ANALYST FLEXES FIST AT NETFLIX
Although there has been a steady flow of positive news for online DVD renter Netflix, Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter is forecasting trouble ahead. One month after Netflix reported a remarkable 48-percent vault in third-quarter profits, Pachter warned that it likely will face formidable demands from the major studios for a greater cut of Netflix's revenue. Pachter lowered his rating for the company from Neutral to Underperform "as we believe that Netflix shares are trading above full value," he wrote in a message to clients. "We believe that the stock's current price reflects investor expectations for growth well above what can be reasonably expected," he said. Although he suggested that shares in the company were likely to continue to rise in the short term as Netflix announces new partnerships for its streaming service and additional subscribers as a result, the studios are likely to seek higher payments. "We do not expect the studios' thirst for a greater share of revenues to subside, and expect to see Netflix's cost of goods sold to rise as its [average revenue per user] declines, leading to lower gross profit." Meanwhile, technology columnist Larry Magid is predicting the day when movies on discs are replaced by streaming technology. "I have a Blu-ray [disc player] that I don't use often because I watch most of my movies online," he wrote in a column published today (Wednesday). In fact, he acknowledged, he recently downgraded his Netflix service to the $8.99 level because he no longer had any use for the $16.99 service that allowed him to keep three movies at a time.
SPIELBERG COMPLETES TINTIN FILMING
The actual filming of Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn has been completed, and it now goes to motion-capture technicians and artists who will spend the next two years finishing it, Peter Jackson, who is producing it, said in London on Tuesday. The film stars Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Tintin. In an interview with the BBC, Jackson said, "Tintin is great. It's made. The movie is cut together and now [we] are turning it into a fully-rendered film. So the movie, to some degree, exists in a very rough state." The film, he revealed, will be released in 3D in late 2001. Jackson, who directed the 2D Lord of the Rings films, indicated that he has mixed feelings about the 3D technology. "The only thing I get annoyed about is the image being a little dull. It does feel like you're looking at the movie with sunglasses on. But literally, that could just be about getting brighter bulbs in the projectors."
SHATNER DID HAVE A ROLE IN STAR TREK MOVIE, SCRIPT REVEALS
Appearing to settle the question of whether director JJ Abrams wanted William Shatner to appear in last year's Star Trek movie, the website TrekMovie.com on Tuesday claimed that two "alternate" scenes in which Shatner would have appeared as Captain Kirk were written for the movie. It posted one of them, which it said it had received "from one of our trusted sources and it has been verified to be the scene written for Shatner (but never shown to Shatner)." Kirk would have appeared as a hologram recording made before his death and retained in a pendant worn by the older Spock, who presents it to his younger self near the end of the film. It's a birthday message in which Kirk reminisces about his younger years with Spock. "Wasn't it only yesterday we stepped onto the Enterprise as boys?" he says at one point. However, the website questioned whether Shatner would have agreed to film the scene. "He had stated he 'does not do cameos' and the above scene appears to fall into the cameo category," it observed.
JULIE ANDREWS TO SING AGAIN!
In a startling announcement, Julie Andrews and concert promoters AEG Europe said today (Wednesday) that Julie Andrews will perform in her first concert appearance in 30 years at London's 02 Arena on May 8. Andrewshad reportedly suffered permanent damage to her vocal cords during throat surgery in 1997 and had been left without the ability to sing. While she has continued to appear in movies as an actress in such films as The Princess Diaries and the voice of Queen Lillian in the Shrek movies, she has not had a singing role in films since 1982's Victor/Victoria. She did not immediately disclose how she had regained her singing capability. She said in a statement, "To perform once again in my homeland on the London stage will be a wonderful moment -- it is where it all began for me."
MOVIE ACADEMY TO RECREATE SILENT ERA
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the annual Oscar awards, plans to present a program next week aimed at recreating the moviegoing experience of the silent era 100 years ago -- long before the advent of "Hollywood" films. On Monday, the Academy is presenting "A Century Ago: The Films of 1909 -- The Stars Are Born," followed on Tuesday by "A Century Ago: The First Films of Mary Pickford." The films will be accompanied live by Michael Mortilla and projected by Joe Rinauldo, using a hand-cranked 1909 Nicholas Power Co. Model 6 Cameragraph. Like the cameramen who filmed the movies, Rinauldo will attempt to achieve the silent film speed of 16 frames per second (the rate was increased to 24 frames with the advent of sound). "It was an art of pride," Rinauldo told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times. "The frame rate is kind of a tricky thing."