Facebook Should Be Broken Up, Company Co-Founder Says

Chris Hughes, who co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg and others 15 years ago when they were students at Harvard, believes the federal government should dismantle the extraordinarily powerful social-media giant. In a 5,700-word New York Times op-ed piece published Thursday, Hughes argued that Zuckerberg holds “unchecked power” that is “unprecedented and un-American.” “Mark is a…

via Variety

I’m fine with this. The libertarian in me dislikes the notion of the government smashing companies with a hammer, seemingly as punishment for their success, but the more primitive mind says “Facebook isn’t my friend”. Principles of liberty are not a suicide pact.

Variety Buries the Lede About Disney’s Film Division

 

Walt Disney Studios had a much more magical earnings report than analysts had expected. The entertainment powerhouse behind Pixar, Marvel, and the world’s most trafficked theme parks logged earnings per share of $1.84, a 3% drop from $1.89 in the prior-year quarter. Disney also reported revenue of $15.3 billion, essentially flat with the year-ago period.…

The article is called No Star Wars, No Problem, and it’s true that Disney had a good quarter. But why?

The better-than-anticipated financial picture is attributable to higher broadcast revenues and the increased popularity of its parks, bright spots that off-set declines in Disney’s film division. The company faced difficult comparisons because it did not field any “Star Wars” sequel or spinoff during the holidays for the first time in four years. The lack of a “Star Wars” film also took a bite out of licensing profits.

Doesn’t that seem to suggest the opposite of the headline? The fact that other divisions of the company are covering for a loss does not mean that the loss is not there. How bad is the loss?

Disney’s film unit released the hits “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” during the final three months of 2018, as well as the box office bomb “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Film revenues for the quarter decreased 27% to $1.8 billion and segment operating income decreased 63% to $309 million.

That seems bad. And note something here. Of the three films released, two were sequels to existing properties (one a sequel to a film fifty years old). Those were the hits. The bomb was a re-imagining of “The Nutcracker” that no one wanted and was critically panned.

You know what didn’t get released?

Anything new.

Now for a year of live-action remakes of earlier films, more sequels, and comic book movies?

The Renaissance is over.

How Good Were My Year-Old Oscar Predictions?

A little under a year ago, I fisked a Variety article written about the day after last year’s Oscars. My purpose was to make fun of Variety’s substanceless click-bait, but as it evolved, I emitted a handful of sneering predictions. Which is to say, inasmuch as I participated in the anticipation of a program I never watch, Variety won that exchange. But let’s see how I did:

Regarding Marwen:

Prediction: Carell gets a best actor statue for this weepie, since it’s a mostly comedic actor playing a tear-jerk. The Academy loves that crap. Zemeckis gets nominated, doesn’t win. The film doesn’t get nominated, and everyone gets pissy about how that can even happen.

I was right about the film not getting nominated, wrong about everything else. I expected it to be competent enough to be Oscar-worthy. Nope.

Regarding First Man:

Prediction: This film will do reasonably well at the box office, and won’t get any nominations.

Got one for Production Design. I guess that means I was wrong.

Regarding If Beale Street Could Talk:

That’s more like it. Something obscure and from the director of a previous Best Picture. This will do garbage box office and be hailed by the people who hail things as Significant and Powerful. It will get some nominations, maybe one Oscar, for screenplay or something.

If Beale Street Could Talk Domestic Box Office : $10,912,908

If Beale Street Could Talk Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 95% Fresh

“With Beale Street, (director Barry) Jenkins cements his status as this generation’s cinematic poet laureate of the American condition.”

-Matt Ward, Cinematic Considerations

Oscar Nominations: 2, for Best Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay.

nailed-it-4

Regarding The Favourite:

Nominated for Costume Design. Wins for Costume Design. The End.

Well, I was wrong about that. Best Picture, Best Actress, Two for Best Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, AND Costume Design. Although if it wins for Costume Design and nothing else, I will be proved retroactively right. So there’s that.

Regarding Isle of Dogs, well, I’ve beaten that one to death. But it ended up with a nomination for Animated Film, as predicted. That means a win.

Regarding Hereditary: 

If a horror film ever gets Oscar Gold, it’s going to have to be blessed by Sundance or something else first. And it’s going to need to have Topical Politics, so everyone can high-five each other about how much it would bother Mike Pence if he saw it.

Prediction: Toni Collette gets a nomination. No idea if she wins or not.

I was right about the film, wrong about Toni Collette. I underestimated Hollywood’s love of self-referential entertainment (Lady Gaga, A Star is Born, really?).

Regarding Mary, Queen of Scots:

My initial response is to say that Costume Dramas don’t win Oscars, but some instinct tells me not to leave out the possibility that they’ll nominate both Ronan and Robbie for the same award, that Drama and Sisterhood might ensue. Besides, Ronan-Robbie has a certain ring to it.

My instinct was right, but should have been applied to The Favourite. My initial response remains undecided.

Regarding Boy Erased:

This wins Best Picture. You heard it here first.

LOL. That’ll learn me.

Regarding Vice:

I think the whole “Prosthetics and Weight Gain for Oscars” thing might be played out now that they finally gave one to Gary Oldman for doing it. But Dick Cheney might make a good MASH-mask for Donald Trump, so who knows.

Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director. These are the Big Boys. Mike Pence will totally hate it if it wins for something. So I’m going to call this a win.

I didn’t make any predictions regarding Black Panther, so that’s a wash.

Overall Score: 3 Solid Right, 2 Partially Right, 3 Solid Wrong. I am the Detroit Lions of Making Oscar Predictions a Year Out.

Next: Winner Predictions based on Nominations

“First Man” has a Lot of Advertising, and Variety Thinks That’s Worth Knowing

No, really. This is a real article.

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “First Man.”

Is there some kind of contest for this? An award? Is there a reason I should devote a single brain cell to the fact that a studio spent more money advertising a particular film than other studios spent on other films? Is this the NFL Draft of the movie industry?

I hate the NFL Draft. Not because it exists, but because people get all excited to watch it. People find football teams picking football players entertaining. And the drama of whether this althete or that althete goes First Round or Second Round, and how the crap teams trade picks to the good teams and…

Oh-my-god-who-the-hell-cares

Anyway…

My initial prediction on First Man, in my previous post on next years Oscars, was to say that it will do decent box office and not get any nominations. I’m now going to say that some of the minor controversey about it not showing the American Flag could be sufficient among the Right-Thinking Folks to punish the sansculottes by giving it some Oscar Buzz. Mike Pence would hate that, right?

And that’s all that matters.

Variety Starts Telling Us What Movies We Should Care About Next Year: A Fisking

I don’t care about the Oscars. I didn’t watch them, and haven’t for some years. I don’t require some Star Chamber of Weinstein-enablers to direct my tastes in cinema.

I noticed the article because it let the mask slip: there’s a formula to all this nonsense, and there’s been a formula for some time: there’s a season of Oscar Films, and there’s the rest of the year of Movies for the Great Unwashed. You need to have your movies out during Oscar Season™, or else No One Cares.

Thus, Variety has already decided what we’re going to be talking about a year from now. Or predicted, anyway. This is sufficiently annoying to merit a Fisking.

Original text in bold, my response in italic.

Continue reading → Variety Starts Telling Us What Movies We Should Care About Next Year: A Fisking

Earth to Variety: No One Wants to Fix the Oscars

It’s not that I disagree with the suggestions Variety offers: 1) Hire Jimmy Fallon to host, with a multi-year contract, 2) Get people who actually share the general public’s taste to vote, 3) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAKE IT SHORTER, 4) Throw in some Audience Participation, and 5) Give the Celebs their booze back. Any and all of those things would probably help. Especially #3.

It’s that you and I and everyone all know that none of them are going to happen.

The Academy Awards have been dull and self-indulgent my entire lifetime. This is known (it is known). It’s going to continue to be. The purpose of the Academy awards is precisely to be “an employee-of-the-year celebration that happens to be televised for the entire world.” It’s a market display. The longer it goes on, the more everyone there is satisfied with themselves. The rest of us suckers will just keep suffering.