film festivals – Antenna Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Are You Missing?: Cannes Film Festival Edition Fri, 31 May 2013 13:00:03 +0000 cannesFrom prix winners to distribution deals, here are 10 Cannes-related items you may have missed over the past two weeks:

1. The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, with Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color (French title: La Vie d’Adèle – chapitre 1 & 2) taking top honors, winning the Palme D’Or. The French film is the first adaptation of a graphic novel to win top honors at Cannes. Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis came in second place in competition, earning the Grande Prix.

2. Other awards in competition included the Camera D’Or prize, awarded for best first feature film, which went to Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen for Ilo Ilo. The Prix du Jury went to Like Father, Like Son directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu. Best director (Prix de la Mise en Scene) was awarded to Amat Escalante’s Heli, and best screenwriter to Jia Zhangke for A Touch of Sin.  Berenice Bejo and Bruce Dern both received awards for acting performances, in Ashgar Farhadi’s The Past and Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, respectively. Dern beat out Michael Douglas, who was favored to take best actor honors. (Incidentally, Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra won no awards in competition, but brought in 2.4 million HBO viewers on Sunday night.)

3. Awards were also given in the festival’s sidebar competitions. The Missing Picture, by Cambodian director Rithy Panh, took the Un Certain Regard prize. The top award in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar went to Guillaume Galliene’s Me, Myself and Mum. A student at the Art Institute of Chicago, Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, won the Cinefondation competition awarded for the best student film. Ghazvinizadeh will receive €15,000 ($19,555) and the opportunity to screen a feature film at a future Cannes festival.

4. Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color has initiated much discussion about the jury’s inclination this year toward pictures with unconventional or challenging stylistics and thematics. A story of a teenage woman’s lesbian romance, Blue is the Warmest Color, features extended graphic sex scenes between the two characters, leading some to defend the film against claims that it is a “blue” film. Moreover, Blue is the Warmest Color was one of several LGBT-themed films to receive recognition at Cannes. Alain Guiraudie’s sexually explicit thriller, Stranger By the Lake, won the award for best queer film and the Best Director prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. In addition, Gallienne’s French-language Me, Myself and Mum tells the autobiographical story of a boy who grows up identifying as female. As mentioned above, the film won the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar.


Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle – chapitre 1 & 2)

5. Speaking of the Palme D’Or winner, Sundance Selects has reportedly acquired Blue is the Warmest Color for U.S. distribution, but no release date has been announced. Sundance Selects has also purchased U.S. distribution rights to Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son, a melodrama about two families who discover their young sons were switched at birth. Like Father, Like Son is the first Japanese film to win the Jury Prize in over 25 years. Sundance Selects’ acquisition continues the company’s relationship with that director, as sibling company IFC Films has released two of Kore-eda’s films in the past, Still Walking (2008) and Nobody Knows (2004). Sundance Selects’ other acquisitions include Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, which won the Europa Cinemas Label for the best European film, and Francois Ozon’s Young & Beautiful. The company also pre-bought U.S. distribution rights to the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night starring Marion Cotillard. The film is currently in pre-production.

6. Not to be outdone, The Weinstein Company acquired six films at Cannes in addition to two acquisitions for Radius-TWC, the company’s “multi-platform arm.” Pre-buys included U.S. distribution rights to the Todd Haynes-directed Carol, which will be based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska are slated to star. Other TWC pre-buys included distribution rights for Suite Francaise in multiple territories including North America, Latin America, Russia, Germany, and Australia. Suite Francaise will be directed by Saul Dibb and will star Michelle Williams. In addition, after screening only seven minutes of a promo reel, TWC paid $6 million for rights to Philomena . The Stephen Frears-directed film stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. Finally, The Weinstein Company acquired Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film, The Young and Prodigious Spivet, an English-language 3D release, whose trailer and one sheet were recently made available online.

7. Despite comments from buyers that the festival offered fewer “surefire titles,” Lionsgate reportedly broke a Cannes market record by earning more than $250 million in foreign sales, up 50 percent from the company’s sales last year at the festival. Lionsgate sold foreign territory rights to 9 features including the final two films of The Hunger Games series and Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur, which was in competition. The company also made acquisitions of its own. Lionsgate reportedly paid over $2 million for U.S. rights to the English-language Blood Ties, directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Clive Owen.


The Lunchbox

8. Sony Pictures Classics purchased North American rights to The Lunchbox, winner of the Viewer’s Choice award at Critics’ Week. The film is directed by Ritesh Batra and features Life of Pi star Irrfan Khan. SPC, who distributed A Separation in the U.S., also picked up Farhadi’s The Past. The company will also handle U.S. distribution for Jim Jarmusch’s late entry to the festival, the retro-cool vampire pic Only Lovers Left Alive, which stars Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston and received positive response at the festival.

9. Here are some other distribution deals: Magnolia Pictures acquired the U.S. rights to a Western film with the promising title of Bone Tomahawk, the first feature by director S. Craig Zahler. Kurt Russell and Peter Sarsgaard are slated to star in the film. Ryan Gosling’s first directing effort, How to Catch a Monster sold in over 20 territories, with Warner Bros. purchasing the U.S. rights to Gosling’s film. CBS Films paid $4 million for domestic distribution rights to the Coen Bros.’ Grande-Prix winning Inside Llewyn Davis. Though not acquired at Cannes, Sophia Coppola’s much-anticipated The Bling Ring will premiere stateside at the Seattle Film Festival and then open on June 14. A24 will distribute the film.

10. Of course, the films were not the only newsworthy events at the festival. Cannes’ black-tie red carpet provided endless grist for the fashion mill. Leonardo DiCaprio auctioned off a seat on his upcoming trip to the moon for $1.5 million. Finally, not one, but two (non-Bling Ring related) jewel heists occurred, leaving luxury joaillier Chopard bereft of over $1 million in jewelry.


What Are You Missing? Sept 2-15 Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:44:59 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Twitter has Facebook beat on mobile ad dollars, but Mark Zuckerberg plans to change that. Facebook is also developing new strategies for web ads, including sponsored search results. And in an effort to maintain the integrity of perceived value, Facebook is cracking down on fake “likes.”

2. USA Today has completed a web-inspired redesign, but newspapers are still mired in a world where they’re getting only $1 in digital ad revenue for every $25 they lose in print ad revenue. The Village Voice seems in dire shape, and entertainment industry trades are fighting to stay relevant. Maybe they all need to look at Reddit.

3. The most interesting conversations in the wake of Amazon unveiling its new Kindles involve debates about Amazon’s stated strategy to go for slim profit margins on hardware and reap bigger rewards on the digital goods people purchase to use on that hardware, which is counter to the Apple model. Though early reviews of the new Kindles don’t indicate that it’s an iPad killer, some think Google should at least be worried.

4. The new Wii U console will be available in the US on November 18 (though don’t bother checking Amazon for a pre-order), in Europe a few weeks later, and in Japan in early December. Its price has proved to be controversial, though a price cut will likely come later, and we may even be treated to a console price war over the holidays.

5. Even with the profitability of music streaming still in question, Nokia has launched a free streaming music service for smartphones, and Apple has a streaming radio service in the works that would use your iTunes history to select songs. This would pose a challenge Pandora, which saw its stock plunge on the news. Meanwhile, Spotify is making some changes, with a browser-based version coming soon.

6. After 20 months of investigating and over a million warning letters sent, a French anti-piracy agency now has a conviction to point to under its “three strikes and you’re fined” law: $200 is the price to be paid for two pirated Rihanna songs. In the US, a music-sharer has seen her fine reimposed: $220,000 for 24 songs. And Pirate Bay’s co-founder has been arrested; the penalty he faces is a little bigger.

7. Film (as a format) is dying, with Fuji as the latest abandoner, and studios are trying to adapt, with Warner Bros. especially devoting considerable attention to developing digital media options. Warners hopes that its Flixster and UltraViolet combo will encourage people to buy movies rather than rent, and Fox has similar motivation behind its plans to release digital versions of films before disc versions. A new digital storefront could help UltraViolet, while Amazon Prime Instant Video has gotten a boost from a film deal with Epix.

8. The Telluride Film Festival  marked the start of Oscar bait season, and Ben Affleck’s Argo and the documentary The Gatekeepers left with the most buzz. Meanwhile, the frenzied Toronto International Film Festival saw very active sales, with Lionsgate being an especially aggressive buyer, while Sony Pictures Classics, The Gatekeepers’ distributor, was busy showing off its wares, and documentaries grabbed a lot of attention.

9. The acquisition of AMC theaters by Chinese mogul Dalian Wanda is officially complete, and Wanda is now eyeing other US entertainment purchases. Back in China, the film industry is booming, but tensions with Hollywood are increasing due to import restrictions. China at least wants some Hollywood imports, though, especially those films they’ve got product placements in.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: CBS Threatens Dish, Hurry-Up Problems, NBC is NBCU’s Priority, CBS Adjusts Schedule, Over-the-Top Increases, Netflix Good & Bad, Breaking Bad Story Sync, Colbert & Religion, No New Apple TV Products, Gilligan Interviews, Fall Schedule.


What Are You Missing? April 15-28 Sun, 29 Apr 2012 14:37:54 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The Cannes Film Festival lineup is out, with heavy representation of English-language films, and the jury is also set. Meanwhile, the Tribeca Film Festival has wrapped up, with jury award and audience award winners that include a film whose Cuban actors are now seeking asylum in Miami. But Robert Levin says the big impact from Tribeca will come from its new model of digital distribution via the Tribeca Online Film Festival. And Toronto wonders, can there be too many film festivals?

2. In film production tax credit news, a British tax credit system is credited with offering a big boost to indie films, California has passed a 5-year extension, and we wait to see if Ohio deems its tax credit scheme worth renewing. We’ll also wait to see if there’s anything to the suspicion that Hollywood studios bribed the Chinese to allow them access to the Chinese film market (a deal mentioned in a previous WAYM). The SEC should also investigate to see if Russians were bribed to go see John Carter.

3. More directors are clamoring to get their films on IMAX screens, while Martin Scorsese has fallen hard for 3D, but Peter Jackson is one-upping them all by going to 48 frames per second, and even though it apparently looks crappy, Jackson says there’s no stopping it now. Some think recent indie films haven’t looked crappy enough.

4. Howard Stern’s lawsuit against Sirius XM has been dismissed, but this may not be the last we hear of it. The British will get to hear more live music, thanks to new rules that will streamline the process for small venues to book live acts. And we could soon be hearing Spotify sound just like Pandora.

5. Nintendo is struggling, so much so that they’re making video game sales overall look bad, and it might even be time for Nintendo to sell, but Nintendo thinks the Wii U and especially the 3DS will save it, with a new digital distribution strategy also offering hope for growth.

6. YouTube’s video service has turned seven years old, and for its birthday, Germany wants to give it a massive music royalty bill and demand that it better police copyrighted content, though this could mostly boil down to a negotiating tactic. A group of Hollywood studios failed in their attempt to hold an Australian internet provider responsible for piracy, but Voltage Pictures just won’t quit until they chase down every last Hurt Locker pirate. And it remains to be seen if Hollywood will go after a 92-year-old shipping bootleg DVDs to American soldiers overseas.

7. Facebook has had a drop in ad revenue this year for the first time, but it apparently doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme. After all, Facebook is nearing one billion users, over half of whom visit daily, and makes about $1.21 from each user per quarter. And yet, with 58% of its user base female, Facebook somehow hasn’t found a woman to appoint to its board of directors.

8. Apple is killing it in China with iPhone sales, and, in a fascinating story, apparently iPads can only be made in China, not due to cheap labor but to rare earth elements, which China has almost exclusive control over. Meanwhile, Microsoft is looking like the anti-Apple in the smartphone market and the consumer technology arena, but it hopes it can be all China-like in controlling Windows apps on iPads.

9. Is a Facebook “like” protected free speech? Apparently not. Is a tweet yours to own? Apparently not. Is a Tumblr with ads still a Tumblr? We’ll find out starting May 2. Will we get the internet and be able to tweet about a Tumblr we like once we’re on Mars? Maybe.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: TV & Diversity, Media Use, Political Posting Imposed, Web’s Impact on TV, Hulu Partner Out, NEA Giveth & Taketh Away, David Simon’s Blog, More News Corp Trouble, Future of TV is Broadband, Assessing CNN, The CW Online Impact, Sunday DVR Slam, Girls & Race, Girls Coverage, Hulu’s Growth.


What Are You Missing? Nov 13-26 Sun, 27 Nov 2011 16:40:14 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. AOL has had a year of turmoil, so it’s an interesting time for the company to try and resurrect AIM, which I had forgotten existed. I bet if Jeff Bezos backed it, it would work. In other corporate news, the AT&T/T-Mobile deal is looking doomed, leaving AT&T scrambling for last-ditch strategies; Yelp has filed for a big IPO; and Walmart blew its Black Friday sales online.

2. Brad Jordan says Google+ isn’t trying to directly compete with Facebook, but Google does appear to be making Twitter a target for both social media and news functions. Twitter has more than just that to worry about, as rumors swirl that its office operations are a mess.

3. The online on-demand scene in the UK is heating up: Netflix has signed deals with Lionsgate and Miramax for its 2012 UK launch, while the CEO of competitor FilmFlex says his services are ready for the competition, with a FilmFlex & HMV on-demand partnership and LoveFilm touting a Warner Bros. deal and already beating Netflix at Googling. FilmFlex’s corporate co-owner Sony is also rolling out a PS3 download service in the UK.

4. A new report says 35mm film will be dead by 2015, and A.O. Scott assesses the feeling of loss that’s resulting. Other recent changes to long-standing Hollywood institutions include Universal redesigning its logo to mark its 100th birthday and Sony saying goodbye to James L. Brooks. One thing that never changes in Hollywood? That movies sexualize women.

5. Good film news in places we don’t often hear good film news from: an arthouse theater in Sarajevo is thriving; Erbil, Iraq, which went decades without a functioning movie theater, is now hosting a British film festival; and a Ugandan filmmaker won a prestigious grant to finance a Bicycle Thieves-inspired feature.

6. The Tribune Co. bankruptcy case continues to drag on and seems likely to set precedents for shareholder protections and making people angry about ex-CEO payouts. The company is also struggling with falling revenues, and the Chicago Tribune is boosting home delivery rates as much as three-fold to stay afloat. Some worry Tina Brown is pushing Newsweek toward such doom.

7. Compact discs are dying, and FM alternative rock radio is reportedly declining, which is especially unfortunate because radio is still a dominant source for music discovery. Record labels appear to be holding on to the old ways, as a big chunk of them just pulled out of Spotify, which seems to fly in the face of surveys finding that people will pirate if they can’t easily access what they want.

8. Seems like there’s a war of some sort in each post these days, and this time around it’s music cloud wars, with the arrival of iTunes Match. Google Music has started slow, but could end up being a godsend for independent musicians with its indie hub. Meanwhile, Grooveshark seems likely to end up out of the war.

9. Skyrim is selling well, showing that single-player games still have promise, but more importantly, it has also shown that parody site Christwire has still got it, with its post that Skyrim is teaching its players “homo erotic sex maneuvers.”

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past two weeks: Ratings FAQ, Soap Deals Dead, Value of Black Females, Too Ambitious Series, Online Viewing Study, Daytime Still Viable, Whitney’s Shows, The New Boring, Arrested Development Deal, State of Sony, VOD Ad Loads, TCM for TV, NBC’s Midseason.


What Are You Missing? Aug 28-Sept 10 Sun, 11 Sep 2011 15:17:32 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. The NY Times says Hollywood’s summer was bad; the LA Times says Hollywood’s summer was strong. Resolving this East Coast-West Coast feud is David Poland, who rips the NY Times for ridiculous spin. The Midwest’s Kristin Thompson argues that 3D had a rough summer, but drive-ins are still somehow holding on, plus now so-called microcinemas are coming on strong.

2. Lionsgate is finally free of its stalker, Carl Icahn, but who knows where it goes next. The Wrap analyzes where Revolution Studios went, and more European producers are increasingly saying they don’t need Hollywood to get where they want to go, yet many are going to Toronto rather than Venice in order to get American attention. Venice was good enough for the graphic Shame (full frontal Michael Fassbender!) to grab American attention: it’s been picked up by Fox Searchlight. (And Fassbender won the top acting award for his, um, performance.)

3. Wal-Mart claims it’s happy to work in tandem with Netflix, not against it, with its Vudu video service, but it earned a strategic victory in defeat from a lawsuit. Netflix might have to step up its lobbying spending even more to keep its edge, and it’s also seeing what it can do in Latin America, taking on another piracy hotbed. The Weinstein Co. is now embarking on a video-on-demand effort, and Kevin Smith’s Red State-on-demand experiment continues and will be augmented by a one-night simulcast theatrical screening.

4. Music sales in 2011 are up thanks to digital sales, and Hypebot’s Natalie Cheng says even stores that sell physical music media are reflecting the impact of digital. The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (yes, that’s NARM, Nate Fisher fans) is fighting to find its place in the digital/cloud world. Justin Timberlake is fighting to give MySpace a place in the future of music, and Facebook may get involved in the music game soon too, while it was clarified this week that the iTunes Match cloud service will not offer streaming.

5. Bitmob’s Rus McLaughlin says digital distribution is the new console war, though that doesn’t mean the console wars are over, as we might see a new Playstation by 2013. Business Insider gets us chartastically up to speed on the state of the video game business, while another Bitmob writer laments how much gaming costs the consumer these days. He might be interested in the new WiFi-free PSP being developed for budget-strapped youth.

6. Apple fought Flash and apparently has won, but the iPhone is still fighting to catch up to Android for the biggest share among the 40% of mobile phone users who have smartphones (and here I thought I was the only one whose phone only makes phone calls). Apple’s also fighting against Samsung all over the world and against counterfeits all over China, where a fake Viagra expert could come in handy. And Apple’s opening real stores in Hong Kong and London; the latter will literally block the sun.

7. Craziness at AOL this week. Craziness at Yahoo this week. Hey, maybe AOL and Yahoo should get together! Bad idea? Or not even an idea?

8. Google just turned 13 years old, and the company started its teen years by buying a shiny new company, Zagat. This could add to Yelp’s and Groupon’s already existing troubles plus raise concerns about search neutrality.  Google is also ridding itself of some excess baggage in shutting down a group of products. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a significant website redesign that seems to emphasize digital goods over physical products, and the company cut a deal with California on sales taxes.

9. Tumblr has reached 10 billion posts, Twitter has 100 million active users and just had an $800 million funding round, Facebook is on track for a $3 billion year (if not quite the year originally projected), and Google+ is well short of millions and billions of anything.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors (@N4TVM) post from the past two weeks: Men in Crisis, Sorkin & HBO, Decline of Female Writers, Soap Oral History, NFL Overexposure, Reality TV Lives, Nielsen Numbers, Soap Stars Sign, TV Cloud, BitTorrent TV, Global Streaming Increases, Starz Leaves Netflix, Warner as TV Factory, DMA Rankings, State of AMC, British Sitcom Appeal, AMC Talk, Arts Losses, Google & TV, Hulu’s Performance.


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What Are You Missing? Mar 20-April 2 Sun, 03 Apr 2011 14:00:14 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Music recommendation engines have mostly flopped with users, and Google has pulled its music search feature to tinker with it. In the meantime, perhaps Google’s new +1 button will help with music searching and recommending, while the music industry itself is freaking out about Amazon’s cloud service, as labels are mad that Amazon hasn’t secured licensing rights for this use (some of the same issues that have kept Spotify from coming to the US), and Apple and Google are keeping an eye on this for their own future cloud plans. A bonus for Canadian readers: Canada beat the US again in digital music growth! 01 Canada!

2. Blockbuster is shuttering more than 150 stores as it awaits auction this week, with Carl Icahn and Dish Network as possible buyers. Netflix is probably chuckling at that, as its shares went up and it nears a big deal to stream Miramax films. And while Netflix is concerned about data caps in Canada, enough to reduce streaming video quality there, it maybe doesn’t have to worry about the Amazon cloud service, nor are movie studios as perturbed as music labels are by Amazon’s cloud (yet).

3. The role of film festivals and arthouse cinemas is changing as online distribution grows in prominence. Also likely to grow is online movie ticket purchasing through services like Groupon; some wonder if differential ticket pricing would help grow theater attendance; and, as our waistlines continue to grow, at least we won’t have to be reminded of the calories we’re consuming in movie theater popcorn, thanks to an FDA ruling. But the biggest challenge theater owners have now is premium video-on-demand rentals, whose imminent launching angers the National Association of Theater Owners. The underlying message from studios to theater owners at the recent CinemaCon was basically “Quit yer bitchin’ and get with the digital program,” which is sure to go over well.

4. The Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers struck a contract deal, no strike needed, even though it doesn’t offer everything the WGA wanted (note: Variety paywalled article), and some members, who still have to vote on it, think it’s a bad deal (note: NSFW Kurt Sutter tweet). Meanwhile, Michigan has decided its film production tax credits are a bad deal, and filmmakers are fleeing as a result, while Georgia decided to keep theirs.

5. Nielsen has studied the placement of gaming consoles in the home, determining that the Wii rules the living room, while the Xbox dominates in the kids’ bedroom. In terms of games, Guitar Hero 3 tops a list of best-selling games from this generation, and The Weinstein Company hopes to make future lists with video game versions of some of its library titles, mostly horror films like Scream.

6. Burma has banned Skype, while China’s censorship of electronic communication continues to tighten, and Google is especially in its crosshairs. Google is funding development of technologies to detect such censorship, and the US government has given the BBC World Service money to help combat it. But lest we think censorship is only a problem elsewhere, we should take note that the ACLU is fighting to stop schools from blocking LGBT websites.

7. File-sharing music piracy in the US has declined, with 9% of internet users now using P2P services to download. Some point to the shutdown of Limewire as a direct catalyst for the decline; others disagree. Either way, a London School of Economics study claims that file-sharing isn’t responsible for the record industry’s collapse. From the film perspective, new MPAA head Chris Dodd sees things differently, saying that piracy is the single biggest threat to the survival of the movie industry, as DVD piracy in places like China is running wild. So the solution, I guess, is to demand IP addresses of individual downloaders and to totally get that one guy who uploaded Wolverine. Take that, China!

8. David Carr insists we need to recognize Google as a media company, and it’s certainly made the WAYM links a lot lately. Here’s more: Google has picked Kansas City as its fiber network test market, gotten probation for the bad Buzz, been accused of antitrust violations by Microsoft, and added the +1 button; Google Street View has been deemed legal in Germany and got fined in France; and Google Books lost a key court case, which further delays the dream of a universal digital library.

9. Some random internet bits: AOL is consolidating content sites, Dropbox is making money, Groupon is getting sued, Reddit is creeping us out, Firefox 4 is being downloaded a lot, LinkedIn has reached 100 million, and PayPal has new competition, plus check where your state ranks in internet access speed.

10. Some good News for TV Majors links from the past two weeks: Mad Men Agreement, TWC Fight & TWC Pulls Channels, Peabody Awards, Viewing By Race, Profanity Appeals Pause, Internet TV Standards, New Football PlaysStarz Delay for Netflix, Showtime Pulling From Netflix, Mogul Salaries, BBC Cuts.


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What Are You Missing? May 9-May 23 Sun, 23 May 2010 18:58:19 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. The Cannes Film Festival’s major award winners were just announced, with Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives taking the Palme d’Or (and thus you can add Thailand to this chart of past Palme d’Or winners by country). Mike D’Angelo says Cannes got that right, a critics’ poll on the best and worst films had Uncle Boonme in second place, and indieWire’s film report card gave it a B+. Overall, the Cannes lineup has been judged merely so-so and distribution deals were slow to develop. The usual glamour was there, though, and there was plenty of off-screen news, from Woody Allen’s presser to Jean-Luc Godard’s refusal to explain his impenetrable Film Socialisme to protests over the film Outside the Law to outrage at Jafar Panahi’s imprisonment. With some questioning whether anyone cares about Cannes anymore, David Poland asked at the start of the festival if Cannes still matters; Eugene Hernandez answered yes, and at least on indieWIRE’s list of fifty leading festivals, Cannes is still #1.

2. Ted Hope offers 38 ways the American film industry is failing cinema (Brian Newman responds to one), plus some added reflections and thoughts on the value of cinema. A profile of indie producer Michael London explains how he’s dealing with new industry realities, and Guillermo del Toro proposes short films as an industry savior, while Mynette Louie says microbudget filmmaking is decidedly not a savior. African cinema could use a savior, as theaters are dwindling, but at least Nigerian cinema (Nollywood) is thriving, and African filmmaking was relatively well-represented at Cannes.

3. In Hollywood news, Bob Kerrey is expected to head up the MPAA, Marc Cuban is suing Paramount for millions over fraudulent accounting, and NPR featured a story on just such creative Hollywood accounting in connection with Gone in 60 Seconds. Elsewhere, Britain’s Hammer Studios plans to develop swankier horror films (figuratively and literally: Hilary Swank will be in one) and, inevitably, a 3D horror film. The latter will annoy Francis Ford Coppola, but James Cameron will say told you so. And in an attempt to foster U.S. box office success, the Indian film Kites will be distributed in two versions, one a traditional Bollywood romantic drama with extended dance sequences and the other a Brett Ratner recut that basically drops all the Bollywood bits (*sigh*).

4. A court ruled against file-sharing service LimeWire for copyright infringement, and PirateBay was briefly sidelined by court injunctions, but defiantly carries on. Nintendo is going after illegal game copiers and The Hurt Locker’s producers are going after illegal downloaders. One of those producers, Nicholas Chartier, is quite outspoken against illegal downloaders, which isn’t going over so well with some. Chartier should have a chat with British actor Peter Serafinowicz, who says he even steals movies he’s in. Steve Safran thinks maybe the only way to out-pirate the pirates is to get first-run films into our homes sooner.

5. You probably haven’t missed much of Facebook’s privacy mess, considering it even made the cover of Time. But here’s a condensation of the fallout (yes, this is a condensation; there was a lot of it): Some are responding in defense of Facebook or saying who cares or at least defending the value of publicness in some measure; writing thoughtful essays about the issues involved; demanding that Facebook as a company itself be more public and transparent; creeping us out with infographics; mocking those who don’t seem to realize that their very personal info is public (the folks featured there really need to use some privacy scan tools); working on Facebook alternatives; proposing a bill of privacy rights for social media; and calling for us to delete our Facebook accounts on May 31 or at least stay away from them on June 6. So far, Facebook has only promised to simply its privacy settings. As if the privacy backlash wasn’t enough for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to account for already, this fortnight also saw user data from Facebook and other social networks sent to advertisers without user permission; Zuckerberg embarrassed by old IMs, sparking demands for him to speak up about his current beliefs (while others say the attacks on Zuckerberg have gotten out of hand); Zuckerberg accused of securities fraud; and info leaked about Aaron Sorkin’s Facebook movie The Social Network in which Zuckerberg doesn’t come off so well (the phrase “sex maniac” certainly caught my eye). But wait, there’s more: Pakistan banned Facebook because of the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day movement. You know you’re having problems when both Pakistan and the ACLU are mad at you. Any good news for Facebook? Nike likes it.

6. Twitter has high hopes for its new advertising system, others are intrigued by the future possibilities of using Twitter for precise opinion polling, and Twitter reworked its trending topics algorithm to make it less Biebery, but Adam Ostrow said there’s more work to be done. Similarly, David Carr is frustrated by hit-generating, Google-luring headlines online. Vaguely related (I just had to fit it in somewhere): Harry McCracken has a great analysis of the word “fanboy” as a tech world put-down.

7. YouTube has turned five years old (a birthday which Conan O’Brien celebrated by picking out his favorite clips), and touts that its viewership now exceeds that of prime-time network TV. But Simon Dumenco claims that the latest YouTube sensation, Greyson Chance, owes more to TV than YouTube for his virality, while says it beats YouTube in time spent on the site.  Across its next five years, YouTube is hoping to foster more professional and profitable content. They might want to work on more professional corporate communication, too.

8. April saw yet another plunge in video game sales, while a report suggests game companies could pick up sales by better serving older and disabled gamers. Looking for more money itself, EA Sports announced a plan to charge gamers to play used games online. Given that nearly half of gamer money spent reportedly goes to used and online games, it sounds like a shrewd move. Meanwhile, MySpace hopes that online gaming will help turn things around for them, movie studios are turning to online gaming to generate greater audience involvement, and you can help fund Indie Game: The Movie. Thinking beyond money, game companies are going green and are also being called on to support fair labor practices.

9. Last week was the worst for album sales since 1991, and last year, a mere 2% of the albums released accounted for 91% of sales. In terms of online distribution, Leor Galil is frustrated that iTunes gets so many exclusive releases, so he might be happy with the news that Google looks ready to take on iTunes, and he should also check out Mashable’s list of seven sites for discovering new music.

10. The best News for TV Majors links of the fortnight: Law & Order Acting, TV=Art, Introducing Google TV, Upfronts Summaries: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, The CW, Sitcom Trends, Boycott Call, Content Power Ratings, Finale Advice, Lost Music, Mad Men & Women, Activities During Ads, FCC Waiver for Movie Studios


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What Are You Missing? March 1-13 Sun, 14 Mar 2010 14:27:48 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. The upside and downside of Twitter and celebrity: Conan O’Brien turned to Twitter to entertain us (thus becoming what he once mocked). He then used Twitter to turn one woman’s life upside down, and she charmed us all by channeling her sudden fame into good causes. But Twitter doesn’t always have such delightful results, as evidenced by the fact that Academy Awards ceremony co-producer Adam Shankman chose actors like Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus to present at the Oscars because Twitter followers told him to. Where’s Fail Whale when you need it?

2. The viral video of the fortnight was OK Go’s Rube Goldbergian “This Too Shall Pass.” It’s sponsored by State Farm, which dismays some (I assume Sarah Polley wouldn’t approve) who also point out that Honda and others did this first. Regardless, it looks cool, and Wired found out how they pulled it off. By the way, there was a previous video for “This Too Shall Pass” involving the Notre Dame marching band, but you likely missed it due to ridiculous embedding restrictions. There’s a very important lesson in there, internet. In fact, OK Go has since left its record label EMI over the issue. Viral video runners-up: SNL presidents, Avatar/Pocahontas mashup, Mean Disney Girls, the Russian singer, Battlestar GalacticaSabotage video.

3. Jesse Thomas composed a fascinating “State of the Internet” video, featuring such facts as that 247 billion emails are sent each day, but 81% of them are spam. And Zaheer Ahmed Khan has a fun list of Internet firsts, like the first item sold on eBay: broken laser pointer, purchased by a collector (?) for $14.83. Who could have predicted then what sites Twitter, Facebook, Linked In would be worth now? Speaking of internet firsts and future loads of money, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson has the contentious story of the founding of Facebook.

4. Scholar Thomas Doherty says film criticism is dead, and (not dead) film critic Richard Schickel seems inclined to agree, having said during a recent panel discussion, “I don’t know honestly the function of reviewing anything.” Chuck Tryon disagrees with Doherty, as does Jim Emerson, and Keith Uhlich pulls no punches in depicting what he thinks of Schickel. Meanwhile, (not dead) film critic Armond White once allegedly kinda sorta said he wished filmmaker Noah Baumbach was never born, but I’m not sure whether the resulting kerfuffle qualifies as film criticism dead or film criticism alive.

5. Doherty can amend his article with the news that Variety has kicked to the curb its last remaining salaried (but not dead) film critic, Todd McCarthy, as well as its last theater critic. Former Variety columnist Anne Thompson says the trade has cut its lifeblood, (not dead) film critic Roger Ebert gives the move an impassioned thumbs down, (not dead) film critic David Edelstein remembers the way Variety used to be, and McCarthy himself offers some thoughts. Best headline, from the LA Times: Variety Lays an Egg. Variety also has a lawsuit to deal with in regard to a negative film review. Variety’s defense? Film criticism is dead.

6. Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek detailed the decline of Miramax, and in its wake, Levi Shapiro points to The Messenger as a new example for indie cinema to follow, while Paramount is trying a new approach with producing “micro-budget” films. With the studio infrastructure for indie cinema broken down otherwise, film festivals might be ever more important in taking up the slack, if they can do it right and especially properly utilize both online distribution and marketing. In that regard, Lion’s Gate is trying to take advantage of social media marketing for its April release of Kick Ass, and is succeeding with its online distribution of low-budget videos, though their indie fare is decidedly lowbrow, rather Hurt Locker territory.

7. Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panah (The Mirror, The Circle, Offside) was arrested in a government crackdown on dissidents. Countryman and international art cinema icon Abbas Kiarostami has decried this development, the LA (Not Dead) Film Critics Association has expressed its dismay, and you can too via an online petition. For more on the broader context, The Believer Magazine has a revealing report on filmgoing and filmmaking in Iran.

8. Speaking of The Hurt Locker, hooray for Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director Oscar, which New York Times (not dead) film critic Manohla Dargis was thrilled about. However, Rachel Abramowitz offers the cold slap of reality in her LA Times piece about the ongoing challenges for women in Hollywood. The other woman everyone fell for at the Oscars was Gabourey Sidibe, and Feminista Files blogger Erika Kennedy detailed the insulting backstory of her Oscar dress saga and defended Sidibe as a role model. Howard Stern should give that a read.

9.  In DVD news, an Indiana prosecutor wants only G movies in Redbox kiosks, Blockbuster is going back to imposing late fees, and the MPAA had small win in their big fight against DVD copying software, but this chart of DVD sales struggles will make them unhappy. Disney has  shortened the Alice in Wonderland DVD release window, but speculation that Hurt Locker’s post-Best Picture difficulties with booking theaters are due to the film being out on DVD might give other studios pause (literally!).

10. My favorite News for TV Majors story links: There Will Be Retrans, CNN Fears Facebook, Flushing Measurements, TiVo News, Indecency Backlog, Cable Channel Fees, Exec Interviews, Viacom & Hulu Break Up, Old Spice Ad, and NCIS Fandom.


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