Quibi Reportedly Exploring More Cash, Merger, Or Being Acquired

Meg Whitman promised cast to TV would “accelerate its road map” months ago …

Thought we wouldn’t be writing any more posts here about Quibi until they enabled a promised cast to TV option. To my knowledge, they still haven’t done that, but here we return again to the black sheep of the streaming family.

Their new plans, if true, might be more egregious than launching without a necessary basic streaming function.

Quibi launched April 6 as COVID-19 was sweeping across the U.S. and much of the world. It was aiming to bring high-end, Netflix-like programming to mobile phones as people were stuck in shelter at home mode. The Journal said Quibi is also considering raising additional cash or merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, a popular financial vehicle of late.

Quibi Exploring Options, Including Potential Sale – Report – Deadline

The tech bubble burst on company after company essentially using this same playbook. Launching onto the scene with some minor “new” feature/service/site in tech, only to gain a lot of attention, then selling on that attention, finding the startup owner(s) moving onto other startups to commit the same offense again. The new owners of the purchased site/service would often later either bury the tech or resell it at a loss — sometimes a large one — years later.

The goal, therefore, from the original owners didn’t appear to be running a successful business (a lot of times the original service was “FREE” with zero idea of how it would actually make any money), it was to raise enough buzz and attention to sell to the highest bidder.

Is this all Quibi was about for Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman? A binge and purge tech exit plan in the streaming space? Or are they legitimately licking wounds of a specialty mobile streaming service few wanted to subscribe to (see: Less than 10% of Quibi FREE 90 day trials converted to paid subscribers)?

(We’ve suggested here in the past that AppleTV+ could be a viable suitor for buying Quibi to strip the creative content for its relatively empty cupboards service and dump the unnecessary tech)

What do you think is going on here? Do you even care? Is this the streaming space equivalent of slowing down to see an accident scene?

HBO Max and DC Universe bundle is a good idea – Merging? No, here’s why

Don’t know who this writer, Paul Tassi, is at Forbes, but his byline indicates he primarily focuses on “Games”, see the screenshot above from the article quoted below.

All of this is a mess and needs to be consolidated ASAP. If licensing deals are in place for years, leaving content on the likes of Netflix, sure, you have to wait until those expire. But DC Universe being folded into HBO Max would be enormous value added for that service and benefit both it and the shows themselves, with greater exposure and not leaving them relegated to this weird, spin-off DC service that only has like 25% of DC TV and movie content on it. Make the call.

It’s Clear HBO Max And DC Universe Just Need To Merge Already

It might be “clear” to the author of this Forbes piece, but it’s clearly not so clear to WarnerMedia and others. Will attempt to dissect this more clearly — ah, that translucent word — below.

Mr. Tassi’s work is an opinion piece, and on that basis is subjective in nature. His opinion can’t be wrong if he truly feels that DC Universe should just be merged into HBO Max. However, his article fails to focus on the main benefit of DCU not being the movie and TV shows — it’s the comics. The 24,000+ DC Comics. Time and again I see articles, including from prominent publications like Forbes failing to properly acknowledge the comic books, devaluing the amazing amount of creative artistic work included for subscribers.

In fairness, the article does indicate there is a “large library of comic books” available to DC Universe subscribers but the author, who also says he is a subscriber, doesn’t seem to place any value on them. In fact, he uses the word “weird” a few too many times to describe DCU. I counted at least 4 uses of the word “weird” in his piece.

There is also the DCU community, and that is free to everybody, not just DCU subscribers. Go over there with this article, and be ready for some pitchforks, Mr. Tassi. They will be kind pitchfork jabs, yes, because they have community guidelines to follow, but they won’t like the verbiage used flippantly in this article describing the service they love.

Comics are a major part of the DCU subscription. Even other DCU subscribers seem to miss this benefit, sometimes, and it is a cause of frustration among other subscribers who love the comics.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge comic book reader any longer — my darn lousy eyes make it difficult to focus on reading them comfortably for long periods of time — but even I can see how good a deal, for most comic book readers, having 24,000+ DC comic books available to read for $8/month. If I already owned the comics in physical or digital copies that I was interested in, yes, it would be less desirable subscribing, but the massive comics library, which grows every single month, can’t be discarded and overlooked.

And article after article just blindly compares DCU to every other streaming service. It’s not trying to be Netflix or HBO Max or even the horror niche Shudder. It’s more in line comparatively to Marvel’s comic book service that costs $10/month and Disney/Marvel does not include any movies or TV shows with that service. At least DCU includes some movie and TV content. The author speaks fondly of Disney+. You can’t read any comics at Disney+, but yes you can see a bunch of Marvel movies. Not all of them, by the way, also due to licensing. Eventually, they will all be there, I’m sure, but now they are in the same boat with pre-existing licensing deals.

Failing to prominently acknowledge these comics and labeling disrespectfully as a “weird, spin-off DC service” is unfair, ignorant and incorrect. Come on, Mr. Tassi. Do a little more research to backup strong opinions like these. You aren’t speaking for all other subscribers, especially not me.

DCU is a good service if you’re interested in DC comics, its heroes and villains. It’s not a very good movie and TV service. I wish the author would have made that distinction “clear.”

Oh, well. If I had a nickle for every online article I disagreed with … well, I could donate significantly to the cause on developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

That aside, I don’t completely disagree that HBO Max and DCU could merge successfully. The problem is people would continue to declare and dismiss the comic books, and consequently their customers, just as they are now. I think WarnerMedia, at least those in charge of DCU, understands this . They don’t want to be some sub service of HBO Max, relegated to a virtual subdomain or subcategory dungeon. And making their comic book customers feel like they weren’t important enough to have their own independent service.

These customers still enjoy buying comic books, subscribe to services like DCU. These people deserve their own service, however large or small that might appear to be — or actually is — to disinterested others.

Probably the wisest move that HBO Max could do is to offer a bundling plan that keeps DCU doing what’s already doing. Give DCU more original programming like the excellent Harley Quinn the animated series and then offer it on HBO Max (with the most recent announcement on 7/6/2020 that Stargirl season 2 will not be on DCU, but exclusively on CW, this does not bode well for any future exclusive DC TV shows, sigh — see: Stargirl Season 2 Renewed for The CW only, not on DC Universe – Crows are circling). Rotate DCU some content out of HBO Max or duplicate for these subscribers movies and TV series like Wonder Woman the original TV series.

Guess what, that’s what they are already doing.

There’s also Batman ’66, owned by Fox (Disney, go figure) and that would be a scoop to buy that back from Disney somehow. Arrowverse, mentioned in the article, will run its license out at Netflix and eventually return to the HBO Max nest and should/could also be made available to DCU subscribers.

What’s I’m saying here is offer a bundle like Disney does with Disney + Hulu + ESPN+ that offers both. I know recently DCU subscribers were offered $5/month to subscribe to HBO Max, but stupidly this was only offered to brand new HBO Max subscribers. Those who signed up for HBO Max like me weren’t included. Also, the offer was limited to six months and then the price jacked up to the regular $14.99/month.

How about they just make a bundle for both for $19.99/month. Or discount it further to $17.99/month. Either price would be a good deal and we wouldn’t have to keep reading articles like this Forbes one where the comic books are completely overlooked and ignored and the anemic movie and TV library at DCU is highlighted.

Making this argument is like saying Netflix should just buy Shudder and merge it into Netflix. Sometimes separate niche entities are executed better. We know when we go to Shudder, it’s all horror, all the time. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, they’ll never, ever be able to say that. There’s value there.

I’m not so sure a merge of the two services would be very good. HBO Max can’t even list their extras/bonus content properly or prominently (see: Companion Podcasts as Extras to Original Shows are Good Marketing and Fan Service) so what makes anybody think HBO Max would even be able to execute properly merging DCU into their service?

Merge, for these reasons is a no from me. Bundling? Yes, that makes sense. But it needs to be a real bundling deal for everybody, not just “new” customers, which is a slap in the face of customers like me who have subscribed for some time to DCU and was a day 1 subscriber to HBO Max.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome below. Agree, disagree, it’s all good with me as long as you are thoughtful about it. My opinions aren’t facts, nor are the author’s of this piece. The best business decision is probably somewhere between both proposals.

Publishers Seeing Paid Subscriber Increase By Using Virtual Events – Meanwhile, Biggest Movie Theater Chains Remain Closed

Two important words for movie theater chain owners and studios: virtual events.

Recently I mentioned in a post (see: Duh – People Prefer Streaming Channels Without Ads – During Pandemic or Not) and a follow up comment that I wasn’t a fan of the New York Times blocking readers after a certain number of reads. One reader complained that it sounded like I had issues with paywalls.

I don’t.

Just don’t think this method is a business wise or most effective way to monetize by disrupting your website readers and potential subscribers. In my detailed comment reply I stated there were other creative ways to drive more subscribers to their site.

Enter virtual events.

“With the huge success we’ve had with virtual events — over a quarter of a million attendees have tuned in from over 110 countries — we’ve realized that a significant portion of our attendees were not current NYT subscribers,” said Jessica Flood, managing director, NYTLive. “We are working to engage that group over the long term in a variety of ways, including a new suite of subscriber-only virtual events launching in the coming weeks.” 

Publishers are tying virtual events to subscriptions – Digiday

By holding special subscriber-only virtual events, it drives more paid subscribers.

When we choose to monetize this site someday, virtual events will be on the menu. I’d love to watch movies with the most engaged and energetic readers and it ties into what we do on YouTube with our “just left the theater” movie reviews. One way to scale these virtual events is to do it behind a paywall.

The New York Times isn’t having movie watching sessions, no, but there are all different types of virtual events and, as the article states above, they are attractive to paid subscribers as an added benefit.

It’s all about the benefits.

Imagine if you’re the local movie theater and you want to get more people watching movies. How about holding a virtual event with a host, just like Sylvester Stallone did for Rocky recently on Facebook (picture at top) (see: WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND #21 of 2020 Movie and TV Streaming Picks – Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Roku, Peacock, Shudder, DC Universe).

And it continues to bother me that movie theater chains feel like they can’t make any money while they’re closed in the pandemic. Ideas exist, but they’d rather just say “we’re waiting for the new movies to launch in July” — what happens if Tenet and Mulan are delayed? Does that mean they’d hold out on reopening in August?

Summer is going to come and go. Movie theaters need to reopen during the summer. At least one some sort of scale. Open your best performing theaters in major markets first, fine, whatever, just start reopening the locked doors.

In the meantime, I’ll keep hoping not to read more articles where the movie theater chains are whining about having no new movies to show (see: Florida Landlord Sues AMC for Rent – 7.5 million – Meanwhile, they won’t open until there are “new” movies to show?) and how they are making “almost no” revenue while closed.

Virtual events! Work out deals with studios and start hosting watch parties. AMC, Regal, somebody get on this. Maybe the independents will lead the charge (see: Independent Theaters Testing Virtual Screenings)

So many ideas for virtual events to draw people’s interest. Show us the creativity and we’ll be more willing to open our wallets.

Spokane, WA Hobby Lobby May Not Be Singing In The Rain like Northern Quest Casino

Singing In The Rain slot machine is at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane, WA, one of the first casinos in the United States to reopen

I’ve long argued that it’s unfair that tribal casinos as businesses are allowed to play by different rules.

Just to be clear up front, I harbor no ill will to the tribes and their people and am disgusted by American history in how they were treated, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I also enjoy visiting tribal casinos and giving them my business, so full disclosure is necessary.

That said, I wish non-tribal businesses in our state could legally offer gambling.

Whenever legislation has come up to allow any business to be able to have gambling, I’ve voted for it. Always, however, tribes sponsor anti-gambling opposition ads. Of course they don’t want to allow Joe’s Bar & Grill to be able to add slot machines. Or, frankly, any company to come in that isn’t tribal and open a competing casino.

Competition among businesses is good for us. Alas, that’s not the case in Washington State and many other states, unfortunately, where gambling is allowed only in tribal casinos.

Case in point.

Sure, I get that they don’t technically fall under the same laws, but an arts & crafts store called Hobby Lobby is not being allowed to reopen, one that is following social distancing and safety measures vs. a gigantic tribal casino and it defies logic.

“They are not allowed to open under this phase,” said Mike Faulk, press secretary for Inslee. “It’s a state prohibition, so I’m not sure why they would ask local officials to give them clearance.”

Inslee’s office: Hobby Lobby openings in Spokane area violate virus restrictions | The Spokesman-Review

The article details that Hobby Lobby can be open, but only for curbside pick-up, not for customers to come inside the store because their business is non-essential and prohibited from opening at this phase in the Washington State rollout plan.

Aye, the rub. Meanwhile, casinos are reopening which have dramatically more foot traffic than an arts & crafts store.

Movie theaters can’t open in Washington State because we’re not at that same phase. Maybe I should be wishing that tribes buy theaters so they could do so.

Don’t get me started on how a casino could be any less high risk than a movie theater.

COVID-19 Parties? Proof That Not All Human Life Is Intelligent

Outbreak ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Whenever you doubt the stupidity of some human beings, look no further than those organizing and attending these so-called COVID-19 parties.

Yes, parties designed for attendees to intentionally contract the virus from infected.

Health officials in Walla Walla, Washington, are admonishing the sudden rise in so-called “Covid-19 parties” where non-infected guests mingle with those who have tested positive for the virus, ostensibly in hopes of speeding up the process of catching, and overcoming, the virus.

‘It’s irresponsible’: Washington state sees sudden rise in Covid parties | World news | The Guardian

(Why does this have to come out of the state where we live, anyway? Sigh)

These parties aren’t unprecedented in history, as the linked article indicates. There were ‘Pox’ parties too, once upon a time.

The Simpsons have always had forward thinking humor. Proof that this show has had some of the best writers in entertainment.

Seriously, people, please don’t attend COVID-19 parties. Doubtful that anybody reading this would consider attending one, but if you are stopping by to say you’re all about it. Please use the comments to explain why. Won’t hold my breath, but hey, the internet is a big place.

I don’t mind making a PSA for this. If someone wants to be part of a scientific experiment, then contact those who are developing vaccines and offer to be a COVID-19 human guinea pig. God bless anybody wanting to help in the process of developing a vaccine. That is intelligent and helpful.

Judging #Avatar sequels by @officialavatar Twitter Followers Makes No Sense, Sorry @eric_ital

Brobible Senior Writer Eric Ital wrote a hit piece mocking Avatar for having less than 133,000 Twitter followers and pointing out that Twitter has been in existence over 11 years.

So …?

Readers following Ital’s screed, which makes zero sense considering metrics for movie success, should probably skip over the author’s own Twitter account — but I won’t. Stay with me.

It is a curious criticism of the movie, Avatar, and its four sequels in production (all one billion dollars worth!?!). Will give it that.

We’re talking about the second-highest grossing movie of all-time, a movie whose sequel James Cameron thinks will outgross Avengers: Endgame and one of their primary social media accounts has fewer followers than BroBible! When the first movie came out, Twitter didn’t even exist — now, here we are 11 years later, and not only has a sequel yet to be released, but their Twitter feed has the following of an A24-produced indie drama (no disrespect to A24, of course, those are my fucking dudes). They don’t even own the @Avatar handle! An absolute clown show.

The Official ‘Avatar’ Twitter Account Has Less Than 125K Followers

Ital’s self-professed “one man crusade” against the movie for Twitter followers leaves me wondering how or why this would be any sort of fair metric evaluating the potential success or failure of the movie itself? Seriously, who judges movies this way?

Why would anybody judge a movie this way?

If a studio simply throws up a Twitter account and isn’t very active, they aren’t going to have that many Twitter followers. That’s reality in the world of social media follows.

The article’s author never explains how or why this sort of metric should matter in any logical way, whatsoever, because, well, it doesn’t. It’s the type of clickbait bullshit angst article that are vomited daily upon the internet. Our eyes are the toilet bowl of 2020, no thank you.

Let me try and help out Mr. Ital. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and just fill in whatever you want, followers are not a measurement of how good or bad movies have been or will ever be. At best it might represent one measurement of how good or bad marketing on a given social media service performed.

Does anybody seriously think James Cameron gives two craps about Twitter followers for Avatar? Hint: see the first sentence of his recent tweet:

Just in case you need more evidence. James Cameron’s official Twitter has over 718,000 followers, joined in January 2011 and made a mere 170 tweets.

Clearly, Cameron isn’t a Luddite. He believes in Twitter, but he doesn’t use it very often. He cared enough to sign up for it relatively early in the game because he’s an intelligent man.

Now, let’s compare to the article author’s Twitter profile, because these kinds of comparisons make just about as much sense (not!).

Given, the author isn’t one of the most famous and successful directors of all time, he’s just some random “senior writer” at an internet publication, but hey, he’s really into Twitter. He knows all about Twitter based on his flame-ridden piece. He knows how to judge Twitter as the all-knowing, all-seeing prophecy behind whether or not something is going to be good or bad based on Twitter followers.

So, he must have at least a few thousand Twitter followers himself, yes? He must have been on Twitter for years, yes? Must be heavily active and marketing his own articles (despite his own admitting that in many articles he doesn’t give a shit how many people have read them), since all this would be a justification for his business success, yes?

No, no, no.

Look, I don’t know you, Mr. Ital. You might be a great writer and 100% right that Avatar 2 and the other sequels, if we ever get to see them, will not be as successful as Cameron and company hope.

In fact, I’m a bit skeptical of Avatar sequel success myself (see: Even if Avatar 2 sucks, the Mercedes Vision Avtr looks amazing). However, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever — not in 11+ years of Twitter existence — measure any movie’s sales potential based on social media followers. Not even with snark or lopsided humor. That’s any social media service you want to pick out and use … Twitter, Facebook, Insta, whatever.

Just for transparency, here is my Twitter account:

Now, by the article author’s logic, guess I’m godawful at Twitter, too, with my paltry 4009 followers since joining in July 2010. This isn’t my first Twitter account, either, my tech account joined even sooner (I was in on the beta of Twitter, actually, but that’s a story for another blog and another day), but this account is the one I use most these days. You can see that I do try to follow back most of those who follow me. I figure that’s the courteous thing to do.

Nevermind that I’ve made piss-all effort to grow followers or promote followers in 10 years and have made only about 700 more tweets than the Brobible article’s author, but in 9 years more time! Perhaps, Mr. Ital will have many more followers than me when he has used Twitter for 10 years, and he most certainly will have more tweets, but who cares? What does any of this mean?

Nothing. Gas tank bone dry. Septic system just pumped. Lake drained.

My point is simple, I’m OK with bashing movies for sucking if someone feels that way after seeing it. I’m even OK with bashing a movie’s marketing and promotion (is that what’s happening here?). Go ahead and bash the idea of a sequel, although a sequel for the second biggest box office success of all time does make financial and logical sense. An audience is there. It’s a big world with lots of movie idea possibilities.

But I can’t get on bashing a movie based on the number of social media followers. Unless it’s all about clickbaiting, of course. And now I’m guilty of not only taking the bait but promoting it, so double dog shame on me.

In defense of Mr. Ital, he does admit he hates Avatar. So, using hate for motivation maybe number of Twitter followers for the Avatar account does make sense. And it gave me something humorous to riff off this morning, I guess, so thank you.

I digress. This isn’t about the article author or me. Let’s focus on the movie itself. Will it be successful? Who fricking knows?! Logic would suggest that if James Cameron directs a movie about someone taking a dump in an outhouse, it will sell tickets. He’d probably shoot that movie from inside the hole with some kind of smell-o-vision tech in hyper-3D and millions would flock to watch it.

Seriously, seriously.

We haven’t seen Avatar 2 yet. We won’t get to until December 2021. If it is delayed due to the pandemic, that’s not the fault of James Cameron and company, it’s what many movies are doing these days.

The main point of this post isn’t to bash the author for hating on a movie and its associated franchise — hate away, I support any critic’s right to love or hate a film — it’s to challenge the concept of social media followers having really anything to do with a movie’s business potential. If the movie is good, there will be people with millions of Twitter followers promoting it — for free. Movies don’t absolutely need Twitter accounts or heavy tweet marketing to be successful. Yes, it helps getting social media buzz around a movie, which I think is the fundamental premise behind the criticism in the linked article.

As always, I welcome contrarian viewpoints, just please keep it civil in the comments area. I don’t want to have to call upon my small number (not my opinion, by the way, I’m grateful to have 1 interested follower) of 4,009 followers on Twitter to rough anybody up 😉

Amazon doesn’t need AMC, but they could use some more movie theaters

Don’t buy the hype that Amazon might actually buy AMC. Look at AMC’s burning balance sheet. It’s a huge money-making business, but not a very profitable one for movie theater owners.

Yesterday, we saw the news that Amazon is reportedly talking with AMC about a possible buyout. Maybe by now you’ve seen and heard the reports too.

It sounds enticing. Amazon Studios wanting to get more of their movies on the big screens being suddenly the #1 biggest movie chain in the world? Oh, the possibilities. The extra income …

… until you hear the price tag. That brutal thing known as overhead.

Amazon thrives on reducing overhead. Seeing them in a business where they can’t use drones instead of people to deliver popcorn to moviegoers? Don’t laugh. It might be possible someday to have drones deliver concessions in movie theaters 😉

Right now, today, I don’t see how or why it makes any business or financial sense for a hugely profitable company like Amazon to absorb billions in AMC debt. Instead, they could, should and probably will let them fold and buy the theaters — the actual physical locations — they want in a fire sale. Some AMC theaters are in locations that might need immediate shutdown (see: Florida Landlord Sues AMC for Rent – 7.5 million – Meanwhile, they won’t open until there are “new” movies to show?)

AMC needs Amazon’s help much more. Of course the stocks of both companies are jumping on the mere mention of talks.

Shares of AMC were up more than 18% in premarket trading on Monday after the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that Amazon has held talks with the world’s largest cinema-chain owner, which runs movie theaters globally under the AMC and Odeon names in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada, among other locations.

Amazon Reportedly Expresses Buyout Interest in AMC – TheStreet

Amazon already owns some smaller theaters and it makes total sense for them to expand their movie theater presence — assuming they believe in physical movie theaters — just as they bought Whole Foods to expand their grocery business.

I’m not sure Amazon believes, at least on a giant, global scale, that movie theaters will be as dominant in the future as they’ve been in the past. That’s the billion dollar question. I’m not arguing that movie theaters won’t continue to play some important part in the future of movie watching and that Amazon would like to have that distribution arm for their films being friendlier (say goodbye to most if not all of the theatrical window if Amazon buys AMC).

A more wise business decision for Amazon is to wait and see what happens.

Let the big three movie chains suffer financially and then swoop in and cherry pick the physical locations. They don’t need AMC corporate and NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), but could benefit from owning some of the better physical locations. Those will be for sale without the beleaguered companies and their obsoleted theatrical window rules.

My guess is that’s what Jeff Bezos and company said in their talks, if they even had any according to the rumor and alleged news reports. We’ll buy some of your locations but we want to run them our way. Yes, our way or the highway, AMC. Indeed, that’s what a business overflowing with cash in the black says to a company deep in the red.

AMC, if they have any choice, will not slice up their company for Amazon. I don’t see a deal happening yet. Could it happen someday? Sure, but it isn’t in Amazon’s favor at the present time. Regardless the outcome, I do see Amazon picking up more physical theaters. In fact, I’ve already said this was a strong possibility in past posts here.

And while we’re speculating. Disney, Universal, all the major studios should be staking claim to buying more movie theaters that may soon be on the market. Since the age old laws were lifted preventing them from doing so (see: Studios To Regain Powers Due to 1948 Paramount Consent Being Overturned), it’s a golden opportunity for them to own locations they can exhibit their movies. Competition is good and I don’t see how any three giant corporations owning almost all the movie theaters is as good as a half dozen major studios owning chains of theaters.

Strap in, grab your popcorn, the future of movie theater ownership is headed for change.

How All Movie Review Rating Systems Are Flawed

When Terminator: Dark Fate was released, I tracked for over a week the Rotten Tomatoes ratings

The simple answer to the title: human beings created these rating systems.

The longer answer gets pretty deep. Stay with me as we weigh in..

No matter if it’s the greatest movie reviewer of all time or you’re brand new reviewer dipping a toe in the water: every ratings system you can pick to use — or create on your own — is flawed.

Let me explain what I mean by that and defend why I’m even bothering to use a rating system at all because it’s going to sound very hypocritical.

We use the five star rating system. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, it’s one of the more familiar systems being used by reviewers. Amazon uses it for everything. People see a score in a five-star review system and understand immediately what it means.

That’s what you want. People to see a rating and say, yes, I understand if the reviewer liked or disliked.

Here’s what you don’t want to see:

Somebody help me understand what the star rating above means?!?!

I considered other rating systems.

Like the grading system (A+ = best, F = worst), but my computer programmer mind kicked in and said that wasn’t a numeric system. I worried that from a programming perspective, I’d have to convert those textual grades to a number at some point like this:

A+ = 14
A = 13
A- = 12
B+ = 11
B = 10
B- = 9
B = 8
C+ = 7
C- = 6
C = 5
D+ = 4
D = 3
D- = 2
F – 1

The grading system gives 14 comparative points which is much better than five stars which, with half stars, only gives 10.

5 stars = 10
4.5 = 9
4 = 8
3.5 =7
3 = 6
2.5 = 5
2 = 4
1.5 = 3
1 = 2
.5 = 1

The other rating system I thought about was the percentage, with 100% being the best and 0% being the worst. That doesn’t need any breakdown, as that gives 100 points of difference for comparison.

Some might be thinking, hey, that’s how Rotten Tomatoes works. They’d be wrong. That’s not how Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer works.

The % from Rotten Tomatoes is how many gave a positive review vs. a negative one for a movie or TV show. So if the score is 35%, that doesn’t mean the average rating was 35%, it means 35% of everybody who left a review thought it was good.

Wrap your mind around that for a minute. Too very different things. If I’m using a 100% scale and give a movie 35 out of 100. That’s my review score. However, if 100 people are polled and 35 say they loved the movie, those 35 peoples scores are 100%. Now let’s take the other 65 people. Some they loved it (100%), some say they liked it (80%), some say it’s ok, but they still recommend it (70%). The average accumulation of those scores will not be 65%. That’s my point: mathematically and inherently flawed.

But when we see 35% Rotten Tomatoes, we think that is absolutely godawful. It’s a terrible score. The movie must be total crap. It’s possible, maybe even probable, that the score is higher depending on how much the people liked the movie vs. the ones that disliked.

That subjectivity is the flaw and no matter what rating system is used, the same flaws exist.

So, then what is the best rating system? Why not just skip using one and saying: recommended or not?

It’s those movies that sit in the middle, those pesky movies that teeter on the edge of recommended or not are the most vexing to rate. Do you recommend it or not? If you recommend it then you’re putting it in with the very best movies of all time that are also recommended. How do you compare one of the greatest movies with an OK movie that both entertained and have exactly the same score?

Aye, the rub.

So that brings up having more points of comparison in a review. A five star system with half stars is 10 points of comparison. A grading system is 14 points and a percent system provides 100 points. A four star system provides 8 points.

My problem when seeing a 3-star rating is whether or not that’s 3 out of 4 stars (75%) or 3 out of 5 (60%). Big difference in perspective. Not every movie reviewer shares the max rating. We don’t here, but probably should start doing that to make it clearer that we’re using a 5-star rating system, not a 4-star rating system.

At the end of the day those of us reading your review need to understand one simple thing: do you recommend seeing it or not. Yes or no. The why you chose which option is the entertainment angle of the criticism.

Let’s get to criticism. This is where people with opposing opinions sometimes confront each other. If I hate a movie you love, then how does that make you feel about me as a reviewer? Some of you might think my taste is terrible because we disagree. Some might say, hey, he just didn’t care for something I liked, others might call into question my professional standing as a movie critic.

There is an art to writing a great movie review without spoiling the movie. I’m still trying to figure out and learn this craft. It’s easier to write a good critique of a film. I do the latter here all the time, but only TV reviews appear, some of which are spoiler-laden and some are not. The spoiler-laden ones are better in my opinion because they allow me to explain every single detail why I liked or disliked something. It’s harder to do that with a shorter review. How do you criticize what you disliked without ruining the film for those who haven’t seen it yet, especially if that involves the ending?

So, for the spoiler-free reviews, the reviewer has to resort to using vague language. Listing reasons they dislike something, but not being able to fully explain what s/he disliked. Sometimes I can draw that picture in a couple hundred words or less and sometimes I can’t. This is the art of the craft and it’s much harder than it looks.

I could make an argument that a 200 word movie review that doesn’t spoil the film for those who haven’t watched is harder than writing a 5,000 word short story. I’ve done both.

What do you do when others disagree with your reviews? How do you handle that criticism?

I just read the longest ever explanations on how to handle criticism. It’s a good piece if you can get past the wordiness. It’s coming from a highly skilled famous guitar player, Steve Vai. The best part of it is how he personally handles criticism with three words: “I’ll try harder.”

Great response.

“I was doing an interview with the same magazine, and of course, they showed me this article and said, ‘What do you think about this, what he said?’, and I had already kind of practiced allowing him to have that opinion, and what I said was, ‘I’ll try harder’ – the end.

Steve Vai Explains Best Way to Handle Criticism, Recalls Reaction to ‘Very Famous Guitar Player’ Saying He Was Complete Crap | Music News @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com

If someone dislikes your next movie review, just remember to say, “I’ll try harder.” The same can be said for all movie rating systems. We need to try harder.

VOD / Streaming Movies Intended to be in Theaters in 2020 Will Be Eligible for Oscars

2020 Oscars nominees for Actresses in a Supporting Role — won by Laura Dern for Marriage Story

Not quite a Hallelujah moment, but a start.

Somehow I missed this one-time change by the Motion Picture Academy to allow VOD/PVOD/streaming movies that were intended to be shown in theaters and released on streaming to be eligible for Oscars in 2020.

This isn’t a large number of increased movies, if you look at the numbers, so don’t count on Amazon Originals or Netflix Originals being included, unless they truly were slated to be theater releases. Very few of them are.

Extraction ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (see: 30+ Extraction Reviews – Solid Action, Thin Character Depth and Story), for example, which could become the most watched new movie on Netflix ever with 90+ million views, would not be eligible. See, how jacked up these rules are?

For calendar year 2020, movies shown exclusively on streaming services or video-on-demand will be eligible for Oscar consideration. It only applies to movies that were always set for a theatrical release.  Academy regulations have long stipulated that movies need to run for at least one week in a commercial theater in Los Angeles before Dec. 31 to be up for awards consideration.  Even with the new temporary rule, each film will still need to be made available to potential voters on the member-only Academy Screening Room streaming site within 60 days of its streaming or VOD release. 

Will pandemic change movie watching forever?

What movies would be Oscars eligible under this new rule (this isn’t a complete list)?

  1. Trolls World Tour
  2. Scoob!
  3. The Lovebirds
  4. My Spy
  5. Artemis Fowl
  6. King Of Staten Island
  7. The High Note

Not sure any of these movies will have much in the way of Oscars chances, but hey, at least they can be considered. Personally, pandemic or not, this is 2020 and all new movies released to streaming/VOD or the movie theaters or wherever they can be screened should be eligible.

Seriously, a movie is a movie. If you create it with a cast, characters, story and shoot it on film or digitally, edit it, and then release it to an audience, why can’t that film have the same opportunity to win an Oscar as something done mostly by giant studios?

One reason is sheer numbers. There would be too many movies for the Oscar voting group to consider. I guess that’s where the numbers get whittled down and voted upon and then a pool of main candidates is put before the voting audience. Perhaps the vetting of “all new movies” is done by moviegoers. From that list becomes the smaller, more manageable list that the Academy reviews for final balloting and voting.

There are no perfect systems, but the old way of approving movies that only show in theaters is becoming increasingly pointless. The pandemic makes this new temporary change for 2020 (presumably reverting back to the old rule in 2021 if theaters are reopened) shouldn’t be the only reason the rules need revision.

We all know the next few months have very few theatrical releases scheduled (see: Delayed Screenings – Only 9 of 39 (23%) Wide Release Movies Coming to Movie Theaters (if they reopen) Through August 1, 2020 — this number has reduced even further since it was published)

June 2020 now has no new movies scheduled for theatrical release

With King of Staten Island now going to VOD and Fatale being pushed back to October 30, 2020 there are now zero new wide release movies scheduled for theaters in June 2020. There is only one for May 2020 as of this writing (Irresistible on May 29). The High Note previously scheduled for May 8 is now going to VOD/streaming on May 29 (source).

Will Irresistible hold out for its release, be pushed back or go to VOD/streaming also? Smart money says yes. If that happens, this means that no new movies will be opening in theaters in April, May or June 2020, when normally there would be 2-3 new wide release movies every week at this time.

What new movies on VOD/streaming do you think should be eligible for Oscar consideration?

Quibi Lawyers Protecting Name and Likeness from Podcast Fans

Two billion invested in Quibi to date has what in common with burning cash?

Yep, still waiting for cast to TV for Quibi.

Meanwhile, Quibi is still struggling to gain good press, while some of us that actually care can have a functional way to watch the content on the service. What’s taking their engineers so freaking long? It’s not like they’re climbing the Mount Everest of tech by hacking the cast TV blocking code inside Quibi’s innards.

Sigh. I hate it when IT departments drag their heels. But maybe it isn’t their fault, perhaps it’s somebody in management saying, “take your time on this, we want to see the way it is designed work”?

Whatever the reality, it’s not working.

And then there are problems that Quibi has which every big company with a weird name have: those that use that name without permission. Trademark infringement.

This is a rocky slope for companies: do we go after fans and insist they only use our silly, hard to spell name (Quiby, Quibee, Quibe, what is it?!) in a way that doesn’t confuse others thinking this is an “official” podcast? The legal world is pretty clear about precedents and if you do nothing then your legal claims weaken, but launch time is not the best time to threaten people that like what you’re doing and want to promote it for free.

“We’ve gotten messages from celebrities because they want to talk shit about Quibi,” Gibson said. “Everyone wants to shit on Quibi, but we’re the only ones who can do it because we don’t care about selling a show to them. Truly, the reason celebrities don’t want to be revealed is they still think, like, ‘Maybe I can sell a show to Quibi and make a little money off a sinking ship before the well runs dry.’” 

Quibi Sent These Podcasters A Cease-And-Desist, So Now They’re Out For Blood | HuffPost

Quibi isn’t technically or legally wrong in what they did to these podcasters. Frankly, using their name without permission is a bit obvious as being problematic, but the internet has a thieving side to it, sadly. We live in a cyberworld where asking for permission after the fact is more the norm than accepted practice.

Then there’s Bill Maher out there doing what he does best: skewering stupidity.

“You don’t have to tell me what Quibi is. I was sort of interested for a second but it passed,” said [Maher] of the short-form video service created by Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Let me guess, some assholes with MBAs raised a lot of money for an app that wastes teenagers’ time. My second guess just going by the name – a tiny country in the Middle East that lends money to Jared.”

Bill Maher Blasts Biden, Quibi And Americans
Who Are “Afraid Of Their Hands”

Quibi is trying to be more than an “app that wastes teenagers’ time” but that message is lost due to the obsoleted notion that you can control where people want to consume media.

Go ask the music industry how that works.

Eventually this is going to happen to movies. We’re going to cycle back around to doing something that people want to pay for. In music, that’s see artists/bands perform live. There is no way to consume that at home, they have to go out. For movies? Uh oh.

Quibi’s concept of we’re going to force you to watch it on your cell phone is so fundamentally flawed in 2020 that I’m shocked nobody raised their hand at the business table and said, “Um, we need to cast our content to televisions.” Maybe somebody internally did — or multiple people — only to be shut down by clueless senior management and executives.

We may never know. In the meantime, the clock is ticking on Quibi. Here’s some extremely helpful advice: get cast to TV functionality done and out here ASAP.

UPDATE 5/9/2020: Quibi’s co-founder Jeffery Katzenberg apologized to the podcast support team, Streamiverse:

“It was a mistake,” Katzenberg admits, but not without gently, professionally placing Quibi’s legal team under a quickly approaching bus. “It was lawyers doing what they believe they are supposed to do and protecting intellectual properties and copyrights and all of that stuff… It never made it to me until after the fact. The moment I heard it I went, ‘Oh my god, people doing what they thought was the right thing for what they thought were the right reasons.’ And it was a mistake, and I own it… It was not the way to manage or handle this.”

Well, well, well: Quibi CEO apologizes
on Streamiverse podcast for cease-and-desist