Showbizreporting's Blog

October 27, 2009

STUDIO BRIEFING: October 22, 2009

STUDIO BRIEFING: October 22, 2009

DISNEY TO UNLOCK “KEYCHEST”
Pay one price for a movie and be able to watch it on any device that has a screen — that’s the thinking behind Keychest, a new technology that the Walt Disney Co. says it plans to unveil next month. The company on Wednesday confirmed a Wall Street Journal report about the technology, which would allow consumers to watch a purchased movie via the Internet, their cable company, or their telephone-line or mobile provider on any number of devices, from iPods to videogame players. However, the fact that Disney intends to implement its “view anywhere” strategy with a proprietary system has already run into industry opposition. Sony chief technology officer Mitch Singer noted Wednesday that Disney is seeking to accomplish with its system what the members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) have said they will bring about with an open system. In an interview with Video Business magazine, Singer, who is also the president of the DECE, said that Disney had been asked to join. He noted that, unlike Keychest, the DECE proposal would include DVD and Blu-ray discs.

THE PROPOSAL TOPS DVD SALES CHART

Walt Disney’s The Proposal, a surprise hit in theaters when it premiered last June, appears headed toward hit status on DVD as well. The movie, which grossed $163.8 million domestically and $131.8 million abroad, debuted at No. 1 on the Rentrak sales chart and at No. 3 on Home Media magazine’s rental chart. Universal’s Land of the Lost was the No. 1 rental, while Disney’s 72-year-old Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs took the top spot on the hi-def Blu-ray sales chart for the second consecutive week.

EXPANSION OF FAMED UK STUDIO ORDERED HALTED

A $350-million plan to expand Britain’s famed Pinewood Shepperton studios has been shot down by local authorities. Project Pinewood, as it was called, would have featured numerous permanent outdoor sets, expanded studios and post-production facilities, offices, a film school, affordable homes and temporary residences for filmmakers. However, residents complained that the project would have resulted in what a South Buckinghampshire district councilwoman described as a “significant degradation to the local environment and quality of life of local residents.” A spokesman for Pinewood Shepperton said the studio intends to appeal the decision. “This project is of national significance and of great benefit not only to our community and region but also to the UK and its creative industries,” Andrew Smith, group director of corporate affairs, said.

UNIONS HAIL PASSAGE OF LAW AIMED AT TALENT SCAMS

The two principal Hollywood talent unions — the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) — have hailed passage of legislation in California aimed at agencies that charge advance fees for representing children looking for jobs in films and TV. In a statement, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said, “Performers — and young performers, in particular — are especially vulnerable to scam artists and predatory business practices that fraudulently exploit their aspirations and talents. This new law will help regulate the advance-fee talent services that often cause both monetary loss and severe emotional distress to their victims and their families.” And at a news conference, SAGE President Ken Howard stated, “The promise of acting jobs is no longer for sale.” The legislation bars companies from charging in advance for the promise of securing jobs for child actors and models. It also requires them to post a $50,000 bond with the state. Nevertheless, it was unclear what constitutes an upfront fee. Several talent services are notorious for holding “free” auditions that attract hundreds of children and their parents — at which they are told that they will need “professional head shots” of their children and then charged excessive fees for the photos, which are taken on the spot.

TECHNICOLOR TO CONVERT 3D DIGITAL MOVIES TO FILM

Technicolor hopes to address the shortage of theaters capable of showing 3D digital movies by converting the movies to film. Film projectors can be converted to 3D quickly and cheaply, and some studios see the Technicolor scheme as a bridge between today’s film presentation — the overwhelming number of theaters are equipped with film projectors only — and 3D digital theaters of the future. However, although major studios, including DreamWorks Animation/Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal and Warner Bros., have welcomed Technicolor’s announcement, two other major studios, Disney and 20th Century Fox, have not. Fox, which will be releasing James Cameron’s highly anticipated 3D thriller Avatar in December, has not commented on its decision not to support the Technicolor initiative, but Disney did. Daily Variety quoted a Disney spokesperson as saying, “We’re fully committed to the digital 3D solution. … We think it provides the highest quality to the moviegoing experience.”

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