Mad Props to Joe Hill for Paving His Own Career Path

The problem with Joe Hill is he resembles a younger Stephen King

If Stephen King was your dad and you wanted to prove you could make it without riding on his coat tails what would you do? Just ask Joe Hill. He’s done exactly that.

“I lacked a lot of self-confidence as a teenager,” Hill told The Telegraph in 2016. “When I went into writing, I had to know that if someone bought one of my stories they’d bought it for the right reasons–that it is a good story–and not because of who my dad is.”

Who is Joe Hill? ‘Locke and Key’ Creator is Stephen King’s Son

Mad respect to Hill, the author of some truly awesome horror novels. Horns is great. Now, he has a Netflix series, Locke & Key. Haven’t seen that one yet, but will probably check it out. If it’s really good, I might even review it here. It’s based on the graphic novel by Hill about an ancestral home with magical keys hidden inside.

The problem with Joe Hill is his physical appearance is very similar to a younger Stephen King. Beard and all! So, even if you didn’t know he was Stephen King’s son somehow, you can see the resemblance and would guess.

There is something to sharing a last name though. I worked with one of my sons for awhile and we didn’t advertise we were related. People saw we had the same name and made the connection pretty quickly. So, the best think Hill could do is not use his last name.

I totally get why Hill didn’t want to go by the byline of Joe King. It’s very honorable and respectful to want to have your talent measured by your work, not because you’re the son of one of the most famous living authors ever. Hill doesn’t have to worry about that any more. He’s earned his writing street cred. If you doubt that, just buy and read some of his work.

Locke & Key the entire first season of 10 episodes is now bingeable on Netflix.

2 minutes watched now counts you as a "viewer" in Netflix's stats

Only 2 minutes means you are a “viewer” in Netflix’s stats? O … K.

83 million “watched” 6 Underground, says Netflix. That’s impressive if only they weren’t now counting subscribers who only watch a couple minutes and bailed.

The company switched to a new viewership metric that essentially inflates its numbers by more than a third compared with its previous standard. Netflix said it will now count a title as “watched” if you choose to watch it and let it play for two minutes. That’s it. In the past, Netflix wouldn’t start counting something as “watched” until you got through 70% of the first episode of a series or of a film’s total runtime.

Netflix viewership stats just got more meaningless

Didn’t track exactly how long I tried to watch 6 Underground, but it was more than two minutes every time.

There old metric of at least 70% was a far better metric. I suppose internally they can track both. A statistic for reporting publicly and an internal-only metric which counts the old way. My money is they have internal statistics that go far, far deeper than they’ll ever strategically share with anybody outside the company.

This makes me think about that abysmal auto-play function — that cannot be disabled — whenever you hover over something in Netflix. Is this making me a viewer of everything I pause to do something else and leave on this screen for at least two minutes?

We already knew the viewing stats at Netflix were suspect, just read: The Irishman had 26,404,081 views in the first week, says Netflix – cough, wink, cough.

This just adds another exclamation mark.

My non-review review of 6 Underground – unwatchable

Congratulations to Michael Bay and Netflix for giving me the first new movie in 2019 that I must shamefully admit is unwatchable.

Stop before shooting: this is not a review of the movie itself. Can’t review it.

It might be an OK movie, maybe even in some people’s minds a good movie, but I can’t get there for one simple fact:

It’s physically unwatchable. Or put a different way …

Michael Bay’s directing style is the perfect nightmare for non-epileptics, too.

Jarring, fast-movie images, sometimes blurry, off center, shaky dizzying camerawork, images twisting. It even starts with a warning about the “strobing effects”

A “strobing effect” that may affect photosensitive viewers … guess I’m one of them!

Is Bay trying to get even with those who negatively reviewed some (or all) of the Transformers movies?

My god this is a terrible film to watch. So bad I truly can’t watch it. This isn’t a review, and won’t be a review, because I. Can’t. Watch. This!

Seriously, Netflix, Ryan Reynolds, you join the $100+ million club with this? This?

Argh. I’ve tried three times since it launched yesterday to watch this because I liked aspects of the trailer and am willing to consider watching just about anything. Especially films that someone financed for $100+ million dollars. For that kind of investment it must be something other than throwing cash at a forest fire to douse the flames.

And yet, Netflix, it seems like your QA (Quality Assurance) department is out to lunch. Permanently. Irrevocably. If it’s coming from anybody like Michael Bay who has a solid financial track record, it’s hands off on any sort of final cut approval. Or so it seems.

Can’t remember the last time I spent three times trying to watch any movie. If this had played in a theater I would have walked out within the first 30 minutes. Give me another rewatch of 2019’s worst movies: Playmobil: The Movie ½  and Lucy in the Sky ½ . As terrible as those two movies were/are, I could at least watch them.

Not so here. I’ve got movie watcher PSTD. Traumatized.

Not sure how soon before I’ll be able to watch another Michael Bay directed movie again. If you like his work, good for you, and don’t mean to poop on your parade. For me?

Worst best director ever.

Netflix Movie Catalog Shrinking since 2014, Betting on Originals

A couple years ago Netflix looked into their business crystal ball and realized more streaming services were coming and they would be unable to affordably license as many movies.

This led to them pouring billions into creating their own Netflix Original movies and TV shows that they could stockpile on their service forever with zero ongoing license fees. In the short term, they’ll have fewer titles, but in the long run when and if the hopper fills with enough great movies, this could be a winning strategy.

In December 2019 alone, there were 52 new Netflix Original titles released. That’s roughly two new original programs every day.

In March 2014, the US Netflix library had 6,494 movies you could stream. In March 2016, that number had dropped rapidly to 4,335 films, and as of November 20, 2019, the Netflix movie catalog is down to 3,849 titles.

Netflix’s Movie Catalog Has Shrunk By 40% Since 2014

This begs an interesting question: for an ongoing paid subscribers, would you rather have access to a smaller number of Netflix Original movies, some of which are very high quality, like The Irishman, Marriage Story and Dolemite instead of access to hundreds of older films?

As long as the quality is there, yes, I would. I’m interested most in watching good, entertaining movies. Who isn’t?

I’m not interested in 950 so-so to terrible movies, with 40 good movies and if I look real hard 10 great movies. Who wouldn’t rather have fewer high quality original movies and TV shows than a ton of subpar content that has to be waded through to find the gems in the slushpile?

But that’s just me. What do you think?

Look at Disney+, they launched with my current favorite TV show on any streaming channel: The Mandalorian. I eagerly look forward to new episodes of that every Friday. It’s like a favorite TV show of old where I couldn’t wait until the next episode came out.

Give me more of this type of entertainment and I’ll never unsubscribe, Netflix.

Binge Release vs. Weekly Release of New Episodes

Netflix changed the model of how to watch TV shows. Instead of new episodes rolling out weekly like Disney+ is doing with The Mandalorian they send out entire seasons to binge watch. The buzz for that binge watching burns hot for a short period of time, but then fades in favor of whatever else is new. Being the next “new” thing is all the rage on the internet which has a patience span worse than a two year old.

There was a time I would have said more access to more movies for the same price versus a smaller number of original titles, some which will be high quality, most which will be average and some will be terrible.

There aren’t many movies like the three mentioned, regardless how many millions can be spend on them, so it’s unrealistic believing by ongoing subscribing we’ll see a significant amount more movies of this quality.

I can sign up for Netflix for a month and binge watch 50-100 movies vs. staying a subscriber — like I have with them for years — because I’ve already seen what they have that is new and/or existing that I don’t want to watch. Some TV shows like Friends are something I’m more likely to watch repeatedly and would be something I’m apt to continue to stay subscribed.

Maybe Netflix can license more 70s and 80s TV shows? There are a bunch which aren’t on any service. Where is The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, for example? Crackle has three seasons of Fantasy Island, but Crackle is so ad-infested that it is basically unwatchable.

Instead, I see a future where we do more of what we already do: month to month subscriptions and move around between different streaming services to watch what we want to watch, then quit, let them add more original content or movies we haven’t seen, then re-join for another month.

It’s a hassle, no doubt, but more cost-effective than just keeping multiple streaming services for movies we have already seen and don’t plan on rewatching, at all or not very much.

Summary

Would you rather have fewer high quality original movies or a large library of movies of mostly less entertaining titles with a few good movies in the mix?

The Irishman had 26,404,081 views in the first week, says Netflix – cough, wink, cough

Netflix says The Irishman had over 26 million views — but what does that mean?

Netflix is notoriously mum on viewing stats.

We just don’t know.

Well, er, a lot of the time, we don’t, unless we’re told by Netflix.

But we now have the numbersfrom their official twitter account tweet, not a third party auditing service — that The Irishman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ had over 26 million views in the the first 7 days. Further down in a tweet response they define a “view” as at least 70% of the film watched.

That number is of course open to wide interpretation since we don’t know how many people were watching said stream at the same time. We also don’t know how many are rewatches vs. first time views. But a view is a view is a view, right?

All things considered, 26 million is a lot of eyeballs. The film deserves them.

At a budget of $159 million that breaks down to, using simple math, a whopping $6.02 per subscriber.

So far that is what Netflix needs PER subscriber in subscription fees to pay for the break even budget for just this one movie. They have dozens of new shows in December 2019 alone.

Safe to say Netflix is deep in the red on this investment. That’s no secret. It’s well publicized that they are betting it all on original content. Go original or go broke … or maybe a little of both in the end.

Of course The Irishman will continue to have views long after the first 7 days. They won’t continue at the pace of the first seven days most likely, but it’s reasonable to hypothetically assume a 40% drop off week 2, 3, and then 20% to 10%. Here’s how that would look:

  1. 26,000,000 – first 7 days
  2. 15,600,000 – 14 days
  3. 6,240,000 – 21 days
  4. 1,248,000 – 28 days

HYPOTHETICAL TOTAL VIEWS: = 49,088,000

Don’t like my numbers? Hey, just create your own. I promise you can’t possibly be wrong in the world of tweet it and it’s believable.

Purely hypothetical, and probably more views after 28 days than this, but who knows what the real numbers will be. Netflix can claim any number they want and, guess what, we don’t know.

These streaming channels need third party independent auditing of statistics to actually mean more than just what somebody puts on their official Twitter feed. I’m not saying it’s BS — and this post is intentionally loaded with snark — but also not saying I believe it. Only one thing about this news is certain:

We don’t know what this means.

NOW PLAYING REVIEWS: Knives Out, Queen and Slim, The Irishman

With Thanksgiving and all wide screenings already opening, we’re getting this out much earlier than normal this week. Yay!

Here are what we recommend seeing that opened this 11-27-2019 holiday weekend #48 at the movies. All wide releases were seen, rated and reviewed with links on the movie titles below.

#1 is …

The Irishman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wait, you say, “but that’s not in the theaters?” No, it’s on Netflix, but it’s the best new movie available wide this week to see. This isn’t a vote for nostalgia, the last third of this film is a thing of beauty.

This is just a little bit better than #2, which can be seen in the theater. If The Irishman was showing in the theater it would be raking it in at the box office. This movie is worth getting Netflix, if only for a one month subscription. It will be about the same price as buying a ticket in the theater. If you already have Netflix, good news, just boot that badboy up and hit play!

Knives Out ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A callback to the old school whodunit featuring a cast of smarmy rich people wanting a piece of inheritance and most with some kind of murder motive. Daniel Craig (James Bond!) plays the mastermind detective who must figure it out and finger the culprit. And no, it’s not the butler who did it.

Our just left the theater reaction to Knives Out (no spoilers)

Queen & Slim ⭐️⭐️½ 

Erase the whole bogus comparison to Bonnie & Clyde and wait for this one to come to streaming, if you want to see it at all. There is potential here, but mostly squandered.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theater recently (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie we rate at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily that good. 4-star movies are highly recommended and films we rate as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. Doctor Sleep ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  2. Ford v Ferrari ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ScreenX
  3. The Irishman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Netflix)
  4. Harriet ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. Knives Out ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  6. The Good Liar ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Joker ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  8. Motherless Brooklyn ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  9. Jojo Rabbit ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  10. Last Christmas ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
  11. Frozen II ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  12. Parasite ⭐️⭐️⭐️

There is one movie, Dark Waters, that is limited opening and screening in our area that we haven’t seen yet. This film looks similar story-wise to Erin Brockovich only instead of Julia Roberts as the lawyer’s assistant, it’s a pudgier looking Mark Ruffalo as an attorney fighting the behemoth corporation. Stay tuned for this review this to come before the weekend is out.

Dear Netflix, Don’t Go Napster Hunting

Competition for Netflix over the last couple years has ramped up and one way consumers can only hope they will not follow is cracking down too much on piracy.

Napster is the great historical digital media example of what happens when consumers become the criminals.

However, with existing services like Disney+, Hulu, and Apple TV+ already threatening Netflix’s hold on the market along with a few more streaming platforms launching in the near future, it seems that cracking down on password sharing is one way in which Netflix will try to level the playing field.

Is This a Desperate Move by Netflix to Keep up With Disney+?

Sure, Napster is gone. But in large part Spotify has become the new, legal Napster and the traditional physical music model is well past six feet under. Consumers don’t buy (much) physical media for music any more. The same is already happening to movies, but to a lesser extent.

Netflix started — for those who remember anyway — as a better Blockbuster video (today reduced to a single nostalgic act store). You could rent movies and have them sent to you in the mail inexpensively. Streaming would need more years before people had the bandwidth in their homes to make it worthwhile. Netflix started in 1997 and it wasn’t until 2010, a mere 9 years ago that they went after streaming as the ultimate buffet movie concept: binge watch what you want for one low price.

That low price has steadily increased over the last decade. To the point that our family now is edging toward $20/month. We’ve watched the content library shrink while the price has gone up. Yes, Netflix has a lot more original content now and it is still king of the hill with TV series, but the massive movie library it once had is fading fast.

In fact, we watch more movies on Amazon Prime than Netflix. TV series, Netflix is still #1, but it’s going to be dethroned there too eventually as more and more competing services come out. Disney+ already dominates the movie theater, with something like 40-50% of the box office revenue. They’ve got Pixar, Marvel and Fox and of course their own massive library. And, for now, they have offered consumers a great low price for their Disney+ streaming service.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves that when/if Netflix falters, Disney+ will raise their price and lock up more of their content. Consumers need Netflix and others to remain a competitive force to business check Disney+ or else.

Piracy crackdown is the worst way for any of these streaming giants to compete. They will turn off consumers who time and again are out here paying for content in different formats. I think some are tired that we had VHS, then DVD, then Blu-ray and now … 4K UHD (someday 8k …) It didn’t work for music and it won’t work for movies.

Though piracy might make a comeback, it does so in a substantially different online environment than the one at the turn of the millennium. The hard lesson that the film and music industries learned the first time around is that fighting piracy in court is a foolhardy endeavor. You cannot scare people into not pirating things, you can only offer them better alternatives. Perhaps the bundle makes a comeback, but unlike traditional cable, the costs don’t become bloated and prohibitive. But that’s wishful thinking.

Piracy Is Back

If a movie doesn’t do well in the theater there is still some chance to make money on the physical media secondary market but not by continuing to create new formats to buy essentially the same content. That market is eroding and increased focused on treating your customers as crooks could be the perilous path Netflix chooses.

Napster hunting, if you will.

Don’t.

The battle with Napster also instilled an image of the music business as grasping and arrogant. “Even today, the music sector are perceived as control freaks, living in the old world and trying to hold back innovation,” says Smith. “Obviously, that is not the case, but that image still haunts us today. That is one of the biggest downsides of what happened with Napster.”

I’m not advocating piracy as a solution. The solution is and will always be creativity. But don’t kid yourselves thinking that the music business and movie business situation aren’t related (cough! popcorn time cough!)

Since August 2019 when we jumped on board the Regal Unlimited plan as a way to legally watch more movies in the theater. This is a great plan, but fear it won’t last because how long before the movie studios want to have their own deep(er) cut of the buffet movie theater pricing? Greed kills more big businesses than common market sense.

The people who pay — your customers — are not the people you want to target. Just ask Metallica, who took a major publicity hit because of their stance on Napster. It didn’t hurt them that much financially, because they are content creators (Netflix!), but the underlying message from fans was wallet backlash to the industry as a whole.

Camp Chaos video – Warning: language is NSFW!

Visit any Best Buy today and you won’t see aisles and aisles of CDs any more. Their movie section isn’t as large as it once was either.

History has shown that cracking down on fans — restricting, reducing, legally attacking — for any sort of creative endeavor doesn’t — and probably never will — work.

My Advice for Netflix

Here’s my 2 1/2 rusted pennies advice for Netflix: find creative ways to lower your streaming prices (pricing higher for less is business suicide), focus more on producing quality original content instead of as much original garbage as you can buy and, finally, spend whatever money is left convincing the studios that it’s better to partner with you — an established streamer — than trying to cut the pie into (gasp) more streaming services.