- A GoFundMe page dedicated to honoring Adam Driver’s performance in recent Star Wars films has raised nearly $70,000 for the actor’s non-profit.
- Driver’s organization, Arts In The Armed Forces, provides arts programming to active duty members, veterans, and their families free of cost.
- The actor thanked his fans for their support in a video message posted Tuesday.
While Star Wars fans may have mixed opinions about The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, it seems that most agree actor Adam Driver delivered a stellar performance as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in all three films.
Just before the release of The Rise of Skywalker, posts appeared on a subreddit dedicated to leaks and rumors about the Star Wars franchise confirming previously guessed details about the film’s plot. Of course, that quickly set off heated debates about the movie, but rather than endlessly spewing criticism online, some decided to focus on praising Driver for his work.
On December 18, a GoFundMe page was created by a user named “Matt the Radar Technician,” on behalf of the /r/StarWarsLeaks subreddit. The user encouraged people to donate to Driver’s non-profit, Arts in the Armed Forces, to honor him for his performance.
Driver, who previously served as a U.S. Marine, founded the organization in 2006 with his now-wife Joanne Tucker with the goal of bringing free high-quality arts programming to active-duty members of the armed forces, as well as veterans, military support staff, and their families. The organization offers a variety of opportunities and experiences including film screenings, internships, contests, stage productions, and more.
The GoFundMe page descriptions reads: “Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo has been one of the greatest things to ever happen in the last three movies of the Star Wars saga. As a way of showing gratitude and appreciation for his hard work and because we believe in the mission of AITAF – using art as a tool to more fully understand ourselves and heal – we at r/StarWarsLeaks have decided to set up this fundraiser.”
The user went on to say that they hope this gesture shows how much Driver’s work impacts people.
Fans Raise Thousands
The page quickly spread across social media and was met with support from both fans and critics of the film. For some critics, it became an opportunity to channel their frustration about the film’s ending into something positive.
instead of responding to any negative replies, donate instead to adam driver’s non profit charity. we’re saving what we love y’all 💕 https://t.co/n1sGUXPMca— 𝓭𝓮𝓮⚡️ (@thislilstangirl) December 31, 2019
Those who donated to the cause also showed their appreciation in messages left alongside their contributions.
“Ben Solo’s ending may have left many of us feeling stunned and wanting a different ending, but being able to channel and rationalize those stirred emotions into something positive brings us closer to closure – it serves to reminds us what a great actor you are and how we want to say a heartfelt thank you by supporting what’s close to your heart,” one supporter wrote.
“I had plans in December to go and see TROS many times in the theatre so hopeful was I to see Ben Solo get justice…We didn’t get that. So instead of giving my money to DLF, I gladly put it to good use for AITAF,” another shared.
Driver Thanks Fans
Though Driver isn’t on social media himself, news of the GoFundMe page caught his attention. On Tuesday, the actor shared a video message to his fans via the AITAF’s Twitter account.
“It means a whole lot to me that this thing exists, and that so many people have participated in it,” he said in the post. “Not only did you buy a ticket to see the movie, but now you’re also giving money on top of it to this organization that I deeply care about, so I just wanted to take a moment from me to you to say: thank you very much.”
Joonas Suotamo, who plays Chewbacca in the sequel films, then took to Twitter to share the message and encourage fans to increase the fundraising goal to $75,000.
Donations have continued to pour in and stand at about $70,000 as of Wednesday morning.
Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19
- Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
- The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
- “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”
Chappelle Tests Positive
Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.
“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.
“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.
Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle
Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.
Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.
“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)
Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention
- 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)
Paramount+ To Launch March 4
- 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.