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 227: The Oscars Attract Big Business, Big Ratings and Big Money

March 4, 2014

If you weren’t surprised by any of the winners at this year’s Oscar ceremony, you may have Oscar prognosticators like Anne Thompson to blame. Indiewire’s editor-at-large was at the big show and joins us to discuss the telecast, the show, and all the money and effort poured into the annual awards season. Thompson also fills us in on her new book “The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System“.

The business side of the film industry isn’t the only aspect of movies that is evolving. The sound accompanying new releases is getting a few enhancements thanks to immersive 3D audio. This has created an industry battle over audio formats.

Speaking of disputes, 19 Recordings, the music label responsible for “American Idol”, is once again suing their partner Sony. This time the argument is over the issue of whether digital tracks are sold or licensed to buyers. There is a huge difference in the royalty paid for each.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Tyler Perry leaves Lionsgate, Paramount is bullied into changing the marketing for “Noah” and Dreamworks Animation takes a write-down on “Turbo”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 209: Why Twitter and Facebook Are Watching You Watch TV

October 14, 2013

Facebook and Twitter have entered into a fierce battle to hold sway over the conversations taking place around television shows. The social media giants intend to mine the viewing habits of millions of users for data that might be useful to television networks. Karen Woodward, a leading entertainment industry social media consultant, discusses whether social chatter can lead to higher ratings and more advertising revenue.

Meanwhile, as the end of the year nears everyone is talking about awards season. Thanks to the fall film festival circuit and industry previews, virtually all Oscar hopefuls have already been seen and the handicapping of frontrunners has begun. However, it may take a while to view all entries for Best Foreign Language Film that were submitted by a record 76 countries.

The popular music streaming service Spotify turned five this past week and shared a few figures behind its success. One bit of data revealed that of the 20 million tracks hosted by service, 4 million have never even been streamed… not even once.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the rise of a 16-year-old pop star from New Zealand, “Fifty Shades Of Grey” loses a cast member and the Jonas Brothers cancel their upcoming tour.

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Showbiz Sandbox 205: Awards Season Commences With Stellar Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals

September 16, 2013

Four of the last five films to win Best Picture Oscars first appeared at the Telluride Film Festival before officially premiering the following week at the Toronto International Film Festival. Anne Thompson from Indiewire attended both festivals this year and fills us in on the big movies everyone will be talking about during the upcoming awards season.

This past week also saw the death of Ray Dolby, the audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories to advance the art of motion picture sound. We debate whether the film industry is now discouraging future inventors from working in the space.

Meanwhile, revenue from digital movies and television shows continues to climb, up 24% this year alone. Unlike theatrical box office though, studios have remained tight lipped when it comes to providing actual sales figures, fearing actors and filmmakers will want a bigger cut.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the big winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, a racy Miley Cyrus video that racked up YouTube records and J.K. Rowling spins-off Harry Potter.

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Showbiz Sandbox 46: Hollywood’s Latest Meme Is 3D

March 22, 2010

A “Wimpy Kid” couldn’t beat “Alice In Wonderland” at the box office this weekend. The higher price for 3D tickets has turned “Alice” into Tim Burton’s most successful film. And Hollywood studios have definitely noticed how well audiences are responding to 3D. The new format is so hot that, much to the annoyance of James Cameron, they have gone back to convert some upcoming releases to 3D, such as “Clash of the Titans”.

With thirty three 3D films presently slated for release in 2010 this has managed to create a bottle neck at movie theaters where there is usually only enough room to show one 3D film at a time.  It’s gotten so competitive that Paramount has told theater owners that if they don’t play “How to Train Your Dragon” on their 3D enabled screen, they won’t send them a 2D print. But that means “Alice’s” engagement will be cut short. Beginning to see the problem?

While movie theaters don’t have enough 3D screens and too much content, the exact opposite is true in the home. Television manufacturers are selling 3D enabled televisions but there is nothing to watch. Have no fear though, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball and the PGA Masters all have plans for 3D broadcasts.   Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 44: And The (Six) Oscars Go To… “Hurt Locker”

March 8, 2010

The ballots have been counted, the envelopes have been opened and the nominees have undoubtedly returned their ball gowns and tuxes. Finally, after all the news coverage and public speculation about who would this year’s Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put us out of our misery on Sunday during their annual awards ceremony. The proceedings lasted more than three hours as usual and provided very few surprises.

Katheryn Bigelow made history by being the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”, which won six awards in total including Best Screenplay and Best Picture. Jim Cameron’s “Avatar” won three technical awards for art direction, cinematography and visual effects. One of the night’s biggest surprises was when Geoffrey Fletcher walked off with the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for “Precious”, upsetting Jason Reitman’s “Up In The Air”.

As we predicted on last week’s episode, Jeff Bridges won Best Actor for “Crazy Heart”, Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for “The Blind Side”, Mo’Nique won Best Supporting Actress for “Precious” and Christolph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for “Inglorious Basterds”. Damien Bona, co-author of the book Inside Oscar, stops by to help us analyze this year’s Oscar results. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 42: Tom Cruise Takes A Pay Cut, And Other Indignities

February 15, 2010

We only talk about “Avatar” for a couple of seconds in this week’s podcast, thank goodness. Instead, we focus on actors campaigning for their Oscars (and a few who aren’t). We also discuss what we call “the 3D movie brouhaha” which has made Jeffrey Katzenberg irate.

In TV news, co-hosts Karen Woodward and Michael Giltz are passionate about the Olympics and the absurdity of “Lost” (even recaps are confusing!) And, after 28 years, MTV is changing its logo to reflect that the channel is no longer just about “music television”. They may be about 10 years too late.

Co-host J. Sperling Reich jumps into one of his favorite topics – new media – and reminds us that this guy named Steve Jobs sits on the board of Disney and is one of the top shareholders. No wonder Disney CEO Robert Igor called the underwhelming iPad “a really compelling device” that could be a game changer. We’ll hold off our thoughts on the new Apple product until we see if it really will change the way entertainment is distributed.  Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 40: Taylor Ain’t Swift At The Grammys

February 1, 2010

The highlights of this week’s entertainment news were the Grammys and Sundance. First though, there was “Avatar”, “Avatar”, and more “Avatar”. The 3D wunderkind was number one at the box office again and has sold roughly 56 million tickets in North America so far. “Titanic” sold roughly 128 million admissions in North America, so if “Avatar” did that, it would gross about $1.2 billion in the U.S alone.

But there is more going on in the entertainment world besides “Avatar”. The music world gathered for the Grammys on Sunday, January 31. Geoff Boucher from the Los Angeles Times and David Wild, one of the writers on the Grammy telecast, join us to discuss the hits (Pink’s performance), the misses (Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks) and what was going on backstage (Alice Cooper hangs with Smokey Robinson).

The Grammys weren’t the only prizes handed out over the weekend. Sundance announced its festival winners and Alison Willmore, a senior editor at IFC.com, stops by to talk about her favorite festival films and a few she recommends skipping. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 32: Grammys and Spirits and Comcast, Oh My!

December 7, 2009

Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild joins us this week to talk about the 52nd Annual Grammy nominations, a subject he knows a lot about since he’s one of the writers on the awards show. If music isn’t your thing than maybe independent film is. Eugene Hernandez, editor of indieWIRE drops by to discuss the Spirit Award nominees as well as the official selections of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

In other news, Sandra Bullock continues to impress moviegoing audiences in “The Blind Side” which knocked “Twilight Saga: New Moon” out of first place in the North American box office over the weekend. Speaking of “Twilight” who would you like to see direct the fourth installment of the franchise, “Breaking Dawn”? J. Sperling Reich, Michael Giltz and Karen Woodward agree that it’s probably not going to be Tim Burton, Peter Jackson or Quenten Tarantino as Moviefone suggests. But then stranger things have happened. Kind of like Apple buying Lala. What could they possibly be planning to do with the struggling music social network?  Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 30: “Modern Warfare” Stuns Hollywood

November 23, 2009

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. Read more

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