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Spider-Man Out of Marvel Cinematic Universe After Disney-Sony Split

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  • After Disney and Sony could not reach a co-financing agreement on Spider-Man films, the character will be leaving the MCU.
  • This means Sony gets to make Spider-Man films exclusively, the character cannot cross into the MCU, which will be tricky as Tom Holland is still booked for two more films.
  • Fans are upset, with some calling a Sony boycott over the matter.

Marvel and Sony Fail to Reach Agreement

As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and that has proven to be the case for the execs dealing with the tricky Spider-Man agreement between Disney and Sony. The powers that lie between the two companies failed to reach an agreement on co-financing the Spider-Man franchise, effectively kicking the beloved character out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

According to a Deadline report published Tuesday, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will no longer have a hand in producing Spider-Man films. Sony has owned the film rights to the web-slinger since 1999, allowing them to make Toby McGuire’s trilogy and the Andrew Garfield reboot. They have lent film use to Marvel since 2015. Their deal allowed Marvel to use Spider-Man in other MCU films while taking merchandise revenue and 5% of first-dollar gross. Sony fully financed the films and took the rest of the profits. 

Disney, however, was looking to strike a new deal. They offered to co-finance the film at a 50/50 split, meaning that both companies would spend and make equal parts on the films. Sony said no, and took Spider-Man with them. 

Sony tweeted a statement about the news, saying they were “disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision.”

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According to several reports, experts are not surprised the companies found themselves at a stalemate. Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations told CNBC that Sony was “playing a little hardball right now.”

“And they have every right to do so, considering the deal Disney offered is a joke,” Bock added. “Maybe if we were discussing the rights for ‘Howard the Duck,’ 50/50 would be in play, but not for the web-slinger.”

The Future of Spider-Man

As for the future of Spider-Man, right now, it seems unclear. Sony now has the sole power to make films about the friendly neighborhood superhero, which is a massive win for them. They arguably need the franchise more than Disney, and Spider-Man: Far From Home recently became their highest-grossing film of all time.

Sony, however, is presented with one massive challenge. Spider-Man can no longer cross over into the MCU, which will be tricky, considering the Tom Holland era of the character is incredibly cemented in that world.

Holland is reportedly signed on for two more Spider-Man films, but most of the plots in his standalones are grounded in characters like Tony Stark, whom he is seen as the heir-apparent to after Avengers: Endgame. His last film, Far From Home, carries a lot of weight in the MCU, including an explanation of “the blip” and the fallout from Endgame. It also ended with massive cliffhangers pertaining to Mysterio and MCU-staple Nick Fury.

Fans React to News

Since this puts Spider-Man’s story in such an—ahem— sticky situation, many fans are not happy. #BoycottSony, #SaveSpidey, and #SpidermanFarFromtheMCU all trended on Twitter with fans expressing their frustrations over the situation. 

In addition to being mad at Sony for claiming sole rights to the hero, some were equally upset with Disney for not negotiating their deal. 

And fans are not alone in using social media in hopes of changing Spidey’s future. Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the Avengers films, took to Instagram as well. 

“We want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please,” the actor said. 

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Ryan Reynolds also acknowledged the situation on Twitter, responding to a user who asked if a Deadpool and Spider-Man movie could be in the works. 

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (CNBC) (The Ringer)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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Olivia Rodrigo Smashes Records with “drivers license”

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  • Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single “drivers license” has set multiple records on Spotify, becoming both the most streamed song in one day for non-holiday music and the most streamed song in a week.
  • It also has become the most globally requested song on Alexa in one day on Amazon Music. 
  • After its Jan. 8 release, the song became a trending audio on TikTok. Since TikTok’s rise to popularity, the app has helped many songs reach viral success at lightning speed. 

“driver’s license” Breaks Records

At just 17-year-old, Olivia Rodrigo is smashing records with her new single “drivers license” after debuting the tune on Jan. 8.

On Friday, Spotify announced the single set the record for most streams in a week. Prior to this, it set the record for most streams on the platform in one day for a non-holiday song.

As of Monday morning, the song has over 125 million plays on Spotify. According to Pop Crave, it was also the fastest song to reach 100 million streams on the popular music service. 

Over on Amazon Music, “drivers license” became the most globally requested song on Alexa in a single day. It also became the biggest global streaming debut on the site. 

Song Goes Viral on TikTok

Rodrigo is best known for her role as Nini on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” She has also appeared in a variety of other Disney projects where she showcased her singing and songwriting capabilities. In “drivers license,” she croons about using the newly minted independence her license affords her to mourn a recent breakup.  

The pop ballad has become a popular audio on TikTok. Many use it for dances, to discuss the possibility that Rodrigo wrote it about her co-star Joshua Bassett, or to just wallow in its lyrics. It has been used by some of the app’s most popular creators, including Charli D’Amelio. 

Its success on the platform has likely contributed to its success on streaming platforms and charts. The app has had an immeasurable impact on the music industry by helping songs and artists reach the mainstream at lightning speed. Hits like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X first found a home on TikTok before breaking records on the billboard charts. 

Rodrigo has been happy and surprised to see her song perform so well and be so positively received. 

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this,” she wrote on Instagram after learning that “drivers license” was the number one song on global iTunes charts. “thank u guys so much for listening. I can’t believe this is real life.”

See what others are saying: (Teen Vogue) (CBS News) (Billboard)

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