“If you want to see a community turn against an artwork that depicts them, make it the only one. If that artwork is by a woman, about women, and openly feminist, half the job’s already done. … [The Joy Luck Club‘s] greatest achievement — becoming the most prominent example of Asian-American representation on screen for a quarter century — is also what has relegated it to being a relic and, for many Asians, an embarrassment.” Well, argues Inkoo Kang, it’s time to get over all that.
In the upcoming adaptation by Armando Ianucci (Veep, The Death of Stalin), Dev Patel takes the title role, with black, Asian, and white actors spread throughout. Says producer Kevin Loader, “I think we felt this was how you’d get the best cast more than anything else. And suddenly you can have Benedict Wong coming in to play Mr. Wickfield, and he’s hilarious. He wouldn’t have been cast in the BBC version of David Copperfield.”
AMC said the service, an extension of the company’s loyalty program, has accounted for about 1 million admissions, or roughly 4% of attendance at the company’s U.S. theaters. The company announced the new offering in June to fend off New York-based MoviePass, which shook up the industry by offering a movie a day for less than $10 a month.
An analysis of 50 of the top-grossing films of 2016 finds females make up only one-third of all characters. But that’s a significant improvement over the last such survey, which looked at films released in 2002. And, perhaps more importantly, it reports females are now far more likely to be depicted in positions of power.
“Older games feature pixel-based graphics that can look fuzzy on modern televisions and can be frustrating to play for even experienced gamers. Yet in 2016, Nintendo released a NES Classic Edition console and sold out all 2.3 million of them in just three months. The company made more and began selling them in June 2018.” A pair of media psychologists explain why Gen-Xers in particular remain so fond of dear old Mario and Sonic.
Financial firm GCA Advisors claims that The Onion had engaged it, for a $2 million base fee, to assist in a potential “transaction,” and then didn’t pay up when Univision later acquired a 40.5% stake. Now that Univision is selling The Onion, GCA wants its fee.
The digital landscape is already fragmented, and it’s continually fragmenting further, as content creators choose to become content providers. In the process, it’s beginning to resemble cable television. Each new app or content library looks like a different channel to consider, and each one is essentially a premium cable offering that requires a separate subscription to view. Services that previously acted as content aggregators are losing outside content with the launch of each new service. Instead, they are creating their own content to maintain value in a crowded marketplace.
It’s a serious mistake to frame the debate about content moderation around right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Infowars and not around the thousands of other moderation decisions that have been made by such online giants as Apple, Facebook, Google-owned YouTube and Spotify.
Minneapolis-based Public Radio International will merge with PRX, a Boston audio technology company, the firms said Wednesday. The combined organization will reach an audience of 28.5 million people each month in broadcast and online, and have 56 million monthly podcast downloads.
August 15 is the effective date for the troubled company’s revised subscription plan, which limits customers to seeing three movies per month and excludes certain hit films. “Some fed-up users who decided to cancel their MoviePass subscriptions are receiving confusing emails that suggest the company has enrolled them in its new, modified plan without their consent.”
It’s here: The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Stuart Heritage offers a valedictory, if that’s the word: “[The first Sharknado] had an irresistibly silly premise (a tornado made of sharks threatens America), a knowing line of stunt-casting (Ian Ziering and Tara Reid) and a big fat wink instead of any emotional stakes … As tends to be the case with successes like these, sequels were greenlit that only helped to diminish the punchdrunk silliness of the first film. Slowly, the films began to eat themselves.”
“While the majority of Bergman’s movies are available for streaming (largely thanks to Criterion) and cinephiles will always be viewing and discussing them, most audiences today know about his work only through parodies of The Seventh Seal” — the one about the medieval knight who plays chess with Death.
The cartoon character, aimed squarely at young children in Britain, somehow got a “gangsta” vibe in China, thanks to meme-minded internet users with Photoshop. The Chinese Communist Party, disapproving of gangstas, blocked the unfortunate ungulate on several large websites this year. Now the film unit of Alibaba (China’s Amazon) is reclaiming Peppa Pig for wholesomeness with a New Year-themed movie for kids.
The aggressive move toward original programming is having a palpable effect on content available to subscribers and reflects Netflix’s ambition to dominate Hollywood. The Los Gatos, Calif., company has already upended traditional distribution models and is now lessening its reliance on content from competing studios to fill its direct-to-consumer pipeline. But this change could also pose challenges for Netflix as it licenses fewer of the popular titles that have played a crucial role in retaining subscribers.
Jeff Jarvis: The banning of Infowars from most major platforms is a sign of that process beginning to work. Civilization is winning, at last. Alex Jones went too far and the public, empowered by the same tools of social media he exploited, told the platforms that his behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society. The platforms—like media and like regulators—might prefer to start with a set of rules that can be enforced by government, by social-media managers, or by algorithms. But that’s not how we negotiate our standards.
Yes, it seems cute and sweet – but don’t let that fool you. “Wrapping it in this cute little bubble allows you to be a bit darker with your stories. … It’s already in this blanket, so you can dive in a little bit more.”
And then there’s the experience of being nominated for an Emmy for that role, on Killing Eve, as well: “It felt like this place where my community is really waiting to see themselves. And I can just see that in people’s faces. There’s joy and grief in there.”
And the changes in ‘streamlining’ the awards ceremony by cutting the designers out of the telecast? Whew. “The folks below-the-line are the artisans and craftspeople that make a movie speak and sparkle. … You’d think one night a year, Hollywood could find the time to acclaim them for the magic that would be impossible without them.”
The Australian director Matthew Newton, who has convictions for domestic abuse and who also has a history of punching men (a taxi driver and a hotel clerk), wrote the action movie Eve. Chastain’s production company is one of the producers of the movie, and she was set to star in it. “Ms. Chastain’s involvement with Mr. Newton’s movie was particularly jarring to many of the critics. The actress has spoken out in the past about increasing gender diversity in Hollywood, and has said she refused to work with Harvey Weinstein because of his reputation.”
“The aggressive move toward original programming is having a palpable effect on content available to subscribers and reflects Netflix’s ambition to dominate Hollywood. The Los Gatos, Calif., company has already upended traditional distribution models and is now lessening its reliance on content from competing studios to fill its direct-to-consumer pipeline.” But without Disney and other licensed content, can Netflix compete in the streaming market for long?
It’s a movie about eighth grade (roughly, being 13 or 14 years old, for non-American audiences) that eighth graders can’t see on their own because it’s rated R “because of a few choice four-letter words and some squirm-inducing sex talk. On Wednesday, A24, the company behind the film, rebelled against the rating for one night, holding free all-ages screenings in every state. And teenagers came out in droves.”
Some new movies really get it, at last: “Eighth Grade acknowledges the extent to which our emotions and relationships are now mediated through digital channels without coming across as alarmist. That doesn’t seem like it should be rare, but it is. It’s not that we don’t see people use computers and phones on film and TV. But characters don’t spend nearly as much time on them as we do in real life — unless they’re part of a cautionary tale.”
“Pandora’s box is now open — and what’s inside is a lot more than fake sex tapes. New technology is often adopted for prurient purposes, but the prospect of fake war crimes, fake political scandals, and maybe even a fake apocalypse now feels like an inevitability. Let’s take a deep, terrifying dive.”
The decision to announce the new category without a name or a list of qualifying characteristics made a bad decision seem even worse, almost to the point of deliberate self-sabotage. Will candidates for Best Popular Picture be determined by budget? By box-office returns? If the latter, is it possible for a movie like Get Out or A Quiet Place to cross over from one to the other? And if not, will it be analogous to the split between lead and supporting performances, where the line is subject to campaigning and manipulation that sometimes verges on outright fraud?
“As it happens, before the Oscars were even the Oscars (the name was officially Academy-approved in 1939), the awards show actually played this card in its [very] first iteration, but arguably with very different motives in mind.”
It’s estimated that all copies of about 75 percent of silent films have perished, taking with them heaven knows how much memory of an era. In 1978 a significant portion of that memory was recovered by chance when a Pentecostal minister with a backhoe unearthed the last known remnants of 372 silent films from the 1910s and 1920s, as he was excavating a lot behind Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, a gambling hall in the Yukon’s Dawson City.
“But while it takes place in a medieval realm of wizards and dragons, [the new series] is not exactly Mr. Groening’s answer to Game of Thrones. Disenchantment is more like [his] comic amalgam of fantasy franchises like Lord of the Rings and the animated epics of Hayao Miyazaki, to name just two of its dozens of influences. It is also Mr. Groening’s first show created for a streaming service … as well as, consequently, his first to have a serialized narrative.”
NewTV, founded and led by former Disney exec Jeffrey Katzenberg and with former eBay and HP chief Meg Whitman as CEO, “is aiming to launch by the end of 2019, with a premium lineup of original, short-form series comprising episodes of 10 minutes each. The service will have two subscription tiers,” with and without advertising. Just about every major Hollywood studio has bought in.
At one point in its history, Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as “Titanic” or “Gladiator” as the year’s best. That’s changed. Recent best picture victors such as “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and the 2018 winner “The Shape of Water” have been firmly ensconced in the arthouse world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have only been recognized for their technical achievements.
Creating a category that segregates popular films from more elevated fare hardly seems like an improvement or likely to keep the academy relevant, since it calls attention to the awards’ elitism rather than actually broadening their appeal. If the academy really wants to make the Oscars more appealing to a wider audience, it should consider just recognizing the artistic merit of deserving popular films instead of cordoning them off in their own category. After all, wasn’t that part of the justification for expanding the Best Picture category in 2009, that having more than five nominees would allow room for both obscure indies and more popular fare that might otherwise be squeezed out of the race?