EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight and Participant Media just did with a low-budget film what several major studios can’t right now with high-budget tenpoles: it has an early summer hit. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which is being lauded as ‘The Avengers for grown ups’ passed $100M worldwide despite playing in relatively few theaters. It is the highest grossing specialty film of 2012 and has become the 7th highest grossing film for Fox Searchlight Pictures. Its domestic cume is expected to reach $20.5M this Friday after its platform release on May 4th, and its foreign cume is $81.2M after opening there in February.
The well-reviewed adult film is a success story because of a great pedigree, director, and cast. The comic/romantic/poignant adventure at an unexpected Indian resort for seven UK pensioners is directed by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) and stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel. It’s from a script by Ol Parker and based on the novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach. The producers are Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin of Blueprint Pictures. It held its London world premiere in February and marks the 4th best international grossing film for Fox Searchlight, behind only Black Swan ($224.6M), The Full Monty ($212M), and The Descendants ($93.2M). “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues to perform beyond our wildest expectations,” Utley and GIlula said in a statement to Deadline. Participant Media CEO Jim Berk stated, “We are thrilled that this wonderful film is captivating audiences everywhere.”
Domestically, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was still only playing in 1,233 theaters nationally after its 4th weekend. Six of those Top 10 grossing theaters were in regional cities including Denver, St. Louis, Atlanta and Minneapolis — not NYC or LA. Which is why Fox Searchlight boasts how the film’s playability has gone well beyond the established ‘art and specialty’ markets. Even the 354 holdover theaters declined only –12% from the third weekend despite a lot of competition. And the top 100 theaters last weekend included new engagements in Albuquerque, Knoxville, Wichita, Louisville, Fresno, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville, and Bend, Oregon. For the past 3 weeks, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has starred among the Top 10 grossing films for the past three weeks despite reeling in far fewer plays than the other films. This past weekend it ranked #8 even though all of the higher grossing films had runs in 2 to 3 times the number of theaters – but it boasted the #3 per-theater-average after only Men In Black 3 and Marvel’s The Avengers. This coming weekend, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel expands to approximately 1280 theaters.
Dimension Films is counting on new waters to help keep “Piranha 3DD” afloat.The Weinstein Co. arm is supplementing its limited release Friday of the sequel to its surprise 2010 hit with day-and-date distribution across multichannel VOD and digital platforms including Facebook. Title is the first-ever 3D release in this early window, though some outlets like Apple’s iTunes will only carry standard and high-definition versions for $6.99, a dollar cheaper than the 3D version.”3DD” is opening in just 75 theaters and not likely to expand beyond 100. The movie, which isn’t being screened for critics, was made for less than $10 million. That’s less than half of the original, which went on to gross a tidy $83 million worldwide.Starz Digital Media is handling distribution of “Piranha 3DD” for Dimension as part of a distribution deal struck in January 2011 between TWC and Starz subsidiary Anchor Bay Entertainment. TWC also owns a 25% stake in Starz Media.Since that agreement was made, Starz has been eager to experiment with day-and-date distribution on a TWC film. The studio agreed “Piranha 3DD” would be a good fit given the brand recognition the original film brings to the marketplace, where its youth appeal would play well on new platforms.And by tacking on a digital component to its theatrical distribution strategy, Starz and Weinstein may be aiming to eke out more for the film than it might otherwise garner from the direct-to-DVD route where many low-budget sequels end up.In markets that aren’t part of the theatrical footprint, a day-and-date release will keep viewers from having to wait until the movie makes it into the home video window. However, it’s also possible that fans who might otherwise see the film in theaters will opt to stay home instead, even in markets where “Piranha 3DD” is playing theatrically.
YOU On Demand, a New York-based company that’s established a significant presence in the Chinese video on demand market, will begin trading on the Nasdaq Wednesday.
The “uplisting” of the over-the-counter stock, which closed Tuesday up over 6 percent to $5.25 a share, is a milestone for the company, which was founded by World Wrestling Entertainment scion Shane McMahon and now has a 20-year contract with the Chinese government to run nationally sanctioned VOD services in the country.
a generation of kids my son’s age and older are living their lives solely on mobile devices — tablets and phones and whatever iterations the future holds. For them, Facebook will be something their parents do, and it’s still fundamentally a Web-based experience. It’s likely to hold little appeal to them—and somewhere out there, entrepreneurs thinking along the lines of, say, Dave Morin at Path (ironically, a former Facebooker) are working on products that are born mobile, that skip the Web entirely, that live in the world the next generation lives in.
I’m not sure Facebook has what it takes to compete — not without a major move and a complete shift in its thinking about mobile. Facebook is still king of the Web, but the Web is a much smaller kingdom than it used to be.
Zuckerberg and his crew have made a series of high-risk moves—five hacks that have changed Silicon Valley forever—that were far more daring than wearing a hoodie to an IPO roadshow.
Friend the enemy of your enemy, even if that means hooking up with Microsoft
Find low-maintenance overseas investors instead of know-it-all Americans
Hire a deputy who completes you
Know what your users want better than they do
Be a hacker CEO
“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.”
I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes.
America’s broadband strategy isn’t working very well. Unfortunately, it’s not clear how to fix it. The experiences of other nations can yield useful insights, but such examples only get us so far. The American legal and economic systems are different from those in Japan or Denmark, so it’s probably not practical to adopt another nation’s policies wholesale.
Still, the first step to fixing the American broadband policy is to admit that we have a problem. And I now admit it.
Sometimes billionaires think they can bend reality..
Buffett’s letter makes it sound as though managing the relationship between reader and newspaper is the most important thing, Shirky says, but this is not the case:
Reading the letter, you’d never know that papers make most of their money from companies, not citizens, and have done for the better part of two centuries. It is disruptive competition for ad dollars, not changing reader engagement, that has sent the industry into a tailspin.
Shirky isn’t the first one to argue that Buffett doesn’t understand what it happening to newspapers: I tried to make a similar argument recently after the octogenarian investor made some comments about the virtues of paywalls (which I expect he is planning to implement at some or all of his new papers). Buffett said that the problems newspapers were facing were in part a result of “giving away their product at the same time they are selling it” — in other words, the decision not to charge for online news.
But as Shirky and I have both pointed out, this misunderstands the business newspapers are in. The reality is that newspapers have never sold the news to readers — readers pay for the distribution platform on which that news is printed, i.e. the paper itself and the packaging involved. And the subscription price of a newspaper and circulation revenues in general have historically only accounted for a small proportion of a media company’s overall revenue. In most cases, the bulk of that revenue comes from advertising.
In “How to Build an Android,” David Dufty tells the stranger-than-fiction story of roboticist David Hanson, who in 2005 cobbled together a group of technology experts to design and build an android replica of science-fiction author Philip K. Dick, who died in 1982.
Now if only children’s screams could power toys and household appliances, a la Monsters Inc :)
Technology has already benefitted playground users in the form of the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder, which allows parents to rate the quality of children’s areas online. Now the Son-X Octavia device aims to bring a different kind of adventure to the playground – by turning swings into more interactive, challenge-based games.
Developed as a collaboration between Denmark-based startup playITsound and Swedish playground manufacturer HAGS Aneby AB, the device is a semi-spherical sensor and speaker kit, which produces noises depending on the swinging pattern of the user. Based on the idea that sound boosts children’s imaginations, the device can be attached to the rope of any swing in order to gamify it, with users rewarded by applause sound effects for completing a challenge. Using concepts children find familiar from video games, the device encourages kids to get outside and exercise, and research from the startup indicates that it increases the amount of time children spend on the swing. In one game, an applause sound gets louder the higher the child swings, for example.
In Walter Isaacsonʼs biography of Steve Jobs, Isaacson describes the time that Jobs cold called Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning, Inc., to learn about Gorilla Glass (which is now used in more than 500 devices). Weeksʼ assistant refused to put him through, but offered to take a message. Jobs described that as “typical East Coast B.S.” In response, when Weeks returned the call, he was told by Apple’s receptionist to put his request in writing and to fax it.
When the two ﬁnally did meet, Jobs tried to impress Weeks with his knowledge of glass, and Weeks had to tell him to shut up — Corning, of course, has been making glass and ceramics for a century.
This anecdote is partly funny, partly troubling. It is made funnier by the fact that Corning, due to customer NDAs, cannot publicly confirm that the meeting ever took place. It is troubling, because few Valley companies look at companies in Kansas or Kenya as anything more than potential suppliers or partners — though their CEOS are happy to fly there to close a big customer sale.
In broader terms, it is symptomatic of how little the Valley knows about how much technology is being developed in corporate America. And in reverse, it hints at how little corporate America knows about the world class operations of many Valley companies. Both sides should wake up to the consumerization of enterprise tech and the enterprising of consumer tech.
DANIEL DELANEY, 26, decided recently that he wanted to smoke and sell brisket, bringing small batches of what he called real Texas barbecue to New York. Read more articles in this week’s Metropolitan section. Multimedia Slide Show The Appeal of Being First in Food Connect with NYTMetro Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for news and conversation. Mr. Delaney, a New Jersey native who produced a video podcast about street food called VendrTV, had already held a few supper-club nights for 20 people in his Brooklyn apartment, charging $45 for admission. In another era, Mr. Delaney might have tried to start a restaurant or a wholesale product line. Instead, on April 21 he posted an offer to his social media contacts, inviting them to register for a limited supply of handcrafted barbecue, $25 a pound, to be served at unspecified events in the future. “I needed it to feel cool, and I’m not a cool person,” he said. “It had to feel underground, secretive, exclusive.” So he stressed the brisket’s scarcity, urging people to pay now for a product that did not yet exist, from a chef with very little track record. He expected about 300 people to sign up. Instead, he got 4,300 registrations in a little over a week, selling more than a ton of meat. “I took in $60,000 in 48 hours,” he said — enough money for him to hold 25 or more events, then graduate to a pop-up, or temporary, restaurant. “I’m not a religious person,” he said, “but that was a godsend.”
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is poised to leap out of the arthouse and into the mainstream.
The story of a group of British retirees, grappling with illness and financial burdens, who decide to move to India is hardly the stuff of summer blockbusters. Yet the Fox Searchlight and Participant Media film has quietly racked up nearly $90 million worldwide, with $9.2 million of that haul coming in the United States.
It has accomplished this feat largely by being the anti-“Avengers.” While the Marvel superhero blockbuster has packed theaters with teenagers, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has instead focused on a neglected moviegoing demographic — senior citizens.
“This community is always looking to go see something where they don’t have to listen to things explode or guns being shot,” Jim Berk, CEO of Participant, told TheWrap. “They just want a lovely day at the movies.”
“I think those (traditional media) industries will survive and thrive, they just need to move from a fairly monopolistic distribution system to a wide open distribution system,” Wilson said.
He said while there are some examples of good collaboration between technology companies and progressive content owners, in most cases media companies fear the unfamiliar. But he said history continues to show that new technology — whether it’s radio, the VCR or iTunes — brings in new revenue. He predicts music subscription services will have the same effect.
In a perfect world, Wilson said he’d like to see a system similar to a DNS registry in which content owners would register their content and make it available with rules in exchange for copyright enforcement. That’s the fair compensation for society already enforcing the rights of copyright holders, he said.
“If we have rules for TV, films, music, books, games we’d see an explosion of innovation. All sorts of services and business models could get created,” he said.
When a big movie like Battleship tanks, inevitably a sense of dread ripples through Hollywood, accompanied by an impulse to look for the lesson that prevents the disaster from happening again.
In this case, several top industry insiders think they can skip looking for answers because so many saw peril from the start in making a $210 million-plus-budget film based on a board game. “Nobody here thought Battleship was worth the investment,” says a leading agent. “No stars, an [intellectual property] play that made no sense, and nobody thought the script was good.”
PHOTOS: 28 of Summer’s Most Anticipated Movies
Nonetheless, the Peter Berg-directed film’s low $25.5 million domestic bow has caused industry anxiety as well as speculation — apparently unfounded — about the future of the executive regime at Universal. A top NBCUniversal source says there will be no management changes at the studio, though sources say it likely will lose $150 million on the movie.
The general unease is caused not only by the fate of Battleship but also the recent battering of other expensive films: Disney’s John Carter, which prompted a $200 million write-down and led to the ouster of studio chief Rich Ross; Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows, which sources say cost more than $150 million but opened to less than $30 million domestic; and Paramount’s The Dictator, which the studio says cost $65 million but multiple industry sources say really ran to more than $100 million after reshoots.
Greece, as you may recall, was facing bankruptcy this spring, unable to make good on debts worth, on paper, more than $270 billion. In a series of complex restructuring transactions, the country’s Finance Ministry had offered to settle for a fraction of the bonds’ paper value.
But getting roughly 100,000 bondholders scattered around the globe — from Russia to South Africa to Kazakhstan — to sign off on the deal on a tight deadline was going to be a logistical nightmare.
“I wanted to do something different,” Apfel says. “So I bought 100 iPads.”
The Apple (AAPL) tablets, equipped with a custom-made debt-restructuring app, were handed out to the leadership team, including representatives from the Finance Ministry, the Hellenic Exchange (the Greek equivalent of the NYSE), the Bank of Greece (their version of the Federal Reserve) and the three external banks that managed the deal, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Lazard.
The idea was to give the participants a rich set of analytic tools and real-time, secure connections to both the global clearing systems and the back offices of banks around the world.
“People keep saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to become like HBO?’?” Sarandos said over lunch in Las Vegas in April, before an event at which he unveiled the first footage from House of Cards. “I say, ‘No, no, no. HBO is going to become like Netflix.’ We just have to get really great at original before they get really great at all the stuff that we do.”
With initiatives like TV Everywhere and broadband usage caps, is the cable industry biting the hands of the streaming video companies that are driving its most vibrant prospect for growth?
Now that Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon have kicked off the latest round of quarterly earnings reports by multi-channel operators late last month — a series that continues Wednesday when Comcast releases its first-quarter numbers — a case can be made that the cable industry has a better future in providing broadband services rather than TV/video bundles. And they have Netflix and YouTube to thank for that.
Great recap on SMS/text messaging by The Guardian:
what’s bigger and far more important than Facebook? Hint: it’s very low-tech and doesn’t need a smartphone or even an internet connection. And this year marks its 20th birthday, which means that in internet time it’s 140 years old. Oh, and it doesn’t involve LOLcats either.
Got it yet? It’s SMS – text messaging to you and me. Or txt msng, if you prefer. Two-thirds of the world’s population – that’s over 4 billion people – have access to it because that’s the number of people who have mobile phones, and even the cheapest, clunkiest handset can send SMS messages. It’s had a much bigger impact on people’s lives than anything dreamed up in Silicon Valley.
Interestingly, Silicon Valley played almost no role in it. SMS emerged on our side of the Atlantic and was the brainchild of the kind of European intergovernmental initiative that drives Ukip nuts. The first mobile phones were analogue devices, and the market was bedevilled by incompatible technologies and protocols – rather like the early market in fixed-line telephony in the United States before the AT&T monopoly was established. But in 1982 a European telephony conference decided to tackle the problem. It set up the Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM) committee and established a group of communications engineers in Paris.
Five years later, 13 European countries signed an agreement to develop and deploy a common mobile telephone system across Europe. The result was GSM – a unified, open, standard-based mobile network larger than that in the United States. The first GSM call was made by the Finnish prime minister in 1991, and the first GSM handsets were approved for sale in May 1992.
The idea for SMS emerged during the GSM project. It was based around a really neat trick – to transport messages on the signalling paths needed to organise telephony during periods when those control channels were quiet. This was a fantastic idea because it meant that there was no extra cost involved in transporting the messages. The only restriction was that they had to be short – no more than 160 seven-bit characters. So SMS was built into the GSM system from the beginning.
The strange thing was that almost nobody paid any attention at first. As an early mobile phone adopter (I could never understand why telephones had to be tethered to the wall like goats), I noticed SMS but thought it feeble; it looked like a truncated email. And it appeared that most other mobile users thought the same: what could one possibly do with 160 characters? As a result, SMS use remained low for years.
The reason for this became obvious only with hindsight. In the early days of mobile phones only adults could have them – because they were only available on contract and you had to be over 18 to qualify. And adults didn’t seem to know what text messages were for.
Then, in 1996, something changed: pay-as-you-go sim cards were introduced. Suddenly teenagers could acquire mobile phones. And when they got them, boy did they know what SMS was for. It was a tipping point. The graph turned skywards, and it’s been going in that direction ever since. SMS is now the world’s most intensively used data communication technology. One source claims that over 6 trillion texts were sent in 2010, for example, and that was more than triple the number sent in 2007.
The story of GSM and SMS has interesting lessons for technology policy. GSM came about largely because of Europe-wide governmental action: the establishment of a continent-wide technical standard effectively created an enormous industry and gave Europe a significant lead in mobile telephony. So the right-wing mantra that governments should keep their noses out of technology policy and leave it to the market is sometimes wrong.
Second, the story of SMS shows that the people who effectively invent a technology – in the sense of determining its use and making it viable – are not so much the engineers who design it as the consumers who discover what it’s really for. The telephone was originally conceived as a broadcast medium, whereas radio was conceived as a point-to-point medium. Exactly the opposite turned out to be true in both cases. And it was teenagers who “invented” SMS.