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.
Netflix may start to get good again
ALSO: First look at Bridgerton. AND: Me and My Penis on sale.
I warned you yesterday that this is going to be a strange week for TV and screen news. There’s not a lot of big news to discuss. Which isn’t to say there isn’t anything interesting. As always with the ABW newsletter, it is designed for you to scroll quickly and just look for anything that might interest you - that’s why names and titles are in bold.
A quick thought before we get started with the newsletter today: The US networks are going all-in on the election, obviously. But NBC especially have what I would dare suggest is too much coverage. On election night they will have unique commentary on: NBC (which is also carried on its NBC News streaming channel), 24-hour news punditry channel MSNBC (with Rachel Maddow, Brian Williams, etc), financial news service CNBC, and they have the team from MSNBC breakfast show Morning Joe doing rolling coverage on new streaming platform Peacock.
Have they not heard the word ‘simulcast’?
Have a great Tuesday.
Making sense of the turmoil at Netflix
Within Netflix there has been a number of executives being, uh, moved on from their roles as the company restructures its production/programming.
From a viewer standpoint, I’ve been largely unenthused with a lot of what I’ve seen from Netflix in the last couple of years. Netflix will trumpet the viewership of its shows and movies, but it feels like it has been a while since it had a truly zeitgeisty scripted hit (before docu-series Tiger King, it feels like the last truly big hit was Bird Box - that was some time ago).
It’s not quite the notion of being all sizzle, no steak. More it’s the idea that steak isn’t really on the menu at all at Netflix and it’s just a variety of cheeseburgers and poke bowls.
But it seems as though that is set to change under the new structure with new global TV chief Bela Bajaria looking for splashier commissions:
Under Bajaria, who garnered a reputation for her financial efficiency in her international role, the company’s producer deals — in many cases, eight- and nine figure pacts — are already getting a closer look. And plenty inside say that her push for more financial discipline and an explicit focus on delivering at least one “loud” series (and not simply a cadre of smaller passion projects) is justified given the paychecks being doled out to Netflix’s creators. Says one exec there who’d watched as budgets ballooned in the past regardless of a project’s commerciality: “The idea of doing more prestige shows that nobody knows are on isn’t interesting.”
Rod Lamberti runs a comic book store in Iowa. Rodman Comics. Like many small business owners across the world, he had to face a shutdown thanks to the pandemic. But eventually when he re-opened he found something interesting: Sales were up.
Why did this happen? He cites two possible reasons:
In the early stages of the pandemic, DC Comics changed its distribution strategy that resulted in a better experience with less damaged stock and correct deliveries; but more interestingly for the purposes of this email…
The cinemas are shut.
With cinemas closed, that means there’s no big superhero films taking attention away from comics or forcing customers to spend their superhero dollar on the bigger experience.
Sadly, I believe part of the reason we are seeing an increase in sales is because of the lack of new movies. No new Marvel or DC films or any real big releases help comic sales more than if they were actually coming out. Meaning Aquaman, Avengers and all the other films based on comic properties failed to bring a bigger audience to comics, even their own comics. With movie theaters not having the draw they used to have, people have more money and time to spend on other activities, such as comic books. Comics can easily be read in the safety of one's house without interacting with other people.
The interesting thing about the superhero cinema boom is that (until now) there has been no impact on sales. You may logically believe that the global awareness and interest in these previously obscure comic characters would translate to bigger comic book sales. If anything, comic sales (for superhero books) have been dropping.
Me and My Penis was a UK doco that is believed to be the first to show an erect member on UK television. The doco is now being sold internationally. Source: TBI
If you think virtual reality will lead to unfettered privacy, think again. A new research study has identified 95% of users correctly when trained on less than 5 min of tracking data per person. Read: Road To VR
There’s a fun story about Sean Connery asking Disney for more money for Michael Bay to film The Rock written by Michael Bay. Spoiler: there’s a bunch of swears in it. Read: THR
Can Disney deal with the boys club culture behind the scenes of The Muppets? Read: THR
Also from The Muppets beat - Miss Piggy is launching her own makeup line. Read: Variety
We’ve just gotten our first look at Bridgerton. It’s Shonda Rhimes first Netflix series and there’s a great deal of anticipation to see what she’s been working on for so long. It comes out on Christmas Day.
Valley of Tears debuts on HBO Max Nov 12.
A harrowing, 10-episode limited drama series inspired by the true events of the 1973 Yom Kippur War in Israel.
Venemo debuts on HBO Max Nov 19.
Spanish creators and directors Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrosi aka "Los Javis" bring the most beloved transgender icon of the 90s, Cristina Ortiz (La Veneno) to 2020.
Over Christmas is a Netflix movie coming… sometime… before Christmas, I guess.
There’s a new Jackie Chan film coming to cinemas. It’s called Vanguard. It’ll start rolling out in the US later this month.
This is the trailer you have already seen for The Batman. Only this time it’s all LEGO.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.