Hollywood Playbook: Today's Top 5 News Items
1. Streaming Catching Up with Pay Channels
The entertainment multi-nationals that make an obscene fortune forcing hundreds of millions of Americans to pay for dozens of cable channels they will never watch are as terrified of online streaming as the old studio moguls were of television and losing the vertical monopoly of theatre ownership. More bad news for the bad guys today, as subscribers to pay channels like HBO and Showtime dipped 4% and Streaming subscribers jumped 4%
Currently, pay channels are in 32% of homes while streaming services are in 27%. Does that mean Streaming is taking subscribers away from the HBOs and Showtimes? I think so, and that must terrify Big Entertainment.
This is a seismic shift in the way people are watching television. Once you go Streaming you never go back. The consumer value of a Netflix is simply incredible and so is their variety of programming. You might not get the "hottest" shows right away, but there is plenty to discover.
2. 'Jack Ryan' Franchise in Question
THR believes overseas grosses could salvage the franchise. There is also a lot of talk that Paramount bungled the release, which could make the studio believe that a better roll-out next time could yield better results. In other words, not an NFL playoff weekend, not January, and a better advertising campaign:
Last year, Paramount's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters topped out at a disappointing $55.7 million domestically, but earned $170 million internationally for a global total of $225.7 million, enough to pursue a sequel. In North America, Jack Ryan may only hit Hansel and Gretel numbers unless it has strong legs. Sunday's football championships didn't help the film, as older males were its core audience.
What American moviegoers want matters less and less every year.
3. "Lilyhammer" Renewed for Third Season
Netflix has announced that the adventures of New York Mafioso Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano's (Steven Van Zandt) life in Lillehammer, Norway, will continue for a third season.
I was a big fan of "Lilyhammer's" first season but disappointed by the second. The episodes were too self-contained and formulaic. The last couple of episodes were a disaster of self-awareness as Van Zandt aped his "Sopranos" persona way beyond an affectionate nod.
Besides the fish-out-water premise, what made the first season work so well was a season structured like a lot of great television is structured these days: self-contained episodes that also had an overall story arc that ran through much of the season, or at least more than one episode.
Losing this is an even bigger problem for a provider like Netflix that is all about binge-viewing. Gobbling up a bunch of episodes at a time only works well when you are watching a long story unfold, not watching a bunch of self-contained episodes until the formula becomes predictable and thin.
4. Visual Effects Groups to Protest Oscars Over Overseas Tax Credits
A group of visual effects workers are planning to protest Hollywood's chase for overseas tax credits that take film and television production out of America and with it the jobs.
Yes, the same left-wing Hollywood that preaches about taxes being too low and constantly rails against "tax cuts for the rich" is absolutely okay with chasing tax cuts for their rich selves all around the country and world at the expense of the working man.
5. Both Sides of the Armond White Uproar
A lot has been written about Armond White being booted from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier this month after he was accused of heckling "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen at an awards dinner. I know Armond a little bit and have come to like and respect his willingness to go completely against the grain and be his own man in the snobbish Borgish world of film criticism.
White claims he did not heckle anyone and this article is the best I've seen at telling all sides of the story. You can read White's film criticism most every week at City Arts.
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