Tag Archives: Will Smith

Merely the beginning

Yes, the news is full of the overwhelming success that Avengers: Endgame is and rightfully so, yet the Washington Post looks further. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/avengers-endgamemakes-disney-invincible-in-2019-then-what/2019/04/29/b5e35016-6aaf-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html) gives light to the strategy that is surrounding Disney plus as owners of the Marvel franchise. We get part of it with: “Disney’s films will no longer get licensed to partners such as Netflix during what’s known as the “pay one window;” instead, they’ll go exclusively on Disney+. That’s a big selling point for the streaming app, but it’s a costly decision that reduces the amount of licensing revenue Disney can earn from its films after they leave theaters.” this is a point of view that is true and the strategy is valid, yet having the stage where we see a time exclusivity (like in gaming) where the others get the option after 6 months is not to be ignored as an alternative. In addition, the mention of the ‘real’ editions of the time honoured animations like Aladdin and the Lion King are now on screws, especially after Dumbo has become a miserable flop. That is the puzzle that comes next, as I personally see it, the cast was golden, the director is phenomenal and the story is sound, so why did it flop and is that the premise for the other movies? We know that Robin Williams made Aladdin the success it was; this puts a megastar like Will Smith in an awkward position. To willingly step into the shadow of a giant takes monumentally sized balls to begin with and even as we know that Will Smith is no coward, willing to step into the fringe of movie making, I cannot stop being worried on how Aladdin will fare. As such the other Disney productions will be under pressure as well and that is just the beginning.

Disney has had the longest issue with being too sweet for most adults and even as we saw Pretty Woman in 1990 as a new view on what Disney could do, there was a distinct feeling that the Disney people were so far out of their comfort zone that they needed guides to find their way back. This is particularly important as Marvel has its own dark parts (more than just a few) and without that defining dark there is a larger concern down the road. I believe that so far they handled it fine, yet the worry remains: “will the wrong Disney executive demand the Marvel TV version to be lighter, sweeter and less dark“, so far what we have seen from X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants imply that we should not be worried, yet waiting with worries for too long is not good either. What I saw from Cloak and Dagger season 1 is a clear warning, yet perhaps it is also important to consider that the movies will be less in danger of becoming laced with Disney Sweetness than the TV series. Their Metascore of 68 could be considered as supporting evidence in all this. Some gave the following views: “a horribly sentimental soundtrack“, as well as “If you want a show chock full of “edgy” liberal issues thrown into the plot regardless of if it fits with the story, then look no further” (which was the most negative review) we see the initial issue. Even the more positive ones give us “Through its initial four episodes, the real star of Cloak & Dagger is the structure and editing and overall environment more than any individual actor“. I believe it that some of the changes took away the dark side that would have made Cloak a lot more appealing, it was his dark side that appealed to me in the original comics; the TV parts I saw were too emotional, I am not stating that this is a bad thing, merely that . The comic books decently graphic about his devouring hunger, I missed seeing that in the few episodes I saw. Yet it is not all bad, Mayhem is showing to be the direct confrontational angry type she was in the comic book.

This is in part my issue; Disney is seemingly trying to skate away from the darkness is what will have a larger non positive impact on series that were pretty phenomenal in comic book form. So far the silver screen Marvel productions have exceeded expectations swimmingly; it is what I saw in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the defenders that felt off, not bad, but off.

It is not the cast or the work done, no matter what, Mike Colter makes Luke Cage totally believable and real. I believe that the scripts fell short (from my personal point of view). Perhaps it is my non-US view, the fact that there had to be complications and conspiracy plots from day one in these series is why it is falling short. Even as we hear noise like ‘creative differences’, I believe that the entire conspiracy twinkle has ran its course to the largest degree, to be honest, that is why I stopped watching Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. The series started great and then when we suddenly see an FBI director compromised around episode 6 that was it for me. Oh, and before I forget this is a series that is all about conspiracy, but the way it is done was too far out there, it lost flavour. I believe that Marvel series have been pushed into that field too much as well (as well as several other comic book based series). I believe that the effort to go too deep too fast to please an audience is exactly why appeal is lost to some degree and Luke Cage gets to pay for it (as well as Iron Fist). With over a dozen movies coming in the next 2-3 years as well as optional TV series, this critical look early on will be more essential than most realise. You see, a Marvel overdose is pretty much similar to a Star Trek overdose, at some point we lose the interest to watch it, which is actually opposite to the feelings we had with the comic books and as such we have to consider our point of view. Now, like the comic books there is a filtering, most of us do not care for all the franchises. I was a die-hard Batman and X-men fan and I never got into Spiderman that much. I still loved the movies and I read the comics at times, but it was not my number one, neither were the Fantastic Four. That’s fine because Marvel (and DC) had a flavour for everyone, so much choice, as such we would be more protective of the comics we were nuts about and that is fine too.

Yet there is still Disney to consider and their long term need to make everything too sweet and too ‘pink’. Even as we realise that most cancelations might be linked to IP and the fact that Netflix will be a direct competitor of Disney+, yet the idea that Disney is a little too uncomfortable with these dark tainted series on Disney remains a concern for many fans and as such it is a concern for some fans of these series that they are now part of Disney. The factual reasons are not out there, or perhaps better stated, there is no source I trust to give me the actual truth (except a joint statement from Marvel and Disney and that is unlikely to happen).

Even as Forbes gives us: “Marvel meanwhile plans live-action series for characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and several other characters“, the die-hard fans will now wonder whether we will get the Asgardian Wars on TV or silver screen, not only as it was an awesome story, but that also puts Asgard, the X-men and the Canadian Alpha Flight team on the range implying the coming of a few more series, or movie franchises. All of them have a large following, so Disney would be nuts to walk away from an optional few billion more. Yet that does require Disney to allow for very dark streaks in their acquired paintings and that is where the problem is likely to rise, or at least that is what I think is likely to happen.

Even as Disney can ignore everything this year, the year that Avengers: Endgame broke every record, the long term view is less of a given, with view n 2020-2023, there will be more issues and other issues to deal with, not all of them revenue driven, but revenue will be the mainstream in any discussion that surrounds whatever ‘creative differences’ we will see make the headlines on all kinds of media channels and to ignore this so early in the year is not a healthy thing to do, especially as most of the upcoming movies will be staged to bring in a billion plus each. As stated, I do not think we need to worry about the movies too much, but the Marvel TV series that will be another matter, they will be the bread and butter of Disney+ and those people like their shows a little too sugary to my taste.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, movies

Bread and games

We seem to ignore the past, yet a lot of our lives revolve around the bread and games of the matter at hand. Yesterday, the LA Times (at https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-star-wars-episode-9-wrap-photo-20190215-story.html) gave us the first image of Star Wars IX, part nine, the final part of the entire saga. Principle filming and photography finished yesterday, the cast is done. They are all in a state of upper excitement, perhaps some anxiety too. JJ Abrams is all over the place (in joy) and why should he not be? A trip that started in 1977 propelling Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford to heights never imagines before, that trip that started so long ago has been completed. For good measure we saw the added Rogue One and Solo added to the fold. And there is much to celebrate, a whole score of actors added the fold down the line and even if some were not immediately recognised in America, it is people like Peter Cushing, who was the Hammer House of Horror prodigal son, as well as one of the Dr Who players who added to the shine of the Star Wars making an epic story truly epic. Now we need to wait until Christmas to see the finalised version on the big screen, dozens of special effects experts will be wielding their mouses and pens to make magic reality and make the impression of special effects fade away and show us something that DARPA might have actually created, we can no longer tell the difference, the effects have been that stunning for a little while now.

Yet it is not just Star Wars, even if that is the most visible one. We are weeks away from Captain Marvel, soon to be followed by the conclusion of infinity wars (Endgame) and that s just for starters. When Jon Favreau started the Jungle Book in 2016, he might not have had a clue on what he started, but he did start something. In that same trend we will see in 2019 Lion King, Dumbo and Aladdin. Disney just woke up from slumber and is watching billions come their way. We should have reservations on Aladdin, not because of Will Smith, merely because of the shoes he has to fill, the role Robin Williams played was more than legendary, they broke the mould when he was done and it is one hell of a shadow to live up to, I do not envy Will Smith for doing so, yet I applaud his approach to the challenge.

The movies of 2019 will be comic book driven, Joker, New Mutants, X-men, Hellboy, they will all make an appearance, as will Frozen 2, It part 2 and many more. Many of us are planning our calendar one film at a time, trying to see as many as we can, this is how many changed the approach to their lives.

Even as some give us: “the Cost of living in Australia is 3.40% higher than in United States“, than we get “Rent in Australia is 10.04% lower than in United States“, which is massively bogus (as I personally see it). I found more than a dozen 160 square meter apartments in inner city places (not in LA, SF or NY mind you) that are close to 50% cheaper than in Sydney or London. And yes, when you add those (as well as Malibu, the Hamptons and a few other places, the rental prices tumble in the other direction), in addition, the rent in Australia merely seemed lower, the numbers are a little to skewed for my liking, the truth is simple. The cost of living is up all over the place, even now, yesterday I noticed that beef was up 10% that is the way the impact goes when food is thoroughly looked at. We might see the price of beer and think that it is not that expensive, but when the price is based on the need to buy 24 instead of a singular bottle, the scale shifts and not for merely one article, too many articles have speculatively been ‘loaded’ that way. It is not merely in Australia, the UK, many places in Europe, they all have an increased cost of living whilst the incomes have been frozen, in some cases for more than two years. When we see a source give us Levis 501 Or Similar at $98,24 (AU) whilst shops at the same time have prices that vary from $119 to $249, you know that there is a selective weighting in place, or merely some aggregated average that included ‘myworstonlineshopdotwhereever‘, one item already changed the cost between 21% and 154% (if we included the most expensive solution). That is where we are at least 21% more out of pocket for one item. There are a lot of prices that are on the mark and some might even have a seasonal nice discount. So when we are confronted in that stage of live, the bread and games we face matter, they matter a great deal. A list that includes a cinema ticket for less than $20, which is often enough wrong by at least $5, so how does your cost of living add up? How do the small items like popcorn and lemonade add to the pressure of your budget?

This month seems to be all about news on how places have a cost of living that is lower than their national average. Initially it sounds great for those living there, until you realise the other news (not really given to the reader) where we see: “Columbia area named 25th most dangerous in America“, yes there is a drawback to everything. So in one of the places where I was looking, I got treated to: 3 crimes in this area. What? Are you flipping kidding me? Three crimes over the last 4 weeks and one was the disturbance involving an unwanted person. How is that for pristine living? It is not actually that rosy for the entire city there were reported 135 thefts, 106 assaults and 138 arrests, which when you consider it includes Fraud, Forgery, threat complaints, and loads of drug incidents (which mostly includes having a joint) we see a place that Sandra Dee would happily call home.

These are all elements that impact out cost of living, the paths we take to get safely from work to home, the places where we buy stuff, where we get medication and groceries. It is all too some degree connected and the bread and games we have to escape it all is very much part of our lives. For a while we had true escapism via Netflix, and even as that part is not as shiny as it was, the financial geeks still see Netflix as the escape mechanism for most of the players. In that we need to recognise that Netflix over the last year has risen 45.63% since February 14, 2018 and is up trending, we need to see that St. Valentine is definitely in play in all this. You might not find live there, but many watchers are losing their hearts on the feeling of momentary bliss. This feeling relates to the big screen as well. As we seek more ways to escape the stagnating lives we lead, we see that the cinema and the home screen are the two reliable paths to follow (apart from gaming that is).

The question is how will this go on? As the movies come, we see consistent continuation, yet there is another problem. You see even as we see that 300,000 jobs were added, the direct impact is not seen, not in the workflow and not in the US reduction of debt. Others have stated this before me, and it is an important part. The workforce in the US is changing, yet I am not convinced that this is limited to the US, it is a global change. We see more and more that there is a high tier and a low tier of workers, yet the middle tier of workers seem to have been gone. The low tier is all there is in many places and that is where the problem resides. The low tier is definitely growing and more jobs, but they are often minimum wage jobs, there is no room for quality of life, merely contending with the cost of living and whilst most parents both work to make ends meet, we see a family break in place and the only glue left are the bread and games. The view that Reuters gives with ‘the economy was running out of workers‘ is not wrong yet it is not accurate either. Most companies are focussing on cheap labour where possible and that part is now running low. I personally believe that this shifting trend will push itself into the commonwealth and Europe as well. The middle group is either reduced to the lower group or merely pushed into retirement (for as long as that exists). I predict that there will be a rude awakening when we see that the low groups have little tax to pay, but the government have been overspending for too long being in the wrongful believe that the middle tier comes back (any day now they think), the moment that they realise that this will not happen, we will see a collective 68 thousand billion dollar debt that has no place to go, because adjustments that had to be made 4 years ago were never made. They had to be made before that but I reckon the point of no return was passed 4 years ago and now we see the essential need for bread and games. The governments do not want to people to wake up and see that there are no options left, the corporations want the bread and games so that people will not realise that they ended up with a really shitty deal in the end and the rest is looking forward to finding any kind of a solution where they end up in the high tier and they are willing to sell their soul to get there, the lower tier is just a road to nowhere and nothing.

This is exactly why politics is shifting in the US, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her social agenda, we get to see the direct impact of the size of the lower tier, everyone wants her impact and the true stage where people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never has a chance in politics is now gone, greed driven America pushed the middle tier, the buffer of reason away, now we see the high tier (a few thousand) versus the low tier of millions and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has the platform she needed. So as we see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez versus Bill Gates who actually made a really good case (not a console case mind you) and his correct vision gets to be blasted away by the millions who have had no quality of life for the longest of times. Now that the middle tier dissipates they have no future to look forward to either and now we see that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a growing platform. And it is in that light where we see that Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman in Davos (at https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/wealth/dutch-historian-who-called-out-billionaires-at-davos-goes-viral-becomes-social-media-star/news-story/45d75de96d5161ed3bf9205d79a0c063) makes not one but three points. He mentions at 0:53 ‘What must Industry do to prevent a broad social backlash?‘, and now we see happen exactly that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the upcoming broad social backlash that none of the industrials wanted, and they did this to themselves.

If she comes with Eisenhower methods (read: solutions), she will be the bane of industrials and the darling of the working class for 2 presidential elections and generations to come. The danger of bread and games, when the games become less rewarding and the bread turns stale, people start considering the bad place they were in. That setting was shown and basically proven by the Roman poet Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis well over 1900 years ago. Interesting that the industry forgot their history lessons, it might not lead to profit, but they could have avoided monumental losses, a harsh lesson that they might get to learn in the two years ahead.

Change is valuable; it lets the oppressed be tyrants!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics, Science

Chivalry vs Rivalry

The news is still hanging onto several things that are playing. This is not a bad thing; this is the setting as news moves forward and remains news. Even when we consider the events in Saudi Arabia, where we get the Guardian quote: “Saudi Arabia has rushed to boost oil production under pressure from US President Donald Trump – only to discover that global markets might not need it yet, according to some financial experts“, we see that certain players do not tend to use a presidency as a tool, so the quote might be correct, but there is a game in play, played between Donald Trump and Wall Street. So far it works, because everyone thinks he is an idiot, that is the popular story, but I am not convinced. This is direct and it is with purpose, so something else will rear its ugly head soon enough. Yet this is not about that. You see, when it comes down to chivalry versus rivalry, we see that chivalry is dead, it has no place anymore. Even as Saudi Arabia wanted to come to the aid of America, we see the news that “the Saudis are struggling to sell as much extra oil as they’d hoped and are privately fretting that they may have opened the taps too quickly, according to people briefed by Riyadh in the last few days“, it this merely an American ply to keep the reserves maxed so the President can haul away a cheap political victory as heating prices remain low this coming winter?

Even as the Independent offers: “Societe Generale’s Mr Wittner, said: “We have hardly started to see a reduction in flows from Iran. Though there’s a lot of crude coming out from Saudi Arabia now, spare capacity is really going to be the big issue going forward. And spare capacity is getting very tight very quickly.”“, I am not convinced that this is about Iran; this is about keeping prices down over the next 8 months. The flow fall of Iran is merely a nice bonus. Even as we start on oil, we now see that a similar fight is going on in entertainment, the actual issue. In the light of Netflix against the world, we see a few changes that are now more adamant and also impacting us all. The Guardian starts the event with: “Below-par subscriber numbers last week were bad news for a service that must keep growing to survive. How will it respond?“, yet the story is not there. You see, from my point of view, 100 million subscribers is nothing to sneer at and the saturation makes new members a much harder setting, it is by no means the setting for a down draft. Even last week, when I wrote ‘Pushers of media value‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/17/pushers-of-media-value/), I was confronted with several responses, that I was crazy, that there was no saturation. Yet now we see in the Guardian: ““Netflix’s big challenge is maintaining growth worldwide while its customer base saturates in core western markets,” says Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere. “Netflix is having to work ever harder to gain new subscribers.” The low-cost nature of the streaming service – a premium subscription costs £9.99 per month in the UK and $13.99 in the US – means that it needs inexorable growth to pay for its content“, so apparently with ‘while its customer base saturates in core western markets‘ my setting shows to be the correct one. Now that we have that out of the way, and for now I ignore the one market that Netflix ignored in the UK and a few other places, worth close to an additional £15 million a month, we see that Netflix is for now all about the “it costs a lot of money to attract a Hollywood star such as Will Smith to a sci-fi film like Bright – and in recent years it has been raised by about $1bn annually. Netflix is stuck in a costly and precarious cycle“, Netflix has chosen a short term solution that will go nowhere in about 3 years.

It is the setting of the man who makes a deal with the devil, to bring 10 souls a day to stay out of hell, and accepting a 20% annual increase, as a sales director he accepts it, because he knows it can be done, yet souls are not revenue and in 3 years he needs to have accumulated 12,230 souls. After 6 years it is up to 34,200. A setting that started with 10 souls has now been increased to 25 a day, no option to fail. Greed is like that, it has no problems, because in the end the house wins or collapses, until the second happens, all serving the house are in a spiral of servitude with sliding morals. You see, the first 10 years seems fine, but after 10 years the daily soul quota has gone up to 51 a day and after that it gets interesting with decennial party where 319 souls a day will be required. That is the game everyone forgets about, steps absent of long term vision with in the end the executive having to hand over his soul, no matter what. The house of greed always wins!

Netflix is now in that downward spiral, not when it comes to members, but the setting to gain followers, set against the tides of resources, that is the war they cannot win, not until they resist temptation and take it to a very different level. They have the option and the means, but will they be willing to take the plunge?

Rivalry

This is the setting of greed, rivalry is everything, because now that Netflix has shown the value, now that the others are seeing that the setting is not merely revenue, it is massive profit for the one holding the data, that is the setting that we now get with: “Netflix was able to get hold of the rights to TV shows and films on the cheap. Rights owners and future rivals had not identified the global potential of subscription video-on-demand rights, and Netflix prospered. 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“, there are solutions and the nice part is that both the UK and Australia have a leg up in all this, they have an advantage if the proper person gets the parties working together, but can they realise the potential that is still out in the open for the next person to grab?

I am certain that the issue is there, but sees it? I am not giving away the plot here, because there are three aces up for grabs, the question is whoever holds the fourth ace is in the running to get the clean sweep. Yet, the second party is Netflix, are they up to the task to get set up for the chop? That is the game, it is not merely winner takes all, failure is at this stage slightly too dangerous. It took me a day to realise the opportunity, because even as an IP master, I had to wonder how far it could be stretched, yet it can in the Commonwealth and as far as I can tell in the US as well, so this gives Netflix the option, however, to get this up and running, they need to truly focus. It cannot be half baked!

The next pitfall

With “Youth-targeted shows such as Stranger Things and Thirteen Reasons Why have been major hits, but Netflix faces some of the same pressures caused by the rapid generational shift in viewing habits“, that is true, but in that same setting, we see that in some cases everything old is new again, so there is space and place to grow and to do that, a first step is needed, but are the shareholders willing to play the longer game, a game that could potentially grow value by 400%? The long game is not something that shareholders are good at. They believe in short term gratification (not just on 42nd street mind you), so the game is optionally out of the hands of the Americans, giving the UK and Australia now a partial advantage over America on the entertainment business and there is plenty of famous entertainers here, beyond the Australian King and Queen (Geoffrey Rush & Cate Blanchett). This gets us to the final part in all this. The quote “Netflix’s long-term strategy is that it has to increase its revenue from subscribers; it needs to move into those content genres to replicate the journey of traditional pay-TV companies,” says Mulligan. “You need a full suite of content if you want to be a real substitute, not just an additive service.”” we see here is a dangerous one. I do not completely agree with Tim Mulligan, analyst at MIDiA Research. You see, he relates Netflix back to TV, yet we all forget that Netflix is not merely new, it is in a position to become more than: ‘the large new kid on the block‘, yet what Tim fails to see is that Netflix is optionally the new cornerstone of entirely different block, Netflix has been setting new grounds, but the inconceivable still exists, Netflix and rivals have the option to become the rulers of Tinsel town II, a setting that scares Hollywood and the large players in cinematography. They know that this is still a reality that they face and it makes every analyst take a 90 degree turn, but the reality is that short sighted on what makes for any Tinsel town is the opportunity that hands Netflix the goods. Whilst the realisation of avoiding ‘value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content‘ is clearly there, the fact that no one sees the options available is equally disturbing, are they not seeing it, or are they too scared and pushing away FROM it, two very different realities. and one is a steal to own if you see beyond the 4 lines that makes the square that some analysts put you in, realising that lines on a map mean nothing to the map itself, only then can you embrace the new course where those talking the leap have an option (if ALL the conditions are right) to become the new rulers of a market no one saw coming in the first place.

That is what separates the visionaries from the second rate followers.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Black & White are not colours

This time it was not the Guardian that got things started, it was actually a man from Birmingham, you know, the one city in the UK with an obscene amount of Ashton Villa fans. It was his sketch ‘How is this STILL a thing‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XebG4TO_xss) that started it all. To appreciate what comes next, you should take a look at the video. It makes a few jabs, some actually hilarious. In the collections of laughs, there is one gem that is centre in all this. It is the mention of Ridley Scott. The quote “SCOTT: The short sharp crude answer is, I couldn’t get a film like that mounted for that kind of budget—we were $145 million, not $260 million, so that wasn’t bad– but to make Moses black and his wife Ethiopian? They never would have made the movie“. That is part of the issue, or is that part of the answer?

No matter who we want as a cast, there is still the director (the visionary) and the producer (the money man) and the producer is often not just putting his money up, but a ‘manager’ of several ‘investors’. I would like to be all in agreement and there is enough data, but is the entire issue this simple? You see, there is also something called a script and when you seek on Google, we get ‘Category: African-American screenwriters‘, which gives 80 names. Is that not part of the problem? Now, this list might be lacking in many ways, yet would any famous names be missing? Now we get something, my first step was to look for Alice walker, as I loved the movie ‘the Colour Purple’. She was not there, so I sought out the Oscars and found out that the adapted screenplay was written by snowy white Menno Meyjes, a Dutchman. Now there is no critique on that part, yet I wonder is this not part of something else? You see, my thoughts (which might be terribly wrong), was thinking that the USA has its share of really wealthy non-Caucasian people. What if they took a script, gave the option to a visionary African American director and let them rip out a true cash maker? Would it work? Let’s not forget that Hollywood is the stomping ground to a few visionary African American directors. John Singleton, Spike Lee, Melvin van Peebles, Will Smith, Forest Whittaker. There is plenty of talent there, and the list of really good African American actors and actresses would go on for quite some time. So what is stopping them?

I will give you an option, just an option, not a claim that this is the reason.

I believe that a great movie require the union of a scriptwriter and a director. If those two are not brought together the entire process sizzles from day 0. Which gets us back to the 80 African American scriptwriters. Is that truly the case? Why can’t others write about black heroes? Well, personally, from my own views as I am writing my novel, I am writing it from my point of view, my Caucasian point of view. There is no malice, no intent to stop African Americans, I have not lived as an African American, so how can I write about one, or a Mexican, a Japanese or a Chinese for that matter. I think that this is the first step in all this and it is just my view.

So what to do?

I believe that there are solutions for everything, if Will Smith can reforge I, Robot to be a success, he can pretty much do anything. Yet, how can this change the industry? This is where them billion thingamajigs come into play. A script is one thing, the money to make it a reality is another. You see, any form of visionary requires realism, it needs funding! In the set of three, the script, the producer and the director, the Director seems to be the easiest one, yet it will requires his visionary views to make the other two a reality, one that really pays off. Again, this is just my view on this.

In the first place, the American Universities. Why are they not trying to kindle the skill of artistic writing within their African American community? Perhaps they are, I do not know, but with all those Ivy leagues schools the list I saw of screenwriters is that limited?

Consider that the Writers Guild of America, East has well over 3500 full members and the Writers Guild of America, West has over 9000 full members. Now consider that (I know not the most reliable source) Wiki specifically the African-American screenwriters page shows 80 names. Now, I am the first to state that there is no statistical way that this is correct, but, the fact that not more visibility is an equal issue here. The Committee of Black Writers, part of Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) gives us a decent amount of goods, especially when we read the report by Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Professor of Sociology. You see, this is not the laughing version John Oliver brought us, this gives us an academic confirmation “The familiar story of male and white dominance told in previous Hollywood Writers Reports still characterized industry employment and earnings patterns in 2012, the last year covered in this report“, in addition we see “The earnings gap between white male writers and women writers closed considerably by 2012, while the earnings gap between white male writers and minority writers remained large“, which gets me back to the very first thought, why isn’t African American America picking up the slack on their side, pushing and promoting the work of African Americans? Now, there is loads wrong with that statement, the fact that they have to do this is one, because there is no feasible way that the non-Caucasian population lacks drive, ambition, talent or creativity.

Evidence?

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 years a Slave) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). This is just the last 4 years, not all winners, but all amazing achievements and none of them are of a Caucasian disposition. I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg, you see, my issue with #oscarssowhite is not the whether it is or it is not, but the fact that Americans forget that the bulk of their revenue is no longer coming from the US, they are coming from an international community. Just to give you an indication. The 5 most successful movies of ALL TIME had the following non-US revenue (72.7%, 69.9%, 54.8%, 61% and 59%). Did I say that clearly enough? That was the non US percentage of revenue, with the top 3 surpassing 2 billion. From the earlier list there is for example 62.1% of $723M (Gravity) and 79.5% of $609M (Life of Pi), so the money is there, even when we take the US market out of the equation. So, if it is just about #oscarssowhite, why are certain steps not taken? It can’t be ‘just’ the money, because Gravity costed $100M to make, so someone walked out with a clean taxable half a billion and Life of Pi left someone with $480M in the end. So there is a clear evidence that white is not the colour of money in the end (it actually tends to be green), but the stronger reality is, is that if we accept that Hollywood is to white for its own good, there is a market worth billion out there and it only requires the right person to pick up the profits.

In my view an achievable goal if the Money Man can unite the right director to the script he deems worthy. Have I oversimplified the problem for those people?

If so, feel free to make a contribution to my Clydesdale Bank PLC account on Guernsey. You see, whilst looking into this issue, I actually came up with 3 ideas for movies. That’s excluding the novel I am writing, which is written as is, with no mindset to either publication or setting it up for a screenplay. It is just a story I came up with and I surpassed 63,000 words last month. I reckon I am half way there now, could be a third, time will tell. This is not a twist to state how brilliant I am, because I am certain that I am not, what it does refer to is that #oscarssowhite implies that those at the top of the hill are not that bright at all, which only gives further weight to the utter need, for promoting what should be referred to as the #NonCaucasianMovieWorld, one that is very likely to bring in billions, because the names I mentioned earlier are surpassing that revenue with ease. Now in realistic light, not all movies made turn out to be a Gravity or a Life of Pi, but many of them end up having paths that lead to a situation where the ROI remains close to zero, making the chance of a cash cow at some point a lot better than most could conceive. Consider the source (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/), where the top 33 (Martin Scorcese being the lowest on that list, making $1B or more (over all their movies), gives only way to more opportunity for those who can see the right path (let’s call them semi-visionaries) and it is only when we get to position 122 when the gross revenue starts dropping below half a billion. Here is my view: ‘There is no black and white, they aren’t even real colours’. There is the colour green for $$$, profit and envy, there is red for anger of not seeing the opportunity and red for those betting on the wrong horse, yet even there the list is pretty long, because Director 771 on the list is the last one making $1M or more, which is more than I will ever make in my life. Now consider the other side of the spectrum. The Razzies gave us what some perceive to be the worst movies. In 2016 that was a tie for Fifty Shades of Grey and Fantastic Four (2015), 50 shades of paint made $571M, whilst costing $40M and Fantastic 4 made $167M, whilst costing $56M. Can you believe it? Making the worst movie of the year still gets you at least $100M, I am so in the wrong line of business!

So when you decide to fight #oscarssowhite, consider in addition the massive amounts of money you could be making. For those picking up that baton, I truly hope it will bring you the wealth you dream of. Good luck!

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Politics

Rampling was the domino

It is a side I had not thought of for quite a while. I have my own views, movies I like, movies I go to see. When I do, there is no regard towards race or religion. I just want to see a good movie, for the mere reason that going to the cinema is expensive, so when I go there, it better be a good one. So when I initially read the article ‘Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/22/charlotte-rampling-finds-herself-outnumbered-in-oscars-diversity-row), I was not entirely sure what to think. For me, I am still slightly upset on the Golden globes, because no matter how much I enjoyed the Martian, it is NOT a comedy. A light-hearted drama at best. So in my eyes, the foreign press desperately wanted to get the Martian elected even though EVERYONE knew that the titanic achievement ‘the Revenant’ could not be equalled. So, they were willing to screw over Paul Feig or Judd Apatow, depending on your view of comedy. In that same light Matt Damon should not have won, not because his achievement was bad, it was quite excellent and I will look forward to own this achievement on Blu-Ray in 17 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes (roughly, but who’s counting). Yet, I will see this as excellent drama, not as a comedy. All the movies I saw, had a Caucasian caste. I thought nothing of it, no bad thoughts; no directed thoughts. There was an African American in Star Wars and he played his part really well, just nothing I would nominate a Golden globe or Oscar to. The day is young and I will look forward to him rocking my world as an actor in a future movie hr does. I have seen my share of excellent acting in Sidney Poitier (Heat of the night), Morgan Freeman (loads of movies there), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop/Harlem Nights), and Don Cheadle (Traitor). Here I pause for a moment, you see, this is a serious piece of work based on an idea by funny guy Steve Martin. The result is a spy thriller of unrivalled proportions and until the very end, you have no idea what will happen. As Spy stories goes, this is a killer! We tend to look at Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption, or one of my favourites ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, but in all this, we are limited by the exposure we tend to see through marketing (trailers). Because of that element I almost missed out on a gem called ‘Seven Pounds’, which is an amazing piece of work. Yes, it is sentimental, and there are truths in the view Todd McCarthy from Variety has, but it seems that his world is about one view, it is his view. I try to see multiple views, not always mine, one I can agree with or a comfortable one, but the fact remains that we all have our own skeletons, sometimes they are dark and leave no sunlight or a shadow. In this his last ‘view’ was “an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head” (at http://variety.com/2008/film/awards/seven-pounds-2-1200472723/), but in all this Variety forgets that movies are made to appeal an audience and in a directly addressable audience of well over 3 billion, there is a need for everyone. It is for that reason I have a similar appreciation for Lars von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ (and ended up being depressed for well over a week).

The question becomes, how correct is Charlotte Rampling. She is not wrong and I feel that the issue goes a lot further than is currently illustrated. That part is also shown in the Guardian article when you see the video on that page with Mark Ruffalo. But neither show the element I am aiming for. You see, it was not until the Golden Globes that I saw that Will Smith was nominated for a role in a movie I had absolutely ZERO awareness of. Wiki and the trailer of Concussion shows a drama that hits at the heart of America. It shows two sides, one, do not ever mess with their ‘sport’ and the second issue is that America remains in denial as long as it is convenient for their bottom dollar. In that Concussion seems to surpass several dramas. You see, this issue goes a lot further than what we see from either Charlotte Rampling or Mark Ruffalo state, although Mark reflects on the direction. You see it goes further than we see in the article. the quote “An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63“, a system that is set around a nation where the median age is 39, state wise spread from Utah (29) to Maine (44). You see, the people looking at the entertainment industry are no longer representative of their age, which gives a new problem. It is their marketing and publication side. The fact that a gem like Concussion, a 2015 movie that only gets visibility after the nominations of the golden Globes is a bigger problem than many realise. Now we see in the Hollywood Reporter, the following quote by Charlotte Rampling “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration“, which is true and part of the problem, because that is unlikely to be the case. Equally true is the quote we see from Michael Caine “You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black“, which is equally true. The actors I mentioned earlier did the work, the hardship and ended up with the nominations, yet in opposition I offer that my view is in equal measure that there is an indication that votes are lost, or not duly received because of colour. In that light I offer ‘the Color Purple‘ which in 1986 rocked da house! The Academy awards had given it 11 nominations, ZERO wins. Whoopi Goldberg did get her Golden Globe, but they lost out on 4 other nominations. One out of 15, which is statistically a joke. Yet is it mere fate? You see Out of Africa was good, but not great (a personal view). I feel this because I enjoyed both movies, but I have since (1986) watched the Color Purple at least 8 times on DVD and Out of Africa? Nil times! In other lights, it had fierce competition from Prizzi’s Honor (Anjelica Huston) and Ran (Emi Wada), yet are the other 9 times deserved non-winners? I feel I cannot state this for certain, but with the exception of Best Original Screenplay I have a few too many question marks.

In all this we see that the Color Purple is more than a failing marketing and visibility campaign. Which is at the heart of non-recognition. In 2016 there is another side that we see in the Oscars. Concussion gets zero nominations. Here is it harder to oppose it, because the Revenant, Spotlight and Bridge of Spies are massive pieces of Work, which does allow for the situation to exist, yet in that same light, as we see the group that represents the Academy Awards, how many were clearly aware of Concussion and how many of them would see Concussion as the gem it is? In that same light, did the failure of marketing and publications now propagate the situation that Concussion is not making the BAFTA list? We have to accept that this is about American Football and as such, when we see that the BAFTA’s stated purpose is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public“, we have to consider that American Football is an American interest and as such, Will Smith could miss out for the interest group, not because of his quality or the fact that he is an African American. But the issue remains, has marketing and publications cut themselves in their American fingers?

An issue that will remains for a longer time, because as the power players are growing away from the average younger audience, the selection could become a lot more disjointed, which might actually be a little too strong an expression.

The truth remains that we all have valid questions at times, yet in that same light we must accept (to some degree) that the bulk have an opinion, an impression and a preference. It is at times influenced by marketing as the people are given the royal tour by the promoters of the movies. We see at PRSA.ORG “Oscar campaigns are not cheap — campaign budgets can run $24 million per film. Mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 6,000-plus members, advertising in trade publications, attending festivals, hosting screening events and conducting media tours are only the beginning“, the Public Relations Society of America is decently outspoken here. Money rolls, which means that the name alone will not do it. Will Smith is a bankable name, but in the end, it is more than just the name, the DVD screeners and opportunity here. It is a business model, which now implies that art is not at the heart of the matter, product marketing is. The question that remains here is that if a movie needs that kind of marketing, how memorable was it?  Perhaps that is the wrong question too. Not everyone has time to see all the movies and the fact that some movies are not released on disc long after the Oscars is equally an issue, so is that approach wrong?

I cannot vote against it unless it is more than the actual book, the movie or the soundtrack. Optimising any product is far enough, but in that light, was Concussion properly optimised for exposure to the public and the audience at large? If not, who was behind that part? It is a Sony production, yet should this be about the awards? I wonder if the really good actors really take a role for that reason. In this I like to quote Tim Mincin In his UWA acceptance speech. There he states “Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect“, which seems to be (in my mind) how the great actors could think. Will Smith has had 85 nominations and 45 awards. None of them golden globes or Oscars. In the Golden globe section he lost out to Russell Crowe and Forest Whitaker who both delivered amazing performances that year, yet as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he lost out to both John Goodman and Jerry Seinfeld, both series I was never a fan of, but they have their own following. In the Academy Awards he lost out to Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. A much harder choice, because both The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last King of Scotland are amazing works of art. I found the call between Ali and Training Day much harder because of my admiration of Muhammad Ali. So I know that I have bias here, I feel valid bias as the arts are about moments and ideals, Will Smith has been on that fine line many times. It is CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/sport/nfl-head-injuries-will-smith-movie-concussion/) that gives us “I probably won’t be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year“, which is part of all this (apart from the fact that I never received ANY free tickets for any of the Ashes games), we see again that America will be in denial or in opposition as the NFL is the bottom dollar at least one day a week. I cannot oppose this. Yet reflecting on this, I feel a little uncertain when it comes to an outspoken #OscarsSoWhite. My issue in this case is that the opposition this year is massive, Spotlight, the Revenant, Bridge of Spies and the Martian are outstanding pieces of excellence. We can complain that these roles were too absent of African American roles, but that is based on different elements, in my view, not a #OscarsSoWhite view, or is it?

In all this we must see that we are not part of the actual world the actors and actresses live in. They would have a more realistic view, which makes the entire #OscarsSoWhite such an uneasy issue. You see, I feel that #OscarsSoWhite is almost a personal attack, I see the movies I like, and because of the reasons I see them. So, even as a written off product like ‘Seven Pounds’ is one I enjoyed, I enjoyed Gravity as well, and I enjoyed the Martian in near equal measure (the special effects in Gravity were just so awesome). In all this race was never a consideration. That is my personal view, I cannot answer for others, you must decide on your reasoning and your preference, which is as it should be with anything that comes from the arts.

This now gets me to the final part. As I saw it, from the first moment I saw the movie (not when it was released as I was 5 at that time), is that Virgil Tibbs made ‘In the Heat of the night’ the movie it was, the legend it became. Sir Sidney Poitier made the movie what it was (Rod Steiger was great too). So here we have our issue we want to feel that #OscarsSoWhite is valid, we do however want to base it on the now, not on 50 years ago. So can we question the issues, or is there a second layer that we are to some extent conveniently ignoring. One of marketing and PR, the other on the denial that the NFL (Americans with their idolisation of their sport in general) seems to bring. Two elements that seem to equally make the movie Concussion fall short. Those elements are not illustrated in equal measure here, which does not give any less value to Will Smith, it only impacted the topic Will Smith illustrated (as I personally see it).

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics