Neighborly disputes are universal, even for high-powered Hollywood writer-directors. Quentin Tarantino and True Blood maestro Alan Ball got into a tiff involving Ball’s allegedly loud exotic birds. Tarantino said the birds’ “blood-curdling screams” impeded his ability to work at home, and Ball promised to build a sound-proof aviary and keep the birds inside until construction was finished. Apparently, at some point after the agreement, the birds were still repeatedly left outside for several hours, and Tarantino sued.
The massive 3D gimmick the entertainment industry is trying to foist on all of us is going to be about as successful as “Smell-O-Vision,” says film critic Roger Ebert. No, he’s not just just being cranky or “anti new stuff.” Rather, it’s that our brains and eyes are simply not wired for viewing an extended series of 3D images. All the technology improvements and marketing won’t ever beat biology. Here’s why.
Although ever-growing ticket price inflation somewhat masks the slowdown, fewer people are going to movie theaters. Sales slumped to 1.35 billion in 2010, a 5.4 percent drop from 2009 and the lowest mark since 1.33 billion tickets were sold in 1996. Revenues were still high, surpassing $10 billion for the second time ever, thanks to high ticket costs and 3D surcharges.
Entering the production side of the movie industry, Amazon launched Amazon Studios, which offers writers and filmmakers a potential way to break into the industry by offering up their work to Amazon for exclusive, 18-month contracts. Once the work is the property of Amazon, it competes in contracts, is subject to rewriting and can potentially turn into a real movie one day.
Bad moviegoers, you haven’t been spending nearly enough on overpriced concessions. Don’t worry though, AMC is going to make you a promise: if they don’t offer you an upsell on your next visit to the concession stand, you’re going to get a free small bag of popcorn.
If you were planning on putting your kids through college based on your foreknowledge that Toy Story 3 was going to rock the box office, you’ll need to do your gambling on the black market, because Congress has banned Hollywood box office futures trading.
The future of Disney merchandising will hit a lot more demographics than the mostly kid-oriented stuff of today, if Disney has any say over it. Disney has already angered theater chains by shortening the theatrical release window on its new movie-like product Alice in Wonderland, cutting into theaters’ profit models in order to bump up the DVD release date. But CNBC notes that it’s also launching the “most wide-ranging array of consumer products ever” for a Disney flick–and that includes thousand dollar necklaces, nail polish, and dresses that cost as much as $600.
Tomorrow, YouTube will start renting online movies at $4 for 48 hours. At launch, the selection will consist of five titles from the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, says the Associated Press, but Google hopes to get studios on board in the coming months. Studios will be able to set their own prices and rental periods, however, should they participate.
Earlier this month, Netflix made a deal with Warner Bros. to delay new DVD releases for 28 days. Over at Hacking Netflix, the CEO of the company goes into some detail on why he approached Warner Bros. to begin with (it was his idea, not theirs), and why he thinks it will work out better for everyone except those customers who signed up expecting all new releases all the time.
After reporting a loss in the 2nd quarter of this year, AMC is doing what it can to increase revenue. Since the business model of movie theaters is to give all the ticket sales to the studios and scrape out a living on concessions, that means forcing more patrons to buy snacks–so it’s officially banning any outside food and drink.
Hollywood studios are sick of you renting their DVDs and want you to start buying them again. The way to trick you into this, they figure, is to withhold the discs from rental companies for a month, forcing you to get all antsy and run out and buy them.
With its ubiquitous DVD rental kiosks, Redbox has been known to toy with our emotions. The machines have taken up all the choice grocery store spots where your favorite stale gumball machines used to sit. And company execs taunted us by dreaming up that awesome Free Movie Mondays promotion only to vow to take it away by the end of the summer.
Netflix has been asking its members about their Xbox 360 usage habits as it considers whether to stream movie rentals over the device. Are you a Netflix subscriber who owns a 360? Were you surveyed?
Cablevision and Popcorn Home Entertainment have announced a new service that lets you watch movies immediately through Cablevision’s set-top box whenever you buy the DVD through their menu system. The DVD is mailed to you, but in the meantime you have the on-demand version for “instant gratification,” reports Reuters.
After David Pogue’s public complaint last week that some movie trailers go too far in misleading consumers about the movie, he was contacted by the director of both “National Treasure” flicks, Jon Turteltaub, who offered his opinion on the practice: “What’s funny is that the filmmakers do exactly what you do. I was watching the final trailer for my movie, saying what you said: ‘Ummm….that’s not in the movie, that’s not in the movie, THAT’S not in the movie.'”
David Pogue has an interesting rant in today’s Circuits column about the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”—or more specifically about its trailer, which is chock-full of scenes, dialogue, locations, and plot references that are nowhere to be found in the actual movie. He asks, “Just how different can a trailer be without becoming false advertising?” We immediately thought about last year’s kids flick “Bridge to Terabithia,” which was advertised like a whimsical Narnia spin-off but in reality was about the death of a major character.
Sometime next year, Walgreen will introduce kiosks where customers can select and purchase movies—mostly older ones that aren’t as frequently stocked in stores—and have them burned onto DVDs while they wait (for about 15 minutes). Although the idea seems like one that someone should have had years ago, it wasn’t a commercial possibility until last month, when the organization responsible for licensing CSS—the widespread copy restriction software that’s coded into pretty much every Hollywood DVD release—expanded its licensing structure to make room for business models like this one.