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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The MPAA's Annual Report, Video on the Xbox, and More

- In advance of next week's ShoWest gathering in Vegas, the Motion Picture Association of America has released its annual report on movie industry economics. (A PDF of the press release is here.) From the NY Times coverage:

    The average production cost of a film made by [an MPAA] member company rose about 3.4 percent to $65.8 million in 2006, according to the report, while the marketing cost fell slightly, to an average of $34.5 million. (Association executives noted that the production cost figure does not include money contributed by outside investors who frequently underwrite the expense of Hollywood films.) The domestic box office rose about 5.5 percent last year to $9.49 billion, while theatrical admissions rose 3.3 percent to 1.45 billion, and the worldwide box office rose about 11 percent to $25.8 billion.

Variety offers a thorough analysis of the numbers. Some interesting elements from that:

    > Spending on online marketing is growing
    > So is the number of movies released each year (607 in 2006, an all-time high)
    > There's a correlation between people who have a lot of technology in their homes (game consoles, DVD players, high-def TV) and people who see a lot of movies. (Seems to me this could be purely related to household net worth, rather than home theaters generating a desire to see movies in theaters.)

- Microsoft is clearly trying to promote the Xbox's video offerings, if this piece from Sunday's NY Times is any indication. Dave Itzkoff writes:

    In late November Microsoft began expanding the library on its Xbox Live network, a broadband service available by subscription to Xbox 360 owners. In addition to the video-game trailers and playable demonstrations that the network has traditionally offered, you can now find an eclectically selected collection of films and television shows offered for downloading to a console’s hard drive: for a few dollars you can view “Mission: Impossible III” or “Chinatown” or the episode of “Chappelle’s Show” with the blind white supremacist, on your television, just as if you were watching a DVD or a video-on-demand channel.

    ...This month XBox Live will offer a new view of the corpulent form of Eric Cartman when it becomes the first outlet ever to offer an episode of “South Park” in high definition.

    While Microsoft acknowledges that most consumers are buying Xbox 360s primarily, if not solely, to play video games, the company also sees an opportunity to use film and television content to draw an audience that doesn’t fit the stereotypical gamer profile.

    “The original Xbox was probably the domain of that testosterone-fueled male in the household, and while we love him to death, we also want his little brother and sister and mom and dad and their friends to be able to enjoy it,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business division.

- Viacom's CEO disses YouTube at an investment conference in New York, and says a deal with the video service Joost will give the company more control over its content, according to the LA Times.

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