10 Top grossing movies of 2011 – nine sequels and one animation movie

Not very strong year for original content with nine sequels topping on the list, but a great year for cashing in on franchises.

The final Harry Potter movie set several records, including the biggest single-day domestic gross of $92.1 million and best worldwide debut of $481.5.

Rio, the only non-sequel on the list, caps off a big year for animation studios with four movies in the top 10.

  1. $1.3 billion – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  2. $1.1 billion – Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  3. $1.0 billion – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  4. $663 million – Kung Fu Panda 2
  5. $648 million – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
  6. $626 million – Fast Five
  7. $581.5 million – The Hangover Part II
  8. $562.4 million – The Smurfs
  9. $551.9 million – Cars 2
  10. $484.6 million – Rio

*Figures represent worldwide gross

see the top 20 at The Hollywood Reporter

Favorite Commercials: The new digital mom – upset at her son for only getting 3 likes

In this spot, we open on a mom watching a video of her son jumping a ramp in a shopping cart. When her son walks by, she stops him saying “we need to talk.” By the tone of her voice, the son assumes he’s in trouble because of his stunt.

But, actually, the mom is embarrassed because the stunt has been done before, it’s “so 2005” and only garnered 3 likes. She shows her son a much more popular video of the neighbor’s son, dancing as a squirrel. She encourages her son to try again and make her and his dad proud.

Music Video Television is coming back but it’s not MTV…Vevo is taking over

Vevo is a website for music videos but you probably watch their videos on YouTube or on your smart phone. The company started two years ago with content from three of the big four music companies and has produced some impressive numbers since then.

Vevo clocked 3.6 billion video views globally in October and is expected to have reached 3.7 billion views worldwide in November. In December 2009, that number was at 341 million views.

The average Vevo viewer watches 14.5 videos on the site a month, spending 66 minutes to do so.

Via Janko on GigaOm

Even more interesting are the royalties they are paying out for the first time.

Vevo has paid out more than $100 million in royalties since December 2009 to songwriters, recording artists, record labels and other music copyright holders.

That’s a princely sum considering that music videos, even in their MTV heyday in the 1980s, were given away for free to promote record sales.

via Pop & Hiss

And, the site is doing so well that they want to get back onto television.

Vevo is in talks with cable carriers to become a TV channel.

To develop the service, Vevo wants to become something akin to what MTV was in its earlier days: a channel that will show music videos as well as other kinds of pop-culture entertainment.

It could create a cable channel of its own, or make deals with existing content companies, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are said to be in the early stages.

via Media Decoder

Interestingly, MTV has decided to continue to stay out of the music video business altogether. Instead, partnering with the last remaining big label, Warner Music, to sell advertising for their videos.

I’m not too sure about this business model.

Warner appears to be charting a different course with its MTV alliance. Instead of pooling the videos into one online destination, Warner wants to keep the stuff on its artists’ individual websites.

All told, Warner’s music videos garnered 26.3 million unique visitors in May.

via Pop & Hiss

Music Video Television is coming back but it's not MTV…Vevo is taking over

Vevo is a website for music videos but you probably watch their videos on YouTube or on your smart phone. The company started two years ago with content from three of the big four music companies and has produced some impressive numbers since then.

Vevo clocked 3.6 billion video views globally in October and is expected to have reached 3.7 billion views worldwide in November. In December 2009, that number was at 341 million views.

The average Vevo viewer watches 14.5 videos on the site a month, spending 66 minutes to do so.

Via Janko on GigaOm

Even more interesting are the royalties they are paying out for the first time.

Vevo has paid out more than $100 million in royalties since December 2009 to songwriters, recording artists, record labels and other music copyright holders.

That’s a princely sum considering that music videos, even in their MTV heyday in the 1980s, were given away for free to promote record sales.

via Pop & Hiss

And, the site is doing so well that they want to get back onto television.

Vevo is in talks with cable carriers to become a TV channel.

To develop the service, Vevo wants to become something akin to what MTV was in its earlier days: a channel that will show music videos as well as other kinds of pop-culture entertainment.

It could create a cable channel of its own, or make deals with existing content companies, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are said to be in the early stages.

via Media Decoder

Interestingly, MTV has decided to continue to stay out of the music video business altogether. Instead, partnering with the last remaining big label, Warner Music, to sell advertising for their videos.

I’m not too sure about this business model.

Warner appears to be charting a different course with its MTV alliance. Instead of pooling the videos into one online destination, Warner wants to keep the stuff on its artists’ individual websites.

All told, Warner’s music videos garnered 26.3 million unique visitors in May.

via Pop & Hiss

The Rose Parade – Organic for 120 years – you gotta love it

Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark.

The process starts with a specially-built chassis, upon which is built a framework of steel and chicken wire. In a process called “cocooning”, the frame is sprayed with a polyvinyl material, which is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later.

Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.

Computerized animation has had an enormous impact on Rose Parade floats. Recent Parade floats have featured King Kong stomping through a floral jungle, a guitar-playing dinosaur, pigs dancing the hula and a 60-foot-tall talking robot, all controlled by computers.

But through all the changes, the Rose Parade has remained true to its floral beginnings, and each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years. Applications for floats are accepted usually more than a year in advance.

via The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade

 

Most popular video of 2011 from Japan – Making faces at the new high-speed train

I love this video from Japan, one of the most popular of 2011. It shows the first ride of a new high-speed rail train. All of these people make faces, dance, moon, and wear special costumes as it goes by.

I wonder if this is how Californians will act when the LA – SF train is built?

Happy New Year – 760 new laws for California – gays in textbooks, fruity drinks, and maternity leave

I must be a wonk because I find all these new laws fascinating. From a bill that allows infused drinks to another that requires schools to include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in history lessons.

For the record, an infused drink is not a Mojito where mint is added when the drink is made. Instead the fruit is added to the alcohol and then sits on the shelf, infusing, and served at some later point.

There are also laws that ban selling puppies on the street and another allowing near unlimited clean needles for drug users. Beer with caffeine is banned and so is using a credit check during the hiring process. There is also a new permit that allows wine to be sold online and some extra money for investigating a San Diego to Los Angeles high-speed rail.

It feels like all the budget cuts from Governor Brown are rearranging everything, hopefully saving some money and maybe, just maybe improving our lives.

Here are a few more and a link at bottom for the full list.

Saving parks: allows nonprofits to take over the operation of state parks that otherwise would be closed because of budget problems.

Recycling: establishes as state policy that 75% of solid waste should be diverted from landfills to recycling and other processes by 2020.

Presidential primary: moves the state’s presidential primary election from February to June and consolidates it with the statewide primary election to save $100 million.

Iran: mandates that the state’s pension boards divest their funds from companies that are part of the defense or nuclear industries in Iran.

Autism: requires health insurers to include coverage for autism.

Foster care: allows foster care for eligible youths to extend beyond age 18, up to age 21, when the Legislature provides the money. Another measure requires California State University campuses and community colleges to give foster youths priority to enroll in classes.

Maternity leave: requires employers to maintain and pay for health coverage while women are on maternity leave.

Marijuana: gives cities and counties clearer authority to regulate the location and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. Another law creates new penalties for the possession of synthetic cannabis products, which have been sold in convenience stores and tobacco shops.

Lying politicians: forces elected officials to forfeit office if convicted of falsely claiming they have been awarded military decorations.

Dream Act: The portion of the California Dream Act taking effect this year makes illegal immigrants accepted at California public universities and community colleges eligible for privately funded scholarships administered by the schools.

view the full list at LA Times

2012: The Year Your Mom Started Using Foursquare

For all the folks wondering if Foursquare has jumped the shark, and more specifically, what’s the point? — the point is Foursquare is about to become the shark, at least in the blue ocean of mobile, location-based social networking.

Since launching in March 2009 at SXSW, I’ve been waiting for the Silicon Alley start-up to create some real value for its users. How many mayorships can one person accumulate before wondering, “I checked in ninety-eight times to become Mayor and all I get is this stupid badge?

The answer seemed to come earlier this year with the rollout of Foursquare 3.0 and its partnership with American Express.

It’s axiomatic to say that in the world of social media, if you’re not paying for the meal, you are the meal. I’m okay with that, as long as I get fed too, which the service has started to do thanks in part to the American Express ‘Sync and Save’ program — sync your Foursquare account to your Amex account, check-in to your favorite spot offering a deal, and see the credit on your Amex account. I’ve already unlocked two specials.

The initiative is part of the company’s philosophy to “make every check-in count” — so regardless of whether you’re checking into the same ol’ coffee shop or some far-away beach, Foursquare is aiming to add value, every time, for every user. A great example of this is near-by Specials, which are growing more attractive, more relative, and more robust every day.

And in making every check-in count for users, Foursquare is making every check-in count for companies looking to market their services to users. In the case of American Express, the credit card company is aiming to appeal to a more hip, technologically-savvy, a.k.a younger crowd.

“We don’t tend to skew under 35,” said Amex Vice Chairman Edward P. Gilligan. “We hope this will help us stay relevant to younger customers.”

I don’t know how relevant Foursquare will make Amex to the ‘under 35’ demographic, especially as other credit card companies jump in. What I can actually see happening is the specials and savings attracting an older demographic, with someone like my  mom using the app, thus making the service more mainstream.

Regardless of age demographics, the real marrow of the platform comes in the form of its user data. I can only imagine how savory it must look to companies aiming to market their products and services. American Express admitted the partnership has already brought a higher response rate than anything else they’ve done.

“We’ve always done marketing with merchants to make offers to our card members, like send offers through direct mail, put information about sales on the Internet,” said Gilligan. “But those response rates tend to be low.”

With over 15 million users worldwide and 80+ employees, Foursquare is en route to become the Amazon of the online, on-location user experience. As they continue to develop their suggestion-based algorithms, strengthen loyalty programs and add more value in the forms of discounts and specials, I think they can maintain their postion over imitators like Facebook, who just acquired Gowalla, and Yelp, who rolled out their check-in offers program last month, by making every check-in count.