As film studio executives struggle to determine what movies should be held for a theatrical release and what titles can become streaming exclusives, AT&T CEO John Stankey reaffirmed that Tenet will absolutely go to theaters.
Stankey was asked about the growing industry trend of taking certain movies originally scheduled for a theatrical release and making them streaming-only titles. Warner Bros., which is owned by AT&T, moved its animated Scooby Doo movie to an on-demand rental title before it landed on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max. Comcast’s NBCUniversal made Trolls World Tour to a digital-only title, and Disney has sent three movies, including Hamilton, straight to Disney Plus.
Warner Bros. blockbusters like Wonder Woman 1984 are unlikely to go streaming first, but Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s movie that’s been delayed to an unknown date later in the year, will definitely be a theatrical release.
“Do I think there can be some things that we built for theatrical release that migrates into a [streaming] construct? Sure,” Stankey said. “Is It going to happen on a movie like Tenet or Wonder Woman 1984? I would be very surprised… actually, I can assure you on Tenet that’s not going to be the case.”
Tenet is a movie that was “engineered” for theaters, Stankey said in an interview with CNBC. Since it “needs to show up that way,” Warner Bros. isn’t looking to turn it into a premium video-on-demand or HBO Max exclusive. Especially considering that Tenet in a pre-coronavirus world would likely do well at the global box office. Dunkirk and Interstellar grossed $527 and $677 million at the box office, respectively. Then there’s also Nolan’s desire to seemingly have Tenet be the movie that reopens theaters, by which the studio is trying to abide.
“Certainly, Christopher would like it to be validated,” Stankey said. “That’s how he wants that piece of work that he’s done to be seen by movie goers, and that’s why it’s going to be something that shows up in a theater.”
While the AT&T CEO reaffirmed Warner Bros.’ commitment to exhibitors, stating that the theatrical experience “still has an important role moving forward,” he also acknowledged the industry is changing. More studios now have streaming services they can feed movies to, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the theatrical industry, studios are leaning on those streaming platforms more. The coronavirus pandemic simply accelerated trends the industry was already seeing. As such, Stankey recognized that changes were going to happen because of the pandemic, adding that he would be surprised “if the industry as a whole didn’t see some adjustment to the theatrical construct.”
“There’s no question that the longer this goes on there’s going to be some content that would be better served in a different construct,” Stankey said, pointing to streaming and digital releases. “I love that we have that option now.”
A big part of the ongoing issue is that no one knows when theaters are going to reopen. AMC Theaters announced today that it would push back it’s opening to mid-August — around the time that Disney’s Mulan and The Last Mutants are slated to be released. Disney could change those release dates, however, and if coronavirus cases in big metropolitan areas continue to grow, AMC could delay its opening again. If an area like Los Angeles isn’t allowing theaters to reopen, Warner Bros. won’t just release Tenet state by state, Stankey told CNBC after the call.
It makes sense for AT&T. Movies that WarnerMedia can find other distribution paths for will continue to move to streaming platforms; this helps bolster HBO Max’s subscriber base. Through digital rentals and HBO Max, WarnerMedia has a platform it can leverage in the pandemic and beyond. Streaming is here — it’s a viable revenue source for studios and the conglomerates that own them. Not taking advantage of those distribution methods doesn’t make sense, but as long as there’s a theatrical business, Warner Bros. isn’t walking away from it.
In She Dies Tomorrow, figuring out how to spend your last day is really damn hard
A woman jolts awake and gasps for air in a nondescript living room. She can’t explain why, but she’s certain of one thing: she only has one more day to live. So she tells her friend, Jane, and something horrifying happens: Jane also becomes certain the next day will be her last. This strange conviction, it turns out, is contagious. And it’ll infect many more before tomorrow actually comes.
Written and directed by Amy Seimetz, She Dies Tomorrow is a new film with a title and a premise that suggests something propulsive — a thriller, perhaps, or a nightmarish horror film. Instead, it is contemplative, a psychodrama that introduces a simple unsettling idea to each of its characters and lets us watch as they become unmoored. It doesn’t give definite answers to anything, but it is absolutely clear about one thing: everyone who says they are going to die tomorrow absolutely believes it.
She Dies Tomorrow is a house of mirrors, a film much more interested in the reflections it offers you than in conjuring anything overly specific for you to ruminate. Its characters all process the revelation at the heart of the film in strikingly mundane ways. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), the protagonist, mills about aimlessly, seemingly overwhelmed by the number of ways she could spend her last day, ends up whiling away the hours with morbidly mundane stuff like looking up urns or wondering if her skin could be made into a leather jacket.
Others, like Brian (Tunde Adebimpe) and Tilly (Jennifer Kim) immediately lose interest in the charade they’ve each been maintaining for the other’s benefit, agreeing that they were never going to work out as a couple and that they were going to leave each other as soon as it didn’t seem callous. She Dies Tomorrow dances from existential dread to compressed breakup story to withering comedy from scene to scene. The film takes the gravity of its premise and juxtaposes it with mundanity, and in doing so its characters all feel so silly and self-absorbed. Then the idea infects me, and I feel silly and self-absorbed.
Incomprehensibly big, destabilizing events have a way of warping everything around them, forcing everything into a new context. She Dies Tomorrow arriving in the midst of a global pandemic that, among other things, inspires a general feeling of mundane helplessness gives the film a recursive quality: we are all surrounded by our own doom and the temptation of that doom is narcissism, to spend all of our time stunned by how our world is being rearranged.
She Dies Tomorrow isn’t interested in resolution, but if you lean forward, you can find interrogation. As each character is infected with the idea that their end is coming, they stare at the camera as barely discernible voices fade in and red and blue lights change the contours of their face. We don’t know what’s going through their minds, but we can imagine: how are you living right now, and how is it different from the ways you’ve always lived? Is there a good reason for that? Who put the idea in your head that it has to be this way?
“Do you want to make out?” a man (Adam Wingard) asks Amy as they get high together and she tries to figure out what to do next on her last day. She consents, but they eventually call it off before anything really happens. It doesn’t feel right. Nothing feels right. And whether there’s an answer to the question of how right Amy or her friends are about their fate, nothing ever will again.
AMC Theaters is learning to embrace the streaming era, not fight it
AMC Theaters faced its “most challenging quarter in the company’s 100-year history,” but CEO Adam Aron is trying to look forward, using the company’s second quarter earnings call today to address how AMC is going to compete in a streaming-focused world.
AMC announced last week that it struck a groundbreaking deal with Universal Pictures that would let the studio place films on digital rental services like iTunes or Amazon just 17 days after they hit theaters. Aron confirmed on the call that if Universal decides to take advantage of the shorter window, those movies will continue to play in theaters. There was confusion last week as to whether AMC would pull its films completely after 17 days or just offer people both options. Prior to the deal, studios were forced to either keep their films in theaters for months at a time, or forego a theatrical release entirely. As part of the deal, AMC will receive some payment for movies that are rented at home.
“Some of our competitors are anxious about this change,” Aron said on the call, as reported by Deadline. “Change is difficult for some to cope with.”
Although Aron is embracing the rapid shift to streaming now, he was singing a different tune a few months ago. After Universal Pictures decided to pull its animated film Trolls World Tour from theaters because of the pandemic in March — which would kick off a chain of events that saw studios like Warner Bros. and Disney do the same — Aron originally said AMC would ban Universal movies in its theaters.
The threat drew eye rolls as people quickly pointed out that AMC wasn’t going to sit out on two of Universal’s biggest upcoming films, including the ninth Fast and Furious movie — F9 — and Jurassic World: Dominion. Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide, with both the first two Jurassic World movies also grossing more than $1 billion worldwide. AMC, whose earnings this quarter were down 98 percent year over year, couldn’t afford to refuse movies from any one studio. That’s especially true when it’s Universal.
What became clear is that Aron and AMC Theaters couldn’t afford to ignore how big a business premium streaming has become; the pandemic accelerated a reality that was going to arrive either way. Studios want their films in theaters, but also want to be able to sell titles to audiences at home. The new rules are trying to keep one from cannibalizing the other, like how trailers for an upcoming movie can’t promote that it’ll be available to stream at home. That’s because Universal can’t market a movie hitting digital retailers until 10 days after the movie’s initial release, according to the new rules.
To be clear: AMC is learning to accept streaming as long as it can also profit from the situation. We don’t know how the revenue breakdown for AMC looks, although Aron said “the company would be compensated for every rental,” according to Variety. How the exact deal is structured remains unclear, Variety added. This is different from a situation where AMC is left out completely, like a studio bypassing a theatrical release entirely to stream exclusively on a platform like HBO Max or Disney Plus, for example.
“I’m expecting that this is going to become an industry standard,” Aron said, as reported by Variety. “I expect that some of our competitors will do this, if not all.”
Universal isn’t the only studio AMC’s eyeing, Aron also confirmed. The CEO spoke about Disney’s recent decision to bring Mulan, one of the company’s most anticipated tentpole films, to its Disney Plus streaming service where it could, but still release it in theaters where Disney Plus doesn’t operate. Instead of calling out Disney, Aron noted that “just like AMC is under duress, Disney’s under pressure too,” adding that “at some point they’ve got to monetize their movie product.” Still, he added that he hopes Disney will agree to similar terms as those in the company’s deal with Universal. (Disney CEO Bob Chapek called Mulan’s move to Disney Plus — where it will be available for an extra $30 — a one-time deal.)
Considering that AMC Theaters lost more than half a billion dollars this quarter, Aron is looking to the future positively. The CEO has acknowledged that the theatrical window (a period of exclusivity) is gone. Aron seems to think the way forward for AMC, and the industry, is to embrace that streaming isn’t going away, but it is a business they can get in on. Plus, people are always going to want to go see certain movies in a theater, he argued. That includes movies like Warner Bros. Tenet, which will play exclusively in theaters instead of being released digitally — a decision that Aron commended.
“There are certain advantages to watching a film on a 40-foot screen to watching it on a 40-inch screen,” Aron said. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people will do anything to get out of their house or their apartment. If you told me right now I could go spend three hours at a hardware store, I would tell you that’s an exciting afternoon.”
Cameron Diaz Says Walking Away From Acting ‘Was Like a Cleansing’
Being true to herself. Cameron Diaz opened up about her decision to retire from acting in 2018, after losing part of who she was through the work.
“A peace. I got a peace in my soul because I finally was taking care of myself,” Diaz, 47, told Gwyneth Paltrow in the Wednesday, August 5, episode of “In Goop Health: The Sessions” video series. “I feel grounded and light.”
The Charlie’s Angels actress, who hasn’t starred in a movie since 2014, noted that “it’s a strange thing to say” and that a “lot of people won’t understand” why she announced her retirement two years ago.
“It’s so intense to work at that level and be that public and put yourself out there,” Diaz explained. “There’s a lot of energy coming at you at all times when you’re really visible as an actor. I’m sensitive to some energy and not others. I do get the overwhelming energy of the attention that’s being put toward me.”
At one point, the California native, who married Good Charlotte rocker Benji Madden in 2015, said she paused and examined what her world outside of acting included and she wasn’t happy with what she saw.
“I really looked at my life and I saw what I had been — when you’re making a movie, it’s the perfect excuse, they own you — and I realized I handed off parts of my life to all these other people,” she said. “They took it. I basically had to take it back and take responsibility for my life.”
The new mom, who welcomed daughter Raddix in December 2019 via surrogate with husband Madden, 41, doesn’t regret her choice. “It was like a cleansing,” she noted.
The Avaline wine cofounder further explained that because actors are “infantilized” and taken care of constantly she had to break free.
“Overwhelming your life becomes so narrow. Everybody’s doing things for you and you’re catered around,” the Mask star told Paltrow, 47. “I never felt really, truly comfortable with that. I understood it was part of the job, and for me, I needed to become self-sufficient again.”
She added: “I really needed to know that I could take care of myself [and to learn] that I knew how to be an adult.”
After switching her life course, Diaz leaned on her husband and had to really figure out how she wanted to function moving forward.
“I learned a lot about myself. It’s painful. It hurts. It’s scary,” she revealed. “I credit Benj a lot. I broke that mirror about a thousand times when he put it up to me.”
Diaz first described herself as “actually retired” during an Entertainment Weekly interview in March 2018 alongside her The Sweetest Thing costars, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair. The Bad Teacher actress told fans during an Instagram Live chat in May 2020 that she’s “not going to do more films at the moment.”
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