Showbiz Sandbox 305: Should “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Box Office Records Require An Asterisk?

December 21, 2015

The release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered box office records the world over and became the biggest movie opening of all time by earning $529 million. We explain why in countries such as Japan and South Korea, the latest “Star Wars” not only didn’t win the weekend, but in some cases earned less than earlier installments of the franchise. We also look at the breakdown of which formats audiences favored when buying tickets.

George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” movie was released in 1977 and was added to the National Film Registry in 1989. We weigh in on the annual list of films added to the registry by the Library of Congress, charged with selecting new entrants. It always makes for a fascinating mix; we’ll discuss what made this year’s cut there and why. Hint: It’s not always artistry that counts… and no we’re not looking at you “Top Gun.”

In music news, it turns out online radio services such as Pandora will soon be paying more to license songs. Meanwhile, Adele is trying to prevent her fans from having to pay more to purchase tickets to see her in concert. We’ll tell you about the growing backlash against the secondary market for concert tickets and what some artists are doing about it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how “Star Wars” bumped Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie out of a historic movie theater, Howard Stern signs a new deal with SiriusXM and the list of this year’s inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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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 138: Lessons Learned At This Year’s Oscars

February 27, 2012

Predicting who will win Academy Awards each year isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. She managed to pick 19 out of 24 winner’s at this past weekend’s Oscar ceremony, but there were a few categories which had everyone guessing. Thompson takes us backstage on Oscar night and explains how easy it is for someone covering the awards season, like herself, to over think how Academy voters will respond when ballots are cast.

Meanwhile, Google filed applications last week to become a cable television provider in Kansas City. What remains to be seen is whether the tech giant can obtain enough programming to attract customers.

Maybe Hollywood will welcome Google with open arms as they have with the glut of streaming video providers all vying to license premium content. Ironically, the industry seems to be ahead of the curve on a new technology they hope will make up for falling DVD sales.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new book from J.K. Rowling, Barbara Streisand’s new record deal and how advertising at movie theaters is being taken more seriously.

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Showbiz Sandbox 115: Record Industry Wages A Quiet War Over Song Rights

August 15, 2011

When the United States copyright law was revised in the mid-1970’s a little-known provision was included that lets musicians and songwriters reclaim ownership of their recordings after 35 years. Artists such as Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty and Tom Waits are set to regain control of their recordings starting in 2013 thanks to these “termination rights”. Rather than lose control of works worth millions of dollars, New York Times culture reporter Larry Rohter discusses how record labels plan to fight the provision in court.

Also picking a fight is Disney, which halted production of “The Lone Ranger” which was to star Johnny Depp and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Does pulling the plug on Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest blockbuster mean that Depp will refuse participate in another “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?

AMC has had its fair share of scuffles lately. After numerous disputes with the creators of their hit shows, AMC has become not only one of the most acclaimed cable networks in recent memory, but also one of the most troubled.

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Showbiz Sandbox 98: Why New Distribution Models Terrify Hollywood

April 4, 2011

Movie studios, television networks and record labels still haven’t updated their business models to account for video and music streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Now companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple plan on introducing a whole new group of media subscription services. With premium video-on-demand on the horizon it’s no surprise the entertainment industry is concerned about all these disruptive distribution methods.

One of the biggest players in the current content licensing wars has been Netflix. Showtime and Starz began pulling shows from the video rental giant, while Fox and Paramount offered up popular series and hit movies. Cable operators have also entered the fray by allowing viewers to watch live television on mobile device apps.

The creator of “Mad Men” was embroiled in his own fight with AMC and Lionsgate over the future of the series. In the end, Matthew Weiner was able to reach an agreement on a new contract, though new episodes won’t air until 2012.

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Showbiz Sandbox 57: A Memo From James Cameron

June 7, 2010

It was kind of a slow news week in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to the North American box office.  Movie attendance is down 10% over last year’s summer blockbuster season.  Hollywood Reporter deputy film editor Carl DiOrio stops by with his theories as to why audiences are staying away from this year’s crop of Hollywood offerings.

The MTV Movie Awards were held last weekend and the telecast was filled with so much profanity half of it was bleeped out. Though few take the awards seriously, we’ll still fill you in on all the winners and Tom Cruise’s outstanding dance performance.

Over in television Bravo has been making a name for itself with a string of successful reality television shows including “The Real Housewives of New York”.  The network is not shy about letting the New York Times know that they use social media and the Internet to decide which shows are working, popular storylines and which cast members are break out stars deserving their own show.  Speaking of break out stars, the cast of the popular “Big Bang Theory” wants a 285% pay raise and are presenting a unified front when negotiating with the network.

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