Morning Call Sheet: Netflix Blinks, Clooney Disappoints, And My Moonshine Business

QWIKSTER DUMPED, DVD RENTALS TO STAY AT NETFLIX

Netflix’s market value has dropped 60% since these debacles began, which just so happens to be the exact same percentage as their recent price increase (today’s announcement helped some).

This is a weak move on the company’s part, nothing more than a band-aid on a fatal mistake. Not having to deal with Qwikster might make things more convenient for customers, but Netflix has still, in effect, split their subscriptions into two distinct services–streaming and by-mail delivery–and therefore given their customer base yet another reason to stop renting DVDs.

Moreover, all they can do now to retain customer loyalty is to make the streaming service better with a stronger library, which also gives us another reason to cancel the by-mail service.

In just a few dumb moves, Netflix has hastened the end of DVD and the extinction of a large part of their own business. Look no further for proof of this than the email I received this morning:

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

Thanks again for confirming my decision to drop the by-mail service!

If I were Netflix, I would immediately combine streaming and by-mail again for somewhere around $10.99 and call it the “We’re So Damn Sorry We Could Die Of Embarrassmentz’ package.

BOX OFFICE ANALYSIS

1. Real Steel — $27.3M: This seems about right.

2. Ides of March — $10.4M: This got dropped into 2200 theatres and everything was done to make it not look “political” or “liberal,” which can mean only two things when analyzing the box office. Either George Clooney’s not the movie star All The Right People are telling us he is, or the American people don’t trust Hollywood when it comes to anything political.

Methinks it’s both. Unless he’s surrounded by Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, Clooney couldn’t open a supermarket. His whole schtick–and the people see through it–is “playing” a movie star. All that’s missing, though, is what truly makes someone a movie star, and that’s audience goodwill and, you know, box office muscle.

It’s just a fact that when people see Clooney in a political flick, they want no part of it. And it’s not just a red state thing. If not a single Bitter Clinger purchases a single ticket, there are more than enough liberals in America to turn any movie into a box office smash.

Clooney’s last attempt at a mainstream crowd-pleaser was the embarrassingly bad “Leatherheads,” which also flopped. But once again, you had the actor playing the role of a movie star, this time with a self-conscious attempt to cast himself as Cary Grant in a Howard Hawks film.

There’s no question Clooney’s a much better actor today, especially when compared to when he first made the leap to film in the mid-nineties. But he made better movies then. “The Peacemaker” and “Perfect Storm” are still his best, even though he’s pretty awful in them. My guess is that he’s leery of top-lining another big-budget blockbuster for fear that if a no-brainer flopped it would knock even more of the shine off him.

Clooney should’ve grabbed the Jack Ryan franchise. It would’ve been good for him to jump onto a series that, with the right actor and scripts, could’ve had the staying power of James Bond.

3. Dolphin Tale — $9.1M: So far this has taken in a total of $49M in three weeks.

4. Moneyball — $7.5M: A total take of $49M in three weeks. Can it hit $100M?

5. 50/50 — $5.5M: — $17.3 in two weeks in 2500 theatres. Obviously all involved hoped for more from Seth Rogen.

6. Courageous $4.6M — $15.9M in two weeks in 1200 theatres. It probably won’t do “Fireproof” numbers, but without a single star or even a familiar face and a $2M budget, this is pretty impressive.

7. Lion King — $4.6M: Last week’s DVD release probably accounts for some of the 57% drop, but $86M in four weeks for a flick everyone’s seen and has on DVD is extraordinary.

SEASON FINALE OF ‘BREAKING BAD’ AIRS TONIGHT

My cable package doesn’t include AMC, so with great anticipation I await the DVD release. The idea of paying another $30 for 60 channels that suck just so that I can watch AMC makes me feel manipulated, so there’s no way I’m doing it. Besides, I love devouring a season of this MAGNIFICENT show over the course of a weekend. The days of this wait-a-week-for-the-next-episode nonsense are long over.

“24,” “Lost,” and “The Wire” were all watched in binges (and memorable ones, at that).

All I know is that at the end of “Breaking Bad” last season, our “heroes” had finally crossed the line with the killing of an innocent man. “Breaking Bad” might not be a religious drama, but it is all about the soul. The questions and quandaries it presents are so much more intelligent and moving than the crash-bang-boom, lights-flashing, shaky-cam spectacle that now passes for storytelling on the big screen.

SILVER LINING OF PIRACY

Essentially the idea is that you start with an illegal operation like Napster, turn it into a subscription service, and then sell your customer base to a legitimate outlet like Best Buy.

This is exactly the point of my upcoming moonshine operation.

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SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINK-TACULAR

ANDREW KLAVAN’S INTERVIEW WITH THE CHRISTIAN SITE “LIVING LIGHT NEWS

KEITH CARRADINE TO STAR IN TNT WESTERN SERIES “GATEWAY”

WILL NETFLIX PRODUCE NEW EPISODES OF “RENO 911?”

DIRECTOR OF “TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL” REVEALS HIS SEQUEL IDEA

IS THE NEW JUDGE DREDD FILM ALREADY IN TROUBLE?

COOL VIDEO: A 1995 INTERVIEW WITH STEVE JOBS AND JOHN LASSETER

A LOOK BACK AT THE TITLE SEQUENCE FOR “DELICATESSEN”

40 MOVIE SEQUELS THAT NEVER HAPPENED

DOOMED HORROR FLICKS YOU’LL PROBABLY NEVER SEE

“SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS” TURNS 50

WHY 45 YEARS LATER, “STAR TREK” IS STILL AMAZING

EVER WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO ALEX P. KEATON?

AMC’S SCARIEST MOVIE MOMENTS

SHOCKER: THE NEW “FOOTLOOSE” SUCKS

BACKLASH AGAINST “MARILYN” BEGINS

OSCAR BUZZ BEGINS ON MOVIES MOST OF US HAVE NO INTEREST IN SEEING

PROOF THE YOUNGEST OLSEN HASN’T LEARNED TO SUCK IN HER CHEEKS YET

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LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING

After three-plus months of getting ready to move, moving, and fixing up the house, this weekend was the closest we’ve had to a normal weekend since June. We’re still “moving in” and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on the outside of the house and the basement, but the living area awaits only the carpeting and windows that are currently on order and so the urgency to “just get it done” is finally gone.

So it was nice to putter in the yard some, wash the cars, chat up the neighbors and get to bed before midnight. But not before a Blu-ray screening of the original “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974).

What an underrated masterpiece.

And age only makes it better.

“Pelham” is a movie “about” New York in the mid-seventies when the politics, decay, crime, attitude and people made it the most fascinating place on earth. You can practically smell the city, and the cast of characters who make every scene so vital are endlessly interesting–terminal New Yawkers. There was just nothing like the city that never sleeps pre-1980. I wouldn’t have wanted to live there, but in films like “Pelham,” “The French Connection,” and “Midnight Cowboy,” it is as important to the story as the actors and script.

Tony Scott’s 2009 remake completely missed the point of all this. It was a “thriller” ramped up with hyper-editing and John Travolta’s tired, over-the-top villain pose, which contrasts Robert Shaw’s buttoned-down evil in the worst way possible. Talk about forgettable.

The original, though, is anything but because it is a character study of a fascinating character: The City of New York.

And how about David Shire’s score. Epic.

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CLASSIC PICK FOR TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11

TCM:

4:15 PM EST: Set-Up, The (1949) — An aging boxer defies the gangsters who’ve ordered him to throw his last fight. Dir: Robert Wise Cast: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias. BW-73 mins, TV-PG, CC.

More human drama in 73 minutes than you can possibly imagine.

Fantastic character study, fantastic central performance from Robert Ryan–all of it backed with the kind of black and white photography we will never see again.

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-Please send tips/suggestions/requests/complaints to jnolte@breitbart.com

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