"Battleship" Avoids U.S. Release and Makes $170 Mil Around the World

UPDATE: Sunday, April 29th: “Battleship” is now up to $170 Mil worldwide without US release until May 18th.

“Battleship,” Universal Pictures’ big summer entertainment, cost over $200 million to make. You know it’s cheesy and not very good, so why subject the studio to American reviews? Very wisely, Universal has been opening “Battleship” around the world in advance of its May 18th U.S. landing. And the result: already $129 million in the bank. And more to come. These numbers are from Boxofficemojo.com. And they tell you why Ron Meyer is so good at his job running the studio. The movie has terrible reviews–it’s scored a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. One British reviewer simply called it “trash.” Universal calls it “money” and there will enough of it by May 18th to avoid a “John Carter” disaster. This is the new trend. If your movie is bad, play for it people who just need to see explosions and special effects. The movie stars non-actor Rihanna, and “John Carter” hero Taylor Kitsch.

Lindsay Lohan cast as Elizabeth Taylor

Andrew Pulver
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 April 2012 07.29 EDT
Lindsay Lohan has signed on for her first lead role since 2009 after being cast as Elizabeth Taylor in Liz and Dick, an account of Taylor's tempestuous relationship with Richard Burton.

The troubled actor was forced to drop out of her last high-profile role, as Linda Lovelace in the biopic Inferno, after breaking probation conditions by missing a mandatory progress hearing relating to a 2007 DUI conviction; instead, she attended a promotional event at the 2010 Cannes film festival.

Lohan said: "I am very honored to have been asked to play this role."

Since starring as a woman who fakes her pregnancy in Labor Pains in 2009, Lohan has only been seen on screen in a small part in the Robert Rodriguez action movie Machete. Liz and Dick, however, is unlikely to make it to cinemas as it has been commissioned by the Lifetime network, which specialises in women-oriented TV dramas.

UK film-maker Chris Monger (The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain) is writing the script, but no director has yet been announced.

Google execs, director Cameron in space venture

Larry Page, Google co-founder, listens as Google CEO Eric Schmidt (R) talks to reporters at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and billionaire co-founder Larry Page have teamed up with "Avatar" director James Cameron and other investors to back an ambitious space exploration and natural resources venture, details of which will be unveiled next week.

The fledgling company, called Planetary Resources, will be unveiled at a Tuesday news conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, according to a press release issued this week.

Aside from naming some of the company's high-profile backers, the press release disclosed tantalizingly few details, saying only that the company will combine the sectors of "space exploration and natural resources" in a venture that could add "trillions of dollars to the global GDP." The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Planetary Resources will explore the feasibility of mining natural resources from asteroids, a decades-old concept.

"This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources,'" according to the press release.

Planetary Resource was co-founded by Eric Anderson, a former NASA Mars mission manager, and Peter Diamandis, the commercial space entrepreneur behind the X-Prize, a competition that offered $10 million to a group that launched a reusable manned spacecraft. Other notable investors include Charles Simonyi, a former top executive at Microsoft, and K. Ram Shriram, a Google director.

The venture will be the latest foray into the far-flung for Cameron, who dived last month in a mini-submarine to the deepest spot in the Mariana Trench. The plot of his 2009 science fiction blockbuster film, "Avatar," concerned resource mining on alien planets.

(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Disney studio chief Rich Ross steps down in wake of 'John Carter' disaster

BURBANK - Disney movie studio boss Rich Ross is stepping down, a month after the family entertainment giant booked a huge loss on the mega-budget sci-fi movie "John Carter."

Ross, the former head of Disney Channels Worldwide, had taken over for then-studio chair Dick Cook just two and a half years ago with a mission to cut costs and develop new hits.

But the losses continued under Ross despite major restructuring efforts.

A month ago, Disney said it would book a $200 million loss on "John Carter," a special-effects-laden movie based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series.

The movie starring Taylor Kitsch had an estimated budget of $250 million, which matched what 20th Century Fox spent on "Avatar."

The problem is "John Carter" made only $269 million at box offices worldwide. After splits with theater owners and paying for marketing expenses, Disney estimated its losses on the movie will pull the entire studio into a loss of $80 million to $120 million in the quarter through March.

Ross, 50, said in a memo to staff Friday that the role of chairman of Walt Disney Studios was no longer right for him.

"The best people need to be in the right jobs, in roles they are passionate about, doing work that leverages the full range of their abilities," he said. "I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me."

Ross' resignation is effective immediately. The Walt Disney Co. did not name a

Disney CEO Bob Iger wished Ross well in a statement.

"Rich Ross's creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney, redefining success in kids and family entertainment and launching franchises that generate value across our entire company," Iger said. "I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney, and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next."

Music Icon Dick Clark has died at 82

By TODAY.com staff and wire services

Famed television personality Dick Clark died of a heart attack Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, his spokesman confirms. Clark was 82.

Clark is best known for hosting long-running television shows such as "American Bandstand," the game show "Pyramid" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve."

He was nicknamed "America's oldest teenager" and maintained his youthful looks into his 70s.

Clark had been in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., after undergoing an outpatient procedure Tuesday night. He suffered the heart attack following the procedure and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Clark is survived by his wife, Kari, and his three children.

Clark, who started out as a TV announcer in Utica, New York, parlayed his "Bandstand" fame into a career as a producer and host of dozens of other shows, including ABC's annual New Year's Eve telecast, which he launched in 1972.

With his clean-cut image and youthful appearance, he presided over more than three decades of pop music and dance trends as host of "American Bandstand," the first network TV show to feature rock 'n' roll.

He also produced such perennial TV events as the American Music Awards and the Golden Globes telecast.

Musicians of all ages quickly took to Twitter to remember Clark.

"REST IN PEACE to the DICK CLARK!! U were pioneer n a good man!! Thank u sir" wrote Snoop Dogg.

And Isaac Hanson of the band Hanson tweeted, "Dick Clark was a Rock 'n' Roll Radio/TV icon with an influence on pop culture for more than 50 years. Rest in peace."

Comedian Joan Rivers tweeted, "Very sad to hear about Dick Clark. What a great life. What a great career. Relevant until the end. He will be missed!"

Producer Jon Landau Reveals How 'Titanic' Was Converted to 3D

by Carolyn Giardina

The film had James Cameron’s “imprint on every shot," Landau says.

A library of 3D titles will hold a greater value than one that is in 2D, Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau said Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show.
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Titanic 3D -- the subject of his session -- has already earned $201.8 million worldwide since its April 4 release.

2D to 3D conversion isn’t “a technical process, it’s a creative process that uses technology,” emphasized Landau, who was joined for the discussion by William Sherak, president of StereoD, which created the 3D version of Titanic; and Titanic’s VFX supervisor Rob Legato, who moderated.

For Titanic, the conversion was a detailed process that took 14 months and cost $18 million. Landau said that getting it right means “finding a library title that justifies [3D conversion] and a filmmaker who can be involved. The creative team needs to be a part of the process.”

The project began with remastering the film in 4K (which was accomplished at Reliance MediaWorks), and then Stereo 3D took it into the 3D realm with a team of about 450 people.

Calling it a “filmmaker's first artistic approach,” Sherak described the StereoD approach as a frame-by-frame process where the filmmaker determines the depth of everything in the frame.

Landau confirmed that director James Cameron’s “imprint is on every shot.”

“He used what he remembered from the set,” explained Landau, citing the dinner table scene as among the most challenging. “The detail was so complex, and Jim was able to look at a shot and recall that the table was ‘this big’ and really place it and make it feel comfortable [in 3D space]."

“We used our learning experience from Avatar on this film,” Landau continued. “Action is not necessary where you want to emphasize the 3D. At the end day, movies are about the close up. People go back because of the narrative story.

“The subtleties in the performances -- to me 3D is about enhancing those types of moments,” he added.

The idea to realize Titanic in 3D was not a recent one. Landau related that he and Cameron first started to think about it around 2000. Then, four years ago, Cameron and Landau gave one minute of Titanic to roughly 15 different companies as test material. "We felt the potential was there," Landau said.

Howard Stern’s $300 Million Lawsuit Bounced King of All Media gets crowned in nasty SiriusXM legal spat

From the TSG Newsletter
APRIL 17--In a stinging legal rebuke, a New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Howard Stern against SiriusXM and, in the process, revealed that the radio host had been seeking a whopping $300 million in stock awards he claimed were owed as part of his employment contract with the satellite radio firm.

In an order filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court, Judge Barbara Kapnick granted a SiriusXM motion for summary judgment, dismissing the lawsuit filed last March by Stern’s One Twelve, Inc. and Don Buchwald, the shock jock’s manager.

Kapnick bounced the Stern/Buchwald complaint “with prejudice,” meaning that the duo is barred from refilling a lawsuit with similar claims.

Kapnick’s decision also included details of the lawsuit that had been cloaked due to Stern’s claim that aspects of his contract had to remain confidential. Specifically, Stern’s employment deal--which was struck with Sirius prior to its merger with XM--included performance-based stock awards tied to the growth of Sirius subscribers generated by Stern.

A heavily redacted copy of Stern’s employment agreement was filed in court last year by lawyers for the radio personality.

Stern’s contract contained five separate stock award provisions, each valued at $75 million, noted Kapnick, who also disclosed that the radio star was paid a $25 million bonus following Sirius’s 2008 merger with XM.

But while the 58-year-old entertainer received an initial $75 million stock grant, Sirius contended that he was not entitled to any of the remaining four awards since he had not met subscriber goals detailed in the employment contract.

In claiming to be owed $300 million, Stern’s legal argument rested on his contention that Sirius’s merger with XM added the requisite number of new “Sirius subscribers” to trigger the remaining four stock award provisions. The satellite radio company argued that Stern was trying to cash in on subscribers for which he deserved no credit.

Citing the “clear, unambiguous language” of Stern’s contract, Kapnick (pictured at left) rejected the radio host’s bid for a nine-figure stock payout (Buchwald was seeking a comparatively paltry $30 million in stock).

By most estimates, since departing terrestrial radio in late-2005, Stern has pocketed hundreds of millions in cash and stock from his satellite radio gig, including a January 2006 award of shares worth $218 million.

In December 2010, Stern signed a new five-year contract, noting that “Sirius is allowing me a lot of flexibility with the show. I guarantee there will be plenty of me to go around.” Three months later, he sued the satellite radio giant for breach of contract for allegedly stiffing him on the $300 million in stock awards.

DreamWorks Animation SKG joins Wal-Mart disc-to-digital plan

By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES - DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the maker of "Shrek," "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda," is teaming up with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to help people convert their old DVDs into an online movie library.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks' chief executive, says that the new "Disc to Digital" service will help consumers adapt to technological change. The service launches Monday at Walmart stores nationwide.

DreamWorks joins five other participating studios: Viacom Inc.'s Paramount, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp.'s Universal, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.

Consumers who bring in physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs can pay $2 per disc to be able to access the movies through Wal-Mart's Vudu online movie service on computers, mobile devices, Internet-connected TVs and game consoles. To start, 4,000 titles are convertible.

Katzenberg to receive the 2012 Pioneer of the Year Award at the upcoming convention of theater owners in Las Vegas.

The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation announced Monday that Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas will be on hand to celebrate DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg at the organization's upcoming gala in Las Vegas.

The trio -- who voice various titles roles in DreamWorks Animation's hit franchises Kung Fu Panda and Shrek franchises, respectively -- will present Katzenberg will Will Rogers' prestigious Pioneer of the Year Award. The gala dinner on April 25 will be held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in conjunction with CinemaCon, the convention of theater owners that runs April 23-26.

Black will serve as the official emcee of the evening, while Diaz and Banderas are set to attend as special guests.
"We are thrilled Cameron, Jack and Antonio will be joining us for CinemaCon 2012 to honor Jeffrey Katazenberg," said Ted Cooper, president of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, whose Pioneer of the Year award honors leaders of the film industry for their philanthropic efforts.

Past honorees include Dick Cook, Sherry Lansing, Jack Valenti and, reaching back farther into Hollywood's past, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Warner and Cecil B. DeMille.

Proceeds from the dinner go to the Motion Picture Pioneers Assitance Fund. The Pionner of the Year 2012 Honorary Committee includes David Geffen and the heads of every major studio, as well as top exhibitors.

Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling

By Gendy Alimurung Thursday, Apr 12 2012
Shortly before Christmas, director Edgar Wright received an email inviting him to a private screening of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Walking into Universal CityWalk's IMAX theater, Wright recognized many of the most prominent filmmakers in America — Michael Bay, Bryan Singer, Jon Favreau, Eli Roth, Duncan Jones, Stephen Daldry. If a bomb had gone off in the building, he thought, it would have taken out half of the Directors Guild of America.
"It was a surreal experience because it felt like we were all going to get whacked," Wright recalls.
As the directors settled into their seats, Nolan addressed them with words ripped from the plot of an old Batman serial.
"I have an ulterior motive for bringing you here," the British director announced.
And then he made a plea for 35mm film.
Nolan pointed out that The Dark Knight Rises was made on celluloid. That he is committed to shooting on film, and wants to continue doing so. But, he warned, 35mm will be stamped out by the studios unless people — people like them — insist otherwise.
There is a war raging in Hollywood: a war between formats. In one corner, standing with Nolan, are defenders of 35mm film. Elegant in its economy, for more than 100 years film has been the dominant medium with which movies are shot, edited and viewed.
In the other corner are backers of digital technology — a cheaper, faster, democratizing medium, a boon to both creator and distributor.
A few months later, Nolan steps out of the editing bay to discuss his purpose on that December evening. He says he wanted to remind his fellow filmmakers what photochemical film can do. It is too easy to forget the beauty and power of 35mm.
"The danger comes from filmmakers not asserting their right to choose that format," Nolan says. "If they stop exercising that choice, it will go away. I tell people, 'Look, digital isn't going away.'"
It certainly isn't. James Cameron's Avatar got the ball rolling back in 2009. The 3-D blockbuster could only be shown via digital projectors, and so the first wave of theaters upgraded in a hurry.
Today, the driving force isn't so much a single movie as it is the studios' bottom line — they no longer want to pay to physically print and ship movies. It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.
"Distributing movies digitally into theaters has been the holy grail of the studios," former Universal Pictures chairman Tom Pollock told Variety back in 2010. "They stand to eliminate billions of dollars in costs in coming years without spending very much."
In 2012, it seems, the grail is finally within the studios' grasp. Fate hasn't yet been sealed on the image-capture end, as directors like Nolan dig their heels in about aesthetics and continue to insist on shooting on film. But even a motion picture shot entirely on film can be converted to digital after the fact. And on the projection side, digital is winning.
This year, for the first time in history, celluloid ceases to be the world's prevailing movie-projector technology. By the end of 2012, according to IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service, the majority of theaters will be showing movies digitally. By 2013, film will slip to niche status, shown in only a third of theaters. By 2015, used in a paltry 17 percent of global cinemas, venerable old 35 mm film will be mostly gone.
The repercussions will be vast — and felt down the entire length of the movie-industry food chain.
Upgrade or Die
Hadrian Belove wanted to show Breakfast at Tiffany's for Valentine's Day. As executive director of the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood, he's used to working with studios to borrow prints of rare or classic films.
But this year it proved trickier. Studios are pushing a new format. And Belove's cinema — a nonprofit collective of cinephiles dedicated to presenting "weird and wonderful" movies — hasn't made the upgrade.
The new format is called a DCP, or Digital Cinema Package. It is a virtual format, a collection of files stored on a hard drive. Roughly the size of a paperback novel, the hard drive is mailed in a lightweight, foam-lined plastic case to the theater, where it's inserted (or, in the lingo, "ingested") into a server that runs the digital projector. DCPs won't run on traditional film projectors, however. So if they want to play the new format, theater owners must update their equipment.
For this privilege, exhibitors can expect to shell out from $70,000 to $150,000 per screen. Because the studios will save so much money on shipping costs, they've agreed to help finance the conversion. For the next 10 years, they will pay theater owners a "virtual-print fee" for each new release shown digitally.To speed the conversions along, the studios are using a classic carrot-and-stick model of coercion. The offset money is the carrot. The punishing stick? Studios will no longer be releasing 35 mm prints.
It's not so bad for first-run theater chains, which play only new releases. Art-house and repertory theaters, however, which play classic and older movies, are largely dependent on print loans from studios. Increasingly, the prints are remaining locked in studio vaults. Last November, 20th Century Fox sent its exhibitors a letter to that effect: "The date is fast approaching when 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight will adopt the digital format as the only format in which it will theatrically distribute its films. ... We strongly advise those exhibitors that have not yet done so to take immediate steps to convert their theaters to digital projection systems."
John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, drove the point home at the association's annual convention last year in Las Vegas. "Simply put," he said, "If you don't make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business."
Belove, of Cinefamily, believes many theaters will choose just that.
"Hundreds of art houses will go out of business," he says. "Already some theaters are shoving under."
Belove recently returned from a conference of art-house theater owners. Most of the attendees were operating on annual budgets of less than $500,000. Upgrading on that budget is prohibitively expensive.
"The pressure's on me," he says. "I know I'm going to be forced to do a major outlay."
But the alternative also is lousy. Already there are films he couldn't show for lack of a DCP-compliant projector. He couldn't get a print of A New Leaf from Paramount for an Elaine May retrospective he wanted to do. Ditto for Saul Bass' Phase IV for a Bass retrospective, and Andrzej Zulawski's The Important Thing Is to Love for a Zulawski retrospective. Studio Canal in France would supply only a DCP.
"This is classic cinematheque stuff," Belove says with frustration.
And then there was Valentine's Day. Instead of a 35mm print, the studio offered Belove either a DCP or a DVD of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
While Cinefamily couldn't show the DCP version without a costly upgrade, it could choose to show a DVD or Blu-ray. Blown up on the big screen, however, a relatively low-resolution DVD looks, in Belove's opinion, terrible.
"We can look at a DVD right now," he says, walking into the darkened auditorium. On the screen, a trailer is playing. A man and a woman are having sex. "See how the blacks aren't black?" Belove whispers. "That's DVD. Look at the textures. Look at his jacket. Look at his face. You can't see a lot of detail."
After the trailer, the feature begins. "OK," he says, "now it's film. See how much blacker the black is?"
Stepping outside, Belove lights a cigarette and runs a hand through his hair. "Why would I charge people for a format they could see at home?"
For Valentine's Day, he passed on a DVD of the Audrey Hepburn vehicle and played a 35mm print of F.W. Murnau's melodrama Sunrise instead.
While the push to digital and corresponding clampdown on prints make sense to studio bean counters, it is madness for independent theaters. At best, it forces repertory programming to become dull. DCPs are only available for film's "greatest hits," not for the obscure gems people expect from independent theaters.
At worst, it takes away the flexibility that small organizations need if they are to survive. The studios' "virtual-print fee" contracts come with restrictions on which films a theater can show, and when. The exact terms vary. But since exhibitors are required to sign nondisclosure agreements, they can't compare deals.
And the clock is ticking: There is a time limit on the studios' offer to help pay for new equipment. Belove has until fall 2012 to decide whether to upgrade. After that, the virtual-print fee offer expires and he'll have to pay full price. He shrugs. "They've got much bigger fish to fry," he says of the studios. "There's no reason for them to care if 500 little theaters ... "
His voice trails off. "I mean, I don't see a solution to it. It's going to take a major movement."
One employee at the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Boulevard hopes to inspire just such a movement. Julia Marchese started her online petition "Fight for 35mm" last November. Within hours, a thousand people had signed. By February, she'd collected more than 10,000 signatures.
"It started out as a way for me to say to the studios, please just keep prints available," she says.
The signatories include individuals from more than 60 countries: cinema owners, actors, directors, students, professors, patrons, cinematographers, editors, producers. Some told stories. One young theater manager in rural Minnesota lacks the funds to upgrade and wrote that he worries his small theater will have to shut down, leaving people in a 20-mile radius with nowhere to go to watch movies.
Some protested the entire notion of digital. "Digital is vaporware, imaginary, all zeros and ones," wrote one person from Indiana."Turning our backs on 35mm film prints is like never wanting to read a physical copy of a book again," a guy from Saskatchewan declared.
Others decried the Hollywood suits. "Shame on you, big studios!" said a man in Australia.

"Are you greedy so-and-so's out of your minds?" a man in Pennsylvania chimed in. "You made the Harry Potter films! You have more money than God!"
"Disgraceful," chided someone else.
Many worried about what would be lost. "Hug a projectionist today," urged a fellow in Switzerland.
Hug a Projectionist
When Vinny Jefchak first trained to be a projectionist, back in his native Midwest, it was a good job. The old-timers who taught Jefchak earned $45,000 a year in post–World War II Chicago, equivalent to $300,000 in today's economy.
It was also a much more dangerous job. Nitrate film is highly flammable, and booth fires were not uncommon. Chemically identical to the explosive guncotton, nitrate film has its own built-in oxygen supply. Once it starts burning, it never wants to stop. It even burns underwater. The original nitrate projectors had a carbon arc lamp house with a hot bulb focused on a highly flammable piece of film running through it. If the reel got stuck in the projector, you were in trouble. That intensely focused circle of heat could cause the film to combust.
Jefchak once worked in a booth outfitted with metal doors and porthole windows covered with drop-down guillotine shutters. The projectionist would pull a pin to shut the windows if the film caught fire, run out, pull another pin to shut the door and let the film burn itself out.
Booths were often tiny, asbestos-lined spaces. Jefchak knew a guy who threaded films for a huge, glamorous, 4,000-seat theater in a space no larger than an airplane lavatory. Every night, the guy scrunched inside a booth dangling from the attic above the auditorium like a fighter plane's ball turret.
Even recently, some booths lacked air conditioning — allowing temperatures to climb to more than 100 degrees inside. Jefchak would arrive for his shift weighing 185 pounds and leave weighing 180. "It was hellish," he says, grinning. "Purgatorial."
Jefchak, 51, is tall and lanky with a growly voice. He has been a projectionist for 33 years. His dad, a college film professor, taught him how to load his first projector at 19, after which he was trained by old-timers who worked in the combustible days of nitrate film.
Nitrate film is a good example of technology changing for the better. With the invention of acetate safety film in 1948, nitrate was discontinued. The advent of digital, on the other hand, may well be the final blow to the dying art of the projectionist.
Playing a movie on a DCP projector involves plugging the hard drive into the projector, creating a playlist, as you would on an iPod, and pressing a button to play. "You could train a monkey to do it," Jefchak says. "Now they need to corner the market on monkeys."
Jefchak works at the New Beverly, which is owned by Quentin Tarantino. A regular at the art-house cinema, Tarantino bought the place in 2007, when it was in danger of closing. The New Beverly still plays traditional reel-to-reel 35mm, and Tarantino has said that the day the cinema puts in a digital projector is the day he burns it to the ground.
Recalling the quote, Jefchak laughs. "I don't know how to break it to him, but we've been running digital here for as long as we've had video projectors. But I think what he's trying to say is if we go exclusively digital because there's no 35mm print, then he will feel there's no reason to own this place anymore."
Tarantino's dislike of the new medium is shared by projectionists.
"A lot of projectionists in the multiplexes basically are going to be disenfranchised and laid off. So they're freakin' out," Jefchak says. He remains stoic: "They've been telling me I'm not gonna have a job for the past 30 years or so."
Before the New Beverly, Jefchak worked the megaplexes where automation was the trend. He remembers manning a dozen screens at one multiplex, sprinting down a booth as long as a football field, pressing start-start-start-start down a row of projectors. Soon, thanks to digital, even that won't exist. Cinemas are handing projection over to the I.T. department. Pacific Theaters at the Grove, for instance, now starts its movies via iPad.
Projectionists are not the only ones whose jobs are in danger. It used to take a small army of shippers to deliver films from studio to theater. But digital downloads render physical transport obsolete. It happened to the small mom-and-pop courier that once delivered films to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. That courier went out of business in October.
Economically, the biggest shift is in the release-print market. The six major studios spend $850 million a year to have release prints made, and an additional $450 million to deliver them. With studios no longer needing 3,000 prints of each new film to distribute to theaters on opening day, many photochemical labs have been closing. In Los Angeles, two labs, Technicolor and Deluxe, process the bulk of these 35mm release prints. Pillars of the film services industry and historic rivals for almost a century, they signed an unprecedented truce last year — a deal with the devil — agreeing to carve up the remaining business and both stay afloat.A few months later, in January, one of the companies that makes the raw, unprocessed film stock, Eastman Kodak, filed for bankruptcy.
In an interconnected ecosystem, a change in one species causes a ripple effect throughout. "It's all intertwined," says Chris Kenneally, director of the Keanu Reeves–produced documentary Side by Side, which examines the industry's switch from film to digital. "The same companies that make the film that goes to theaters are also the same people that make the film that goes into the camera on the set to shoot it."
Digital projection, Kenneally continues, will push photochemical film out of existence, because the labs that make the film stock won't outlive the huge loss of income.
The mood in the post-production sector is pervasively grim. "Everybody's nervous," says Ross Lipman, a film restorationist who regularly encounters a wide cross-section of industry types, from curators to technicians. "Everybody's kind of looking around to see if somebody's found a way to survive this transition. Because it's like you're walking around a field of battle, and people are just dropping right and left around you."
As one projectionist at a large multiplex put it, "It's spooky."
While money is driving the conversion, money could well be its undoing. The ultimate pricetag of digital equipment is hidden to exhibitors right now. Little expenses add up. Take xenon bulbs for projectors, which retail for $600 a pop. To save costs, penny-pinching theater owners used to run bulbs beyond the recommended time. In a 35mm projector, a blown-out bulb is no big deal. But a digital projector, in Vinny Jefchak's words, is "real delicate shit."
If you use the bulbs too long in a film projector, "Maybe you have a broken reflector," explains Shawn Jones, an engineer at the lab NT Audio. "You clean out the broken glass. But if a bulb explodes in a digital projector, it tends to break a lot of expensive pieces."
Within the warranty period, the manufacturer fixes the machine for free. But if a bulb explodes outside that time, the exhibitor is on the hook. As a result, bulbs must be changed three times more frequently in digital projectors.
While studios are initially kicking in money to help theaters buy new equipment, as that digital equipment ages, exhibitors will bear the cost. And digital is notoriously temperamental. Jones' lab, for example, has already gone through two DCP-compliant projectors in three years — in both cases, through no fault of the lab's. (By contrast, the Simplex XL 35mm projectors at New Beverly are going strong at 60 years old. Like all analog projectors, they use an intermittent sprocket, a cog and a pivot — the same basic gear as a sewing machine.)
With so many rival entertainments, movie attendance is at the lowest it's been in nearly 20 years, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. In the past year and a half, U.S. box office receipts plummeted half a billion dollars. Coupled with the larger consumer trend, the expense of digital could be a disaster.
"In five to 10 years," notes one lab technician, "this is all going to unravel in a big, bad way."
Digital Worries
In 28 Days Later a man in a hospital gown walks down the middle of a deserted London street. He passes empty buildings, overturned double-decker buses. A breeze shuffles bits of trash around in the morning sunlight. He is alone. The zombie apocalypse has struck.
That scene, the movie's most memorable, might not have existed if not for digital cameras. Director Danny Boyle couldn't afford to shut down London traffic for more than an hour. But because digital cameras set up more quickly than film, the crew was ready to shoot — with six strategically placed cameras — within minutes.
Many directors prefer digital cameras because of their speed and portability. Boyle's director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle, went on to win a Best Cinematography Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, the first digital motion picture to do so. He refused to take cumbersome 35mm film cameras into the Mumbai slums, opting for smaller, lightweight digital equipment to capture the place's bustling urgency and flow.
The constraints of film, however, force artists to master their craft. An old-school cinematographer like Freddie Young, for instance, could shoot on a film camera with no digital monitor to check his progress — and walk out at the end with Lawrence of Arabia.
No wonder, then, that directors like Christopher Nolan worry that if 35mm film dies, so will the gold standard of how movies are made. Film cameras require reloading every 10 minutes. They teach discipline. Digital cameras can shoot far longer, much to the dismay of actors like Robert Downey Jr. — who, rumor has it, protests by leaving bottles of urine on set.
"Because when you hear the camera whirring, you know that money is going through it," Wright says. "There's a respectfulness that comes when you're burning up film."
Cinephiles talk about there being an organic quality to 35mm, as if it were a living creature. "There's literally an inner life," Wright says. "Every single frame is different on every single print. You feel that when you're watching it. I'd be alarmed to see that go away."In a sense, film is mortal. Every time you play a print film, you destroy it a little bit. Sprocket holes tear. Edges wear. Frames get scratched.
Cameron's Titanic played for so long in theaters that it fell apart in the projectors. Watching it by month two was a very different experience from seeing it at the premiere. All the directors Chris Kenneally and Keanu Reeves interviewed in their documentary — with the exception of Nolan — said digital projection is beautiful and superior to film. It looks the same on play one as it does on play 100. Digital, in this sense, is the immortal medium.
But in the digital age, those who know technology worry that films themselves will be lost.
"What worries me is there's a vast number of films that exist," says Bernardo Rondeau, assistant curator of film programs at LACMA. "Will all those millions of films make the transition to DCP? Certainly they won't. A lot of the films haven't even made the transition to DVD."
With every move to a new screening format, a percentage of films doesn't make the jump. And once they're gone, they're gone. It is a gradual winnowing down of the past. Our entire knowledge of the silent film era, for example, is barely a glimpse of what was actually produced.
If the past is prologue, film preservation hasn't exactly been a priority with studios. Today, studios store their prints in caves deep within the earth — high-security vaults hundreds of feet underground. Abandoned salt or iron ore mines, the facilities are known colloquially as "the salt mines." Supposedly they are able to withstand the blast of a nuclear bomb.
But not too long ago, studios simply threw films away. Paramount planned to burn its old nitrate. MGM was set to dump its original negatives — including those for Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz — into the ocean. What did they need those for, they figured? They'd made copies.
Luckily for the studios, archivists at UCLA and Eastman House took the prints instead. Because, years later, MGM wanted to digitize its old movies and needed the originals back. The copies they'd made, on Kodak stock, had faded.
And even after the films are converted to digital, Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, calls the challenges of preserving them "monumental." Digital is lousy for long-term storage.
The main problem is format obsolescence. File formats can go obsolete in a matter of months. On this subject, Horak's every sentence requires an exclamation mark. "In the last 10 years of digitality, we've gone through 20 formats!" he says. "Every 18 months we're getting a new format!"
So every two years, data must be transferred, or "migrated," to a new device. If that doesn't happen, the data may never being accessible again. Technology can advance too far ahead.
Migration, alas, is a laborious process. Professional labs have automated the process of migrating data from one storage tape to another with robots that shuttle tapes into drives. But a big collection requires a big robot. Then you need someone to maintain the robot.
"Digital snowballs on you," says engineer Shawn Jones. "It starts simple. Then as you grow and use more of it, your costs quickly escalate."
And it's not like studios are making less data. There's always more coming in.
Even worse, it's extremely easy to lose data. "If I spend," Horak says, "as we did on one restoration, $750,000 to preserve one film digitally, and then it goes into a computer somewhere and it disappears, that money's gone."
Think it doesn't happen?
It does.
Five years after the first Toy Story came out, producers wanted to release it on DVD. When they went back to the original animation files, they realized that 20 percent of the data had been corrupted and was now unusable. Granted, digital was new at the time. Surely advances have made digital storage much less problematic?
Not really.
Fast-forward to Toy Story 2, which was almost erased from history. Pixar stored the Toy Story 2 files on a Linux machine. One afternoon, someone accidentally hit the delete key sequence on the drive. The movie started disappearing. First Woody's hat went. Then his boots. Then his body. Then entire scenes.
Imagine the horror: 20 people's work for two years, erased in 20 seconds. Animators were able to reconstitute the missing elements purely by chance: Pixar's visual arts director had just had a baby, and she'd brought a copy of the movie — the only remaining copy — with her to work on at home.
In the digital realm, the archivist's mantra, "Store and ignore," fails. If you don't "refresh," or occasionally turn on a hard drive, it stops working. You can't just stick it on a shelf and forget about it. As restorationist Ross Lipman says, "You're shifting from a model focused on a physical object to data. And where the data lives will be constantly changing."
Because of all these factors, the notion that digital is cheaper is a myth. And that, too, is a worry. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently released a study, "The Digital Dilemma." It discovered that it's actually 11 times more expensive to preserve a 4K digital master than film.Moreover, most filmmakers surveyed for the study were not aware of how truly perishable digital content is. Digital technology makes it easy to create movies, the academy concluded, but the resulting data is much harder to preserve.
Meanwhile, all film needs is a cold, dry place to spend eternity. Under these conditions, archivists say, a black-and-white print on polyester-based film stock can last 1,000 years.

Robin Gibb of Bee Gees fame in coma: reports

(Reuters) Robin Gibb, a founding member of the disco-era hit machine the Bee Gees, is in a coma surrounded by his family in a London hospital, British media reported on Saturday.

A spokesman for the 62-year-old, who has been battling cancer and recently contracted pneumonia, was not immediately available to comment on the reports.
"Our prayers are with Robin," an unnamed family friend told the Sun newspaper, which first reported the news.
"He has kept so positive and always believed he could beat this. Sadly, it looks like he has developed pneumonia, which is very bad in his situation."
The tabloid said that Gibb's wife Dwina, sons Spencer and Robin-John, daughter Melissa and brother Barry were keeping a bedside vigil.
In February, Gibb announced he had made a "spectacular" recovery from cancer. But in late March he underwent further surgery on his intestines.
He was forced to cancel all engagements, including the world premiere earlier this month of his first classical work, co-written with Robin-John, called "The Titanic Requiem".
Gibb had emergency surgery in 2010 to treat a blocked bowel and further surgery for a twisted bowel - the condition that killed his twin brother Maurice in 2003 at the age of 53.
He was diagnosed with colon cancer, which later spread to his liver.
Gibb originally formed the Bee Gees in Australia with brothers Barry and Maurice. The group released its first record in 1963.
But it was in the 1970s that they rose to worldwide fame, producing a string of disco favorites including "Jive Talkin'", "How Deep Is Your Love" and "Night Fever".
The brothers never matched that success in subsequent decades, however, but wrote and produced a string of hits for other artists.
The band's distinctive tight harmonies and falsetto vibrato delivery helped the Gibbs sell an estimated 200 million records worldwide.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Cinemark and Paramount Pictures Celebrate the Coppola Restoration of “The Godfather Part 2”

By: Josh Abraham
HollywoodNews.com: Cinemark, a leading motion picture exhibitor, is following up the successful presentation of the Francis Ford Coppola’s restored version of his Academy Award®-winning “The Godfather,” with an exclusive, one-night only XD presentation of “The Godfather Part 2” on Thursday, April 19, 2012. The “Coppola Restoration” of the film, presented by Paramount Pictures, was meticulously restored using 5.1 digital surround sound and re-mastered using state-of-the-art technology, all under the watchful eyes of director Francis Ford Coppola, archivist Robert Harris and cinematographer Gordon Willis.

“The response to the first Godfather movie in Cinemark XD was incredible, so it is natural to present “The Godfather Part 2” to our customers,” states James Meredith, Vice President of Marketing for Cinemark Theatres. “We are very pleased to once again work with Paramount to show this award-winning classic film on our XD screens and give it the true big-screen treatment it deserves.”

Publicizing Your Film At Festivals

When: 4/17/12
Time: 7:30 pm

Film Independent
9911 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA

Who: Members Only
(get tickets)

If you have questions, please call 310.432.1222 or email reservations@filmindependent.org

So you’ve been accepted into that great festival… now what?  It’s time to find a publicist to help you position your film for maximum exposure.  Join us for a special session with Film Independent’s Director of Publicity & Communications, Elise Freimuth and indie film publicist Chris Libby (of Ginsberg/Libby) who will guide you through the process of hiring and working with a festival publicist: how to choose the right publicist for your project, how much you should expect to spend, and what services you’d usually receive.  For filmmakers with no budget for a publicist, learn how to leverage festivals’ in-house publicity teams whose job it is to help promote all the films playing a festival.

'My Three Sons' star Barry Livingston watched 'Popeye' with Elvis, but says fame is dangerous

By Hollie McKay
As a child star in Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s, Barry Livingston appeared in everything from “My Three Sons” to “The Dick Van Dyke Show” to “The Lucy Show,” experiencing more than his share of ups and downs before he was even a teenager.

But one of Livingston's most striking memories was after he won a role in the 1958 movie “Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!” playing the son of Paul Newman. It was his film debut, his big break: or so the then five-year-old thought.

“It was the very first job I'd ever had. Paul (Newman) was cool and he came to my defense when a director, who was a screamer and an old geezer ... was yelling at me," Livingston, who recently released the memoir “The Importance of Being Ernie,” told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. "He didn't think I was following his direction in this scene where I just had to look at the television and my eyes were just ping-ponging around in my head because I wasn't wearing glasses at the time. Paul Newman was playing my dad and he just said, 'Take it easy, lay off the kid, you're being too hard on him.'”

But even Newman couldn't save Livingston from what happened next.

“I couldn't even keep my eyes still, they said my eyes were not looking at the TV, then they thought maybe I was having a seizure and rushed me to a hospital and diagnosed me with having astigmatism,” Livingston recalled. “I came back to the set maybe a day or two later with my glasses, and I was promptly fired by the producer, who said he did not think Paul Newman's son in this movie would be wearing glasses. That was my wonderful introduction into the sensitive world of Hollywood.”

Livingston credits his tough-as-nails mom for protecting him from the predator types that roamed Hollywood even back there.

“My mother was a nutty old girl; she was a stripper in the 40s. She wasn’t the type that hadn’t lived out in the world and in some crazy environments herself. She was well aware that there were predator people, it is such a hot-button today but it was taken for granted (back then),” Livingston explained. “She warned me about people, she had a good bulls**t meter about people who seemed to be wanting to get close because they were drawn by an ulterior motive. That’s what served me over the years.”

But there were some perks that came with fame – like peering into a limousine, having Elvis Presley stare back at you, and then invite you to go for a ride while watching “Popeye” on the limo’s swanky in-built television.

“It was amazing, he was away from all his handlers and I didn’t even know it was his limo until he just popped out,” Livingston, who was just nine at the time, said. “He was just in the mood to play with his new toy they have delivered to him, he saw I was a kid completely in awe of the television and let me drive around the studio block with him. He liked ‘Popeye’ too, which I thought was cool."

And although Livingston still managed to score lots of sought-after roles – specs and all – he eventually fell victim to the dark side when he was no longer wanted by the fickle industry.

“I had a lot of challenges to overcome – depression, drug use, the obstacles of re-inventing myself and my credibility. I could barely get an agent, or get in to see casting people. It is a strange town and you never really know why you’re hot and the next minute you’re not. I found myself no longer on the list of people called to read for roles in TV and film,” he said. “That period was sprinkled with a lot of pharmaceuticals and herbicides that I took…I never got to the point where it was an endless cycle, I never crashed my car or robbed and hurt anybody. I just got to the point where I realized I didn’t like how I felt in the morning. I didn’t like the person looking back at me in the mirror.”

Livingston has managed to bounce back in a big way in recent years – appearing in everything from “The Social Network” to “Mad Men.” But he hopes his book, filled with trials and tribulations, will serve as a word of warning to youngsters looking to enter the entertainment industry.

“People think that being famous, well it is a wonderful thing and it creates a lot of opportunity, but it also creates some issues in your life when that fame when it’s pulled away,” Livingston added. “It can be a hole in your life and that creates a problem… Lucky for me I married a good woman and raised a kid. It’s nice that it has turned around and I can have a career again.”

Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.

Gary Sinise back performing with Lt. Dan Band after car crash

by Marc Snetiker
CSI:NY star Gary Sinise is back with his Lt. Dan Band to perform two scheduled concerts in New York after a car accident in March forced him to cancel several appearances.

Sinise, 57, is currently recovering under doctor’s supervision from injuries that resulted after he was a passenger in a traffic accident on March 30. The actor will play with his band as scheduled in Brooklyn on April 27 and in Albany on April 28, with all proceeds from the concerts going towards building “smart homes” for injured army vets Spc. Bryan Dilberian and Tech Sgt. Joe Wilkinson.

The cause is certainly appropriate for the Lt. Dan Band, which was named after Sinise’s character, a double-amputee Vietnam War veteran, in 1994′s Forrest Gump. The band has a history of performing in charitable concerts that benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports disabled veterans and their families.

TV ratings show season-low audiences

NEW YORK - Whether it was the upcoming religious holidays, nice spring weather, school vacations or just plain boredom with their choices, many television viewers took a siesta from their sets last Thursday.

CBS' comedy "The Big Bang Theory" had its smallest audience of the season for a new episode, the Nielsen Co. said. ABC's "Missing" had a series low. All the originals on NBC's lineup — "Community," ''30 Rock," ''Up All Night" and "Awake" — had season lows.

The NBC showing is particularly eye-opening, especially considering the network's former "must-see TV" status on Thursday nights.

Only "Community" reached 3 million viewers. The comedies "30 Rock" had 2.79 million, "Up All Night" had 2.58 million and "The Office" had 2.52 million for a repeat episode. The hourlong drama "Awake" had 2.56 million viewers, Nielsen said.

On the same first Thursday in April 10 years ago, NBC reached 28.5 million viewers for "ER" and 22.6 million for "Friends."

Maybe half of that drop could be attributed to the same factors that have hurt broadcast TV in general, such as DVR usage, video games and more aggressive competition from cable. But not all of it.

"My guess is it just comes down to the shows," said Robert Seidman, a ratings guru for the website TV By the Numbers.

Elsewhere during the week, NBC had been seeing some positive momentum with "The Voice," but that has faded compared to old favorites "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars."

Kentucky's victory over Kansas in the men's NCAA basketball championship was the week's most popular program, and the only to exceed 20 million viewers, Nielsen said.

That helped CBS to an easy victory with an average of 10.3 million viewers in prime time (6.4 rating, 11 share). ABC had 7.7 million (5.0, 9), Fox had 6.6 million (4.0, 7), NBC had 5 million (3.2, 5), the CW had 990,000 and ION Television 960,000 (both 0.7, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.7 million viewer average (1.9, 3), Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), Telefutura had 690,000 (0.4, 1), Estrella 200,000 and Azteca 150,000 (both 0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.9 million viewers (5.4, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 6.8 million (4.7, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.8 million viewers (4.0, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of April 2-8, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Kansas vs. Kentucky, CBS, 20.87 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 17.09 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 16.87 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 15.61 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 14.34 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 13.69 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 13.3 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 12.59 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 12.06 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.73 million.