The CW Stretches Narrative Structure To New Heights While Keanu Fans Rejoice At the Cineplex
December 16, 2019
The art of storytelling is in the news today as the CW takes some big steps in its shows’ unique approach to stretching the standard narrative structure. From All American continuing a plotline into the ad breaks to the Arrowverse managing a crossover of epic proportions, the CW is all about expansion. And, at least for a little while, in that same spirit, we can all look forward to a full day of Keanu Reeves at the multiplex.
ALL AMERICAN TAKES A UNIQUE APPROACH TO INCORPORATING PRODUCT PLACEMENT INTO ITS STORYTELLING
Product placement can be a burden for writers on popular television shows. They’re forced to incorporate products into the narrative and have the difficult task of making the product stand out enough for the brand paying them, while not pulling the audience out of the story. The team behind CW’s All American found an interesting way to incorporate the Microsoft Surface without actually putting it in the show. The character Coop wants to make his own song, and he uses the Microsoft Surface to help him write, record it, and film a music video. But what’s interesting is how the team is handling it. This mini-storyline plays out during the commercial breaks instead of during the show. His narrative unfolds in official ads for the Microsoft Surface and culminates with the release of the music video he is seen working on during the ads. This unique form of product-placement—or story-placement, since the roles are reversed—has the added benefit of keeping the audience invested in watching during the commercials. Networks are having a difficult time selling ad-space and this kind of brand integration can be trumpeted by CW to advertisers as a way of guaranteeing its audience keeps its eyes on the TV during the commercial breaks.
CW LAUNCHES ITS LATEST CRISIS
In a world of shared cinematic universes, one of the most impressive has been going on for years over on the CW to little mainstream recognition. The Arrowverse, as fans have dubbed it, has swelled to feature six shows across the network and just finished up week one of its latest crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. If you’re waiting until the entire Crisis is complete before you watch it, then you should be warned about spoilers up ahead. DC’s original Crisis on Infinite Earths was a comic book crossover in the 80s, designed to reset the complicated continuity of the comic book universe so the company could start from scratch. Rumors suggest that Greg Berlanti (creator or co-creator of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl) and his team of showrunners are using this crossover for the same purpose and will end it by resetting the continuity of the Arrowverse to give the shows a fresh slate.
The television version of Crisis is a monumental undertaking and includes multiple DC universes that have appeared onscreen over the years. Some fun guests in the first few episodes included Batman voice-actor Kevin Conroy making his live-action debut as a villainous version of Batman, Tom Welling and Erica Durance reprising their Smallville roles for a nice send-off, and Burt Ward returning to get out one last 60’s style zinger before he and his dog exploded. Now here’s hoping for a Dean Cain cameo in the New Year.
HOPEFUL FANS PREP FOR “KEANU DAY”
When Warner Bros. announced a fourth Matrix film, Keanu Reeves fans were ecstatic. When they announced it would be released on May 21, 2021 those same fans probably exploded with excitement. Why all the fuss? Well, that’s the same day Lionsgate has set aside for John Wick 4, making it a day full of Keanu Reeves goodness with two of his biggest franchises opening simultaneously. The only thing better would be if United Artists releases Bill & Ted Face the Music on the same day.
If you’re a Keanu fan, you shouldn’t get too excited though. The most likely outcome will either be Lionsgate buckling and moving its release day to the Spring, when the second John Wick film opened, or The Matrix being pushed back because of delays considering the movie was only just announced. But until one of those happens, I will be joining everybody else in planning a full day around Keanu Reeves flying through the sky and murdering people with pencils.
A LOOK INSIDE THE FINANCIALS OF DIGITAL MEDIA BRAND BRAT
There’s never a lot of transparency around digital media companies because most of them are private, so a look into their financials is rare and always fascinating. Digiday has an interesting article up about the brand Brat TV, and though it mostly focuses on advertising, it does shine a light on how these companies can afford to operate.
Brat TV is a digital entertainment network that targets the Generation Z audience. Brat has produced thirty short-form series and four movies available on YouTube (with some season available on streaming service Tubi), and has a publishing output deal. Brat recently took control of its advertising from YouTube, and more than tripled the revenue it brought in. While its revenues hit $10 million in 2019, the company is still not profitable, though they expect revenues as high as $25 million next year. The ability to sell its own ads is a huge coup for Brat, as that’s a perk YouTube normally reserves for larger media conglomerates. And while the company isn’t yet profitable, in some cases, that’s not the goal of an independent digital media studio. The business plan for many of them has an end-game of selling, with the goal of building up a catalog large enough to become an appealing acquisition target. If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of how digital media companies advertise, the article is well worth a read.
STUDIOS PLAY THE STAR WARS LOTTERY AND RELEASE MAJOR TRAILERS
Christmas is coming and a lot of people use the movies as a way to avoid talking to the family they are forced to socialize with over the holidays. Studios are taking advantage of the stampede of people rushing to watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, or whatever movie they have to see when that’s sold out, and are releasing a slew of new trailers for next summer’s blockbusters. Sony’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 and In The Heights, Fox’s Free Guy, Disney’s live-action Mulan, Annapurna and MGM’s new Bond movie No Time To Die, and Marvel’s Black Widow (its first movie since Avengers: Endgame) are the major movies that have all released trailers in the last week. For many of them, it’s the first time they’ve released any promo material at all. The studios want their trailers to be in theaters during the holiday period so it’s an exciting time for movie fans as we get a peek at what next summer has in store for us.
Written by: Conrad SylviaConrad Sylvia is the creator of the The Week in Television, a private industry newsletter that recaps the week's television news in a humorous and unique manner. Throughout the years he has developed projects for studios and production companies and continues to provide freelance research on the current television landscape and international marketplace. He is also a fan of drinking in the bathtub. A full tub if he's happy, an empty tub if he's sad.