BLOCKBUSTER TO CLOSE 1,000 STORES
Facing increased competition from the likes of Netflix, video-on-demand, and kiosk operators, Blockbuster now plans to shut down nearly 1,000 stores by the end of next year, according to an SEC filing. The figure is more than twice the 410-450 unprofitable stores that it previously had said it planned to shutter. The new figure represents about 22 percent of Blockbuster's total of 4,356. The filing also disclosed that 35 percent of Blockbuster stores account for 80 percent of its profits. The company said that closing the unprofitable stores will save $30 million in annual losses and that $20-30 million in revenue from those stores will transfer to nearby locations.
MOORE SAYS HE MAY STOP PRODUCING DOCUMENTARIES
Michael Moore has indicated that his latest theatrical documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, may be his last. Appearing at a news conference at the Toronto Film Festival, Moore seemed to acknowledge that he feels frustrated by his inability to promote change in public policy with his films. "I've been having to sort of knock my head against the wall here for 20 years saying these things," he said. He seemed particularly upset with the current political deadlock over health care. Referring to his last documentary, Sicko, Moore said, "Two years ago, I tried to get the health-care debate going, and it did eventually, and now where are we? ... What am I supposed to do at a certain point?" He indicated that he may return to making fictional films. "I think making a good movie is about telling a good story, and you can do that through fiction or nonfiction," Moore said.
TARANTINO WINS WAR, SAVES WEINSTEINS
As Quentin Tarantino sees it, not only did his Inglourious Basterdsput an early end to World War II but it rescued the Weinstein brothers in the process. Speaking to a Reuters reporter in Tel Aviv, where the film is about to open, Tarantino noted that the Weinsteins had had a string of flops that threatened the continued existence of their company. "They were backed up against the wall, and this gives them breathing room. This gets their back off the wall," he said. Not only will the movie produce some much-needed cash for the Weinsteins, he said, "it also even helps them inside of the industry and it actually shows Hollywood that they can open a movie. I'm actually proud that I was able to do that for them, that I could pay back their faith in me, that I could pay back their support."
ROWLING AIDING DEVELOPERS OF HARRY POTTER THEME PARK
J.K. Rowling has been acting as a consultant on a Harry Potter high-tech ride at Universal Studios Orlando due to open next spring, the theme park disclosed Tuesday as it presented details of the planned area. Rowling, it said, had in fact named the ride, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," and had lent her advice on the various scenes and buildings. Visitors are "going to be swept up into the greatest parts of the movies and the books. We've pushed every technology available to us to give guests a theme park experience unlike any they've had before," Paul Daurio, producer of the Potter area, told the Associated Press.
ICE AGE NOW THIRD-HIGHEST-GROSSING MOVIE OVERSEAS
With $667 million in overseas ticket sales, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs has become the third highest-grossing movie of all time behind only Titanicand The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.Over the weekend, the animated feature overtook Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.The movie has performed far more robustly on the foreign market than it has on the domestic, which it has grossed almost $195 million. Its combined domestic/overseas gross of $667 million puts it at No. 18 on the all-time worldwide chart.
ZUCKER WARNS OF NEW CUTBACKS AT UNIVERSAL
Among the major studios, Universal is the one struggling the most this year, but NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker told a Goldman Sachs conference in New York Tuesday that it was not the downturn in ticket sales that concerned him the most; it was the downturn in DVD sales. "I think the biggest issue in that business today is the home entertainment marketplace," he said. And in a business that has already felt the impact of thousands of layoffs, Zucker suggested that the end of belt tightening is not in sight. Everyone is the entertainment business, he said, will have "to take a look at their cost structure [and make] more prudent business decisions on the film side."