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Friday, July 27, 2012

Big weekend for 'Dark Knight.' Olympic hype! Gambling on the Olympics. Weinstein calls for gun control. 'Batman' movies among last week's best-selling DVDs. Coldplay's label noe GMG.

The Dark Knight Rises
"The Dark Knight Rises" should cruise this weekend. (Warner Bros. / July 27, 2012)

After the coffee. Before seeing if I catch Olympics fever. 

 Bright weekend for 'Dark Knight.' "The Dark Knight Rises" is expected to dominate the box office for the second straight weekend. According to industry estimates, the latest in the Batman franchise will make between $65 million and $70 million. I was hoping to see it this weekend but I don't have three hours to spare because of the TV press tour. Opening against "The Dark Knight Rises" is the raunchy comedy "The Watch" starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, which is expected to make between $20 million and $25 million although some have it taking in far less (I'm among that group). Also opening is "Step Up Revolution," the latest in the dance franchise. A look at the weekend from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Christian Bale in "The Dark Knight"
"The Dark Knight" was the No. 9 selling DVD in the week leading up to the theatrical release of "The Dark Knight Rises." (Stephen Vaughn / Warner Bros.)

Fans excited to see "The Dark Knight Rises" before last Friday's massacre in Colorado bought up copies of director Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," putting those two films in the top 10 DVD sales chart for the first time in years.

"Batman Begins" was the No. 8 selling DVD and Blu-raydisc in the week ending July 22, according to Rentrak Corp," while "Dark Knight" was No. 9. They were originally released on disc in late 2005 and late 2008, respectively.

The Farrelly Brothers' version of "The Three Stooges" debuted at the top of the DVD and Blu-ray sales chart and No. 4 among rentals. Sony Pictures' French science-fiction action picture “Lockout,” starring Guy Pearce, made a strong debut as the No. 3 seller and No. 1 rented title.
“Get the Gringo” starring Mel Gibson premiered at No. 5 on the sales and rental charts. The movie premiered on video-on-demand and had a one-night theatrical run in May.

Lionsgate’s independent ensemble comedy “Friends With Kids” and the Spanish-language Will Ferrell comedy "Casa De Mi Padre" hit the top 10 rentals in their first week, but were not among the best-selling titles.

Below are the top 10 DVD and Blu-ray sales and rental charts for the week ending July 22, according to Rentrak.

DVD and Blu-ray sales
1. “The Three Stooges (2012)" (Fox). Week 1
2.  “American Reunion” (Universal). Week 2 (last week No. 1)
3.  “Lockout” (Sony). Week 1
4.  “21 Jump Street” (Sony). Week 4 (last week No. 2)
5.  “Get the Gringo” (Fox). Week 1
6.  “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (Warner Bros.). Week 6 (last week No. 4)
7.   “Wrath of the Titans” (Disney). Week 4 (last week No. 3)
8.   “Batman Begins”  (Warner Bros.). Week  353
9.  “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.). Week 189
10. “Mirror Mirror" (Fox). Week 4 (last week No. 5)

DVD and Blu-ray rentals
1. “Lockout” (Sony). Week 1
2. “American Reunion” (Universal). Week 2 (last week No. 1)

The Skinny: I've never been much of an Olympics watcher so this will be a true test of the power of social media to drive me to the television. Friday's headlines include a look at the weekend box office (man, how many times have I written that sentence?), concerns about whether NBC is overdoing on the Olympics, Google Fiber's TV lineup and how an Indian movie star is trying to turn into Edward R. Murrow. And yes, I know that last reference dates me.

Daily Dose: NBC is gearing up to pummel us with the Olympics for the next two weeks. After that, though, it will be the network's own finances that take a beating as the brass calculate the losses. The network has already acknowledged it won't make money off the London Games but won't say what it is anticipating in red ink. However, industry estimates from rival sports executives and analysts suggest the network could lose $250 million in London. That's on top of the $80 million it lost on Beijing and $220 million on Vancouver in the last two Olympics. Ouch.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! With the Summer Olympics getting underway in London, NBC, its cable networks and local stations are sparing nothing when it comes to hyping the Games. But is it overkill? Are corporate interests taking precedence over the public interest. The Washington Post looks at whether NBC is overdoing it on the Olympics at the expense of other news and entertainment.

iPad displaying an Illustration for an Olympic’s guide for viewers. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

5,535 hours Over the next 17 days NBC is planning to telecast a record 5,535 hours of Olympics coverage from London on nine different channels, including the NBC broadcast network, MSNBC, Bravo and NBC Sports. (By comparison, NBC showed just 2,000 hours of the 2008 Beijing Games.)

It’s going to be the most digital friendly Olympics as well — all athletic events will be available for viewing live on-line. Fans can watch events on their laptops by turning to or on their smartphones with the app NBC Olympics Live Extra.

With that much to watch, how can anyone make sense of it all? Luckily, the Calendar section has waded through the schedule and plucked all the can’t-miss matchups. We also dug deep and found a few things that won’t necessarily draw the biggest audiences but should make good viewing nonetheless.

With 5,535 hours of London Olympics coverage on TV, you can’t watch it all, so the Los Angels Times ha  a few tips (Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte!) for what to check out. For more coverage of must-see Olympic events click here.

Now that you mention it. NBC isn't the only one using its media platforms to drive interest in the Olympics as well as in its own assets. The network's parent, cable giant Comcast Corp., will spend millions promoting its Xfinity brand, which is the name the company uses for its packaged phone, broadband and TV services. The problem with Xfinity is that everyone knows what Comcast does, but no one is quite sure what Xfinity is about. Maybe if the company had just changed its name to Xfinity it would have been easier. The Wall Street Journal with details about the campaign.

Who's fault? in the wake of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., filmmaker Harvey Weinstein wants tougher gun laws, but he also said Hollywood has to look at the violence it puts in movies. He tells the Huffington Post, "It’s a question that I wrestle with all the time." I agree with Chris Rock, who after Columbine riffed on everyone looking for a reason or scapegoat for the shooting and then finally said, "Whatever happened to crazy?"

Location Managers reach deal with producers. Hollywood's location managers have staked out a new three-year contract. Teamsters Local 399 on Thursday reached a tentative agreement for about 600 location managers in the Los Angeles area with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, said a person close to the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Patterned after similar contracts negotiated by studio drivers, camera operators, grips and other technical crews and crafts workers, the new deal provides a 2% annual wage increase and additional funding for the union's health plan.

A bigger platform. Aamir Khan is one of the biggest movie stars in India. But now he is transforming himself from Bollywood big shot to crusading reporter. He's got a weekly talk show that looks to take on both political and social issues and it has developed a huge audience. The New York Times looks at Khan's new role and what's driving him.

Coldplay'S Chris Martin
Chris Martin of Coldplay plays a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. (Mark Davis / WireImage / May 1, 2012)

BMG Rights Management has raised its hand as a potential buyer for Parlophone Records, a boutique record label in Britain whose artists include Coldplay, Chemical Brothers and Sigur Ros, according to a music executive familiar with the discussions.

BMG is the latest to express a desire to purchase any assets that Universal Music Group divests to secure the approval of European antitrust regulators for its proposed $1.9-billion acquisition of EMI. That deal would reduce the number of major record labels in the world to three from four.
Universal declined to comment, citing confidentiality of the negotiations. A message to BMG was not immediately returned.

EMI operates three main labels in Britain -- Parlophone, Virgin Records and EMI Records. Universal had initially wanted to keep Parlophone and divest the two other labels. Interested buyers included billionaire Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Records in 1972 and sold it to EMI 20 years later.
Selling Parlophone would allow Universal to keep Virgin and EMI while satisfying the European Commission's insistence that Universal control no more than 40% of any country's market share for recorded music.

The deal would not include Parlophone's rights to sell Beatles albums in Britain, which Universal wants to keep, according to a record label executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the transaction.

Sensing a buying opportunity, more than 20 companies have stepped up to declare their interest in any assets Universal decides to sell. BMG, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., last year unsuccessfully bid for EMI's music publishing business, which was ultimately sold to Sony Corp. for $2.1 billion. Sony is also among the companies that have lined up to potentially bid on Universal's divestitures, the executive said.

Some rival independent labels and consumer advocates have expressed concern that Universal, already the world's largest record company, would become too powerful if it merges with EMI.
Universal's chief executive, Lucian Grainge, has publicly stated that his company is "open-minded" about selling off assets in Europe to make regulators happy.

The European Commission has set a Sept. 6 deadline for issuing its ruling on the merger.

It was SadVille atZynga Inc.'s headquarters after the San Francisco creator of such games as"FarmVille"and "CityVille" posted its second-quarter earnings and watched its stock price immediately drop 41%. Zynga's stock, which had gained 16 cents to close at $5.08, plunged to as low as $3 in after-hours trading following the earnings release. The price was a significant fall from grace from Zynga's initial public offering in December, when its shares debuted at $10 and climbed to a high of $14.69 on March 2.

Dish! tweaks its AdSkipping Hopper. Dish subscribers who use its AutoHop commercial skipping feature may have noticed some recent tweaks to the device. The AutoHop, a controversial feature Dish has been offering since May, makes it easier for subscribers to skip commercials from shows recorded off of broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. As of yet, the AutoHop is not available for use on cable channels or smaller broadcast networks such as the CW or ION. Three of the networks -- CBS, NBC and Fox -- have filed suit declaring the AutoHop violates their copyright.

Google is here! Google unveiled its much-anticipated Google Fiber service that is launching in Kansas City,  Mo. Besides super fast broadband, Google Fiber also will compete with cable TV and has deals with most programmers. However a few are still missing, including ESPN, HBO and CNN. More on Google Fiber from All Things Digitial and the Los Angeles Times.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A guide on all you need to know about Olympic coverage.

Follow me on Twitter. I'm a gold medal tweeter.

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