That was Interesting or maybe not

vlcsnap-2014-11-06-14h35m57s239Moving on from thoughts of Time Warner’s state of affairs, since it’s not much fun to talk finance or economics. No, that’s not a true statement. I love to talk finance and economics, but I know most people hate it. See why I stay on fluff subjects most of the time here? The serious me is not that much fun and likes to talk about things like the Time Warner/Comcast merger, why Facebook’s IPO was lousy, or about my fascination with Elon Musk and Tesla and renewable energy, or the health care sector or other fun subjects like Quantitative Easing. I really love to talk about Quantitative Easing. Don’t get me started on that one.

Yes, I’m really going to stop all this talk that makes your eyes glaze over and go back to talking about the dwarf actors, which was my initial plan but did not include talking about the snubbing of the Kiwi dwarves. I was more or less going to ignore that until, well, I couldn’t.

Speaking of which, I’ve noticed something about that situation. It’s not a situation to a significant number of fans of the Hobbit movies. It seems the Richard Armitage fans are mostly the ones who were offended if the current chatter is anything to go by. The Tolkien fans, or more specifically the Ringers (fans of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies and not to be confused with Tolkienists who are not fans of the movies for the most part) are pretty quiet. This issue doesn’t seem to be a big deal to them. Yep, I’m saying it appears they really don’t care if the Kiwi actors make it to the premiere or not. And that surprises me. It really does. Oh sure, we know the TheOneRing.net got shut down on this issue, but are they the only voice for the Ringers? Maybe so. Maybe the Ringers aren’t as prevalent as I thought.

I could be so wrong about all of this, but that’s how it seems.

Further, it’s made me wonder if perhaps I’ve given the Ringers too much credence as something truly organic and principled instead of something manufactured by someone who had a vested financial interest. Okay, yes, I’m being disingenuous. I’ve known for the last few years that there is an effort to market to and through the Ringers. Because I was taught not to say anything if I couldn’t say something nice and encouraging, I haven’t said anything about this. But the incident with the Kiwi actors bugs me enough to break that rule.

Someone slap me ’cause if I really get rolling here, I may get so candid that I say something I really regret.

So am I just a fan bitching? Maybe, but then again, I have been cultivated to be a fan of the actors in this movie, and so it’s natural I would be unhappy with some of them being left out of the world premiere. Yep, I’m saying that if anyone is to blame for my feelings about that, it’s the powers that be who drew my attention to these guys in the first place– Richard Armitage excepted of course.

No worries that I’ll go further than this post. This is the last of my venting about it. I think it’s all off my chest now, and I can move on to more fun topics. Like my piece on Graham McTavish. But I’m going to do McTavish a favor and not put his piece right up against these rants.

I Guess Three Billion Isn’t What it Used to Be

Warner_Bros

So I put up a graphic in my last piece about the profits from The Hobbit franchise, and my friends, those figures were conservative. On second thought, I should have called this piece Seven Billion Isn’t What It Used to Be.

Pardon me if I’m not sympathetic about Warner Brothers having financial difficulties. Oh, I’m sympathetic toward those who lost their jobs but not toward upper management.

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros. on Tuesday began layoffs that will ultimately eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or 12.5 percent of the studio’s total staff, as it tries to increase profitability in the face of weak domestic box-office sales and a challenged television business.

Kevin Tsujihara, Warner’s chief executive, speaking at a recent investor conference, said the studio was seeking to cut annual overhead costs by $200 million. Mr. Tsujihara announced the layoffs in a memo to employees on Tuesday.

“We examined every aspect of our businesses to ensure that we are restructuring in a way that would allow us to minimize the impact,” he wrote.

Layoffs at Warner, Hollywood’s largest movie and television studio, come as part of a broader effort to trim costs by its corporate parent, Time Warner, after an unsuccessful takeover attempt last summer by 21st Century Fox. Time Warner’s struggling cable network division, Turner Broadcasting, last month eliminated 1,475 jobs, and HBO recently trimmed about 150.

Cost-cutting at Warner has rattled the entertainment industry. Warner — home to Batman, Harry Potter, “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” — has long been Hollywood’s most stable studio. Warner has ranked No. 1 at the domestic box office in five of the last 10 years. It was second in all but one of the other five years.

the rest here

edit:

I didn’t want to get into this, but I will (at least a bit). Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Brothers Entertainment, is streamlining in order to make their stock improve and in turn remain independent.

Bewkes, [CEO of Time Warner] meanwhile, told attendees that Time Warner “will more than double our earnings over the next several years.” The company earned $3.51 per share last year, and Bewkes predicted $8 per share by 2018.

Much of that will come courtesy of HBO, whose CEO, Richard Plepler, was at the investor day to tout the premium cable channel, which he said boasts 136 million global subscribers. Plepler said HBO will launch an online service in the U.S. similar in some ways to Netflix.

“In 2015, we will go beyond the wall and launch a stand-alone over-the-top service with the potential to produce hundreds of millions of dollars of additional revenue,” Plepler said. “And the international possibilities could be just as large, if not larger.”

He also said that while original programming might get the most attention at HBO, 40 percent of its subscribers only watch the theatrical movies on the channel. We’re the Millers attracted 26 million viewers, more than Games of Thrones, which is the most popular original HBO show in history. For these reasons, Plepler said HBO has struck long-term deals with outside film studios, such as Universal and 20th Century Fox, until the next decade and Summit Entertainment until 2017, for example.

source

And Time Warner needs to be independent long enough to get approval for a merger with Comcast which would create a helluva media empire. Think of the marriage of that infrastructure and content creator. It could be something like being one of the Big Three and more. You think seven kiwi actors and some ringers matter to the powers that be in the face of that?

To be clear, I’m not a friend of Comcast and tend to think this merger would not be a good thing for consumers with regard to cost. Other than that, it’s scary how quickly things have gone since I wrote this. We’re fast approaching the point of first run movies being mostly streamed to the home. I don’t think movie theaters will ever go away entirely, but I do think there will be very few in the future.

An Open Letter to Peter Jackson

November 3, 2014

Sir Peter Jackson
Wingnut Films
Wellington, NZ

Re: Kiwi Dwarf Cast’s Inclusion in the BOFA World Premiere

Dear Sir Peter:

This last weekend I wasn’t sure what to think about the BOFA premiere controversy concerning the Kiwi actors. Facebook pages and fan websites are not the most accurate places to determine what’s going on. Oh, they can be at times, but they aren’t always, and with something this inflammatory, I withheld an assessment until a more reliable source came to the fore.

Yesterday morning I read the NZ Herald, and it became obvious the powers that be at Warner Brothers have made a faux pas, and it doesn’t matter what has gone before. It doesn’t matter if these actors did or didn’t negotiate travel expenses for a trip to the final premiere, or whether WB ever intended to send them or not. The important thing here is there has been an underestimation of the will of the fans — that the dwarves are all expected to be at the BOFA world premiere.

We fans have not only been on this journey to see where the Hobbit movies would take us, but we have also been on an odyssey with this cast through the video logs you so graciously provided and the other tie-in materials which shared quite a bit of these actors’ experiences making the movie. Given all of that, it only seems fitting to end this trip as it began — with the cast being all together in a sea of welcoming fan love at the premiere instead of being shunted off to a dark corner now that their usefulness is done for Warner Brothers. A comparison to the marginalization of the dwarves in Tolkien’s classic will surely not escape the fans’ notice if the latter is done.

You may wonder why I’m addressing this letter to you. Given that you understand the significance of fan fervor, I believe you are the obvious choice to hear this fan appeal, and to in turn characterize it for WB. And perhaps you have already pled the case. Whether you have or not, I come prepared to lend some help that hopefully will yank this situation into perspective at a glance and bring others into the collective thought that it’s only fair to include all of the cast at the world premiere.

To wit (click to enlarge):

londonandbackagaininfographic

Signed,
A crazy fan who appreciates fair play

Infographic courtesy of my collaborator extraordinaire, Armitage Besotted.

Beware the Social Media Trap

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-posterIt’s fairly obvious that we are now watching a “controversy” about some of the dwarves not attending the London premiere of the Battle of the Five Armies. As for me, I’m not sure what I think about how all of this went down. Did Warner Brothers screw up and invite the criticism they’re now receiving by not making the game plan clear to all interested parties in the cast? Did John Callen really intend to create a groundswell of support for himself and his erstwhile cast mates, or did he stick his foot in his mouth by not realizing his words are more heeded than he may have realized? Was the L.A. premiere intended for the entire cast all along? Or is Warner Brothers really good at damage control? And to all of these questions, I say a big fat: I don’t know.

What I do know is whatever the intent of these individuals and corporations, one thing is clear: the first rule of social media is at play here, and I find it fascinating to ponder that some or all may have forgotten it existed or never knew it.

And here’s a corollary to the 1st rule of social media — its global power is directly proportional to the boredom of fandoms.

What It is About Nathan Kress

Kress_1100-1024x558As I said in a previous post, I just adored Nathan Kress in the new movie Into the Storm, and I wanted to find out more about him. So I asked Kelly aka @NBNathanKress, “Why Nathan?”

Her reply:

Like the majority of Nathan’s fans, I first became familiar with him thanks to “iCarly.” The show started off as background noise for me, but by the second season, I started to tune in more. I also learned that a lot of people I knew from other fandoms liked this show. While the show could definitely be wacky, the cast had wonderful chemistry and could tackle both comedy and drama. By the third season I believe, Twitter started to kick off and the fans were able to follow the cast and learn a bit more about them.

One thing that really stood out about this cast was that they all seemed to be pretty well grounded. They didn’t appear to be spoiled Hollywood divas. They were just teens who happened to act. That was refreshing.

Nathan_Kress_thumbs_upI’ve also always had a thing for what I call “adorkable” guys – cute guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. One of the jokes in the Nathan Kress fandom is about his inability to dance. There are plenty of videos and gifs to showcase this. Why this appeals to me? I guess I just enjoy a good laugh. It’s just silly fun.

Another reason I’m a fan of his? This is a big one, but I really admire that Nathan is vocal about his faith in Hollywood and tries to be a role model for his fans. I’ve seen too many stars shrug off this idea. There was even a somewhat recent interview with a Christian website where he went into detail about how his faith defines him and how he wants to be seen as the Christian who acts, not the actor who just happens to be a Christian. I think that’s a really brave thing to do in Hollywood. He also takes part in numerous charities and has even gone to New York City to help the Salvation Army with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

BuOikn4IMAEXuoQI have also yet to hear of a bad fan encounter. From mall signings to random sightings in LA and NY, fans always talk about how sweet he is and the awesome hugs he gives. I also always get a good laugh any time I read about how good he smells. For those who have gotten to actually visit with him longer, I always hear about how personable he is.

BuOiPvyIgAALt2ROff the top of my head, I can think of three or four fans who have met him on multiple occasions. For one girl, her first fan encounter was at a signing. When she mentioned her Twitter username, his head popped up and he immediately gave her a hug! Some devoted fans have also been able to visit the set whenever they were in California. One fan got to even have breakfast with him and his girlfriend. Each and every one of these fans come back with lots of stories about conversations they’ve had with him. Oh, and more hugs!
I mainly use Twitter and message forums to interact with other fans. We’re not the largest group, but we are very excited to see Nathan spread his wings in acting – especially in dramatic roles. I think I speak for the majority of his fans when I say that I always felt that Nathan’s strongest scenes in “iCarly’ were the serious moments. Also, the fans loved his appearances on both “CSI” and more recently “Major Crimes.” You can only imagine how ecstatic we were when we got confirmation he was going to be in a major motion thriller! We’re all just super excited to see where his career will take him.

So there’s my answer as to why I am a fan of the “adorkable” and talented Nathan Kress.

I love this and especially that he seems to be a person of character. He’s going to weather some storms over that! But that will only make him better and a real light.

Into the Storm was Nathan’s first major motion picture appearance, and I hope to see him again on the big screen very soon.

You can find Nathan on Twitter. Maybe he’ll help our guy get acclimated.

And maybe I should have an ‘adorkable’ tag, but for now, Nathan gets one of my favorite tags — ‘dorktastic.’

Candid shots from Into the Storm premiere in New York courtesy of MarieAstra, who by the way is watching The Crucible as I type this! :D

Dateline: NYC — Into the Storm Premiere?

Into the Storm PremiereI’ve had some questions in email about the movie premiere (not to be confused with the general release which is August 8th U.S., August 22nd UK). I honestly don’t know where the Into the Storm premiere is happening or when. But there are some pieces to the puzzle, and I bring them for those who haven’t been paying attention.

  • Nathan Kress tweets about the premiere being in NY
  • The Old Vic having no tickets for sale on August 4th
  • The Old Vic being closed on Sunday
  • London being much closer to NY than LA
  • Richard Armitage having digs in NY

Here’s how it works out in my mind: a quick trip to NY on Saturday night after The Crucible performance, sleep on the plane, rest some more on Sunday, do the premiere on Monday (maybe in the afternoon; yes, they have movie premieres in the afternoon. Remember Captain America?), catch a flight back to London on Monday afternoon/evening, rest some more on the plane, no matinee on Tuesday (thank God!), ready for performance time on Tuesday night. Voila! a premiere done and only one Crucible performance missed!

Or the premiere could happen Sunday with a trip back to London on Monday morning.

Stop me. Someone please, please stop me. I have to get back to work!!

But aren’t you glad I have time to think about all of this for you. Not that this was too taxing, but I really am supposed to be working right now and here I am analyzing Richard Armitage’s schedule. *looks crosseyed* Hell, I bet he has a meltdown over his schedule at times, so I should not even begin to process this. No, no, I’m not really processing this. I’m just throwing this out for you to have something to think about, and especially for those who live close to NY or who can get there really quickly. LOL!

Truth: I do not know where or when this premiere is happening. Just wanted to say that again in case someone thought I really knew something. I don’t.

But if it were in NYC on Monday, August 4th or even Sunday August 3rd, I can dig it. Oh yeah. I happen to be attending a business conference there on August 2nd and 3rd. I was going to come back home on the 4th, but now I think I’ll stay an extra day just to ensure I don’t miss something. :D

Richard,

I can’t imagine anything sweeter than going to your movie premiere AND writing the plane trip off my taxes. So maybe you could talk to Warner Bros. and they could accommodate? Presumptuous I know, but really, this place wouldn’t exist if I weren’t presumptuous. I’ll stop with that thought as I feel a tangent coming on.

And I threw in that last detail about your digs ’cause if you’re like most people, you always rest better in your own bed. Man, you need all the rest you can get with that intense schedule.

Signed,
Your Crazy Fan

P.S. Could you also ask Warners if movie premiere tickets may be purchased by us regular Joes? I mean I think they could actually make a few bucks doing that, which would make for one helluva watch party. And you know your fans are well behaved. Of course those Nathan Kress fans might be a problem. ;-) But your fans won’t be. :D

Watch someone take me seriously about the comment on Nathan’s fans. For the record, I’ve met and interacted with quite a few of his fans, and they have all, to a person, been lovely. Impressive actually.

On an unrelated note: damn! Richard Armitage gives new meaning to ‘jobbing actor.’

And yes, that’s a lousy editing job on the movie poster. That’s what happens when I prepare a post in 15 minutes or less.

edit:

I think this is probably close to how it will go down:

Now I have to get back to my schedule. That was not a joke about working. I’m slammed.

Really? — SPOILERS

The spoiler tag is for the three of you who don’t know how The Hobbit ends.

Also, my bullshit detector is turned on high lately, so forgive me if my tone sounds snippy. I’m actually smiling.

I just read this below at TheOneRing and certainly have two cents to contribute.

Debunking that Hobbit movie rumour about Thorin Oakenshield

May 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm by Demosthenes

Many people have written to us over the last five or so days about a story that has begun circulating around the internet concerning Thorin Oakenshield and the final Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies.

Frankly, we hoped this story would die a quiet death because it is simply not credible. However, a couple of web media outlets have picked it up so somewhat reluctantly here we are quashing a rumour that simply has no credence at all.

Seeing as this is obviously leading us into spoiler territory, if you are avoiding them or have not read the book (I know there are a few of you out there), then look away now.

The original source of this rumour is a website called Ecumenical News (I know it has subsequently popped up on The Examiner too), which posted the following:

…a few details have surfaced regarding the story line of The Battle of Five Armies. It has been reported that the film will follow Tolkien’s book, though one character who died in the book, Thorin Oakenshield, will remain alive.

This rumour is patently untrue.

The rest here

(emphasis mine)

“Patently” is a strong word. I know TORn is uptight with Peter Jackson, but this idea that the death scene has been filmed, so it precludes Thorin living does not take into account that Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. can change their minds. Oh yeah, they can change their minds. Did we get three movies instead of two? Or did I dream that?

And speaking of rocks, didn’t the initial idea of two movies comprising The Hobbit series stretch the limits of common sense, and the idea of three movies was lunacy? I guess it’s all in how you look at it and when. We’re now staring down the likely advent of a third Hobbit movie into the billion dollar club. Somehow it doesn’t look so nutty anymore.

Anyway, I have a feeling this may not be just a bunch of swoony Thorin fans driving a rumor, and I could be so ridiculously wrong, but it’s hard to swallow this opinion from TORn that it’s just not possible Thorin could live. It’s the movies! Anything can happen.

Plus, who’s it going to hurt if the masses have more opportunities to spend more money on drool over photos like this:

thorinoakenshield

For the record, I would prefer that PJ follow the book with respect to Thorin’s story, so I am not part of the petition — either in reality or in spirit.

Also, Stephen Goodwin is my favorite writer at TORn despite his opinion in this piece. :)

Photo snaffled from ThorinOakenshield.net