MPAA CUTS COSTS (OUT OF REPORT
Saying that he questioned the validity of studio estimates about how much they spend on making movies, MPAA chief Dan Glickman told reporters that the estimates were removed from the group's annual state-of-the-industry report. "There is nothing conspiratorial about this," Glickman told the New York Times. "We don't have the numbers. We didn't do them." In a separate interview with the Los Angeles Times, Glickman said, "Year-to-year average costs comparisons are useless and misleading. ... I'm not sure what these numbers mean anymore." Nevertheless, the two newspapers observed that the MPAA report represented one of the few windows that remained opened on Hollywood spending and, as the New York newspaper noted, was "heavily scrutinized" by the press to see whether costs had gone up or down. Itsaid that the MPAA was "looking for a more meaningful way to report financial data." Meanwhile, Glickman, in a speech to the ShoWest exhibitors convention in Las Vegas, asserted that Hollywood was more than holding its own during the current economic downturn. He observed that the worldwide box office reached $28.1 billion, an all-time high, and that the domestic box office pulled in $9.8 billion, up 1.7 percent from 2007. "All in all the cinema industry is doing remarkably well during very difficult times," John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners told the ShoWest convention. He added that the economy is not to blame for the decision by some studios to cut back on production this year. "We had some weekends [in 2008] when we had five new releases. That's too much. We could stand to have a slight reduction," he said.
NETFLIX SHARES KEEP RISING
Shares in Netflix continued to rise Tuesday following Monday's announcement that the company is planning significant price increases for subscribers renting Blu-ray discs. Since the beginning of the year, Netflix has been one of the few media companies to show significant market gains, as its shares have risen 44 percent since January 1 and 130 percent since November 20. Netflix shares were up another 2 percent at midday today (Wednesday). Analysts disagree on where the stock is heading. Barclays Capital analyst Douglas Anmuth on Tuesday set a target price of $48. (It currently is trading at $43.80),while Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible predicted the stock will head in the opposite direction to about $33.
BUYERS RECEIVE "RENTAL" VERSION OF SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
Fox Home Video's newly inaugurated strategy of removing "extras" from DVDs sent to rental stores ran into trouble this week as thousands of buyers of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire discovered that the extras, such as the "making of" documentary and deleted scenes, which were advertised on the packaging were not included on the disc itself. On her Deadline Hollywood Daily website, Nikki Finke noted that so many complaints poured into Amazon, that the online retailer posted an alert notice reading, "We are aware that special features were missing from a number of Slumdog Millionaire DVDs. Fox has set up a hotline telephone number (1-888-223-4FOX) for those consumers who may have purchased a version that does not contain special features. Upon calling the hotline, these consumers will be able to have their disc replaced for one containing special features. Fox regrets any inconvenience this has caused."
COMING: TOY STORY DOUBLE FEATURE -- IN 3D
Disney plans to release the original Toy Story and the sequel Toy Story 2 as a 3D double feature for just two weeks beginning October 2, the company said at the ShoWest conference in Las Vegas Tuesday. The company also disclosed that it plans to release Tim Burton's live-action Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway, in IMAX 3D as well as standard digital 3D in March 2010 -- bringing to mind the doorknob's remark to Alice that she was so big that she was simply impassible. Alice: "You mean impossible." Doorknob: "No, impassible, nothing's impossible."
WARNER BROS. BUYING PIRATE BAY? CHECK THE DATE
No doubt raising thousands of eyebrows, the website Torrent Freak -- which tracks the goings-on in the BitTorrent universe -- reported today (Wednesday) that Warner Bros. had acquired The Pirate Bay website for $13 billion. The deal, it said, "came about after the recent performance at the Pirate Bay trial [in Sweden] gave strong indications that the judgment would go against Warner Bros. For the Hollywood movie studio, it seems that acquiring The Pirate Bay was the only option left." The only clue that the article might be suspect was found in the byline. "Written by Ben Jones on April 01, 2009," it said. Ordinarily dates are not included in bylines, except, of course, when the date is April Fools Day.