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You Can’t Stream the Movie Theater Experience

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Netflix and Oscars Update:

In concert with yesterday’s article here on Jimmy’s Daily Planet that focused on Steven Spielberg’s thoughts regarding the necessity for all Oscar-eligible films to remain within the traditional parameters of a traditional theatrical release, the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences has determined that Rule Two — which involves a film’s eligibility for winning — will favor streaming services moving forward in so many words.

The Academy’s Board of Governors voted to maintain Rule Two, Eligibility for the 92nd Oscars. The rule states that to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission. Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.

That’s a major win for streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Take ‘Roma’ by director Alfonso Cuarón that streamed on Netflix that won three Oscars at this year’s ceremony:

  • Best Director
  • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Best Cinematography

The argument is not about quality — which ‘Roma’ has — but more about quality of experience. I am a fan of Netflix. It’s a great service for TV and film. But let’s face facts that most people multi-task (or are at least tempted to) with convenient streaming services like Netflix that very easily takes away from the pure movie watching experience. It’s also crucial that Hollywood ensures that all eligible films are having to play by the same rules for the same grand, life-changing prize. As Mr. Spielberg noted yesterday in the New York Times, the theatrical experience must be maintained for the biggest movies of the year. He is 100% right. The Academy’s progressive move towards the “future of TV” is a slippery slope that will exert pain on movie theaters in big cities and small towns alike in the short and long term.

Academy President John Bailey expressed sympathy for the theatrical experience yet fell short with a sanitized non-answer answer for his conclusion.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

–Academy President John Bailey

In other words, Mr. Bailey supports counting the dollar bills from streaming services.

There is nothing wrong with movie studios and the Academy making lots of money. That’s a good thing if they put out a good product that people want to buy. However, the problem is refusing to take the right, principled stand of where we sit for the best films being released in the future:

Are we on our couch watching a summer blockbuster on our TV or cell phone or laptop? Or are we in a dark, crowded movie theater with strangers for an unforgettable movie experience that simultaneously defines our lives and popular culture with cinematic game-changers like ‘Jaws,’ ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Inception’?

It costs a lot of money to invest, produce and ultimately release a major motion picture. Creating short cuts in this process will cut short what movies mean for us and movie studios moving forward.

Netflix contributed to the downfall of the Blockbuster movie store chain early in the 21st century, transforming the origin of the movie watching experience at home from an excitingly extroverted in-store search and interaction to the introverted in-house mail service. Now it seems the Academy and streaming services like Netflix have its eyes on revolutionizing the summer blockbuster by way of the information superhighway.

When it comes to the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences debating issues like Rule Two, movie theaters are gonna need a bigger vote.

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Steven Spielberg’s Theatrical (Ad)mission

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Steven Spielberg has received criticism for comments he made related to Netflix and how films on the popular streaming service should not being eligible for an Academy Award. While the legendary director did not need to clarify because he is correct (this writer’s opinion), the Academy Award winner just added some clarity on the ever-relevant issue for films in this technologically evolving era through the New York Times.

“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them,” Spielberg said in a written statement sent by email to The New York Times. “Big screen, small screen — what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories.” He added, “However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience — cry together, laugh together, be afraid together — so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”

–Steven Spielberg

As covered on Jimmy’s Daily Planet, Mr. Spielberg recently embraced the future of Apple via Apple TV+ as a directorial partner and storyteller. The more movies by Spielberg, the better. What’s equally important is that he has stated in the past how impressed he is with the quality of TV these days. And what’s most important for movie fans to hear — with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video — are the last three sentences of Mr. Spielberg’s statement above, with particular emphasis on the final two sentences.

“However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience — cry together, laugh together, be afraid together — so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”  

–Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg — the man who brought the late Michael Crichton’s dino DNA to the big screen in innovative, entertaining fashion like the world had never seen before — is pragmatically nostalgic for the days when seeing a movie in a dark theater was a major public event on Friday and Saturday nights. There are a time and a place for watching TV shows and movies at home. And there are a time and a place for watching a summer blockbuster in a movie theater near you.

44 years after Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ became the first summer blockbuster and the movie theater in 2019 is still the only place where a film is projected larger than life.

Happy Monday (Or Is It Happy Tuesday?)

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2017 Academy Awards ended (fittingly?) in ‘la la land.’

So, the movie that should have won and that people wanted to win (La La Land) lost to a movie that most people had, quite frankly, not even seen or barely knew about (Moonlight).

Sounds like most Academy Awards, doesn’t it?

My yearly analysis for Oscar winners and losers is that the Academy is right when they’re right and wrong when they’re wrong. Sure, that seems like common sense, but there’s more to it that presumed simplicity.

For example, the Academy was right to award Titanic the golden statue for best picture many moons ago and it was right to award Sandra Bullock the golden statue for best actress for her leading role in The Blind Side in 2010. Conversely, the Academy was wrong to award Slumdog Millionaire the best picture in 2009 and not even nominate The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger deservedly won a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight for one of the greatest acting performances in cinematic history, but the film as a whole is a revelation and a masterpiece and it was wrongly shafted and stripped of its Oscar moment for the film’s team and Batman fans everywhere.

Last night, the Academy was clearly wrong in fumbling the announcement for Best Picture. However, the Academy was right to clarify this mistake in real-time. As a result, the 89th Oscars will be defined by that painfully embarrassing moment and help Steve Harvey recover a little bit more quickly.

Random Advice: Maybe don’t hire Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as editors of the obituary section of a newspaper.

Have a Better Week Than Last Week.

It’s Oscar Season…La La La

Will La La Land be Titanic at the Academy Awards way back in 1998?

Or Titanic the ship in reality…

The musical sensation La La Land has tied James Camerson’s cinematic epic Titanic (and All About Eve) with 14 Oscar nominations. Released at the end of 2016, the film starring the much-awaited Crazy, Stupid, Love reunion between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is the it movie in Hollywood right now. Critics love the movie and, most importantly, fans love this movie. La La Land looks amazing.

Will the romantic musical dominate the 89th Academy Awards?

We’ll find out Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Until then, let’s watch star Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (Actor in a Leading Role) discuss his experience making La La Land as Sebastian during a recent interview.

Hollywood is defined as a city of stars.

But the question is which stars will forever shine a little brighter than the rest on the night of February 26th?