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How Much Does The Netflix-Sony Deal Affect The “Streaming Wars?”

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It feels like every few days now that, yet another streaming service is announced; HBO Max, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, Peacock, the list goes on. So, it was very refreshing to see the news broke recently that streaming giant Netflix had made a deal with film studio, Sony to distribute all Sony films exclusively on Netflix after their initial theatrical run as of 2022. This is undeniably a huge deal, but how much does it affect the streaming wars?

Well first, this is a huge win for customers and fans of films and TV shows because we get more content on Netflix and we don’t have to pay for yet another streaming service. That is fairly simple and obvious, but how and why is this a win for Netflix? Well, often people’s biggest concern or complaint about Netflix is its lack of interesting intellectual property (IP), and that eventually, all film studios would leave Netflix to make their own streaming service and it would have to rely exclusively on original content. That started to become a reality; at one point, Netflix bought the streaming rights to many Disney films, Warner Bros films, Paramount films, etc. and when these studios saw the success of Netflix, they took their IPs back and made their own streaming services. And when competing with streaming services like HBO Max, which has the rights to DC Comics, Harry Potter, Mad Max, or streaming services like Disney Plus which has the rights to Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic, Netflix’sStranger Things’ couldn’t really compete with that. It really seemed like only a matter of time before Sony announced their new streaming service, but they didn’t. They cut a deal with Netflix and integrated into a pre-existing streaming service. This means that Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights to Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Jumanji, and after he left Miramax after the Weinstein scandal, Quentin Tarantino’s future films will be Sony properties too. This won’t just be an initial boost of subscribers, but the consistent influx of brand-new Sony films, like the much-anticipated sequel to the Oscar winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, or Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, going to Netflix will retain subscribers too. Obviously then, this is a huge win for Netflix but why is it so good for Sony?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 teaser poster.


Well in my opinion, Sony integrating into an established streaming service is the best move they could’ve made. It’ll save them money on creating a streaming service, advertising their own streaming service, making original content for that streaming service. Instead, they can slip into Netflix’s catalogue easily and cheaply. Also, Netflix isn’t just another streaming service. Netflix is the original streaming service. If it weren’t for Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max wouldn’t exist. Netflix is the biggest streaming service in the world, clocking in at a whopping 203 million subscribers, over double Disney Plus’ total and considering that Disney is one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world it having half of Netflix’s subscribers goes to show how successful and powerful Netflix is. So, Sony going to them is a huge benefit for Sony; Netflix is already available world-wide, compared to Warner Bros’ HBO Max which is only available in the US for now, Netflix has an established brand, most people are already subscribed to Netflix so, as I said, Sony really can slip in quietly without doing the leg work of creating a new streaming service.

How does this impact the wider streaming wars? Well, Sony have just given Netflix a massive boost and this is a huge deal. As I said earlier, Netflix’s main concern was a lack of IP, well now they have a major film studio in their pocket that can compete with the likes of Warner Bros or Paramount, as well as brand new films every month or even more often from Sony. Netflix is basically now operating as if two major studios were making original content for it, as opposed to just one. Regardless of this Sony deal, though, Netflix has something you can’t buy or manufacture or cut a deal for, which will always give it the lead in the streaming wars: its reputation. Netflix is so influential that its name has become a verb; Netflix and Chill, and that’s when you know you’ve made it (look at Google compared to Bing, Bing might be better in every way, but no-one is ever saying “hold on, let me Bing it”). Netflix hasn’t quite hit eponym status (when a brand name virtually replaces the name of the actual item, like Jacuzzi or Band-Aid), but it’s slowly getting closer and closer. It’s definitely synonymous with streaming; in 2017 there was a survey in the US in which people were asked to name their favourite Netflix shows, many people named shows that aren’t from Netflix, they were just using Netflix as a synonym for streaming. But most importantly, Netflix is the incumbent king of streaming. And it’s very difficult, even for a legendary company like Disney, to defeat the incumbent. Netflix has become a staple must-have thing in people’s homes, it replaced traditional TV for many people; people won’t unsubscribe from Netflix just because Disney have a new streaming service; they’ll just pay for both. Netflix has also had a huge head start, they’ve been doing this since 2007 they have had over a decade longer than other studios to perfect every detail about the content, the user-interface, the algorithm, which all takes years to do. 

My point is that even if Disney Plus, which is Netflix’s biggest competition, surpass Netflix in subscribers, in quality, they will never, can never, surpass Netflix’s reputation and impact simply due to the fact that Netflix did it first. Netflix has a monopoly, not on streaming itself, but on the way in which we perceive streaming. Everything from the fact that, as I said, Netflix is synonymous with streaming and has become a verb, to the way Netflix’s original shows and films have a short, quippy Netflix logo accompanied by the now famous ‘baduum’ which now every streaming service has some variation of. Which seems obvious, but it isn’t. No TV network or film-studio had a short intro like that for content before Netflix did. They, of course, have long logos (even Netflix has one of those that only plays in cinemas), but not a quick, one-note, two-second logo. Because of things like this, Netflix will always have a lead in the streaming wars, they pioneered streaming. Netflix also have made such an impact on the world of film and TV that they became the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and even an Oscar. They’ve worked with acclaimed actors; they even made a Scorsese film in 2019. They have firmly cemented themselves in this industry and they aren’t going anywhere. So, to actually get back to my point, the way this Sony deal with Netflix affects the streaming wars is by adding to Netflix’s longevity, certifying that it won’t be threatened by major studios starting their own services. Netflix have been consistently signing deals with popular directors, actors, writers. They’ve worked with Martin Scorsese, Guillermo Del Toro, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuarón, but this is the first deal they’ve signed, not just with a person who agrees to do three films, but an entire studio for exclusive rights to everything they make.

Director, Alfonso Cuarón after winning three Oscars for his Netflix film, Roma

The streaming wars, though, aren’t what most people envision when you say ‘war’. There won’t be a winner of this war. It will go on forever, companies like Apple or Amazon aren’t fighting to become the next Netflix, they just see how lucrative the industry is and want a slither of the pie. There will be services at the top and services at the bottom but to say that there will be a single winner is just wrong. I remember Disney Plus was prophesized to be the death of Netflix, but it barely left a dent, and a year after Disney Plus’ launch, Netflix was operating as if nothing happened, and Disney Plus is operating and growing too. Disney hasn’t taken any of Netflix’s pie, they’ve just baked their own. In the world of filmmaking and distribution, Disney may be the top of the food chain, but streaming is Netflix’s house and Netflix has had its foot firmly in the door far too long to be thrown out regardless, but this new deal with Sony extends its lead and industry dominance even further.

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Adventure

Jungle Cruise Review | A Swashbuckling Family Adventure

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Despite being based on a ride at Disneyland that lasts less than ten minutes, the latest offering from the mouse house is surprisingly entertaining. Prepare to take a ride on this rip-roaring, swashbuckling adventure that’s full of fun and action.

Set in 1916, researcher Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) journey from London to the Amazon in search of an ancient tree with healing powers. The pair enlist the help of the questionable and untrustworthy skipper Frank (played by Dwayne Johnson) to lead them downriver on his sweet little boat called La Quila. Together, they’re thrust on an epic quest across the jungle in order to find the tree and change the future of medicine.

Along the way they encounter all sorts of dangers and supernatural forces lurking in the shadows including Jesse Plemons’ joyously delightful and deranged German aristocrat Captain Joachim who’s also searching for the mystical tree. Despite not having a ton of screen time, Plemons is an absolute pleasure to watch and looks like he’s having such a great time in the role.

Jungle Cruise is a delightful journey that blends a little bit of Pirates of the Caribbean with a smidge of Indiana Jones to create a really entertaining and exuberant adventure that’s fun for the whole family.

The entire film is a really excellent fusion of action and humour and it all comes together so well that you cannot help but have a good time with Jungle Cruise.  Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt play the two leads with a lot of charm and charisma helping to bring Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride to life. Johnson does this in particular through the wonderfully terribly bad jokes and puns that you can’t help but laugh at including the well-known ‘back side of water’ joke from the ride. You roll your eyes every time you hear one of his jokes but deep down you know they’re absolutely hilarious.

Whilst The Rock and Emily Blunt are both compelling and have great chemistry together, it’s Jack Whitehall that really steals the show. Despite Blunt and Johnson being right at the forefront of all the marketing materials, Whitehall has just as prominent a role in the film as them- unlike his last Disney part where he ended up on Frozen’s cutting room floor. Here, Whitehall plays an upper-class Englishman who’d much rather be in a nice luxury hotel somewhere than out on the river risking his life. But Whitehall brings so much humour and joy to the film, putting a smile on your face almost every single scene that he’s in.

But as well as the laughs, Jungle Cruise provides lots of action too. Director Jaume Collet-Serra is no stranger to the action film having made a number of adrenaline fueled adventures with Liam Neeson including 2014’s Non-Stop and The Commuter in 2018. The action in the film is a little darker and more adult and grown up than many other Disney films including a few jump scares thrown into the mix that helps it earn its 12A age certificate. It makes the film’s action scenes feel that bit more gripping than the usual Disney fare, but it still nonetheless retains its family feel.

Whilst it’s not exactly an entirely original film since it is loosely based on the theme park ride, it feels so refreshing to have something that’s not a sequel or remake coming from Disney and the result is an entertaining adventure that’s fun for the whole family.

As big budget films like this often do, there is a tendency for an over-reliance on CGI with a few iffy green screens here and there and some distracting computer-generated animals that can disrupt the flow of the scene at times. But even so, Jungle Cruise has secrets, it’s got curses and thrills and it proves itself so much fun as the characters go on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s packed full of heart and comedy, all propelled by a wonderful score from James Newton Howard.

Jungle Cruise is an adventurous and exciting quest that’s full of energy. From its fast-paced narrative to non-stop jokes and action, it really is a great time and it’s Disney at its best in a long time.

Jungle Cruise releases in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access on July 30th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnryO-CKWco

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Action

Disney + | Marvel’s: What If – Official Trailer

Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.

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Genre:

Animation, action, adventure, fantasy

Release Date:

August 6, 2021 (Disney +)

Director:

Marvel Studios

Cast:

Various MCU actors/actresses

Plot Summary:

Exploring pivotal moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turning them on their head, leading the audience into uncharted territory.

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Disney

Luca – Review | Pixar’s under-the-radar queer film

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Disney Studios have been promising for years to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive with their content. But their so called, ahem, “attempts” at showing queer representation in their live action films and TV shows have been mostly shallow tokenism at best. Even the recent Cruella we were promised that John McCrea’s fashion-enthusiast character Artie was to be Disney’s legitimately first out-and-proud gay character. And yet, the final product did nothing to confirm this. This was Disney once again pandering to the queer audience without actually taking any risk.

However one faction of Disney Studios; Pixar does seem to making a more visible effort to tell LGBTQ+ stories. With the heart-warming short Out and even having Lena Waithe voice a lesbian cyclops in one of the more recent features Onward as recent examples. Granted these are just minor baby steps but it’s notable progress nonetheless. But Luca, Pixar’s 24th feature film – a breezy coming-of-age story of friendship, might just be the closest thing we’ve had to a gay Pixar feature film.


No it’s not in any way a confirmed, out-and-proud, self-identifying gay film. There’s no gay characters (so to speak) but it’s deceptively LGBTQ+ in tone and message. In short, there’s no pandering here. It’s not pretending to be inclusively gay, rather its queer coded enough to strike a chord with anybody LGBTQ+ and have it resonate with them on a subtextual level.

With a plot not too dissimilar to The Little Mermaid (which incidnetly is getting a Disney live action remake this year), Luca tells the story of a curious young sea creature named Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), who after encountering some human gadgets and gizmos aplenty, longs to venture up to the surface to see what lies above the water. Much to the dismay of his human-fearing parents (Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan), Luca follows fellow sea-dweller and pal Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) up to the shore to discover that his fishy-body adapts to the surface by transforming into human form when out of water. From then on its frolicking childhood adventure in the gorgeous coastal town of Portorosso, partaking in a triathlon with a local girl named Giulia (Emma Berman) in order to make their dreams of owning their own Vespa a thing of reality.

It’s a sickeningly cute story about the kids who feel like outsiders, weirdos or underdogs finding their tribe and coming into their own. But that’s not the only way to interpret Luca. Director Enrico Casarosa has publicly stated that there was no intention of any gay subtext but there’s no denying to the queer-eyed observer that it’s there.

I’m sure I can anticipate some backlash for even suggesting there was anything remotely hinting at homosexuality in this sweet innocent Pixar film. Well regardless, people see what we wanna see. And for the queer community seeing a thinly veiled story about 2 boys “coming out” of the hostile environment of the Ocean to live their true authentic lives on land means a great deal to us. As a child of the 90’s I didn’t have any animated films like this but it would’ve certainly meant a lot for me to have film like this going through adolescence. The little queer boy that I was would’ve deeply resonated with Luca.

But regardless of the subtext Luca is still a very easy-to-love film. It’s hard not to enjoy a story about 3 scrappy kids who are self-proclaimed “under-dogs” enjoying the frivolities of youth. The animation is gorgeous. The setting of Portorosso looks warm and inviting. The little details are impeccable; from the individual scales on the sea creatures, to each individual pebble on the shore to the freckles on the kids faces – it’s all exquisitely detailed.

Luca certainly has the goods but what lets it down comparatively to its Pixar brothers and sisters is how conventional and safe the plot is. It’s a grass-is-greener coming-of-age story – it’s hardly anything new.

Ironically Casarosa publicly stating that Luca wasn’t in any way a queer film completely negates his own films bravest and most talk-worthy attribute. If he’d simply allowed some wiggle room for interpretation then would Luca perhaps be more critically revered and feature higher in the rankings? He would undoubtedly be idolised for being the director to make Pixar’s first gay feature. But simultaneously, he would also be hated by those too narrow-minded to see the beauty in this lovely story.

Who know’s maybe Casarosa himself might change his tune when young queer kids tell him how his charming Pixar film helped them come to terms with who they are. But for now the masses will read Luca as an enjoyable albeit by-the-numbers family film about friendship, dreams, education and discovery. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just not breaking any new ground is all.

The parental subplot which sees Luca’s parents Daniela and Lorenzo venture up to the surface to bring their son back home also lacks emotional payoff. We’ve already seen previous Pixar films tackle the subject of parents learning to let go of their kids done with way more skill and panache in Finding Nemo. Here there is no personal journey of self-discovery for Daniela or Lorenzo. They don’t learn anything about themselves like Marlon the Clownfish did. Instead all they do when they’re on land is throw water at kids to try and spot Luca. So when they arrive at their final destination of acceptance and understanding for Luca at the end of the film – it doesn’t feel earned. It feels like an after thought.

And as far as the tone of this film goes. Luca is unquestionably more of a kids film than one custom-made for the parents to click with. Remember the criticisms that Soul was too existential for kids to enjoy? Well Luca is the exact opposite of Soul – it’s merely a carefree and conventional kids film. Adults will certainly still be able to enjoy it but it’s not going to offer anything profoundly insightful like Toy Story 4, Inside Out or Coco did. Unless you’re LGBTQ+ but I digress.

But regardless of the simplicity of Luca’s narrative it is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It ticks many of the Pixar boxes; humour, heart and a lovely message – albeit a familiar one. There’s nothing outright bad about Luca, it’s just the standard for Pixar is set so high that in comparison it does feel a bit safe and therefore a little average.

★★★☆☆

Luca is available worldwide to stream on Disney + now.

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