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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Falling On Deaf-ears?

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.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Netflix for FREE!

 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 Cracks Down On Fan Culture

 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. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Mad Max 'Crazy' Vehicles To Be Auctioned

 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.

Box Office Rebounds 68% Over 2020 Results

 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.