MORE GOOD NEWS FROM THE "CONGLOMS"
Media conglomerates News Corp and Time Warner each reported higher-than-expected quarterly results Wednesday, with their movie and cable businesses offsetting declines at their other -- mostly print -- businesses. Time Warner's Time Inc. unit, which publishes such magazines as Time, People, and Entertainment Weekly, took a particularly hard hit as advertisers retrenched and subscribers failed to renew. News Corp said that its newspapers, which include the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal in the U.S. and the Times in London, posted an 81-percent decline in operating income during the quarter from a year ago. Its MySpace website also performed poorly compared with rivals Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, News Corp said that its 20th Century Fox film division saw its operating income grow to $391 million from $251 million a year ago. It credited much of that success to the performance of its animated Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which became one of the all-time highest overseas moneymakers in history during the quarter. It also benefited from the home-video release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As for Warner Bros, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes remarked that the studio "is on pace to report its highest profits ever." (The studio's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince alone earned $974.73 million worldwide this year.) Both companies also raised their forecasts for the coming year.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS UNSEATS TRANSFORMERS 2
Paramount/DreamWorks' Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen fell off its top perch on the DVD sales and rental charts after only one week last week, unseated by 20th Century Fox's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The blow-'em-up movie fell to second place on both the Nielsen VideoScan sales chart and Home Media magazine's rental chart. It continued to hold on to first place an on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart, generating 24 percent of its total sales from Blu-ray, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The sales chart also saw Disney's Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure, in a direct-to-DVD debut, land in third place.
OSCARS CO-PRODUCER DEFENDS DECISION TO BRING IN TWO HOSTS
Adam Shankman maintains that he was not brought in to co-produce next year's Academy Award show because of any desire by the motion picture academy to expand or enhance the production numbers. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Shankman acknowledged, "There had been a lot of speculation surrounding the hiring of me as a signal that there might be more of the song/dance. But I don't want musical numbers unless there's an organic fit into the show." He said that when he contacted Steve Martin, who had twice hosted the Oscars, about doing the show again, he told him, "I want the show to feel that we are continuing to build on the Oscars and I'm not trying to make the MTV Movie Awards. I want there to be some level of tradition that is respected by the [Hollywood] community." Shankman added Baldwin, he said, because he "wanted to twist it up, ratchet up the funny. ... It will keep it high entertainment." By presenting two hosts, he said, would lessen the burden on each of them. "Playing them together and separately will, I think, really help in the streamlining of the show."
MPAA ASKS FCC FOR PERMISSION TO LAUNCH NEW TECHNOLOGY
The MPAA on Wednesday once again called upon the FCC to allow it to employ a technology -- called selectable output control (SOC) -- that can deliver movies to the homes of consumers while preventing piracy. In a statement, MPAA chief Dan Glickman said that the movie producers' object was to give consumers "the option to enjoy movies in a more timely fashion at home." However, there was no definition of "a more timely fashion" -- something that theater owners have demanded. As of now films are not made available for home viewing until four months after their theatrical run. And, in an interview with today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, said that while his group doesn't oppose the use of SOC, he objects to the fact that the MPAA isn't "telling the FCC or anyone else how early they want to go, so there's no way of telling what the impact is on the cinema industry and our consumers." Referring to the MPAA filing, influential Hollywood blogger (DeadlineHollywood.com) Nikki Finke headlined, "MPAA Betrays Theaters" and commented that if the industry has its way, "It would put the struggling theater chains virtually out of business." However, other industry analysts have observed that the barn door was already unlocked by peer-to-peer technology, which has already made bootlegged versions of movies available online at about the same time they are released in theaters -- or even earlier.