Tag Archives: Amazon Prime

Betrayal by greed

That was what I was considering today (and part of yesterday). You see I watch a stream sometimes, but not all the time. I am old school (really old in one way). You see I like (actually love) my physical formats. Games and movies. I started my collection a long time ago with CD’s and VHS cassettes (ask your grandfather if you do not know what those are). Over time some VHS were updated to DVD and some to Blue-ray. That I where I am now, but over time the game changed and that was not what I was ready for. Studios to some extent betraying their fans, I saw some of it earlier on and I considered it a dick move. How could any studio betray their fans? Now there are two settings, the first is outright betrayal for whatever reason. Consider that in most places Stargate Universe was never available on Blue-Ray. Consider the Expanse an amazing series, but as the series is now in season 6, yet the fans can only get the first 3 seasons. Why is that? Then is a second setting. The TV series Lucifer. Now they have a rather nasty experience. They needed a new way to continue and they found one and it ended with season 6, only now can they get seasons 4, 5 and 6, however only on DVD. Only the first three seasons are on
Blue-Ray. There is some understand here because Netflix acquired the series. But why short change your fans? I understand that Netflix does get a time exclusive, they acquired that right and I do not begrudge them anything. Yet after this time, who not release them now? It has been long enough. For that Disney has another setting, I am not sure how to react there. They have their series, they have also acquired Marvel (to some degree) and even as the movies can be bought, the series on Disney plus (Mandolorian, Wandavision et al) cannot. I never saw any of them , so I feel uncertain how to respond. Those fans might have their own feelings on this. But when you make the inventory on what is there and more important what is missing, we get a very different picture, one where corporate stages are set on greed. Now this is not new or some kind of revelation, but in movies it is somewhat unusual, especially towards their fans. So what happened to American Horror Story 1984? I get that season 10 is not out yer, but the last episode was in October 2021, so that is well over a year ago. For me? Well, I do believe that within the next two years, when 5G is not yet out everywhere there will be congestion and it will hit much harder than you think, the streamers will be hit as well and as businesses are now set to exploiting the benefits of 5G, these limitations will grow larger and larger, as such congestion will have a much more relentless impact. Should it not be an idea to avoid pressures as much as possible? Now, that does not mean that the studios should bank on losses, but The expanse ended season 6 a year ago, is it not time to release those seasons? What does the maker want to avoid? I reckon that those who do not have Amazon Prime might not get it anyway, so why make revenue the obstacle? I cannot tell how many buy them, but I feel certain I am not the only one, as for some releasing them only on DVD, all whilst previous seasons were on Blue-Ray? Shame on you!

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, movies

What was old, could be new

I have been thinking of a movie, it wasn’t a great movie, it was not something Spielberg made, but for some reason it comes back every now and then. It had an impact and the fact that Jon Cryer was in it makes it an almost instant classic. The movie is called Hiding Out and was made in 1987 by Bob Giraldi. Nowadays with the digital era, new acts that allow organised crime to do almost anything, the cryptocurrency that is all over (and the dozens of alternatives), including OneCoin by Ruja Ignatova. These settings allows for a remake and the main character could still be a banker, the setting is almost timeless. I do hope that if this comes out that the makers will consider hiring Jon Cryer as the federal team leader trying to keep everyone safe. 

It is not often that a script that is not the greatest, turns out to be the timeless setting that can traverse technologies and generations, yet I believe that Bob Giraldi did just that with Hiding Out. There are more pieces like this and there is no need to look at them now, but the age of Netflix, DisneyPlus, AmazonPrime, HBO and Google Movies makes these options a lot more important. Apart from the fact that the script is already there, it could save these channels a lot by looking at hat could be great and there are plenty of movies that have a timeless character. There is also a weird situation here. These timeless works will never make the top 100. It is not distinct enough, yet in that These movies will be one time originals and that is fine. Yet movies like Miracle on 34th Street, the Mummy, A star is born and now optionally Hiding out are not the greatest movies, but they were fun to watch and they can be fun again. In the list given there are still two distinct elements. The Mummy was a great remake because technology and special effects allowed for so much more. A star is born is because the stage can be altered to fit a whole number of people and I reckon that (if we are till around) we will see a new version of A star is born in 2050. And I personally believe that 2023 might be the year to give us a remade version of Bob Giraldi’s Hiding out with all the financial bells, whistles and organised crime’s hardware to make it a success.

I believe that movies can be good, great or timeless and it is that third group that the streamers need. Those IP rights are either not there, they are no longer valid or can be gotten a lot cheaper than a complete new work of IP and that is what they will seek, as costs bite, as the competition becomes more fierce, they will all fight over the golden script, but one movie is not enough, they optionally need up to 50 each year and that is where a movie like Hiding out could find itself a second wind. Optionally with an altered Jon Cryer. And this is not limited to Hollywood, pretty much every movie making nation had a group of movies made between 1975-1990 that could easily fit the bill. I look at new IP and create new IP because I am a storyteller, but the stage is larger than me and I recognise that there is more and as such my mind went back to a movie I saw decades ago. I believe there is a setting now that this movie could surpass the previous version in greatness, in suspense and in appeal all elements the streamers desperately want. 

Leave a comment

Filed under movies

Historic detours

We all do them, I do them a lot. On any course from A to B, I tend to take detours every day. For one, I walk a lot and I like the scenery to change, it might not make much sense if you are the avid automobile fan, yet when you walk it makes a lot of sense. It can be that one route has a cinema and I want to see what is coming. That thought makes less sense nowadays, but in the past there were windows with photo’s of movies coming and movies playing. Then thee are the detours the mind makes. Those tend to make a lot less sense, even to the wielder of that brain. The Brain wants to let you know something and it tells you in its own way. Through the dream state when you are asleep, through a day dream or even through a small jump away from what you were thinking. We all have them, we pay attention (at times), we will it away or we ignore, we tend to take different strides with any mind jump. 

This happened to me today when I was doing something meaninglessly simple, mind-numbing and the brain just took over. I was at a school, not sure which one, or where. The kids spoke English, but I did not connect to the location and I have no kids, so I am at a loss on that part. The kids were eating food and a I saw a ‘pretend it is Mexican day’ sign. The sign was troublesome in a few ways but that does not matter. It was then that I noticed the food. I thought they were all enjoying enchiladas. The rolled or is that wrapped food in a thick tortilla, it was then that I took notice of the smell, the sweetness, the stuffing and then things started to make sense. The kids all had rolled up pancakes, rolled like a tortilla and the stuffing was not that of an enchilada. It was filled with fruits. Then I saw others with some kind of chili, but it was I think cranberry mash with berries, bananas and stuff, the enchiladas had some kind of jam, dried fruits, tangerine parts and I think apricot slices. They were all having fruit dishes all shaped and imaged after Mexican food, the sign made more sense now. And it makes sense, the detours allowed me to design the 5G solution I created, this is not the same, but set to a similar premise. The mind can fill voids, but it can also label and identify things it is aware of. So what if kids see the same shape as a bowl of chili, as a enchilada yet not the same. What if the apple served can no longer hold the attention it once had? What if the premise needs change? It is not unheard of, it is not even that weird. The detour can serve as a journey marker and that is how we get to the actual stirrer of the trouble I saw. 

Two headlines needs to be shown. Once gives us ‘Amazon is ‘nearing a deal’ with EA to produce a Mass Effect show’, the second one is ‘Ex-Bioware Writer Explains His Concerns About a Mass Effect or Dragon Age TV Series’. They matter, but not the way you think. There is one clear truth that I never steered clear of. The Mass Effect series (1-3) is one of the 10 best stories to ever grace the ENTIRE video game industry. In 2007 they started something that had not ever been shown before and the universe of gamers took notice. It was a few years later that we were treated to a sequel which was nothing less than one of the best games that would ever launch on a console. Yes, Mass Effect was big and even as there were rumblings on episode three, I never joined them, the story as a whole was amazing and that story can still compete with almost anything today. They screwed it up with Andromeda, but the original was and will remain a legendary achievement. 

Soon on console and TV

So whilst I do not know if there will be concerns, if there will be issues, if there will be larger ‘fears’. Consider the first game, when we go beyond the game, the setting that we forget is that the Citadel is well over 4 times the size of Manhattan, optionally a bit bigger and that implies that there are 3-4 seasons ready to be made. 

Consider Doctor Michel, getting extorted, running supplies to a merchant in the Lower Wards in order to avoid a “secret” of hers getting out. A 5 minute mission, easily converted to a full episode, or as a sideline in larger storylines over two episodes. Now consider that the first game alone has over 60 side quests, all optional stories in their own rights. We might not care about some of them, but the truth is we were never given to goods so that we would care and that matters. Just consider that we remember the stars of a show, yet how many can give us the sidekicks in Buffy? The sidekicks in Bones? The sidekicks in Battlestar Galactics? Dexter? Now consider that Spike (from Buffy) was supposed to get killed off in the beginning. Yet he stayed around for 7 seasons. The writers had something to work with and they were handed time to show value in a character. That could happen to Mass Effect as well. The benefit (for Amazon) is that they get handed something with a proper foundation, a story that can go places. And in this we see a larger stage evolving, the games are starting to set the need for TV and movies. We knew about movies, we all saw Jolie (aka Mrs Smith) in Tombraider, but the stage is now altering, games are making a larger headway into TV and the solver screen. I wonder if this is to the well of creativity drying up, or is it that games bring optional a million plus fans to the TV screen and that startup is interesting to producers. I am not sure what the answer is, because I never really considered that setting before. Yet if that is true, then the settings for Bethesda will alter a lot over the next few years. And that too matters for gamers, because the franchise that grows tends to evolve and gamers love a game that truly evolves (not iterates like Ubisoft). In this there is no telling what Ubisoft can do with their AC franchise. 

Yet in all this, I wonder what we will be treated to next. I am not siding with the worry population, I will see and judge when it hits the TV or big screen. I have seen enough on both sides to worry up front, and we all saw our fill of ‘failed’ series. Yet plenty of those ended up being true gems (Dollhouse 2009, Firefly 2002, Rome 2005, Star Trek 1966) and it is interesting that Star Trek ended up with 9 spin offs and 10 movies. So taking the word of the critics is debatable from the start. 

I hope that Mass Effect will get the proper audience and get the right stage for people to care about a good story, because the story is everything, especially in TV. 

So why this detour?
You see, what we see and what we perceive is not the same. What we see is what we are offered to see and what we perceive tends to be based on the presentation of others and the ‘critics’ as well as ‘critics’ who have other venues to promote are the fake news bringers, especially in this day and age. Some of these ‘critics’ know that people have one purse, they can only spend money ONCE, so they are getting more and more careful on what they spend money on and Amazon Prime knows that (its a Netflix issue), so they need to get the larger population on board sooner, and some ‘critics’ have friends at Netflix and other places too, so they are eager to promote one and push down the other for whatever reason they hand us and they have a larger digital market to push their view, their need and the need of their friends. That is the stakeholder game and it is hitting TV series as well, yet only now will the push be more pronounced then ever before. But that is merely my view on the matter. 

Will Mass Effect succeed? I cannot tell, I will not give my answer one way or the other, but take notice. It comes from one of the truly great stories in gaming and that matters. I reckon we will see something real in 2023-2024. 

Have a great Sunday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Media, movies

A streaming war

Yup, this is about to come to larger blows, you see, there is Netflix (of course), Apple, Amazon Prime, Canal Plus/Foxtel and Disney Plus. There are a few more, but in many cases HBO is added to the film channels of Foxtel, and so on. Yet these players never took a serious look at the treasure of the east, Japan particularly. Yes they all look at the manga, yet there is a lot more. The Zatoichi series, which was followed by an amazing movie with Takeshi Kitano. There are a lot more, and even as there are some really good movies around that are done in
Japan (Earthquake bird with Alicia Vikander), Japan has a lot of original non manga material to offer. In the horror section there is the Audition and Oldboy, the second one is also seen as a remade English version, but it is nowhere near as good as the original, perhaps it was the atmosphere. There is of course the setting of Ju-On and that video that kills within 7 days, but those are the visible ones that made the press. A lot of people got interested in Japan as a provider of entertainment after Kill Bill part 1, that is fair enough, we all have our moments. For me it was the 1980 TV-series Shōgun with Richard Chamberlain, based on the novel by James Clavell with the same name. A series where we see giants like Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Shimada, Frankie Sakai, and Hideo Takamatsu (and many more). Not just that, even the Middle-Earth trusted Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) was already amazing 40 years ago. I reckon it might be time for a remake, if only the 1980 version was not so darn perfect. Yet there is more in Japan than just remakes. To see that we merely have to look at the Playstation 4 and the almost perfect Ghost of Tsushima. Until the game was there, I know nothing of this place and the setting it had. And I know I am not alone. We might want to travel back to 2006 when Clint Eastwood release the second part, Letters from Iwo Jima. As Flags of our fathers showed us the American side, Clint took a gander and showed us the other side as well. What we ended up with is a near complete view of a war no-one really wanted, but we were all forced to fight it, because there was no other way. 

Yet as we see the roll call of movies in Japan, we see the western view of it and some of it is really good, there is the Forest with Natalie Dorner who is pretty amazing (for those who merely know here from her ways to excite Henry VIII, or be the sweet dear in GoT), this is the movie to watch her in). We need to acknowledge that a movie about Japanese in Japan can only be made by the Japanese. We do not deny that Lost in Translation is a gem, yet who knows of 100 Yen Love, and before you think that this is mere love movie, think again, in this particular case it is Billion dollar baby on steroids. A slob turning her life around and it is that underdog fight that for some reason is a lot better when it is done in Japan. There is another example, The Ramen Girl, underestimated and a little shallow, but it shows us a side of Japan we rarely see, their strife for excellence, a spiritual side perhaps, perhaps not. But there is a multitude of sides to Japan we always seem to ignore. The technologists look at Japan, because what we see there now will hit our borders in about 5 years. Yet in all that, we seem to forget that Japan has a soul and even if we do not understand it, some wall parts are shown in their movies and TV-series. With the world wanting more and wanting something different, there is every chance that Japanese entertainment goods will b e fought over by the streaming giants. And if these parts do not convince you, take a look at Gokusen (2002) and I can tell you right now, the plot twist that hits you at the end of season one, is one you we’re never ready for. 

You could say: Only in Japan!

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, movies

We’ve seen it all before

That was the thought I got stuck with when I was looking at The Disappointments Room, a movie with Kate Beckinsale, shortly after I stopped watching it. Now, this was not the fault of anyone, not her (watching her is as pleasing to the eye as watching a Rembrandt), not the director, the lighting, the camera work, it was all high end good, yet the issue for me remains, I have seen at least 15,000 movies, so there is an issue with me watching more movies. Lately I have been taking notice of that, and with Kate who made her debut in Much Ado about Nothing (1993), a small part I had actually forgotten about, I remember the movie well. Implies that there is a sliding scale ahead for me and I am not happy.

There are still happy moments too, I loved Earthquake bird and was amazed that Alicia Vikander was so great at Japanese pronunciation, apart from that (and the fact that Lara married a Ubisoft character, LOL) made it an interesting ride, that is all before that the movie is one hell of a psychological drama, that includes some level of triangle relationship is pretty awesome, the fact that it plays in Japan is merely a plus for many (including me). That entire movie was an interesting one, we had all seen it before, but as we experience the setting, we see a movie, one that is for the most totally new, and there is a point where I wonder how the makers Wash Westmoreland and Susanna Jones pulled it off.

Was it all about Japan, was it Alicia in Japanese surrounding, or was it that for the most the movie was not laced in a sexual setting, there are 1-2 screens, but they seem to make sense as this was the relationship between two people. Yet in all that, the entire Japanese setting is overwhelming and we look around as we notice more and more differences, but what set it off? I believe that the script was a big part of it, but all movies have to face that, so what made this movie different, why did I not have the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ feeling? I think it is important, as we are all running to the next Marvel movie, a remake of Charlie’s Angels or a Ford v Ferrari movie, I wonder what we will get next year, because it is becoming slim pickings for anyone who grew up being a movie fan. There are movie makers who are a given, people like Ridley Scott, who seem to be answering questions in the movies as they make the movies, a lot has been done before and some movie makers seem to distinguish themselves in that way, but the scary question for me remains, what comes next? Oh, I believe that we will see plenty of fine productions, but the overwhelming feeling that I have is that the ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ will return and that saddens me a little because it will not be the fault of the maker, or the actors or the actresses. It resides in me and all the movies I have already seen, that is the part that saddens me and it is laced in another part as well.

When we watched a movie (in a far distant past in this galaxy), my grandmother would comment on ‘How she had already seen that movie‘ whilst I was in the frame of mind that the movie was new, yet she was proven right again and again as these were remakes, it is nice to be in the first viewing of a remake, but I got old enough to have seen the original of whatever movie was re-released in the last 5 years so it is a little less fun for me now.

For me this is like watching the Female Ghostbusters, or the real live Aladdin, both movies have one setback, the original was pretty darn good, in the original Ghostbusters, we got to see special effects that until a few years ago no one surpassed, in addition to it all it was a great fun film to see, so the female version had a different ghost to fend off, and they were unable to, we kept comparing to the original, Will Smith faced that and worse in Aladdin, he had to fight of the ghost of Robin Williams, in addition Disney had taken the voice section to the next level and we all still remember Gilbert Gottfried as Iago, it is hard to fight off those ghosts, especially when the current generation still remembers them so well. It was different for Oceans 8, yes it was all female, yes it was linked to Danny Ocean (George Clooney) but that was it and the theft of a $150,000,000 necklace was truly next level shit (to coin a phrase) and I am avoiding all kinds of twists that the movie has, you have to see them for yourself, and James Corden was not a twist, the man really can act ;), and the ladies in the movie set out to plan a great heist.

To think back, I really have no idea who at Disney was stupid enough to invest and to allow the entire real live version of Aladdin to proceed decades too early. Although that is merely my thought on the matter, the movie did become a billion dollar plus movie, so there is that too. For me next year, I am worried about the Grudge, an amazing original Ju-On (2002) yet the remake 2 years later was still good, there were two reasons for that, the first is Sarah Michel Gellar, we had just admired her in Buffy for 7 years and seeing her in a different movie was well appreciated, the second and not the least important one was that it was from the original maker Takashi Shimizu, so seeing another remake next year will not be on my list to watch. I have a few reservations on Fantasy Island, yet we have seen Michael Peña in several good movies and there is every indication (from the trailer) that they are taking the sweet caramelized smell of the original TV series with Ricardo Montalban (Mr Roarke) and Herve Villechaize as his assistant Tattoo in a new direction, that I want to see because the trailer is indicating that the caramelized part is gone, it will be a liquorice cured salmon, the first time is the most powerful one because most people have never had it, it is also an acquired taste, so you’ll love it or hate it, but it will be new and that is the part that matters to me.

There is another wave coming, but not made as re-release or remake, it will be a sequel of Candyman, with Tony Todd as the murdered son of a slave, for me it means that there is every indication that I can finally replace that movie as a Blu-ray and it made me realise that it was released 25 years ago, wow, when I was half my age (extremely approximately), I remember the movie, meeting Clive Barker and a whole range of other events around it, seeing it sequel will (hopefully) be an awesome experience.

Yet overall I see that there is more behind me than in front of me and for a lot of us, when we have budgets to keep to we need to select the movies we see on the big screen, I went from a movie every week to a life where I saw no more than 6 of them on the big screen last year and that is a big difference, nowadays I see the movies that are in the libraries, and with Netflix, Disneyplus and other streaming media, on one side I wonder how much is left for the silver screen. Yet on the other side, as far as I can tell, no one ever took Ryū Murakami 1999 masterpiece Audition to the western world, now that is a movie you want to invite Harvey Weinstein to. I won’t give away anything, but if you want to see horror with a difference, that is one movie to watch, there is a whole range of movies where we seem to forget that there is a whole planet outside of Hollywood that makes good movies, and even if we want to see a re-master, or a re-launch, personally I am still hoping for Claude Leloch’s Les Uns et let Autres to make it to Blu-ray, let alone to get it re-launched (if that was even possible). The Netherlands (who got caught up in WW2) has its own views on the resistance and occupation and it resulted to amazing works, like Black Book (2006) and Riphagen (2016), most people will remember the decorated movie the Assault (1986), yet very few of the non-Dutch will have any idea about a movie called Undercover Kitty (2001), whilst the person behind this (Annie MG Schmidt) is in Dutch circles on a level that equals Walt Disney, or perhaps a little more correct the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, who created Pippi Longstocking. Yet how many remember or even know of the Swede Gunnel Linde? He wrote over 40 books and in 1973 the White Stone (Den Vita Stenen) became a TV series. I wonder how many options a place like Disneyplus would have when we see how large the collection of children’s series would be, the same when we look at Netflix in light of Audition (not really a kids movie), yet more revealing, will this become the age of ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, or will we see that like the new Fantasy Island, we end up with movies that show a surprising twist, one we never saw coming, to be honest, not unlike some movies, we will have seen it before, even if we would accept the new special effects, there is a chance that we get to see another Thing (1982) which makes for an interesting version from its original 3 decades before, yet nowadays, we are more likely to see another Insomnia (2002) which was its own perfect remake, yet when it comes to remakes, it is a wild card, because no matter how we love the Departed (2006), there is a chance that you saw the original Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002), at which point the timeline is too close together. I was lucky enough to have seen the original and yet Scorsese makes a magnificent movie, yet the original was made in such a way that it was brilliant in its own right and in this my mind would love to give Andrew Lau and Alan Mak the credit they deserve, yet in opposition, there are plenty of other movies that a lot might not have seen and seeing some of those works (again), in a new light is still worthy of watching. Sweden has jewels like Lilja 4 Ever (2002), we might have seen the Norwegian movie Trollhunter (2010) in a different form, yet when you see this movie, you wonder which one is the original (the other movie was released a decade before this), so there is not much call on that, yet the stories are unique, original and the stages we see are also a question ‘We’ve seen it all before‘, yet have we?

In 2015 Norway produced the Wave, like other movies we want to say ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ yet that too would be wrong, we have seen something similar, but never in this setting, that is where the feeling gets in the way, The Wave is an intelligent piece of work that takes Norwegian customs and leaves us wondering whether we choose the right place to live for the right reason yet can we avoid choices? (I am really trying hard not to give anything away here), the world is filled with movies that seem to look like a movie we had seen before, but we had not and this group of films is now going to be a central part in places like Netflix and DisneyPlus (as well as AppleTV) to set their markers for gaining a following. Sometimes remakes work really well Zatoichi (2003) is a nice example. Yet even more overwhelming are the works of fiction, the books that were released in other nations that no one thought of translating. Even known works like Swedish Sjowall and Wahloo resulted in amazing movies a decade ago when the world got to see Beck; in this Peter Haber made an amazing Beck, finally replacing the image that Sweden had through Gosta Elckman. Germany is another nation where there is an abundance of great art. We all seem to remember Das Boot, Downfall and Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex, yet how many have seen a version of Das Leben der Anderen, where we see the impact of Stasi (the East German secret police)? Perhaps you might not know it by Die Welle was based on the true story of a high school teacher in California who designed an experiment to teach his students about Nazism, when you see that in real life, you wonder what you know. We seem to believe that modern day fascism is impossible, yet the movie casts doubt on that and this was all before social media, so there is room for new versions and altered (read: different) versions.

It is hard to see the light in so many seemingly remakes and re-launches of past greats, but there is light and there is room for plenty more, as such I wonder whether it was just me when I thought ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ or was it the maker who was not aware of other versions of great stories?

I wonder about this not because of Christmas, you might think that we will get re-runs of other versions, I know that this is not the case as Netflix gave out Let it Snow (2019) which is actually a decent movie to watch, which was a nice surprise for me. As I feared that plenty of repetitions seem to be the case when it comes to Christmas, I merely chase that one side in movies, the one I had not seen before and as we get from stage to stage, that risk is increasing, yet the cameraman as he uses his instructed skills to show something different will be able to thwart that danger for all of us (one might hope).

We are about to get 6 times the releases that we have ever had before, because the large screen and Blu-ray line is gone, there is now a large screen, Netflix, Disneyplus, Stan, Amazon Prime and Foxtel release plan, even as they all end up on Blu-ray, we need to pick what we can optionally watch and they are all slamming whatever they can lay their hands on, so there is 6 times the likelihood that they hunt a similar story. Yet there in the end we get to see the issue at hand ‘We’ve seen it all before‘ and as out budgets are now a lot more defined, we all end up being in a place where we rather avoided that part of the equation.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, movies

That Lion cliché

Do you remember the time when art was about art? Perhaps you remember the studio that had the lion in their logo? I think that the very same lion was also very active in an old TV series called Daktari (1966, CBS). They had on their logo ‘Ars Gratia Artis‘, although some refer to it as: Arse for the sake of the artists, which is not the same thing.

It means art for art’s sake and that ideology came under assault by the Business Insider through Netflix last year (2 days ago), or did it? The article (at https://amp.businessinsider.com/netflix-bird-box-sparks-debate-over-data-in-hollywood-2018-12) gives a very different light on Hollywood. We initially get: “Netflix said its original movie “Bird Box,” starring Sandra Bullock, was viewed by 45 million accounts in its first seven days on the streaming service, a record for the company“, which is a good achievement, considering that there are 137 million subscribers, we get the setting that 30% watched it, something that should be regarded as a huge success. Yet Business Insider does not think so, it goes on with the quote: “Though Netflix revealed the huge number, it didn’t give specifics. How many of those 45 million watched the movie from beginning to end? What were the demographics of the viewers? Those are the types of stats that movie studios and TV networks release about their content“. Here we have a larger issue; those in the cinema, with rare exceptions will sit out the movie in the cinema, in the digital world we get to consider a new stage: how many watch it completely? Just like Google ads on YouTube where the first 5 seconds is ‘free’, or better stated might not be a viewer, and after 5 seconds the person can skip, so that is not a viewer either, these metrics now count towards the greater need to understand the Netflix viewer, because those who start the movie are optionally not actual viewers, so setting the purchase stage towards those metrics will be the downfall of Netflix soon enough, yet in all this, the viewer, including me, we are all new to the Netflix, Stan and other parts, so we get to switch products, like we switch channels and as such, finding what we like is going to be important to Netflix et al. Also, multiple watching might imply that, or another person at the house was watching, or perhaps I merely nodded off after 24.3 minutes only to realise that a comfy chair and warm weather implies that watching is a lot more challenging? In all this metrics, especially top line metrics with demographics will be increasingly important to all these digital providers. Even as we see: “That 45 million number has not been verified by a third-party measurement company in the way TV ratings and box-office results generally are“, we do not realise that for the most, cinemas have an utter lack of these metrics (other than amount of tickets sold, tickets per purchase and date of purchase), so even as Digital channels have more granularity (a lot more), we can debate and even question these metrics on a few levels. I once heard that a friend has his father drop by every weekend to use his Netflix account and keep up on TV series whilst the sunshine lad was at the beach entertaining his tan and swimming ability, so when he got home, he shared a meal with dad and they talk and watched a little more Netflix. So that implies that for that day the metrics are no longer matching the demographics, merely the member graphics, which again is not the same, not even close.

So when we look back at bird box, we see the interesting quote: “she believes that the latest Netflix news is nothing but a publicity stunt and that Netflix’s lack of transparency about data hurts filmmakers“, which is when the wheels leave the carriage in every direction. If movies are about art, why would data transparency be important? How is a vision or art an indication of data requirement? I get the statement, I get the implied stage where the TV industry is now mimicking Ubisoft when they started claiming another Assassins Creed every year. The implied part is forgotten as soon as you read it, but the danger is there. Those makers who rely on data to form the next hit will never ever get one. You see, the lesson that Ubisoft has been learning the hard way is that a game that appeals to everyone is a game that appeals to no one. The sales figures show that flaw, the ratings of games that at $50 million should have been 90% or better get nowhere beyond the 65%-85%, so basically a products that gets a little more than break even, it is a business model that theoretically works, but it will never produce any diamonds. The 78%-81% for Far Cry 5 is a direct indicator of that, some gave it as little as a 60% rating, a total change from the 90% that AC Origin deserved and that supports my thoughts there.

Yet in TV and movies on digital format we see another shift, we see the lack of materials making the makers a little desperate for choices. Even as we see Bird Box as a massive win, we see that choices are now coming at a much steeper investment curve, making the game a lot more dangerous, and it is pushing these analysts towards the metrics of watchers and optional watchers giving them a dangerous step towards anticipated interest versus real interest. Netflix is the most visible player here, but they are not alone. Stan, Foxtel, Canal Plus and a few others will face their own demons. Disney is the safest player for now as they have the best established brand on any medium, yet over time they too need to face the choices of data use available.

For me this data war is important in other ways too, as we see Bird Box and a title like the Blair Witch project in one box of choices, we see the link of mass media towards creating an inflated hype, yet when we look in another direction we realise that gems like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina would lose their footing into getting a place in creating and release. Sabrina is as I personally see it the true approach to ‘Ars Gratia Artis‘, the moment that data takes over, things will fall apart. It is not the data itself, it is the fact that in the first the data is mostly non-confirmed (member versus actual viewer), anticipated issues on re-watching versus actual reason of re-watching and that list goes on, the inability to properly vet data for a whole league of reasons will diminish the playfield and the Ubisoft stage takes over from the actual artistic stage, it could optionally kill a series like Sabrina overnight and will kill a whole range of other series in the same way in their first seasons too. There is other evidence too, the series Lucifer that got canned in one place, got taken up by Netflix and the fans win, in this case Netflix wins too and they deserve to win, but we need to realise that Lucifer is not unlike Star Trek, a series that initially got canned because the executives did not comprehend their fans (the watchers). We can add Firefly, Dollhouse and several other series to that list. I believe that Dollhouse was going towards the place that Westworld is moving on to and that is great, the stories are still accepted and they evolve for the viewing acceptance and appreciation levels and rightfully so, yet how many TV series were lost to us for the same reason? You see, I believe that the wrong approach to data and the non-comprehension (or wrongful use in dashboards) will make this a much larger issue soon enough, and guess what?

This will not be contained to the Hollywood world, the shift of data and dashboards will push into every realm that uses data soon thereafter. You might not think it now, but you all are part of this, it will affect you all soon enough. 5G is not merely a mobile platform, it is a data platform and we will personally see, feel and experience the impact of data. That impact is not theoretical, it is an actual impact. At Cornell University we saw the creation of a paper in March 2018 called ‘Load Balancing for 5G Ultra-Dense Networks using Device-to-Device Communications‘ by Hongliang Zhang, Lingyang Song, Ying Jun Zhang that gives us that to some degree directly. When we consider: “data traffic can be effectively offloaded from a congested small cell to other underutilized small cells by D2D communications. The problem is naturally formulated as a joint resource allocation and D2D routing problem that maximizes the system sum-rate. To efficiently solve the problem, we decouple the problem into a resource allocation subproblem and a D2D routing subproblem. The two subproblems are solved iteratively as a monotonic optimization problem and a complementary geometric programming problem, respectively. Simulation results show that the data sum-rate in the neighbouring small cells increases 20% on average by offloading the data traffic in the congested small cell to the neighbouring small cell base stations

Say What?

I am geting there the long way round, stick with me, it will soon make sense, as such, let’s look at this from another angle so that it makes a little more sense. Here I use a quote “We also know that the capacity (density) of current macrocellular 4G networks will continue to increase in the foreseeable future since there’s still spectrum available around the world that could be used or reused for mobile broadband“, this is a given, actually more than a given as both Cisco and Alcatel passed through the average barrier by 100%, as well over half a dozen carriers are on the average expectation, the other two crushed it by almost 100%, and that was 4G, the game changes in 5G (yes this is still about art).

Now consider that we are not set in metrics, my viewing pleasure never was, even as early as the late 70’s; that means that the metrics never fitted me and more importantly these metrics are failing a larger population to a much larger degree and it will increasingly fail those relying on them, no matter how good the story sounds. This part is important in a few ways. You see, from my point of view (always debatable whether it is correct), we see the flawed Ubisoft formula and consider that the choice fits 80% of all, this might be seen as a good thing. Yet in art the change is slow learned and even as with a video game the initial payment is done, we see a much larger stack of players going towards pre-owned games (for financial reasons). Now consider that in the Netflix et al world, it is not set into a $99 purchase, it is a $15 per month and everyone bailing after a few months will increase the financial dangers for players like Netflix (and others) as they have amassed a multi-billion dollar debt, whilst the people can leave at any time; even as leaving in the first year (or after the first free month) is not likely, especially at $15 a month, that same given part is not guaranteed after year one, so getting the right series up and running is a lot more important. Now that Netflix is no longer the one option and now that Disney Plus is gaining a global insertion, having the right data is increasingly important, we do get that, yet the Netflix data is lot more debatable than some think and this is where the problem starts. There are several indicators that the data is not that great or that complete. Unless Netflix is gathering data incorrectly (read: ethically immoral), which is not a given and there is no indication that this is happening, we have the direct issue with valid data versus non validated data and there is a much larger hiatus in play.

And now we get to the producer Rebecca Green, now we get to look at the part that is important. (apart from her ludicrous believe that Netflix data needs to be more transparent), we need to look at: “My goal is to create original content for wide audiences, but how do I cater to an audience if I do not know what they are turning in to watch?” she said. “‘It Follows’ has been on Netflix for two years, and I have no idea how many people have viewed the film. ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ has been on Amazon Prime for two years as well, and I have no idea how many people have viewed the film on that platform. Why share the stats for one film but not the others, aside from wanting to create buzz?“, right next to “Netflix needs to be more transparent about the performance of its titles so that people can better contextualize the data and to help more of these types of movies get made. I Personally believe that an adaptation from Forest Gump is needed: “Stupid is as Ubisoft does!“.

She is implying that she is out to make sure that she will not create a failure, and as such, she is unlikely to ever help create a true blockbuster. That is how I personally see it and so far my view has been supported with the results by Ubisoft several times over, so I feel decently confident on my view. She needs the right dreamers, the ones that dream the new stuff, not data driven, but vision driven. I dreamt the sequel to Mass Effect Andromeda two nights ago and it is still unsettling me today, I hope I never dream in that direction again, this does not imply a success, but it could potentially show to be a blockbuster to a lot of people, enough to take the Nexus for another spin if the investors are willing to take a (likely huge) risk. It is not merely the risk, the state that if they go all in that they are looking at optional sales of 6-8 million copies. That would be the stage where the game gets to approach the billion dollar mark and I am trying to remain conservative there. You see, it is not about the game, it is about offering something not done in gaming ever before, especially in console gaming. So there is the space to truly shift the field onto another track, a high speed track, but to get vested in that, it will cost the makers to get the right software engineers hat can give view to vision and that is a much larger call than some might think. I did a similar exercise with Elder Scrolls VI (not the one that is being made). It was not about a new story, it was about where can we push the story to and more important, how can we instill additional value, for me that has always been the ability to replay a game, not merely watch an interactive story with a few variables. What if we could evolve the game not merely in size, but in the ability to give a game 100+ hours of challenge and fun? In my mind, I gave that setting a whirl with Elder Scrolls VI: Resurrection by changing the nature of the challenge and by adding the openness of the game. Oblivion had done a terrific job initially, but I learned that in the 4th play through that I went for the anticipated goals too fast, I wanted a change that gave the challenge , but removed grinding to a larger degree (removing grinding 100% in an RPG is pretty much impossible). It is done not by adding more repetitive challenges, but by limiting options. You see, in my view a person cannot join all guilds, they can be members of some (until completed), so mages will auto decline Necromancers, thieves will reject assassins and fighters will not allow for thieves or assassins to enter the guild, so you can do all, but not all at the same time giving an additional layer to the gameplay, because at a later stage one guild will be a lot more challenging than before. Having a long term quest, one that goes on over time, even as you are working other challenges is also a path to set the stage and a third one is seen in choice. In my view The shrines were no more, the [main quest challenge] had undone something and we get to choose whether we fix that, and also having to decide what goes where, or continue on the path Tamriel was on, in that stage I have set 5 main quest lines in a different path, optionally giving a severe different view to how Tamriel continues as a nation, whether the initial main quest is resolved one way or another, that is the shape of close to 50-100 hours of additional playtime, will people like that? What happens when you really give the option of choice a new dimension?

I do not think that those bragging on how they cleared Skyrim in 2 hours will like it, but I am not making it for those few, I thought up ES-Resurrection for those who loved travelling in Skyrim (and beyond), those who create additional content and loved the time they had in Skyrim, the true RPG players that want to see it all. That same situation exists on any RPG (read: Mass Effect) and those value art and the creation of art by software engineers and graphical artists, gamers will bend over backwards buying such a game the very moment it arrives.

This is the same for movies and TV series, You merely have to watch fans going nuts on social media regarding Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to see my point proven; in addition, we saw a mere 3 weeks ago: “‘Firefly’ Fans Are Upset That Trending Hashtag Isn’t About the Show Being Revived“, when we see such impacts, we know that something is missed and some of these metrics will merely increase the amount missed by series makers (read: initial funders) and producers (read: investors). In this it is important to see the view of Robert Bianco (USA Today) with: “that Joss Whedon’s most devoted fans will debate and embrace, and a mass audience just won’t get“, that view is fair enough and the makers invest in the series, so as we see that there was a drop of 50% in viewers, it made sense to them not continue, yet a lot of the story was lost in the end. Could this have been prevented if data drove the choices of writing? I do not believe that to be the case, if anything, when we look at the Netflix setting, data would have made it worse; the series might have fallen over quicker. That is the setting for Rebecca Green (as I personally saw it). She might adhere to data transparency, yet there we see the most likely failure to be a choice made on non-validated data making matters worse, shying actual fans away because of adherence to the masses, which in my personal view makes matters worse, not better. Consider that 5 series with an 80% score, what are the chances that overlapping groups of people that end up no liking 2+ series released? How many members will that cost them in the months 13 and onward? In a stage where they invest $8 billion, how many losses will that ensue?

In all this (a very personal view) when we stop adhering to art for the sake of art, we see the path of data driven art and it will be nothing more than mere marketing of brand, viewers created through awareness, a dangerous setting in any form of art, video games have proven that; how long do you think it will take for people to switch away from 45 minute branding shows? How quickly will we switch to another provider? I believe that this stage will be reached sooner than we think. We might still adore and worship Game of Thrones, yet what will happen in season 8? Will it keep us on the edge? I am not handing the same values to GoT as we have had 7 seasons of GoT already, and a following will continue the story for now; more important at what point will see that there is a stage for season 10? Even if season 8 flops, there will be a drive to end the story lines at this point handing the need for a season 9 at the beginning of season 8, yet for new series that premise does not exist, so how can a series survive when it becomes data driven in a stage where the quality of data is debatable to a much larger degree at the very least.

This is not in the same range as the TV series were, it seems that the new digital series are effectively marketing driven and that might depend on data, but in all that, how many people would have given the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina a proper vetting in the initial hours? As the choice of streaming digital TV companies’ increases the timespan given to vet series changes as well. That is where my reference of that 4G paper comes into play. The stage of “Using higher modulations is a proven, reliable, and well-understood method to increase capacity in a given communication channel, but it has clear limits“, you see for people it is not bandwidth, it is time, yet the equation is basically the same, we have a finite 24 hours, minus 6-8 hours of sleep, minus time for food, hygiene, travel and work. Time is an absolute here and many forget that part; it is equally an issue in gaming. That part is even more so an issue as the digital age is trying to get attention from gamers (and vice versa) in the same way, more than you think. Marketing, TV marketeers and investors are trying to create hype’s anyway that they can and it gives an additional increase, but the personal impact is spread all over the board, so these people are trying to get towards data driven solutions forgetting about art to the larger degree and in that way losing an audience to a much larger degree than they could fathom. that is hard to prove in any direction, yet I feel that (when we translate this to movies), my part is proven by Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal with: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; It’s as if everyone had set out to make the best Spider-Man movie ever, which is exactly what they’ve done“, the mere stage of a movie, an animated movie that is showing to be a comic book that has been close to truly been brought to life, I personally hope that Stan Lee had been able to see the final result whilst he was still alive (he might have done that), the fact that his visionary view on comic books took on a life of its own, data would never have gotten us there, it required art to get there, the fact that Channel 18 gave the people: “This may be the first Spider-Man feature to qualify as a great New York movie, drawn from the life of the city rather than outdated stereotypes“, I personally believe that this was achieved with art, not through data, or data as a mere assistant, not a driver.

We might think of the MGM lion as a cliché, but their slogan is still a driving force in entertainment and arts, it will most likely survive the data farmers for at least two generation, it is only when AI evolves through insight leading to wisdom that we will see a 90% appreciation level through data on arts, I doubt I will live that long, but part of me hopes to see that day where the quantum computer is asked what the state of the cloud is and it answers with an image of a Cumulus or a Cirrostratus with a defined point of arrival. It is my personal believe that people like producer Rebecca Green will always have a place in Hollywood, yet they will never become the Whedon’s, the Howard’s or the Russo’s, they got there by artistic vision, yet that too remains the issue of debate, how will the producers and directors see eye to eye on art versus data? It is something we will see a lot more in 2019, as it will drive the digital providers, as well as their content makers to a much larger degree than ever before.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, movies, Science

When the offer is free

Try this for free! This is the commercial teaser we all see when we are offered a dozen of options. There is LinkedIn Premium, Spotify, Salesforce and the list goes on for a very long time. It is a way to get interested in a service or product. I myself tried ‘Today Calendar’ for free, than I upgraded, trials are to some extent a great solution. Try before you buy is a way to get into it. There are games that let you download their Demo, DLC’s that work for a week or two, then you decide, buy or fly!

It is an old marketing option that costs little and bring great reward for those employing the situation. There is however the detail. This we see in the article ‘Why are Amazon Prime customers angry?’ (at http://www.channel4.com/news/amazon-prime-charges-anger-customers-online). Several sources had the story, but Channel 4 read the clearest. The sub-line gives us the goods “Amazon defends a free trial of extra benefits, which ends in an automatic upgrade to paid membership costing £79 a year“. Amazon additionally responded with “Amazon says everyone who signs up to Prime gets an email telling them the duration of the free trial, how to avoid continuing to paid membership and how to cancel membership“. This seems clear enough. So when the guardian gave us ‘Giles Coren declares war on Amazon Prime over free trial‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/16/giles-coren-declares-war-amazon-prime-free-trial-subscription), the impression was left with me that someone did not read their e-mail properly, now that person is crying wolf.

There is however another side to this debate. Should silent transfer be allowed, or should there be a mandatory change to an opt-in transfer? So, should the trial be auto cancelled after 30 days and in addition should we see a second confirmation after 30 days that the continuation is no longer free? This option is the one we usually see in software, when a trial is over, we see that the software no longer functions unless you start paying. On the other side we could consider that some consumers are too stupid to be allowed to have a credit card. The man considers himself an adult. He signed up for a trial, if we accept the response from Amazon that confirmation e-mails have been send, with the explanation on how to cancel it, he himself got into this scuffle by ignoring the message. The Guardian also shows another side that people seem to ignore. The two items involved is a tweet by Giles Coren “I mean, @amazon, offer a free trial in 2012, then quietly start charging £79 and never tell me. That’s what sicko porn sites do! I’ve heard“, so he has been charged for membership in 2012, 2013, 2014 and perhaps even 2015 and only now he ‘wakes up’? Now, this can happen, it has happened to many people, including me, yet 79 pounds is not a costs you easily oversee. To some it amounts to the 6 months fee from your internet provider, which should be taken into account. The second piece of information from Amazon is “Customers who sign up to a free trial of Prime receive an email informing them of the duration of the free trial and how to avoid continuing to pay Prime membership. Customers who become full Prime members can cancel their membership at any time and we will refund the full membership if the customer has not made any eligible purchases or used any Prime benefits“, which gives us the second part. So from that it would seem that Giles Coren must have used some of the services and now he is miffed on having paid for it. That conclusion I get from him not getting a refund, which means he had used the Amazon Prime services.

The article is not just an Amazon or an e-Commerce article. It is also an article that shows the unjustified demand of continued free services after the free trial ends. The two sides pulling on this are Amazon as well as pragmatic realism, as one Tweeter replied to Giles with “Shocking indictment of Oxford and private education as former student doesn’t understand the words ‘free trial’“, which pretty much sums up the ignorance people are showing when they accept free trial whilst not looking at the conditions. The one part I will also illuminate is the complaint we saw from a man called Richard Brown: “Regardless of the legality of the transaction and the stance that Amazon will take that it involves selection and a follow up email each year, the structure of this service is clearly designed to benefit from the customer’s lack of attention“. That too can be seen in two ways. I do agree with Richard on that Amazon should send a follow up e-mail on the subscription every year. These places can send you marketing mails until your hard drive has zero space left, but then shows a lack of ‘tenacity’ to inform their ‘customers’ via e-mail on the payment made, which I see should be a mandatory act in the first place (perhaps that happened, but no one mentioned it in any of the articles I saw).

It is the second statement from Richard Brown that bothers me “this service is clearly designed to benefit from the customer’s lack of attention”, not whether that is the case or not, but in regards to the consideration. This reminds me of the initial marketing when we saw the presentation from Microsoft on the launch of Windows 95. The slogan was ‘without even thinking‘, it was brilliant to some extent. Windows 95 was the first step towards people and true intuitive use of computers. Now, many (pretty much most users) are using their devices intuitive, but there is the added part we see that is at the core, marketing is all about getting a foothold, now we see part that implies (emphasize implies), is that consumers are either getting dim (not that unheard an idea), or that we are faced with two new elements, the first is ‘intuitive buying‘ and ‘intuitive marketing‘, the second one is the holy grail of achieving revenue. When used correctly it is seen as ‘Achieving influence without persuasion‘, there is an interesting article (at http://intuitiveconsumer.com/blog/intuitive-marketing-achieving-influence-without-persuasion/ ). It talks about the six mechanisms of influence used by intuitive marketing. They are ‘Trust: Intuitive marketing builds trust and relies on trust‘, ‘Consistency: Intuitive marketing is consistent and therefore communicates reliability‘, ‘Fluency: Intuitive marketing is easy on the mind‘, ‘Emotional reward: At the opposite end of the spectrum from high aspiration is the realm of small emotional rewards‘ and there are the final two ‘Aspiration‘ and ‘Aligned intent‘. As you see (especially after you read the linked article), the Amazon Prime situation seems to address 4 of the 6 elements of intuitive marketing, so when we see the Amazon Prime issue, is there deception? I personally say no! Amazon offered an agreement, one that gives you a cool down period of 30 days. The definition can be seen as “offer, acceptance, and consideration (payment or performance), based on specific terms“, this is what is at the heart of it all. The emotional response of Giles Coren with the reference to ‘that’s what sicko porn sites do!‘ which in my view holds no value, yet ‘the structure of this service is clearly designed to benefit from the customer’s lack of attention‘, the mention by Richard Brown is much better and decently more apt, but is it valid? ‘Lack of attention’ sounds nice for sure, but does that make the consumer less responsible? Especially when Amazon offers, “Customers who become full Prime members can cancel their membership at any time and we will refund the full membership if the customer has not made any eligible purchases or used any Prime benefits“, which is a decent counter offer, which was part of their offer as I see it. So first, the person gets a 30 day cool down and if the person has not used the service at all, they could get a refund. It seems to me that Amazon offers a decent service, so why do these events cause such a strong reaction?

The part I have not touched upon is ‘intuitive buying’. One vendor had this little slogan with their product ‘intuitive buying just like in an internet shop’. Now we get back to the initial Windows 95 slogan, this gives us in the end ‘buying without even thinking’. So we have a complete picture, but what neither article skates on is when will we see the accountability of the consumer. The person who was given a credit card, an adult who was supposed to be of sound state of mind. The person buying, was notified and then did not react. Intuitive buying does not make a person unaccountable, is that what the articles are steering to? No matter how many complaints we see, the clear indication is given that Amazon gave up front and it allows for correction in hindsight.

Hidden under this is the issue, not on the side of Amazon, but on our side, we consumers need to consider the clear truth that nothing is free! Should any internet offer be treated the same way trial software is? That remains valid, but if so, is that because consumers are no longer to be considered ‘adult’ or accountable, or is it because of another path of reasoning?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law