movie releases Tag

Let Them Watch Bootlegs

Let Them Watch Bootlegs

So, Christopher Nolan—which also means Warner Bros., which also means IMAX (but I’ll get to all that in a second)—has decided to release Tenet overseas next month and then in the U.S. (at least theoretically—but I’ll get to that in a second) in September.

 

By writing about this two posts in a row, it’s going to sound like I’ve got it in for Nolan. Not really, but it wasn’t my decision to make this year’s entire film market—and potentially the fate of the entire current approach to film production and distribution—

hinge on the release of his film. That seems like a situation it might be kind of important to understand.

 

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on film distribution, and I’m assuming that all involved thought this decision through the best they could. What I do know is that we’re currently living in a world where all bets are off and where traditional expertise in any area can buy you a cup of coffee and not much else.

 

Because figuring out how to parcel out films to the masses really isn’t my métier, what follows doesn’t qualify as much more than a thought experiment. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a little bit of meat on its bones.

 

In “Is Christopher Nolan Too Much of a Purist for His (& Our Own) Good?” I tried to think through the implications of launching Tenet into foreign markets before the film makes it, one way or another, to American shores. At the time I wrote that piece, the “overseas first” idea was mainly just being floated as a “what if?” but it had a feeling of inevitability to it. The common response I heard was, “No 

way Tenet doesn’t get shown both here and there at the same time,” but Warner and IMAX had to have looked at the current state of the pandemic, considered the contractual obligations that said the film had to be released in theaters first, and decided to try to grab the 50% or more of the projected total gross they could reap in foreign lands.

 

There are many, many implications to all this, but there are two I want to highlight here: As I pointed out one post ago, this makes it not all but inevitable but inevitable that the U.S. will be awash in a tsunami of Tenet bootlegs the second the very first theatrical screening of the film ends. To repeat myself, this means that, with the nation savoring his opus at 360p from a proper-aspect-ratio-be-damned file surreptitiously captured off some movie screen in parts unknown, Nolan will have completely undermined his conviction that people first had to see his film in a movie theater or not at all. (Actually, they will be experiencing it in a theater first, but virtually and in the worst possible way.)

 

And—as if there wasn’t already more than enough irony here to go around—by bestowing his masterwork upon foreign theaters first, he could be primarily responsible for generating the greatest boon the piracy market has ever seen.

 

Here’s Point No. 2: I could be utterly wrong about this, but the whole “We’re going to release Tenet in the U.S. in September” part of the announcement smells like a massive exercise in butt covering. Unless the Tenet forces have access to scientific data the rest of us aren’t privy to, there is no way the virus is going to be sufficiently under control a month from now to justify opening movie theaters on any meaningful scale. Even the New York metro area, which pretty much has the situation under control and would be responsible for a large chunk of Tenet’s U.S. take, isn’t in a big hurry to reopen its theaters out of concerns they could help spawn a second wave.

 

So my potentially meaningless reading of the announcement is that they’re dead serious about releasing Tenet overseas but are being something less than truthful (now there’s a euphemism we should all learn to hate) about the prospect of the film being shown here anytime soon.

 

At the time of writing, Nolan/Warner/IMAX had, once again, decided to release Tenet to theaters. What I don’t think any living soul honestly knows for sure is when, or if, American theaters will ultimately end up being part of that equation.

Michael Gaughn

Michael Gaughn—The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, Wideband, Stereo Review,
Sound & Vision, The Rayva Roundtablemarketing, product design, some theater designs,
couple TV shows, some commercials, and now this.

I’m Kinda OK with Hollywood Being on Pause

I'm Kinda OK with Hollywood Being on Pause

The Souvenir

I agree with Mike. I’m unconvinced by John Sciacca’s arguments about why movies might get better as a result of production delays.

 

But I do agree with John about one thing: There’s a major upside to the ongoing delays and shutdowns in Hollywood. With the tide of new content rolling in much more slowly, my wife and I finally have the opportunity to catch up on all the movies and TV shows we’ve let slip by in the past few years. And we’re both finding that—having missed the zeitgeist and the flurry of 

conversations surrounding these releases when they were new—we’re able to enjoy this content on our own terms, at our own pace.

 

We’ve recently, for example, started digging into The Witcher, the Netflix adaptation of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s folklore-inspired fantasy series. As the credits rolled on the first episode, my wife turned to me and exclaimed, “Why did we wait so long to watch this?”

 

Well, our daughter was in town the week it dropped last year, and then there was Christmas, and by the time New Year’s celebrations settled down and we had time to sit down for some new entertainment, the sixth season of Grace and Frankie was out, and . . . look, there’s only so much time in the day and only so many days in a week. We forgot about one squirrel and started chasing a newer one.

 

Am I a little sad that the release of Marvel’s Black Widow, originally slated for May 2020, got pushed back indefinitely? Absolutely. In an alternate universe, my wife would be queuing it up on our Kaleidescape Strato tonight. Instead, I think we’ll give Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir a spin, since it didn’t even make a blip on our radar when it was released last year (to be fair, an unusually exceptional year for new cinema). Or maybe we’ll finish watching the amazing Imagineering Story on Disney+, which we somehow managed to forget about after four episodes.

 

I’ve also been itching to sit my wife down in front of Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood and Akira Kurosawa’s Kumonosu-jō (aka Throne of Blood) for years now, but there just never 

seems to be the time. There’s always something new, something shiny, something tempting right over the horizon. And while few of these baubles ever truly measure up to the classics we’ve been meaning to watch or re-watch, they always seem to somehow find their way to the front of the line.

 

So, while I hope that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune manages to make its December 2020 target release date, and while I’ll certainly watch Wonder Woman 1984 the minute I can get my nerdy front paws on it, I’m kind of OK with the fact that the torrent of new releases has been reduced to a trickle. I’m not happy about the fact that so many creative types are out of work at the moment, mind you. But I’m glad I finally have the time to dig a little deeper into the home entertainment back catalog, the surface of which I only manage to scratch in any given year.

Dennis Burger

Dennis Burger is an avid Star Wars scholar, Tolkien fanatic, and Corvette enthusiast
who somehow also manages to find time for technological passions including high-
end audio, home automation, and video gaming. He lives in the armpit of 
Alabama with
his wife Bethany and their four-legged child Bruno, a 75-pound 
American Staffordshire
Terrier who thinks he’s a Pomeranian.

Could Theatrical Delays Make Movies Better?

Could Theatrical Delays Make Movies Better?

Pixar’s Soul

Movie theaters are closed, the best films have been getting pushed back (well, except for Hamilton, so there’s that), and new film production has been put on hold, and I get that that all sucks—but I’m thinking there might actually be some upside to this, hopefully making the experience even better when we are finally able to return to the movie theater or get some great

new content to watch at home!

 

More Time = Better Results

You ever watch those cooking shows where chefs are furiously working down to the very last, “Hands up, utensils down!” second? That is basically every Hollywood production schedule. They are working on these films till practically the very last second to ensure they are as good as possible, tightening the edits, effects, and story. For a perfect example of this, check out Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II on Disney+, which shows just how many people and moving parts, and how much work, are involved in bringing a major film to the screen.

 

But now studios have all been given the greatest commodity of all—time—to go back to hone these films that were supposed to already have been released and tweak them to perfection. This is the equivalent of an extra hour in the kitchen, and instead of not completing a sauce or forgetting a garnish, they can deliver a perfect plate.

 

And while working on new productions on soundstages and in offices has mostly ceased, a lot of this effect and finishing work can be performed remotely, meaning Hollywood could be hard at work behind the scenes to make these upcoming releases truly impressive.

 

Writers Can Write . . . and Rewrite

Banging out a script is often a furious process under a tight deadline that involves lots of changes and rewrites, with others frequently brought in to help improve or punch up the material, often happening on the very day of shooting. And

you know what can be a total suck to the creative process? A looming deadline. Sure, that proverbial clock ticking over your head might produce pages, but it doesn’t always result in the best, most original and creative work.

 

Writers will undoubtedly benefit from all of this forced time in isolation, letting them focus on crafting the best stories possible, or have extra time to go over and improve projects already in the pipeline that were delayed. Think about Disney/Pixar’s Soul, planned for June 19 and now waiting until November 20, or Morbius moving from July of this year to March 2021, or Fast 9 originally slated for a May 2020 release and now waiting almost a full year until April 2021. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that some of the best movies we’ll ever see are being written right now!

 

Theater Renovations

With theaters forced to close, owners now have the time and opportunity to do any needed renovations or upgrades. That seat with the hole in it? Get it repaired or replaced. Haven’t implemented a seat reservation system? Get on it. That one blown speaker or subwoofer that seems to plague at least one auditorium at the cineplex? Fix it. Been holding off on upgrading to an Atmos sound system because you didn’t want to close your biggest theater? Now’s the perfect time. Haven’t changed your projector lamp or balanced the sound system in a while? Get on it.

 

Theater chains know that people have enjoyed the opportunity to experience some first-run films in the comfort of their homes, and nothing is going to kill the momentum of a comeback like a sucky experience, meaning now is the perfect time to make sure their theaters are all in top order when they open back up.

 

Whether you’re excited for Tenet, Mulan, or the new Bond No Time to Die, here’s hoping Hollywood takes this extra time to give us the best experience when we’re able to get back to the movies!

 

John Sciacca

Probably the most experienced writer on custom installation in the industry, John Sciacca is
co-owner of Custom Theater & Audio in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, & is known for his writing
for such publications as
 Residential Systems and Sound & Vision. Follow him on Twitter at

@SciaccaTweets and at johnsciacca.com.