Film: Word of Mouth Movie Hopes

It’s common practice to look at box office numbers on Mondays— especially the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. But what’s most striking today isn’t the massive success of the final installment in the Twilight series or of Bond’s “Skyfall,” it’s the relatively small number that “Silver Linings Playbook” did. The film was directed by David O. Russell, who also adapted the film for the screen from the novel by Matthew Quick. It stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro and it won the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, but it’s only made shy of $6.5 million. This is likely because the movie is being platformed. That’s the industry term for doing a slow deliberate roll-out over many weeks in order to build word of mouth. The film was only screening in about 400 theaters — as opposed to “The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn 2″ which is in over 4,000 theaters. The Weinstein Company had originally planned to open Silver Linings wide in thousands of theaters at once, but they shifted gears a couple weeks ago to the platform strategy. Clearly the hope is that generating a must-see buzz will carry the film to awards success.

Here’s the trailer:

TV: Liz & Dick Twitterfest

Photo credits: Richard McLaren

The Lifetime movie “Liz & Dick” starring Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor was a critical flop even before it aired. But during last night’s premiere it generated a surprising about of buzz on Twitter. It would be hard to imagine that Lifetime anticipated the effect of putting #lizanddick in the corner of the screen during the movie, but the result was a parallel universe of twitter hate and comedy poking fun at the TV movie biopic in real time. One tweeter wrote:

@jakefogelnest After tonight, Nielsen is going to start reporting ratings in the 18-34 ironic demo.

In the end the network did get 3.5 million viewers making it that channel’s forth highest rated original TV movie or as James Hibberd writes in Entertainment Weekly “sort of a weak brag.” Who knows what percentage of these 3.5 million tuned in to watch once they saw all the chatter on twitter versus those that were there from the onset. But the notion of Neilson further classifying the ‘ironic demo’ and the ‘twitter-fueled’ demo could yield interesting numbers for executives looking to turn a movie flop into a kitchy Mystery Science Theater-like experience.

The Huffington Post catalogues what they say are some of the best tweets of the night.

TV: Blame it on Sports

The high cost of your cable bill may just be because of sports. According to a recent article in the Philadelphia Enquirer as much as 50 percent of your bill could be going to sports programming — even if you don’t watch any! That is, you’re subsidizing the amount that Comcast/NBC, ESPN, Fox Sports, Turner, and CBS are shelling out for the chance to air sporting events on their networks. Over the last 20 months alone they’ve  paid something like $72 billion for the TV rights to the Olympics, College Sports and more. In a Los Angeles Times article last week John Malone who is a cable industry pioneer and the Chairman of Liberty Media which among other things owns the Starz network and is a minority equity investor in Time Warner Inc. and Viacom weighed in.

“We’ve got runaway sports rights, runaway sports salaries and what is essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don’t have a lot of interest in sports,” Malone said in an interview. “The consumer is really getting squeezed, as is the cable operator.”

Malone demands intervention from the government. Will the TV industry welcome D.C.? Could the cable TV business model turn to a la carte pricing where people just pay for the networks they watch?

For more news and insights into the entertainment business tune it to KCRW’s The Business. This week’s episode has Neil Patrick Harris talking about being a child actor and directing a new magic show for adults at the Geffen Playhouse. Then we have Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken discussing the acting business.

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