The News

The New York Times

"Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself. It got me thinking about the simple idea that my film and TV production company Blumhouse is built on: If you give artists a lot of creative freedom and a little money upfront but a big stake in the movie’s or TV show’s commercial success, more often than not the result will be both commercial (the filmmakers are incentivized to make films that will resonate with audiences) and artistically interesting (creative freedom!). This approach has yielded movies as varied as Get Out (made for $4.5 million, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $250 million), Whiplash (made for $3.3 million, winner of three Academy Awards), The Invisible Man (made for $7 million, earned more than $140 million) and Paranormal Activity (made for $15,000, grossed more than $190 million).From the beginning, the most important strategy I used to persuade artists to work with me was to make radically transparent deals: We usually paid the artists (“participants” in Hollywood lingo) the absolute minimum allowable by union contracts upfront, with the promise of healthy bonuses based on actual box office results—instead of the opaque 'percentage points' that artists are usually offered. Anyone can see box office results immediately, so creators don’t quarrel with the payouts. In fact, when it comes time for an artist to collect a bonus based on box office receipts, I email a video clip of myself dropping the check off at FedEx to the recipient."
Jason Blum Sees Room For "Scrappier" Netflix

The New York Times | April 30, 2022

"As a critic Gavin was entertaining, wry, questioning, sensitive, perceptive"
Critic-Filmmaker Gavin Millar Was 84; Films Include Cream In My Coffee, Dreamchild

April 29, 2022

The New York Times

Disney Executive Geoff Morrell Out After Less Than Four Months

The New York Times | April 29, 2022

LA Times

"Responding to its dramatic slowdown, Netflix said it would test ways to encourage people to pay for sharing passwords; put out better shows, films and games; and explore a lower-cost, ad-supported version of Netflix — an option the company had long resisted. But the bleak subscriber numbers and the company’s response have stirred a mix of angst and uncertainty among many rank-and-file workers. Some are worried that the streaming heavyweight may have hired too fast and grown complacent as subscriber growth skyrocketed in the early days of the pandemic. Others are skeptical about strategic shifts and concerned that Netflix’s distinct culture is fundamentally changing, according to former employees who spoke with The Times and comments posted on a private Netflix group on Blind, an anonymous forum for people with company-verified email addresses."

LA Times | April 29, 2022

Hollywood Reporter

"Several important Netflix creators voice a very consistent theory about what’s gone wrong with the streamer’s culture. They see a link between Netflix’s problems and the 2020 fall of Cindy Holland, who played a key role in launching the service’s originals — brilliantly and often expensively — with 'House of Cards,' 'Orange Is the New Black' and 'Stranger Things,' among others. These sources say Holland was the one who nurtured strong relationships with talent and took time to offer thoughtful development notes while still making people feel safe and supported in pursuing their passion projects. Important multihyphenates who work or have worked with Netflix say it was Holland rather than Ted Sarandos, then chief content officer, who gave Netflix its profile as a home to buzzy, quality shows. (It was also Holland who warned Sarandos, to no avail, that continuing to order specials from one of his comedy heroes, Dave Chappelle, would lead to internal strife and bad press.) “That service was built on the back of Cindy Holland’s taste,” says one. “I could give you a list of names of people who would lie down on railroad tracks for her. Ted is a fan [of content], not a picker. He’s a cheerleader and a good cheerleader, to a degree.”

Hollywood Reporter | April 28, 2022

Hollywood Reporter

Netflix Lays Off At Least 10 At Tudum Fan Site

February 22: "Netflix has hired an impressive array of journalists from Allure/Refinery29/etc to run its fan site Tudum... The former journos working at Netflix say they're well paid and mostly happy."

Ryan Faughner, Los Angeles Times: "Netflix, which has been the envy of the entertainment business for several years, saw its stock fall 35% after the company said it lost 200,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter and, worse, projected it would lose an additional 2 million in the current one. Between competition and password sharing, there’s plenty of blame to go around for Netflix’s woes. A bigger concern, though, dragged down the share prices of Netflix’s rivals too: What if the market for subscription streaming just isn’t as big as people thought?"

Hollywood Reporter | April 28, 2022

Hollywood Reporter

Kim Masters: "Yes, says a top executive at one of Netflix’s legacy-studio rivals, the news has dinged valuations and been bad for his business, but “it sure fucking feels good.” This executive rattles off a brief history of Netflix in Hollywood, including the A-word that arises in almost every conversation about the streamer. “The entire town’s rooting against them,” he says. “It’s not just the arrogance of announcing that you’re the leaders, not respecting executive contracts and [poaching] everybody and the way they carry themselves. There was a feeling of anger and then despair — are our businesses over?'"

Hollywood Reporter | April 28, 2022

The Guardian

Another $356 Million In Damage Slated For BBC Production Budget

The Guardian | April 28, 2022

LA Times

"The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is at odds over whether to accept a proposal by interim CEO Todd Boehly that will effectively transform the nonprofit international journalists’ group into a for-profit venture. Boehly, chairman of private equity firm Eldridge Industries, the parent company of longtime Globes producer Dick Clark Productions, (now known as MRC Live & Alternative) presented his plan during a general membership meeting."

LA Times | April 28, 2022

Screen Daily

"What we’ve seen over the past two years is a situation where the studios had no choice and released their films directly to their subscription services, or they released films day and date with a limited release. And what they saw was they lost a lot of money. I’ve been in this business for 30 years but the old adage of cinema exhibition being the engine that drives all the ancillary revenue streams has not changed."

Screen Daily | April 27, 2022

Variety

"With the support of every member of MGM’s production team, and with our filmmaking partners by our side, we were able to get back to making movies and ultimately put in motion a deep bench of films, from filmmakers including Ridley Scott, Paul Thomas Anderson, Joe Wright, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, Ron Howard, George Miller, Billy Porter, Sarah Polley, Chinonye Chukwu, Cory Finley, Zach Braff, George Clooney, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Seligman, Luca Guadagnino, Zoe Kravitz, Rachel Morrison and many others, with the goal of creating a lineup of movies that would appeal to every kind of audience. Included among our slate are several films from Orion Pictures, which we relaunched under the leadership of Alana Mayo in August of 2020 amid the long overdue examination of America’s relationship with race, with the goal of making films exclusively focused on – and brought to us by – underrepresented voices."
MGM Execs De Luca, Abdy Resign After Amazon Absorption

Variety | April 27, 2022

Twitter

Twitter will be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk for $54.20 per share in cash in a $44 billion transaction; once complete, Twitter will be a privately held corporation.

The notably litigious Musk says the vast investment supports his interest in "free speech." The Washington Post, owned by the world's second richest man, reports that the deal will "put Twitter in the hands of the world’s richest man and one of its most popular users, with more than 83 million followers." MSNBC's Chris Hayes: "Become pretty clear over the past few years that Musk, like Trump, has one true gift perfectly suited for the age: getting attention. The Twitter acquisition makes a lot of sense." CNN: "Musk has repeatedly stressed in recent days that his goal is to bolster free speech on the platform and work to 'unlock' Twitter's 'extraordinary potential.'" Economics blogger Joseph Politano: "The clear financial benefit for Elon Musk doesn't come from Twitter's returns per se but from his ability to leverage social media to get retail investors to pile into Tesla and his other holdings." Bloomberg Opinion's Tim O'Brien: "Musk's Twitter deal math is sketchy—he's going to saddle it with billions of dollars of debt, possibly suffocating it. More important: He isn't up to the task of running a social media company in an era of dangerous and divisive viral propaganda." 

Robert Reich: "Musk’s real goal has nothing to do with the freedom of others. His goal is his own unconstrained freedom–the freedom to wield enormous power without having to be accountable to laws and regulations, to shareholders, or to market competition.” Journalist Judd Legum of Popular Information: "I have no idea if Musk will be able to buy Twitter and, if he does, how Twitter might change. But it underscores the importance of making sure you do not rely exclusively on algorithms controlled by tech companies to get your news. Take control of your information flow now."

Twitter | April 25, 2022

LA Times

"Over the years, several people have accused Bill Murray of becoming verbally and physically violent behind the scenes of his projects and in his personal life."

LA Times | April 24, 2022

Variety

"“We are definitely starting to see positive signs,” says Kevin Holloway, president of Landmark Theaters. “The biggest thing for us is to continue to get product availability. There’s no question some of these movies can be expensive to market and get out for theatrical release in a meaningful way, so many of them can often be shifted to a truncated window or day-and-date strategy.”"
Can Indie Moviehouses Survive?

Variety | April 24, 2022

Wachowski Collection Of Watchotkes At Auction

April 23, 2022

Cynthia Plaster Caster Was 74; Here's Ray Pride's Profile Of The Ill-Fated 2001 Documentary Of Her Limpid Life

April 21, 2022

"Stranger Things" Season Four Reportedly Right Up There At $30 Million Per Episode

April 21, 2022

Deadline

Aziz Ansari Directorial Debut Suspended Over Complaint About Bill Murray

Deadline | April 21, 2022

Rolling Stone

"In the wake of TWC’s collapse, many of Weinstein’s victims feel cheated out of proper remuneration, while several of his alleged enablers have walked away from the rubble virtually unscathed. And, thanks to shady deals that allowed some TWC insiders to quietly pocket projects from the company’s 250-title library as it was headed for bankruptcy, those insiders may wield more power and reap more profit in Hollywood today than they did before Harvey’s downfall."
"'Yellowstone' has formed the bedrock of 101 Studios, a company co-founded in January 2019 by former TWC COO David Glasser—who was sometimes described as the so-called third Weinstein brother—with $300 million in funding from a handful of investors, including Ron Burkle."
Weinstein Company Insiders During Ill Reign Of Harvey And Bob Still Making Lots Of Money (subscriber content)

Rolling Stone | April 20, 2022

Twitter

Screenwriter Zack Stentz: "Netflix has kept the lights on for way too many writers these past few years for us to be joining in the celebration of their stock tanking. We mostly just want them to right the ship and let us make good shows and movies for them. The problems of Netflix in many ways are the same as the problems of our subscription-driven entertainment landscape. Simultaneous massive overspending on a handful of tentpoles and 300 million dollar deals & underspending on the midlist, bigger staffs, & letting writers produce. And the underspending up front--not having junior writers go to set & sit in post--is leading directly toward overspending later as newly minted showrunners with no producing experience inevitably end up making expensive mistakes during production. The streamer model of hiring a writing staff, then letting everyone except the showrunner go before production starts is essentially free riding on the earlier model of TV production (which still exists at the networks) of junior writers learning production as they rise in rank. Because most of those showrunners came up in the earlier model & have that production experience. But as those people age out of the business you'll have more & more new showrunners with no production experience at all. It's the equivalent of disbanding your farm league."

Twitter | April 20, 2022

MCN Commentary & Analysis See All

THB #93: The Batman (no spoilers)

David Poland | March 6, 2022

THB #76: 9 Weeks To Oscar

David Poland | January 26, 2022

THB #73: Netflix Is Chilled

David Poland | January 24, 2022

The News Curated by Ray Pride See All

The New York Times

"Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself. It got me thinking about the simple idea that my film and TV production company Blumhouse is built on: If you give artists a lot of creative freedom and a little money upfront but a big stake in the movie’s or TV show’s commercial success, more often than not the result will be both commercial (the filmmakers are incentivized to make films that will resonate with audiences) and artistically interesting (creative freedom!). This approach has yielded movies as varied as Get Out (made for $4.5 million, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $250 million), Whiplash (made for $3.3 million, winner of three Academy Awards), The Invisible Man (made for $7 million, earned more than $140 million) and Paranormal Activity (made for $15,000, grossed more than $190 million).From the beginning, the most important strategy I used to persuade artists to work with me was to make radically transparent deals: We usually paid the artists (“participants” in Hollywood lingo) the absolute minimum allowable by union contracts upfront, with the promise of healthy bonuses based on actual box office results—instead of the opaque 'percentage points' that artists are usually offered. Anyone can see box office results immediately, so creators don’t quarrel with the payouts. In fact, when it comes time for an artist to collect a bonus based on box office receipts, I email a video clip of myself dropping the check off at FedEx to the recipient."
Jason Blum Sees Room For "Scrappier" Netflix

The New York Times | April 30, 2022

"As a critic Gavin was entertaining, wry, questioning, sensitive, perceptive"
Critic-Filmmaker Gavin Millar Was 84; Films Include Cream In My Coffee, Dreamchild

April 29, 2022

The New York Times

Disney Executive Geoff Morrell Out After Less Than Four Months

The New York Times | April 29, 2022

LA Times

"Responding to its dramatic slowdown, Netflix said it would test ways to encourage people to pay for sharing passwords; put out better shows, films and games; and explore a lower-cost, ad-supported version of Netflix — an option the company had long resisted. But the bleak subscriber numbers and the company’s response have stirred a mix of angst and uncertainty among many rank-and-file workers. Some are worried that the streaming heavyweight may have hired too fast and grown complacent as subscriber growth skyrocketed in the early days of the pandemic. Others are skeptical about strategic shifts and concerned that Netflix’s distinct culture is fundamentally changing, according to former employees who spoke with The Times and comments posted on a private Netflix group on Blind, an anonymous forum for people with company-verified email addresses."

LA Times | April 29, 2022

The Video Section See All

Mike Mills, C’mon C’mon

David Poland | January 24, 2022

The Podcast Section See All