Today in Australian cinemas the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark is finally being released. It debuted last month in the US and tanked at the box office (but reportedly did well in terms of streaming viewership via HBO Max).
It isn't a great movie. It's not terrible, but it isn't what it could be. The film lacks ambition and fails to feel theatrical for most of its runtime. It certainly doesn't capture the spirit or quality of the original TV show.
Series creator David Chase wrote the script for it, but was unable to direct the film as planned - his wife had gotten sick and that took him away from it all. What Chase saw - he didn't like. Here's David Chase talking about the film in a really cryptic way:
I didn’t like the movie.
Additional scenes filmed after a COVID shutdown improved it in Chase's eyes. But one gets the sense that he wasn't happy with it. That didn't stop him signing a five year deal with Warners with more Sopranos on the agenda. The release of the film saw a massive spike for HBO Max - not just with the movie, but with the original series.
Warners want Chase to do a follow-up series that connects the film with the start of the TV series. This is something Chase is not eager to do. What does he want to do?
I would do one more movie.
Nobody can accuse Chase of being overly subtle.
Alvin & The Chipmunks are for sale
Ross Bagdasarian Jr. (the son of Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian) and his wife, Janice Karman privately own Bagdasarian Productions which has Alvin & The Chipmunks as its biggest IP. They're looking to sell the company, with talks underway with companies like ViacomCBS and private equity firms.
Right now there is a landgrab underway with big media companies buying up independently held IP. Just recently we saw the sale of the Roald Dahl library to Netflix. This is a sale of similar purpose (but worth about half as much as the Dahl deal with Bagdasarian Productions seeking a $300 million sale).
Also for sale: CoCoMelon
Parents of young kids will be acutely aware of the 12-episode animated Netflix show CoCoMelon - it is one of the biggest titles on Netflix and that has been the case for a good year or so now. CoCoMelon owners Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., is set to sell to Blackstone Group for $2.75 billion.
My deeply-considered, expert commentary on that sale price:
Netflix launch pop-up stores
New York and Los Angeles will see Stranger Things-themed pop-up stores open with exclusive merchandise for sale and photo moments.
An Elegorgon, which is a vinyl piece by Ecuadorian artist Chogrin that showcases what an Eggo waffle eating tween would look like if mashed up with a demogorgon; General Mills “Stranger Things” cereal that comes packed in original 1980s-style boxes but set in the world of the show; collectible Bandai action figures, including 16-inch demogorgons with interchangeable heads; customizable apparel stations and more.
Photo moments include:
Getting up close to a hidden demogorgon in the Upside Down, popping into Hawkins Middle’s Snowball Dance, the Starcourt Mall, the Russian Lab and Joyce’s House. There are also games to play at a replica of the Palace Arcade.
With Always Be Watching powered every morning by a bowl of cereal, I know where my interests lie in the merch store.
- Kevin Mayer, who, before leaving Disney, oversaw the launch of Disney+, has joined Discovery chief David Zaslav as a consultant on the merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia. Read: THR
- Squid Game will compete as an ongoing drama and not a limited series at the Emmy Awards when submitted. Read: TV Line
- Heels has been renewed for a second season by Starz. Read: TV Line
- HBO Max was the most-downloaded streaming app in the US through 2021. Read: The Streamable
- Hanna will end with its third season on Amazon Prime Video. Read: EW
- The Broken Lizard comedy team, responsible for a movie you rather liked called Super Troopers and other movies you likely thought were awful, are working on a retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney+/Hulu/Star. Read: /Film
- Tacoma FD (made by some of the Broken Lizard guys) and the Steve Buscemi-led Miracle Workers have both been renewed for a fourth season. Read: Deadline
Roku kicks porn off its private channels
Popular US streaming box Roku developed an early passionate following from viewers who liked to take some of their viewing off the grid. Independent content providers could launch channels outside of the main store with many of these featuring material that has questionable copyright issues, religious programming, gun-related shows, and (of course) porno.
From March 1 the company will replace private channels with what it is calling Beta Channels. These channels will be restricted to 20 viewers at a time, keeping it open for hobbyists and developers.
The real impact will be the removal of adult entertainment content off its system, which includes services from companies like Pornhub.
This includes many of the major adult content providers: Pornhub has its own private Roku channel, as do pay-per-view platforms like Adult Empire and AEBN, as well as adult video studios and subscription services like Wicked, Adult Time and Naughty America. All of these companies' Roku channels are expected to disappear on March 1.
Roku's existing policy of effectively turning a blind eye to private channels has been criticized in the past. Rights holders have at times clashed with the company over private channels that offered access to unlicensed content. Sales of Roku devices were even briefly banned in Mexico over this very issue. As a result, Roku began to display a warning message that it may remove uncertified channels that contain illegal content without notice, and that it could ban repeat infringers from accessing any other uncertified channels.
James Bond: Diseased espionage agent
Throughout the James Bond movies, the spy puts his body in too many places he shouldn't and also puts too many questionable things into his own body. And by that, obviously I mean he has to go diving in water bodies and eats lots of unwashed, random fruit.
A paper exploring the health risks Bond exposes himself to has been published and it is one heck of a read.
Global travelers, whether tourists or secret agents, are exposed to a smörgåsbord of infectious agents. We hypothesized that agents pre-occupied with espionage and counterterrorism may, at their peril, fail to correctly prioritize travel medicine. To examine our hypothesis, we examined adherence to international travel advice during the 86 international journeys that James Bond was observed to undertake in feature films spanning 1962–2021.
Saved By The Bell returns Nov 24 for season 2.
Harlem debuts Dec 3 on Amazon Prime Video.
South Side season 2 debuts on HBO Max Nov 11.
Money Heist returns for its final batch of episodes on Netflix Dec 3.
Animal debuts on Netflix Nov 10.
Pen15 returns for the second part of season 2 on Dec 3.
Short film Ciao Alberto debuts Nov 12 on Disney+.
Dragons Rescue Riders: Heroes of The Sky debuts on Peacock Nov 24.
The Twilight Zone VR debuts next year.
What's next? Tomorrow.