PIRATES MAKE WAVES

A new study has suggested that efforts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and law-enforcement authorities to crack down on online movie piracy have been largely ineffective. The study by Solutions Research Group discloses that 32 million Americans over the age of 12, about 20 percent of the U.S. online population, have downloaded at least one film, while 63 percent of those are considered regular pirates. Typically, a regular movie downloader is around 29 years old, male, and has 16 films stored on his PC. While 78 percent of those interviewed by the researchers said that they regarded stealing a DVD from a retail store to be a serious offense, only 40 percent said the same about downloading one from the Internet.

BUYERS SHUNNING HOUNDDOG

The controversial movie Hounddog, which includes a fleeting scene in which a character played by 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning is raped by a teenage boy, is not likely to attract a distributor at the Sundance Film Festival, FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman observed Wednesday. "No one wants it after the terrible reviews," one distributor told Friedman. In fact, reviews have been mixed and virtually none have been critical of the handling of the rape scene. "This is a fairly generic, pretentiously artsy coming-of-age movie set in late 1950s Alabama, where the clichés are thicker than the kudzu," the New York Post's Lou Lumenick commented in today's (Thursday) editions. Todd McCarthy grumbled in Variety: "Aside from Fanning and the controversy, the film has nothing going for it commercially." But writer-director Deborah Kampmeier told Entertainment Weekly that her lawyers have been negotiating with potential distributors. "Look," she said, "some people are going to love this film, some people are going to hate it."

MOVIE THEATERS TO SELL NAMING RIGHTS

Borrowing a page from sports arenas and stadiums, movie theaters may be next to sell naming rights to advertisers. Canada's Cineplex Entertainment, the country's largest exhibitor, announced Wednesday that it had sold naming rights to five theaters in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to Scotiabank. As part of the deal, movie patrons who use a specially branded Scotiabank debit card to make purchases at the theater will be able to earn free movie tickets and combos at concession stands.

SHOOTING IN L.A. TAKES A DIVE

Location shooting in and around Los Angeles dropped by 7.4 percent in 2006, continuing a recent trend, as other cities, states and countries raise tax incentives to attract filmmakers, according to a report released Wednesday by FilmLA. California offers no such incentives. "It is frustrating," FilmLA Executive Director Steve MacDonald told today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Daily News. "When you look at the percentage increases in other jurisdictions, you have to realize that a lot of that is coming at the expense of jobs and revenue in California. If you look at the success of other state programs, you would think there would be a desire to do something that would take back production that has gone to other areas." The newspaper said that one especially troubling sign is the first year-to-year decrease in location shooting of commercials since 2000 -- a year when the commercial film industry experienced a six-month strike.

APOCALYPTO TO OPEN IN MEXICO

Mexican exhibitors are waiting to see how moviegoers respond to Mel Gibson's Apocalypto which opens in that country today (Thursday). The film, which depicts ancient Mayan culture and customs and is spoken in the native language, has been roundly criticized by some Mexican scholars for unduly emphasizing violent behavior by the Maya. Daily Variety reported today that the film is being released on about 300 screens, regarded as a "midsized" opening, and is expected to take in about $1.4 million over the weekend. The trade paper commented, "Mexico is the first Latin American market to see the film and should provide a litmus test for other markets with populations of indigenous peoples and pre-Colombian cultures."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.