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Fast Five: Animation Booms, Latinx Writers Get Blind Script Deals at Hulu, and Walmart Is The New Drive-In

July 6, 2020
5 min read time

Everything old is new again! 90s animation, Alfred Hitchcock, and drive-in movie theaters are all making their glorious returns thanks to the new normal we’re living in. It may be some time before we can watch a new release in the theaters, but pretty soon we’ll be able to hit up a Walmart parking lot drive-in before heading home to put on Psycho in 4K and falling asleep to some Beavis & Butt-Head.

The Black List, in partnership with the Latin Tracking Board, NALIP, Remezcla and the Untitled Latinx Project, has revealed the ten screenplays selected for its annual list showcasing Latinx writers. All of the pilot scripts will be sent to Hulu where two of the writers, or writing teams, will receive a blind script deal and the rest will get meetings with executives. This is probably one of the best rewards for a screenplay contest in recent memory, especially since the blind script deal is set at WGA minimum instead of for “exposure” like many other contests offer. For writers on the outside of Hollywood’s nepotism bubble, these lists are one of the few ways to break through and get your name out there. The Black List has many annual lists targeting underrepresented groups, and studios, production companies and networks have been making an effort to open writing fellowships of their own. If you are a member of an underrepresented group, consider looking into the lists that you qualify for and trying to use that as your way into the industry. 

Adult animation is getting its moment in the sun thanks to the success of shows like Rick & Morty and a work shutdown that has made animation one of the only genres able to produce regular content. Even live-action shows like The Blacklist used animation as a way to finish its season. The boom in animation is going strong with MTV Studios’ recent announcement that it put a reboot of Clone High in development and received a two-season order from Comedy Central for a new Beavis and Butt-Head series. This spring also saw the launch of Solar Opposites and Crossing Swords on Hulu, and the DC Universe has a hit of its own with the R-rated Harley Quinn. Short-form adult animation has continued to grow outside of Adult Swim, which had long been the home for the genre, with cable networks SYFY and FXX launching TZGZ and Cake, late-night blocks that produce their own adult animation for the college crowd. With the future of physical production and theater openings still uncertain, expect the amount of animated shows to continue to grow.

The big movie chains have been very clear that they will not open without new movies, and the new movies have made it clear they will only open alongside Christopher Nolan’s pic Tenet. And Warner Bros. has made it very clear that it will not release Tenet until the majority of theaters are open. It’s a weird game of chicken that has seen release dates and theater openings being pushed back every other week, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for summer movie-going. Walmart is partnering with Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises to open up drive-in cinemas in parking lots around the country from August to October. Snacks will be available to purchase for car service and picnic dinners can be ordered from Walmart for curbside pickup. There is no word on the line-up of films, which is being curated by Tribeca, and whether or not there will be new releases sprinkled in with the classics. But the movies will be family friendly, so that the entire household can get out and enjoy a movie together. 

Alfred Hitchcock has one of the strongest filmographies out there. The man has directed so many films that Psycho and The Birds, two of his most remembered, are at the tail-end of his long career. Most directors peak early and eventually fade away after one or two failures—the reality of the profession is not kind—but Hitchcock released some of his best films later in his life. Vertigo and North by Northwest were his 46th and 47th films respectively. In fact, he only directed The Birds after his move into directing television with episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. There are plenty of lessons that any aspiring thriller writer can learn from Hitchcock in terms of pacing and how to slowly build suspense through a narrative with a limited budget. There's a reason low-budget thrillers are the ones referred to as "Hitchcockian". It's because the director was able to create suspense through his characters and dialogue alone. And now you can learn from him in stunning 4K. Rear Window, The Birds, Vertigo and a new version of Psycho that has only ever been seen on German television will be released in a new four-pack in the high-res format.

This is what happens when consumers have an abundance of choice. With more big-ticket companies like Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia entering the streaming game, and ones from NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS on the way, consumers have decided that instead of subscribing to all of them at once, they’re just going to cycle through. Churn is the reality for most streaming services—Netflix is the only one that hasn’t been hit by it—and it makes sense. When you subscribe to a new service you’re probably going to be using it non-stop for the first month, so do you really need to keep your Criterion, Shudder and CBS All Access subs active simultaneously when you can spend a third of the amount by cycling between them on a monthly basis? The current churn rate increased by six percent in the last year up to 41%, and the blame can be placed squarely on quarantine. People are stuck at home and have decided to use this time to experiment with the abundance of streaming services at their fingertips, and those experiments are resulting in a lot of cancelations. Another unfortunate reality is that plenty of families are looking for ways to save money and they have decided that cutting out internet TV services like Sling and YouTubeTV seems to be the easiest way to do that.

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