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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.
Will Netflix or Apple buy MGM? ALSO: There's a new Doctor Who. Again. But...for the first time.
Always Be Watching has "the strength of ten because its heart is pure."
It is a pretty quiet week news-wise. At least so-far. A big reason for that is the Sundance Film Festival is underway right now, which then leads into a number of Oscar events. So, while Tinseltown is busy with celebrating itself and its ‘achievements’, there’s not a huge amount else going on.
But, speaking of Sundance, the big story is that Hulu is looking like the frontrunner to buy the big Sundance film this year: Palm Springs.
And yet, despite “Groundhog Day” becoming a genre unto itself, Max Barbakow’s witty and wise “Palm Springs” is the first movie that doesn’t just apply that old formula to a new problem, but also fundamentally alters the basics of the equation. It’s a simple adjustment, and yet the difference feels as radical and transformative as pouring milk into a bowl of cereal, or adding Waluigi to “Mario Tennis” (there had been plenty of tennis games before, but holy shit). What if, instead of relegating one person to a cyclical purgatory they’re forced to repeat over and over until they learn the error of their ways, you relegated two people to the same pocket of the Twilight Zone?
This is actually huge news. Traditional pay TV sports network ESPN is diversifying its content offer. Throughout the next year, the network will produce 500 live shows across platforms like Facebook and YouTube. These will be chat shows that will aim to amplify fandom and heighten engagement. It makes a lot of sense to take control of this space - already third party companies are making similar content - why not produce these sorts of shows in-house and use them to drive viewership back to the ESPN channels?
“These shows are different than the shows we do on TV,” Spoon said. “If you think about what we did leading into college football, the social shows are often very relaxed. I put [an all-] capital ‘fun’ in front of the tone we want to see. They’re about driving interest and enjoyment around it.”
I cannot help but feel that the name of the new Ghost in The Shell anime series is just inviting the jokes. Regardless, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 drops in April.
MGM is up for sale with Netflix and Apple rumoured to be in talks to buy it.
Any deal would include many of MGM’s thousands of film and TV titles including the entire James Bond catalogue, franchises such as “Rocky,” “Robocop,” “The Pink Panther” and “Species,” shows like “Stargate” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and premium cable network Epix.
A deal like this would boost the library of any streaming service with some very well-known, beloved catalogue titles. Something that would make Apple TV+ look a whole lot more appealing. For example.
John McDonald at the AFR has ripped into the systems in place that prevent Australian movies from being, well, good.
Those employed in the bureaucracy of the industry have a vested interest in making us believe everything is brilliant. There may be as many as 1000 people employed in the administration of the sector, people with no real creative input who are fundamentally risk-averse.
This is reinforced by journalists and reviewers who feel obliged to praise the local product even if it leaves them cold. The rule is to be “supportive” of the industry, with criticism seen as negative and destructive. Needless to say this merely justifies and perpetuates the endless parade of mediocrity.
He makes this interesting point of comparison:
Australia produces roughly 30 features a year, which is no great achievement for a country of 25 million people, even if the home box office is discouraging. South Korea, with a population of 51 million, produced 501 films in 2018!
It is interesting to consider that South Korea also has a strong TV sector, with South Korean dramas exported around the world to an audience hungry for their soapy romance serialised stories.
Again, I reiterate the same point I find myself making a lot lately: It isn’t enough to say we need to make Australian movies/TV - audiences actually need to want them. What is the point of propping up an industry when nobody is consuming that industry’s output?
Short Circuit on Disney+ isn’t that loveable robot Johnny 5, but rather is a collection of animated short films. It is streaming now, apparently.
If you’re not a Doctor Who viewer, you likely missed the huge reveal yesterday as viewers were introduced to a new incarnation of the doctor. This time played by actor Jo Martin. She’s the first person of colour to play the Doctor.