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Monday, July 10, 2006

News items: From D Cinema Funding to Dan Rather on HDNet

Here's a bunch of worthy reads:

- From the LA Times: National CineMedia recently hired JPMorgan to raise $1 billion that will help fund the conversion of 13,000 screens to digital cinema.

- Chris Gaither of the LA Times reports on the evolving Web video economy. He writes:

    Hollywood and Silicon Valley are abuzz over how the Internet is reshaping the entertainment and news businesses. Broadcast and cable TV networks are making shows such as "Lost" and scores of news clips available for viewing on computers and iPods, as they experiment with business models. Amateurs also are jumping in the game, sharing funny home movies and other videos through sites such as YouTube.

    But a sharp rise in broadband connectivity is spurring the use of video across the Internet. In May, 72% of active Web users in the U.S. connected at home via broadband, a sharp rise from 57% during the same period last year, according to research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

- There was a great piece yesterday by Mary McNamara in the LA Times on how studios have been pulling the plug lately when a movie project's budget skyrockets before the first day of shooting. She writes:

    ...[W]hat looks like a recent phenomenon — studios either cutting budgets at the last minute or demanding all sorts of assurances from those films that go over $100 million — is, according to [producer and former studio chief Bill] Mechanic, an accumulation of issues.

    "For the last few years, people just haven't been paying attention," he says.

    The mentality at the studios today doesn't help, either, says [producer and former studio head Mike] Medavoy. "It's hard to get a movie made today because everyone's looking for yesterday's hit," he says. "It's very marketing-oriented, like politics based on polling. But the marketing budget for most films now is huge because they have such a short window to get everything back."

- Jim Cameron will start shooting his next feature, `Avatar,' in February, targeting a 2008 release, according to Sheigh Crabtree in The Hollywood Reporter. Cameron says, "There's just so much CG, and the visual effects are a huge component. A lot of it is performance capture. We use different techniques (from, for example, Sony Pictures' upcoming 'Monster House'), but it's the same general idea."

- The Wall Street Journal says that U.S. box office revenues from Jan. 1 to July 4th are up 4.8 percent, and attendance is up 1.7 percent. 20th Century Fox, with hits like `X-Men' and `Ice Age 2' is happiest.

- Finally, Mark Cuban has hired Dan Rather to develop a news show for his HDNet satellite channel.


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