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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Finally The Verdict: Weinstein 'Busted'

Is the casting couch dead?
CMG has been following the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault lawsuit for several years. We watched as Harvey finagled and postponed the process every way he could - changing his law team three times, promoting health issues and a heart condition to gain more time and jury sympathy, and contending that all charges against him were false as all of the sexual acts were consensual.

Finally, all of the legal maneuvers and court manipulations ended on Monday when Harvey was convicted on two of four indictments in a NYC court. The first count carries 5 years while the second (3rd degree rape) up to 24 years, his sentencing will be next month. As one would have expected, right after his conviction, Harvey complained of chest pains and was sent directly to the Rikers Island Prison hospital.

After his sentencing in New York, Harvey will be extradited to Los Angeles where he faces five more counts of sexual harassment and assault.  Old Harv could wind-up with over 175 years, if convicted. After Monday's sentencing Weinstein's attorneys made a statement that their client "took it like a man" and "was completely shocked by the verdict".

The #metoomovement was the force behind Weinstein's conviction and we may well be witnessing the end of the Hollywood 'casting couch'.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What Do Viewers Want

Bold and binge-friendly 'cinematic-look' content that is edgy and gripping - these are the new criteria consumers are looking for and producers striving for in content delivery. Content must be smart, well-written, and perfectly executed. The content game is upping the ante every day for writers and directors.

While broadcast and basic cable must still answer to advertisers who may be unhappy about risque' content, it's clear provocative content is becoming the norm throughout the entire spectrum from cinema to regular broadcast.

 X Football League : Getting the viewer involved.
The entertainment landscape is changing. It is getting wider, deeper, and much more competitive. Players in the arena range from Verizon to Twitch and everything in-between. From movies to eSports it's all about getting consumers to watch, and (now) participate in (ie. the new XFL U.S. football league) and become engaged with.

Tiered admission pricing must be given great consideration!

Cinema has been entertaining the 'masses' for over 100 years and I see no end in sight for this 'viewing' venue. With the tsunami of content being produced there is no shortage of product for 'cinematic' viewing. The trick is that cinema exhibitors must embrace a wider variety of content sources and choose which best 'fits' their local audience. Screening movies from a handful of Hollywood studios will spell doom for movie exhibitors. They must partner-up with ALL of the content providers in the expanding entertainment landscape.

Additionally, the issue of tiered admission pricing based upon the movie must be given great consideration. Charging different admissions for different movies is a sound one with lots of retail marketplace precedent, and which fits in perfectly with the offering of a wide variety of content from various sources.

For cinema exhibition to remain viable and profitable operational change is required. 

Jim Lavorato, President, Entertainment Equipment Corp.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Academy Museum: Sort of Opened

It is only fitting that I write a follow-up on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on the day of the 2020 Oscar presentations.

Museum as it now stands.

Located at the junction of Wilshire and Fairfax Boulevards in L.A., I've been following the progress of the Museum for several years, highlighting one issue after another that postponed its opening - not the least of which was a funding shortfall of several hundred million dollars. Finally, on Friday, it was opened for a press tour - no official opening has been announced.

Just six months ago, construction was halted and plans redrawn to make the facility smaller due to a lack of funding. A campaign to raise the "new" budget requirement of $388m to complete the 'downsized' project was met as $368m was received in pledges and cash.

Construction on the Museum began in October of 2015 and was originally  scheduled to open by the end of 2016. Fast forward to 2020 and five years later it is scheduled to open by year's end.

 The Museum will feature a 1600 seat auditorium where 35mm, 70mm, and digital films will be screened. A smaller 288 seat aud will also screen content and run exhibit features on the history of the cinema. The Museum's main feature is a large, death-star shaped atrium/lobby, ample exhibition spaces, a restaurant, and retail space are also included.. Admission pricing has not been announced.

Jim Lavorato, Founder 4M Performance

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

#OscarsSoWhite : How'd That Work Out

Oh, how soon they forget. Remember the big movement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to 'diversify the Oscars' because they were too white, too straight, and too white-man dominated.

The Academy confronted its lack of diversity by adding thousands of new members of color, female,  and bringing in hundreds of filmmakers hailing from outside the U.S. - that was 2019.

Enter 2020. Diversity is hard to find at the Oscars. Of the 20 acting nominations, only one is a person of color. So even with thousands of new 'diverse' voting members  we're back to square one as these new members didn't vote based on diversity but on merit - as is should be.

There are two disruptive trends going in the movie business:

First, that there is a tremendous amount of production going on with both the studios and the streamers pumping out content like there is no tomorrow.

Second, it is getting less and less costly to produce a feature film. All that is required is a decent script, a bit of grit, and an iPhone.

2019 was the hallmark of the low-budget indie film. Whether this is sustainable is anyone's guess. It appears that the digital effects-packed films garner the majority of  cinema admissions. This all forces the award-givers, like the Academy, into a quandary: embrace inclusion or go for engaging entertainment?

One man's disruption is another's breakthrough. The tide is turning back to the relevant vs. the must-dos. The social cause makes for poorly viewed content. Most thinking folks are aware of the social and environmental issues and they don't need constant reminding. What they seek is high-quality, engaging entertainment.

Just saying,
Jim Lavorato