A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Christians vs Netflix(?). PLUS: The death of cinema. And could ER return?
Always Be Watching is curated by the ever-antagonistic Dan Barrett
The most interesting article floating around the Internet today is this New York Times piece that speaks to a whole bunch of very well-known creatives who work in and around movies discussing the shaky future of theatrical movie distribution over the next 10 years.
There were 350 more movies released theatrically in the United States last year than there were when “Avatar” came out in 2009. The same thing’s happening on television. There just used to be fewer of everything — fewer movie stars, too — and when the numbers start to get up this high, you start to lose the trees for the forest.
I’ve never felt the nervous energy in Hollywood that I’ve felt over the last 12 months, and it increases every day. There’s an uncertainty about the future, because the change is happening in an incredibly dramatic way.
I don’t feel particularly optimistic about the traditional theatrical experience, especially for independent films.
And those quotes are just from the start of the article.
Good Omens is a short-run mini-series that was recently released to Amazon Prime Video customers.
Members of the US Foundation for a Christian Civilisation didn’t much care for the themes of the show, which posited that an everyday boy was the antichrist, so they started a petition. 20,000 of them signed it.
That petition was addressed to Netflix and demanded that the mini-series, which was both already released and complete, be cancelled.
I was deliberately antagonistic in a Twitter thread yesterday about the idea of Netflix being forced to meet a quota with local Australian-produced content. It’s a complicated idea with a lot of nuance that needs to be considered. But, I just went ahead and blamed the local industry for not meeting the challenge of a Netflix rather than forcing Netflix to play by local rules.
Mostly, I was just looking to start the conversation up from a different perspective to the norm.
Things that also need to be considered in the idea of local quotas:
Unlike broadcast networks, Netflix isn’t using limited broadcast spectrum. So, how can we impose a local quota on them as they serve media from overseas? If we’re to do this, do we also need to adapt this thinking to other online media - why doesn’t the Washington Post carry more stories written and produced from Australia?
Netflix has a really clear business model that one can lay a quota on, but what about its competitors. When Disney+ launches, will it too need to have a mandated volume of Australian original production? And how does that marry against the fact all the rest of its content is heavily based on existing Disney IP?
I tend to feel that a quota isn’t the right approach. But, there has to be a solution. My general thinking is that instead of forcing global services to produce content, Australia needs to better fund local platforms that are Australian controlled that can be used to tell Australian stories. There is an organisation that’s already purpose-built for that. It’s called the ABC.
And considering how many large international (and local) companies don’t pay their fair share of tax, maybe that’s a place to start if it is to be funded properly.
Buffy spin-off Angel celebrates its 20th anniversary in October and EW has a fun look back at the show, interviewing most of the cast and side-stepping some of the thorny-issues of the show’s changing cast members over the series run.
Welcome to the future of filmmaking - in making The Lion King, director Jon Favreau built the computer animated world he’d created as a 360 degree VR experience that would allow all of the people making the movie able to experience the virtual sets instead of it simply being a bluescreen experience.
ER creator John Wells on whether we might see a revival of that show:
“We made an awful lot of ERs, 331 episodes. That’s a lot of hours, so I can’t imagine that we would, but if somebody came in with a really interesting idea about how to do it, we might.”
The problem with hospital shows post-ER is that they all have a premise that is too-loaded. Such as doctors working at a high-tech hospital, or there’s a new doctor who’s about to die and is determined to tear down the bureaucracy of a hospital. ER was great in that it had a simple premise and elegant execution.
The good idea that would bring back ER: Noah Wyle’s show just got cancelled, WarnerMedia has a new streaming service that could use a great flagship show, and people still go to hospitals.