News & Updates
THE VIEW - "The View" airs live, one-hour daily talk show airs weekdays on ABC (11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, ET). (ABC/Donna Svennevik) (ÃÂ©2013 AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
The producers of "The View" may take on a Puerto Rican journalist to co-host the popular U.S. talk show and entertainment program for the upcoming fall season.
Ana María Belaval, a reporter for the past nine years on the "Around Town" segment of the WGN Morning News in Chicago, was invited by the ABC show's producers to audition by co-hosting the program live - which they feel will be the best way to judge her work.
Should she make the grade, she will be the first Latina on the morning show, created and co-hosted for 17 years by Barbara Walters, who left her role in front of the cameras last May to become the program's executive producer.
"The fact that they chose me is really important to me as a reporter and as a Latina, because I'm not that well-known a face. But they saw something they liked," Belaval told the Spanish-language edition of the New York City newspaper Metro.
Belaval, who also worked for the morning show "Despierta, America" ("Wake Up, America") on the Univision network, will make her screen test on the program along with Meghan McCain - blogger, columnist and daughter of the senator and 2008 candidate for the presidency, John McCain - who has been on "The View" several times as a guest and co-host and who is also being evaluated for a permanent spot.
If they are chosen, Belaval, who has won three Emmy Awards and also does stand-up comedy, and McCain will replace Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy, who confirmed last month that they were leaving the show.
Belaval told Metro she hopes to contribute to the discussion and to offer solutions for problems that affect both the existing Latino community and new immigrants.
"I feel very proud of being Puerto Rican and of who we are, and I'm more than grateful for the support the Latino community has given me. That's why I'm going to do all I have to do so everyone can see the other side of being Latino," she said.
Illustration by William Scalia
By Lucas Shaw
First in a series: Hispanics have accounted for at least 20 percent of opening weekend ticket sales for every hit this summer, Nielsen research shows
Hollywood experts love to fret about the future of the movie business, but the industry has begun to embrace one group that is indisputably on the rise: the Hispanic audience.
Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and their passion for movies is unsurpassed. The group bought 25 percent of the tickets sold in 2013 though they comprise just 17 percent of the population, according to the Motion Picture Association of America's year-end study.
According to figures from the U.S. Census and a Nielsen report on movie audiences, Hispanics make up 15 percent of the population over the age of 12, and 19 percent of tickets sold for teens and older.
The group, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as people of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race,” is making its presence felt at the summer box office. The group has accounted for more than 20 percent of the audience for hits as disparate as “Maleficent” and “Godzilla,” according to data compiled by Nielsen and Univision.
“You don't have a major hit without Hispanic moviegoers,” Chris Aronson, Fox's president of domestic distribution, told TheWrap. John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theaters Owners, dubbed Hispanic moviegoers “far and away the most important consumer at our cinemas” at the Produced By Conference in June.
As a result, movie studios, publicity firms, talent agencies and theater chains are all catering to the growing Hispanic audience like never before.
CAA and WME, Hollywood's two biggest agencies, have assembled groups to devise a strategy for the group. Universal and Warner Bros. have hired and promoted marketing executives dedicated to the same market while Pantelion, a joint venture of Lionsgate and Televisa, makes movies specifically for the Spanish-speaking market.
“We went in with the notion that the Latino market was underserved,” Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion, told TheWrap. “That turned out not be the case, for the most part. They are buying more tickets; Hollywood is serving them well, and it can do even better.”
Why invest now? Rapid growth. The ethnic group accounted for more than half of growth in the U.S. population between 2000 and 2010.
“Hispanics are becoming less of a niche audience and more a part of the mainstream,” Fabian Castro, SVP of multicultural marketing at Universal, told TheWrap.
The data supports his point. Hispanics have constituted more than 20 percent of the audience for the highest-grossing movies in May and June (see chart below), according to the Nielsen/Univision data. (This does not include July releases “Tammy” or “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”)
“The Fault in Our Stars,” for example, shocked most industry experts when it grossed $48 million over its opening weekend. Fox, the movie's distributor, owes 21 percent of those grosses to Hispanics.
Women drove the success of “Maleficent” while men flocked to “Godzilla.” Hispanics ventured to both, constituting 25 percent of the opening-weekend audience for the former, and 22 percent of the audience for the latter.
You see similar numbers for major superhero franchises “Iron Man” and “Spider-Man,” major comedy franchises “The Hangover” and “Jump Street,” animated hits “Despicable Me” and “Ice Age,” as well as action juggernauts “Fast & Furious” and “The Expendables.”
Horror, action and comedy are considered the favorite genres of Hispanics and Latinos. Yet data suggests the Hispanic audience is increasingly vital to the success of movies in every genre. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of adult Hispanics who saw dramas rose by 15 percent while the audience for romantic comedies rose by 12 percent. The total audience for both of those genres dropped over the same time frame.
While movie studios rely on specific audiences for certain movies — women for romantic comedies, fanboys for comic book movies and African-Americans for select films — it can count on the Hispanic audience for all of the above.
“With a wide rollout you're going to reach [the Hispanic audience],” Aronson said. “Word of mouth spreads more quickly among that group, because they're more frequent moviegoers.”
Hispanics go to the movies an average of six times a year, twice as often as the average moviegoer, per the MPAA's report. Word of mouth is even more important within that audience because “Hispanic consumers are even more heavily engaged with their mobile devices than non- Hispanics,” according to a recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Hispanics are also more likely to use their phones to shop, access the Internet and communicate with friends than non-Hispanics, according to the same report.
Many wonder if this sudden fascination with the Hispanic market is fleeting. Census data, studies, and successful movies have prompted interest before.
“This happens every few years, this renewed desire to take advantage,” Alexis Garcia, a partner at WME and former boardmember of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). “The question: is who will make a concerted effort to actually understand and embrace the market rather than just be reactionary?”
Studios have often recoiled after one negative experience, Bob Orci, the Mexico-born writer and producer of hit movies “Star Trek” and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” told TheWrap.
“The studio has one misfire, and they all say, ‘We're wrong; there's no targeting this market,'” Orci said. “That's not true.”
Future installments of TheWrap's series on the growing power of Hispanic moviegoers will investigate studio marketing outreach, casting and movie theaters.
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) is pleased to have Yasmin Mata join our staff this summer. Yasmin is a recent Business Administration and Communications PR graduate from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). During Yasmins’ time at CSUF, she was involved in the student government and multiple organizations on campus. Yasmin is currently completing an administrative/communications internship with NALIP, made possible by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (LACAC). NALIP was selected among other Los Angeles arts organizations this summer to provide a student the opportunity of an enriching art based internship. Yasmin has been involved with the NALIP Media Summit, assisting with our congruent Doing your Doc program, social media strategy management, in house press kits, along with assisting in office management. Yasmin wants to be able to program events, develop a PR campaign for NALIP, and take part in a media relations campaign before her internship concludes. Follow Yasmin’s internship experience on Instagram @yaszie90 and twitter @ymata.
The deadline to apply for the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) Television Writers Program is July 31, 2014. The program is a five-week intensive scriptwriters workshop that prepares Latinos for writing jobs on television shows at major networks. More than 100 writers have graduated from the program, 25% of whom have been staffed on shows in networks such as ABC/Disney, NBC, CBS,FOX, Nickelodeon, CW, BET, LATV, VH1 and NUVOtv. To apply and for more information, visit: www.nhmc.org/writersprogram.
YouTube is taking on rival video websites with a raft of new features for video creators. The site takes on crowdfunding Kickstarter and Indiegogo with new options for donating to your favourite YouTubers, and adds 60fps video to tempt you away from e-sports and gaming services like Twitch.
YouTube is the Internet's most popular video-sharing website. Owned by Google, it's used by millions of people to upload and watch billions of videos every day.
Announced by Director of Product Management for Creators Matthew Glotzbach and Vice President of Engineering for Creators Oliver Heckmann in a blog post, YouTube's new tools make it easier for those uploading videos, including those creators who have built significant audiences for their channels.
One of the biggest uses of YouTube is for gamers to show off their gaming footage: of the most popular UK channels, for example, several are based around Minecraft. A regular contender for the most-watched YouTube channel overall is PewDiePie, featuring Brighton, UK-based Swede Felix Kjellberg playing games and shouting in a silly voice. To make sure gaming footage looks its best, YouTube will in coming months support high definition video at 48 or 60 frames per second.
Those creators can also solicit donations from their fans. To start with, selected channels in the US, Mexico, Japan and Australia can apply to be among the first to test the system out.
The ability for fans to chip in and support creators allows YouTube to keep those creators from heading elsewhere to propose and collect money for new projects. Instead of launching on to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they will stay within the YouTube service and seek backing there.
Other new features include added expanded stock music and sound effects, improved annotations, and subtitles submitted by viewers.
Creators can take charge of their channels when they're on the go with a new Android app, YouTube Creator Studio. The app lets creators keep on top of their stats and respond to comments from their phone or tablet.
An iOS version for iPhone and iPad will follow soon.
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The documentary film "The Square," about the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square, Cairo. On an impact scale of 100, the film scored an average of 92. Credit Noujaim Films
You watched the wrenching documentary. You posted your outrage on Twitter. But are you good for more than a few easy keystrokes of hashtag activism?
Participant Media and some powerful partners need to know.
For the last year Participant, an activist entertainment company that delivers movies with a message, has been quietly working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Knight Foundation and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to answer a question vexing those who would use media to change the world.
That is, what actually gets people moving? Do grant-supported media projects incite change, or are they simply an expensive way of preaching to the choir?
Ultimately, the answers may help determine which projects get financed, which formats are favored and how stories are structured. That could be true for so-called double bottom line companies like Participant, which seek to profit (or at least break even) while creating social change, and also for nonprofits like the Gates Foundation, which increasingly rely on entertainment-style media (like the education documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’ ”) to drive an agenda.
"The Square" scored extremely high for emotional involvement at 97 out of 100, but dropped to 87 in terms of provoking action. Credit Netflix/Noujaim Films
More immediate, those behind the effort say, new measures of social impact will enable sharper focus and rapid course corrections in what have often been guesswork campaigns to convert films into effective motivational weaponry. That approach would apply to a hit like the movie “Lincoln,” which counseled civic engagement, or to a box-office miss like the antifracking film “Promised Land.” Both were Participant-backed films.
To get the answers it wants, Participant is developing a measuring tool that it calls the Participant Index, assisted in the effort by the Annenberg school’s Media Impact Project. In rough parallel to the Nielsen television ratings, the still-evolving index compiles raw audience numbers for issue-driven narrative films, documentaries, television programs and online short videos, along with measures of conventional and social media activity, including Twitter and Facebook presence.
The two measures are then matched with the results of an online survey, about 25 minutes long, that asks as many as 350 viewers of each project an escalating set of questions about their emotional response and level of engagement.
Did it affect you emotionally? Did you share information about it? Did you boycott a product or company? Did it change your life?
“If this existed, we would not be doing it,” said James G. Berk, chief executive of Participant. “We desperately need more and more information, to figure out if what we were doing is actually working.”
The answers result in a score that combines separate emotional and behavioral measures. On a scale of 100, for instance, “The Square,” a documentary about Egyptian political upheaval that was included in Participant’s first echelon of 35 indexed titles this year, scored extremely high for emotional involvement, with a 97, but lower in terms of provoking action, with an 87, for a combined average of 92.
By contrast, “Farmed and Dangerous,” a comic web series about industrial agriculture, hit 99 on the action scale, as respondents said, for instance, that they had bought or shunned a product, and 94 for emotion, for an average of 97. That marked it as having potentially higher impact than “The Square” among those who saw it.
The documentary "The Cove," which looks closely at dolphin killing in Japan, had worldwide ticket sales of just $1.2 million after its release in 2009. Yet it has repeatedly led to campaigns to protect the Japanese dolphins. Credit Oceanic Preservation Society/Roadside Attractions
Daniel Green, the deputy director for strategic media partnerships at the Gates Foundation, traces the new drive for impact measurement to a Seattle meeting in December 2011 among about two dozen representatives of nonprofits with an interest in social change.
“Grantors didn’t have a lot of sophistication around their analytics,” said Michael Maness of the Knight Journalism and Media Innovation program, a group that attended. He joined Mr. Green last month in describing frustration among nonprofits at their inability to gauge how much change their projects are prompting.
The Seattle gathering led to an association with the Annenberg school’s Norman Lear Center, which early last year established its Media Impact Project. That project, which received $4.2 million in combined financing from the Knight and Gates foundations and from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, then served as a consultant to Participant in creating its index.
The methodologies being developed by the Media Impact Project will be provided on an open-source basis to those who are interested — whether on the left or right or in the center of the ideological spectrum.
“We’re developing a set of tools and measures that will be available for any researcher, no matter what their viewpoint,” said Martin Kaplan, director of the Lear Center.
Participant, created in 2004 by the eBay co-founder Jeffrey S. Skoll, is using that methodology to build a proprietary database. It will feature three echelons with 35 projects each, or about 100 distinct bits of media, annually.
The company will lean heavily toward films and television shows of its own, especially those carried on its activism-driven online and pay-television network, Pivot. But it will also index properties for partners, like the Gates and Kaiser Family foundations, and for companies or others who will pay a fee.
Participant was created in 2004 by the eBay co-founder Jeffrey S. Skoll, left, pictured here with James G. Berk, chief executive. Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times
(Prices have not been set, Mr. Berk said, but he expects to serve nonprofits at cost. He declined to say how much Participant has invested in the index.)
In an inaugural general survey, which polled 1,055 of its viewers in March and April of this year, Chad Boettcher, Participant’s executive vice president for social action, and Caty Borum Chattoo, a researcher and communications professor at American University, found some perhaps surprising results.
Even among the presumably progressive Participant audience, crime ranked near the top of the list of 40 primary concerns. It was cited by 73 percent of respondents as an important social issue, placing it just behind human rights, health care and education.
Gay rights, female empowerment and prison sentencing reform, by contrast, ranked near the bottom of the list, while climate change was stuck in the middle, a concern among 59 percent of respondents. Digital intellectual property issues, at 38 percent, brought up the rear.
Stories about animal rights and food production, it turned out, were the most likely to provoke individual action. But tales about economic inequality — not so much.
Over all, said Marc Karzen, a social media entrepreneur whose company, RelishMix, advises film and television marketers, Participant will most likely affirm what is becoming clear to conventional film studios: Impact can be less about persuasion than nudging an audience to go where it is already pointed.
“You have to embrace your fans, not shout at them,” Mr. Karzen said. “They need to be inspired to spread the word.”
One of the weirdest problems in measuring social impact, and one still unresolved, Mr. Boettcher said, is the paradox of “The Cove.”
That documentary, which looks closely at dolphin killing in Japan, had worldwide ticket sales of just $1.2 million after its release in 2009. Yet it has repeatedly led to campaigns to protect the Japanese dolphins, Mr. Boettcher notes, particularly among activists who are aware of the film but will not watch (and hence, would not be counted under the current methodology of the index) because of its gory content.
“They don’t want to see it,” Mr. Boettcher said, “but they will sign up.”
One of the most intriguing questions I get from readers of my movie reviews is: “But did you like the film?” It’s a response that I take as an unintended compliment; it reminds me of the question that I often hear viewers pose to filmmakers at Q. & A.s after screenings: “What were you trying to say?” It’s a question that Spike Lee fielded, at the SVA Theatre last Sunday night, after the première of “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” at the American Black Film Festival, and his answer was the classic one: It’s for you, as a viewer, to decide.
Of course, in the sway of emotion, it’s hard to resist praise or blame, as well as superlatives of all sorts, when I find a movie exceptionally good or bad. Those markers serve a good practical purpose, simply to exhort readers not to miss a movie that might otherwise pass unnoticed or to caution them not to yield to the hype, even when it comes from other critics. But I never think that it’s unfortunate or a waste of time for a viewer to see a movie that I think is bad. The more viewing, the merrier; trust but verify.
In any case, that’s why the binary scale of good and bad, like and dislike, is essentially pointless. Movies are complex experiences—even those that are simplistic or clumsily made are rich in substance—and sometimes criticism is like the science of medicine, with advances coming from diagnoses of some dread disease that you wouldn’t want to have. No, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” isn’t a model of enlightened thought or cinematic style, but it is—paradoxically, for a movie that’s filled with computer-generated robots—peculiarly alive, animated not by computers but by the character of its director, Michael Bay, for better and for worse.
Eric Kohn, at Indiewire, doesn’t like “Transformers” much, either. But in a notable essay in which he compares it unfavorably to the Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja” (which doesn’t have U.S. distribution yet) and the South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer” (which opened on Friday, in limited release), he blames the unavailability of these and other movies on Michael Bay’s series:
Collectively, these movies represent an assault on the senses that’s actively fighting against the prospects of a more varied film culture. Whereas the proactive moviegoer aims to see as many new movies as possible, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” argues that you only need to see one.
Every movie makes movie-going a zero-sum game for the duration of a screening: a viewer paying to see one movie at a given moment isn’t paying for another (with the exception of under-seventeens who buy tickets to a PG-rated movie in order to see an R-rated one playing at the same time). But there’s nothing in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” that impedes the viewing of other movies; its assault on the senses is nothing compared to the average arena rock concert.
I haven’t seen “Jauja,” but I’ve seen another Alonso movie that Kohn praises—“Liverpool,” from 2008—and it reflects a much more refined sensibility than Bay’s but not more cinematic imagination than “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” But it’s the refinement, the overtly artistic intentions of that film, that stand out compared to Bay’s, and that are, I think, at the heart of the controversy.
Alonso is, in effect, a classical composer of earnest intent and notable inspiration, and Bay is a rock musician of vulgar but distinctive extravagance. Both are well within the mainstream of their chosen niches. There’s a difference in style, tone, and tradition, and there isn’t going to be a great deal of crossover in their audiences—with the likely exception of critics. On the other hand, as Kohn points out, Alonso is paired with an arts organization that exists to sustain his sort of ambitions—he’ll have a six-week residency at Lincoln Center this fall—and I hope that “Jauja” turns up there, at the New York Film Festival, at the same time. If it’s as good as Kohn and others say, it’s just the sort of movie that the festival exists to showcase.
But complaining about pop driving art out of the market is doubly misplaced in movies, when so many of the classics (ancient and modern) are products of the mainstream industry—whether those of the high-studio era by Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, Douglas Sirk and Nicholas Ray, or those of today’s independently financed off-Hollywood of Wes Anderson and Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and Sofia Coppola, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Movies that call attention to their high-art pedigree have no necessary claim on the status that their directors aspire to. Some movies of rarefied aspiration and literary or otherwise classical tradition indeed reach heights of graceful sublimity, and proof of the increased diversity in today’s movie culture is the fact that such movies (including those by Chantal Akerman, Tsai Ming-liang, and Joaquim Pinto) find a place in the world of distribution and exhibition—one that depends, in significant measure, on not-for-profit arts organizations of exactly the sort that such exalted filmmakers as Carl Theodor Dreyer or Robert Bresson lacked during their career-long battles with the demands of commercial producers and distributors.
But there are also aspirational movies—those of the art-house consensus—that feed what might be called “upmarket” or “sophisticated” viewers a pre-packaged set of comforting verities and soothing moods that are, in relation to the rarefied cinema of classical inspiration, what Mantovani is to Beethoven. These movies join a faux-objective aesthetic of ostensibly humanistic realism with comforting, politically liberal enthusiasms to match. The problem isn’t with the point of view (which is one I share) but with its jollying. The large-scale, mass-market demagogy of movies such as “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is no worse than the niche-market demagogy of, say, “Obvious Child.” Both movies appear tailor made to their target audience’s expectations and prejudices.
Yet the mention of Gillian Robespierre’s movie brings up another issue: the American movie market includes a segment that Europe’s lacks—namely, that of independent filmmaking. The ambitious foreign film is a recognized quantity in the festival scene, and the commercial or off-commercial movie is a familiar product—but the independent film is still, for the most part, a peg without a hole. The best independent films (and here I don’t mean the multi-million-dollar, name-star projects of private financiers but shoestring movies, of six figures or much less, financed through Kickstarter or by friends and family or one’s own wages) don’t, for the most part, come adorned with high-art cachet or genre marketability. They’re neither the children of the museum nor of the multiplex, and, after screenings at such splendidly curated celebrations as BAMcinemaFest, their place in the industry is often uncertain.
It’s natural to worry that the colossal success of a tightly formatted movie such as the new “Transformers” will only stiffen the resolve of studios to repeat it, or will only solidify the shapes of existing pigeonholes and sideline unusual and distinctive movies even further. Yet such concern reduces to a mere snobbery of taste, a straw-person diversion akin to an opera house blaming low attendance at a production of “Salomé” on a Miley Cyrus concert. The most audacious low-budget American independent filmmaking is threatened much more significantly by misplaced critical praise for art-house mediocrities than by Hollywood.