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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 11/9/17: It’s Ragnarok in Hollywood and “Content is the Weapon of Choice”

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§ Nice Art: Fantagraphics has entered the “oversized, small coffee table of an art book” field with three volumes, one spotlighting Prince Valiant, one Charles Burns’ Black Hole and one, the art of Jaime Hernandez. Perhaps the nicest art of all. The AV Club takes a peek inside the book:

Focusing on the visual aspects of Hernandez’s work, the two men explore the specifics of Hernandez’s creative process and evolution: the tools he uses; his artistic influences; how he puts together pages and panels. He talks about how the punk movement gave him freedom to follow his instincts and passions, and the difficulty and importance of tapping into that spirit now that he’s a responsible parent. The section on drawing characters from the inside out delves into the importance of bones, joints, muscles, and fat in Hernandez’s figures, establishing that the effect of gravity on each is the most essential aspect of expression. This awareness of the unseen natural force is indicative of Hernandez’s general approach to the world of his stories, which is much larger than what readers are shown on the page.

§ Oh my dear god, what is happening in the world. Hollywood is having its own Ragnarok. as the ripples of the Harvey Weinstein scandal continue to lay bare the diseased foundations of too much of showbiz. Meanwhile, mergers, non mergers, stalled projects.

§ As reported yesterday, the ATT/Time Warner merger seems to be stalled, but the pressure on CNN is very real from the Department of “Justice.”: sources say ATT and TW are being pressured to dump CNN to get the deal approved.

AT&T and Time Warner are under pressure from the Justice Department to offload CNN to win the Trump administration’s approval of their $85 billion merger, according to sources familiar with the discussions. DOJ presented the companies with an ultimatum at a meeting Monday: Sell off Time Warner-owned Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN as well as networks like TBS and TNT, or jettison DirecTV, which AT&T acquired two years ago, one source said — adding that it’s clear the real sticking point for the government is CNN, a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s anger. “The only reason you would divest CNN would be to kowtow to the president because he doesn’t like the coverage,” the source said. “It would send a chilling message to every news organization in the country.”

This is beyond…appalling…remember when a free press was key to a free society?

§ Meanwhile the Disney/Fox acquisition that probably isn’t happening has come under more scrutiny. The Atlantic has a smart piece that lays out some of the more troubling aspects of the deal: it’s just too expensive to make movies any more!

But this rumored sale underscores something frightening about the direction of the industry: Even Fox, with all its resources (it spent revenues of $8.5 billion in 2016 and made a $1.3 billion profit) is looking at the increasingly expensive future of moviemaking and considering taking itself out of the picture. Last year, CEO James Murdoch criticized an entertainment-industry approach to mergers and acquisitions that seems to value “scale for scale’s sake.” But if Fox can’t hack it anymore, it’s hard to imagine how Universal (owned by Comcast), Sony, and Paramount (owned by Viacom) will manage, given that they already devote much less revenue to filmmaking.

Deadline analyses the deal with a great headline: Fox-Disney Deal Redraws Lines; “Content Is The Weapon Of Choice”, as the entertainment world gets more and more boxed into the corners of the hugest, most populist brands:

In the short term, most Wall Streeters and media observers sees plenty of upside for Disney but murkier prospects for Fox, which reportedly had determined that it lacked sufficient scale to compete vigorously. On the cable TV side, the addition of a prestige content outfit like FX Networks would bolster Disney’s struggling cable business, particularly its traditional cash cow, ESPN, which has shed 13 million subscribers in the past six years. It also positions Disney and Fox for a future in which content is delivered via the Internet. “Content is the weapon of choice in this over-the-top game,” said Peter Csathy, chairman of CREATV Media. “Crafty Disney can use content offensively and defensively. It can withhold its treasure trove of content and characters … from Netflix, or use some of the biggest brands in the world, the biggest franchises — Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, now maybe X-men is another one — to its advantage.”

§ MEANWHILE, Disney has to back down from it’s own chill on the media. Recently the Mouse had banned the LA Times from screenings over this piece about Disney’s dealings with the city of Anaheim, home to Disneyland. It’s safe to say that Disney and Anaheim have a complicated relationship, but nothing worth a press freeze out was reported in the piece. Other journos backed up the Times and Disney had to rescind the ban:

Amid a growing backlash, the Walt Disney Company on Tuesday reversed its decision to bar The Los Angeles Times from press screenings of its movies following an investigation by the newspaper into the media giant’s business dealings in Anaheim. “We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics,” Disney said in a statement. Disney’s change of course came after a number of news outlets, including The New York Times and the A.V. Club, said they were boycotting advance screenings of Disney films in solidarity. The company also faced pressure from several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” which is to be released by Disney on March 9.

The Streisand Effect yet again.

§ Let’s take a break with more nice art! Tyler Boss is a stylish designer and cover artist and at 13th Dimension he offers 13 tips on design, with examples such as his covers for Four Kids Walk Into a Bank.

§ Also sneaky Steve Morris has launched his own review site.

§ Okay back to the wasteland! MEANWHILE over at Universal, all these doubts and fears about content and expense are no doubt behind the Studio’s planned Dark Universe faltering. This was a Feige-inspired attempt to create a shared universe from Universal’s monster movies – Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, etc – but all the producers who were on board have walked:

Writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, who were hired as the monster universe architects, have departed the franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Kurtzman, whose deal with Universal lapsed in September, is focusing on television (he’s an executive producer on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, and his overall deal with CBS involves more than a half-dozen shows), while Morgan has returned to the Fast and Furious franchise and is writing a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. In early October, Universal pulled the plug on preproduction that had started in London for Bride of Frankenstein — which was to have followed The Mummy as the second entry in the series — partly because execs felt the script by David Koepp and overseen by director Bill Condon wasn’t ready. Angelina Jolie had been courted for the lead but is now not attached. Insiders insist Condon (Beauty and the Beast) remains attached, but no date has been set to resume work, and a Feb. 14, 2019, release has been shelved.

We’re kind of living in Kevin Feige’s world right now. Everyone in Hollywood wants to imitate him and his 21-film shared universe, but maybe that’s not a great idea. OR even doable.

21 FILM SHARED UNIVERSE.

§ Oh this is nice: Jamie McKelvie offers Comic Book Page Technical Specifications

§ And a splash of good news! The Hollywood Reporter building on Sunset has been declared a landmark so that it won’t be leveled for a housing development, at least not for a year. This quirky and sinister yet delightful building was the home of The Beat’s most formative adventures in Hollywood, and it’s a certified piece of Tinseltown History. Some have suggested turning it into a restaurant that could be incorporated into the development. After you’ve paid $3.2 million for your apartment with all the built ins, wouldn’t you like to go chill in a place that has real history? Or is that too grody for you?

§ Here is the kind of comic con that sounds really awesome: Palm Springs Comic Con, which was Kickstarted and sells admission for $20.

Organizers of Palm Springs Comic Con, celebrating its second year at Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, said they don’t mind being small. In fact, they prefer it that way.   It allows “nerd” culture fans to better connect with each other in a no-pressure environment.   “For me in particular it’s about making friends throughout the community. A lot of people go to conventions because they want to make friends. That’s the whole reason why a lot of conventions started in the first place,” said Callego.

§ However the Rhode Island Comic Con is bigger than ever this weekend. With Rhode Island, it is always about size.

Last year Rhode Island Comic Con filled the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and the Convention Center. This year Comic Con will expand to include the Omni Providence Hotel next door. There will also be an 18,000-square-foot heated tent behind The Dunk to accommodate the crowds waiting for photo opportunities with the stars.

Daryl will be there, the Stranger Things kids will be there, even a cartoonist or two will be there!

This digital comic could be yours for a dime.

§ Despite all the above agita and terror in studio C-suites, production is continuing – at the streamers! Amazon has given an eight-episode greenlight to a show based on The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Supernatural creator and Timeless co-creator Eric Kripke produces, while Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg will direct.

The Boys marks the first green light since the recent executive shakeup at Amazon Studios, which led to the exits of head Roy Price and head of comedy and drama Joe Lewis. The Boys, which had been in development at Amazon for several months, is part of the company’s push into genre programming, spearheaded by Sharon Tal Yguado, who is now Head of Scripted Series for Amazon Studios. It is the first series order under that programming initiative and also is part of Amazon’s recent shift toward more straight-to-series orders and fewer pilots.

Amazon is entering it’s own “W want a Game of Thrones!!” phase, and while I’m not sure The Boys is it, it definitely has enough sex and violence to fit the GoT mold.

§ Finally, speaking of Sex, Hollywood and the 21 Film Shared Universe of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, people there must reproduce via osmosis or parthenogenesis or something, becausein the MCU NO ONE EVER GETS LAID:

Captain America is a virgin. Spider-Man is a virgin. Ant-Man is a loveless divorcee, and Hawkeye barely even gets to see his wife with her clothes on. Bruce Banner has probably had some chemistry with women over the years, but his complete inability to engage in safe sex has muffled the mutual desire that’s percolating between he and Natasha Romanoff (which might be for the best, considering how Black Widows tend to treat their mates). Peter Quill has definitely been around the block a few times, but his romantic history is relegated to an intergalactic rap sheet; in the time we’ve known him, his desire has been solely dedicated towards an unspoken crush.

Hyper-sexualized but almost entirely sexless, the Marvel movies are emblematic of a blockbuster culture in which a certain degree of celibacy has become the norm. At a time when desperate studios are relying on the success of overly inflated event titles in order to stay afloat, the sheer cost of these juggernauts inevitably dictates their content, requiring the films to appeal not just to the traditional 18-34 demographic, but also younger kids, older adults, and — perhaps most importantly — the fine people of all ages who serve China’s censorship bureau.

Even in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Starlord/Gamora heat is diverted into boy/girl taunting that would do any fifth grader proud. It’s time to get busy! China be darned!

4 COMMENTS

  1. “becausein the MCU NO ONE EVER GETS LAID”

    Um, except Tony Stark. Did we miss all those scenes of him in bed with beautiful women in Iron Man 1 & 2?

  2. Wait, didn’t the first GotG movie have Quill forgetting there was a woman sleeping in his ship, wearing not so much? That seemed to imply he’s done more than pine.

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