The Fast Five: Comic-Con Opens its Panels to Film Buffs Everywhere While Streaming Services Bank on Movie Tentpoles to Generate Must-See TV
July 13, 2020
What did you do with your quarantine time? Did you finally finish that project you were working on? Did you get a burst of inspiration that led to writing a hot new spec script? If your answer is, “None of the above,” then you should probably skip this week’s first bit of news about the people who made an entire movie during their time in quarantine.
EUPHORIA TEAM REUNITES FOR A SECRET QUARANTINE MOVIE
It’s always good to be friends with a bored Zendaya. With Euphoria season two off the schedule due to coronavirus-related production delays, Zendaya didn’t want to sit around doing nothing in her quarantine like the rest of us. So she called up Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and said, “Hey, how long will it take you to get a film ready?” Levinson came back six days later with a completed script that could be filmed entirely at one location. A call was made to Tenet star John David Washington to see if he was interested in co-starring, and Malcolm & Marie was born. The principals self-financed the small production that saw crew members wearing different hats to keep social distancing possible, while filming itself took place during the last two weeks of June adhering to every union’s safety rules. So what lesson can the aspiring writer take away from this? Learn to write fast. Sam Levinson was able to have a draft ready in six days because professional writers don’t have the luxury of taking years to fine-tune their scripts. They have deadlines to hit and need to deliver quality material on that date. New writers always get a harsh dose of reality when the spec they spent three years writing gets them recognition in the industry and a great writing assignment…that they only have two months to deliver. Learning to write a script in two months that’s as good as the one you spent three years working on is a skill you’ll need if you want to be in a position where Zendaya calls you and gives you a week to deliver a feature length screenplay.
COMIC-CON GOES DIGITAL WITH FREE PANELS
Everybody knows Comic-Con for its big-ticket panels full of superheroes, celebrities and celebrities playing superheroes. But did you know that the majority of Comic-Con panels are much smaller, more intimate affairs that focus on creative subjects? Experts from a variety of fields answer questions and divulge their knowledge on niche subgenres like self-publishing a novel and how to storyboard a comic script. And for the first—and potentially only, time ever—all of these panels will be held virtually and will be free to watch on YouTube. Sure, it may be fun to watch Charlize Theron talk about her new Netflix movie, but you can get that on any late-night talk show. But where else will you get the opportunity to listen to TV writers discuss the use of science in film and TV outside of the Hollyweird Science: Creativity, Correctness and Collaboration panel? Other interesting panels include From Script To Screen: Behind The Scenes of Your Favorite Film & TV Shows, The Art of Collaboration: Duos Behind Top TV Shows and This Is Not The Apocalypse You’re Looking For: Real-Life Disasters, Fictional Recovery. And all those happen before lunch on Thursday. With a week’s worth of panels, there’s something in there for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring writer, artist, voice-over actor, novelist or stunt performer, Comic-Con is offering an unprecedented opportunity to learn tips on how to break into the industry in every sector. Head over and check out the programming guide to see if there’s anything there that suits your fancy.
HBO MAX BETS BIG ON BIG SCREEN SPIN-OFFS
The DC brand has been one of the major selling points for HBO Max and is probably the most prominent hub on the service behind HBO. All the major DC films—both live action and animated—have a home there and DC Universe originals like Doom Patrol have launched new seasons on HBO Max. The big problem with selling HBO Max to DC fans is that most television shows are currently tied up with licensing deals on other services. WarnerMedia’s DC Universe is the home to the classic animated shows and Netflix’s deal with The CW gave it streaming rights to the Arrowverse, so how do they keep that fanbase happy? How about a new show from the creator of Boardwalk Empire that spins off of Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman? Terence Winter is creating a show set around the Gotham police department that will air exclusively on HBO Max. Gambling on a series stemming from a major tentpole flick is nothing new for HBO Max, as the service has already greenlit Dune: The Sisterhood, a spin-off of Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune adaptation. With new shows based on Green Lantern, Gremlins and Grease in development, WarnerMedia is hoping IP will deliver new subscribers. And whoever was in charge of searching the library for titles clearly gave up once they hit the letter ‘G.’
PEACOCK LAUNCHES WIDE THIS WEEK
The final entry in the major corporation streaming service category (until ViacomCBS officially announces the expansion of CBS All Access into All Access), NBCUniversal’s Peacock will launch this week to a wide audience. The service will be the exclusive home to most NBC comedies, a selection from Universal’s film library, and a handful of originals. Its big draw is the older content, as Peacock has spent big bucks getting the rights to shows like The Office and the full Dick Wolf library, and has also signed a multi-year licensing deal with ViacomCBS to up the ante. Peacock is also experimenting with tiered pricing, being the only major streaming service to offer a free, AVOD version with a smaller content library. The big launch title for Peacock is the adaptation of post-apocalyptic novel Brave New World, starring Jessica Brown Findlay and Alden Ehrenreich. Only time will tell if viewers open up their wallets or cross their arms in frustration at the continued splintering of the streaming landscape and just watch whatever’s on Netflix.
UNIVERSAL’S NEW AND IMPROVED MONSTER UNIVERSE PUSHES FORWARD
It’s no secret that Universal has been trying to turn its Classic Monsters slate of films from the 1930s into modern-day blockbusters. The studio had some success in the late-90s/early 2000s with Stephen Sommers at the helm of Van Helsing and The Mummy franchise, but once The Avengers made a billion dollars, Universal went full steam ahead with a shared cinematic universe to try and capture some of that success for itself. That led to The Dark Universe and an Entertainment Weekly photoshoot with Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Javier Bardem, Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp announcing their participation in the new slate of films. What it didn’t lead to was more than one movie being made. With all its attention focused on setting up future movies, Universal didn’t put much effort into making sure the first film in the franchise, 2017’s The Mummy, was actually good. Universal shut down The Dark Universe and decided to take a new approach with the characters by making a bunch of individual movies at a much lower cost. The studio turned to low-budget hit maker Blumhouse and writer-director Leigh Whannell to remake The Invisible Man, which resulted in a $130 million hit for a budget of $7 million. Universal is now expanding that approach by enlisting Whannell to return to direct Ryan Gosling in The Wolfman. Universal learned that you can throw all the money you want at a project, but in the end, it will always come down to the story.
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.