|Dave Chappelle, Comedian|
I believe there is too, too much sensitivity regarding social issues. Netflix should support Dave Chappelle and his humor regarding sexual preferences, racism, and other socially 'tabooed' topics.
NEWS / INFORMATION / COMMENTARY ON TODAY'S CINEMA
|Dave Chappelle, Comedian|
As a follow-up to the IATSE labor negotiations with the film and TV studios and content streamers, there seems to be a ratification vote in the offing.
The Union announced, on Saturday night, that a deal had been made. However, the deal received a hostile reception for the rank and file.
|Strike signs are ready to go|
Moviegoers worldwide LOVE the Bond franchise. For almost a lifetime moviegoers have embraced the Bond legacy.
Starting with 'Dr. No' in 1962 to the just-released 'No Time to Die' not only have we been entertained with, by and large, good if not great films but GREAT movie theme songs.
The 'Bond Theme Song' is, without doubt, one of the most recognizable of all movie themes...all you need to hear are the first several notes.
There are 26 Bond movie theme songs and in their wisdom, Variety just issued a list (worst to best - in their opinion) or all 26 - here it is, see if you agree.
26 - "Writing's on the Wall" Sam Smith (Spectre 2015)
25 - "License to Kill" Gladys Knight (License to Kill 1989)
24 - "The Living Daylights" A-ha (The Living Daylights 1987)
23 - "Another Way to Die" Jack White & Alicia Keys (Quantum of Solace 2008)
22 - "Die Another Day" Madonna (Die Another Day 2002)
21 - "From Russia With Love" Matt Monro (From Russia With Love 1963)
20 - "The World Is Not Enough" Garbage (The World Is Not Enough 1999)
19 - "Tomorrow Never Dies" Sheryl Crow (Tomorrow Never Dies 1997)
18 - "All Time High" Rita Coolidge (Octopussy 1983)
17 - "You Know My Name" Chris Corwell (Casino Royale 2006)
16 - "For Your Eyes Only" Sheena Easton (For Your Eyes Only 1981)
15 - "The Man With The Golden Gun" Lulu (Man With The Golden Gun 1974)
14 - "GoldenEye" Tina Turner (GoldenEye 1995)
13 - "Skyfall" Adele (Skyfall 2012)
12 - "A View To Kill" Duran Duran (A View To Kill 1985)
11 - "Thunderball" Tom Jones (Thunderball 1965)
10 - "Moonraker" Shirley Bassey (Moonraker 1979)
9 - "No Time To Die" Billie Eilish (No Time To Die 2021)
8 - "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" John Barry Orchestra (On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969)
7 - "Nobody Does It Better" Carly Simon (The Spy Who Loved Me 1979)
6 - "We Have All The Time In The World" Louis Armstrong (On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969)
5 - "Live and Let Die" Paul McCartney & Wings (Live and Let Die 1973)
4 - "You Only Live Twice" Nancy Sinatra (You Only Live Twice 1967)
3 - "James Bond Theme" John Barry Orchestra (Dr. No 1962)
2 - "Goldfinger" Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger 1964)
1 - "Diamonds Are Forever" Shirley Bassey (Diamonds Are Forever 1971)
As you noticed, Shirley Bassey performed three of the Bond themes. Only two have won Best Song Oscars: "Writing's on the Wall" by Sam Smith and "Skyfall" by Adele.
In addition to the main themes, there have been songs used during the end credits of Bond films performed by The Pretenders, k.d. lang, and Patti LaBelle.
What's Your Favorite?
Mine: "You Only Live Twice" https://youtu.be/hs8uYxTJ530
As a follow-up to a previous CMG post, the Intl' Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees says, "it's getting closer to seeking an agreement on its key priorities."
The key priorities needed to be agreed to with the Hollywood studios and streaming content providers are: curbing the long production hours and streaming pay scales.
The negotiations are in their first week but the Union has already voted to strike if the talks fail to produce a deal.
Members of the IATSE (Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) are planning a strike over long production hours among other issues.
To bolster their cause they requested that all members cancel streaming subscriptions and went online asking the public to do the same.
Are they kidding? It's a joke right?
I should cancel my subscription to Netflix in support of the IATSE - who are these people anyway?
Given their scale, the impact of a few subscription cancelations to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney is meaningless. In fact, at the moment, Netflix is offering its content free of charge to the whole country of Keyna.
The best the IATSE can hope for is to call attention to their cause.
I should mention that one of the sticking points in the negotiations is that streamers with less than 20 million subscribers pay lower wages, ie. Apple + and Paramount +, then the larger streamers. Streamers in general also pay lower residual rates to the union pension and health plans than the studios.
The wage disparity is large. For example, a lighting tech receives $15/hour from the smaller streamers and $45/hour from the larger ones. Another sore point is what is termed, 'Fraturdays' - workdays that start on Friday morning and end on Saturday morning.
Hmm... should I cancel my subs in support? Soon Netflix will be offering gaming. I am supporting the IATSE by writing this article - well I am.
The world's #1 content streamer is offering its service FREE of charge - in Kenya.
Netflix's hope is that by offering a 100% free tier, which includes about one-fourth of the content available in its paid streaming plans, more people will try out the service and end up subscribing.
Many Kenyans have never watched Netflix so this is a great way to experience the service. And, if you like what you see, it's easy to upgrade to the paid plan.
The free plan allows people to sign up to access Netflix ad-free on Android mobile phones. In addition to a reduced content lineup, the no-cost tier does not allow users to download titles for offline viewing nor does it allow casting to connected TVs.
|Kenya's wildlife is spectacular|
When Kenyans sign up for the free plan, no payment information is required. Users only need to enter an email address, confirm they are 18 or over, and create a password. "Then you can relax and watch many of Netflix's most popular series and films, as well as, enjoy our personalized recommendations, parental controls, and profiles", says Cathy Conk, Netflix Director of Product Innovations.
Netflix was looking for a new way to let Kenyans try out their service. The company has, in the past, offered free trials but only for brief periods. Kenya is the first market to try out this new, untimed free usage and study how effective it is in attracting its user to become paying subscribers.
China's Internet and Media watchdog 'Cyberspace Administration of China' last week issued a pair of notices regarding information decimated over the internet and in films.
|China's President Xi announces crackdown on media and internet|
In the first edict, CAC said that it would take punitive action against the spread of harmful information in celebrity fan groups and clubs by shutting down its sites and online channels.
In the second edict, the CAC announced draft regulations for internet 'recommendation algorithms'. It is going to halt algorithms that encourage users to spend large amounts of money or spend money in a way that "may disrupt public order." Internet companies must make it harder to create fake user accounts and make it easier for users to turn off 'recommendation' systems.
These RS systems are used by home shopping services, news sites, social media, and streaming platforms.
Chinese authorities, across a multitude of ministries and departments, are in the midst of a campaign to reign in the country's tech giants. They regard them as having grown too big, having infringed on user privacy, and encouraged vulgarity, anti-social behavior, and pop culture.
Media moguls and celebrities are being targeted. Authorities are seeking to cap celebrity pay packages and are threatening lifetime bans as punishment.
U.S.-based internet and media giants should be looking over their shoulders as their so-called 'self-regulation' isn't working. I anticipate that at some point in the future these giants may be broken into various pieces with much less social power and presence.
You knew it had to happen. Now, you too can play at being Mad Max, as 13 of the 'crazy' modified and chopped vehicles from 'Mad Max: Fury Road" are up for sale and going to the highest bidder.
Lloyds Classic Car Auctions will be auctioning off the post-apocalyptic vehicles. Blown, super-turbo charged and armed to the bumpers the machines that outran the end of civilization have been unearthed in the biggest barn-find ever.
Termed, vehicles from hell, and designed for death and destruction all of the iconic vehicles from the film will be up for grabs. Even, The Doof Wagon, known in the film as the 'morale machine' that was used to rally troops and shown with mounted drummers and a fire-breathing electric guitar.\
Bidders will have just two days, September 25th & 26th, to make their secret bids. Winning bids can be paid in any currency including Bitcoins. Shipping is extra.
These are over-the-top rat rods and a piece of H'wood history.
Worldwide box office totalled $12b at August's end. That was the total reported in the full year 2020. At the current pace, 2021 will end the year at over $20b. That great!
On the flip-side, that performance will be over 50% below the $42.3b record set in 2019. But, the cinema is on the mend and barring any unforeseen mega-strain of the COVID should return to the $40+b level in 2022.
This forecast is well-founded and would place China as the world's largest box office. The pandemic and other political conditions, however, have made China's cinema industry much more insular and an increasingly difficult place for Hollywood to do business.
At the end of 2020, only 56% of cinemas were opened for business on a global basis as governments responded to second and third waves of the virus by shuttering cinemas. At the beginning of September, this year, 88% of global cinemas were in operation. This was equal to the pre-pandemic peak in 2021.
The cinema is coming back and in a big way. I predict that the global box office will exceed forecasts and reach the $45b level.
Its first big-screen debut, the very popular children's TV series opened yesterday at cinemas. Movie distribution is in a state of chaos right now. Running at cinemas? Streamed? Both? Time wait to streaming? At cinemas, only,
|Multi viewing venues|
|Scarlett, Leading the Way to a Showbiz Upheaval|
I have been covering this story from its inception and it has taken a twist I hadn't anticipated.
Disney has filed a motion to force Johansson into private arbitration to address the two parties' dispute over payment for the 'Black Widow' movie. Disney's position is that there is nothing in the Disney contract with Johansson that entitles her to any proceeds from streaming revenues of the movie.
Scarlett's attorneys have argued that Marvel's (owned by Disney) general counsel affirmed in 2019 that the "film would be released like all of our other pictures." Further, the suit was filed against Disney, not Marvel.
For their part, Johansson's attorneys contend that the suit was filed because Disney and not Marvel interfered with Marvel's contract with Scarlett in order to boost its streaming channel Disney+.
"Why is Disney so afraid of litigating this case in public? stated John Berlinski, Johansson's lead attorney. "Because Disney knows it cannibalized box office receipts by the day-and-date release of the film at cinemas and on Disney+."
Now we wait to see what happens to the motion for arbitration.
I really enjoy viewing the John Wick film series. Wick (aka Baba Yaga) portrayed by Keaue Reeves returns next year in 'John Wick: Chapter 4'. The not-kid-friendly Wick is currently in production and, as always, under some secrecy.
We do know that Clancy Brown will be in the next installment but we don't know if he will be a baddie or good guy. Best known for his 'Shawshank Redemption' role, Brown has appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and voice-over roles in movies and video games.
|Clancy Brown, 62|
Reappearing in 'Chapter 4' will be Ian McShane as Winston, Lance Reddick as Charon, and Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King.
'John Wick: Chapter 4' is scheduled for a May '22 release.
As a follow-up to last week's post on the legal dispute between Disney and Scarlett Johansson regarding the profits split from The Black Widow film, the battle escalated this week.
The big uproar is H'wood at the moment is the fact that the A-listers aren't getting their fair share of the 'entire' box office gross.
The most recent example is Scarlett Johansson, who picked up a $20 million paycheck for 'Black Widow' says she deserves more! According to Johansson, Disney owes her big time. This stems from the battle regarding H'wood stars getting paid when movies are released and streamed day-and-date, as was 'Black Widow'.
Scarlett's contract calls for her to get a salary plus a share of the gross box office, but with streaming from Disney+, Disney says no dice. Compensation is only from the theatrical release.
Netflix, for example, side-steps this issue by paying big bucks up front. Disney, however, views it differently and feels actors should be paid a salary plus box office take.
This whole scenario is a lose/lose. The outcome will be something like this: Disney will settle with Johansson. Otherwise, it will find itself being sued by actors again and again. On the flip side, Scarlett appears greedy and not superhero-ish.
It's all great fun - isn't it?
'Avengers: Endgame' surpassed James Cameron's 'Avatar' as the highest-grossing film of all time at $2.79b (vs. $2.78b for 'Avatar' - note: its total was enhanced due to a re-release).
'Black Widow' rocked the box office at an $80m debut weekend in the U.S. and scored the biggest gate since the pandemic struck. Opening in 4,160 screens it posted the largest box office since 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' in December 2019.
California, the Golden State, is losing its luster. More and more people and companies are moving out of CA and into other, more 'friendly', states. CA lost over 136,000 residents in 2020.
Disney has decided to transfer over 2,000 jobs to Florida. A new 'campus' near Orlando is now open and ready to receive the Californians. The plan to move these high-salaried jobs has been in the works since 2019.
Florida offers a great climate, a lower cost of living, a safer environment, no state income tax, to name several reasons for the move. Employees will have 18 months to make the move.
In a letter, Josh D'Amaro, Head of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products stated, "In addition to Florida's business-friendly climate, the new campus gives us the opportunity to consider our team and be more collaborative from a creative and operational standpoint."
Disney employs over 203,000 worldwide of which over 60,000 are in Florida.
Ever wonder why there are no mosquitos at Disney World? Over 52 million people flock to Disney World Park each year - the Magic Kingdom alone had over 20 million visitors.
Disney World is huge. It is twice the size of Manhattan, at 25,000 acres. Currently, only half the land is used and one/third is preserved for conservation.
But no mosquitos! The trick, don't kill the adults but their eggs - it's a policy of prevention. Hence, there is no still water in the Park of any kind and all of the water and water features are kept flowing 24/7.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences invited 395 people to join its ranks in 2021.
According to the Academy, the '21 Class consists of 45% women, 39% under-represented ethnic communities, and 53% from 49 countries outside the U.S. Of the 395, 89 are former Oscar nominees - 25 of which were winners.
Membership selection is based upon professional qualifications with inclusion and equity remaining a priority.
The Academy had previously announced, "that in an effort to enable steady growth and support for all members" it was reducing yearly membership invitations. This year roughly half were invited vs 2020, which had 819 invitees.
To view the complete list of invitees go to the following.
F9 was total make-believe. To me, in a bad way. A Pontiac Fiero in outer space? Cars free-falling off 1,000 ft. cliffs and the drivers walk away? Dom and the familia have gone the superhero, total fantasy route.
Where, When, and How do You View the Latest Movie?
Not only can you not afford to sign up for every streaming platform but who would want to. Consumers are exasperated as new movie distribution is regularly established, re-scheduled, then reset again and again.
For the last 100 years, there was only one place to view new films, at the cinema. Now, the line between streaming and theatrical release is very blurred. The burden of figuring out where and when a movie will be available rests on the consumer. It's a problem that will only become more pronounced as the theatrical window shrinks to 45 days or less. And, as tentpoles more between subscription streaming and cinema screening.
When the COVID forced cinemas to close, the tradition of debuting movies there, went out the window (no pun intended). That left cinemas out in the cold and the studios quickly moved to other distribution channels. But with that change came great confusion for the viewer. Most moviegoers couldn't tell the difference between, nor cared, if the movie they were going to see was from Paramount, Disney, Sony, or DreamWorks - NOW they do!
Virtually, every major movie being released this summer is arriving in a different distribution channel. Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II" is playing in cinemas for 45 days before moving to Paramount +. Warners' 'Space Jam: A New Legacy" and "The Suicide Squad" are debuting at cinemas at the same time as they are streaming on HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers. Universal's "F9" and "The Forever Purge" are screening in cinemas for an unknown period before being offered on video-on-demand.
This is a problem and very confusing to consumers. Release schedules aren't even consistent by the studios. For example, Universal's "The Boss Baby 2" is launching in cinemas on the same day it bows on Peacock for free. Disney's "Cruella" was offered in cinemas or for rent on Disney + for $30, while its "Luca" is going straight to Disney + free.
Nothing makes sense any longer in trying to decipher this distribution maze. Consumers are not ready to spend all of the time and money to do a picture-by-picture analysis on where and when something is available. People are also confused regarding when new films are debuting.
The good news for consumers is there is so much choice of content, bad news is that you have no idea of how to find your choice. Marketing is the only means of making it simple for people to find an upcoming feature. The promotion of a new theatrical release must be repetitive and state the fact that it's playing "only in theaters".
Many consumers find it very hard to justify spending extra money to see one movie at home when they already pay a monthly subscription fee. This, topped with the mental exercise of remembering where new movies are playing is too much onus to place on the 'paying public'.
We don't want to get over-excited, as cinemas are just getting back to some form of normalcy, but the streaming war is raging and that can only be good for the movie exhibitors ... here's why!
In addition to Amazon (which also manages Amazon Prime), there is Netflix (the most significant streamer), Hulu, HBOMax, Disney+, Apple+, Paramount+, VerizonWB, and over 50 other entertainment streamers from National Geographic to Acorn. At the moment, all of these competitors have made streaming very affordable entertainment, several offer subscription rates of only $4.95 per month.
What's at stake for all of the streamers is eyeballs. 70% of all viewed in-home content was through a streaming service - millennials streamed 60% of that content. The DVD industry is all but dead as the streamers allow subscribers to hold purchased content in their 'lockers'.
The Battle for the Viewership
The current score on subscribers is as follows:
Netflix - 210m, Amazon Prive - 175m, Disney+ - 104m, HBOMax - 85m, Hulu - 41m, Paramount+ - 36m, Apple+ - 34m. This doesn't take into consideration the large Chinese streamers like TenCent and iQlyi and at least 50 more worldwide some with subscription bases as low as 100,000.
Content is king. For example, for Amazon, snapping up MGM - which has more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows in its catalog - is an easy and relatively cheap way to supercharge its Prime service with a slew of well-known titles. Which include franchises such as The Pink Panther, Rocky, and the Bond films.
Amazon's purchase of MGM came right after AT&T announced its decision to spin off WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery Network.
Why This Is Good For Movie Theaters
The streamers know that they need to keep their subscription prices low, at least into the foreseeable future, to remain competitive. To counter the low subscription price, several - Hulu, Paramount+, Discovery+ - are now including paid advertisements with their content streaming. So, we're back to the old game that the cable companies played. Charge a low monthly fee to start, then introduce ads, then raise the monthly fees as the situation permits. The problem is: that scenario doesn't work when consumers would need to purchase 4 or more streaming channels to get the content they desire. This can get very expensive when you consider that the household needs WiFi to get the streaming service delivered and may still want cable for broadcast TV content.
Current Cost of Streamed Content
Netflix $9/mo, $13/mo. HD
Amazon Price $9/mo. or included w/Prime $119/yr.
Apple TV+ $5/mo.
Hulu $6/mo. (ads), $12/mo. (w/o ads)
Paramount+ $6/mo. (ads), $10/mo. (w/o ads)
Everyone knows that the very top of the content barrel will be the Hollywood-produced tentpole films, and these will be exhibited in cinemas with an exclusive 45-day window (for the most part). If consumers want the very best in content they will have to go to the movies, or wait and view it on ??? If you don't have a subscription to Amazon Prime you're not going to see the latest James Bond film. The streamers will horde their content and stream it only on their channel.
This scenario provides cinemas an opportunity - as they, and they alone, will be able to exhibit content from all producers.
U.S. cinemas are opened. The studios are finally releasing quality content and this summer will be a killer box office. The public is ready to get back to "the movies". There is a lot of pent-up demand, and the folks want to get out and return to some level of normalcy.
The COVID was hard on the movie industry, particularly exhibition, as cinemas were closed for months on end. Getting back is great but there are some changes that have taken place. The biggest one being the 'adjustment' in the theatrical release window.
The 90-day exclusive theatrical release window died. A victim of the pandemic. The new window is now 45-days. The virus allowed the studios the opportunity to play with various release models. From day-and-date with streaming to direct to streaming. Exhibitors had no leverage over the release changes as they were shuttered.
Cinemas defended the 90-day exclusivity but the reality is that movies make over 70% of their gate within the first three weeks of release. So, the 45-day window shouldn't cause any panic for exhibs.
Post-pandemic the cinema industry will be as vibrant and vital as ever. I believe people will appreciate the cinema experience more than ever, having lost it for almost two years. Hollywood is set to go and there is an inventory of blockbusters for release.
Look for an outstanding summer and a great holiday season - the cinema is BACK!
Harvey Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence for sexual assault in a prison near Buffalo, NY. - he is appealing that sentence.
In the meantime, he and his attorneys have been trying to evade his extradition to Los Angeles to face trial for 11 counts of rape and sexual assault - those charges carry a maximum sentence of 140 years if convicted.
Although he has stalled the extradition request by California, it now appears eminent that Weinstein will be traveling to LA within 30 days unless Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY (himself accused of sexually assaulting 9 women) intervenes.
Harvey stated that he was "eager to defend himself against these spurious charges". COVID issues will most likely cause his trial in LA to meet with long delays.
Weinstein was born in NYC in 1952. His misdeeds and criminal activities aside, he is considered to be one of the most influential film producers of recent times. Miramax, his production company was responsible for films such as: The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love.