Tag Archives: Film Industry

James Bond Will Return… With Free Shipping

Last week, I mentioned the big news that was AT&T’s retreat from WarnerMedia (still to be approved). And, as many people have noticed, media consolidation continues apace.

This week’s revelation? Amazon is looking to buy MGM.

“Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to increase our market share!”

Now, since MGM has been trying to sell itself for a while, this may not come as a surprise, but what this means for consolidation… well, who knows?

Media Mashup as Discovery to Acquire WarnerMedia

I first learned of this over the weekend in an LA Times piece, but AT&T, who only a few years ago, bought Time Warner in a bid to become a new powerhouse entertainment ecosystem, is planning to sell its media goodies to Discovery Communications.

The resulting combination of scripted and unscripted shows, films, and assorted media could be peanut butter & chocolate or cookies & okra. I honestly don’t know and don’t particularly have a battlebot in this fight.

Photo via Getty Images/Bloomberg from Ars Technica article

But from both the LA Times above, a piece in Ars Technica, and one from the New York Times that the various Conventional Wisdom is abuzz amongst the factions that are wont to have Opinions and Conventional Wisdom: other media companies, telecoms, Wall Street — and the people who follow media companies, telecoms, and Wall Street.

Now, all of this is dependent on shareholders and regulators agreeing to the sale, but there’s sure to be ripples from this.

Theater Strategy Post-Covid

I’ve been watching how theater and film productions have been coping with the pandemic (as you can see from June, July, and earlier in December). Safely producing new works is important not only considering my role in running Jabberwocky Audio Theater, but also thinking of my many colleagues whose livelihood requires being on stages and sets.

Federal Theater Project production of Macbeth, 1936 (Library of Congress)

So this article in Fortune, not my usual source for theater news, was an interesting read. Author Michael Barra puts forth some predictions about how theater may change, starting with Broadway and how the tourist percentage of audiences will drop, and then taking that change and extrapolating out to theater trends overall.

Considering how many performers are affected outside of Broadway, I hope cities and localities begin to look to how ‘creatives’ can help the economy (as, in truth, they have always done).

Warner Bros. Decides to Upend Theatrical Releases

Just shy of two weeks ago, Warner Brothers decided to drop a bombshell by saying that all their 2021 films would simultaneously go onto their streaming service, HBO Max, along with theaters, as reported in industry publications, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

Some of the 2021 film slate (photos courtesy of Macall Polay/Warner Bros.)

This announcement broke a certain segment of the Internet the Thursday it dropped because –shockingly– Warner Bros. evidently didn’t let any of their producing partners know.

And that’s a big deal, not simply from being courteous to your business partners, but there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake since a big way production companies and above-the-line people get money is through profit participation in the theatrical ticket sales.

Now, Warners evidently wants to mitigate this by generously estimating what the ticket sales might have been and paying the profit participants thusly as they’ve done for the director and star of Wonder Woman 1984.

Of course, this may mean money is left on the table as far as directors, stars, and producing partners are concerned –to say nothing of potential problems with existing contracts. Director and lover of the big, big screen, Christopher Nolan is reportedly furious. And the director of the new version of Frank Herbert’s epic saga is absolutely incensed — in part, fearing that this move might tank the possibility of this kicking off a proper Dune franchise (a lot of books have been written in this series).

If you know The Business, a weekly news show about the entertainment industry led by veteran report Kim Masters, you might expect they have something to say about it and they do.

The week of the announcement, they devote much of the opening segment to it (where it really drives home how much Warner Bros. did not tell anyone this was coming). And the episode this past weekend is all about it.

We knew there would be more and more of shift to streaming in the next few years, but what falls out from this attempted unilateral shift by the Bros remains to be seen.

Keeping COVID Safe on Set

For my colleagues who are going back into production, stay safe.

Aimee La Joie has your back.

A Great Disturbance in the Mouse

2020 continues to be decade of twists and turns stuffed into one unrepentant year.

Now, the whole future of filmed entertainment might be changing course because a certain large House of Mouse has recently said it’s focusing on streaming.

Make no mistake. This is big.

John August on Professionalism

Back in 2006, writer John August wrote (and presented) a really great talk called “Professionalism and the Rise of the Amateur.” It drew on his own experience as a writer, but it could be applied to other jobs — basically, anywhere where you’re trying to be “professional” — and what that word means, really.

Well, lots of things have happened since then, as he recounts as he revisits and expands (and corrects) some of those thoughts in “Professionalism in the Age of the Influencer.

Both are worth a read, but feel free to skip to the second one if you’re pressed for time, as he recounts some of the larger points.

More on Getting Back to Set

Earlier this week, Cirque Du Soleil announced it was filing for bankruptcy and Broadway said it was going to be shuttered until January 2021. It’s grim for folks in the entertainment industry.

Still people are trying to figure out how to get some productions back in gear, especially film and TV. Last week, I shared some guidance the film industry has been working on.

This week, catching up on Scriptnotes, I heard their late May roundtable about getting back on set which I figured would be useful too.

Short version? It’s not a bad time to be in animation.

Guidance for Filmmaking in a COVID World

Starting last Friday, Hollywood began starting to tentatively resume work since basically all major productions shut down.

Read all the guidance and take it slow, people.

This does mean a fair number of changes, from face masks for audience members to ending buffet meals on set. The industry has created a pretty detailed white paper (note the link is a PDF) that covers recommended actions from personal hygiene to food on set to particular production concerns.

For those of us that aren’t major studio productions, this is still good information to bear in mind.

Netflix and a “Less is More” Strategy

I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed how much content seems to be slipping away from Netflix as more and more companies take their metaphorical Matchbox cars and go home. And by “home,” I mean “create their own streaming service.”

Rani Molla, writing in Vox, goes into how Netflix is trying to do more with less content, including more subscribers and more awards.

The article itself covers a number of topics, including how –two years after I was reading about it– Netflix really has succeeded in getting more of its content to be homemade.

I mean, I understand they want to have some legitimacy, prestige, and a glowing reputation. I just want it to have over 10,000 titles. And, by gum, I want it to be an online streaming archive akin to the old Leonard Maltin Movie Guides. How about that, Turner Classic Movies (TCM)? How about you work on curating all that awesome content you do and just let Netflix distribute it. Change money as makes sense.

What’s that you say? TCM is part of Warner Brotheres which is part of AT&T and that’s doing it’s own streaming service so there’s no chance in Hell or Gotham that might idea of Netflix-as-distributor will come to pass?

Rats.