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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Links: Blockbuster's New CEO ... Grouper Becomes Crackle ... DVD Still On Top ... 'Simpsons' ... Digital Cinema ... YouTube Ads ... And More

Catching up here: Some news from the weekend, and Monday:

- The NY Times writes about how Blockbuster's new CEO will compete with Netflix, video-on-demand, and the TiVo/Unbox combination. From the piece:

    “The opportunity for Blockbuster is to provide true total access whether in the form of physical stores or mail delivery or digital distribution,” [James] Keyes said. “The goal for Blockbuster would be to be the preferred provider in whatever venue is preferred by the customer.”

- Grouper, the Sony-owned vid-sharing site, is now Crackle. And they're now paying video-makers. Not just any videomaker. But chosen videomakers. This is very similar to what AtomFilms has been doing for a few years now. From the NY Times story:

    Other sites have tried this approach. Revver, for example, promised to share advertising revenue with video producers, but foundered. Sony will instead offer upfront cash payments to some producers. These will range from a few thousand dollars to well over $10,000 a segment, Mr. Feltzer said. That is somewhat more than some other sites, like Heavy.com, that have been paying for video segments.

    Sony has created a unit called Crackle Studios, with 15 employees, that will produce its own segments for the site. One example is Judgment Day, a reality show in which a person judges other people, then interviews them to find out if their first impressions were correct.

    Crackle will also invite submissions from users, and all of them will be posted unless they violate the site’s terms of service. But since the user videos are meant to be added to Crackle’s existing channels, Mr. Feltzer said he hoped they would be in the spirit of the site.

    People who submit unsolicited videos will not be paid, but they can try to submit ideas to get financing from Crackle for future projects.

- DVDs are still the top cash-producer for the movie industry: a record $23 billion in sales and rentals in 2006, according to the Entertainment Merchants Association. (Box office was $9.5 billion.)

- Fox isn't doing advance screenings of 'The Simpsons' movie for critics, according to the LA Times. The studio says that it isn't because the movie is bad (the traditional reason for withholding movies from reviewers), but rather to thwart Internet scoops and spoilers.

- The Economist has a short overview piece on digital cinema, circa July 2007.

- The Age in Australia writes about the Portable Film Festival, taking place in August.

- Matt Dentler tells us what Harry Knowles DVD wedding invitation was like.

- If you're in the Boston area, this screening of 'Willie Wonka' (the 1971 original) in Smell-O-Vision (or at least an approximation of it) looks like fun.

- Anne Thompson has a brilliant piece in Variety about the evolving relationship between celebs and their fans. A snippet:

    The dynamic between celebrities and their audience is shifting. The critics and the media no longer have the last word. Thanks to evolving technology, moviemakers and stars have new weapons to not only promote their projects directly to moviegoers, but to fight back against what they perceive as misinformation. They are taking advantage of their Internet fanbases to promote their projects, skipping the marketing middlemen and interacting directly with the people who buy tickets. Fan sites offer them valuable feedback about what their audiences like and dislike. But they also offer an opportunity to set the record straight. And sometimes, change the world.


- Here's what the new video ad format on YouTube (or at least one of them) looks like:

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