Showbiz Sandbox 142: Is The MPAA Rating System Broken?

March 26, 2012

Though the MPAA often rates more than 700 films per year, the number of rating disputes rarely reaches the double digits. This year however eight films have already appealed their ratings and it’s not even April. Has the MPAA lost touch with modern culture or are filmmakers beginning to push the boundaries with edgier content? Ethan Noble, of Motion Picture Consulting, helps guide filmmakers and studios through the ratings process. Noble, who recently tried to appeal the restrictive rating on the documentary “Bully”, provides an overview of the MPAA’s rating system and tells us whether it needs to be fixed.

Speaking of the MPAA, they released their annual report on the motion picture industry. Moviegoing may have declined 4% in North America, but overseas revenue grew more than 5% and is booming in markets such as China and Japan.

We previously predicted that Broadway shows such as “Sister Act” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” would close by now. Despite playing to half empty theaters and consistently losing money, they are still running night after night. What gives?

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Showbiz Sandbox 131: Broadway Flops Find New Life On The Road

January 9, 2012

Even the worst Broadway flops can wind up turning a profit once they begin touring in cities throughout the world. Patrick Healy, the theater news and features reporter for the New York Times, explains how sometimes it doesn’t matter if you make it big on the Great White Way, provided you’re a hit in Buffalo. He also provides a glimpse at what we might see at this year’s Tony awards.

Speaking of awards, the Director’s Guild, Writer’s Guild and Producer’s Guild announced their nominations for end-of-year accolades, helping to further define which films might be in the running for this year’s Oscars. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a front runner for Best Picture.

Music sales were up in 2011 for the first time since 2004. As expected, the sale of digital albums rose significantly as CD’s and other physical copies continued to decline.

Of course, we cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Van Halen’s reunion tour, new trouble for Netflix and the resignation of Disney’s marketing head.

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Showbiz Sandbox 128: Have Yourself A Movie Little Christmas

December 5, 2011

Tis the season for holiday movies and there is no shortage of Yuletide titles to choose from. Thankfully film critic-at-large Alonso Duralde comes to the rescue by sifting through decades of Christmas movies in his book “Have Yourself A Movie Little Christmas“. He highlights some of the classic, and not-so-classic, films worth watching during the holidays and explains why this year’s “Arthur Christmas” is having trouble finding an audience.

It’s also the time of year when acclaimed movies and music from the past 12-months begin picking up nominations for annual awards. Last week nominees were announced for the Independent Spirit Awards and the Grammys with many more to come.

Over on Broadway ten shows earned more than $1 million during Thanksgiving week as the theater going season kicks into full gear. The hit musical “Book of Mormon” even turned a profit thanks in part to high ticket prices.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories, including Madonna’s Super Bowl gig, the end of Napster and why musician Elvis Costello doesn’t want you to buy his new boxed set.

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Showbiz Sandbox 105: The Dark Truth About Digital Cinema

June 1, 2011

When Ty Burr, film critic for The Boston Globe, noticed that the films he was seeing didn’t appear as bright as they usually do he did a little investigating to figure out why. What he discovered, and documented in a recent front page article, is that some major theater chains are leaving moviegoers in the dark by regularly misusing digital projection equipment. Burr joins us to explain why this is happening and what cinema patrons can do about it.

Meanwhile, the market for streaming music online hasn’t cooled off. Apple is about to announce a service the company has dubbed iCloud and it is rumored that Facebook may integrate Spotify into its website. It seems more people are listening to more music than ever before. That may be why the Coachella Music Festival is doubling down and expanding the event to two weekends next year.

Oprah Winfrey ended her long-running talk show last week and nearly 17 million people tuned in to watch. Yet that audience pales in comparison to the 28 million viewers that watched the final episode of this season’s “American Idol”. That’s nearly a 20% increase over last years finale.

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Showbiz Sandbox 67: Cheap Digital Music Downloads Are On (Arcade) Fire

August 17, 2010

The indie rock group Arcade Fire topped the album charts for the first time in their career with the release of their third album “The Suburbs” which moved more than 156,000 copies in its first week. However more than 97,000 of those albums were sold digitally at significantly reduced prices. Are digital music downloads devaluing music? Todd Martens, a music reporter with the Los Angeles Times, joins us to explain how digital downloads are affecting the music industry.

Speaking of digital media, Netflix entered into a $900 million deal with Epix which will allow them to stream films from Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate starting in September. Meanwhile the popular television streaming website Hulu is rumored to be investigating an IPO.

Sylvester Stallone may have shown up just in time to save Lions Gate with “The Expendables” which came in first at the box office, but “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” proved a disappointment despite earning rave reviews.

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Showbiz Sandbox 65: Hollywood’s Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

August 2, 2010

Last summer a number of movies had enormous box office drop offs in their second day of release and studios blamed it on what they termed the Twitter Effect. Daniel Frankel from The Wrap joins us to explain how the social media trend that was going to revolutionize word-of-mouth hasn’t demonstrably done so. Platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and even text messaging seem to influence moviegoers more than Twitter. That hasn’t stopped studios from finding modest success on Twitter by purchasing trending topics.

A number of big television news stories broke over the past week thanks to the annual Television Critics Association press tour. Ellen DeGeneres resigned as a judge on “American Idol”, but Fox may be replacing her with Jennifer Lopez. Meanwhile, Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC, abruptly resigned under a cloud of controversy relating to rumored sexual harassment investigations and was promptly replaced by ABC Family topper Paul Lee.

In the music world Kanye West may be hoping the Twitter effect will help boost sales of his upcoming album. The hip-hop star made headlines by opening a Twitter account and turning up at Facebook headquarters to entertain employees.

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