Apple’s Sci-Fi addiction

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Apple’s Severance from reality, the building blocks of Netflix’s new chief, a proper Curb Your Enthusiasm send-off, A24’s TV, and a grandfather clock.

(A quick leap-year warning, the cover story is grim)

Let’s go!


APPLE’S SCI-FI ADDICTION

Apple produces an outsized number of sci-fi TV shows.

1 out of every 5, in fact. From their first slate of content in 2019 (See, For All Mankind) to their recent masterpiece (Severance). And nearly a dozen in between.

They’re courting audience members who are predisposed to purchasing Apple’s futuristic products while ironically reinforcing audiences’ fears of technological dystopias.

Previous shows have harped on malevolent products like a chip that divides our work and home memories and fake moon timeshares.

Apple’s tech and TV+ divisions are so severed there’s an unrealized irony in their major announcements made less than 24 hours apart:

When Steve Jobs founded Apple in 1976, he initiated a dogfight with Microsoft. This reached its zenith with Ridley Scott’s 1984 commercial, which showed Microsoft as George Orwell’s all-seeing Big Brother.

This may be Apple’s most terrifying technological prediction to date.

Microsoft is a partial owner of ChatGPT’s OpenAI, which is so lucrative and powerful that Microsoft has officially, as of last month, overtaken Apple as the most valuable company on the stock exchange (Apple held this position at one point for nearly a decade).

Apple’s blind pivot to content to keep users in its ecosystem may end up being one of the greatest technological blunders in history, as Microsoft’s runaway lead makes their AI systems asymmetrically powerful.

For now, all we can do is wait to watch Neuromancer through our Apple Vision Pro and take notes on how we to fight back against AI.

For More:

Ridley Scott’s 1984 commercial.

Severance teaser.

Link to purchase Neuromancer novel, on which the Apple TV+ show is based.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Dan Lin is Netflix’s new film chief. Lin has an impressive pedigree, graduating from Harvard Business School and serving as SVP of production at Warner Bros. He’s helmed both studio franchises and prestige pictures.

Franchises:

  • The Lego Movie (2014, 2017, 2019)
  • It (2017, 2019)
  • Aladdin (2019)

Prestige:

Lin will focus on quality control for Netflix’s feature films, which means cutting down their massive output. He also grew up in Taiwan, something that Netflix indeed sees as advantageous as they are laser-focused on expanding to international markets because, unlike their rivals, Amazon, Apple, and Disney, they have no ancillary products.

Lin will begin on April 1st. He is expected to receive $18-20 M/year.

He will report to Netflix’s chief content officer, Bela Bajaria.

Paramount Global earnings call for Q4 2023. Here are the gains and losses:

  • ↑ $404 M net income
    • ↑ 122% from 2022
  • ↓ $490 M streaming loss
    • ↑ $85 M from 2022
  • $7.63 bn revenue
    • ↓ $500 M from 2022
  • ↑ 4.1M subs
    • 67.5 M total
    • Driven by increased price for P+

CFO Naveen Chopra said:

“As we approach the third anniversary of the domestic launch of Paramount Plus, we’re capturing operating leverage in streaming faster than expected and we intend to build on that momentum.”

The company has stated it will be profitable by 2025, yet it had some big challenges last year, including the TV Media segment (↓ 12%), Advertising revenue (↓ 15%), and licensing revenue (↓ 25%), which was a result of the weakened linear TV ad market and Hollywood strikes.

Two big projects in the works include a remake of The Naked Gun, the iconic 1980s/1990s spoof series. The remake is set to star Liam Neeson and will be released in theaters July 18, 2025.

And a Robbie Williams biopic, Better Man, which Paramount acquired for $25 M.

A CliffsNotes on more Q4 earnings calls:

AMC actually cut their losses this year by 37% due to mass revenue from Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concert films.

Game of Thrones creators, latest project, Death By Lightning, has added Nick Offerman to the cast members. In a new series by Netflix, Michael Shannon will play President Garfield, who was assassinated by Charles Guiteau (played by Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen).

Death By Lightning will be based on the book Destiny Of The Republic.

Here’s how President Garfield is described in the text:

Wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, a renowned congressman, and a reluctant presidential candidate who took on the nation’s corrupt political establishment.

No word on who Offerman will play.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Richard Lewis, a series regular on Curb Your Enthusiasm, passed away at 76. Larry David had some sweet words for his friend Richard Lewis.

David said:

“Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

Many other celebrities, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Jon Stewart, took to social media to offer their condolences.

Season 12 of Curb is airing now, and Richard already made an appearance that touches on his death in a weird but poetic Curb way.

Bill Skarsgård is the reincarnation of The Crow.

Here’s the official synopsis of the adaptation of the 1994 film:

Soulmates Eric Draven (Skarsgård) and Shelly Webster (FKA twigs) are brutally murdered when the demons of her dark past catch up with them. Given the chance to save his true love by sacrificing himself, Eric sets out to seek merciless revenge on their killers, traversing the worlds of the living and the dead to put the wrong things right.

The first-look stills are all kinds of thirst traps:

The Crow (1994) is sadly best known for its on-set tragedy when a co-star accidentally killed the lead (Brandon Lee) when a prop gun malfunctioned. Unfortunately, not much in the industry has changed.

Here’s the trailer for the original (1994).

The remake is in theaters April 26.

June Squibb plays a very mean babysitter. Squibb, the forever feisty actress who brought a delightful sassiness to Alexander Payne’s Nebraska (clip), who wowed Sundance this year as the lead in Magnolia Pictures’ Thelma as a kick-ass 93-year-old who gets even with a phone scammer, will play now the babysitter in a reboot of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.

Check out the hell-fire babysitter in the original trailer (1991). Imagining Squibb in this is all kinds of wonderful.

A new teaser trailer just dropped.

In theaters April 12.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Sundance Institute Episodic Lab. The Sundance Episodic Program is an entry point for emerging episodic writers. The Episodic Lab is an immersive six-day experience at Sundance, offering writers an opportunity to workshop an original pilot and develop their writing and pitching skills.

Working with renown showrunners, producers, and executives, the Fellows participate in one-on-one story meetings, pitching sessions, craft workshops, and writers’ rooms.

The Episodic Lab will take place in the fall.

Apply here by March 9th.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

I Saw Jane Schoenbrun Glow. Jane Schoenbrun’s A24 film I Saw The TV Glow was the most well-reviewed film at Sundance.

Shoeburn describes the philosophy behind I Saw The TV Glow:

“So for me, it’s a movie about the ways in which television or really any kind of art can be there to make us feel less lonely, to hold us through times when we’re not ready to be ourselves yet, but also about repression and about dissociation and as a trans person about realizing that I was looking for myself on the other side of the screen and that I needed to cross through it to get there.”

The trailer for I Saw The TV Glow has just dropped.

There’s a dangerous infatuation with the medium of TV that seems to be a natural progression for Schoenbrun’s directorial debut, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair – Sundance 2021.

I Saw The TV Glow is set to be released on May 3.

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are known for their innovative sci-fi horror micro-budget films (The Endless, Sychronic). Part of the director’s distinctive style is the wild, fractured editing employed they employ as they co-edit with Michael Felker.

Moorhead and Benson have finished producing Felker’s directorial debut, Things Will Be Different.

Here’s the official synopsis:

In order to escape police after a robbery, two estranged siblings lay low in a farmhouse that hides them away in a different time. There they reckon with a mysterious force that pushes their familial bonds to unnatural breaking points.

The first-look footage involves a grandfather clock (and maybe a paradox). It’s cool, tad campy and feels squarely in similar territory to Moorhead and Benson’s aesthetics.

The film will premiere at SXSW.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Reliance Industries and Disney India are poised to merge their assets. This strategic partnership will place Reliance’s Ambani family (e.g., India’s richest man), at the helm of a unified operation, with Nita Ambani as chair and former Disney India head Uday Shankar as vice-chair.

Here’s the breakdown of projected ownership:

  • 51-54% Reliance
  • 40% Disney
  • 9% Bodhi Tree
    • Owned by former 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and Indian filmmaker S. Shankar

This merger aims to create a dominant force in, reaching 750M people across India through digital and streaming, combining Reliance’s extensive media assets, including the Viacom18 group and JioCinema, with Disney India’s Hotstar service.

The deal, valuing the joint venture at $8.5 billion, marks a critical step for Disney under CEO Bob Iger’s leadership, aiming to strengthen its position in India’s burgeoning market.

Barring regulatory and shareholder approvals, this deal should be implemented in late 2024 or early 2025.


ON THIS DAY

1940, 12th Academy Awards: Gone With The Wind wins eight Oscars, including Robert Donat, Vivien Leigh, and Hattie McDaniel.


See you Friday.


Written by Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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