Wednesday, June 20, 2018

TV: Is NETFLIX the new DUPONT?

SENSE8 finally came to a close with a the quickie movie when it should have gone out with a season three.  Barack Obama, who has never created entertainment content for any studio or network, has a production deal with NETFLIX (helps to have Susan Rice on the NETFLIX board).  Couldn’t, many of you insist in e-mails, NETFLIX have given some of that money for a SENSE8 third season?

No.

Because they didn’t have it this time last year.

They had a huge amount of money, yes, but they were supposed to make that money last.  Instead, they spent through it like Speed Racer hitting the Grand Prix Raceway.

And, here’s the really interesting thing, they’ve basically used junk bonds to refinance again.  In fact, it’s $1.5 billion in junk bonds.  Grasp too that they swore, to investors, last year that they would be tiding the big roll over.  Instead, they spent through it all necessitating this year's junk bonds.

What happens when the money’s gone?





It’s a question to ask.

Once upon a time there was THE DUPONT TELEVISION NETWORK.  Among their hits?  Jackie Gleason and his HONEYMOONERS.

Nothing is permanent  – as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted when she refused to oppose permanent bases in Iraq.  And NETFLIX could easily go under.  If it did, yes, it would be fair to blame Barack Obama and his deal which makes no financial sense in the world; however, the cancellation of SENSE8 took place on the previous funds.

Currently, NETFLIX is producing more scripted content than any network or, for that matter, any studio.  They are actually in a race against time.  They have to create enough original content to stand out in case they start losing content.  Should DISNEY not want to renew their deal with NETFLIX (and they probably won’t, they plan to build their own streaming service), what does NETFLIX have?

They’ve actually built up some strong programming for children and family viewers.  The most high profile for family audiences would be FULLER HOUSE, A LITTLE HELP WITH CAROL BURNETT and JULIE’S GREENROOM but NETFLIX has also been quietly creating family programming – including animation – that’s keeping many children and families entertained.  It’s actually where they are strongest.

Where they are weakest?

Films.  Will Smith’s BRIGHT has been savaged by the critics.  Who cares?  A large audience loves it and it’s going to have a long shelf life.  PEE WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY is also a longterm runner.  But that’s really it other than camp classics like THE BABYSITTER.  Well, there’s the Adam Sandler films.  They’re popular and they might remain popular in an Apple Dumpling Gang kind of way.
There’s talk of a Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler team up film and that would be great.  But we’re still puzzled by  OUR SOULS AT NIGHT.  Jane Fonda and Robert Redford first appeared  together in the drama (and box office bomb) THE CHASE.  They reteamed for the comedy classic (and hit) BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and for the comedy hit THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN.  So there was every reason to expect that this would be a comedy.  It wasn’t.

What was it?

We’re still confused.

First, great performance by Jane.  She reached deep and fleshed out the character.  Some of her finest acting.

But . . .

It’s a message kind of film and the message is, as the Rolling Stones sang, “what a drag it is getting old.”

Not really upbeat.  And Robert Redford’s a mess – including that bad wig. 

At a Jane Fonda film festival, OUR SOULS AT NIGHT would fit right in because of her amazing performance. 

But that’s the only reason to watch the film. 

It’s not sad enough to be melodramatic.

It’s just kind of there.

And that’s not kind of what brings in money for a pay service.

Especially if, as the board wants, the service has another price hike.

Will TV programs really justify NETFLIX at a higher price?

STRANGER THINGS was amazing in season one and then fell apart.  The same is true of DAREDEVIL.  It’s actually a pattern.  If OZARK can break the curse, it’ll be the first.  (Don’t bring up JESSICA JONES – the second season was nothing but running in place.)  By cancelling SENSE8, they’re basically running off the most loyal viewers.  


And they’re destroying  HOUSE OF CARDS.  Kevin Spacey apologized for coming on to a boy who was 14 at the time.  Kevin was in his mid-twenties.  The boy went to a party at Kevin’s apartment.  Supposedly with friends.  But the boy decided that the place to be was on Kevin’s bed.  After all the guests had gone home, a drunk Kevin enters his bedroom and finds the teenager on his bed.  Kevin makes a pass.  The pass is rejected and the boy leaves.  For this Kevin was removed from HOUSE OF CARDS and everything else?

Now we’ve heard others whine.  Yes, whine.  Richard Dreyfuss’ son was 18 and Kevin supposedly put the make on him with his father present.  Grow up.  You say, “Stop touching me.”  You say it loudly and it stops.  Your father was in the room.  Grow up.

There are whispers of other incidents.  Whispers.  It’s been many months.  Are there any charges?
And maybe, in the future, we should be waiting for charges?  Maybe Ed Westwick is innocent?  Maybe Danny Masterson is?  Maybe we operate by innocent until guilty?

Now we’re not saying people can’t voice their opinions.  But we’re saying if there’s no guilty verdict – how did they put it: If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit?

We have a legal justice system.  We’re well aware that it doesn’t always work and that people – including rapists – walk all the time.  But that’s the system we have.  And witch hunts don’t help anyone.  Nor does depriving someone of the right to earn a living.

We think Bryan Singer is guilty.  We think that based on personal stories told to us from people who state he victimized them.  We believe these people.  But if he’s not convicted, he’s not convicted.  Doesn’t mean we start liking him but it does mean that we accept that judicial system we have and work to change it.  That includes not putting the victim on trial.
   

The shock moment for everyone should have been the idiot – yes, we said idiot – who came forward with her charges against Aziz Ansari.  He went down on her twice.  She went down on him.  The next day she decided she was uncomfortable.  As Demi Moore says in DISCLOSURE,  “You stick your dick in my mouth and now you get an attack of morality?”

If you’re not mature enough to date, don’t date.

If you do date, don’t blame some guy because you fooled around but the next day you decided you went too far.  Don’t blame some woman either.  Take responsibility for your actions.  You made a decision to go along.

We’re not here to police dating and if a bad date’s going to qualify as abuse and a crime our already over-crowded prisons are about to get a lot more crowded.

Kevin Spacey is HOUSE OF CARDS and it’s really sad that no one with the show stood up for him.

Stood up for him against whispers and charges?

No.  You don’t know what happened.  There's no reason for you to take that stand.

But you did work on the show and you did know how important he was to the show.

We noted, when this all went down, that there was a lot of homophobia being expressed by victims or ‘victims’ of Kevin Spacey.  That’s regrettable as well.

Also sad that the issue of homophobia isn't being discussed.  For some, that's due to the fact that Kevin Spacey only came out when he was forced to and they feel that, coming out when he did, he was making a link in the minds of some between being gay and being a predator of children.  He came out when he came out.  He should have done it sooner.  But what people are going to think or not going to think should not be the over-riding issue.

For NETFLIX, the issue should have been: Kevin Spacey put us on the map with original programming so we're going to wait and see and respect innocent until proven guilty.  They didn't do that.


HOUSE OF CARDS was the shining jewel for NETFLIX and now they don’t have it.  They've got some form of it with Robin Wright and others continuing in their roles.  Does anyone really care about that show if Kevin Spacey's character isn't a part of it?  

For NETFLIX, that just leaves comedy.  GRACE AND FRANKIE and SANTA CLARITA DIET are great comedies.  But if THE HONEYMOONERS couldn’t keep DUPONT afloat . . .

Grasp that the board believes that NETFLIX should be charging subscribers $16.99 a month.  That’s what they feel is needed for NETFLIX to show a real profit.  Would you pay that much for NETFLIX?

As we noted earlier, it’s in a race against time.  It currently doesn’t have enough to offer – original content – to justify even a one dollar hike.  So where does that leave NETFLIX?

Having gone the junk bond route this year, that makes it harder to grab money next year and, when they're throwing money around like they are throwing it at Barack, they're going to need money next year.  So that means they may have to raise the price of the monthly subscription or they may have to take on a partner.  At some point, if they can't turn a real profit, they risk going under.  And when you've spent as much as NETFLIX already has, that risk is even greater.  Again, they're in a race against time.







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
 
Poll1 { display:none; }