Showbiz Sandbox 247: Everything You’ve Heard About This Summer’s Box Office Is Wrong

Listening to the chorus of industry naysayers or reading all the media reports might lead you to believe this year’s summer movie season was a complete financial disaster from which Hollywood could not recover. Granted, North American box office declined 15% from the same period last year, marking an 8 year low, and attendance was off by 5%. Even so, there were no huge flops over the summer and certainly none that would send a shiver down the spine of studio execs.

In fact, most of this summer’s releases will make money when international receipts are added to their theatrical grosses. The only problem with that, as Ben Fritz of the Wall Street Journal points out, is that not all box office dollars are counted equally when they are earned overseas.

We’ll also discuss how giant telecom companies are trying to maintain their stranglehold on the Internet in the United States by preventing cities from offering broadband to residents as a public utility. Such legal skirmishes are becoming more important as we move toward streaming services for movies and music.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including a new children’s book written by Bruce Springsteen, the first woman ever chosen to head the BBC and a King Arthur movie franchise may finally become a reality.

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Showbiz Sandbox 184: How Authors Rig The Bestseller Lists

When Soren Kaplan’s “Leapfrogging” was published last summer it immediately appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling business books, a position that would be maintained for only a week. That was more than enough time for Kaplan to cement his status as a best-selling author which, in-turn, helps him land lucrative speaking and consulting gigs.

That is precisely why Kaplan hired a marketing firm to purchase copies of the book upon publication to assure it would appear on bestseller lists. During an interview with the Journal, Kaplan reveals how authors buying their way onto the bestseller list is a dirty little secret the publishing industry would prefer you not know about.

Dreamworks Animation is not being completely honest either. They took huge write-downs on their most recent release “Rise of the Guardians” and faulted the film’s weak performance as the reason for laying of 400 employees. However many question whether the company’s decision to move some of their production to China may have more to do with it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the best yearly music sales since 1999, the end of Daily Variety and whether NBC is looking to part ways with Jay Leno (again).

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Showbiz Sandbox 170: Why Star Wars Is Better Off Without George Lucas

Two weeks ago Disney surprised everyone by purchasing Lucasfilm for a pricetag of $4 billion. Like the studio’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the move makes perfect sense since Disney can exploit the Star Wars franchise in films, television and theme parks. Given the quality of the prequels, it’s not hard to see why fans were relieved to hear George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe, will have a limited role in the sequels Disney plans on releasing.

Speaking of lucrative franchises, the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall” was released to both favorable reviews and huge grosses. The twenty-third installment of the Bond series may earn over $1 billion at the international box office. And all without 3-D ticket surcharges.

Though audiences continue to reject paying a premium for 3-D movies in theaters, consumer electronic manufacturers report that the sales of 3-D capable televisions and Blu-Ray players is on the rise. However just because a TV can play 3-D content doesn’t mean people will take advantage of the technology.

Our former host Karen Woodward joins us for a rundown of all the top entertainment news stories from the past two weeks, including the huge sales figures from Taylor Swift’s new album, Mark Wahlberg signs on for the next “Transformers” film and CBS finally signs up for Hulu.

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Showbiz Sandbox 159: Raiders of the Lost Email

We are incredibly proud of our audience here at Showbiz Sandbox and believe our dedicated listeners are the most important members of our team. Imagine how upset we were upon discovering some listener email hadn’t been making it to our inbox for the past few months. We rectify that situation on this episode, revisiting a few of the popular topics from past shows.

We debate the merits of bringing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to the big screen again… the incredibly big screen. In fact, it’s been restored for presentation in Imax theatres.

Turns out the Olympics was the most watched television event in U.S. history, but even with that success NBC confirmed that they were lowering the salary of popular late-night talk show host Jay Leno, and laying off two dozen staff members from his show.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including saying goodbye to “The Closer” , the untimely death of filmmaker Tony Scott, a Nordic expansion for Netflix and why YouTube is where all the cool kids discover new music.

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Showbiz Sandbox 47: Movie Ticket Prices Get Super Sized

Another 3D film took the top spot at the box office this past weekend – “How To Train Your Dragon”. It knocked the 3D “Alice In Wonderland” out of first place after three weeks. As well, in order to play the film in 3D, theater owners were forced to take screens away from “Avatar” which caused it to fall out of the top 10 for the first time since its release last December.

Though 3D films seem to be all the rage these days a question remains over how much audiences are willing to pay to see them. This past week several theater chains raised their prices for 3D and 3D Imax tickets, some as much as 26%. Lauren Schuker of the Wall Street Journal drops by to fill us in on why movie ticket prices are rising and how it might affect this year’s record breaking box office returns.

Speaking of box office returns, thanks to the Cantor Exchange you will soon be able to place a wager on how much money you think a movie will make during its first four weeks in release. Though not if the MPAA has anything to say about it. Unfortunately, you won’t have the movie review program “At The Movies” to help your handicapping efforts. The show that launched the careers of film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert was canceled. Have no fear, Ebert has plans to launch a brand new show.  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 47: Movie Ticket Prices Get Super Sized