Blog Archives

You Can’t Stream the Movie Theater Experience

Image result for jaws movie theater

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.

Advertisements

Steven Spielberg’s Theatrical (Ad)mission

Image result for steven spielberg

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.

Tim Cook’s A(pple)+

It was fitting for Apple, Inc.’s brass to present its “+” services in the Steve Jobs Theater in northern California. That “one more thing” addition at the end of those now iconic Steve Jobs presentations from yesteryear is thankfully ingrained in the cultural and innovative DNA of Apple. And after recent years of veritable coasting regarding the popular yet technologically and stylistically static iPhone, iPad and the like, Tim Cook’s Apple needed to make an imaginative splash that would generate new curiosity and excitement.

The details from Apple’s big event yesterday are limited. However, the potential of the new services and the industry leaders creating with the innovative tech giant is enough of a headline and opening statement to quench our thirst for now. Here are the highlights of Apple’s big day.

Apple gets an A+ for recruiting top talent to join its streaming video service via future TV and film offerings. Above all, Steven Spielberg’s partnership with Apple is truly special.

Speaking of Mr. Spielberg, it should be noted that some people are criticizing the famed director because of his recent stand against Netflix films being nominated for Academy Awards without a long theatrical release are misguided in their criticism.

By the way, Mr. Spielberg is 100% correct in his view.

During his presentation yesterday, the Academy award winner did not advocate for films on Apple’s new streaming service to be eligible for Academy Awards. He did not mention anything of the sort. All he discussed is the exciting potential for creating new stories on its expanded video streaming platform, which is in concert with his recent comments that great TV shows and movies are being made today on many different platforms.

Just needed to offer a quick and necessary defense of Steven Spielberg because of the fact that details matter. And the details concerning all of the new Apple + services will ultimately determine the future success of Tim Cook’s Apple in a variety of areas during the next five to 10 years.

What Apple did yesterday at its March 2019 event was prove it can still surprise with excitement.

And we can take that to the bank like never before.

‘Rush Hour’ Isn’t Over Yet

“We’re working on a few things on the script right now, so we’re trying to get into production. But we’re working on it and trying to get it going. Jackie Chan wants to do it, I want to do it, [the] studio wants to do it, so we’re trying to get it together.”
-Chris Tucker 

Yes, yes and yes.

We understand the words coming out of Chris Tucker’s mouth.

The hilarious Chris Tucker (Detective Carter) recently commented about a ‘Rush Hour 4’ movie and indicates that he and his action costar Jackie Chan (Chief Inspector Lee) are ready to reprise their roles.

This is a good day.

Hopefully, the search for a new director for the fourth installment in this popular ‘Rush Hour’ film series has already been underway and, at best, already determined. The next hope is that this fourth movie will materialize in the near future–the next year or so–with the original humor and action stunts from the first three yet with a fresh and successful take that will spark a fifth and sixth film to round out two trilogies of sorts.

If ‘The Fast and the Furious’ can have double-digit movies, then ‘Rush Hour’ can certainly be resurrected for a few more.

And in this age of absurd hyper-political correctness, we need Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan to team up once more to remind us to relax, have fun and just laugh.