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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Off to See the Wizard in 3-D Digital! RNC to lock nets out of debates over Hillary. Sony rebuffs Third Point. Bezos buys Washington Post. Program Cost Drive up cable costs.

'Wizard of Oz' in 3-D to debut at renovated Chinese Theatre
A visitor from Texas puts her hands in Matt Damon's prints at TCL Chinese Theatre, which is reopening with "The Wizard of Oz" in Imax 3-D (Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times / July 22, 2013)

'Wizard of Oz' to debut in 3-D at renovated Chinese Theatre

As it moves into the digital future, the former Grauman's Chinese Theatre will draw from its Hollywood past when it unveils a giant Imax auditorium with a 3-D screening of "The Wizard of Oz."
The new theater, now called TCL Chinese Theatre Imax, will reopen to the public next month with a digitally remastered version of the classic that held its Hollywood premiere at the Chinese in 1939. The Chinese has been closed for renovations since May 1.
TCL partnered with Warner Bros. and Imax to release "The Wizard of Oz" in Imax 3-D format. The theater will host a private premiere at the theater Sept. 15, followed by an exclusive one-week engagement at the Chinese and other Imax theaters across North America beginning Sept. 20.
"This film and the TCL Chinese Theatre are among the best-known and most-beloved icons of Hollywood filmmaking, and of course, the amazing Imax technology represents the future of filmmaking," said Alwyn Hight Kushner, president and chief operating officer for TCL Chinese Theatres. "It's going to be a game changer for the film industry and the city of Hollywood."
The iconic Hollywood Boulevard theater will feature a 90-foot-wide, 46-foot-tall screen in an auditorium that will seat 932 people. It will be the world's largest Imax auditorium in terms of seating capacity among about 730 theaters worldwide.
Consumers will pay a premium to watch Dorothy and her companions on the giant screen in 3-D: Tickets for the "Oz" screening will cost $19.
"There are very few people alive who've ever seen 'Wizard of Oz' in a movie theater, let alone an Imax movie theater," said Richard Gelfond, chief executive of Imax Corp. "We've been surprised by the level of interest we've had in it."
TCL has invested more than $5 million in the renovations, which also include new LEDs on the interior and exterior of the building. Plans to replace the marquee are still underway.
The renovations involved removing the flooring and seating of the Chinese Theatre and did not disturb historic features, such as the ornate lighting fixtures, murals and medallions.
"The Chinese decor has been completely preserved and protected," Kushner said.
Imax plans to make TCL Chinese Theatre one of its main venues for holding premieres of big-budget action movies. The remodeled Chinese will feature stadium seating, as well as a new Imax sound system and digital projector, with plans to replace it with a laser projector system that Imax is adding to its circuit.
Following a model that it has used in other venues, Imax will sell its equipment to the owners and receive a percentage of ticket sales.
"It's a very big deal for us," said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment. "It's sort of the perfect manifestation of what we're supposed to do, which is provide an experience for moviegoers that can't be replicated elsewhere."
The storied Hollywood Boulevard theater, best known for its giant red Chinese pagoda, 30-foot-tall Chinese dragon and footprints and handprints of famous stars in concrete, opened in 1927 and was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968. Judy Garland, the star of "Wizard of Oz," was the honoree for the 50th handprint ceremony in the forecourt in 1939.
The Chinese is one of the most popular tourism draws in Los Angeles. It was the site of the Academy Award ceremonies in the 1940s and has hosted numerous high-profile premieres.
Warner Bros. spent years on the digital remastering of "The Wizard of Oz."
"We couldn't be happier to partner with Imax as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of this iconic film," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures. "We are excited to give fans the rare opportunity to see this stunning version on the big screen."

The Washington Post
The Washington Post has been acquired by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images / August 6, 2013)

After the coffee. Before feeling like I'm back in college with a term paper due. 

The Skinny: Remember pulling all-nighters in college? Well that's what I'll be doing tonight. But that's later, so for now we'll focus on the day's headlines which includes more on the CBS-Time Warner Cable fight and Sony's message to a pesky shareholder. Also Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post

A scene from Sunday night's episode of "Big Brother." (Sonja Flemming / CBS)

Time Warner Cable blackout having minimal impact on ratings

Time Warner Cable's blackout of CBS signals, resulting from an ongoing carriage dispute, has had a minimal effect on the network's ratings, CBS said Monday. 
Through the first three nights of the outage, which began Friday, the network's ratings have been down by about 1%, according to CBS' estimates. 
CBS-owned media outlets went dark for Time Warner Cable customers in several markets, including Los Angeles and New York, affecting about 3.2 million customers, CBS said. 
Because of the small percentage of customers affected and the fact that August is typically one of the lowest months for ratings, the dispute is expected to have a "negligible" financial effect on the company, a CBS spokesman said in an email. 
CBS' reality show "Big Brother" drew about 6.8 million viewers Sunday night and scored a 2.2 rating in the key 18-to-49 demographic, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen, down about 4% from last week. Mystery series"Unforgettable" fell about 8% from last week's premiere to a 1.2 rating. A ratings point equals roughly 1.3 million viewers. 
NBC easily won Sunday night with the pre-season NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins. In prime time, the network drew an average 7.96 million viewers and scored a 2.9 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Daily Dose: Over the next few days, analysts will no doubt start trying to put a dollar figure on the CBS-Time Warner Cable fight. There will be estimates on what CBS is losing by not being on Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. But analysts will probably only look at the network when the real pain will be felt at the local level by the CBS stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Meanwhile, don't expect Time Warner Cable customers to start thinking about alternate distributors until football season starts to creep up on us. 

CBS-Time Warner stalemate unlikely to end soon
Time Warner's Robert Marcus blames the fee dispute on programming costs, which are “growing at a rate that is not sustainable.” (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Caught in the middle. While CBS and Time Warner Cable bicker, confused and angry consumers are no doubt wondering why this is happening and when they will get CBS and Showtime back. The feud over distribution fees is providing regular folks a rare view of one of the more dysfunctional aspects of the entertainment industry -- the relationship between programmers and distributors. The Los Angeles Times on the back story of CBS and Time Warner Cable. 

Sony CEO and President Kazuo Hirai
Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corp., in Sun Valley, Idaho, last month. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images / July9, 2013)

Thanks but no thanks. Sony Corp. Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai told investor Daniel Loeb that the consumer electronics giant will not spin off its entertainment assets as the hedge fund operator had advocated. In a letter to Loeb's Third Point, Kazuo said "demand for content is increasing its value in a dynamic industry environment, and we believe our entertainment businesses will increasingly benefit from these trends." More from the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times

Video: Donald Graham, the Post Co. chairman and chief executive, explains why he came to believe Amazon founder Jeff Bezos offers the Post the best chance to thrive after 80 years of Graham family ownership.

End of an era. What would Woodward and Berstein think? And who would the new owner have backed in the days of Watergate? Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has acquired the Washington Post for $250 million, bringing more than 80 years of ownership by the Graham family to an end. Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth, granddaughter of the late great Katharine Graham will remain with the paper. Like most newspapers, the Washington Post has struggled to adjust to the digital age. Bezos will take the paper private and has deep enough pockets to show some patience and hopefully focus on making quality journalism pay rather than what will get the most clicks. Coverage from the Washington Post and New York Times

CNN Calls Republicans’ Hillary Clinton Threat ‘Disservice to Voters’
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Presidential Debate Boycott! Tough talk. The Republican National Committee is not too happy with NBC and CNN's plans for movies about Hillary Clinton, who is considered the Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential election. In a letter to the heads of NBC and CNN, RNC chief Reince Priebus said the projects appear to be a "thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election." He went on to say the two networks risked being cut out of 2016 debates. Details from Reuters and Variety

Discovery Channel's Shark Week among the most social TV events
Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which began Sunday, entered the top 10 most discussed TV programs on Twitter, according to SocialGuide. This great white shark near Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico is among the ocean predators featured. (Andrew Brandy Casagrande / Associated Press)

Discovery's Shark Week fans go into Twitter frenzy

Discovery Channel's Shark Week has begun to gobble up social media attention, as fin fans turned to Twitter to discuss the first special, "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives," about a hunt for a killer shark off the coast of South Africa.
Two Shark Week programs broke into the top 10 most talked about TV shows on Twitter for the week of July 29-Aug. 4, according to SocialGuide, which ranks the most social TV programs ranked by activity on the social media site.
The network did plenty to fan the Twitter frenzy, including hosting a Google+ Hangout at the National Aquarium's Blacktip Reef in Baltimore, an exhibit swarming with sharks. YouTube celebrity iJustine joined aquarium experts and "Shark After Dark" host Josh Wolf in hosting Sunday's event, which marks the official start of Shark Week. Discovery Channel also is featuring fan tweets during the telecasts.
The top 10 TV listing of most social shows for the week are:
  1. Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta (VH1), Monday, 736,045 tweets
  2. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (MTV), Sunday, 551,862 tweets
  3. Catfish: The TV Show (MTV), Tuesday, 415,985 tweets
  4. Teen Wolf (MTV), Monday, 344,940 tweets
  5. Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives (Discovery), Sunday, 325,408 tweets
  6. Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family), Tuesday, 282,283 tweets
  7. Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor (BBC America), Sunday, 252,623 tweets
  8. The Bachelorette (ABC), Monday, 187,180 tweets
  9. Hit the Floor (VH1), Monday, 167,105 tweets
  10. Air Jaws: Countdown to Shark Week 2013 (Discovery), Sunday, 152,796 tweets

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in a scene from "42." (D. Stevens / Associated Press)

'42' remains best-selling DVD; 'Identity Thief' top rental

Holding on from the previous week, the Jackie Robinson biopic "42" was the top-selling DVD, coming in ahead of "Evil Dead," the remake of the 1981 cult horror favorite. 
"Identity Thief," the crime comedy starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, was again No. 1 among rentals in its eighth week in release. 
Here are the top titles for the week that ended July 27 for sales and July 28 for rentals, according to Rentrak. 

Top 10 DVD and Blu-ray sales
1. "42" (Warner Bros.). Week 2
2. "Evil Dead" (Sony). Week 2
3. "Despicable Me" (Universal). Week 137
4. "Tyler Perry's Temptation" (Lionsgate). Week 3
5. "Oz the Great and Powerful" (Disney). Week 7
6. "Vehicle 19" (Ketchup Entertainment). Week 1
7. "Jack the Giant Slayer" (Warner Bros.). Week 6
8. "The Host" (Universal). Week 3
9. "A Good Day to Die Hard" (Fox). Week 8
10. "Identity Thief" (Universal). Week 8

Top 10 DVD and Blu-ray rentals
1. "Identity Thief" (Universal). Week 8
2. "Jack The Giant Slayer" (New Line). Week 6
3. "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (New Line). Week 5
4. "A Good Day To Die Hard" (FOX). Week 8
5. "The Call" (Sony). Week 5
6. "Evil Dead" (Sony). Week 2
7. "Dead Man Down" (Sony). Week 4
8. "21 & Over" (Fox). Week 6
9. "Oz The Great And Powerful" (Disney). Week 7
10. "The Host" (Universal). Week 3

Rentals through companies such as Redbox, which last year was the only category of rentals to grow, fell 4%. (George Frey / Getty Images / April 26, 2006)

Home entertainment business grows.

The home entertainment business is growing again, albeit slowly, despite the fact that people continue to spend less on DVDs.
After years of declines, total consumer spending on movies for home use grew 2% in the first half of the year to $8.63 billion.
People increasingly spent money to access or own digital copies of movies, which helped make up for declining sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. A 15% increase in  sales of more expensive Blu-rays helped offset an overall decline in disc sales of about 5%.
Most of the business went to online retailers Inc.Apple Inc.'s iTunes store, Best Buy Co.'s CinemaNow,Google Play and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Vudu.
Sales of electronic copies grew to $491 million in the first six months of 2013, up 50% from the same period last year. That segment, combined with the explosion in subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix, helped digital revenue grow 24% over last year.
Studio executives said the growth in digital revenue was helped by services that make it easier for consumers to buy and watch electronic versions of movies and programming online, such as Ultraviolet.
Ultraviolet, a service that stores consumers' purchased digital content online, grew to 13 million accounts in the first part of the year, up from 9 million at the end of 2012.
Executives also touted the now-common practice of making digital downloads available to consumers days and sometimes weeks before they're released on DVD and Blu-ray. This makes owning electronic versions more attractive to customers than waiting for their release on discs or until they become available through streaming, said Steve Beeks, president and co-chief operating officer at Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
"It's to make the ownership proposition attractive to consumers," Beeks said. "We've spent a lot of time as an industry helping them make the transition. It really allows consumers access to their programming any place at any time, and consumers are getting more comfortable with it."
Home entertainment is an important revenue source for movie studios. Industrywide, sales of movies for use in the home accounted for $4.05 billion in the first half of the year, compared with $4.6 billion from movie theaters. It's also where many movies that perform poorly at the box office can make up a lot of ground.
Ron Sanders, Warner Bros.' home entertainment president, said the underlying trends in the industry are encouraging, especially because the parts of the business that are growing, such as digital copies and Blu-ray discs, have higher margins.
Although electronic sales contributed only a small portion of home entertainment revenue, Sanders said it is significant and he expects it to continue growing.
"It's already materialized," Sanders said. "It's already the size of brick-and-mortar rental with a growth rate that says it's going to be a significant part of the revenue for this year and next year."
Rental spending, not including video-on-demand, fell 11%, continuing its slide.
Even video rental kiosks are faltering. Rentals through companies such as Redbox, which last year was the only category of rentals to grow, fell 4%.
Streaming through Netflix and other services continued to grow. Subscription streaming spending increased to $1.49 billion for the first half, an increase of 32% year over year.
But Sanders argued that owning movies and TV shows is still attractive for consumers who can't get the latest releases through streaming.
Things are looking up for the full year too, with big-budget films set to hit shelves — at bricks-and-mortar and online stores — in the second half of the year.
"The big summer releases will begin to come out, and we'll continue to see that growth through the rest of the year," Beeks said.

Time Warner Cable
The Time Warner Cable has blocked CBS-owned local stations and cable channels in some of its markets. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Robert Lloyd on the CBS-Time Warner Cable feud. "The Wizard of Oz" in 3-D will have its debut at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. 
Follow me on Twitter. I won't be suspended for performance enhancing drugs. @JBFlint.

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