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Parasite Makes History as First Foreign Language Film to Win Best Picture

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  • “Parasite” became the first film in a non-English language to win the Oscar award for Best Picture on Sunday. 
  • The South Korean film also took home awards for Best Original Screenplay, Best International Language Film, and Best Director (Bong Joon Ho).
  • Many were ecstatic about the win and the progress it marks for the historically non-inclusive Academy Awards. 
  • Others were still critical that no actors from “Parasite” were nominated for awards, and some celebs made comments about other ongoing diversity issues at the show.

“Parasite” Sweeps

Sunday night marked a huge milestone for the international film industry when “Parasite” became the first film not in the English language to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The project beat out other notable titles like “1917,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and “Little Women,” among others.

The South Korean thriller’s Best Picture win was the final in a series of victories at the 92nd Academy Awards show, which took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Earlier in the evening, “Parasite” also won the Oscar for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film (which was renamed for the first time this year from “Best Foreign Language Film.”)

Bong Joon Ho, the director behind the film, gave three speeches throughout the night. Upon his Best Director win, he expressed his gratitude for fellow nominee Quentin Tarantino, who he said promoted his films when others in the United States were unfamiliar with them.  

“Quentin, I love you,” he called out to Tarantino in the crowd.

The “Parasite” director also nodded to another fellow best-director nominee, Martin Scorsese.

“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is ‘the most personal is the most creative,’” he said. “That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.”

The “Parasite” Best Picture win closed the night as a happy surprise from the Academy, which has been repeatedly criticized for their lack of diversity—both in their membership and nominations. Many were excited about the victories and the representation it brings to South Korea. 

“This is a historic moment,” one Twitter user wrote. “Growing up, the only Asian kid in my school I never imagined something like this could be possible. Thank you.”

Even South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, offered his praise for the film.

“Taking home four Oscars, after winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, can be attributed to the accumulated efforts of every Korean filmmaker over the past 100 years,” the leader said.

“I am very pleased to see a Korean film stand shoulder to shoulder with those of other countries and mark the beginning of another 100 years of Korean filmmaking,” he added.

Oscars Still Face Backlash

Amidst the celebration, there were still some who criticized the academy for overlooking Asian artists, noting that despite all of its recognition, nobody on-screen in “Parasite” was nominated for any acting awards. The same thing happened in 2009 with another Asian film, “Slumdog Millionaire,” which took home the Oscar for Best Picture but received no nominations for any of its actors.

The award show was also slammed earlier this year when nominations were released and no women made the cut for Best Director. Multiple high-profile figures did not fail to point to this on Sunday; Natalie Portman wore a dress embroidered with the names of snubbed female directors, and Chris Rock and Steve Martin quipped that the only thing missing from the award category was “vaginas.” 

Additionally, Janelle Monáe, who performed at the beginning of the night, made sure to express her pride for artists of all genders and races. 

“Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent. We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films. I’m so glad to stand here as a black queer artist. Happy Black History Month.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (New York Times)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • 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)

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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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