| January 21, 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?
| January 21, 2021
| January 18, 2021
| January 14, 2021
| January 22, 2021
Emerald Fennell: "I don’t work conceptually, or even in a genre-type way. Generally what happens is I’ve been thinking about something for a while. I’ve been thinking about consent, and the sort of raunch culture that I grew up with, and the kind of 'loopholes' that are exploited to take advantage of women and their bodies. With this movie, the first moment was — which is what usually happens for me — a very specific scene. The specific scene was a drunk girl on a bed having her clothes taken off and saying, drunkenly, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?' And then sitting up sober and saying, 'What are you doing?' That moment came fairly fully formed. From there, I knew who Cassie was and maybe what the film was going to be. I’m interested in Westerns and road movies and the revenge genre, and in particular, I think, kind of centering women and trying to wonder what … For me, it’s always like, What would I do? What could I do? I probably wouldn’t know where to get a gun, and I probably wouldn’t trust myself with one. I think that’s a reason women don’t resort to violence, and it very rarely ends well when they do. But what could I do? And I think that that’s what always interests me. It’s like, Okay, well, what I could do is fuck with people. I could frighten them. But it would have to be in a much more psychological and existential way. And so that was kind of the root of this, maybe: How do you write a revenge movie that feels like something real and that is based in real trauma and grief? Because I suppose the other thing with the revenge [genre] that we don’t talk about very much is revenge and vengeance aren’t good things. And I think that’s the thing that was always interesting about Cassie, and particularly the way Carey played her, was that she just did something I’ve never been able to do in my own life and just said, “Fuck off. Fuck off, everyone.'"
| January 22, 2021
"The best bits of a conference — the demonstrations, sales pitches and chance encounters — are impossible to replicate online. For everyday meetings, however, I think there is a better chance that video chat will outlast the pandemic. Zoom fatigue may be real but the shift to virtual meetings is one of the more helpful changes to have taken place in the past year. Not only do they cut out long commutes and jet-lagged business trips but they appear to have sharpened up start times and reduced cross-talk. Recorded meetings are very helpful for those of us who work with colleagues in different time zones, too."
| January 22, 2021
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019