Archive for December, 2013

HBO Triumphs in Decade Old Gunshot Case

Last week HBO won an appellate victory in a lawsuit brought by a gunshot victim who suffered injuries during a New York police raid. The woman sued the producers of a reality show for allegedly encouraging police to use excessive force while filming the raid for an episode. The incident, which occurred in 2001, was partially funded by HBO who was putting together footage for a tentative reality TV show featuring emergency service units (ESU) and NYPD. The film crew captured an ESU squad as they executed a search warrant in an apartment allegedly being used to sell stolen goods. One of the detectives mistook an object in the victim’s hands to be a gun and shot her once in the abdomen as she hid in a bathroom.

The victim also sued NYPD and the city of New York but that case has continued over the last decade. The claims included that the producers conspired with the police to use excessive force during the execution of the search warrant in order to maximize the entertainment value of the footage, however, that claim failed. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment dismissal granted by the lower court. 

Do you agree with the dismissal in this case?

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Movie Magic: A Recap of This Year’s Box Office Hits

After a robust Christmas season, it is safe to say that the industry will be celebrating a record breaking year in North American box office numbers. Analysts projected that as of this past Sunday, box office revenue would equal the 2012 record of $10.8 billion which meant that with two more days to go before 2014, the final tally would likely be around $10.9 billion. The top earning holiday films included: ‘The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Anchorman 2’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

Although those films dominated the holiday season box office, there are several notable films that contributed to the year’s record breaking numbers. ‘Iron Man 3’ is at the top of the list, earning over $409 million at the North American box office. The iron clad marvel superhero was followed closely by ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and ‘Despicable Me 2’ but not so closely by the number four top grossing film of the year ‘Man of Steel’ which brought in $291 million in domestic revenue. The motion picture industry will have plenty to celebrate this evening as we ring in the new year! 

What was your favorite motion picture of 2013?

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New App Let’s You Listen to Movies in Theaters in Your Native Language!

New App Let’s You Listen to Movies in Theaters in Your Native Language!

A new application, MyLingo, will allow non-English speaking movie-goers to rent an audio track in their native language.  The app synchs with the English audio playing in the theater, and all the movie-goer has to do is download the app (for a rental fee) and plug in their earphones to listen.  A technology called “acoustic fingerprinting” allows this to happen at the same pace as the movie’s English audio.  The company just raised seed financing and is partnering with one of the movie studios in hopes of a 2014 release.  Out of curiosity, do you know people who’d find this useful/might use this?


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Sherlock Holmes: Popular Public Domain Detective

Illinois Federal Judge Ruben Castillo declared the prominent detective Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in publication in 1887, part of the public domain. The lawsuit which was initiated by author and Sherlock Holmes expert, Leslie Klinger, after allegedly being threatened by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was to determine whether the character could still enjoy copyright protection. Klinger sought a declaratory judgment asserting that most of the stories and characters in the Holmes collection now belonged in the public domain. The Doyle estate defended the copyright protection, asserting that the Holmes’ character was developed over time thus it was impossible to sever the detective’s personality into protected and unprotected segments, however the estate was unable to prevail using this argument. Since the current U.S. copyright term is the earliest of either the life of the author plus 70 years or 95 ears after publication, Judge Castillo discussed some elements in post-1923 Holmes stories that remain protected at this time, but nonetheless the pre-1923 stories have become fair game. 

Do you think the outcome of this case will change the nature of the Holmes canon?

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If you are a filmmaker and don’t know how tax credits work, READ THIS!

If you are a filmmaker and don’t know how tax credits work, READ THIS!

Filmmakers have all heard the phrase “tax credits.”  You know they exist, and that you should be taking advantage of them–that they should be included in your finance model.  But do you know how? The LA Times makes it super simple.  Feel free to email or message me if you have questions.

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Kanye West Sued Over Yeezus Track

Kanye West is being sued over the ‘Bound 2’ sample. Old school soul singer Ricky Spicer filed a lawsuit Monday in New York against the superstar rapper for using his voice from the 1971 ‘Bound’ song by the Ponderosa Twins Plus One. Spicer is seeking an injunction and damages for his publicity rights, unjust enrichment and copyright infringement claims. Spicer’s voice is audible yet altered throughout the chorus. 

Do you think Spicer should prevail?

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The Weinsteins and Warner Bros. War Over ‘The Hobbit’

Harvey and Bob Weinstein filed a motion to suspend the arbitration initiated by Warner Bros. over ‘The Hobbit’ profits dispute. The movie moguls sued Warner Bros. earlier this month, claiming an entitlement to a percentage of revenue from the second and third Hobbit films. The Weinsteins are hoping to nix the arbitration in favor of a trial.

The issues between the two parties arose out of a 1998 agreement, at which time the Weinsteins controlled the film rights to ‘The Hobbit’ via Miramax. Allegedly the deal promised five percent of gross receipts of the “first motion picture” based on the books. Unlike ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’ was just one book and Warner Bros. made the unilateral decision to split the book into three films, much to the dismay of the fans and obviously the Weinsteins. The Weinsteins argue that the decision to make three films in lieu on one, should not affect their compensation or limit it to just the first film. The plaintiffs also contend that the MFN (most favored nations) provision in the contract strengthens their arguments regarding the interpretation of the contract because it purports to pay them no less favorable than the director Peter Jackson. Warner Bros. defends that the contractual language of “first motion picture” is plain and unambiguous.

The second issue with the 1998 agreement deals with the forum selection and arbitration provisions. The forum selection provision asserts that disputes arising from the enforcement or interpretation of the agreement shall be heard in New York court while disputes over definitions, computations and contingent compensation are to be heard in arbitration. Needless to say, the parties are not in agreement about the type of dispute they are having. 

Do you think the Weinsteins are entitled to compensation from the second and third “Hobbit” films under these circumstances?

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