- 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)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”