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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.
James Bond delayed - cinemas wounded
ALSO: SNL returns. AND: Dan has a case of the Mondays
Bond pushed back to 2021 - may shut cinemas for good
Regular ABW readers will note my surprise last week that the James Bond - No Time To Die promotional engine was heating up. Well, the switch was flicked and the engine died with barely a splutter. No Time To Die has officially been delayed, moving to April 2021.
“No Time to Die” carries a production budget over $200 million and cost millions more to promote. The studio reportedly lost millions when it shelved the movie earlier in 2020. Given Bond’s global appeal, the sequel’s backers wanted to wait until audiences across the world felt safe returning to theaters to have a chance at turning a profit.
The Bond delay had an immediate knock-on effect with the 9th Fast and Furious movie pushed back to May 2021 (Bond landed on its intended release date).
The “Fast” entries often carry budgets over $200 million and are engineered to appeal to international moviegoers. Nearly 75% of ticket sales of the three previous films in the franchise came from the international box office. Since Bond was moved to the same weekend and also caters to overseas audiences, moving “F9” was inevitable.
The move of Bond means that cinemas are now in a very tough spot. I don’t know if you’ve seen cinema schedules of late, but it is all looking pretty grim. With a trickle of new movies, let alone new movies that have any name recognition, even the cinemas that have opened have had limited attendance. These are huge buildings that carry high running costs that have sat empty for most of the year. Bond was one of the few big title films coming out in 2021.
With Bond gone, cinema operator Cineworld, which operates 128 venues in the U.K. and Ireland in addition to Regal’s 546 theaters in the U.S. consisting of 7211 screens, is talking about shuttering. This is seen as a temporary closure. But as we are all well aware, a temporary closure is one that many businesses in 2020 have not been able to return from.
Cineworld reported a loss of $1. 6 billion in the first half of 2020 in recent days, with “no certainty” as to what impact the pandemic could have in the future.
When Bond returns in 2021, he may be doing so on far fewer screens.
Spitting Image returns
A reboot of Spitting Image has failed to pick up US distribution, so will be made available via Facebook a day after its UK premiere. [Note: I’m not sure if this has an Australian release planned].
The show, which was well liked in many liberal circles in the States, is still expected to find a home for the full season, however, the fact that the comedy is quite close to the bone, featuring a skewering of the Commander in Chief, made it politically tougher to land a deal with one of the major linear broadcast networks.
Interesting (to me, at least) is that this reboot includes a few former Futurama/Simpsons writers in the writing team, such as David X Cohen and Patric Verrone.
More than 100 puppets were developed by a socially distanced teams of artists including Trump, Barack Obama, Boris Johnson, Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, RuPaul, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and a number of members of the British royal family.
US public broadcaster PBS celebrates its 50th anniversary today. Source: Axios
Australian public broadcaster SBS has reportedly shot down efforts to merge backroom operations with the ABC. Source: SMH
SNL slammed for safe return
David Sims at The Atlantic has criticised SNL for having an altogether too normal episode of the show:
It certainly felt familiar—the show has managed to largely re-create its normal filming conditions thanks to aggressive testing protocols. But it also felt entirely inadequate. When SNL returned to our screens in the spring, at the height of the pandemic, it adapted to the strange circumstances by producing a series of episodes filmed in the cast’s homes. While the humor was spotty, the DIY nature of the production was heartwarming, oddly reaffirming SNL’s institutional status as undefeatable, even by social-distancing protocols. But the show’s return to a standard format makes clear that its brand of topical satire simply won’t be enough for the chaotic months of pandemic and election uncertainty that lie ahead of us.
Personally, I kind of hate what the show has become. Back in 1975 it was counter-cultural TV with a combination of sketches, musical performances, spoken word artists, etc. Within a few years it bedded into its format that is not too dissimilar to what it is today. It’s safe, generic, middle-of-the-road boomer television.
While I don’t think a return to a coffee-house SNL makes as much sense for 2020 as it may have in 1975. But maybe there’s a new way to approach it. Considering COVID… could SNL not maybe try to shake its theatre vaudeville style and instead go and film out in Central Park? Less theatre aesthetic and more travelling satirical sideshow?
Comedian Dave Chappelle is currently doing this with a travelling tour of stand-up comedians - playing to socially distanced crowds in parks with his Summer Camp tour.
Why can’t SNL embrace a new style that feels a little more of the moment?
Facebook reacts to Netflix doc
Facebook has put out a helpful guide to its users to convince them not to delete their accounts after watching Netflix doc The Social Dilemma.
Because I’m feeling particularly anti-Facebook these days, here’s my own responses to Facebook’s defense of its platform:
Addiction - If Facebook isn’t trying to be addictive, why does the app push notifications and gamify it with triggers reminding you of inane posts you made 1 year ago, 5 years ago, etc?
You Are Not The Product - Facebook argues that its users are not the product because it uses advertising. Sure, but why are companies buying ads on Facebook? It’s because Facebook is selling them its users. That’s how advertising works. That’s how TV works. That’s now newspapers work(ed). That’s how radio works, etc etc etc.
Algorithms - The problem with the algorithm is that it does push posts that people are interested in, allowing bad actors to push some dangerous products that have sowed division throughout society.
Data - Did the doco even cover data? Isn’t this FB being over-sensitive?
Polarization - From the FB article: “The overwhelming majority of content that people see on Facebook is not polarizing or even political—it’s everyday content from people’s friends and family.”
Sure - but your algorithm doesn’t necessarily push that when articles pushing race and cultural supremacy gets more clicks.
Elections - FB say they are working to prevent 2016 from happening again. I’m in Australia - I give less of a shit about that than I do about FB being complicit in climate change denial pages, promotion of politicians who have anti-climate objectives, and engaging in financial deals with media organisations who push anti-climate agendas.
Which isn’t to say I’m not keen on them safeguarding electoral processes. But an election doesn’t begin and end in the official campaign period.
Misinformation - “Content identified as false by our fact-checking partners is labelled and down-ranked in News Feed”. Counterpoint: Fox News is providing the most-clicked articles on a daily basis. Fox News willingly perpetuates opinion masquerading as news. It doesn’t matter what your politics are - that’s just a fact.
Stranger Things 4 is back in production
The Snoopy Show debuts on Apple TV+ on Feb 5.
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