July 23, 2017

Huge Summer for Hollywood, but With Few Blockbusters

Ticket revenue in North America for the period between the first weekend in May and Labor Day totaled $4.71 billion, a 10.2 percent increase over the same period last year, according to analyst projections. Attendance rose 6.6 percent, to about 573 million. Higher ticket prices contributed to the rest of the growth.

But behind that rosy picture lurk some darker realities.

Ticket sales rose in part because Hollywood crammed an unusually large number of big-budget movies into the summer, a period that typically accounts for 40 percent of box office revenue. Studios released 23 films that cost $75 million and up (sometimes way up), 53 percent more than in the same period last year.

The audience fragmented as a result, leaving films like “The Wolverine” and “The Hangover Part III” wobbling when they should have been slam dunks.

“Turbo” the animated snail was squished, taking in $80 million at North American theaters — one of the smallest totals in DreamWorks Animation history. (Only the unfortunately titled “Flushed Away” from 2006 did worse.)

“We’re very pleased with the overall strength of the summer,” said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, “but there was almost too much product. Some of these individual movies would have made more money if studios had spread them out a little more.”

Mr. Fithian noted that the $4.71 billion in total summer ticket sales represents a new high-water mark for the industry, not accounting for inflation, and the growth comes after several years of largely flat sales or declines. It is not surprising that more films sold more overall tickets, but the total does demonstrate a resilience for cinema as competition for consumer attention continues to spike.

“To keep the exhibition business alive, we have to give people a darn good reason to put down all their electronics and get in their cars and get into theaters, and this summer we did it,” said Nikki Rocco, president of distribution at Universal Pictures, which printed money with “Despicable Me 2” and “Fast Furious 6,” both of which took in roughly $800 million worldwide.

Still, appearances can be deceiving. “Pacific Rim,” for instance, has taken in more than $400 million worldwide — no small feat. The picture’s price tag, however, made it an everyone-or-nothing enterprise. Legendary Entertainment and Warner Brothers spent about $330 million to make and market the film, which could end its run in the red since theater owners take roughly 50 percent of ticket revenue.

With the notable exception of Paramount, which released just two films, “Star Trek Into Darkness” and the surprisingly successful “World War Z,” every studio suffered at least one major dud. In many cases, big hits were offset by big flops.

Disney, for instance, had the summer’s No. 1 movie in “Iron Man 3,” which took in $408.6 million in North America, for a global total of $1.2 billion. Disney’s Pixar also scored with “Monsters University,” a prequel that generated more than $700 million in global ticket sales.

But Disney also had the summer’s No. 1 box office bomb: “The Lone Ranger,” which cost at least $375 million to make and market, and has taken in about $232 million worldwide. After theater owners take their cut, Disney is looking at a write-down of $160 million to $190 million on the film.

Higher-priced 3-D tickets took another tumble, at least in the United States and Canada, as more consumers decided the visual gimmick was not worth paying a $2 to $5 premium per ticket. Family films fared the worst — those glasses don’t fit little faces very well — with “Turbo” setting a new industry low for the format, according to analysts: 3-D screenings accounted for only 25 percent of its opening-weekend results. (Last summer’s low was 35 percent.)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/02/business/media/huge-summer-for-hollywood-but-with-few-true-blockbusters.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Markets Lower as Worries Over Syria Ease

American stocks fell in a thinly traded session on Friday as investors avoided making large bets before a long weekend with the situation about Syria still uncertain.

Afternoon trading was volatile, with indexes swinging between break-even levels and solid losses as Secretary of State John Kerry said in televised remarks that Syria’s government used poison gas against civilians and made the case for a limited military response.

“People are uneasy not knowing what’s going on,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston. “With that uncertainty and going into the Labor Day holiday, we’re seeing people step back.”

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 30.64 points, or 0.21 percent, at 14,810.31. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index fell 5.20 points, or 0.32 percent, at 1,632.97. The Nasdaq composite index was down 30.44 points, or 0.84 percent, at 3,589.87.

Trading was light ahead of the market holiday on Monday for Labor Day. About 3.99 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.31 billion shares.

“I tend to view the weakness as a buying opportunity, barring some global crisis,” said Mr. Carey, who helps oversee about $200 billion in assets. “Syria isn’t the crisis in and of itself, but if we do take military action, there could be repercussions.”

It has been a tough month over all for stocks. The S. P. 500 fell 3.1 percent in August and lost 1.8 percent for the week in a third decline in the last four weeks.

The Nasdaq fell 1.9 percent for the week while the Dow slid 1.3 percent in its fourth consecutive weekly loss. For the month, the Dow fell 4.4 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1 percent. Only one of the 30 Dow components, Microsoft, ended higher in August.

Almost 70 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed lower on Friday, while 73 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares ended in negative territory.

Video game companies were among the Nasdaq’s biggest decliners on Friday. Electronic Arts fell 3.37 percent, to $26.64, while Activision Blizzard fell 2.57 percent, to $16.32.

The chip maker OmniVision Technologies tumbled 16.08 percent on earnings weakness. It forecast current-quarter adjusted profit largely below expectations as rising competition and a slowdown of smartphone sales in the United States led to an inventory pileup.

Salesforce.com, the best performer in the S. P. 500, jumped 12.55 percent, to $49.13, after the company raised its fiscal 2014 sales outlook and reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings. The Apache Corporation, the oil and gas producer, climbed 8.95 percent, to $85.68. The company said it was selling a 33 percent stake in its Egypt oil and gas business for $3.1 billion to the state-owned Chinese oil giant Sinopec Group.

The price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 8/32, to 97 16/32, and its yield rose to 2.79 percent, from 2.76 percent late Thursday.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/31/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Deutsche Telekom Weighs Options to Aid T-Mobile Sale

“There’s no point in lamenting,” Deutsche Telekom’s chief executive, René Obermann, said on Monday. “We’ve got the authority’s complaint and now we have to deal with it.”

A Deutsche Telekom spokesman, Philipp Kornstaedt, said in an interview by phone on Monday that, “if there are conditions to be attached to the transaction, we will work on the matter together with ATT.”

The proposed takeover, which the Justice Department sued to block on Wednesday, is the largest announced acquisition this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is also the biggest move by Mr. Obermann in his almost five years as Deutsche Telekom’s chief.

“I’m sure they’ll be proactively entering into discussions with regulators on a region-by-region basis,” said Mark James, an analyst for Liberum Capital in London. “If you’re a Deutsche Telekom investor, you’re going in the face of regulatory uncertainty.”

Deutsche Telekom will continue to record T-Mobile USA, which accounted for 24 percent of net revenue in the second quarter, as a “discontinued” operation in its financial reports, Mr. Kornstaedt said. Its net income dropped 55 percent in the first six months of 2011 as its base of subscribers declined by 663,000, or 2.5 percent.

The purchase of T-Mobile USA would combine the second- and fourth-largest carriers in the United States, dethroning Verizon Wireless as the market leader. The combined company would dwarf the No. 3 carrier, Sprint Nextel, which has argued against the deal.

Shares of Deutsche Telekom fell 4.6 percent, to close at 8.33 euros ($11.74) in Frankfurt on Monday. The shares have declined 13 percent since the Justice Department filed its lawsuit. Shares of ATT slipped 0.8 percent, to close at $28.05 on Friday. United States markets were closed on Monday for Labor Day.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=851809c8e43ffc4bd306bfb1d145542d

Media Decoder Blog: Alison Stewart to Leave PBS’s ‘Need to Know’

PBS’s Friday newsmagazine “Need to Know” is losing Alison Stewart, the second of its original co-anchors to depart, when it switches to a half-hour format on Sept. 16.

Ms. Stewart has been anchoring the hour-long show on her own since Jon Meacham became a contributing editor of the program in April. With the shortened show will come a new format focused on the 2012 election, and Ms. Stewart said she decided she needed to bow out.

“For a show about politics you have to have someone available and present 110 percent of the time,” and able to travel extensively, she said in an interview by phone. Between a book she is completing and her 3-year-old, she said, “I didn’t feel like I was the right person and that it was the right time to continue with the show.” Her last appearance is expected to be Sept. 9.

Stephen Segaller, the vice president of programming at WNET in New York, where the program originates, said in an interview by phone that Ms. Stewart “has done a wonderful job and I’m sad to see her leave.” He declined to comment on any potential successor.

“Obviously time is relatively short,” he said, “and I hope we’ll be announcing something next week or right after Labor Day.”

Mr. Segaller said “Need to Know” was being condensed for both financial and time slot reasons, noting that PBS, in addition to reducing the show’s funding, had scheduled a new festival of arts programs on Friday night.

For the new format, he said, “We are going to be all over the country, reporting on election issues as they are lived across the states,” looking at jobs, housing, education, health care and Social Security, among other topics.

“We will report stories and issues as they’re experienced by people in real life as opposed to those in elected office,” he added.

Ms. Stewart, a former MSNBC and ABC News anchor, said that in addition to her book, she would probably do some freelance work back in the commercial news world.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8d379dcd43866195db6a0f5db14a4bd8