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Why No-one Will Lose The ‘Streaming Wars’- Except Us

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The so-called streaming wars are heating up and, while at this point it’s probably like beating a dead horse, I thought I’d give my take on it. Netflix undoubtedly won Round One, in fact they decimated the competition. And Netflix’s success was so enviable that every media outlet wanted the same. And so, comes Round Two. Netflix dominated what little competition it had in Round One, but now it’s a much busier playing field. Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Hulu, Peacock, and many more are vying for the top spot- or are they?

I don’t think there will be any one winner of the streaming wars. Everyone will be a winner. The current ‘King’ of streaming, Netflix, made an estimated $25 billion in 2020, Disney Plus generated an estimated $4.5 billion, HBO Max made an estimated $3.8 billion. If that’s losing, I’d happily be called a loser. Which brings me to my point; all these corporations are winning, eventually they’ll be making tens of billions a year. That doesn’t mean they’ll all be the same though…

I believe there will be a ‘Big 5’. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Max (provided it launches worldwide), and Apple TV+. These five services will thrive, they will dominate the market, generate the most income, have the most influence, create the most content. Why? Netflix is the grandfather of streaming, it has had its foot in the proverbial door far too long to be ousted, and it has one invaluable advantage over all the others: experience. Netflix has been at this far longer than all the others, it is the blueprint for modern streaming, it paved the way, Disney Plus, HBO Max, all owe their success and even their existence, to Netflix. It isn’t going anywhere. Netflix’s experience also gives them knowledge about their audience. Netflix knows its audience well, it knows what we like, what is successful and what isn’t. Younger streaming services are just testing the water; yes, Disney has been going for over 90 years but 2021 is only its second year in streaming, and so it’s still figuring out what works and what doesn’t with regards to everything from their content to their user interface. Meanwhile Disney Plus and HBO Max will be part of this ‘Big 5’ because they are owned by Disney and Warner Bros respectively; two of the biggest studios in movie history, together they own some of the most famous intellectual property (IP) in history. Something we’ve already seen them both flex this year; Disney with their Star Wars TV shows, Marvel TV shows, and HBO Max having new DC films, gaining vast subscribers very quickly. Those two are also here to stay. 

Still from Disney Plus’ WandaVision

The reason I also think Amazon Prime and, perhaps controversially, Apple TV+ will be part of the Big 5 is because they aren’t streamers, or movie studios. They are two of the biggest companies in the world. Apple TV+ is backed by a multi TRILLION-dollar company, Amazon Prime is owned by the richest man in the world, they have an almost infinite supply of cash to pour into their streaming services until they are hugely popular and successful, it doesn’t matter if they lose money. Netflix is valued at about $250 billion, which is a drop in the water compared to Amazon’s $1.7 trillion and an ever-smaller drop compared to Apple’s $2.08 trillion worth. Amazon Prime already has the second largest amount of subscribers behind only Netflix, and have also recently acquired MGM, one of the oldest movie studios in Hollywood, giving them a vault of legendary IP like Disney and Warner Bros. Apple TV+ is trailing behind with only (roughly) 65 million subscribers, but as I’ve said, Apple TV+ is backed by the single largest company in the world, its current ‘failings’ mean nothing, Apple will keep throwing money at it until it becomes successful. And many of Apple TV+’s subscribers are using the free trial provided when you buy a new Apple product, and if one year for free is an incentive to buy a $1,000 iPhone, or a $2,000 MacBook, Apple don’t really care. If people upgrade their iPhone with every new release and pay $1,000, that’s far more than a year’s subscription to Apple TV+ costs and as they upgrade yearly, people are getting a subscription to Apple TV+ at no extra cost in perpetuity so Apple simply are too big to care about streaming profits that much, but they’ll keep pouring money into it regardless so it will grow. Apple is also a baby streaming service, launching the same year as Disney+ but without the huge catalogue of pre-existing content Disney had, over the years they will grow and have more content, they can afford to swoop in and pay $250m at the drop of a hat to acquire Martin Scorsese’s next film: Killers of the Flower Moon, they have won Emmys, they have deals with some of the world’s biggest stars, and they will continue to do so. 

A still from Apple’s (Martin Scorsese’s) Killers of the Flower Moon

What about all the others, then? What happens to Peacock, or Hulu, or Paramount+? I think all of these will comfortably survive. They won’t come close to threatening Netflix, or Disney Plus, but they also won’t come close to going bankrupt. They will exist very comfortably and be successful, just not so successful to threaten the ‘big 5’. So, my predictions for the streaming wars are that everyone wins, and no-one loses. Well, not no-one but no streaming service…

Call me cynical but the only loser in all of this is us. The consumer. Traditional television died because to watch everything you wanted to, you had to pay for lots of different channels, then streaming, specifically Netflix came along and provided an alternative; stream whatever you want, whenever you want, no ads, at a tenth of the cost, if that. And Netflix boomed, which led to the birth of every movie studio, every TV channel having their own streaming service and so… we’ve done a loop. We went from having to buy lots of different channels to watch everything we wanted, to paying for one or two streaming services, back to having to buy lots of different streaming services (channels) to watch everything we want. Streaming also had the advantage of no ads, but HBO Max recently introduced a cheaper version with ads.

 Perhaps other services will follow suit and we will be back to spending more money on our TV and we’ll have to watch ads (if you can’t or don’t want to pay for the ad-free version). Still though, they can’t take away the benefit of being able to pick what to watch and when to watch it, so that’s good. Also, the actual content we’re getting is incredible and volume we’re getting it in is tremendous compared to the pre-Netflix era. However, to subscribe to every major streaming service isn’t that much cheaper than traditional TV anymore and the cost will continue to go up; Netflix Premium had a 17% price increase in the US between 2013 and 2017, and another 14% increase between 2017 and 2019 (their price increases aren’t limited to the premium service) and that increase isn’t limited to Netflix and it won’t stop. Streaming was successful, streaming changed the way we consume media, because it was better and cheaper than traditional TV, now it’s just better. 

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Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight | Official Trailer | Disney +

A former U.S. marine, struggling with dissociative identity disorder, is granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

March 30, 2022 (Disney +)

Creator:

Doug Moench

Cast:

Starring Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, Gaspard Ulliel

Plot Summary:

A former U.S. marine, struggling with dissociative identity disorder, is granted the powers of an Egyptian moon god. But he soon finds out that these newfound powers can be both a blessing and a curse to his troubled life.

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Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 2 Review: The Tribes of Tatooine

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The following review contains spoilers

The second chapter of The Book of Boba Fett is officially here and it picks up right where Chapter One left off. Chapter two entitled “The Tribes of Tatooine’ delivers one of the best and thematically rich episodes of classic star wars to date as the second chapter expands the mythology and is seeped into its own culture. 

“The Tribes of Tatooine” is directed skilfully by Academy Award-nominee Steph Green and written by Jon Favreau and utilises the narrative by telling two different tales at the same time and I found that it works to their advantage. The Book of Boba Fett showcases the present in where Boba and Fennec Shand are now inside the underbelly of the Tatooine crime world and are trying to figure out exactly who sent those assassins as seen in Chapter One “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Then there’s the past which showcases some of my favourite parts and seems to be the bigger plot of the show which continues to show how the former Bounty Hunter came back from near death with the help of the Natives. This allows the series to fill in the gaps of Boba Fett’s story since his last appearance in 1983s Return of the Jedi. 

The episode opens with a high angled shot of the rocky desert landscape outside Jabba’s palace. As Fennec Shand delivers the Order of the Night Wind Assassin to the feet of Boba Fett, which helps set some engaging events in motion from the offset. What follows is a Rancor fakeout, an icy reception at the mayor’s office and neatly waving Hutt Twins who threaten to claim the palace back. Bureaucracy plays a vital part in chapter two as mayor Moz Shaiz offers Boba some advice about ruling after he has the assassin killed and treats Boba off by paying him like he’s hauled in a bounty. After being sent back to the Sanctuary, talks about the assassins are quickly forgotten as thumping drums start to play in the background as it’s shown that Jabba the Hutt’s cousins have come to Tatooine to lay claim to their cousins’ palace as I previously mentioned. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

With a familiar Wookie from the comics Black Krrsantan appearing by their side, this provides one of the episodes best standoffs. During this moment is where I felt The Book of Boba Fett gearing towards the original trilogy as the style and aesthetic is very 70’s and vintage. Its advantage in storytelling is that The book of Boba Fett has shaped new edgier Star Wars stories as, despite only landing on a few locations, Tatooine is teeming with life, scum and villainy that truly can be expected from this hostile planet. This episode also shows Temurea Morrison’s Boba slowly growing into the role of a leader. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

Whilst Fett is resting inside his bacta tank, he experiences a flashback of his time with the Tusken Raiders. Chapter two takes a more meaningful approach in its portrayal of the Tuskens. The characters have been in a Galaxy Far, Far Away for many years in various Star Wars films and tv shows. The book of Boba Fett chooses however to dive into who these people are and what their motivations are. What we’ve been led to believe is that these Indigenous people of Tatooine were aggressive and blood-thirsty bandits, it turns out however that they’re very much misunderstood as in fact they’re just trying to live their lives whilst people intrude on their land. I loved seeing the day to day lives of the tribe as Boba creates a kinship with the Tusken leader as he trains with them. One of the young Tuskens is like his shadow, always following along beside him. Boba cares for them, mourns their dead and partakes in their rituals. During the 51 minute runtime, Boba finds a way to protect them from danger and tries to better their circumstances without changing their ways. 

Chapter two also includes a phenomenal sequence in which the famed Bounty Hunter brings out his brutal side. He steals a set of speeders from a biker gang and then proceeds to launch an assault on the train that killed his newfound friends. What follows is an adorable but hilarious training montage as Boba teaches the Tuskens some new tricks as he goes through his battle plan, tactics and how to ride and jump from a speeder.  The train sequence is a phenomenal set piece and action sequence, it’s truly the franchise’s answer to Mad Max: Fury Road as scenes fuel with kinetic energy. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

This is a classic western story of an outsider getting to know the native species as it effectively turns Tatooine into the Western planet. However one of the things that feel held back at the moment is the series’s present storyline as there is a lack of attention paid. 

Overall in the final act of chapter two, the dead have been burned and the spice has been captured. Boba Fett is welcomed into the Tusken Chief’s tent with a gift for his helpful service with humble gratitude and amazement, especially when a small lizard climbs into his nose and guides him which gets real weird once Boba is taken on a hallucinogenic journey. With The Tribes of Tatooine, The Book of Boba Fett reminds us that Star Wars has so much more to give than the Skywalkers, Jedi and epic space battles it’s ultimately about the individual stories, rich cultures, world-building and shared experiences. 

The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 2, “The Tribes of Tatooine,” is streaming now on Disney+. Future episodes premiere on Wednesdays.

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Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 1 Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

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The following review contains spoilers

Boba Fett has been a beloved Star Wars character ever since his debut in the infamous Holiday Special and made his big onscreen appearance 41 years ago in The Empire Strikes Back. We then later on learn about the origins of the renowned bounty hunter in Attack of the Clones and in the Clone Wars animated series. The appearance of Boba Fett in The Mandalorian season two was also a welcoming surprise as last we saw of the bounty hunter was when he fell into the Sarlacc pit during the events of ‘Return of the Jedi”. 

How did he survive? well, that’s the very first thing covered in the opening of the series premiere which splits its time between flashbacks to what happened after Fett’s downward slope into the pit, as well as the events following The Mandalorian season 2, in which Boba (Temuera Morrison), alongside his loyal assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) navigate the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime Syndicate. 

Chapter one reminded me why I love Star Wars as this episode gave me the classic, vintage feels mixed with Lawerence of Arabia and The Godfather, as both Fett and Shand take down the seedy underbelly of Tatooine. Directed by showrunner Robert Rodriguez and written by Jon Favreau, take a reflective approach in order to fill in the gaps of Fett’s past in which he’s scarred by. 

The opening chapter of the series entitled “Stranger In a Strange Land” shows that Fett still needs medical treatment for his escape from the acid-filled Sarlacc pit as we see him lying inside a Bacta Tank, which provides brief flashbacks to his birthplace Kamino and to the Geonois arena where his father Jango Fett was killed By Mace Windu. 

We also see flashbacks to recent events especially his escape which is executed quickly as he’s shortly running out of time. Boba breathes fresh air from the supply of an expired and eroded Stormtrooper whilst punching a hole through the Sarlacc’s thick stomach. He fires his flamethrower through it and tunnels his way out onto the surface and emerges in front of the wreckage of Jabba’s sail barge. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

After being left for dead and enduring the pain and suffering of being slowly digested, Fett encounters Tatooine’s infamous residents. First Jawa scavengers steal his armour and leave him for dead again. Then becoming dehydrated, Tusken Raiders discover him and force him into subjugation. What follows is an unfortunate escape plan as he survives a brawl with a Tusken Massiff. 

Meanwhile in present-day Tatooine, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand start to secure their hold on crime lord Jabba the Hutt’s former territory, though conflict begins to simmer between the two as Fennec recommends that a more violent rule will surly guarantee a more stable transition of power . However Fett takes a far more measured approach by working by a code of honour that somewhat excludes torture or killing to send a message as “Jabba ruled with fear, I Intent to rule with respect”. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

Fett awakens from the tank as he dons armour and receives visitors in his newly claimed throne room, where a torture droid ( voiced by Matt Berry) announces guests who bring tributes to him as a gesture of being under Fett’s leadership. An Aqualish hands over a tribute of New Republic credits, Dokk Strassi, a Trandoshan leader Fett once worked for, offers a Wookie pelt, two Gamorrean guards pledge their loyalty and a suspicious display of respectfulness comes from Madam Garsa Flip (Jennifer Beals) who is the proprietor of The Sanctuary an upscale Mos Spa Cantina. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

Many of Jabba and Bib’s former subjects are prepared to bend the knee to Boba Fett, well not all of them. As Mos Espa mayor not only fails to show up to the palace in person but sends his majordomo (David Pasquesi) to collect tribute from Fett and as Fett and Shand leave the Cantina they’re ambushed by many assassins with batons that can stun you and energy shields. What follows is a badass parkour pursuit as Fennec kills one and captures the other though we’ll have to wait till next week to see who the assassins work for and who especially is the Mayor??.

This episodes big fight sequence is a battle between a six-legged sand monster that is very reminiscent of classic star wars and feels like a Ray Harryhausen stop motion puppet. This victory in the eyes of the Tusken Raiders makes Boba a made man as the Tusken leader hands boba a gourd which is a sign of respect or acceptance into the tribe. 

Photo: Lucasfilm

Wen truly shines as the cunning enforcer/assassin Fennec Shand her skillset is utilised throughout this first chapter. She’s a compelling lead and delivers her lines ruthlessly. 

And Morrison’s portrayal depicts a man that’s been though hell and now onto more of a redemptive path. His delivery and humour truly flesh out the character. Fennec surly feels obliged to Fett because he saved her but chapter one also implies that she would do things differently if she were the crime lord. Life on Tatooine is hard as honour amongst thieves thrives thrives amongst the town. 

The episode also features an epic theme, from Ludwig Göransson who also composed both seasons of The Mandalorian.

Overall Chapter One “Stranger in a Strange Land” is certainly a promising start and offers us glimpses on where the Book of Boba Fett could ultimately be heading as it features action and Star Wars nostalgia. 

The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 1, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” is streaming now on Disney+. Future episodes premiere on Wednesdays.

 

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