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Monday, January 02, 2006

A compendium of links: Google, Soderbergh, Bujalski, Pixar, Apple, and Dolby

Here are a few links I've been meaning to post - all are to articles that have run over the holidays:

- The LA Times has a fun compilation of predictions for 2006. Among them: Google becomes an even bigger threat to old-line media companies; Disney will once again consider acquiring Pixar (but will once again pass); Lloyd Braun (creator of `Lost') will leave Yahoo; and Paramount, after recently buying DreamWorks SKG, the live-action studio, will also acquire DreamWorks Animation.

- Manohla Dargis had a piece in the NY Times that quoted Steven Soderbergh about the future of the movie business:

    "The economics don't work. Everybody on both sides, from top to bottom, needs to rethink the issue of compensation and participation. It just has to be redesigned. Movies cost too much. People are getting paid too much...There are already deals being made that acknowledge the fact that it's broken. But whether you're going to see that change in a broad sense prior to the digital changeover, I don't know."

Dargis also mentioned the film `Mutual Appreciation,' being sold by the filmmaker directly to his audience. "Genuine independent filmmakers like Andrew Bujalski `(`Funny Ha Ha') face a brutal time in today's market," Dargis writes, "but the D.I.Y. ethos that spurred filmmakers to edit on Macs now finds them self-distributing: you can buy Mr. Bujalski's latest, `Mutual Appreciation,' online at" (Cool. But why no trailer?)

- This piece from Technology Review focuses on the future of personal media, hitting on video search and also variable pricing at Apple's iTunes Music Store.

- In `Dolby Seeks New Alternatives for Growth,' the Associated Press asks what will happen to the San Francisco company now that revenue growth from DVD players is dwindling. (Dolby licenses its sound processing tech to DVD makers.) One answer is HD-DVD and Blu-Ray high-definition disc players, and new high-def TV sets. Another is digital cinema. From the piece:

    The company is also engaged in a high-profile effort to promote digital 3-D cinema projectors.

    The company is moving into a potential market of more than 100,000 movie screens by equipping theaters for digital cinema such as the 84 screens it equipped for Walt Disney Corp.'s "Chicken Little."

    But determining who may pay for a large-scale rollout of the costly gear — Dolby paid $7 million on "Chicken Little" — is uncertain since studios have been unwilling to commit to plans for releasing digital films at a time of a box-office slump.

That's the first time I've seen that $7 million figure - the amount of money Dolby spent rolling out digital cinema equipment to those 84 theaters that showed `Chicken Little' in 3-D. Many people I've spoken to expect Dolby to eventually sell that gear to a company that will manage it going forward - likely Technicolor or Christie/AIX.