We’re just over a month away from the 86th Academy Awards, so it’s about time we all get caught up on the winners from the past 85 years. If scrolling through countless Wikipedia pages doesn’t sound like a fun way to accomplish this task, it might be worth checking out Nelson Carvajal’s compilation video of every Visual Effects Oscar since the category was introduced in 1977. Between Star Wars, Indiana Jones and E.T., films from Spielberg and Lucas had a lock on the award for years, but it’s incredible to see just how far we’ve come technologically in a few decades. Check out all the winners below, along with the nominees that will fight for the top spot in 2014. More →
When was the last time you bought a DVD or a Blu-ray? If you’re part of the ever-increasing majority of the U.S., it’s probably far less often than you used to. The Wall Street Journal has shared data from the Digital Entertainment Group that shows just how far Americans have moved from buying physical copies of their movies. According to the data, digital movie sales are up 47% from 2012, which makes them the fastest-growing category in home entertainment revenue. Although physical sales are on the decline, the Journal notes that “online movie sales are studios’ highest-profit-margin transaction,” helping to make up for the lack of in-store sales and rentals. More →
The FBI Anti-Piracy Warning that is found on all modern DVD and Blu-ray discs is getting an upgrade. The United States government earlier this week announced that it will require two copyright notices on DVD and Blu-ray discs, Ars Technica reported. The first notice will warn potential piracy thieves, while the second one is meant to educate viewers. All six major movie studios have agreed to include the notices, which we will begin seeing on new discs this week. The screens will “come up after the previews, once you hit the main movie/play button on the DVD.” The warnings will each last 10 seconds and users will not have the ability to skip or fast forward through them. “Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity; public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. More →
Nick Fury and “The Avengers” save the world from imminent doom in Paramount Pictures’ movie of the same name, but in real life, the star-studded team of superheroes would cost New York City a fortune in the process. Based on a Marvel comic, “The Avengers” opened on May 4th and set a new record for opening weekend box office sales. The $200.3 million grossed by the film in fewer than three days wouldn’t even put a dent in the bill this team of superheroes would ring up if they took their battle to the streets of New York in real life, however. More →
Apple is reportedly in talks to stream films owned by EPIX — a joint venture among Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate — across a variety of devices, including the long-anticipated iTV, according to a report from Reuters. Two people with knowledge of the negotiations told the publication that the talks are in the preliminary stages and no agreement is considered near. The Cupertino-based company is reportedly looking to beef up the content offered through its Apple TV set-top box and upcoming devices. An agreement could prove troublesome, however, due to EPIX’s $200 million agreement with Netflix, which gave the company exclusive streaming rights through September. More →
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Google have come to an agreement to offer 600 movies for rent through YouTube and the Google Play marketplace for users in the U.S. and Canada. “Thanks to MGM, you’ll be able to join in this trend and grab its movies online and on the go,” the company said in a blog post on Monday. “From timeless love stories like West Side Story and Moonstruck, to sci-fi action films like The Terminator and Robocop, to modern classics like Rain Man and Rocky, you can now rediscover MGM’s movie-making magic on Google Play and YouTube.” The Mountain View-based company has rental deals in place with five other major Hollywood studios, including Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures. NewsCorp’s 20th Century Fox remains as one of the few studios that has not yet reached an agreement with the Internet giant. More →
Online retail giant Amazon is said to be stretching the truth regarding the size of its streaming content library when reporting numbers to the public. According to a report from Fast Company, the “17,000 movies and television shows” Amazon claims to offer Amazon Prime customers is inflated by roughly 10 times. Amazon Prime members have free, unlimited access to Amazon’s streaming content catalog, which can be viewed using a number of devices including a Roku set-top box and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Rather than counting a TV series toward the total content tally Amazon claims its users have access to, Amazon counts each individual episode of a TV show toward that 17,000-title total. So, for example, Fox’s “24” counts not once but 192 times, and various versions of the “Power Rangers” show add 715 shows to Amazon’s catalog. The actual size of Amazon’s library? 1,745 movies and 150 television series. Netflix, which has been said to have a catalog of 60,000 streaming titles, actually has approximately 13,000 different titles including 9,500 movies and 3,500 TV series, the report claims.
Netflix in 2006 held an open competition to find the collaborative filtering algorithm that would best predict whether or not a user would like a particular film or TV show based on previous ratings. The grand prize of $1 million was awarded to a team called “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” in 2009. The team’s algorithm was found to be 10% more effect than Netflix’s own recommendation service, however the company never implemented the team’s solution into its own service. “We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment,” Netflix finally explained in a recent blog post. “Also, our focus on improving Netflix personalization had shifted to the next level by then.” The company said because the majority its users were streaming videos rather than renting DVDs, it wasn’t logical to integrate the algorithm into its recommendation service, which is different for its streaming service and DVD rental program. More →
Google on Wednesday announced a new deal with Paramount Pictures that will allow more than 500 movie titles to be rented through YouTube and the Google Play marketplace. The Mountain View-based company now has rental deals with five of the six major Hollywood studios — including Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures — and 20th Century Fox is the only studio that hasn’t yet reached an agreement with Google. “Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Paramount has been responsible for some of the most memorable films in cinema history,” said Malik Ducard, YouTube’s director of content partnerships. “With the addition of Paramount, we now have five of the six major studios and over ten independent movie studios offering nearly 9,000 movies for rent to millions of people around the world. It’s still early days for us, and we’ll continue adding new titles and expanding our service to more countries this year.” The majority of the movies tied to this deal are available now, and the rest will be added to YouTube and Google Play over the next few months. More →
Cable network operator and Internet service provider Comcast reportedly confirmed earlier this week that it would give its own video streaming service a huge advantage over rival services like Netflix. Showing blatant disregard for net neutrality principles, Comcast said this week that its video streaming service Xfinity will be exempt from the 250GB bandwidth cap it foists on subscribers, Raw Story reports. Movies and TV shows streamed using rival services such as Netflix and Hulu will still apply toward users’ monthly bandwidth caps. Microsoft announced earlier this week that Comcast’s Xfinity service was launching on its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console, and heavy users on Comcast’s network now have a clear reason to choose Xfinity over any of the dozens of rival streaming services supported by the Xbox. More →
RapidShare is widely known as an invaluable tool for the illegal sharing of copyrighted digital material. Much like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year when company founder Kim Dotcom was arrested and charged with racketeering and violating anti-piracy laws, RapidShare allows users to upload any file and share a link with other users who may then download the content. While some users share files legally with RapidShare, millions more upload copyrighted movies, music and eBooks which are then downloaded illegally by others around the world who find links to the files on blogs or through special search engines. Following a preliminary ruling, a court in Germany has now declared RapidShare to be legal, but it must utilize a monitoring mechanisms if it wishes to remain operational. Read on for more. More →
Online movie streaming in the United States is expected to top both DVD and Blu-ray use for the first time ever in 2012, according to a study from IHS Screen Digest. The study suggests that in 2012, Americans will legally stream 3.4 billion movies online — twice the 1.4 billion streamed in 2011 — while DVD and Blu-ray movies watching this year will to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion in 2011. Last year, the unlimited-streaming services offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime accounted for 94% of all paid online movie viewing in the U.S. Additionally, consumers paid an average of $0.51 for every movie streamed online, compared to $4.72 for DVD and Blu-ray discs. “We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray,” IHS analyst Dan Cryan said. “But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.” More →
A court in Germany ruled on Thursday that RapidShare must implement a system that proactively filters user uploads in order to prevent the illegal sharing of copyrighted content. Like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year, RapidShare allows users to upload large files and share them online. The service has become widely known for hosting copyrighted software, music, movies and books that are then shared illegally on forums, blogs and a variety of of other websites. Following verdicts in three separate cases filed by two book publishers and an group representing music publishers called GEMA, the firm has been ordered to take a more active role in preventing infringing content from being uploaded to its servers, TorrentFreak reported. RapidShare has not yet stated whether or not it will appeal the decision.
UPDATE: RapidShare has issued a press release in response to this ruled, which now follows below. More →