Category Archives: Media & Entertainment

Artist Sues Hotel, Claiming His Paintings Became Infested With Bedbugs, Were Used In Porn Shoots

Hotel guests are notorious for treating their temporary living quarters with utter disregard; the phrase “trashing a hotel room” has been part of cultural parlance since at least the dawn of the rock star. Even the poshest of resorts often fall victim to their guests’ worst proclivities. In spite of all the obvious risk involved, one artist thought it would be a good idea to not only have his artwork displayed throughout a luxury hotel, but to install that artwork in the form of headboards. Now he’s suing the hotel after finding out that guests have apparently been treating his art like any other piece of hotel furniture — which, obviously, includes being in the background of porn videos. In a complaint [PDF] filed this week in a San Diego court, French painter Yves Clement lays out multiple allegations against the operators of the city’s historic U.S. Grant Hotel, where his work has been on display for more than ten years. According to the lawsuit, Clement spent five months in 2005 working at the U.S. Grant and creating hundreds of pieces of artwork. In addition to his drawings and paintings being shown in public spaces around the hotel, it was also integrated directly into the guest room furniture. As part of a “Sleeping With Art” concept, several of Clement’s paintings were integrated into headboards. In all, he claims the collection was originally estimated at around $3.8 million and is now worth anywhere from $6.6 million to $17 million, depending on who you ask. The big catch here is that the hotel doesn’t own Clement’s artwork — apparently not even the headboard pieces — but rather leases them from the artist. The original 2005 lease was extended in 2015 for another ten years, according to the lawsuit. One of the conditions of this deal, according to the lawsuit, is that U.S. Grant is supposed to return any damaged artwork to Clement. Instead, he claims that he just happened to learn about a possible bedbug infestation while visiting the framing shop used by the hotel to mount Clement’s paintings. He says he noticed some of his hotel canvasses at the shop and asked why they were covered in plastic. According to Clement, the shop’s owner told him that these paintings had just been treated for bedbugs and were to be remounted. “Mr. Clement observed small dark spots on the canvas underneath the plastic,” reads the complaint. “Aside from the physical evidence of what appeared to be bedbugs and/or bedbug droppings, which ruins the visual look of Mr. Clement’s art, a bedbug infestation renders the artwork unsalable. Mr. Clement’s clientele would be unwilling to purchase work that had been exposed to bedbugs. Therefore, all affected pieces must be considered a total loss.” A subsequent visit to the hotel turned up 90 pieces of artwork that Clement claims were “damaged or destroyed” — cut canvases, unidentifiable splatters, and graffiti, among other ugliness. Clement argues that it’s not just the physical damage that is problematic; the fact that the hotel allowed these pieces to continue to be displayed while in such allegedly poor condition could result in reputational harm. He says he has asked the hotel to return the damaged pieces to him, but to no avail. Similarly, Clement claims that hotel management has refused to show him copies of the insurance polices the U.S. Grant was contractually required to take out to protect the collection. The lawsuit also notes that Clement’s headboards have been “prominently featured in commercial pornographic films,” all made by a San Diego website that shoots its videos in the city’s various upscale hotels. Clement argues that this site has multiple X-rated videos shot in different rooms of the U.S. Grant and showing his distinctive headboard artwork. Clement argues that the hotel was negligent, by failing to take “appropriate and effective measures to prevent this practice.” Clement seeks unspecified compensatory damages, plus interest. The U.S. Grant is owned by Marriott under the Starwood and Luxury Collection brands. We’ve reached out to the company for comment and will update if we receive a response. [via Courthouse News]

Cable Providers Hiking Cost Of Broadband In Face Of Cord-Cutting

With more and more consumers cutting the cord and ditching their cable providers, these companies have to make up the lost revenue somehow. That apparently means increasing costs elsewhere, like your broadband. Nasdaq reports that companies like Charter and Comcast have increased the cost of broadband services in recent months as one-time customers flee in favor of services like Netflix or Hulu. A recent survey from Morgan Stanley found that cable companies have increased broadband prices by an average of 12% in the last year. The increases have hit broadband-only customer the most, with the average bill now sitting at around $66/month. In contrast, customers who have a broadband/cable bundled package pay on average $49/month for the broadband service. Despite the double-digit cost increases, analysts believe the new prices might not be enough. Instead, companies would need to set their broadband-only prices to $80/month in order to offset the lost revenue from cord-cutters. To that end, the companies will likely continue to increase their broadband prices.

Twitter Cracks Down On Nudity, Harassment & Violence… Again

For years now, Twitter has been rolling out tool after tool designed to combat harassment and abuse. While the company says these initiatives are working — despite a lack of data — it’s also doubling down on its efforts: Twitter will soon roll out another set of changes to protect users. Wired reports that Twitter is prepping to unveil a set of new policy updates in coming weeks with a focus on once again cutting down on harassment and abuse between users. The policy changes — highlighted in an email to the company’s Trust and Safety Council — include a more rigid stance on “nonconsensual nudity,” or images or videos shared without permission, and a streamlined process to report “unwanted sexual advances.” Non-Consensual Nudity
While Twitter cracked down on so-called revenge porn in 2015 through a change to its terms of service, the company is increasing its efforts to combat the harassment. Revenge porn is when someone else puts nude photos or videos online without the consent of the subject, and it’s an issue many sites have been dealing with. Currently, Twitter says that a person who Tweets non-consensual nudity — either maliciously or inadvertently — are temporarily blocked and the content is deleted. Twitter then permanently deletes the user’s account if they post the non-consensual nudity again. With the upcoming changes, Twitter says it will “immediately and permanently suspend” any account identified as the original poster or source of non-consensual nudity. The same goes for a user who makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target. The company says it will do a full account review whenever it receives a report about non-consensual nudity Tweets. If the account appears to be dedicated to such posts, it will be suspended immediately. Finally, Twitter says it is expanding its definition of non-consensual nudity to include content such as upskirt images, “creep shots,” and hidden camera content. “While we recognize there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually,” the email reads. “We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.” Unwanted Advances
Twitter generally allows pornographic content on its site. To differentiate when a conversation is consensual or not, Twitter currently relies on and takes action only if it receives a report from a participant in the conversation. Going forward, the social media site says the rule will make it more clear that harassing behavior is not acceptable. “We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation,” the email reads. The company will also debut tools to improve the ability of bystanders and witnesses to report an interaction is unwanted, and will also use signals from previous interactions — such as when someone is blocked or a conversation is muted — to make a determination and act on the content accordingly. Hate Symbols & Violent Groups
Twitter notes that it is still defining the exact scope of what will be covered when it comes to an upcoming policy on hate symbols and imagery, as well as violent groups. At a high level, Twitter says that hateful imagery, hate symbols, and other similar content will be considered sensitive media and treated in a similar way to adult content and graphic violence. As for violent groups, the company says it will take enforcement action against organizations that use or have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. Tweets That Glorify Violence
Another new policy will revolve around Tweets that promote direct threats, vague violent threats, and hopes or wishes for physical harm. Moving forward, Twitter will also take action against content that glorifies and/or condones violence. Example Tweets include: “Praise be to <terrorist name> for shooting up <event>. He’s a hero!” or “Murdering <x group of people> makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services.” “We realize that a more aggressive policy and enforcement approach will result in the removal of more content from our service,” Twitter says in the email. “We are comfortable making this decision, assuming that we will only be removing abusive content that violates our Rules.” In an effort to ensure that only violating Tweets are removed and action taken against users, Twitter’s product and operational teams will be work to improve the appeals process and turnaround times for their reviews. A rep for Twitter tells Wired that the company plans to unveil more details on the new guidelines in coming weeks.

Small Cable Companies Blame Comcast For Their High Prices

Smaller cable companies say they want to save you money, but they can’t. Why not? Comcast won’t let them. At least that’s what the American Cable Association — an industry group representing all the little pay-TV companies that haven’t been bought by Comcast…yet — said in an Oct. 10 filing [PDF] with the Federal Communication Commission. The ACA claims that Comcast forces smaller providers to carry a slew of NBCUniversal channels, effectively preventing these companies from offering their customers so-called “skinny” bundles that cost less and include fewer channels you don’t watch anyway. The comments, submitted as part of the FCC’s annual review of competition in the pay-TV industry, highlight how Comcast’s wide array of assets can negatively affect competition among cable providers.

Putting Up Restrictions

ACA argues that many smaller cable companies are trying to offer customers inexpensive bundles that allow users to break up with large, more expensive cable companies, like Comcast. But those big companies — described as multichannel video programming distributor networks or MVPD — aren’t having it. Instead, they’ve found ways to force the smaller companies to include their owned networks, effectively increasing the costs of skinny bundles, defeating the entire purpose. “Many consumers that want to opt out of the big cable bundle in favor of a less expensive alternative are gravitating to a bundle that includes just the basic cable tier (essentially local TV stations) plus broadband Internet access and then relying on over-the-top video services to gain access to a more limited amount of cable programming more narrowly tailored to their specific interests,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka, said in a statement. For instance, according to the filing, Comcast’s ownership of NBC Universal means the company controls “access to significant programming that its rivals must have access to in order to compete with it.” Comcast’s must-have programming includes local television stations, cable channels, and regional sports networks. The ACA claims that Comcast doesn’t want one of these elements to feel left out, so when a smaller company wants to offer customers local television stations or NBC-owned cable channels, the larger provider will require the company to offer sports, pushing up the price of the bundle. “Denying a rival access to even one of these three categories of programming would threaten an [company’s] ability to compete, as the Commission has recognized,” ACA writes. “Thus, without a doubt, program access protections administered by the Commission continue to be necessary and important to protect competition and consumers.” The group claims that Comcast, through its licensing agreements with regional sports networks, has unilaterally decided that ACA members should no longer be able to sell the basic broadcast service tier with broadband internet. As a result, ACA claims that an MVPD must either raise the price of a broadcast basic tier or stop offering a true basic tier/broadband bundle that doesn’t induce a large number of costly cable networks. Polka notes in a statement that this scenario shows that Comcast is standing in the way of ACA members that want to help customers “escape the burdens of the big and expensive expanded basic bundle of channels.”

Only Gonna Get Worse

ACA warns that unless the FCC steps in, things will only get worse in the near term, pointing to the impending merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which will result in another must-have block of programing under the control of a MVPD. Additionally, the upcoming Jan. 2018 expiration of program access conditions placed on the Comcast-NBCU merger could make it even more difficult and expensive for smaller companies to offer Comcast’s networks. “At an absolute minimum, the Commission must continue to vigorously enforce program access rules to provide at least some minimum level of protection to competition between MVPDs,” ACA writes. The Commission should also immediately open a proceeding to determine if there is a need to extend or renew the Comcast-NBCU merger program access conditions. As for Comcast, the company tells DSLReports that it’s just doing business. “NBCUniversal negotiates in good faith with all of its distribution partners with the goal of making programming available to as many viewers as possible on fair market terms that are consistent with what other programmers offer,” a rep said.

Sprint & T-Mobile Want To Merge Without Selling Anything Off

When a merger between two or more companies will have a drastic effect on competition, it’s all but expected that the new couple will sell off some of their existing operations to alleviate antitrust concerns. Even though a merger or Sprint and T-Mobile would leave the U.S. with only three national wireless carriers, the two rumored lovebirds are reportedly unwilling to part ways with any assets. These sort of concessions are often presented as part of the merger when it’s announced, as a way for the companies to say, “We know there are concerns, and we’re being proactive by offering to sell off these handful of things to allay those concerns.” But Reuters, citing sources close to the matter, reports that Sprint and T-Mobile are planning to go into this merger — which has yet to be announced — without tipping their hand to regulators about what they may eventually be willing to give up if they have to. “It is better for Sprint and T-Mobile to listen and learn the concerns of regulators first, and see whether there is anything that can be done to address those concerns,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett tells Reuters. While we can all speculate what T-Mobile and Sprint have in mind when it comes to future divestitures, antitrust regulators can’t start the process of reviewing the merger until it’s actually announced.

Loss Of Spectrum

When (it doesn’t look like there’s any point in playing coy by saying “if”) Sprint and T-Mobile announce their marriage, it’s likely they will tout their combined spectrum and their ability to advance 5G wireless technology. However, the plethora of spectrum could be one of the first targets of regulators, putting the creation of a 5G network at risk. Analysts tell Reuters that as it stands a combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would give the companies the most airwaves than both AT&T and Verizon. This type of divestiture would also be costly for T-Mobile, which paid $8 billion earlier this year in a government auction of airwaves.

Some Disney World Hotels Will Now Allow Dogs In Guest Rooms

The next time you head to the House of Mouse in Florida, Rover won’t necessarily have to stay at home: Disney is launching a pilot program at some of its Walt Disney World hotels that allows dog owners to bring their pooches along for the trip. Starting Oct. 15, four locations — Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground — will permit up to two dogs per guest room. And because dogs need a good spot to do their business and play, each hotel will offer easy access to outdoor pet exercise areas and green spaces with pet relief areas. If your dog needs more attention while you’re out enjoying rides — and you’re wiling to spend extra for it — day care and other pet services are available at an on-property full-service pet care facility . Pooches will get some special treatment upon arrival as well in the form of “Pluto’s Welcome Kit” with a mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, courtesy plastic disposable bags, puppy pads, dog walking maps, and a “Do Not Disturb” Pluto door hanger so hotel staff are aware there’s a dog in the room. (If your dog walks on two legs, talk, and wear pants, we presume it will get the “Goofy Welcome Kit”.) There are some extra costs involved, however, as each spot will charge a per night/per room pet-cleaning fee: • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: $50/night
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort: $50/night
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort: $75/night
Cabins at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort: $50/night You’ll also have to make sure your pup has all his vaccinations, behaves well, and stays on a leash in public areas.

Increased Use Of Machine Learning, Facial Recognition Outs Sex Workers’ Real Names

If you operate a video-sharing site with millions of user-uploaded clips, it sounds like a great idea to use software that is smart enough to identify some of the faces in those videos. The clips would be indexed more accurately, you might be able to more readily identify copyrighted content, but you could also be risking the privacy — and maybe the physical well-being — of those identified by the software.

Hire a robot

PornHub — do not search for or visit that one from work — is exactly what it sounds like. The site hosts around 5 million decidedly explicit videos that adult viewers can enjoy at their leisure. But as with any other kind of entertainment (perhaps even more so), viewers often approach the site with some kind of specific content preference. They may have a certain performer, performer gender, and/or performer quantity in mind, for example, or perhaps are looking for some particular kind of setting or action. So the site uses a tagging system to categorize all its content. Each video is labeled with a set of tags saying what’s in it, so a viewer can pick and choose based on their mood. Users can add tags to videos to keep content organized. But videos already outpace humans’ ability to keep up and tag everything, and so the site is turning to help from software. The company announced [content is safe for work; URL is not] this week that it’s adding an AI model to help it categorize content. The robot overlord will be starting by identifying certain stars, using facial ID tech not unlike that which Facebook, Amazon, and other media entities apply, and will next year branch out into adding more content categories, too. “Artificial intelligence has quickly reached a fever pitch, with many companies incorporating its capabilities to considerably expedite antiquated processes. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with the introduction of our AI model, which quickly scans videos using computer vision to instantaneously identify pornstars,” company VP Corey Price said in a statement. Price added, “Now, users can search for a specific pornstar they have an affinity for and we will be able to retrieve more precise results. Our model will undoubtedly play a pivotal role moving forward too, especially considering that over 10,000 videos per day are added to the site. In fact, over the course of the past month alone, while we tested the model in beta, it was able to scan through 50,000 videos that have had pornstars added or removed on the video tags.”

We know who you are

There’s nothing illegal about making money from pornography, as long as everyone is of age, consenting, and and material is recorded and distributed within the boundaries of federal, state, and local law. In most places, though, it’s still not a line of work one really discusses in-depth with the neighbors. Performers, especially amateurs, may well prefer to keep their public, working persona separated from the name and identity they use in private life. But that gets ever harder in the era of algorithmic recognition and big data. Motherboard observes that in many ways, this particular use of facial recognition is a privacy disaster in the making. For one thing, porn piracy is definitely a thing that exists. A video that has been uploaded and tagged on PornHub won’t necessarily stay on the service, but will instead travel the internet — and bring the performer’s auto-tagged name along with it. There’s also the entire challenge of revenge porn, in which sexually explicit content features someone who did not authorize its sharing, often because a jilted ex shared it out of spite. Although the site has tried to make it easier for victims to report content and have it removed, it still exists on the site until or unless someone flags it. For now PornHub says its AI will only be used to match the 10,000 “stars” in its database, but any technology that exists can be expanded — intentionally or not. And sweeping up amateurs and unwitting participants into its collection of named and tagged faces could have serious negative effects on people’s lives.

Plausible, not just paranoia

Data that gets collected gets sold, shared, and matched across companies — a practice that seems likely only to increase, not decrease, as time goes on. Gizmodo recently reported on a case where Facebook matched one sex worker’s two completely separate and disconnected identities to each other. Her public, real identity is like virtually anyone else’s, Gizmodo reports: She lives in California, discusses politics, has a work-related email address. But her private, working persona is, very deliberately, not on Facebook at all. Professionally, she uses a different name, different email address, and different phone number. Like Bruce Wayne and Batman, she keeps the two halves of her life discrete from each other: never the twain shall meet. And yet she found Facebook was filling its “People You May Know” recommendations for her daytime persona with a list of her evening clientele. That, in and of itself, is bad enough — but, she reasoned, if they were being suggested to her, then it was highly possible that she was also being suggested to them, despite going to lengths to keep her real name and personal details out of clients’ hands. It’s not just the workers who are going to lengths to try and maintain their privacy, she told Gizmodo: “The people who hire sex workers are also very concerned with anonymity so they’re using alternative emails and alternative names. And sometimes they have phones that they only use for this, for hiring women. You have two ends of people using heightened security, because neither end wants their identity being revealed. And they’re having their real names connected on Facebook.” She’s not alone, Gizmodo reports; other sex workers have privately discussed the same happening to them. “I don’t want my 15-year-old cousin to discover I’m a porn star because my account gets recommended to them on Facebook,” another person in the industry told Gizmodo. “We’re living in an age where you can weaponize personal information against people,” she added. “Facebook isn’t a luxury; it’s a utility in our lives. For something that big to be so secretive and powerful in how it accumulates your information is unnerving.” Unfortunately for all of us, the math Facebook uses to determine who adds up with whom remains internal, proprietary, and secret. When a Gizmodo reporter had their own unnerving experience with Facebook seemingly knowing too much earlier in the year, the social network said only that “more than 100 signals” go into the recommendations. Facebook, however, lists only five of those potential signals on its help page.

You Can Now Order Food From Within Facebook

Facebook wants to be your portal to the world. It’s where you can connect (in a sense) with others, keep up with current events (through the filters of you and your friends’ personal biases), watch videos (of people doing their versions of videos previously posted by others)… and also order lunch. Even though there are already a large number of popular apps and online platforms for food delivery, Facebooknow claims it has simplified the “complicated” process of ordering takeout or delivery through your phone by not actually hosting a single ordering platform, but by giving users single-point access to multiple platforms. Because people are already on Facebook to see what their friends say about restaurants and read about local eateries, the company says the move makes sense. The Order Food tool — located in the Explore menu in the Facebook app —combines options from food ordering services like Delivery.com or DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo, as well as restaurants like Five Guys, and Panera, Facebook says, and puts them all in one place. Once you’ve found what you want, you can select which delivery service you want to use, and order using an existing login or sign up from within Facebook. Reviews of local spots from your friends will also be available if you want to find out more about a restaurant before you order. People will be able to browse restaurants near them that take orders via Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo. You can also order directly from nationwide chains including Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, Jack in the Box, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Chipotle, Five Guys, and Jimmy John’s. The new feature is rolling out across the U.S. on Facebook for Android, iOS, and desktop.

Pizzas On The Roof & 7 Other Reasons You May Reconsider Buying That Famous House

It sounds like the ultimate fan’s dream, living in the house or apartment building made famous by your favorite TV show or movie; the knowledge that your home is itself a celebrity, elevating the enjoyment of your otherwise mundane life. But that’s before you have to deal with all the “a-holes” throwing pizzas on your roof. Some homeowners lived in these well-known locations before they were featured in TV shows and movies, while others may have moved in afterward. Either way, there are more than a few downsides to sleeping where treasured fictional characters pretended to sleep. Here are a few memorable movie homes and unforgettable TV pads that may have you thinking twice before you sign that deed:

1. Breaking Bad

Back in 2015, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan had some pointed words for fans of the show who kept showing up at Walter White’s home in Albuquerque and throwing pizza on the roof in an homage to a scene from the show, among other bad behavior. Gilligan warned then that would-be tossers that “there is nothing original, or funny or cool about throwing a pizza on this lady’s roof.” Just this week, the home’s real-life owners told KOB-4 that they’re so fed up with unruly visitors, that they’re putting up a six-foot wrought-iron fence around the property to keep them out. That’s not all — the renter living in Jesse Pinkman’s apartment told the news station that selfie-takers show up on the porch several times a week.

2. The Goonies

The owners of Mikey’s house from beloved ’80s flick The Goonies — located in Astoria, OR — welcomed visitors for years, letting them do the “truffle shuffle” in the driveway or gawk from the street, even letting some lucky fans inside the house. But in 2015, after dealing with an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 visitors tromping around the house almost every summer day, she decided to close it off to the public, reported The Daily Astorian. “She was overwhelmed and looking for help to try to get some semblance of normal life back,” the local chamber of commerce’s marketing director told the paper. “It’s just a constant stream of people coming at all hours of the day.” Though you can no longer bike up to the house to do your best Corey Feldman or Martha Plimpton impersonation, the property does get its own marker on Google Maps:

3. Sex and the City

Though Sex and the City‘s Carrie Bradshaw lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the actual brownstone shown in the long-running HBO show is a private home several miles downtown in Greenwich Village. Not only do the residents on this upscale neighborhood have to deal with the constant photo-taking and SATC-related tour groups, Carrie herself — Sarah Jessica Parker — ticked off the brownstone’s owners when she staged a photo shoot on the stoop for her shoe line, Page Six reported in 2014. Instagram Photo The owners of the home had previously strung a “NO TRESPASSING” sign across the steps to deter nosy tourists and busloads of the show’s fans from trying to walk in Bradshaw’s footsteps.

4. The Exorcist

Author William Peter Blatty once lived in this lovely two-story brick home in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. He would later immortalize the building — and the steep, stone staircase that neighbors it — in both the book and screenplay for The Exorcist. For all the terrifying and grotesque images in the 1973 movie, the visual most associated with it may be the eerie, gaslit shot of Max Von Sydow standing on Prospect St, and about to enter the house: While it’s very easy to find the house — the steps going down from Prospect to M Street were well known long before his book — the house now looks very little like it did 44 years ago. There’s the heavy, nearly solid fence erected by owners at some point in recent years; a far cry from the wrought-iron gate in place at the time of the movie. Also, it looks like about half the house is now gone. That’s because it wasn’t ever really there. In order to make it more plausible that someone could fall out of the house’s second story and onto the stone staircase, the film crew built a fake addition that stood where there is now a yard. In 2015, the infamous, neck-twisting stairway was declared an official Washington, D.C. tourist site, with a plaque designating it as “The Exorcist Steps,” reported ABC News.

5. Mrs. Doubtfire

Now a spot that sometimes serves as a memorial to Mrs. Doubtfire star Robin Williams, the real-life owners of the San Francisco home made famous by the movie reported a suspected arson in 2016 after someone poured gasoline on the home and set it on fire, reported ABC-7. The fire was put out and no one was hurt, but fans were upset that someone would attempt to such a thing. “I can’t believe that, it’s an iconic house you don’t do something like, it’s disgusting,” one fan told the station.

6. Full House

On the heels of the Full House reboot in 2016, fans headed in droves to the Victorian home of the Tanners, one of San Francisco’s famous “Painted Ladies.” The show was never filmed inside, but that doesn’t stop people from gawping, neighbors told ABC-13, with as many as 100 people dropping by per day. Occasionally, they get in the way. “What I do is I usually open the garage door and they ignore it. And then I go out and say, watch out! Crazy lady backing out! So far I haven’t hit anybody,” one neighbor told the station.

7. Jersey Shore

In what sounds like a bit of karmic payback, the home where Snooki and The Situation did their smushing during MTV reality fiasco Jersey Shore has been the subject of vandalism in the past. Back in 2012, the realtor for the Seaside Heights, NJ, home told TMZ that hordes of visitors had been tagging the walls with comments and praise for the show’s stars. Things got so bad at one point, the realtor apparently had to repaint the home on a weekly basis.

8. The Conjuring

Think horror flick The Conjuring was scary? Try living in the Rhode Island farmhouse that inspired the movie, the homeowners said in 2013. Hundreds of people descended on the home when the movie came out, the owners’ daughter told the BBC. She said they’d caught trespassers shining flashlights through their windows at night, and had received anonymous phone calls from fans. “My mum is in her 60s and my father is 70 and has a heart condition. This is exhausting for them,” their daughter said at the time. In 2015, the couple sued Warner Brothers over the trespassing fans, CBS News reported.

MoviePass Needs More Movie Theater Pals To Keep Price Low

MoviePass, the startup that lets subscribers go to a movie a day, recently dropped its monthly rate to $10, resulting in a flood of sign-ups for the plan. While the slashed price might have drawn a lot more attention to MoviePass, it could also be an albatross around the company’s neck. A MoviePass subscription used to cost as much as $50/month — too steep for folks who realized they would need to see at least four or five films each month just to make that work. But thanks to funding from new investor, analytics firm Helios and Matheson, MoviePass cut that price to $10/month in August. That’s less than the usual cost of a single movie ticket in some markets, let alone the ability to see a film every day if you want. But it’s also likely not a tenable figure going forward.

Will MoviePass have to raise prices?

Two months after the price change, MoviePass is losing even more money faster than anticipated, prompting the data firm to invest even more money. In a note to shareholders, since it’s a publicly traded company, Helios and Matheson note that MoviePass may not be able to continue without price hikes or other sources of revenue. “MoviePass currently spends more to retain a subscriber than the revenue derived from that subscriber and MoviePass currently does not have other sources of revenue,” a risk statement filed along with information about the firm’s new investment in MoviePass explains. “This results in a negative gross profit margin. MoviePass expects its negative gross profit margin to remain significant until MoviePass can generate other sources of revenues to offset the losses or achieve substantial economies of scale.”

“We underestimated the response”

The rollout of the new version of MoviePass was not planned well. It apparently took the country’s largest cinema chain, AMC, by surprise. In a press release, the company trashed the entire MoviePass business model and threatened legal action, saying that MoviePass in its current form “is not in the best interest of moviegoers, movie theatres, and movie studios.” The company also had no idea how moviegoers nationwide would respond to the idea, having only sold subscriptions at a higher price point in a few large cities. “We underestimated the response,” CEO Mitch Lowe told Forbes blogger Rob Cain (warning: video ad that auto-plays on that page) “My wildest dream was that we’d reach 150,000 subscribers in 15 months; we hit 150,000 in two days.” Apart from its business model problems, MoviePass has also been slow to actually get the debit cards that they need into customers’ hands, which would be fine if new signups were limited using an official waiting list or required an invitation from an existing user. It doesn’t.

Will theater operators ever play ball?

Even before the price cut, MoviePass was not making money. Its current business model is to buy tickets at full price from theaters while charging users $10 per month. In the future, it hopes to sell ads and customers’ data to movie studios, and to cut deals with theaters to cut ticket prices, or share box office or concessions revenue. That’s only if the company proves that it can bring more customers to theaters more often, spending on concessions and other extras. The largest discount that the company has been able to obtain from a theater operator is 20%, according to a document that investor Helios and Matheson has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.