Editorials

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Think of M&E as People Entertainment, Not Winners vs. Losers

by Andy Marken / 10-May-21

“We need to take control of our lives again. Work for need, not for greed. And not just to survive like a dog, but to live. And to celebrate. And to dance, to sing, as free human beings.”  -- James Gralton, “Jimmy’s Hall,” Sixteen Films, 2014

A week or so ago we attended what has to be about our fifth movie screening (thanks to THR and the sponsors). 

We like them because we enjoy the Q&A with the directors, producers and key folks.  We like movies – good movies – but we’re also very interested in the stories behind the films.

The problem is the screenings are virtual or terribly distanced. 

You laugh … you cry … you cringe … you cheer … but you’re freakin’ alone!

We’re not a huge cinema attendance fan but are amused by researchers/fortune tellers who gaze into their crystal balls and say the pandemic forced the M&E industry 10-20 years into the future and that everything will stream.

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Getting the Best from Streaming Services

by Andy Marken / 03-May-21

 "Anger is a potent spice. A pinch wakes you up; too much dulls your senses." – Harry Beltik, “The Queen’s Gambit,” Netflix, 2020

We played chess a little bit while in college. It was a way to feel like you were doing something constructive while skipping classes and if you were winning, you weren’t wasting time.

And before you ask … no, we weren’t that great at it.

In retrospect, it’s a little like streaming … you know what you want, it’s just complex to get there. But at least with streaming it’s getting easier, but still more complex too.

Simple?

Yep, viewers simply want what they want, when they want it on the screen in front of them wherever they are.

Suddenly, things are starting to get a little bit more difficult.

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Entertainment Division Delivers More than the Sum

by Andy Marken / 26-Apr-21

“There are always consequences!” – Roland, “Jumper,” 20th Century Fox, 2008

 

Mark Zoradi and Adam Aron, CEOs of Cinemark and AMC respectively, as well as theater owners/managers around the globe keep exhorting folks to come back.

Producers, directors and actors of the projects have made it a point to enjoy (and talk about) the rich immersive experience of seeing a movie as it was meant to be seen.

We get it and they’re right.

But....

 

At the beginning of last year, there were over 1,895 thousand cinema screens around the globe. 

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Diversity, Inclusion Delivery for Better Entertainment, Results

by Andy Marken / 19-Apr-21

This is the essence of discrimination: formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group with assumed characteristics.” – Joe Miller, “Philadelphia,” TriStar, 1993

It should be pretty easy for Netflix’s bosses (Hastings and Sarandos) to be smug.

In 2007, the envelope stuffing company transformed itself into what is now the global reach streaming entertainment giant with 203M plus subscribers in 190 plus countries. At the same time, it acquired fresh video content from those countries to entertain folks in every other country around the globe.

Still not able to (yet) directly serve streaming customers in the Middle Kingdom, Netflix is not above acquiring and sharing Chinese-developed content for subscribers around the globe.

Three years after the #OscarsSoWhite social movement began, Netflix issued its first inclusion report prepared by Verna Myers, a veteran diversity consultant and the company’s first inclusion officer who bluntly told management, “You just aren’t as good as you think you are.”

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The Key to Great Entertainment is Controlling Content, Sources

by Andy Marken / 12-Apr-21

“Release the Kraken!” – Zeus, “Clash of the Titans,” Warner Bros, 2010

Yes, the gods of content have decided to change the rules … all of them! And we’re working like crazy to understand the M&E industry’s new normal. 

Studios are returning to the theater but there’s too much more money to be made by going D2C. They’ve discovered a new way to measure a project’s success … their balance sheet.

Sure, the theatrical opening numbers are nice, but the world is really slow at reaching herd immunity, so only the dedicated are returning to the giant screen and that’s out of the need to reconnect.

In the meantime, it seems everyone is jumping back to the early TV set days … size matters.

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Tough Times Produce New Creative Content Opportunities

by Andy Marken / 06-Apr-21

“Someone's robbing the phone company. Bless you.”Telephone Customer, “Fun with Dick and Jane,” Columbia, 1997

Well, we did it.

We bought a 2021calendar.

Oh, come on, for gawd sake!

We hardly used last year’s and if this year was going to suck like 2020, we figured why waste the money?

Recycle!

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The Pandemic Accelerated the Focus of Serving the Viewer

by Andy Marken / 29-Mar-21

“Don't listen to what I say. Listen to what I want.”Detroit, “Sorry to Bother You,” Cinereach, 2018

 

Tenet painfully clawed itself to maybe $80M in ticket sales in the US and perhaps $400M globally while most major projects were slid into next year or worse, slipped into various D2C options. 

Studios and all but the most ardent theater goers said, “You know that I love you … I just don’t like you very much right now.” 

And getting liked is getting even more difficult for cinemas.

Five years ago, box office revenue was three times SVOD revenue.

VOD surpassed ticket sales last year and cinema revenues are projected to plunge 66 percent this year. Ampere forecasts VOD will be more than twice the size by 2024. 

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Sundance Could Mark the Shift in Film Festivals, Awards

by Andy Marken / 22-Mar-21

“Anyone can do anything if you let them. Welcome to the world.” – Chris Rumack, “I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore,” Film Science/Netflix, 2017

 

After all we talk about it, write about it, discuss it in painstaking detail, we failed our son.

The “it” is obviously how he should watch his content to get the optimum entertainment experience.

We went into his room (after knocking first) and there he sat on his bed with his smartphone in his hands.

Asked what he was doing, he said, “Watching one of the old movies from your library, Casablanca.  Sorta cool!”

 

Old movie? 

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Does the Movie or the Theater Make Content Great?

by Andy Marken / 15-Mar-21

 "I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!" (Edited for TV version) – Neville Flynn, “Snakes on a Plane,” New Line Cinema, 2006

Do we have to say it? 

Christmas,New Years didn’t pan out exactly as we envisioned.  

Not by a long shot!

Valentine’s Day didn’t look too hot either…

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We are Certain of Content Shuffle in Uncertain Times

by Andy Marken / 08-Mar-21

         “They don't care nothin' about me. All they want is my voice. Well, I done learned that. And they gonna treat me the way I wanna be treated, no matter how much it hurt them.” – Ma Rainey, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Netflix, 2020

Early in the holiday season, we stumbled onto a news item in the online Maui News that said the Consolidated Theaters on Oahu had a helluva deal for a private showing of Wonder Woman 1984.

Each guest in the private screening will receive a free small popcorn. Up to 30 guests will be allowed, and friends and family must be seated by household, with no more than five guests per household within each individual grouping, according to a news release from Consolidated Theatres. Two additional seats will be left open on either side of each household group.

All we had to do is fly from CA to Oahu, quarantine for 10 days, see Gal Gadot save the world, fly home, quarantine for 10 days.

But jeezz, what a deal … a free small popcorn!