Less than three months after it began, the 2007-08 television season is basically over -- and nobody won.
Nielsen still plans on counting the nightly numbers through May. But no matter when the WGA strike gets resolved, the work stoppage has already lasted long enough to ensure that the current season will go down in the record books with a big fat asterisk.
Even if scribes go back to work within a week or two, there will be enough delays and reduced episode counts to ensure lots of repeats in January and February. As it is, there are just a handful of original episodes remaining for most shows, with many already on hiatus.
If the strike persists past the holidays -- as many in Hollywood believe is likely --then a slew of contingency plans will kick in, wreaking all sorts of havoc on normal viewing patterns.
Either way, network types normally obsessed over every up and down movement in the Nielsen meters admit that this year's battle just doesn't feel like a normal ratings race.
"Having an asterisk on the season is frustrating," says Fox scheduling guru Preston Beckman.
3-D IS THE FUTURE AT THE MOVIES
"Beowulf" B.O. tallies are getting a significant boost from 3-D engagements -- good news for distrib Paramount, but other studios are also happy for the pic's success.
That's because Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture epic is the first modern-day 3-D pic that's not just for kids, and rival studios are cautiously optimistic that this bodes well for their own 3-D plans in the next few years.
"Beowulf" is the widest 3-D release to date, and studio execs are hoping its success will prompt exhibs to install more 3-D screens. At its widest, the film played on roughly 740 3-D screens.
The pic is manna for exhibs as well. With so many other entertainment options, the exhibition business hasn't been able to offer many enticements as a means to bump up ticket prices. 3-D gives them this opportunity.
Over the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 weekend, "Beowulf's" 3-D playdates (on both digital 3-D and Imax) outgrossed the pic's box office haul from traditional screens -- the first time that had happened in the pic's three-week run. The new format accounted for only 22% of the film's screens, though those showings brought in 51% of the box office.
"We're very happy with the performance," says Paramount prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution Rob Moore. "It definitely is encouraging for the future of other 3-D endeavors. I think it says that the moviegoing audience is interested in seeing films in 3-D, and not just family (films). This shows that the mainstream audience is ready for a 3-D movie."