Tag Archives: Beck

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.

 

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Circling the wagons

I had not expected a follow through on yesterday’s thoughts, but here we are. It seems that there is a business dispute between UKTV and Virgin Media. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/22/four-million-virgin-media-customers-lose-uktv-channels-dave) gives us: “after Virgin sought what UKTV called a multimillion pound cut in fees, leaves fans of shows including Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf unable to watch some of their favourite programmes“. Let’s be clear, this is a business decision, so when Virgin wants a 7 figure fee cut, there must be something behind it, should there not? In addition, we need to offer in opposition, that reporting on (as quoted) “According to UKTV, “around 4 million households” were no longer able to access the channels after the midnight deadline passed” should also have an impact on advertising, as you are broadcasting to 4 million less viewers, so there is that in the mix too. Is it merely pricing?

The quotes: “Virgin Media has accused the broadcaster of seeking “inflated sums” to provide its paid channels and linking those to provision of free channels such as Dave and Home“, as well as “Steve North, the head of comedy and entertainment for UKTV, said the company provided thousands of hours of on-demand content to Virgin, with viewings of its programmes, such as Taskmaster, via the service up by a third over the year“, finally we need to add the part mentioned much earlier in the story. With: “The BBC holds back the video-on-demand rights to its programming, instead selling them to players such as Netflix. Virgin Media said this strategy was no longer acceptable as viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand” we see a linked part in all this, and perhaps also the part where Virgin Media dropped the ball. You see when we see ‘viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand‘, which I thought was a silly thing to mention, because of the mere fact that Virgin Media was unable to manage the expectations of their customers is a much larger fail. It is a first duty in support and customer care to manage expectations, some use SLA’s, some use other methods (like pricing), but managing expectations was never on the plate of UKTV. We can argue in addition that as viewing was up by 34%, fees would go up, but in addition, so would advertisement revenue. When you report that programmes are watched be an additional 34%, you have an advertising selling point. The question becomes was this merely about fees?

The BBC mentions the Netflix challenge, as well as a picture of a relaxed Greg Davies sitting in a chair (who is apparently no longer trying to destroy the city of Tokyo). Yet the article gives us two points, the first is: “On Twitter, Darren Woodward said he was “gutted” not to be able to see Taskmaster, while Tom Langdon was one of a number of subscribers to wonder whether his monthly bill would be reduced because they could no longer watch the show“, and the second is: “Richard Blunt from Birmingham told the BBC: “Practically all the stations we watch on Virgin have now been withdrawn. I think we will give it a couple of weeks, hoping that the decision is reversed, before deciding whether to stay or to go.”” The entire setting could now escalate in very different manners, not all good for Virgin, actually none of them good for virgin. Even as the Guardian article ends with: “The 10 channels are still available on other TV platforms including Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also watch them online via UKTV Play“, we need to see that this is merely a first step. I personally believe that UKTV has figured out a few things and in this, it has options that go further than merely a fee. The fact that 4 million users are in a setting where there is 34% growth, that is a section that Netflix (and others need), so this is not merely about money, I believe that there is a shift happening. I knew that this would happen, that part is clearly seen in the Netflix pressures. That we would see it shown the very next day was not on my calendar.

So when I decided to dig a little deeper, I found an article (at http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2018/07/uk-tv-networks-are-looking-at-creating-a-british-netflix-to-combat-falling-viewing-figures/), which gave us 5 days ago: ‘UK TV Networks Are Looking at Creating a ‘British Netflix’ to Combat Falling Viewing Figures‘, so was that a self-fulfilling prophecy or not? So as the article ends with “BBC News reports that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have already had early conversations about the possibility of working together to create a combined streaming service with the potential to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. Whether such a thing will come to fruition currently remains a mystery, but considering the shifting trend to online media, it seems a likely step that broadcasters will eventually have to take to remain relevant“, we see exactly the play that seems to be unfolding now, and from the pressures shown, there is every chance that through pressures applied, this new venture starts with a rather delicious slice of 4 million viewers leaving Virgin. Even as some stated that they will see in a couple of weeks, the sooner this shift happens, the more power Virgin loses, implying that Netflix will not merely grow business, it has the option to grow an advertisement branch much larger overnight as well giving them more options.

Even as we agree that some changes are about to happen, we need to realise that the UK will have a new venture in ‘package deals‘. The quicker that Sky TV and other shops include the UKFlix side of things, the quicker momentum can be gained. It is in this setting that it can grow in the UK as well as gain momentum in Western Europe, where UKTV has always found happy recipients of the series that UKTV fathered and promoted.

It does set a new tone on where places like Virgin Media are going. The UK always had a little saturated niche in all this, the fact that the Netflix equation unsettled the walls in place making it a dog-eat-dog battle field, is both good and bad, the good is that overall the pricing will become interesting to households, the bad is that those with the larger budgets can overturn whatever independence remains. It will be a fight where those with the biggest wallets will be able to out buy whatever is in play and that is not always the positive outcome for households on a budget. The issues that follow soon after that is as one is diminished, how far can it go abroad? The direct setting for the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Scandinavia is also added to the board, because a shift like that tends to move outside of the borders. for example in Sweden where 50% is set by SVT1, SVT2 and TV4 gives options for growth, especially when you consider that Disney and Fox each have less than 1%. The same we see in Norway where 50% is with NRK1 and TV2. They are all markets with options for growth; from an advertising view Norway is more of a nightmare. The two large cities merely represent 14%, whilst the villages 11th in size and smaller are less than 50,000. This is different in Sweden where the four largest cities are 25% of the population and a chunk of the smaller places are still a lot larger than most places in Norway, Sweden has twice the population, but they also have that population in larger communities. These are all elements that have an impact on growth, so that is one side and merely one side. You see Netflix and their methods are rubbing off on the other players and that is where Scandinavia becomes a much more interesting market. The land that gave us Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö and their fiction in the 60’s and 70’s; the land that had Pippi Longstocking and the White Stone for the kids, whilst giving the adults Beck and Swedish Dicks is a treasure trove of IP and that is very much on the mind of the decision makers behind the screens. You see, getting the right IP is half the distance towards profitable series, and there is plenty to find in places like Scandinavia and Australia. They have built quite the score list. That setting needs to be on the forefront of all the board member minds. Getting decent writers for new series is one thing, resettling an existing gem comes at 40% less cost, whilst upgrading a series to today can score places like Netflix millions of viewers with minimum expenditure, when we consider the 8 billion that they are setting in now, delaying one series and replacing that with 10 retrenches that are unknown in the bulk of their places is a way to quickly fill needs, to up the amount of IP and the value it represents as well as open up new doors to other ventures. You merely have to see the impact of the TV series Humans, which got the makers the British Academy Television Craft Award for Best Digital Creativity, as well as a 94% rating is what matters to those in the boardrooms and even as they missed out on Humans, there is plenty to find in some of these places. The relaunch in Sweden of Beck is one part, getting that to the Netflix audience is potentially an additional market to tap in to. In the end, merely buying IP is an option and I personally see is again as short sighted, it is the interaction and engagement of these markets where new innovative IP becomes an option. You merely have to look at the past on the history of the 70’s series Kung Fu to see that the creation of IP that shines for decades is seen. And they are not alone, especially when it comes to TV series for the younger viewers. Sweden had several series like the ones mentioned earlier, the Dutch had the still immortal ‘Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?’ loosely based upon the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, even as the materials were lost over time, that TV Series is still remembered 48 years later, that’s IP that sets a provider apart from all the other players! As such growing interactive markets, not merely acquiring IP, whilst at the same time investigating what IP is close to readily available is what pushes the Netflix investment invoice of $8 billion a year down, whilst creating content that will be around for a long time. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog ‘Chivalry vs Rivalry‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/22/chivalry-vs-rivalry/), we need to consider “The value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content“, that is still going on, so the one moving fast into areas and setting the stage to acquire the IP, that is where it will be at in 3-4 years, so whomever moves now ends up having the home field advantage, giving additional rise to production settings that are currently a steal at twice the price, yet as the impact of digital content and growth becomes more and more visible, the other players will circle their wagons faster and more determined to get either much better prices, or become players in this field themselves. the moment that all this IP hits 5G and goes global, at that point the entire game changes for all the players involved, so getting there sooner is what it will be about and from what I personally expect that visible push will be all over the news with some frequency no later than 2019.

 

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