Netflix orders first Brazilian scripted drama series

Netflix announced today that they have picked up the first scripted Brazilian drama series and it’s none other than the resilient “3%”.

The show’s story is set on a post-apocalyptic world divided in two where people from the exploited side are given a chance to make it to the “better side” through a cut-throat process where only 3% will make it.

The 7 episode show is scheduled to premiere on 2016 and will be directed by Cesar Charlone, most known for the photography of the  2002 movie “City of God”, and mainstream newcomers Daina Giannecchini, Dani Libardi and Jotagá Crema.

This is a special show and an even more special victory; 6 years ago, Daina, Dani and Jotagá, all my seniors in University at the time, won a government grant to produce Pedro Aguilera’s pilot for “3%”. The pilot was posted online and gained enormous amounts of traction but never got sold. To see it now, being the first ever Netflix original (can we all please forget “A Toca” ever existed? I have.) is a victory for these four very talented people who never gave up on their project, something that the Entertainment Industry in Brazil makes very hard to accomplish.

Above is the link to the original version of the pilot, enjoy!



David Lynch drops out of Twin Peaks Revival

Remember last year when you were so excited in finding out that Twin Peaks was coming back you didn’t even know what to do with yourself? Well, better hold your horses.

David Lynch tweeted last night that he has dropped out of the reboot after he and Showtime weren’t able to come to an agreement during contract negotiations.

The director tweets: “After 1 year and 4 months of negotiations, I left because not enough money was offered to do the script the way I felt it needed to be done,” “This weekend I started to call actors to let them know I would not be directing. Twin Peaks may still be very much alive at Showtime,” he continued. “I love the world of Twin Peaks and wish things could have worked out differently.”

Showtime issued a statement to TheWrap shortly after Lynch broke the news: “We were saddened to read David Lynch‘s statement today since we believed we were working towards solutions with David and his reps on the few remaining deal points. SHOWTIME also loves the world of Twin Peaks and we continue to hold out hope that we can bring it back in all its glory with both of its extraordinary creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, at its helm.”

With creators  Lynch and Frost  on board to write and produce all nine episodes plus Lynch to direct all the episodes and originals stars Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee and Dana Ashbrook all confirmed to participate this was bound to be an amazing project. David Nevins, the man behind Showtime’s increasingly amazing roaster of projects, said in October: “To quote Agent Cooper, ‘I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.’” Now, it remains to be seen.

Do you think it’s even worth pursuing without Lynch on board?

2014’s Studio profitability report

Source: THR

The domestic box-office fell 5.2% and DVD sales dropped 11% in 2014. By those numbers alone one might have thought it was probably a tough year for the major Studios but the 2014 profit report is out and it shows that they did surprisingly well. Tentpole franchises, unexpected mid-range budget unexpected hits, SVOD sales to players like Netflix, cost control and TV hits all helped ease the blow and keep Studios in a good place. Below, how each Studio ranks and the key factors that contributed to their results.

1) WALT DISNEY: $1.7 billion

Disney has the golden touch, we all know that. But in 2014 they reaped big rewards for the mega-hit ‘Fronzen’, placing Disney at number one for the first time in 5 years, a place that was owned by Warner Bros ever since the report started coming out.  Disney also has a big upper hand in home video since most of it’s audience is younger and kids are the biggest home video customers. 2015 will liked keep the good fortune going with a seventh ‘Star Wars’ film and two Pixar titles scheduled to come out.

2) 21ST CENTURY FOX: $1.5 billion

2014 was the best year for Fox since 2010. ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, the exquisite ‘Gone Girl’, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ and ‘Rio 2’ are the main hits responsible for this result. Fox’s strategy has been a bit different than the other Studios since they’re betting on a more diverse slate and some great mid-range budget hits like ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. (We, the audience, are very thankful for that, Fox). On the TV side, Variety reports that the syndication of ‘Modern Family’, a new season of ’24’ and SVOD revenue from the sale of ‘The Americans’ to Amazon helped temper the loss of the big hit ‘How I Met Your Mother’.

3) WARNER BROS: $1.3 billion

Falling from 1st place to 3rd is largely due to restructuring costs and a wave of flops like ‘Transcendence’.  Big hits helped ease the losses, especially new TV shows ‘Gotham’ and ‘The Flash’ and  ‘The Lego Movie’, ‘Godzilla’ and the final ‘Hobbit’ on theaters. To come, are multiple DC movies (yes, more superheroes), at least 3 more Lego movies and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies from J.K. Rowling.

4th, 5th and 6th place were taken, respectively, by NBCUniversal, Sony and Paramount.

Who do you think will have the best year in 2015?

What the first and final frames of great movies can teach about the art of filmmaking

Because we can’t be all about the business, right?

Jacob T. Swinney, a video-essayist, just released a new juxtapositional supercut from 55 contemporary films where he sandwiched the first and last few seconds of each against one another. The result is a beautiful study in how we perceive the meaning of images (plus the soundtrack takes you right back to ‘American Beauty’ and who wouldn’t enjoy that?).

Curious? Here’s a list of the films used (in order of appearance):

The Tree of Life 00:00
The Master 00:09
Brokeback Mountain 00:15
No Country for Old Men 00:23
Her 00:27
Blue Valentine 00:30
Birdman 00:34
Black Swan 00:41
Gone Girl 00:47
Kill Bill Vol. 2 00:53
Punch-Drunk Love 00:59
Silver Linings Playbook 01:06
Taxi Driver 01:11
Shutter Island 01:20
Children of Men 01:27
We Need to Talk About Kevin 01:33
Funny Games (2007) 01:41
Fight Club 01:47
12 Years a Slave 01:54
There Will be Blood 01:59
The Godfather Part II 02:05
Shame 02:10
Never Let Me Go 02:17
The Road 02:21
Hunger 02:27
Raging Bull 02:31
Cabaret 02:36
Before Sunrise 02:42
Nebraska 02:47
Frank 02:54
Cast Away 03:01
Somewhere 03:06
Melancholia 03:11
Morvern Callar 03:18
Take this Waltz 03:21
Buried 03:25
Lord of War 03:32
Cape Fear 03:38
12 Monkeys 03:45
The World According to Garp 03:50
Saving Private Ryan 03:57
Poetry 04:02
Solaris (1972) 04:05
Dr. Strangelove 04:11
The Astronaut Farmer 04:16
The Piano 04:21
Inception 04:26
Boyhood 04:31
Whiplash 04:37
Cloud Atlas 04:43
Under the Skin 04:47
2001: A Space Odyssey 04:51
Gravity 04:57
The Searchers 05:03
The Usual Suspects 05:23

If you liked this video by all means check out the rest of Swinney’s work on Vimeo, he’s a very talented guy. Fellow sound-buffs, like yours truly, might specifically enjoy this treat for the ears:

The best of Amazon Instant Video

Amazon has had it’s VOD platform going for a while now and has consistently produced good shows. Their strategy is very interesting: every year they have a pilot season, when all pilots are made available to the audience who then chooses the ones they like best and that will get a chance to turn into shows. A player on the entertainment industry putting the audience’s power of choice upfront? Interesting stuff, no?

It’s working – so far they have 9 originals available so I thought we should talk a bit about some of the best ones and hopefully you’ll give them a try sometime soon. All the first episodes are available for free on Amazon Instant Video and you’ll find the links below.

In ‘Transparent’, a L.A. based Jewish family see their lives turned upside down thanks to a flux of family secrets coming to surface. Somewhere in between a drama and a comedy, these characters are all very real, flawed people and it’s a delight to watch them in a show that is at the same time heartwarming and heartbreaking. “Arrested Development’s’ Jeffrey Tambor does exquisite work as a father who comes out as a transgender to his family and takes us through the tough challenges that doing so involve. This show has been getting extensive critical recognition and snatched a Golden Globe earlier this year for Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy. Transparent is a show no network would have touched and Amazon turned it into something truly outstanding.

‘Bosch’ is a crime drama where Titus Welliver (from ‘Lost’ and ‘The Good Wife’) plays a mildly corrupt LAPD detective who consistently bends the rules to achieve his goals. The show is based on Michael Connelly’s Bosch book series, which is wildly successful. Think of ‘House’ meets ‘Law and Order: S.V.U.’

(I have to admit I’m still on episode 6 so I might change my mind about this show eventually, but so far, so good.)

This show was created by Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, need I say more? ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ is a comedy starred by the wonderful Gael Garcia Bernal who plays a young conductor shaking up the backstages of the New York Symphony. Malcom McDowell (‘A Clockwork Orange’) and Broadway star Bernadette Peters also star in this great show. A big plus here is the amount of amazing music featured on this show – a must watch for music lovers.

‘Alpha House’ is a funny, more down to earth (and still worth watching) ‘House of Cards’. John Goodman plays a U.S. Senator who shares a house in D.C. with fellow politicians, all of them completely immature. Together they expose huge amounts of unpreparedness, backfired shots and lack of ethics to make this a very interesting show.

There’s much more and you’re sure to find something that will appeal to you. HBO Now will likely cause a big stir on the VOD world but Amazon is quickly becoming a heavy-weight contender.

What are your Amazon Instant Video favorites?

Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ opens to an impressive Global debut and confirms lucrative Fairytale trend

Women prove yet again that they can drive box-offices – ‘Cinderella’ was this past weekend’s box-office lead as it outperformed it’s already high expectations and grossed $70.1 million domestically and a massive $132 million globally – $25 million of which in China alone.

The opening weekend audience were 68% female, 66% families and 31% under the age of 12. The movie, that cost $95 million to produce, is well on its way to being highly profitable since it still has yet to open in many major international markets. This is a particularly impressive victory given that the movie wasn’t led by a big start, to the level of Disney’s past fairytale adaptations names like Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and wasn’t available in 3D.

The movie’s success comes to confirm Disney’s Fairytale strategy where the giant has been investing in live-action blockbuster adaptations of classic tales as we’ve seen before with ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  Also already announced for the near future are ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ adaptations.

Could Princesses be the new Superheroes? The female audience is largely discredited as to it’s box-office power but the landscape might be changing. It’s particularly interesting to note that both ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Thor’ were directed by Kenneth Branagh and the Disney Princess has outperformed the Marvel Superhero in it’s opening weekend.

The Wrap recently did an interesting article regarding the two distinct tentpole trends. In their experts opinion, the Princesses won’t beat the Superheroes anytime soon. Their main argument is that Superheroes have the advantage from coming from a serialized source material that lends itself to new adaptations whereas fairytales are singular antiquities that would make sequels feel inorganic.

Also listed as reasons is the wider, four-quadrant gender appeal of the Superhero fare – men and women, above and below 25 – versus the female dominated audiences of the Princesses and some other, more arguable reasons as fairytales being constricted by accuracy to the originals and lack of dialogue currency.

The issue’s development remains to be seen but, so far,  as long as there’s fairytales to be adapted Disney will continue to make bank on them.

Do you think the Superhero fare is getting old and something new is coming along? Let us know in the comment section.

China surpasses U.S.’s box office for the first time

After showing great results in 2014 with 34% box office growth (versus a 5% decline in the U.S.’s box office in the same period) China is starting 2015 with even bigger numbers. In February, the country’s box office surpassed the U.S.’s for the first time with a whopping $650 million, making the giant the biggest box office market in the world. The growth trend, that has been under Hollywood’s radar for long, is largely reinforced by these news.

A few interesting facts about the Chinese film market:

  • The Chinese State regards foreign films as propaganda and controls the amount of films that are exhibited with yearly quotas;
  • Only 34 foreign films per year can use the lucrative revenue-sharing model and 14 of those must be 3D or IMAX films;
  • Chinese cinema admissions grew by 236% since 2009;
  • Ticket prices grew 268% since 2009 and keep increasing;
  • In 2012, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second biggest film market, behind only the U.S.;
  • Chinese cinema screens have increased by 886% since 2004;

The censorship system has long been a major challenge for north-american Studios to break into the Chinese market. Not only is the number of allowed pictures per year very limited but the rules as to what sort of content is permitted are very unclear and restricting. China seems to be slowly trying to balance this policy with its efforts to grow their film industry though and has announced that they will start looking into clarifying the existing laws and possibly add new legislation regulating the movie and TV industry.

The censorship and quota rules are in place to culturally protect the socialist ideology in the country and are a big remainder that China is still a communist nation despite its capitalist endeavors. Rules or not, China’s should set a firm hold on the first place sooner than later, especially given the hinted relaxation of the censorship rules in the future and ever-growing screens numbers.

What do you think about the Chinese market protection? Could a system like this strengthen national film industries in other countries or is the price in freedom of access too high?