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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

X-Box used more for movies than games. Rental Market different than DVD/Blue Ray Owners. "Bully" gets MS Support despite NC-17/X rating. RIP Terra Nova. Jimmy Kimmel to host the Emmys. Its not a wrap on IATSE talks.

IATSE's Matt Loeb
 Photo: Matt Loeb, head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, at the union's office on Riverside Drive in Studio City in 2011. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

 From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news)

It's not a wrap on contract talks beetween IATSE and producers. After two weeks of negotiations, representatives of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the major studios have yet to reach an early deal on a new contract covering technical workers who toil behind the scenes on movies and TV shows.

IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers "have not completed their negotiation for a new Hollywood Basic Agreement,'' the groups said in separate statements Monday afternoon. "The parties need additional time to review data before resuming talks at a later time."
Citing a news blackout, the parties declined to elaborate further on the talks. The proposed contract expires July 31 and covers below-the-line workers, including camera operators, grips and costume designers.

People close to the negotiations say the sides remain divided over how to close a large deficit in the union's health and pension plans -- projected to be at least $300 million over the next three years -- because of investment losses and rising medical costs. The health and pension plans are funded by residual payments and employer contributions.

Union leaders could agree to raise eligibility requirements as they did in back in 2009 when they raised to 400 from 300 the minimum number of hours required to work over a six-month period. But such a move could spark fierce opposition within IATSE.  Union leaders from IATSE and Teamsters, which will also participate in the talks, have been prepping their members for months that they could be forced to accept some tough changes to their health and pension benefits.

The Skinny:Tuesday's headlines include Hollywood's hunt for the next teen franchise, and the Weinstein Co. deciding no rating is better than an "R" for "Bully." Also, Jimmy Kimmel has been tapped to host the Emmys on ABC this fall. 

Daily Dose:Sony Pictures is trying to gin up attention for May’s long awaited sequel “Men in Black 3” with a viral campaign that mixes UFO fears with, well, legal warnings. A bus bench ad sighted in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood encourages folks to call a toll-free number allegedly set up by a teenager with the code-name Bug Eyes. He shares his fear that “extraterrestrials live among us” and encourages people to leave messages with “any information on extraterrestrial sightings.” The sense of paranoia is dampened a bit, however, by Bug Eyes’ warning that, “By leaving a message, you grant permission to use your voice and anything you tell me about yourself and any portion of the content of your message in audio or text form as part of The-Men-In-Black-Suits-Are-Real experience without additional consent or compensation.”

Finding the next "Hunger Games." The success of "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" has Hollywood studios and agencies scouring young adult fiction in the hopes of finding the next big franchise. Not only are teen books being gobbled up left and right -- regardless of whether they were bestsellers -- there is even intense bidding for movie rights to books that haven't even been published yet. "Every single studio wants to capitalize on a young-adult franchise," said ICM agent Josie Freedman. "It's what's selling on the publishing side and on the film side." The Los Angeles Times looks at Hollywood's hunt for the next big teen hit.

HBO Go on Xbox Live
Screenshot of HBO Go on Xbox Live courtesy of Microsoft. 
From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news)

X-BOX is now used more for Internet Access than gaming. In a significant milestone for a device once known only for blasting "Halo" opponents, Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console is now used more for watching movies and TV shows and listening to music online than playing video games online.

Microsoft has long attempted to use the Xbox 360 and its predescessor, the original Xbox, as a "trojan horse" that would use video games as a way to become the digital entertainment hub for families in the living room.

"The original vision for the Xbox was for it to be the heart of connected digital entertainment and it has been amazing to watch the arc," said Otto Berkes, a senior vice president of consumer technology at HBO who helped to launch the Xbox at Microsoft.

Yusuf Mehdi, who heads up marketing and strategy for Microsoft's Xbox business, said households now spend an average of 84 hours a month on the Xbox Live online service playing games, watching videos and listening to music. That's up 30% from a year ago. Just over half that time is spent on videos and music.

By comparison, the average household spend about 150 hours a month watching television.
"What we're seeing is that people are turning on the Xbox to play games and then keeping it on afterwards to get other types of entertainment," Mehdi said.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has added number of entertainment applications to the 360, including Netflix, ESPN, Hulu, Vudu, and YouTube.

On Tuesday, it is adding new video applications from HBO Go, Major League Baseball and Comcast Corp,'s Xfinity on demand video service.

The additions bring the total number of music, television and movie services available on Xbox Live to 36.

The new applications require that users be paying subscribers to Comcast's cable service, the HBO premium network, or Those who pay will be able to watch more than 2,400 baseball games or more than 1,000 of HBO programming, including every episode of its original series like "Game of Thrones," "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Wire." Comcast subscribers will have access to thousands of movies and television shows from a variety of channels via Xfinity.

The launch of HBO Go on the Xbox is a big step towards the premium cable network's digital on-demand service becoming a direct alternative to its linear channels. While HBO Go is available on computers and a variety of digital devices like iPads, Xbox 360 owners will be able to watch it on televisions. Previously, the only way to get HBO Go on a TV was via the Roku box, which is far less popular than the Xbox 360.

"The Xbox has an extremely broad user base that can deliver a rich visual experience, which is a pretty big differentiator," said Berkes.

More than 20 million people are paying Xbox Live subscribers who can access the console's entertainment services. A total of 66 million Xbox 360s have been sold worldwide.

Microsoft previously said it would launch HBO Go and Comcast's Xfinity on its console before the end of 2011.

Consumers are starting to complain that they pay for services to companies like Netscape and have to pay additional fees to view it on X-Box. 

BullyPhoto: A scene from "Bully." Credit: Weinstein Co.
  From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news) 

X or NC-17 Documentary "Bully" gets unexpected support from Microsoft. One of the world's biggest corporations is getting behind a little movie with a lot of controversy. Tech giant Microsoft Corp. is using its search engine Bing to promote "Bully" with a television and social media advertising campaign. It's also sponsoring the movie's premiere Monday night in Hollywood.

"Bully" has become a flash point for controversy over the Motion Picture Assn. of America's ratings system. The documentary, about the issue of teenage bullying, received an "R" rating because of the number of explicit curse words in the film. That means children under 17 can't see the movie without an adult.

Critics have accused the MPAA of being too rigid in its language restrictions, particularly compared with the amount of violence in PG-13 films such as "The Hunger Games."

Independent studio Weinstein Co. , which is distributing "Bully," had appealed the "R" rating but lost. The company announced Monday that it will release "Bully" without an MPAA rating when it begins playing in theaters this Friday.

By aligning itself with Weinstein Co., Microsoft is putting itself into the middle of a hot national debate, a rare position for a major corporation.

Lisa Gurry, senior director of Bing, said in an interview that Microsoft "is not taking an active role in the rating itself." But a press release from Weinstein Co. promoting the companies' partnership put it in the context of the " 'Bully' movement" that has seen more than 475,000 people sign an online petition and celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber publicly criticize the MPAA's rating decision.

"We're supportive of the cause of the film and would love for as many people as possible to be able to see it," said Gurry. "Stopping bullying is important to us and to the target audience that we speak to."
To help promote "Bully," Bing is running a national advertising campaign that will begin April 2. "It interweaves the movie and how Bing can be a good resource for people looking for information on how to stop bullying," explained Gurry. Microsoft is also hosting online videos and will sponsor other screenings.

In addition, Microsoft will promote "Bully" on social media. Already, the Bing Twitter account, which has nearly 191,000 followers, has given away tickets to the premiere.

The last movie that Bing helped to promote was far less controversial: The Hugh Jackman robot boxing film "Real Steel."

Photo: Harvey Weinstein. Credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images.  

Weinstein won't be stymied. The Weinstein Co. has decided to release its documentary "Bully" without a rating from the Motion Picture Assn. of America. The MPAA wanted to slap "Bully" with an "R" rating because of profanity. Harvey Weinstein has argued that an "R" would make it difficult for teens -- the very people who need to see the movie -- to get into theaters. Now the risk is that some theaters may avoid carrying an unrated movie. See also item on Microsoft 's support the film and more from the Los Angeles Times and Indie Wire.

There's a movie in here somewhere. If the folks who rush out to see Universal's "Battleship" get bored with the movie, they can start playing "count the product placements." According to Variety, Coca-Cola Co., Subway and Kraft are the big promotional partners backing "Battleship," a big summer release for the studio.

Photo: John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Mary Louise Parker in "Red." Credit: Frank Masi / Summit Entertainment

The Bruce Willis action-comedy "Red" was the most rented DVD of 2011 but wasn't even close to the top of the sales charts.

In fact, new data released by Rentrak Corp., the media measurement firm that tracks DVD sales and rentals, shows that only one of the 10 most rented DVDs of 2011 was among the 10 most bought.
The most rented movies are a mix of films that largely enjoyed solid but not spectacular runs at the box office. They seemed to leave theaters with good word-of-mouth, leading people to sample the films via rental. Besides "Red," the top 10 rentals include such comedies as "Due Date" and "Little Fockers,"  thrillers "Unstoppable" and "The Lincoln Lawyer," and dramas "The Social Network" and "The Fighter."

Among the most bought DVDs, meanwhile, are many of the top-grossing hits of last year. Animated films sold particularly well. Since children often watch their favorite animated movies multiple times, making a purchase was more economical than rental. No. 1 on the list was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," while other big sellers included "Deathly Hallows: Part 2," "Tangled," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "The Help."

The only film to make both Top 10 lists: breakout comedy "Bridesmaids."

Following are both lists in their entirety:

Most rented DVDs of 2011 
1. "Red"
2. "Due Date
3. "Little Fockers"
4. "Unstoppable"
5. "The Social Network"
6. "Bridesmaids"
7. "The Tourist"
8. "The Lincoln Lawyer"
9. "The Fighter"
10. "Dinner for Schmucks"

 Most bought DVDs of 2011
1. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I"
2. "Tangled"
3. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II"
4. "Cars 2"
5. "Rio"
6. "The Hangover Part II"
7. "Bridesmaids"
8. "Megaminds"
9. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
10. "The Help"

"Terra Nova" to remain extinct. Netflix is going to pass on trying to rescue "Terra Nova," the dinosaur drama that Fox canceled after just one season, according to TV Guide. The studio behind "Terra Nova," 20th Century Fox Television, has been hoping to sell the show to either another network or Netflix. But the production costs and the amount of time it takes to make episodes of the special effects-filled show, coupled with the low ratings, make "Terra Nova" too risky a bet for many.

"Mad Men" hype pays off. The return of AMC's "Mad Men" drew 3.5 million viewers Sunday night. That number pales in comparison with the network's hit "The Walking Dead," but it was a record for the drama about 1960s advertising executives. While "Mad Men" has a small audience, it is a favorite among critics, meaning that the coverage surrounding the show is way out of proportion to its ratings. More on the numbers from Bloomberg.

Inside the Los Angeles Times:ABC has tapped Jimmy Kimmel to host the Emmys this September. Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times, is threatening to pull its TV stations from satellite broadcaster DirecTV in a dispute over carriage fees, also known as retransmission fees.

-- Joe Flint and friends

Follow me on Twitter and we'll ride the storm out together.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am very excited for the trequel of men in black to come out in theatres. I always thought that these movies were well taught out and I'm sure the third movie will be a hit

Kristian Magtanong
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