STUDIO EXECS PREDICT FEWER FILMS
Each of the major studios is considering ways of scaling back the number of films it produces each year, even as they cram a surfeit of movies into this year's summer release schedule, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Wednesday), citing several studio executives. Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chairman/CEO Tom Rothman told the newspaper that the surplus of films represents "one of the biggest issues facing Hollywood today." With so many films vying for attention, the studios have also been forced to increase their marketing and promotional costs. "In order to break through the clutter, we all feel the pressure to spend more in marketing," said Warner Bros. President Alan Horn. And Disney chief Robert Iger was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "Too many movies are being released into the marketplace. They can't all be good enough or marketed well enough to drive good returns." As a result, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes has told analysts that his company plans to cut its movie output in half, while at the same time hoping to move its profit up. Other studio execs also forecast dramatically reduced release schedules.
EAST COAST SAG LEADERS SAY WEST COAST LEADERS LIED
East Coast SAG leaders have charged that West Coast leaders lied to them when they assured them that their "solidarity" rally last Monday would be "pro-SAG" and would not be "remotely anti-AFTRA." Instead, they said, the rally became a blistering attack on AFTRA's deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. "We were lied to by" union president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director Doug Allen, an unnamed East Coast member of SAG's national executive committee told today's (Wednesday) Hollywood Reporter. Moreover, members of the Chicago local of SAG have reportedly sent a letter to Rosenberg asking that he call off the $75,000 "educational campaign" aimed at attacking the AFTRA contract with the AMPTP. Todd Hissong, president of the Chicago local, called the campaign "an unconscionable waste of our resources and our time. And Chicago's rank and file does not support it."
DISNEY STREAMING MOVIES ONLINE -- FREE
The Walt Disney Co. says that it will stream several full-length movies on its website, www.Disney.com, for one week after they are broadcast on ABC's Wonderful World of Disney this summer. The company said that the movies, which include Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, The Princess Diaries 2 and Freaky Friday, will be available for free and include only a single short commercial at the beginning. There was no indication whether the website will provide the entire theatrical version of the films or the one edited for television.
NETFLIX SELLS OUT OF NEW SETTOP BOXES
Just three weeks after it began offering a $99 settop box that can stream movies directly to subscribers' TV sets, Netflix said that it had sold out its entire supply. The online video renters said that Roku, the Japanese company that makes the device, will need about two weeks to fulfill current orders and eight weeks to begin fulfilling new ones. "They're selling way better than we thought," Netflix spokesperson Amy Bonetti told the Video Business website. She declined to say how many settop boxes had been sold.
STUNTMAN KILLED ON JOHN WOO MOVIE
A stunt gone wrong has claimed the life of a stuntman working on the Chinese epic The Battle of Red Cliff, the most expensive film ever produced in Asia. According to Chinese news reports, a small boat that had been set on fire was to have rammed a larger boat. The scene, shot by a second-unit crew, went amiss when the fire spread quickly to the larger boat and raged out of control. In addition to the dead stuntman, six other persons were injured in the blaze. There was no indication how serious their injuries were. The $80-million film, directed by John Woo, has been plagued by difficulties from the outset, including the walk-out by two stars and a storm that wrecked an outdoor set. Woo was in Hong Kong at the time of the tragedy, having placed a second-unit director in charge of the filming.
NEWMAN REPS DENY HE'S DYING
Unconfirmed tabloid reports that Paul Newman was dying of cancer that were given legitimacy -- and impetus -- when they were picked up by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday were described as "not true" by Newman's press representative Toni Howard, who spoke to the E! Entertainment website E! News. Newman himself later issued a terse statement saying that he was "doing nicely." Neither statement addressed the question of whether Newman is suffering from lung cancer or why he had pulled out of directing a stage production of Of Mice and Men. In a recent interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Newman said that he had decided to quit acting because of his difficulty memorizing lines at his age. (Newman is 83.)