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Saturday, November 12, 2022

Oh No! Not Another It's Not My Fault Filmmaker

 Last month I was obligated to set the record straight regarding Marty Scorsese's view on the cinema (see CMG post, "Marty Scorsese, You're Biting the Hand That Feeds You!), now the attention shifts to Spielberg.

Spielberg 

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg stated, "I might be open to making a film for a streaming service in the future, but it must be on my terms", - what a pompous twit.

Of course, he is going to make films that go directly to streaming, just like Scorsese does. Why? Because they are greedy and know that their projects won't make any book at the box office. So, they go for the lesser but guaranteed money from Netflix, Apple, or Amazon. 

They do this to stay relevant and hedge on their films flopping at the box office. For example, Spielberg's 2017 pre-pandemic 'The Post" which starred Tom Hanks (a Stephen fav) and Meryle Streep, grossed $179 million worldwide - not bad for a film that cost only $50 million.

Hanks in 'The Post' 

However, Spielberg says, "The Post, which was nominated for six Oscars, had lackluster attendance because it wasn't streamed" - and not because most moviegoers chose not to view it. 

Come on Stephen, own-up to your gaps. According to Spielberg or Scorsese, it's never the filmmakers fault it's always the audience's lack of understanding and appreciation of their work. 

News flash Stephen, just because a film is streamed doesn't ensure success. Not all Netflix or Prime films are viewed by the millions and millions - they have flops just like in the cinema.

'The Post', for example, would have been only offered to people that skew to that genre of film. All streamers utilize AI (artificial intelligence) to feed films to subscribers based upon their 'viewing' profile. 

Anyway, enough ranting. Moviegoers, at this point in time, want (no desire) high-impact, action, fantasy, horror, and superhero films or sequels of same. That what brings in the big box office bank.  






Monday, October 31, 2022

New 'Avatar' Is Long and Kid Friendly

 


After waiting 13 years for its sequel, the original Avatar remains the highest grossing film of all time at $2.92 billion.

By now, anyone with even a passing interest in the cinema know that Avatar sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is going to be released this December. 

Rated a kid-friendly PG-13, The Way of Water will be screened in both 2D and 3D and has a run time of 3+ hours. It will be the biggest box office earner in 2022 and hopefully will exceed the gross of the first Avatar.

Disney obtained the Avatar franchise after it acquired 20th Century Fox, in a deal that finalized in 2019. This film, which includes a lot of underwater scenes, will open worldwide on December 16th.

Cameron shot all 4 sequels simultaneously

James Cameron brought back all of the stars from the first Avatar (Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Michelle Rodriquez) who will be joined by newcomers Vin Diesel and Kate Winslet.

In addition to Way of Water, three more films will be screened each with standalone plots but centered around the main theme of the franchise. The cost of all five films is estimated at over $1.2 billion.

Avatar 3 will be released next December, with #4 in 2026 and #5 in 2028. As Cameron shot all of the 4 sequels simultaneously the main cast members remain the same throughout all of the 5 films.

 I, for one, can't wait to see it even with its 3+ hour run time.




Thursday, October 20, 2022

Win Some Lose Some

Moviemaking has always been a crapshoot. There's no guarantee that a great film with a star director and A-list cast will ensure a 'bonkers' box office.

A star-studded cast doesn't guarantee box office

Take the recent case of the film 'Amsterdam". The Disney/New Regency production opened over the October 7th weekend on 3,000 U.S. screens and grossed only $6.4 million. At a cost of $80 million to produce and another $70 million to promote the film worldwide, the studios stand to lose at least $100 million or more when all is said and done.

'Amsterdam' was dubbed "a movie for older adults", unfortunately this group was a no-show and those that did gave it a poor rating (only a 33% Rotten Tomatoes).

The director, David Russell, is one of the best Hollywood has to offer, and the cast was first-rate: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Robert DeNiro, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, even Taylor Swift couldn't bolster a draw. 

This all goes back to my last post on CMG regarding what the moviegoing public wants to view at cinemas - action, fantasy, and escapism. 

Disney had no comment on the film's lackluster performance. I may go view it but then again, I may wait until its streamed.


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Marty Scorsese, You're Biting the Hand That Feeds You!


 Martin Scorsese thinks superhero and monster mega hit movies are bad for the cinema... that's his opinion. He's dead wrong! 


Scorsese at this year's NY Film Fest

He's wrong because the cinema is what consumers make it. Without moviegoers flocking to the mega-hit films there would be no cinema, no actors, no directors, no Marty Scorsese, no Hollywood, no NY Film Festival.

News flash Marty, everything in the world runs on dollars...everything! Saying, the "cinema is devalued, demeaned, belittled from all sides, not necessarily the business side but certainly the art".  But who defines what "art" is. Certainly not Marty and his cinema purist minions. All film is art, be it 'Taxi Driver" or 'Spiderman".

The whole of the theatrical side of cinema is based on popcorn, if you want to be technical. Without concession profits there would be no movie theaters, they would never be able to operate on their share of the box office take. And, without the mega superhero films (with few exceptions, ala "Top Gun") there would be very few butts in seats at cinemas.

"As a filmmaker, and as a person who can't imagine life without cinema, I always find it really insulting" said Marty regarding the current box office which is skewed toward Marvel and DC Comic flix. 

Funny, but although Marty says he loves the cinema his last major project, 'The Irishman' premiered on Netflix and his next endeavor, 'Killers of the Flower Moon' will debut on Apple TV. So much for Marty's love of the movie theater.

It should be noted that superhero portrayer, Keanu Reeves (Matrix, and the John Wick franchises) just severed ties with Scorsese's 'Killers of the Flower Moon' project. This would have been Reeves' first, made for TV role, and apparently his wasn't keen on the idea.

The cinema is a reflection of society. It always has been. Right now, where we're at, society wants escapism not films based upon morals, human frailties, or heavy, emotional ladened plots and characters. They want simple fantasy and escape from the burdens of current life, and that's just what the most profitable and well-attended films provide.

In thinking about it, Scorsese really doesn't have real 'love' for the cinema that he professes because if he did, he would know that society needs what currently fills cinema - movies that offer fantasy through superheroes and surreal worlds. For without these films there would be no cinema.



Sunday, September 25, 2022

The BIG Age Divide in Media Viewing

 Media consumption is multipolar demographically. It's the young vs. the old when it comes to viewing what's important to Americans. A new study commissioned by Variety Media brings light to this demographic divide.

The notion, that consumers of various ages favor different content formats is not new. What has changed, in the digital age, is the emergence of totally different platforms for entertainment. Whereas once young consumers watched MTV instead of CBS, now they watch TicTok and broadcast TV isn't even on the viewing agenda.


Media consumption is multipolar

A Demographic Divide exists in media consumption. The key insights: 

  • media companies must reach consumers on their own preferred platforms
  • traditional media must evolve to changing attitudes to survive
  • there exists a digital divide between young and old consumers, those over 45
  • news outlets are in need of regulation as they are no longer trusted
For companies to thrive a one-size-fits-all mentally is no longer effective.  The media world going forward must be laser-focused on their audience and the platform(s) that audience uses.

Let's Look at the Numbers 

Top 3 Favorite Entertainment Formats by Age Group
  • 15-29: Social Media, Video Games, TV Shows
  • 30-44: TV Shows, Watching Movies, Video Games
  • 45-59: TV Shows, Watching Movies, Video Games
  • 60+: TV Shows, Watching Movies, Listening to Music
TV is not the most entertaining media for the youngest consumers, in contract to other generations. In fact, people 60+ are twice as likely as those below 30 to say TV is their preferred way to entertain themselves.

The strong skew toward Video Game playing with all but the oldest group is significant. This is why media giants like Warners, Discovery, and Netflix are giving this sector so much attention. 


Top 3 Least Favorite Entertainment Formats by Age Group
  • 15-29: Cable News, Watching Sports, Social Media
  • 30-44: Watching Sports, Cable News, Social Media
  • 45-59: Watching Sports, Cable News, Video Games
  • 60+: Watching Sports, Video Games, Social Media
Sports (are you listening NFL) and cable news ranked as the least favorite formats across the age spectrum. Less and less consumers are viewing sports and cable news shows in spite of the fact that sports overall are touted to be an American viewing stable. This is not the case.

This is the reason sports franchises are moving into Web3 and its various marketing components from metaverses to NFTs. To retain their viewing influence sports, cable news, and social media must maintain relevancy with younger consumers, without regard to gender, race, or social status. 

Considering that watching TV isn't as strong for the 15-29s as other groups it is important to reach them via the formats they use in order to maximize potential audience growth. The smartest long-term strategy may be to distribute simultaneously across streaming, social, and TV.

Brand Ranking - 3 Most Entertaining Brands
  • 15-29: YouTube, Netflix, TikTok
  • 30-44: Netflix, YouTube, Facebook
  • the other age groups were not tested for Brand Ranking
The top 3 entertainment brands are all new media for all consumers in the 15-44 age group. This is significant. For all of its current issues, Netflix scores the strongest of all media formats across the demographic range with social media next in line. 

Takeaways

Traditional broadcast and cable TV are, for the most part irrelevant as we move forward, particularly as we transition to Web3 where current social media will also take a backseat. The assumption that consumers will simply become TV or streaming viewers is naive. Going forward consumers will be reached by other formats some of which may not have even been invented as yet.


Cinema Mucho Gusto
a service of 
Entertainment Equipment Corporation




Monday, September 05, 2022

National Cinema Day - Finally, Exhibitors Take CMG's Advice

 


September 3rd debuted National Cinema Day in the U.S., when for $3 anyone could view any movie at a participating cinema.


The notion of a National Cinema Day was the brainchild of Cinema Mucho Gusto. back in 2018, in a post entitled All About the Holidays

In fact, I suggested the celebration be a week-long event given the cinema's long and very important role in the world's history and cultural development. 

The Day however was spearheaded by the Cinema Foundation, a non-profit arm of the National Assoc. of Theaters Owners. 

Advertised as a "thank you" to movie fans, the hope was to draw not only current moviegoers but also people that haven't been back to the cinema for several years. And, by all accounts, did was a great success. Over 8.1 million tickets were sold making it the highest attended day for the year - and grossed over $24.3 million.

The Cinema Foundation described the event as a trial that may become an annual Cinema Day. 

We're glad the industry finally followed our advice and pushed for a National Cinema Day. Now it's time to move for a week-long series of events celebrating the contribution of the cinema. 







Saturday, August 20, 2022

Southeast Europe: The New H'wood of Movie Production

 


Spurred on by low production costs, cash rebates, and limited production capacity in Central European countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic, Hollywood producers are embracing, and flocking to, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia. These countries offer picture-postcard vistas of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Black Seas, forests, and unaltered natural beauty. In addition to old-world cities, towns, and hamlets make fitting sets for many productions.

Croatia, for example, has seen a stream of major production, including: "Game of Thrones", "The Wheel of Time" and "Eagle Eye"  all of which were shot completely in Croatia. 

Expendables 4 - Cast just keeps getting bigger

Greece is one of the hottest locations, closely followed by Serbia - both of which have some of the best production crews in the business.  Bulgaria is another favored location where, for example, a lot of the footage of the "Expendables" franchise was, and is, being shot. These are all places where it is easy to make movies. They have the infrastructure, crews, studio space, and equipment ready for use. 

To avoid a natural rivalry, cross-border collaborations are being established. With Greece operating at capacity this summer, Serbian movie crews were hired. Also, a lot of production is being spread out among several countries which is possible due to their proximity to one another and their EU status which makes labor and travel rules non-issues.







Sunday, August 07, 2022

Cinema Industry Status Report

Movie Theater in 2075?

Each year CMG reported on the status of the movie industry. We derived our information from the internal statistics of the Motion Picture Association of America. However, with the COVID crisis and the implosion of the cinema industry, there was nothing to report during 2019 and 2020. 

2019 saw the return of moviegoers into theaters and although it was not a stellar year by any measure it did indicate the resurgence of attendance. This year will see the renewal of the industry blossom further and 2023 be a 'back-to-normal' year and continue to break attendance records.

The latest MPAA stats indicate that the cinema industry is reaching its pre-pandemic box office level and will, barring any unforeseen dilemma, surpass the 2018 record-breaking box office.

  • The studios have learned that releasing films day-and-date on streaming networks only causes a loss of revenue, overall.
  • Over 175 million people, about 50% of the population visit a U.S. cinema at least once a year.
  • Per capita attendance or the average number of times a person went to the cinema is highest among the 12-17 age group, and among the Hispanic/Latino community. 
  • Frequent moviegoers, in the U.S., or those who attend a movie at least monthly, account for 34% of all tickets sold.
The top three box office markets (in dollar terms) outside the U.S. are China, Japan, and the U.K., with China being the largest overall.

  • 3D films represent only 7% of the global box office.
  • At the end of 2021, there were 208,037 cinema screens worldwide, with the U.S./Canada accounting for 41,882 of that total.
  • Only 387 films were released in the U.S. in 2021, substantially down from the over 900 released in 2018. 2022 will show a back to a normal number of releases.
Demographically, 45% of moviegoers in 2021 were white, 28% Hispanic, 15% black, 9% Asian, and 4% Native.

  • The average moviegoer purchased 2.8 tickets of which 53% were male and 47%, were female.
  • 26% of all admissions were purchased by people 25-39 years of age, 14% - 18-24 years, 13% - 40-49 years, 16% - 2-11 years. 
CMG anticipates 2022 to be a relatively good year for movie theaters. The content is good and steady and the summer and holiday season are shaping up to be very good as people find their way back into cinemas. As with all things, the cost of attending a movie is rising, due mainly to higher food and labor costs, so good management and customer service are paramount. And, it goes without saying, that the presentation must have a perfect or near-perfect on-screen image and great sound.

The future looks bright for the cinema industry. There will be new content distribution modes in the future as cinemas receiving hard drives will come to an end with broadband or satellite distribution taking their place. The cinema industry is alive and well and movie theaters will be part of our culture and way of life for years to come.


Monday, July 25, 2022

The Movies: It's All About Good Story Telling

Great storytelling goes back to man's first retelling of a great hunt or adventure... over the centuries we have learned to communicate through stories. 

What did you do today? Where did you go? How was school? Work? Your Vacation? A story unfolds. We live via stories - in books, magazines, TV shows, movies, social media, etc. 

So, it is no surprise that the best movies evolve from the best stories with the best characters. These characters become familiar and are seen in recurring stories through film franchises. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Bat-Man, and a slew of superheroes all have become wedded to our story-based needs. 

Marvel's Storied Superheroes and Villians 

The rise of these 'mega-narratives' has been an avenue for Hollywood to amass  great fortune. Marvel hero-based films have grossed over $22 billion, while the Star Wars saga $11 billion, and Harry Potter $9 billion. And that's all before the tally from toys, games, merch, and theme parks.

But, the issue is not that the media giants continue to feed us more of the same but why is our demand for franchise films so never-ending.  Why do we continue to flock to the 10th Star Wars movie?  What is the need for us to keep coming back for more? Well, it's the story, stupid. 

Mega-narratives have been around since man began to gather in clans. Storytelling is a primal activity. And like folk tales, movies offer stories that can be retold over and over again. We view these films, knowing the premise and the outcome, it's just the details that surprise us. 

Religion and the Bible or patriotic tales of war and history were providers of the social and moral answers we looked to but these stories have made way for new myths based on pop culture heroes and new religions - the Jedi religion (yes, it exists) offers a message of universal unity. 

J K Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter story, with Warner's cast  

Everyone who views a Spider-Man film knows the premise of a high school boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and thus gains superpowers. This story has been told at least three times in different films. So the notion that a great story has to be entirely new to be a success at the box office is wrong. 

It's questionable whether or not today's mega franchises will still be enjoyed by people centuries from now. But the fact remains that the huge popularity of great stories proves that no matter how much we change. our need for great stories remains constant.



Monday, July 18, 2022

Vue Cinemas Gets New Life

 Across the pond, cinemas, like their U.S. brethren, are recouping from two years of pandemic-induced box office destruction.


Vue International, the third-largest cinema chain in Europe, was taken over last week by a group of lenders, as part of a restructuring deal worth $1.18billion.

The deal involves a debt-for-equity swap which effectively wiped out $465 million of debt from Vue's current owners. The remaining leaders have taken majority ownership of the cinema exhibition chain.

"With the support of all sides, including shareholders and lenders, we're now in a position where we can move forward and get back to what we're really good at", stated Vue's founder and CEO Tim Richards.

Vue had been on an acquisition spree pre-pandemic and had purchased a number of cinemas across Europe. It currently operates 2,000 screens in nine European markets. Richards says the deal will help the company return " to its buy-and-build strategy".


Like most cinema chains, the Vue is currently enjoying a box office come-back post-pandemic, coupled with a healthy slate of movie mega-hits makes for a perfect situation to get back on track. Good luck Vue!.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

K-Pop Leads The Way As Web3 & Entertainment Merge

 

K-Pop Mega-stars BTS Group

I have previously posted on the link between the movie industry and Web3. I have also predicted that this merger will be significant and usher in a new wave of content for cinemas to screen.

A recent event, which was underreported, was a collaboration inked between Disney and BTS (the world's most popular K-Pop group). K-Pop is the name for Korean Pop Culture which is currently the rage in music across the globe. 

The deal includes five exclusive projects featuring BTS and is undoubtedly a coup for Disney as it seeks to ramp up global subscribership to Disney+.

All of BTS's live performances are also streamed live worldwide which is the reason why their U.S. tour, which was only three days in duration, grossed $90 million. The Korean music industry, is the world's 7th largest and fastest growing. It is predicted that it will reach 5th place in 3 - 5 years.

Although K-Pop is very success, the technology continues to evolve and it was really no surprise that Korea would be the first to introduce virtual bands within Web3 metaverses. 

BTS virtural avatars

These virtual performances debuted last year to great success and I see cyberbands  becoming adjacent and equally successful as real performers.

 

Monday, July 04, 2022

Cine'polis Greenlights IMAX Dine-in Theater

Cine'polis, the Mexican cinema chain, announced that a new venue will offer waiter-service throughout a new 12-plex luxury cinema complete with a 300-seat IMAX auditorium. 


Scheduled to open in the spring of 2023, the Inglewood, CA location will be adjacent to the SoFi Stadium, home to the LA Rams and the largest NFL stadium with over a 70,000-seat capacity. Dubbed the 'Luxury Cinema', this will be one of the world's only dine-in IMAX theaters.

Cine'polis operates theaters in eight U.S. states and has nine locations in Southern California. "We want to bring the best cinema experience and offer moviegoers luxury at affordable prices", says Luis Olloqui, CEO of Cine'polis USA.


A Cine'polis dine-in theater

The biggest challenge according to Olloqui was figuring out waiter service for the IMAX. With its 300 seats, the auditorium is often sold out during the first several weeks of a film debut. The service has to be fast, courteous, and delicious - that's a big challenge in terms of service and a right-sized kitchen. All of the food is prepared from scratch.

The lobby will have the look and feel of a 5-star hotel. Cine'polis's strategy is that it has to compete against the streaming platforms and not other cinemas. Therefore, the cinema experience must offer a combination of large screen size, top-quality sound, comfortable chairs, and impeccable service. A very different experience than home-viewing. 

The name Cine'polis translates to 'City of Cinema'. The chain has 427 theaters and it's the world's fourth-largest cinema chain with over 6,200 screens.

If you read CMG with any regularity, you know I have a firm belief that the cinema is in the beginning of a major comeback as an entertainment destination. This belief is based upon a whole variety of reasons and it appears Cine'polis is in agreement.



Sunday, July 03, 2022

Kevin Hart Goes Web3 Big-time!

 Kevin Hart is the latest celeb to embrace Web3 as he dives into the NFT and Metaverse worlds. A popular actor-comedian-entrepreneur, Hart is looking to extend his brand, make bank, and have fun in the process. 


A sampling of Hart's NFT images

His foray into Web3 is multi-tactical. He is premiering an original TV docu, which will be aired on Roku called, "Confessions From the Hart". This show reenacts moments from Hart's life, as narrated by him. To coincide with this show his media company, Hartbeat, will release a limited number of NFTs that will allow fans to access bonus content for "Confessions From the Hart" in the Kevin Hart Nation Metaverse, 'Screening Room', developed in partnership with Web3 platform Moonwalk and virtual entertainment company Virtua.

There will be 10,000 NFTs minted and will sell for $65 each. They will be available for purchase via credit card of with Ethereum coins. In addition to the tokens the NFTs will carry member benefits, such as first-rights to tickets for Hart's upcoming comedy tour. Hartbeat is also launching a Discord.

"My favorite thing to do is make people lauch, and with Hartbeat's expansion into the metaverse and Web3 we will have exponential opportunities to bring huor and comedy to a whole new audience," says Hart.

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, Roku reached U.S. households with an estimated 80 million people.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Kids Just Want To Have FUN!

 Like most of us, children have very short attention spans. Content has to grab them quickly and keep them amused - and that goes double for movies.

Animated films are generally expected to deliver kid fun that satisfy parents as well. The recent, "Sonic The Hedgehog 2" is a great example of this and as such, generated over $400 million globally.

Young kids want FUN movies

On the flip-side is animation that is not kid friendly... such as Pixar films, which are story and message-based. Pixar movies are good but they are not kid-fun movies. They are too complicated in plot and not what parents look for as content for their young children. Understanding a Pixar film means getting up to speed with the backstory and kids don't walk into cinemas knowing all of the ins and outs of the storyline and the plots are confusing for them. An example is the latest Pixar, "Lightyear", which required knowing who Buzz was from a previous film "Toy Story". "Lightyear" grossed about $150 million worldwide.

The upcoming "Minions: The Rise of Gru" is a perfect kid-fun film and I am expecting it to gross as much as the first "Minions" which took in over $1.2 billion globally, 

CryptoFilms Present Huge Upside for Cinemas

Films based upon Web3 components will begin to dominate the box office! 

That's quite a statement for me to make but I truly believe films based upon NFTs, Discords, and metaverses will eventually dominate the cinema box office. The beginnings of this evolution are starting to coalesce and represent a new wave of big-screen viewing.


Reese Witherspoon
Several films based upon NFT collectibles are already in production. The Bored Ape Yacht Club series and the World of Women series will be screened in cinemas by next year. And many more, let's call them CryptoFilms, are in the works. Celebs like Reese Witherspoon, who is producing the World of Women film, are instigating and backing these projects. 

One very interesting CryptoFilm will be a biopic called "The Infinite Machine" which adds a metaverse component to the mix. This film (which is based on a book of the same name) tells the story of Vitalik Buterin, which anyone in the Web3 community knows was the developer of the Ethereum blockchain and the Ethereum crypto coin (the second most valuable digital currency next to Bitcoin).

Vitalik Buterin
Vitalik was 19 when he developed the Layer 1 Ethereum blockchain which has become the blockchain of choice when trading NFTs. He conceptualized the Ethereum blockchain in 2013 which went live in 2015. The film's associated NFT collection (which has already been in two pre-film sales with more to come) is a series of ETH logos from no less than 36 artists from around the globe. These original images are then enhanced (using an auto-imaging program) into 10,499 unique NFTs.

Decentraland, a virtual metaverse that uses an open-source protocol to run its blockchain, is managed as a DAO (a Web3 decentralized autonomous organization). The agreement between Versus, the film's production company, Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions, and Decentraland envisions that the film and its NFT collection will be developed and integrated into the Decentraland metaverse. 

Lumiere, a Hong Kong/Singapore-based entertainment specialist, will be tasked with developing and integrating the experience of the film and engaging its audiences into the Decentraland metaverse. 

The film industry's outreach into the metaverse will be immense and films such as "The Infinite Machine" will bolster mainstream audiences' further acceptance and understanding of Web3 and all of its many facets. 



Saturday, June 04, 2022

Cannes, Not So 'Cheeri' This Year

 

                                       Promenade de la Croisette, Cannes

Cannes is an idyllic place. Picturesque, with a deep-blue sea cascading on a crescent-shaped beach, all surrounded by beautiful resorts, hotels, inns, homes, cafes, and 3-Star Michelins. 

Cannes is the perfect spot for the top-tier glitterati of the entertainment world, rich moguls, jet-setters, and mega-yacht owners to spend a few days enjoying each other's company, back-slapping, and presenting one another kudos and awards. An opportunity to see and be seen by the very top of global media.

                        Women from Argentina protesting that country's abortion law

But, like many things in life, Cannes is but a facade (like a Hollywood set) where behind the scenes lurks a much less tranquil and beautiful side. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending upon which side you're on) this year's festival was festooned with protests, malcontents, and disrupters. 

French women (with a list of names) of those sexually abused since the last festival

Dressed all in black, women from the feminist movement Les Colleusesa walked the red carpet with the names of women who were victims of domestic violence since the last Cannes festival. They filled the air with thick, black smoke to reinforce their claim to be noticed. 

This event took place two days after a topless woman stormed the red carpet protesting against sexual violence. The words, "stop raping us" were written in paint across her abdomen. She ran screaming down the runway until security took her away.


These incidents were just those that got to the red carpet there were many others outside the parameters of the festive.

Cannes ain't what it used to be. But, hey, join the club. Everything in every society around the world is polarized. Everyone has picked their spot on the spectrum and is going with it. Nowhere (and no one) not even Cannes can escape. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

For Disney and Netflix Woke Don't Work

In their quest to appease ultraliberal social norms and dictates both Disney and Netflix have gotten on the wrong side of history.

Last year I authored an essay entitled "Woke Don't Work" , in it I explained that adoption of woke causes does nothing to enhance a company's revenue and may, in fact, hurt it. How much pain will Disney and Netflix suffer from their woke posturing is significant.

Let's take Disney first. Over the last decade, Disney has become more liberal in embracing social causes and woke positions. Yesterday, that all came to a head when the Florida State Legislature passed a bill ending Disney's special tax privileges and self-governing perks that were established years ago when Walt Disney was building Disney World. Repealing these corporate perks will cost Disney tens of millions.



This all occurred last month when Disney went full-out in denouncing a State law that prohibited elementary schools from teaching sex education to children 8 and under. Disney received wide condemnation for this. Why Disney management feels the need to get involved in these woke issues is beyond reason.  However, they will suffer the consequences. Disney stock has gone from a high of 185 to its current price of 121 or a 35% loss in value over the last 12 months, my prediction is that it will trend lower given its social posture and the inflationary economy we find ourselves in - which is principally due to the Biden administration's war on fossil fuels.


Netflix has faired much worst. Their capitulation to Hollywood's wokism by producing content that is geared toward the left politically has gotten Netflix a decrease in subscriptions for the first time in its history. Its stock price bears this out. Over the last year Netflix stock price has gone from $687 to $218 or an eye-popping 69%. 

Corporations need to learn that taking on social or political issues is risky and does not to enhance their bottom line or their acceptance by consumers. Being good corporate citizens is a must for any company of size but totally embracing left-leaning political causes is dangerous and demonstrates a high degree of mismanagement.

Wokism can be used as a marketing tool but with the caveat that its use rquires carefull research and a light touch.

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Captain America Comic Fetches $3.1 Million

 


An 'almost' mint #1 issue of 'Captain America' sold for $3.1 million last week. At 82 years of age, the comic's cover depicts Cap America 'powing' Hitler.

Captain America is the story of a weak-kneed man, Steve Rogers, who is injected with a serum that transforms him into a super-soldier. An instant hit, upon its debut, only three copies in near mint condition exist of the thousands published in 1940. 

The $3.1 million price tag is the 3rd highest recorded. A comic featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man sold for $3.6 million in 2021, while an Action Comic #1 sold for $3.2 million in 2014.


Saturday, April 02, 2022

China Gives Hollywood The Bum's Rush

 


For years, Hollywood studios have wooed China - and the CCP knew just how to play them. Like dangling a pork chop in front of a hungry dog China promised a huge box office. And, like many industries before and now, there wasn't a Chinese apple that wouldn't be shined or a boot that wasn't licked as the studios aided China in building new production facilities, readopting plots, rewriting scripts, edited films, and generally kowtowing to every Chinese censors' wish. Now, Chinese-produced films are breaking box office records while Hollywood films are shunned. 

You can blame it on a new wave of Chinese nationalism but this scenario has been played out many times before. In 2021, only 20 U.S. titles were released in China, representing only 12% of the total Chinese box office. In 2012, for example, Hollywood films garnered 48% of the box office and in 2016, 36%. It has been a steady downtrend which will continue.

There was much hype over the scale of the Chinese market by H'wood. The studios sadly and naively thinking they would dominate it. Now, the few Western films that are screened are highly censored and their releases as to when and where are dictated. 

There is no doubt that the Chinese movie market is the largest on the planet but in reality, the notion of  Hollywood grabbing a large share of it is but a dream! Perhaps the studios will finally learn that the CCP doesn't care for their social views, and wokeness even if they bow to or dismiss China's multitude of social, moral, political, and environmental sins there is still no room for them at the table.

China has given Hollywood the bum's rush and deservedly so. Fiascos, such as the 'slap' incident at the Oscars, or Amy Schumer suggesting that President Zelensky leave Ukraine to make a speech at the Academy Awards while waging a war with Russia demonstrate how out of touch with reality the Hollywood glitterati is.

"Sorry,  I can't make it I'm in the middle of a war"

One would have thought that Western companies have learned their lessons when it comes to conducting business in China - but I'm afraid that's not the case. Just yesterday, the CCP informed Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, that Apple would have to produce the chips that run iPhones in China, hmmm sounds familiar. 




 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

RUST ...The Saga Continues

 As a follow-up to our other posts on the 'Rust' movie and Alec Baldwin, the latest news is that the Directors Guild of America issued orders to all of its members to stop working on a related project.


Baldwin with the backdrop of the 'Rust' movie set

Citing safety concerns, the Guild issued a directive to stop work on the teen genre film 'Oak' being produced by Thomasville Pictures, one of the companies behind 'Rust'.

The Guild informed its members that they should stop work on "Oak' and leave the set or face union discipline. 

Representatives of the Guild informed the producers of specific safety requirements that needed to be satisfied for the film to be covered under a Guile agreement. According to a spokesperson for the Directors Guild, "The producers failed to meet those conditions".

And so the sage of 'Rust' continues. Baldwin has now disavowed all responsibility for the on-set shooting in which one person was killed and another severely injured - although he was the shooter. CMG will continue to follow this story as events unfold.








Mission Impossible's Real-life Mission

 

Six films and two to go - #7 & #8 Missions

The Mission Impossible franchise has raked in close to $4 billion in admissions. That is six films about a super spy, Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise. The MI franchise is based upon an American TV series of the same name which was created by Bruce Geller. Then in 1996 the first (in the now 8 film franchise) was released and from that point on the films have been one of Paramount's best moneymakers.

However, things aren't so rosy between Cruise and Paramount these days, as his lawyers have notified the studio that he was not happy with the 45 days theatrical release window - much shorter than his usual three-month cinema release - before streaming to Paramount+. 

So, the production of MI #7 was put on ice, and filming of MI#8 started. MI 7s release has been postponed four times and is now scheduled for release in July 2023, but on hold pending resolution of the release issue while working on #8. 

Cruise, who has creative control over the films, wants the longer cinema release window for both films. So, the notion that the studio has control over Cruise and the films' budget is wrong. Cruise is a guy that is incredibly detailed and willing to put an enormous amount of time and effort into every detail of the films. But, the still-unfinished #7 has already blown through $290 million as there is a relentless drive for bigger and better stunts and more and more shooting locations. 

At this time, Paramount has no other big, surefire franchises and #7 and #8 (both untitled as yet) will be big moneymakers. So, Cruise has Paramount under a barrel, and Paramount, like all other studios, is desperate for tentpoles.

Looks like we'll have to wait until 2023 to see another MI, but it should be worth the wait.





Monroe Biopic Gets NC-17 Rating

 The Motion Picture Association of America has given the new Netflix biopic on Marilyn Monroe an NC-17 adult-only rating.

The film stars Ana de Armas as the iconic Monroe and the rating was based upon sexual content. It is no surprise that a well-made depiction of Monroe would carry this rating. Monroe was not adverse to nude pictures of herself, she was the pin-up in the first issue of Playboy. She was a Hollywood sex kitten and liked playing that role. 

                                          Ana de Armas and Monroe

'Blonde' was "a demanding movie and one of true depiction. It's an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it's kind of what one would expect," says Director Andrew Dominik. 

CMG agrees. A film of Monroe's life, if depicted truthfully, would be rated as an adult film. Try to catch the film at your local 'art' cinema as mainstream theater circuits are wary of screening NC-17s. I can't wait to see it.


Monday, March 07, 2022

Can The Academy Resuscitate The Oscar

 This year's Oscar Awards show represents a pivotal point in its history. This year is meant to "be a fun and engaging telecast for all viewers", according to Will Parker, this year's show producer. Really!

The Oscar is going to need a lot more than a snort of coke to revive 


The show will have three hosts, (Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes - all three old-school SNL-type comics which makes for a big yawn) so you start with this as a challenge from the get-go. Additionally, there has developed a major riff regarding the Academy's decision to pre-record eight 'craft' awards and disperse them throughout the show. Many in the industry strongly feel this degrades the work of filmmakers in general.

All of this aside, the fact remains that no matter how the Oscars are presented, in what format, who hosts, what awards are given live and which are not - the show has no relevance to fans.

The Oscars have to have a whole make-over from top-to-bottom. Award the relevant films no matter the genre. This show should be all about entertainment and should be aired as an entertainment property. 

The Academy misses the point on the relevance of the Oscars. It is not a night to honor celebrities it is a night to honor moviegoers. The emphasis should be placed on the user and not the provider.

A core group is going to watch the show no matter what, but that core gets smaller each year. Viewers and movie fans have many choices and their choice is to be entertainment not to view a half-assed, pretentious, forced-humor, social-speak fashion/award show of the same old.