I was a little surprised to read recent stories that Roku was negotiating with Quibi, but it does make some sense for them, however they’re getting into a very crowded space. We’ll get into why this might be problematic after the jump.
Roku announced its acquisition of Quibi in a press release Friday. Quibi’s entire catalogue will now be exclusive to the Roku Channel, beginning later this year. The Roku Channel is a free, ad-supported streaming service available on the company’s hardware. Quibi used to cost $4.99 per month with ads, and $7.99 for an ad-free version, so Roku is offering a much better deal for basically the same content.
Roku has had the Roku Channel for quite some time, and they have not-so-quietly been expanding its offerings, adding live TV channels, expanding more into a free live TV with On Demand destination. They had ABC News live tv on their channel for some time and I’ve watched old Batman TV shows (see: 1966 Joker vs. 2019 Joker – Which Is Best?)
When we purchased a new 65″ smart TV recently for an absurdly low price of $238 at Walmart it came with Roku. This was our first Roku smart TV, but we’ve been using a Roku 3 since almost it came out. Great streaming device, clean menu, we are fans.
The Roku TV experience is very similar, but seems to put more emphasis on live TV as if that’s the audience they want to capture. The cord cutters. We cut the cord a long time ago, dropping Cable TV and satellite like a bad habit. Have you cut the cable yet or do you still enjoy watching live TV more traditionally? There are few, if any, popular live TV channels you can’t get through a streaming subscription or just flying an over the air antenna.
Have you heard that characteristic, monotone voice of defunct company Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes? She is scheduled to go on trial for fraud in July 2021. You can watch Alex Gibney’s documentary on Holmes and her business partner Sunny Balwani on HBO Max.
“Although Defendant’s assistant was an employee of the company, she handled a range of non-business tasks for Defendant, including personal clothes and jewelry shopping, home decorating, food and grocery buying, and other items,” the government said in a filing.
The government’s motion was a response to efforts by Holmes’ attorneys to block the jury from hearing details about her jet-setting lifestyle.
Holmes legal defense team wants to keep out the stories about her lavish lifestyle because they feel it will bias the jury in her trial. The documentary focuses on Holmes passion to do something impossible. Her idol was Steve Jobs but Holmes doesn’t have the technology to match the marketing drive. Jobs knew another Steve, his last name was Wozniak, and he could make things that actually worked.
Theranos didn’t have a completely functional product with their Edison nano blood testing tech and investors believed they did, pumping hundreds of millions into a concept. Whether or not this is fraud will sit at the center of this upcoming summer trial.
What’s fascinating is this documentary never shows Holmes spending excessively. She dresses like Steve Jobs, all in black and isn’t shown having assistants running around buying things for her. She appears in the documentary as being consumed with her work and she doesn’t even even have much in her fridge in one scene. This is in stark contrast to what the prosecution is alleging with her spending.
Older movies on streaming services — all of the major services, not just Netflix — are very poorly represented in their archives. It’s like the licensing started in the late 70s and newer, increasing in volume after 2000.
As streaming subscription prices increase, subscribers will rightly analyze if the service they’re paying for has content they want to watch.
The back catalog of movies is thin if you enjoy the classics — someone should tell Netflix that there’s an entire century of movies that were made prior to the 2000s — and the number of films that are there seem to be shrinking at the expense of the Netflix originals the streaming service wants to put front and center.
Is this a wise strategy for subscriber longevity and reducing retention? Yes. At the same time, their back catalog of movies is shrinking and as their prices increase, subscribers will need to ask the question the Tom’s Guide writer and his family asked: do they have enough of what we want to watch to stay subscribed?
Was it enough to keep you subscribed? Was for us. Would we like to see them add more classic movies to their back catalog? Yes. Will they? Probably not. Will having less of these movies make us more likely to unsubscribe? Probably not. What about you?
Predictably, many are focused on Wonder Woman 1984 underperforming. This is something that has bothered me since diving into the world of movies in greater depth> That these big budget movies have way too much pressure to make money. It’s all about making money instead of telling a good story.
Now many filmmakers will tell you otherwise. They need the big budgets so they have the “freedom” to tell their stories the way they want, so they can secure the biggest name actors, shoot in exotic locales, hire the best crew, pay for the fanciest CGI and effects, and so on.
Oceanfront property is available in Phoenix, Arizona, you know. Really, it is 😉
Also, it’s bizarre to suggest that a mere 377 critics can declare a movie that costs $200+ million either good or bad, but that’s how small the Rotten Tomatoes critic pool is these days to judge director and writer Patty Jenkins’ output.
Guess I’m sticking up for Jenkins in this post somewhat. Not because Wonder Woman 1984 is better than the critic reviews — it’s not, I thought the film was average at best, and a major step down from the first film — but because this is just a nightmarishly bad time to release a big budget film. Any film, really, regardless of budget, but those with more modest budgets will always, always, always have less financial pressure.
In these times, don’t you want your project to have less financial pressure?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Jenkins is personally responsible for the lacking script, much less solely responsible. It also doesn’t mean the only problem with the movie is its writing. The overwhelming majority of complaints about the movie, however, do relate to its writing and structure. For example, the often cartoony tone, the bizarre MacGuffin of the Dreamstone, the inconsistent fluctuation of Diana’s fleeting powers, and most definitely the disturbing logistics of Steve Trevor’s return.
So, I’m not going to pile on Patty Jenkins in this post. Seriously, to have two out of three movies received well isn’t easy for any director. Props to Jenkins. She’s better than her most recent film effort shows.
What does her record mean for Rogue Squadron and Wonder Woman 3? Probably the odds are against both of those films being well received, but we’ll have to wait and see. Honestly, I’m more interested in seeing what Jenkins can do with a Star Wars movie than another Wonder Woman film. What do you think?
Still, the reviews played in Jenkins’ favor for Monster and the first Wonder Woman, plus more importantly than movie reviewer opinions, both were better films. If we look at all three films, two out of three is still an amazing batting average (.667).
The more interesting angle for any new post here, besides talking about Rotten Tomatoes being flawed (again), is looking at the bigger elephant in the room:
Number of audience reviews.
I’m sure in time, the number of audience reviews will increase for WW1984, but my guess is the review score average will continue to trend downward, perhaps the audience being a little more forgiving than most critics.
The fact is that most people who watch movies don’t watch them for the same reasons that critics do. It’s not their profession. Average moviegoers are trying to escape their job, their life, to relax and simply be entertained. The expectations aren’t as high for the average moviegoer as it is for a movie critic, especially a professional who reviews hundreds of movies per year. This means, generally speaking, that audience reviews will be less judgmental for most movies. Therefore, those that audiences reject must be total trash.
Eventually the numbers on Rotten Tomatoes should balance more, but it’s obvious that many moviegoers aren’t reviewing movies in the same numbers they were pre-pandemic.
Like hundreds of thousands more reviews, in fact, if you look at the numbers. Sure, this is only one website, Rotten Tomatoes, and again I’m not suggesting the site is the cat’s meow for movie reviews, but it is often the one that most publications cite as a bellwether for a movie’s reception.
Given it’s only a few weeks since Wonder Woman 1984 was released, but the number of audience reviews emphasizes the much greater problem for the movie industry. At least the movie reviewing part of the business. Fewer people reviewing movies suggests less interest overall among moviegoers. Less movies being watched overall?
We know people aren’t watching movies in theaters, because many are closed and ticket sales domestically dropped 80% in 2020 over what they were in 2019, but are less movies being streamed? My guess is no, the same amount of movies are being watched, perhaps even more. For new movies, however, people don’t have the money lying around to pay $20 for PVOD and/or subscribe to multiple streaming channels, so they’re binging TV seasons on Netflix and rewatching older movies. They might be playing more videogames, too.
This has all the major movie theater chains worried. That people will become apathetic to the cinema experience. That they won’t return to watching movies like they were before. I’ve already debunked that myth.
I do strongly believe that moviegoers will return. Sure, it won’t be this year, and it certainly wasn’t last year, but give it some time once the pandemic fully subsides. Heck, they just pushed back reopening theaters in Washington State again, meaning we can’t see a movie in a theater until at least January 18, 2021, maybe. We’re still deep in the weeds here. Anybody saying differently is drinking, smoking or using something really strong.
None of this is that surprising given many people are out of work and are concerned about much more important priorities in their lives than movies right now.
My only advice for movie studios and filmmakers is the same I’ve been giving since starting this site and before we had any pandemic: keep the budgets down. Don’t make overly expensive movies. Yes, you need to keep creating, but art doesn’t need to be expensive to be good.
On this front, I know Patty Jenkins won’t listen to me. Her next two movies, if they get made, will costs a half a billion dollars or more. If that’s the case, and it probably is, she should be bashed for that. Hey Patty, here’s a real challenge, go make an indie film next. Don’t make Rogue Squadron or another Wonder Woman. Make something with a budget of less than $10 million that is fresh, inventive and entertaining. Call up Jason Blum. He has the recipe.
While it took almost 40 years to finally be completed, recently that happened.
At the time we read it might be released in the fall of 2020, but that didn’t happen. Our original post received some interest, so clearly others were curious like us. Good news, because this film is now available as of this writing on PVOD.
It’s available on Google Play to rent for $3.99 and buy for $7.99 USD. The original movie, Grizzly, which didn’t star any of the three above named famous actors is also available for purchase.
Just for those who didn’t click through on our original post (the pre-FIRST LOOK, I guess), here is the official trailer:
Am thinking about dropping a few bucks to check this out, if nothing other than to see all three of these actors onscreen early in their respective careers. Does the movie look cheesy? Of course. On the horror front, though, got to love the box art with the bear all in outstretched hug mode. Love the dialogue, “We’ve got to kill it!” The bear just wants to eat, come on now 😉
Has anybody reading seen this yet? Your non-spoiler thoughts in the comments area, please?
Grizzly II: The Revenge is available on PVOD as of January 8, 2021.
Warner Bros. has spent the past few weeks speaking to its partners, like LeBron James’s SpringHill Entertainment and director Jon Chu, to further explain its strategy, and lay out the argument that they will make more money this way. Though Warner Bros. believed it had the rights to release its movies to HBO Max without the consent of its partners, it has since adjusted their contracts to offer more favorable terms.
Even the cast and crew of these movies will be getting touched up, according to the Bloomberg article. Normally they don’t receive spiffs from the theatrical release, so this is a bonus.
Strangely, Warner Bros. chose the route of announce first, deal with the fallout later. They wanted their announcement to go out without leaks, to be a bit of a holiday surprise perhaps. They are also planning on returning to normal terms once these 2021 releases are done.
We support day and date releases, just as we support reducing the theatrical window, so obviously we weren’t in the crowd dissing WarnerMedia for their controversial decision. If companies want to save money, our position is to do it with lowering film budgets and reduce the process of remaking successful films.
The one thing we do agree with is WarnerMedia should have negotiated with their business partners before they announced their plans. They contend they didn’t have to, which seems murky both ethically and legally, but we’ll see how this impacts them.
Parent company AT&T is trying to manage their debt load and this seems ill-timed on that front, but for subscriber growth, retention and future of HBO Max, this seems like a clever marketing move (see: Don’t Count Out HBO Max in 2021). Also, the pandemic is keeping a bunch of theaters shuttered more than open, so what is a studio supposed to do? Just keep delaying movies for years?
Season 1 CBS All Access (Original TV network: NBC) November 10, 1974 Run Time: 24 minutes
Episode 10 – “Mudd’s Passion”
The Enterprise stops by a mining planet to arrest galactic swindler, Harry Mudd pitching what they to be fake love crystals to a planet. After Mudd is aboard the ship he uses the cyrstals on various members of the planet, including Nurse Christine Chapell (Majel Barett-Roddenberry) and Spock. When more members of the crew become infected by the love crystals and dangerous rock creatures on the planet attack a landing party, how will the crew overcome the drug and return to normal?
The transporter crew dancing and drugged out while these multi-eyed rock creatures are attacking the landing party is the but one humorous part of this episode. This episode captures the comedic elements of The Original Series and yet includes the danger of the alien creatures. It’s a fun combination.
My only knock against this episode is the resolution comes too swiftly. I’ve mentioned the show length in a couple other reviews and this is another episode that sets up a potentially great episode, but is cut short by a too fast finish. It offers a solid first and start of a second act and then just ends abruptly.
Am glad to see they brought back the character of Harry Mudd. In an earlier animated episode featuring the tribbles (TV SERIES Review: Star Trek: The Animated Series S1E5 – More Tribbles More Troubles ½), I wondered why they didn’t have Mudd for that episode, but it seems they were saving him for this one. This episode is not quite as entertaining as the tribbles episode and, somewhat ironically, also suffers with the ending. Just can’t overstate how any story, however promising, must have a worthy ending.
Some of these animated episodes feel more rushed than they needed to be. It’s too bad, because the voice acting and stories through the first 10 episodes anyway are good, some have been great. I’m not sure episodes like this would appeal to children. That was one of the complaints about the series when it ran. It appealed more to adults, which wasn’t the demographic they were targeting in the Saturday morning timeslot. I don’t remember seeing this episode in the 70s.
Amazon Prime Video picked up this LIMITED theatrical release on December 30.
When Sandra (Clare Dunne) escapes her abusive partner with her two young children, finding a home to call their own seems impossible. After months of struggling, she draws inspiration from one of her daughter’s bedtime stories and hits upon the idea of self-building an affordable home. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for. Aido (Conleth Hill), a building contractor, appears willing to help, too. But as her past rears its head in the form of Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), her possessive ex, and as bureaucrats fight back against her independent spirit, will Sandra be able to rebuild her life from the ground up?
Weekend #2 of 52 (1/7 – 1/10/2021) for 2021 Picks By Streaming Service
Is it just me or does it not really feel like a new year so far? Usually, I’m excited about the prospect of entering a new year, but so for this new year feels no different than most of 2020?
Luckily, new streaming movies and TV shows continue to be released. Let’s see what’s up out there!
*Title with asterisk – newly released Title is linked and has star rating – already watched, rated and reviewed Title bolded – on our schedule to watch/rewatch, rate and review (or in progress)
NOTE: If you’re coming to these posts weeks or months later, some and/or all of the picks listed below may no longer be on the streaming services indicated. Anything marked as “Original” typically doesn’t expire on the streaming services.
*Tony Parker: The Final Shot (Jan 6)
*Pieces of a Woman (Jan 7)
*Charming (Jan 8)
*Spring Breakers (Jan 10)
*The History of Swear Words – Season 1 (Jan 5) Hosted by Nicolas Cage
*LA’s Finest – Season 1 Spinoff from Bad Boys movies
*Surviving Death – Season (Jan 6)
*Marvel Studios: Legends (Jan 8)
HBO Max Movies
*The King of Staten Island (Jan 9)
HBO Max TV
*Squish – Season 1 (Jan 8)
Tiger – 2-part Documentary (Jan 10)
Amazon Prime Video TV
*Herself (Jan 8)
*Rhythm Section (Jan 11)
Lights Out (Jan 11)
*The Hustler: Series Premiere (Jan 8)
*The Chase: Series Premiere
*Celebrity Wheel of Fortune: Series Premiere
*Mr. Mayor: Series Premiere
A Certain Scientific Railgun Part 2: Complete Season 3
As a techie, I used to attend CES and write extensively about my findings at this amazing conference. Due to the pandemic, 2021 will not be an in-person conference, instead a virtual conference. I’m not sure that type of conference works not being able to see the tech in person vs. online, but that’s a whole other topic.
Let’s talk curved monitors. I’ve been fascinated by this space and how watching movies on current screens might provide 3D-like properties.
Watching movies on a curved monitor? Will this be videogames-only useful or will there be non-interactive content on these high tech bendable screens?
In addition to several transparent OLED demos, LG Display will also be showing off a gaming-related concept product at its CES 2021 virtual showroom: a 48-inch 4K “Bendable CSO (Cinematic Sound OLED) display” that can switch between a flat screen and a curved screen. The idea here is that you can enjoy watching videos in flat screen mode, and at the press of a button, the monitor morphs into a curved screen — up to 1,000mm radius — for more immersive gaming.
The whole idea of projecting an image on a flat wall isn’t as exciting to me as an actual screen, especially one that doesn’t have to be completely flat. Talk about real contours, real 3D, oh, the possibilities.
Admittedly, it’s going to be a very small subset of directors — like James Cameron — that would enjoy playing around with a non-flat surface providing creative possibilities.
When the pandemic is over, or at least mostly over, maybe it will be something different like this that piques the curiosity of moviegoers into coming back. Theaters need to keep an eye on tech and do whatever they can to make the cinema experience have bells and whistles that aren’t easily replicated at home. This is one clear and obvious way to remain a different experience.