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.
Kate Winslet's most ambitious role yet: She's a horse.
ALSO: The end nears for Attack on Titan. AND: Netflix gets Ratched.
A new Black Beauty movie will debut on Disney+ later this year. Prepare for the howls of outrage over the gender-swapped lead character in this version - Black Beauty will now be a girl. Outrageous.
Joining the cast, which includes Mackenzie Foy, Iain Glen, and Claire Forlani, is the voice of Black Beauty - Kate Winslet.
The story turns on the classic premise in which Black Beauty, born free in the American west, is captured and taken away from family. Her story intertwines with that of 17-year-old Jo, who’s similarly grieving the loss of her parents, ultimately forging a strong bond between the pair.
This would be fun if I had ever watched any of these shows and/or heard of some of them:
On August 10 Netflix will start streaming Game On: A Comedy Crossover Event— a special that is a four-way crossover between sitcoms Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love, The Big Show, Family Reunion, and Mr. Iglesias.
At all cost - protect Alex Trebek
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy are re-entering production. Both will have re-designed sets that keep contestants apart from one another and the show’s hosts.
Attack on Titan ending - the billion dollar fight to control anime
As Netflix and Hulu fight to be seen as global leaders in anime, the biggest show in anime, Attack on Titan, is coming to an end. There’s an opportunity for both American companies to play a bigger role in the Japanese medium as people look to the next big hit.
Bloomberg has a fantastic article that gives a great insight into this often over-looked genre.
It explores the impact of the Toonami programming block on channel Adult Swim in bringing anime to American audiences:
Toonami began including Attack on Titan in May 2014, seven months after the first season concluded in Japan. It was an immediate hit, bringing in about 1.3 million viewers in its midnight time slot. “You’re talking about a crazy Japanese show that’s drawing as big an audience as Family Guy, which is one of the biggest hit cartoons in the U.S. in the last 20 years,” DeMarco said. “That’s about as mainstream as anime can get in the U.S.”
The success of Attack on Titan then flowed on to lift sales even higher for the manga comic books that the show is based on:
From 2015 to 2018, Barnes & Noble Inc. doubled the shelf space it devoted to manga and began holding “Manga Mondays” sales events. That helped Attack on Titan, which had fewer than a million English-language copies in print at the end of 2014, approximately triple its print run within a year. Some 4 million copies have now been issued, plus almost 1 million downloads of the digital edition. The windfall caught everyone involved with the show off guard. They hadn’t planned for another season, leaving fans to wait until 2017 for another.
Meanwhile Netflix has been buying up existing anime titles, creators, and production facilities:
Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, attributes the company’s interest in part to how well anime works with streaming technology: “If you take something like anime, which is superefficient from an encoding perspective, we can now provide an amazing quality video experience for anime titles on mobile.” This mobile-friendliness dovetails neatly with the genre’s target market.
The feature also interviews Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama and the current state of manga book sales in Japan, an industry that operates on tight margins and has been badly impacted by piracy.
After 17 years of producing online video for its rabid fan base, Rooster Teeth has produced a TV series for a third-party platform: Netflix.
Best known for the smash cult hit Red vs. Blue, Rooster Teeth is behind the upcoming Transformers: War for Cybertron. It also has a show for HBO Max featuring the voice of Michael B Jordan, gen:Lock. What is notable here is that Rooster Teeth are moving away from debuting series through its own online channels, which has been wildly successful.
Rooster Teeth’s Jordan Levin spoke with Variety about the company’s pivot:
Rooster Teeth’s FIRST subscription service, which has provided members early access to RT-produced originals, “will never be, nor do we expect it to be, a scaled SVOD service,” Levin said. “We try and reward [FIRST members] as best we can. But the truth is, there’s only so much we can afford to do.”
For more ambitious projects like “Transformers: War for Cybertron,” the company formed Rooster Teeth Studios, headed by Ryan P. Hall, to develop and produce originals for other distributors. “The SVOD space is largely focused around scaled players,” Levin said. “For us, the production infrastructure that exists here in Austin, in live action and animation, has shown we can make premium, high-end content. Then we look at what kind of distribution platforms can support that.”
About the upcoming Transformers series:
The three “chapters” of the anime series (which is unrelated to the video game of the same name) will comprise 18 episodes total. The trilogy (“Siege,” “Earthrise,” and “Kingdom”) tells the origin story of the Transformers — starting with the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The show syncs up with a three-part toy line from Hasbro.