Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Dreamworks saved by a Panda, LA-Washington Ties Grow, bi-ligual programming on Spanish TV, Oscar Contenders
Po pulled his weight for DreamWorks Animation in the third quarter.
The rotund martial arts character played by Jack Black and star of "Kung Fu Panda 2" helped the Glendale animation studio perform better than expected in the third quarter, even though the company’s profit was nearly half what it was a year ago.
DreamWorks on Tuesday reported net income of $19.7 million , or 23 cents per share, in the third quarter, compared with $39.8 million, or 47 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue dropped 15% to $160.8 million.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated a profit of 20 cents a share on average, excluding one-time items, on revenue of $159.2 million.
The results were driven by the studio's summer release “Kung Fu Panda 2,” which was the No. 1 animated movie this year, garnering $634 million in worldwide box office revenue and contributing $39.4 million in revenue for the quarter. The picture performed far better overseas than it did in the U.S. and Canada, although it did not do as much business as last year's “Shrek Forever After,” which generated $753 million worldwide.
Company executives attributed the drop in profit to the timing of its releases: “Kung Fu Panda 2” was released in international markets earlier than “Shrek Forever After” so more of its box office was counted in the second quarter. Additionally, DreamWorks opened three movies last year, compared with two planned for this year, including “Puss in Boots,’’ which debuts Friday.
In a conference call with analysts, DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said he was hopeful that “Puss in Boots,” a spinoff of the hit "Shrek" films, will exceed $34 million in ticket sales this weekend, and set a new record for a movie opening on Halloween weekend.
Katzenberg called the studio's recent distribution agreement with Netflix -- which will replace its existing agreement with HBO -- a “historic deal for DreamWorks Animation.”
In addition, Katzenberg touted the company's just-announced decision to hire Disney executive Chuck Viane to advise DreamWorks on various distribution options, including releasing its own movies.
DreamWorks relies on Paramount Pictures to distribute its films, but the pact is expected to expire next year.
“This is among the biggest strategic opportunities for DreamWorks Animation and our shareholders," Katzenberg told analysts.
There's a TV for that. Will Apple's next big play be a new TV set? Seems that reinventing the small screen was Steve Jobs' white whale. In Walter Isaacson's new biography of the late visionary, Jobs spoke of a desire to create a new TV and there has been speculation for years that this was the big secret project at Apple. All I know is I just bought a Sony Google TV and I'm not looking to replace it for at least 10 years. More on Apple's television fantasies from the Los Angeles Times.
In the wake of being confirmed as secretary of Commerce, John Bryson has resigned from Walt Disney Co.'s board of directors. The departure of Bryson, who had been on leave from the board since his nomination as secretary of Commerce was announced last summer, means there are now two spots to fill on Disney's board. Apple chief Steve Jobs was also a member of the Disney board until his death earlier this month. Bryson, who was approved as Commerce chief late last week, had served on Disney's board since 2000. Disney's board now has 11 members. It has not announced replacements for Jobs or Bryson.
Sell! Netflix stock continued to take a beating from investors Tuesday after the company said its subscriber losses were worse than projected and analysts issued negative reports. You know you're in trouble when your CEO has become a subject of parody on "Saturday Night Live," even if the skit isn't funny. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Bilingual. Telemundo, long the runner-up to Univision among Spanish-language networks, is adopting a new strategy to embrace the rapidly changing Latino population. Many of its shows will now run with English subtitles and even the occasional English in the dialogue. The New York Times looks at Telemundo's plans and what it says about the diversity among Spanish-speaking households.
For shame. The Motion Picture Assn. of America has slapped "Shame" with a NC-17 rating. The Hollywood Reporter says Fox Searchlight is not planning any additional edits to the movie to get an R rating. Good, that means I won't have to hunt for a raunchier copy.
Race is on. The election of a new head of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, just weeks away, will be a battle between industry heavyweight Bruce Rosenblum, who heads Warner Bros. TV operations, and Nancy Bradley Wiard, a former soap opera producer. Given Rosenblum's clout in the industry, he is seen as the favorite. However, as Variety's Brian Lowry notes, there may be a backlash against Rosenblum for being "something of a carpetbagger for entering the race -- parachuting in, as opposed to gradually matriculating through the ranks as Wiard, currently the vice chair, has."
Report card. Vulture is grading the networks for their performance so far this season. Here are their takes on NBC and CBS. All I'll say is the salty language on CBS' "Two Broke Girls" is starting to make "Two and a Half Men" look like "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at which actors have more than one movie that might be in contention for an Oscar.
-- Joe Flint
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