Box office bounce resuscitates morale

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Now fast-forward 12 months. Propelled by crowd favorites “The Da Vinci Code,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Cars,” “The Break-Up,” “Over the Hedge” and “Nacho Libre,” the movie industry is riding a five-week winning streak and celebrating 12 out of the past 13 weekends that have outgrossed 2005. “Bottom line is, it’s about the movies. Occam’s razor is in effect here,” said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. “You make compelling movies, and people will see them at a greater rate.” The only major box office disappointment has been the disaster flick “Poseidon,” which was ripped apart by critics and has stalled domestically at $56.5 million. Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible III” took in $130.2 million, but the movie was widely considered an underachiever. Year-to-date, domestic box office revenue is up 4.81 percent compared with 2005, and attendance is up 1.64 percent. “This is partly a numbers game, but it’s also a psychological game,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co. “If you just look at sheer numbers versus last year, we’re not even up 2 percent. “But we are way up in terms of morale. Simply the fact that we have had our up weekends outnumbering our down weekends by a huge measure, that just gives us a jump.” But the widespread bashing the movie exhibition took last summer for everything from high ticket prices to rude patron behavior to preshow commercials did not fall on deaf ears, according to John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners. “It’s got to be good movies and a good movie experience,” he said. “Theater operators aren’t ignoring longer-term challenges. We have to innovate and improve the theater-going experience.” Among the issues theater owners are focusing on are transitioning to digital cinema, which will provide sharper images and sound. Also, Fithian said many theaters are trying to combat rudeness with public service announcements and extra vigilance from ushers. He said the preshow commercials, an ever-growing source of income for theater owners, are often being shown now with a mix of behind-the-scene moviemaking featurettes and short films. “We continue to believe that the short-term business is cyclical, and we are in an up mode now, whereas we were in a down mode last year,” Fithian said. “We are glad business is coming back, and that is primarily the result of great movies in the marketplace.” Moviegoers interviewed Monday seem happier overall with this summer’s flock of major films. Raul Gomez, 16, stood in line with friends to buy tickets for “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” Monday afternoon at the AMC Promenade multiplex in Woodland Hills. In recent weeks, Gomez and his pals have seen “The Da Vinci Code,” “Cars” and “Poseidon,” and rated each highly. Compared with last summer, “the movies are getting better and have solid story lines,” said the Birmingham High School student, who prefers a theater to DVD. “I like seeing something on the bigger screen and coming to the movies with my friends and my family.” Standing nearby was Heather Cochran, 23, waiting to buy tickets for “Nacho Libre” with friend Billy Greenburg, also 23. “I’ve been coming to the movies more because they’ve been coming out with less cookie-cutter movies,” Cochran said. The Pierce College student said her favorites so far this summer have been “X-Men” and “Da Vinci.” “There are more movies where they aren’t just catering to teenagers, using a lot of pop music for sound,” Greenburg added. While this year’s revenue is ahead of 2005’s dismal figures, it still pales in comparison with 2004, when Hollywood enjoyed a record year of $9.4 billion in ticket sales. Current grosses are down 2.25 percent compared with two years ago, while attendance is behind by a whopping 8.17 percent. The industry hopes to further close that gap in the coming weeks with some releases that have tremendous commercial potential: the Adam Sandler comedy “Click,” which opens Friday; the highly anticipated and well-reviewed “Superman Returns,” opening June 28; and “Pirates of the the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which bows July 7. “The schedule continues to look strong through the summer, and we’re optimistic,” Fithian said. “But just as we always try and focus on the long term and didn’t get too disturbed by a downswing last year, we won’t get overly optimistic about a short-term upswing this year.” [email protected] (818) 713-3758160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Movie theaters were dead. Tickets and popcorn just cost too much. People preferred DVD over the big screen. Remember a year ago? In June 2005, the movie industry was in the 16th week of a record 19-week box office slowdown – the worst slump in two decades – raising questions about whether a major cultural shift was taking place. At the time, an Associated Press-AOL News poll of 1,000 adults found they preferred watching films at home instead of a theater by almost 3-1. last_img read more

GrandCentral Returns as Google Voice

first_imgfrederic lardinois Google today finally announced its plans for GrandCentral, the telephony service it acquired in July 2007. GrandCentral will be reborn as Google Voice, a comprehensive suite of telephony services, including all of GrandCentral’s features. In addition, Google Voice will also include an automated voicemail transcription service, the ability to send and receive text messages, and integration with your Gmail contacts. Users can now also call any number in the the U.S. for free.Opening up GrandCentralAfter acquiring GrandCentral, Google continued to operate the old service, but didn’t allow new users to sign up. Now, Google has announced that it will first port existing users over to Google Voice in the next couple of days, and will then open up Google Voice to new users.Interface The new interface will look a lot like Gmail, with your inbox, SMS messages, access to voicemail and other features in a sidebar on the left. Making CallsYou can make calls directly from the Google Voice web interface. After you initiate the call, the service will actually first call your mobile phone or landline, and after that your call will be placed over Google’s network. Calls within the U.S. will remain free, and users can purchase credit to make international calls (we don’t have information about the international rates yet, but we assume that they will be competitive with those that Skype currently offers).Google Voice will also offer free conference calls.VoicemailThe automated voicemail transcription feature looks like it will be one of the most useful functions of Google Voice. Transcriptions are fully automated and Google will mark passages in the text where the algorithm was not very confident about the transcription. Transcriptions will automatically appear in your inbox, but Google Voice can also email them to you, or even send you an SMS with the text.Future Integration with Android?We can’t help but wonder if Google will integrate the voicemail and transcription service with Android as well. In this video, Google shows the mobile version of Google Voice in the browser on an Android phone, but we assume that Google will release a dedicated Google Voice app for Android in the future and maybe even make it an integral part of the Android experience (if the carriers allow Google to do so, that is).Just What the Doctor OrderedGoogle Voice looks like a clear winner to us. It takes the best features of GrandCentral and adds a number of important and interesting new features like SMS messaging and voicemail transcriptions. Clearly this is one of the most important products that Google has released in the last couple of months and we will post a more detailed review of the service once it becomes available to us. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Tags:#Google#news#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

The wait for luxury wheels gets longer

first_imgDespite the general slack in demand in the automobile sector, the market for luxury cars is still booming with most manufacturers having waiting period from three to 18 months.Dealers of luxury cars say that despite the general slowdown, the demand for luxury cars has not been hampered but is growing. “There is no slowdown in the luxury car market especially for the young super rich. People understand the value of luxury and they are not only ready to pay for it but are also ready to wait for it. We have buyers who are ready to wait as long as 12-16 months for super sports car,” a senior executive at Exclusive Motors, the sole distributor of Lambourghini in Delhi, said.Due to high demand and slow delivery, buyers for luxury cars brands, including Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Maserati, generally have to wait for six to eight months to get their car.”The demand is good in the luxury segment. The company booked 500 cars in the first five days for which delivery will be done by latest August. But the next slot of buyers may have to wait longer,” Michael Perschke, head, Audi India, told Mail Today.Waiting period is more in the super luxury segment. “For entry-level models, waiting period is maximum two to three months. Waiting period is more for imported cars as manufacturers import cars only against confirmed bookings and full payments. For cars which are assembled locally waiting period is less,” said a BMW showroom owner in Mumbai.advertisementFor some costly models of Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini, waiting period is as high as 15 months. As these cars are customised as per specific needs of the buyer, delivery time is long, say carmakers.”Company’s aim is to satisfy customers’ needs. Cars are customised as per the buyers’ needs. That is why it takes time,” Sirish Chandra, head (communication), Porche India, said.last_img read more