Netflix

samsungtv

More than a few prognosticators have predicted in recent years that sometime soon going to see movies in theaters is going to be a thing of the past, and watching movies at home is going to be the standard of the future. Half of that viewpoint stems from the problems moviegoers have with poorly projected films and unruly patrons ruining their multiplex experiences, and the other half comes from the conveniences of having gigantic HD screens and digital content delivery available right in our homes. What sane person wants to pay theater prices to leave their house and have their movie interrupted by someone else’s cellphone when they can stay at home and watch the industry’s latest in crystal clear clarity, right from the comfort of the butt groove they’ve worked so hard to wear into their couch? Well, people who really love movies and the communal nature of moviegoing might, and there are a number of strategies that theaters can probably take to maintain their relevance moving ahead into the future, but let’s not jump into that argument today. Instead, let’s think about those ultra-fancy, ultra-convenient home theaters of the future, and try to get an idea of what they might eventually look like, thanks to recent innovations from two companies who are working hard to make sure that their offerings become staples of your future entertainment diet—Samsung and Netflix.

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Orange is the New Black

It wasn’t too long ago — just last year, in fact — that journalists and pundits started drafting Netflix’s eulogy. A Google search for the words “Netflix is doomed” reveals that many smart people thought the company would soon go the way of Blockbuster, becoming a fearsome industry giant only to have the rug pulled from under it. And then House of Cards happened, and Orange is the New Black after that. (If there are any other Netflix originals worth recommending, please discuss them in the comments.) A Netflix subscription became necessary to (legally) watch those buzz-worthy shows. With just a couple of hits — really, two seasons of TV — the former mailed-DVDs service became a network. But what’s noteworthy about Netflix’s continued success is the rapid emulation of the company’s business model by its competitors. Specifically, its practice of ponying up for a full season of TV without seeing a pilot — a situation Orange creator Jenji Kohan exploited to create one of the most diverse shows in the history of television to wide acclaim — has become such a game-changer that even broadcast networks are following suit. What can only follow is better TV, with writers enjoying an even greater sense of control and ownership over their works, though those writers will likely be small-screen veterans with a proven track record instead of up-and-comers who might be considered risky investments.

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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drewgoddard

There’s eventually going to come a day that Marvel Studios is going to make a hiring decision regarding their live action superhero properties that the geek community is going to disagree with. Fortunately for all of us, today is not that day, because a report out of The Wrap is saying that they’ve found the man they want to write their upcoming Daredevil series for Netflix, they’re currently in negotiations to get him signed to take the job, and—my god—they couldn’t have possibly picked a more perfect person to offer the gig to. Seeing as Daredevil is the most recognized and most loved of the four characters Marvel announced they were making 13-episode Netflix series for, his series was the one that was destined to get the most scrutiny, and his was the one that was going to have to recruit the most exciting name to pen the scripts in order for fan enthusiasm to continue to build rather than wane under the uncertainty of the creative direction the world’s reddest superhero would be going in. Well, taking those pressure into consideration, Marvel wasted no time in going out and getting the TV writer who has maybe the most nerd-cred of anyone with television experience right now—Drew Goddard.

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Marvel Please Stop

Marvel has a bit of a surprise for you. Not satisfied with storming onto ABC and bringing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and the upcoming Agent Carter) into households each week, the studio is now teaming up with Netflix for an unprecedented new deal to move to the small screen. Beginning in 2015, Marvel will develop four original shows focusing on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. After those wrap, the four series will lead to a cumulative miniseries event bringing together a re-imagined version of The Defenders. Though this may not directly be part of Marvel’s under-wraps plans for cranking out movies until 2021, it’s certainly a way to lay the foundation for their goal: to prove that they’re “more than the five characters and five franchises” featured in The Avengers. Here are four more notable Marvel characters, ready for duty on Netflix. Once that miniseries has concluded, how soon until the new movies begin filming?

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phones

While it’s not yet certain what the future of movie exhibition is going to look like, what’s more than certain is that it’s not going to continue looking the way it has for decades for very much longer. There’s currently a battle being waged over how movie fans are going to be able to watch the newest products being produced by studios, and it’s a battle that’s being fought on multiple fronts—whether by theater screen, by phone, or by set top box, the war to acquire the loyalty of our eyes and our ears is on. The two parties who have been making the most noise lately are the theater owners who have ran the various venues where we’ve spent our whole lives to this point watching the latest that Hollywood has to offer, and Netflix, whose digitally delivered, all-you-can-eat subscription model of movie consumption has already destroyed the concept of the video store and is looking to set its sights on the movie theaters next. Recently, Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos has been making a lot of noise about exhibition windows, which are the agreements that let theater chains exclusively exhibit all of the new studio releases for a certain amount of months before they can hit the various home video platforms. These exclusive deals are in large part what keeps the theater system financially viable, they’re a big way that studios are able to maximize profits on each of their releases, and Sarandos believes that they’re the biggest obstacle […]

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In Time Movie

Early this year, Nathan Harden wrote about a bubble on the verge of bursting, saying that “Big changes are coming, and old attitudes and business models are set to collapse as new ones rise. Few who will be affected by the changes ahead are aware of what’s coming.” He was writing about higher education and the migration of university curriculum’s to the web, but he could have just as easily been talking about the film industry and our relationship to it as viewers. The parallels — particularly the emerging dominance of schools releasing lecture content through online networks — are apt. Minus the “free” part, of course. We all know about Steven Spielberg’s prescient-sounding condemnation of the top-heavy studio structure, and it’s easy to imagine as we watch the landscape of studio offerings roll by with their capes in hand that a fundamental shift in focus has already happened, but Harden’s piece got me thinking not of the content being created, but the structure of the movie’s themselves. Specifically, the 2-hour average hero’s journey that represents the most-typical formula. Approximately a billion thinkpieces have been written on the internet’s encroachment into the stale-as-popcorn atmosphere of the movie theater, and they all come to the conclusion that something big is going to happen. My question is whether movies will be able to survive in their current form when that paradigm shift happens. My guess is that we’ll have to greatly expand what we think of when we think of “movies.”

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escape-bench

Yesterday a fight broke out over who is killing movie theaters. Throwing the first punch was Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who gave a keynote address at the Film Independent Forum in L.A. “I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters, they might kill movies,” he said regarding the industry’s protest of VOD releases being day-and-date with theatrical openings. Soon after, National Association of Theatre Owners president/CEO John Fithian countered with a weak blow of: “Subscription movie services and cheap rentals killed the DVD business, and now Sarandos wants to kill the cinema as well.” As a former longtime employee of the movie theater industry, I can say with some certainty that the most lethal enemy of cinemas is cinemas themselves. Sure, there is a lot to say about the convenience of lazily staying home and clicking the remote on our cable box or Roku or Xbox or using our smarthphones or tablets to watch a brand new movie in our beds with no pants on. But at some point Fithian and the rest of NATO’s scapegoating curmudgeons need to realize that going to the movies isn’t necessarily about the movie on screen. It hardly has been for the better part of a century, in fact. Moviegoing is an experience. That’s what NATO should be focused on, and much of that focus will always be on pressuring its theater chain partners to maintain a better quality experience […]

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Charlie Hunnam

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Space Jam

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Wouldnt Steal a Car

The MPAA was wrong in 2004 when it launched its wonderfully mockable “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” campaign to fight piracy because they elevated a grossly uneven analogy to slogan status. Even with all other things being equal, comparing a movie ticket to something you take out a loan for is pretty moronic. The truth is that downloading a movie or TV show is closer in spirit to speeding in that car you wouldn’t steal: driving over the speed limit is an easy crime to commit; a lot of people do it without qualms; and although it happens regularly without incident, it sometimes leads to catastrophic consequences. Admittedly even that analogy fails because of the uncomfortable equation of loss of life and limb to loss of livelihood, but it’s streets ahead of the MPAA’s now-abandoned scare tactic. Still, just as people are going to text while driving despite dozens of poignantly disfigured warnings, online piracy is (and always was) here to stay. In the past few weeks, three things have happened that highlight this pointless battle again and prove that the pirate chant, “We’d pay if you let us!” was right.

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Fruitvale Movie

During the summer of 1998, one of the two multiplexes in my modestly sized hometown devoted one of its sixteen screens to limited release films throughout the entire season. They showed a range of small, non-mainstream narrative works from that surprisingly indie-rich summer, including Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66, Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box, James Toback’s Two Girls and a Guy, Don Roos’s The Opposite of Sex, Whit Stilman’s The Last Days of Disco, Neil LaBute’s Your Friends and Neighbors, and Mr. Jealousy, a film that almost nobody remembers Noah Baumbach made. Despite their nearby availability, I saw approximately zero of these films. I was thirteen years old, and my parents maintained their strict no-R policy. But it was enough for me that the names of these films showed up in the local paper, and that I saw their posters displayed through smudged plexiglass outside the box office as I bought my ticket to see Jane Austen’s Mafia! for the third time (I’m not kidding). I told myself I was perfectly content with the likes of Godzilla, Small Soldiers, and that other Avengers, but I patiently looked forward to the day when I was brave enough to sneak into (and, a few years later, pay to see) these movies so that I could figure out what this trailer was all about. I wasn’t yet experiencing blockbuster fatigue, just bottled excitement that there were new and weird and envelope-pushing movies that existed out there. But apparently, my multiplex’s experiment was a […]

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deal

Netflix has just fired a pretty big shot in the ongoing war to control all content. Recently we’ve seen them and their streaming competitors—chiefly Amazon’s Prime service—waging a fierce battle to round up streaming rights to all of the studio content that they can their hands on. The competition has gotten so fierce, in fact, that both companies have started producing their own exclusive content as a way to offset the bad feelings sent their way by upset customers who don’t understand what happens when an entire studio’s offerings suddenly drop off of a service in order to go exclusive with someone else. Anyway, the new news, which comes from an announcement by Netflix, is that they’ve signed a new agreement with The Weinstein Company to have exclusive pay television rights to all of their content starting in 2016. This extends a deal that the two companies made to give Netflix exclusive access to a limited list of Weinstein content back in February of 2012, and is very similar to an exclusive deal Netflix signed with Disney in December 2012, which will see the streaming service also becoming the exclusive home of Disney content starting in 2016.

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The Dreamers

The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Emmys

While award show prognostication it still a very inexact science, there is one thing that we can all bank on when it comes to the awards season nomination game – not everyone will be happy when the nods come down, and the word most often used in nomination coverage will always be “snub.” It’s easy to find fault with any award show, and someone’s favorites will always be left off. This morning’s Emmy nominations were undoubtedly rife with some major snubs – including Monica Potter for Parenthood, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner for writing, Parks and Recreation for comedy series, and breakout star Tatiana Maslany for her incredible turn(s) on Orphan Black – and we’re fairly certain we’ve  even snubbed some big snub-ees by not mentioning them here, for which we can only apologize. It certainly seems like it’s a losing game. Or is it? Sure, there will always be big-time disappointments whenever any big round of award show nominations are announced, but even in the midst of a stunning series of snubs, there’s still plenty of heartening news in this latest round of nods. We’ve got some hope for this year’s Emmys, and here’s ten big reasons why.

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Arrested Development

The original 3 seasons of Arrested Development that ran from 2003-2006 represent arguably the highest form of situation comedy. The show contrived and constructed a complex web of intersecting situations within each episode that continually developed and overlapped with each other throughout the series. Gags like Tobias’s coming out as a denim-cutoff-donning “never-nude” were briefly hinted at, later explained, then circuitously referenced during the rest of the series as the characters and the ensemble developed through a fast-paced narrative. It’s Arrested Development’s deft balance of many simultaneous situations that made it such a continually rewarding, notably risky, and certainly groundbreaking show for network television: the show remunerates the attentive viewer by returning to gags and referencing situations from past episodes even as present situations rapidly advance. I can’t think of another show before it that successfully and inventively got so much mileage out of individual revisited gags. Rather than simply repeat the same gag, like a catchphrase, Arrested Development laboriously re-contextualized prior jokes with big and small variations on their results (e.g., the many ways Michael forgets who Anne is). Netflix’s new season of Arrested Development is, as reported, comparably ambitious in its approach to the situation comedy. The show makes good on its promise of audacity by replacing its prior experimentation with the situation with an experiment in structure.

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arresteddevelopment-drink

Cult television shows always end up with a certain level of melancholy because their fans feel they were canceled long before their time. It is this fan devotion that keeps these shows alive in reruns and on the various home video platforms. However, once in a while, a show gets resurrected on a different network (like Cougar Town), as a major motion picture (like Serenity), or even on a totally different delivery platform (like Arrested Development moving to Netflix). Arrested Development is one of those cult television shows that the fans refused to forget. It may never have been as popular as the similarly quirky but far more mainstream Seinfeld, but for the fans, it has worked its way into the fans’ lives as much as any show has. Take a drink to celebrate the series, and if watch enough episodes at once, you’ll end up as intoxicated as Lucille Bluth.

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Warner Bros

In the days leading up to Wednesday, May 1st, Netflix subscribers scrambled to get through numerous titles on their Instant queues that were scheduled to disappear as part of their move to the Warner Archive Instant, easily the highest-profile to-date streaming archive owned and operated exclusively through a particular studio. With an expanding selection of films and television programs that range from classics like When Harry Met Sally to dozens of resurrected B-movies to truly hard-to-find films like Wim Wenders’s forgotten sci-fi epic Until the End of the World, the Warner Archive Instant is a treasure trove for any cinephile invested in the potential of the digital preservation and exhibition.*** Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Warner Archive Insant is that its potential success should assuage fears about the digital conversion process and studios closing their vaults on repertory prints: here’s an example demonstrating how studios can utilize their back log in a way that caters to film fans and, in effect, looks to future possibilities for cinema’s past. It’s also a nostalgic foray into the most legible qualities of the classical studio system: gathered together in this archive, the monster movies and gangster films of yesteryear exhibit a collective identity that feels particularly Warners. That said, there are some notable and perhaps troubling implications about a streaming service dedicated to and exclusively run by a major studio. Warner Archive Instant resembles a digital equivalent of the exhibition methods practiced by Warners itself during the years in which […]

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Arrested Development Season 4

Somebody somewhere just blue himself. Probably millions of people, really. With the return of a beloved show like Arrested Development, there’s always that small voice in that back of your head worried that it won’t be as good. Or worse, that it will be a disaster which abjectly ruins all the warm memories you had and proves that cancelled passions should stay dormant. The trailer for AD‘s Netflix-powered season 4 should help slap that little voice for doubting. Check it out for yourself:

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netflix

It’s been a standard argument from the piracy community that if there were better access to movies and TV shows online, there would be a lot less illegal downloading. It turns out they now have a powerful ally in delivering that message. According to a recent interview with Stuff (via TorrentFreak), Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said “The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options,” and he has the internal data to support that mindset. According to Sarandos, every time Netflix enters a new territory, its numbers go up while Torrent numbers go down. There are a lot of conclusions to draw here, but Sarandos himself has the money quote: “One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the Internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.” In other words, there’s a new nation of fans that are asking why they see a movie’s 2 teaser trailers, 5 full trailers, 10 posters, 30 character posters, commentary, interviews, set footage and hi-res official pics online, but can’t see the movie there.

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