Is Apple 00Crazy!?

I just read in The Hollywood Reporter that Apple is reportedly vying for the rights to distribute James Bond (along with Amazon, Sony and Warner Bros) movies, which I am trying to get my head around.

Now keep in mind such a move would likely give Apple exclusive access to Bond’s entire back catalog (as well as future releases) though doesn’t Apple–via iTunes–already have this (on an unexclusive basis)?

It’s worthy repeating that Apple isn’t buying the right to produce Bond movies (that would be a serious coup) but the right to distribute them, though seeing that movie theaters will continue to be with us (though perhaps the window from theaters to digital would shorten) there would have to be a considerable effort to expand to other media; a risky effort because not only would you have to be not only concerned about the failure of a particular venture, but of diluting or damaging the franchise as well).

After all, do you remember a cartoon called James Bond Jr (Nor does anyone else; that’s not a bad thing if you’re able to digest the uber-cheesy theme song)?

I suspect part of what makes James Bond such an institution is it’s exclusivity, which seemingly would directly conflict with Apple’s (and Amazon’s long-term plans).

Besides, if Apple Apple really wanted content, they could relatively easily buy a film studio.

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Netflix Downloads Bring More Questions Than Answers

With Netlix enabling subscribers the ability to download content it brings to mind more questions than answers. 

For instance, I assume downloaded content must ‘expire’ after a certain period of time. 

Using iTunes as an example, if I were to download a movie I would only have two or three days to watch it if I had started playing it.  Otherwise I might keep it for months, despite that being an exercise in silliness (never mind a waste of valuable hard drive real estate). 

Then there are the rights issues that accompany everything that appears on the streaming service.  To get the aforementioned rights to television shows or movies Nextlix makes deals with content creators for millions of dollars, so does the ability to download their content cost Netflix more than they are currently paying (and this question is crucial, because if it does the likelihood is high that those costs would be passed down to consumers in the form of higher membership fees). 

And while there has been no mention of any such increases–especially since the last time there was talk of a price increase it literally cost them millions of subscribers–nevermind the dubious ‘Quickster’ episode–we won’t know till we know. 

Why Superhero Fatigue Is Nonsense (With Zombies!)

Superhero fatigue” seems all the rage among some, but it’s a dubious concept at best, and easily disproven.  Reason being, if superhero fatigue were a thing, it would have been proceeded by ‘zombie fatigue.’

Look at the 2013’s World War Z, the Brad Pitt-starrer that was for awhile looking like the Fantastic Four of its time.

Except that it wasn’t, and despite a $190 million budget it went on to earn over $500 million and spawn a sequel.  And zombies haven’t only been successful in movies.

And speaking of zombies, whether or not they shamble (as God and Romero intended) or run despite the fact that their muscles should have atrophied as much as their bodies have, they clearly aren’t going anywhere.

AMC’s The Walking Dead has not only spawned a spinoff, Fear The WalkIng Dead, but the show continues to be a ratings behemoth for the cable network.

And for the life of me, I don’t quite understand it.  Where I used to work I was the first person to sing its praises (I didn’t have cable, so I purchased the first season via iTunes) and introduced it to anyone that would listen.  The fifth season has recently turned up on Netflix, and I have been watching that too, and its pretty good.

Though what it’s also, is relatively one-note in that while the cast may change, very little about the series itself does.  Not really,

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The scene above, from season 5, episode 10, Them possessed a bit of gallows humor the series sorely misses on a regular basis.

Though there are relatively rare instances when it rises above its humble origins, like in the picture above, though that’s the exception because, except in relatively rare situations, the series refuses to embrace the absurdity of the situation.  It’s as if the writers and directors have a mandate (like the one DC Entertainment supposedly has toward humor), and that mandate is that things will be as grim, as relentlessly bleak, as possible.

And I understand that.  After all, the series exists in a world were dying isn’t quite what it used to be.  The thing is, what the series misses–a lot–is that there’s humor to be found in the bleakest situations.

So, The Walking Dead has lasted over six seasons and shows no sign of slowing down and consistently remains one of the highest rated shows on television, while also being, sometimes literally, a pretty grim slog.

So if a series as repetitive–though admittedly enjoyable (in a end-of-the-world hopeless kind of way) as The Walking Dead–can not only grow, but thrive, then I expect that superheroes, be they in movies or on television, will as well.

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 4 Comic-Con Trailer

the-walking-dead1This looks awesome, though I am waiting for Season 3 to appear on Netflix.  I don’t have cable, and I purchased the first two seasons via iTunes, before AMC discovered that they had a monster hit on its hands.

Despite all the showrunner changes (the third in four seasons, which has to be some sort of record, especially considering that that typically happens when a show is doing badly, not when it’s one of the most successful shows on cable) that the show seems to be undergoing as of late, it still looks money (even though they killed off Dale, my favorite character).

Sometimes When There’s Smoke, (There’s Someone Making Much Ado Out Of Nothing)

This morning, I decided to see how much Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” cost to produce.  Box Office Mojo didn’t list its production costs, but with a modicum of searching I learned that the budget was probably around $250 million (most of which you can see on screen).

Now, my whining comes in after I read a story from Business Insider, a site I normally like quite a bit, which implies that Jackson’s film isn’t tracking on par with his ‘Rings’ films.  The article also implies that all is gloom and door as far as the two sequels are concerned (‘The Hobbit’ is the first in a trilogy).

This is beyond nonsense.  If only because it has already earned, worldwide, over $622 million dollars, and will probably be going strong well into the new year.  Now keep in mind, we’re talking a production budget of only (!) $250 million, so I fully expect that it will earn at least $700 million (and I am probably being conservative) before its theater run ends.

And that’s not including profits from DVD sales, streaming deals, and venues like iTunes.

Though admittedly an important part of this equation is that the each of the ‘Lord Of The Rings’ films squeaked in for under $200 million, which means that for the costs of almost the ENTIRE first three films you get–almost–one ‘Hobbit.”

Looking at the finished product, I think that it’s a bargain.  This latest film seems better assembled, more accomplished and significantly more fun than any of the prior three films.

And that has to count for something.

‘Storage 24’ Review

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“If more attention were given to character development, “Storage 24” could have been a genre classic, instead of a mildly interesting diversion.”

Horror is a house with many doors, all opening onto the stuff of nightmares.  Whatever your interest, be it torture porn, poltergeists, vampires, zombies, and just about everything in-between, you’ll find a place just for you.  In this house, there’s also a room for what I like to call survival horror, a sub-genre that deals with a group of individuals trapped by a being–be it human or otherwise–which they have to overcome if they are to escape with their lives.

“Escape” can be relative, though.  For instance, I would consider John Boorman’s “Deliverance” a prime example of survival horror, despite the fact that it takes place on a river because the individuals that are being hunted do not know their way around, which in a very real sense restricts their movement.

Besides “Deliverance,” a classic of this sub-genre is Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (which straddles science fiction as well).

Though for my money, quite possibly the best example is found in John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing” (which, like Scott’s film has elements of sci-fi, though the direction–as well as innovative special effects–are so strong that you could replace the antagonist with just about any monster you chose, and it would still work.

“Storage 24” as an example of survival horror that is in some ways similar to Carpenter’s film, in that there’s an alien that plagues a group of people, who in this case are trapped in a storage facility in central London.

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Apple Devours Hulu?

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I don’t know about this rumor, but it’s too fascinating to let go.  According to Deadline, Apple is considering purchasing Hulu for $2 billion.  What’s most interesting is that the deal would include two years of exclusive programming from NBCUniversal (now owned by Comcast), Fox (NewsCorp) and Disney (who happens to have a board member named Steve Jobs).

This could be a way to somehow funnel content into iTunes as well, which would be a way to not only increase users, but to sell more iPads, MacBook Airs, and iPhones by providing greater content under very favorable terms to Apple.

Then there’s the potential threat to Netflix…