Posts Tagged ‘recession’

Movie Stars Go to the Small Screen

October 27, 2011

Lately, major film stars have turned up on television shows and I’m not talking about guest appearances. Christina Ricci is on the ABC drama Pan Am. Zooey Deschanel is in the FOX sitcom New Girl. Believe it or not, back in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was verboten for movie actors to do anything on television. When the studio system dissolved, television evolved into a training ground for many, many actors. Take Sally Field, she got her start in television shows such as Gidget and The Flying Nun, then she went to movies such as Norma Rae, Places in the Heart and, yes, all those Smokey and the Bandit films. George Clooney took a similar path to film, since he learned the craft on various sitcoms before hitting the jackpot with the NBC drama ER. He then did some back and forth between film and television, before settling on film. Now, there seems to be going back and forth between television and film. In fact Sally Field went back on television, since she was on the ABC drama Brothers and Sisters. Anyway, this is interesting enough to get me thinking. (Oh geez! There you go again. You must be saying now.) So, here’s my take on this development.

It’s the Recession
While Ricci was in the Adams Family films and Deschanel was in Elf, these aren’t actress known for working in blockbusters. So, while the studios are spitting out remakes and retreads, since they are sure bets in these economic times, actresses like Ricci and Deschanel are left scrambling for work. Where can they find work? Independent films? Maybe. Yet, if they want a more regular paycheck, there’s television and that’s where they went. After all, there’s nothing wrong with following the money.

Willingness to Try Something Different
Ricci and Deschanel are both young enough to try something new without their career’s taking a big hit. If they want to grow as actresses, they should be on the lookout for roles that aren’t just “girl next door” or types they’ve done before. If these roles are found on television, then what’s the harm in signing up with a television program? Lucille Ball worked in film for 20 years before she went to television and no one faults her for making the switch.

Demographics
This applies to more to Sally Field, than to Ricci and Deschanel. The audience for film skews towards the 18 to 35 demographic. So, it can be difficult for actresses over 40 to find roles in film that aren’t just the killjoy or shrewish mom. If an actress over 40 wants to keep working and have roles that are more than just “types”, series television is a viable option.

So, if actors and actresses like Field, Deschanel and Ricci find a role that helps them to grow as artists or even if it just helps to pay their bills, more power to them. Opportunities aren’t always found where one would expect them. If doing something different helps them out, good for them. They are taking responsibility for their lives. No matter who you are or what stage of live you are in, that’s always a good thing.

Sources:
http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/09/21/new-girl-zooey-deschanel-terrible/

http://screenrant.com/pan-am-series-premiere-review-mcrid-133372/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000398/

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Don’t Blame Mom That You’re Not A Millionaire

October 13, 2011

A recent story in USA Today dealt with how people are turning to collectibles and antiques as investment vehicles. Since the stock market tanked in 2008 and has yet to fully recover, many people taking their money and buying old comic books, movie posters and similar items in the hope that they will get a better ROI* than their 401K**.

Of course, what sets a collectible apart is that it is an actual thing that people can hold in their hand or hang on their wall and admire. After all, when was the last time you looked at your quarterly statements and thought “What a thing of beauty all those numbers are.” Yet, the trouble with articles like the one in USA Today is that it encourages people to go out and buy lots of stuff in the hopes it will be “worth lots of money someday.” Yes, there are items for sale at thrift stores, flea markets and on eBay that are being sold for a faction of their true value. Conversely, there are items that are only worth what someone paid for them in 1998 and it’s not even close enough to make a person quit his or her job and live a life of ease. With all this stuff floating around, how can a person tell what’s valuable and what’s not.

Educating yourself before buying anything helps. No one wants to learn the hard way that the original that they paid $$$$ for is a fake worth $. Read books. Go online and find out the going price for the item in question. Terapeak.com is a website where a person can learn how much an item sells for on eBay. If the item a person wants to buy is more expensive than a Beanie Baby or Power Ranger action figure, it helps to buy from an established auction house. The appraisers at the auction house did their due diligence, so a person can rest easy knowing that the item he or she wants to buy is the real thing.

It also helps to realize that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. The Internet makes it very easy for fly by night types to fly by and take your money. So, it is a good idea for a person not to suspend his or her skepticism just because a good deal comes along. Of course, despite what experts will say, my advice remains to purchase a movie poster or other item of pop culture for enjoyment purposes, not for investment purposes. In addition to all the fakes being sold as the real thing, there’s the problem of no one knowing which item from 2011 will be worth lots of money and which item won’t be worth much.

As for all the comic books your Mom threw out that turned out to be worth lots of money, don’t get mad at her. If you had taken better care of them and not left them lying around on the floor in your room, she would not have thrown them out. In time, you could have sold them for a pretty penny (and dollar too) and ended up living a life of ease. Okay not really, I was just exaggerating. Still, if you take care of your comic books or other doo-dads, you will get more enjoyment out of them and that’s something even a recession can’t take away.

Note: The mention of Terapeak.com was done for informational purposes. It was not an endorsement of the service.

*ROI—Return on investment. For example if you buy a stock at $10 a share and you later sell it for $15 a share, your ROI was $5 a share.

**401K—This is a defined contribution plan set up by companies in the U.S. in place of a pension where an employee can have a portion of his or her pay set aside for retirement before taxes are taken out. Sometimes companies can match the employee’s contribution dollar for dollar. What makes the 401K attractive is that if an employee goes to another company, he or she can bring the 401K to the new company and he or she loses nothing. Pensions don’t have that portability. (/www.investorwords.com/11/401k_plan.html)

Sources:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/columnist/waggon/story/2011-09-01/Gold-in-the-attic-Furniture-coins-and-hellip-Ninja-Turtles/50224150/1

Hunter, Lisa. “Author Q & A Internet has Broadened the Art and Collectibles Market for the Better” Heritage Magazine, Spring 2008, pg 68-69

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1

 

Blockbuster Movies—A New Investment Vehicle?

September 8, 2010

Blockbuster movies make money—lots of it. The box office totals for the summer of 2010, while not surpassing last year’s total of $4.19 billion, were $4.05 billion. Yes, the ongoing recession had an effect on ticket sales. Still, there was a lot of cha-chinging at movie theaters around the country.

Believe it or not, someone figured out a way to spread the box office wealth. According to an article in the April 28, 2010 Knowledge @ Wharton, an online business journal from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approved a futures exchange that will match buyers and sellers of future movie receipts.  That means an investor can purchase a share of a particular movie’s future revenue stream. The exchange is sponsored by New York investment bank, Cantor Fitzgerald.

Not everyone is sold on the idea of an exchange based on a movie’s revenue. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Directors Guild of America oppose this exchange and a similar one developed by an Indiana based company called Media Derivatives. Many at the major studios feel that this would lead to insider trading and people betting against movies and using their influence to make sure that the film isn’t successful.  Of course, that is illegal, but that won’t stop some people with vendettas against those involved in the film. (See my blog entry of December 24, 2009, What Makes a Flop? )

While agricultural future exchanges, such as wheat, corn and pork bellies, are used as a way for both buyers and sellers to hedge their risk, the trouble comes when sellers have more information then buyers. In agricultural future exchanges, both buyer and seller have the same amount of information and the product is a commodity, meaning there is little differentiation of the product. That’s not the case with movies and movie studios. If a seller knows more than a buyer, for example, a movie studio knows that a certain movie won’t do well based on marketing tests, they will sell movies that will be box office duds, so as to get their money but not give any to investors. Since that is a concern, in April 2010 Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) from Arkansas and chairperson of the Senate Agriculture Committee that oversees commodity trading, sided with the studios and placed a ban on the exchange.

I don’t think that is the end of the story when it comes to financing movies. While blockbuster movies make money, they also cost money. So, something else will come along that allows people to invest in the movies.

Note: I am not endorsing any type of investment, nor am I soliciting for any financial or investment company.  The investments and companies mentioned in this blog entry are listed for informational purposes only.

Sources:
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2477

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1