Top 5 Seasons of Law and Order

Since its debut in 1990, “Law & Order” has appealed to drama lovers and crime enthusiasts alike. For two decades, the show saw tremendous success, winning countless awards and nominations. Though “Law & Order” released its final episode in 2010, we were blessed with 20 seasons of this fantastic show. According to viewers, here’s how the seasons stacked up.

#1 – Season 5
This 23-episode long season is a fan favorite. From the nerve-racking mysteries to the hideous murders, everything about this season intrigued audiences.

#2 – Season 6
The sixth season of “Law & Order” had viewers on the edge of their seats. Kidnappings, conspiracies, and death penalties all intertwined to create an unforgettable season of crime and chaos.

#3 – Season 10
This season was rich with whodunits. With the perfect amount of suspense and mystery, this season quickly became memorable. “Fools For Love” and “Blood Money” were two standout episodes.

#4 – Season 1
Surprisingly, the first season of “Law & Order” thoroughly impressed audiences. It didn’t take long for viewers to realize the show’s potential, which is why the first season sits proudly in the top five.

SXSW 2020 Movies Coming to Amazon Prime

SXSW 2020

With the cancellation of the 2020 South by Southwest® (SXSW) festival because of the coronavirus, some of the movies that were to be screened at this event will now appear on Amazon Prime for a short period of time. Amazon announced that it will host a 10-day event in which movies scheduled for screening at SXSW 2020 will appear on the online platform. Amazon also announced that these films will be available to everyone with an Amazon login rather than only those with a Prime subscription during this 10-day period.

Films That May Be Included

The date of the Amazon launch for these films has not yet been announced. Organizers of the SXSW festival are working with filmmakers to encourage participation in the Amazon event. Some of the potential candidates for the Amazon 10-day film festival include the following:

The Donut King

Directed by Alice Gu, this documentary follows the life and experiences of a Cambodian refugee who worked his way from poverty to wealth by building a dynasty of donut shops and employing many other immigrants along the way.

Bad Trip

This crowd-pleaser is directed by Kitao Sakurai and follows the exploits of two friends on a cross-country trip filled with humorous adventure. Eric André and Tiffany Haddish are among the top-billed performers for this feature film.

The King of Staten Island

Judd Apatow directs this comedy about a man (Pete Davidson) who lives with his mother in Staten Island. Marisa Tomei and Steve Buscemi round out the cast of this offering by one of the top directors in the United States.

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

A heartwarming look at the ways in which dogs contribute to the lives of humans, this top documentary is the work of director Matthew Salleh.

Red Heaven

Directors Lauren DeFilippo and Katherine Gorringe worked together to create a documentary about a NASA experiment that placed six people in an environment simulating the habitat of Mars and looking into the effects of isolation on humans in future space missions.

The Green Knight

David Lowery helms this fantasy, which recounts the story of the Green Night and Gawain of the Round Table and stars Alicia Vikander and Dev Patel.

Archive

One of the elite narrative features that was scheduled to debut at SXSW 2020, Archive is a futuristic exploration of a scientist who is developing an AI prototype that will rival human cognition. The film stars Theo James, Rhona Mitra and Stacy Martin and is directed by Gavin Rothery.

Freak Power

Directed by Robert F. Kennedy III, Freak Power stars Jay Bulger as Hunter S. Thompson in a retelling of his unsuccessful campaign to become Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, in the 1970s. The film features Cheryl Hines and Maxwell Loeb in supporting performances.

Bulletproof

School shootings and violence in classrooms and hallways are the subjects of this documentary directed by Todd Chandler.

The Lovebirds

Billed as a comedy-mystery, this film is directed by Michael Showalter and stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani as a couple trying to clear their name after a murder. It was expected to be one of the headliners at SXSW 2020.

Cut Throat City

Directed by RZA and written by Paul Cuschieri, Cut Throat City stars some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Wesley Snipes, Terrence Howard, Ethan Hawke and Isaiah Washington. The film tells the story of a heist set in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Console Wars

One of the spotlight documentaries scheduled to be shown at SXSW 2020, this film was directed by Blake J. Harris and Jonah Tulis and goes in-depth and behind the scenes to interview the men and women who lived through the fierce competition between Nintendo and Sega for video game console dominance in the 1990s.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette

Directed by David Darg and Price James, this documentary was expected to draw crowds interested in the wrestling career and comeback of David Arquette, a well-known film actor.

While no firm lineup has yet been announced for Amazon’s 10-day SXSW festival, some of these films are likely to be included in the event and available to the general public for a limited time. Eager viewers and film buffs should keep their eyes open for more news on this exceptional opportunity to catch major films from cutting-edge directors on the small screen.

Sources

https://www.sxsw.com/festivals/film/lineup/#lineup

Could the Coronavirus Give Microsoft Stock a Boost?

Microsoft

Microsoft has been a tech heavy-weight for a long time now. The stock is vulnerable, however, to larger market routes like what has been seen in equity markets over the last few weeks. Microsoft is down about 19 percent since the selling began and could represent an excellent long-term value at current or even lower price levels. The current stock valuation could even be viewed as a sale price, with long-term investors potentially earning larger returns over time.

The Tools for Success

Regardless of what U.S. and global stock markets do in the weeks and months ahead, and regardless of what governments and central banks do to combat the economic slowdown, Microsoft has several key business lines that may keep its stock price afloat or rising. The company’s cloud business, for example, is likely to remain strong as overall demand increases in the months and years ahead. The move into cloud computing and into hardware such as the Surface is likely to continue and Microsoft is positioned to be a global leader in these arenas.

A Bargain

Concerns over the coronavirus and its potential impact on global supply chains has led Microsoft’s trailing price-to-earnings ratio to the lowest level in over a year. The stock’s dividend yield is currently at 1.23 percent. This figure may seem small, but it is fairly robust compared to the almost non-existent yield of the benchmark ten-year note. Unlike many other companies that are currently being pressured by the virus, Microsoft is unlikely to cut its dividend as it is sitting on a large pile of cash. The company could, in fact, do the opposite and raise its dividend payments in order to attract more investors into the stock.

Big Upside

Shares of Microsoft stock could potentially see significant upside from recent levels. Some analysts have even suggested that the stock price could approach the $210 area. A move towards this level would represent an gain of about 36 percent, which is nothing to sneeze at. Combine the stock’s possible upside with the potential for dividends and possibly higher dividends, and an investment around current levels could make a great deal of sense.

The markets have always and will always be dictated by the powers of fear and greed. Buying when others are fearful and stocks are selling off can be a great contrarian play that can provide strong returns over time. The key to such a strategy, be it with Microsoft or any other stock, is to focus on the longer-term, bigger picture. Current volatility and selling may make things a bit uncomfortable, but volatility will return to more normal levels at some point and the selling will eventually subside.

Best Movies Coming Out in 2020

It’s officially 2020 and the box office is preparing for a new crop of superhero movies, sequels (some of them long overdue), live-action Disney remakes, and more. However, a big difference from 2019 is that more than five of these highly anticipated tentpole films will be directed by women, including women of color. While that number might not seem like a lot, considering that 2019’s Captain Marvel was the very first MCU film to be directed by a woman (or at least co-directed, with filmmaking partners Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck at the helm), it’s needle-moving progress.

Another thing that will be different in 2020: While January has historically been a dumping ground for less-than-stellar films, major releases like Bad Boys and Dolittle will duke it out for box office supremacy. From horror films and superhero flicks to long-awaited sequels and literary adaptations, here are more than two dozen of the year’s most anticipated movies.

THE GRUDGE

Release date: January 3, 2020

A remake of an American film (2004) which was a remake of the Japanese film Ju-On (2002), the 2020 version of The Grudge may or may not follow the mythology of the previous two films and its sequels. This time around, Eyes of My Mother director Nicolas Pesce will step in for Takashi Shimizu, who directed both the original 2002 film and its first American remake.

DOLITTLE

Release date: January 17, 2020

Robert Downey Jr. is no stranger to playing eccentric men—or starring in big-budget films. Based on the fictional Doctor John Dolittle, the character at the center of Hugh Lofting’s children’s books, the film is a loose remake of 1998’s Dr. Dolittle, which starred Eddie Murphy. Downey Jr.’s a veterinarian who can communicate with animals. Thoughout his adventures, he encounters a number of humans (including Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen) and CGI animals voiced by everyone from Emma Thompson to Rami Malek.

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

Release date: January 17, 2020

The last time we saw buddy cops Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) battling bad guys was in 2003’s Bad Boys II. Now, almost 25 years after the original film, the stars will reprise their roles for a third go-around. But Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbio will replace Michael Bay, who directed Bad Boys and its sequel, in the director’s chair.

BIRDS OF PREY

Release date: February 7, 2020

Margot Robbie spins off her Suicide Squad superheroine Harley Quinn and joins an all-women team of butt-kickers. The film, based on the ‘90s comic book, will mark the eighth film in the DC Extended Universe. Keeping with the female theme, Cathy Yan directed and Christina Hodson wrote the script. In 2021, Warner Bros. is scheduled to release a Suicide Squad sequel.

ONWARD

Release date: March 6, 2020

Like so many other Pixar movies, their newest release features a bit of magic and will probably make you cry. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voice elf brothers who attempt to bring their dead father back to life using a magical staff. Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, Octavia Spencer, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus also supply voices.

A QUIET PLACE PART II (2020)

Release date: March 20, 2020

Not to spoil the first A Quiet Place—which grossed an unexpected $340 million worldwide in 2018—but writer-director John Krasinski’s character Lee died at the end, leaving his wife Evelyn (played by Krasinski’s real-life wife, Emily Blunt) widowed and tasked with protecting their children, including deaf daughter Regan, in a world full of sound-sensitive monsters. In the sequel, the Abbotts will continue to navigate the dangerous world. Though Krasinski doesn’t act in the film, he will return as both its director and sole screenwriter.

MULAN (2020)

Release date: March 27, 2020

Disney will continue its animated-to-live-action streak in adapting the 1998 film about Hua Mulan, the legendary Chinese warrior who disguised herself as a man to take her father’s place in the Imperial Chinese Army. BAFTA-winning filmmaker Niki Caro (Whale Rider) writes and directs a cast that includes Jet Li and Liu Yifei as Mulan.

THE NEW MUTANTS (2020)

Release date: April 3, 2020

The New Mutants is meant to be the 13th and last installment of the X-Men series and follows a group of young mutants—including Anya Taylor-Joy, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, and Charlie Heaton—as they try to escape from a secret facility.

NO TIME TO DIE (2020)

Release date: April 8, 2020

Daniel Craig will return for one final outing as Bond. James Bond. True Detective season 1’s Cary Joji Fukunaga directs, and Rami Malek plays Safin, the film’s Big Bad. Craig personally requested that Fleabag creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge come in and punch up the script, making her the second-ever female credited in writing a Bond script, so you know it’s going to be the funniest and most feminist Bond movie yet.

BLACK WIDOW (2020)

Release date: May 1, 2020

Avenger Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow will finally get her own standalone film. Cate Shortland directs the action-packed plot, which takes place after 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and deals with Romanoff and her Russian past. David Harbour, William Hurt, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Rachel Weisz are also along for the ride. Following 2019’s Captain Marvel, this is the second MCU film to revolve around a female superhero.

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (2020)

Release date: May 8, 2020

The Thick of It and Veep creator Armando Iannucci directed and co-wrote this screenplay, which is based on Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. Dev Patel, who plays Copperfield, joins Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw, Gwendoline Christie, and Peter Capaldi in the period comedy.

FAST & FURIOUS 9 (2020)

Release date: May 22, 2020

Since the release of the first Fast and Furious in 2001, the films have racked up more than $5 billion in box office receipts. Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and more of the previous cast will reprise their roles alongside Michael Rooker, Cardi B, and John Cena. And next year expect the 10th one.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

Release date: June 5, 2020

If you can’t tell by the title, the movie will take place in glorious 1984. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman/Diana Prince will combat foe Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig. Patty Jenkins, who became the first woman to helm a superhero film, returns as director and co-writer. If the $821 million worldwide success of 2017’s Wonder Women is any indication, the sequel is bound to also break records.

CANDYMAN (2020)

Release date: June 12, 2020

Jordan Peele co-wrote and co-produced the upcoming “spiritual sequel” to the groundbreaking 1992 horror flick, and Nia DaCosta, who directed last year’s indie Little Woods, helms the film. Tony Todd will return as the creepy Candyman. It’s unclear if the sequel will have anything to do with Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman: Day of the Dead. The events in the new Candyman surround the gentrified Cabrini-Green in modern-day Chicago. In real life, the city demolished most of Cabrini-Green’s buildings in 2011 and replaced them with a Target store.

IN THE HEIGHTS (2020)

Release date: June 26, 2020

Even before Lin-Manuel Miranda wowed the world with Hamilton, he had already established himself as a creative force with2005’s In the Heights, his first musical. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu directs a cast that includes Miranda as well as Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos plus Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Marc Anthony, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jimmy Smits, and Stephanie Beatriz.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK (2020)

Release date: June 26, 2020

Thirty-four years after Top Gun, do audiences still have the need for speed? Tom Cruise will once again don aviator sunglasses and play hotshot Navy pilot Maverick. He finds himself training Goose’s son, played by Miles Teller. Jennifer Connelly replaces Kelly McGillis as the love interest, and Val Kilmer makes a cameo. If the trailer is any indication, expect more beach volleyball.

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2020)

Release date: July 10, 2020

In the third Ghostbusters film—Paul Feig’s 2016’s female reboot doesn’t seem to count as far as canon is concerned—the characters leave New York City for the cornfields of Oklahoma. Something strange starts happening at a family’s farm, and it’s suggested that the family is related to Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis). Original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman’s Oscar-nominated son, Jason, directs; Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, and original cast members Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson star.

TENET (2020)

Release date: July 17, 2020

After 2017’s war film Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan will return to his layered mind-bending roots with Tenet. Robert Pattison and John David Washington star as secret agents who may or may not be time travelers and who might have to prevent World War III. Nolan’s frequent collaborator Michael Caine is in it, too.

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020)

Release date: August 21, 2020

It’s been almost 30 years since Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves played slacker musicians William “Bill” Preston, Esquire and Ted Logan, respectively, on screen. The guys now have daughters: Billie (Atypical’s Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Ready or Not’s Samara Weaving). Bill and Ted are tasked with coming up with a song that will save humanity, and we bet they’ll do it justice.

THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (2020)

Release date: September 25, 2020

In the prequel to The Sopranos, James Gandolfini’s son Michael plays a younger version of Tony Soprano. The awards season film is set in the 1960s and ‘70s and will show Tony’s upbringing, including his relationship with his parents (played by Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga). David Chase co-wrote the script and Alan Taylor, a regular director on the series, will direct.

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2020)

Release date: September 25, 2020

Edgar Wright’s follow-up to 2017’s Baby Driver sounds nothing like the action comedy. The original concept, co-written by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, is a British psychological thriller in the vein of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in London in the 1960s and has a time travel element to it. Matt Smith, Anya Taylor-Joy, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp co-star.

HALLOWEEN KILLS (2020)

Release date: October 16, 2020

Fact: Michael Myers will never die, or at least not yet. Because Halloween 2018 was so successful—it had the highest opening weekend starring a female over 55—David Gordon Green and Danny McBride signed on for the sequel and Halloween Ends (no it won’t), which will be released in 2021. In Kills, Anthony Michael Hall and Kyle Richards join the cast, and Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer will be back.

THE WITCHES (2020)

Release date: October 16, 2020

Yes, Hollywood remade The Witches, 20 years after its release. Based on Roald Dahl’s book, the 2020 version moves from 1980s England to 1960s Alabama. Robert Zemeckis directs and Black-ish creator and Girls Trip scribe Kenya Barris writes the script. Anne Hathaway replaces Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, and Stanley Tucci, Octavia Spencer, and Chris Rock also star.

ETERNALS (2020)

Release date: November 6, 2020

With Eternals, Marvel will try to jumpstart a new franchise within the MCU. The comic book adaptation features a race of immortal humanoids known as Eternals. The Rider’s Chloé Zhao will direct Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, a very buff Kumail Nanjiani, Kit HaringtonRichard Madden, and Gemma Chan.

GODZILLA VS. KONG (2020)

Release date: November 20, 2020

This will mark Hollywood’s first remake of the 1962 Japanese film King Kong vs. Godzilla and the first time the two monsters will star in an American movie together. Who will win? The film is a sequel to 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård, Kyle Chandler, and Brian Tyree Henry star, while The Guest’s Adam Wingard directs.

DUNE (2020)

Release date: December 18, 2020

In 1984, David Lynch took a stab at adapting Frank Herbert’s complex sci-fi novel Dune, but the film bombed at the box office. In the 1970s, avant-garde director Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to produce a 14-hour version of the novel, but he ran out of money; he chronicled his failure in the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. However, Denis Villeneuve finally figured out a way to maybe successfully adapt it from page to screen. Timothée Chalamet will play Paul Atreides and stars alongside Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Zendaya, and sandworms.

COMING 2 AMERICA (2020)

Release date: December 18, 2020

The last time audiences saw Prince Akeem Joffer of Zamunda was in 1988’s hit Coming to America. Eddie Murphy will return as the prince, and so will Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos. In the sequel, Prince Akeem discovers he has a son in America (played by Jermaine Fowler) and must return to America to find him. Dolemite Is My Name director Craig Brewer directs, and Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, and Leslie Jones also appear

Amy Poehler Shines at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala

Last week, some of the most luminous stars in cinema, both in front and behind the camera, came out to shine as Women In Film, Los Angeles (WIF, LA) celebrated exceptional women in the entertainment industry at the 2019 Women In Film Annual Gala.

The Women In Film Annual Gala honored film entrepreneurs working in the cinematic arts. The event brought attention and recognition and celebrated the potential and performance of women crafting skilled work in the film world. The 2019 Gala cast a bright spotlight as Natasha Lyonne presented The Women In Film Entrepreneur in Entertainment Award to noted actor/director Amy Poehler.

Other creatives who were honored included Cathy Schulman, who was acknowledged with The Crystal Award for Advocacy in Entertainment. Shulman’s award was presented by actor/activist Viola Davis. Maria Giulia Maramotti presented The Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award to Elizabeth Debicki. And Stephanie Allain introduced the irrepressible Issa Rae with The Women In Film Emerging Entrepreneur Award.

The Stars Come Out
Among the cinematic VIPs who came out for the Gala were performer Charlie Barnett, famous for her work in “Orange is the New Black,” “Russian Doll,” and “You,” WIF, LA Board President Amy Baer, and powerhouse creative Cindy Chupack, director and writer of “Otherhood.”

The WIF Members’ Choice Awards
The sisterhood was strong at the Gala, and the criteria for winning the WIF, LA Members’ Choice Awards focused on female directors who created fantastic narrative feature films that hit the big screen in the US in 2018. Lake Bell, who presented the awards to the winners, got to call on talents and laud works like “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” by Marielle Heller, “Leave No Trace” by Debra Granik, “On The Basis Of Sex” by Mimi Leder, “Dumplin’” by Anne Fletcher, and “The Rider” by Chloé Zhao.

ReFrame for Film
ReFrame, a creative collaborative for cinema under the auspices of WIF, LA and Sundance Institute announced the first class of ReFrame Rise directors and Kyra Sedgwick proudly played the host to the directors who had been selected. The honors went to directors Akhavan, al-Mansour, Cardoso, Culpepper, Freeland, Fuentes, Mabry, and Menon. Sedgwick, a triple-threat as a performer/director/producer noted in her speech that in her experience as an actor and director, she understood and empathized with the necessity of support within the profession. She also noted the need to present fresh vantage points in all areas of the film arts and how cinema was made stronger by hearing from a diverse range of voices to craft stories that resonate with audiences.

ReFrame Rise is providing sponsorship that supports opportunities, recognition, and visibility for female film entrepreneurs. The program is intended to help film artists take on an array of positions, including studio honchos, directors, and producers who create content for feature films and television programs. ReFrame and Hulu announced their plans for a 3-year commitment to foster talent and to create innovative new content.

What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company’s Financial Strength

What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company's Financial Strength
What Investors Should Know About The Walt Disney Company’s Financial Strength

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), a large-cap worth US$252b, comes to mind for investors seeking a strong and reliable stock investment. Market participants who are conscious of risk tend to search for large firms, attracted by the prospect of varied revenue sources and strong returns on capital. But, its financial health remains the key to continued success. This article will examine Walt Disney’s financial liquidity and debt levels to get an idea of whether the company can deal with cyclical downturns and maintain funds to accommodate strategic spending for future growth. Remember this is a very top-level look that focuses exclusively on financial health, so I recommend a deeper analysis into DIS here.

Does DIS Produce Much Cash Relative To Its Debt?

Over the past year, DIS has ramped up its debt from US$25b to US$57b – this includes long-term debt. With this increase in debt, DIS’s cash and short-term investments stands at US$10b to keep the business going. Moreover, DIS has generated US$14b in operating cash flow during the same period of time, leading to an operating cash to total debt ratio of 24%, meaning that DIS’s debt is appropriately covered by operating cash.

Does DIS’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?

Looking at DIS’s US$44b in current liabilities, it seems that the business may not have an easy time meeting these commitments with a current assets level of US$34b, leading to a current ratio of 0.77x. The current ratio is the number you get when you divide current assets by current liabilities.

Does DIS face the risk of succumbing to its debt-load?

With a debt-to-equity ratio of 54%, DIS can be considered as an above-average leveraged company. This is common amongst large-cap companies because debt can often be a less expensive alternative to equity due to tax deductibility of interest payments. Since large-caps are seen as safer than their smaller constituents, they tend to enjoy lower cost of capital. We can assess the sustainability of DIS’s debt levels to the test by looking at how well interest payments are covered by earnings. Net interest should be covered by earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by at least three times to be safe. For DIS, the ratio of 25.05x suggests that interest is comfortably covered. It is considered a responsible and reassuring practice to maintain high interest coverage, which makes DIS and other large-cap investments thought to be safe.

Next Steps:

DIS’s cash flow coverage indicates it could improve its operating efficiency in order to meet demand for debt repayments should unforeseen events arise. Furthermore, its lack of liquidity raises questions over current asset management practices for the large-cap. I admit this is a fairly basic analysis for DIS’s financial health. Other important fundamentals need to be considered alongside. You should continue to research Walt Disney to get a better picture of the stock by looking at:

  • Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for DIS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for DIS’s outlook.
  • Valuation: What is DIS worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether DIS is currently mispriced by the market.
  • Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here

Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?

Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?
Can I Claim Movie Tickets as a Business Expense?

Whether you work in the movie business, use movies to entertain business clients or support charities through ticket purchases, it is very likely you can claim movie tickets as a business expense, even if there is no tax on movie tickets. Since movies are widely viewed as a form of personal entertainment, it is imperative to be thorough with your record-keeping to support your claims. Make sure you are claiming movie tickets for the right reasons to pass inspection when you file

Tip

The IRS allows for business deductions that are considered ordinary and necessary for your type of business. This means it may be possible for you to deduct those movie tickets come tax time.

Business Expenses Defined

A business expense is a cost that is incurred while a business is operating. This could mean the amount spent on advertising to new customers, or money spent on potential clients to attempt to gain their business. If movie tickets are part of the cost of doing business, then at least a portion of the expense can be claimed as a business expense. But how the tickets and used and the reason for them comes into play.

Entertaining Clients

When entertaining a client for business reasons, from rounds of golf to movie tickets, you can deduct half your entertainment expenses. However, there are a few things you should do to support your deduction claim so you do not run afoul of the IRS. Keep timely track of your entertainment expenses. Keep a journal, diary or calendar updated with the following information: who was present, where the theater is located, when it happened, why the meeting was important and how much it cost. If you do not record this information immediately, you may not be able to deduct the movie tickets. Any expense over $75 requires keeping a receipt.

General Work-Related Education

Expenses you incur to maintain or improve your skills for your job are deductible, according to the IRS. That means if you are a history teacher, tickets for a documentary movie with new, related information about a historical event is deductible because you are watching it to maintain or improve your professional knowledge. However, education expenses for a new job are not deductible. The movie has to be related to your current job for you to claim it. Keep detailed records concerning the time, place and importance of the film to support your claim.

Charitable Organizations

If your movie tickets are part of a charitable donation, you may be able to claim a deduction. The fine print on this example is that you can deduct only what you spend beyond the fair market price of the ticket. For instance, if at a fundraiser you purchase movie tickets for $100 that would typically cost $30, your charitable contribution is $70. That $70 is deductible. Benefits for film-funding charities sometimes offer overpriced tickets to a screening to raise money for students and grants. If you support an institution in this manner, the amount you spend that is over the fair market value of the entertainment you receive is considered a deductible expense.

Film Industry Professionals

Simply because you work in movies doesn’t mean that every movie you see will be considered a business expense by the IRS. In fact, if you attempt to deduct every movie you see, that will raise a red flag. The most important element of claiming movie tickets as a business expense as a film professional or claiming tax deductions for entertainment industry professionals is keeping thorough records and receipts that explain the business need to see each film. Whether you are an actor, technician, writer, director or producer, make claiming a movie ticket easier on yourself by keeping the receipt and the ticket stapled together, along with an explanation of why this particular film was a business requirement.

Rules to Live By When Launching a Franchise Program

1. Self-evaluation: what interests to you about opening a franchised business? Are you ready, willing and able to work long hours, including weekends and holidays (especially in the beginning)? Can you commit to following pre-determined business methods with very little variation, if any variation at all? Can you accept paying a portion of your profits to another entity (the franchisor)? Are you comfortable with the reputation of your business being largely reliant on the franchise’s network and not just your business unit?

Moreover, how much of your personal cash are you willing to part with to establish the business? Unless you’re fortunate enough to have enough money personally, do you have adequate assets (savings accounts, real estate, securities, etc.) to secure a loan?

2. Pick a franchise consultant to assist you (optional): despite all of the information available online, it’s still a good notion to enlist the help of a franchise consultant to help guide you through the process.

Much like a real estate agent is a good ally in the purchase of a home, a franchise consultant has industry-specific knowledge and can relate possibly complicated topics (including aspects of agreements and disclosure documents) to you in a more understandable way. A franchise consultant could also potentially keep you from experiencing pitfalls that may happen without their expertise.

3. Research: what kind of businesses can your area sustain—and are those the type of businesses you’re interested in opening? Federal and state governments provide free access to statistics and other data. Use the info gathered to match up your personal situation and the business environment of your area with a suitable franchise system. Plus, your common sense and gut feelings are good guides to figuring out what businesses are and could be sustainable in your locale.

Once you’ve narrowed your research down to a few strong contenders, request the franchise application from those companies. After the franchise decides that you could be a good match for their system, they will send you a copy of their franchise disclosure document (FDD). The FDD will give an even deeper look into their business system.

4. Visit a ‘discovery day’: a discovery day is an in-depth meeting between the franchisor and one or more potential franchisees. It can take place at a local outlet, but most likely will happen at the company’s corporate office.

Often, the franchisee or franchisees in attendance will see presentations about what the franchisor can offer in terms of support, and can ask questions. If done at the corporate office, a tour of the different departments and introductions to franchisee training and support personnel are common.

5. Speak to other franchisees: within the FDD provided by the franchisor is a listing of all current franchisees in their system. Find a few that are close to you and pay them a visit. Are they satisfied with the franchisor’s support? Is the reality of the business in line with prior expectations (financially and otherwise)?

6. Find a suitable location: if you’re located in a low traffic area or an area where there are no complementary businesses around, how are you going to get customers? The franchisor will delineate certain parameters for your territory in the FDD and franchise agreement. In addition, most franchisors assist with site selection. If you choose a suitable place for business on your own, the franchisor will have to approve your location before you can move forward.

7. Choose a franchise and secure funding: after you’ve completed your research, it’s time to make the big decision—which franchise system will you invest in?

Once you have decided, you’ll have all of the information necessary to complete a business plan and present it to potential lenders. There are numerous financing options out there for you to consider: bank loans, SBA (Small Business Administration) loans, HELOC (home equity line of credit), etc. Remember, you’ll need enough cash reserves to cover expenses until the business begins to turn a profit, which in some cases can be months after opening.

8. Sign the agreement: while many franchisors have rigid franchise agreements, some franchisors may be more flexible about negotiating terms in the agreement.

If the franchisor is willing to negotiate certain terms (like lease parameters), it’s a good idea to seek counsel from a lawyer with franchise-specific experience to find the best solutions for your particular situation. If the franchisor does have a rigid franchise agreement, that isn’t a cause for concern. Remember, franchises are based upon a proven system and consistency of the brand. If the franchise agreement for the brand you chose is overly negotiable, it could be cause for deeper investigation.

9. Obtain all necessary permits and insurance: each industry has its own requirements for permits and insurance. Regulations by state, city, county, etc. will vary as well. The franchisor will likely have background knowledge of the permits and insurance needed to operate their business system.

However, it’s a good idea to check with local authorities to ensure compliance. Two good websites to use as a reference to what permits and insurance might be necessary for U.S. businesses to obtain are the Small Business Administration and FindLaw.

10. Hire staff and attend the training: the number of staff members needed to run the operation will depend on the type of franchise chosen.

One of the most appealing aspects of franchising to those wanting to open a business is the training component. Franchisors usually provide training, in a combination of classroom and practical experiences, to at least the franchisee and another manager. A copy of the franchise operations manual is also typically presented at this time.

11. Open your franchise business: before opening, you will need to alert potential customers to their new marketplace option. Franchisors will often have defined processes for signage, ads, and other initiatives to be performed. Estimates for these initiatives will usually be a part of the start-up costs quoted in the FDD.

Some franchisors will do a ‘soft opening’ before the ‘grand opening’. A soft opening is designed to smooth out problems with the operation of the business before the big marketing blitz and hopefully larger crowds that will come with the grand opening. Some franchisors also arrange for a corporate trainer to be on hand at the franchise location during the opening days.

3 Smart Ways to Overcome Your Anxieties about Investing

Anxieties about Investing

Most of us have the most basic understanding of finances. We work hard to earn our money. We use that money to pay our bills, buy a house, pay for our kids’ education, and whatever is left over we put in the bank to save for the “future,” whatever that means. But we all know there is another world out there. A world with people in nice suits and fancy cars. People who seem to know how to get their money to work for them. The people of Wall St. We don’t want to be like them. Most of us just want to lead simple lives but, man, wouldn’t it be great to be a little like them? But there’s no way. There’s just too much to learn and it requires skills we just don’t have, right?

No. That kind of “I don’t belong” fear is what prevents most people from investing. Here’s what you can do to get over it.

Start learning
You want to get over your fear of investing? Learn how to invest. It’s not as hard as you think. You don’t need an Ivy League education to become a wise investor. You can teach yourself by buying a few books. Just Google, “top rated investment books for beginners,” and you will see many options to choose from with detailed reviews. There are also websites dedicated to the subject such as The Balance, Bloomberg, and Yahoo Finance. Teaching yourself how to invest is easier than you think.

Realize you are just as wise as everyone else
Remember those Wall St. people with their fancy stuff? A lot of them go on TV to talk about “dividend plays,” and “price to earnings multiples,” and whatever highfalutin terms that don’t make sense to us. They obviously know something we don’t know, right? No. Believe it or not, most investors under-perform the market. That means if all you do is put money in an index fund and do nothing else for the next 20 years you will have outperformed most investors. Seriously. Why? Most investors are really bad at timing. They buy when they should sell and sell when they should buy. Does that mean you should just put your money in an index fund and forget it? No, there are a few really good investors who consistently outperform the market. Learn from them. Buy their books.

Go with what you know
You might not know which pharmaceutical company might be developing the next great cancer drug, but maybe you love watching movies on Netflix, or eating at Chipotle. Behind each great company you love there is a stock that you can invest in. Do some homework on them and invest if their future looks bright. You’ll feel more comfortable investing in companies you understand than ones you don’t. 

Remember, investing isn’t a members-only club. You belong. Go out there and buy wisely.

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing

5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing
5 Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Investing

Every father and mother wants the best for their kids, and this often includes financial security. Financially savvy parents often provide sufficient financial education for their kids throughout their time in the house. This may begin with a basic savings account and learning about the benefits of saving regularly, and it can grow into stock investing. Financial planning and personal finance are topics that many adults prefer to avoid altogether, and this can be a source of stress. However, when you talk to your kids about long term investments and financial security earlier in life, they can actually get excited about the money. By understanding these steps, you may be able to get your kids excited about their economic investments.

Encourage Them to Save Money For Their Own Investments


Saving money can generally be rather boring for kids, and it may even seem like a punishment to some. For example, if a child received money for allowance or as a birthday gift and you require the child to put half of that money into a savings account, he or she may feel punished because the money cannot be spent on their terms. However, when kids are permitted to save money for their own investment purchases, they may see a reason for their savings. 

Let Them Research and Pick Their Own Stocks


Everyone likes to be in control of their money, and this includes kids. There are many ways to pick stocks, and you may want to save an earnings per share analysis or another similar form of analysis until kids are well into their teen years. Younger kids may be able to pick their stocks by choosing brands they are familiar with, reviewing stock charts on a basic level and looking at buy, sell or hold recommendations from experts. Of course, you should have the final say in their stock picks. You also should show them how dividends work and the benefits of choosing dividend stocks.

Make Investing a Regular Activity They Can Look Forward To


The best way to watch your child’s account grow is to make regular contributions. Consider setting up a regular time when you and your child sit down to make stock picks and to review account growth. By making investing a regular activity that you do together, you may find that he or she begins to enjoy this quality time with you.

Show Them How to Monitor Account Growth


Everyone loves to see their money grow, and this holds true for kids as well. Show your kids how to read their account information online. Clearly, show them the number of donations they have made, their total balance and the current growth. Monitoring account growth is an excellent way to encourage kids to take a greater interest in their finances.

Use an Online Investment Growth Calculator to Project Their Future Wealth


Even children understand the importance and value of money on some level, and this knowledge expands as they get older. When you think your child has a solid grasp on how much things cost and how much money they may need when they get older, show them investment growth calculators online. These are excellent tools that can be used to determine your future account value if you continue to enjoy the same rate of growth and make the same regular contributions to your account. Many kids who start investing at an early age and who continue the activity into their young adult years can retire with financial security at a very young age. 

Finances and investments are common challenges for adults, and the unfortunate reality is that many adults were never formally educated by their parents about these matters. By teaching your child about finances and by getting him or her excited about money, you are taking great strides to promote your child’s financial security.