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.
The Witcher trailer! Jack Ryan drops early! And Inside Hollywood Studio Chiefs brains!
Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett - TGIF, my friends!
What will YOU be watching this weekend? In addition to Apple TV+ launching (Friday in the US, Saturday here in Australia), there’s also the second season of the much-more-entertaining-than-you’ve-likely-considered Jack Ryan season 2. For fans of Jack Ryan, you may have noticed that Amazon Prime Video has dropped the series a day early, which means you can stream it now - a smart move to get ahead of the Apple TV+ clutter.
If you like scary movies, I’d recommend checking out the Monster Fest line-up. It’s on in every capital city except Melbourne (it played there a few weeks ago). We had a chat with Monster Fest’s Simon Foster on this week’s ABW podcast where he offered up some highlights of the festival and some insight on how to program a horror festival. It’s on this weekend.
The Witcher debuts on Netflix Dec 20 - a new trailer has dropped for it today.
There’s an interesting article in the Hollywood Reporter that has a roundtable interview with the big movie studio chiefs: Warner Bros.' Toby Emmerich, Paramount's Jim Gianopulos, Disney's Alan Horn, Universal's Donna Langley, Sony's Tom Rothman, Amazon's Jennifer Salke, and Netflix's Scott Stuber.
The topic: Well, everything. It’s a broad-ranging state of the union type of chat. I’ve picked out some of the more interesting answers, but the whole thing is definitely worth a read.
Will Disney just keep remaking live-action films of its animated classics?
Alan Horn: There is no question that we, at some point, are going to run out of the kinds of films like Aladdin or Lion King. We have taken a step past that now, so Maleficent is a step away from Sleeping Beauty, and Cruella (2021) is a step away from 101 Dalmatians. But there is no question it's a finite universe.
What is a Netflix movie success metric and how is it measured?
Scott Stuber: We value over a month, basically. We look at 28 days and because we can see where things are opportunistic, we can market toward it. We can market in the second and third weeks as well. We greenlight off of X money and how much we are going to spend. And we hope that this many people watch in that 28 days. And that's our success rate metric.
What is the future of the cinema movie release window - the system held by cinemas to prevent home video release of a movie playing in theatres…
Alan Horn: …we all know that it's a nonstarter for the companies to have the conversation with exhibition. Our agendas are not aligned at all. And ultimately, it might be the consumer, the audience that speaks. Particularly as more services come online. The business model may just shift to such a degree that it winds up becoming so obvious that something has to change.
Will Amazon continue with its strategy of releasing movies to cinema, or will it just focus on streaming?
Jennifer Salke: We know our customers love movies. We're just trying to shift — it's not closing the door on theatrical release. We will continue to [make] and acquire movies that will embrace that strategy. But it really is trying to get these movies to our Prime subscribers as soon as possible. Look at a movie like Late Night, for example, that I know the industry made an example of as a failure from Amazon. The truth is, we bought that movie [for $13 million at Sundance] because I believe the movie is commercial and that our global customer would love the movie. And in fact they do. So it went through the contractually obligated theatrical release that we were happy to support for Mindy [Kaling] and Nisha [Ganatra] and everybody. But then it gets this horrible report card. The truth is, the movie has been watched. We only have U.S. rights, but it's been watched in the U.S. more than any other movie in the short time it's been on. Manchester [by the Sea] and that movie are neck-and-neck. [Editor's Note: Amazon does not release specific viewership numbers.] These movies are watched by tens of millions of people. So you begin to rationalize making those purchases and paying for an expensive marketing campaign for a theatrical release for Late Night, which did accrue a lot of interest for people who were waiting to watch it on Prime. But would you rather push toward the Prime premiere? It's a case-by-case situation for us right now.
European file sharing site Openload has been shut down by US studios who apparently care about copyright infringement. The site had more traffic than Hulu and HBO Go.
Operating through the website openload.co, the site collected advertising revenue and paid users who uploaded videos based on the number of downloads. The site operated through 1,000 servers in Romania, France and Germany, according to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, and provided content to 36 of the top 50 pirate sites in the world.