Showbiz Sandbox 190: How The Academy’s New Voting Rules Will Affect The Oscars?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it will now be allowing members to vote in all 24 Oscar categories, including Documentary Short Subject and Foreign Language Film. Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor-at-large and host of the Oscar Talk podcast, believes the change is long overdue. She explains what the old voting rules were and how these new ones will affect the Oscars moving forward.

The Rolling Stones are also making changes, at least to the ticket prices for their current North American tour. With face-value prices upwards of $600 has the legendary UK band and its tour promoters misjudged fan’s appetites for paying top dollar for big acts? Based on the number of unsold tickets to the first few shows of the tour, the answer is yes.

Meanwhile on Broadway, the Tony Award nominations were announced last week. “Kinky Boots”, “Matilda” and “Lucky Guy” lead the pack with the most nominations. We try to make educated predictions, and blind guesses, as to who might walk home with a Tony in June.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including six billion hours of YouTube videos, trademarking superheroes and why studios don’t want to pay a tax on movie tickets in China.

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Showbiz Sandbox 180: Binge-Viewing Is Transforming The Way We Watch Television

With new streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime popping up all the time, we now have the ability to watch entire seasons of episodic television series all at once.  Now Netflix is taking binge-viewing one step further by releasing all 13-episodes of their original drama series “House of Cards” at once.  Dawn Chmielewski of the Los Angeles Times explains how the trend is altering narrative structures, existing revenue models and the entire television landscape.

Speaking of television, the Super Bowl proved once again to be a huge ratings bonanza with more than 108 million viewers tuning in to the football championship game.  Unfortunately a power outage delayed the airing of a post-game television show which had hoped to get a boost from carryover viewers.

Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” continues to top the worldwide box office, leading a pack of Oscar contenders that continues to attract big audiences well into the new year.

Of course we also cover the top entertainment headlines from the past week including news about a film version of the hit series “Entourage”, plans for subscription channels on YouTube and Ticketmaster (sort of) ditches its horrible security system.

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Showbiz Sandbox 134: Video-On-Demand Rides To The Rescue At Sundance

This year’s Sundance Film Festival came to a close last weekend awarding top prizes to a wide range of movies. Independent film industry veteran Michael Tuckman sizes up this year’s festival and highlights some of its most noteworthy movies. Tuckman explains how video-on-demand has become a big part of the distribution strategy for such films, providing them with a wider audience than traditional art houses.

IFPI also showed up with some good news last week reporting that global digital music sales were up eight percent in 2011. Subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify are helping increase revenue, though they are also eating into the advertising dollars usually reserved for local radio stations.

Meanwhile, Broadway is gearing up for its spring season with a glut of hot new productions, making it difficult to pick a front-runner for Best Musical (the most valuable – if not the only valuable – Tony Award). Best Play is also up for grabs and none of the newcomers are slam dunks.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including, Simon Cowell retooling the “X-Factor” with new hosts and judges, an upbeat earnings report from Netflix and how Ticketmaster bungled the sale of tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s latest tour… again.

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Showbiz Sandbox 129: Ticket Masters – The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped

Anyone who has ever tried to get good tickets to see their favorite band in concert knows how frustrating it can be. Josh Baron and Dean Budnick, two editors of Relix magazine, spent three years speaking to hundreds of industry veterans to research the history of modern ticketing. Their book, “Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped“, is being hailed as the most comprehensive work on the subject. In this interview they explain the real culprit behind today’s high ticket prices and provide a few ways to get the best seats in the house.

The end of the year usually marks a busy and highly profitable time in the movie industry, however box office receipts have been declining over the past two weekends to three year lows. It certainly doesn’t help that as film critics from around the nation bestow their annual awards, there doesn’t seem to be a clear frontrunner for the upcoming Oscar season.

In the music world, despite the glut of music subscription services such as Spotify, Rdio and Mog, some musicians are pulling their latest releases from the platforms. Most recently, The Black Keys have joined the likes of Coldplay in not allowing their new album to be streamed on any of the top services. Rather than help increase sales, the feeling is that these services may actually be preventing them.

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Showbiz Sandbox 124: UltraViolet Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

More than 75 companies have teamed up to form UltraViolet, a new service that promises to give consumers the freedom to watch movies and television shows wherever and whenever they want. However, early adopters have discovered that untethering content from physical media such as DVDs can be a tedious and confusing process. As the entertainment industry experiments with rapidly evolving technologies, viewers seem hard pressed to find any benefits in moving to the cloud.

When it comes to music though, fans have already migrated to online services such as Pandora, iTunes and Amazon. Now Google is preparing to launch its own music offering which is rumored to allow users to share music with their friends and family.

And if you thought digital technology was a tough racket, so is trying to copy the success of the hit television series “Mad Men”. NBC failed with it’s 1960s drama “The Playboy Club” and ABC isn’t fairing much better with “Pan Am”, a similar knock-off. They could have picked up Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, “Anger Management” as a replacement, but FX scooped it up before anyone had a chance.

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Showbiz Sandbox 102: Why Music Videos Matter (Again)

Music videos rose to prominence in the 1980s to become on of the most important promotional vehicles for new music. As fans grew tired of watching their favorite musicians lip sync their way through elaborate videos MTV and the like stopped showing them. However, with the advent of inexpensive production equipment and the ability to reach a massive global audience via the Internet, musicians have begun churning out a new crop of innovative, and at times interactive, music videos, revitalizing an art form once written off as extinct.

In other music news, Warner Music Group was finally auctioned off for $3.3 billion. Now there is talk that the record labels new owner might scoop up EMI making Warner Music Group even larger than it is already. Meanwhile, in an attempt to reverse declining box office, concert promoters are trying to win audiences back with cheaper ticket prices and high-end acts.

Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, two of the Internet’s most popular movie sites, were sold to Warner Bros. We debate whether the move will influence some of the reviews and recommendations the websites have become known for.

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Showbiz Sandbox 91: Super Bowl Ads Suffer Their Own Recession

More than 111 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl telecast; more viewers than any broadcast in U.S. television history. That’s great news for companies that spent big money to run ads during the game. Unfortunately, most of the usually entertaining commercials were downright dreadful. Whether praiseworthy or offensive, we give you the low down on all the adverts.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is taking the Weinstein Brothers to court, suing them for the $2.7 million in “Fahrenheit 9/11” proceeds Moore claims he’s owed. Is it safe to say the Weinstein Company won’t be releasing Moore’s next film?

Turns out nobody will be releasing the White Stripes next album. Jack and Meg White have decided to call it quits. Meanwhile theater critics were so eager to see the new “Spider-Man” musical they couldn’t wait until it opened. Based on their scathing reviews, it’s probably best if it never makes it out of previews.

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Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.

Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.

Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

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Showbiz Sandbox 41: Live Nation Becomes The Master Of Tickets

We swear we’re trying not to talk so much about Avatar, and although this seemed like a good week to skip the Ava-chat (congrats “Dear John!”), alas, the news cycle had other ideas.

But wait! There was also some important television news! Namely, the Super Bowl, which drew an average of 106.5 million people, just edging out “MASH’s” 106 million people in 1983. And football fans didn’t just watch the Saints win; they also watched the ads (which are sometimes the best part of the Super Bowl). This year’s favorite seems to be the Leno-Oprah-Letterman ad, but you be the judge. Where was Conan? Probably negotiating with Fox? It certainly seems like Rupert Murdoch plans on playing hardball with Team Coco (whenever he’s not unofficially greenlighting “Avatar 2”).

A company that doesn’t appear to be negotiating is Hulu, or is it NBC? During a Congressional hearing last week to investigate Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBC, a representative asked NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, “What about Boxee?” Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 41: Live Nation Becomes The Master Of Tickets

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