Movie Business

We try to keep cursing in the headlines down a minimum in case small children or animals are toddling by an RSS feed, but seriously, Netflix‘s very public business-making decisions lately have demanded a little swearing. It’s a company that started with an innovative idea, but it’s also a company that provides DVDs through the postal service and streaming video. Beyond that, it shouldn’t be rocket surgery. Of course, maybe it’s not that the company has made a few bad decisions lately, but that so many have been broadcast or celebrated publicly before slinking back into the shadows of shame that is what’s so damning. The latest blunder disguised as a shrewd move? Netflix is responding to its stock prices by killing Qwikster before it was even implemented. The company had intended to split their DVD and streaming services into two products, meaning that dual-users would have had to create a Qwikster account and keep up with their Netflix streaming queue. Two queues is apparently way too much for our media-addled minds (especially when you also have Get Glue and Four Square to check into). It’s excellent to see a company respond to such vehement negative customer response, but it’s also one more sign of weakness. Instead of moving forward with the service and letting customers get used to it (or, hell, even grow to like it), Netflix has admitted it was moronic by aborting it. Hopefully this is the last bad dance step. In a short, sweet email to […]

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In 2009, Lee Storey made the documentary Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story after finding out that her husband had been involved with the 1960s musical/ethical group. It played at Slamdance and several other festivals. Last March, US Tax Court Judge Diane Kroupa researched the film and its production with an eye to rule on whether or not Storey owes thousands in back taxes and penalties. The reason? Kroupa is determining whether making a documentary is a hobby or not. If she finds that it is, it could have a profound effect on documentary filmmaking.

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There’s a rarely talked about scourge worming its way through the studio system and reaching beyond it. It’s the comic book movie – in all of its harmless glory, the beauty of its spectacle, and the incredible nature of its dominance over other sub-genres. The truth is, no single comic book movie can do direct harm to an audience (except maybe Jonah Hex). The sub-genre has been incredibly helpful not only in bringing about a large amount of joy to the lives of billions but also in helping to usher in other “geek” properties to the mainstream. But we’re not talking about direct damage here. The insidious problem that comic book movies cause comes from their own popularity. Executives in the major studios and even those in the indie world are passing over original ideas simply because they aren’t comic books, and that’s a problem.

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So far, the war against film piracy has had a familiar pattern. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern that leads to failure.

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Disney wants to use you to sell its products, but you won’t be getting paid. How do you feel about that?

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