Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

A recently fired Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, sent a 6,600-word memo giving specific examples of how the social media company ignored or was slow to act on solid information on fake accounts undermining global politics and elections. That included her proof that, in Azerbaijan and Honduras, government leaders and political parties used fake accounts to shift public opinion. She found similar evidence of coordinated campaigns to impact candidates or elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Spain and Ukraine. Continue reading Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

Major Hollywood movies are finally being released in movie theaters, with “The New Mutants,” which had a $70+ million budget, and director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” a $200 million thriller. But it’s still unclear how many people in the U.S. feel safe enough to go inside. Abroad, “Tenet” raked in $53 million on its opening day weekend from 41 global markets, a source of optimism for Warner Bros. (the film opens in the U.S. and China this week). Pirates have been foiled, meanwhile, fooled into downloading fake torrents of the blockbuster. Continue reading Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres approved the Justice Department’s proposal to terminate the 71-year-old Paramount Consent Decrees, intended to prevent Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount and other major studios from owning both the means of production and distribution. Studios such as The Walt Disney Company and Lionsgate that became distributors after the law went into effect were not subject to its rules. Last fall, the Justice Department suggested the Decrees were anachronistic in today’s entertainment ecosystem. Continue reading Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Movie theater owners have started the conversation about when to reopen, even if new Hollywood movies won’t debut until mid-July. Although they are financially struggling, owners fear that opening up too soon could risk branding their theaters as dangerous places. That dilemma has suddenly become very real in Georgia, where the governor okayed the reopening of theaters on April 27, much to the dismay of many smaller operators who stated they do not plan to do so. The major movie chains there, however, haven’t weighed in. Continue reading Movie Theater Owners Ponder How, When to Reopen Safely

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

The coronavirus is hitting the National Association of Theatre Owners particularly hard, as local governments close movie theaters and consumers turn to streaming services. Regal Cinemas announced it is closing all its theaters, effective today, until further notice. Meanwhile, studios are reconsidering the exclusive 90-day window for theatrical exhibition. Universal Pictures is the the first major studio to announce a change to the traditional model. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Continue reading Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, an independent group that advises the organization, conducted a test to see how well big tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are doing in filtering out paid influence campaigns that use automated bots and other means to manipulate social media. It did so by hiring 11 Russian and five European companies in the business of selling fake social media engagement and found that a small amount of money could cause a lot of damage. Continue reading Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

Justice Department to End the Paramount Consent Decrees

The Justice Department’s antitrust division plans to terminate the so-called Paramount consent decrees governing movie distribution, indicating they are no longer useful. Those rules were established in the wake of a landmark 1948 Supreme Court ruling covering the eight major movie distributors in the U.S. Their end will dramatically change movie distribution. DOJ antitrust official Makan Delrahim noted that streaming services and new business models have opened the door to “consumer-friendly innovation.” Continue reading Justice Department to End the Paramount Consent Decrees

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mulls over rule changes that would limit the eligibility of content from Netflix and other streaming services, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in with a warning that doing so could violate competition law and raise antitrust issues. Academy board member Steven Spielberg reportedly has encouraged changes to Oscar eligibility rules, prompting the DOJ’s response. At CinemaCon, movie theater owners are also discussing how Netflix is changing the landscape. Continue reading DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

AMC Debuts Subscription Service That Will Rival MoviePass

AMC Entertainment just announced AMC Stubs A-List, a subscription service that will allow customers to watch up to three movies a week at any AMC theaters in the U.S. for $19.95 per month. AMC Stubs A-List offers features not available with the offering of its rival MoviePass, including the ability to book tickets days in advance, to see 3D or IMAX movies at no extra cost and to book tickets in an app without a special debit card. In contrast, MoviePass costs $9.95 per month, works at 91 percent of U.S. theaters and can be used once a day. Continue reading AMC Debuts Subscription Service That Will Rival MoviePass

EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The ETC’s Philip Lelyveld was one of five subject matter experts invited to speak before the European Union’s “Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age” hearing at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels on February 22, 2018. The EU is working to understand and deal with the problem of ‘fake news’ and Russian interference in democratic processes in Europe. This one-day event is part of an ongoing multi-organization effort within the EU. Lelyveld was invited to present a ‘Hollywood’ perspective. Continue reading EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The Power of Location-Based Settings for AR/VR Experiences

During a CES 2018 panel, specialists in bringing AR and VR outside the home talked about the social value that location-based venues bring to the experiences. “If you want proof that people like to get together, CES is the proof,” said Fake Love director of new business Jared van Fleet, whose company was acquired by The New York Times. “It’s inconvenient to come here, yet people do it every year.” Fortune 500 companies ignore AR/VR at their peril, added Hollywood Portfolio founder/managing director Mariana Danilovic, who moderated the discussion. Continue reading The Power of Location-Based Settings for AR/VR Experiences

MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Early Netflix executive Mitch Lowe is now in charge of MoviePass, and he plans to drop its movie ticket subscription price to $9.95, which will let customers go to one showing per day at any theater in the U.S. that accepts debit cards. In return, MoviePass pays theaters the full price of each ticket, with the exception of 3D or IMAX screens. The company just sold a majority stake to Helios and Matheson Analytics, a publicly traded data firm. AMC has stated it wants to block MoviePass subscribers. Continue reading MoviePass Cuts Subscription to $10/Month, AMC Fights Back

Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

Journalists were recently invited to the Silicon Valley offices of Netflix for a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s distribution efforts for its latest Marvel series, “Iron Fist.” Through a series of talks that emphasized how the streaming service is essentially becoming a global Internet-based television network for more than 93 million subscribers, the “Netflix Lab Days” event addressed the tech and business considerations involved with programming for an international audience, creating “taste communities” for recommendations and personalization, initiating deals with TV operators and ISPs around the world, language translations for original content, and translating the Netflix apps and catalog into multiple languages. Continue reading Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

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