goldmedalproducts.pngWhen Gold Medal Products Co. holds its annual Distributors' Conference, it's not your typical business meeting. From December 2-4, the fun foods manufacturer packed the halls of the Sharonville Convention Center with popcorn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, Sno-Kones® and more! The atmosphere rivaled that of a carnival, but don't be mistaken-Gold Medal is one serious industry leader.

Gold Medal is known as the leading manufacturer and supplier for concession equipment and supplies. Its success is largely attributed to a loyal worldwide distributor network.

"The relationship with our dealers is the core of our business. We've hosted our annual distributors' conference for 56 years. This is our way of not only saying thank you, but also equipping attendees to grow their businesses in the year ahead," said Gold Medal President and CEO, Dan Kroeger. "It's the only event like it in the industry. And it's one heck of a party," he quips.

Every year, this exclusive three-day event is held in Cincinnati. The 2014 conference, entitled "Swinging for Success," saw over 350 in attendance, representing more than 25 countries. The setting is a full sensory experience: lighted machines line the main hall; ears are met by the sounds of popcorn popping and savory aromas fill the air. Of course, there's plenty of taste-testing various treats throughout the day.

The main attraction is to introduce what's new for the upcoming year. Among the many new items and improvements for 2015, Gold Medal is launching SunPopTM Select, popcorn that's specifically designed for the more health-conscious consumer. It is whole grain, gluten-free and non-GMO. In addition, the company will also release SunnyPopTM. It was specially developed to give schools a popcorn that complies with the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutritional standards.

Attendees have their choice of business-building roundtables addressing a variety of topics from sales, marketing, engineering and business management. In addition, product demonstrations give the hands-on opportunity to experience the equipment in action. Gold Medal also treated its guests to enjoy night life by hosting a dinner at Cincinnati's world-famous Montgomery Inn Boathouse and an evening of fun and games at Dave & Buster's. The event concluded with the company's annual awards banquet, with over 200 awards recognizing noteworthy sales accomplishments.

"Gold Medal is committed to making this an impressive experience that keeps our guests returning year after year," stated Kroeger. "We deliver the education, entertainment and engagement that will leave you motivated to drive sales."

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About Gold Medal: Gold Medal Products Co. is a privately-held, family-run company that puts the fun into fun foods like popcorn, cotton candy, Sno-Kones®, and more. The company began in 1931 and now employs more than 375 people across 12 locations, including its manufacturing headquarters in Cincinnati, OH, with distribution worldwide. Thanks to revolutionary advances and quality products, Gold Medal is the global leader for concession equipment and supplies.

 

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waltdisneystudios.pngThe official press release from Disney:

Happy New Year from The Walt Disney Studios!

In 2014, The Walt Disney Studios posted its second highest year on record domestically, internationally and globally, thanks to an incredible slate that includes three of the biggest films of 2014 as well as the #1 release of 2013. As of December 29, 2014, the Studio's box office grosses are as follows:

Domestic: $1.58 billion (17 films, including 13 new releases, #2 market share)

International: $2.77 billion

Global: $4.35 billion

Final updated numbers will be provided on January 2.

This is the second year in a row and the second time in its history that Disney has surpassed $4B globally, following 2013's record gross of $4.73B. Domestically, this is the third consecutive and fourth year overall that Disney has surpassed $1.5B. Internationally, Disney surpassed $2B in company record time (8/4/14) and for the fifth consecutive year.

For the second year in a row, three of the Studio's new releases - Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier - surpassed $700M globally.

Four of the Studio's releases - Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent, and Big Hero 6 - have surpassed $200M domestically and rank among the top 10 domestic titles of 2014. This is the second year in a row at least four Disney titles have reached the $200M threshold.

2014 Highlights

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1/14) has earned $772.9M worldwide, including $332.9M domestically and $440M internationally. It is currently the #1 film of the year domestically and the #2 film of the year globally. It set an August box office record with a $94.3M debut and was the first film of the year to cross $300M domestically.

Disney's Maleficent (5/30/14) has earned $758.2 million worldwide, including $241.4M domestically and $516.8M internationally. It is currently the #2 film of the year internationally and the #3 film of the year globally.

Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14) has earned $713.3M worldwide, including $259.8M domestically and $453.5M internationally. It is currently the #3 film of the year domestically and the #5 film of the year globally. It set an April box office record with a $95M debut and is the highest grossing April release of all time domestically.

Walt Disney Animation Studios' Big Hero 6 (11/7/14, still in release) has earned $330.2M globally, including $201.5M domestically. Internationally, it has debuted in about 57% of the market and has taken in $128.7M.

Most recently, Disney's Into the Woods debuted domestically on Christmas Day with $46.1M over the four-day holiday weekend. The film's $15M opening-day gross is the fourth biggest Christmas Day debut ever. Current domestic total is $52.2M.

Walt Disney Animation Studios' Frozen (11/27/13 wide) earned $733.1M globally in 2014. It is the #1 animated title and the #5 film of all time with over $1.27 billion globally.

 

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fandango.pngFANDANGO REVEALS ITS 2015 HOT LIST OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIES AND ACTORS, LED BY "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS," JENNIFER LAWRENCE & ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.

Fandango Film Fans Pick "Star Wars" Newcomer Daisy Ridley & "Fifty Shades" Star Jamie Dornan as Biggest Breakouts of the New Year


LOS ANGELES - December 30, 2014 - Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, surveyed more than a thousand fans in the last week of December, asking them about the films and stars they are most anticipating in the new year.

"Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" was selected by the fans as their most anticipated movie, while Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Downey, Jr., were picked as "Fan Favorites" among actors and actresses starring in 2015 movies.

Commenting on "Star Wars"' top ranking, Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger points out, "It's been a decade since the last installment of the most beloved sci-fi fantasy franchise of all time, and kids of all ages are eagerly anticipating the revitalization of the series next December."

For the second year in a row, Jennifer Lawrence ranked as Fandango fans' top pick among female stars. "Moviegoers can't wait for the ‘Mockingjay' finale of her phenomenally successful ‘Hunger Games' franchise," says Karger, "but we're also excited to see Jennifer in a new film - ‘Joy' - from David O. Russell, who previously directed her to Oscar nods for ‘Silver Linings Playbook' and ‘American Hustle.'"

Robert Downey, Jr., returning as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," has consistently ranked as a top pick on the Fandango Hot List over the past five years. "For the sequel to the biggest Marvel movie ever," Karger says, "fans can't get enough of Downey as the man in the iron suit."

For the top male and female rising stars, fans picked Irish actor Jamie Dornan (as Christian Grey in "Fifty Shades of Grey") and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" newcomer Daisy Ridley. "As the mysterious leading man in the most highly-anticipated literary adaptation of 2015, Jamie Dornan has what a big-screen movie star demands - looks, charming reputation and charisma to spare," says Karger. "Daisy Ridley also has a scent of mystery about her, since no one knows anything about her part, and fans are breathlessly waiting to find out what role she will play in the ‘Star Wars' universe."

"Minions" rounds out the 2015 Hot List as the top family pick. "Parents and kids alike are looking forward to the third outing of the ‘Despicable Me' franchise to discover the origin of everyone's favorite little yellow creatures," says Karger.

Fandango Chief Correspondent Karger also weighed in with his own personal picks for 2015's Most Anticipated Movies, which are, in descending order, "Tomorrowland," "Ant-Man," "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Mission Impossible 5," and "Kingsman: The Secret Service." 'Tomorrowland' is the 2015 movie I'm most looking forward to seeing," says Karger. "The smashing teaser trailer and the unbeatable combination of George Clooney and director Brad Bird (‘The Incredibles,' ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol') promises a smart, grand scale sci-fi fantasy adventure."


FANDANGO FAN PICKS FOR 2015

Most Anticipated 2015 Movie:
1. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
2. "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
3. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2"
4. "Fifty Shades of Grey"
5. "Jurassic World"

Fan Favorite Actress in 2015 Movies:

1. Jennifer Lawrence ("The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2," "Joy" )
2. Scarlett Johansson ("Avengers: Age of Ultron")
3. Angelina Jolie ("By the Sea")
4. Melissa McCarthy ("Spy")

5. Halle Berry ("Kidnap")

Fan Favorite Actor in 2015 Movies:
1. Robert Downey, Jr. ("Avengers: Age of Ultron")
2. Chris Hemsworth ("Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Blackhat," and "In the Heart of the Sea")
3. Daniel Craig ("Spectre")
4. Chris Pratt ("Jurassic World")
5. Tom Cruise ("Mission Impossible 5")


Biggest Male Breakout Movie Star, 2015:
1. Jamie Dornan ("Fifty Shades of Grey")
2. John Boyega ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens")
3. Levi Miller ("Pan")
4. Neel Sethi ("The Jungle Book")
5. Tony Jaa ("Furious 7")

Biggest Female Breakout Movie Star, 2015:
1. Daisy Ridley ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens")
2. Lily James ("Cinderella," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies")
3. Dakota Johnson ("Fifty Shades of Grey," "A Bigger Splash")
4. Kate Mara ("The Fantastic Four," "The Martian")
5. Sofia Boutella ("Kingsman: The Secret Service")

Most Anticipated Family Film of 2015:
1."Minions"
2. "Cinderella"
3. "Pixar's Inside Out"
4. "Peanuts"
5. "Pan"

About Fandango
Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, sells tickets to more than 25,000 screens nationwide. Fandango entertains and informs consumers with reviews, commentary, celebrity interviews and trailers, and offers the ability to quickly select a film, plan where and when to see it, and conveniently buy tickets in advance. For many theaters, fans can print their tickets at home or receive them as a paperless Mobile Ticket on their smartphones. Fandango's top-ranking movie ticketing apps, with more than 44 million downloads, are available on the iPhone and iPad, Android, and many other platforms. Fandango is enjoyed by more than 30 million online and mobile visitors each month, according to comScore. Film fans also find Fandango on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fandango and on Twitter @Fandango.

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By Daniel Garris

Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took in an estimated $7.55 million on Monday to remain in first place at the daily box office. The third and final installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy has led the daily box office for twelve of the past thirteen days. The Battle of the Five Armies was down 31.5 percent from Sunday and down a healthy 16 percent from last Monday. The 13-day total for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies stands at $175.57 million. That places the film 17 percent ahead of the $149.95 million thirteen-day take of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and 2 percent behind the $179.57 million thirteen-day gross of 2012's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Disney's Into the Woods placed in second with $6.12 million. The Rob Marshall directed musical featuring Meryl Streep was down 26 percent from Sunday. Into the Woods surpassed the $50 million mark on Monday and has grossed an impressive $52.26 million in five days, especially when taking in its relatively modest location count into account. The film is currently running 18 percent ahead of the $44.42 million five-day start of 2008's Bedtime Stories and 11 percent behind the $58.50 million five-day gross of 2012's Les Misérables.

Unbroken claimed third place for the day with $5.16 million. The Angelina Jolie directed war drama from Universal fell 31 percent from Sunday. Like Into the Woods, Unbroken also surpassed the $50 million mark on Monday (the two films are separated by just $1.039 million thus far). Unbroken has grossed a significantly stronger than expected $51.22 million in five days. That places the film an impressive 17 percent ahead of the $43.73 million five-day start of 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 6 percent behind the $54.38 million five-day take of 2012's Django Unchained.

Fox's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb continued to hold up nicely with a fourth place take of $4.46 million. The third installment of the Ben Stiller led franchise was down just 18 percent from Sunday and up an impressive 31 percent over last Monday. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb has grossed $59.19 million in eleven days, which places the film 5 percent ahead of the $56.47 million eleven-day take of 2011's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.

Annie rounded out Monday's top five with an estimated $3.83 million. Sony's musical remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz was down a slim 14 percent from Sunday and up 19 percent over last Monday. Annie has grossed $49.56 million in eleven days and is set to surpass the $50 million mark today. The film is running 12 percent behind the mentioned eleven-day gross of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 placed in sixth with $2.22 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was down 23 percent from Sunday and up 29 percent over last Monday. Mockingjay - Part 1 is currently the second highest grossing release of 2014 domestically with a 39-day take of $308.94 million.

The Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game and Paramount's The Gambler claimed seventh and eighth place respectively with $1.56 million and $1.54 million. The Imitation Game was down 28 percent from Sunday and has grossed a promising $16.19 million to date. The Gambler fell 34.5 percent from Sunday and has grossed a solid $15.67 million in five days.

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By Daniel Garris

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took in $40.92 million this weekend to remain in first place. The third and final installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy was down a healthy 25 percent from last weekend. The film's second weekend hold was better than that of 2003's The Return of the King (which fell 30 percent) and a bit weaker than that of 2002's The Two Towers (which fell 21 percent). With those comparisons in mind, this weekend's hold was a strong sign for the film going forward. The Battle of the Five Armies has grossed $168.02 million in twelve days. That places the film 19.5 percent ahead of the $140.64 million twelve-day take of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and essentially on par with the $168.18 million twelve-day gross of 2012's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

It was a very close race for second place this weekend between Disney's Into the Woods and Universal's Unbroken. Unbroken had been estimated on Sunday to take second, but Into the Woods ultimately pulled ahead on Sunday to claim second for the frame. The two films were separated by just $430,478 for the weekend and by an even slimmer $85,818 over their respective first four days of release.

Into the Woods opened with $31.05 million over the weekend. The Rob Marshall directed musical featuring Meryl Streep opened on the high end of expectations with a four-day debut of $46.14 million. The film's start was especially impressive given its relatively modest 2,440 location count. That gave Into the Woods a per-location average of $12,726 for the three-day frame, which was the highest location average among wide releases this weekend. Into the Woods is running 21 percent ahead of the $38.03 million four-day start of 2008's Bedtime Stories and a slim 5 percent behind the $48.75 million four-day gross of 2012's Les Misérables.

The audience breakdown for Into the Woods skewed towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (57 percent) and towards female moviegoers (54 percent). Family audiences made up 38 percent of the film's overall audience. Into the Woods received a B rating on CinemaScore.

Unbroken opened in third with $30.62 million. The Angelina Jolie directed war drama has exceeded expectations in a big way with a four-day start of $46.06 million. Mixed critical reviews clearly haven't hampered the film out of the gates, which was aided greatly by the pre-existing fanbase of the Laura Hillenbrand written book. Unbroken is running an impressive 19 percent ahead of the $38.73 million four-day start of 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 7 percent ahead of the $43.02 million four-day take of 2012's Django Unchained.

Unbroken received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which suggests the film is going over significantly better with moviegoers than it has with critics. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards moviegoers 25 years and older (71 percent) and towards female moviegoers (52 percent).

Fox's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb claimed fourth place with $20.20 million. The third installment of the Ben Stiller led franchise was up an impressive 18 percent from last weekend's softer than expected debut. Secret of the Tomb has grossed $54.73 million in ten days. That places the film 10.5 percent ahead of the $49.53 million ten-day take of 2011's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb has already registered a current total gross to opening weekend ratio of 3.20 to 1 thanks to very strong holiday holding power thus far.

Annie rounded out the weekend's top five with $16.50 million. Sony's musical remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz increased 4 percent over last weekend. Annie has grossed $45.74 million in ten days, which places the film 8 percent behind the mentioned ten-day gross of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. The total gross to opening weekend ratio for Annie already stands at 2.88 to 1.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 placed in sixth with $10.06 million. In the process, the third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise surpassed the $300 million domestic milestone this weekend, making it the second release of 2014 to do so (joining Guardians of the Galaxy). Mockingjay - Part 1 was up 28 percent over last weekend and has grossed $306.72 million in 38 days.

Paramount's The Gambler debuted in seventh with $9.13 million. The Mark Wahlberg led drama was off to a solid four-day start of $14.13 million, especially when considering its modest price tag and that it its scheduled wide release was fairly last minute. However, early long-term signs for the film haven't been as promising, as the film registered a front-loaded four-day to three-day ratio of 1.55 to 1 and received a lackluster C+ rating on CinemaScore.

The Imitation Game had a very successful expansion this weekend with an eighth place take of $7.93 million from just 747 locations. The awards season hopeful from The Weinstein Company grossed $11.01 million over the four-day frame and has grossed a very promising $14.63 million to date.

The news wasn't anywhere near as good for fellow Weinstein Company release Big Eyes. The Tim Burton directed drama starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz debuted with $3.00 million over the weekend and just $4.41 million in its first four days. Big Eyes was launched in a somewhat surprising 1,307 locations this weekend and in hindsight was probably better suited for a more limited release this weekend.

Also opening this weekend was Sony's much buzzed about The Interview. After initially having its wide release canceled, Sony gave the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco a last-minute limited theatrical release in 331 smaller independent locations (while also giving the film a digital release). The results of the film's theatrical release were mixed, as it grossed $1.80 million over the weekend and $2.84 million in four days.

On the platform front, awards season hopefuls American Sniper and Selma were both off to very strong starts this weekend. Warner's American Sniper took in $633,000 over the weekend and $874,000 in four days from 4 locations, while Paramount's Selma took in $571,450 over the weekend and $893,626 in four days from 19 locations. That gave American Sniper and Selma respective three-day per-location averages of $158,250 and $30,076. Selma is scheduled to receive a nationwide expansion on January 9th, while American Sniper will receive a nationwide expansion one week later on January 16th.

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