Warner Bros has announced MultiVersus - a video game that draws from all of its IP and allows players to fight a very broad variety of Warners properties including:
- Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy
- Superman, voiced by George Newbern
- Wonder Woman, voiced by Abby Trott
- Harley Quinn, voiced by Tara Strong
- Shaggy (Scooby-Doo), voiced by Matthew Lillard
- Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes), voiced by Eric Bauza
- Arya Stark (Game of Thrones), voiced by Maisie Williams
- Jake the Dog (Adventure Time), voiced by John DiMaggio
- Finn the Human (Adventure Time), voiced by Jeremy Shada
- Steven Universe, voiced by Daniel DiVenere
- Garnet (Steven Universe), voiced by Estelle
- Tom and Jerry, voiced by Eric Bauza
- Reindog (an original character for MultiVersus), voiced by Andrew Frankel
And those are just the characters and actors announced so far. This is a fun use of the IP and I'm pretty keen to smash some Warner Bros characters. A shame it won't include the Warner Bros or their sister Dot.
The game will be free to play, but will require players to make in-game purchases - booooo!!!. It will launch on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC via Steam. No Nintendo Switch? Boooooo!!!!!
That time Warner Bros tried to sell itself to Disney
The must-read book of Christmas is James Andrew Miller's latest oral history opus Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers. The book takes us into the almost 50 year history of HBO, charting its origins through to the modern day. It examines the business of the channel, along with thorough examinations of key TV shows like The Sopranos, The Larry Sanders Show, Sex & The City, etc. If you're the sort of person getting Always Be Watching in your inbox each day, you're more than likely going to be like me and desperately hoping it is under your Christmas tree this year. (And then, disappointed, ordering it on Amazon on the afternoon of Dec 25).
There's a really good interview with Miller about his book on the Recode Media podcast. Lots of great stories told, which adds some really important context to conversations around the sale of WarnerMedia (like that time that the company tried to sell itself to Disney following a failed attempt by Rupert Murdoch to by the company and how that led to AT&T buying the company that no one else wanted).
What is especially fascinating to me about all of this from here in Australia is that we look at that HBO library as the golden egg of streaming. The company that has HBO shows is THE must-have streamer. Even if that is more perception than the reality. Whatever happens to WarnerMedia has repercussions that impact the entire media eco-system here in Australia. One can comfortably argue that WarnerMedia being handled as a football this past decade has shaped the Australian market more than any other US media entity that isn't Netflix.
Is the US Today the future of linear TV?
About a decade ago on my old Televised Revolution site I made the case for an Australian network to licence the rights to the then-new HuffPo live TV service. The streaming channel was a live, linear service attached to the Huffington Post website that featured live interviews and opinion segments. It ran through a good bulk of the day. HuffPo Live was shuttered a few years later due to lack of viewership, but one could easily argue that the service was just too early. You could easily imagine that channel being popular now on services like Pluto TV or Peacock in the US.
My argument for it to be licensed in Australia was that the future of general entertainment broadcast TV was limited and that the future of linear was in news-talk and sports. HuffPo live would be cheap-to-produce, engaging TV.
That was firmly in my mind as I considered this feature from Variety on the changing nature of the US Today show. It has evolved from being just a breakfast-time morning news-talk show to fully fleshing out its lifestyle segments and taking the brand to 24/7 streaming on platforms like Peacock and Pluto TV.
Here's Today host Savannah Guthrie talking about the changing attitudes towards producing content for the new channel:
“I think there was a time when we felt like, ‘Oh, this digital thing? This passing fad?’” says Guthrie. “Now I think we fully recognize this is where the future is. This is where the action is.”
A Today channel isn't there to capture the attention of younger viewers. It's identity seems based around engaging older viewers who have had Today in their lives since they were kids. But that will evolve. One can easily imagine a time where more resources are going into the Today channel with original shows hosted by younger talent and subject matter which appeals to younger audiences.
Content evolves. The audience changes. But if Today wants to remain viable as a brand after the broadcast signals are shut off, this is a step in the right direction.
Has Hollywood just innovated its way out of the backlot?
How I Met Your Father is a spin-off/reboot/reconceptualisation of How I Met Your Mother - a fairly dopey relationship comedy. That show tended to use almost exclusively indoor sets, but would occasionally step out onto the backlot to film outdoor scenes. The backlot are those large fake streets used at movie/TV studios that are re-purposed for all sorts of different shows. (I think HIMYM was using the New York backlot streets at Universal).
But when How I Met Your Father launches, it is going to be using some technology that may see the end of the studio backlot. It's the same technology that we've seen used to transport the Mandalorian and his little pal Grogu across to faraway lands. Only instead of taking viewers to Tattooine, viewers can now be whisked away to far-off New York districts like Dowisetrepla.
The show has been making use of the Infinity - it's the large background, immersive screen technology that can render in real time realistic-looking backgrounds.
Leveraging the use of virtual production technology into episodic television production, Disney General Entertainment Content and Disney Television Studios partnered with Lucasfilm’s ILM to convert the historic Stage 1 at the Disney plant into a cutting-edge virtual production facility using ILM’s StageCraft toolset.
This is brand new technology and was utilised by How I Met Your Father to film a scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. But as the technology becomes used more and more, making it cheaper and cheaper to utilise, say goodbye to Hollywood using backlot sets which look fake and repetitive. And say hello to more shows that look like they are filming on location using these computer-animated backgrounds.
BTW, the show returns Jan 18 on Hulu. No word yet on international distribution, but one presumes this will land on Star.
- Martin Scorsese has his next movie lined up. He's sticking with Apple TV+ for a new film about the Grateful Dead starring Jonah Hill as Jerry Garcia. Read: Variety
- The Lizzy Caplan TV series Fleishman's In Trouble now has its Fleishman. He'll be played by Jesse Eisenberg. How excellent. Read: Deadline
- The Benny Hill Show is coming back to TV with classic episodes airing in the UK for the first time in almost 20 years. It'll air on Freeview pop-up channel That’s TV Christmas (which replaces That’s TV Gold. Read: Radio Times
- Lupin pt 3 is in production in France. Read: Variety
Don't call it a movie. Or a special. It's a 'special event'. The first of multiple South Park 'special events' debuts on Paramount+ Nov 25. This leaps to the future with some adult South Park boys.
The Gilded Age debuts on HBO Jan 24.
Dec 22 returns Emily to Paris with season 2 of Emily in Paris on Netflix.
Pam & Tommy debuts Feb 2 on Hulu (why not hold it back until Valentine's Day, Hulu?)
What's next? Tomorrow.