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.
Why Avengers: Endgame matters! Plus: Why Netflix's strategy is off-course! And George Clooney's new show!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who today considers the battle he has with his watchlist.
I went and saw Avengers: Endgame in the cinemas last night, along with what felt like the rest of Sydney. The cinema was sold-out. There were multiple other sessions running at similar times. And people were EVERYWHERE throughout the lobby and loitering around theatre entrances. I haven’t seen the cinema that packed in years. In the coming days we’ll hear about its box office, with some pundits expecting the film to have a $300 million opening and will quickly pass the $1 billion mark.
Audiences care about this movie series. And while it is being promoted as the final chapter in the series - it isn’t really. You’ll continue to see most of these characters in the years to come. So, why does this matter?
Avengers: Endgame delivers something that has never been seen on screen before. It is the ‘final chapter’ in a film story that has spanned over 20+ movies. We’ve never seen films do this properly before. Sure, you have episodic one and done characters like James Bond in more movies, but the Marvel films are a shared narrative story. It isn’t quite serialised, but it is a cohesive story. This is filmmaking on a level never seen before.
I think it’s great that audiences are turning out for it in the numbers that they’re expected to. Haters might complain that all the Marvel films are kind of the same, but as a whole, this is an entirely new form of cinema.
If you are being dragged in by friends or a loved one to see Avengers: Endgame without having seen most of the Marvel films, this is a pretty solid list of the key films to have seen before you go along.
There’s a problem with the sorts of shows that Netflix commission, which is actually nicely highlighted by an article at the Wall Street Journal.
Success for Netflix is largely governed by the number of minutes watched and completion rates. The thinking behind that is fairly obvious: The more time a person spends watching shows on the platform, the more value they will find in the service and will continue to subscribe.
So, why does Netflix commission the sorts of shows that it does?
This is the top ten shows on Netflix, along with the number of minutes watched:
Just two of Netflix’s top 10 are Netflix originals. What do the rest have in common? They’re lean back TV shows that don’t require a lot of attention from viewers. Oh, also they’re US broadcast shows that generally had 22+ episode runs each season.
Netflix commission a lot of different types of TV shows, but almost all of them are shows that require attentive viewing or are traditional-style shows with an edgy take. Netflix simply isn’t big on comfort TV.
It needs more hang-out comedies. It needs more light-weight procedurals. It needs more TV where it doesn’t matter if you fall asleep before the end credits roll.
The Netflix originals encourage subscriptions, but it is the more traditional TV shows that keeps the subscribers watching.
As soon as the WSJ article hit and blogger sites jumped on the story to re-report it, Netflix issued this tweet to prevent alarm that The Office was going away anytime soon:
Oh, and one more interesting graph to note from the story…
You know how it is often said that Netflix produce its own shows so that it can continue to derive value from it in its library for years to come? After the first few months the show debuts on the platform, viewership sinks dramatically.
This is minutes watched of Stranger Things at the time of its season 2 launch.
It isn’t like people aren’t still watching. But as an asset it only has significant value with the debut of a new season. Once the series winds down, it only has the value of an extremely low level hum in the background of Netflix’s other activity.
Hulu’s Catch 22 adaptation debuts May 17.
Oh, and Pennyworth debuts July 28.
And the May 31 debut of Swamp Thing.
And speaking of Swamp Thing, streaming service DC Universe now also has almost every DC comic book from its 80-year publishing history now available to read anytime.
Finally, I can now get around to reading every issue of 90s series Superboy & The Ravers.