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.
Lumpy, son of Chewbacca, returns
ALSO: An Epic lawsuit against Apple. AND: American Pie returns.
The spirit of Life Day is once again strong across the galaxy.
As the most cultured among us would already be fully aware, at the peak of Star Wars mania back in 1978 George Lucas made what was (lets be honest) only his fifth or sixth biggest mistake when it came toStar Wars. He produced a TV Christmas special.
The Star Wars Holiday Special.
Because they don’t celebrate Christmas a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, they instead celebrated Life Day. And so viewers got the chance to celebrate Life Day with Chewbacca, his wife, and his son Lumpy.
But before you think the show was nothing more than dudes standing around in furry costumes growling at each other (tho… there was plenty of that), there were humans on screen too. Somehow Harrison Ford was convinced to take part. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were also on board. They were joined by Bea Arthur (who has an outstanding musical number), Art Carney, and Harvey Korman.
So, why is this bit of TV historical emphemera highlighted as the lead story in the ABW newsletter? Is it Life Day today?
Huge news: This November 17 on Disney+ will see the release of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. And it sounds like ridiculous fun.
Set after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she embarks on a new adventure with BB-8 to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious Jedi temple, Rey finds herself hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through beloved moments in Star Wars cinematic history, coming into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films. But will she make it back in time for the Life Day feast and learn the true meaning of holiday spirit? You’ll have to watch to find out!
The legitimately HUGE news story of the day involves Epic Games, publisher of the monsterously popular video game Fortnite. Apple just kicked Fortnite out of the app store in a move that is being criticised for anti-competitive behaviour. This can have huge ramifications across the industry where Apple and Google take a 30% commission for transactions they process.
Here’s what happened:
Players can buy currency called V-Bucks within the game. When making the transaction, players can either pay for that through their Apple and Google accounts, or pay Epic Games directly.
On Thursday Epic announced that any players who buy V Bucks directly from them will receive a discount of 20%.
Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the Apple app store. Their official statement:
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines,” Apple said in a statement provided to Deadline. “We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
Epic responded with a lawsuit against Apple and this tweet which included a parody of the infamous Apple 1984 TV commercial. One suspects that Apple did exactly what Epic had expected.
Halifax f.p. returns to Australian TV 20+ years after the original run of TV movies screened. Star Rebecca Gibney is back as Jane Halifax in the 7-part TV series Halifax: Retribution.
Producer Roger Simpson:
“They didn’t want telemovies, they wanted a series. So we had to rethink it and started thinking it’s 20 years later, around about the time all the nasty people she helped put away are beginning to be released. That was the beginning of the idea.
Tony Ayers is developing a serialised anthology based around the Australian bushfires that caused so much destruction from Sept-Feb. The Fires is being produced for ABC in Australia, but I suspect the scope of this project might see the show screened in the US by way of Ayers deal with NBCUniversal.
“Like the rest of the world, I watched in horror last summer as I saw the devastation caused by the megafires,” said EP Tony Ayres. “I wondered, “What can we do as artists?” So, for me, the answer was to tell the stories of some of the people who lived through this, so that we never forget what they went through and always remember our responsibility for change.”
The recent success of Netflix movie The Old Guard had a flow-on effect to the comics they were originally based on. Sales are up. Within one month of the Netflix films release, publisher Image Comics sold more than during the prior three years.
Why is this noteworthy? Isn’t this something you’d expect to see happen? Sure… but it doesn’t actually tend to happen. Sales for The Walking Dead comics skyrocketed following the success of the TV show. But sales of superhero properties remain stagnant despite the huge success of Marvel and DC movies at the box office. For example, the movie Aquaman may have taken $1.148 billion globally at the box office, but his comic series just announced its final issue (the character will be back in another book soon enough - but if sales were gangbusters, the book wouldn’t be interrupted).
Australian TV show creators/showrunners Stephen M. Irwin and Leigh McGrath have launched their own production company - Moving Floor Entertainment. Source: IF
Foxtel has shuffled its executives around as it restructures its approach to digital distribution. Source: Variety
Young Wallander debuts on Netflix Sept 3.
The Devil All The Time is a feature film that debuts on Netflix Sept 16. It stars Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, and Sebastian Stan.
Rising Phoenix is an interesting-sounding doco about the history of the Paralympics. Netflix. August 26.
American Pie Presents: Girls Rule is the latest direct to home digital release in the beloved American Pie Cinematic Universe (APCU) from Oct 6. The film will also stream on Netflix later in the year… if you can wait that long.
(Serious question: How has there not been an American Pie TV series yet?)
Singletown debuts on HBO Max August 20. It’s scripted reality.
LA’s Finest season 2 returns Sept 9 in the US on Spectrum.
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