SELECTED NEWS AUGUST 2020


August 2020


DISNEY WORLD


Disney World, after 4 months of inactivity has reopened its doors in July. The entertainment giant in Orlando, FL is made from 4 parks:


  • The Magic Kingdom

  • The Animal Kingdom

  • Epcot Center

  • Hollywood Studios

In normal times, the entire complex employs over 75,000 people. This is not a small enterprise and because the parks have been shut down, most employees have been furloughed with a huge impact on their families and the local economy. Disney World itself is losing an estimated $30 million per day closed. The reopening cannot come soon enough however, new safety measures are in effect, the reopening coincide with an increase of covid cases in the state of Florida. To allow for social distancing, capacity will be reduced but no one knows if tourists will show up.

The future of Disneyland, World and its foreign subsidiaries is not really in jeopardy here, even if some economists think that the road back to profitability for the park's division is likely to be long.


NETFLIX


The already successful streaming platform has added an extra 10 million subscribers since the beginning of the pandemic.

Revenue from subscriptions allows Netflix to acquire popular programing and invest in the creation of original content. The Irishman directed by Martin Scorcese has been viewed in 64 million households. Netflix was not originally involved in the project, but when the original producer and distributor dropped, Netflix bought the rights and

injected extra $ to finish the film which is estimated to have ballooned to $160 million.


Strong from the financial return of the Irishman, Netflix is eyeing an investment north of $200 million into a new project. "The Gray Man", an espionage thriller ambitioning to give the "James Bond" franchise, a run for its money.

The film would be produced by AGBO the production company of the Russo Brothers who directed the biggest box office success 2 years ago with "Avengers Endgame" and have a relationship with Netflix.

"The Gray Man" would star Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans.

This is a big investment for Netflix, but not as risky as it seems. Experience of the producers, the cast, the broad appeal of spy stories making this film a probable universal blockbuster.

Production is scheduled to start early 2021, if all goes well.


STILL NETFLIX


The success of the streaming platform is not random. Netflix is offering a wide-ranging selection going from features to docu-series. New shows and Rerun of popular shows you can binge without commercial interruptions.

Part of the success is also in the diversity of its offering, with films from all over the world.

Recently, Mathieu Ageron Executive Producer of the French movie "Lost Bullet" acknowledged the success of the film with 37 million selections on Netflix.

Who knew that crime and adventure produced in France would attract the attention of the North American audience and beyond?

The multiple Video on Demand platforms are offering producers the world over, the possibility for their creation to be viewed.


RINGO STAR CELEBRATES 80


Sir Ringo Star has celebrated his birthday with a charity concert.

Five years ago, Ringo was accepted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the last of the Beatles to be recognized as an individual. Life as a Beatles was not very easy for Ringo. By his own admission, harmony would not have qualified the relationship between the band members. Star joined the band in 1962, people noticed his awkward way of playing the drums, he attributed to being left-handed while playing on a right-handed drums set. As the band popularity grew, so did the overwhelming presence of Lennon and McCartney, credited with most of the song writing and overshadowing the presence of the other two members.

Since the Beatles break-up in 1970, each member went its own way, Lennon and Harrison passed away, McCartney had a stellar solo career, which keeps on going and so is Ringo's. On July 7th, his birthday celebration was live streamed. Happy Birthday Ringo.


COMEDY CENTRAL UNDER CHRIS MCCARTHY


The comedy channel, part of Viacom CBS portfolio, has been under the supervision of Chris McCarthy since the beginning of the year, with a clear mandate to inject new life in the programing beyond the landmarks such as "The Daily Show".

This is what McCarthy had done at MTV with new unscripted shows but the objective for

Comedy Central goes beyond tweaking popular formats and creating a multi-platform of original content with a focus on Generation "Z", notoriously difficult to capture.

Thus, McCarthy plans for Comedy Central to produce several original feature films and new shows, which inspiration comes from fresh ideas rather than existing concept.

Comedy Central is also considering the extension of the Daily Show to a full hour. No doubt Trevor Noah and his team of writers can do it and consolidate the popularity of the show.

It looks like Comedy Central will be very fun to watch again in the coming months.


SKY STUDIOS


The British based network is planning on resuming their series productions in September; however, uncertainties are still floating around projects and season.

Contingency plans will be in effect should production's schedule be pushed again.

SKY executives have asked producers to rework the end of series season in the event of another lockdown.


SKY has written a production rules pamphlet gathering the dos and don'ts while producing under the threat of covid-19. Even with strict rules, the risk remains.

Some productions have already resumed but not that many. There is no doubt the health crisis has been a major headache for network and programming executives.


QUIBI


The OTT short form streaming platform created by Jeffrey Katzenberg, is celebrating its second birthday this month. Run by Meg Whitman (Ebay, HP) the idea germinated in the mind of Katzenberg to create a vehicle for short storied videos.

The official launch was in April 2020. The first week, Quibi was in the top 50 most downloaded free app. It quickly fell out of the top 100, 500 and even 1000 most downloaded free app. With around 2 million users by year end, Whitman and Katzenberg acknowledged the underwhelming results, way below the projected 7.4 million users and attribute the slow start to covid-19 situation. Restructuration is taking place; new investors are solicited.


"Sensor Tower" which is ranking app downloads and subscriptions, confirmed that only 8% of early users have become paid subscribers.

Quibi is actively seeking original content. Despite the involvement of high-profile celebrities and an overall investment of $1.75 billion, it seems not many are paying attention. The experience and know-how of Whitman and Katzenberg will surely find a way to make it work.


THE LAST DANCE


The docu-series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls' amazing run in the 1990s, has been a huge success on ESPN and available on Netflix. Watching Jason Hehir docu-series has somewhat compensated for the lack of live sport due to covid-19 and brought us back to a different era in basketball history.

The documentary is supporting the idea that Jordan alone, was such a force and power, making every other player of the team better, but it also projects a new light on the polished image of the team.

Multiple interviews of the players, coaches and executives have underscored tensions we did not suspect.

Jason Hehir approached all subjects surrounding basketball: Playing strategy, players' compensation, endorsement deals, feuds between players of the team, feuds with players of other teams, feuds with executives from the front office, the 1992 Dream Team, etc...

Even if you are not an unconditional fan of the sport, the docu-series is a great piece of entertainment.