- Netflix passed the Walt Disney Company in the stock market, signaling what could be a potential shift in the entertainment industry as lockdowns continue.
- As streaming becomes a go-to form of media consumption, Netflix has already seen massive success with projects like Tiger King.
- In the next few months, other major new shows and movies are slated for release, making it one of the few platforms regularly releasing new, original content right now.
- Meanwhile, traditional studios and movie theaters have been put on hold and are looking at the future. Right now, plans for reopening theaters could include half capacity seating and playing old classics if new releases continue to be delayed.
Netflix Passes Disney
Netflix passed the Walt Disney Company in the stock market in a move that could be very telling about what is to come for the entertainment industry as the country, and much of the world, stays at home.
On Tuesday night, Netflix closed up 3.2% with a market capitalization of $187.3 billion. Disney’s market cap sat just under at $186.6 billion, and closed by going up 2.5%. This could be a significant step up for Netflix as investors see potential for streaming to shine and traditional studios to fall behind as people are stuck at home.
According to Forbes’ Tom Nunan, this is something that could have long-term impacts on Netflix.
“For Netflix itself, a high market cap not only means it’s worth more and will therefore have greater resources at its disposal to invest in programming and distribution,” Nunan wrote, “but the company’s leadership – – Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos – – can rightly congratulate themselves for creating a streaming service that the world loves and uses so much…it’s now worth more than the Magic Kingdom.”
As streaming becomes the thing to do in lockdown, Disney does have a horse in the race. Its service Disney+ has seen boosts since stay at home measures began, but for the media giant, Disney+ is just a small piece of its puzzle. The company is also home to huge blockbusters, theme parks, hotels, cruises, retail, and other branches that usually rake in money, but are relatively dormant right now. As a result, the company has furloughed employees in multiple departments.
For Netflix, however, streaming is its meat and potatoes, and its appetizer and dessert, too. Meaning that while other studios lie in wait, it has the chance to take the spotlight.
What Lies Ahead for Netflix
In many ways, it already has. According to data shared with Business Insider, visits to its sign up page have seen quite the surge. Throughout the whole month of March, “visits to Netflix’s US sign-up page rose year over year” by significant amounts. In the second week of of the month, when social isolation started to become the new normal, visits to the page rose by almost 40%.
In the third week, when stay-at-home measures became widespread, it was up 123%. Traffic on the sign-up page has remained at an increase of over 100% since then.
While not everyone visiting the sign-up page may actually sign up, it’s safe to assume that a good chunk do, and the increases at least signify an elevated interest in the platform. And as subscribers go up, Netflix is also faced with the challenge of putting up new content.
For the most part, Netflix is in the same boat as most major studios when it comes to current productions being put on pause. But, it still has an advantage, because its strategy ensures that there are almost always a plethora of new projects coming down the pipeline, making it one of the few places audiences can regularly stream new content right now.
Between now and the end of April, there are several new releases for Netflix originals, including a new show from Mindy Kaling titled Never Have I Ever, a Ryan Murphy documentary called Circus of Books, a Chris Hemsworth-led action film called Extraction, and The Willoughbys, which is an animated feature with a star-studded voiceover cast.
The month of May will bring more new content, including another Ryan Murphy project starring Darren Criss called Hollywood; and a limited series titled The Eddy, which comes from Oscar-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle.
So far, new content has served Netflix well during lockdown measures. It’s jaw-dropping docuseries Tiger King saw 34 million views in its first ten days and was the most-streamed title on the platform for two weeks. Buzz on social media generated a lot of interest for the series, which ended up getting a bonus episode shot in isolation. Comedian Joel McHale hosted a reunion among many of the documentary’s participants via web chatting, showing that the streaming giant knows how to capitalize on its quarantine popularity right now.
Movies Plan for the Future
While Netflix is seizing the day, pretty much the rest of the film industry is spending their time planning for the future. Movie theaters and studios are deciding what the plan should be when they return back to normal. But it’s still unclear what that “normal” might actually look like.
As things currently stand, no big pictures are set to hit theaters until mid-July when Mulan and Tenet hit screens, assuming they do not get further delayed. With these dates in mind, Cinemark, one of the largest theater chains in the country, is developing a game plan to open its doors.
According to CNBC Cinemark is looking to let people back in, but only filling theaters up to 50% of their capacity. They are also considering implementing staggered seating arrangements to allow for social distancing. If movies keep getting pushed back and a lack of new films end up being an issue, they could also dive back into their library and get audiences by playing some of the classics.
While opening up theaters to only partially filled crowds sounds like a financial risk, Cinemark maintains that this will be profitable. They claim they can easily profit if only under a third of the available seating is full, and have even turned profits when turnouts are as low as 10%.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Vanity Fair) (The Verge)
Britney Spears Asks For Privacy After Fans Called Cops to Conduct a Wellness Check on Her
Fans said they were concerned after the singer deleted her Instagram account.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated to include a statement from Britney Spears
Fans Call 911
Britney Spears said her fans “went a little too far” after some called the police to conduct a wellness check on her.
The fans, many fueled by online conspiracy theories, were concerned about Spears because she deleted her Instagram account. While this is something the singer has done multiple times in the past, her fans thought she had left secret signals in her last post suggesting she needed help.
Some even posted videos of them calling emergency services on TikTok, a platform that is full of conspiracy videos about Spears.
“I love and adore my fans but this time things went a little too far and my privacy was invaded,” Spears wrote in a statement on Thursday, citing “prank phone calls” that were made to police.
According to Spears, officers did not enter her home because once they got to her gate, they “quickly realized there was no issue and left immediately.”
“This felt like I was being gaslit and bullied once the incident made it to the news and being portrayed once again in a poor and unfair light by the media,” Spears continued. “During this time in my life, I truly hope the public and my fans who I care so much about can respect my privacy moving forward.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Page Six that the department “did get calls into our dispatch” but added there was no reason to believe that Spears was “in any kind of harm or any kind of danger.”
That spokesperson declined to say if officials contacted Spears or conducted a wellness check, citing privacy and public trust issues.
The Prominence of Britney Spears Conspiracies
Just over a year has passed since Spears was freed from a highly restrictive conservatorship that controlled her life and finances for 13 years. Throughout the conservatorship, fans tried to use the pop icon’s social media to pick up clues that she was secretly struggling. She did not publicly speak about the conservatorship until the summer of 2021.
Now that she has her freedom, fans are still reading heavily into her posts. Some believe there are hidden messages in her captions and in the gestures she does while dancing. Others think she is dead, missing, or hiding and that a body double is being used in her posts. Some are so concerned that they are coordinating a mass effort to pressure the Los Angeles Times into investigating Spears’ whereabouts and safety.
In the last several years, many have reflected on Spears’ early days in the spotlight and the cruel ways she was harassed and targeted by paparazzi, news outlets, and culture at large. Often the punchline to a joke throughout the 2000s, many now sympathize with Spears, who was forced to endure heavy public scrutiny at a young age. Documentaries like “Framing Britney Spears” prompted many to see Spears as a victim of abusive media tactics, not the “crazy” woman tabloids painted her to be.
Many are now concerned that fans are only going to subject Spears to a new onslaught of harassment by calling the police to her house. Even if the conspiracy theories are technically well-intentioned and often come from a place of concern, some believe they will jumpstart a media frenzy that could harm Spears’ mental well-being.
Razzies Apologize For Nominating 12-Year-Old, Adopt Age Rules For Future Nominations
The group’s founder said the Razzies regret “any hurt” the young actress may have “experienced as a result of our choices.”
Razzies Face Backlash
The Razzie Awards revoked its “insensitive” nomination of 12-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong and added new guidelines banning child performers from being nominated in the future.
The Razzies, which award the year’s worst movies, included Armstrong in its “Worst Actress” lineup for her role in “Firestarter.” Bryce Dallas Howard, Diane Keaton, Kaya Scodelario, and Alicia Silverstone were also nominated in the category.
Armstrong starred alongside Zac Efron in “Firestarter,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The picture received a 10% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the film was broadly panned, many thought it was a bridge too far to nominate a child for a bad acting award.
“The Razzies are already mean-spirited & classless, but to nominate a kid is just repulsive & wrong,” child star Julian Hilliard, best known for his work in “WandaVision,” tweeted. “Why put a kid at risk of increased bullying or worse? Be better.”
Actor and podcast host Brandon Hardesty said the nomination was “completely ignorant and cynical.”
“They have no clue what this can do to a child actress who probably considered her starring role in FIRESTARTER as a high point in her life,” he wrote.
“That girl was the best part of that mess of a movie,” film critic Shannon McGrew tweeted. “And on top of that, no kid should ever be nominated for an award that punches down on them.”
Razzies founder John Wilson addressed the backlash in a statement to the press on Wednesday, calling the criticism “valid.”
“Sometimes, you do things without thinking, Then you are called out for it. Then you get it,” Wilson said. “It’s why the Razzies were created in the first place.”
“We have removed Armstrong’s name from the Final Ballot that our members will cast next month,” he continued. “We also believe a public apology is owed Ms. Armstrong, and wish to say we regret any hurt she experienced as a result of our choices.”
In addition to removing Armstrong’s nomination, The Razzies is now adopting “a Voting Guideline precluding any performer or film-maker under 18 years of age from being considered” for awards.
“Since our motto is ‘Own Your Bad,’ we realize that we ourselves must also live up to it,” the statement closed.
While Armstrong will be the last child to nab a Razzie nomination, she was far from the first. Jake Lloyd made the list for his turn as young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” Gary Coleman and Macaulay Culkin also got nominations as teenagers.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Hollywood Reporter) (People)
SeatGeek CEO Calls to Break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation in Senate Hearing Following Taylor Swift Debacle
“A lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” Jack Groetzinger said.
Two months after technical difficulties blocked countless Taylor Swift fans from snagging seats to her tour, a bipartisan group of Senators held a hearing to re-examine the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
The two entertainment giants merged in 2010. Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of the rival ticket-selling platform SeatGeek, said during Tuesday’s hearing that the two need to be broken up to benefit consumers.
“One, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation, and consumers are who suffer,” he said. “Two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster, and three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed concerns about the lack of competition, arguing that Live Nation is the “definition of monopoly.”
“Live Nation is so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten, because people just fall in line,” she said.
The Eras Tour Debacle
Ticketmaster has long been accused of price-gouging and complicating the ticket-buying process. Those issues made international headlines in November during the presale for Swift’s highly anticipated Era’s Tour.
Millions of fans who attempted to enter Ticketmaster’s virtual queue walked away empty-handed after experiencing crashes, price inflation, and a myriad of other issues.
According to Ticketmaster, the incredibly high demand, coupled with an onslaught of bot attacks, forced the platform to slow sales down. After the company delayed sales in certain cities and canceled the general sale altogether, Swift called the ordeal “excruciating.”
“We asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” she wrote on Instagram in November.
The controversy prompted many to accuse Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, of holding a monopoly over the concert and live events industry. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the entertainment giant.
Ticketmaster Takes Heat
Ticketmaster has repeatedly tried to blame a number of factors for the failed Swift presale, even at one point suggesting the sale was too popular because the “Anti-Hero” singer waited so long to tour.
“May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during the hearing.
Still, the company continued to point the finger at record-breaking bot attacks.
“We knew bots would attack at onsale and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic that we’d ever experienced,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold said on Capitol Hill.
“The attack requires [us] to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience we deeply regret. We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift, we need to do better and we will do better,” he continued.
Others present at the hearing were not happy with Live Nation’s bot defense. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that she has worked with companies in a variety of industries that deal with bots without these issues.
“You know what, they get bot attacks every single day by the thousands. By the thousands,” she said. “And they have figured it out, but you guys haven’t? This is unbelievable.”
“You can’t blame bots for what happened to Taylor Swift,” JAM Productions CEO Jerry Mickelson added. “There’s more to that story that you’re not hearing.”
According to Mickelson, Ticketmaster can actually stand to benefit from glitchy sales on its platform.
“The process, when it’s slowed down, increases the money that Ticketmaster makes because they make money on fees and as the ticket prices go up due to dynamically priced tickets, Ticketmaster makes more off that,” he claimed. “So it’s to their advantage to slow the process down.”
Outrage against Ticketmaster has become so widespread that Sen. Blumenthal said the company was responsible for “an absolutely stunning achievement.”
“You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.”