Archive for the ‘Movies & Entertainment’ Category

The best review of the Oscars…

April 27, 2021

Bill Maher has been on a recent roll on HBO:

A couple of weeks ago, he opined:

After a year of Covid-19, I had hoped for a little Hollywood escapism.

But, judging by this year’s best-picture nominees, you couldn’t have a worse time at the movies if there was an active shooter in the theater.

More specifically, Maher gave a synopsis of the nominee movies, starting with “Nomadland,” which took home the award for best picture:

It’s about a woman who winds up living in her van after her husband dies of cancer.

And, the rest of the litter:

  • In ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’: The FBI kills the leader of the Black Panthers
  • In ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’: The FBI kills the leader of the Black Panthers again.
  • In ‘Promising Young Woman’: Carey Mulligan tries to avenge a murderous rapist, but he ends up killing her too.
  • In ‘The Sound Of Metal’:  A musician goes deaf.
  • In ‘The Father’: An octogenarian descendsinto dementia.
  • Minari’ is the story of dirt-poor Korean immigrants in Arkansas who put all their food in a barn, but then grandma has a stroke and burns it down. Now enjoy the show!”

As opinionator Bill McGurn of the WSJ sums it up this way:

For years conservatives have bemoaned Hollywood’s influence on American norms and mores.

Sunday night’s awards show ought to allay any such fears.

Far from showcasing the movie industry’s mighty influence on American life, the 93rd Academy Awards confirmed that our movie industry no longer even knows how to entertain.

So, rather than catching-up with this year’s Oscar nominees, I guess I’ll just keep watching “Burn Notice” reruns on Amazon Prime.

Does anybody remember blockbuster?

August 15, 2017

Are movie theaters heading for the same junk heap?


According to the WSJ

Movie theaters are reeling from a very disappointing summer season.

The summer 2017 season has been defined by big-budget movies that failed to live up to their massive marketing campaigns.

A steady stream of lackluster major releases …  has depressed moviegoing in the U.S. and Canada, where admissions are down about 5% so far this year. Revenues are down 2.9%, with slightly higher ticket prices making up for some of the attendance drop.


Theater chain execs attribute the decline to the lackluster movie releases.

But, investors are starting to wonder if the industry is being fundamentally disrupted …


Shocker: Folks think concert tickets are too expensive …

July 26, 2010

Seventy percent (70%) of adults think concert ticket prices are too high

…  and they’re voting with their wallets

… only 35% say they have attended a music concert in the last year.

Source: Rasmussen Reports, 70% Say Concert Tickets Cost Too Much, July 25, 2010

Shaking up the movie industry’s distribution mojo: Sony bypassing intermediaries

January 6, 2010

TakeAway:  Sony is taking the bull by the horns.  The movie industry has been wrestling with its distribution challenges for a few years but no effective solutions have surfaced. 

Now, Sony, with an eye on the future, is leveraging its suite of movie assets to create new channels of distribution for its movies.  Interesting story of product, place, and price optimization.

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Excerpted from NYTimes, “Sony to Offer Film on Internet TV, Then DVD,” By Tim Arango, November 10, 2009

The latest experiment in Hollywood’s effort to find a way to compensate for the steep decline in profits from home entertainment … Sony will make its animated hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” available to consumers directly through Internet-enabled televisions and Blu-ray players BEFORE the movie is released on DVD.

The move is significant because it represents the latest tinkering with the movie industry’s release windows, something Hollywood has long been reluctant to do out of fear of upsetting the profitability of DVD sales and angering its most important retailer, Wal-Mart. But with the decline in DVD sales, off as much as 25 percent at some studios, finding new ways to distribute movies has become a necessity.

The price of the film, $24.95, is high enough not to alienate retailers, Sony said … “It will make televisions more valuable, and that’s a good thing.”

Sony, the only Hollywood studio tethered to a major hardware manufacturer, is in a unique position to experiment with selling movies directly to consumers through television sets … The experiment is part of a search in Hollywood for ways to capitalize on the Internet’s potential for film distribution.

“The time when a majority of consumers have Internet-enabled TVs is a long way off,” said an analyst at Pali Capital. “But it’s moving the ball in the right direction” …

In addition to the industry ramifications, the experiment is important to Sony’s vision of its two pillars — hardware and content — to work together profitably …

Sony hopes later to entice other studios to make their films available to owners of Sony televisions, bypassing cable and satellite companies that offer their own video-on-demand services …

Mindful of the music industry’s contraction after the collapse of compact disc sales, Hollywood is frantically trying to develop new sources of home entertainment revenue …

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Avatar … a guaranteed hit … well, maybe not “guaranteed”.

December 21, 2009

TakeAway:  Success in the movie industry is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. 

Movie houses must spend money on marketing in order for consumers to know about the movie; however, movie houses do not want to spend too much money on marketing because it eats into their profits. 

Now, the movie industry has access to ratings based on buzz and word-of-mouth ratings to help inform its ongoing marketing investments and gauge the potential success of a movie.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “‘Avatar’ Seeks Out a Mega-Audience,” By Lauren A.E. Schuker and Ethan Smith, December 11, 2009

Market research suggests mixed levels of interest among potential audiences for the extravagant 3-D sci-fi picture “Avatar,” raising the stakes for the backers of one of the most expensive movies ever made.

Twentieth Century Fox says it is counting on strong word-of-mouth and positive reviews from critics to recoup its investment in the movie, which hits theaters next Friday.

The film, which uses pioneering 3-D technology and computer graphics, is one of the most highly anticipated releases to come out of Hollywood in years.

But production costs on “Avatar” … are likely to exceed $300M … Fox is spending around $150 million more on marketing the movie globally …


That means that the movie has to be nothing short of a mega-blockbuster in order to make its money back. As a result, there’s hyperfocus on the latest advance research, or “tracking,” of potential audiences.

Nielsen’s tracking data … indicate that “Avatar” is hewing closely to patterns established by successful films …


While male audiences are showing increased interest and awareness in “Avatar,” female moviegoers are less enthusiastic, with negative attitudes toward the film growing among women under 25.

One distinct bright spot for “Avatar” is that many key metrics—including “unaided awareness” of the movie—have improved as the movie’s release date approaches …

Studios use tracking research, which polls domestic audiences on their awareness of and interest in seeing movies, in order gauge the effectiveness of marketing efforts. The data can be helpful in forecasting a given movie’s opening weekend performance. But predicting a movie’s ultimate box office total is much more difficult.

If a film generates strong word-of-mouth buzz and positive reviews from critics, it can often outperform early estimates …

In some areas, the Nielsen research … shows “Avatar” coming in below similar sci-fi action movies. For instance, roughly a week before release, the data show audiences are demonstrating slightly less “definite interest” in the film than they did at the same point with “Iron Man,” which grossed nearly $100 million opening weekend and more than $300 million at the domestic box office.

“Avatar” is currently scoring slightly behind 2007’s “Transformers” in the crucial “unaided awareness” category. “Transformers” took in $70 million on its opening weekend.

In comparison, tracking data for the movie “2012,” released last month, showed strong interest among both women and men. That film went on to gross $150 million in the U.S. and more than three times that internationally.

“Tracking is light for a title of this magnitude,” says Jeff Bock, a box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, referring to “Avatar.”

That said, Mr. Bock adds, “If the reviews are good, that will help encourage older audiences that aren’t quite sold on 3-D yet…. Then you can get that older demographic to see the film, that’s what Fox and Jim Cameron need to make this a hit across the board.”

In the first U.S. review of “Avatar,” posted online Thursday evening, the Hollywood Reporter raved, predicting “Fox will see more than enough grosses world-wide to cover its bet on Cameron.”

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Marketing Budget Cuts At the Box Office

May 20, 2009

Excerpted from LA Times, “Studios struggle to rein in movie marketing costs” By Claudia Eller, Apr 20, 2009

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You know times are getting tough in the movie business when an entourage of studio executives, instead of flying by private jet to Sacramento to attend a screening, is forced to ride-share … Along with hosting fewer lavish premiere parties, curtailing newspaper advertisements and restricting the number of agencies that produce trailers, the Hollywood studios are struggling to get a grip on the movie industry’s equivalent of the pork barrel earmark: marketing budgets.

And like an entitlement program that can’t be axed, Hollywood isn’t having much success … Studio executives contend that if they want to get out the word to the public about their movies, they have to pony up … “Every film launch is a new-product release …we can’t jeopardize successfully opening these pictures” …

One bit of good news is that the depressed economy has apparently not stopped people from going to movie theaters. Ticket sales are up 17.3% this year from a year earlier, and attendance is up 15.6%.

As the studios have flooded theaters in recent years with an increased number of releases, they have been forced to spend more on marketing as they jostle for the attention of moviegoers. Although studios have begun to reduce the numbers of films they make and squeeze the fees they pay talent, marketing costs have largely escaped the scythe.

After falling from a peak of $40 million in 2003, the average marketing cost for a studio picture popped back up again to $36 million in 2007

But executives say it’s hard to know exactly where to trim marketing costs because they fear spending too little could hurt a movie’s chances at the box office. A picture basically gets one shot to make a mark on opening weekend; if it doesn’t gain traction with audiences, it will be knocked out of the way on subsequent weekends by the next films opening up behind it … As a result, when it comes to cutting marketing costs, the studios have been largely confined to trimming the edges …

Buying commercial time to advertise a movie on network and cable TV remains the biggest marketing expense for the studios … Despite the recession, studios still spent as much as $3 million for each 30-second spot for 10 movies … that aired on the Super Bowl telecast in February.

For the same reason, companies defend their multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ads because of the huge audience the game delivers — about 100 million viewers — and argue that they can’t afford to cut back on network TV ads, even though viewership is declining …

One major contributor to rising marketing costs is the fragmentation of media, which makes it harder to reach an audience. The long-ago three TV network era has given way to an abundance of broadcast and cable channels and Internet sites …

With no end in sight for the recession or the economic pressure that the studios are under to shore up their bottom lines, marketing costs may finally get the same scrutiny as movie production budgets.

“Marketing is really an integral part of this business and always has been as far back as the barkers who used to stand out in front of the nickelodeon theaters and try to get people to come in … we just have to be smarter about it and try to get as much bang for our buck as we can.”

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