FILML.A. BECOMES FLEEL.A.
Location filming on the streets of Los Angeles fell 44 percent during the second quarter of 2009 compared to 2008, according to statistics released Wednesday by FilmL.A., the quasi-public agency that coordinates film permitting in the area. The report also indicated that the number of days of feature shooting for the quarter dropped by more than half. Todd Lindgren, a spokesman for FilmL.A., told Daily Variety that while one of the factors in the slowdown was uncertainty over the Screen Actors Guild's negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a bigger factor was likely the lure of tax incentives from outside California. One positive sign was that filming for TV dramas was up 9.5 percent for the period.
MOVIES FOR TV AND PHONE TO BE PACKAGED TOGETHER
DVD buyers who complain about the difficulty of transferring their movies to their mobile phones because of built-in copyright protection software may soon be able to buy a home video package that will include, along with the DVD, a microSD chip that can be inserted in their phones and provide immediate movie viewing. The first such disc packages (the Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure series) are due to go on sale in Japan in November with plans to introduce similar DVD/SD combos in the U.S. later this year. Packages containing the SD card will sell for roughly $10 more than the DVD alone, published reports indicated.
VIDEO ON DEMAND HIT RECORD IN JUNE
While ratings for the broadcast television networks have been hitting record lows for the summer, viewers are increasingly watching video -- primarily movies -- on demand. Rentrak, which tracks transactional viewing, said Wednesday that, with 589 million transactions, June set a video-on-demand record. It said that during the month there was an average of 16.5 minutes of on-demand viewing a day. In addition, free on-demand children's programs was up 7 percent from May.
ZEMECKIS: CHRISTMAS CAROL WILL BE A REAL GHOST STORY
Director Robert Zemeckis has freely admitted that he is bringing his 3D live-action A Christmas Carol to Comic-Con in San Diego to help overcome an image problem. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, Zemeckis noted that audiences might reach the wrong conclusion when they realize it's being released by Disney. "What we hope to accomplish is that anyone at Comic-Con realizes that it's not a movie for the traditional Disney audience. It's a classic ghost story," he told the newspaper. (Disney may be the least of his image concerns; the movie is based on the Charles Dickens classic that has been told to kids at Christmas time since it was was written in 1834. It also stars Jim Carrey, hardly a contemporary Lionel Barrymore, the quintessential Scrooge. And Zemeckis himself is best known for family films like the Back to the Future series, Forrest Gump, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) Still, Zemeckis said that he hoped the word might spread via Comic-Con "that this is a movie for real movie fans, and real ghost-story fans and fans of graphic novels." Meanwhile, Comic-Con organizers said Wednesday that they expect 125,000 fans to show up for this year's festivities.
HAUNTING SCARES UP BIG GROSSES ON DVD
The horror flick The Haunting in Connecticut, which was panned by critics when it opened in late march but went on to earn $55 million at the box office (a success for a low-budget shock film), was the top seller on the DVD sales chart last week, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. However the Nicolas Cage sci-fi thriller Knowing remained the top rental film for the second consecutive week, according to Home Media magazine. The direct-to-video Horsemen, starring Dennis Quaid, which faced a stampede of angry online reviewers, came in at No. 5 on the sales chart.