“Directed by Domee Shi, ‘Bao’ centers on a Chinese mother with a case of empty nest syndrome. She gets a second chance at motherhood when one of the dumplings she made comes to life as a tiny, giggly baby.”
Apple, Netflix, and Amazon are in a “talent arms race,” with Netflix signing deals with the likes of Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy (er, and the Obamas), and Amazon locking down Jordan Peele and Nicole Kidman – and Apple snagging everyone from Kristen Wiig to M. Night Shyamalan to, well, Oprah.
But. Those in distribution and exhibition continue to bet against MoviePass’ survival; since CinemaCon they’ve whispered whether the monthly ticket service would make it to the end of summer. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (HMNY) stock has been in free fall, plunging from a high this year of $9.77 on Jan. 23 to a current $0.38.
We both worked together on buying DVDs from the studios, negotiating revenue share and deals. On the side, we were always finding cool projects, documentaries, foreign films, little indie films that we would then put on DVD. That was one of the things we really appreciated about each other when we first met — that love of independent films and documentaries and foreign films. “Hey, did you ever see this one or that one?”
The hit seven-episode audio documentary by the producers of Serial and This American Life will be adapted for the screen and directed by Tom McCarthy, who won two Oscars in 2015 for Spotlight, about the Boston Globe investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests. But will S-Town translate? Hannah Verdier considers the potential pitfalls and pluses.
“Versions of the TV news ticker date all the way back to the 1950s, but they didn’t become truly ubiquitous until September 11, 2001. … The same way a Twitter feed today can transfix people during a crisis, the nation had its eyes glued to the scroll, waiting for the next update. The TV news ticker is a descendent of the stock ticker and grandchild of the ‘zipper’ news on buildings in Times Square. At the very least, it’s also Twitter’s neurotic uncle.”
“In the fourth season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we learn that Kimmy had a secret friend in the bunker [where she was held captive]: the purple Jansport backpack that she lost at a dance club way back in the very first episode.” Kimmy named the pack Jan S. Port, which is played puppeteer by Stephanie D’Abruzzo (of Sesame Street and Avenue Q. “D’Abruzzo spoke to Vulture about auditioning to play an inanimate object, why Jan is like ‘a canned ham,’ and her character’s near-death experience under the dragon cloud.”
The U.S. cable giant made an all-cash offer of $65 billion to acquire much of Fox’s film and television assets, its international holdings and its stake in the streaming service, Hulu. The $35 per share offer represents a 19% premium on Disney’s $52.4 billion all-stock offer for the same assets.
“Consumers are now, often unconsciously, sorting every media product — from podcasts to magazine stories to video — into three categories: intentional, interstitial, and invisible. The implications of these changes are huge, especially for the people who create what we watch.” Daniel H. Pink makes the case for intentional content (“couch shows” that you make a point to sit and watch) and interstitial content: “programming we use to fill the spaces in our lives — 10 minutes in a grocery store line, 5 minutes waiting to pick up a kid at practice, 35 minutes on a train or bus.”
AT&T argued that acquiring Time Warner will help it compete with streaming video companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, all of which have invested in original programming that they don’t have to license to competitors. The decision will likely be seen as good news for other pending and potential mergers
“Residents and businesses began fleeing for more popular social networks long ago. Vast acres of land are abandoned or sparsely populated by the few remaining diehard users. … Digital worlds don’t typically rot or become overgrown with foliage, after all. They exist for a time, and then someone shuts them down. Right now, Second Life resembles a city swiftly evacuated following a radioactive threat.” Just seven months after The Atlantic ran a feature on the communities (notably the disabled) who are still thriving on the 15-year-old virtual-world platform, Joe Veix writes about how empty Second Life now appears compared to the days (a decade ago) when it had millions of users.
The director of the film, who goes by “Benjamin,” was not available for comment. Benjamin is an AI—one that created Zone Out in a matter of 48 hours, piecing it together out of thousands of hours of old films and green-screen footage of professional actors. The resulting movie, created for a two-day AI filmmaking challenge, is not going to win awards. But it’s still impressive.
A smattering of the games at E3, whether intentional or not, increasingly reflect our often divisive, confusing and stressful political and social climate. Large publishers have long emphasized that their games were solely about play — not politics — and no doubt throughout the course of E3 many developers will shy away from questions about real-life concerns. But the answers are in the games themselves as the line between fact and pixel-based fiction is more blurred than ever.
Netflix now makes more television than any network in history. It plans to spend $8 billion on content this year. TV has gone through major transformations in the past — cable and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox toppled the hegemony of the Big Three broadcast networks in the 1980s, for instance — but this leap dwarfs all others. Netflix doesn’t want to be a streaming, supersized clone of HBO or FX or NBC. It’s trying to change the way we watch television.
Even Hollywood agents whose clients desperately want to do deals with the streamer concede overload can be an issue. “The Achilles’ heel of Netflix is that a lot of the content feels very disposable,” one veteran talent rep tells me. “Creators and stars want to feel special, and they want to know the audience is responding to their work.” Netflix content, the agent argues, too often “doesn’t feel as special as it needs to feel.”
Over 25 years, “Vice had grown from a free magazine to a company with 3,000 employees spread across a cable network, more than a dozen websites, two shows on HBO, an ad agency, a film studio, a record label, and a bar in London. Vice had become the tenth-highest-valued private company in America” – largely thanks to co-founder Shane Smith’s gift – using persuasion, exaggeration, and sometimes outright deception – for convincing investors to hand over millions of dollars. Turns out, though, that Smith had expected to cash out well before now. Reeves Wiedeman reports how it went down.
The research was conducted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which released its findings Monday. Researchers studied the reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 that were posted on the aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Of the 19,559 reviews studied, 77.8 were by male critics and 22.2 were by female critics. Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Inclusion Initiative, said film critics are “overwhelmingly white and male.”
Well, not all of them – East Los High, on Hulu, has had several discussions and storylines on the show, and then there’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and a few others. Perhaps things are changing though: “I’m not sad that Time’s Up is happening and that Me Too is happening, that we’re talking about consent. … It certainly was great in that it started a conversation about female sex and pleasure.”
Whew. This in-depth piece definitely calls the future of storytelling in favor of Netflix: “TV has gone through major transformations in the past — cable and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox toppled the hegemony of the Big Three broadcast networks in the 1980s, for instance — but this leap dwarfs all others. Netflix doesn’t want to be a streaming, supersized clone of HBO or FX or NBC. It’s trying to change the way we watch television.”
“Mr. Lasseter said in November that he would take a ‘six-month sabbatical’ after unspecified ‘missteps’ that made some staff members feel ‘disrespected or uncomfortable.’ He made the announcement in a lengthy email to employees apologizing ‘to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form.'”
Production resources abound on the small island, which is connected by air to many major European cities. Malta is particularly known for its production water tank – one of the world’s largest – which many films use for shooting water and underwater scenes. Plus, a long history of filmmaking has endowed Malta with a deep and experienced crew base.
“Carne y Arena belongs to the same category of gallery-quality, conceptual installations as the Rain Room or the Museum of Ice Cream — but it’s a world apart from either. It’s an anti-spectacle: The piece can’t be shared on Instagram, even though it is more immersive, and more substantive, than anything else in its class.” Kriston Capps reports.
Zoé Samudzi: “In general, though, these films about white female adolescence and teenhood revolve around particular experiences of and meditations on dissatisfaction and boredom, using nostalgia as their primary pull. And yet for me, their projections of high school misery and endless summers only served as a reminder that Black girls are never afforded the kind of ordinariness that would make them relatable to white audiences.”
“On the positive side, the overall trend is growth. Radio revenues are up 18 percent to $1.03 billion, according to Moustapha Abdul, CPB’s director of station analysis. TV revenues grew 10 percent to $1.27 billion. But a closer look reveals that revenues actually dipped 4 percent among 194 radio grantees with annual budgets of less than $1 million and 5 percent among 75 TV grantees with budgets under $5 million.”
It would seem odd enough that the photographer was on Stanley Kubrick’s set at that point in his career. (Weegee had been working on three “Z-grade” movies just before.) But it turns out the two camera wizards knew each other from the beginning of Kubrick’s career. Not only did Weegee take still photos of the ‘Strangelove’ film shoot, he had a huge effect on Peter Sellers’s portrayal of the title character. (He also shot images of Kubrick’s absolutely ridiculous original ending of the movie.)
“In 2016, 736 films were released in US cinemas – more than double the number in 2000,” PwC notes. PwC predicts that box office revenue will continue to rely on a small number of big-budget studio “tentpole” and franchise movies, with the most successful accounting for a huge portion of overall receipts. It only takes one or two of these blockbusters to (say, Star Wars: The Last Jedi or, more recently, Black Panther) to keep revenue stable.
In less than a decade, the realm of professional sport has been taken by storm by the rise of eSports (short for electronic sports). These video game events now compete with — and in some cases outperform — traditional sports leagues for live viewership and advertising dollars. For the top eSports players, this means sponsorship contracts, endorsements, prize money and yes, global stardom.
“If the always-streaming, everything-on-demand state of TV right now has taught viewers anything, it’s that very little about television is urgent. Sure, there are still a few watercooler shows, and events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl require real-time viewing, but everything else can be watched on an I’ll Get to It When I Get to It basis. Short of one’s peer group pressuring them into watching something right now no one feels they have to be caught up on everything. Killing Eve, however, was different.”