5 Trends for 2012

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Who will get rich (Zuckerberg), what will Keep Moguls up at night (dwindling Box office) and how long James Murdoch can survive (Really? He didn't read his e-mail?) as THR looks at the year ahead.

1. FACEBOOK FINALLY GOES PUBLIC

Wall Street has been salivating over the prospect of a publicly traded Facebook practically since the company launched in 2004. It's likely to happen in 2012. The IPO could net $10 billion and value the company at $100 billion, about four times more than Google was worth when it went public in 2004. Here's who would profit most.  – Paul Bond

  • Mark Zuckerberg, 27: The co-founder and CEO owns 24 percent of the company, so he'll be worth about $24 billion the moment Facebook is publicly traded.
  • Dustin Moskovitz, 27: One of the world's youngest billionaires, Zuckerberg's Harvard pal left the company in 2008 but still owns about 6 percent of it.
  • Eduardo Saverin, 29: His settlement of the litigation featured in The Social Network is private, but it's believed Saverin owns about 5 percent of Facebook.
  • Sean Parker, 31: Facebook's founding president has long since left the company, but the tech entrepreneur still owns 4 percent.
  • Peter Thiel, 44: The Clarium Capital VC king was Facebook's earliest major investor. He's still a board director and owns about 3 percent of the company.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, 42: In 2008, the former Google exec signed a rich deal to join Facebook as its COO. Her ownership stake in the company is unknown.

2. STARS TAKE MORE CONTROL

2012 could be the year that DIY entertainment hits the big time. Consider the signs: Two self-published books -- Darcie Chan's The Mill River Recluse and Chris Culver's The Abbey -- landed on Amazon's year-end top 10 best-seller list. Two more titles (the young-adult sagas the Trylle Trilogy and Tiger's Curse) scored major film deals. And Hollywood's development pipeline is increasingly filled with people like Jesus Orellana, a Spanish comics illustrator whose homemade CGI short, Rosa, about a female cyborg in a dystopian future, is being eyed for a feature film adaptation by 20th Century Fox. Orellana created the 10-minute short on his home computer in six months and posted it online, where it began building intense buzz.

"The reality is that with today's technology, anyone can put content out there, so it's a leveling of the playing field," says Scott Glassgold, Orellana's manager. The trend applies equally to more established talents. In mid-December, Louis C.K. surprised many in the comedy world by offering his latest stand-up album, Louis CK Live at the Beacon Theater, exclusively on his website for just $5. He then chronicled the experiment's early success, revealing on his blog his costs to produce the album ($202,000), gross sales (more than $500,000) and profit (more than $200,000 after only four days). "I really hope people keep buying it a lot so I can have shitloads of money," he wrote. "At this point we can safely say that the experiment really worked."

"It's a game changer," agrees Parallel Entertainment founder J.P. Williams, who manages comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy. "He takes more of the money, controls how it's put out there and builds his fan base in the process." -- Andy Lewis and Lacey Rose

3. NBC'S OLYMPICS BATTLE TWITTER

The Olympics, which run July 27 to Aug. 12 in London, should provide a much-needed ratings boost for last-place NBC and a strong plug for the first fall slate of shows greenlighted by new chief Bob Greenblatt. But the network's strategy of showing marquee events on tape delay in primetime faces a major test during the first Summer Games of the Twitter age (and the first under new owner Comcast). NBC Sports execs already are promising that every event, including those featuring U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, will be available live on such ancillary platforms as USA, MSNBC and Bravo, a move that NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus characterizes as a "philosophical shift" from predecessor Dick Ebersol. Whether that will impact NBC's primetime ratings remains a question. A bigger challenge is whether NBCUni can use the Olympics to help turn its NBC Sports Network (which will replace Versus in January) into a legitimate rival to ESPN and Fox Sports in the cable sports arena. -- Marisa Guthrie

4. HOLLYWOOD'S BOX-OFFICE SLUMP FACES A CRUCIAL TEST

By this time next year, Hollywood studios will know whether the box-office lag of 2011 (revenue was down 4 percent heading into Christmas) was an aberration or a sign of a fundamental problem with the movie business. That's because the 2012 release calendar features an impressive stampede of A-list franchise titles: May's Men in Black 3 and The Avengers; July's The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises; November's Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and December's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to name just a few. The conventional wisdom says that these presold event pictures, plus such high-profile original titles as Disney's John Carter (March) and Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (May) and the usual parade of animated pics, should lead to a record-breaking year. But the grim reality could be that the flight of younger people from the multiplex is a permanent trend. If so, theater owners might have to revisit ticket prices, which have crept up with the advance of digital 3D. Studios could need to take an even closer look at movie budgets. And a decline in theatrical revenue would increase tensions between studios and theater owners over whether movies should be offered in homes soon after their theatrical release. "The past six months have shown us that the same old thing isn't working," says one exec. "The corporate bosses of the studios are starting to notice." -- Pamela McClintock

5. JAMES FEELS THE HEAT AS NEWS CORP. SCANDAL DEEPENS

The next 12 months will be the most important of James Murdoch's career. The News Corp. hacking inquiry has revealed his signature on a payment that looks like an attempt to cover up criminal wrongdoing. He also admitted he received an e-mail about hacking (he claims he did not read it). For now, he remains News Corp. deputy COO, but if a Parliamentary report raises more red flags, he could be forced to resign or be fired. The result would further complicate News Corp. succession as Rupert Murdoch turns 81 in March. -- Mimi Turner

 
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