We’ve kicked around Disney+ $30 Premium fee (see: Mulan is available on Disney+ now, Have You Seen It, Yet?) for watching some of their movies available in theaters and whether or not it worked for us. So far, we haven’t bitten on the deal, but how many others have reached for their plastic?
New data found Raya and the Last Dragon had 20% less purchases on Disney+ during its early March opening weekend that Mulan had last fall, per Antenna. The analytics startup additionally found there to be a 30% decline in signups for the streaming service between March 5 and 7 in comparison to the first four weekends Mulan was available on Premier Access (via Business Insider).
The most obvious sign that the deal is working better than some might think — perhaps much better than this independent data suggests — is that Disney+ has committed to further experimentation (or implementation, depending on your perspective) with Black Widow and Cruella both receiving the same day in theaters and premium.
We still haven’t seen Raya and the Last Dragon yet. Almost zero percent chance we’ll pay $30 and watch on Disney+, but we’ve talked with the grandchildren about seeing in the theater. Kara has literally no interest in seeing this film. I might have to go see it alone while it’s still screening. There is only one new movie in theaters this week (Nobody), so catching up with Raya might be just the ticket.
Since we didn’t see it right away on opening week suggests it wasn’t a film either of us were hugely inspired to see, but that isn’t a reliable barometer to whether or not we’ll enjoy the movie. There are several examples of movies we had similar anticipation for that we were fully entertained watching.
Have you seen Raya and the Last Dragon yet? Let us know if/when you’re planning to do so or not in the comments below.
Either Disney doesn’t have as much faith in theaters yet or they are doing better with their $30 premier surcharge on Disney+ than they are letting on. Alas, Black Widow and Cruella are not going to be exclusive to theaters only, says the House of Mouse.
Notably, “Black Widow” and “Cruella” will now premiere on Disney Plus at the same time they open in theaters. “Cruella” is arriving as scheduled on May 28, while “Black Widow” has been pushed back two months and will debut on July 9 instead of May 7. Both titles will be offered on Premier Access, which comes with a $30 rental fee.
We haven’t taken the $30 plunge to rent any of the Disney+ Premiere releases to date and likely won’t be doing so for either of these films. If you’ve paid $30 for any of them to date or plan to skip theaters then please let us know in the comments below.
There is something about a $30 rental fee that just sticks us the wrong way. It might be what Disney did with Mulan (see: The Disney+ Mulan Premium Digital Launch Fiasco). We’d rather spend $30 on popcorn and candy in the theater along with our AMC Stubs List pass. I think large popcorn, 2 drinks and candy run close to $30 + we get those nice recliner seats. I know, I know, but watching at home you can pause, rewind, etc. Pros and cons to both, but we still prefer when possible to see most new movies in theaters.
We might be in the minority on this, but something tells me when people feel it’s safe to go out in larger numbers, more will agree. Regal is planning on reopening their theaters in the United States in April, also, so both should be open in time for both of these releases.
We’ll be seeing Raya and The Last Dragon at an AMC theater in the area, but if you only have a Cinemark theater open in your area and want to see it, then you’ll have to pay the $30 premium fee and watch on Disney+. Cinemark couldn’t come to acceptable rental terms with the studio.
How can an exhibitor be cool with Warner Bros. day-and-date theatrical HBO Max titles, and not a Disney+ PVOD title? Essentially I hear from sources that Disney remained quite tough on their terms for Raya. If exhibition didn’t like the terms, well, then they don’t have to play the movie. On the flip side, I hear that Warners on their recent HBO Max titles, i.e. Wonder Woman 1984, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Little Things and Tom & Jerry lowered their rental terms
Disney might be a giant studio, but this action shows theater chains will still balk at rental pricing and terms. This isn’t about the day and date release, clearly. While we would side with the studio in most these cases, not this one. Studios should want to show their movies at a fair price, especially if they are going to release on their streaming channel simultaneously.
Raya and the Last Dragon will still be screening in 2,000+ theaters on opening weekend in the United States. That’s a good amount of screens all things considered.
That was supposed to be the niche Quibi thrived at. You’re at a grocery store in line or in a doctor’s office waiting and want to watch something brief and light. Then again, we already have that — it’s called YouTube.
Here’s the full list of Pixar Popcorn shorts:
“To Fitness and Beyond”: Buzz Lightyear leads an aerobics class for Bonnie’s toys. “Unparalleled Parking”: The Cars crew have a friendly parallel parking competition. “Dory Finding”: Dory is delighted to find some trinkets at the bottom of the ocean. “Soul of the City”: New York City comes to life in the eyes of a minor character from Soul. “Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love”: Ducky and Bunny from Toy Story 4 compete for kids’ love. “Chore Day – The Incredibles Way”: The Parrs do chores, super-style. “A Day in the Life of the Dead”: Just your average day in the afterlife of Coco. “Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads”: Bo’s sheep has three heads. What’s up with that? “Dancing with the Cars”: The cars show off their dancing skills. “Cookie Num Num”: It’s midnight-snack time at the Parr residence. So who gets the last cookie?
I liked the idea behind Pixar Popcorn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and reviewed it positively. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones, but these weren’t intended to be full movies. They aren’t even really anthology short stories, they are shorter than that.
There’s power in brevity.
These animated shorts remind me of flash fiction. I’ve written a bunch of flash fiction stories, even have a book full of flash stories (pictured right) called Flash O’Lantern, for those interested. You can find it on Amazon, but it isn’t my point to self-advertise my fiction work, it’s to draw a parallel between the types of storytelling and length.
Flash fiction is more about the basic story idea itself, or a simple concept, leaving your imagination to do the heavy work and providing at most a scene or three and usually a small number of characters and sparse detail. Often these stories are less than 1,000 words. That’s very word economical considering the average novel is around 75,000 words. Novellas take care of the space between short stories and novels and short stories are everything between a novella and flash fiction. Probably a little less these days, where self-published authors have driven the word count down (and that’s a good thing, IMHO).
I’m not advocating for artificial movie runtimes — because the story should always dictate the length — but personally I believe that 70-110 minutes is the ideal length for the vast majority of feature length movies. Two hours is stretching it. Two and a half is too long. Three hours plus is crazy. Four hours is, well, don’t even get me started.
Once something has gone over a couple hours, it’s time to start thinking of a TV series or miniseries or multiple parts. Those are better platforms for larger scale worlds to build. I don’t think there’s much argument that when a massive work is condensed into a movie when it should have been a miniseries or full TV series that too much can be cut and lost, killing the spirit and depth of the work. Nothing wrong with longer works, just like you don’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail, just use the right tool for the job.
To pull this back to Pixar Popcorn. More, please! What do you think? Would you enjoy seeing more shorter works? Perhaps collections of them like this?
Seth Rogen is a funny, talented guy, but sometimes he needs to lay off the weed.
I know he seems to despise Texas Senator, Ted Cruz, at least by the heated tweets he’s sent Cruz’s direction lately, but trying to spar over a Disney movie is a bit pedantic.
Fantasia, I have to agree with Cruz, can be a bit scary when you’re young.
The exchange began on Thursday when the Texas Republican responded to a tweet from MGM Studios asking the first film people had seen in theaters. “‘Fantasia,’” Cruz said. “It was playing at a film revival. It scared me; I cried–I was 4. My Mom had to take me out. Good times.”
On Friday, Rogen shot back: “Everyone who made that film would hate you.”
I’m not quite sure “everyone” that made Fantasia would agree with Seth Rogen. Why would they hate someone for a 4-year old being scared by Fantasia? It wasn’t made to be scared by kids, of course, but invoking an emotion through any art is often a compliment to the creators.
If you think of Fantasia, it’s a glorious spectacle with bombastic symphonic music, but my early memories of the movie were it was loud and Mickey was in a castle and there seemed to be some creepy wizardry thing going on. Of course that memory is heavily flawed when I saw it again at an older age. It’s funny the things you remember about movies seeing them at an younger age.
Fantasia isn’t a traditional Disney movie, which is part of the reason I like it. Gives off a different vibe than some of their other early movies. In 1940 it came out, that’s 80+ years ago. Everything was different in the movie world back then. Everything was different in the world too, as this was World War II times and the whole Hitler in Nazi Germany conflict was heating up.
In 2021, if you stream it, the movie starts with a text message warning (paraphrasing) that certain depictions are negative and represent a culture and society at the time that are no longer acceptable today. Here’s the extended version:
“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”
Weekend #3 of 52 (1/14 – 1/17/2021) for 2021 Picks By Streaming Service
Here we go again! The third week of the new year and, like stated here last week, it just doesn’t have the traditional feel of a new year. It still feels like April 2020 repeating itself like Groundhog Day.
A few interesting looking movies releasing new this weekend. Netflix has committed to 71 new movie releases in 2021 with this weekend’s premiere pictured right: Outside The Wire is a military sci-fi action flick with robots and humans fighting the good fight together. Love that they call the robots “gumps.” Get me a box of chocolates, please!
On Amazon Prime, a return to the turbulent 60s for a fictional meeting between four key fugures (Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown) discussing their roles in civil rights: One Night In Miami.
The TV side of things, particularly on Disney+, is active this weekend with the premier two episodes (of 9 total planned) of Wandavision on Disney+. This new series follows the events of Avengers: Endgame.
*Title with asterisk – newly released Title is linked and has star rating – already watched, rated and reviewed Title bolded – on our schedule to watch/rewatch, rate and review (or in progress)
NOTE: If you’re coming to these posts weeks or months later, some and/or all of the picks listed below may no longer be on the streaming services indicated. Anything marked as “Original” typically doesn’t expire on the streaming services.
*An Imperfect Murder – 2017 (Jan 13)
*Outside The Wire (Jan 15)
*WISH YOU: Your Melody In My Heart
*What Would Sophia Loren Do?
A Monster Calls – 2016 (Jan 16)
*Bling Empire – Season 1 (Jan 15)
Carmen Sandiago – Season 4
Disenchantment – Part 3
*Wandavision – Season 1 – (Jan 15) MCU, Will be 9 episodes total, first 2 episodes available
Mary Poppins Returns
Isle of Dogs
HBO Max Movies
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Jan 15)
Stephen King’s IT
Eve (Jan 16)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Kill Bill: Vol. 2
HBO Max TV
*Search Party – Season 4 (Jan 14)
Roots – Miniseries
The Wayan Bros.
*One Nigth In Miami (Jan 15)
*The Ultimate Playlist of Noise
*Endings – Season 2 (Jan 15)
Is It Wrong To Pickup Girls In A Dungeon? – Season 3 (Jan 17)
Soul – PG – 1 hr 40 min NO SPOILERS Movie Review Watched on Disney+ Saturday December 26, 2020 Disney+ – Pierce County, Washington
Ironic that Pixar focused on death themes in 2020. Was this accidental or just the way these two films came about?
As the year comes to a close, it almost seems prophetic in hindsight, but we’ll tackle this more momentarily. First, what’s this movie about?
“Joe Gardner, where have you been?”
Band teacher and aspiring jazz musician, Gardner, finally gets the gig he’s been looking for, only to wind up in The Great Before, on the precipice of death. And thus begins Joe’s journey to return his soul to his body so he can live on earth again.
Not sure why Pixar dealt with death in both their films this year. Onward dealt with the aftermath of a dad who had passed on, his surviving children wanting to spend one last moment with him, and this film pokes the same depressing topic from another angle. Both films take a lighter tone to the subject matter, with Soul using music as the primary motivation of life. It’s not about what we have done in life, it’s what we do every day to live, what we can do — a not so subtle message that depression is in the mind, not in the soul.
Death isn’t a subject that animated movies target often. This one seems more for adults, or older children anyway, hence the rating, than Onward, one of the last two movies we saw in theaters in March 2020 before the pandemic first shut down theaters.
Kara preferred Onward over this one, but I liked this one better. However, she didn’t see all of it undistracted, as we watched part of this on Christmas morning, then went to celebrate Christmas with our children and grandchildren and watched the rest as background. I rewatched again completely today, Saturday 12/26/20. This is why I didn’t include a rating score for Kara below, because she really hasn’t seen the entire movie. I think she might enjoy it more if she watched the last third of the film undisturbed.
(Sidenote: this is the problem with streaming films at home. You are much more prone to distractions than in theaters. Not saying there can’t be distractions in theaters also, but a home environment can have more)
Typical Pixar attention to animation quality and design. Have mentioned in other reviews how much I like Pixar animation, it just has a certain signature quality to it. Their stories are often clever and original. Death has been, pardon the pun, done to death, and yet this story that blends a music teacher’s journey to playing the piano feels more alive than it should.
I was reminded in parts of the live action movie, Heaven Can Wait ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (see: Heavenly Movies – Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait). No idea if that formed any sort of inspiration for the filmmakers, but at times I felt like I was seeing an animated version of Warren Beatty wanting to get back into his body. That is a great part of the tension and what maintains viewer interest: can Joe get back to his body?
Joe Pendleton was the name of the main character in Heaven Can Wait. He played the clarinet — badly and was taken from life suddenly in a tunnel biking accident. Joe Gardner in Soul plays piano wonderfully and needs to “watch his step”, but must find the spark of life to be able to return as he mentors Number 22 (interesting number, to say the least). Is this all just creative coincidence?
Anyway, good story, even if it was a copy of sorts of prior stories. In some sense, the best stories have already been told and new, great plots are going to be at least some combinations of past plotlines and characters put together in seemingly fresh ways. I would encourage anybody who has seen Soul and not seen Heaven Can Wait to go back and watch that movie. There are numerous comparisons that can be made about The Great Before, Soul and this movie that made me take away a star because it just wasn’t as inventive as I wanted it to be.
That said, Soul is good fun and well worth seeing. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you feeling good when you’re done watching and who can ever tire of those films? The subject matter is dark, yes, perhaps the reason it earned a PG rating, but the way it’s handled is good-natured.
It’s one of the better films put out in 2020, a year that has been far too much about doom and gloom. It’s nice to escape into this animated world, if only for an hour and a half. Recommended.
The normal cycle of bigger budget movies has been distorted in 2020, like a lot of other things.
Mulan, yes, Mulan. The live action movie that Disney pulled from theatrical release, then tried the premium + subscription model (see: The Disney+ Mulan Premium Digital Launch Fiasco), only later to release to everybody on VOD ends its distribution where it was ultimately meant to be released: on Disney+ for subscribers without any extra fees.
If you waited this long, then perhaps the live-action Mulan just didn’t appeal to you for some reason. While Disney’s live-action remakes of its animated films have frequently brought in box office billions, there are those that don’t care for them, to be sure. But now that Mulan is all but $7 away, there are some reasons worth giving the new Mulan a chance.
Credit CINEMABLEND for trying to entice everybody left to want to see another live action Disney movie. I haven’t been super motivated to see the film yet. Maybe it’s burnout from the over-dramatic launch or the fact the live action Disney versions have paled in comparison to the original animated versions. Maybe by the time you read this I’ll already have watched it. I queued it up for watching.
It’s one thing to take a live action movie or TV show and animate it, but much more difficult to take an animated classic and give it the live action treatment. I mean, we’ve already seen the good version animated, why do we need to see it in live action? I’m hardpressed to come up with examples of great movies under these conditions. Please use the comments section below if you can think of some.
The live action Mulan might be a good movie worth recommending. If you’ve seen it, let us know, sans spoilers, in the comments below. If you really like it and recommended it, was it worth the extra $30 premium when it was first released? Should those with Disney+ be watching it ASAP?
It’s kind of odd that Disney, the studio who made the most money on theatrical movie releases in 2019, has been among the least supportive of theaters during the pandemic. It seems like like they’ve almost given up on theaters altogether.
They don’t say that publicly of course, but their actions during 2020 tell a different story.
Deadline hears that the uncertainty of the future theatrical marketplace has Disney looking at launching a number of its upcoming tentpole family films on Disney+ instead of the theatrical release bows that were envisioned when the films were developed and green lit. At this point, the films being discussed to make that pivot are Cruella, the Craig Gillespie-directed live-action re-imaging of the animated classic that stars Emma Stone her Emma Thompson; the Robert Zemeckis-directed Pinocchio that has Tom Hanks starring; and Peter Pan and Wendy, the David Lowery-directed film that has Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi set to play Tinker Bell.
As a fan of new movies being available theatrically — if not day and date, then small exclusive theatrical window is OK too — Disney isn’t helping theaters.
This got me thinking if they should? Maybe their strategy is smarter than it appears. Focus on supporting Disney+ which has had the best first year streaming channel launch of any company. The reality is they are literally stacked with great IP, so having a quality streaming channel stocked with a strong archive is a given, what’s not as clear is what new is coming to the service to keep subscribers paying?
Sure, there’s The Mandalorian, but they can only produce 8 episodes or so of that every year. What do to they do with the other 44 weeks of the year? A movie meant for theatrical release once every month or two would solve that problem.
Seems expensive to me, as some of the budgets for these movies are very high. They probably will be reducing the budgets for planned straight to Disney+ movies.
But what if the theaters rebound? Disney’s strategy seems to be that they can just redirect titles produced for Disney+ back to the legacy model. Again, I’m not sure they aren’t playing this smart. Obviously theater owners aren’t going to think that way, but studios hold most of the cards. They have the content that movie theaters are starved for.
Season 2 – Episode 1 of 8 Disney+ Air date: October 30, 2020 Run time: 54 minutes
Chapter 9 – “The Marshal”
This episode can best be summarized as: Star Wars meets Tremors on Tatooine. Clearly, Favreau and Filoni believe in the sentiment, “go big or go home.” Love it!
Glad to see Mando and The Child back, kicking it first in a fight club. Mando is on a mission to find another Mandolorian that can help lead him to others like The Child, only to be double-crossed at gunpoint. After Mando cleverly and cunningly dispatches the hostiles, The Child and him are off to Tatooine where Luke Skywalker once roamed as well as Tusken Raiders, Jawas and more. Good seeing this setting again. Felt somehow like going back to a childhood home.
There is an underground creature known as the Krayt Dragon, which is essentially a giant Tremors-like monster that is killing and terrorizing the surrounding area. At a nearby town, Mando encounter a town marshal wearing sacred Mandalorian armor. Mando is none too happy with the disrespect and a battle is about to ensue, when the Tremors-monster strikes. A deal will be struck if Mando helps slay the dragon and save the town he will be given back the armor.
You’ll have to tune into this excellent episode to see how it turns out. Other than The Child looking cute as always, not much involvement with him. Kept expecting he might use his powers to intervene. Again, you’ll have to watch to see if that happens.
This episode was written and directed by show creator Jon Favreau. He has written most of the episodes of Season 2, as was the case in Season 1, which means we’re in store for a lot of great Star Wars action and adventure! I think almost any series where continuity in an overall story is important the fewer writers involved, the better. There are several guest directors planned including Carl Weathers. The guest directors can collaborate and stylize as long as they stay true to Favreau and Dave Filoni’s basic series vision.
This episode jumps us right back in where we left off with an epic monster battle. Mando and The Child ride again!
Now, what follows gets into SPOILER territory. To offer additional perspective and insight, I went looking, reading and grabbed pull quotes from some other reviewers that I came across, there is no specific order otherwise below.
Reviews by Others
What do others think of The Mandalorian S2:E1 Chapter 9: “The Marshal”?
… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …
Aleef Ashaari (80/100): “The production value remains extremely high, which is totally expected, and it’s always appreciated that the crew behind The Mandalorian is still incorporating practical effects whenever they can. The spirit of Star Wars has always been in pioneering special effects, so kudos to Favreau, Dave Filoni, and everyone involved.”
Discussing Film / Michael Slavin (4.5/5):”When examining this as a standalone episode, it is perfectly serviceable at points and brilliant at others. While there are issues with it, some of that is likely a result of the aforementioned hype – simply creating standards that would have always been incredibly difficult to reach. The characters are still well-written, the plot is engaging, and once again, Baby Yoda still manages to bring me joy with every little appearance.”
Pete Messum / critical popcorn (4/5): “…made for a solid, if not especially exciting start to The Mandalorian‘s second season. With fun action, cool aliens and some great bits of Baby Yoda reacting to everything around him (always a highlight in this show), it hits all the right beats, but it feels like the best is yet to come this season.”
Talos More / Kyran Gibbons: “…brilliant Star Wars, packed with familiar themes, faces and locations while feeling just as fresh as the first season. Jon Favreau, showrunner turned episode director, but most importantly, Jon Favreau the Star Wars fan, knocked it out of the park.”
The Sandcrawler Blog / Jacob Mahady: “Overall, this was a fantastic premiere. The entire episode was perfectly done. There was the perfect Western appeal that the show is styled after, there were elements of classic Star Wars while introducing some new aliens and concepts, and finally just look at that back story we got to Vanth and the insight we got into the Tuskan Raiders. What an interesting culture.”
X-geeks: “This was a very strong opening episode and has set the bar for the rest of the season, without question. Last time around, as great as the episodes were, there was a fair amount of treading water with the main story arc, but already from only one episode, you just feel like the pacing and story progression will be a lot more focused this time around.”
What did you think of Chapter 9: “The Marshal”? Tell us about it in the comments below.