The Morning Fix: Windows getting cloudier! Bubble shows ready to float or burst. Insidious product placement on the rise.
After the coffee. Before trying to get excited about the Olympics.
Go ask Alice. Disney's decision to shorten the window between the theatrical release of Johnny Depp's "Alice in Wonderland" to three months from four months is still reverberating in the industry. Theater owners are griping that such a short window will only encourage moviegoers to wait for the DVD rather than see it on the big screen. Some operators are warning they won't hesitate to yank the movie from the screen early. There are all sorts of other implications of Disney's move, which is expected to further this trend (the Hollywood Reporter says Warner Bros. is looking at shortening the window for "Guardians of Ga'Hoole"). Sales to television outlets are usually determined by box office so studios such as Disney have to be careful they are not harming one revenue stream to try to boost another one. More on all that is at stake here from the Los Angeles Times.
Bursting bubbles. It's that time of year when television networks start deciding what shows will live and die. You know the shows we're talking about. The ones whose ratings are not all that great but not horrible either. The ones that have some quality and critical buzz but may not be worth a long-term bet. Yes, we're talking bubble shows. With the networks ordering pilots for next season, now the pressure is on those underachieving shows to prove themselves. For whatever reason, the entertainment media decided Thursday was the day to write the obligatory bubble stories, so here's the latest on the shows on the fence from the Wrap, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
About that $900-million DreamWorks library deal. So on Thursday Viacom announced that it had bought back for $400 million the DreamWorks library it sold to investor George Soros for $900 million just a few years earlier. Wow, quite the coup for Viacom! Well, not so fast. Dave Poland, who was always dubious about this one, notes that Soros never paid $900 million, but instead $400 million for 51% of the revenue generated by the library. In other words, Soros made a loan he got back with virtually no interest.
Enough! From subtle to in your face, product placement is overwhelming television. Do you watch "Rescue Me"? Remember when Tommy buys his daughter a German car and then waxes on about how safe it is? Commercial! Jack going on about Cisco on "30 Rock"? Commercial! Advertising Age reports from the Assn. of National Advertisers conference in New York, where marketers boost with glee (or is it "Glee," which did its own plugs for Kraft?) about how subliminal this is all getting. Well, they're not fooling me!
-- Joe Flint