BUSINESS BOOMS AT BOX OFFICE
With analysts predicting that box-office records will be shattered for April, investors have been buying stocks in movie-theater chains -- particularly Regal Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, and Cinemark Holdings, Businessweek magazine reported on its website Wednesday, with Regal's stock price up 42 percent over the past three months; Carmike's, 30 percent; and Cinemark's, 25 percent. Northlake Capital Management President Steve Birenberg told the magazine: "People have assumed for years that home theater and DVDs were killing off the business. ... Now we're seeing that's not true and it's much more stable and sustainable than investors thought." Noting that during the first two weeks of April ticket sales have soared (up 61 percent during the Easter weekend), Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh told Businessweek: "These are really strong numbers, especially when you don't see a real blockbuster in there." The magazine observed that theater owners could see additional profits if they were able to upgrade to digital 3D, but they have been stymied by the current credit crunch.
SLUMDOG MOVIEMAKERS REPAY INDIAN SLUMS
Responding to criticism that they exploited slum dwellers in their Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, the makers of the film said today (Thursday) that they had donated $750,000 to Plan, an international children's charity that has been working in India since 1979. The money would be earmarked to help educate 5,000 children in Mumbai over the next five years. In a statement, director Danny Boyle said, "Having benefited so much from the hospitality of the people of Mumbai it is only right that some of the success of the movie be plowed back into the city in areas where it is needed most and where it can make a real difference to some lives. ... Despite intimidating odds, extraordinary work is going on to help people break the cycle of poverty through education. We're delighted that this initiative will add to that ongoing work."
BLUETOOTH REPLACING MOVIE POSTERS IN BELGIUM
Predicting that it will one day replace movie posters in theaters, the Belgian theater chain Utopolis said today (Thursday) that a communications system has now been activated that will allow visitors with Bluetooth-equipped cell phones to download trailers of each of the movies playing in the theaters as well as previews of forthcoming films. In the future, the company said in a statement, moviegoers will also be able to access special promotions, including "coupons" for snacks in the concessions area. The free service, which uses a "proximity marketing" technology developed by another Belgian company, Alterwave, also reminds users to turn off their cell phones when they enter the theater.
DEFENDANT INTENDS TO ATTACK WOODY'S PERSONAL LIFE
Woody Allen has accused lawyers for American Apparel of launching a "scorched earth" defense against his $10-million lawsuit against the clothing company. Allen had claimed in his suit that by using his image on billboards and its website, American Apparel had damaged his reputation. Allen does not endorse products. But lawyer Stuart Slotnick, representing the company, said, in effect, that Allen had no reputation to defend, citing the scandal over his breakup with actress Mia Farrell over his relationship with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen later married. Slotnick has asked for documents concerning the scandal and information about any endorsement requests that were subsequently withdrawn. The founder of American Apparel, Dov Charney, has also been embroiled in scandal -- fending off sexual harassment allegations by several employees.
NETFLIX ON THE MOVE, BUT IS IT OVERPRICED?
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter predicted Wednesday that business will boom for online video renter Netflix. In a note to clients, Pachter forecast that much of Netflix's growth will come as more and more movies become available for immediate streaming. He also predicted that as the size of Netflix's subscriber base expands, prices for movie rentals will come down. Nevertheless, Pachter downgraded the company's stock to "hold" from "buy," noting that it had already become too expensive.