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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Paramount turmoil... WSJ on online TV...Chinese animation edict

- Patrick Goldstein writes in the LA Times about "studio turmoil" at Paramount, following the company's acquisition of DreamWorks SKG:

    As a relatively new company, DreamWorks is oriented to the future; Paramount has always looked to the past. As [studio chief Brad] Grey discovered in his first months at Paramount, the studio was a crumbling edifice, full of antiquated technology and staffers with equally antiquated ideas about the business. The studio, which missed out on a big chunk of the DVD bonanza by being the last to open its vaults, was equally slow to embrace digital media. Grey once told me that when he arrived at the studio he was shocked to discover he couldn't make a conference call.

    This is all changing now. The studio has launched a new digital media division. And another new recruit, Paramount Classics chief John Lesher, is speedily putting that division back on the map with an impressive slate of new films. But change is wrenching, especially when so many executives, from Grey on down, are doing jobs they've never done before.

It should be noted that Paramount hasn't yet committed to one of the two rival digital cinema plans (from Technicolor and AccessIT), and the studio also hasn't distributed a single digital film yet.

- The Wall Street Journal has a piece today headlined, `Choices Expand for Watching TV on Your PC.' The piece has some data about video consumption online:

    Based on consumer surveys, Points North Group estimates that 50% of Internet users watch video online, with 9% of users watching full-length movies downloaded from the Internet and 8% watching current TV shows at least occasionally.


    Parks Associates estimates that 3.7 million Americans will pay for video online by the end of 2006, with that number rising to more than 51 million by the end of 2010. The Dallas research and consulting group predicts such payments will rise to $1.8 billion by 2010 from $111 million this year.

The piece also offers stats about how many movies are `on the shelves' at the leading download/streaming sites: Movielink (1,200), Vongo (1,000), CinemaNow (4,000), and Greencine (more than 10,000).

- Variety says that China has banned films that combine animated characters with human actors. No "Space Jam" or "Who Framed Roger Rabbits" for Chinese kids. The move may be aimed at making it easier for Chinese animation companies to compete for airtime on Chinese television. (Perhaps they're not as good at blending live action and animation? Or they don't have access to Bob Hoskins?)

Here's the Xinhua story -- see if it makes sense to you.