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Movie Theaters Could Slash Ticket Prices For Warner Bros. Films

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  • Industry insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that theaters are considering slashing the prices of tickets to Warner Bros. films after the studio announced it would be releasing its 2021 pictures to theaters and HBO Max simultaneously.
  • Prices for movies by the studio could be down to just $3 to $5 per ticket. Theaters also want to take anywhere between 75% to 85% of that revenue, leaving Warner Bros. with almost nothing. 
  • This is not the first jab theaters have taken against the studio since this move was announced. AMC cited Warner Bros. and direct-to-streaming models as one of the major reasons the chain’s financial struggles could continue into the next year. 
  • Hollywood leaders, including directors like Christopher Nolan and Judd Apatow, have also spoken out against Warner Bros. for this release strategy. Like many, they take issue with the fact that it was made without consulting filmmakers, and there are questions about how financially sustainable the move will be in the long run. 

Theaters Debating Slashing Prices 

As major movie theater chains cite Warner Bros. as one of the many causes of their ongoing financial struggles, some theaters could opt to dramatically cut the prices of tickets for movies made by the studio.

Insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that theaters are considering bringing prices down between $3 to $5 per ticket for Warner Bros. films. They then would aim to keep 75% to 80% of the revenue, leaving the studio with almost nothing. 

This comes after Warner Bros. announced that they would release all of their 2021 titles on HBO Max the same day those pictures come out in theaters. This release strategy will start with the highly anticipated “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas day. 

The studio received backlash from leaders all across the entertainment industry for this move, which came without a warning. Many were shocked that Warner Bros. made this choice without consulting filmmakers while others thought the choice was a major dig at movie theaters, which are already suffering from the pandemic. On top of this, filmmakers are also concerned that allowing new films to go directly to streaming will not be profitable in the long run for blockbuster releases.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has defended this decision, saying that the studio still supports theaters, but needs to think in terms of what is and is not possible as the coronavirus continues infect millions across the United States

“I absolutely believe in the theatrical marketplace,” Kilar said in an interview with Deadline. “I say that with conviction because I know fans care about it… Our focus, candidly, is on the here and now. We’re focused on getting through this pandemic like any business is, and we’re putting a lot of brain cells against what the right thing is to do to serve fans and to serve partners and to serve ourselves.”

Movie Theaters Vs. Warner Bros.

Still, many in the industry remain upset with this strategy. Both AMC and Cinemark have said they will have to consider whether or not to screen Warner Bros. movies on a title-by-title basis. AMC also said that it could run out of money by January, citing the direct-to-streaming release models as one of the reasons why.

The theater chain giant wrote in an SEC filing that the promise of many Americans potentially being vaccinated against the virus sometime next year has “a material positive impact on our industry,” but in the meantime, problems keep mounting. 

“A significant spike in coronavirus cases, together with delays of major movie releases or the direct or simultaneous release of movie titles to the home video or streaming markets in lieu of theatre exhibition, have led to theatre closures, prevented the opening of theatres in major markets and have had, and are expected to continue to have in the future, a material adverse impact on theatre attendance levels and our business,” that filing said. 

“These challenges have been exacerbated by the announcement by Warner Bros. that its entire studio film slate for 2021 will move to simultaneous release, which may result in other studios adopting a similar strategy.”

Movie theaters need studios to release new exclusive content if they have any hopes of surviving the pandemic. If people have the chance to watch these movies from their couch on a subscription service instead of the theaters, box office revenue could suffer, putting theaters in an even worse position than they are already in.

Filmmakers Speak Out 

Theaters are not the only ones who have vocally opposed Warner Bros. Major filmmakers have also spoken out against the studio for putting its streaming service ahead of theaters. 

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” director Christopher Nolan, who has had a long standing relationship with Warner Bros., told The Hollywood Reporter. 

He doubled down on his feelings while speaking to The Washington Post on Tuesday. 

“The studio needed to collaborate with the filmmakers on what was going to happen,” he told the paper. “They didn’t speak to the filmmakers, they didn’t speak to the theater chains.”

“It’s the type of disrespect that you hear about in the history of show business,” writer and director Judd Apatow added during a round table interview with Variety. “But to do that to just every single person that you work with is really somewhat stunning.”

Apatow also called the decision a “financial nightmare.”

Timothée Chalamet appeared to take a stand against the studio while capping off his hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. The actor wore a sweatshirt with the logo of Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind his upcoming flick “Dune.” Legendary is set to challenge Warner Bros. over this decision, and many thought Chalamet’s clothing choice was a show of support. 

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Business Insider) (Fox Business)

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Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists

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Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”


The American Music Fairness Act

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders. 

The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders. 

On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments. 

In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”

“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”

“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”

The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year. 

The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.

Support From Major Music Groups

The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians. 

If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists. 

“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”

Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Billboard)

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Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”

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After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums. 


Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs

Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.

On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”

While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers. 

Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case. 

“Not For Sale”

“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”

Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful. 

According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.

The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”

“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued. 

West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Forbes) (Complex)

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“Squid Game” Director Defends Reality Spinoff of Hit Series Amid Backlash

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“When you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry,” the Emmy-winner said. 


“Squid Game” To Get Reality Treatment

Emmy Award-winning “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk addressed the mounting backlash a reality spinoff of the popular series is facing while speaking to reporters at the Emmy Awards on Monday night. 

“Squid Game” quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series following its release last fall. In a searing examination of capitalism and class division, the South Korean drama follows people who choose to compete in schoolyard-style games with life or death stakes in hopes of winning enough money to pay their debts off. 

Over the summer, Netflix announced plans to make a reality series based on the games featured in the show called “Squid Game: The Challenge.” Just like in “Squid Game,” 456 contestants will compete for a prize of $4.56 million. Though in this case, losers will not be executed. Netflix is billing the program as “the biggest reality competition ever.”

The announcement of the show was met with swift backlash from those who felt a reality adaptation of these games missed the point of the original series. Some even argued it felt dystopian to have real people participate in a cash-grab game based on media meant to highlight the tragedies surrounding poverty and desperation. 

Hwang Responds to Criticism

While speaking in the Emmy’s press room following a successful night for the breakout series, Hwang said he understood where some of the criticisms were coming from but defended the reality series. 

“I think that even though our show does carry quite a heavy message — and I know that there are some concerns of taking that message and creating it into a reality show with a cash prize,” he said via Variety. “However, I feel like when you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry. It doesn’t really set a great precedent.”

“I would say that reproductions of such efforts are going to bring new meaning to the industry, and I hope that this is going to be a great new direction for the industry overall,” the director continued.

“Squid Game” won six Emmy awards including Hwang’s trophy for Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series and Lee Jung-jae’s victory for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. 

No release date for “Squid Game: The Challenge” has been released yet, but it is set to film in the United Kingdom.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (IndieWire) (Entertainment Weekly)

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