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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Morning links: `The Big Picture' ... Video mash-ups ... Networks launch Web channels ... YouTube surpasses MySpace ... DreamWorks partners with AOL

- Patrick Goldstein's column in the LA Times, `The Big Picture,' examines the cost-cutting craze in Hollywood that's even affecting big names like Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt. He writes:

    In the New Hollywood, the power has shifted from production to marketing. And why not? When your aim is to make a franchise picture aimed at the whole family, the person you want at the helm is a brand-management expert, not a filmmaker-friendly production chief. Next summer is already jammed with another slew of sequels, including new installments in the "Harry Potter," "Spider-Man," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Shrek," "Fantastic Four," "Rush Hour," "Bourne" and "Ocean's Eleven" series. These are consumer products, not cinema.

Goldstein seems to realize (I think) that these consumer products can and will co-exist with a different kind of product: cinematic stories that aspire to be art. He acknowledges that actors who want to make meaningful movies often work on independently-financed projects, signing up for studio pictures when they need to pad their bank accounts. But I think the missing piece of this story is this: even if we can't count on studios to make a `Godfather' nowadays, we're in the early stages of a great creative renaissance that will produce thousands of worthy shorts and full-length features, aided and abetted by the Internet as a tool for marketing and distribution. The key is to take your eye off the $200 million consumer products, and focus on little bitty projects like this.


- Kim-Mai Cutler of the Boston Globe writes about the controversy over video mash-ups that rely on copyrighted material.


- The Wall Street Journal is starting a series of articles today called Web video wars. The first installment talks about how major broadcast and cable networks are creating niche channels online. Brooks Barnes writes:


    "We're on the verge of an explosion of these kinds of ultra-focused broadband channels," says Jordan Levin, a former Warner Bros. executive who recently co-founded a production and management company called Generate LLC in part to develop video content for the Web. "Just as television evolved from the broadcast networks to cable channels, now we're seeing another splintering of the audience."


- Hey Rupert, time to buy YouTube? According to The Guardian:


    "The video sharing site has taken a 3.9% share of global internet visits a day compared with 3.35% for MySpace, according to internet analysis company Alexa.


    YouTube's popularity has grown immensely over the first six months of the year. In May its reach outgrew that of the BBC's websites.


- DreamWorks will be created an animated online game in partnership with AOL and Mark Burnett, to promote its feature film `Flushed Away.' It goes live in November; movie's release date is November 3rd.

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