Monday morning headlines

Stocks seek direction: Slow start to the week as investors still struggle to assess the market. Dow is up 20 points.

Gas and oil update: Prices keep inching higher - an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.394, up a penny or so from late last week, according to the Auto Club. Oil is trading a little under $107 a barrel, which is roughly where it's been for the last few days.

More details on the mortgage settlement: The major banks will be receiving assorted credits as part of their $25 billion deal with federal and state officials. From the WSJ:

Of the total $25 billion settlement, around $5 billion will be paid as fines. An added $3 billion will be used to help homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth refinance. To pay the remaining $17 billion, banks will receive credits for helping troubled borrowers, of which $10 billion goes toward cutting loan balances for borrowers who are underwater, owing more than their homes are worth.

Lukewarm opening for "John Carter": Disney's sci-fi epic was beaten by Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax," which picked up $39.1 million in its second weekend. From THR:

Disney is under no illusions that it's out of the woods financially despite a slightly bettter-than-hoped for global performance. John Carter cost $250 million to produce plus a marketing spend that puts the total pricetag well north of $300 million and probably closer to $350 million. At those levels, John Carter needs to earn as much as $600 million worldwide, an impossible benchmark to reach based on opening numbers.

Hollywood in a funk?: That's the conclusion of Deadline's Mike Fleming, who says that the formula for successful films seems to have been upended.

The other prevailing gripe among film executives and agents: the need for studios and exhibitors to wake up to the fact that audiences want what they want when they want it, on the delivery system they want it on. The snail's pace revenue run of a movie from opening weekend to DVD and VOD takes too long and is too expensive to support, particularly when most movies do the bulk of their box office the first three weekends.

Marijuana legalizations in disarray: Five different groups have filed paperwork for five separate measures - not the best way of getting something passed. From the LAT:

Proponents of all the initiatives have lamented that they had to compete with one another. "We're all chasing the same dollars," said Steve Collett, a Libertarian activist and Venice CPA who's behind the marijuana-like-wine measure. Collett said that given the federal crackdown on dispensaries that began five months ago, he hoped the marijuana industry would pour money into the ballot initiatives, particularly his, which includes a provision to prohibit local and state authorities from aiding the Drug Enforcement Administration on pot cases. But the industry hasn't come through in any notable way.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent California stories:
Volcanic cinder in Owens Valley
Holiday shopping: On your marks, get set... spend!
14 California bookstores in nine days
Uproar over health care sites could be settling down
BART strike to end Tuesday in the Bay Area

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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