Alternative approaches to entertainment distribution/consumption

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

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Quality of the show aside, this interview speaks a lot to The State of Things


Bret Easton Ellis Gets Extremely Candid About His New Fullscreen Series 'The Deleted'
By Scott Porch Dec 28, 2016
via Decider

The first shot in the new Fullscreen series The Deleted pans up from the gentle waves of the Pacific Ocean to a row of beach houses. The second shot is a hot young couple having NC-17 sex on a bare mattress in one of those beach houses. By the end of the first episode, there will be more NC-17 sex, a kidnapping, text messaging, a creepy cult, the L.A. skyline, and lots of lingering shots of perfect bare asses of barely 18s with names like Parker and Agatha.

The series is about — oh, come on, you neither care nor need to know the plot. The Deleted is broody, sexy, high-gloss, millennial TV. It's pitched for a very specific audience. You know who you are. (Here's a hint: Indiewire's review called it "a softcore porn thriller for teens." In the headline.)

Bret Eaton Ellis, who directed all eight episodes, knows the territory. Now 52 years old, he wrote Less Than Zero — a debut novel about disaffected, sexually adventurous college kids in Hollywood — in 1985 when he was himself a 21-year-old college student. In the three decades since, Ellis has returned often to that world in books (The Rules of Attraction, The Informers), a film (The Canyons) and in a series of film shorts that were the source material for The Deleted.

Decider caught up with Ellis for a revealing conversation about his Fullscreen series, the decline of indie film and the state of his career.

DECIDER: One of the things I thought about a lot watching The Deleted is how Fullscreen is a mobile-first distributor that's now growing on TV platforms. Did you spend a lot of time talking to your cinematographer about how a scene would play on a 60-inch HD vs. on a 4-inch iPhone?

BRET EASTON ELLIS: It was the No. 1 thing we talked about, and it was one of the most important thing we wanted to figure out. We talked about how to make it look cinematic and not like a web series, how to make it look as good as premium cable. We realized it would be a mistake to pay too much attention to formatting the series for a phone and that we should shoot as cinematically as possible. We really wanted to make the colors pop in post-production — not saturated, exactly, but making the blues bluer and the greens greener. We watched it a lot on iPhones and iPads and laptops while we were editing, and we chose shots that we thought worked best on smaller formats.

One thing I expected as shows have started to be made for a big range of screen sizes is that the rules for smaller formats — simpler composition and flatter color schemes — would necessarily set the rules for everything, and that really hasn't happened.

You can watch things on your iPhone and people do that all the time — something like 80 percent of our audience for The Deleted will watch on smartphones — but Fullscreen and I both wanted something that looks different than everything else that's out there. That meant a lot of masters and wide shots and fewer closeups like you usually get on a web series. And we didn't do any handheld work at all. I couldn't change my aesthetic to fit into a web mold, and Fullscreen and I were on the same page with that.

You use a lot of tracking shots — particularly in the first episode — shot from behind characters' backs. Was that a design choice or something about making those characters more closed and opaque?

It was all of that. The DPs and I storyboarded out and spent a lot of time planning those shots because we had 14 days to shoot 110 pages of script. We wanted to introduce characters by having the camera follow them, and shooting from behind their backs was kind of a thematic thing.

With Fullscreen having a fairly young audience, what was the discussion about depicting sex and nudity? How did you navigate whether a 15-year-old or a 20-year-old was the target audience?

The Deleted is based on a series of shorts I made a few years ago that Fullscreen had seen. They wanted make that into a series, and the first thing we had to do was age it down. The people in the shorts were in their thirties. It was pretty sexual, and Fullscreen liked that. They asked me to age it down knowing that it was going to be NSFW material. I showed one of the scripts to the producers before we sent it to Fullscreen, and they said, "This is too much sex, and it's kind dirty." So I took it out. When Fullscreen got the script, they said, "Where's the sex and nudity? We're competing against premium cable." The actors knew coming into the auditions that there would be nudity, though Nash Grier was not up for doing nudity.

Have you had much feedback of what age group is watching the series?

I can only tell from Twitter and Facebook. Part of the reason Fullscreen liked the fact that I was attracted to the idea of using Nash Grier is that he has so many eyes on social media — something like 15 million or 20 million when you add Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and everything else together, so he's really been an engine for promoting the show. I don't have numbers from Fullscreen, and it's hard to get numbers. I do a podcast for PodcastOne, and it's like pulling teeth to get download numbers. I sold The Canyons to IFC knowing I'd never get numbers from them.

Are you planning to recut these from quarter-hour to half-hour for Fullscreen to syndicate for TV?

I don't know. There has been some talk about dropping the credits and putting it together as a movie, which would be about an hour and 40 minutes. I'm fine with it the way it is now.

How do you think about that coming from features for Less Than Zero and American Psycho? Was shorter episodes something you had to come around to or something you embraced from the beginning?

I definitely embraced it. Content malleable. TV has changed the way we look at movies for example. I find myself impatient with movies now because they seem to offer too little information compared to an eight-hour TV season where you can follow a person and get a better understanding of his relationships.

Would The Deleted have worked as a feature film?

I approached it as a whole season in an hour and 40 minutes. I've written pilots for Lionsgate and HBO that were that long. The notion of a season of a show being an hour and forty minutes led me the idea of it as a movie divided into eight parts, so I approached it that way rather than as a web series. It's not doable as a movie today. I'd have had to raise $2 million to make a movie that would never get theatrical distribution and would get lost on VOD with no promotion. No one would see it. Fullscreen, which has deals with AT&T and DirecTV, is at least attempting to promote this on a level that a theatrical film wouldn't get.

You talk about an eight-hour series as a more expansive, more satisfying way of exploring a story than a two-hour film. How is a short-form series not that much worse?

You have to look at the budget we had and the time we had to shoot it. There are things I had to take into consideration about a web series — the budget, the time we had, the youth of the actors — those things would all be very different for an eight-hour TV series or an actual movie. So we had to acclimate ourselves to the idea that these are eight 12- to 13-minute movies that should hold their own on some level. This was not like making a movie and was not like making a TV series. The form dictated what we could do. We didn't have eight hours to investigate these people and this world, so we had to take that into consideration.

The Deleted looks like a film. How did you approach that coming from features to digital video?

My DPs are in their 40s. Our references weren't TV shows; our references were movies. We talked about cinematographers like Vilmos Szigmond [Close Encounters of the Third Kind] and Raoul Coutard, who worked with Godard. It wasn't television. When you look at projects created by a lot of millennials, there's a lot of — I wouldn't say carelessness — but there's a DIY aesthetic. It's not their fault, necessarily, but it is what it is. It's: Let's just get it out there. Let's just get the Vine out there. Let's get the YouTube video out there. And it's threadbare visually. It's a generational difference.

We called in a lot of favors. We had use of a Chapman crane for about eight days of shooting, and we built the crane shots we wanted around that. Fullscreen wasn't going to pay for that. It was a favor we got, and we gave the guy who had access to the crane an associate producer credit. We also did that with the Steadicam guy, who we also only had for eight or nine days. It all comes down to your sensibility and the talent level. You can have the greatest technology in the world, and it doesn't matter if you have nothing to say.

Did you have any concerns about getting overwhelmed with directing all eight episodes as a first-time director and also producing the series?

Very much so. We moved from pre-production into production, and it just happened. The train takes off, and you're on it. I really liked doing it. You make a show three times — the first time by writing it, the second time by shooting it, and you really make it the third time by editing it. Editing is where the show came together.

How much did you learn while you were shooting? Did you learn things on Day 2 that you were able to use on Day 5?

I had directed a couple of commercials in Europe. I directed a Persol ad and an ad for the Paris Opera, and I had made these digital shorts. I had been on a lot of film sets and thought I knew a lot as a cinephile, but I found myself asking the stupidest questions. The most important person is the first assistant director, who really whips everything into shape.

Was this a one-off experiment, or do you want to do more short-form work like this?

I don't know. It's a good question, and I'm not sure. You have to make a living. Whatever we were paid for The Deleted can take care of you for a couple of months, I suppose, but no one was really doing this for the money. I'm sure the crew liked having the jobs, but the producers, the actors and myself were doing this to see where it would go. Ideally, you'd like to make a living doing this. If there was a second season, I'd be very interested in it.

I have a problem with the idea of movies right now. I have a lot of movie projects in development, but I don't know how excited about them I am anymore. A couple of them, maybe their time has passed. I don't know how viable they are financially, where ten years ago they may have been on the indie circuit. I'm not sure if I'm drawn to theatrical films.

Are you interested in doing more TV?

People who have seen The Deleted have approached me about doing some stuff. I haven't found the right thing. I haven't come up with the right material yet. One production company wants me to do another short-form series. They're ready to write a check, and I can't figure out what it is. I'm still exploring it. I do think this is where things are heading. Hollywood was more open ten years ago, and there's the 1 percent making a lot of money. Everyone else is trying to figure out.

I have friends who were A-list screenwriters in the '90s and in the aughts who were making a great living without having any of their scripts made, and that world is gone now. One of them is selling real estate, and one of them opened a burger joint in Ojai. This is the business. I'm working on a book and getting more serious about pushing the podcast forward, and there are two movie projects that could still turn into something.

If we were having this conversation ten years from now, do you think there will be some people who come out of this social-influencer culture and become big stars, or do you think the traditional routes — film school, UCB — will still be making stars?

I don't know what world we would be talking about. It's so fragmented and niche. I have friends who have no idea who Nash Grier is, and he has 20 million fans. Cameron Dallas is another person I wanted to have on the show; he has 10 million Instagram followers and just signed a big deal with Calvin Klein, and a lot of people have no idea who he is. Music is niche; cinema is niche; television is niche. Everyone has their pockets of interest, and the idea of movie stars is kind of a joke to millennials. They want to see Star Wars, but they don't care who's in it. The time when we all had the same reference points is gone.


Annapurna Pictures, Part II: Distribution And Marketing Team In Place As Company Flexes Indie Studio Muscle
via Deadline

Annapurna Pictures now is employing a full marketing and distribution staff as the company expands into truly a mini-studio, reminiscent of Miramax but without the Harvey. It is now financing, marketing and distributing its own product and will be officially in full swing to try to hit Kathryn Bigelow's Untitled Detroit Project out of the park. Marc Weinstock, who recently joined the company as President, will oversee the new division alongside President of Marketing, David Kaminow and President of Distribution, Erik Lomis.

The division's efforts will officially launch with the Detroit project, the crime drama set against the backdrop of Detroit's 1967 riots. Bigelow is producing the film with Annapurna's Megan Ellison and Matthew Budman. Mark Boal, who penned the script, and Colin Wilson are also producers with Greg Shapiro executive producing. The release date will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the riots.

The film stars an ensemble cast comprised of John Boyega, Chris Chalk, Nathan Davis Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Austin Hébert, Joseph David-Jones, Malcolm David Kelley, John Krasinski, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Ben O'Toole, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Peyton Alex Smith, Jeremy Strong, Ephraim Sykes, and Leon Thomas III.

AnnapurnaPictures was founded by Ellison, and the company has garnered 31 Academy Award nominations for her projects in only five years. The company's taste in quality pictures harkens back to the Miramax days of old, when Harvey and Bob Weinstein always were sitting at the Oscar table. Annapurna's slate during the past few years has included Zero Dark Thirty, Joy, The Master and Foxcatcher, and the company even received two Best Picture nominations in the same year, with Her and American Hustle.

Their most recent is Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, which stars an Oscar-buzzed about performance from Annette Bening.
Annapurna also partnered with Bigelow on her animated short Last Days, about illegal elephant poaching and the ivory trade, which won the Humane Society of the United States' Genesis Award in 2015 for Outstanding Short Film.


it's playing for one day free at nobudge:

i didn't turn on my television the entire month of january and i might watch this. on my computer.

here is the nobudge page

this promotion is related to the theatrical release of this director's new movie, which is this

[edit] i watched Tower and it was the most recent movie i've seen about a neurotic male who also has egomaniacal tendencies


Netflix will explore mobile-specific cuts of its original series
via The Verge

Accommodating for smaller screens

Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said in a briefing today with journalists in San Francisco that the company plans to explore streaming mobile-specific cuts of its original movies and TV shows, to satisfy what he said was a growing audience of mobile Netflix watchers.

"It's not inconceivable that you could take a master [copy] and make a different cut for mobile," Hunt said. To date, Netflix hasn't been delivering different cuts for different viewing platforms, Hunt said, but "it's something we will explore over the next few years."

The idea to be would be to create a version of the content with scenes or shots that are more easily visible or immersive on a mobile phone, since certain shots can be hard to see or can appear diminished on a relatively small phone screen.

Hunt, who has been with Netflix since 1999 and is one of the company's top executives, made the remarks as part of a two-day event at Dolby Laboratories and Netflix's own headquarters, as the two companies gear up for the launch of Iron Fist. Much of the conversation so far has centered around the series being shot natively in HDR, a method that offers a more dynamic range of colors on the TV or movie screen in front of you. But Hunt, along with Dolby executives, emphasized that HDR isn't just for big-screen viewing.

It's been about a year since Netflix became available globally — with the exception of a few markets, including China, and since then it has seen mobile usage soar. In established markets like the US and Canada, most Netflix watching still happens on TVs, Hunt said; but in some Asian countries, especially India, "mobile screens are the majority consumption device."


Studios Eye $30 Premium VOD For Major Releases
via The Playlist

It looks like the window between theatrical release and video on demand may be shrinking, as Variety reports that Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers are "showing greater flexibility with timing." While most major films are currently available to digitally buy 70 days and rent 90 days after theatrical release, Warner Bros'. CEO Kevin Tsujiihara has expressed interest in shortening that window to 17 days with a $50 rental premium on films.

That $50 premium, however, was seen as too high for Fox and Universal, who would like to have a longer theatrical run, about 30 to 45 days, and a lowered at-home rental cost of $30. Universal, in fact, expressed willingness for a 20 day window on a $30 rental. One company that is not interested is Disney who, with "Star Wars," Marvel, and their own films, do quite well for longer runs at the box office.

It's no surprise with the combination of expensive marketing, shrinking home video revenues, and the sometimes short theatrical run of mainstream films, that movie studios would want to close the gap between cinemas and getting movies directly to customers. As Variety points out, it is a cost effective way to run a theatrical and home video marketing plan simultaneously. Additionally, with Netflix, Amazon, HBO and other on-demand services allowing consumers to access content wherever and however they want, film companies are rethinking how best to deliver their films. One thing that will not be changing though is the 90 day window for lower cost rentals and physical copies.


$30 sounds totally reasonable, as does the 30-45 day delay. In fact, I'd bet that'd shrink once they get a better idea of how much revenue this new tact produces. Just as different studios have different tactics when it comes to the types of films and audiences they cater to, I'd bet we'd see something similar once this becomes the norm - Disney focused more and more on the blockbusters that demand to be see on big screen (that then go to Netflix) and other studios maybe moving into more of those fabled mid-budget adult dramas. Regardless, a good thing.
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.


20-day delay with $30 rental seems like the sweet spot to me. 30 bucks is about or a little less than what you'd spend for two people to go out to the theater, including snacks and whatnot, and three weeks is exactly the length of time for a movie to have been in theaters before I come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to go out and see it in the theater.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Why Are We So Sure 'Prestige' TV Looks Like a 10-Hour Movie?
By Kathryn VanArendonk
via Vulture

At the Los Angeles PaleyFest on Saturday, Jonathan Nolan described writing the second season of Westworld as "a ten-hour movie." Just a few weeks ago, the showrunners for Game of Thrones noted that they considered their entire series "a 73-hour movie." It's a claim that's become increasingly common in the past several years, and it's linked to a whole host of related terms about what we should be valuing in TV, and how we define "prestige." The 10- or 13- or 73-hour-movie idea rises out of the same impulse as "novelistic" TV, or television that treats its episodes as "chapters," or even from the urge to reframe an entire first season as a "pilot." While the connotations of those terms may differ slightly, the underlying message is the same — one episode of TV is not enough. To really appreciate what this series is doing, and to really tell a serious, worthwhile, complex, and important story, you can't judge a single episode. You need lots. Ideally, you can't fully judge it, can't weigh its success or value, until you've seen all of it.

There are countless ways this is frustrating, many of which have been addressed in the several waves of this particular idea about prestige TV that have cropped up in the past 20 years, and the several matching waves of criticism about them. Many of those critiques focus, correctly, on how frustrating it is that, for some reason, TV can't stand on its own as a "prestige" narrative. For TV, prestige means getting reframed as something else and basking in the reflected glow of another art form's cultural currency. This, from Philip Maciak, is one of my favorites: "Why do we need to constantly repackage our broad-scale critiques of art in the form of cage-match battles to the death? Can't art forms co-exist?"

Even if we set aside the cultural baggage and acclaim that come with terms like "novelistic," "cinematic," or "x-hour movie," even if we can look beyond the "novelistic" = "not-trashy" part of the puzzle, we're still left with the underlying understanding of what serious, important stories look like — they're long. They're complicated, and they require you to pay attention and to hold your judgment. They are not interested in your current pleasure, because good, worthwhile narratives are about delayed gratification. That's why it doesn't matter that Westworld's first season was deliberately, gleefully impossible to parse until you saw the final episode. Nor is it a problem that, as Todd VanDerWerff recently posited on Twitter, Legion's and True Detective's first seasons both follow a structure where you have to sit through "cinematic showcase with only minor bearing on the plot" episodes and "breather" episodes before you get to "the one where everything's explained." Because this, according to the novelistic, ten-hour-movie theory of TV storytelling, is how you achieve depth and prestige. This is what serious looks like.

There are two pieces to why this is such an irritating and frequently troubling way to think about what constitutes important, worthwhile, serious television. The first is that in emphasizing length and hyperserialized complexity over episodic structure, TV can so easily be bad. Alan Sepinwall has made the case for the episode more than once, writing first in 2015 that series without a strong emphasis on the episode as a worthwhile narrative unit can easily suffer in quality: "those formless units intended as episodes become a real drag: necessary viewing to understand the overall plot, but not interesting viewing in the meantime." And then again, after the GOT writers described the show as a 73-hour movie, Sepinwall produced a list of questions for TV storytellers, including "Is there a way to structure this episode so that it feels distinct and memorable?" and "Even if someone is going to watch six episodes in one sitting, how can I make this one stand out?"

Sepinwall's primary point here is a vital one. An episode can either be treated as an artificial barrier that stops one piece of storytelling from flowing smoothly into the next, or it can be greeted as an opportunity, a regular and reliably renewing chance to tell a story, to sketch a theme, or to experiment with form and structure on a self-contained canvas. And if given the opportunity, why wouldn't you want each episode of your story to be gratifying and meaningful and purposeful in some way, rather just a glorified bookmark? It's also useful to remember that the best TV of the last decade has proven that the two opposing poles of TV narrative, with "serialized" on one end and "episodic" on the other, are actually an entirely false binary. It's no mistake that Mad Men, one of the most slow-burn shows imaginable in terms of plot and character development, was also gloriously, reliably, joyfully episodic in how it treated theme and premise. Neither is it a mistake that one of the best shows of the last year, The Good Place, is built on rock-solid episodic footing, and also pulled off a wallop of a twist at the end of its first season. The big-picture narrative and the episode-length structure are frames that support one another, not diverging tasks. It's not "means to an end" versus "end in and of itself" — it can be both.

So this is the first, more concrete reason why the "ten-hour movie," "novelistic TV" idea is so insanely frustrating. It almost always sacrifices good storytelling now for the perceived benefit of good storytelling later, and too often results in neither coming true. The second reason goes more to the point of why we're so insistent that "episodic" TV is less serious, less worthwhile fluff, while our endless slogs through featureless, indistinct stories are the stuff of prestige narrative. It also probably says more about ourselves as viewers than about the TV we're trying to describe.

Embedded in our assumptions about what "prestige" looks like — assumptions that also tend to include visual darkness, humorlessness, and incomprehensibility — is the implicit suggestion that things that are serious must also be hard. I mean "hard" in several senses of the word; serious stories are difficult to grasp, they require time and attention, and they tend to be violent and merciless and unflinching. They are about cold-eyed glances and "hard" truths; they are not about hugs or hope. And so serious stories are also the ones that do not please you right away. They withhold and obfuscate, preferring to dismiss the value of any aesthetic appreciation of the episode right in front of you for some promised payoff down the road. And if you're impatient or frustrated that a show is taking too long to get to the goods, you're the problem. You judged it too soon! You can't say it's bad because this one episode wasn't good — you shouldn't judge it like TV! It's a novel!

Never mind, of course, that this too often leads to a narrative Ponzi scheme, where the real payoff is always just one more episode or one more season away. Never mind, also, that this is not really how novels or movies work, either. When you read a long novel that takes forever to get to anything gripping or appealing, you don't retroactively forgive the filler up front. You think, Huh, that really needed more editing.

But especially when it comes to TV, we're trained to believe that the stories that please us immediately are "trash" or "guilty pleasures," and so we're also happy to extend credit to a show that's constantly kicking the narrative can down the road. A show like One Day at a Time, which deals with identity and immigration and family and posttraumatic stress, and which tells those stories inside immediately accessible, funny, episode-centric pieces, is great, "familiar and fresh," although a little sitcom trope-y. At the same time, the new season of American Crime, which deals with many of the same questions but which only allows its plot to become clear slowly, and lets details "filter out" slowly, "scene by scene, person by person," is "brilliant, powerful," and, by the way, novelistic.

It's admittedly dumb to put American Crime and One Day at a Time into the same box and have them fight it out for which one is truly "serious" — it reduces all the nuance and distinction of their respective projects, washing away their individual features in an attempt to point out some underlying truth. And nuance, specificity, and complexity are the stuff of serious arguments (and serious television). But there's no rule that says that brevity, episodic structure, or narrative pleasure is inherently inimical to nuance. Nor is there any reason why a show that makes you slog through an undifferentiated middle is accomplishing anything more powerful or complex than one with tightly edited episodic arcs and a thoughtful serial structure.

We're sure that long stories, and longform TV, are "prestige." They challenge us, and reward our intelligence, and require our trust. But this understanding of "prestige" can easily shift into something not so different from a bad boyfriend, one who's very serious and mysterious and emotionally withholding, and ultimately a little careless of your feelings. He doesn't bring you flowers on Valentine's Day because that's what unserious, clichéd boyfriends would do, and that's not what he is. He's important. He's complex. He's "prestige." You can't judge him by this one event; you have to wait until you can really get all of him. This date may seem terrible at first, but hang in there. It's really a ten-hour movie.

Jeremy Blackman

Hmm. I'd argue that heavily-serialized prestige TV does something very different than "a really long movie." Game of Thrones is a unique case — it really does feel continuous — but in nearly every other prestige show, episodes usually have their own personalities.

Just to take two examples, Breaking Bad and The Leftovers... It feels very natural to judge their episodes individually. They're more novelistic — chapter-by-chapter — than anything resembling a long movie. The article conflates "novelistic" and "cinematic" when they're very different things, mechanically. Right? The Leftovers will take an entire episode to explore one character (or something even crazier like "International Assassin"), and yet the plot still moves forward. Outside of Todd Solondz, movies are generally not chapter-based.

I think serialized TV gets to be called "prestige" more often because the format is suited to serialization, so it's easier to pull of something good. When an episodic show is really great, it DOES get recognized as prestige. Black Mirror.


How Scott Stuber Will Steer Netflix Ambition To Make 40-50 Feature Films Per Year
via Deadline

When Scott Stuber took himself out of contention to replace the late Brad Grey as Paramount chairman, and instead accepted an offer from Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos to run Netflix's feature film division, many felt he'd taken the more exciting job. Why? While Jim Gianopulos has to dig Paramount out of a deep hole, Stuber has a blank slate and the financial backing to make Netflix as aggressive a film studio as it is on the television front—try 40-50 films per year. French film purists might wish it away, but Netflix has already been the talk of Cannes. It made the first big pre-buy deal for the stop motion animation pic Bubbles on Michael Jackson's chimp companion, and debuts its first two Cannes premieres this weekend. That started with last night's Okja (where they cheered the logo and gave the film and director Bong Joon-Ho a long standing ovation) and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories on Sunday. Sure, there has been controversy about it not releasing its films in France, but Netflix and Amazon make a strong case that perhaps it is France that needs to change its ridiculously outdated chronology law that prevents films from going SVOD for three years, if they play first in French theaters. 

Netflix has already built some movie momentum, but that is just the warm up for what is to come. The momentum started with Beasts of No Nation and the eight-film deal for Adam Sandler comedies, and upcoming is War Machine with Brad Pitt, the Will Smith franchise play Bright, and the mob-movie reunion of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro in The Irishman.

Its ability to pay generously has helped Netflix overcome the challenges of making filmmakers and stars comfortable generating movies for a subscription audience. Sure, that audience is vast, spanning 190 countries, but those artists are accustomed to seeing their work in multiplexes, accompanied by P&A spends that make their work part of the pop-culture conversation. Netflix is more like a global private club, and the priority is keeping its members entertained enough to continue paying their monthly fees. Films like Okja and Meyerowitz will get qualifying theatrical runs, but they are not at all the priority here.

A former vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Studios who oversaw The Fast and the Furious and The Bourne Identity among others before transitioning to producer of such films as Ted, Central Intelligence and Safe House — the Scarface remake Stuber left behind just got David Ayer in talks to direct Diego Luna at Universal — Stuber has the strong experience in building pictures, and the relationships with talent and their reps who need persuading to take some of their projects to Netflix, in addition to the traditional theatrical model movies they are making.

Stuber also has the experience to broaden Netflix into the next logical step in its feature growth curve: generating its own projects. That veers away from Netflix's earlier film strategy, which consisted of outbidding theatrical distributors. The best example of this was Bright. For its first potential franchise play, Netflix made a $90 million-plus commitment, half of which covered salaries as well as back-end payday buyouts for Smith, director Ayer, Joel Edgerton and others.

Netflix has already put a few book properties in development, but homegrown films will become a focus for Stuber and his team if Netflix is to generate the volume of pictures needed to grow its slate. That means that here at Cannes and elsewhere, Netflix will be an aggressive acquirer of properties, once again putting traditional theatrical release distributors on their heels.


I'm very excited about what the future has in store for Netflix, but something I've been thinking about a lot recently is how poor a job they do promoting their new original content. They need to come up with a better way of putting their vast and diverse original films and TV shows out there in a way for people to identify "yes, that's meant for me." It seems like only a small fraction get widespread publicity, but there's so much more they're doing that maybe won't have the most widespread popularity, but might be extremely relevant for deep niche audiences. Unfortunately, their algorithms are based on defining films by categories such as "historical dramas with a strong female lead" and such. Of course it's difficult to be more abstract, but their PR/marketing of the majority of their originals is woefully lacking.
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.


Okay, this is sort of off-topic but relates to how studios might use social data to create entertainment and also attract advertisers.

Choice quotes:

"The characters I was creating needed to appeal to those people. But writing these varied characters is about more than just clothing or token references, you really need to know who they are on a more personal level. I wanted to explore new ways of building that understanding, and with Twitter being an open network I was familiar with, it was a natural choice."

"Analysing different segments of any demographic in Audiense corrected the over-indexing in the audience that the show would originally appeal to. It gave me extra inspiration for some characters and their plot points, as well as confirming ideas I had for others. Moreover, this new way of creating a show will get a lot of interest from potential sponsors. Once you embrace your audience openly, you can bring in advertisers as you can clearly point to who your show is likely appeal to with far greater accuracy. This is of great value to them, and thus it's valuable for the studios too."
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.


A guide to independent film in 2017, cliff notes:

If it's American-made but not produced by Megan Ellison or distributed by A24, it probably isn't worth seeing.

I wish this were an exaggeration.


Whoa, story checks out. Not sure if WONDERSTRUCK counts as indie or studio but that's the only possible American indie that I liked this year.