MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

MoviePass, which shut its doors in January 2019, just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it prevented customers from using the service as advertised and did not protect their data privacy. The company offered users one movie ticket per day for any movie at any theater for $9.95 a month but soon had to raise subscription fees and limit movie tickets. The FTC accused the company of deceptively marketing its services, invalidating customer passwords to prevent users from obtaining tickets, and failing to secure user data. Continue reading MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

Makers Pop-Up is a 2-day virtual conference for the creative community that explores the merger of technology with storytelling in film, TV, advertising, interactive and animation. The event, scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday this week (June 9-10), will provide a digital space to make connections, meet potential partners and share ideas and resources. Two executives from ETC@USC will offer their expertise on panels: Yves Bergquist will address the “Virtual Creative Muse: The Evolution of AI as Artistic Mentor and Production Assistant” and Erik Weaver will discuss “Fix it in Prep: How Virtual Production Front Loads Creative Decisions and Costs.” Continue reading ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

Movie Theaters Report Upswing for Strong Holiday Weekend

U.S. movie theaters brought in nearly $100 million in ticket sales over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. The top two titles were Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” which earned $48.4 million in three days (and $57 million over the full four days) and Disney’s “Cruella,” which made $27 million in four days, after an earlier Disney+ release. This performance has been the best box office since the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, although it was less than half of the $232 million earned in the same holiday period in 2019. Continue reading Movie Theaters Report Upswing for Strong Holiday Weekend

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Ryan Beagan, vice president of virtual production at WarnerMedia, met virtually with USC students on April 21 for the fifth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Beagan engaged a group of six students and one recent alumnus in a one-hour discussion on “The Post-Pandemic Future of Virtual Production.” Graduate and undergraduate students in computer science, industrial engineering, theater, applied data, and film and television production discussed topics including sophisticated game engines, collaborative processes and new tools, and adapting to evolving compliance rules. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Amazon announced this morning that it will purchase MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, signaling the tech giant’s serious intent to expand its entertainment ambitions by beefing up its Prime Video content library to better compete with Netflix, Hulu and the growing collection of streaming video services. The deal marks the second largest acquisition for Amazon; the company paid $13.7 billion for Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon plans to leverage MGM’s significant catalog of 4,000 movies and 17,000 television shows to help strengthen its film and TV unit Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire MGM in Deal Valued at Nearly $8.5 Billion

Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theaters were closed and the industry suffered the economic impacts of the shutdown. This week, at an AMC theater, the five major Hollywood studios, their indie subsidiaries and indie labels such as A24 and Neon gathered to send a unified message: it’s time to go back to the movie theater. Their presence was buttressed by messages from Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and director John Krasinski, Marvel chief executive Kevin Feige, and musician Questlove (promoting his upcoming movie “Summer of Soul”). Vin Diesel, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson were among other notable individuals pushing a return to theaters. Continue reading Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

AT&T announced today that it plans to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery. The deal, expected to to take effect in mid-2022 subject to regulatory approval, is a significant move for one of Hollywood’s largest studios to compete with top streaming players such as Netflix and Disney since it would combine the HBO Max and discovery+ streaming services. Under the agreement, WarnerMedia will be spun off and merged with Discovery as a new media company separate from AT&T, which could be valued as high as $150 billion. Discovery chief exec David Zaslav will run the combined business, which will be named shortly. Continue reading AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations

In the quarter ending March 31, Fox Corporation saw its year-over-year profit increase sevenfold to $567 million, with a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion. The numbers exceeded Wall Street estimates. Earnings per share were 88 cents, ahead of analyst expectations of 58 cents. Fox chief executive Lachlan Murdoch reported that exiting “Thursday Night Football” a year early would lift earnings from $350 million to $400 million, which would help finance the 13-year deal that the company struck to continue broadcasting Sunday NFL games. Continue reading Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations

Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Google debuted “Entertainment Space,” a feature on the left side of the home screen of Walmart tablets that the company dubs “a one-stop, personalized home for all your favorite movies, shows, videos, games and books.” It is soon to expand to Lenovo, Sharp and other manufacturers’ devices. Google Play product manager James Bender said that with Entertainment Space users will “save time and avoid having to hop between apps to try to figure out what to do.” Each family members can have their own profile on the hub. Continue reading Google Creates New Entertainment Hub for Walmart Tablets

Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

Nielsen debuted its Streaming Video Ratings, which will measure streaming activity including how the different platforms compare, the devices being used and the streaming behavior of different audience cohorts. Nielsen stated 10 services will be tracked although it initially didn’t name them. But, since last summer, it has included Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix in its weekly content ratings. The syndicated Nielsen Streaming Video Ratings is powered by Nielsen’s NPower audience insights platform. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

Emulating Netflix’s international strategy, Disney, Amazon and other companies with streaming services are heavily investing in local-language productions globally, to woo international subscribers. Formerly, Hollywood shipped dubbed or subtitled domestic movies and TV shows. These companies are fueling a boom of movie and TV production in Hindi, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and other languages. The Motion Picture Association reported that global subscriptions reached 1.1+ billion last year, rising from 400 million in 2016. Continue reading Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

AT&T has experienced an increase in HBO and HBO Max subscribers and wireless customers. Its number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers grew from 41.5 million three months ago to 44.2 million today, including those who signed up for the new streaming service and others who subscribed via a cable TV provider. The company has also added 595,000 postpaid phone subscribers and a net gain of 207,000 prepaid phone subscribers. The telco cut expenses by increasing online customer service and promoting simpler plans. Continue reading AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

SMPTE: ETC Producing Team Will Discuss Virtual Production

SMPTE Hollywood will offer a glimpse into moviemaking in a post-COVID world this evening when it hosts the producing team behind the live-action, sci-fi short “Ripple Effect.” The virtual meeting is scheduled for April 22nd at 6:00 PM PDT on Zoom. Producers Erik Weaver, Greg Ciaccio and Kathryn Brillhart will discuss virtual production, remote workflow and on-set safety for post-COVID production. “Ripple Effect” is ETC@USC’s latest R&D short film; its goal was to test virtual and remote production techniques and tools in this era of social distancing. Registration for tonight’s event is available online. SMPTE Hollywood meetings are free and open to all, even non-members. Continue reading SMPTE: ETC Producing Team Will Discuss Virtual Production

Deloitte Report: Gen Z Entertainment Choice is Video Games

Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey revealed the entertainment tastes of Generation Z, those aged 14 to 24 years old. About 26 percent named video games as their No. 1 entertainment activity, and 87 percent in the age bracket said they play video games daily or weekly. Second most popular entertainment activity is music, at 14 percent, following by surfing the Internet (12 percent) and social media (11 percent). In fifth place, 10 percent of Gen Z said watching TV or movies was their favorite entertainment. Continue reading Deloitte Report: Gen Z Entertainment Choice is Video Games

Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

In 2019, director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) wrote and directed “Knives Out,” which became a surprise hit. Now, Netflix spent about $465 million to buy two sequels. Experts are debating if the streamer overpaid or made a canny move to create a new franchise. Former Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig, who was involved with both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, noted that the sequels could turn into a TV show and, more importantly, establish a long-term relationship with high-profile writer/director Johnson. Continue reading Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

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