MPN Podcast: Hollywood Strike Talk; Netflix Expands Its Gaming Ambitions

 
 
On this month’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley conduct an interview with Adam Conover, a representative for the striking actors and writers in negotiations with the Hollywood studios. Conover shares some of the background reasons that led to the strike in the first place. As Charlie and Charles unpack this interview they touch on some of the longer term trends of the industry and how it may be existentially threatened by film and TV production overseas and the exploding popularity of sites such as YouTube and Twitch. While the exact resolution of the strikes is still uncertain, it’s probable the consumer will be saddled with $5 lifts in all of their streaming subscriptions.
 

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Netflix has branched out from a modest gaming library on mobile to two indie games streamed to select TVs and PCs in Canada and the United Kingdom. Charlie is deeply skeptical of the idea of gaming streaming because of his subpar experience with such services. At the same time, companies such as Netflix, Xbox, and Sony are simultaneously building the infrastructure that will support game streaming and perhaps in another five years it won’t be as bad. Until then, Charlie and Charles will keep gaming on their home consoles.

The hosts conclude the show by gushing about Barbie, writing off Oppenheimer, and revisiting, yet again, the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strike. With Barbie, a movie the hosts expected to be pretty good ended up being incredible with a loud sense of style and terrific performances from its leads. As for Oppenheimer the hosts are down on Christopher Nolan after his previous movie Tenet disappointed.

MPN Podcast: SAG-AFTRA Strike; Disney’s Box Office Misses Due to Streaming?

 

On this month’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley revisit the writers strike, now more than two months old. The writers have been joined by the members of SAG-AFTRA because of a breakdown in negotiations over pay and worries about the increased usage of AI technologies in the industry. This impacts not just production shoots, but ongoing promotions of films and shows, which actors are prevented from attending. With San Diego Comic-Con 2023 beginning this week it will be interesting to see how headlining panels are affected. 

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As if striking writers and actors isn’t bad enough for studios, Disney in particular is suffering financial setbacks with several big budget films coming in under expectations and its Disney+ service operating at a yearly loss of more than $1 billion. The streaming platform may be partially to blame for movies such as Elemental performing poorly in theaters as consumers have grown to expect movies to jump to streaming within a couple of months of their debut. Other underperforming films include Quantumania and the latest “Indiana Jones,” movies with budgets upwards of $200 million and advertising budgets of another $100 million. Squeezed between workers demanding fairer pay and better working conditions and audiences’ interests waning on previously reliable tentpole franchises, is Disney on the brink of a pivot into changing their theatrical and streaming strategy? Listen to hear the hosts’ discussion.

MPN Podcast: Netflix Breaks Sub Records With Password Sharing Crackdown; Disney+ Removes Shows; Apple Reveals Vision Pro AR Headset

On this month’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley open with a couple of shows Charlie has started: “Succession” on Max now that the series has concluded Charlie wants to see why it was so highly regarded, and “Manhunt: Unabomber” (available to purchase on Amazon), a docudrama of the events surrounding the capture of the infamous Unabomber. Charles got his hands on a Blu-ray set of the “Fast” franchise and ranks high the first three movies, which were still grounded in reality before the series reinvented itself as superheroes in cars.

The first news item of the episode is the major change in Netflix subscriber policy. The streamer has cracked down on password sharing by requiring different households to either pay extra for additional accounts or pay for a brand new account altogether. The result has been a massive increase in subscriptions for Netflix, which saw a 102% increase in daily sign-ups over a two-day period at the end of May. The hosts strongly believe that, with this win by Netflix, other services will soon roll out similar policies.

Regarding other streamers, Disney+ hasn’t fared quite as well as it drew major criticism for removing a few dozen properties from its offerings, including shows such as “Willow” and “Y: The Last Man.” The hosts discuss the importance of buying physical copies as being the only way to access movies and shows legally since a streaming platform could, at a moment’s notice, decide not to host certain content. They also comment on how this may factor into the ongoing WGA strike, where perhaps future contracts will require streamers to host movies and shows in perpetuity so writers can continue collecting residuals on them.

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Apple has announced its entry into the AR/VR space with its Vision Pro headset, an AR headset that specializes in high-fidelity renderings of its users’ surroundings to project realistic-looking holographic displays. The technology comes at a cost however, with a price tag of $3,500, significantly higher than all other headsets mentioned on the show in the past. Charlie argues that the headset is definitely impressive, but also definitely not a mass-market device so it will be interesting how its next couple versions will be adopted by consumers. It really can effectively replace home theater setups, but then again it may go the way of 3D TVs so it’s too early to make that call.

MPN Podcast: Ongoing WGA Strike; ‘Mario’ and ‘Avatar 2’ Make Digital Debuts; Xbox CEO Hints at Bowing to Sony

 

On this month’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley lead with a review of the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie having just released in theaters. More impactful is the writer’s strike currently underway by the WGA. The last strike was in 2007 and lasted for 100 days, causing millions in losses to studios. Grievances of writers today include advocacy for better pay given the new economic model of streaming doesn’t grant the residuals that the cable TV model used to. Late night talk shows have already been affected, going on hiatus until further notice the day after the strike began. It remains to be seen how much longer this strike will go for.

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On streaming, The Super Mario Bros. Movie has become available to rent on Amazon Prime, and Avatar: The Way of Water is scheduled to come to Disney+ on June 7. Both movies did extremely well commercially and Charlie and Charles have lots to say about them. Last in this episode is the rumor that Xbox may sunset its console in light of the stickiness of video game audiences to other consoles. Xbox CEO Phil Spencer appeared on a podcast to talk about difficulties Xbox has been facing lately, and with PlayStation’s library of compelling IP and Nintendo’s consistent success (and likely foray into more licensed movies given Mario’s success) the hosts can see a scenario where Xbox goes the way of Sega and transitions only to developing games at the expense of sunsetting future iterations of the Xbox.

MPN Podcast: Max’s Massive Bet on Harry Potter TV Show; Host Jeff Rauseo From Films at Home

 

On this month’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley open with a recap of what they’ve had time to watch in the time since they last recorded. Charlie watched Netflix’s wildly successful miniseries “Beef” about two damaged people who become entangled in each others’ lives following a road rage altercation between them. In his opinion, Netflix and other streaming platforms should embrace the miniseries format more since their offering of letting anyone watch content at their own pace allows for more experimental ways to tell stories. Charles has been revisiting older movies and shows in his collection, including the ’90s era Batman films and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Charles then gives his quick review of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and long story short, if you like Mario then this will be an enjoyable, if shallow, movie. Charlie hasn’t been the biggest supporter of the movie leading up to its release but has come around to it, even wanting to rewatch the original 1993 Super Mario Bros. The problem? It isn’t available to stream on any service. Regardless, in other box office news John Wick: Chapter 4 has since become the most lucrative release of the franchise, renewing interest for its past movies with John Wick taking the top spot on streaming for the past couple weeks and Chapters 2 and 3 also cracking the top 10.

Next, HBO Max has rebranded itself to Max, which leaves both hosts scratching their heads. It’s strange why it would appear to distance itself from the HBO brand, but it is ultimately not a very important change. At the very least. there’s not another streaming platform with a “+” at the end of it. More important from the Max service is its announcement of greenlighting a 10-year-long Harry Potter TV series to cover all seven of the original books with J.K. Rowling executive producing. Believe it or not it’s been over a decade since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 so it may be the optimal time to reboot the franchise. Charlie is slightly hopeful for it with the tone of modern TV shows becoming darker and more serious.

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Last up, Charlie interviewed Jeff Rauseo from the podcast and Youtube show “Films at Home.” As the name implies, it’s a show that focuses on home media and reviews of physical releases, so Charlie asked Jeff questions like what got him interested in collecting Blu-rays in the first place and what some of his favorite special features are. To listen to the audio of the full interview when it’s released in the next couple days, subscribe to the podcast feed.

This Week’s MPN Podcast: Superhero Film Slump; Netflix Gaming; ‘Rocky III’ Steelbook and Premium Physical Content

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley open with an analysis of the current state of superhero movies. Shazam! Fury of the Gods premiered below projections and, coupled with the lackluster reception of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, calls into question how exhausted audiences are of this genre. Charlie and Charles take the contrarian opinion and call out how the “Shazam” sequel was in development before the James Gunn/Peter Safran DC leadership shakeup. They cover a few creative movies that have elevated the otherwise surface-level superhero genre such as the indie film Chronicle.

Netflix’s gaming offerings, having launched several dozen titles last year, are set to more than double in the coming year. Charlie is mortified that the No. 1 played game on Netflix is the tie-in game to its popular reality TV show “Too Hot to Handle,” but on closer inspection is intrigued by the variety of other games in its library. In spite of a reality TV-based game occupying the top spot, Netflix has ported multiple critically acclaimed indie games to its service, and holds exclusive rights to a mobile port of a recent, popular “Ninja Turtles” game. Last, given how the mobile gaming market absolutely dominates the total revenue from gaming and how just about everyone with a Netflix account also owns a smartphone, there is a lot more potential than one would expect for Netflix gaming to increase in popularity.

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Finally, Rocky III has gotten a Steelbook release at Best Buy as part of a series of steelbook releases for all four Rocky films. The hosts talk about other special editions of movies they own and the fun that comes from collecting limited releases of physical media. DVDs and Blu-ray may have passed their peak in retail consumption but enthusiasts will always have an interest in premium versions of their favorite films.

This Week’s MPN Podcast: Oscars 2023; New Apocalypse Show ‘Silo’ Heads to Apple TV+; ‘John Wick’ Boxed Set

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley finally reunite in person in-studio (Charlie’s office) after a long four-month hiatus. First up is the Academy Awards, with Everything Everywhere All at Once sweeping with seven awards, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Charlie and Charles call out some other awards of movies they liked including Top Gun: Maverick for Best Sound, RRR for Best Original Song, and of course Avatar: The Way of Water for Best Visual Effects. The hosts look forward to Oscars 2025 when Avatar: The Seed Bearer wins another Best Visual Effects award. After recapping this year’s Oscars, Charlie brings up an idea that each Academy Awards year should be giving awards to 5-10 year old movies instead, when there’s been more time for viewers to decide which films are more impactful and culturally relevant. From the 2013 awards show, Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor for Lincoln, an undoubtedly great performance, but ultimately in a movie that no one has thought about in years. Argo won Best Picture which Charlie is quick to eviscerate as a film that didn’t know whether it wanted to be a drama or a comedy.

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HBO’s ‘The Last of Us” has come to a satisfying season finale, and Apple TV+ is hoping to capture the next wave of post-apocalyptic fiction with its upcoming show “Silo,” about a society of 10,000 people who live in an underground bunker after all human life on Earth has died. Charlie and Charles watch the trailer live and share their immediate thoughts afterwards. It looks very cinematic and high concept but, unless it pulls out an out-of-left-field twist, feels as though it will pull the typical “there are other humans after all” trope that movies, shows and games with a similar premise have done before.

Last they discuss a box set release of the first three “John Wick” movies, absolutely excellent action movies that have started getting bogged down in their own lore as each successive film gets longer and more tedious. The franchise’s fourth release, set to debut at the end of March, appears to continue that tradition, clocking in at nearly three hours long and has Charlie adamantly declaring he doesn’t have the patience to see it until it comes to home streaming release. Charles on the other hand is willing to make the trek out for the theatrical release, so stay tuned for its eventual review on the show.

This Week’s Podcast: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Comes to Peacock; Animation Trends; Crunchyroll Gets a Button

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley dive deep into animation and its recent sharp turn in mainstream features. But first, in the intro catchup segment Charlie applauds the most recent episode of “The Last of Us” for getting exciting again. The last couple episodes have been slower than its smashing early season episodes, and episode eight returned to that punchy storytelling.

Charles continues his journey through DC’s animated features and is not impressed by what he watched this week. What he is impressed by, and what the hosts discuss for the bulk of the episode, is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Charles gives an extended historical lecture on 3D animation and the constraints that that particular style imposes on its characters. Charlie hypothesizes that, with the success of Pixar in the ’90s, all major studios sought to copy that art style and homogenized the look of animation. Recently however, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 2018, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish in 2022, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, having just been announced, animation is breaking away from 3D models and into a much more dynamic 2-dimensional art style that allows its characters to be much more expressive and pump up the action on-screen. This new trend implies that a new era of experimental animation in mainstream movies is about to begin, an incredibly exciting prospect.

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In the meantime, the anime-focused streaming service Crunchyroll has partnered with Sony to add itself as a one-click button to one of Sony’s smart TV lines, occupying the same space as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ typically would. Charlie and Charles agree that it probably won’t meaningfully impact Crunchyroll’s total viewers, but continuing on with the theme of animation, it does indicate that home audience tastes have reached a tipping point where anime can be considered a mainstream interest, and not just something that exists on the fringes.

This Week’s MPN Podcast: Popular Shows Streaming in March; ‘South Park’ Legal Fight; ‘It’ Prequel Series Headed to HBO Max

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley preview the new and returning shows coming to streaming services, the lawsuit surrounding the streaming rights for “South Park,” and speculate about the announcement for the “It” prequel series “Welcome to Derry.” The episode leads with Charles talking about how he’s getting back into physical media having grown tired of streaming, and Charlie recounts some of his favorite special features from movies he owns. As they start to discuss the upcoming shows for March, “The Mandalorian” and “Succession” (seasons three and four, respectively) grind Charlie’s gears while Charles is looking forward to “Mandalorian.” In a surprise twist, Charles announces that the revival season of “Party Down” on Starz has just released, catching Charlie off-guard in a rare moment of enthusiasm.

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Next comes the legal battle between Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery over the show “South Park.” The subject of multiple eight figure deals between the streaming platforms and itself has produced episodes about the absurdity of creating content for multiple streaming platforms. The show has been around for a very long time and is one of the rare properties that is still (intermittently) releasing new episodes into its almost 30-year run.

Finally, the hosts have a spirited discussion about Stephen King’s works and its possible impact on “Welcome to Derry,” the prequel series produced and partly directed by the same director in charge of the feature film King adaptations It and It: Chapter Two. While movie-to-series adaptations don’t have the best track record in the hosts’ point of view, this series may be better set up than most.

MPN Podcast: ‘Quantumania’ Revitalizes Box Office; ‘Avatar 2’ Becomes Third-Highest-Grossing Film; New Shows on Netflix

 

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley lead with the box office numbers, which have returned to eight-figure opening weekends with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. In spite of the negative reviews aggregated on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Quantumania netted more than $120 million at the box office and was the biggest release of the three “Ant-Man” films to date. Charles gives his initial impressions of the movie having watched it over the weekend. Meanwhile, Avatar: The Way of Water had a resurgence over the holiday weekend, giving it enough of a push to cross Titanic to become the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. Charlie shares a news article from December calling Avatar 2 a flop after its initial weekend: what a long way it’s come since.

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On Netflix, the streaming service has dropped its “Surprise Me” feature which would recommend a random TV show or movie based on the user’s preferences. Charlie and Charles spend several minutes roasting the feature as it comes off as a completely incompatible product for long-form media. TikTok can get away with suggesting 30 second videos one after the other with varying degrees of relevance, but expecting a movie randomizer to work better than scrolling the Netflix carousel is madness. Lastly on Netflix, Charlie recommends some recent shows he’s been watching: “You” season four, which released half of its episodes this month with the rest scheduled in March, and “Physical: 100,” a South Korean reality show that’s a cross between “Squid Game” and “American Ninja Warrior.” Both shows get the host’s thumbs up.