suffers "growing pains" over a mega movie plagued by legal threats
and a culture of distrust.
The record $317 million that Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction
grossed in China in 31 days is impressive, but the struggle the studio has
endured to collect a mere 25 percent of that total shows that mining gold
behind the Great Wall is a daunting task. "It was definitely all worth
it," says studio vice chair Rob Moore. "There's growing pains
for everybody, but certainly the result was spectacular."
In some ways -- such as shutting down blocks of Hong Kong or an entire
nature preserve to allow filming -- China offered more cooperation than the
studio might expect in the U.S. But China allows foreign distributors much less
than the 40 to 50 percent split of box office common in other foreign markets.
And Paramount dealt with everything from attempts to extort money from director
while he filmed in Hong Kong to a last-minute panic when promotional partner
Beijing Pangu Investment Co. threatened to block the opening of the movie,
claiming the studio had not fulfilled its commitment to showcase the
distinctive Pangu Plaza hotel. Another product-placement partner has gone to
court, and a third is threatening the same. Those close to the conflicts over product placements say some problems
resulted because the companies are new to the idea and had expectations that
couldn't be met. "And there is a practical issue where you have a lot of
industry-specific English terms that don't necessarily translate into a
[Chinese] character," says one insider. But China, which favors homegrown production, also makes matters difficult
for outsiders in ways not attributable simply to confused translation. "In
China, there are often multiple parties involved [in film projects]," says
one executive, citing as an example director Zhang Yimou's upcoming film Coming Home. "There
must be 20 different companies involved in the movie, though it's all financed
by one company," he adds. "It's incredibly labyrinthian and
impossible to understand." Another insider says he asked Zhang to explain how a film could qualify as
a Chinese co-production and receive favored treatment. This person says the
director replied there were no rules: "Then he got this big smile and
said, 'We like it that way. We have lots of flexibility.' " The government-run China Film Group has reason to smile. China box-office
revenue clocked in at $3.6 billion in 2013, up 27 percent from 2012 (North
America revenue rose only 1 percent to $10.9 billion). At that growth rate,
ticket sales in China could approach $5 billion this year. The territory is
expected to eclipse North America by 2017 to become the world's largest movie
market. Transformers was packed with product placements, and with so many
partners comes more potential for conflict, says another China veteran. Using
litigation -- once unthinkable -- has become increasingly common. Pangu's deal,
arranged by Paramount's Chinese partners, reportedly was valued at about $1
million. The company maintained that Paramount had committed to feature the
hotel in the film for 20 seconds, host a VIP party there and allow the company
to license Transformers
merchandise and keep the profits. Paramount declines to offer details of what
it promised, but a source says the studio believed it had fulfilled its end of
the bargain. Nonetheless, Moore settled the matter quickly. At a press
conference, Bay said working with Pangu was "fantastic," and Moore
said, "It's unfortunate that we had these misunderstandings." Paramount's troubles didn't end with Pangu. On July 22, the Wulong Karst
Tourism Association sued the studio and a Chinese company that handled
product-placement deals for failing to position a nature preserve as expected
in the movie. A Chinese go-between said about $1 million for the placement
wasn't paid in a timely fashion. Duck-food manufacturer Hubei Zhou Heiya Food
Co. also has said it is unhappy with its placement in the film and is
consulting lawyers. In addition, studios have concerns -- in China and other foreign
territories -- about whether they are getting their full cut of grosses. Marc Ganis of Jiaflix,
a company involved in arranging promo partnerships for Transformers, told The Wall Street Journal
that Paramount and its partners hired 1,200 workers to check state-owned
theaters to ensure tickets sold were credited to Transformers and not to a homegrown Chinese
production. Jerry Nickelsburg of UCLA's Anderson School of Management says these
problems are not surprising given the vast differences between U.S. and Chinese
business cultures. In Hollywood, a verbal commitment can be considered binding,
he says, but in China, "saying yes means, 'I heard you, and I think I
understand you.' It does not mean, 'I agree with you.' " There also is
uncertainty, he adds, because a seemingly private Chinese entity might involve
a government presence: "They can't always give a straight answer." William Yu, a Taiwan-born economist who also teaches at UCLA,
speaks in harsher terms. "Honesty is not highly valued in China," he
says. "They can say one thing very clearly to you yesterday, and today
they deny it." Will the Chinese approach move closer to Western standards?
"In five years, 10 years, probably not," Yu says. "In a century,
5:00 AM PST 07/31/2014 Hollywood Reporter by Kim Masters
This interesting article written by Derek Gatherer in The
Conversation, explains what happens to your body when you get Ebola...scary but
realistic. For further reference check Allen Chengs's article as
well. Allen Cheng is a specialist in infectious diseases and an
epidemiologist. (see the links at the bottom of this post)
This morning you woke up feeling a little unwell. You have no appetite, your
head is aching, your throat is sore and you think you might be slightly
feverish. You don’t know it yet, but Ebola virus has started to attack your
immune system, wiping out the T-lymphocyte cells that are crucial to its proper
These are the same cells that the AIDS virus (HIV-1) attacks, but Ebola
virus kills them far more aggressively. Exactly when and where you caught Ebola
virus is unclear, it can take anything between two and 21 days from initial
infection to the first symptoms. What is more certain is that you are now
infectious yourself. Your family, friends and anyone in close contact with you
are all in mortal danger.
The next week or so will determine if you are one of the lucky minority who
survive. In the 24 Ebola virus outbreaks prior to the present one, a cumulative
total of 1,590 people, two-thirds of all cases, have died.
The current outbreak, which began in the village of Meliandou in eastern
Guinea in early December 2013, and which has now spread across Guinea and into
the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia, has killed 251 people as
of June 5, nearly half of the identified cases.
The west African Ebola epidemic is now the largest outbreak seen since Ebola
virus was discovered in 1976. The World Health Organisation issued its first
communiqué on the situation on March 23, and since then has been producing
Over the next few days your condition deteriorates. Your body aches all
over, you have chronic abdominal pain, the fever intensifies and you start to
vomit and develop diarrhea. After anything between a couple of days and a week
of misery, you will have reached the crisis point – now the symptoms will
either gradually recede or you will progress to the horrors of “cytokine
storm”, a convulsion of your ravaged immune system that will plunge you into
the terminal phase of Ebola virus disease known as hemorrhagic fever.
Cytokine storm releases a torrent of inflammatory molecules into your
circulatory system. Your own immune system, now completely out of control,
attacks every organ in your body. Tiny blood vessels burst everywhere and you
begin slowly to bleed to death. The whites of your eyes turn red, your vomit
and diarrhea are now charged with blood and large blood blisters develop under
your skin. You are now at the peak of infectiousness as Ebola virus particles,
ready to find their next victim, pour out of your body along with your blood.
Fortunately, however, it seems you have survived. Rehydration therapy kept
you strong in the initial phase and pure luck saved you from hemorrhagic fever.
Understanding why some Ebola virus patients avoid the terminal phase is an
active area of research, and one possible answer is that those whose
T-lymphocytes survive the initial attack of the virus possibly retain
sufficiently intact immune systems. Even when you are merely in the first phase
of feeling vaguely unwell, it may be possible to determine if you will live or
Even though you are feeling much improved, and perhaps even ready to return
to work, you will remain infectious for a while. All your bodily fluids will
still contain virus. In particular, the virus can be sexually transmitted,
especially if you are a man, up to 40 days after recovery.
Epidemiological modelling studies have shown that Ebola virus is about as
infectious as influenza or very slightly more so – each infected person will
probably infect two to four others. That’s not tremendously infectious compared
to some of the super-infectious viruses such as measles or polio, which have
corresponding numbers of five to 18, but it is nevertheless enough to sustain a
pandemic. The question of why we haven’t seen a worldwide pandemic of Ebola in
pre-modern times therefore becomes rather perplexing.
A briefly popular theory of a few years ago, that the Black Death of the
14th century was caused by Ebola virus, and that the famous medieval
descriptions of buboes were actually hemorrhagic fever blood blisters, has now
been convincingly excluded by DNA analyses that have proved beyond doubt that
the Black Death was, after all, bubonic plague as originally thought. Ebola may well be a purely modern disease and, since Ebola virus made its
first known appearance in 1976, a whole generation of African medical workers
have been drilled to be alert to the symptoms of hemorrhagic fever.
Consequently, the World Health Organisation and its partners have been able to
suffocate outbreaks before they spread more generally. However, the latest
outbreak is proving rather more recalcitrant than expected and the story is not
yet over. Full article: http://theconversation.com/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-get-ebola-28116
CEO Mike Fries
and his chairman discuss why the international cable operator has acquired a
stake in. U.K. TV giant ITV and their interest in buying a big stake in the
Formula 1 racing circuit.
LONDON – Liberty Global chairman John Malone and CEO Mike Fries
in a Wall Street Journal interview have
commented on the recently intensified discussion about media consolidation and
the international cable operator's recently increased focus on content
Asked about recent industry deals and chatter about more transactions, such
as a potential acquisition of Time Warner by 21st Century Fox, Malone said:
"It's the "eat or be eaten" drive of capitalism. Scale economics
are compelling in the media space where you have high fixed and very low
marginal costs." Added Fries: "Consolidation is king. Scale has always been critical
for the industry, and I think it is more critical today than it has ever been."
He suggested that amid globalization and digital growth, "you need to have
great scale to compete with Google [and] Netflix." Liberty Global recently acquired a 6.4 percent stake in U.K. TV giant ITV
from BSkyB. Analysts have wondered if it was an opportunistic investment or if
Liberty Global could look to increase its stake or maybe even make a play for
full control. "Are we committing today that we'll never, ever own more shares? Of
course not," Fries told the Journal.
But he added: "We don't have any intention to do anything. There is no
smoking gun there." Malone said a closer relationship with ITV could help
Liberty Global in terms of its content supply given ITV's "very large
production studio." Malone also said that Liberty Global has continued talks about a possible
deal to buy a stake in racing circuit Formula 1 with Discovery Communications,
in which he also controls a big stake. A deal would give the companies access
to valuable sports content. Said Malone: "You have got to kiss a lot of
frogs before you find a prince. At this stage we are still kissing the
The Hollywood Reporter by Georg Szalai 6:12 AM PST 07/30/2014
Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are among the directors rallying to
keep celluloid in the picture.
Christopher Nolan used film on
his upcoming "Interstellar."
Iconic film manufacturer Kodak is in negotiations with all of the major
studios to make a last-ditch deal to keep celluloid alive as its use faces a
steep decline in the motion picture and TV industry, much of which has shifted
to capturing images digitally.
J.J. Abrams, who is currently shooting Star Wars: Episode VII on celluloid; Christopher Nolan, who
used film on his upcoming Interstellar;
Quentin Tarantino and
Judd Apatow are
among a group of leading filmmakers who are passionate film supporters and have
stepped up to urge Hollywood to keep film going. Kodak is "very hopeful that an agreement will be put into place,"
Kodak spokesperson Louise
Kehoe told The
Hollywood Reporter of the negotiations, which were first
reported in the Wall Street Journal. The film supplier has long maintained that it would continue to manufacture
film so long as it was profitable. That was a notable part of the company's
plans when it emerged from chapter 11
bankruptcy protection last September. But the numbers reflect a dire
situation. In 2007, Kodak manufactured 11.4 billion linear feet of print film,
while this year, Kodak expects production to drop to 417 million linear feet, a
96 percent drop. The company is the last remaining maker of motion picture film
after Fujifilm exited the business last year. Speaking at the PGA Produced By Conference in 2013, Abrams said: "If
film were to go away — and digital is challenging it — then the standard for
the highest, best quality would go away." In addition to high-profile
directors like Abrams who continue to use film, it also continue to be used —
though to a limited degree — in television shows like the Emmy-nominated The Normal Heart. Kehoe said Kodak is aiming to keep film available for shooting,
distribution and archiving. The later is of particular concern, since film is
still believed to be the only archival medium that will last at least 100 years
without the need to migrate content to new media. Kehoe told THR
that labs and other suppliers are also part of the discussions, in order to
ensure an infrastructure to support film. That includes, she said, the
Burbank-based Fotokem, the last remaining lab in Hollywood. It's believed that arrangements that are being negotiated with the studios
would involve some sort of guarantee to continue to use a given amount of film
per year. Kehoe declined to comment on the details, including the financial
terms being discussed. Last September, when Kodak emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy projection, Andrew Evenski,
president of Kodak Entertainment and Commercial Films, said in a statement:
"The motion picture film business will continue to be part of the
company's future. We are manufacturing film, we've inked contracts with six
studios, labs around the world are dedicated to quality service, and, most
importantly, filmmakers are choosing film. Kodak's entertainment imaging
represents a stable and profitable division of the company."
The Hollywood Reporter by Carolyn Giardina 7:55 PM PDT 7/29/2014
The closest point to
the Sun in a planet’s orbit is called perihelion. The furthest point is called
aphelion. Notice how the planet moves fastest at perihelion and slowest at
The words "aphelion" and "perihelion" come from the Greek
language. In Greek, "helios" mean Sun, "peri" means near,
and "apo" means away from.
What is Milankovitch Cycle?
A Milankovitch cycle is a cyclical movement related to the Earth’s orbit around
the Sun. There are three of them: eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession.
According to the Milankovitch Theory, these three cycles combine to affect the
amount of solar heat that’s incident on the Earth’s surface and subsequently
influence climatic patterns.
Our orbit around the sun is not a circle, it is an ellipse with an eccentricity
of about 0.0167. This orbit both changes shape and rotates around the sun
much like a spirogram tracing out a flower-like shape.
It is summer in the northern hemisphere, a time when people often say things
like, “We are closer to the sun than we are in winter.” This is not
really true. Summer is a product of the angle at which Earth is tilted,
right now Earth is tilted so that the northern regions lean toward the sun.
In terms of orbit we are actually at the furthest point Earth gets from the
This has interesting implications in terms of the global climate. This
means that right now winters tend to be warm (the planet is closer to the sun)
and summers cool (the planet further from the sun). In the big picture
this places us in the midst of a global cool cycle, the type of situation that
tends to lead to ice ages, like the one we are emerging from.
Before her baby bump became visible, Zoe Saldana
stripped down to pose for Women's Health U.K.'s
naked issue. The September 2014 edition of the magazine, which celebrates the
launch of its inaugural Body for Life campaign, shows the stunning Guardians
of the Galaxy star embracing her sultry side.
Lately, the actress admits, "My body is less
toned. I do look in the mirror and see things I don't want."
Saldana adds, "My first reaction is I breathe and
I think, 'I'm a woman. I'm 36. My body is changing.'"
Even so, the pregnant actress says she's
"exactly" where she should be. "I do feel beautiful in a way
that even when I was working out a whole lot, I sometimes didn't," she
says. "Because there have been times that I was really slender and I didn't
like that I sometimes looked a little too muscular and flat chested—you'll
never be completely happy, so at the end of the day it's like, 'F--k it. Just
be happy, regardless.'"
While the mom-to-be doesn't comment on her pregnancy
directly, she hints that her biological clock had been ticking. "This past
year I've had to start letting go. My body dictated it as if saying, 'Slow the
f--k down!'" says the Avatar star, who is expecting twins. "And I struggle with that.
I love to be an athlete."
As she awaits the arrival of their firstborn children,
Saldana plans to slow down. "I've learnt to listen to myself," she
says, "so whenever I don't feel like doing anything that starts with 'I
should' then I don't."
Listening to her intuition led Saldana to Marco
Perego, whom she'd been friends with for years before they wed last
summer. "We give each other a great deal of support and love," she
says, "but it wasn't because we found it in each other. We came that way
and then got together. That's what I love about it. I do believe whatever's
meant to be will be—but had the universe said, 'Let's just wait. He's going to
come into your life later,' I would've been fine on this journey I was on just
knowing who the f--k I was."