In a packed field, Amazon are grabbing a lot of headlines lately as they galvanise their position as a serious streaming entertainment player.
First they’re releasing two films by brand name directors after cursory runs in theatres to qualify for Oscars, like Netflix did with Beasts of No Nation (www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/netflix-beasts-no-nation-play-812096). First up is Spike Lee’s modern fable about gun violence in urban America, Chi-raq, and after that comes Nicholas Winding Refn’s next movie, Neon Demon.
This comes on the heels of the recent release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie Junun being released exclusively on VOD platform MUBI.
But that’s not Amazon’s only coup. A lot of column inches and page impressions have been spent over its first major scripted series, The Man In The High Castle. Based on Philip K Dick’s alternate history novel where America has lost the Second World War, it’s not only getting rave reviews, it’s making waves after a controversy over poster ads on the New York subway. Showing Nazi and Imperial Japanese iconography, the ads were eventually removed from trains and stations, and the resulting kerfuffle was the kind of publicity Amazon were no doubt dreaming about (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/25/nazi-inspired-ads-for-the-man-in-the-high-castle-pulled-from-new-york-subway).
Speaking of Netflix, the VOD giant is expanding its reach into even more areas including news programming (http://variety.com/2015/digital/news/netflix-expresses-interest-in-expanding-into-news-programming-1201618182/). Not that it’s slowing down in the race for big feature titles either – after announcing recently that it’s going to release Brad Pitt’s next big project War Machine, they’re also going to work with his multi-talented wife Angelina Jolie on her next film, Cambodia (http://variety.com/2015/digital/news/angelina-jolie-pitt-netflix-movie-direct-1201547605).
Another example of digital’s encroachment on hallowed traditional territory is coming with the move of TJ Miller’s (Transformers 4, Silicon Valley) Youtube/Funny or Die project The Gorburger Show to HBO. But don’t ditch all your old media stock just yet. It’s easy to get caught up in digital fervour, but as recent research seems to remind us, things don’t change that fast. PriceWaterhouseCoopers says that even in 2019, says 80 percent of revenue in Hollywood will still be from non-digital content (www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/pwc-forecast-80-hollywood-revenue-799401).
On VOD now, the unfairly maligned Tomorrowland, hardly a classic but not as terrible as you’ve read. Pixar director Brad Bird’s film slumps a little at the end but it’s something Hollywood’s always clamouring for – an uplifting story where the future is bright with a three dimensional female hero.
20th Century Fox also recently released a huge slate of classic films digitally for the first time including How to Marry a Millionaire and Flight of the Phoenix.
Some Kind of Hate is a cool, slick and sexy slasher about a bullied young man who, when he’s shipped off to a retreat for troubled youth, starts to get help from beyond the grave in the svelte form of an angry former student.