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Monday, December 04, 2006

'Apocalypto' and Panavision Genesis ... Show Jumps from Cell Phones to Comedy Central ... Shari Redstone and National Amusements

- The LA Times has a great piece by Sheigh Crabtree about the filming of Mel Gibson's `Apocalypto,' which should have been headlined `Apocalypto Now,' given how many snafus and delays the production encountered. Much of the story focuses on the use of the Panavision Genesis camera, also used this year for `Flyboys' and `Superman Returns.'

- The animated political series 'Lil Bush' will jump from cell phone screens to the television, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the creator isn't some teen working on a PC in his bedroom...Donick Cary is a former writer on `The Simpsons' and 'Late Show With David Letterman.' Li Yuan writes:

    Comedy Central, part of MTV Networks, has bought the TV and digital rights to the animated series, "Lil' Bush: Resident of the United States," and will co-produce it with Amp'd Mobile and the show's creator Donick Cary, a TV writer who has written for "Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Simpsons." Comedy Central plans to air the half-hour show weekly beginning next summer during the popular 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot, possibly right after "South Park" and before "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

    The Comedy Central deal raises to a new level the nascent business of developing TV shows for cellphones, demonstrating that it has potential to become a breeding ground for TV content. It's the latest case of cross-pollination between technologies, with other examples being videogames morphing into movies, like "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and Internet videos winding up on cable networks like Current.

- The Journal has another piece today on Shari Redstone, the Sumner spawn who heads the National Amusements theater chain. Pops actually has good things to say about Shari in the piece. And there's a bit about a new venture Shari is running, a video-gaming arena called CyGamZ. From Matthew Kartitschnig's piece:

    ...Seeing the competition the [movie exhibition] industry faced from other entertainment outlets, Ms. Redstone decided to go upmarket by building luxury theaters, a concept she calls "Cinema de Lux."

    So far, National, which also has operations in Russia and South America and is the No. 5 theater operator in the U.S., has built 13 of the Cinema de Lux movie houses and has plans for many more. Ms. Redstone's goal is to eventually convert most of the chain's 81 U.S. theaters.

    The Cinema de Lux venues have baby grand pianos in the lobby, lounge areas and reserved seating. Ms. Redstone is particularly proud of "Chatters," a chain of bars and grills housed in the theaters that serve everything from beer-battered tilapia to chocolate martinis. The company is also introducing in-seat dining during films at some locations. The Cinema de Lux strategy has boosted attendance 20% and per-customer profit 40%, Ms. Redstone says.

    Her biggest gambit so far is CyGamZ. The first phase involves building half a dozen venues, beginning with the one that just opened in Ann Arbor, Mich. The concept isn't entirely new. In 1996, Steven Spielberg formed a partnership with Sega Enterprises and MCA to open a chain of gaming venues. But the business never really took off, and GameWorks filed for bankruptcy. Last year Sega Corp. acquired the assets out of bankruptcy and relaunched the business.