Industry News

Who is James Packer? He’s an Australian businessman who’s the son of late media tycoon Kerry Packer, he’s the guy who just sold Consolidated Media Holdings to News Corp for $2.1 billion, and he’s the guy who’s teaming up with Brett Ratner to put the infamous director in charge of his own production company. According to Deadline, the duo are teaming up to create RatPac Entertainment, an entity that’s looking to produce and finance independent films as well as co-finance big blockbusters through partnerships with the larger studios. Not yet is much known about the fledgling company’s immediate plans, but it’s said that they’re already set up as a co-financier on two unnamed projects, and Ratner says of the new venture,“We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films, but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers.” Traditionally, Ratner gets a bad name in the film media because he’s made a few unfortunate comments in public interviews and he’s largely thought of as being the sort of journeyman director who’s brought onto films to toe the line and protect corporate interests; so it’s likely that the idea of him heading up his own production company is going to take a lot of flack. But, really, does it sound like that bad of an idea when you think about it?

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In an age where Hollywood studios finally seem to be wising up to the value of streaming rights to their content, I’ve been questioning the continued viability of all-you-can-watch subscription services like Netflix. But, if the company is able to continue inking deals like the one they made today, we could all be safely watching gobs of cheap movies through their platform for the foreseeable future. What’s this deal I speak of? Brothers Harvey and Bob’s Weinstein Company has made an agreement with the service to make a host of their recent films available for streaming on Netflix exclusively, instead of sending them to cable. That includes titles like the Madonna-directed W.E., the Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus, and probably the crown jewel of the deal, Best Picture Nominee The Artist. As usually happens when deals like this are made, ass-kissing by both sides commenced. Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos said, “We couldn’t be happier to be working again with Harvey and Bob, who have an unmatched track record of creating critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies.” He then added, “The Artist is a symbol of the Weinsteins’ triumphant return to the top of the film business. Through deep passion, great taste and phenomenal vision, Harvey and Bob continue to surprise audiences and make history.” You hear that? These returning heroes are making history. That Uggie was one cute dog.

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Redbox kiosks have their good points and their bad points. On the one hand, you can’t beat renting newish home video releases for just a buck a night. That price beats any of the brick and mortar video stores and any of the VOD services that are baked into people’s home electronics. But, on the other hand, I kind of see them as the multiplex of the home video industry. By putting brick and mortar video stores out of business while offering a much more limited selection, they’re just reinforcing the idea in the moviegoing public’s mind that there are only two or three huge movies out that are worth paying attention to at any given time, indie and art films be damned. Still, you can’t beat that price, so Redbox’s parent company Coinstar has seen profits grow and their stock prices soar over the past couple of years. And now that things have gone so well, Coinstar is looking to capitalize on that success by making moves to take over the entire home video landscape. Dueling reports on Redbox activity have hit the financial world today, and both could have big impacts on the future of how we watch movies at home.

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It’s been my opinion for a while now that all-you-can-eat subscription services like Netflix are going to be a temporary thing with a limited window of success. Back when movie streaming was a minor thing aimed at a niche, tech savvy audience, it probably made sense for studios to sign deals with Netflix giving them access to their film libraries. Even five years ago high speed Internet wasn’t so ubiquitous, and if you wanted to stream something over the Internet, that pretty much meant you were streaming it to your computer monitor. But in today’s world of omnipresent wifi and apps that allow everyone to stream movies to smart TVs, video game consoles, app-enabled Blu-ray players, smart phones, and tablet computers, the entire game has changed. Now people can stream movies wherever they are, whenever they want. And they do… a lot. I think we’ve all seen that statistic floating around that 1/3 of all Internet traffic in the evenings comes from people streaming movies through Netflix. While I’m not in any position to prove that such a statistic is true, let’s just assume that it’s mostly true; that accounts for a huge amount of movie watching that ten years ago was being done through the more profitable to studios vehicle of DVD purchases and rentals.

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Coming off a year where box office sales showed some of the most disappointing weekends in quite a few years, and where the DVD buying bubble has now clearly burst, you could say that it’s starting to look like the film industry is in some financial trouble. They’ve tried to find new revenue in the form of 3D films, but as the months have worn on ticket sales to 3D showings have been bringing in less and less extra cash, and sales of 3D enabled home equipment pretty much never got out of the gate with any momentum. Factor in the rise of cheap rentals through Redbox kiosks and all-you-can-eat streaming services like Netflix, and the film industry as a whole is faced with the daunting task of how to keep their content seen as being a commodity. All hope doesn’t seem to be lost for makers of motion pictures, however, THR talked to a number a studio heads about what’s been working for them over the last year and where they expect to see growth in 2012, and there seems to be some hope. Over and over again the two areas where movies seem to be making more money than they did in year’s past is through video on demand services and sales of Blu-ray discs. Dennis Maguire, the president of worldwide home media distribution for Paramount said, “2011 showed that home entertainment continues to excite and enthrall consumers. Blu-ray and EST continued to surge, and new delivery systems […]

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A deal was announced today that Walt Disney Pictures will start allowing hundreds of their films to be rented on YouTube, the Google-owned video hosting site that has also been pushing itself as a place to rent mainstream video titles since May of this year. Disney’s deal makes it the fourth big studio, joining Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros., to allow easy access to their movies not just on the YouTube.com site, but also on Android powered devices and on Google TV. Some Disney titles have already started hitting the site, with older movies like Alice in Wonderland available for a $1.99 rental, and newer titles like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides available for $4.99. In addition to pushing movie rentals on their site, YouTube has also been active in developing branded channels where big time media companies can distribute video for free. This new Disney rentals deal was proceeded earlier this month by an announcement that the two companies were launching a co-branded YouTube channel for Disney’s original series. According to Reuters, this new channel will include, “video drawn from relevant family-friendly content currently available across YouTube, original video produced by Disney, as well as a blend of current Disney Interactive original series, select Disney Channel programming and Disney user created content.”

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DreamWorks Animation has been making animated features that are then distributed by Paramount Pictures for a while now. It’s been a good model that’s, for the most part, worked out well. Heck, when they put out How to Train Your Dragon, people even started to talk about how they were approaching or meeting Pixar levels of success. But this partnership between companies appears to now be over, and the future of animated movies is looking a bit uncertain. What happened? Well, despite the fact that the DreamWorks/Paramount relationship has been making money and achieving more and more critical success, Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg hasn’t been happy with his end of the deal, and has started shopping around the rights to distribute Dreamworks films to other companies. As a matter of fact, Katzenberg is reportedly looking for someone to agree to purchase Dreamworks Animation as a part of a new distribution deal.

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Mark Cuban owns a lot of things, websites, cable channels, sports teams, and even some movie related companies. Magnolia Pictures is a distribution company that focuses on distributing foreign and art films in the United States. Landmark Theaters is a theater chain that plays those foreign and art films, the biggest one in the U.S. actually. They are both part of Cuban’s holdings, but now he’s put them up for sale. As a movie fan, I find this news to be pretty scary.

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Redband Trailer

The nation’s largest theater chain announced recently that they’ll soon allow Red Band trailers onto their screens.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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