VR/AR Expected to Impact Much More Than Video and Gaming

Most conversation about virtual reality and augmented reality focuses on how it will impact gaming and video entertainment. But a recent report from Goldman Sachs upends that notion, with its prediction that VR and AR will instead open up “an entirely new marketplace of applications” for both the business and consumer sectors. The report states that virtual reality hardware will be an $80 billion industry within 10 years, which is actually a slow adoption when compared to that of smartphones and tablets. Continue reading VR/AR Expected to Impact Much More Than Video and Gaming

Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

At the recent Sundance Film Festival, virtual reality was a big hit for the second year running. But the changes in just a year were also evident: rather than the conversation focusing on the technology enabling the VR experiences, the focus was on storytelling. Virtual reality, in other words, has become a medium, as demonstrated in projects such as “Grease” director Randal Kleiser’s sci-fi VR drama “Defrost,” which tells the story of a woman just awaking from a coma. The series is a full season with another in development. Continue reading Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Amazon’s growth is impressive — but it still, apparently, does not meet investors’ high expectations. With profits in Prime and Amazon Web Services, the company just delivered the largest quarterly profit in its 20-year history, but its shares plummeted 15 percent in after-hours trading, erasing more than $30 billion in market value. Shareholders were perhaps spooked by a 20.5 percent jump in operating costs, to $34.6 billion. Yet Amazon still out-performed other tech titans, including Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. Continue reading Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Digital Domain Moves into VR with Hong Kong Post Acquisition

Visual effects facility Digital Domain, known for its digital work on the “Transformers” series, the “X-Men” series, “Iron Man 3″ and “Her,” acquired an 85 percent stake in Hong Kong’s Post Production Company Limited and its parent company for about $17.3 million, with the goal of making a big move into virtual reality. Post Production — which Digital Domain chief executive Daniel Seah calls “the Digital Domain of China” — has worked on many major Chinese movies, TV ads, and music videos. Continue reading Digital Domain Moves into VR with Hong Kong Post Acquisition

Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

After coming up empty at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, streaming services Amazon and Netflix made some significant acquisitions at this year’s indie film festival in Utah. Prior to the festival, Netflix spent $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” starring Allison Janney and Ellen Page, and almost $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. Amazon inked a deal for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

At the Sundance Film Festival, the latest in virtual reality appears at the New Frontier, the Sundance Institute’s showcase for virtual reality, immersive cinematic works, and media lab innovations. 2016 is no exception, and the buzz is already out about some of the must-see virtual reality movies and experiences. Among them, “The Wasteland” from 8i is one recommendation. Other notable VR experiences at Sundance include “American Bison,” “Kiya” and “Wave of Grace.” Continue reading Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

Amazon and Netflix Focus on Film May Jumpstart Indie Cinema

Now that Amazon and Netflix have made such a powerful impact on television, the two companies are turning their sights to motion pictures. The result could jumpstart a faltering independent film sector, say the experts. Both companies have made tremendous inroads into TV in a short period of time: Amazon has won multiple Golden Globes and Emmy Awards for “Transparent,” and Netflix earned 34 nominations at the 2015 Emmy Awards for shows including “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Focus on Film May Jumpstart Indie Cinema

Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix recently announced it would begin to block VPNs (virtual private networks), which consumers use to get around geographic-based content licensing restrictions. The company has turned a blind eye to VPN usage, but that was before it distributed its content globally, now live in 190 countries. Netflix has a reason to protect its content (especially its originals) and infrastructure investments, and it can’t offer all content to every country. But there’s another, just as potent reason for the move. Continue reading Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Netflix and Amazon are currently small players in the content business compared to Disney, Comcast and Time Warner. And although there are plenty of reasons why these media behemoths need not be too concerned about Netflix and Amazon, these two streaming services do continue to grow and succeed. Most recently, Netflix’s stock rose 140 percent, making it the best performing of Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, and the company announced at CES that it will make its content available worldwide (except for China). Continue reading Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Chinese Company Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5B

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group paid $3.5 billion in cash to purchase Legendary Entertainment, one of Hollywood’s largest independent movie companies, making it the largest such deal between Hollywood and China. Dalian Wanda’s other Hollywood holdings include AMC Entertainment, the second largest cinema chain in the U.S. The company, which got its start in real estate, also owns theaters and produces movies in China. Legendary has co-financed numerous movies, produced its own and has TV and digital divisions. Continue reading Chinese Company Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5B

Disney Plans June Opening for its New Theme Park in China

After a decade of planning and five years construction, The Walt Disney Company is set to open the Shanghai Disney Resort in the spring. The $5.5 billion project is a testament to the growing interest in bringing American entertainment brands to Chinese consumers. The 963-acre theme park, complete with an Enchanted Storybook Castle and a Mandarin version of “The Lion King” musical, is expected to be one of the largest Disney parks in the world. Disney already operates a park in Hong Kong. Continue reading Disney Plans June Opening for its New Theme Park in China

CES: Zeiss Comes Up with Optics for Superior Smart Glasses

Carl Zeiss — notable manufacturer of lenses for motion picture and consumer cameras — now has the technology for smart glasses that makes use of more than a decade of work on head-mounted displays and two centuries of work on lenses. Best of all, the resulting smart glasses look and feel exactly like ordinary prescription lenses — and, in fact, can combine optical prescriptions and “smart” technology. Zeiss did it by integrating a Fresnel structure into a standard lens, and placing a very small display at the end of the lens. Continue reading CES: Zeiss Comes Up with Optics for Superior Smart Glasses

Digital and Physical Home Entertainment Dips Again in 2015

Home entertainment sales dipped last year, especially for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, which fell 12 percent, one percent more than the drop in 2014. But the numbers, as compiled by the Digital Entertainment Group, aren’t easy to parse, as revealed in competing interpretations of the data. Two things are clear: physical media’s dip is linked to digital media’s rise. And, with revenues of $18 billion, home entertainment is still larger than theatrical box office, which clocked in at $11.1 billion last year. Continue reading Digital and Physical Home Entertainment Dips Again in 2015

Amazon, Streaming Services Dominate 73rd Golden Globes

Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony delivered a number of surprises that have since sparked commentary from traditional and social media outlets. Aside from the surprise wins and snubs, memorable or disappointing speeches, and debate over the most appropriate category for “The Martian,” it’s worth noting that streaming services — especially Amazon — scored major wins this year. In another sign of how our entertainment media delivery and consumption is shifting, Netflix beat out broadcast and cable powerhouses in nominations, while Amazon scored a number of major wins. Continue reading Amazon, Streaming Services Dominate 73rd Golden Globes

NBCUniversal’s Burke: Netflix is Friend, Enemy and Frenemy

NBCUniversal chief executive Steve Burke did not anticipate the big impact of time-shifting and over-the-top services such as Netflix and Hulu on the cable business, he said during CES 2016. Instead, he believed cable entertainment ratings would be stronger than they are today. At the same time, he doesn’t consider Netflix to be just an enemy but, rather, a friend and frenemy as well. More puzzling to him is how advertisers discount television in favor of digital outlets, which, he notes, do not have the reach or emotional impact of TV. Continue reading NBCUniversal’s Burke: Netflix is Friend, Enemy and Frenemy

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