ONLINE TRAILERS GROWING UP
For the first time, Hollywood studios are beginning to show movie trailers online that do not come with the so-called green band of the Motion Picture Association of America, tagging them as approved for all audiences, the New York Times observed today (Wednesday). The newspaper reported that a new yellow tag permits movies rated PG-13 or stronger to be shown on sites either frequented mainly by adults or accessible between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. And recently two comedies, the recently released Knocked Up and the upcoming Superbad have been released with red MPAA tags, requiring an age-verification test to view them. "We want to protect children," Marilyn Gordon, head of the MPAA's advertising administration, told the Times. "That is our job. We also want to be able to allow our distributors more flexibility in their marketing materials." Universal marketing chief Adam Fogelson told the newspaper that he hopes a similar system for movie trailers will be developed for theaters. "There's got to be something, if we're being intellectually honest, between a trailer that's appropriate for Bambi and a trailer that would be appropriate to go up with Hostel II," he said.
NETFLIX HIT BY A BLOCKBUSTER PUNCH
Blockbuster has stepped up what some analysts have described as cutthroat price competition against NetFlix, reducing to $16.99 the monthly subscription price for its unlimited three-DVDs-out-at-a-time plan. The figure is $1.00 less than Netflix's most popular plan. Citigroup analyst Tony Wible told Reuters, We expect that Netflix will eventually have to match the price cuts or lose significant share to Blockbuster." Shares of each company declined on the news, with Netflix falling 8.8 percent to $20.00, a three-month low.
RATATOUILLE LIKELY TO JUSTIFY DISNEY'S PIXAR BUY
Although it has concluded that the forthcoming Disney-Pixar animated film Ratatouille "won't be a blockbuster," Business Week is suggesting that it is nevertheless likely to wind up justifying Disney chief Robert Iger's decision to acquire Pixar for $7.5 billion last year. "It's not the rollicking, show tune-laden, laugh-fest that Pixar usually makes," the magazine said. "It is, however, a tremendously well-made, stylish film that will take your breath away in terms of technology -- rat hairs look real and human movements are so authentic you won't believe they were generated by a computer." Nevertheless, the magazine points out, "Disney couldn't be trotting out its first wholly owned Pixar flick at a worse time," since the following week it will have to compete against the Steven Spielberg-produced Transformers and the week after that against the latest Harry Potter spectacle.
LEACHMAN CAMPAIGNS FOR ROLE IN BROADWAY'S YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
Cloris Leachman, who played Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks's 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein, is reportedly upset that Brooks did not cast her in the Broadway musical version of the film and is lobbying Brooks to change his mind, the New York Post reported today (Wednesday). According to the newspaper, Leachman, 81, has enlisted former Variety columnist Army Archerd in her campaign. The Post's "Page Six" column quoted insiders as saying that Leachman had "a wonderful audition. ... She was involved in a workshop recently and everyone loved her." But Brooks reportedly told Archerd, "We're afraid the show might stop her -- it could kill her." And a spokesperson for the production said, "In the end producers thought the physical demands of doing eight performances a week were too much to ask of her."