Growing Up in Character

Youth entertainment, like The Chronicles of Narnia, Twilight, and Hannah Montana depend less on one-off actors and instead rely heavily on huge multi-year contracts. The cast is a crucial factor and can or break a movie or TV show. They have to commit a good part of their childhood to the characters they are playing. These, in turn, are the embodiment of the brand created for the production and are the life and soul of it. For instance, the Harry Potter series would not survive the loss of its star, Daniel Radcliffe.

Disney and Nickelodeon, in terms of children’s TV tend to follow more organized production schedules, aimed at minimizing work stress.
Paula Kaplan, Nickelodeon’s executive VP for talent says, “We respect the balance between work life and personal life. In our adult world, nobody accommodates us for down time. But in a child’s life on a set, we do take that seriously. At our studios on Sunset Boulevard, where we shoot ‘iCarly’ and ‘Victorious,’ the greenrooms are filled with games and Rock Band. We create an environment where they can have fun with their colleagues and take it easy.”

There is quite a bit of legal framework in place in terms of children’s workdays if you would like to call it that. Labor laws restrict their number of workdays, outline relaxation periods and breaks that must be built into production schedules, and a certain amount of breaks are also called for between dismissal and call-back. On top of all these regulations, children’s schooling ‘must’ take place during the week.

Movie Tickets Tops in ’09

The numbers are in and movie tickets sales have overtaken the retail sales of movies on video, an occurrence that has not been witnessed since the mid 1990s. A recent report released by Adams Media Research confirmed the change in trend, which is mainly attributed to the recession. “…the reversal of fortunes of the theatrical and retail businesses can be laid at the feet of the recession” said AMR president Tom Adams. The theory is quite acceptable, as it seems that American consumers were interested in getting “more bang for their buck” in the face of the ongoing recession.

Theatrical ticket sales ended on $9.87 billion representing a 9.8 % growth, while DVD and Blu-ray movie sales ended on $8.73 billion representing a drop of 13.3 %. Although Blu-ray sales rose by 100 %, it failed to help the dwindling DVD movie market in 2009. But even though it was down in the movie category, DVD sales as a whole (movies, TV series, etc) still heads the entertainment category with a whopping $13 billion.

Rentals seem to be another preferred alternative to purchases; DVD and Blu-ray rentals were up 0.5 % raked in $8.15 billion, while cable, satellite and Telco rentals recorded a 16.3 % growth, totaling up to figures of $1.27 billion. Online movie purchases went up by 72.8 % and online rentals were up with a 60.1 % growth bringing in $250 million and $111 million respectively.

Whether the balance will be restored between the box office and movie disc sales as the recession ebbs is unclear. For the moment the cinema rules supreme.

Summit to Release Polanski’s Ghost Writer

Summit entertainment plans on releasing Roman Polanski’s latest film in the US sometime in early 2010. The film originally titled “The Ghost” will now be released as “The Ghost Writer.” Polanski is the director behind great films like “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”

Polanksi has been in Sweden on house arrest while awaiting an extradition hearing. He is expected to be extradited to face charges of having sexual intercourse with a minor. The alleged offense happened in 1977. He has avoided the US since the charges were first filed. If he is convicted, 77-year old Polanski will most likely face prison time ending his career as a successful film director.

The film stars Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, and Kim Cattrall. The screenplay was adapted from the novel, “The Ghost” written by Robert Harris. The book won the International Thriller Writers’ Award for best novel of 2008 setting this up to be a great film.

The movie will be focused around Brosnan’s character, Adam Lang a former British Prime Minister, writing his memoirs. His aide drowns, and he hires a ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) to help finish the book. The story quickly evolves into a mystery that includes political and sexual intrigue, and the threat of Lang facing a war crimes trial. A mystifying secret is hanging over Lang that threatens to damage fragile international relations.

Summit Entertainment was originally only a sales agent for the film, but after seeing a cut of the film, they have decided to handle distribution. The entertainment group is the distributor of the Twilight teen vampire films.

Video Streaming Shows Dramatic Six-month Increase

When Ipsos, a market research company specializing in media content and technologies, released the latest survey results in their report on Online Video Streaming earlier this month, no one should have been surprised at the direction the numbers were heading. The magnitude of the increase, however, revealed how quickly America’s entertainment behaviors are changing. Not only were the numbers up, they were up dramatically.

Over one-fourth of Americans who used the Internet in the past month watched a streaming TV show. Fourteen percent had streamed a full length film or movie. The data collected in April of this year (2009) showed a phenomenal doubling of the numbers collected during the previous September.

The highest percentage of streaming video viewers was found among young adults, ages 18 -24. Within this demographic group, the numbers soared to twice the national average for watching streaming video—51% for TV shows and 30% for viewing full length movies.

Experts attribute the swelling percentages to a corresponding growth of digital video web sites, citing Hulu in particular. Most typically, these sites are “free” to the consumer with costs being compensated through advertising. Brian Pickens, Senior Research Manager at Ipsos, believes that streaming video “is becoming an important distribution channel where any type of full-length video can be instantly accessed for immediate consumption without a fee.”

The appeal of streaming video to consumers is found in its on-demand flexibility for being available exactly when the viewer wishes, and its value of providing free entertainment in a capricious economy.