What We Learned This Week: November 30-December 6

LESSON #1: #TRANSISBEAUTIFUL IS ALIVE AND WELL— First and foremost, bravo to Elliot Page and his future in Hollywood. May his story inspire others and fulfill those who live under undue fears. Page stands tall as a worthy figure to celebrate and deservedly so. I was happy to update the history of my Every Movie Has a Lesson website content to make the proper name and pronoun changes. There will be no deadnaming there or here. Educate yourself and add that responsibility to your own social media and conversation practices.

LESSON #2: THE THEATER-TO-HOME WINDOW IS JUST ABOUT DEAD— I have long cited in this column the shrinking amount of time between a movie’s theatrical release and its availability on home media. Back in the day, it used to be six months to a year. Somewhere in the advent of streaming platforms and VOD, it shrunk to 90 days and sometimes less. In huge industry news, Warner Bros. just made their own window zero days. For all of their planned upcoming 2021 film releases (not just Wonder Woman 1984 to end 2020), the studio will make them available in theaters and on their coveted HBO Max streaming platform on the same day. That’s a monumental shift in business, something definitely spurred by the present COVID-related circumstances where theaters are strapped, empty, dying, and immediately pissed by this move. Just like Disney+’s goal a year ago when it debuted, watch this bring a huge surge of new subscriber business to HBO Max when you’re promising chances to see the likes of Dune, The Batman, and more from the comfort of their own home. 

LESSON #3: THIS IS A PIVOT AND PIVOTS ARE NOT PERMANENT— Call this big business move what it really is: a pivot, and one certainly necessary considering societal circumstances. Mark me in the group that wonders why it took this long for some large entity with their own streaming service to pull this trigger. Disney dipped its toe with Hamilton, Mulan, and Soul, but to say ALL for an entire year like WB is commitment to the pivot. Expect more moves to follow. Watch Universal put their stuff on their Peacock subsidiary. Maybe WB lets HBO Max absorb their DC Network and put everything under one service. Maybe Disney does more. Maybe Disney uses their controlling ownership of Hulu Plus to be the “adult” place for all the non-family-friendly content and the entire Fox library they bought. In any case, pivots are reversible. When theaters are viable again, business can pivot back to include them better. They are still the #1 place to make billions. When people can return to them, business will return to them too. They’ll be back. They just won’t be, and can’t afford to be, the same.

LESSON #4: MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR AUGUST 2022— I’ve called it all year and I’m going to keep calling it now. If this pandemic keeps going longer, people stay away, and studios pivot to streaming, the large theater distributors are going to die off. As I’ve noted often in this column, they already are shutting down or circling bankruptcy. Theaters as we know them are not going to come back the same. What will they look like? Well, I think you need to mark your calendars for August 2022. With the old Paramount Decrees rescinded as of August 2020, studios can open and run their own theaters after a two-year sunset period. That’s August 2022. The WBs and Disneys of the block can pivot to streaming, sit back, and watch the AMCs, Cinemarks, and Regals bleed to death. They can buy them at their lowest point and rebrand them as their own with no old rules. They will look triumphant in 2022 when it’s the studios that “bring theaters back” with their own labels.  Best of all for them, they buy out or shove away the middle-man profit sharing they’ve tried to squash for decades. Every dollar goes back to them. This column may not be here in August 2022, but, mark my words. If the landscape is able to re-open, this scenario is happening.

LESSON #5: INVEST A LITTLE MORE INTO YOUR HOME SETUP— In the recommendation closing slot this week, I’m going to turn to the home and not the watch lists. With all of this time spent now at home, improving your home theater setup is something you probably should have been doing since March. Add all the new streaming opportunities coming and now is the time to upgrade, even if you just missed the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. You don’t have to go full Magnolia quality, but there are many little DIY and piecemeal things you can do on the cheap.  I currently have a 1080p projector that cost about $800 at the time. It gives me over 100 inches of screen size and has lasted longer than any physical monitor I’ve ever had. Projection is an awesome effect, and I’ll never buy another actual TV again. Even those new 4K-capable projectors in the $1200-1500 range will give you just as great of visuals as a TV of the same price and likely double the screen size. I know the prices of high quality TVs haven’t been better, but spring for the projector. You won’t regret it. After that, choose an accent wall and use flat paints with less sheen instead of buying a projector screen. A good affordable soundbar with HDMI input can blow plenty of sound versus the old expensive multi-channel towers, receivers, and setups. Use Monoprice to buy longer wholesale cables and learn how to hide the sea of wires. The DIY furniture setups ideas are endless. From palettes to pillows, you can make a little paradise den and not break the bank.

DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based and Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. His movie review work is also published on 25YL (25 Years Later), Horror Obsessive, and also on Medium.com for the MovieTime Guru publication.  As an educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. He is a proud director and one of the founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle and a member of the nationally-recognized Online Film Critics Society.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film now for over two years, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends while chipping in with guest spots and co-hosting duties, including the previous “Connecting with Classics” podcasts.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, and Medium to follow his work. (#148)

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