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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

F&F In Good Company

Only Potter and Star Wars can match Fast and Furious when it comes to franchise stardom - as Universal announced that the ninth film in the series will be release in May 2020.

First launched in 2001 (can you believe it) with  'The Fast and the Furious', the series is centered on family and friend relationships with a heavy dose of supped-up  import cars and a loose code of moral ethics.

Note: if by some odd quirk you missed or purposely avoided any of the past eight films, iTunes is offering them as a package for $49.99. So, if you want to catch-up do so, and turn up the volume.

To give you some perspective as to what the F&F films are all about, the opening lines in the first movie pretty much indicate what to expect. "We just packed up the real money load, and it's comin' your way." a dockworker says. Then three black Hondas attack a semi with grappling hooks - what's not to like?

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The Fast Franchise is not high-end drama. Plot is loose here. What is the sell, is the interaction of the characters and the special effects and stunts. Where else can you witness over 200 vehicles being destroyed - cars, planes, trucks, helicopters, motorcycles, - it's all in a day's work for the Furious. Oh, did I mention explosions both via pyrotechnics and in the interaction of the characters. Realism is irrelevant in the Furious films, as it should be. They are intended to be over-the-top, high-impact films - and moviegoers love them.
Hobbs and Shaw cast

Because of a riff with Van Diesel, Dwayne Johnson will not star in the new film and is being replaced by John Cena but the remaining cast, ex Paul Walker, is present.  A F&F spin-off , 'Hobbs and Shaw' staring Johnson and Jason Statham is being released in August. It will also feature Edris Elba and Helen Mirren in leading roles.

I enjoy the F&F films and to be ranked with the likes of the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises is a wonder unto itself.  Enjoy the ninth edition.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Best Productive Time: Mornings

I hardly ever write personal pieces for this blog, but I'm breaking the rule today and imposing my own bias on you. Come on .... you can take it, and besides, it's for your own good.  

We all want to be productive, I think? Well, most of us anyway. For me, the most productive time - to do almost anything - is in the morning. Sticking to a morning regime will help you stay central and focused. So, each morning:

- Exercise Mentally (and physically too). Do things that get your brain started:
crosswords, brain teasers, blog writing, video game play, etc. Just get things juiced-up.

Don't start your day with this
- Eat Breakfast, but not a huge repast. I don't advocate large breakfasts to start the normal day (perhaps this works for a Sunday brunch). Coffee (a must have for me),
 yogurt, fruit, toast, are good choices. Keep it light.

- Think - what's my main purpose for today. What do I want to accomplish - professionally and personally. Make the to-dos realistic.

- Keep a written calendar and refer/update/change on daily basis. Use the calendars where you see
 the whole month at once. Always use a physical and not virtual calendar. If I write it down its much better for me to remember and much easier to change.

- Go through emails (I use 4 email accounts each related to a different activity or
company: I go to each and respond as required.

- Finally, I post to the two blogs I author.  For me, I'm most creative in the morning particularly when composing.

OMG - I'm Going to Cry
So, that's it. The moral: the morning starts the day. You need time in the morning. It's not a time to be rushed. Get up early enough to allow yourself to 'set' for the day ahead.  I think you'll find that your creative and cognitive thinking is best in
the morning - try it!

Top of the morning to ya,
Jim Lavorato

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Predicted: ATOM Takes Over

Big Winner in Auto-ticketing Arena
As a follow/up to our numerous posts on auto-ticketing, Atom Tickets (as predicted) is becoming the big winner in the ticketing arena and just signed up Cinemark, which will add 4,500 screens to Atom's total of 26,000 screens being serviced.

Atom, which has raised $125m from the likes of Lionsgate, Disney, Fox, and Fidelity rose-up with the demise of 'MoviePass'. But, unlike 'MoviePass', it does not take a piece of the b.o. or concession take (which was the flaw in the 'MoviePass' strategy.

Atom, has morphed into a mobile app where customers can avoid sold-out shows, eliminate paper tickets, pre-order concession, and skip theater wait-lines.

Atom reports that it currently has 6m unique visitors per month to its site - which will be growing with it inked deal with Cinemark.  As we predicted, two years ago, Atom will win out over Fandango
as well. Also, in my estimation 'Rotten Tomatoes' (a sub of Fandango) will die-out as well.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment

'LAST BLOOD' - The Best?

Rambo is returning in September - in what is to be the last (of 5) installments in the Rambo franchise - which has generated over $728m in B.O. gross. Rambo is returning in "Rambo: Last Blood".
Sly Still Cuts-it As Action Hero

Sly Stallone, who will be 73 at the time of this film's release, was 36 when "First Blood" was released. But even at over seven decades in, Stallone can still cut-it as an action hero and this film
will not disappoint fans. Watch for Rambo-type action with lots of explosions, bombings, the 'knife' and bow w/exploding arrows.

Let's go out on a limb and predict that this will be the highest grossing of all the Rambos and certainly a must watch for me.  Stallone has made a career out of franchise films: the 'Rocky" series, 'Expendibles', and 'Rambo' have all turned out to be B.O. successes.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

.'WICK": What Audiences Want !


Dubbed a 'new noir thriller', this threequel ousted 'Avergers: End Game' from the top of the heap at the box office.

Gating close to $60m in the U.S. and nearly double that worldwide the 'Wick' series is giving moviegoers exactly what they want - high impact, non-stop action with little narrative and plot.  Character development is simple and direct.  This, the 3rd 'Wick' film, has a lot more star power and includes, not only Laurence Fishburne (who starred with Reeves in the Matrix trilogy) but Ian McShane and Lance Reddick return. New comers include: Halle Barry, Angelica Houston, Mark Dacascos, and Asia Dillon among others.

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John Wick 4 ?

Although not green-lit, according to both Chad Stahelski, director, and Reeves say a 'Wick 4' will be made if audiences want it and given 3's current B.O. there is a resounding 'yes' from moviegoers.

It will probably be a 2 year gap between the current JW3 and a 4th so a 2021 release is about right. A John Wick series for TV is in the works for Starz called 'The Continental' . Look for it.

Jim Lavorato

Monday, May 13, 2019

Who Should HWD Dems Give $$$ To?

For HWD Democrats it's a question of Young vs. Old, as the lines are being drawn early-on. Although 18 months away, the HWD liberals have already started to put down their bets as to who the Dem. nomination for Pres. will be.
Biden and Buttigieg

At last count there were 22 running for the top office but only four standout as meaningful runners and represent the old guard vs. the new recruits.

Lets take Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg both of which had fundraising blitzes in H'wood last Thursday.

For both, the day was filled with blue-collar rallies and high-roller lunches and dinner parties. Biden has lunch at a King Taco No. 10 restaurant and used the taco pit-stop as a way to demonstrate his 'man-of-the-people' posture coupled with a good photo-op.  Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, attended a breakfast organized by producer Jordan Horowitz and lunched in W. Hollywood at The Abbey, where tickets sold for as little as $25.

Biden is known. He has been around the political scene for decades, has run for the Presidency three times, was a Senator for years, and V.P. under Obama. Buttgieg, a virtual unknown has youth and a fresh look for the Dem. party. On Thursday evening, Mayor Pete was the guest at a dinner party hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Now, I may be wrong but I believe both will be around as the 22 crowd gets twiddled down. Others to watch: Sanders and Harris.

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

FAT THOR - Best Part of 'End Game'

The best and most entertaining part of 'Avengers: EndGame' was, by far, fat Thor.  You have to give big kudos to Chris Hemsworth for playing the depression riddled superhero who has clearly gone to pot. 
'Fat' Thor in 'EndGame' and finishing dish of guac

Hemsworth, wore a fat suit for the role and relished the 'stretch' that the role required - he played it perfectly.

Munching on guac and as normal
Normally, Hemsworth (a body-builder) is in great shape for his 'super' roles, so playing 'fat' Thor got a lot of jollies for him and the other cast members.

Be it guzzling beer, munching on guac  or spooning cheesewiz the whole idea of depicting a fat Thor was genius and plays directly into the playful camaraderie of the super hero group.

Disney did a great job with 'End Game' and the $3b + box office proves it. Clearly, 'fat' Thor was a highlight for the film.

Jim Lavorato

Friday, May 10, 2019

Disney Dominates and That's Bad For The Cinema

Disney will account for roughly 40% of U.S. box office admissions this year - and that is NOT good for the industry. Yes, Disney makes great films. Yes, Disney has the movie franchises that generate the really big box office bucks (Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Avatar, to name several). Yes, Disney deserves all the kudos it gets for being a well managed mass media/content company. BUT, is this good for the movie industry?

In looking at the Disney movie roster the theme is all about catering to a younger audience. Fan-based films with high-impact special effects, light plots with cult-driven character development, all bolstered by massive marketing budgets and tie-ins with merchandising and theme park attractions.

Star Wars fans were all aglow recently when Disney announced that it would be producing three more franchise films after 'The Rise of Skywalker' which will be released later this year.


The question: Is it good for the industry to have one studio dominate the box office the way Disney does?  Should the 25 of so films that generate close to 50% of the box office gross bode well for the film community in the long-run?

CMG's take is that it doesn't matter! The top 50 films, out of a universe of 600+ each year, account for about 70% of the entire box office - and this scenario has been going on for years. CMG has termed the other 550+ films (which includes all of the films that win all of the awards) marquee fodder. Fillr'-ins between the releases of the big, currently Disney-dominated, franchise films.

Right or wrong this is the current state of the cinema business and the only competition to Disney are the content streamers. I don't believe Bob Iger worries too much about the other HWD studios, but he does lose sleep over Netflix, Amazon, and Apple.

Jim Lavorato
President, Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Who Really Makes BANK in HWD

'There's no biz like show biz', and that's especially true for the men (no women, as yet) who rule giant media. These media moguls are virtually unknown to the public.

Recognize these guys?
Walking down a crowded street in LA or NYC they would never be noticed, but these are the people that control what we all see, hear, and experience on a day-in-day out basis.

They are oblivious to social concerns and are driven by the bottom-line. What motivates them?  Their compensation and as you'll see it is quite substantial.
Collectively the 8 top media execs made $394m in 2018 or $49m on average. That's the equivalent to 640 years pay for the average U.S. worker.

The question is: Do these guys possess that unique a skill-set to warrant their compensation?
It was once the norm that compensation was based upon the performance of the company, but, alas, that formula didn't always work in favor of the CEOs so its been scrapped. Now execs are paid by crafting deals such as merger and acquisitions: AT&T buys Warners, Disney acquires Fox assets, etc.

What The Guys Banked Last Year 

AT&T  Randall Stevens  $29m + $7.4m bonus

 2018 Shareholder return:  - 22.3%
One of the lowest paid in terms of compensation. But of course shareholders didn't fair to well.

CBS  Joseph Ianniello  $27m + $23m bonus
          2018 Shareholder return:  - 24.9%
Took the reins at CBS after Les Moonves was ousted for sexual harassment charges. Moonves made
$47m for his 8 months of work and is entitled to an additional $120m, which is being arbitrated.

Comcast  Brian Roberts  $35m + $85m in stock options which now total $2b.
2018 Shareholder return:  - 12.7%
No house-hold name, Roberts manages cable giant, Universal studios, and vast media holdings.


Discovery  David Zaslav  $130m salary + bonus
2018 Shareholder return:  + 10.5%
Received incentive bonus to persuade him to stay on as CEO through 2023. One of highest paid.

Disney  Bob Iger $66m + $12m bonus
2018 Shareholder return:  +20.6%
Highly paid. Was to retire two years ago but was coerced to remain as CEO.


Netflix  Reed Hastings  $36m
2018 Shareholder return:  +39.4%
No extra perks but benefits from stock options. As co-founder his ownership stake stands at $3.7b

Fox   Rupert Murdoch  $49m
2018 Shareholder return: 78.3%
Disney deal "delivered incomparable value to shareholders".


Viacom   Bob Bakish  $20m + 9.4m bonus
2018 Shareholder return: 24.5%
One of the lower compensated but still not too shabby.

Who makes the big bucks in HWD? It's the illusive helmers that function below the social radar that their companies control.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Big Win For Netflix

Yesterday, Netflix scored a big victory when the Academy voted not to change the eligibility rule for streaming services regarding Oscar nominations. 
Reed Hastings. Netflix's CEO. happy over Academy's vote

Amid calls for a crack-down on streamers from some of tinsel-town's heavy-weights , the Academy's Board of Governors voted to retain the current rule which states that 'a feature-length film must screen for one-week in a Los Angeles cinema with paid admissions to qualify for best picture and other nominations.

Spielberg, became an outspoken and vocal critic of Netflix, and other content streamers, after 'Roma' (a Netflix feature film) won three Oscars.
Yesterday, Spielberg upped his rant to the Board but obviously to no avail.

Netflix used the 'four walling' distribution model for 'Roma', whereby it rented out the movie theaters and kept the box office gross.
Spielberg, still ranting over Oscar nom. for streamers

The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb.9, 2020 at the Dolby Theater. It will be aired by ABC.

CMG is in total favor of the Academy's decision. Movies from any source should be eligible and screened at cinemas. Take note independent exhibs. No reason why you can't screen Netflix films. 

Jim Lavorato, President (entequip610@gmail.com)
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Is H'wood's Disdain For Trump Hurting The Cine Boxoffice

Hollywood's elite, along with the Democrats and the U.S. mainstream media have been on a tear regarding the Trump administration over the last two years. It needs to stop.
Trump's H'wood Walk of Fame Star Vandalized

The entertainment industry led by many named H'wood actors have spewed their anti-Trump views be it in song, film, award show speeches, etc. However, social media has taken over from mainstream broadcast and cable news outlets and, I believe, H'wood has lost much of its once powerful influence on pop culture.

The glitterati was in complete melt-down upon release of the Mueller Report. Many used their social media bullhorns to refer to the Mueller Report as a "cover-up" and then attacked Attorney General Bill Barr for agreeing with Mueller's findings that there was no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.

John Cuscak tweeted "it's all a complete whitewash cover-up, 100% corrupt".
Rob Reiner, "Trump is guilty as hell"
Jamie Lee Curtis, "unable to reach justice"

CMG's take: Get Over IT! Admit your mistake and move on. Your opinions are more meaningless than they were before. You're just hurting the industry with your unfounded rants. The cinema needs more support then ever. Competition is fierce for eye-balls and having consumers, who feel slighted by actors who feel they are the arbiters of truth, boycotting the cinema is bad for the box office.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Polanski Predicate

Caught up in the #METOO movement, Roman Polanski is trying to get back his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which ousted him last May.
At 85, Polanski needs to put a sock-in-it.

Polanski filed suit demanding reinstatement  saying the Academy did not follow proper protocol in dismissing him. Stating, "my dismissal is not supported by findings, and the Academy's finding are not supported by evidence." He wants the decision reversed and is requesting the Academy reimburse him for all costs incurred by the suit.

"The procedure taken to expel Mr. Polanski was fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate" said a spokesperson for the Academy. His expulsion required a two-thirds approval by the 54-member board of governors.

Polanski was dismissed along with comedian Bill Cosby in the response to Hollywood's reaction to the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal and the #MeToo movement.
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Polanski was charged in 1977 for raping a 13 year-old girl. He fled to Europe to elude arrest and trial and has lived in France for the last 42 years. He won an Oscar in 2003 for "The Pianist", and his other credits include directing "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby."

At this stage, Polanski should give it up, Live out your days in France and be thankful that you haven't spent a good portion of the last 42 years in jail. The Academy will not budge on their move to expel Polanski - and they shouldn't.

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Is 2019 Boxoffice Going To Hell, Boy ?

'Hellboy' literally went to hell at the boxoffice, contributing only $11.9m to the very dismal (thus far) 2019 gate.

The YTD U.S. boxoffice stands at only $2.74b, which represents the lowest showing since 2013 and down a full 17% from last year.  Now, we all knew that besting 2018 would be difficult (a record $11.9b U.S. and $41.7b global B.O.) but than again, nothing is impossible.

The summer film roster for this year is very impressive and perhaps the impossible may be achieveable. 'Avengers:Endgame', 'Lion King', 'Frozen 2', 'Toy Story 4', 'Star Wars IX', 'Men In Black International', ' Spider-man: Far From Home',  and the list goes on, could match and possibly exceed 2018.
Wouldn't that be something!

Jim Lavorato
Entertainment Equipment Corp

Saturday, April 13, 2019

How Disney's New Streaming Channel Stacks-up

Disney launched Disney+ yesterday - to a lot of hoopla and fanfare. The business press was all aglow in how this online subscription channel would be bad for both Netflix and Apple (which launched its own channel last week).

CMG thinks to the contrary.  We think Disney is too late with too little. At the price point of $6.99 per month, Disney+ is cheaper then the other streamers but also has less to offer - old pixar and other animated films, Star Wars flicks (all of which have already played numerous times on broadcast TV), and the Marvel films (again 'have been seen before over and over').

Disney will get an initial burst of subscribers but then flatten out and don't forget they will have to decide whether or not to run new movies in cinemas (and how long that window will be open) or run day-and-date. My guess is Disney will not want to put their cinema release posture in peril and will screen new films 2-4 months after their theatrical release on Disney+.

In the world of streaming movie and other entertainment content Netflix is in a world of its own (reference all of the posts to this blog on Netflix over the past 3-4 years).  How the other streamers stack up against each other and Disney+  is partly detailed in the above chart. It is forecasted that Disney+ will have 30 million subscribers by 2024, that makes sense. Apple, with it over 1 billion users of its equipment is forecast to have 50 million by 2025, that also makes sense.
In comparison, Netflix currently has over 180 million subscribers worldwide.

CMG believes Netflix's subscription base will be well north of 225 million in 5 years time - greater than all of the other major streamers combined.

Disney continues to rely too heavily on its past. Hospitality, films, ESPN, etc. just won't cut it going forward. Disney+ is a great idea but it comes too late to the party. Disney will have to produce lots of new content for Disney+ and that will take lots of money - at $6.99 per month, there is no way Disney can run + and make a profit. And don't forget the looming massive debt and management issues that have to be swallowed after the Fox asset purchase. 

Good luck Mickey.

Jim Lavorato, President
Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

THX Ultimate : Will This Format Prosper

Recently a strategic alliance between THX and Barco was inked.  As the newest premium large format brand - THX Ultimate Cinema offers a THX certified auditorium that uses a Barco 4K dual laser projector and a THX immersive sound system.

The new system is a direct attack against Imax and Dolby cinema. Exhibitors would purchase the system and create its own ticket pricing. While the cost of the THX Ultimate was not disclosed, it is known that the Barco dual laser can run in the $1 million range, while the sound system can be upwards of $ 70 - 80,000 or higher.

Theater owners would purchase the system and create their own ticket pricing. WOW, this will be a first for the industry and it's high-time people took note of the cinema and how they are treated by the major studios. The rules of cinema exhibition are changing and fast, exhibs take note and move forward.

Jim Lavorato

NETFLIX The Disruptor

It's fair to say that Netflix has forever changed the TV and Movie industries but they don't believe they are the disruptor some in Hollywood accuse them of being.

According to Ted Sarandos, Netflix's Chief Content Officer, "The disruptor tag has negative connotations. It gets hung on my head a lot, but I feel that it's not really what we are up to. I feel we are trying to preserve and improve on the formats, and improve and grow storytelling."

It has never been Netflix's goal to export Hollywood to the world. Their goal has always been to find the great storytelling from anywhere in the world and take it to the rest of the world. They maintain that Netflix is preserving filmdom's traditions, while giving creatives new opportunities to tell stories.

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"I think TV and films are distinctly different art forms but they tend to be increasingly consumed in similar ways by consumers, and they don't make the distinction between a really great series that, to them, is nothing more than a 13-hour long movie ",  says Sarandos.

Netflix has had a huge impact on the entertainment industry and in the way people view content. CMG believes that their impact will continue and that movie exhibs should embrace Netflix and screen their content in addition to the major studios' films.

Jim Lavorato

Streaming Kills It : More People View On Digital Platform

The number of global subscriptions to online video streamers surpassed cable TV for the first time ever in 2018 ! Worldwide there are now over 615 million streamers vs. 556 cable users.

DVD and Blu-ray sales dropped 15% in 2018 while streaming surged 24%. Americans now spend 52% of their media time on a digital platform - as home entertainment topped $55.7 billion.          

So, it appears that the tremendous growth in streaming at home has devastated movie rental and discs sales and has not impacted cinema admissions in an averse way. The top streaming film for 2018 was Black Panther, followed by The Greatest Showman, and Star Wars Episode VII, The Last Jedi           


ATOM Ticketing: Subscription Service For All Cinemas

MoviePass is Dead! Atom Tickets, however, sees opportunity in the movie theater subscription space - and CMG agrees.

Atom is attacking the issue differently than MoviePass did, it is launching a new offering that will enable exhibs to launch their own customized subscription service while relying on Atom's infrastructure and technology. Although it hasn't signed-up any cinemas it is in conversation and plans to pitch the service, named "Atom Movie Access" at CinemaCon next week.

MoviePass was doomed from the get-go. Its premise of low cost movie-going to generate more viewership so higher concession sales could be had was flawed. MoviePass lost hundreds of millions of dollars but it did introduce the notion of subscription service at cinemas - and several of the major circuits, notably AMC and Cinemark grab onto the idea and ran with it to great success.

CMG has touted the idea for several years to independents and now Atom will make it possible for these smaller players to offer this very lucrative admission option.

According to Atom, their goal is "to be a great partner that provides technology that enables exhibitors to create their own subscription programs."  Atom has not, as yet, announced prices for their service but has indicated that the upfront fee "will reasonably priced" and suggested that the company will get a cut of the subscription revenues generated.

The process works as the subscription services will be integrated into Atom's app, allowing users to buy tickets through their plans. On the back-end, Atom will also manage payment process, customer service support, fraud detection, and anti-abuse measures for exhibs.

CMG says "GO Atom" Every cinema should have a subscription service, it's what customers want, and it's a money maker. Contact Entertainment Equipment Corp. (entequip610@gmail.com) for more information on Atom's service and how to get started.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Interactive Storytelling

Netflix is doubling-down on the success of 'Bandersnatch', the interactive series that ran in India. Expect to see more and more interactive story-telling on Netflix for all of its content - sci-fi, comedy, romance, and dramas.

Netflix, now with 169 million subscribers worldwide is expanding its Indian content production using Mumbei's production facilities. It is also increasing that languages its content is streamed from 25 to 30 this year.  Netflix also beat out HBO, Hulu, and Amazon on customer satisfaction surveys.

Here's Where Netflix Is Available
It appears that the follow-ons such as Warners, Disney, and Apple are gunning for Netflix. Their only problems is that they are late in the game, are planning on charging too much for their streaming, and are limited to their own libraries of content for screen fodder. Most folks in the U.S. are already committed to Netflix and perhaps Amazon through Amazon Prime membership. Most consumers are not going to be adding two or three other services to their cadre of streamers.

Netflix is king of the hill, spending more than $9 billion on content last year and upping the ante this year. Their content is worldwide and their subscriptions are growing at the rate of 8.5-9 million per quarter.

Jim Lavorato

copyright (c) James Lavorato 2019 All rights reserved

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Apple Streaming : Where It Stands

Details of Apple's proposed video streaming service are quite secret - but a few key features are to be unveiled at a 3/25 scheduled press event.
Apple Disputes Use Of Red Apple logo by Norway Political Group

Rumor has it that Apple's new streaming service will contain both original content and others' as well. Some of the Apple's content will be free while other will carry a subscription fee - very similar to Amazon'a Prime Video.

Apple's new Event logo
However, Apple does have a one up, and that its content will be suitable for viewing on the 189 million iPhones in use within the U.S. Additionally, there are millions of iPads where the Apple streaming app could be used. Given this, Apple will be a major force in video streaming. Will it hurt Netflix? No. There business models are quite different. Netflix is an only subscription-based service and does not charge for one-off content viewing. Plus you don't need to purchase a device to view its content, ala Apple.

No doubt Apple will be a contender in the streaming arena and adding streaming to his roster of products will enhance its financial performance. The one player that will feel the pain is Disney + (Disney's upcoming streaming service) as they are intending to follow the same model that Apple is adopting.

Jim Lavorato

copyright (c) 2019 James Lavorato, All Rights Reserved 

Monday, March 04, 2019

Showbiz Bans The Burger : But Just Some

Double Double with Lettuce Wraps vs. Bun
It's in vogue to serve fast-food at high-end galas and parties. From the White House to H'wood mega-parties and the Oscars were no exception this year. 'In-N-Out' is the burger-haus of choice as they make a very good burger. However, politics have now gotten involved in the burger trend.

A week before the Oscarfest, PETA, the animal rights group, sent a letter to a bunch of H'wood insiders urging them not to eat 'In-N-Out burgers but to opt for other fast-food fare from McDonald's, Burger King, and Carl's Jr.'s.  It appears that the burger of choice for these anti-gourmand parties is the 'In-N-Out' Double Double burger.  In fact, 'People' mag did a photo gallery last month with 26 images of stars from Julia Roberts to Aziz Ansari chowing-down on these burgers.

Love this PETA ad w/Pink. I fully endorse the fur ban
PETA confirmed that it had sent letters to "Hollywood's elite" asking them to skip In-N-Out and go to another outlets for their burger-fix. Better still, the letter encouraged the stars to go meatless. As quoted from the letter, "every person who goes vegan spares nearly 200 animals every year daily misery and a terrifying death."  Heck, I didn't think I consumed that many head of cattle per year - that's a lot of meat! Me thinks it's a tad overstated.

Not to be left out, 'Beyond Meat' a plant-based meat company said they were also a logical alternative to meat burgers and threw their hat into the fray.  Now, I have to confess that I have had burgers from 'In-N-Out' and all of the other fast-food burger outlets from 'Five Guys' to 'Zin Burger'  and I can attest that the 'In-N-Out' makes a pretty darn good burger (when ordering say you want the Double Double Animal Style - not on the menu).

The problem is PETA singled out 'In-N'Out' not because they serve burgers  but because this privately-owned chain leans right politically, much akin to the 'Chick-fil-a' chain, and PETA doesn't like that.

To be honest, I've had some very good tasting veggie burgers as well but it's a totally different taste and I've never had one that tasted like a really good beef burger. O! Don't forget if going vegan order the veggie burger sans cheese and mayo.

Just saying,

Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Rotten Tomatoes : Starting to Stink

Rotten Tomatoes .... Yes, its over.
I have written in this blog that Rotten Tomatoes' days were numbered. The beginning of the end started when Twitter, Instagram, and texting came to the fore. It's now heating-up and the Tomatoes are beginning to stink.

To counter their falling from relevance, last week RT announced that it was remodeling its scoring system so trolls could no longer torpedo films before they have opened. The statement read, "We are disabling the comment function until after a movie's release." RT has also made layout changes to its website - the Tomatometor is still being used but, I believe, its days are numbered.

Ask yourself, what is the valued-added for moviegoers by RT? Their ratings, for sure, will be so late to the game as to be irrelevant.  Moviegoers quickly know from their circle of friends, family, and acquaintances whether the movie is worth viewing or not.

The Tomatoes have been on the vine too long. The advancement of technology has made it passe' - like MoviePass and Fandango, it is only a matter of time before RT is relegated to the trash-bin of cinema history.

Jim Lavorato

The Predictable Death of MoviePass

It's demise was from the get-go.
As predicted by CMG, MoviePass, the movie subscription service, has (more or less) been relegated to the trash-bin of cinema history as its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics has shrunk to less than a penny a share in value. However, the idea of a movie subscription is alive and well.

Take AMC Theaters, for example, which took the MoviePass strategy, tweaked it to suit their own needs, and now has over 700,000 subscribers. As an alternative to MoviePass, AMC's service allows moviegoers to view three films a week in any format for $19.95 - $23.95 per month, depending upon the State where they reside. The membership also includes free popcorn and soda upgrades, free corn refills, and express service at the box office and concession stand.

To counter AMC, Cinemark's Movie Club grew to over 560,00 members. Started four months after MoviePass launched its one-ticket-per-day service for only $10 per month. Cinemark's Movie Club cost $8.99 per month and provides on-line ticket purchases fee-free (a hit to Fandango), a 20% concession discount, and one admission per month.

So, a good idea was taken to the extreme by its inventor which lost big, but was copied by others that are generating huge revenue based upon the original idea but suited to their business mission.

The CINEMA SUBSCRIPTION : The Way Forward For ALL Cinemas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

H'wood Studios: Their Backs To The Wall

Barry Diller, ex-film and TV CEO and currently Head of the Expedia Group, warned the Hollywood studios, last week, that they have lost  substantial power saying, "Hollywood is now irrelevant and those that chase Netflix are fools."

Diller argued that the studios do not understand and can not replicate the content streamers entertainment model - be it Netflix, Amazon, or Apple. "The entertainment business has become the media business", says Diller.

He did give some credit to Disney for their pending launch of Disney+, but he, like this blog, sees Disney playing only a peripheral role in content streaming. The era of the major studios dominating the movie industry is OVER!  The six (soon to be five) majors are making movies vs. making movies and distributing them to the mass public.

As I have stated in numerous posts to the CMG blog, movie exhibitors MUST form an alliance with Netflix and other alternative content providers and begin to screen their content. Make no mistake, Netflix, and others, will be major producers/distributors of movies in the future and must be engaged by exhibitors.

Just saying and warning,

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Another Academy Mis-step

You can't make this stuff up. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued an edit yesterday, stating that going forward the winners of four categories will have their Oscars given to them during the commercial breaks - and will not be seen by the show's viewers.

Oscarfest Just Gets Worse and Worse
This will be a first for the 91st Oscarfest and the choices meet with great criticism by the Academy's rank and file. The four categories are: Cinematography, Film Editing, Live-action Shorts, and Make-up.

Now, while I'm all in favor of the time saving efforts to shorten the Oscar telecast, I, also, question the choices.  Cinematography and Film Editing are at the center of any film's production and really deserve telecast recognition. But, once again, the Academy blew-it and made another huge mis-step.

Jim Lavorato


Well, it's not WHO you Think! Social media is all about fan-base and how you interact with your base.  Finding that perfect demographic that will cling to your tweets, selfies, Instagram pics, and Facebook and YouTube videos. Right now, the Top 10 Hollywood socialistas are the following:

1. Dwayne Johnson
2. Will Smith
3. Prijanka Chopra
4. Kevin Hart
5. George Takei
6. Tommy Chong
7. Jussie Smollett
8. Ricky Gervais
9. Terry Crews
10. Jason Momoa