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Businesses Movies The Almighty Buck Entertainment

Movie Theaters Were Already in Trouble. With Disney's Fox Deal, It's Double (bloomberg.com) 193

Disney's acquisition of Fox's film studio will unite some of the most lucrative movie franchises, from Disney's Star Wars and Marvel series to Fox's X-Men and Avatar. With control of more blockbusters, not only does Disney gain more leverage over theater chains such as AMC and Carmike Cinemas, it also wins more films it could distribute exclusively on its upcoming online service -- cutting out cinema operators entirely. From a report: "Disney is becoming the Wal-Mart of Hollywood: huge and dominant," says Barton Crockett, a media analyst at B. Riley FBR. "That's going to have a big influence up and down the supply chain." Together, Disney and Fox accounted for 40 percent of ticket sales in 2016 in the U.S. and Canada, a level of market concentration that could draw scrutiny from Washington. If the deal goes through, theater owners could get squeezed. Usually a film's box-office revenue is split evenly between exhibitors and the studio. But Disney previously has gotten theaters to hand over a larger share -- sometimes more than 60 percent -- on its biggest, most popular films, such as the Star Wars series. Now it could try the same tactic with Fox's Avatar, which has four sequels in the works. "While the future of movie exhibition looks increasingly dim, a Disney-Fox merger will elevate its level of pain," says Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC. Cinema chains have already suffered this year from a string of box-office bombs, including Warner Bros' King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and online video services such as Netflix are keeping more moviegoers at home.
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Movie Theaters Were Already in Trouble. With Disney's Fox Deal, It's Double

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  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @02:36AM (#55807733)

    Yep, it's still the Federal Trade Commission!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      you're getting the fcc and ftc mixed up there, bub. but yes, don't expect this administration's agencies to protect normal folks. they will embrace this fully, in hopes that some little shit murdoch spawn ends up being iger's replacement to shift disney/abc/espn/etc to the 'right'.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @04:18AM (#55807983)

      Yep, it's still the Federal Trade Commission!

      Guess who are the idiots that voted for this administration ?
      Stupid asshole voted for conmen and criminals, and those conmen and criminals are doing their jobs just right.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      STOP giving the mouse your shekels!

      The only sensible reply to an irrational destructive force like MegaCorps is STOP GIVING THEM MONEY. Fuck your kids and what they want. This is the war for all the future.

      • The problem isn't just the mouse. Not the movie theater's problem, anyway.

        The problem with movie theaters is the onslaught of ads, the uncomfortable jammed-in seating, the stunningly overpriced snackage and tickets, and the lack of great new movies in favor of Yet Another Retread Idea.

        Some of this comes from outside pressure: the constant devaluation of currency and increases in taxation, demands for more and more income from the movie producers, the conversion of the stock market into a "must increase prof

        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          The problem isn't just the mouse. Not the movie theater's problem, anyway.

          The problem with movie theaters is the onslaught of ads, the uncomfortable jammed-in seating, the stunningly overpriced snackage and tickets, and the lack of great new movies in favor of Yet Another Retread Idea.

          Don't forget that for a very reasonable price $3000-4000 you can build a pretty nice home theater that when coupled with a blu-ray player is very similar to a movie theater experience. The movies tend to come out 2 months-ish after movie theater release so it isn't that long to wait. I only go to the theater when it's something I really want to see and can't wait. But TBH it's not about the movie theater experience. In fact, I like the experience in my home theater much better. I have comfortable seati

        • The onslaught of ads and the expensive snacks are caused by the power of the movie studios. Theaters can't make much money selling tickets because the lion's share of that price goes to the studio, so they have to make their money in other ways.

          As for the endless sequels, the studios will keep making them so long as people keep buying tickets. And that's not just us people in the US, it's also the global market. Overseas markets seem to have even more of an appetite for Yet Another Sequel than the American

    • Monopoly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Current movie studios:

      Disney/Fox
      Warner Bros.
      Universal
      Columbia
      Paramount
      Lionsgate
      MGM
      Amblin
      Weinstein

      And a few dozen smaller studios, as well as the foreign studios (Toei, Canal, Gaumont, Pathe)

      So is Disney using their, erm, not-really-monopoly power to keep other movies from being made? No? Then why would the FTC step in?

      • by wwphx ( 225607 )
        There's undoubtedly many movie studios. What would be more meaningful is a breakdown as to how many movies they've released over the last decade and their grosses and to see how that's trended. Then merge Fox in to the Disney numbers and see what that looks like. The complaint is mainly that Disney, through its acquisitions, has disproportionate power for one company and that this merger will further distort the market.
        • What is really needed there is how many movies of theirs end up in theaters. Lots of people make movies but most of those never grace a silver screen. My short films [jodybruchon.com] are really not worth putting in a theater but if I went the extraordinary lengths needed to made a decent feature film I can guarantee you it'd never be able to compete with the latest Star Trek abomination that has Roddenberry spinning in his grave so hard they're using him to generate electricity.
      • by epine ( 68316 )

        So is Disney using their, erm, near-monopoly power to nearly keep other movies from being made? Absolutely. Then why would the FTC step in?

        Don't worry, it won't. Under prevailing ideology, any form of token competition constitutes a sufficiently free market.

        • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

          So is Disney using their, erm, near-monopoly power to nearly keep other movies from being made? Absolutely.

          In what way, exactly, are they accomplishing this? Are they signing deals that prevents movie theaters from showing other studios' movies?

          I assume you have some pretty solid evidence of this taking place, and links to back it up.

      • The question is not whether the big studios are preventing movies from being made by others. Plenty of movies are being made. The real question is whether the big studios are using monopoly power to prevent other movies from being exhibited widely, and there is some reason to believe that is happening. Any film that is relegated to art house release will never reach a large audience.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @02:38AM (#55807745)

    With control of more blockbusters, not only does Disney gain more leverage over theater chains such as AMC and Carmike Cinemas...

    I'm shedding so many tears for those multi-million dollar theater chains.

    • by magusxxx ( 751600 ) <magusxxx_2000.yahoo@com> on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @04:42AM (#55808029)

      I know you're being sarcasm, I can tell by the font you're using...except there is an issue I haven't seen addressed yet.

      When Iron Giant came out my local multiplex showed it only one day a week at about 10-11am on Saturday. That's it. All the employees including management said the same thing, "If we don't do this then Disney won't give us their next big animated release."

      This is EXACTLY the reason why the studios were told to sell of the theaters back in the 70's. Because independent movie studios weren't being allowed to show their movies in better theaters. And it'll only get worse if the deal goes through.

      Oh, and to answer your topic question...Sorry, I don't know. But it did reproduce The Red Violin very well. :D

      • I know you're being sarcasm, I can tell by the font you're using...except there is an issue I haven't seen addressed yet.

        When Iron Giant came out my local multiplex showed it only one day a week at about 10-11am on Saturday. That's it. All the employees including management said the same thing, "If we don't do this then Disney won't give us their next big animated release."

        I'm not disputing that you were told that, but that doesn't actually make it correct. Please note that Iron Giant was a Warner Brothers film, not Disney. I know it's always fun here to blame Disney for everything possible, but I am not seeing at all how Disney could possibly dictate terms to a theater chain about a film a competitor had and everybody would go along with it. I discovered Iron Giant years after it came out and it's a great film, but honestly it wasn't promoted all that well at the time and

      • Disney forced the chains to put Star Wars at least 4 of their best screens, whether there was enough ticket volume or not. They'll use Fox's assets to further push their competitors out.
        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          Disney forced the chains to put Star Wars at least 4 of their best screens, whether there was enough ticket volume or not. They'll use Fox's assets to further push their competitors out.

          Fox did the same thing with Star Wars. This is not uncommon with major movies.

        • Forced? Pretty much any cinema that wanted to make mad Star Wars bucks was going to do that. Guaranteed blockbuster. They want that first-week cash. There was no "forcing" about it.

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        When Iron Giant came out my local multiplex showed it only one day a week at about 10-11am on Saturday. That's it. All the employees including management said the same thing, "If we don't do this then Disney won't give us their next big animated release."

        It works the other way also. Edward's Theaters in southern California would refuse to show a movie unless they got it exclusively within their area for a couple of weeks before other theaters were allowed to show it.

    • With control of more blockbusters, not only does Disney gain more leverage over theater chains such as AMC and Carmike Cinemas...

      I'm shedding so many tears for those multi-million dollar theater chains.

      And their employers, the majority of whom are teenagers learning the ropes of what working is all about. I don't shed tears when markets evolve, but it does concern me that little by little opportunities for teenangers or on-the-side part time jobs are becoming more and more scarce.

      It affects us all. There is no easy solution, that's for sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @02:59AM (#55807793)

    "Disney is becoming the Wal-Mart of Hollywood: huge and dominant,"

    This is just another example of how monopolies are taking over the US on every level and your elected leaders are facilitating it. You guys really need to take over and purge and then reform your two party system. Doing something similar to the judiciary would probably help too since it has been loaded up with corporate mercenaries right up to the SCOTUS. That is to say, if you don't you'll find yourselves living in a de facto monarchy before middle of the century which I suppose some people on the extreme right wing might find appealing. One dear leader, infallible, above criticism....

    • I find it amusing that people are so upset about a store chain that started a few decades ago, and rose to dominance because of low prices. No one forced you to go to Walmart, there are other stores with any product type they have on the shelves, and we all have seen the "Walmart shopper" pics.

      If you want to go to another store, do so. I make the choice every week which store I want to give my money to.

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @02:08PM (#55810807)
        do you? And what forced people to shop at Wal-Mart was 40 years of declining wages. They leveraged the low prices to try and maintain their standard of living long enough to see their children on their own so they could free up that money to again, just barely hold on. Those prices were low because Wal-Mart is a predatory business in a largely unregulated economy.

        Basically, you're making a lot of choices that others don't have an assuming because you personally have them that everybody else does. If people could just do anything anyone else does without regard to birthplace we'd all be billionaires.
        • So you are claiming the people in the south and midwest would be better off if they only had stores that sold more expensive products.

          • by Geekbot ( 641878 )

            Yes they would. Because more of them would have jobs. And they would have jobs at better wages and more hours. And because of that they could shop at better stores. And spend more money wherever they wished.
            This is not just some thinking experiment. This was tested when cars were coming out. This one guy had an idea that if he paid his workers more then they would have enough money to buy his product.
            So Walmart is a great example of the opposite. And it is not in some kind of dispute about what it does. It

      • If you want to go to another store, do so. I make the choice every week which store I want to give my money to.

        I would, but they are in empty strip malls now, or have been razed.

    • Monopolies are great for democracy. Politicians only have to go to one place for their bribes^H^H^H^H^H donations and they so much more free time to not read the bills they vote on.With all of that extra time they can help the economy by going to restaurants or getting a game of golf in. Monopolies are wonderful!

    • The problem is that to "fix" our political system we would have to rewrite parts of the constitution. I don't have faith that they would actually make it better. Remember that both Russia and North Korea have "elections" but they lack the protections that prevent a dictator in all but name from running the country. CGP Grey has a lot of really good YouTube videos on how we could improve the U.S. elections to get away from a two party system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      Lets also remember the same group

  • Compared to buying real property (property that you can hold in your hand or step on with your boots), the buying of IP is almost like somebody selling you the Brooklyn Bridge. Whether Disney manages to increase or collapse the value of the "property" depends largely on management making the right moves to promote it. With many real properties, say like gold or until recently steel mills, the buyer comes looking for you. Netflix could very well create B-movie franchises worth more than the combined paper co
  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @04:18AM (#55807981)

    The only reason I think cinemas exist at all is for people who want to watch new releases rather than wait for them to come out on disc.

    The cinema used to offer something no other place could: A gigantic screen, supremely clear images, and an audio system that'd give you powerful volume from the chair-rumbling explosions to the chirping giggles of children. Then home cinema technology advanced. What does a cinema offer now that you cannot get just by having a big screen TV (or, as we call them now, a TV) and some half-decent speakers? You can't go for the social experience. Comfort of other viewers mandates watching in silence, so you might as well watch alone.

    All they can offer now is the time to drive out there, a captive audience to show trailers and advertising, the crying child behind you, the tall man in front, and the fat person who tries to squeeze past you mid-film to get to the toilets.

    • Cinemas can give you all that without the space requirement of a large TV.

      Also unlike TV screens, cinemas can give you 3D in a way that is actually compatible with human eyes.

      • Also unlike TV screens, cinemas can give you 3D in a way that is actually compatible with human eyes.

        That's called "a play", and it is in a different theater. Possibly a school auditorium.

    • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @05:16AM (#55808109) Homepage
      Devil's advocate time. They also offer a place to concentrate on watching the film, not wondering whether you should do the washing up or checking social media. They offer a change of scenery - simply getting out of the house can be good. They offer an event, a bit of...well....theatre. They give an audience too - watching films in a cinema is different to watching them at home, particularly comedies or popcorn-munching dumb action films. It's a different atmosphere.

      I like going to the cinema. Smaller cinemas I really wish would work on their sound more but I enjoy going, I enjoy sitting and knowing that I'n going to be watching a film - not doing something else, not talking or being expected to talk through the story. Just a difference, a break for a few hours in an environment where someone else is going to take care of it for you.

      I know people will now reply with tales of horror with uncaring audiences who are talking on their phones during the film or that time the projection was out of focus or misaligned (happened to me on a 3D viewing - horrible) or...or.....Yes. I know. They're imperfect. But, in my experience at least, for the vast majority of the time those things don't happen and I get the experience I'm looking for. I enjoy it.
      • People in general will complain about the occasional bad experience discarding all the good ones. As someone who goes to the cinema 3-5 times a month I can count on one hand the number of times the experience was unpleasant. They do occasionally exist but often they don't last long. Last time I saw a guy as much as use his mobile phone silently, he was kicked out within 5min. The one time we had an out of focus projection they fixed, it restarted the film and gave us a 50% discount card for our troubles.

      • That entirely depends on the theater, time of day, and where it's located. Let me get to the heart of the issue, I would gladly spend double if only to weed out the riffraff and ghetto trash for an adult only venue. I'm firmly believe that if you raise the price, it will raise the bar of the audience whom wishes to take the movie watching / dating experience seriously. No cell phones, no crying kids, no making out, annoying self-centered outbursts..none of that bullshit. Either I'm looking for a nice watchi

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      SuricouRaven theorized:

      The only reason I think cinemas exist at all is for people who want to watch new releases rather than wait for them to come out on disc.

      Have you actually been to a multiplex recently?

      The principal reason for cinemas to exist is to provide a place for teenagers to take their dates.

      Sure, there are families who come to see PG stuff on weekends, but otherwise it's adolescents all the way down ...

      • Not just teenagers. My BF and I love going out to movies and we are in our 50s. Getting rid of communal entertainment spaces will make people even more isolated and less engaged than before, continuing the atrophication of social skills kicked off by smartphones.

        • by thomst ( 1640045 )

          dskoll disagreed:

          Not just teenagers. My BF and I love going out to movies and we are in our 50s. Getting rid of communal entertainment spaces will make people even more isolated and less engaged than before, continuing the atrophication of social skills kicked off by smartphones.

          I used to love going to movies. Then, beginning in the 1990's, theater chains decided to stop enforcing basic movie-going civility - for fear that they would drive their teenage customers away.

          Since then, going to see movies has become a more and more tooth-grindingly irritating experience for me. Finally, about 2007, I decided I'd had more than enough of assholes carrying on conversations with their friends, shouting advice to the characters on the screen, and (the very last straw) taking

    • Then home cinema technology advanced. What does a cinema offer now that you cannot get just by having a big screen TV (or, as we call them now, a TV) and some half-decent speakers?

      Let me answer this for you with a quote:

      A gigantic screen, supremely clear images, and an audio system that'd give you powerful volume from the chair-rumbling explosions to the chirping giggles of children.

      If you think even the best of home entertainment systems can match a cinema for this, you have an incredibly shit selection of cinemas. My local cinema has 4 different of cinema on offer, the second from the bottom being IMAX.

    • The only reason I think cinemas exist at all is for people who want to watch new releases rather than wait for them to come out on disc.

      The cinema used to offer something no other place could: A gigantic screen, supremely clear images, and an audio system that'd give you powerful volume from the chair-rumbling explosions to the chirping giggles of children. Then home cinema technology advanced.

      Well, that's not all ... society changed.

      No, it was never perfect, but I know that audiences were better behaved, in general, when I was a kid. Who wants to pay top dollar to watch a movie with a bunch of rude jerks?

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Disc? They also can be streamed these days. Yeah, I prefer to warth at home. I also can be in control. My old body sucks so I have to pee and poop a lot. I had to pee twice during SW:TLJ on the 15th so I missed a couple scenes! :(

    • by havana9 ( 101033 )
      I have bought a new laptop and the give me as a christmas special twelve movie ticket to use in a couple of nearby movie theathers. One is a big multi projection in a mall, two are tiny one projection small movie theather, that sometimes are also making live theather or conferences, and one is specialized in art films.
      After ten years or so I never put foot in a movie theather I watched some movies. What I could say is that the experience in the tiny theather was vaw more pleasant than the one in the mall
    • >

      All they can offer now is the time to drive out there, a captive audience to show trailers and advertising, the crying child behind you, the tall man in front, and the fat person who tries to squeeze past you mid-film to get to the toilets.

      You forgot the guy texting, the woman talking to her friend and what's that weird stuff on your seat and the sticky stuff on the floor?

      At home, I have a nice reclining chair, a soda holder and good priced snacks. I can't think of a reason to get the "theater experience". Probably why I haven't been to one in years.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @05:24AM (#55808121)

    Big-budget films shown in theaters nowadays are played off of hard drives (shipped to the theater, encrypted), on a Windows PC connected to a digital projector. The bitrate of these files can be much higher than what even a UHD Bluray can offer, as the latter is limited to 100GB and hard drives can be had that are 100x+ that capacity. That means video quality can be much higher than what you can get for your home cinema. Even with gigabit internet you can only stream just over 1TB over the course of a 2.5 hour film (and of course no streaming service offers anywhere near gigabit streams). One might argue this kind of bandwidth is unnecessary for film, but the emergence of lightfield photography, and VR video, can make use of it easily. Lytro's top-quality lightfield video currently uses 500GB/minute, for reference. People who care about top-end video quality will still come to theaters. VR can simulate the experience of watching a film in a theater (with other people in it, if you wish), from your home, albeit with reduced fidelity. Watching at home will almost always be about convenience, with some quality tradeoffs.

    • The problem is that most theaters are not equipped for this level of quality. For example, where I live theaters insist on using obsolete and really bad projectors, the price of only one bag of popcorn is enough to buy kilograms of popcorn in any supermarket and finally the quality of the image and the sound are mediocre compared to quality and sound of a good TV these days.
      • Don't confuse where you live and the word "most". Pretty much every decent sized city was equipped to handle the hobbit in HFR 3D, my own city (500000 people has IMAX cinemas, Dolby cinemas in 2 different locations and 4DX cinemas.

        Maybe people in your city aren't that interested in going to the cinema and thus don't get nice ones as a result.

      • The problem is that most theaters are not equipped for this level of quality. For example, where I live theaters insist on using obsolete and really bad projectors, the price of only one bag of popcorn is enough to buy kilograms of popcorn in any supermarket and finally the quality of the image and the sound are mediocre compared to quality and sound of a good TV these days.

        This is a perfect example of flawed reasoning from the specific to the general. I'm sorry that in your specific small town that this is true, but it's not true everywhere.

        • This is a perfect example of flawed reasoning from the specific to the general. I'm sorry that in your specific small town that this is true, but it's not true everywhere.

          Wrong. This is actually a good example of what happens when some guy like you in a hurry to make others look foolish ends up making yourself look foolish by not asking yourself what the scope is and what size would be what I described as "where I live" before commenting. Tip: Not all countries are like the US or like in Europe where I imagine that you might actually get a good theater around every corner.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I managed theaters for both ABC and another chain in Florida. In 1968 we all knew full well that theaters were a dying industry. Cable TV was really the announcement of doom. There even petitions that patrons were asked to sign to make cable illegal. i can recall in Mississippi the kid's price was 10 cents and the adult tickets were 25 cents in 1951 and the theaters had audiences. The food was also rather inexpensive. A man and wife could spend the evening get some pop corn and sodas and still not spe

    • Over $5 Billion gross just for a single studio in a single year is far from being a dying industry. Disney is never going to give up that much revenue, shareholders would mutiny.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you think that either political party is going to protect you from Disney's shenanigans, you need to put down the pipe. Disney has been gaming the government for decades. You can be certain this deal will be approved without questions from either side.

  • The small, single screen theater I typically go to in a town just north of where I live specifically boycotted bringing in this latest Star Wars as the premier or any showing on the premise of 'Disney wants too much of a cut, and we aren't screwing our patrons over with our costs.' Now this is one of many 1 to 4 screen theaters owned by a local company in our state, so they clearly picked up 'Star Wars' in the bigger cities where they can offset the cut back to Disney with more foot traffic. However, this

  • by MoarSauce123 ( 3641185 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @08:44AM (#55808535)
    Not too long ago taking the family out to the movies was cheap entertainment. These days it is a major investment and if we go we make sure that there is a very high chance of us liking the movie. If it gets any more expensive I will ask for my money back when the movie sucks. It's not the theater's fault, they just resell defective merchandise. They should charge the distributor and film studios.
    • That is said a lot, it's not really true. The cinema was never "cheap entertainment."

      The average cost of a movie ticket in 1977 was $2.23, and inflation alone puts that at $9.25 today.

      Except the average ticket price is $8.93 in 2017 [the-numbers.com] - multiple sources confirm this.

      Remember Pulp Fiction? The $5 shake. Seemed so outrageous, a $5 dollar shake?!

      Inflation bitches.

      • Real wages are way, way down. e.g. raw buying power. Inflation takes _everything_ into account. That means consumer electronics, which thanks to China got dirt cheap, factor in. It throws the numbers off for just about everything when a 32" TV is now $100 bucks instead of $5000.
  • 60% How about 90+% (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @08:47AM (#55808541)

    I worked in a movie theater in high school for a large theater chain and got to know one of the assistant managers pretty well. He said that they had to pay 90-92% of all ticket sales for Star Wars episodes 2 and 3 to the studios. There's a big difference between 60% and 90%. He said that the tickets paid for the building payments and utilities. The concessions paid for everything else.

    • and if they didn't expect to make a profit on those movies, they would have refused to show them. They have that option.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      I worked in a movie theater in high school for a large theater chain and got to know one of the assistant managers pretty well. He said that they had to pay 90-92% of all ticket sales for Star Wars episodes 2 and 3 to the studios. There's a big difference between 60% and 90%. He said that the tickets paid for the building payments and utilities. The concessions paid for everything else.

      When Terminator 2 was showing, the theater chain my friend worked at as a projectionist had to pay 110% of the ticket price for like the first couple of weeks. This is hardly unusual.

  • Disney will probably try to go back to their artificial scarcity shenanigans that worked so well for them till then 90s. Not any more. If they try that again, it will probably backfire on them spectacularly.
  • A good chunk of content will be taken out of netflix for Disney's own streaming service. With content being split up again and viewers not wanting to go back to cable with its appointment based viewing schedule, it looks like piracy will probably be on the rise again.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      A good chunk of content will be taken out of netflix for Disney's own streaming service. With content being split up again and viewers not wanting to go back to cable with its appointment based viewing schedule, it looks like piracy will probably be on the rise again.

      They can just take back their content from the pirates. Problem solved!

  • Me and the rest of the family can only envision one being something we'd go to see. Since creativity in Hollywood has been dead for years, what could they possibly do in three others that wouldn't be boring?

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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