Jeffrey Katzenberg

The Hangover Part II

I love when Jeffrey Katzenberg has predictions about the movie industry. Here’s a guy who thought 3D was going to change everything. I mean, it could have, and I was with him back in 2006, but that got ruined fast (don’t even get me started on how bad The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks, especially in the first two action scenes). He’s also a guy who seemed to have it all figured out about revolutionizing the feature animation game when he left Disney, but now of course he’s losing money on one bad idea after another (not that I ever though Shrek was a good idea). Now his latest prophecy is as silly as they get: the DreamWorks Animation head thinks by 2024 we will be paying variable prices for movie content based on the size of the screen. Yep, that would mean your Netflix subscription would monitor whether you were watching on a phone, tablet, laptop, modest size TV or big screen TV. Who knows what the deal would be on monitor and projector hookups to your computer, the latter potentially blowing up your picture to fill your wall, but then he also rattles off prices as if movie theater tickets will still only be $15. Katzenberg’s idea came up during some panel about entrepreneurial leadership on Monday. Variety quoted him as saying, I think the model will change and you won’t pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that’s exactly three […]

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Honorary Oscars 2012

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hal Needham, D.A. Pennebaker, and George Stevens Jr. have been chosen by the board of governors to receive honorary Oscars, and Jeffrey Katzenberg has been chosen for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Needham is most famous for his stunt coordination (although there is currently no Oscar for stunt work) on films like Blazing Saddles, Camelot and Chinatown. He went on to direct Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and others. Pennebaker has covered several musical icons in his documentaries – Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and David Bowie all got the true story treatment from him – but it was for his Bill Clinton 1992 campaign team doc The War Room that earned him his only Oscar nomination (he lost out to I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary). Stevens Jr. is also a previous Oscar nominee for his short documentary The Five Cities in June, but he’s perhaps best known as the founder of the American Film Institute and the producer of several television programs as well as the movie The Thin Red Line. Katzenberg is, of course, the co-founder of DreamWorks and an Oscar nominee himself (when Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was considered for Best Animated) but he’s being honored here for his philanthropic work. He joins past winners Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey.

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Bad Boys

We didn’t get enough of Michael Bay‘s ego blowing the world up a few weeks ago. We’re interested in more. That’s why in this week’s Commentary Commentary, we’re covering Bay’s first movie, the calling card, if you will, that would eventually launch this man to such great heights, he could make hundreds of millions of dollars playing with toy robots. We’re talking about Bad Boys. No, I’m not gonna sing the song. Thought about it. Decided to pass. Bad Boys started a lot of things. It began Will Smith‘s rise to divine power. It started something with Martin Lawrence that would eventually sputter out some time around Bad Boys II. Poor guy. Black Knight just wasn’t a good idea. Mr. Bay is sure to spew all kinds of love for both of these guys, as well as the massive number of explosions we’ll be seeing throughout the film. His Armageddon commentary was so much fun and surprisingly insightful, so there’s no telling what we’ll be in store for with Bad Boys. Whatcha gonna do? I couldn’t help it.

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.

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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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‘Shrek Forever After’ offers conclusive proof that the franchise has run out of steam.

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We recently had a chance to visit the luxurious InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio and meet with one of the producers of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. And yes, there is a luxurious hotel in Ohio.

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I spent yesterday touring the halls of DreamWorks Animation, and being shown some footage from their next film Monsters Vs. Aliens.

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Steven Spielberg to leave Paramount

We reported a while back about how the relationship between Dreamworks and Paramount was hitting a rocky, desolate crossroads back in September. The surprising news was how civil and under-the-radar the major players were being about the whole ordeal. Now, it looks like the gloves are coming off, getting filled with bricks, and being put back on.

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Here we go for week two of our joint feature known as “The Best Articles on the Web”. We have partnered up with some of our good friends from around the movie blogosphere to spread joy and editorial greatness. Check out the articles after the jump.

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