Editorials

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People are Settling into New Entertainment Habits

by Andy Marken / 13-Sep-21

 “But things didn’t quite turn out that way. That’s why I have to contact them. Now, before it’s too late.” – Augustine, “The Midnight Sky “ Netflix, 2020

We primed ourselves for a real treat last week, checking NYC flights, hotel reservations, theater ticket availability.

No, it’s not a vacation or business trip. 

Broadway is finally reopening so we’re planning to go back and see Tina … again!

To get in the mood, we watched her 2009 final concert music video.   Then her 1993 movie, What’s Love Got to Do with It.  Then the documentary Tina. 

Sure, movie house experiences are great, watching stuff on our home screen is good but feeling the vibes of live theater is ridiculously outta’ sight. 

Don’t get us wrong, we were glad to hear AMC’s CEO Adam Aron proclaim, “We’re back and we’re hot,” this summer.

Tentpole upon tentpole upon tentpole, validated theaters were back … bigger, badder and more profitable than ever.

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WFH Experiment Works... with a Little Work

by Andy Marken / 05-Sep-21

“We have to know we're lost before we can find ourselves Buzz. That sort of map you make up as you go along” – Todd Stiles, “Route 66,” Lancer Productions, 1960-64

 

Last February, seven years after Melissa Mayer (the newly appointed CEO of Yahoo!) told employees there was no more working  from home, Time magazine dubbed the country by country pandemic SIP (shelter in place) rules as the world’s largest WFH (work from home) experiment.

Now, don’t you feel special? 

Neither do we.

But it proved to be an experiment that worked, especially for the M&E industry.

People didn’t have to be in the same building, didn’t have to constantly meet face to face to keep business moving and people felt more productive in at least selective isolation.

Shows went remote.  News teams went remote.  Production/post teams went remote.

Some speculated at the time that Mayer’s ultimatum was less a condemnation about working remote or even a distrust of employees -- if you can’t see them you don’t know that they’re working -- but rather a devious way to reduce costs by having people quit rather than cutting staff.

 

 

 

It didn’t help Yahoo! much.

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The Window Is Now Open for More Entertainment and It Will Stay Open

by Andy Marken / 30-Aug-21

“The common man will still be here when you get back. Who knows, there may even be one or two of them in Hollywood.” – Barland Stanford, “Barton Fink,” Circle Films, 1991

Winston Churchill was right when he purportedly said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Of course, we doubt if he ever imagined we’d ever be so deep in … stuff.

Film festivals are meekly lifting the curtain with new great content, new rules and fingers crossed that the only thing that takes people’s breath away are the new visual stories.

Studio and production executives watched how Paramount and Tom Cruise handled the MI:7 and MI:8 production and Covid-19 in Surry, England.  Don’t worry, Top Gun: Maverick is already in the can and set for a Christmas release.

Those folks are also kept a close eye on how Universal, Jeff Goldblum and crew handle the production of Jurassic World: Domain in London’s Pinewood Studios. 

Theater owners are putting on their smiley face as they brave the uncertainty of exactly how long it will take for people to pour into their venues and widely scattered seats to make a night out at the movies a real, regular thing again.

 

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The People and Tech that Really Deserve the Awards

by Andy Marken / 23-Aug-21

 “You know your ship has come in when you get your name on your own garbage can.” – Mike Rowe, “Dirty Jobs,” MRW Productions, 2003 –

So how did you enjoy the seemingly endless parade of award events around the globe…HFPA, AFCA, UCC, TFCA, Bodil, Cesar, ACM, CineMAA, Vijay, Globo, SIYAD, Ariel, Leo, ASCAP, ASC, Producers/Directors Guild, SAG, Writers, Costume Designers, JEIFA, Visual Effects, on and on up to the Oscars? 

How many virtual award shows did you watch on your screen?

Yeah, we didn’t either. 

It’s not that they’re self-serving and boring – O.K., they are; and they simply don’t recognize the people and technologies that put everything together and deliver the entertainment folks take for granted.

You know, the electricians, grips, riggers and props folks who actually do the work.

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Entertainment Is A Serious Business

by Andy Marken / 16-Aug-21

  “Nobody decent ever wins the games.” – Katniss Everdeen, “The Hunger Games, Catching Fire,” Lionsgate, 2013

We’ve finally booked our first vacation flight and the house we rent in Kauai for a couple of weeks of diving.

Okay, so we were being optimisic and booked them a few months ago just knowing that things were going to be better … soon.

Plus, we simply had to get under water.

The weird thing was lining everything up we felt a little like your dog and/or cat.

You know … have you had your shots?

Yes!

 

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Solution to Managing the Streaming Budget

by Andy Marken / 09-Aug-21

“This is New York, pal. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!” – Melvin Udall, “As Good as It Gets,” Tristar, 1997

Maine’s Senator King had a really cool idea for streaming services to give to the 128.45M households in the U.S. 

He proposed free streaming because that would keep people home, keep them entertained, keep them from thinking about traveling back when that was unpopular.

A helluva an idea!

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There is No Single Path in the Streaming Video Industry

by Andy Marken / 02-Aug-21

You're right, Ruben. The world does keep moving and it can be a damn cruel place. Joe - Sound of Metal, Amazon Studios, 2019

We are a little over halfway through 2021 and surprise, the content industry not only survived the pandemic but in many ways is thriving because of it.

We realize that a year ago at this time the industry was in the middle of the Canadian sitcom Schitt's Creek without a proverbial paddle, but despite a lot of battle scars and a lot of hard work, it is back and in many ways better.

While folks in the Americas like to say pay TV is dead and everyone is cutting the cord, it has leveled off in most countries and actually increased in others. 

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The Film Industry is Different, Better than Ever

by Andy Marken / 26-Jul-21

“It’s just a flesh wound.  Tis but a scratch, I’ve had worse.” – Black Knight, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” BBC, 1975

 

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe how quickly people like to bury yesterday’s technology, yesterday’s habits.

We were reminded of that when we were finally able to visit the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA and saw the ancient Z80 8-bit microprocessor on display.

It was developed by Frederico Faggin in 1974 and the first units shipped in ’76.

 

This little sweetheart was the foundation for everything – Atari game systems, computers and cellphones. It was also instrumental in putting man on the moon.

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The Growing Number of Streaming Services Face Challenges

by Andy Marken / 19-Jul-21

 Our people never see eye to eye. Now, in order to restore peace, we must find the last dragon.”  - Raya, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Disney 2021

It was a fantastic Lunar New Year for the content industry.

Everyone, everywhere is smiling behind their masks.

Yes, 2021 and the Metal Ox has arrived … the rat is in the rearview mirror!

Studios/theaters kissed and made up … sorta.

Tentpole films and some of the great film festival projects have been penned into movie house schedules.   

If by mid-2022 Wanda, Cineworld, Cinemark, IMAX, AMC and others have 50 percent of the seats filled, they will be ecstatic.

That’s more than they averaged in 2019 before the shutdown. 

Hey, with a “slight” increase in concession prices, they’ll be right back to 2016 income levels. 

Back then, NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) bosses blamed the attendance downturn on the people who were bypassing them and going directly to the consumer’s home – Netflix, Amazon.

But that was yesteryear, so the filmmakers are welcomed back to fill big screens globally and slowly help them put more seats in seats.

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What Really Pulls People into Theaters

by Andy Marken / 12-Jul-21

They're a rotten crowd. You're worth the whole damn bunch put together.” – Nick Carraway, “The Great Gatsby,” Warner Bros., 2013

In mid-June, our California governor quit color coding the state, lifted restrictions and BAM!

It was just like Prince sang in his hit 1999 (https://bit.ly/3trymxQ).”

After all, this wasn’t the world’s first pandemic and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. 

The flu pandemic of 1918 infected an estimated 500M people and took the lives of 20-50M folks. 

Tragic, yes; but almost immediately, it gave way to the roaring 20s – flappers, flouting prohibition, a construction boom and a significant rise in consumer spending. 

It has been this way throughout history (https://bit.ly/3tmGnEh).

 

This one was no different.