“This was a story that didn’t need to be told entirely through a male gaze. I’ve been accused of telling things through a male gaze, and I didn’t want to give people any more ammunition. Plus, why wouldn’t I want Lynn Nottage to write scripts? She’s won two Pulitzer Prizes, for Ruined and Sweat. Why wouldn’t I want Eisa Davis, Radha Blank, even my sister Joie wrote a script?”
Not only are these prizes for indie movies with budgets under $20 million honors in their own right, but for the last four years, the winner of the Best Feature prize went on to win the Best Picture Oscar the following night.
“Throwing a lifeline to an entertainment company that has become a symbol of the systemic mistreatment of women in Hollywood would seem like the last thing that feminists like Gloria Allred and Ana Oliveira, chief executive of the New York Women’s Foundation, would be interested in doing. But each is involved with a group holding separate acquisition talks with the embattled Weinstein Company – with the aim of benefiting sexual misconduct victims.”
“Online advertising is looking more and more like a contest that publishers can’t win—not on a large scale, at least. Advertising can help to cover some of their costs, but online ads alone won’t pay for big, serious, high-quality journalistic enterprises the way that print ads once did. The idea that the news business needs to find different revenue models—subscriptions, memberships, events, nonprofit status—is hardly new. But it’s time for online media companies to take a harder look at it than they have before.”
Local reports say that as of 6:57PM on Monday night local time, a total of 1.45B moviegoers had attended cinemas in 2017 so far, a 15% increase on 2016. Last year’s box office saw a severe deceleration in growth, to just 3.7% (RMB 45.7B/$6.58B) after a record 2015 had surged 48.7%.
Was Rotten Tomatoes, which is owned in part by Warner Bros., actually trying to shield the studio from an inevitably bad grade that could help kill its opening weekend?
A state-level boss of India’s ruling party, the Hindu nationalist BJP, is offering 10 million rupees each for the heads of the lead actress and director of Padmavati, a new movie about a legendary 14th-century Rajput queen. A leader of the present-day Rajput clans has threatened to cut off the star’s nose, and violent demonstrations have led to the delay of the film’s release. All this over rumors of a scene the director says isn’t even in the movie.
“Verna, which stars popular actor Mahira Khan, was originally denied a certificate by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) because of its ‘mature themes’ and ‘edgy content’. This caused an outcry among women’s rights campaigners, who accused board members of censoring women’s voices and putting their heads in the sand at a time when … ‘rape is a rampant issue in Pakistan’ … Soon the ban had inspired a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #UnbanVerna, which emerged as Pakistan’s own #MeToo movement.”
According to new data from the video giant Netflix, about 12 per cent of Americans who watch television shows or movies outside of the home admit to having done so in a public restroom. And 37 per cent say they’ve watched at work.
Justice League’s underperformance was startling. Studio estimates pegged it earning about $115 million, around what the Superman film Man of Steel opened to in 2013; it came in well below that. Whatever appeal Warner Bros. had hoped would be generated by the union of Ben Affleck’s Batman, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and Henry Cavill’s Superman was nonexistent.
They already are – millions of people tune in to watch e-sport championships online, and the players train every day for the chance to become famous (and rich).
OK, let’s do the math. If Apple adds however many series it wants, with its nearly unlimited resources, will our heads explode? “At the time of this year’s Emmy Awards in early September, 342 scripted series had aired or screened on network, cable and streaming services in the United States (not counting PBS, which is not a commercial operation) in 2017. The previous year, at the start of the fall season, 325 series had been offered. Between the Emmys and the last day of 2017, another 80 series are expected to appear.”
On Body and Soul, a movie about strangers sharing dreams, won the Golden Frog (yes, frog) at the Camerimage Fest. But “before announcing the top prize winners, juror Stephen Goldblatt said the body felt they had to make a statement decrying what he called the ‘high degree of gratuitous, misogynistic and voyeuristic’ violence seen in many of this year’s Camerimage films.”
Lee’s movie She’s Gotta Have It is now a Netflix series, which, in 30-minute episodes, has changed the main character and given her many more facets. Also … “with television came a writer’s room, one that Mr. Lee filled with African-American female artists and writers.” That didn’t hurt.
The director of Blanchett’s Manifesto (an art installation … or a movie?): “The political landscape has shifted towards populism and against ‘elitism.’ … ‘Every populist wants to cut down cultural budgets and educational budgets for a good reason: because they need stupid minds to be manipulated and to become sheep of consumerism.'”
A religious power couple in Atlanta run TickBox TV, and they’re being sued for that because TickBox is a device that allows people to obtain unlicensed (aka stolen) content via technology that scrapes other streaming devices. “Set-top box piracy also tends to attract older users and families, intellectual property experts said. It even looks more legitimate than typical infringing sites, with a user interface that resembles Netflix or Hulu.”
“All the old habitats, including Mr. Carson’s pantry, the servants’ dining room and Lady Mary’s bedroom (faintly scandalous with its memory of Kemal Pamuk’s coital demise) are painstakingly recreated, right down to the forks and spoons arranged just so on the Crawley dinner table. Behind the green baize door lies the servants’ quarters just as you left them, along with Mr. Carson’s old desk, complete with period-era bills and correspondence.”
“Comcast is interested in the same set of assets that Disney approached Fox about earlier this year, sources said. Also of interest to Comcast is acquiring the international assets of Fox, given that the Philadelphia-based company is heavily concentrated in the U.S.” (includes video)
Russian Orthodox extremists have demonstrated, made death threats, and even committed arson to protest Matilda, a romantic period film about a ballerina with whom the young Nicholas II had an affair before he married. (The last tsar, now considered a saint and martyr, would of course never have done such a thing.) So director Alexei Uchitel announced that he’s expanding it into a four-part miniseries.
“Under pressure from advertising holding companies who have come to see it as too expensive, Cannes Lions owner Ascential unveiled a sweeping revamp of its flagship festival today, introducing dozens of changes aimed at simplifying and modernizing the event as well as, critically, keeping costs down for attendees.”
“During a daily meeting attended by roughly a dozen editors, a staff member proposed publicizing the two-part investigative series that had precipitated the ban. But Lewis D’Vorkin, the recently installed editor in chief of The Times, flatly rejected the idea, according to several employees with knowledge of the discussion. Later, some journalists received messages by email and Slack warning them against retweeting any praise of Times stories.”
Leslie Jamison: “In the years since [the user-generated virtual world’s] peak in the mid 2000s, Second Life has become something more like a magnet for mockery. When I told friends that I was working on a story about it, their faces almost always followed the same trajectory of reactions: a blank expression, a brief flash of recognition, and then a mildly bemused look. Is that still around?” Yet in these crazy days, writes Leslie Jamison, who talks to the platform’s creator and some still-devoted users, “the appeal of that alternate world keeps deepening, along with our doubts about what it means to find ourselves drawn to it.”
Visiting the biggest film studios outside Hollywood in Chicago last month, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said the money had been set aside to provide 25% in cash rebates for expenditure by foreign producers in Greece. With the largest unemployment rate in Europe, officials now see the ever-expanding entertainment sector as a valuable source of jobs. Under the weight of its economic crisis, the country has suffered an unprecedented brain drain of its brightest and best.
“If the signage in a movie has top billing over Frances McDormand … you can bet a whole lot of thought went into its conception and execution. … And everything about the [eponymous signboards] – from the design and classic construction, to the custom structures that display them – is authentic. For the complete billboard blow-by-blow, we spoke with Three Billboards‘ production designer Inbal Weinberg, the brains behind Mildred’s advertising war.”
The point, for the school for 16-19-year-olds that will teach film production alongside the British national curriculum? Increasing diversity in film. “We want to ensure we get an absolutely diverse set of students from diverse backgrounds into the industry. We don’t have a quick fix, but we want to help them realise the opportunities in the hope their voices will multiply.”
“Beth’s performance at work starts to suffer. She hasn’t been on a date in months. … It’s true that meth and cancer aren’t ‘feel good,’ but maybe all of her problems would change if she’d just watch Breaking Bad. She would like prestige television and hoppy beer and tweet things like ‘Everyone should have health care!’; she’d actually march in a Women’s March instead of just liking people’s photos from it; and at work meetings she’d sit at the head of the table instead of hiding behind the garbage bin. She’d be a real woman!”
Dustin Hoffman, who was accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old production assistant on the TV set of Death of a Salesman, was even a presenter.
The drop-off is dramatic, sudden, and likely soon going to be even steeper: “In 2016, Chinese investment in the U.S. entertainment industry hit $4.78 billion.This year, investments have shrunk to $489 million as of Sept. 30, according to the research firm Rhodium Group. Beijing has tightened control on money leaving the country, fearing that the outflow of capital could weaken its economy.”
Her Wonder Woman was so successful last summer that the studio has changed its entire marketing plan to focus around her character. But: “Following multiple sexual misconduct and harassment allegations against producer Brett Ratner, Gadot has reportedly said that she will not return to the franchise if Ratner will continue to profit off of it. Ratner’s RatPac-Dune Entertainment had a co-financing deal with Warner Bros., one the studio elected not to renew after 2018 in light of the allegations.”
The platform is larger than Twitter and Snapchat combined, and propagandists find the visual appeal of memes wonderfully (and sickeningly) useful. “‘For sowing division and finding wedge issues, Instagram is an ideal visual meme broadcast factory,’ said Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, who examined the data.”