Amazon announces Video Shorts… and a net loss.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is launching a section called Video Shorts. The difference with YouTube is that it only contains professionally produced videos, so no UGC (User Generated Content) at the moment. To be precise, the site currently features “hundreds of thousands” videos, divided in the following categories: Music Videos, Concerts & Live Performances, Movie Trailers, Movie Clips & Featurettes, Actor Interviews, Video Games, Technology, Food & Drink, Beauty, Literature & Books.

The company says that the Video Shorts section was added to Instant Video within the last couple of weeks, though the content it contains has actually been building up on the site for much longer than that.

The main goal though, is to drive viewers to buy more digital and physical goods from Amazon, instead of selling general advertisements (like YouTube). Focusing on the movies sections, the trailer of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy include links to buy related items such as comics, toys, soundtracks, t-shirts, and so on. If the movie has already been released for home video (e.g. Rio 2), it would include links to buy the DVD, or rent or purchase the digital version through Amazon Instant Video. Furthermore, the bottom of each Video Shorts page also includes Amazon’s “customers who viewed this item also viewed” suggestive-selling listings. Quick note: there is no viral feature such as sharing or embedding functions as of now, and this seems a big lack if they want to drive traffic to the shops.

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Movie studios supplying Amazon trailers, featurettes and other content for Video Shorts include Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount, Sony, Universal, Lionsgate, IFC Films and A24. Music videos are supplied through agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Vevo and others, and videogame publishers providing clips include Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, Activision and Nintendo. Additional video content partners include Howcast, The Verge, Simon & Schuster and WWE.

The company’s ambitions are seemingly boundless, with investments in everything from cloud infrastructure and services to mobile devices and consumer hardware. What isn’t Amazon selling?

Amazon may have added a Video Shorts section, but it still has a long way to go to produce a business that would actually compete with YouTube. Furthermore, for the second quarter of 2014, the Seattle-based company posted revenue of $19.3 billion, up 23.2% year-over-year, and a bigger-than-expected net loss of $126 million ($0.27 per diluted share) versus a $7 million ($0.02 per diluted share) net loss in the year-earlier period. Furthermore, operating loss was $15 million in the second quarter, compared with operating income of $79 million in second quarter 2013.

Differentiation is the keyword to define Amazon’s strategy. The company wants to deliver groceries to your door, ship its products via drone, provide you with high-end cloud infrastructure, stream media to all your screens, and even produce its own TV shows and games, but their focus is still the same: “We continue working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better,” said Jeff Bezos announcing Q2-2014 financial results.

Cinecittà World, air of freshness or smoke and mirrors?

The new park opens today, but criticism that surrounded it since it was announced does not stop. An interesting article by the Italian reporter for the New York Times, Elisabetta Povoledo argues that it is above all an investment in fantasy to save a fraying reality.

Investment in the theme park by IEG – Italian Entertainment Group has been around 250 million Euros. True, there are many examples of successful similar theme parks worldwide, from Universal Studios Florida in Orlando to the Movie Park Germany, but Italian film industry has been particularly struggling in the latest years: labor unions, for instance, have complained that “the investment in the theme park far outpaces the $67.6 million that IEG and its subsidiaries have invested in the Studios since they were privatized in 1997“. The company also plans to invest another $338 million to expand the park with a nature reserve and wellness center, Mr. Abete said.

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According to some the shareholders are only trying to exploit the Cinecittà brand, to squeeze its value without reinvesting in needed production facilities and specialized workforce: there have been a lot of layoffs this year in the industry and protests and picketing continue. In the last six years, only 50 films were made at Cinecittà Studios. In addition, the last three years have also posted budget deficits, on average about $6.8 million a year. “Today they mostly shoot commercials and television there,” the actor and director Christian De Sica.

In an attempt to reinvigorate film production and make it competitive with German and British studios, the government this year has allotted higher tax credits for foreign companies to shoot in Italy. On its side, IEG has also promised a $40.6 million investment in the studios. The director Paul Haggis, who shot Third Person at Cinecittà 18 months ago, said that despite he would rank the crews among the best in the world and it remains a magical place to shoot a movie, the “studio itself is in need of investment and some of the basic facilities, like production offices and the toilets for the crews, need upgrading.”

We all may only wish that the hype and headlines will bring tons of visitors to the park, that Cinecittà Studios will shine again out loud by reflected light provided by fresh financial resources coming from Cinecittà World. Hopefully, this is going to be a smart commercial move, and will not come out as mere free riding on Cinecittà brand strength.

Box Office Italy | 17-20 July 2014

TITLE | DISTRIBUTOR | WEEKS || GROSS W-E | %CHANGE | TOT GROSS || ADMISSIONS W-E | TOT ADMISSIONS || N° SCREENS | SCREEN AVG

  1. Transformers 4 – L’Era dell’Estinzione (Transformers: Age of Extinction) | Universal | 1 || €2,858,860 | NA | €3,877,258 || 375,647 | 511,162 || 962 | €2,972
  2. Mai Così Vicini (And So It Goes) | Videa-CDE | 2 || €166,425 | -44% | €569,692 || 28,631 | 99,373 || 253 | €658
  3. Maleficent | Disney | 8 || €111,415 | -57% | €13,535,048 || 19,935 | 2,074,772|| 198 | €563

Source: Cinetel

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SIAE: moviegoing in Italy slightly up in 2013

SIAE, the Italian society for authors and publishers, has just presented encouraging data in his annual report, which pictures the situation of cinema, theaters, concerts, sports, and any other performing arts such as ballet and opera.

As far as moviegoing is concerned, SIAE says Italy is on an upward trend: up by 5.59 per cent in 2013 with 105.7 million tickets sold and € 643.3 million gross box office revenue, whereas the other widely used service Cinetel had previously counted 97.38 million tickets and € 618.3 million revenue, but they monitor 90% of the market.

Rome and Milan top the ranking as biggest markets, whereas Sole a catinelle was the number one movie in theaters in 2013, watched by 8,562,244 people.

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Frame from the movie “Sole a catinelle”.

According to SIAE, also the other revenue (besides tickets) for moviegoing and total turnover grew respectively by 2.16 and 1.81 per cent. Furthermore, 71.88 per cent out of 4.2 million shows are movies.

The overall revenue of the out-of-home entertainment sector grew in 2013 by 1.17 per cent, attendance by 1.24 per cent, number of shows by 2.14 per cent, with concerts being the fastest growing form of entertainment with 11.20 per cent more people attending.

 

Box Office Italy | 10-13 July 2014

TITLE | DISTRIBUTOR | WEEKS || GROSS W-E | %CHANGE | TOT GROSS || ADMISSIONS W-E | TOT ADMISSIONS || N° SCREENS | SCREEN AVG

  1. Mai Così Vicini (And So It Goes) | Videa-CDE | 1 || €293,367 | NA | €283,367 || 48,814 | NA || 233 | €1,259
  2. Maleficent | Walt Disney | 7 || €420,505 | +23% | €13,332,878 || 43,509 | 2,037,285 || 250 | €1,041
  3. Le Origini del Male (The Quiet Ones) | Lucky Red | 2 || €233,793 | -18% | €757,611 || 38,272 | 128,563|| 248 | €943

Source: Cinetel

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