The Morning Fix: Netflix paying for mistakes, Viacom paying for Rock Band
After the coffee. Before realizing you don't need coffee during such a slow news week.
The Skinny: A free tip for those of you who want to impress your in-laws and keep them busy over the holidays: Get into the entertainment business so you can show them screeners of movies still in theaters. In more useful news, Rock Band keeps on costing Viacom money even though it sold the games off last year, "Fast Five" was the most frequently pirated movie of 2011 on BitTorrent, and customers are still peeved at Netflix.
The clock is ticking: Shareholders in "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment are eager to agree on a transaction (aka selling the company) by the end of 2011, according to people familiar with the matter not authorized to discuss it publicly. But talks with potential buyers Lions Gate Entertainment and Miramax co-owner Colony Capital have yet to reach a conclusion. Perhaps the one hot media news story in an otherwise slow week is whether someone will buy Summit by Saturday.
Here's your check for losing money: Viacom's failed attempt to enter the video game business continues to haunt Sumner Redstone's conglomerate. Although it sold Rock Band maker Harmonix last year, Viacom was just ordered in an arbitration to pay Harmonix's original shareholders $383 million in bonuses on top of $150 million already paid (and the original $175-million purchase price). Viacom is suing to overturn the decision. That's a big bonus for a game that never made money, and probably a contract Viacom's top brass really regrets. Coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Gamasutra.
Not the race you want to win: Auto racing action sequel "Fast Five" was the sixth most popular film at the domestic box office this year, but it was the No. 1 most illegally downloaded via BitTorrent. Other surprises on the list of 10 most-pirated films on BitTorrent were the appearance of "Source Code" and "Sucker Punch" and the absence of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Coverage in the LA Times and The Wrap.
Costly mistakes: Netflix's big missteps this year may cost it in customer loyalty for a long time to come. A survey of customer satisfaction with online retailers found that Netflix took the biggest tumble in 2011 as people were ticked off by an unexpected price hike of up to 60% and the Qwikster debacle. Amazon, which has a growing video-on-demand business, was the biggest gainer. AllThingsD and CNET News covered the data.
Picking the classics: It took "Forrest Gump" only 17 years to be added to the National Film Registry, compared with 69 years for "Bambi" and 77 for "Twentieth Century." Hey, I'm just reporting the news, not making a judgment. The LA Times and Hollywood Reporter a look at the 25 movies added to the collection by the Library of Congress. My personal favorite: Pixar president Ed Catmull's first digitally animated short: the self-explanatory "A Computer Animated Hand" from 1972.
Also in the Los Angeles Times: A program to train developmentally disabled adults for jobs in the film business. A profile of UFC "baldfather" Dana White. Adultery is hot on TV. Betsy Sharkey gives a good review to one of 2011's last releases, "Pariah."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Guests try out Rock Band 2 at a 2008 event. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images