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.
More film delays. Including The Sopranos movie.
ALSO: Happy 40th, Hill Street Blues. AND: A negative WandaVision review? *GASP*
Another blockbuster season without blockbusters?
As the pandemic stretches on, it is increasingly less likely that movie theatres are going to be open throughout the upcoming US summer. The new James Bond film No Time To Die is scheduled for April 2, but that release date is rumored to be pushed back.
Exhibitors are bleeding cash and can’t afford to go much longer with so many theatres shut and without product to draw potential customers.
If you’re a regular reader of ABW, this isn’t news to you. But it’s worth keeping in mind over the coming weeks as distributors reassess the reality of what they can and can’t do.
Expect to see a lot more big budget films sold off to the big streamers.
Expect to hear about long-anticipated films delayed even further.
Oh, and just how much longer are Disney going to be holding Black Widow to its current release date? Or does it go direct to Disney+?
For exhibition, and for studios, 2020 was the new 2025 in its accelerated push to decrease the windows between theatrical release and and home viewing. No matter when theaters return, the 2019 perspective on theatrical windows will not. This could lead to similar moves internationally, even though PVOD is not common and laws limit this in some places (particularly France, which forbids parallel releases). Still, the temptation to experiment will grow.
US exhibitors haven’t been eligible for government assistance. Could that change under the new administration?
Jim Gianopoulos, the head of Paramount, has today expressed his enthusiasm for the incoming Biden administration. He recounts a meeting with Joseph Biden in a piece today for Variety:
He expressed his love of movies, and mentioned that when he watched the credits at the end he was impressed by the range of jobs and the many people it took to achieve the result on the screen. He said, “There’s so much effort there, you guys should add a credit noting how many total jobs and work hours it took to make the movie so people really appreciate that.” It was a great idea, and another example of Joe’s clear understanding of the contribution not only of those in prominent roles, but of all workers at every level. We added it to credits when I was at Fox, and are doing it now at Paramount as well.
Happy 40th anniversary Hill Street Blues
Hill Street Blues - the cop drama that redefined the genre. It debuted on NBC on Jan 15, 1981. Set in an unnamed city, the show brought a greater humanity to cop dramas, with serialised storylines that focused on the lives of the police officers.
Like so many TV greats, the show was a ratings dud when it first launched. Throughout that first season it rated 87 overall. But, it scored big at the Emmys and is very much the TV equivalent of the Velvet Underground - the audience might have been small, but they were all inspired to go off and tell their own stories.
Sopranos film delayed
The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel film to The Sopranos TV series. It was supposed to be released to cinemas and HBO Max in the US on March 12, but will now be pushed back to Sept 24 later this year.
But plot twist… the reason for the delay isn’t COVID-19 related. By releasing it later in the year, Warner Bros can get it playing the festival circuit and maybe score some awards nominations.
CNN chief Jeff Zucker might be about to call it quits
Nearing the end of his contract, the future of CNN’s Jeff Zucker is uncertain. As is the future of CNN. Under Zucker, CNN has grown its audience and is now regularly the top-rated cable news network (helped by Fox News audiences vacating for Newsmax). It has some ratings challenges, but the network is moving in a positive direction.
With a Biden presidency and increased pressure to take digital distribution more seriously, CNN is facing the same external pressures as its competitor cable news channels. But the loss of Zucker and (potentially) his loyal staff may become an issue.
Zucker has transformed CNN (But not CNN International, which feels increasingly more irrelevant with a dated presentation style and endless hours of Richard Quest):
Under Zucker, however, CNN has staked out an aggressive demeanor. Larry King once held genial conversations with celebrities at 9 p.m. on CNN. These days, Chris Cuomo uses that hour to push guests to answer tough questions. Executives expect to maintain that stance — they call it “Facts First” — during a Biden administration, says a person familiar with the matter. The positioning turns what was once CNN’s middle-of-the-road information-gathering into something that holds newsmakers to account, no matter their political leanings.
A negative WandaVision review? *GASP*
Reviews for WandaVision (debuting in about 10 hours from now) have been uniformly strong from critics who have seen the first few episodes.
I was particularly interested in this review from Mike Hale at the New York Times who broke ranks and has expressed some dissatisfaction with the show. He seems to think it has promise, but wasn’t bowled over by the opening installments:
Moment by moment, though, the show’s execution of its premise is less fun for the viewer than it evidently was for the creative team, which was led by the director Matt Shakman and the head writer, Jac Schaeffer. The classic-comedy pastiche is skillful, affectionate and well-performed, but it’s not terribly imaginative — if anything, it’s a little too true to its antiquated sources.
It’s also not very funny, which is a continuing disappointment even if it’s at least partly intentional. An associated problem, and perhaps the central one, is that there’s a disconnect between the sitcom reality and the sci-fi reality — the humor and the terror aren’t working together, they aren’t amplifying each other. Much of the time, you’re just watching a sitcom parody and wondering why the mysterious forces in control needed it to be so detailed.
Chris Evans is reportedly signing a deal that will bring him back to Marvel as Captain America, but not in a Captain America film. It’s referred to as a ‘project’, so maybe a TV show cameo? Source: Deadline
Animal Kingdom, the TNT series based on the Aussie indie flick, is to end after 6 seasons. Read: Deadline
Horror streamer Shudder has 11 films set to debut weekly on the service. Read: thefutoncritic
Super Nintendo World’s opening has been delayed due to the stupid virus. Read: Polygon
The TERRIBLE Amazon reality race show The Pack (Think: The Amazing Race, but with people and their dogs) has been cancelled. Read: Deadline
There’s talk of the ABC selling its Artarmon studios site. Source: TV Tonight
HBO Max has picked up a pilot series about Julia Childs to be called Julia. Clever. It’ll star Sarah Lancashire and David Hyde-Pierce. Read: Deadline
When Nomadland launches in the US, it’ll be in theatres and on Hulu on the same day. The film had been playing here in Australian cinemas for a preview season ahead of its March release and it’s rather good. I strongly recommend checking it out - it may very well be 2021’s Best Picture at the Oscars. Read: The Streamable
Feature film Cherry will debut on Apple TV+ on March 12. Today we get the full trailer:
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things will debut on Prime Video on February 12.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things tells the story of quick-witted teen Mark, contentedly living the same day in an endless loop whose world is turned upside-down when he meets mysterious Margaret also stuck in the time loop. Mark and Margaret form a magnetic partnership, setting out to find all the tiny things that make that one day perfect. What follows is a love story with a fantastical twist, as the two struggle to figure out how - and whether - to escape their never-ending day.
Firefly Lane debuts on Netflix Feb 3.
Netflix asks the question: What Would Sophia Loren Do? on Jan 15.
In this delightful short documentary, an Italian American grandmother and film buff finds strength and joy in the life of her screen idol, Sophia Loren.
We Are: The Brooklyn Saints debuts Jan 29 on Netflix:
Pele debuts on Netflix on Feb 23.
Mixing rare archival footage and exclusive interviews, this documentary celebrates the soccer legend who personified the beautiful game: Pelé.
Red Dot debuts on Netflix Feb 11
When a red laser dot appears in Nadja and David's tent, the once romantic trip now becomes a fight for their lives.
Looney Tunes Cartoons return to HBO Max on Jan 21.
Flora and Ulysses debuts on Disney+ on Feb 19.
The film is based on the Newbery Award-winning book about 10-year-old Flora, an avid comic book fan and a self-avowed cynic, whose parents have recently separated. After rescuing a squirrel she names Ulysses, Flora is amazed to discover he possesses unique superhero powers, which take them on an adventure of humorous complications that ultimately change Flora's life--and her outlook--forever.
Let’s be careful out there!
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