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April 2003
©Blackflix.com™
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TOP 5 U.S.
DISTRIBUTORS

The top 5 domestic distributors as of the end of last month were as follows
(dollar figures in millions):

1) BUENA VISTA
294.6
15.32%

2) NEW LINE
248.2
12.91%

3) MIRAMAX
225.8
11.75%

4) DREAMWORKS
205.1
10.67%

5) WARNER BROS.
203.0
10.56%


ANTI-PIRACY PSA SET FOR THEATERS

Johnny Depp, Ben Affleck, James Cameron, Sean Astin, special effects wizard Stan Winston, composer Michael Kamen, the late cinematographer Conrad Hall and a host of off-screen film artisans have lent their names, faces and/or voices to a 72-second public service announcement produced by 20th Century Fox that attacks digital piracy. Jim Gianopulos, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment says that Fox, working with the MPAA, has reached agreements with a number of major motion picture exhibitors to play the PSA during pre-shows.


DIGITAL PROJECTORS LOOKING FOR WORK

Despite George Lucas's efforts to convince movie theater owners to show last year's Star Wars: Episode II --Attack of the Clones, with digital projectors, few theaters have taken his encouragement to heart. And those who did laid out big bucks for digital projectors that are now lying essentially idle. Digital projector owners are grumbling because they’re being offered few other films in digital format. Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted Katharine Wright, an analyst for the U.K.-based Dodona, which monitors international exhibitors, as saying: "In America, a lot of cinemas got digital projectors for Attack of the Clones. Since then, not very much has happened because [the projection equipment] is expensive and there aren't enough digital films to make it worthwhile."



VIVENDI UNIVERSAL - BIGGEST LOSS IN FRENCH HISTORY

Vivendi Universal, the world's second largest media conglomerate, posted the largest loss in French corporate history -- $25.2 billion, much of it from writing down the value of the entertainment assets. This is more than twice the loss Vivendi reported a year ago. Analysts predict that unless the company sells off $7.7 billion in assets by the end of the year, the company will be unable to make interest payments to its creditors. While the company continues to negotiate for the sale of it’s U.S. entertainment assets, they caught a breath of fresh air when they managed to obtain a three-year $2.7-billion loan from a bank consortium to replace the $1-billion emergency loan the company secured last year as it struggled to avoid bankruptcy.


BOX OFFICE SOARS BUT SO DO COSTS

The U.S. film boxoffice soared to a record $9.52 billion last year and admissions rose 10% to 1.64 billion, but MPAA president and CEO Jack Valenti has also reported that the costs of making a movie, which had declined in 2001, increased astonishingly last year. The 13% boxoffice increase from the previous year was the largest year-to-year increase in 20 years and continues the 11th straight year of expansion. Admissions at 1.64 billion represents the highest tally since 1957. But while the boxoffice and admission tallies of 10% and 13% were good news, Valenti noted that the price hike spiral was back in 2002, boosting the cost of making and marketing a movie for an MPAA by nearly 14% over 2001 costs. The combined cost of negatives and prints and advertising alone jumped a whopping 27%. It was the largest percentage increase since 1997. The price increases resulted in an average cost of $89.4 million for making and marketing a feature film in 2002.


EU SET FOR PIRACY CONFERENCE

TThe Culture, Copyright and Information Society conference will be hosted by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos April 7-8 in Athens and will feature officials from EU governments, the European Commission and the World Intellectual Property Organization as well as university professors, lawyers and representatives from the music and movie industries. The delegates will address what mechanisms are available and can be used to stamp out the wide spread illegal copying that the cinema and music industries claim is decimating them. They will also examine whether new file-sharing technologies make copyright protection irrelevant.



VHS LOSES OUT TO DVD

For the first time, rentals of DVD releases surpassed those for VHS for the week ending March 16, according to the Video Software Dealers Association. DVD rentals totaled $80 million, while VHS rentals totaled $78 million. "We're real excited about this," VSDA spokesman Sean Bersell told the Los Angeles Daily News. "This shows the tremendous impact of DVD on the home video industry. It continues to exceed everyone's expectations and continues to drive the growth of the home video industry."


A CHILLY WINTER BOX OFFICE

NThe winter box-office season dropped 11 percent from last year, falling to $1.55 billion from $1.75 billion last year. Total admissions fell 16 percent to 257.3 million versus last winter's 305.5 million. The decline is primarily blamed on weaker hold-over performances by top holiday releases. Despite the losses, the winter season was still the third best in box-office history, largely thanks to consumers who were forced to pay higher ticket prices. Despite the winter dip, the annual boxoffice and admissions figures set new records for last year.


CONGRESS CREATES MEDIA FORUM

Members of Congress have formed the Congressional Entertainment Caucus, which will serve as a forum for congressional members who have an interest in media and entertainment issues. Citing the hundreds of thousands of jobs and $500 billion in annual revenue generated by the entertainment industry, U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., announced the caucus' creation saying, "Congress should be attuned to the needs of this community, which is inextricably connected to our economy and American values and traditions. Now more than ever, Congress needs to understand the challenges of copyright protection, runaway production and the development of new digital mediums, among other pressing issues." Currently, a bipartisan group of 27 congressional representatives make up the caucus.