Some of the names on the move ahead of the open.» Read More
Here's hoping that the writers and producers made some progress over the long holiday weekend. Much of Hollywood is here in Park City at the Sundance film festival, where I've been since Thursday. But one person, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, is notably absent--super agent Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of talent agency giant, CAA (Creative Artists Agency).
I'm here in Park City at the Wasach Brew pub at the top of Main Street, where CNBC has set up a mini studio of sorts. All the d-girls and boys (that's Hollywood-speak for "development executives") are running around in their furry boots and jeans looking to find the next big director among the four films they see a day.
For years, everyone's been waiting for an indication that either Sony's Blu-Ray or Microsoft and Toshiba's Blu-Ray format would emerge triumphant and the other would go the way of the BETA deck. Today, finally, a crucial tipping point in this battle in which the $20 billion dollar home video market is at stake.
Could it be a "black-and-blue" Friday for Blu-ray? There are rumblings about a big announcement coming from Wal-Mart that could give a big boost to HD-DVD. I'm hearing that the company will begin selling the Toshiba HD-A2 for $98 in a special one-day, in-store secret sale. The unit sells for $198 at Circuit City and Amazon, so this is a steep discount.
"Mad Men," a TV show from Lions Gate about Madison Avenue AdMen in 1960, has been a hit among a very small audience. It airs on a division of Cablevision, Rainbow Media's AMC, which has only 90 million subscribers.
The domestic box office has been disappointing the past two weekends, especially compared to last year's boffo openings of "The Grudge 2" and "The Departed." But actor/director Tyler Perry came out smiling, his "Why Did I Get Married" comedy from Lions Gate bringing in $21.5 million on what must have been a very small production budget.
Jodie Foster blew away the box office competition with her vigilante thriller "The Brave One," but the poorly reviewed film's performance paled against her recent efforts.
Bawdy comedy "Superbad" proved to be super good at the North American movie boxoffices, holding onto the No. 1 slot for the second straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
There's no question that Blockbuster's livelihood is under attack--the business of driving to a store to rent a DVD and driving back when you're done is threatened from video on demand, and digital downloads, especially since both technologies are getting better and faster. So, looking to avoid going the way of the Beta Max, Blockbuster just purchased online movie downloading company Movielink for under $20 million.
A credit crunch affects any type of leveraged buyout--debt becomes more expensive and harder to obtain, requiring more equity, making returns lower. Considering how many leveraged deals Hollywood has made, that industry should be no exception. Wall Street players--private equity, hedge funds, investment banks--have put together more than $12 billion dollars of financing for the Hollywood studios' 'slates' of films.
The tables have turned. Over the past couple of years I've been to a number of pharmaceutical industry related and drug company events--where the security and paranoia have been noticeably increased over what I referred to as "The Michael Moore Effect". Ever since it became known that the documentary filmmaker was setting his sites on healthcare the companies I cover have been on heightened alert. But, at least for now, I think they can let their guard down.
The digital revolution marches forward – the latest advance involves studios potentially releasing movies on DVD and via On-Demand at the same time. What’s the trade as new technology threatens to reshape the movie biz?
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Tonight, the masters of Wall Street are going face to face with some of the best business school students in the country. Students from Indiana University, Villanova, MIT and USC are bringing their A-game via the webcam.
Les Moonves says he has no plans for major acquisitions in the immediate future, but is looking to make strategic deals in the new media sector.