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.
Matt Smith gets a dragon on Game of Thrones
ALSO: The Disney content squeeze. AND: Watch the opening of Tenet.
Who is the new star of Game of Thrones prequel
Former Doctor Who star and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalkernon-starMatt Smith has joined the cast of the new Game of Thrones prequel series House of The Dragon.
Smith will play Prince Daemon Targaryen, “younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne,” per HBO. “A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air.”
One of the interesting aspects of last week’s huge Disney investor presentation was the comments from CFO Christine McCarthy about international productions on the Disney+ platform. The impression I was left with at the end was that international productions would be made for new streaming brand Star and not for Disney+ specifically. That made sense to me as Disney+ is primarily driven by existing IP and it seems a little weird to suddenly have an Australian Incredible Hulk show, for example. But original ideas for Star - perfectly logical.
Conversation has been heating up internationally where there is a push for global streaming services to invest in local markets. Opening the door for that content to be made for Star and to live on the Disney+ platform ticks a lot of boxes. (All on the proviso that Disney are forced to make that investment by governments).
With that in mind, it was interesting to read Zoe Samios in today’s Sydney Morning Herald reference Disney’s approach to international quotas in Australia. It’s suggested that Disney plan to fulfil mandated local content obligations through productions filmed in Australia rather than commissioning Australian productions. For example, the company is filming Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi: The Legend of The Ten Rings here.
This, of course, brings me back to one of the oft-asked questions I have about the constant push by the local industry here in Australia for the international streaming giants to produce content locally: What is the benefit you’re seeking? Is it to see Australian stories being produced, or to see investment made in local jobs? It’s an important distinction because when it comes to the emergence of these new global TV platforms, local Australian stories is not in the interest of these international companies.
The launch of Star will place even more pressure on local TV services globally - both traditional broadcasters and streamers. Here in Australia most of the subscription TV oxygen is taken up by Netflix, but there’s also sizeable audiences for local services Foxtel/Binge and Stan.
With quality content that has especially high name recognition launching on Star (added to a service that many people are already paying for, Disney+), it gives a lot of people even less of a reason to subscribe to Stan and Foxtel/Binge. There’s only so much TV a person can watch in a day and how many general entertainment services can one person want?
Soon Australia will be served by a landscape that includes general entertainment international streamers: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+ (coming in early 2021), Disney+, BritBox, Kanopy, Tubi, Apple TV+, and Accorn TV. And that doesn’t include some of the high profile niche services like Hayu, Crunchyroll, and Shudder.
Each of these services have also been content suppliers to local broadcasters and streamers. But with content companies going global with a direct to consumer model - the squeeze is on.
Of course, this isn’t just a problem facing Australia. Every local territory across the globe that consumes US film & TV is facing a similar issue - a deluge of incoming content with the consequence of international content supply chains are being starved.
Cronenberg says no to Discovery
Legendary director David Cronenberg is guest-starring in an episode of Star Trek: Discovery. But would he be interested in directing an episode? Don’t hold your breath.
It’s a very different kind of directing. It’s almost like another job entirely, you know, and that’s another thing that I was very interested to see. It’s more technical. Now I can’t say this for certain about “Discovery,” because I really don’t know, but I doubt that the directors are around for post-production, for all that CG, and for when you have to do additional recording. I did do some [ADR on my episode], and there was no director involved. It was just the sound people who were putting the soundtrack together. These are all things that when you’re directing a movie, you are totally involved in. And you are involved in choosing the cameraman, you are involved in casting, and so on. When you come to a series like “Star Trek,” a lot of that stuff has already been determined by the producers and the showrunner. So it’s quite a different kind of directing. If I do direct again, it wouldn’t be to direct an episode of a series.
Director Christopher Nolan called HBO Max the worst streaming service last week (it’s actually pretty good tho). Has Christopher Nolan tried watching one of his movies on YouTube where after you watch his work, a video of Ben Shapiro auto-plays?
Well, now that reality is possible with this promo for Tenet, which is released this week on Bluray and digital. You can watch the really incredible opening sequence (which plays great in the cinema with its huge sound - but less good coming out of your headphones).
US movie chain AMC says it will be out of cash in January
Like all of us post-Christmas, AMC Cinemas has reported that come January it’ll be out of cash.
AMC operate 594 cinemas in the US with a further 359 internationally. It’s the world’s largest cinema chain.
AMC Theatres also said that it has completed a debt offering of $100 million from investment firm Mudrick Capital Management. AMC has already deferred more than $400 million of rent obligations to 2021. Yet the cinema circuit estimates that it will require at least $750 million of additional liquidity to stay afloat amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
Netflix has commissioned seven new UK series, which includes shows from Rowan Atkinson, Joe Cornish (Attack The Block), and Sam Mendes. Read: Deadline
A number of performers are reporting that they will no longer be able to earn an income from the site following last week’s decision by Visa and Mastercard to stop processing payments from the site (in reaction against reports of Pornhub hosting videos depicting rape and child sexual abuse). Read: Rolling Stone
Chris Messina will star in the pilot to HBO drama Verbatim, a drama series with all of its dialogue lifted from primary sources in real life events. Messina’s episode will be about the US college admissions scandal. Read: Deadline
Have you ever seen Orson Welles TV pilot from 1956? No? Me neither. But Richard Brody has this write-up about it with a link off to the pilot (broadcast in 1958) on YouTube. Read: New Yorker
Brian K Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, Saga) is working on a Buck Rogers TV show for Legendary. I’m not expecting to see that shopped to HBO Max… Read: THR
Dickinson season 2 debuts on Jan 8 on Apple TV+
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