What Are You Missing? June 24 – July 7

July 7, 2013
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Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

1) Rupert Murdoch has had an eventful few weeks following the announcement of his divorce. First the good news, as the splitting of News Corp. into publishing and entertainment arms has led to big business for the newly named 21st Century Fox, which will hold onto the film and television studios as well as their cable channels. The immediate result was 21st Century Fox getting one of the highest valuations over Disney and Viacom with a growth in shares over 2%.

2) Now for Murdoch’s bad news, as reports this past week allege Murdoch was caught on a secret audio recording admitting to bribery of police officials, stemming from the investigations into News Corp. tabloids hacking into phones in Britain. Murdoch belittles police and the hacking inquiry, while giving support to his staff for their known behaviors. Scotland Yard has already requested access to the tapes, while Parliament member and Labour Party politician Chris Bryant has requested the FBI take action and press corporate corruption charges against News Corp.

3) Major shake-ups in Warner Bros. executive management structure, starting with the ousting of Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov.   Rather than simply replace Robinov, Warner Bros. instead has created a new three-person team to lead the division, made up of Greg Silverman, Sue Kroll, and Toby Emmerich, all promoted from within. However, the three will all be reporting directly to Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara, giving him more direct power over the film studio, in addition to his increased control of the television side.

4) Sticking with Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures is officially no longer tied to Warner, with talks ending and Legendary’s Thomas Tullmoving onto talks with others studios, such as Fox and NBCUniversal, with the latter seeming the most promising.

5) One more story for Warner Bros., as the studio has clashed with The Weinstein Co. over the title of TWC’s upcoming film “The Butler.” Warner won an arbitration over the title after asserting their rights to the title due to a 1916 comedy short of the same name (Of course!). TWC’s attorney David Boies plans to appeal and possibly file a lawsuit challenging the MPAA’s ruling, citing the claim of a confusion over the films as having “no plausible basis.” Warner Bros. responded, citing past TWC “rules violations.” This should move fast, as the film (Whatever it will be named) is currently scheduled for an August 16 release in the U.S.

6) Jim Carrey has come out against the violence in “Kick-Ass 2,” the upcoming sequel that Carrey himself co-stars in and features heavy violence involving an 11-year hold vigilante. A tweet referencing Sandy Hook had Carrey saying he couldn’t support the level of violence in the film. Executive producer and original comic writer Mark Millar responded with surprise, noting how Carrey approached them about appearing in the sequel after enjoying the original.

7) The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy Awards folks) has extended an invitation to 276 film professionals to join the Academy, an unusually large number. The list of names is markedly younger than in years past, as well as more diverse with several invitations to Latinos and an expansion of the documentary branch.

8) Just months after he helped reveal the XBox One, Microsoft’s president of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick has left the company to become CEO of social gaming giant Zynga, best known for Facebook games like Farmville. Mattrick was lured away with a compensation package from Zynga of over $50 million in cash and stock.

9) Two of the largest book publishers in the world have merged, with the newly formed Penguin-Random House becoming the undisputed king in publishing and a possible competition to Amazon. Penguin-Random House now controls about 30% of trade book sales.

10) Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail will not have its official retail release until tomorrow, but after partnering with Samsung that saw the company purchase one million copies for its smartphone and tablet users to download via a free app, the album will likely be certified platinum immediately upon its release. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) changed their rules for certification to allow those pre-release digital sales to Samsung to count towards its total immediately, rather than waiting the normal 30 days for digital sales. Billboard, however, will not count the one million Samsung sales towards its total for ranking on its Billboard 200 chart. So… we may never know if Jay-Z’s new record is actually popular.


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