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Filmism.net Dispatch March 1, 2024

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I know over the last few months I've started every Filmism.net Dispatch with a throwaway comment about how I need a whole other movie newsletter just to share news that's developed in an area I just talked about a couple of newsletters ago, some news tidbit or industry revelation that vindicates a position or opinion I expressed before.

At the top of the document where I keep my notes for future Dispatches I intend to write, I paste links or news that pertains to those topics I've talked about recently.

Well, now it's come time to write a new piece for a new monthly Dispatch and it's got ridiculous. I have notes that relate to three recent Dispatch topics, so this time I'm going to cheat. As a way of clearing out my list and being able to start fresh next time with a new topic altogether, this Filmism.net Dispatch is going to simply be a roundup of recent news that adds to or proves a position I've taken in recent months, and I hope that settles them all.

First, back in October 2023 I looked at the new ecosystem of streaming and theatres and wondered how much the movie industry would change when we're no longer talking about the box office of a movie.

Well, a lot's happened there. Netflix (the company that kicked the whole revolution off and established the industry norm of not releasing any information whatsoever about who'd watched what) has changed its tune and released a raft of data points about viewership here and here.

Here's something interesting though. Just a couple of months before (around the same time I was writing the Filmism.net Dispatch about it, actually), co CEO Ted Sarandos was defending the longtime practice of not releasing viewership numbers because he said it made talent and creators feel 'trapped'.

In another story he said he didn't want to 'saddle creators with overnight ratings and weekend box office figures as defining their success or failure'.

It was the exact opposite argument from the one I was making, that they were in the dark when they had no idea if their shows or movies had been well received. In fact more than one content creator had expressed their frustration about the practice.

But then, hidden way down in one of the above stories, an analyst said releasing all its viewer data 'should help Netflix's advertising-sales efforts'. Now the company is aiming to hike its share price on the back of the successful launch of an ad-supported subscription tier', does the 180 around viewership data suddenly make sense?

Then there was the time I talked about the gender wage gap, and how even though Hollywood has the opportunity to be the vanguard for change, nobody wants to bite the hand that feeds them.

Sharon Stone, bless her, came as close as any actor I've seen to calling the practice out as far as naming and shaming actual decision makers.

She stopped a little bit short of using real names, but the point she was making was that back when she made Basic Instinct, they paid costar Michael Douglas 28 times as much as her, and when they offered her a part in a big budget movie in 2022, they offered her the same amount (versus the $8-9m they were going to pay an actor who wasn't even a big name).

There was also gender wage equality progress down in the trenches for the rest of us, when a US judge gave the go ahead for a class action lawsuit filed against Disney by over 9,000 current and former female staff members intending to sue over being paid less than male counterparts for the same work.

In the same story, I mentioned QAnon-esque egotist nutjob Elon Musk and what a thankless job his CEO, Linda Yaccarino, has. Along with the issues above, that was also bought into sharp focus recently because Yaccarino's job is to ensure the smooth running of a company and bring in revenue in the form of advertising.

While she was doing that, Musk was retweeting antisemitic drivel, and when major advertisers yanked their ads in quick succession, he told them to go fuck themselves.

It was hilarious, and I wish I'd been a fly on the walls of Linda Yaccarino's executive wing at Twitter headquarters (I refuse to use that goddamned stupid other name). The Xanax must have been flying thick and fast as she tied herself in metaphysical knots trying not to bite the hand that's feeding her.

Finally, know how a running theme for the last few months has been the wheels falling off Marvel's gravy train with box office flops, revelations of a toxic work culture and actors caught up in MeToo scandals?

This time they had to do the unthinkable. When Jonathan Majors, the star Marvel had lined up to play its new multi-film villain, got himself a very inconvenient and high profile rape charge, they had no choice but to fire him in a very embarrassing backpedal.

And that's all the backwards-facing news I have. Next time, I intend to talk about something very original and interesting, and it's this; what the recent writers and actors strikes meant when you really read between the lines.

On screens recently, you've seldom experienced so much charged emotion watching four people sitting in a single room as you will watching Mass. I highly recommend it.

I was also very impressed with Bull, a revenge thriller that doesn't really reinvent the wheel so much as build the smoothest running version of it you've seen in a long time.

I also need to call attention to Todd Fields' Tár, a movie you won't enjoy exactly, so chilly and stoic is its approach, but about which you'll appreciate the unshakeable confidence in technical moviemaking crafts like the design and cinematography.

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