season. Will the death of Russell Armstrong cause networks to rethink how they handle reality television?

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Showbiz Sandbox 66: Why Audiences Are Avoiding 3D Movies

Though 3D movies seem to be all the rage in Hollywood these days, it turns out fewer people are actually seeing them. Ever since the release of “Avatar” 3D’s box office earnings have been trending downward. Reporter Ben Fritz and columnist Patrick Goldstein, both from the Los Angeles Times, help us understand why 3D movies aren’t grossing as much as they did just six months ago.

Meanwhile over on “American Idol” they still haven’t worked out who will be judging next season’s competition, however Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler said publicly he was asked to join the show.

Arcade Fire released their third album “The Suburbs” to critical acclaim and they celebrated by webcasting their Madison Square Garden concert on YouTube. Making the event even more special, Terry Gilliam directed the webcast. Unfortunately for the concert industry, not every band is as successful as Arcade Fire at selling out their performances. Profits are down at concert giant Live Nation and it’s chairman has jumped on Twitter to explain why.

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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

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Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

First off, we took care of a little internal business by welcoming entertainment journalist Michael Giltz as an official co-host.

Alonso Duralde joins us this week. Alonso is the film critic at MSNBC.com and the author of “101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men“. His reviews are featured regularly on The Rotten Tomatoes Show. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Alonso spent six years as Arts & Entertainment editor at The Advocate where he is still a contributing writer. His work has also appeared in such publications as the Village Voice, Movieline, Detour among many others. This month Alonso will be curating a the series “So Bad They’re Brilliant” at the American Cinematheque. You can follow him on Twitter at @MSNBCalonso.

We asked Alonso to join us because of a story he wrote for msnbc.com called “Do You See What I Twee?”, as it related to the latest movies. He described the essence of twee as “avoiding the fashionable, the obvious, the predictable, the mundane in an attempt to be, for lack of a better phrase, showily unshowy…It’s about replacing one calculated technique of visual and cultural cues with another.” It’s an apt description of one of the more popular movies out this summer, “(500) Days of Summer,” and its lead, Zooey Deschanel. We also just love saying the word “twee.” Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

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