CALL IN THE CLONES
Anyone tuning in to a Turner Networks cable channel at 7:58 tonight (Thursday) will be able to view a two-minute trailer for Lucasfilm's animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, whichpremieres theatrically on August 15. The trailer will air on the Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, TBS and Boomerang. In a statement, Lucasfilm VP Howard Roffman said, "We're incredibly proud of the Clone Wars and eager to be able to showcase it for the first time in such an exciting way." The movie itself, which is being distributed by Warner Bros., a corporate sibling of Turner, is intended to lay the foundation for Lucasfilm's forthcoming animated Star Wars: the Clone Wars TV series, set to air on Turner's Cartoon Network. A date for the season debut of the series has not been set.
SAG CRIES FOUL
Their behind-closed-doors negotiations temporarily ended, the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers began sniping at one another Wednesday, suggesting that the issues dividing them are substantial and not easily untangled. SAG Executive Director Doug Allen told the Associated Press that the studios and networks "want us to give up the 50-year-old right actors have to give consent or not when someone wants to use a clip of their work." The AMPTP responded: "Will we be required to compete against agile opponents in the Internet age while constrained by 50-year-old rules, or can we collectively find ways to take advantage of fresh market opportunities?" The AMPTP contends that the studios and networks may only be able to monetize the Internet if they sell advertisers a package of hundreds or even thousands of clips and old shows at a time, since such clips are generally watched by a relative handful of online viewers, with each clip therefore representing a few dollars at most in ad revenue. Obtaining permission from the tens of thousands of actors and estates of actors who appear in those clips may not be feasible, the studios contend.
STUDIOS WIN $111 MILLION FROM BITTORRENT SITE
The six major studios represented by the Motion Picture Association of America have won a copyright-infringement lawsuit against the file-sharing website TorrentSpy.com amounting to $111 million. The judgment awarded $30,000 to the studios for each of 3,699 illegal downloads. Faced with the legal burden of defending itself, TorrentSpy shut down in March. The fine is believed to be one of the largest ever involving copyright piracy. Last October a disgruntled former TorrentSpy associate, Robert Anderson, told Wired magazine that the MPAA paid him $15,000 for inside information about the website and that he eventually was able to hack into its email system and deliver banking, software, password and other confidential information to the MPAA.
AUTO OUTPACES HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS
In its first week in the stores, "Grand Theft Auto IV" took in more than $500 million, more than any movie in history has made in its first week. Opening-day sales of the game on April 29 came to $310 million, breaking the record of $300 million set by Microsoft's "Halo 3" last year. In a statement, Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two, which distributes GTA-IV, and the former president of 20th Century Fox film studio, said, "We believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date. This signals just how important interactive entertainment has become in entertainment writ large."
WARNER BROS. TO BE FETED AT CANNES
The Cannes Film Festival announced plans on Wednesday to pay tribute to Warner Bros. on the studio's 85th anniversary by screening a classic movie from the studio's archives during each night of the festival. The festival said that it will also premiere film critic Richard Schickel's documentary, You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story, narrated by Clint Eastwood, as well as a night of Looney Tunes shorts. The tribute begins with a screening of Mervyn LeRoy's 1932 I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang and ends with 1999's The Matrix. Somewhat surprisingly, the film series does not include a screening of The Jazz Singer, the first sound film, produced in 1927 and starring entertainer Al Jolson.