Studios

Michael J. Lerner Barton Fink

As we all know, Hollywood is imploding. Steven Spielberg is on the case, millions of angry comment section responses to remake announcements are on the case, and now producer Lynda Obst is on the case. In an excerpt from her new book, “Sleepless in Hollywood,” Obst laboriously details her drive to former Fox CEO Peter Chernin‘s house while repeating the phrases New Abnormal and Old Abnormal until they seem clever. Okay, so I didn’t like the chapter, but it did feature at least two clear insights into the current production mindset of the major studios. The New Abby Someone, if you will. First: DVD sales numbers are the real killer. According to Chernin via Obst, “The historical studio business, if you put all the studios together, runs at about a ten percent profit margin. For every billion dollars in revenue, they make a hundred million dollars in profits. That’s the business, right? . . . The DVD business represented fifty percent of their profits. Fifty percent. The decline of that business means their entire profit could come down between forty and fifty percent for new movies.”

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Veronica Mars

Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell raised $2m through Kickstarter yesterday, and they did it in under 10 hours. As of this morning, their effort to score a budget for a Veronica Mars movie has secured their goal with about $500,000 and 29 days to spare. One guy, entrepreneur Steve Dengler, even gave $10,000 to the production to get a small speaking role in the film (and because he’s a big, big supporter of crowdfunding). What they did took a certain kind of courage. Maybe not greater courage than the more-standardized model of getting money from fans when they hand it over at the box office, but absolutely a different type of courage. After all, it’s one nerve-wracking thing to convince studio executives that your idea has an audience, but it’s another to prove it out on the limb without the amount of fan support you thought you had. Simply put, it’s likely we’d all be writing different pieces if Thomas and Bell’s Kickstarter campaign were still languishing at $6,000. Fortunately, fans have proven their overwhelming dedication to seeing Ms. Mars again by breaking records and ensuring that Thomas may actually get to include a big choreographed fight scene amid all the broody talking. With 29 more days to raise funds, who knows how high they might go. Now, all of this comes with a catch: Warners (because they’ve held onto the copyright) will be distributing and making money off a movie that fans are funding. Depending on the deal they have with […]

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Comic actor Adam Sandler, his production company Happy Madison, and Sony Pictures all have a rich history of working together. They’ve brought us a litany of steaming piles of comedy crap, including titles like Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and the Kevin James-starring Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And, despite the fact that Sandler’s last horrible excuse for a comedy that he made with Sony, That’s My Boy, didn’t perform up to the standards of his previous films, all indications have been that the studio and Sandler were still perfectly happy in their relationship and ready to continue work on a Grown Ups sequel and then some sort of untitled Western comedy. But recently there was a glimmer of hope. Sony has been experiencing some money troubles, and has, as THR puts it in their report of all this inside baseball stuff, started, “actively seeking partners, divesting and abandoning specific projects.” This means that guys like Sandler, who may be showing signs of slowing down as an earner, are starting to look like a bigger risk to the studio, and that they’re less likely to fund risky projects unless they can get some sort of partner to come on board and split the cost. Suddenly, that untitled Western comedy was in trouble. Might it be possible that it could get put in turnaround, thus sparing us from having to see another terrible Adam Sandler comedy for a few years?

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Boiling Point

Dear reader, I come to you bearing the gravest of news. Hollywood is not making enough money. Tragic, I know, but there is something we can do. Something we must do. We must get out our checkbooks and donate to the big studios. We must shower them with money. For, hide the children, movie viewership is down to a 16 year low. For crying out loud, only 1.2 billion movie tickets were sold in America! How have we as a country let this happen? Where have we gone wrong? Reuters, The Daily Mail, they’re all reporting the lackluster year Hollywood has had. This is serious, people. This is big news. Studio executives everywhere are “battling” against a soft audience and struggling to match the numbers of previous years. Let me find my tiny violin, will you?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with sex symbol and film legend Angie Dickinson, discuss the parasitic relationship between studios and theaters, talk Bellflower‘s marketing strategy, and play a game we’re calling “Co-Directors.” Former assistant theater manager, massive film fan, and creative director at Rock Sauce Studios John Gholson explains how studios and theaters work together. He also makes a sex comedy featuring Andy Griffith seem just as enticing as it is in real life. Angie Dickinson has starred in over 50 films, played iconic roles from Rio Bravo to Ocean’s Eleven, and she was kind enough to spend some time talking to us about working with Sam Fuller and Frank Sinatra, creating her characters, and how movie-making has changed. FSR’s own Culture Warrior (and one of the Talking Heads) Landon Palmer braves a segment where we come up with directors we’d like to see work together, pitch a project for them, and figure out if it has a chance of getting made. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Murder sounds like it could be a massive hit. Plus, our very own Jeremy Kirk matches movie news wits with Peter Hall from Hollywood.com. Who will triumph at the sound of the correct answer bell and who will be forced to narfle the garthok? Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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It looks like everyone is throwing their hats into the ring. When the studios announced a plan to release movies in home theaters just 30 days after the theaters located outside the home (with a price tag of $30 per rental), the National Association of Theater Owners balked. Apparently their threat to boycott big blockbusters was a fake, but they haven’t kept secret their disgust for the new model that would limit their ability to make money showing movies (since studios take the 50%-100% lion’s share of the ticket split in the first weeks). Now, 23 directors and producers are speaking out against it. That list includes James Cameron, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Roland Emmerich, Antoine Fuqua, Todd Garner, Lawrence Gordon, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Gale Anne Hurd, Peter Jackson, Karyn Kusama, Jon Landau, Shawn Levy, Michael Mann, Bill Mechanic, Jamie Patricof, Todd Phillips, Brett Ratner, Robert Rodriguez, Adam Shankman, Gore Verbinski, and Robert Zemeckis. The full, un-edited open letter is below:

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Over the weekend, discounted tickets through Groupon helped The Lincoln Lawyer‘s box office numbers, which once again draws the question of ticket prices back into the forefront. It’s no secret that ticket prices are a cause for concern for both movie fans (like us) who feel hoodwinked by inflated prices of admission and movie studios who, despite record-breaking years recently, still want to make more money. Since lowering prices wholesale is apparently not an option, another solution has to be found, and Steve Zeitchik over at the LA Times gives about as smart and in-depth an exploration of flexible ticket pricing as you could hope for. Just like hotels and airfare, the movies that aren’t popular become cheaper while the huge hype of blockbusters comes with a bigger price tag. While a movie like Limitless starts to sell out, the prices go up, but as ticket sales for Paul stay low, the price drops. It’s almost as simple as that.

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Boiling Point: Movie Studios and the Digital Age

With a whirlwind of conflicting information from Pirates 4 to Iron Man 2, was there any ever doubt Robert Fure would hit his boiling point over all this?

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Warner Brothers Shuts Down Picturehouse, Warner Independent

Warner Brothers has made significant changes this week to its independent houses. And by changes, we mean that they are gone… Just gone.

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Life-Size WALL-Es to Roam Disney Parks This Summer

The Disney theme parks are building three-foot-tall (which is life-size, in case your were wondering) mobile animatronic versions of WALL-E. These live-action characters will roam the parks and interact with guests and their children.

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The PG-13/R Smackdown, Live on Pay-Per-View!

Something has been happening in Hollywood over the past few years, and some people are really getting their noses out of joint about it: PG-13ification of American cinema.

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Hollywood Sign

In most jobs, if you don’t produce quality work for a third of the year, you get fired. In Hollywood, however, you twiddle your thumbs and wait for Summer.

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Kiss My Ass, Harvey and Bob!

There was a time when Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the heroes of American cinema. Now, we are seeing that these guys are just big douchebags, like so many other people in the business.

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Screen Gems to Remake Emma in a Hip-Hop Context

Haven’t we had enough of Jane Austen? Apparently not, according to Screen Gems. That’s right. They’re not just re-making bad slasher films from the 80s. They’re also remaking stuffy British literature as musical urban street dramas.

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Reports are coming in that New Line is done for…

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All of Hollywood is talking about a video called “The Heartbreaking Voices of Uncertainty”. Now you can, too.

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