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July 11, 2012 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Hollywood's movie studios are heading to Comic-Con with less spring in their step this year. Stung by splashy presentations in the past that resulted in costly box-office duds like"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"and"Green Lantern,"the major studios will not arrive in full force in San Diego for the annual event that begins Thursday. Although Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate are making presentations and trumpeting their wares for fans, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures are skipping the show this year.
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BUSINESS
April 26, 2012 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Thousands of theater owners and executives gathering in Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon convention will see the first footage of Universal Pictures' "47 Ronin" on Thursday. But they won't get to showcase the big-budget Keanu Reeves action film in their cinemas this Thanksgiving as they had expected. Universal on Wednesday pushed back the movie's planned release date of Nov. 21 to Feb. 8. The move was made because the remaining work on its extensive 3-D special effects would have made it difficult to hit the November date and impossible to assemble a compelling trailer ready to show this summer, when theaters are packed with audiences watching similar event movies, according to two knowledgeable people who were not authorized to speak publicly.
BUSINESS
March 8, 2012 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Apple Inc. is putting movies in the cloud, providing a boost to Hollywood film studios' small but growing digital business. Movies purchased through Apple's iTunes Store from five studios — Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. — will be accessible via the technology giant's iCloud service from any of its devices, including the Apple TV, iPad and iPhone. Apple announced its plans, which have been in the works since last year, at a Tuesday news conference, where the company also unveiled new versions of the iPad and Apple TV, an Internet-connected device that displays movies and TV shows from iTunes and other services on televisions.
BUSINESS
March 2, 2012 | Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Universal Pictures has decided not to join forces withWarner Bros.in that studio's war with Redbox. Universal, the studio behind "Safe House"and this weekend's animated release "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax,"on Thursday announced an extension of its deal with the DVD rental kiosk company through August 2014 that will maintain the current 28-day wait from when DVDs go on sale until consumers can rent them from Redbox. The news comes two months after rival studio Warner Bros. said it would only sell discs to Redbox if it agreed to double the length of the so-called rental "window" to 56 days.
BUSINESS
February 28, 2012 | By Ben Fritz and John Horn, Los Angeles Times
Soon after Pete Berg signed on to direct a big-screen version of the board game Battleship, he was summoned to meet with the new heads of Universal Pictures. The filmmaker best known for his work on "Friday Night Lights" and "Hancock" had reason to be nervous. Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley were inheriting a risky, expensive project greenlighted by their predecessors at a time of rampant cost-cutting in Hollywood. But the executives had a surprising message: They wanted to increase the budget for "Battleship" and add a multimillion-dollar sequence set in Hong Kong.
BUSINESS
February 15, 2012 | By Meg James, Los Angeles Times
Comcast Corp. beat analysts' estimates with a 26% increase in fourth-quarter profit, but two NBCUniversal units continued to struggle: the NBC broadcast network and Universal Pictures. For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, the Philadelphia cable television giant posted net income of $1.29 billion, or 47 cents a share, compared with $1.02 billion, or 36 cents, for the year-earlier period. Revenue climbed 3% to $15 billion. Once again, the company's core business of providing bundles of cable TV channels and high-speed Internet service bolstered its financial results.
BUSINESS
October 13, 2011 | By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
Facing threats of a boycott from theater owners, Universal Pictures has abandoned its controversial plan to make "Tower Heist" available to consumers via video on demand just three weeks after the movie opens in theaters. Universal Pictures said in a statement Wednesday that it would delay its experiment in premium home video on demand "in response to a request from theater owners" but added it would continue to seek ways to deliver movies to the home more quickly. "We look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future," the studio said.
BUSINESS
October 7, 2011 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Cinemark USA Inc., the nation's third-largest movie theater chain, is threatening not to play the upcoming Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller comedy "Tower Heist" in any of its 300 locations if Universal Pictures goes ahead with its plan to offer the film on premium video on demand just three weeks after it premieres in theaters. The bold move would deprive Cinemark of a substantial share of what's sure to be tens of millions of dollars, and potentially more than $100 million, in box-office receipts.
BUSINESS
September 20, 2011 | By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
NBCUniversal owner Comcast Corp. took another step to retain Universal Pictures' top leadership, announcing that it has extended the contract of Chairman Adam Fogelson through 2014. Fogelson's deal was set to expire at the end of next year. The news comes after the company in June extended the contract of Fogelson's boss, Universal Studios President Ron Meyer, to 2015. Although the company is keeping Fogelson in his current position, NBCUniversal is tweaking the reporting structure.
BUSINESS
May 25, 2011 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times
Former Universal Pictures co-Chairman David Linde has unveiled his new independent film finance and production company, the latest Hollywood venture to be backed by India's Reliance Entertainment. A spokesman for Linde declined to disclose details of the deal with Reliance, including how much capital the company is investing in the yet-to-be-named venture and what its ownership stake is. Reliance Entertainment, a division of the Indian media conglomerate Reliance ADA Group, has been stepping up its investment in Hollywood over the last several years.
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