MediaFile

Murphy’s ‘Tower Heist’ tries to steal box-office win

“Tower Heist,” an Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller comic caper, is poised to run away with the box-office crown this weekend.

Distributor Universal Pictures projects U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in the neighborhood of $25 million to $30 million for the movie about Manhattan high-rise residents who seek to recoup losses from a Wall Street swindler. That should beat the other big new release, the third installment from goofy, pot-smoking duo Harold & Kumar. “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” is expected to ring up $15 million to $18 million at domestic theaters, according to distributor Warner Bros.

The weekend also will determine if DreamWorks Animation’s two-week debut strategy pays off for “Shrek” spinoff “Puss in Boots.” The cat’s chart-topping $34 million in domestic sales last weekend failed to impress investors, who sent the company’s shares down nearly 8 percent on Monday. The studio planned a big push for the movie’s second weekend, given that Halloween activities occupied many families last weekend.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Media Moguls to iPad: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

The relationship between Apple and the media industry has had its ups and downs, as Apple expanded its reach and exerted increasing control over businesses like music and television program distribution.

But when it comes to Apple’s newest gadget, industry honchos go ga-ga.

We’re midway through the first day of the All Things Digital conference in California’s Palos Verdes on Wednesday, and already the event is turning into something of an iPad lovefest, with heartfelt paeans to the iPad as common as Rolexes at the exclusive gathering of business bigwigs.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, said the iPad was destined to become Apple boss Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy.

Sun Valley: Reuters returns to Idaho

Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co’s media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.

That means nearly every media reporter you can think of will be hovering among the hedgerows and parking lots (and in the bar, naturally), waiting to get a few precious seconds with super-wattage movie executives from DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg to Paramount’s Brad Grey, technology heavyweights such as Michael Dell and Bill Gates, media kingpins Philippe Dauman and Rupert Murdoch and fresh-faced startup darlings like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Evan Williams and Ning’s Gina Bianchini.

Reuters, of course, will be among the press crew at the scene. Reporters Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will show up, as will I, and photographer Rick Wilking will be shooting the pictures that at Sun Valley often tell a more eloquent story than any text dispatch can.

BofA offers “monstrous” promotion

Bank of America’s special coupon promotion of DreamWorks Animation SKG’s upcoming “Monsters vs Aliens” is raising eyebrows even before viewers don their special 3-D glasses for the flick.
“We find it odd that a bank that just received $45 billion in government aid is paying for consumers across the U.S. to see a movie in 3-D vs 2-D at no extra cost,” said Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield in his blog.

Greenfield also ponders whether DreamWorks president Lew Coleman, who happens to be Bank of America’s former vice chairman and CFO, had a role in getting the bank to run the promotion.  Monsters vs Aliens stars Kiefer Sutherland (pictured above), or at least his voice.

DreamWorks declined comment, but directed inquiries to spokesman Joe Goode at Bank of America, who said the news spin on the promotion, which had amounted to a marketing investment of $175,000 for the bank, had reached “monstrous” proportions.

Video games defy economic gloom

U.S. shoppers are still spending in a big way — they are just not buying cars, plane tickets, clothing, etc. But they are buying video games.

While most media segments try to maintain stability during today’s economic turmoil, the video game industry keeps on growing, with U.S. video game hardware and software sales up 10 percent last month according to NPD, fueled by record sales of Nintendo’s Wii console and DS hand-held system.

Nintendo’s Wii console sold over 2 million units in November, up from over 800,000 in the previous month.

Sorting through the spending figures

calculator.jpgSurprise, surprise! Online advertising spending appears to have slipped quarter-to-quarter, the first time that’s happened in three years, according to a new report.

Before pulling your hair out, keep in mind that first quarter online advertising spending rose 18 percent from the year ago period – it’s just that it slipped from the fourth quarter,  according to the IAB. So while still robust, it seems that online advertising isn’t impervious to the economic troubles gripping the United States.

Another report, this one by PricewaterhouseCoopers, takes a longer view of advertising in new media. It finds that advertising tied to digital and mobile media will account for 24 percent of the growth in the media and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.5 percent to 2012.