Walt Disney Studios Announces Start of Production on Maleficent

The Walt Disney Studios announced today that production began Wednesday, June 13th, on “Maleficent,” starring Academy Award–winning actress Angelina Jolie.

Directed by two-time Oscar-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (“Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland”), in his directorial debut, and produced by Joe Roth, “Maleficent” is written by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast”) and executive produced by Angelina Jolie, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palak Patel.

Co-starring in the film are Sharlto Copley (“District 9”), Elle Fanning (“Super 8”), Sam Riley (“On the Road”), Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”), Miranda Richardson (“The Hours”), Juno Temple (“Atonement”) and Lesley Manville (“Secrets & Lies”).

This is the untold story of Disney’s most beloved villain, Maleficent, from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” The film reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora.

Behind-the-scenes talent includes Academy Award–winning cinematographer Dean Semler (“Dances with Wolves,” “In the Land of Blood and Honey”), production designer Gary Freeman (“Saving Private Ryan,” “The Bourne Supremacy”), two-time Oscar nominated costume designer Anna B. Sheppard (“Schindler’s List,” “The Pianist”) and seven-time Academy Award–winning makeup artist Rick Baker (“Planet of the Apes,” “Men in Black”).

“Maleficent” is scheduled for a March 14, 2014 release in 3D.

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection To Be Released On September 25, 2012

Fifteen of the most acclaimed films by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock come together on Blu-ray for the first time ever when Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection is released on September 25, 2012 for a limited time only.

Digitally restored from high-quality film elements and presented in perfect high-definition picture and sound, Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection brings the Master of Suspense’s best work to home audiences as it’s never been seen before. This ultimate collector’s set features 13 films previously unavailable on Blu-ray, a collectible 50-page book featuring storyboards, costume sketches, correspondence, photographs, and much more. Plus a treasure trove of over 15 hours of documentaries, filmmaker commentaries, interviews, screen tests, trailers and a new documentary “The Birds, Hitchcock’s Monster Movie,” enough to satisfy even the most ardent Hitchcock fan.

Spanning three-and-a-half decades of the director’s prolific career, Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection includes the classic thrillers Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Marnie, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, The Trouble with Harry, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy and Family Plot.

Frequent moviegoing has Plummeted

Frequent moviegoing has plummeted among entertainment options for Americans during the past three years, according to results of an annual survey by the public relations giant Edelman. The study, which looks at attitudes and preferences of U.S. and UK entertainment consumers and the impact of social media, was presented today at the Soho House in West Hollywood. It shows that TV remains the most-used source of entertainment (45% of Americans frequently turn to it for entertainment, and 58% in the UK), while the Internet continues to creep up in usage (34% of U.S., 27% of UK). The real loser, however, was “cinema/movies,” which now rate as a “frequent source of entertainment” among just 3% of U.S. consumers, down from 28% in the survey just two years ago.

“It confirms some of what we’ve been seeing with declining movie attendance, which had a 16-year low in 2011”, said Gail Becker, Edelman’s chair for the Western Region, Canada and Latin America. “But I think the bigger change is in the perceived value of entertainment content.” All categories of entertainment “moved up together in both countries”, she added. “It signifies how this entertainment ecosystem is lifting all boats”. Becker was referring to other survey findings that showed a huge uptick — in most cases doubling — in the value audiences put on six categories of entertainment: music, film, cable TV, satellite TV, social networks and games.

The survey results also show that bad entertainment products are swiftly and widely punished with negative comments on social media sites. That reality puts a greater premium than ever on creating really good content, because the bad stuff won’t survive long, said members of a panel discussing the survey results. “You can’t market your way out of a bad product anymore,” said Jonathan Anastas, VP Global Brand Marketing for Activision, the world’s largest game company. “People are spending more time on fewer brands. You have to have a great product and figure out how to activate those triggers in people (to get them engaged and watching). It’s a combination of top down and bottom up.”

Top Facebook Exec Leaving To Do His Own Thing, More Departures Could Follow

And so it begins: Facebook CTO and platform guru Bret Taylor is leaving Facebook this summer,  off to do a startup with Google App Engine founder Kevin Gibbs. Taylor confirmed the news in (of course) a Facebook update.

This is one of the first in a wave of Facebook departures we’re hearing, as a slew of older employees have hit their four year stock cliffs, and the 90 day IPO lockout fast approaches. According to a source, many Facebook employees including one other executive are already planning what to do next.

It makes sense. With the stock price low, additional RSUs granted to keep people sticking around won’t be nearly as good a retention mechanism.

I’ve also been hearing separately that due to the IPO fallout, Facebook is currently under a modified hiring freeze, with groups that were previously allotted slots for senior-level positions having had those slots reneged. Lower level deals and hires are still happening from what I’m hearing.

So is this a harbinger of a hiring sea change? Facebook has had a monopoly on the best and brightest engineering talent for the past couple of years and it’ll shake the Valley to its core if this is indeed the case.

Well, if the founder life isn’t for you future Facebook refugee, we hear Pinterest is hiring.

Microsoft Said to Debut Its Own Windows Tablet Next Week

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will announce plans to sell a tablet running the next version of the Windows operating system under its own brand, a major departure from its strategy of partnering with computer makers, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The Redmond, Washington-based company may demonstrate the device at an event in Los Angeles on June 18, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. The company has said it aims to release the new Windows 8 operating system in time for the holiday season.

Microsoft Said to Plan Branded Tablet Computer Debut Next Week

Microsoft Said to Plan Branded Tablet Computer Debut Next Week

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Windows 8 software on tablet devices at the Microsoft Corp. Windows 8 software consumer preview event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Microsoft has been working with personal-computer makers to produce Windows 8 tablets, designed to win back consumers who have shunned Windows machines in favor of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad. The world’s largest software maker may be taking steps to exert more control over the hardware that runs its programs — as Apple does — in order to mount a more successful challenge.

“If Microsoft wants to control the entire user experience and the entire quality of their products, they have to build their own hardware,” said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Washington-based market-research firm.

Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment.

Yesterday, the company invited press via e-mail to an event in Los Angeles on June 18 at 3:30 p.m., at a location to be disclosed later.

“This will be a major Microsoft announcement — you will not want to miss it,” the invitation said.

Software Focus

Since the release of International Business Machines Corp.’s first PC in 1981, Microsoft has focused on software for the machines and left design and branding to hardware makers. While the company has in the past decade played a larger role in working with some PC makers on design, it has shied away from developing the machines and selling them under the Microsoft brand.

The shift in strategy has the potential to sour Microsoft’s relationship with some PC partners, many of which have been investing to develop Windows 8 tablets themselves and may not want to compete directly with Microsoft.

Still, PC makers may have limited recourse, said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners LP in New York. Apple doesn’t license its software to computer makers, and Google Inc. (GOOG), which makes the Android operating system, will probably make its own tablets through its recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

Tablet Options

“If you’re a computer maker, you don’t love it,” Gillis said. “But what are you going to do? Build an Android tablet? Google is going to build its own tablet, too. Everyone is making their own hardware now. It’s like having a poodle in your purse. All the cool kids are doing it.”

The addition of a tablet would radically alterprofitability in the Windows business, which now sells just software with operating margins of more than 60 percent. By comparison, computer maker Dell Inc. (DELL)’s operating margin for the most recent fiscal year was about 7 percent.

A move into tablets would be a similar strategy to the one Microsoft employed with its Zune music and video player. Microsoft initially provided software to partners, who failed to gain share against Apple’s iPod, forcing Microsoft to produce its own hardware. The Zune failed to dent Apple’s dominant market share, and Microsoft canceled the product last year.

Controlled Experience

For Microsoft, sticking with devices from its PC partners only may be equally risky. Sales in the Windows group have missed analysts’ estimates in four of the six most recent quarters as consumers shifted to purchasing tablets rather than lower-cost laptop PCs running Windows. Microsoft, which initially released a version of Windows for tablet machines in 2002 before scaling back, has zero share of the market now, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Selling a branded tablet would help the company make sure the new Windows dovetails exactly with the hardware, avoiding issues that have cropped up when computer makers have added their own software that has degraded or limited the performance or design of Windows.

“The idea would be to make sure Microsoft’s vision for such a device is translated exactly into the consumer experience without a third-party interpretation,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner.

Apple’s Dominance

Apple has expanded its grip on the tablet market even as companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. release new tablets running Google’s Android software and PC makers work to prepare their Windows 8 tablets. Researcher IDC yesterday boosted its forecast for the tablet market on strong demand for the iPad.

Worldwide shipments of tablets this year will be 107.4 million units, up from an earlier projection of 106.1 million, Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC said in a statement. Unit sales may reach 142.8 million next year and 222.1 million by 2016, the researcher said.

IDC predicts the iPad will account for 62.5 percent of global shipments this year, up from 58.2 percent last year. Apple’s share could rise even further if it introduces a smaller, less expensive tablet, IDC said.

Microsoft’s tablet plans were previously reported by entertainment website The Wrap and the All Things D blog.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net; Kathleen Chaykowski in New York at kchaykowski@bloomberg.net


Paramount Pictures Celebrating 100 Years Photo

This is an amazing picture that is worthy of your time.  Be sure to hover over the pictures to see more detail and the names of the people there.



I was privileged to work during my career and still have many friends from my time there.


New Disney Studios Chairman Announced.

BURBANK, Calif. – May 31, 2012 – Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, announced today that Alan Horn has been named Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios effective June 11. Horn will oversee worldwide operations for The Walt Disney Studios including production, distribution and marketing for live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, as well as marketing and distribution for DreamWorks Studios films released under the Touchstone Pictures banner. Disney’s music and theatrical divisions will also report to Horn.

Horn has been a prominent figure in the film and television industry overseeing creative executive teams responsible for some of the world’s most successful entertainment properties including the Harry Potter film franchise and the hit television series Seinfeld among others.

“Alan not only has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the business, he has a true appreciation of movie making as both an art and a business,” said Iger. “He’s earned the respect of the industry for driving tremendous, sustained creative and financial success, and is also known and admired for his impeccable taste and integrity. He brings all of this to his new role leading our studio group, and I truly look forward to working with him.”