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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where's Waldo is easier than Finding the Stanley Cup Final Game(s). Disney at war with Redbox over new DVD rental policy. RIP Ray Bradbury .'Halo 4' episodic content is 'a TV series you play'. Silver to land at Universal. FX goes on movie-buying spree.

Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings stops a shot on goal during the first period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, June 2, 2012, in Newark, N.J.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest industry news. 

If you think the puck is hard to find, try finding the channel. The Stanley Cup Final, which will go on for at least one more game, is giving some fans a workout on their remote control. NBC, which holds the rights to the NHL, split the games between its broadcast network and its cable channel NBC Sports Network. But on most cable systems, the NBC Sports Network isn't the easiest thing to find. In Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable has it on channel 267. The New York Times looks at NBC's split channel strategy for the finals.

Robert Hayes was named executive vice president, digital media for NBC Entertainment. He becomes the eighth former Showtime executive to follow Robert Greenblatt to the network.

Shake-up at NBC Digital; Vivi Zigler departs

NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt, continuing to build his management team, has brought in another former Showtime executive to run the network's digital media group.

]Robert Hayes has joined NBC as executive vice president for digital media. He will be responsible for several initiatives and properties, including, social media campaigns, mobile applications, digital marketing and multi-platform programming. To continue reading click More..

Taylor Kitsch in "John Carter."
Disney is not selling "John Carter" to Redbox until 28 days after the DVD goes on sale. (Walt Disney Studios / June 6, 2012)

Disney forces Redbox to wait a month. 

"John Carter's" journey into Redbox kiosks may be as complicated as a flight to Mars.
Walt Disney Studios has decided to not sell its DVDs to any rental outlets, including Redbox, Netflix and Blockbuster, until 28 days after they go on sale.

Disney previously offered its DVDs to Redbox the same day they went on sale at retail stores and online.

The policy change began with the studio's release of the Japanese animation movie "The Secret World of Arrietty" on May 22, a studio spokeswoman confirmed, but has gained widespread notice this week as it is applying to the high-profile flop "John Carter."

Redbox is retaliating by stocking its machines with copies of  "John Carter" that it purchaes at retail stores, setting up the same type of dispute with Disney that it is already engaged in with Warner Bros.
"We will be sourcing 'John Carter' through alternative means," a Redbox spokeswoman confirmed.
The Redbox website indicates that "John Carter" will be available in its kiosks June 12, one week after it went on sale.
The switch indicates that the Burbank media giant has adopted the view held by Warner, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox that $1.20 per night rentals from Redbox cut into more profitable DVD sales and video-on-demand rentals.
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger said in February that his studio was considering joining the 28-day delay bandwagon. Redbox doesn't stock its kiosks with copies of Universal and Fox movies during the first four weeks that the DVDs are on sale because it has agreements with those studios to wait in exchange for a significant discount. It has no such agreement with Disney.

Warner Bros. has demanded that Redbox wait 56 days to rent its DVDs, a so-called "window" that the kiosk company has said was too long. As a result, Redbox currently buys Warner DVDs from retail stores.
A Netflix spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the subscription video company has traditionally abided by studios' windows without objections because it does not make most of its money from new releases.

A spokesman for Dish Network-owned Blockbuster, which has not accepted windows on new releases in the past, did not immediately respond to a request for comment either.

After the coffee. Before sneaking out early to catch the Celtics-Heat game. 

The Skinny: Thursday's headlines include an appreciation of science fiction genius Ray Bradbury, producer Joel Silver is near a deal with Universal Pictures and a close look at Netflix's content deal with CBS, which could mean headaches for the streaming service.

Daily Dose: Next week, Disney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney will jet to beautiful Monte Carlo so Prince Albert II can present her with the "Golden Nymph" prize at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. This won't be the first time the two have hung out. Oscar watchers may have noticed that the Prince had a great seat at this year's awards show (broadcast on ABC) in the very same row as Sweeney.

Ray Bradbury
Legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91. (Associated Press)

Ray Bradbury RIP. Legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who wrote more than 25 novels and literally hundreds of short stories and served as an inspiration to television and movie producers for generations, died Wednesday at the age of 91. Steven Spielberg said of Bradbury: "In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal." A look at Bradbury's incredible career and influence from the Los Angeles Times.

Playing games. New Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai has already done something his predecessors Howard Stringer and Nobuyuki Idei never did -- attend the E3 video game conference. Hirai, who ran Sony's video game division before rising to the top of the struggling media and consumer electronics company, is not going to forget his roots as he tries to fix the company. The Wall Street Journal looks at Hirai's plans to make video games a key part of his efforts to straighten out Sony.

New home. Movie producer Joel Silver, whose long relationship with Warner Bros. is coming to an end soon, will land at Universal. According to Deadline Hollywood, Universal is near a deal to distribute a dozen Silver films. Deadline says Ron Meyer stayed out of the decision-making process because his daughter works for Silver. I'm sure the folks under Meyer who made the deal had no idea. Ah, Hollywood.

Reading the fine print. Variety scrutinizes Netflix's content deals with CBS and other companies and offers details on a little known perk. Netflix will have to take TV shows it didn't necessarily want. When Netflix did a deal for old CBS-owned shows such as "Star Trek" and "Cheers,"  which was valued at $200 million, it also included a clause to pick up streaming rights to any canceled series, such as "CSI Miami." That could end up being very costly to Netflix.

Snow White and the Huntsman
FX has acquired basic cable TV rights to "Snow White and the Huntsman." (Universal / June 6, 2012)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest cable network of them all?
For "Snow White and the Huntsman," the answer is FX, which struck a deal with Universal Pictures to acquire the commercial cable rights to last weekend's No. 1 movie.

The purchase is FX's latest in a series of big movie deals. The network also recently acquired Sony Pictures' sequel "Men in Black 3," Paramount Pictures' Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "The Dictator" and Universal's box-office miss "Battleship." Through a long-term distribution agreement with Marvel, FX also has the rights to this summer's mega hit "The Avengers" -- one of the top-grossing movies of all time.

Many commercial cable networks have steered clear of buying movies because by the time they are available for airing they have already been on pay cable channels, DVDs and elsewhere. However, FX still finds feature films serve as a strong promotional platform for original content and can draw solid ratings that justify the price.

The price for the TV rights to a movie is determined by how well it did at the box office. Deals typically run about four years and the license fee is generally 10% to 12% of the U.S. box-office take. Usually, there is a cap of $200 million on any one film in determining the price.

Dish claims broadcasters pulled signals in part because of AutoHop

A local broadcaster has apparently decided to skip doing business with Dish Network in part because of its commercial-skipping device known as the AutoHop.
Dish Network said Hoak Media Corp., a Dallas-based company which owns 14 small-market television stations in markets that include Grand Junction, Colo., Fargo, N.D., and Lincoln, Neb., was no longer going to allow its signals to be carried by the satellite broadcaster. To continue reading this story click More..

Halo 4 Master Chief
Master Chief, the iconic hero of the "Halo" game franchise, at E3 in Los Angeles. (Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times / June 6, 2012)

Are video games becoming more like television? With their richly detailed cut scenes and dazzling special effects, video games are already looking like big-budget action movies. Now, Microsoft Corp. is pulling in TV aspects to its upcoming "Halo 4" game.

When the game debuts in November, Microsoft will start releasing a steady stream of new episodes each week, much like a TV series. The additional content, which players who bought the main game will get for free, will progress along an elaborate storyline based on the next chapter of the "Halo" universe, a science fiction combat franchise whose lead character is named Master Chief.
"It's like a TV series that you play," said said Frank O'Connor, Microsoft's franchise development director.

Over the past 11 years, the "Halo" franchise has generated billions of dollars in revenue and was a key driver of the success of Microsoft's original Xbox video game console. Since then, Microsoft has released books based on the "Halo" world, graphic novels, toys and other licensed products. Fans of the franchise, who number in the millions, call themselves Halo Nation.

Microsoft is now banking on these millions of fans to participate in the next installment of the franchise, and hoping to feed them a steady diet of weekly content, strung along by a compelling story arc, much like a TV series.

"It's a moving storyboard," said Josh Holmes, creative director at 343 Industries, the Kirkland, Wash., studio that is developing the game.

The episodic approach is designed to give Microsoft an edge in the brutally competitive market for the shooter games. In the last few years, companies have upped the ante by piling on more features, bigger explosives and flashier cut scenes -- all of which add tens of millions of dollars to the development budget.

"Halo 4" is expected to duke it out this holiday with a formidable lineup of top shooter titles, including "Call of Duty: Black Ops," "Splinter Cell Blacklist" and "Medal of Honor Warfighter."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara on NBC's summer drama "Saving Hope." A small market broadcaster apparently isn't too happy with Dish Network's new commercial skipping feature called the AutoHop.

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From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest industry news. 

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