MediaFile

“Jackass 3D” tops “Avatar” on Viacom Chief’s movie list

Viacom Chief: Favorite 3D movie not Avatar

“My favorite 3D movie of all time is Jackass 3D,” Viacom’s Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said on Wednesday at  Reuters Global Media Summit. The movie, which grossed $116 million in the United States, according to Box Office Mojo was  “relatively low cost” and “significantly profitable,” Dauman said.  “You’ll see more of that coming.” 

What else might the future hold for Viacom in 3D? Possibly Snooki.

Reuters Breakingviews columnist Rob Cox asked Dauman if audiences can  soon expect a Jersey Shore in the third dimension.

“I’d love to see that,” Dauman said, “Gym, tan and laundry in 3D.”

Earlier this month, Viacom said it is selling Harmonix, the video game publisher behind Rock Band and this year’s  Microsoft Kinect hit “Dance Central.”  Dauman said the sale is proceeding swifty but declined to divulge details prospective buyers.  Media Summit  guest chief executives Bobby Kotick and Strauss Zelnick  from Activision Blizzard and Take-Two  respectively, said they’re not interested.

“Whoever puts the best proposal forward from all perspectives will be the winner,” Dauman said.

Beatlemania re-surfaces on eve of Apple event

Britain’s Sky News caused a bit of a stir on the blogosphere on Tuesday after it cited John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, as saying the Beatles back catalog was finally going for sale on iTunes: seemingly confirming a longstanding rumor that had gained momentum ahead of a widely watched Sept 9 Apple music-entertainment event.

But the report by the 24-hour news service, spotted by 9to5Mac and TechCrunch, among others, was stricken off the Sky News Web site hours later and discredited by a numner of other media outlets including Cnet. In response to Reuters’ queries, EMI, which owns the master recordings, sent us this from Ernesto Schmitt, EMI’s global catalog president:

“Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” Schmitt said in comments first made to the Financial Times. Apple declined to comment.

Are advertisers giving Olympics the cold shoulder?

Are the Winter Olympics getting frozen out? Not exactly, but drumming up advertising and sponsorship dollars isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here’s how Andrew Benett, the global chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG, described what’s happening:  “You have a confluence of many factors happening here. One, winter versus summer. Two, a hangover from Beijing. And three, the economic times.”

Of those, the economic situation is the one that’s drawing away most of the money. Bank of America, General Motors, and Home Depot are just some of the big names that have dropped their sponsorship of the U.S. team.

But experts we spoke to also pointed to some broader problems facing the Winter Games. For one thing, behind the scenes, they say the IOC and USOC haven’t always been accommodating with the advertising community. For another, younger audiences (and thus advertisers) just aren’t that into some of the classic winter sports. It’s not that they don’t want to see athletes competing on the mountain — they would just prefer to watch them competing in newer, thrill sports like those of the X Games.

E3: Watching “Rock Band”, thinking “South Park”

Is it just me?

While at the MTV/Harmonix pavilion at E3 checking out the The Beatles “Rock Band” Game demo — a preview of one of the most anticipated games this year — all that I could think of was “South Park.” Or more precisely, the perplexity experienced by Stan’s dad in the episode where he discovers just how popular games like “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” are among the young.

The game, whose graphics and sound are crowd pleasers, will be a mammoth hit after folks like the ones in this video run out and buy it, further proof that the video game industry has branched out to those who might not have bought games before.

Check out the “South Park” clip…

Lastly – a shameless plug for efforts to preserve music education in schools. (Ok, its a LG ad too, but you get the point, right?)

Does the video games industry offer anything distinctively European?

Visitors play at an exhibition stand at the Games Convention 2008 fair in the eastern German city of Leipzig    At Europe’s biggest video games convention in Leipzig last week, evidence of a distinctive European flavour was largely absent, apart from in karaoke-style titles such as Activision’s Guitar Hero or Sony’s SingStar and sports games.
    Music from local bands and singers is a necessity for these titles, and the new World Tour edition of Guitar Hero delivered it in the form of artists such as Germany’s emo-lite Tokio Hotel, Swedish rockers Kent and Spanish 80s classic Radio Futura.
    Sony offered a more unusual twist with a Turkish Party edition of SingStar for release in Germany in November, to capitalise on the country’s large Turkish population as well as nostalgic holidaymakers.
    In the case of sports games, a title such the next annual revamp of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer is understandably expected to sell better in Europe than the United States.
    But outside these two genres, industry executives struggled to pin down differences. Konami’s head of Europe, Kunio Neo, noted that Europeans did not take to games with manga-style graphics as readily as gamers in the company’s Japanese homeland. Konami also said it expected one game in development, Lords of Shadow, to appeal particularly to European sensibilities — early artwork leans heavily on director Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth, which was set in Spain.
    Neo’s counterpart at Electronic Arts, Jens Uwe Intat, made similar claims for Mirror’s Edge, which he said had a high-end aesthetic which he hoped would be particularly successful in Europe.
    But Intat in general saw little difference between what made a hit game in Europe compared to the United States.
    “With the exception of American football all franchises that work in the U.S. work in Europe too — though as in the movie industry you see slightly different top tens,” he told Reuters just before the start of the Leipzig event.
    Yet critics can easily point to distinctive traditions of French, Italian and British film alongside Hollywood and Japanese movies, which has no equivalent in video games. Why do you think this is? Does it bother you?

Video games industry appeals to core gamers at Leipzig convention

gamersleipzig.jpg

    The rise of casual video gaming may have grabbed the headlines over the past couple of years, but the more hardcore end of the market dominated at Europe’s biggest gaming convention in Leipzig last week.
    Apart from new iterations of popular karaoke-style games such as Activision‘s Guitar Hero, Electronic ArtsRockBand and Sony‘s SingStar, which arguably kick-started the trend of easy-to-play casual fare, the world’s biggest games publishers focused on products for their core audience.
    Upcoming release Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 was a case in point. Not only does the game involve sending dozens of types of futuristic military unit across apocalyptic landscapes, but EA was marketing it in part on the basis that one of the
actresses in it, Jenny McCarthy, is a former Playboy playmate of the year.
    Most publishers were playing it safe, focusing on sequels such as a new version of The Sims – the virtual doll’s house franchise which has sold over 100 million copies since launch in 200? — or movie tie-ins such as a game based on new James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
    True innovation was thin on the ground, at least on a whistle-stop tour view of the main publishers’ offerings. Ubisoft demoed a game in the same genre as Command and Conquer which could be fully voice-controlled — apparently a first for consoles — while Sony previewed LittleBigPlanet. This marries the hot theme of user-designed content (think YouTube or MySpace) to an age-old platforming mechanic, the basics of which that would be familiar to anyone who had played Nintendo‘s Mario games.
    Cute sack-doll characters jump over flames and on to rising platforms, but the novelty is that most of the game, from the characters’ outfits and personalities to the landscapes over which they clamber can be modified by players and shared online.
    But for two of the other most hotly awaited games of the season, there was no news, albeit for opposite reasons. EA’s Spore, in which players guide a lifeform in the Darwinian struggle from primaeval soup to interplanetary conflict, is due out on Sept. 4 and had already been presented in near-final form at other events, so did not get a spot in EA’s main presentation.
    World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the next installment of the online role-playing game that has over 10 million subscribers — was available to play in an early form, but it remained unclear when the final version would be on sale. A spokesman for Activision unit Blizzard could not even confirm it would definitely be out before Christmas.

    * Where do you think gaming is going in the run-up to this year’s holiday season? Were you at the Leipzig Games Convention? Tell us what you think below.

The Who rocks out for the “Rock Band” generation

thewho.JPGHarmonix threw the hottest and most exclusive party of the E3 conference on Wednesday night at L.A.’s Orpheum Theater. The “Rock Band Bash” concert celebrated Harmonix’s upcoming “Rock Band 2″ game and featured a private concert by one of the band’s included in the game’s updated tracklist — The Who. 

When we went to pick up our tickets at the MTV Games E3 showroom late Wednesday afternoon, a line of hopeful concertgoers snaked around the entrance. But their dreams were dashed moments later as their names weren’t on on the exclusive “invite-only” guest list that included “24″ star Kiefer Sutherland and AC/DC drummer Chris Slade.

It was clear we had one of the most coveted tickets in town.

Concertgoers had a chance to try out the new “Rock Band 2″ game before showtime.  About twenty minutes before the concert started, there was a mad sprint to grab the perfect seat. But the Orpheum wasn’t packed by any means, which made it almost like a private concert with the Who. 

“Rock Revolution” longs for hit

rr1.JPG As the creator of video game hits “Dance Dance Revolution”  and “Karaoke Revolution,” Konami has proved its chops in music video games. But now the Japanese game developer is moving into “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” territory with rock music game “Rock Revolution.”

Reporter Jennifer Martinez tried out Konami’s E3 demo room to test the game and found crisp and colorful graphics — which were nearly identical to those of the two older rivals.

As in “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band”, “Rock Revolution” players follow color-coded notes streaming on a television screen to play a rock song and earn points if the song is played correctly.

Viacom rocks with Rock Band

Viacom Chairman Redstone holds $20 bill out to photographers as he poses with wife Fortunato at 80th annual Academy Awards in HollywoodYoutube video we wish existed: Sumner Redstone rocking out on “Rock Band” to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” or Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

In the meantime we can assume that Viacom’s octogenarian executive chairman is rockin’ today after the media conglomerate said its first quarter profit rose 33 percent on strong sales of the “Rock Band” video game and higher advertising revenue at MTV Networks. Revenue rose 15 percent to $3.1 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $3 billion.

It gets even better in the Viacom executive suite, at least for today — its film “Iron Man” kicks off the summer blockbuster season to positive reviews, including that of tough Wall Street Journal reviewer Joe Morgenstern who said it had “exhilarating” action and “scintillating” comedy.