Welcome to the end-of-summer edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!
This past Tuesday was Sony Pictures 10th anniversary. With the upcoming screening of Hotel Transylvania on September 5th, Perch Perkins on how the movie studio plans to do before visiting Count Dracula.
Perch Perkins (via Toon Zone) Culver City, CA, August 27, 2012 – The 10th anniversary celebration of Sony Pictures Animation continues with a five-week series of special screenings featuring SPA’s beloved collection of animated and hybrid films, as well as reunions with filmmakers participating in Q & As following each screening, rare footage/materials from the SPA archives and giveaways. The series, which will culminate with an exclusive screening of the highly-anticipated comedy Hotel Transylvania, in theaters September 28, was announced today by Bob Osher, President of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, and Michelle Raimo-Kouyate, President of Production, Sony Pictures Animation.
Held in conjunction with ASIFA-Hollywood and Animation Magazine, the screenings will commence Wednesday, September 5 with the spotlight on SPA’s 2006 inaugural film, Open Season. Ensuing weekly Thursday presentations on the Sony Pictures Animation campus will feature the Academy Award®-nominated Surf’s Up, the blockbuster hit Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and last summer’s international smash The Smurfs®. The series will conclude with a screening of Hotel Transylvania during the Saturday of the film’s opening weekend of release.
Enhancing each film exhibition will be unique offerings of rarely- or never-before-seen footage and materials from SPA’s first decade, and presented in coordination with panel discussions led by directors, producers and key crew members from each individual film. The exclusive weekly events will be moderated by respected animation experts, and the proceedings will be filmed and documented for sharing across the social media channels of Sony Pictures Animation, ASIFA-Hollywood and Animation Magazine.
“Milestones are an essential step for every institution to both celebrate and inspire, and I’m very proud of all that Sony Pictures Animation has accomplished in 10 short years,” Osher said. “I think these screenings and panels will give wonderful perspective as an appreciation of how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved, and where we can go next.”
“This is an exciting time at Sony Pictures Animation with so much on the horizon, both near and far, but we stand here today because of the wonderful movies and filmmakers who came before us,” said Raimo-Kouyate. “These screenings will properly honor our seminal slate of films, while also giving fans a glimpse toward our bright future.”
“It is truly impressive to see the strides that Sony Pictures Animation has made in its first decade.” said ASIFA-Hollywood President Frank Gladstone. “And it is an honor for ASIFA-Hollywood, working with Animation Magazine, to help commemorate that journey with this terrific retrospective film series.” Adds Jean Thoren, President and Publisher of Animation Magazine: “Throughout this past decade, we have been lucky to witness and chronicle the rise and artistic growth of Sony Pictures Animation in the pages of our magazine. Now we are honored to help celebrate the achievements of this innovative studio along with ASIFA-Hollywood and millions of fans worldwide leading to the opening of Hotel Transylvania.”
The series’ initial four screenings will be hosted in Sony Pictures Animation’s revered Ray Harryhausen Theater, which will feature intimate exhibitions of SPA artwork in and around its facilities. Tickets for these one-time events will be primarily made available to members of ASIFA-Hollywood and through giveaways via Animation Magazine.
The current slate of films, and filmmaking panel participants (pending professional availability) for the Sony Pictures Animation Special Screening Series, goes as follows:
On September 5, SPA will present Open Season, the first film in the studios’ decade-long history. Amongst the rarities of the evening will be a presentation of the Oscar®-winning short, The Chubbchubbs, along with a panel discussion amongst Michelle Murdocca (producer), Steve Moore (executive producer) and William Haller (character animator).
The Academy Award®-nominated feature film Surf’s Up will screen on September 13, followed by a panel discussion by Oscar® nominees Ash Brannon (director) and Chris Buck (director), Chris Jenkins (producer) and Rob Bredow (VFX supervisor).
Breakout directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street) return to their animation roots to present Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs on September 20. The directors will be joined by producer Pam Marsden and VFX Supervisor Rob Bredow for a panel discussion of the film.
SPA’s international animation hybrid sensation, The Smurfs, will screen on September 27. A panel discussion will feature filmmakers and key artists.
The Screening Series will close its summer run with a Saturday, September 29 offering of Hotel Transylvania – during its opening weekend in theaters – at a public venue in order to accommodate ASIFA family members. Three-time Emmy Award winner Director Genndy Tartakovsky and Producer Michelle Murdocca will lead the festivities.
Just in time for fall, Teletoon dished out their fall schedule days before our fall coverage next Wednesday. Does this include our friends from Cartoon Network Angie?
Angie Angelfish- Toronto, ON, (August 21, 2012) – This fall, TELETOON is injecting more fun, more excitement and more personality on-air with the launch of its first hosted block for kids on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET/PT. This all-new hosted block debuts on Thursday, September 6 to coincide with the highly-anticipated season premieres of Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, Johnny Test, Detentionaire and My Babysitter’s a Vampire.
A multi-talented host and actress, Andrea Jenna will dive right into the launch of TELETOON’s fall premiere week and will continue walking viewers through the hottest night on kids television every week.
“With so much happening on air and online this fall, bringing Andrea on to host ‘Can’t Miss Thursdays’ is the perfect way to keep our viewers up to date on all our new episodes, games, contests and programming stunts,” said Russell Ward, Vice-President, Marketing, TELETOON Canada Inc. “Andrea will provide a more interactive viewing experience for fans and we’re confident that her energy and enthusiasm will really resonate with our audience. We’re delighted to welcome her to the TELETOON family.”
Viewers nationwide can catch TELETOON’s fall premiere week as part of the TELETOON free preview which continues until Sunday, September 30.
Highlights of TELETOON’s Fall Premiere Week include the following:
Adventure Time with Finn and Jake (Season 3)
Premieres Thursday, September 6 at 6 p.m. ET/PT
Adventure Time with Finn & Jake is an animated series that introduces viewers to unlikely hero Finn and his dog Jake, buddies who traverse the mystical Land of Ooo and encounter its colorful inhabitants. The best of friends, our heroes always find themselves in the middle of heart-pounding escapades. Finn, a silly kid with an awesome hat and Jake, a brassy dog with a big kind heart, depend on each other through thick and thin.
Johnny Test (Season 5)
Premieres Thursday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT
An action-comedy extravaganza, the Gemini-award-nominated series Johnny Test chronicles the adventures of a fearless 11-year-old boy, his genetically engineered super-dog Dukey and his 13-year-old super-genius scientist sisters Susan and Mary. Using Johnny as their guinea pig, Susan and Mary strive to solve the trials and tribulations of adolescent angst with out-of-this-world scientific experiments.
Detentionaire (Season 2)
Premieres Thursday, September 6 at 7 p.m. ET/PT
Lee Ping is about to start grade ten – the best year of his life – when he is blamed for pulling off an epic, mind-blowing practical joke and sentenced to spend the rest of the school year in detention. It’s goodbye freedom, goodbye girls and hello worst year of his life. Detentionaire follows Lee in his attempts to uncover the mystery behind the practical joke and clear his name.
My Babysitter’s a Vampire (Season 2)
Premieres Thursday, September 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT
Last year Ethan Morgan’s over-protective parents unknowingly assigned a fledgling vampire babysitter, Sarah, to watch over him and his 8-year-old sister. As a result, Ethan and his buddies got dragged into a world of wild supernatural battles against creatures straight out of their nightmares. Season two of My Babysitter’s a Vampire finds Sarah adjusting to being a full-blooded vampire, while Ethan refuses to give up on his dreams of finding a cure for vampirism and getting up the nerve to ask Sarah on a date. On top of all that, Ethan and his friends soon discover they have a mysterious new enemy determined to wipe out all the supernatural competition in their hometown of Whitechapel. And no matter what villains the world has in store, the scariest thing of all is still high school.
Transformers Prime (Season 2)
Premieres Friday, September 7 at 7 p.m. ET/PT
Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet and the rest of the Autobots are back to protect Earth from the evil Decepticons who have become more powerful than ever. Team Prime may be few against the Decepticon hordes, but they find increased strength through bonds forged with three human teenagers.
The Ultimate Spider-Man (Season 1)
Premieres Friday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT
Over the past year, Peter Parker has been saving New York City from evil villains as the masked hero Spider-Man while balancing his heroics with homework and friends. When S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury offers Peter the chance to raise his game to the next level and become The Ultimate Spider-Man, Midtown High becomes a secret operations base for young heroes under the watchful eye of Fury and the school’s new acting principal, Agent Coulson.
The Amazing World of Gumball (Season 1)
Premieres Saturday, September 8 at 8:30 a.m. ET/PT
The Amazing World of Gumball tells the story of an extraordinary suburban family who just happen to live in an ordinary town. There’s Dad, a 6’4″ pink rabbit who stays at home while Mom works in the rainbow factory. Their kids are pretty standard too: there’s Gumball, a blue cat with a giant head, Anais, a four-year-old genius bunny and Darwin, a pet goldfish who became part of the family when he sprouted legs. At the heart of The Amazing World of Gumball is Gumball, a kid who faces the trials and tribulations of any 12-year-old; like being chased by a rampaging T-Rex, having a robot steal his identity, or dressing as a cheerleader to impress the girl of his dreams.
Speaking of dreams that came true, we told you on our Sunday news brief about the approved DreamWorks / Fox deal. Our financial friend Stan Jennings Fish was there and he’s got an update on the full skinny on the deal:
Stan Jennings Fish Bikini Bottom Business News (via Hollywood Reporter)- Wall Street overnight started chiming in on the late Monday distribution deal announced by DreamWorks Animation with News Corp.’s Fox, with analysts assessing the financial winners and losers. Stifel, Nicolaus analyst Benjamin Mogil in an investor note discussed the financial benefits for DWA. “While the deal is slightly better than the current one, and Fox is a strong partner, it does not change our view that the company will continue to see gross margin pressure amid home entertainment revenues given the continued production and [advertising] cost levels,” he said in maintaining his “hold” rating on DWA’s stock.
For DWA, the new Fox deal comes at the same 8 percent fee as its expiring deal with Viacom’s Paramount, but “allows for the domestic television rights (pay TV, Netflix, cable, free) to be carved out from the deal,” while digital distribution revenue comes at a 6 percent fee “reflecting the lower costs associated with these revenues,” Mogil explained.
Most of those terms were as he had forecast, but “the lower digital fee is positive compared to our expectations,” Mogil said.
But Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett said the deal isn’t quite as good as he had expected for DWA. “The terms, while improved, are not quite the step up we had assumed,” he said. Combining the effects of the 6 percent and 8 percent fees, he said “the total effective fee” is about 7 percent, compared with his expectation for a 6.5 percent fee, which the analyst said slightly trims his earnings expectations going forward.
While DWA is paying only a 6 percent fee for emerging digital distribution opportunities, such as electronic sell-through, VOD and online rental, “DWA home video sales, aimed at kids, are mainly DVD, so the impact of the new tech exclusion is limited initially,” Crockett predicted.
Fox will be a strong distribution partner for DWA in today’s more global box office game, Mogil highlighted. “With the international markets, particularly the emerging ones, the key driver in global box office, the choice of Fox is strategically sound,” he said.
Cowen analyst Doug Creutz went further. “With Fox’s strength, upside could come from international markets,” he said. “Given the size and experience of Fox’s distribution business overseas, there could be upside to our forecasts if Fox is able to help DWA’s films perform better in international markets.”
Explained Creutz: “Evidence suggests potential here as animated films distributed by Paramount have earned an average international multiplier of 1.85x versus a 2.19x for animated films distributed by Fox over the past eight years.”
Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible suggested though that overall, for DWA, “the strategic benefits are far greater than the economic benefits.” He explained: “The deal aligns economic interests with a competitor (News Corp.’s Blue Sky Studios), which should eliminate overlapping release windows. Furthermore, News Corp. may be instrumental in helping DWA launch a new TV channel that leverages DWA/Classic Media content.”
Meanwhile, analysts said the new distribution relationship will be positive for Fox, but could put additional pressure on Paramount to add new content to its pipeline.
“The deal, we estimate, will drive close to $75 million per year in high margin new fees for News Corp., worth about a 2 cents to 3 cents after tax lift to earnings per share,” Crockett estimated.
And Mogil’s Stifel, Nicolaus colleague Drew Crum said that “Paramount loses a high margin distributor’s fee (8 percent of gross revenue) and may need to pursue additional cost cutting initiatives in order to maintain profitability.”
But he also highlighted that Paramount is only a small contributor to Viacom’s overall financials. “To put it into perspective, Paramount represents only 7 percent of Viacom’s estimated fiscal year 2012 adjusted profit,” he said.
Looking to boost its international footprint, DreamWorks Studios is taking more control of its movies in Europe in a move to increase the company’s financial flexibility.
Under a new partnership, David Garrett’s fledgling international sales and financing company Mister Smith Entertainment will handle DreamWorks titles in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Disney, where Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks has a distribution deal, will continue to release DreamWorks titles everywhere else. And, as previously announced, 20th Century Fox is releasing Lincoln and Robopocalypse overseas after partnering with Disney and DreamWorks on the two films.
Reliance Entertainment, which holds a major stake in DreamWorks, will continue to distribute the company’s films in India.
The first group of films covered under the deal with Mister Smith includes the untitled Ken Scott project, which begins principal photography in October, and Need for Speed, which begins shooting early next year.
Garrett, based in London and one of the most respected sales agents in the business, formed Mister Smith earlier this year after Summit merged with Lions gate. Garrett was one of the founders of Summit International.
“David has a proven track record, and his years of experience in building Summit International will help us in this next step of growing our business. This partnership allows us to best capitalize on the expanding global marketplace and generate foreign sales as a revenue source. We appreciate Disney’s continued support of our company and our ongoing partnership,” DreamWorks chief operating officer Jeff Small said.
Insiders say Mister Smith is likely to strike multi-picture output deals with foreign distributors, providing DreamWorks with a smoother cash flow.
“I am incredibly excited to be working with Stacey, Steven, Jeff and the DreamWorks team. I could not hope to be working with a more exceptionally talented and delightful group of people, and I hope that we will find a way of creating new and exciting synergies together, in the ever-changing international landscape,” Garrett said.
“DreamWorks also have a very compelling, original and diverse slate of pictures in development, which is wonderfully refreshing. We also hugely look forward to working with the Disney team, who have been so supportive of DreamWorks’ new strategy,” Garrett continued.
Earlier this year — following several box office disappointments, including Cowboys & Aliens — Reliance Entertainment agreed in principle to continue financing DreamWorks in a deal that will allow the company to make at least eight to 10 movies during the next two to three years.
Going forward, DreamWorks will make three or four films a year, focusing on tent pole or low-budget fare and avoiding the middle. On larger movies, DreamWorks will seek a partner, as it has with Fox.
With the arrival of Fall season 2012 just hours away, let’s check on the Penguins tally so far this week:
753 signatures are on the board fans continue to wish our flightless spies good luck on their 10-mission finale. We’ll be keeping you close on these important updates as it gets underway very soon.
It’s been a great summer here at entertainment central. All summer long, we got you some updates, revisions, and breaking news. Will there be any new movies this week, or will the pattern roll on for The Expendables? Find me here on my box office report. In the meantime, What will Fall bring this year? I got you covered with all the September news as we say farewell to summer and say hello to fall on Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. See you in September TV and movie fans!