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.
Jeopardy GOAT ready to take over?
ALSO: New Spider-Man TV shows AND: A F***ing cool Nintendo toy
It’s a huge weekend for new TV shows and movies. Make sure you check out the weekly Always Be Streaming guide that is sent out later in the day. Expect it at around 3pm today. But first… news…
Jeopardy gets a full-time G.O.A.T.
Ken Jennings, the greatest player in the history of Jeopardy, will be joining the show for its 37th season. He’s on board as a consulting producer and will be there to introduce categories. Alex Trebek is still on board as the host of the show, but with his health a big question due to stage 4 pancreatic cancer, one can’t help but see this as the first phase in a changing of the guard. Or, if nothing else, a back-up host to see out the season if Trebek’s health declines further.
Deluge of the spider-people
Back in the days of yore Netflix signed a deal with Netflix that would create a set of gritty, grounded superhero TV shows. A similar-ish deal is being struck with Amazon which will be the streaming home of Sony’s Marvel TV characters.
[Quick context: Sony licensed Spider-Man back in the late 90s and made the very successful Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire that kicked off the renewed interest in superhero films. As long as Sony keep making Spidey movies, the company retains the right to Spidey and all affiliated spider characters from Marvel.]
Along with films based on Spider-Man and spin-offs like Venom, Sony has plans to launch a number of TV shows based on the Spider-Man universe of characters. The first will be based on a character named Silk, but there will be more to come. It is still early days of deal-making, but it is expected that these shows will air on a linear TV service first before being made available at Amazon.
Following in the spirit of the recent DC Fandome event, ViacomCBS are running Star Trek Day on Tues Sept 8. It will have streamed episodes of the show, panel chats with the cast of old and new Star Trek shows, and more.
Why one runs a full day of streamed viewing on a work day is a mystery to me, but sure. Whatever.
The Batman has been shut-down due to star Robert Pattinson testing positive for the stupid virus. DO you think Batman would stop his war on crime in Gotham if he tested positive? Or would he just become a super violent super spreader? Source: Deadline
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his family have also tested positive. Source: BBC
I had a COVID-19 test last weekend and proved negative. Yet another thing I can do that The Rock cannot… Source: My own sense of self-importance
HBOMax price special
When HBO Max launched it did so with a special - subscriptions paid direct to HBO Max could get a discount for the next 12 months. Subscriptions would cost $12 a month instead of $14.99, which is the standard monthly price. HBO Max are running the same promo this month for new and returning customers paying through third-party platforms like Apple.
Translation: If you’re subscribing to HBO Max, you might want to cancel and then resubscribe before Sept 25.
Francis Ford Coppola is re-editing The Godfather Part 3. It’ll go to cinemas before landing on digital platforms. He did a stunning job recently with Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, so I’m looking forward to this. Source: Dark Horizons
Gina Torres is joining the cast of 911: Lone Star. Source: thefutoncritic
Reno 911 has been renewed for a second Quibi season. Source: Variety
Sarah Wright from Sky in the UK details their acquisition strategy. Source: Worldscreen
MGM has launched a subscription service in Brazil via Amazon Channels. Source: TBI Vision
MUST READ: Super Mario’s 35th anniversary (keep reading and you’ll see why this is important)
Nintendo has announced a whole bunch of Super Mario Bros themes games, updates, and more today to mark the lil guys 35th anniversary of plumbing and Princess hunting. You can watch them all in the 16 minute promotional video below.
The most interesting announcement is something called Super Mario Kart: Home Circuit. It will allow players to use their real life home as courses to be raced in Super Mario Kart. It’s Mario Kart meets AI and that sounds like wild fun. That game is out Oct 16.
Here’s how it works: For US$99 players buy the kit which includes a Mario or Luigi racing kart that can be remote control driven using a Nintendo Switch gaming system. Users place down arrow markers and four gates (provided in the kit) and drive their new toy around the course. The racing kart has a camera on it, which will record it all. Players can then race in the course they have just filmed and overlay augmented reality aspects like deserts, jungles, and water depths.
If this works as well as it looks, you might want to jump on this quickly. Every Nintendo fan is going to want this - both kids and older adult fans of Nintendo. I suspect this is going to be THE gift for Christmas 2020. And it WILL sell out.
I’m having a difficult time getting a bead on the release of Mulan via Disney+. Part of it is that I don’t really have any personal-investment in the film. I never saw the original animated film. The trailer for the live action film looks good. It would certainly be enough to get me to see it at the movies. But I’m not AUS$34.99 interested.
Some overall thoughts:
Will it be a success? Probably. There’s a lot of people who want to see the movie that also don’t want to go to a theatre for concern about catching COVID-19.
Will we see other films emulate it? If it is a success and Disney equal or better projected box office takings, then it is entirely possible the strategy could be replicated for upcoming movies like Black Widow - especially if the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down in the US.
Is this the future of movie releases? I suspect the answer is yes and no. Will this replace theatrical first window movies? I doubt it. Not for some time. Releasing a movie to the cinemas in an exclusive window gives a movie prestige, regardless of how slight the movie may be. For example…
Bring It On (the cheerleader movie celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) is a beloved and well-remembered title in a way that Netflix’s The Kissing Booth never will be. It would be hard to argue that Bring It On is a better film than Kissing Booth, but one is an individual movie - the other is part of the Netflix content offer.
Disney is a house of beloved brands - keeping theatrical strengthens all of their releases as brands that can be incorporated into its theme parks, spin-off cartoons/shows, remakes, etc. It makes sense to me that Disney will want to stick to the current approach of allowing movies to stand on their own outside of their eco-system to strengthen its branding as an individual title.
But could we see more what I’m terming Premium Direct To Disney+ films in the future? I think almost certainly. In the same way Disney used DVD as a distribution channel for sequels to its animated hits throughout the 00s, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them try the same approach here. Expect mid-budget Star Wars, Marvel, and other live-action Disney titles as Premium Direct To Disney films sitting alongside theatrical releases and live-action TV shows on Disney+.
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