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Sunday, May 28, 2017

The SCOOP by Seymour Flix

What We View During The Day

Netflix just completed a six month analysis which studied the viewing patterns in 22 countries - showing that audiences worldwide view comedies, dramas, thrillers, and documentary shows during specific times each day.

The study found that viewing preferences change as the day goes on. People prefer comedies in the morning, dramas during midday, thrillers in evening primetime, comedies (again) in late-night, and documentaries in the wee-hours.

As more and more viewers free themselves from the shackles of  cable and broadcast TV schedules their choice of what and when to view movies and shows varies greatly by country and time of day.

The study found that viewers start the day with comedies. At 6am they are 14% more likely to watch a comedy vs. any other genre. By noon thru 2pm they favor dramas by 47%. During the evening the trend shifts again, and by 9pm thrillers are the content of choice. By 11pm, viewers swing back to comedies, and from 1am to 6am documentaries are most popular.

The study also found that peak viewing periods vary by country. For example, primetime in India is 5pm while in Argentina it is 10pm (that goes for Mexico and Singapore as well).  Japan is the only country where Tuesday is the highest viewing day of the week, while Brazil boasts the highest lunch-time binge viewing of any country. Netflix based the analysis on six months of content data by 77 million subscribers in 22 countries.

Could this data be used by cinemas? Should cinemas be screening comedies during the early hours of the day and switch to dramas in the afternoon and thrillers in the evening. It is worth a look-see.

The World of Avatar Opens

Last Wednesday, Pandora: World of Avatar officially opened within Disney Land, in Orlando, Florida. Both Bob Iger, CEO of Disney and James Cameron the creator of the world of Avatar were on hand for the opening.

Inspired by the blockbuster movie, 'Avatar', the new attraction is the largest in Disney's history. Iger commented, "At Disney we have a 'how did they do that' standard. I can't think of a better example of that than what we're standing in front of right now."  The 'avatar park' has floating mountains and uses advanced technology to create a one-of-a-kind theme park experience. Iger and Cameron thanked the "imagineers" who conceived and executed the project.

In addition to the floating mountains, are a first person 3D ride called Avatar Flight of Passage, a ride that takes you through a bioluminescent forest,called Na'vi River Journey, and the exotic Valley of Mo'ara.  Disney wants park-goers to have an emotional experience by entering a world that will astonish and delight and it sounds like they did just that.

Google To Buy MGM?

David Krane, the head of Google Ventures, the arm of Google that invests and purchases various companies, was last week appointed to MGM's Board of Directors.

The privately held MGM recently reported substantial declines in both revenue and earning and it appears that the studio needs more money to ensure it has viable content in the future - and certainly Google can provide this.

The purchase of MGM makes sense for Google as it provides a functioning movie studio with a formidable archive and great cache. MGM would be a prudent purchase for Google and fit into its strategy of delivering high quality content as it completes with the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Apple.  

CMG predicts Google will invest funds (if not purchase outright) MGM in the near future.

Seymour Flix

Thursday, May 25, 2017

CMG's Picks: Best Movie Posters at Cannes Festival

For the last several years, CMG has selected the best film posters from the wide array of entrants to the Cannes Film Festival.  This year the selection was hard as Cannes grows each year in terms of everything, including submissions. For example, 9 films out of a total of 4,843 submissions were selected to complete for the Short Film Palme d' Or Award.  There are literally thousands of submissions to the festival in the various award categories.  This makes the selection of the posters that much harder, although not all submissions have the poster budget.

Called one-sheets, in the trade, movie posters have been used to advertise films since day-one.  Over the years it has in itself become an art form, and the Cannes Festival brings out some of the best. Here's our 2017 selections:

A documentary which uses Grant's own narrative, follows the movie idol during his 30+ year film career.  Working with the best directors of his day and with the best actors (male and female) Grant starred in straight dramas, comedies, historical pieces, thrillers, and romcoms. 'Becoming Cary Grant' starts at the beginning and follows the star throughout his career. A great poster which shows how Grant became Grant.

Story of a aging, depressed man (Vania) living in a small Bulgarian village (played by, the great, Gerard Depardieu) whose granddaughter wants to buy him a dog for companionship. As dogs cost too much she buys him a pig instead - with the idea that eventually they will eat the pig. However, as time goes on, Vania has other ideas. A great story for family moviegoing. And a poster that says it all.

A poster for a film entitled, 'Sangamithra'. A so-called Tollywood film, which are Indian films released in the Telugu or Bengali language, for which there is a current trend within India. Poster is emoji of stylized happy face.

A horror film by Michael O'Shea tells the story of Milo, a teenager who believes himself to be a vampire - although there is doubt that he is one other than in his own mind.

Milo, kills and drinks blood but beyond that he is normal - can walk in the sun, eat garlic, but can't turn into a bat. The story progresses from there. No since giving out the end. This poster depicts Milo and his sinister shadow.

First released in 1982, 'The Last Horror Film' made a comeback at Cannes this year - but as expected did not get any traction. However, this film has become semi-cult.

The story centers around a 'fanatic' who is obsessed with a starlet who is promoting a movie at the Cannes festival. A great-stalker film where the bad guy leaves lots of carnage in his wake, 'The Last Horror Film' is a good view.  The poster says it all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hollywood Up For Ransom

It's not just State secrets and industrial espionage but hacking has become a big business for entertainment content.  This past Monday, Bob Iger, CEO of Disney Corporation dropped a bombshell when he informed his senior staff, at their weekly meeting, that a copy of the new 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead  Men Tell No Tales' had been hacked and stolen.

Although Iger made no mention of the amount, he did say that the hackers were "asking for a large bitcoin payment to keep the movie under wraps."  The hackers threatened to release the entire film in five minute snippets if payment was not forthcoming. For his part, Iger vowed that Disney would never pay ransom for any stolen content.

This hacking  episode is very similar to the recent leak of Netflix's 'Orange Is The New Black' series.  In that case, hackers had breached the security of a Hollywood  post-production facility that Netflix uses for its original content.  The hackers targeted Netflix with ransom demands which were denied. Subsequently, ten new and unreleased episodes of the series were released on 'Pirate Bay', an on-line bit-torrent site.

Entertainment content hacking and ransom is fast becoming the new means for making lots of money illegally. It appears to be easily accomplished and the culprits can't suffer any consequences given that they are, most likely, offshore in different countries.

How many hacks have there been is unknown. In many cases, unlike Disney and Netflix, the hackers have been paid and the victims never reveal the crime for fear they may not be used for future business.

CMG believes entertainment content hacking and ransom will become more prevalent as there appears to be no way to prevent it. Self-named, 'TheDarkLord', hacker(s) have thus far not extorted any money from Disney or Netflix but the press TheDarkLord is getting could help it in the future especially against smaller firms which would not want their clients to know they have been hacked.

TheDarkLord also targets other industries. For example, just last week they hacked three major healthcare companies and released data on thousands of medical patients.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The End of Paid TV

Cable TV is dying and this time it's for real. Consumers have finally realized that they don't need 200+ channels - most of which they never view.  Now, only content on-line streamers, such as Hulu, which offers 30+ TV channels for only $40 per month, are needed to satisfy the average TV watcher.
Cable TV going the way of the dinosaur 

With over 6 million TV cable/satellite users which have "cut their cable" since 2014 the numbers are now to big to ignore and cable company stocks have suffered big time as pay TV's best days are probably behind it.

Cable TV is going the way of the dinosaurs and no longer can cable or satellite providers relie on 'big bundle' services with associated 'big' fees.  Netflix streams 250 million hours of content per day, while YouTube users consume 1 billion hours of content on a daily basis. To counter this, cable TV operators are beginning to offer 'skinny' bundles of service for less money, but it is too little too late.

More and more consumers feel they don't need cable TV to satisfy there home entertainment demands and are totally fine with on-line subscription services which are becoming more TV-like each day.

On-line heavy weights Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple are all on board with offering first-rate content, as is Netflix.  Hulu and YouTube are but two others offering TV rebroadcasts and original content as well. Apple sees the downfall of pay TV as its gain, "Where cord-cutting has been happening on some kind of basis, we think it's accelerating massively.  The trajectory is under debate, but we are going to play in this space", stated Tim Cook, Apple CEO.

CMG agrees - it's only a matter of time before cable and satellite TV operators drastically change their business models to survive.  You are going to see much smaller monthly cable bills, fewer, but viewer selected, channels, and many more cord cutters.

Monday, May 08, 2017

The 'SCOOP' by Seymour Flix

Gold Star Wars Mask

A Darth Vader mask made out of 24k gold can be yours for a mere $1.4m. The mask, designed by Ginza Tanaka Jewelery, is 10"w x 11.8" h and weighs 33 lbs. Although not wearable the mask is expected to be sold quickly.


The non-profit group 'Women In Film', now in its 32rd year, is accepting applications for grants - with 8-12 grants being awarded this year several valued at $100,000.

For the first time, Stella Artois, the beer company, will be providing funding for four $25,000 grants. WIF provides grants for films by and/or about women across a wide-range of movie genre - from dramas to documentaries.  This year, strangely, emphasis will be placed on films whose central theme is about water conservation -the perfect match for Stella. The combination addresses its commitment to both social action and gender equality - a two birds with one stone concept. Sounds a bit suspicious.

WIF  grant applications will be accepted through June 30, with recipients announced in November.

Pope's Movie
Pope with Film's Director Rodriguez

Pope Francis's new film, 'Beyond The Sun', will make its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. Pope Francis, who appears as himself in the movie, requested that the film be a movie for children that communicates Jesus's spiritual message. This will be the first time a Pope has appeared in a feature film. The film was written and directed by Graciela Rodriguez.

All proceeds of the film are being donated to two Argentinian charities, El Almendra and Los Hogares de Cristo, which provide aid to at-risk children and young adults. The film was financed and produced by Ambi Pictures. 

The Cannes festivities kick-off on May 17th.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The Changing Blockbuster

Action Movie Genre Is Changing
In the last post to CMG I discussed why TV is still not good enough for movie viewing.  The studios are aware of this, so to maintain the upper-hand, made for cinema movies are the way forward. Hollywood must continue to dial-up the action blockbusters which are the core of the global box-office.

Movie audiences today represent the hardest critics ever.  Today's moviegoers know exactly what they want and what they expect and those movies that do not meet expectations face a very difficult time at the box-office.

Today's moviegoer is very savvy.  There is very little in movies that hasn't been done before, so film-makers have to be very creative and inventive.  The high-impact, action movie of today, which dominate the box-office, represents a genre where repetition and sameness will not be tolerated.  So, the current game for scriptwriters and directors is to ramp-up the genre to prevent boredom.
For example, the Fast and Furious franchise's latest episode, 'The Fate of the Furious', which as now grossed over $1b globally, needed not only over-the-top action and special effects (which everyone expected) but the inclusion of an A-lister (in this case Charlize Theron) to play the ultra-baddie. Also, adding new twists to the storyline, such as the idea of hacking the electronics of self-drive cars and turning them into lethal weapons added drama by using a new product concept and adding a 'what if' scenario for the viewer.

There is no doubt that the action scenes in movies are more graphic and in-your-face and there is no apology for the hard 'R' ratings these movies earn.

The new Hollywood action movie is a genre in flux. High-impact, action movies are becoming a mix of special effects, stunts, narrative, and personalities in a blend that audiences relish.