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The Morning Fix: Liberty spins off Starz; Whedon and Disney hit it big

August 08, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • "Avengers" director Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive three-year deal with Disney's Marvel unit.
"Avengers" director Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive three-year… (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel )

After the coffee. Before wondering how to get the journalistic equivalent of Joss Whedon's Marvel deal.

The Skinny: Last night I saw "The Dark Knight Rises" for the second time, and while it's still a great movie — I'm an admitted Nolan fanatic — let's just say that the less time you spend thinking about the villain's plot, the better. Today I woke up to a smorgasbord of media news, with headlines including Liberty spinning off Starz, blockbuster Disney earnings, and details on Ron Meyer's slow fade.

The Daily Dose: Executives at Universal Pictures have big hopes for Tuesday's debut of "The Lorax" on DVD and rightfully so. It grossed a very strong $214 million in the U.S. Surprisingly, however, the adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book has taken in only $118 million overseas. Most 3-D animated movies do even better internationally than in the U.S.

Seeing Starz out the door: John Malone's Liberty Media is spinning off its pay cable channel Starz into a separate company, potentially allowing both to do more dealmaking. Starz will now have its own capital and could potentially merge with another entertainment company. Liberty, meanwhile, is expected to focus on increasing its stakes in Sirius XM Radio and Live Nation Entertainment. There's more in the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

Super-heroic earnings: It was a good quarter for Walt Disney Co. and Bob Iger, as the blockbuster success of "The Avengers" along with the new Cars Land theme park attraction helped generate the largest quarterly per-share earnings in the company's history. Details from the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter notes that Disney slightly missed Wall Street's revenue expectations, but Iger was having none of it.

Most valuable filmmaker: Speaking of Disney, the happiest man at the happiest place on Earth today may just be Joss Whedon. The writer-director is considered so valuable after directing "Avengers" that Disney's Marvel unit has locked him up in an exclusive three-year contract to make "Avengers 2," develop a TV show for ABC and "contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel's cinematic universe." Seriously, that's a direct quote. Here are details from the L.A. Times.

A mogul's slow fade: Longtime Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer isn't going anywhere imminently, but now we may know why his future has been a hot topic of conversation in Hollywood of late. Turns out there's a previously unknown provision in his contract calling for the mogul to transition to an non-operational role as an advisor to NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke well before his contract ends in 2015. Which naturally brings up the question: What then for Universal? Here's the news from the L.A. Times and analysis from the Hollywood Reporter.

Cameron in China: Hey, have you heard the movie business is getting big in China? The latest sign is that "Avatar" director James Cameron and his partner Vince Pace are setting up a new joint venture in the city of Tianjin focused on 3-D and production services. Details from the New York Times and L.A. Times.

Slow rollout for high frame rate: Remember all the buzz at Cinema-Con about the new 48 frames-per-second technology that Peter Jackson is using in "The Hobbit"? Turns out most of us won't get to judge for ourselves. Warner Bros. is planning to show the "high frame rate" version of the movie only in "select locations, perhaps not even into all major cities," according to Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times:Talks have stalled for Jimmy Fallon to host the Oscars. Small cities in Southern California are seeking to make it easier to film. Betsy Sharkey reviews "Hope Springs." Mary McNamara on Matthew Perry's cleverly named new TV show "Go On."

You can follow me on Twitter @benfritz for some of the same media news you'd get from Joe, but less about TV and the Redskins and more about movies and video games.

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