Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NBC-U owner Comcast to buy ITV?

They've issued a blunt denial today, but if a rival, say Viacom, bids for ITV (as seems rather likely) then I'd be surprised if the home of Downton Abbey didn't get snapped up by a US giant.

UK media ownership laws are much looser than the USA's (where Murdoch had to become a US citizen before he could further expand his US media empire).

Keep an eye on the economics and business sections of papers for this one...

ITV shares fall as investors cool on bid after Comcast denies holding talks

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Paramount's toy story is a GI Joke

If ever there was a flicker of doubt about Hollywood's aversion to originality and determination to tap into existing IP, then this announcement surely pours a bucket of water (or cinema syrup-hydrated carbonated artery miller) over this.

There will be another Transformers! Yay, and alert the Oscar committee now!

There will be a THIRD GI Joe (seriously, there's been TWO?!).

And now there will be more brain-rot productions seeking to cash in Hasbro toys brand recognition and taking up the notion of the Marvel universe (a tremendously intricate, complex and highly converged narrative world, regardless of your view of the quality of TV or film instalments).

Hurrah for Hasbro!

Paramount and Hasbro uniting GI Joe and other toys in new movie universe

The sound of family audience music to TV ears

So, UK TV channel ITV is to live broadcast The Sound of Music ... following in the footsteps of NBC in the US. The UK version takes the edgier setting of the Nazi backdrop, US network TV not exactly being known for its risk taking!

Why post this on a cinema blog?


We have the Universal link with NBC.

I've recently sat and listened to Warp's Barry Ryan flag up Warp Films' relative focus on TV.

More evidence of franchising and the reliance on pre-existing IP with likely built in audiences, or at least easier marketing challenges.

We're also seeing a surge of live cinema, led by opera and theatre, but also event cinema using back-catalogue movies.

As ITV prepares for The Sound of Music Live, are we watching TV's future?

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The 'UK' box office: FOUR national audiences?

I'll add a Mickybo and Me trailer/link when at a computer, but spotted this gem in the ALWAYS useful Guardian box office column...

The headline story was the flop of the needless Frankenstein retelling, a good sign that a 'built-in' audience isn't guaranteed by widely known source material (a Fox off message for the Murdoch empire distributor).

Much further down, however, came this ... and I'm mindful of the stereotyped nonsense we get in such fare as Working Title's Wild Child (Scottish matron... the joke is...her voice... It's funny see if you don't talk with a southern English accent) as an explanation for the following:

Sunset Song lights up Scotland

Landing outside the top 10 with £114,000 from 80 cinemas, including £28,000 in previews, Terence Davies’ period romance Sunset Song is hardly a box office powerhouse. In Scotland, however, where it did 69% of its business – and especially at independent cinemas in cities such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Dundee – it’s a different story. Distributor Metrodome is billing Sunset Song as Davies’ biggest opening, because the previews push the tally past his previous best, The Deep Blue Sea (£109,000) in 2011.

This is one of the reasons I tend to put quote marks round 'British' cinema.

Victor Frankenstein dead on arrival at UK box office

CHINA's monstrous box office mythical, actually

This post is a simulacrum of itself - Google, why can't you sort out the damned Android app??? TWICE I've written (tapped ) this and twice its disappeared by switching apps or trying to navigate in the blogger app*. Not good.

Anyway... I've mentioned before the issues around the fantastical claims of China's explosive box office growth. Taking their cue from the Hollywood hegemons, who make 'biggest ever' standard marketing fare, we've seen the same approach to box office figures as to the Chinese stock market: only good, upbeat news is allowed. Make that was.

A recent US-China trade deal means that China now has an increased legal duty to ensure box office figures are accurate, and clamp down on piracy. The Chinese government finally permitted the huge 'correction' (econospeak for massive fall) in the value of the Chinese stock market recently, and with the state media reporting on suspicions that the home-grown CGI-fest Monster was exaggerating the box office returns, we're seeing the start of a similar process.

India will undoubtedly become a hype story soon enough, with equal issues over its figures, given how 'cinema' runs in the still huge rural market; listen to Chuck D and don't believe the hyp when that becomes the next meme.

The Western markets have inspired this behaviour - cinema crowds do operate on a herd/heard (word-of-mouth ...) basis, and we flock to a hit. As a recent, typically insightful Guardian box office column pointed out, the studios have been engaged in unattributed flame wars seeking to brand each other's tentpole releases as flops through social media, hoping to convince people to avoid them.

China takes box office manipulation to the twilight zone - as this article reports, the figures for Monster were inflated not just by benefitting from the period when US films are blocked each year, but also 40m 'public welfare' tickets given out to families. This often results in empty cinemas screening in the early hours, a phantom operation indeed (just how many horror intertextualities can I squeeze in from dusk 'til dawn...).

I guess the moral of the story is, don't get too wrapped up in box office this yuletide...

*The blogger app is handy but its way too easy to lose something you've worked on - don't try to switch windows to ... ironically, given the ownership ... Google something for example! A longer, wittier version of this post had appeared on the wrong blog, was shown as an earlier link-only post when I tried to navigate back to the right blog to re-post it ... and deleted entirely along the way. VERY annoying. Brings to mind Battlestar Galactica's haunting version of All Along the Watchtower: "all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again" [and thats the second time I've typed/tapped that ... this time on a Macbook now on 4% battery!]

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Mock exam

As promised, here's the details for your AS mock exam, taking the form of a controlled test.

The timings and style of this combines elements from both exam questions (1: semiotic analysis of media language + representations in a TV drama clip, 2: British Cinema essay, centred on Warp/WT comparative case studies).

This is available as a Slideshare document, but also below the line as plain text.