Morning Media Newsfeed: Amazon to Produce Original Films | DWA Plans Layoffs

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Amazon to Produce Original Movies for Theatrical Release (FishbowlNY)
Coming soon to a theater near you: Original movies by Amazon.com. The company has announced that it will produce films for theatrical and digital release starting this year. LostRemote The initiative will be led by producer Ted Hope, co-founder of Good Hope productions, which released Hulk, Adaptation and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. THR Amazon’s films won’t be released day-and-date in theaters and online, instead planning to make its original movies available on its subscription-based Prime Instant Video streaming service in the U.S. four to eight weeks after their theatrical debuts. Mashable Amazon has been quietly trying to get original movies off the ground since late 2010, when it launched studios.amazon.com, a place where anyone could submit scripts for films and television. While some user-generated ideas were turned into TV pilots along the way, nothing on the film side was deemed worthy of its production dollars. WSJ Surely Amazon wants to be a player in Hollywood, but its move into theaters is also a way to goose membership rolls for its $99-per-year Prime program, which offers unlimited two-day shipping and free streaming content such as television, movies and music. Still, the Seattle company may face some resistance from theater operators who desire a longer window in which to screen films without online competition. Indeed, several large theater chains balked at Amazon rival Netflix Inc.’s plan to release a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon simultaneously in cinemas and on its streaming service this summer.

DreamWorks Animation Plans Substantial Layoffs (LA Times / Company Town)
Stung by a series of box office misfires and failed sale attempts, DreamWorks Animation has planned a substantial number of layoffs, two people familiar with the matter said. In a move to cut operating costs, the Glendale studio intends to significantly reduce the size of its workforce, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the plans. THR The number of workers who will be let go this time has not been finalized, but it is expected to be more than the 350 jobs that were cut in 2014 after the studio shelved the film Me And My Shadow. Variety Bill Damaschke, DWA’s chief creative officer, had already stepped down. Those most likely impacted will be animators, storyboard artists and other production personnel, according to sources. TheWrap The company currently employs around 2,200 people. This year, Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s company has seen How to Train Your Dragon 2 hit $618 million at the worldwide box office, while Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody And Sherman failed to meet expectations. The latter forced a $57 million write down in April, and last year’s Turbo and 2013’s Rise of The Guardians also sank deeply into the red.

GCHQ Captured Emails of Journalists From Top International Media (The Guardian)
GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the U.S. and U.K.’s largest media organizations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals. Mashable Emails from the BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, Le Monde, The Sun, The New York Times and The Washington Post were saved onto the intelligence agency’s servers as part of bulk surveillance of electronic communications. While some of the emails were mass-produced PR messages, many included conversations between reporters and editors discussing stories. The Washington Post / The Switch The communications were among 70,000 emails siphoned up in less than 10 minutes. There is nothing to indicate that the journalists were intentionally targeted. GCHQ apparently obtained the data from one of its many taps on the fiber-optic cables that comprise the backbone of the Internet.

Seahawks’ Overtime NFC Championship Win Nabs 50 Million Viewers (THR / The Live Feed)
Championship Sunday’s evening game may have taken a hit from the comparable outing last year, but the afternoon game proved just as strong as ever. The NFC Championship game, airing in the early window on Fox, was off just a million from last year’s game on CBS, with an average 49.8 million viewers. Variety In Nielsen’s preliminary, affiliated-based national estimates for Sunday, the New England Patriots’ 45-7 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts averaged a 12.3 rating/32 share in adults 18-49 and 37.3 million viewers overall on the CBS stations from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; while these numbers will go up in the nationals, it won’t be enough to match last year’s monster 19.0 demo rating and 55.9 million viewers overall for the down-to-the-wire Seattle-San Francisco match-up in the same window. Deadline The point spread was actually the second-highest since the 1970/71 game — the first year after the NFL and AFL merger took hold.

PBS, BBC Ink Multi-Title Co-Production Deal (Variety)
PBS and BBC have inked a multi-title co-production deal also involving BBC Worldwide, PBS president-CEO Paula A. Kerger announced at Monday’s Television Critics Assn. press tour. The pact will create eight to 10 new programming specials across roughly 20 hours per year, both one-offs and multipart series, to air on PBS nationwide. TheWrap The programs will span a wide range of topics including natural history, science, history, religion and the arts. The specials will air as standalone programs, as well as part of current series such as Thirteen/WNET’s Nature and Great Performances and WGBH’s Nova.

Iranian Paper Shut Down for Publishing George Clooney ‘Je Suis Charlie’ Photo (TheWrap)
A judge has ordered that the Mardom e-Emruz newspaper in Iran be shut down after it published an image of George Clooney wearing a badge supporting Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that was the target of a terrorist attack that killed 12. The Guardian A media court in Tehran ordered the reformist daily, which was in its first month of publication, to be closed down over the weekend because it had shown solidarity with Charlie Hebdo following the deadly shootings at its offices.

AOL Is Restructuring, Layoffs And Site Closures Likely (TechCrunch)
AOL is gearing up for some housekeeping. The company is preparing to lay off staff and close or fold up underperforming titles as part of a bigger restructuring, aimed at simplifying the company around ad tech, stronger content operations and video. FishbowlNY Initial digging revealed that the forthcoming AOL cutbacks will involve the Brands group, of which TechCrunch is a part.

#DeflateGate Trends on Social Media After Patriots Investigated for Deflated Footballs (THR)
On Sunday night WTHR reporter Bob Kravitz said that the NFL was investigating whether or not the New England Patriots used deflated footballs during their AFC championship game victory over the Indianapolis Colts. By Monday morning, the hashtag #DeflateGate was already trending on Twitter and Facebook as NFL fans reacted to the report. ABC News Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday afternoon that his team will cooperate with the NFL’s investigation into whether or not deflated balls were used in Sunday’s game.

TV News Coverage of Obama’s State of The Union Address (TVNewser)
President Barack Obama will make his 2015 State of The Union Address Tuesday night, followed by the Republican response from Iowa senator Joni Ernst. CBS’ coverage will be anchored by Scott Pelley, starting at 9 p.m. ET. ABC’s coverage will be led by ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, live from D.C. at 9 p.m. ET. Brian Williams will anchor NBC’s coverage from D.C. at 9 p.m. ET.

Ariane de Vogue Joins CNN Supreme Court Team (TVNewser)
Ariane de Vogue is joining CNN Politics Digital, where she will cover the Supreme Court for both digital and TV channels. de Vogue joins CNN from ABC News, where she had also covered the high court.

The Islamic State Plans TV Channel, According to Reports (Variety)
According to reports in both Israeli and international media this week, the Islamic State has a 24-hour television channel in the works. The station, which if launched will take ISIS’ well-polished propaganda machine to an entirely new level, will feature round-the-clock news and commentary that supports its jihadist ideology.

Mara Shalhoup Named L.A. Weekly’s New Editor (TheWrap)
Mara Shalhoup was named the new editor of the L.A. Weekly on Monday. The veteran journalist, who served as the editor-in-chief for the Chicago Reader since 2011, will assume her new duties on Feb. 16.

Rogers Communications Hires German Telecom Veteran to Lead Consumer Business (THR)
Canadian cable, mobile phone giant Rogers Communications has hired German telecom veteran Dirk Woessner to head its consumer business and stem a loss of TV subscribers with blanket hockey coverage.

How NBC Sports Is Building Off of World Cup Interest (LostRemote)
Midway through the 2014-15 season, viewership of Premier League soccer games on NBC Sports is up 15 percent from last season — and the important Adults 18-49 demo is up 24 percent.

Oscar-Nominated Short Films to Get Limited Theatrical Release (THR)
The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015 will be released in more than 450 theaters in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America on Jan. 30 by ShortsHD, the Short Movie Channel, working with Magnolia Pictures, ShortsHD CEO Carter Pilcher announced on Monday.

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