“For American producers, Christmas came early,” says Adrian Wootton, head of the British Film Commission and Film London, who says he has seen a “record number” of inquiries from the U.S. “Suddenly [shooting in the U.K.] became about 20 percent cheaper.”
“Binge TV is entering a new phase in which the makers of your shows, in particular at places like Netflix and Amazon, are betting that the satisfaction of gorging on eight to 10 episodes, batch-released, will be enough to glue you to your phone, laptop or, if you’re feeling fancy, your actual television. The joy is in the completion. Neither attention to quality nor narrative structure matter, necessarily. They drop it. You stream it.”
It’s not only the Netflix reboots of One Day at a Time* and Full(er) House: after years of single-camera mockumentaries like The Office and Parks and Recreation, networks are turning back to multi-camera sitcoms – often driven by contemporary issues, Norman Lear-style. Elise Czajkowski looks at how the change is happening.
*Any excuse to watch Rita Moreno is a good one.
“There were things South Park had always had trouble imagining: it was complex and dialectical on male anger and sadness, and able to gaze with empathy into the soul of a troll, but it couldn’t create a funny girl or a mother who wasn’t a nag. What it did get, however, was how dangerous it could be for voters to feel shamed and censored – and how quickly a liberating joke could corkscrew into a weapon.” A longread by Emily Nussbaum.
“Public cinemas in the country have been illegal since the 1980s, but a plan to reintroduce them has been mooted by the head of the General Authority for Entertainment.” Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah al-Sheikh, head of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas and the Kingdom’s top religious authority, loudly begs to differ.
“Since speculation emerged last fall that Disney might be interested in getting its paws on Netflix, Wall Street has been split on whether such a tie-up would be a bold, smart move or an unnecessarily risky gambit.”
“‘Watch Now’ started out small with around 1,000 titles – about 1% of Netflix’s 70,000-video physical library – when it began rolling out on Jan. 16, 2007. Videos ranged from Hollywood classics like Casablanca, to cult movies, to foreign films, to mini-series – including the original 1990 BBC series of House of Cards.
As broadcasters the world over are gradually dropping traditional FM signals for digital audio, Ernie Smith tells the story of FMX, a 1980s technology that researchers and engineers were convinced would give a huge improvement in sound quality and be relatively smooth to adopt. Radio stations were gradually getting interested, until …
Movies that show struggles against prejudice, poverty, ignorance, oppression and fear reflect liberal values only in the sense that “reality has a well-known liberal bias”, said Marty Kaplan, quoting Stephen Colbert. “If there were big money to be made telling stories celebrating home schooling, semi-automatic rifle ownership, the bullying of gays, white supremacism, misogyny or xenophobia, Hollywood would be racing to make them.”
Blame “Glee” – and probably “Hamilton,” too.
TV makers have choices. Should they “continue to create content that might arouse the anger and derision of Trump supporters and the right-wing media that helped get Trump elected? Or do they somehow seem to support Trump by celebrating figures like him and reflecting the views of pro-Trump viewers? Or does [TV] veer toward escapism that cannot be interpreted as having any political context or meaning?”
One of Fences’ powerhouse stars says, “They’re opening up because, I think, they’re being forced to open up.”
Chinese regulators are starting to investigate big investments into Hollywood firms and people – and then there’s this: “Donald Trump’s appointment of hawkish economist Peter Navarro — author of such books as Death by China — to head a new White House National Trade Council inspired Chinese state media to warn of a potential ‘showdown with the U.S.'”
Wallis Simpson and David Windsor went on a “goodwill tour” of Nazi Germany right after he abdicated the British throne – but you won’t find out any of that from the highly popular Netflix series. Why?
No. And also, they feel and look much crisper and cleaner than they do on other, larger devices. The problem, though: “Obviously the audio quality isn’t even worth discussing: Through the device’s small speakers and the provided earbuds, you can hear the dialogue and music, and that’s it.”
“There were so many instances, in the five or six years since I wrote it, where it seemed so close to being made. It’s the typical Hollywood story — everything falls apart. Every time, I would curse myself and go, ‘Goddamn it.'”
“What’s less discussed is the polarization of culture, and the new echo chambers within which we hear about and experience today’s cultural hits. There will never again be a show like “One Day at a Time” or “All in the Family” — shows that derived their power not solely from their content, which might not hold up to today’s more high-minded affairs, but also from their ubiquity. There’s just about nothing as popular today as old sitcoms were; the only bits of shared culture that come close are periodic sporting events, viral videos, memes and occasional paroxysms of political outrage.”
Apple Inc. is planning to build a significant new business in original television shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could make it a bigger player in Hollywood and offset slowing sales of iPhones and iPads.
“Self-actualization is there at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and it’s what many games deliver. That’s all people ever truly want: to be.” And they can do it with minimal consequences IRL.
“[An Inuit tribe in Barrow] worked with a New York-based company called E-Line to create a game based on an old Iñupiat tale called ‘Kunuuksaayuka,’ in which an Iñupiat child travels across the wilderness to find the source of the bitter blizzards that have been hitting his village. … The resulting game is called Never Alone,” and its protagonist is now a girl. (video)
Sundance finds itself navigating some unusually slippery terrain this year. Mr. Redford, who recuses himself from programming decisions, bristles when his festival is seen as having an agenda. “We don’t take a position,” he insisted. At the same time, his top programmers, John Cooper and Trevor Groth, say they are taking a specific stance, one that is political by nature: For the first time in the festival’s history, there will be a spotlight on one theme — global warming and the environment. Their goal?
“In its first major studio pact after getting investment from Univision last January, the satirical media brand has partnered with Lionsgate for a three-film development deal that runs through 2018.” (Don’t miss the quote from the Onion Studios VP.)
“The filmmaking brothers are partnering with Annapurna Television on Western anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The duo, who wrote the script based on an original idea, will direct the project.”
Many countries have toyed with the idea of parting company with FM, but a combination of ageing equipment and geography mean Norway is particularly keen to replace its analogue FM system with digital audio broadcasting (DAB).
“It pays to remember that moviegoing is a social activity for vastly more people than it is a kind of religious experience, and that the respect you and I may feel ought to be accorded to the art on screen is by no means the same for most. If you think of a movie as nothing more than a diversion, why should you mind if your attention is diverted for a moment somewhere else?”
Importantly, “the more participants identified with the characters from the target out-group, the less prejudice they showed toward that group,” the researchers add. This points to the power of TV comedy to help viewers “understand, to feel similar to, and to feel more connected to” people they don’t necessarily come into contact with in their day-to-day lives.
Moonlight is the first gay-themed film since Brokeback Mountain to have a real shot at a Best Picture Oscar – even Carol, with Todd Haynes behind the camera and Cate Blanchett in front of it, didn’t get a Best Picture nomination. And those films are all notably reticent about sex. Yet there are other places – other film industries – that aren’t so reticent.
Raúl Ruiz “is the exile director: a Latin American who made most of his movies in English, French, or Portuguese – and whose aesthetic inhabits an absolute alien territory. His films are drifting, fantastical, introspective, melancholy, erudite, raucous – sometimes telling no story at all, sometimes telling too many. He made so many films, and they so consistently refuse to obey whatever formal rules we’ve come to expect from cinema, that they tend to develop into a blurry whole in your mind.”
“Revenue from sales and rentals of movies and TV shows totaled $12 billion in 2016, down 7% from the previous year, according to data released Friday by trade organization Digital Entertainment Group. Meanwhile, subscription streaming continued its torrid growth last year, surging nearly 23% to $6.23 billion in consumer spending, the group said.”
Maureen Ryan, chief TV critic for Variety: “I really take my hat off to men and women of color and women who actually fight these tropes in the room because every time you open your mouth for whatever reason to contradict the showrunner, you’re taking your career in your hands.”