ONLINE CAMPAIGN FOR UNTRACEABLE HALTED

A moderator for the Facebook online social community has halted a marketing campaign for Universal Pictures' Untraceable after becoming alarmed by the level of violence in the clips posted online. Launched last week, the "Kill With Me" page for the movie presented the following text: "This guy is going to die. You want to see his stinking flesh burn and bleed and blacken? Until he's some twisted dead thing? This is what you want. And I've filmed it especially for you. The more fans I get, the more I'll show." Neil Wirashina, director of international advertising media at Universal, told Marketing Week's online site, that the Facebook campaign was intended to be provocative. "We were looking to promote a reaction, and we have definitely achieved this." The controversy raises questions about what actually constitutes advertising in the day of the Internet and which ads must be submitted to the MPAA for ratings approval. The MPAA has previously fined studios for releasing ads that it deemed excessively violent and which had not been previously approved by the group's ratings board.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA TO BE SEEN ACROSS COUNTRY: BUT NOT IN SF

Performances of four classic operas by the San Francisco Opera Company will be shown over four weekends in March and April in 121 movie theaters across the country, the San Francisco Chronicle reported today (Wednesday). The operas include Puccini's La Rondine, Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly. However, unlike the operas produced by New York's Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera's performances were shot at the War Memorial Opera House and were later edited and otherwise enhanced in post-production by the distributor, The Bigger Picture. Ironically, the Chronicle pointed out, the performances will not be screened in any theater in San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley because of a scarcity of theaters with advanced digital equipment in those cities.

WGA MEMBERS APPROVE CONTRACT

More than 90 percent of 4,060 voting members of the Writers Guild of America have approved a new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Patric M. Verrone, president of the Writers Guild of America, West, called the agreement "a new beginning for writers in the digital age." Following the vote, the AMPTP issued a statement saying, "Now that our industry is back in business, our goal is to collaborate with everyone ... to produce the highest-quality entertainment products without any further interruption."

SHREK A GREEN MONSTER FOR DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Shrek the Third was just what it took to put DreamWorks Animation back in the green again. DVD sales of the animated sequel accounted for $179.4 million in revenue during the fourth quarter. Total revenue rose to $290.2 million with net income of $94.1 million. It was, said CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, "DreamWorks Animation's most successful year since going pubic." Comparison with the year-earlier results was difficult since the studio wrote down $109 million following disappointing ticket sales for its 2006 feature, Flushed Away.

POPCORN KEEPS MOVIE PRICES LOW, SAYS STUDY

Without the high price of popcorn at the concession counter, the price of tickets would be a lot higher, according to a study by the University of California Santa Cruz and Stanford University. Today's (Wednesday) San Jose Mercury News reported that the researchers studied data from 43 multiplex theaters in 30 cities over a five-year period and determined that the concession stand in effect subsidizes relatively low ticket prices and that without it, the ticket prices would rise 25 percent.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.