The movie-going and movie watching landscape continues to grow and evolve, against the industry’s will but for their benefit. 2021 saw the tail end of the extended awards season, while kinda-sorta embracing streaming as a viable option when faced with declining interest in the movie-going experience, which will more than likely become a niche endeavour, instead of a standard event. But across the board, great films continued to be released, here were my favourites from throughout the year.Continue reading “Best in Cinema 2021: Part 1 – The Films”
I’ll make no apologies for my love of the big action epics that are the Fast & Furious films. It’s such a solid, workhorse of a franchise that always delivers exactly the movie you expect it to. Great stunts, big action, solid crime-turned-espionage narratives with warm & fuzzy family messaging thrown in for good measure. I dig it.
The 9th entry in the franchise dropped in theatres this past week to the biggest opening weekend box office since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. After a year long wait, and just a few days beyond the 20th anniversary of the first one, we finally got to see the next chapter in the franchise. If you’re wanting to binge the franchise before you trek to the theatres, you’ll have to bounce around streaming platforms, even spend a few bucks to rent them. I will put it out there, they’re all available to rent or buy digitally on the usual platforms, Amazon, Apple, GooglePlay/YouTube, whatever that’s looking like now. About $2-4 each to rent, so if you’re gonna binge them all, it’ll cost you, but about as much for one date night to see one film. But if you have multiple streamers, including the big ones, you’re set to stream most of them.
The Fast & The Furious/2 Fast, 2 Furious
HBOMax has the streaming rights on the first two entries. That’s where you’ll start your binging journey. You’ll get introduced to Brian, Dom, Mia, Letty, the mainstays of the franchise. Tej and Roman enter the franchise in 2 Fast, 2 Furious.
The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift
This one is one of the hardest to find, as it’s only streaming on FuboTV, which I don’t know anyone who has it. Beyond that, you’re definitely renting on Amazon or AppleTV.
Fast & Furious
The fourth film in the franchise, which marked the gear shift from street racing and general crime to international espionage and car stunts, is slightly easier to track down, if you have AMC+. I happen to, because I love AMC’s programming, plus you get Shudder and IFC with it, so I can stream the movie. Otherwise, you’re looking at FuboTV for streaming, and everywhere else for digital rentals
Fast Five/Fast & Furious 6
If you’re one of the many who picked up Peacock now that it’s the exclusive home of The Office (I got it for Psych and Saved by the Bell), you’re in luck, because these two are on their home platform. Fast & Furious is a Universal Studios franchise, which is the same corporate entity as NBC, so Peacock is Universal. I’d imagine they had longterm streaming contracts for the various films, and that’s preventing the entire franchise from being under the Peacock umbrella right now, but as those contracts expire, all the films will eventually find their way home.
Furious 7/The Fate of the Furious/Fast & Furious Present: Hobbs & Shaw
The most recent three (except F9: The Fast Saga) are all on rentals. You get lucky if you have Hulu live, you can stream Furious 7 there by way of FXNow, but otherwise, you’re gonna drop some coin on those.
Better Luck Tomorrow
This is a Fast & Furious adjacent film. It’s Justin Lin’s directorial debut, starring Sung Kang. Justin Lin started directing the Fast & Furious films with Tokyo Drift, through Fast & Furious 6, and just returned for F9. Those are also the films starring Sung Kang, as Han… who he also played in Better Luck Tomorrow. Both Lin and Kang have confirmed it’s the same character, making it an origin story for the Han character, and a canon yet unofficial Fast & Furious film. It’s streaming on both Amazon Prime and Paramount+.
It’s Oscar weekend, and I’ll probably spend some time catching up on a few films I still need to watch before the ceremony on Sunday, there are a few releases out this weekend worth checking out, including what would otherwise be a solid springtime blockbuster for Warner Brothers. Let’s take a look.Continue reading “New Films for The Weekend of April 23rd”
The first big tent-pole hits theatres and streaming, and it’s the first real test of the new theatre+streaming release model. I know Raya & The Last Dragon was a big test for Disney, but it wasn’t a franchise, it was still early enough in the vaccination process that people still weren’t going to the theatres a lot. It was low risk as it wasn’t expected to put up, say Marvel or Frozen numbers. I think it would have done very well in any other year. But Godzilla vs. Kong… that’s a real test. Especially with Warner Bros. and Universal flipping to a shorter six week theatrical window soon. But we’ve got some theatrical and some streaming offerings for our viewing pleasure.Continue reading “New Movies Weekend of April 2nd”
Launches is not quite the right way to describe what we’ll get on the 4th, as it’s CBS All Access expanding to become a more of a competitor in the streaming wars, with Viacom/CBS rebranding All Acces to be Paramount+
Live sports, breaking news, and a mountain of entertainment. CBS All Access is becoming Paramount+ on March 4th. pic.twitter.com/nLdA9pgaUP— CBS All Access (@CBSAllAccess) January 19, 2021
CBS AllAccess launched all the way back in 2014, but didn’t start picking up steam until they launched some original programming, specifically their revival of the Star Trek franchise on TV with Discovery in 2017 and Jordan Peele’s approach to Twilight Zone in 2019. With the re-merge of Viacom and CBS in 2019, as well as all the major studios gunning for a piece of the streaming pie, it was only a matter of time before they pushed to have the entire catalogue under one branded umbrella.
And as glad as I am they are doing this, as there is a lot of content to be enjoyed under this banner, really Viacom/CBS? Paramount+? Like… Disney already had “+”. Technically Hulu had it when they had their first premium iteration, but since Hulu and Disney+ are both Disney platforms (Comcast/NBC/Universal still has like a 30% non-controlling stake, FTR). But Disney+, and Discovery+ just launched on January 4th.
My hope is that we’ll see them really fill out some of their problem areas. Currently, CBS AllAccess has a smattering of various back catalogues, and some of the shows they have are missing episodes. A lot of episodes. By focusing on a robust content library, I think they can really be a modest player in the streaming landscape to set themselves apart. And they do have a very key segment they can lock in with a full library: 90s/early 00s nostalgia.
Late Gen-X, Millennials, and early Gen-Z. Specifically with their Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and MTV properties. If they can build that out, they can get some of the younger crowd to their platform. They’ll get the older crowd with their deep well of NCIS/CSI/JAG shows. But tap into that 90s nostalgia. The 2020 documentary The Orange Years already got that ball rolling for you.
What gives me pause are three big properties Paramount has that are showing up elsewhere right when it would be beneficial to have them in their arsenal. I won’t pretend to know the intricate ins and outs of licensing and distribution and all that. But cult fave TV show Freaks & Geeks is going to Hulu, with its music rights intact, which is a huge win for fans of the Paramount produced show. That show did air on NBC, so maybe it’s a distribution issue, and with the music rights in play, maybe Hulu was the best option. I don’t know. But that would have been a good selling point for Paramount+.
As would the delayed theatrical releases of Coming 2 America, the long gestating sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy classic, and Without Remorse, the Jack Ryan-adjacent Tom Clancy film starring Michael B. Jordan. Both would have been solid theatrical successes had 2020 not happened, and both would have been good launch content for Paramount+, had they not auctioned the distribution rights to Amazon Prime.
Freaks & Geeks heads to Hulu on January 25th, while Coming 2 America and Without Remorse head to Amazon in February. Again, I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of distribution rights and streaming rights, and there are probably bigger things at play preventing those properties heading to Paramount+, but it just feels like missed opportunities for Viacom/CBS to launch Paramount+, and doesn’t fill me with much confidence on their library going forward.
I’m already a subscriber to CBS AllAccess, so not much will change for me. I do it to support Star Trek. I will sing its praises if they invest in and fill out their Nick, MTV and Comedy Central libraries. That and Paramount Picture’s 110 year history of cinematic excellence that includes The Godfather films, Forrest Gump, Titanic (with Fox, so Disney has that, too), Marx Brothers films, Hope/Crosby’s Road To… series, (some of) Friday the 13th. If they highlight that and their TV properties, they can be a contender, following a similar path to success Warner has with HBOMax. Paramount even has Showtime, so a well known, well respected premium cable brand is in their back pocket, too.
Viacom/CBS may not have the most exciting launch of a branded streaming platform, as they’ve just completely dragged their feet to the finish line. But they do have an impressive catalogue if they can just make effective use of it. As an elder millennial, I’m anxiously awaiting the chance to deep dive 90s era Nickelodeon. Been far too long without Hey Dude or Salute Your Shorts in my life.
A big week in movie releases across the board, with the major streamers each dropping a major release, while two awards contenders head to VOD and even theatres get a Liam Neeson western.Continue reading “New Movies Weekend of January 15th”
I originally sat down to write this piece back in early April, when everything was just untested waters, and no one really knew what was going on, and we legit thought we’d be back to normal by May. A lot has changed in the past several months. Fortunately, the past several months have only solidified the ideas I was formulating for this piece.Continue reading “How Hollywood Should Navigate Post-Pandemic Movie Releases”