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Friday, September 7, 2012

Democratic convention's final night draws 35.7 million viewers. 'Possession' to possess box office. Apple plans Pandora rival. Fox to co-produce movies in China. A season of politics and football ahead.

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton
President Obama joins former President Bill Clinton on the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Ratings giant Nielsen said the Democratic convention garnered 25.1 million viewers Wednesday night. (Michael Reynolds / EPA / September 5, 2012). Thursdays audience exceeded 35.7 million viewers to hear President Obama accept the nomination.


After the coffee. Before deciding if I need the new Kindle.

The Skinny: In yet another sign that I'm getting old (as if I needed it), last night was the first time in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards that I didn't tune in for one second. What I won't do is now write a story saying the show is passe because I'm no longer the target audience. Friday's headlines include a grim look at the weekend box office, new contract talks for Fox News chief Roger Ailes, and Christopher Nolan being caught up in a fight between two big Hollywood talent agencies.

Daily Dose: ESPN  reached a new long-term deal to carry Big 12 college football. While terms were not disclosed on the agreement, which runs through the 2024-25 season. the deal -- coupled with Fox's Big 12 agreement -- values the TV rights for the conference at over $2 billion, people familiar with the pact said.

President Obama after speech at Democratic National Convention
Family and friends join President Obama onstage Thursday night after his speech at the Democratic National Convention. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times / September6, 2012)

Big Night for Democrats. An estimated 35.7 million people watched President Obama accept his party's nomination Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C., according to Nielsen. That's 5.4 million estimated viewer more then when Romney accepted the nomination.

The audience for the prime-time coverage of the final night of the Democratic National Convention eclipsed the 30.3 million who tuned in last week to see Mitt Romney speak at theRepublican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

However, four years ago, an estimated 38.3 million viewers watched then-Sen. Barack Obama accept his party's nomination for president, according to Nielsen. Thursday night's audience level represented a 7% decline from 2008.  (The following week, in September 2008, nearly as many people -- 37 million -- watched coverage of the Republican National Convention to see vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin speak.)

The audiences for this year's conventions have been slightly older, which could be a troubling sign for Obama, who once again is looking to galvanize younger voters to turn out at the polls.

Half of those watching Thursday night -- 17.97 million viewers -- were over the age of 55.  In contrast, an estimated 5.4 million viewers ages 18 to 34 watched Thursday, down from an estimated 6.7 million in that demographic in 2008.

Once again, NBC drew the largest audience during the prime-time coverage Thursday, attracting an average 8 million viewers. ABC pulled in about 3.7 million viewers Thursday, and CBS averaged 3 million.

Thirteen networks, including several Spanish-language networks, broadcast Thursday's event:  ABC, CBS, NBC, BET, CNN, CNBCCurrent TVFox News ChannelMSNBCmun2PBS, TV One and Univision.

'The Possession'  
 Natasha Calis stars in "The Possession." (Lionsgate)

Stay home and watch football. For reasons unknown to me, this is traditionally the slowest movie weekend of the year. Maybe in the past it was because kids were in back-to-school and college mode, but these days, school starts in August for many. Maybe it's the return of the NFLor the baseball pennant races heating up. Or maybe Hollywood has decided for some reason not to release good movies on the weekend after Labor Day just for the heck of it. I'm still waiting for an answer. Anyway, "The Possession" is expected to stay on top for the second week in a row. If you want to know anything else, you can read a preview in the Los Angeles Times.  

Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin at his Beijing office
Wanda Group, headed by Chairman Wang Jianlin, is in talks to establish a film co-production fund with 20th Century Fox. (David Pierson / Los Angeles Times)

FOX and China. 20th Century Fox is finalizing a deal to co-produce movies in China with Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate that finalized its $2.6-billion purchase of U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment this week.

Discussions about a potential partnership began last year when Fox Co-Chairman Jim Gianopulos and International Productions President Sanford Panitch were visiting China.

They continued this week when Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin visited with the leaders of a number of studios during a visit to Los Angeles to mark the closing of the acquisition of AMC. Wang, who has said he intends to invest as much as $10 billion in acquiring American companies and products, met with senior executives at studios including Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. to discuss the future of AMC and potential co-productions.

To continue reading in the Los Angeles Times click More..

Jeff Bridges, "Tron: Legacy"
Jeff Bridges in "Tron: Legacy." Digital Domain created special effects for the movie.(Disney Enterprises)

CEO resigns as Florida Studio Shuttered. Digital Domain Media Group, the parent company of the Venice-based visual effects house, said Friday that it was laying off most of the 300 employees at its new animation studio in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and shutting down the facility.

The company also announced that Digitial Domain Chief Executive John Textor had resigned immediately.
Digital Domain, which created visual effects for such movies as "Titantic,"  the "Transformers"movies and "Tron: Legacy," said the moves were part of a "strategic realignment" to refocus the company on its core business of creating visual effects digital effects, CG animation and digital production for the entertainment and advertising industries.

The company said the actions were part of an ongoing effort to "reduce its overhead and restructure long-term debt." The company said it was attempting to secure new sources of financing to meet its cash flow needs and that it would be forced to seek bankruptcy protection if those efforts were unsuccessful.

Digital Domain's studios in California and Vancouver intend to continue operating without interruption, as will the newly created Digital Domain Institute based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Continue reading this story in the Los Angeles times by clicking  More..

Show me the commissions! "Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan, who agent jumped from Creative Artists Agency to WME, is trying to figure out which shop will end up with the commissions from his work. So he did what any normal Hollywood guy does. He filed a lawsuit against both agencies. In this crazy world, that actually makes a little sense because Nolan needs this resolved and wants to be in the driver's seat instead of being caught in the middle. Details from Deadline Hollywood.

Look out, Pandora. Apple is looking to launch a music streaming service to rival Pandora and other services such as Spotify andClear Channel's iHeartRadio, reports the Wall Street Journal. Apple, the article says, has had talks with record labels to figure out terms of such a deal, which, like Pandora, would include commercials.

New contract. Although his current contract still has close to a year left on it, Fox News chief Roger Ailes is looking to sign a new deal. Ailes already makes north of $20 million and is the highest-paid unit head at the company. Fox News is a big engine at parent company News Corp. The question is whether there is other turf Ailes wants to get his hands on or is it just about the bucks. More from New York magazine.

Big game! The football season is not even through its first weekend and CBS has already sold 90% of the advertising inventory available for the Super Bowl, which it will air in February.USA Today says CBS is getting as much as $3.8 million per 30-second spot. Last year, NBC took in an average of $3.5 million. Last year's Super Bowl drew just over 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV event in U.S. history.

Nig 12
This May 4, 2012 file photo shows new Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, right, smiling at a news conference where he was introduced to the media at Big 12 headquarters in Irving, Texas. At left is Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis. (LM Otero / Associated Press / September 7, 2012)

ESPN has reached a new PAC with the BIG 12. Walt Disney Co. 's ESPN has renewed its television deal with the Big 12 conference, home to college football powerhouses Oklahoma,Texas and West Virginia.

The new deal runs through the 2024-25 season and follows a similar deal Fox Sports struck with the Big 12 last season.

While terms of the contract were not disclosed, Sports Business Journal previously reported that the combined value of the agreements is $2.5 billion. ESPN is believed to be paying $1.3 billion while Fox is shelling out $1.2 billion.

Fox is upping its college football game this season with more contests on Saturday as it tries to boost ratings on a night that has been pretty much left for dead by the broadcast networks. Fox will now have parity with ESPN in choosing Big 12 games.

The agreement does give ESPN more games to show starting in 2016.

Blah. Foreign buyers of U.S. television shows are apparently less than thrilled with the new comedies and dramas coming out this year, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Well, join the club. Of course, that didn't slow down sales. The issue really is whether any of the new shows have the staying power to generate big bucks for Hollywood studios and production companies.

A new alliance. Movie distributor eOne has acquired Alliance Films for $229 million. The deal will make eOne the biggest independent film distributor in Britain and Canada, according toVariety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Working the film fesitival circuit is not all fun and games. Just ask  writer-director Ariel Vromen. A recap of the MTV Video Awards.
Follow me on Twitter. It'll put hair on your chest. @JBFlint.

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