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12 August 2011

Media Man News: Marvel; Disney D23, Underbelly, WWE, Australian Casinos, Hulk Hogan, UK Riots, Gaming...by Greg Tingle - 12th August 2012

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Australia could cash-in on casino tourism...

Australia’s concerns on gambling are turning us into a “nanny state’, according to Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) chief executive John Lee who said embracing casinos could assist the industry.

Mr Lee explained Aussies need to drop the outdated view that casinos are just for gambling because it does not represent the fact that they are used for more than just their gaming facilities, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

TTF’s head continued that properties such as the Crown in Melbourne are popular for more than just their pokie machines, with “spas, dining, bars – a while plethora of things people can do”.
With a Euromonitor International survey ranking Crown Casino as the highest Australian attraction and seventeenth most popular worldwide, Mr Lee said Australia should not have to apologise for developing properties that attract international tourists.

"In terms of inbound tourism, the biggest forward market is the Chinese market and they enjoy their food and enjoy a bet - we shouldn't have to apologise for developing the right sort of product to accommodate that," he explained to the newspaper.

Mr Lee was concerned for the long term restrictions of the proposed law that allows gamblers to notify the venue of a maximum loss before playing.

Earlier this year Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson concurred with Mr Lee’s ideas, arguing that casino tourism “is real”.

''Unfortunately, this is a fact of life - high-roller tourism is big-yield tourism,” Mr Ferguson said.

Topping Euromonitor’s list of worldwide attractions was the Great Wall of China followed by Walt Disney World.


Marvel Makes Inaugural Appearance at Disney's D23 Expo!...

NEW YORK, Aug. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Marvel is coming to Anaheim this year to make its historic debut at D23, the ultimate Disney fan event, and we're pulling out all the stops!

On Sunday, August 21, at 10:15 a.m. in the Arena, join us for Marvel: The House of Ideas, an exclusive and unprecedented experience that will take you through the evolution of Marvel from its first comic book in 1939 to its current position as one of the most important creative forces in the world. During this presentation, which will include interactive Q&A segments, you will not only get an inside glimpse of the history of Marvel and its iconic Super Heroes but also discover why Marvel truly is the House of Ideas. This session will be hosted by Joe Quesada, Marvel's Chief Creative Officer and one of the most respected and sought-after writers and artists in the entertainment industry.

"We're thrilled to be a part of the one-of-a-kind show that is Disney's D23," said Quesada.
"Whether attendees are new to the world of Marvel or longtime fans, they're going to love what we've planned for them!"

Also, be sure not to miss Marvel's own President of Production Kevin Feige as he joins some of the top names in film on Saturday, August 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Walt Disney Studios panel to discuss Marvel Studios' plans for 2012, including the hotly anticipated Marvel's The Avengers!
Tickets to D23 Expo 2011 are available at http://www.D23Expo.com. Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 Expo and can be purchased for single days or for three full days of festivities. Admission is $42 for a one-day adult ticket and $32 for children 3-12. Three-day passes are $121 for adults and $91 for children. Members of D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans will receive a discount on admission as well as early entry to each day of the D23 Expo for themselves and their guests. More details about D23 Expo entertainment, events and special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans can keep up with all the news by visiting www.D23Expo.com, as well as by following "Disney D23" on Twitter and Facebook.

About D23 Expo 2011
The D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings the entire world of Disney under one roof, providing attendees with unprecedented access to Disney films, television and theme parks. For schedules, live updates, interactive features and tools, polls and much more, check out the D23 Expo mobile app at www.D23mobile.com! To be part of the D23 Expo conversation, make sure to follow @DisneyD23 and tag your tweets with #D23Expo. For questions during the D23 Expo, get answers by sending tweets to @D23Expo.

About D23
The name "D23" pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923, when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney's 88-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication Disney twenty-three; a rich website at www.disney.com/D23; a new collectibles line, the Walt Disney Archives Collection; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year, highlighted by the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, August 19-21, 2011.

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.


Network Nine's Underbelly: Media Buyers Talk Numbers...

Media buyers are going on record saying the upcoming launch of Underbelly Razor on Nine is critical for the network's ongoing success, as Nine comes out of a very average first half.

While Nine's The Block has been pulling in ratings as high as 1.7 million viewers in its final episodes, the rest of the year has not seen stellar results come out of Nine.

Media buyers have said that Underbelly Razor will almost certainly pull in high ratings for Nine, but they have also argued that high ratings are a must, if Nine wants to have a positive second half.

UM chief executive Mat Baxter has high hopes for the show. "It's a very successful franchise, and the drama element has much more sustainability than reality television. However, Nine hasn't had as many runs on the board this year. The Block has been great for Nine, but it's only one program.

"Hopefully Underbelly will give Nine some depth of performance. If the show is successful, it will show consistent performance from Nine. It would be viewed as a critical part of Nine's line-up."

Maxus Melbourne's chief operating officer Mark McCraith said he expects Underbelly Razor to pull in between 1.6 and 1.7 million viewers on average, which would be an impressive result if you take into account the rating dilution caused by the multichannels.

"Nine has been clever about how it is selling advertising on the program. They are not discounting, but they are not overcharging. It's not being sold as high as The Renovators or Masterchef. It has been attractively priced so advertisers can take advantage."

GroupM trading director James Parkinson said: "Undoubtedly Nine are looking for stronger content in the second half than the first half of this year. The Block has been strong, so Underbelly will hopefully be a continuation of this development of strong product."

MediaCom group director Jane Henderson also said Underbelly Razor will be critical for Nine, as the network needs to show that it can deliver beyond The Block.

"Underbelly will help to frame negotiations for next year. If it does well, Nine will be in a good position in terms of forward bookings. Nine realises just how important Underbelly is. Look at what happened in February when Nine didn't kick off with Underbelly as it had planned. It really hurt them, and they've learnt from it."

MEC trading director Seb Rennie said he does not expect the upcoming season to hit the same heights as earlier seasons, but argued that it is only one program and that Nine would be relying on programs other than Underbelly.

The Underbelly franchise has been consistently successful for the network. Season One in 2008 saw an average of 1.273 million viewers, according to OzTAM, while Season Two in 2009 brought an average of 2.189 million viewers and Season Three last year saw an average of 1.821 million viewers.

Underbelly Razor goes to air on Channel Nine on Sunday August 21.

You'll just have to be teased more by TV promos, web and bus advertising before the big night.


CryptoLogic positive...

Online betting games developer CryptoLogic said this morning that total revenue increased to $7m in the second-quarter to end-June (Q1 2011: $6m).

Total expenses held at $6.5m (Q1 2011: $6.5m).

Income before tax was $0.5m (Q1 2011: $0.4m loss).

A Millionaires Club jackpot win of $4.2m was paid in June 2011.

The company had cash of $12m at period end (Q1 2011: $14.5m).

CryptoLogic said it is encouraged by the performance in the quarter and continues to focus on driving revenues further while managing costs tightly to enhance shareholder value.


Greenbrae man charged with insider trading in Disney deal...

A Greenbrae man was charged with insider trading Thursday on allegations he made nearly $200,000 by buying Marvel Entertainment options before the comics publisher was acquired by the Walt Disney Co. in 2009, federal authorities said.

Toby Scammell, 26, secretly exploited his girlfriend, who worked at Disney and had knowledge of the pending Marvel acquisition, and bought $5,465 in Marvel options a few weeks before the deal, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

Scammell funded half the stake by taking money from his brother's account, the SEC said. Scammell obtained trading authority over the account when his brother, an Army soldier, was deployed to Iraq.

"Marvel's stock price jumped more than 25 percent after the Aug. 31, 2009, public announcement, and Scammell then sold all of his Marvel options," the SEC said. "He didn't reveal his trades or profits to his brother or his girlfriend."

The SEC said Scammell turned a 3,000 percent profit in less than a month.

According to the SEC complaint, Scammell lived with his girlfriend in Los Angeles for a period prior to the Marvel/Disney deal. At the time, his girlfriend was serving an "externship" in Disney's corporate strategy department.

The girlfriend told Scammell she was working on a major deal, but the SEC complaint is unclear on how Scammell allegedly determined that Marvel was the target of the acquisition. Authorities noted that he had access to his girlfriend's Blackberry.

Scammell's lawyer, Miles Ehrlich, said the SEC's case is "riddled with distortions" and "stitched together ... on nothing more than a hunch."

"Here's the reality that the SEC chose not to include in its complaint: Toby testified under oath for four days, and he patiently explained the reasons why he made the $5500 of trades in question," Ehrlich said in a statement. "His reasons and his actions were all corroborated by the contemporaneous documentary and time-stamped computer evidence in this case."

"What the SEC has done here is wrong," he added. "And it's truly a sad day to see how the government can damage the reputation and future of an innocent young person without having real evidence to back up their charges."

The SEC said the investigation is continuing. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.


Brock Lesnar Speaks Out – Vince McMahon-WWE...

Brock Lesnar recently spoke about WWE and how it helped his career...

On Vince McMahon and WWE: “These guys, they just don’t have another life. When they go home, they really can’t get out of tune with their on-stage persona. There’s really no time. I think the biggest thing is there’s really no downtime for the human body to recover, and more importantly, for their mind to recover where you’re constantly on the road, and in a program where you can’t get outside to take an outside look at what’s going on — guys resort to all kinds of extracurricular activities.”

On what being with WWE has done for his career: “I’m not stupid — without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I’m drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe.”


Hulk Hogan: 'Hulkamania should stop the riots'...

Hulk Hogan has said that it is time for young people in England to "change direction" after the recent rioting across the country.

The wrestler-turned-reality TV star told BBC Radio 5 Live that the disturbances were "headline news" in the US and that "it's the only thing people are talking about".

Hogan said: "I just heard what's going on in the streets, man, and I thought just maybe Hulkamania should run over there, start dropping legs, start hitting people with big boots and just stop the action.

"Let's rethink, brother, rethink this whole thing and get these kids together and change their thinking in a positive direction and break the cycle of this craziness of where they were raised and where they're at. "

He continued: "Everyone's got a story, which is 'So what?' but what now? That's what needs to be done. Change the direction of the youth over there.

"Everybody wants the kids to get back on track. It doesn't matter if Hulk Hogan's over there, body-slamming all the youth like I did Andre the Giant. But at the end of the day we need to grab these kids, shake 'em and say stop."

Hogan added: "Just regroup - look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Is this what you want the mirror image of your life to be? Is this what you want your destiny to be?'

"Now it's time to change directions, even if the state has to step in and really focus on getting these kids back on track, brother, but you know what? I will do anything, because I love my UK Hulkamaniacs, brother."


WWE Studios chief Mike Pavone ankles; Vince McMahon: WWE is rethinking film strategy (Variety)

After shepherding the production of eight films, WWE Studios chief Mike Pavone has called it quits.

The exec is ankling the company to "pursue other opportunities," according to a corporate filing. He had headed up the film division since 2009, after replacing former Village Roadshow exec Michael Lake.

Departure follows remarks this week by WWE topper Vince McMahon that the company was looking to rethink its film strategy after recent releases have struggled to find an audience.

Company is narrowing down a list of candidates to replace Pavone.

The Samuel Goldwyn Co. has been distribbing WWE's slate since the company began self-financing its pics in early 2010, after partnering with Fox and Lionsgate in the past.

Its most recent release, the drama "That's What I Am," starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, earned just $6,400 from 10 theaters in three days at the box office.

Next up is the comedy "Inside Out," which bows Sept. 9 and stars Triple H, Parker Posey and Michael Rapaport, to be followed by "Family Reunion," "Bending the Rules" and "Barricade." It's also already released "Legendary," "Knucklehead" and Stephen Herek comedy "The Chaperone," all shot in Louisiana.

WWE gives its pics limited theatrical releases in certain markets, using them as promo pushes for launches across homevideo platforms shortly thereafter. Walmart, the company's primary retail partner, has been giving the films prominent displays and shelf space.

The pics WWE produced didn't star its wrestlers but featured them in smaller co-starring roles opposite more established thesps such as Harris, Patricia Clarkson, Danny Glover, Mark Feuerstein, Dennis Farina, Jamie Kennedy and Eric McCormack.

Although WWE Studios generated $4.3 million during the last three months, "I Am What I Am" wound up losing $3.3 million during the second quarter.

Moving forward, WWE is looking to pair up with other production partners for films. It also wants to lower the production budgets on future releases, which currently hover around the $5 million mark.

In May, WWE paired up with Pathe U.K. on the horror film "No One Lives," which stars Luke Evans ("The Three Musketeers," "Immortals"). Ryuhei Kitamura ("Midnight Meat Train") is directing.

Leaning more toward genre fare may be part of WWE's playbook after Pavone's slate of mostly feel-good dramas and family fare didn't appeal to the company's fanbase.

The film division generated $400,000 in profit last year through previous releases and Pavone's first titles.

WWE is hoping to turn to its own films to use as programming on the WWE Network, a TV channel the company hopes to launch within the next 12-18 months.

Company has also been digitizing its vast library of footage, which consists of 100,000 hours, as programming to adapt for the new network when it launches. (Credit: Variety)


WWE To Provide Radio To Listen To Commentators At SummerSlam...

If you’re heading to SummerSlam this weekend at Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center, there’s a new way to take part in the excitement. This Sunday, WWE introduces a revolutionary new radio that allows attendees of the Biggest Party of the Summer – and all pay-per-view events – to listen in on ringside commentary live with the WWE Live Commentary Radio.

If you’ve ever been to a WWE live event or any live sporting event, one major difference from watching the event on television is the lack of play-by-play commentary. The WWE Live Commentary Radio is going to change that, allowing fans in attendance to listen to the SummerSlam television broadcast featuring the likes of WWE Hall of Famers Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross, as well as Michael Cole, Booker T and Josh Mathews.

The WWE Live Commentary Radio will be available at merchandise stands on the concourse for $15 each. The radios are yours to keep and can be used as a traditional FM radio once the event has ended, and they can be used at future live events where WWE Commentary Radio is available. Supplies are limited so be sure to arrive early! (Credit: WWE)


Facebook UK visits drop to lowest since 2009: Experian Hitwise...

Search tracker company finds Google losing search share to Bing in July

Though social networking site Facebook remains the most popular social networks by UK Internet visits, the share of visits of the site has dropped by nearly 4% in July when compared to June.

According to Internet search tracker Experian Hitwise, Facebook lost its market share of visits to reach 50.14%, its lowest since October 2009.

Experian Hitwise said that Facebook "suffered a significant loss of market share of visits this month dropping from 53.72% to 50.14% of all UK Internet visits to social networks.

"Facebook's dominance of the UK social market hasn't been this low since October 2009, when the network accounted for 50.46% of all visits to the category."

The Internet tracking company also said that YouTube became the fastest moving social network for the fifth consecutive month.

It said, "The search term 'youtube' was also the third biggest after term typed into search engines this month. The most popular search term was 'facebook', while 'ebay' was second."

"YouTube continued its exceptional growth as the fastest moving social network for the fifth consecutive month. One in every 35 visits to a website by UK Internet users now goes to YouTube and the video site now accounts for 22.54% of all visits to social networks, its highest market share of the UK social landscape recorded to date," said the firm.

The firm said that while Google sites maintained their robust lead at 91.04% of searches in July, it lost 0.98% share.

Microsoft Sites reclaimed the number two spot in the search engine rankings list having dropped to third last month for the first time this year. Microsoft Sites, led by the bing search engine, accounted for 3.84% of all UK Internet searches conducted in July 2011.

"Microsoft has recovered from last month's blip to once again become the UK's second most popular search provider," commented Experian Hitwise research director Robin Goad.

"The gains made by Microsoft Sites this month are almost exactly equal to the losses suffered by Google, which means that some of the searches that were being conducted on Google engines last month are now being typed into bing. "

Yahoo Sites increased their market share of visits slightly this month to account for 3% of all UK searches online, said the firm.


Thor And X-Men First Class Tipped To Hammer Home Results...

Thor and X-Men: First Class got great reviews and their awesome, and Captain America: The First Avenger seems set to hit the spot to, but big questions remain about Green Lantern, and the vibe is not particularly good. Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively is getting very mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has a 23% approval among movie critics, according to the 153 reviews counters. But 72% of the 62,000 plus user reviewers say that they "liked it" with it just premiering in the U.S theaters Friday after a midnight release on late Thursday/early Friday. Comic Book Movie.com indicates are pretty negative on the flick. One reviewer called the movie "inert, artificial and dead on arrival." During the midnight release on Thursday, the film drew $3.35 million in the same region that alike movies that were recently released did; X-Men: First Class brought in $3.37 million on June 2nd, and Thor did $3.25 million on May 5th. X-Men: First Class and Thor both had a budget significantly less than Green Lantern; the former had a budget of $160 million while Thor had exactly half the budget of Green Lantern — $150 million. While the flick will likely end up eventually surpassing its budget, the fact the other comic book movies had much less budget isn’t a great result. Ultimately, X-Men: First Class raked in $55.1 million in its opening weekend while Thor did $65.7 million. With this being the third comic book-based movie released in a month-and-a-half and mixed reviews, will Green Lantern under perform this weekend, or will the hardcore - fanboy type audience that has been largely ripping on it, check it out at the cinema?

Our top picks: Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger looks like a safe bet.

Be it movies, comics or games, we think that Marvel Entertainment leads the pack, followed by DC Comics, with Dark Horse Comics getting a third, based on the positive news leaks and insider tip offs we've been getting.

As Marvel living legend Stan Lee would say, Excelsior!

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