Posts Tagged movies

What’s The Verdict: Were Mike Huckabee’s anti-Hollywood phone calls more like a survey or telemarketing? Will he be held liable?

What’s The Verdict: Were Mike Huckabee’s anti-Hollywood phone calls more like a survey or telemarketing? Will he be held liable?

Just earlier today, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a lawsuit that accuses U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee along with others of violating telemarketing laws.  The lower court rejected the case, but after today’s decision, Huckabee and others will again face a class action lawsuit over millions of prerecorded  phone message delivered on behalf of the film Last Ounce of Courage back in 2012.

So, what actually happened that led to the lawsuit?

Huckabee was tapped by the film’s producers including Veritas Entertainment in an attempt to get people to a see a movie about a son of fallen U.S. soldier.  The film was Last Ounce of Courage.  To be more precise, there were about 34 million calls to residential phone lines and cells phone.  Based on the script, Huckabee was promoting the film by pitching it as ‘anti-Hollywood.’ For example, Huckabee would call residents and ask the following:

“Do you agree that traditional American values are under attack in mainstream media and by our government?” As well as, “Would you, like me, Mike Huckabee, like to see Hollywood respect and promote traditional American values?”

Two St. Louis residents, Ron Golan and Dorit Golan, filed a $5 million class action suit on behalf of themselves as well as other claiming that the calls were a violation of the Telephone Communication Protection Act and Missouri’s Do Not Call Law. Turns out that the Golans weren’t actually in their home to hear the message but were left with voicemails on their answering machine.

In May 2014, a federal judge rejected the lawsuit because the plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate an injury sufficient enough to give them standing for a law intended to crack down on robocalls.  However, the 8th Circuit judge Diana Murphy has decided to read the law more broadly than the district judge who rejected.  Judge Murphy says that the lower court judge erred in dismissing the claims.

The defendants are arguing that the calls do not fall under the category of telemarketing or advertising, but were more for information gathering with survey questions.  It is now the role of the appeals court to examine and determine the context of the calls to see if the purpose was to promote goods.  Judge Murphy states in her opinion that the messages appeared to be survey-like by asking if recipients had traditional American values, but clearly acknowledges that the producers were most concerned with getting viewers of the film rather than gathering information.

Overall, Judge Murphy recognizes that the Golans are not subject to a unique defense nor did the suffer a unique injury, but what matters for all class members (including Golans) is that the phone calls placed by Huckabee were initiated for the purposes of promoting Last Ounce of Courage.  Additionally, she does not rule on whether or not Huckabee could be “vicariously liable” and is leaving that to the lower district court.

Judge Murphy has reversed the lower court judge’s opinion, meaning the case has been revived and remanded.  The final decision will be left to a lower district court judge.

The case is Golan et al v. Veritas Entertainment LLC et al, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-2484.

What do you think the lower court judge will do this time around? Stay tuned for more updates on What’s The Verdict!

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What’s The Verdict: Will the success of Entourage mean an end to female driven storylines?

What’s The Verdict: Will the success of Entourage mean an end to female driven storylines?

Entourage may prove to be one of the biggest films of the summer, and even the year. Fandango reported that more than 50% of its online sales today have been for tickets to the anticipated film debut of the popular HBO series. The film, which aired special previews across the country this past Tuesday was already able to hit a $2 million in ticket sales record.

With these starting numbers Entourage is sure to break a couple of records. But what effect will this have on female driven films in the industry? Over the past coupe of years female driven casts have become more and more prominent. Even films that would have traditionally thought of as male driven have begun to feature strong female leads.

Mad Max, a film that was originally male driven featured several female protagonists in the remake released last month. For a while it seemed as though the trend of large ensemble cast type films was to integrate both female and male characters.

Entourage presents audiences with a change to this trend. The film is entirely male driven. While it does feature female characters and cameos the storyline, like the HBO show, will revolve around its male actors.

With the film projected to break a series of records for both summer films, and the industry in general, will its all male cast send a message to content creators? Will the industry revert back to featuring all male casts?

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Collective Bargaining Hollywood Style: Entourage stars Get $2mil each negotiating as one

Collective Bargaining Hollywood Style: Entourage stars Get $2mil each negotiating as one

After years of speculation and anticipation the HBO hit series Entourage will finally make it to the silver screen. Its long journey to the world’s movie theaters, as with most Hollywood big budget productions, was not without controversy and delay. In a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter, Kevin Dillon, who co-stars in the film said that discussion about a potential film had begun as early as 2008, the same year that HBO’s Sex and the City made its film debut.  Much of the delay was due to writer and director, Doug Ellin’s inability to come up with a script and storyline for the feature. However, once the script was completed the film would be further delayed by marathon salary negotiations.

One of the project’s main stars, Jeremy Piven, who was the only established celebrity prior to the original show’s conception, received a salary that left the other actors feeling like they deserved more than originally offered. After negotiations were finally completed Piven walked away with a cool $5 million, and the film’s other stars, Adrian Gernier, Jerry Ferrera, and Kevin Dillon, each signed deals worth $2 million.

In his interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Grenier discusses how he, Ferrera, and Dillon negotiated as a single unit to get their final deal, “We recognized that we had more leverage when we were aligned.” The utilization of collective bargaining between the project’s stars and the studio is very interesting and could start a new trend in contract negotiations. Rather than negotiate separate deals and contracts it seems as though Gerneir, Ferrera, and Dillon opted to negotiate as a single unit. This allowed them to secure the same uniform deal of $2 million each, rather than have their agents and attorney’s negotiate several different deals for each star. This technique can prove to be a rather effective one for ensemble cast projects, where all the stars can work together to secure a favorable payout.

Stay tuned for more on What’s The Verdict!

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Entertainment One Launches $100 Million Movie Fund

With the company’s brand new film division head Harold van Lier at the helm of the venture, Entertainment One has set up a $100 million film acquisition fund. The fund will be utilized to acquire worldwide rights on “premium commercial films”. Reportedly, Van Lier who was previously the executive VP of international distribution at StudioCanal, is jumpstarting eOne Film International’s film financing sector to leverage financing secured from eOne territories, on top of acquiring worldwide rights. 

In a statement released by the company, a representative asserted that the acquisition fund is evidence of the company’s “considerable commitment and enhanced spending-power” and will “offer producers a substantial investment in their films and ideally positions eOne to secure wide-appeal commercial titles for both direct and international distribution.” The company’s strengthened partnership potential will be further reinforced by a production financing deal with City National Bank and OneWest Bank for projects in which eOne Films International “significantly” invests.

Sounds like exciting news for producers! 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/entertainment-one-launches-100-million-668808

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China’s Box Office Catapults 27% in 2013 to $3.6 Billion

China, the world’s second largest movie market, enjoyed box office revenue in 2013 that rose $760 million from the previous year. For a total increase of 27% over the last year year, China’s box office has reportedly hit $3.57 billion as determined by preliminary data. Although the revenue is certainly a robust figure, it falls just shy of the projected goal of $3.64 billion for the year. Hollywood should, however, take note that U.S. films did not perform as well as in previous years. The surge in the Chinese box office numbers is due in large part to the strength of local films. The number one film in China last year, raking in $205.9 million, was ‘Journey to the West: Conquering the Dreams’ followed by ‘Iron Man 3’. The official tally for China’s 2013 box office revenue is expected to be updated by the end of January.   

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/china-2013-box-office-surges-668181

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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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Paramount Settles Colossal Film Slate Lawsuit

On Thursday Paramount finally settled a three-year-old film slate lawsuit. The suit was brought by asset management company Content Partners whose investors, include Mark Cuban. Paramount was accused of cheating profit participants on twenty-five films such as 1990s blockblusters ‘The Truman Show”, “Face/Off” and “Runaway Bride”. In the aggregate, the suit was worth more than $100M. The complaint contended that Paramount sought to make films at minimal risk to itself, while deriving millions in misappropriated sums. Paramount responded by blaming JPMorgan for making a secret deal to get out of “risk-free” loans. In September, the judge found that the counterclaims would only be sufficient if JPMorgan was joined as a cross-defendant and gave Paramount twenty days to amend the cross-complaint. A summary judgment hearing was scheduled for next week but the parties settled in lieu of continuing litigation.  

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/paramount-settles-big-film-slate-665363

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