28 August 2006

Caffeine Needed

By me. Probably by you. And definitely by the authors of the following tidbits. Fortunately, my substitute for Bob Newhart has more than three hours' air in his capsule.

  • Hollywood's obsession with money—ok, it's not an entirely unreasonable concern for a profit-making enterprise, but the focus is on receipts and not on profits—comes through in a variety of amusing (and often incomprehensible to rational folk) ways. For example, today's NYT includes a story on the absence of a guarantee of profit through big stars. Then there's the question of whether anyone really cares anyway, or if this is just a "bragging rights' sort of thing.
  • Speaking of box office, there's a fascinating "stock exchange" game where the public can trade "futures" on the box-office potential of films in production at Hollywood Stock Exchange. Several sources I've consulted offline indicate that HSX is at least as accurate as the "trades" (Variety and Hollywood Reporter) in its predictions, and that errors at HSX tend to be the magnitude of a flop or unexpected breakaway—not in the direction, as is so often the case in the trades.
  • Of course, this focus on gross receipts runs throughout the entertainment "industry." Saturday's Times (London) includes a short "prediction" of the fall box-offices winners for books in the UK. Only two of the ten authors are not at least "B-list" equivalent.
  • This all has to do with the industry's perceptions and egos—that is, the corporate megaliths (and even not so megaliths) of the industry, not the actual creators of entertainment content. For them, it's a lot dicier, and perhaps nowhere more obviously than in the music segment of the industry (sorry, registration with the Chicago Tribune required). <SOAPBOX> I know of no other segment of the entertainment industry that so routinely and automatically abuses the participants, for less actual benefit to the participants, than the recorded music segment. The contracts are uniformly abusive and uniformly breached by the distributors. Then there's the recent attempt to make phonorecordings works for hire… </SOAPBOX>