Showbiz Sandbox 253: Nielsen Is Rating TV Shows By The (Wrong) Numbers

October 14, 2014

The method by which television ratings are collected and tabulated has long been criticized as imperfect. Now Nielsen, the research firm which provides the ratings, admitted this past week it had been reporting inaccurate audience figures to broadcast networks for the past seven months. Turns out viewership of this year’s season premieres was lower than originally thought. We’ll try and explain what the heck is going on here?

Comedian Adam Sandler is back in the news, though this time it’s for a movie which isn’t being made… even by Netflix. And just as she hits her stride as an action star, actress Scarlett Johansson (temporarily) gives up movies to appear in a television mini-series.

Even the world of live theater is a bit bizarre lately, at least according to composer Stephen Sondheim who is working on a new musical based on two surreal movies by the late Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. If that’s not crazy enough, the biggest box office winner on Broadway this fall has been “The Lion King”, a musical that has been running for 17 years.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Katy Perry books a trip to the Super Bowl, e-book software that spies on you and the fifth season of “The Walking Dead” premieres to record numbers… or so we’ve been told.

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Showbiz Sandbox 243: United They Stand – SAG-AFTRA Forges Ground-Breaking Contract

July 7, 2014

Two years after merging their unions, and with their current contracts set to expire within hours, SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement with studios and producers for a new three-year contract. Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney and contributing editor at the Hollywood Reporter, discusses the proposed deal and what improvements actors managed to secure.

Music sales, on the other hand, aren’t improving at all. Nielsen reports that album and digital download sales for the first half of 2014 are down significantly. Could the increase in on demand music streaming be the cause?

Movies aren’t faring much better so far this year, at least not in North America and Germany where box office is down 12% and 8% respectively. Is something amiss with this summer’s blockbuster releases, or is setting new earnings records every year simply unrealistic?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including how the characters from “Frozen” are crossing over to television, why cable set-top boxes gobble up so much energy and The Who plan on saying a long, slow goodbye during yet another one of their farewell tours.

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Showbiz Sandbox 237: Cannes Lives Up To All The Hype

May 27, 2014

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 214: Go Big Or Go Home – Why Big Budget Blockbusters Are The Safest Bet In Entertainment

November 18, 2013

Over the past year filmmakers from Steven Spielberg to Steven Soderbergh have lamented over Hollywood’s love affair with expensive tentpole releases. However, according to Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse the entertainment industry is obsessed with blockbusters because they work. She explains why in a wide ranging interview about her new book on the subject, “Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-Taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment”.

Not only are the number of big budget films studios churn out on the rise, apparently so is the level gun violence in hit titles. After studying 945 movies released from 1950 to the present day, researchers discovered gun violence portrayed in movies more than doubled during the time frame.

Meanwhile, in the television world most have forgotten about daytime soap operas. That hasn’t kept companies like Prospect Park from trying to keep shows such as “One Life To Live” and “All My Children” alive online. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be getting any help from the network that originally aired the soaps and are now going to court over the matter.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including a movie for Monster High dolls, a new HBO show for John Oliver, pricy reruns for “The Simpsons” and a new manager for the rock band U2.

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Showbiz Sandbox 150: Is George Lucas A Schmuck?

June 4, 2012

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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 123: DVR Data Can Save TV Shows From Cancellation

October 17, 2011

It turns out your DVR can be helpful beyond just recording your favorite television shows. Examining which commercials you skip past might be able to help predict box office flops and monitoring which shows you watch can save a borderline series from being canceled. We’ll debate whether television networks and movie studios can benefit from the data being collected from your DVR.

Apple however may be trying to make your DVR obsolete. The long standing rumors that Apple might be working on a next generation television set have heated up once again. Would you welcome Apple into your living room?

Dozens of entries make up this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar list, though all of them will ultimately be nominated. We’ll explain how the list ultimately gets whittled down to just five movies.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including why Hulu is no longer for sale, why Jonny Depp’s “Lone Ranger” is back in production and how Amazon plans to make publishers unnecessary.

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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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