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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.