Alternative approaches to entertainment distribution/consumption

Started by Sleepless, September 06, 2013, 02:08:09 PM

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I've probably already posted the YouTube video about vertical videos, one of the jokes was: George Lucas will be able to release another version of Star Wars. Yes. That was old. Now, websites post vertical videos on YouTube...Like...It wasn't even filmed vertically, what the hell...



QuoteThe move places the digital giant, which estimated 42 billion visits to the site last year, in the company of other streamers seeking to expand audiences and diversify its content portfolios. The movie in question is the documentary "Shakedown," from filmmaker and conceptual artist Leilah Weinraub. It hails from the upper echelons of the art world, where the project enjoyed a prestige rollout in exhibits at the Whitney Museum and MoMA over the last three years.


Distrib Kino Lorber & U.S. Indie Theaters Launch Virtual Exhibition Program With Revenue Splits & Holdovers To Help Offset Coronavirus Closures; Cannes Pic 'Bacurau' First Up
via Deadline

Here's another story of enterprise and innovation among the coronavirus destruction.

U.S. arthouse distributor Kino Lorber is launching a virtual theatrical exhibition initiative called Kino Marquee to enable movie theaters shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak to continue to serve their audiences and generate revenue.

Virtual holdovers will be determined by performance, and revenue will be split between distributor and exhibitor. The initiative is also designed to let movie audiences support their local theaters.

The initiative has been designed to emulate the moviegoing experience as much as possible. Films will be booked from Fridays to Thursdays and presented on dedicated web pages headed by each theater's branded marquee.

The first Kino Marquee screenings are with New York's Film at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Jacob Burns Film Center. All will open with Kino Lorber's well-received Cannes Film Festival title Bacurau, which would otherwise now be on screen in each venue. Other titles are due in coming weeks.

There is a universal price point of $12 and 12 theaters have signed up to date. Scroll down for the list of venues. Invitations are going to all sixty theaters across the U.S. who had already committed to book the film.

Although Kino Marquee is hosted on Kino Lorber's recently launched Kino Now VOD platform, visitors to the Kino Now website will not be able to navigate to theaters' virtual screening rooms. Rather, each theater will promote their own film page via traditional means, including reviews, eblasts and social media posts. Virtual 'ticket' buyers from the theater's Kino Marquee site will receive a link that gives them admission to an online screening room.

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and starring Sônia Braga and Udo Kier, Bacurau won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and went on to play Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Set in a near-future Brazil, the film follows a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all the residents of a village.

FLC opened Bacurau on March 6 and posted good numbers until they elected to close on March 12 in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prioritize the health of their community, and which included cancelling a Q&A with the directors who were over from Brazil. BAM opened the film on March 13 only to show it one day before being forced to shut down, and Jacob Burns had to cancel their March 13 opening that morning.

"When theaters started to close, we at Kino Lorber turned our thoughts to how we could collaborate with our independent theater partners across the country. We cannot release the kinds of films we do without their support," said Wendy Lidell, SVP of Theatrical Distribution at Kino Lorber.

"Of course we wanted to find a way to keep our current film release in front of audiences, but to do so in a way that would also benefit our exhibition partners. We want to help ensure that these theaters will be able to reopen their doors after this crisis passes. The Kino Marquee program offers an opportunity for theaters to generate revenue while their doors are closed."

Theaters currently aboard:
Film at Lincoln Center (New York, NY)
BAM (Brooklyn, NY)
Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY)
The Little Theatre (Rochester, NY)
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Riviera Theatre (Santa Barbara, CA)
The Frida Cinema (Santa Ana, CA)
Denver Film / Sie FilmCenter (Denver, CO)
Belcourt Theater (Nashville, TN)
Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ)
Austin Film Society (Austin, TX)
Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH)
Aperture Cinema (Winston Salem, NC)


This is very compassionate and smart, right?

Netflix sets up $100-million coronavirus relief fund for Hollywood workers

While the world turns to Netflix for entertainment during the coronavirus crisis, the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming giant is lending a hand to workers who've lost their jobs from production cancellations.

The company said it was creating a $100-million fund to provide emergency support to workers on its productions, including electricians, carpenters and drivers, said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, in a blog post Friday.

With almost all television and film production now shuttered globally, hundreds of thousands of crew and cast are without jobs, he said.

Some $15 million of the fund will be directed toward helping the broader television and film industry via third parties and nonprofit agencies providing emergency relief to out-of-work cast and crew in the countries where Netflix has a large production base.

"Most of the fund will go towards support for the hardest hit workers on our own productions around the world," Sarandos said in the statement. "We're in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production. This is in addition to the two weeks' pay we've already committed to the crew and cast on productions we were forced to suspend last week."

As the coronavirus has spread worldwide, productions have been forced to close and more than 100,000 workers across the entertainment industry are estimated to have lost work.

"This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide," Sarandos said.

Netflix said it would donate $1 million each to the SAG-AFTRA COVID-19 Disaster Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund and the Actors Fund Emergency Assistance in the U.S., and $1 million between the AFC and Fondation des Artistes. In Europe, Latin America and Asia, where Netflix has a big production presence, the company said it is working with existing industry organizations to create similar community emergency relief efforts.

A group of unions in media, arts and entertainment called on the federal government Friday to help workers in the industry, many of whom are paid from job to job and have no access to state unemployment relief.

"Overnight, production and performances industry-wide shut down indefinitely, leaving most entertainment and media workers without a source of income to cover essential expenses," said the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, in a statement Friday. "Workers who are left without a paycheck and may not qualify for unemployment have no recourse unless Congress acts now."

AFL-CIO (DPE) is a coalition of 24 unions representing more than 4 million professional and technical union members.

Groups including the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the founders of the #PayUpHollywood movement have launched relief funds to help assistants and other workers.

Several prominent writers, Hollywood producers and others donated more than $300,000 online for assistants facing loss of work.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents more than 150,000 entertainment industry workers, on Tuesday said it committed $2.5 million in donations to three charities: the Actors Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and the Actors Fund of Canada.



Kino Marquee Virtual Arthouse Program Expands To 150 Cinemas With Alamo Drafthouse & Laemmle In Streaming Cannes Winner 'Bacurau'
via Deadline

Kino Lorber's Kino Marquee initiative, which looks to help arthouses at a time when they've been shuttered in the coronavirus climate, has mushroomed from 12 theaters last week to 150 including Alamo Drafthouse and Laemmle Theaters.

For the price of $12, Kino Marquee is streaming last year's Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, Bacurau, on arthouses' regional cinema websites. Those who pay to watch the Sonia Braga movie, say on the Laemmle site, the profits are then split between the theater and Kino Lorber. The Kino Marquee was launched to enable movie audiences to continue to support their local theaters by paying to view pics digitally during the nationwide shutdown of theaters.

Each rental of Bacurau lasts fives days, and there's a virtual Q&A with filmmakers and cast hosted by BAM which will be available for all to watch on Wednesday, April 1 at 8pm ET. Kino Lorber also plans to offer top films from other independent distributors via Kino Marquee.

Here's an example of what the Kino Marquee looks like on LA's Laemmle site. Kino Lorber is helping each chain build out their virtual streaming web pages. Each theater will then promote to their moviegoing memberships via their newsletters about upcoming Kino and sister Zeitgeist label movies.

Specific movie theaters will stream Bacurau during specific dates and you can find that rollout schedule here which is constantly updating.

Ken Loach's festival favorite Sorry We Missed You is also currently available through Kino Marquee with Film Forum in New York, where the film's theatrical premiere (launched March 4) was cut short by the theater's closure. Multiple cities will follow later this week.

Kino Lorber President and CEO Richard Lorber said, "We've all been thrust into a brave new cinema world. Kino Marquee offers film lovers and the theaters a way to mutually support each other – audiences can keep going to newly released movies and theaters can keep selling tickets to great cinematic experiences online. We offer Kino Marquee as a lifeline to help keep art house cinemas in business and keep the work of top independent filmmakers under the halo of first release virtual screens."

"We're grateful for our partners at Kino Lorber, who are leading the charge in Virtual Cinema screenings that support theaters like Alamo Drafthouse," said Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO. "We're happy to be able to share Bacurau with our audience and continue celebrating our shared film culture."

Museum of Fine Arts Curator of Film & Video Marian Luntz added, "The nimble initiative of Kino Lorber to launch Kino Marquee is a fantastic response to the serious and totally unexpected situation we are all sharing. Our devoted filmgoers, along with others across the U.S., can watch spring releases everyone planned to see in our theaters, keeping them engaged with our programming and contemporary world cinema. We hope everyone will remain safe and healthy while taking advantage of Bacurau and other films we plan to offer." The MFAH launched their virtual theater today to screen the film.

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles and starring Braga and Udo Kier, Bacurau is set in a near-future Brazil, and follows a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all the residents of a village.


I've already considered 'renting' ONCE WERE BROTHERS--quite eager to see it.  But I've also considered waiting until it comes around--and saving the $12 for kindling when I'm living in the back yard and cooking squirrels for sustenance.  I did buy a Laemmle Gift Card to help support them in our collective hour of need, though.


Once Were Brothers is one of the last things I got to see on a big screen before all this craziness went down. I say splurge! It doesn't reinvent the form or anything, but if you're into its subject you should find it plenty satisfying.


A Post-Coronavirus Entertainment World Will Not Be 'Business as Usual'
by TREY WILLIAMS | April 7, 2020 @ 6:00 AM
"Some spaces might need to adapt their configurations to account for people's health consciousness," Stanford University Assistant Professor Kathryn Olivarius says

Hollywood and the entertainment industry face an existential crisis: There's no certainty that when the clearance is given for theaters to reopen and concerts and sporting events to resume that consumers will flock back to those often crowded spaces.

Two questions persist as we enter our fourth week of coronavirus-forced shutdowns: When will this all be over? And what does a world post COVID-19 even look like?

"If you think about in terms of the behaviors of people, this is an unprecedented event," UCLA social sciences dean Darnell Hunt said. "Just by the sheer impact of this, I can't imagine that things go back to business as usual... clearly culture has been affected."

The sentiment is widespread.

Actor Kumail Nanjiani wrote on Twitter as most people entered week three of self-isolating, that he couldn't imagine shaking another hand once the pandemic subsides. It may have been a joke, or a slight exaggeration, but what it isn't is an outrageous nor frivolous thing to say.

Hollywood has all but punted on the pivotal summer movie season. With the novel coronavirus continuing to spread in the U.S., movie theaters are forced to remain closed and folks confined to their homes. Authorities suggest the lockdowns could extend well into the summer, but there's no knowing precisely when stay-at-home orders might be lifted; or more concerning, when things will go back to normal — whatever that looks like now.

Studios have already pulled virtually all their movies set to come out in the next couple months from the release slate, pushing them to later in the year or into 2021, and in some cases jettisoning them to streaming services.

Some experts have pointed to post-September 11 America and what it was like to go to the airport and fly in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The last time Disney closed its theme parks, until the coronavirus pandemic, was after 9/11. While the circumstances were very different, and the repercussions felt most intensely in air travel, the unprecedented nature of the events is useful in illustrating how change happens in a society and in the behavior of individuals.

"All of the things that we used to do in person are still important to us to do. Humans are social animals," Hunt said. "But I suspect that going forward, people are going to be a lot more cautious and wary."

John Sloss, founder of  indie film financing and distribution company Cinetic Media, said that while there will certainly be vested interest in helping movie theaters rebound from the pandemic, cinema operators shouldn't just assume audiences will be willing to frequent theaters again right away.

"There's going to be a lot of change in consumer habits, and if home premieres like 'Trolls World Tour' really work out well with families, they may find that they prefer seeing a brand new movie with their kids in the comfort of their own homes rather than driving out and paying for parking and other things," Sloss said, referring to Universal's decision to skip a theatrical release for the animated "Trolls" sequel in favor of a video on-demand release set for this week.

A study published last week by Performance Research, a sports and events research firm, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., said that consumers are having trepidation about returning to event spaces after the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the study, 51% of the more than 1,000 U.S. consumers said it would take them a few months or longer to return to indoor sports or concert venues, while 44% reported the same for outdoor venues. Similarly, 33% indicated they will likely attend indoor sports or concert venues less often post-pandemic, while just 26% reported the same for outdoor venues.

"Everyone's likely going to err on the side of caution," Comscore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. "People are going to be forever changed by this. Not sure if there'll be a revolution in terms of behaviors, but there will almost certainly be an evolution... social distancing is something that will likely remain in the culture."

At the onset of the coronavirus spread in the U.S., before movie theaters were forced to shut down completely, many of the major chains instituted social distancing seating, whereas seats were left open between moviegoers. Experts, including Dergarabedian, predict that practices such as those will likely remain for the time being.

Kathryn Olivarius, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, pointed to 19th century New Orleans as one historic model for a post-COVID society.

"City authorities always shut down theaters and operas when outbreaks of yellow fever became serious enough. But the moment restrictions were lifted again (after the first mosquito-killing frosts), every seat was full," Olivarius said. "That may say more about the particular culture of yellow fever in New Orleans — or the Deep South's rapacious capitalism — than the human need to return to normalcy."

Consumer behaviors post-coronavirus, she said, will likely face long-term changes, as social distancing orders continue for months or even trickle into years.

"Already, people are getting used to being at home all the time, working on Zoom and putting on Netflix. Already, it feels reflexive to give other people a huge berth when walking outside," Olivarius said. "I'd bet people will go to the movies again, and eat at restaurants, and dance in flower-crowns at Coachella, etc., but they might be more epidemiologically conscious, even nervous for a while. And some spaces might need to adapt their configurations to account for people's health consciousness."


I'm sure this has been studied--and things are certainly different now culturally and globally--but I wonder what the post "Spanish Flu (1918)" recovery was like.  I wonder what behaviors changed in that aftermath--and how long it took for them to fade away (and maybe which one's never did)?


Doesn't look like we have a dedicated/evergreen Southby thread, so putting this here...

Here's The SXSW 2020 Festival Slate To Launch On Prime Video April 27

Amazon Prime Video and SXSW have set a 39-film launch on April 27-May 6 for Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection. That is the virtual version of the Austin-Texas festival that got canceled in the pandemic. As Deadline reported, filmmakers accepted to SXSW were given the option to have their films play in this online film festival, and have their films viewable free to anyone who has a free Amazon account.

"SXSW has always championed creators forging their own paths to success, often with just the right mix of passion, vision and radical experimentation to make their dreams happen," said Janet Pierson, Director of Film, SXSW. "There is no one-size-fits-all, especially in these uncertain times, and we knew this opportunity would be of interest to those filmmakers who wanted to be in front of a large audience now. We believe people will be captivated by this selection of intriguing work that would have been shown at our 2020 event."

Said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke: "We understand every film has its own strategy and we know this opportunity may not make sense for every filmmaker. However, for those who want to share their stories right now and with as many people as possible, we're excited to provide them this platform. Until we are able to be together in person again, we hope this program allows these wonderful stories to virtually reach film lovers everywhere in the country."

There will be panels and Q&As through the Alma Har'el-founded Free The Work. "Amazon's SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection is giving a platform to work that would have been celebrated at this year's festival," said Har'el, who helmed Honey Boy. "Free The Work's mission is to find new pathways to the discovery of underrepresented creators and we're excited to help celebrate, spotlight, and provide a platform for the voices of these talented filmmakers."

Here are the films that will be viewable on Prime Video at


Cat in the Wall / Bulgaria, UK, France (Directors, screenwriters and producers: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova) — This terrific comedy-drama is set on a southeast London council estate, which is riven by social and economic divisions and threatened by the all-consuming force of gentrification. Irina, a Bulgarian woman lives there with her small son and her brother. The lift serves as a toilet, the multi-cultural residents exchange shouts rather than pleasantries, and an expensive refurbishment is undesired but must be paid for. And in the midst of this: an apparently ownerless cat which has had enough of the heated atmosphere barricades itself 'in the wall', requiring the residents to collaborate. Cat in the Wall is an arresting critique of society, a whirlpool of emotions from despair to joie de vivre conveyed by strongly delineated characters. This heart-warming tale, shot in a documentary style, is this year's equivalent of director Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake. Cast: Irina Atanosova, Angel Genov, Gilda Waugh

Gunpowder Heart / Guatemala (Director and screenwriter: Camila Urrutia, Producer: Inés Nofuentes) — Claudia and Maria have fallen in love. They live in the city of Guatemala, a city full of stories related to abuse, unforgiving police officers, and charming secret corners. Everything changes one night when they are attacked by three men. They manage to escape but they now have to choose if they want revenge. Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández

Le Choc du Futur / France (Director and screenwriter: Marc Collin, Co-Writer: Elina Gakou-Gomba, Producers: Marc Collin, Nicolas Jourdier, Gaelle Ruffier) — In the Paris of 1978, old formulas do not charm listeners anymore and new music must arise. In a male-dominated industry, Ana uses her electronic gadgets to make herself heard, creating a new sound that will mark the decades to come: the music of the future. Cast: Alma Jodorowsky, Philippe Rebbot, Clara Luciani

Selfie / France (Directors: Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain, Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat, Vianney Lebasque, Screenwriters: Giulio Callegari, Noé Debré, Hélène Lombard, Julien Sibony, Bertrand Soulier, Producers: Mandoline Films, Chez Georges Productions) — Algorithms, Technophobics, Dating App addicts, Vloggers, cloud security breach... each one of us can relate to the wired madness happening on screen. In five subversive and hilarious Black Mirror-like tales, Selfie takes on our digital shortcomings and shows how the new 2.0 era is driving all of us nuts! Cast: Blanche Gardin, Manu Payet, Elsa Zylberstein


I'm Gonna Make You Love Me / U.S. (Director and Producer: Karen Bernstein, Co-Producer: Nevie Owens) — Fellini meets Motown in I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, the tragi-comedic tale of one man's search for self-acceptance, a journey that included tabloid celebrity, Tupperware parties, and two coming-outs — first as a straight woman, then as the gay man he was born to be. Cast: Brian Belovitch aka "Tish," Gloria Walker, Michael Musto

My Darling Vivian / U.S. (Director: Matt Riddlehoover, Producers: Dustin Tittle, Matt Riddlehoover) — The story of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash's first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Includes never-before-seen footage and photographs of Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash, as well as footage featuring Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, John C. Reilly and many more.

TFW NO GF / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Lee Moyer, Producers: Adam Bhala Lough, Cody Wilson, Ariel Pink, Alex Lee Moyer, Michael Reich, John Eisenman, Matt Ornstein, Claire Bargout, Deagan White, Barrett Avner) — Born from the internet, the phrase "TFW NO GF" was originally used online to describe a lack of romantic companionship. Since then, it has evolved to symbolize a greater state of existence defined by isolation, rejection and alienation. The meme's protagonist, "WOJAK," has become the mascot to a vast online community consisting of self-described "hyper-anonymous twenty somethings" and "guys who slipped between the cracks." TFW NO GF asks: How has the zeitgeist come to bear down on a generation alienated by the 'real world'? Meet the lost boys who came of age on the internet in places like 4chan and Twitter, where they find camaraderie in despair.


A Period Piece / U.S., France (Director and screenwriter: Shuchi Talati, Producer: Esra Saydam, Co-Producer: Claire Chassagne) — Geetha, a control and order loving Indian-American woman, finally has sex with Vehd one afternoon but things quickly turn messy, causing a fight to erupt mid-coitus. Cast: Sonal Aggarwal, Nardeep Khurmi

Basic / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Chelsea Devantez, Co-Producer: Kevin Walsh) — Basic is a very, very, very short film about a dumb lil' ho doing lil' ho things. Starring Nelson Franklin (Veep, Abby's, Blackish), Georgia Mischak (Arrested Development, Love), and Chelsea Devantez (Bless This Mess, Abby's), who also wrote and directed. It's a darkish comedy exploring the insecure lil' ho in all of us.

Blocks / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Bridget Moloney, Producers: Kate Chamuris, Kristin Slaysman, Valerie Steinberg) — An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit toy blocks. Cast: Claire Coffee, Mark Webber, Ruha Taslimi

Broken Bird / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Rachel Harrison Gordon) — Birdie, a biracial girl raised by her Jewish mom in a New Jersey suburb, spends a rare day with her father while preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. She overcomes her doubts, and decides to risk inviting him back into her life. Birdie confronts what independence means as she steps into adulthood on her own terms. Cast: Indigo Hubbard-Salk, Chad L. Coleman

Daddio / U.S. (Director, screenwriter, and producer: Casey Wilson, Co-Writer: Laura Kindred, Co-Producers: Ursula Camack, Laura Kindred, Adam Silver) — Daddio is a comedy about death. A year after the sudden passing of their beloved wife and mother, a dad and daughter grapple with life after loss. Grief looks very different on both of them. Paul, played by Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, Spinal Tap), is manic. He gets a perm and begs neighbors to hot tub with him. Abby, played by Casey Wilson (SNL, Happy Endings, Black Monday) is depressed. She sleeps in her closet and uses a shopping cart for a laundry basket. At its heart, Daddio is a love story between a father and daughter after the unimaginable has happened. Based on real death events. Cast: Michael McKean, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael

Dirty / U.S. (Director: Matthew Puccini, Producers: Cecilia Delgado, Jeremy Truong, Matthew Puccini) — Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend. Things do not go as planned. Cast: Morgan Sullivan, Manny Dunn

Face to Face Time / U.S. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Izzy Shill) — Claire takes the bold step of initiating a FaceTime call, only to discover Danny's flaccid enthusiasm for her. Cast: Izzy Shill, Sean Patrick McGowan

Father of the Bride / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Rhys Marc Jones, Producer: Alex Polunin) — The best man attempts to keep face and deliver his speech at his brother's wedding, following an advance in the hotel bathroom by the father of the bride. Cast: Jay Lycurgo, Dominic Mafham, Marcus Rutherford, Isabelle Connolly

Figurant / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Jan Vejnar, Producers: Origine Films / Silk Films) — A man follows a group of workers coming for daywork in an industrial area. Soon, he's stripped from his clothes and identity, dressed in a military uniform and armed. His determination not to fall behind the others is then tested by a series of unsettling events. Cast: Denis Lavant

Reminiscences of the Green Revolution / Phillipines, U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Dean Colin Marcial, Producer: Armi Rae Cacanindin) — A ghost story about love and eco-terrorism in the Philippines. Cast: Annicka Dolonius, Sid Lucero, Abner Delina Jr.

Runon / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Newell Kaufman, Producer: Lizzie Shaprio) — All Luke and his mom have are two garbage bags full of clothes, and two tickets out of town on the midnight Greyhound. Like he's assembling a puzzle, Luke has to figure out the why of it — all before the person they're running from puts together the pieces. Cast: Erin Markey, Luke Visiage, Mike Alonzo

Single / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Ashley Eakin, Producer: Connie Jo Sechrist) — A girl born with one arm goes on a blind date with a guy who has one hand...and she is pissed! Cast: Delaney Feener, Jordan Wiseley

SOFT / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Antebi, Producers: Casey Bader, Reid Hannaford, Nicole Quintero Ochoa) — Sam — 16, queer, and falling in love — struggles to untangle himself from his abusive martial arts coach. Cast: Josh Lerner, Benicio Franqui, Alex Kramer

Still Wylde / U.S., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Ingrid Haas, Producers: Devin Lawrence, Katie White) — Gertie and her sometimes boyfriend, Sam, are faced with a major life decision only to realize that even when they know what they want, life has other plans. Cast: Ingrid Haas, Barry Rothbart, Sabrina Jalees

Summer Hit / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Berthold Wahjudi, Producers: Melissa Byrne, Philipp Link) — Laia from Spain and Emil from Iceland are Erasmus students in Munich. After having sex for a couple of times, Emil professes his love to Laia — but she panics and runs away. Now the two have to figure out whether they are more than just a summer fling. Cast: Martina Roura, Atli Benedikt, Katrin Filzen

The Voice in Your Head / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Graham Parkes, Producer: Brendan Garrett) — A surreal comedy about an office worker who has resigned himself to spending every waking hour tortured by the negative voice in head, until a concerned co-worker decides to take action. Cast: Lewis Pullman, Mat Wright, Trian Longsmith

Vert / U.K. (Director and screenwriter: Kate Cox, Producers: Nick Rowell, Sophie Reynolds, Gabriele Lo Giudice) — Emelia (BAFTA Nominee Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Jeff (Nick Frost) are an open-minded couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary by venturing into the Virtual world of "Vert" together. Vert presents them with a character that is their 'ideal self' and what is supposed to be re-awakening for them as a couple becomes the unearthing of Jeff's secret. Cast: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Nick Frost, Olivia Vinall

Waffle / U.S. (Director: Carlyn Hudson, Screenwriters and producers: Katie Marovitch, Kerry Barker, Co-Producers: Pamela Robison, Bridgett Greenberg) — Kerry is at a sleepover with the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie. Friendship — in a society that grows ever isolating — is explored as Kerry learns the hard way that Katie always gets what she wants. Cast: Katie Marovitch, Kerry Barker, Raphael Chestang


Affurmative Action / U.S. (Director: Travis Wood) — An exploration of workplace diversity through "meet the team" pages.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Christine Turner, Producer: Erin Wright) — At 93, there's no stopping when it comes to the legendary artist Betye Saar.

Broken Orchestra / U.S., Canada (Director: Charlie Tyrell, Screenwriter: Josef Beeby, Producer: Julie Baldassi) — A documentary short about the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra,, which collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.

Call Center Blues / U.S. (Director: Geeta Gandbhir, Producer: Jessica Devaney) — Call Center Blues is a lyrical portrait of an unlikely community of US deportees and their loved ones struggling to rebuild their lives in Tijuana, Mexico.

Dieorama / U.S. (Director: Kevin Staake, Producer: Ryen Bartlett) — Abigail Goldman spends her work days as an investigator for a public defender's office in Washington state, helping people who are seriously in trouble—which can mean hours of staring at grisly pictures of crime scenes, visiting morgues, even observing autopsies. By night, she dreams up gruesome events, which she then turns into tiny, precise dioramas. Rife with scenes of imminent death and brutal dismemberment, the fruits of Goldman's painstaking labor would be adorable ... if they weren't so disturbing. In this new documentary short, we follow along as Goldman brings her miniature worlds of murder and mayhem to life with tweezers, paint, and resin, and meet the people who just can't get enough of her twisted visions—where the final touch is always, in the artist's words, "two or three brushstrokes of red paint."

Hiplet: Because We Can / U.S. (Director and producer: Addison Wright) — Created with the intention to inspire young Black women, this film brings the Hiplet™ [hip-lay] ballerinas to center stage. With elements of a Short Film, Music Video, and Documentary, this artistic work showcases not only the talent of the Hiplet ballerinas, it also gives them a platform to discuss the challenges they have faced with giving traditional ballet a hip new twist. Cast: Homer Hans Bryant, Jayda Perry, Nia Parker

Lions in the Corner / U.S. (Director: Paul Hairston, Producer: Jake Ewald) — In Virginia, Scarface started Streetbeefs in his backyard to combat gun and knife violence in the area. Soon it turned into something much more for the men involved. Cast: Chris Wilmore

Mizuko (Water Child) / U.S. (Directors: Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane, Screenwriter: Kira Dane, Producer: Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute) — In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker's personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko (Water Child) is a partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

Modern Whore / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Nicole Bazuin, Producer: Lisa Baylin) — Former escort Andrea Werhun shares the ins and outs of escort review board culture, exposing the complexities of sexual power and social stigma in a post-#MeToo world. Cast: Andrea Werhun, Chester Brown, Michael Cuddy

No Crying at the Dinner Table / Canada (Director: Carol Nguyen, Producers: Carol Nguyen, Aziz Zoromba) — Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.

Quilt Fever / U.S. (Director and screenwriter: Olivia Loomis Merrion) — Every year, thousands of quilters descend upon Paducah, Kentucky for its annual quilt competition, doubling the town's population. "The Academy Awards of quilting" is a weeklong spectacle in which quilters from all over the world vie for the coveted Best of Show award. Beyond the competition, the film weaves through stories of individual quilters to reveal deeper motivations behind the art.


Cursed Films / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Jay Cheel, Producers: Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith, Laura Perlmutter, Brian Robertson, Jay Cheel) — Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series from Shudder exploring the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood's notoriously "cursed" horror film productions. From plane accidents and bombings during the making of The Omen, to the rumoured use of human skeletons on the set of Poltergeist, these stories are legendary amongst film fans and filmmakers alike. But where does the truth lie?

Motherland: Fort Salem / U.S. (Creator: Eliot Laurence) — Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution by cutting a deal with the government to fight for the country, Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women from training to deployment, as they fight terrorist threats with supernatural tactics.

Tales from the Loop/ U.S., Canada (Creator/Writer: Nathaniel Halpern, Director: Mark Romanek, Executive Producers: Nathaniel Halpern, Matt Reeves, Mark Romanek, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Mattias Montero, Samanthan Taylor Pickett, Adam Berg and Simon Stålenhag) – Based on the acclaimed art of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the town and people who live above "The Loop," a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe. In this fantastical, mysterious town poignant human tales are told that bare universal emotional experiences while drawing on the intrigue of genre storytelling. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Paul Schneider, Daniel Zolghadri, Duncan Joiner, Jonathan Pryce.
He held on. The dolphin and all the rest of its pod turned and swam out to sea, and still he held on. This is it, he thought. Then he remembered that they were air-breathers too. It was going to be all right.


Quote from: Sleepless on April 22, 2020, 11:45:43 AM

Here are the films that will be viewable on Prime Video at

Mizuko (Water Child) / U.S. (Directors: Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane, Screenwriter: Kira Dane, Producer: Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute) — In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water children memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko (Water Child) is a partially animated, intimate reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

S/o to Kira & Katelyn & Gretta  ~  <3


Filmmakers Should Avoid Online Film Festivals, Unless They Ask These Questions — Opinion
By Brian Newman

Many filmmakers are wondering if they should accept offers from online programs. Here are the hard questions they should ask.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, most film festivals are being forced to postpone, and many have opted to launch online versions of their events. But as these new versions of film festivals keep popping up, I am getting asked by filmmakers: "Should we participate in this?" Or, more often: "Am I missing something? Why would we do this?"

My answer is always the same: If you are launching a brand-new film that is still seeking distribution, no. If you have a short, or an older film, or one where you have locked in distribution (and if your distributor agrees), or one where you are doing a DIY release — sure, consider it. But if you are trying to premiere a feature film, and you don't yet have distribution, then as of now you can't consider these online festivals because buyers consider them a conflict with their distribution of your film. They do NOT see it as word-of-mouth building, or good PR, or a way to test/prove audience demand. They see it as a distraction at best, and lost income, or a loss of control or a loss of premiere status at worst.

That's why you don't see many feature films premiering as part of the recent SXSW/Amazon deal (rumors are that the less-than-generous terms didn't help). And that's why Tribeca quickly announced that its new "We Are One" mega-festival isn't intended for most new films, either. Because until Ted Sarandos, or someone else at Netflix, gives the greenlight for films to premiere at online festivals before streaming, no one is going to do it.

I am helping about 11 films with their festivals and distribution right now (brand-film clients and one film that I produced), and most of them are in festival limbo-land. Dozens of festivals have emailed to say they're launching an online/virtual festival (it's not virtual unless you're in VR, but that's another post), and they ask whether the selected film wants to participate. Of those letters, only two addressed why the filmmaker might want to participate, and how the system would work. Only one offered any kind of compensation to the filmmakers. But even when the festival offered compensation, that wouldn't work for my clients with new films.

There remains too much danger that distributors will see this as a problem. But still, kudos to those two festivals. Even though my clients couldn't accept their offers, we had something to consider, and it was clear that the festival had thought about how this impacted the filmmaker.

It seems to me that film festivals launching these new online events are thinking about many things – how to serve local audiences; how to keep their brands alive; how to salvage some part of their festival; how to not lose as much money; how to build a new model. All of these are good and valid things to consider that might be solved by an online festival. I remain skeptical,  but too few are thinking about the impact on filmmakers.

Film festivals have two main sets of constituents — audiences and filmmakers — and you can't build a program for the former and forget the latter, but that's precisely what's happening. Too few people are asking, "How can we build something that best helps filmmakers?" And that's the question that matters, especially at a time when most filmmakers have lost all of their income, and when they are under severe duress. Remember, festivals, even as they struggle, might bounce back next year. But a film stuck in limbo could completely disappear, along with the career of the filmmaker who made it.

I've spoken with many festival directors in the past few weeks, and a common refrain is that they wish Netflix/Amazon/et al. would see things their way and say these online festival premieres are okay. Many even signed a pledge advocating for a new business model around premieres. But none of the major/market festivals signed this pledge, nor did any of the most important buyers. If what you're offering is going to hurt filmmakers, why offer it? It shifts the problem to the filmmakers, and in the best case, they look like jerks for not participating; and in the worst case, they do participate and possibly ruin the marketability of their films.

As I speak with other producers, another common question arises: Are any of these festivals gathering input from filmmakers on what they want? Many filmmakers are afraid to ask this question out loud because they don't want to jeopardize their relationships with the gatekeepers who are often so crucial to their film's success. Filmmakers need more people advocating for improved festival business models that help audiences discover films without jeopardizing their future success.

Festivals need to invite these conversations and have them more transparently, because while figuring it out won't be easy, this is a field-wide issue, and it needs robust debate and solutions that take into account all stakeholders. If we're going to use this crisis to build a new business model, let's not do it in a vacuum; instead, let's step back and use this opportunity to build a new system that's better than the old one.

So, what do filmmakers want? In my conversations, a few things keep coming up. First, we need to acknowledge that in the current climate, we don't just need festivals for industry discovery, we also need them to help audiences discover films. But this means the discovery/premiere aspect of festivals needs to be timed to the release of the film to the public. That probably means most festivals — all but the biggest industry ones — need to rethink their "discovery" programming and focus on bringing audiences to films that have distribution sorted out, and that are just about to launch. This probably means that festivals need to think differently about how and when they promote themselves and their films (a lot earlier for both). And we need to figure out how to push those audiences to films post-festival as well (via email lists with opt-ins, on social media, etc.)

We also need to discuss compensation. There was an argument — one that I believed in for a long time as a festival programmer — that discovery and promotion were enough. But in an online world, there needs to be compensation for filmmakers, even when your festival is struggling. Now is the time to make that argument with board-members, donors and sponsors.

But we also need to acknowledge that compensation will never be enough for films that are seeking distribution. This may necessitate creative partnerships (between festivals and distributors), and a renewed focus on other areas that help filmmakers. For example, there needs to be data transparency — to filmmakers, among festivals, to distributors, and in some cases, to the public. Filmmakers need to know how many people saw their film, how much of it they watched, and be able to use this data to build a case for their film with distributors, press and other audiences.

Filmmakers also want more opportunities to network with other filmmakers and industry representatives, even if this only takes place online. They also love the chance to win an award that might help bring them more attention, but they're starting to miss the cash prizes that many festivals have cut due to austerity.

We need to have these conversations now, as the field develops solutions that are bound to become not just temporary band-aids, but long-term changes to the system. Festivals are understandably rushing to develop online systems that can help them survive the crisis. Filmmakers appreciate this need, and many of them owe their careers to scrappy festival directors who took a chance on their films. The two need to work together to develop systems that can allow both to not just survive, but thrive, going forward.



Finally, Here Are Some Real VOD Box Office Numbers — and They Show Promise

Kudos to Kino Lorber streaming platform Kino Marquee, which released initial revenues for its first eight titles. "Bacurau" leads the pack.

Welcome to the new normal. While we currently have no Sunday box-office estimates, we have our first full-fledged VOD report courtesy of Kino Marquee. The numbers for the streaming arm of New York distributor Kino Lorber bear little resemblance to those of, say, Universal VOD, but it's an eye-opening look at the potential — and the limits — of virtual cinema.

These early numbers suggest the combined virtual-theatrical returns could end up in the range of a full theatrical release. For now, they also suggest that for theaters there is no substitute for the physical customer.

"I think we have all learned over our joint foray into this new business that virtual ticket sales do not make up 100% of theatrical revenue lost by exhibitors and distributors," said Wendy Lidell, Kino Lorber's senior VP of theatrical/nontheatrical distribution and acquisitions, writing to the Art House Convergence Google group. "This is a different business. We are competing with lower cost online streaming options, but I believe we need to maintain the premium price of a premiere theatrical window, and we on the distribution side are endeavoring to promote films as such."

Kino Lorber is known as a venerable distributor of high-quality titles, most of which premiered at festivals, and it has one of the most vital DVD/Blu-Ray libraries around. In March, it launched Kino Marquee, a VOD platform that also enables movie theaters to serve their audiences and generate revenue.

Unlike traditional theatrical releases, Kino Marquee allows it to offer far more films, and for much longer periods. The goal, Kino Lorber announced, was "to emulate the moviegoing experience as much as possible, enabling movie audiences to support their local theaters by paying to view films digitally."

Kino Marquee currently features eight titles. Four came in partnership with other distributors: Good Deed's Irish comedy "Extra Ordinary" and Zeitgeist's documentaries "Beyond the Visible: Hilma at Klimt" and "The Woman Who Loved Giraffes," and Ken Loach's "Sorry We Missed You." One is a re-release, "Thousand Pieces of Gold." Also included is a collection of repertory titles from Hungarian director Istvan Szabo that include the recently restored "Mephisto."

From March 19-April 30, some eight Kino Marquee titles grossed $316,000 via online release. Initial results show two standouts that represented more than half of that total. One is "Bacurau," a 2019 Cannes award-winning Brazilian film, which grossed about $100,000. The other is "Extra Ordinary," an Irish comedy that premiered at SXSW 2019 and stars Will Forte. It grossed about $79,000 in virtual release.

The eight titles received staggered releases across five weekends. Not every theater handled all Kino Marquee titles; out of the 233 that participated in "Bacurau," 10 accounted for 40 percent of the film's gross.

For theaters, some of these returns can be quite small. For "Bacurau," 213 theaters shared about $60,000 in revenue, which is split 50/50 with Kino Lorber. Sources suggest some New York partners, led by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Film Forum, and BAM are standout, similar to what would happen in normal theatrical play.

Still, even with a return that's almost certainly significantly less than what theatrical would provide, so are the expenses. And, it allows theaters to stay in touch with customers and keep their communities alive.

And, compared to other Kino Lorber releases, these top earners show some promise. In 2019, its top theatrical release by far was "Long Day's Journey Into Night," with $521,000, and only a handful topped $100,000.

Kino Lorber thrives on the volume of its releases, its library (which includes many classics), and its access on niche outlets like Criterion and MUBI. This is just one sample look, and we're glad for it; let's hope others follow.

Results are listed by title, (theatrical and virtual release dates), virtual gross, and total gross, which includes theatrical. Titles listed in order of virtual gross.

Bacurau (3/6 theatrical, 3/19 virtual)

Virtual – $100,152 Total gross – $158,267

Extra Ordinary (3/6 theatrical, 4/3 virtual)

Virtual – $79,307 Total gross – $240,201

Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klimt (no theatrical, 4/17 virtual)

Virtual – $56,064 Total gross – $56,064

Sorry We Missed You (3/4 theatrical, 4/3 virtual)

Virtual – $35,160 Total gross – $63,933

The Woman Who Loved Giraffes (1/10 theatrical, 4/10 virtual)

Virtual – $17,628 Total gross – $131,486

Beanpole  (1/29 theatrical, 4/10 virtual)

Virtual – $17,304 Total gross – $214,562

Istvan Szabo Collection – Mephisto, Col Redl, and Confidence (1/10 theatrical, 4/10 virtual)

Virtual – $6,420 Total gross – $35,280

Thousand Pieces of Gold (pre-release previews, 4/24 virtual)

Virtual – $5,268 Total gross – $14,753



Journalism, Documentary, Branded: The Ethics of the NYT and Father, Soldier, Son
July 23, 2020
by Brian Newman

This past week saw the launch of the NYT's new documentary, Father, Soldier, Son on Netflix. It is a feature documentary, but the NYT is also supporting it with advertising; an introductory article about the history of the piece; a robust interactive feature story, that is also duplicated in print via a 72 page special  section of the newspaper that was delivered over the weekend; plugs in their What's On TV section; through a movie review by critic Jessica Kiang (with an embedded Netflix trailer/ad, and direct links to tickets for which they get an affiliate fee, which they do with most films); a Times Insider piece, which in print sits just inside the front page, and which also promotes the genesis of the project; and of course through their social media pages, including Facebook during the #stophateforprofit campaign, also with Netflix Originals logos. In other words, the full court press.

As I posted on LinkedIn last week, let's be clear - This is Branded Content. The Brand is the NYT and they are promoting their brand via their journalism and their film criticism and every other resource simultaneously. It is also simultaneously brilliant, well-executed branded entertainment that others should emulate, an ethical conundrum to consider for the future of journalism, and possible the most meta-media occurrence of late (which Noah Cowan pointed out on my post). So what are we to make of the NYT as publisher and brand?
Let's step back for a second and look at the bigger picture. The NYT is not new to making documentaries. They launched Op-Docs in 2011, and that project has gone on to great acclaim, including two Oscar nominations. I've always thought the Op-Docs were misconceived, and should actually be opinion pieces, as the name suggests, which would be more like the Robert Reich Inequality Media videos, or Kogonada's video essays, but they've always been decidedly journalistic (and artistic) in their approach, and to my knowledge, have never featured brands or been promoted I nearly the same fashion as this new initiative. 
The NYT also launched the T Brand Studio in 2014 to produce actual branded content. Like many other publishers, this has become an important revenue stream, as many brands moved into such content and traditional advertising cratered. The Times has done an ok job of keeping the branded content efforts distinct from their journalism, but I've always loved showing these images to my brand content classes, showing how the NYT has slowly minimized the distinctive branding around their paid content, blurring the lines quite a bit. Note how the branding is reduced between the time of the Dell "sponsored post" and the one from Netflix, which many people tell me they never knew was an ad at all (click on the image to enlarge):
Back in 2016, I consulted with the NYT on the release of their actual first feature doc, Ladies First, about the first female candidates and first women's vote in Saudi Arabia. We premiered at the Margaret Meade Film Festival in October (sold out), before a quick launch on their website, because they wanted the film to launch in the lead up to Hillary's win (oops!) in November. I distinctly remember speaking with CEO Mark Thompson about his ambitious plans for expansion into film (including Netflix), as we stood underneath the gigantic dinosaur skeletons from the Museum at the reception. The irony of our setting was not lost on Mark... which may be part of why I didn't do much more work for them (why did we pick that room for a reception???). By the way, just yesterday the NYT announced that Meredith Kopit Levien will take over from Mark and become the new CEO in September. She had been COO, but started as...Head of Advertising, and she's been in charge of many of the changes at the NYT as well.

But I was impressed – his vision for the Times as media powerhouse was ambitious. And it remains so. As Axios has reported, the NYT has at least three documentaries premiering this year (not counting Op-Docs); and another 10 scripted TV shows in development. They also mention The Jungle Prince of Delhi, a film based on the Pulitzer winning 1619 Project, and Father, Soldier, Son. But the Times also premiered two docs at Sundance  - Some Kind of Heaven, and Time. They've also got the NYT Presents (formerly The Weekly) on FX/Hulu. And they've retained Anonymous Content, who makes both amazing films and branded content/advertising, to represent its film and television rights. They're in talks with numerous producers and other talent about multiple films, series and new media (I know many who've taken meetings there). The idea is pretty simple – the NYT has many great stories that would make great films (and shows), and why not take that great journalism and story-telling (not all of it is strictly journalism) to bigger audiences? 
Coming back to Father, Soldier, Son – this piece was developed over ten years, and started as a piece of journalism (and short film) about the impact of the war in Afghanistan on families. The piece was compelling, mainly because of the main subject Sgt. First Class Brian Eisch and his family, and one of the original two journalists soon coupled with a filmmaker to keep following Eisch's story. I don't know when it became clear that this would become a feature film, or a Netflix original. At some point, this great story and journalistic effort became not just a documentary, but the meta-mega-project as laid out in my opening paragraph. And that's when it also became branded content. Because what the Times is doing is also promoting itself, as much as its journalism. It is signaling that it is not just a newspaper, but a movie studio, and a trusted source for interesting story-telling. As the Wikipedia definition of branded content (or branded entertainment) makes clear: "it is designed to build awareness for a brand by associating it with content that shares its values."
This is not a critique of the film. I have some issues with it, but it's a tear-jerker and is getting good reviews. It's a bit perplexing why the NYT would launch this major endeavor with such a white project, and one that is so uncritical of the politics of this US war. It does show a group of people – working-class soldiers – who the Times's audience seldom gets to see (meaning its affluent audience is disconnected from those who actually serve, a big problem in the US), but let's also face it - wounded warrior stories are also the bread and butter of branded content - a feel good story. That said, it's a good effort, and their future projects seem to include a  mix of diverse stories and storytellers, so I'll give them a break here. The film is definitely more observational than most journalism, but I don't want to go down the documentary vs. journalism rabbit-hole here. Let's just concede that it is a head-spinning mix of journalism plus documentary plus branded content.

Is it ethical? Well, that line is blurry, too. Writing articles about your own journalism/documentary is both interesting news, and an advertisement for your own brand and product. They did have the sense to bring in an outside critic – I believe Jessica Kiang doesn't usually write for the Times and is more affiliated with Variety – but they didn't point this out, or bring attention to this decision, which was clearly made for ethical reasons. We could ask the Times's own Public Editor, but... they eliminated that position in 2017, which is right around the time the Times started getting more ambitious in its efforts and started blurring these lines more and more. 
This blurry line is always a touchy topic at the Times, and in journalism at large. The NYT staff routinely get on stages and say they won't do branded content outside of the T Brand Studio, but it appears they will do it -  only for their brand. And they need to do it. Ad revenue is slumping to historic lows, and the NYT is increasingly relying on subscriptions and new revenue streams. As they make this transition, the publication needs to sell the value of its brand, on multiple other channels. This leads to more subscriptions, and it leads to more alternative revenue streams, to replace advertising. In fact, one could argue that these new revenue streams and business models are crucial to our maintaining a free press in America (and the world), because great journalism is not going to continue to be supported via advertising. 
So it's a necessary good and a necessary evil. The NYT must go down this path, and other publishers need to do the same (and are), but it also brings up many ethical issues. Will the NYT start to privilege stories that can become content for Netflix? Will such efforts include hard-hitting and controversial news/stories (Time, the 1619 Project)? Or just surface-level portraits and character studies, as represented by both Father, Soldier, Son and Some Kind of Heaven? And when you write a news story about, say, Concordia being launched by Laurene Powell Jobs, do you not have an ethical obligation to make sure the reporter mentions that you are co-producing one of the films (Time) in that article? And that Jobs is a major investor in Anonymous Content, who also happens to represent the Times in their film endeavors? And when you write an article about coronavirus in the Villages of Florida, where the "white power" slogan was chanted and retweeted by the President, do you mention your film (Some Kind of Heaven) about said villages in your reporting? Or when that film comes out, do you re-contextualize its superficial look at "quirky" retirees in light of recent events? 

You can see that I have more questions than answers. You'd think someone at the Times would be assigned to think about these subjects, and write about them for the public, and that they'd be debated in places like the Columbia Journalism Review. But I can't find any evidence of that (yet) happening.
I don't have a final judgement on the Times here. Like I've said – it's both brilliant and necessary, and gives a lot of models to copy and emulate for others. In fact, I'd be positively giddy if my clients could execute branded content across so many divisions as well as the Times has done. But it's also a very meta- blurry mess of a move, and I think it would be best that we debate it before it becomes the norm.