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Hollywood & entertainment industry news
DreamWorks Animation's 'Dragon 2' stays atop China box office

DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” remained atop China’s box office last week, and will soon become the top-grossing animated film of 2014 in the territory.

The sequel earned $24.4 million in the seven days ending Sunday, according to figures from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway, bringing the movie’s gross to $51.5 million. “Despicable Me 2,” released in China earlier this year, took in a total of $52.3 million.

The strong showing for Hiccup and Toothless is good news for DreamWorks Animation as it pushes deeper into the Chinese market. The company has set up a venture with Chinese partners, called Oriental DreamWorks, to create “Kung Fu Panda 3” and other animated films, and is building a large entertainment complex in Shanghai.

Taking second place at the box office last week was “The Four 3,” a martial arts film from Gordon Chan that debuted with nearly $16.8 million. Third place went to the Hong Kong real estate comedy “The Temporary Family,” which...

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TV ratings: NBC's Emmys drop from last year but dominate on new night

Held on a Monday for the first time since 1976, the annual Primetime Emmy Awards won the night in viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

Down in total viewership from last year, the three-hour ceremony drew in 15.6 million viewers.

Last year's ceremony, held on CBS and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, drew about 17.8 million total viewers despite having to compete with finales of "Breaking Bad" and "Dexter." With help from a Sunday-night-football lead-in, the show was the most-watched Emmys since 2005.

NBC reported its biggest total viewer count for a Monday, excluding the Olympics, in more than two years.

With a rating of 4.2 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the 66th annual awards show, hosted by Seth Meyers, had its second-highest rating in eight years, falling short of the 2013 show.

Elsewhere on network television, Fox boasted solid Monday night ratings with Gordon Ramsay shows "Masterchef" and "Hotel Hell."

The culinary competition show took second most watched in the key...

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Turner Broadcasting to cut costs; older workers offered buyouts

Turner Broadcasting has launched a significant round of cost-cutting, with plans to eliminate several hundred workers.

The move, announced Tuesday, comes after a nearly three-month review of the business initiated by John Martin, who earlier this year became chief executive of Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting. The unit includes CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network.

The voluntary buyouts are being offered to fewer than 600 employees based in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the plans.

To be eligible, workers must be at least 55 years of age and have worked at the company for 10 or more years, according to a memo sent Tuesday morning to Turner employees.

The company said it would make other cuts, too, although it did not disclose the overall number of workers it plans to shed.

Turner Broadcasting has seen its fortunes fade in recent years amid ratings declines at key networks, including CNN, TBS and TNT.  In addition, cable networks industry-wide experienced...

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L.A. Mayor Garcetti seeks FCC review of Dodgers channel impasse

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is asking federal regulators to examine the stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV operators that's prevented much of the region from watching Dodgers baseball this season.

Garcetti's request came late Monday in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing cable giant Comcast Corp.'s proposed $45-billion takeover of Time Warner Cable.

A combination of the two companies would make Comcast the dominant pay-TV operator in the Los Angeles region with 1.8 million customers.

Monday was the deadline for people to voice their opposition or support on the proposed merger to the FCC, which was deluged with thousands of comments.

Some two-thirds of the Los Angeles area has been unable to watch most Dodgers games this season because Time Warner Cable has not reached a deal with the region's other cable and satellite operators. Comcast would inherit Time Warner Cable's expensive contract to distribute SportsNet LA on behalf of...

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MTV Video Music Awards viewership down 18% from last year

Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards at the Forum in Inglewood averaged 8.3 million viewers, down 18% from last year's buzz-worthy gala, according to Nielsen.

Last year's VMAs, which featured a now infamous performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, scored 10.1 million viewers. The record for the music kudos-fest stands as 12.4 million viewers for 2011. 

Sunday's awards show featured an acclaimed 16-minute performance by Beyonce, who tore through a medley of songs from her latest album before being joined onstage by husband Jay Z and child Blue Ivy.

Other acts included Taylor Swift in full pop mode with her new single "Shake It Off" and Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J kicking the evening off with renditions of "Break Free," "Anaconda" and "Bang Bang."

Beyonce ruled Sunday's telecast, winning three trophies in addition to the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award" presented to her by her family.

Miley Cyrus, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Lorde and 5 Seconds of...

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TV ratings: 'Big Brother' hits summer high, 'Rising Star' up in finale

CBS' "Big Brother" rose to a season ratings high Sunday night, while ABC's "Rising Star" rose in its finale, according to early numbers from Nielsen.

Sunday night's Beyonce-powered MTV Video Music Awards won't be out until later on Monday, but it will certainly be a major factor.

Last year's awards show, which featured a provocative performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, averaged more than 10 million viewers. The 2011 VMAs currently holds the record for that program, with 12.4 million viewers. 

With 7.26 million viewers tuning in, "Big Brother" had its most-watched episode of the summer so far. It hit a rating of 2.5 among key 18-49-year-old viewers, also a season high and up 14% from its week-ago episode. 

"Rising Star," ABC's entrant into the network singing contest race, closed out the season with a 0.9 in the 18-49 demographic, in which a ratings point equals about 1.3 million viewers. The rating was up about 13% from last week's episode. The June "Rising Star" premiere...

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Box office: 'Guardians' on top, 'If I Stay' 3rd, 'Sin City' crashes

As the box office begins to slide from the blockbusters of summer to the prestige pictures of fall, theaters saw what at least one executive called a tough weekend as new releases fell short of predictions and “Guardians of the Galaxy” battled its way back to the No. 1 spot in its fourth week of release, with an estimated $17.6 million.

The result gives "Guardians" a new cumulative total of $251.9 million for the U.S. and Canada, moving it past “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as the No. 1 movie of the summer in North America.

“Being the biggest movie of the season is unbelievably gratifying and a confirmation of the kind of work that the Marvel team has put in,” said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of theatrical distribution. He cited the film's momentum and the fact that "it isn’t done with its run."

What does it means to see the movie return to the top spot in its fourth week? “It says people are telling people, ‘You gotta see the movie,’ or they’ve seen...

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SAG-AFTRA members approve new contract

Members of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly Friday to approve a new film and TV contract.

The union's membership voted 92% in a favor of the new three-year agreement, which provides modest pay hikes for members of Hollywood's largest union.

The contract includes pay rate increases of 2.5% in the first year of the agreement, and an additional 3% in the second and third years. The union, which has more than 165,000 members, also secured a slight increase in contributions that producers will make to the union's pension and health plans. 

The contract also includes a reduction of unpaid online streaming windows for most shows, and a new residual payment for on-demand viewing.

The talks mark the first time the union has bargained on a film and TV contract since the Screen Actors Guild merged with its smaller rival union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, two years ago. In addition to actors, AFTRA also represents recording artists, disc jockeys, broadcast journalists...

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FCC gears up review of Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable

Comcast Corp.'s proposed $45-billion takeover of Time Warner Cable is receiving new scrutiny amid protests from consumer groups who are demanding state and federal regulators block Comcast's ambitions to grow.

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday asked Comcast to provide detailed business information about its cable TV systems, its Internet service and arrangements that Comcast has with outside companies that deliver Internet traffic to Comcast's already vast network.

The government is not expected to decide whether to approve the proposed merger between the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 cable companies until January. However, the FCC has picked up the pace of its review of the complex transaction.

Monday is the deadline for individuals to file comments with the regulatory group regarding the proposed merger.

On Friday, the FCC denied Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's request to extend the deadline for comments until Sept. 8. The mayor's office had asked the FCC for an...

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Box office: 'If I Stay' launches with solid $1.1 million Thursday

The teen tearjerker "If I Stay" grossed a studio-estimated $1.1 million in ticket sales from Thursday showings that started at 7 p.m. -- a solid start for the adaptation of the young-adult novel of the same name.

Featuring Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley as the love-struck teenagers, "If I Stay" is expected to gross roughly $25 million through Sunday in its domestic debut, though distributor Warner Bros. expects $20 million at the most.

Either result will almost certainly send the MGM and New Line Cinema co-production to the top of the box-office charts.

Fellow newcomers -- the sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" and TriStar's faith-themed football flick "When the Game Stands Tall" -- also opened with Thursday night pre-shows.

The "Sin City" follow-up took in a softer $475,000. It is not expected to challenge "If I Stay" for the top spot, nor is it likely to come close to the opening of the original "Sin City" from 2005 ($29 million).

Meanwhile the high school pigskin...

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Tearjerker 'If I Stay' is expected to top box office

Moviegoers will likely head to the theaters this weekend with Kleenex in one hand and tickets to the adaptation of the young adult novel “If I Stay" in the other.

The PG-13 tearjerker is expected to gross a solid $25 million in its opening weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

Warner Bros., the studio releasing the film, does not believe the film will open with more than $20 million - but either way, "If I Stay" should end up ahead of the weekend's two other debuts, graphic novel adaptation sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and inspirational sports film “When the Game Stands Tall."

Based on the 2009 bestselling book by Gayle Forman, "If I Stay," co-financed and co-produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema, cost about $11 million to make.

Directed by veteran documentarian R.J. Cutler, the film follows the love story of teenagers Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Adam (newcomer Jamie Blackley). Stuck in a coma after a car crash that...

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SoundCloud joins the music streaming mainstream with advertising

SoundCloud, a popular destination for music on the Web, is going commercial.

The site has attracted millions of users with free streaming audio and no ads. But its days as a commercial-free service are coming to an end.

Late on Wednesday, the Berlin-based company said it will start placing ads on its service as part of a broader effort to generate revenue, some of which will go to record labels and artists that sign up for its advertising program.

"We're trying to help creators make money with us, and advertising is one way to do that," said Jeff Toig, the company's chief business officer. 

The switch from ad-free may seem like crossing over from punk rock to top-40, but it shouldn't come as a surprise from the company that has raised $100 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. 

Ads have become the norm for the crowded streaming music industry, and the decision to include commercials puts SoundCloud in the company of...

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