| April 8, 2021
There are only five studios left. Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros.
Paramount is as shaky as Don Knotts. Sony is stable, but lacks a clear vision for the future. And now the tie-breaker between the high (Disney and Universal) and the low, Warner Bros is taking itself out of the movie business.
Netflix has a bigger market cap than AT&T… not WarnerMedia… ALL of AT&T. You see, AT&T generates $160 billion a year in revenue… Netflix generates $24 billion. But Netflix is worth more than AT&T…. according to Wall Street.
In 2013, Ted Sarandos said, “”The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” Now, the TV-born leaders of Warner Media want to be Netflix.
Never mind than HBO alone has been more profitable than Netflix historically. Never mind that Netflix has been valued as a tech stock from the start and AT&T will never be. Never mind that HBO Max is still stumbling out of the gates and hasn’t shown an ability to convert even their own HBO-subbing customers to the new streaming service for free.
Throwing the entire 2021 schedule (and Wonder Woman 1984 at Christmas) at the HBO Max spend, they have roughly doubled their HBO Max spending for the year overnight, somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion. Still not at Netflix pace, but a lot more than they intended when this journey started. And much more than they have ever spent on a year of theatrical movies.
HBO had, going into HBO Max, 55 million domestic subscribers and 88 million international subscribers. That’s still about 40 million short of Netflix now. But in range. Disney+, which is operational in only a few countries outside of the U.S. is in the low 60s of millions of subs. Amazon Prime has more than 142 million U.S. members… only a fraction of whom use the movie/TV service. And Peacock will catch up (after a lot of changes) in time.
So the battle has begun in earnest… Whether anyone but Jason Kilar thinks it is a good idea or not.
This is what happens when you put TV people in charge of everything… they think everything can be fixed by TV. They don’t understand the other pieces of the puzzle as well as their value.
One of my favorite writers, Joe Adalian wrote today, “Streaming is the heart and soul of these entertainment giants now, so they really don’t have much choice but to try to make these new services work.“
They are heart and soul… like Tony Stark’s chest plate. It was a jerry-rigged solution made in the middle of desperation by people a lot less brilliant than Iron Man and Tony is stuck with this thing, in the suit or not, until he dies.
Streaming is not going away. It is the future. Part of the future. Television. It is not everything. It may become the “heart and soul,” but Disney, it would become such at a massive loss of annual revenues and the taken-for-granted exhibition world won’t be there to add what will be much-desired and much-needed revenues if they are forced to shut down by the “daring experimentation.”
I believe in theatrical as much, or more, than anyone. But as I have written for decades, there are incremental losses that will collapse windows and once those lucrative windows are collapsed and replaced by flat-rate subscriptions, the majority of theaters will close and the ability of content producers/negotiators to increase profits by doing anything other than lowering spending and raising prices will be gone.
Let’s be clear… Disney doing $4 billion a year domestically is not enough to save theaters. Put aside COVID. Realistically, a strategy like the one WB is rolling out will cut domestic box office in half… at best. A majority of theaters would close and probably two-thirds of all screens. And then, Disney can’t do $4 billion or $3 billion or, most likely, $2 billion. So then they have no choice but to reconfigure their distribution plans because those massive number of seats that are empty all week in theaters is key to the mega-numbers that have become possible for blockbusters.
It’s MAD… Mutual Assured Destruction.
Many have said to me over the years that they would look forward to a film industry with its knees broken, forced into lower budgets and more opportunity. And they could get their wish. Of course, their rose-colored glasses about the wonders that will come with restraint are painted with ignorance of how money really works. They imagine a world of Easy Riders but reality tends to be a rack full of Dolph Lungren movies.
And so it begins. I am really trying to figure out how this plan works for anyone, starting with Warner Bros. It’s a soft content year for the studio, so they aren’t throwing the HUGE money away. But playing games with a unilateral move like this is taking every studio for a ride.
No big deal. right?
| April 8, 2021
| March 25, 2021
| March 16, 2021
"Will it matter in No Time to Die that the state-of-the-art Bond gadgetry is last year’s model? Have In the Heights and West Side Story missed the post-"Hamilton" wave they might have been hoping to catch? Will it be weird seeing a 16-year-old Finn Wolfhard in Ghostbusters: Afterlife when he’s pushing 19 in real life? In the broader sense, will any of these delayed movies feel truly fresh?"
| April 12, 2021
"Even former assistants who survived their tenure with Rudin and became executives themselves described the tough skin they developed as an asset. Emotional and mental anguish—reportedly at minimum wage—were a given. “You’d always forgive him because he’s so smart, cares so much, and he gets movies made that no one else can,” explained Amy Pascal, one of Rudin’s former assistants who became a major studio executive herself, in 2008. “I attribute an enormous amount of whatever success I’ve been able to attain directly because of how I saw him operate,” the producer Craig Perry, another Rudin acolyte, said in 2005. “Does he yell? Sure. Do I yell? Sure.” Rudin’s workplace behavior may have been an open secret, but open secrets eventually build cultures—in this case, one where tolerating mistreatment is a fundamental ingredient for success. And that culture was reflected in the press: Many stories about Rudin casually downplayed or reframed his nastiness. Tempestuousness was excused as 'behind-the-scenes excesses of passion.'"
April 12, 2021
What A Brit Misses
—Discovering that you and your viewing partner had wildly different views about the merits of a film and knowing that a treat of discussing is about to unfold over several drinks.
—Discovering during the film that you and your viewing partner have equally eye-rolling disdain for something and anticipating picking over the cadaver afterwards.
—Discovering you and your viewing partner both loved what you watched and sitting in awe and ‘aw shucks’ at some of the best moments.
—Holding a new beloved’s hand to the point of discomfort.
—The drowning feeling of being sucked under into sleep in NFT1.
—Being absolutely slathered in a film, emerging alone into the night, carrying its mood with you.
—Blinking back into the light during a daytime show, realising how little time you’ve been away in actual hours.
—The magnetic connection between audiences that can cry and laugh together.
April 11, 2021
BAFTAs: Nomadland, Zhao, McDormand, Hopkins; Soul; Screenplays, Promising Young Woman, The Father; Editing, Sound of Metal; Cinematography, Nomadland; Another Round, Not In English; Youn Yuh-jung, Daniel Kaluuya; My Octopus Teacher; Score, Soul
April 11, 2021
| February 15, 2021
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019