LOTD 5/31/07

  • My buddy Rick Klau from Feedburner gets interviewed by Eric Enge about RSS penetration, measurement and other such topics. (CT)
  • Eric Eggertson has some good tips for employers about to bring young adults into the fold. Bottom line: Give them outlets where they can channel their passion, interest and intellect for the corporate good. (CT)
  • Max Kalehoff reminds us that just because people love the content it’s not necessarily true that they love the ads around it. The ads need to work WITH the content, not against it. (CT)
  • Chris Anderson is announcing his latest startup, BookTour.com. He’s being cagey with the details, though, waiting till 6/1 for the official launch. (CT)
  • Kevin Burton says if you want to kill Google you have to go after its advertising revenue. Not exactly new, but I like the way he positions Google against Microsoft.
  • Susan Merrit compares signing up for all sorts of social networks to filling out your dance card in turn of the century (19th to 20th, that is) society. (CT)
  • Jason Calacanis is ranting (rightly, I feel) about his ISP’s decision to block his access to ESPN.com because the sports network isn’t paying them. (CT)
  • Todd is beginning a series of regular profiles on members of his “Power 150″ ranking list. (CT)
  • Joe Thornley is live-blogging in his usual fantastic manner from the mesh conference. (CT)
  • Twitter’s Evan Williams is raising some VC funds. All proposals need to be 140 characters or less in length. (CT)
  • The Encyclopedia Britannica is suing navigational system company TomTom, claiming it infringes on copyrights they own. (From TB)
  • As Steve Johnson says, it’s sometimes unfortunate how so much of the online conversation resembles a fraternity common room in its level of discourse. (From TB)

Blockbusters all over the place – but how are they doing?

shrek31.jpgWhile studios jockey (and sometimes bicker) for position as the box office champs of the weekend or the biggest comedy of the year or whatever, it’s important to maintain some perspective. As this New York Times story shows nothing aside from 1997′s Titanic comes close to any claim as an all-time box office hit when you adjust the grosses for older films for inflation. They might be great now but they’re small potatoes in the history of cinema.

Then you have the fact that this summer, despite some hype-filled headlines and breathless claims to this, that or another title, is not turning out as well as studios hoped. Pirates of Caribbean 3 is not doing as well as Disney would like and seems fated to be the weakest installment of the three. And the other tent-pole movies this summer have dropped off quickly after their opening weekends.

If I were running a movie studio, I’d rather have five films that cost $20 million to make and brought in consistent ticket sales week after week than something that cost $500 million but faded after two weeks. But that’s just me. See I would likely put more focus on making a movie than making a marketing opportunity. I’m crazy like that.

Ratings system gets it wrong – again

rating_r1_c1.gifEric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune is wondering why Once from Fox Searchlight, which features just a few conversational F-bombs and no other objectionable content, is rated R. Such a rating, of course, limits the audience and creates a stigma around the movie.

The answer, of course, is that the MPAA’s ratings board thinks bad language is the end-all-be-all of cinematic sins. Sex, of course, is next but violence is way down the list. You can blow someone’s head off and get a PG-13 but if you swear while doing it you’ve earned yourself an R.

No, this makes no sense. But the entire ratings system is kind of completely broken. There needs to be a massive overhaul of the process so that truly objectionable content is restricted from young audiences who are impressionable and largely incapable of making such distinctions on their own. But if you’re keeping rationale adults from seeing an adult-themed movie you’re just being silly.

There’s also the belief held by many (including myself) that the MPAA is overly harsh with ratings for smaller, non studio flicks. The thinking is that, since the big studios pay for the MPAA’s operations and smaller ones don’t, the MPAA lets them get away with more to protect their market share.

Film fests raking in sponsorship dollars

ifcfreefilmfest.JPGA growing number of film festivals are making the rounds at no charge to attendees because they’re ad-supported, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

Comcast, IFC and others are sponsoring the ten city tour of the Free Film Fest. In addition to the major opportunities there are chances for local and smaller advertisers to get in on the event as well. IFC and Comcast are helping to promote the fest, which usually sets up camp in a public park with its large screens and varied selections, with print, radio and online ads. National sponsors also have the opportunity to be included in the publicity for the events.

Quick Takes 5/30/07

  • quicktakes_clapper.jpgBankers are becoming an increasingly common presence at Cannes and other film festivals as movies look for the funds to get made and distributed.
  • But Woody Allen, in a sad statement of today’s Hollywood, is having a hard time finding a buyer for his latest film.
  • Ian Schafer wants to make sure we’re all paying attention to the fact that Facebook Video has launched.
  • Martina at Adverblog is loving the website for A Night at the Museum.
  • Energizer is just getting started with its tie-in promotions involving Shrek the Third.
  • Domino’s is giving away a month’s worth of free movie downloads through Vongo.com when people order a pizza online.
  • The trailer for I Am Legend, another adaptation of the source material that also spawned Charlton Heston’s The Omega Man, will reportedly be attached to Ocean’s 13.
  • Some interesting stats in this release on American’s attitudes about how fast they should be able to download movies.

Comic shop owners not thrilled with WB’s guerrilla marketing

batmanjokercards1.jpgComics2Film reports that at least one owner of a comic book shop is not thrilled with Warner Bros. and their marketing techniques. The studio, as I mentioned before, had been sending teams equipped with all-Joker decks of playing cards to comic shops and releasing the cards in the store as part of the campaign for The Dark Knight. The owner of that Chicago shop was non-too-pleased that the team was cluttering up his nice, clean store and even defacing the sidewalk in front of the store to the point where he called in the city’s graffiti-busting team.

Yeah, it’s a good idea to know who your target audience is but not a good idea to honk them off.

Hollywood and exhibitors loving 3D

3d-paper_glasses.jpgMajor Hollywood players and exhibitors are tapping into the power of 3-D to express themselves, reports The New York Times.

Theatrical features are being re-purposed for 3-D exhibition and new films are being shot in the format. While other studios have dabbled, Warner Bros. and Disney are the studios to most fully jump into the three-dimensional pool. As the article states, this is hardly anything new, with its roots back to the 1960′s and B-movies that sought a hook to make themselves attractive to teenaged audiences bored by more mainstream fare.

And there you have why this is becoming popular again. The home video experience is increasingly mirroring what people used to only be able to get in theaters. So studios are looking for new ways to lure people out of their homes. 3-D does that, especially when, as some movies have done, there is additional or different footage offered exclusively at 3-D presentations.

If studios and exhibitors can create 3-D cinema as a subsidiary business they can continue to offer a viable alternative to people looking at their various entertainment choices. It’s an experience that, at least for now, cannot be replicated in the home, much like widescreen presentation was created to differentiate movie going when TV was introduced 50 years ago.

Comics get brand heads

civwarfl001cov.jpgThis story in the New York Times on how comics titles are bringing on “executive producers” and “show runners” that mirror such creative gurus in movies and TV is telling of how the entertainment industry is adapting. Comics are becoming more cinematic in their story-telling and these figures, who make sure everything is consistent and makes sense internally, are extremely important.

They’re essentially guardians of the brand, be it a limited run title or a mini/maxi-series, these people safeguard the brand name to make sure it is not diluted by continuity errors or other mistakes. It’s important that comics have done this since current technology means movies and TV shows can do things previously only viable in a comic format. Now comics are looking more like shows like “Lost” or “24″ with long-form arcs meant to retain readers in the same way those shows try to retain viewers.

Special “Just because Mack’s cool” post

As you all know, I owe a large part of MMM’s success to Mack Collier. He and I started communicating when he was writing for Beyond Madison Avenue in the lead-up to the marketing campaign for The Chronicles of Narnia. Mack’s one of the brightest guys out there so I wanted to highlight two things he’s put up in the last day or so.

First is his invitation to anyone looking for a speaker on new marketing and walking with their community to drop him a line. Believe me, you all want Mack coming and speaking for you.

The second is his “blog check” on the corporate blogs run by Kodak. Please Mack – Make this a recurring feature! This is exactly the sort of ongoing analysis you’re great at and which the community needs more of.

[Disclosure: Mack's taking part in a program being run by my employer but that has nothing to do with this post. Just wanted to make sure that's out in the open.]