Google co-funds four Oz web projects

Screen Australia and Google are funding four online projects – two half-hour comedies, a 45-minute documentary and an animated series.

The projects will share A$725,000 (US$550,000) in funding from the third edition of the Screen Australia/Google initiative Skip Ahead, which aims to support the next generation of Australian creatives by enabling the recipients to make longer and more ambitious narrative content.

The money is intended to fully finance each project but producers are free to raise additional funds. The 10 projects supported in the past two years have collectively clocked more than 5.5 million YouTube views and helped creators such as Aunty Donna and Mighty Car Mods to reach bigger audiences and build their brands.

Skip Ahead backs narrative-driven films that can either be a one-off work, a pilot for a series or proof-of-concept for a feature, on the proviso that each is a standalone piece of entertainment.

Adelaide brothers Danny and Michael Philippou – known as Racka Racka, whose Marvel VS DC video last year racked up more than 37 million views on YouTube – will deliver RackaRacka: Live (working title), a live-stream vlog that follows the wannabe filmmakers on a rampage through a haunted abandoned theatre. Triptych Pictures (The Babadook) will produce.

The Superwog Show (working title) will see brothers Theo and Nathan Saidden, aka Superwog, tell the story of Superwog and his best mate as they navigate adult life and Superwog’s dysfunctional family. The show will be produced by Princess Pictures (Summer Heights High, Jonah from Tonga, It’s a Date) and Century Entertainment.

In Mutant Menu, science educator and communicator Vanessa Hill will explore how genetic manipulation can create superheroes on YouTube channel BrainCraft, produced by Serendipity Productions’ Margie Bryant (Who Do You Think You Are?).

Sisters Charli and Ashlee Kelly, who star in popular YouTube kids-only baking show Charli’s Crafty Kitchen, will make the animated series Crafty Kingdom, short narratives totalling 30 minutes, in partnership with Brisbane animation studio Like A Photon.

Screen Australia investment manager Mike Cowap said: “These successful creators have great instincts for filmmaking and engaging with large audiences. They have earned this opportunity to make longer, more challenging narrative work, and we’re excited to see the result. We’re sure their audiences are going to love it.”

Kristen Bowen, head of top creators at YouTube Asia Pacific, added: “We’ve been consistently impressed by the projects from the talented alumni of Skip Ahead and we’re sure that this year’s crop of creators will continue to make projects that delight and inspire.”

Don Groves – 11-11-2016 – C21Media

YouTube Channel Film Riot Picks Up Steam for Wannabe Filmmakers

What do you get when you combine the massive distribution platform of YouTube with the DIY digital revolution that makes filmmaking tools accessible to the masses?

Meet Film Riot, the channel about filmmaking techniques that has garnered almost a million subscribers while producing its own content. And most recently, that content was pretty frightening.

Building an Audience

Founder Ryan Connolly designed Film Riot as the go-to destination for wannabe filmmakers, complete with tutorials, gear lists, and post-production tips. “All I ever wanted to do for as long as I could remember was make films,” says Connolly. “But I had no resources despite having gone to film school. So I figured, if I were to build my own audience and my own stage, I could make films the way I wanted.”

Halloween Theme

This month, Connolly and his team debut the six-minute short film “Ghost House” — part of the channel’s Halloween-themed series. “I’m a big fan of the horror genre,” Connolly says. “I love its ability to so firmly grip the audience. It was a great opportunity to take a few typical horror tropes and put them in a different light.”

No Red Tape

When Film Riot creates a show, it doesn’t go through the bureaucracy that’s typical of TV production. “With TV or any high-level project, you have multiple levels of opinion to sift through and keep happy,” explains Connolly. “In certain ways, we are trying to create a new Hollywood, with a more economical and personal approach to storytelling.”

TV and Not TV

Because Film Riot creates all of its product and distributes it directly to audiences, “it’s sort of like a giant living room, and everyone is invited for movie night,” Connolly says. Yet during production days, the similarities to a traditional physical production are more apparent. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Connolly says.

Choice of Gear

On past shows, Connolly has shot with the Canon C500, the Canon C100 Mark II, and the RED Epic. For “Ghost House,” he chose the Alexa Mini. “It has a gorgeous, milky, film-like image,” he says, “largely due to its dynamic range.” Plus, it can be stripped down to make it more mobile. Connolly paired the camera with Kowa Anamorphic lenses. “Subconsciously,” he says, “we relate the look of an anamorphic image to big Hollywood films, [many of which] were shot on them. It isn’t how we naturally see the world around us — it’s distorted, imperfect — and for me this helps create the sense of another world.”

Valentina I. Valentini – Variety – November 4, 2016

Virtual reality, personalised content, more local shows: this is what Australian TV will be like in 2020

PICTURE donning a virtual reality headset to watch the football from a player’s perspective, catching the evening news bulletin with stories tailored to you and having more choice in content than ever.

This is the future of Australian television and it’ll be here by 2020, as the industry enters its biggest era of change.

The fact that a Hollywood megastar like Rachel Griffiths would lend her talent and expertise to a low budget YouTube comedy shows how much the landscape has evolved. In between major film and TV roles, the acclaimed actor co-produced and starred in Little Acorns — a hilarious web series about workers at a suburban childcare centre.

Rachel Griffiths and co-stars of new internet series Little Acorns, Fanny Hanusin, Maria Theodorakis, Belinda McClory and Katerina Kotsonis.

While the online space offers enormous opportunities to tap into a global audience hungry for video content, Griffiths said there are challenges that come with it.

“We wanted Little Acorns to be on a network,” Griffiths admitted. “We went to all the usual players. It was like, oh well, if no one wants to give us money we’ll just find another way. But make no bones about it — no one makes money from this format.”

The cost of making a TV drama runs anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million per episode, so broadcasters are less inclined to take risks.

“These days, you have to prove your product and your voice, and the web series thing is a platform through which to prove what you’ve got,” Griffiths said.

One player embracing change is Fox Sports, where digital is seen as a way of enhancing the viewing experience. The subscription TV giant has a research lab where a dedicated team explores broadcast innovation, chief executive Patrick Delany said.

“We’re releasing an app next week called Fox Vision and the first event we’ll use it for is Bathurst, and there will be a map in all of the papers next Thursday that you can point your phone at that to make it 3D so you can explore the terrain,” Delany said.

“At the same time, you can go inside the car with a 360-degree camera and look around, as it hurdles around the track. These are really cool technologies that we can use to enhance the live sports experience. I only see that growing.”

With new gadgets, content boom, alternative platforms and personalised experiences, Australian TV will look vastly different by 2020.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s coming.

Developments in virtual and augmented reality will see the TV experience shift significantly, Delany said. “We’re getting into that space already,” he said. “You can put a pair of glasses on and (be) at the ground, in the stand, and be immersive. We’re exploring how we can improve that and apply it to our service.”

When it comes to sports, the big screen will remain the primary source but secondary, personal devices will allow “add ons”, he said.

“Whether it’s things like a variety of camera views — inside the cars for the V8s or alternative angles from drones — or player stats and charts relevant to what you’re seeing on screen, that’s how I see it going.”

Regardless of how TV changes, Adrian Swift, Nine’s programming and production boss, believes content will always be king.

“We’re still paying money to create great content and we’ll continue to do that,” Swift said. “Our job and strategic focus is to keep ourselves as a destination as things change around us. We play to our strengths and that’s news, sport, big events, stripped reality shows and fun, light, clever Australian drama that the whole family can sit down to watch.”

What this means is TV networks will develop their own content niche, Mason said.

“The big play for broadcasters is local — they understand what Aussie viewers want and it’s shows that reflect them.”

Consuming content online, whether live or via catch-up, is a trend that Swift expects to continue in the coming years. There will come a time when Nine is a button on a remote as well as a mobile app, an add-on to set top boxes and game consoles, and a website.

It’s a trend the company is already seeing — 9 Now has a unique total audience of 1.4 million, Collins said.

“What we’re seeing is more engagement — more minutes consumed. A prime example is the drama Love Child. The last series did one million long-form streams and 28 million minutes of content was consumed.”

Live news could soon contain stories that are tailored to a viewer’s preferences, based on past trends. The idea of customised content is something American outfit CBS News Digital is exploring, its senior vice president and general manager Christy Tanner said.

“We have developed different interfaces that offer some degree of personalisation and the ability to tailor their own news cast,” Tanner said. “It’s a real balancing act for us though. We believe in the power of journalists to curate for the audience so we want to deliver a balance of personalisation and editorially led curation.”

Otherwise a fully personalised nightly news bulletin runs of the risk of just being stories about the Kardashian family.

TV sets themselves are changing, with trends pointing towards devices that are integrated in the room. Some manufacturers are offering ‘in-wall’ sets that aren’t visible when not turned on, as well as screens built into mirrors.

And the latest products are being billed as works of art. Regardless of where it’s seen, Swift said TV will be “a different version of the same thing”.

Shannon Molloy, National TV Writer, News Corp Australia – October 2, 2016

Google a pirate, says News Corp chief executive Robert­ Thomson

Google a pirate: News chief

News Corp chief executive Robert­ Thomson. ‘The words “intellectual property” don’t appear in the Google alphabet.’ Picture: Richard Dobson Source: News Corp Australia

News Corp chief executive Robert­ Thomson has attacked Google for piracy, zealotry and kleptocracy for its disregard of copyright and distribution of journalism created by others.

In a speech at the Lowy Institute Media Awards last night, Mr Thomson warned that, without proper remun­eration, well-resourced reporting would be further challenged in the future, with the digital age hostile to ­investment in ­journalism.

Mr Thomson, in Australia for News Corp’s board meeting, said aggregators and distributors such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn had a “new-found fondness for premium content” created by others, but had an aversion to paying for it.

Provocatively, he also called LinkedIn “pretenders” and “spammers”.

“The supposed idealism of these companies is in stark contrast to their actual behavio­ur,” Mr Thomson said. “That Google’s newly conceived parent company is to be called Alphabet has itself created a range of ­delicious permutations: A is for avarice, B is for bowdlerise, through to K for kleptocracy, P for piracy and Z for zealotry.”

Mr Thomson said he was fortunate to be a custodian in a company that invested in thousands of creative acts around the world each day, from great journ­alism and compelling analysis to feisty blogs, capti­v­ating videos and brilliant books.

But, he said, Google and other aggregators had little respect for original content or copyright created by media companies struggling to profit from news.

“The words ‘intellectual property’ don’t appear in the Google alphabet,” he said.

Mr Thomson said there was a “deficit in reporting resources created by the egregious aggregation of news by distributors for whom provenance is an inconvenience and who are contemptuous of copyright”.

While media companies such as News Corp created important content, he said, the distributors were appointing editors not to create but to curate.

“And these curators tend to have a certain mindset, a deep fondness for polit­ical correctness, and a tendency to be intolerant of ideolog­ical infractions,” he said.

“Silicon Valley is moving from the PC to being a purveyor of the PC. The stream of content is often a flow of soft-left sensi­b­ility, a stream of content consciousness in which genuine debate is in danger of drowning and alternative views rarely surface­.”

Mr Thomson contrasted this with the nature of newspapers, which were characterised by public debate and carried passionate arguments about issues­.

Moving to a greater distrib­ution of politically correct content by the “e-elites”, Mr Thomson said, was taking place without any serious discussion of the social consequences.

He paid tribute to News Corp’s executive chairman Rupert­ Murdoch and said that, without him, instead of being at a fine award ceremony that celebrated the continued importance of journalism, the group would be in the backroom at a dingy pub lamenting its passing.

The Australian

August 14, 2015 12:00AM

SVOD: Netflix surge threatens free-to-air TV

Media watchers around the world find no surprise in the move away from traditional forms of television. The writing has been on the wall since the turn of the century that the child of the digital revolution — internet protocol television — would become a substantial threat to incumbent free- to-air broadcasters and their ­subscription-based cousins.

But what is surprising is the speed of change we are now seeing. It is not just fast or super-fast — it is happening at warp speed.

Credible analysis of internet traffic suggests that Netflix, the international market leader in providing subscription video on demand through IPTV-based streaming, already has more than 1.5 million customers in Australia. As one analyst told me: “the smart money was that Netflix would have 2.2 million Australian subscribers by 2020. I think they’ll have that by the end of 2015.”

Netflix does not declare its subscriber numbers in various markets, a tactic designed to maximise its negotiating position when it bids for rights. But we know in the first quarter of 2015 it had 42 million customers in the US and 21 million in the rest of the world.

Netflix came to Australia in March this year, so very little of its Australian customer base would be reflected in those first quarter figures. Since March Netflix has been pushing its Australian services in competition with Presto, backed by Foxtel, Seven and Ten, and Stan, a Nine and Fairfax start-up. None of the parties are shouting their audience numbers from the rooftops, in part because many customers are testing their appetite for video on demand through free sign-up deals for the first month.

Active subs may not be paying subs.

Back in the days when three commercial and two public channels amounted to the total TV offering, FTA had 100 per cent of the nation’s eyeballs. After Foxtel, FTA maintained around 80 per cent of the total audience.

If Netflix and other SVOD operators steal away another 20 or 30 per cent — as they inevitably will, in time — then FTA faces a triple whammy: falling viewer numbers, smaller audiences to attract advertisers and tighter advertising conditions as the digital migration continues. This, in turn, erodes its ability to produce high quality, compelling content capable of attracting large audiences.

Of course, the FTA industry is not without the means to fight back. It remains strong in live events, whether they be news, sport or network-manufactured “must see” events such as MasterChef, The Voice or My Kitchen Rules. But news, sport and faux events don’t fill a 24/7 schedule.

Seen from this perspective, there is no surprise in the stockmarket reaction to the FTA market leaders in Australia. The Nine network floated last year at $2.10 and traded as high as $2.35 at the end of May this year. It closed at $1.39 on Friday.

Seven West Media was trading above $2 a year ago and is now 93c.

These figures reflect the new reality.

Mark Day, Columnist – The Australian July 13, 2015

More Here:

www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media

Piracy crackdown misses the real crime

Hollywood demands government help so it can keep ripping us off.

Advice from Google and others that piracy is primarily a “pricing and availability” problem has fallen on deaf ears, the government would rather listen to the likes of The leaked Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper, obtained last Friday by news website Crikey, is pretty much what we expected from Australia’s federal government. The opening statement pays lip service to ensuring that “content is accessed easily and at a reasonable price”. The rest is dedicated to outlining harsher penalties and technical countermeasures which are doomed to fail.

It would be great to see Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull jump to the defence of Australian consumers – whom they supposedly represent – as quickly as they jump to the defence of the powerful copyright lobby group. Advice from Google and others that piracy is primarily a “pricing and availability” issue has fallen on deaf ears, the government would rather listen to the likes of Village Roadshow.

The Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper feels like the work of a government which wants to be seen to be acting, rather than a government which actually wants to address the underlying problem. Where’s the discussion paper considering the impact of this year’s Foxtel Game of Thrones deal on consumer choice, or what might happen if Murdoch gains control over both HBO and Foxtel?

While we’re at it, where’s the discussion paper considering the role of parallel import laws in the digital age and the impact of geoblocking on consumer price gouging when it comes to entertainment? Last year’s IT pricing enquiry had a lot to say about Microsoft and Adobe but very little to say about Hollywood.

Just like region-coding on discs, geoblocking exists so movie studios can get away with offering Australians less and charging us more simply because we’re Australian. Village Roadshow.

Rather than addressing this issue, it seems the government is happy to support a ban on circumventing “technological measures” – which might include geoblocking – as part of the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

It’s been explained time and again how easy it is to bypass any technological countermeasures put forward to thwart piracy and geo-dodging. You don’t need to be a geek to master the use of proxies and Virtual Private Networks in order to side-step the internet service provider-level site blocking proposed in the discussion paper.

There are even browser plugins which let you beat site filtering with a single click.

Most people are prepared to do the right thing given the chance, unless they feel like they’re being ripped off. Content providers have been screwing Australians for years.

Now that consumers have finally found a way to fight back, the industry is demanding government help so it can continue to screw us.

Rather than put up laughably ineffective roadblocks to appease its powerful friends, the government would better serve the people by addressing the reasons why we break the law. Until it does, people won’t respect rules which are designed to ensure that Australians are treated as second-class citizens.

Adam Turner – SMH – July 28, 2014 – 10:37AM

Movie piracy: threat to the future of films intensifies

Almost 30% of Britons are now watching movies illegally online or buying counterfeit DVDs, costing the industry £500m a year

‘There’s a perception it’s a victimless crime, but it’s not,’ says Mark Batey of the FDA. The movie industry excels in selling dreams. But since the dawn of the digital revolution, there is one narrative they’ve consistently and conspicuously failed to sell: that piracy is theft and consumers who indulge ought to feel guilty about it. Recent research by Ipsos suggests that almost 30% of the UK population is active in some form of piracy, either through streaming content online or buying counterfeit DVDs.

Such theft costs the UK audiovisual industries about £500m a year.

Given such scale, why has that the message failed to sink in? “There’s a perception that it’s a victimless crime,” says Mark Batey, chief executive of trade body the Film Distributors’ Association. “But it’s not. There are just a handful of super successes every year among hundreds of movies that are brought to market. And when a film is copied or made available online, it reduces the value of that film around the world.”

This, says Batey, can be particularly detrimental to the independent film-maker who may have spent years raising money for the film and may have had to remortgage their house.

Former lobbyist and US senior government official Jean Prewitt agrees. “The impact of piracy tends to play out differently and arguably more immediately on the independent sector than it does on the studios,” she says. “The indies are totally dependent on local distributors in all countries to take risk and invest in the making of a film before it is made. This is how these films get financed.”

Prewitt, who now heads the Independent Film and Television Alliance, points to its members who go to markets at festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and the American Film Market in Los Angeles (which is produced by IFTA) to present their project to buyers, who pre-commit to the film and then take it when it is finished, guaranteeing a minimum level of royalties to the film-maker.

These pre-sales are then taken to a bank and used as collateral to finance the film. If the pre-sales aren’t secured, the bank won’t loan the money and the film doesn’t get off the ground.

“Distributors are not able to take the risks they used to. What this means to the consumer is not that some producers don’t get rich, it means the product doesn’t get made.”

Each year, a huge number of these independent films are lauded at the Oscars: Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street all went to market to seek independent financing.

This reduction of revenue caused in part by piracy has also resulted in studios and production houses making less adventurous choices when it comes to films – just think of the prequels, sequels and remakes hitting screens this summer. Similarly, streaming television content illegally has a huge effect on the business, says Gareth Neame, executive producer of Downton Abbey.

“Broadcasters will pay us money upfront, but it’s not sufficient to cover the cost of the whole production, so we look at the long-term value of our product and, based on all the ways we can exploit this, we cashflow against anticipated revenues,” he says.

“If it comes to pass that the show doesn’t make those revenues because of illegal downloads, we don’t recoup the money, and we have to be more cautious.

“Long term, movies and TV and other content simply won’t be created in the first place. One may think an individual act of piracy doesn’t matter, but if that becomes a way of life then the value of intellectual property becomes eroded, shows like Downton Abbey won’t get made.”

Phil Clapp, chief executive of trade organisation the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, says that cinemas are losing about £220m a year at the UK box office due to piracy, representing about two months’ income in an average year.

“We recognise that the vast majority of illegal content starts its life in the cinema, and because we remain the key source we have put a huge amount of effort into making our sites more secure and training staff and giving them the ability to take action,” he says.

Clapp adds that the financial impact is felt most acutely by the long list of people you see on the credits of a film. “Makeup artists, costume designers,, studios and facilities, even box office staff – they are the ones who are greatly affected by this loss of revenue.”

According to a 2010 TERA report, up to a quarter of a million jobs will be at risk if nothing is done about copyright infringement in the UK by 2015.

Alex Hamilton, managing director of eOne Films UK, which has brought films such as the Twilight saga and 12 Years a Slave to British theatres, agrees with that assessment.

“The audiovisual industry supports hundreds of thousands of people’s livelihoods and if the industry has trouble supporting itself, it’s going to put people out of work,” he says. “People aren’t pirating to make themselves better or put food on the table; they are doing it for recreational purposes. An individual has to acknowledge that their actions don’t exist in isolation.”

There are a number of ways to consume content legally, says Hamilton, from cinema to video on demand subscriptions such as Amazon Primeand Netflix, and the cost is relatively low. Another crucial point pirates should understand is that nothing is free.

When a consumer streams illegal content, these sites are making money, either through advertising or subscription costs.

“It’s straightforward plagiarism for profit,” says Prewitt. “Every consumer click is driving legitimate dollars out of the legal industry and into the pockets of these criminals.”

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) works with law enforcement agencies to prosecute piracy but also works to educate the public on the consequences of copyright infringement.

“One message that is key is that, whether you’re pirating physical copy or streaming, you are putting money into the hands of a criminal,” says Kieron Sharp, director general of Fact.

Many pirates who produce counterfeit DVDs on a large scale can be traced to organised crime rings in the far east, he says, who then reinvest that money in other strands of criminal activity, such as prostitution, drugs and dog-fighting. “Our view is that most of these people [who stream illegally] are film and TV fans and we want them on our side, not on the side of criminals, who will profit from their consumption.”

Fact general counsel Byron Jacobson says the organisation has also been working hard to prevent companies from advertising on infringing websites. There seems to be evidence, he says, of a significant decrease in the number of high-street brands doing so.

And while Fact has proved to be a strong backbone for the entertainment industry when it comes to copyright infringement, support from outside the business has waned.

The UK coalition government has moved slowly in implementing the Digital Economy Act, which addresses policy issues related to digital media, including copyright infringement, and it has been an uphill struggle to get internet service providers to help combat the issue.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the UK, BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have reached a deal with the Motion Picture Association and the BPI, which represents the British music industry to send “educational” letters to customers who have downloaded illegal content. The process is expected to come into effect in 2015.

“The difficulty is there is no end point,” says one industry insider. “It’s not really going to divert or stop even medium-level or hardcore pirates. Maybe it will quash the nervous teenager, but that’s about it.”

And it’s not just the entertainment industry that will suffer if the value of copyright is not respected, says Neame. “IP businesses and learning-based business industries are hugely increasing in the west,” he says. “The erosion of IP will have an increasingly large impact on the global economies and economies in Europe. It’s important that we try to educate people to behave like responsible citizens and to be honest and understand why copyright matters.”

Diana Lodderhose – theguardian.com, Thursday 17 July 2014

Why ‘Apes’ Won’t Be Enough to Turn Around the Summer Box Office

Where have all the blockbusters gone?

That’s the question on Hollywood’s lips as the summer box office pants its way past midpoint. With less than two months to go, this season’s crop of tentpole films look shaky, despite a gorilla-sized $73 million opening weekend for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Overall, there have been more raunchy comedies and fewer family films — and, in fact, fewer tentpoles packed the season vs. last year. China’s box office is surging, while the domestic market shrinks. And the endless stream of sequels and reboots has failed to lure away crowds from the World Cup, barbecues and the beach.

Box office revenue from the first week of May through the most recent weekend is down nearly 20%, as “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” failed to match the massive grosses of such 2013 popcorn films as “Iron Man 3,” “Despicable Me 2” and “Monsters University.”

This summer almost certainly will fall short of last year’s record-breaking $4.76 billion haul.

“Product is a big part of the equation,” said Jeffrey Logsdon, an analyst with Hudson Square Research. “When the product’s not there, you don’t see the big audiences.”

Films have been opening big, but flaming out quickly, with pictures such as the “Spider-Man” sequel and “Godzilla” debuting to nearly $100 million, then dropping more than 60% in their second weekends. Both have struggled to clear $200 million domestically. The lack of stickiness is evident across the digital watercooler.

“As the box office has fallen, social media has had a strong correlation,” said Ben Carlson, prexy of social-media tracking service Fizziology. “There’s been less social engagement for a lot of these films.”

Leaving a huge void in the calendar, two major movies vacated the summer season: Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” due to production delays, and “Fast & Furious 7,” owing to the death of star Paul Walker.

The loss of “Good Dinosaur” deprived the season of a major family film in a year packed with R-rated comedies. Some of these laffers, such as “Neighbors” and “22 Jump Street,” were successes, but a dearth of films that appealed to children, save for “Maleficent,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” has robbed the B.O. of some of its demographic dimensionality.

“It’s the vagaries of production schedules,” said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. “Last year, we had too many family films; this year there are too few.”

When summer 2014 ends, there will be a few happy chapters, perhaps none more encouraging than the breakout success of “The Fault in Our Stars.” Produced for $12 million, the film, based on John Green’s bestselling novel, has taken in north of $225 million worldwide. In place of giant robots and costumed heroes, its selling point is the story of two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group. Yet, Fox made the bold decision to release the movie in the heart of popcorn season.

“We knew who the audience was, and we felt strongly that we knew how to get to them,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox. “We knew if we timed it just right, it would hit as the kids were getting out of school — post-prom and post-finals. This wasn’t a comicbook movie. It wasn’t about action and explosions. It was just a movie about people and life.”

With the U.S. theatrical business in a rut, China continues to be a dominant force internationally. For the first half of 2014, the Chinese box office grew 22%, to $2.2 billion. The power of the country and its population of 1.3 billion was on display as it pushed movies such as “Edge of Tomorrow” toward solvency, goosed the international grosses of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to new highs for the mutant franchise, and outpaced domestic ticket sales on “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

One kernel of good news for Stateside exhibitors was that after experiencing historic lows in 2013, 3D rebounded, contributing a more than 40% share of ticket sales for films such as “Godzilla” and “Edge of Tomorrow.”

“It’s obvious 3D is here to stay,” said Rolando Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Marcus Theatres. “It bodes well for the industry, because it is an amenity that separates the theatrical experience from the home experience.”

An even more promising reason theater owners aren’t entering into mass suicide pacts is that salvation appears to be just around the corner. The next two years bring new installments of such Tiffany franchises as James Bond, “The Avengers,” “Star Wars” and “Batman.”

“Like everyone else, we’re looking at 2015 and 2016, and the incredible lineup of films,” said Bud Mayo, chairman and CEO of Digiplex Destinations.

Tomorrow is a brighter day.

Brent Lang – Variety – July 16, 2014

How to delete Facebook from your life completely

Deleting Facebook: more difficult than you might think.

If you’re seriously considering deleting your Facebook account, you’re not alone.

Start typing in the letters “dele” into Google and you’ll see “delete Facebook account” as a top suggestion. Whether it’s to alleviate privacy concerns or avoid digital distractions, more people are trying to figure out how to fully disconnect themselves from the social network giant that we live and breathe.

For those ready to call it quits, you’re in for a surprise — it’s more difficult than you think to erase yourself permanently. With its ever-changing privacy policies, becoming Facebook-free requires more steps than just hitting the delete button and saying goodbye.

Keep in mind deletion is not the same as deactivation. You can deactivate your account at any time, which means your Timeline and information will disappear from Facebook until you reactivate your account. When reactivated, your information is restored. Deleting your account means you can never, ever access your account again, and you won’t be able to retrieve any of your content or information.

Most of your personal data, like your email and mailing address, is removed from Facebook, but some information, such as messages and photos, may remain on its server for “technical reasons.” Facebook’s Help Center also says the data left behind will no longer be identifiable or searchable as your own, and that it will be inaccessible to other people using Facebook.

If you 100% want out, follow the step-by-step guide below to erase your Facebook footprint and make sure your account is gone for good:

www.theage.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/how-to-delete-facebook-from-your-life-
completely-20140703-zsuib.html

Kyli Singh – Mashable – July 3, 2014

Australian branded content drama The Horizon hits 21 million online views

Australian brand funded online drama series The Horizon series has hit more than 21 million views on YouTube.

The show which depicts the lives of a group of Sydney gay men hit the number following the US launch of its fourth season. The third season has claimed four awards at the 2014 LA Webfest following a successful run online.

The show is averaging 40 – 60,000 viewers daily say its creators, and now boasts 73,000 ongoing subscribers to its YouTube channel. Brands behind the series include General Pants, NSW health promotion agency ACON, and DNA Magazine.

The series is produced and directed by former Packed to the Rafters writer Boaz Stark, and is backed by producers Brian Cobb and Jacob Inglis and Executive Producers Tania Chambers and Rob Cannella.

Series 4 features a number of Australian stars including Belinda Giblin and Barry Quin with cameos from Gretel Killeen and Jonny Pasvolsky as a vivacious nurse and a caring Priest.

“We have found some great ways for people to be involved with The Horizon series five and six, through pledges towards the production costs, which will then enable us to offer various opportunities like a walk on role or name your own character, as well as executive producer titles to those wanting to pledge” said Cobb. “Pledges can be made from $100 offering fantastic opportunities at every level”.

Robert Burton-Bradley – mumbrella – July 1st, 2014

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e6bf2OkQKA&list=UUrkkQ0gp5biGP7K0mixrdyQ