Showbiz Sandbox 117: Crunching The Numbers Behind Summer’s New Box Office Records

September 6, 2011

Big budget sequels and super hero movies helped push the bar on summer box office records slightly higher. North American grosses rose to $4.4 billion as overseas markets improved to $8.2 billion in receipts. But how much did all those blockbusters actually cost to produce and market? After all the money is counted, how profitable will the latest installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers” truly be? We sharpen our pencils and do the math to answer all these questions and more.

One future blockbuster that was recently axed by Disney may actually get made after all. The studios is lowering the budget on “The Lone Ranger” by asking star Johnny Depp and filmmaker Gore Verbinski to take a pay cut.

The publishing world also seems to be doing quite well lately thanks to strong sales of digital titles. Even though the e-books may be getting all the love in mainstream media stories, Random House wants everyone to know that print books aren’t dead. In fact, the sale of hardcover and paperback books still outpaces their digital counterparts.

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Showbiz Sandbox 111: Can Paste Magazine Ignite A Digital Publishing Revolution?

July 11, 2011

Less than a year after ceasing publication of their print edition Paste Magazine has revived itself in a new digital format. The popular music and culture magazine shunned the traditional print medium and relaunched as a weekly web periodical chock full of long-form features, downloadable music and multimedia content. Editor Josh Jackson reveals how the new Paste mPlayer was designed from the ground up as a next-generation publication. Is Paste giving us a glimpse into the future of magazines?

Soap operas are in the midst of their own transformation. Rather than canceling “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” as planned, ABC has struck a deal to keep the shows alive on the Internet. Will loyal viewers migrate online to keep up with their favorite soaps?

The music industry has also received some good news lately. Not only will the hotly anticipated arrival of Spotify in the United States soon be a reality, but Nielsen Soundscan is reporting that music sales are up slightly this year. Does all of this mean the music business is poised to make a comeback?

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Showbiz Sandbox 109: Making Grammar Fun (And F*cking Funny)

June 27, 2011

When Chris Baker isn’t working on Madison Avenue for a big advertising firm, he is creating some of the world’s most exclusive websites… literarily.  TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite.com only lets verified celebrities and big wigs past the home page. His website M. Night School is crowd-sourcing enough funds to send director M. Night Shyamalan back to film school. Baker joins us to discuss his latest effort, “The Elements of F*cking Style“, a book that, unlike the one it parodies, employs sex, drugs and swearing to help teach readers proper English grammar.

After this past weekend, Baker may want to send Pixar back to film school. “Cars 2”, the company’s highly anticipated sequel to their blockbuster “Cars”, was given a drubbing by critics. However, critical acclaim may not matter for a film that earns $2 billion a year in merchandising.

At least nobody’s forcing you to see “Cars 2”. That might not be an option in China where the government is “suggesting” that everyone see “Beginning of the Great Revival,” a propaganda film disguised as a historical epic detailing the founding of China’s Communist Party.

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