Connect with us

Entertainment

Theater Owners Argue Disney’s Dual Release Strategy Tanked “Black Widow”

Published

on

The National Association of Theater Owners believes the Marvel film would have fared better at the box office if it were not also available on Disney+ Premier Access.


Theater Owners Slam Disney

The National Association of Theater Owners wrote a statement on Sunday accusing Disney’s dual release model of tanking the box office haul for “Black Widow.”

The Marvel film shattered pandemic records last week when it opened to $80 million in its opening weekend, also earning another $78 million internationally. In its second weekend, however, “Black Widow” fell hard, earning just $26.3 million domestically. 

The action-packed picture was also released on Disney+ Premier Access for a $30 fee, where it made $60 million in its first weekend. NATO argued that by making the film available on streaming, Disney killed its chances of making more money in theaters. 

The group argued that if you compare “Black Widow” to other Marvel films or “successful” pandemic releases like “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” it should have had a stronger opening weekend. Based on opening day to weekend ratios, NATO said the Natasha Romanoff prequel should have made anywhere between $92 million to $100 million. Based on its preview revenue, NATO says it could have made even more, potentially scoring an opening weekend between $97 million to $130 million.

“Despite assertions that this pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous release model, it demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life,” NATO wrote. 

The War on Theatrical Releases

Ever since the pandemic began, theaters and studios have been at odds about new dual streaming release models. Studios felt they had no choice but to throw their titles on streaming services as theaters were shuttered for nearly a year, but exhibitors were relying on studios to wait until movies could make money via theatrical runs. 

At one point in 2020, AMC and Regal Cinemas vowed to not show Universal titles after the studio said it would put all its titles on Video on Demand the same day they came out in theaters. The theaters ended up walking the choice back, and Universal also let up and opted to release its biggest blockbuster, “F9” exclusively in theaters. 

Still, studios have remained somewhat cozy with the idea to put their movies on their respective streaming platforms. In 2021, even as the U.S. was on the verge of reopening, Warner Bros. said it would release all its titles for the year on HBO Max the same day they hit the big screen. Warner Bros. received a considerable amount of backlash and it appears the studio will not continue the plan into 2022, but the temptation remains for many others. 

NATO Argues Theatrical Releases Are More Lucrative

NATO also argued that these direct to VOD models are not as lucrative as some analysts claim they are. Studios generally have to split box office revenues 50/50 with theaters, though some major studios like Disney might be able to snag a better deal. Many have stated that when Disney takes a title and puts it up for purchase on Disney+ Premier Access, they get to keep all the cash, but NATO says this is not the case. 

“Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+,” the statement said. “It ignores that Premiere Access revenue is not new-found money, but was pulled forward from a more traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option.” 

NATO also said this strategy “costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film” because it is unclear how many people are watching the titles on streaming. It’s also hard to know how many people might share the password to a single Disney+ account, meaning that the $30 fee could be split up across a lot of viewers. 

The other risk that comes with streaming releases is piracy, as it is much easier for someone to make a digital copy of a film they are simply watching on their computer. NATO addressed this in its statement, noting that copies of the film became available quickly after “Black Widow” made its way to Disney+, and it ended up being the most torrented film the week of July 12. NATO claimed the same thing happened with other films that had simultaneous releases like “Cruella” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” but not with films that got exclusive theatrical releases like “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II.”

“Simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself,” the statement concluded.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Variety) (The Wrap)

Entertainment

Quinta Brunson Says This Country is “Not Okay” Following Requests For School Shooting Episode of “Abbott Elementary”

Published

on

“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this,” the writer and actress tweeted.


Quinta Brunson Calls Out “Wild” Requests

“Abbott Elementary” star and creator Quinta Brunson shut down requests for her to make an episode of the hit comedy series involving a school shooting. 

“Wild how many people have asked for a school shooting episode of the show I write,” Brunson tweeted “People are that deeply removed from demanding more from the politicians they’ve elected and are instead demanding ‘entertainment.’ I can’t ask ‘are yall ok’ anymore because the answer is ‘no.’”

Her message came one day after 19 children and two teachers were killed during a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It marked the 27th school shooting of 2022, just 22 weeks into the year. The news of the massacre has rocked the nation, dominating the cultural conversation with calls for change

Brunson believes those calls should fall on the ears of politicians, not television writers. 

“Please use that energy to ask your elected official to get on Beto time and nothing less. I’m begging you,” Brunson said to fans, referring to Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D), who publicly confronted Gov. Greg Abbott (R ) about gun control legislation during a press conference the same day. 

“I don’t want to sound mean, but I want people to understand the flaw in asking for something like this. We’re not okay,” she continued. “This country is rotting our brains. I’m sad about it.”

“Abbott Elementary” is a heartwarming sitcom following teachers at a public Philadelphia elementary school. Brunson plays Janine Teagues, a passionate and optimistic second-grade teacher. Despite a lack of resources and funding, Teagues and the rest of the staff are deeply committed to helping their students learn and succeed. 

Brunson Shares Example of Suggestion

Brunson shared an example of “one of many” messages she received suggesting a school shooting episode for “Abbott Elementary.” The anonymous fan said a shooting should happen in the “eventual series finale” to “highlight the numerous ones in this nation.” 

“Formulate an angle that would get our government to understand why laws need to pass,” the message continued. “I Think Abbott Elementary can affect change. I love the show.”

In response to Brunson’s thread, many were shocked that viewers would want to watch something so devastating happen on a largely uplifting show. Some followed Brunson in questioning why those fans were not directing their focus on politicians instead. Others were frustrated that these requests were being pointed at a joyful show depicting a predominantly Black school.

“I look to Abbott Elementary for a laugh, not a reminder about how black kids will never be safe,” one person wrote. 

Having just finished its first season, “Abbott Elementary” is currently being credited as one of the few series saving the network sitcom. It raked in ABC’s highest ratings for a comedy since the series finale of “Modern Family” in 2020. It also became the first ABC sitcom premiere to quadruple its ratings since its initial airing.

“Abbott Elementary” is highly acclaimed by both critics and viewers and is considered a favorite for Emmy nominations this year. It is expected to return in the fall. 

See what others are saying: (People) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Washington Post)

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Ricky Gervais Criticized For Jokes About Trans People in New Netflix Special

Published

on

The backlash comes less than a year after Dave Chappelle received similar criticism for his most recent stand-up special on Netflix. 


Ricky Gervais Aims Jokes at Trans Community

Comedian Ricky Gervais is facing backlash over transphobic remarks he made in his latest Netflix stand-up special “SuperNature.”

Less than five minutes into the program, which was released on Tuesday, Gervais began aiming his jokes specifically at trans women. 

“Oh, women. Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones,” Gervais said. “The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking dinosaurs. I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and cocks!” 

“They’re as good as gold, I love them,” he continued. “And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies, look at their pronouns. What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?’” 

He then bemoaned cancel culture and “woke comedy,” claiming the surest way for someone to get canceled is to tweet that “women don’t have penises.”

Gervais is no stranger to prompting controversy and outrage with his comedy. He likely anticipated that his remarks would cause a stir, especially given that he carved out time in his special to defend his jokes about trans people. 

“Trans people just want to be treated equally,” he said. “I agree. That’s why I include them.”

Gervais noted he made jokes about a variety of groups and people, arguing that these remarks are not a window into his soul or beliefs. He said he would “take on any view” to make a joke as funny as possible, even if it does not reflect his own opinions.

“In real life, of course, I support trans rights,” he said. “I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns.”

Moments later, he joked that ladies should still “lose the cock.” The audience erupted in laughter. 

Gervais Faces Backlash Online

Gervais was met with swift criticism within hours of “SuperNature” debuting on Netflix. Many said they would cancel their Netflix subscriptions because of the transphobia on the platform. 

“Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today,” one person tweeted. “[Five] minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking & raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human.”

“Ricky Gervais is a disgrace, he is going to cause hate crime and ultimately the death of Trans folk,” another person added.

Some further claimed that on top of it being offensive, it is lazy to take shots at marginalized communities in the name of comedy. 

“This isn’t comedy. This is making cheap, nasty stereotypes out of a minority group,” one person wrote. “Please, if you’re Transgender or Support Trans lives, don’t watch this.”

Others accused Gervais of riding a wave of transphobia that has recently popped up among major comedians. Last year, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer” sparked a wave of backlash over the comedian’s jokes about trans people. Netflix staffers staged a walkout in protest, demanding that the company do more to help LGBTQ+ creators and stand against anti-trans content. 

Terra Feld, a former Netflix employee who helped organize the protests, encouraged subscribers to ditch Netflix over Gervais’ recent remarks. 

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (AV Club) (IndieWire)

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Halsey Says Her Label Won’t Release Her New Song Unless They Can “Fake” A Viral TikTok Moment. Artists Say This Points to a Larger Issue in the Industry

Published

on

Artist Sizzy Rocket said that record companies are forcing musicians “to fit into this box of virality” in hopes of landing a quick hit.


Halsey Calls Out Record Label

Over the last several years, TikTok has changed nearly every aspect of the music industry by sending viral songs to the top of the Billboard charts. Even major artists like Halsey say they cannot escape the pressure to go viral, sparking concern over how the app is influencing music.

On Sunday, Halsey, who uses she/they pronouns, posted a TikTok saying they had a new song they were eager to release, but their label said they “can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.”

“Everything is marketing,” Halsey wrote, adding that this issue is impacting “basically every artist” right now. 

Countless songs, including chart-toppers like “Old Town Road” and “drivers license” first soared to success on TikTok. Labels are eager to recreate that path in whatever ways they can.

Halsey’s label, Astralwerks-Capitol, gave a statement to Variety claiming its “belief in Halsey as a singular and important artist is total and unwavering.”

“We can’t wait for the world to hear their brilliant new music,” the statement said. 

In response, Halsey noted that Astralwerks was the company that signed her before upstreaming her to Capitol. She said this statement in particular “came from the company who believed in me from the jump” and not the company she is “wrestling with now.”

Artists Speak Out

Nearly eight million views later, Halsey’s TikTok prompted fans and people working in the music industry to criticize the practice of forcing songs to go viral.

“Halsey has sold over 100 million records and she is having to put up with this nonsense?” musician Rebecca Ferguson tweeted. “Artists and creatives should be ‘free.’”

“halsey’s tik tok only scratches the surface of what’s happening in music right now,” singer and songwriter Sizzy Rocket added. 

While speaking to Rogue Rocket, Sizzy Rocket said that labels and producers don’t understand that making a song and going viral on TikTok are two different art forms. The pressure of going viral often puts artists in positions where they feel their creative integrity could be compromised. 

“Artists like myself and Halsey, who require a little bit more time and space to craft our messages, are sort of being forced to fit into this box of virality and so, it’s a big problem,” Sizzy Rocket said.

“As an artist, I can’t just do something to go viral.”

Sizzy Rocket said that labels have approached her to write songs for their more viral artists, oftentimes offering no pay for the session. 

“It’s taken me four albums, I just released my fourth album, and ten years to develop this melodic and lyrical style,” she explained. “You know I have a thing, I have a je ne sais quoi, and so to ask me to just give that to a brand new artist who just went viral overnight is truly offensive.”

Smaller Artists Face Bigger Issues

As Halsey’s call-out TikTok has spread online, the “Closer” singer denied that the video was a promotional stunt of its own, arguing she is “way too established to stir something like this up for no reason or resort to this as a marketing tactic.”

But whether it be intentionally or inadvertently, Halsey has drummed up attention for their new music. Smaller artists don’t have the luxury of being able to instantly reach the masses. Sizzy Rocket said that up and comers like herself have to struggle more to get the spotlight, while mainstream artists have a larger fanbase to fall back on. 

“I feel like smaller artists are more affected because we’re getting buried, right?” she said. “There’s so much content, there are so many people trying to go viral.” 

“I feel like larger artists, because they have a more established and bigger audience, they sort of have access to that attention already,” Sizzy Rocket continued. “But for smaller artists, we sort of have to like, dig, dig through the pile of everyone else sort of grabbing for that trend.”

While Sizzy Rocket does not consider herself a viral artist, she said she did at one point try to go viral on TikTok. After filming the video, she felt it would be of no benefit. 

“I just couldn’t post it because I didn’t understand how that sort of cheap grab for attention would help me deliver the message of my music,” she said.

With that said, Sizzy Rocket said she does not blame any TikTok artists who went viral on their own. Instead, she pointed the finger at labels who are trying to drive inorganic viral success while lacking an understanding of how art and social media interact with one another. 

“I don’t want to place any blame on the actual TikTok artists who did go viral. I feel like they deserve to make their art as well,” she said. “It’s more about the label prioritizing the platform over the art itself.” 

Other artists like Zara Larsson and Florence Welch have bemoaned the pressures they face from their record companies to be active on TikTok. Many agree that the expectations labels have in this arena are unfair to artists. 

“labels all want a dove cameron ‘boyfriend’ moment (which i’d argue was rather organic) but how sustainable is that kind of traction as it’s v fleeting + how can artists even replicate that kind of virality,” culture writer Zoya Raza-Sheikh asked on Twitter.

For Halsey, it remains unclear when their new song will see the light of day. In a tweet, they claimed their label was impressed by their TikTok’s traction, but only said “we’ll see” when asked if the song could be released. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Rolling Stone) (Entertainment Weekly)

Continue Reading