HBO Max, Van Helsing, Solid Snake: Weekly Round Up – Arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation, when it comes to movie distribution, is the fact that movie studios aren’t allowed to own their own movie theatres. The point in this was to prevent studios from creating a monopoly. It made sense. Of course, earlier this year a judge in America ruled to end that piece of legislation, but since Coronavirus continues to upset the current cinema landscape it’s safe to say that we don’t quite know what the repercussions of that will be yet. Perhaps more importantly, then, is the fact that there is no current law preventing movie studios from owning their own streaming services.
This one has gone under the radar somewhat, given that streaming services operate in a weird sort of state between a television channel model like, say, Netflix (or, at least, Netflix back in the early days, before they really properly began producing their own content), licensing products from other production companies, and a mode of premiership distribution through which studios can produce and hoard their own content, like Disney+.
You might be wondering why I’m talking about this in the weekly news roundup. Well, let me explain. This week we learned that Warner Bros. will be debuting their entire upcoming 2021 theatrical slate both in cinemas and on HBO Max on the same day. This won’t be a Disney and Mulan type deal either, as Warners are releasing the films at no extra cost beyond the monthly subscription fee (side note; what this means for the UK, where we don’t currently have HBO Max, I don’t know. My gut feeling is that everything will be going directly to… ugh, Sky. And that fucking sucks). Moreover, we’re talking about a lot of movies; Mortal Kombat, Tom & Jerry, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Space Jam: A New Legacy, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, and Dune are among the films included.
Now, aside from the obvious questions surrounding movie theatres and what this could mean for them – and the response regarding the news from the theatre chains themselves has been pretty negative to say the least – this turn also raises a question of sustainability in general. There was, even pre-COVID, talk of the movie industry pricing out many low-income earners, especially in terms of affordability of cinema tickets. This was, arguably, one of the key reasons streaming took of in the way it did to begin with. Are we now going to see a similar situation occur across these streaming platforms?
Already the big hitters include the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple, and HBO Max, and that’s without even mentioning the smaller options like Shudder or Mubi. Are we going to reach a point where, without the theatres, the streaming services will become unsustainable since there’s just too many of them, and none of them will share content? I don’t know. Of course, purchasing outside of the monthly subscription is also an option, but if studios are going to continue pumping millions and millions into there movies then is that really going to be viable. Mulan cost $30 to watch on your own TV and, let me tell you, as a parent with two young kids and not a lot of spare cash as is, that ain’t worth it. And I fucking love the movies.
Anyway, enough negative speculation. We’ve got news to discuss.
One of my favorite pieces of news to come along this week surrounds Universal’s continued attempts to repackage and rework their disastrous Dark Universe experiment. Of course, we all know about the now legendary Tom Cruise starring misfire that was The Mummy, and the ensuing collapse of the studios planned shared cinematic universe. We all also know (or we should do by now) that with Leigh Whannell’s take on The Invisible Man, the classic monsters have finally been given a new lease of life.
Universal have been quick to push ahead with this approach (which… quite why they didn’t go with this one in the first place is, honestly, baffling) announcing the likes of Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Woman, and a few original projects centered around their classic monster characters. This week we got word of another film to add to the list, with a reboot of that other famous misfire, Van Helsing.
Released in 2004 (God, I feel old), Van Helsing starred Hugh Jackman in the title-role and saw the iconic vampire hunter take on vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster. It was a bomb and it’s bloody awful in a sort of cheesy and fun way, but it would seem there are still those at the studio who are eager to give the concept another go. Surprisingly for a movie studio, though, it does appear they have learned from their mistakes, as this version of the film will be produced by James Wan, who is no stranger to horror films, and will be directed by Julius Avery, who directed 2018’s fun but forgettable Nazi Zombie flick, Overlord.
What the film will be about beyond the general concept we don’t know, but Avery will be re-writing a script originally penned by Thor: Ragnarok and Black Widow co-writer Eric Pearson, which suggests it’ll be leaning toward action once again. Here’s hoping second time’s a charm.
Perhaps one of the more interesting and exciting stories this week came in the form of a piece of casting news. The long in development Metal Gear Solid movie adaption has had its ups and downs, but for a while now Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (who is a legend) has been attached to direct, working from a screenplay by Jurassic World and Safety Not Guaranteed co-writer Derek Connolly. But news beyond that has been slow to non-existent.
At least, that was the case. But, this week we learned that Oscar Isaac has been cast in the lead role of Solid Snake, suggesting that there really is movement happening with it now.
Isaac’s casting is interesting not just from a “Oh, wow! Is this actually happening?” perspective, either. Isaac has long been something of an underutilized presence by Hollywood. He has the looks, charisma, and talent to be a real big hitter, and yet, outside of his excellent working in indie movies, he has been relegated to side-characters and supporting players. This is an opportunity to for the actor to really lead a big budget, mainstream project and, moreover, if it turns out to be good, totally change the way the audience view video-game movies in general. – HBO Max, Van Helsing, Solid Snake: Weekly Round Up
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