Showbiz Sandbox 219: The Business of Show Was Profitable In 2013

January 6, 2014

Almost every sector of the entertainment industry saw record grosses during 2013. North American movie ticket sales reached a record $10.9 billion. Television audiences are tuning in to more shows than ever, especially sporting events. The top 20 concert tours made a whopping $2.43 billion. It all helped contribute to the bottom lines of many entertainment companies causing their stock prices to end the year on a high note.

The only category in which revenue declined was the music. Even sales of digital music declined for the first time since iTunes was launched back in 2003. Album sales were down 8.4% overall and some industry insiders concede this might be due to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify.

And financial numbers aren’t the only ones increasing in entertainment. So are the sizes of televisions. They’re not only getting bigger, but the consumer electronics industry is pushing Ultra HD with 4K resolution, which is twice that of current HD televisions.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the death of singer Phil Everly, the expansion and increased usage of UltraViolet and the manufactured controversy behind Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 167: The Digital Age Crushes Variety

October 15, 2012

Last week the venerable trade paper Variety, which has been covering the entertainment industry for more than 100 years, was sold to Penske Media Corporation for $25 million. Dana Harris, the editor-in-chief of Indiewire, spent 11 years at Variety and she joins us to discuss the past, present and future of a news outlet that has struggled to adapt in an online world.

Of course, the music world is quite familiar with how digital technology can disrupt existing markets. Digital radio pioneer Pandora is pushing legislation regarding the royalties they pay to artists. This past week they made public some the big checks they’ve been writing to individual musicians.

The royalties for a bunch of super heroes are also being disputed. Stan Lee Media is suing Marvel to get a cut of all that “Avengers” money and the daughter of Superman creator Jerry Seigel is duking it out with Warner Bros. over copyright claims.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a break for Louis CK, CNN gets into the documentary film business, and how New Zealand is literally minting money for “The Hobbit”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 140: Nollywood Love – Inside The Booming Nigerian Film Industry

March 13, 2012

Oil rich Nigeria may be best known for political upheavals and brutal civil wars, though over the past twenty years the country has given birth to a thriving film industry. New York Times Magazine contributing writer Andrew Rice explains that what started out as a surplus of blank VHS tapes has grown into what is now called Nollywood; the world’s third largest movie business.  Nollywood films now suffer from the same issues faced by Hollywood and Bollywood; piracy and escalating production costs.

The budget for Disney’s “John Carter” was about five thousand times that of the average Nollywood film, which is probably why a $100 million worldwide opening is seen as a bit of a disappointment. Directing his first live-action film, Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton seems to be getting most of the blame for the movie’s lack of success, though it just as easily could be pinned on a studio full of senior executives that lacked experience producing big blockbusters.

Speaking of pricey failures, Fox canceled its sci-fi series “Terra Nova”. Producers hope the show will be picked up by another network, though at $4 million per episode few can afford it.

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

October 31, 2011

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 87: The Oscars Have A Mommy Complex

January 10, 2011

It seems as if this year’s supporting actress awards are being overrun by a handful of horrible mothers. “The Fighter” and “Animal Kingdom” feature just the kind of evil matriarchs Oscar voters have reward in the past. Stephen Farber of the Daily Beast and Hollywood Reporter discusses the evolution of flawed movie mommies from “Mildred Pierce” to “Precious”.

Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times tells us that Hollywood studios are hoping to make selling films online a bit easier and explains how Academy members may soon be able to download awards screeners from iTunes .

Last week during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it seemed as if television manufacturers were on the defensive over the lackluster sales of 3D televisions. The music industry isn’t fairing much better as Nielsen reported album sales Fell 12.8% in 2010 and digital downloads were flat.

Of course we also review the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new film version of Gypsy starring Barbara Streisand, the return of “Jersey Shore”, Quentin Tarantino’s flawed top 20 list and Broadway’s record setting box office.


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