That's the central question that all four of the forthcoming streaming services from media titans Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast will be asking themselves in the coming months as they prepare to launch platforms that rival established stalwarts like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even CBS All Access.
For Disney Disney+, WarnerMedia HBO Max and Comcast Peacock, that means focusing on corporate synergy from across many of their respective linear networks and spending billions to reclaim their biggest hits that helped to feed the big red beast that is Netflix. Meanwhile, Apple Apple TV+ will build up its own content library after spending billions on star-studded originals as it eschews the library backbone that many other services are turning to in order to have ample content to draw subscribers.
Below, The Hollywood Reporter offers a guide to all four platforms launching in the next six months and outlines the upsides — and challenges — for each.
Pricing:$4.99 per month free for a year with the purchase of a new Apple product
The upside:Apple already has billions of potential subscribers with devices in their pockets and purses. Those existing customers can see Jennifer Aniston in her first TV show since Friends with as little effort as the click of a button or swipe.
The challenge:Literally everything else. The biggest tech company in the world has content from other platforms at its disposal — though it'll cost you. The biggest piece missing from TV+ is a library like Friends to serve as the backbone of the service. Still, Apple's multi-billion-dollar spending spree will eventually give them a star-studded roster of shows that, so far, many critics are lukewarm on.
The upside: Library, library, library. Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. Pixar, Pixar, Pixar. Oh, and Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars. Disney+ has been the clear front-runner among the quartet of new streamers because of its massive library and strategy to lean hard into its beloved IP. Disney's classic animated movies? Check. Marvel's entire cinematic universe? Yep, that's there, too. Same goes for all things Star Wars and Pixar, plus content from National Geographic and 30-plus seasons of The Simpsons. Oh, and the service will deliver new TV series spinoffs from Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, plus a score of lesser-known movies from its deep vault.
The challenge:Families with kids have likely already signed up for the service. The same goes for the diehard fanboy. The challenge will be reaching viewers beyond those two areas. Paging Disney's other more adult-focused service, Hulu, which will be home to FX fare and Disney+ rejects like High Fidelity.
David Harbour is a movie star in his own right, most notably with a staring role in Hellboy to his name. But his big hit has been as Hopper in the Netflix series Stranger Things. Which is why no matter what he wanted to do with his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live, the show made sure his bit was spooky and involved some references to the show.
Harbour didn’t appear as a Democratic presidential candidate in the show’s cold open, though the season premiere’s host, Woody Harrelson, returned as Joe Biden. That gave Harbour some time to gear up for a monologue where he pulled the classic ‘explore the studio’ move and cracked wise on the run. Unfortunately for him, he almost immediately ran into an alarmed Kate McKinnon, who told Harbor the show needed him to explore a mysterious hole that appeared in Studio 8H.
Harbor peeled away the cobwebs and dove into a pretty faithful representation of The Upside Down, and what did he find? Pete Davidson! The Suicide Squad member finally appeared on this season of SNL after two weeks of jokes about where he had gone missing. Apparently all it took was Harbour to show up for that portal to open up and give us a look at Davidson after all.
SNL on YouTube
The most accurate joke about the show, however, was when Lorne Michaels appeared in the Upside Down as an NBC page running lunch orders for Kenan Thompson, who really runs the show. And now we know he doesn’t like cheese on his burgers, too.
Later in the episode Davidson popped up again, riffing on a reported rise in sexually transmitted diseases during Weekend Update.
“I get tested all the time because, you know, I look like I got all of them,” Davidson said. “And I look like I could have invented one.”
While he didn’t mention why he missed the show’s first two weeks, he did bring up the jokes made at his expense while he was gone, including one Colin Jost made about him losing his car at a music festival. But all that’s over now: Davidson is back and giving America bad advice about reproductive health.
The Righteous Gemstones is a good show. This much is already clear, today, just a handful of episodes into its first season. The third installment in Danny McBride’s Terrible People Universe has almost everything you could want: a dysfunctional family of crooked televangelists, mass baptisms gone awry in Chinese wave pools, failed blackmail attempts in strip mall parking lots, John Goodman, etc. That much you probably expected from the trailers and the general history of Danny McBride’s shows. What you might not have expected, however, was that the show would also feature a song you will never, ever, get out of your head. It does, though. We’re going to talk about it.
Context first: The fifth episode of the first season took the show back in time. John Goodman’s character, Eli Gemstone, was still building his ministry with his wife, Aimee Leigh, played by Jennifer Nettles. Her brother, Baby Billy, played by Walton Goggins, was very jealous and upset because this all broke up their longtime lucrative sibling act. He poked and prodded and lied and manipulated and eventually convinced her to give it a go for one last tour, and as a preview for their fans, they went on the Gemstone’s weekly broadcast and performed their biggest hit. The song was titled “Misbehavin’” and it has been stuck in my head every waking moment since that happened. Maybe you’re having the same problem. I assume you are. I don’t see how you could avoid it after hearing the song even one time. Let’s deal with this together. Let’s at least try. It’s all we can do, really.
Presenting: The Four Stages of Having ‘Misbehavin’ Stuck In Your Head.
STAGE ONE - “Hey, this song is pretty catchy…”
This happens right away. It’s undeniable. It starts at the first line, to be honest. The song is bouncy and has a sticky quality to it that somehow transcends the fact that the visual part of the performance features Walton Goggins clogging. That’s not nothing. It’s the opposite of nothing. It’s… something. Walton Goggins is great and I saw a short clip of him dancing in the trailer and I assumed, like a rube, that the cloggin’ Goggins would be the highlight of that scene. Nope. It was one of the highlights. I feel like I’m not getting across just how good the song needed to be to achieve that for me. I’m saying the song is at least and good as, and possibly better than, Walton Goggins clogging on television. It’s high praise.
Also, this is the stage where you might find yourself thinking, “Hmm, I wonder where they found this song. Why haven’t I heard it before?” Great question. Better answer: The song was made specifically for the show. It was written by stars and writers Danny McBride and Edi Patterson with an assist from the show’s music producers, as explained in the oral history of the song that FastCompany put together. You’re not the only one who was surprised by this. It even happened to the crew, according to Patterson:
The response to it has been, honestly, so incredibly fun. The first day when Jennifer and Walton performed it, people were walking around on their phones trying to find the song on iTunes or whatever. Because they didn’t understand, they thought like, “Oh, this must be an old song that exists.” I kept having to tell numerous people that definitely, “Oh no, this is a brand-new song.” People seem to really like it, though. It’s sticky. It gets in your head really fast, and for whatever reason you remember it and you just know it.
Yes, it does get in your head really fast. That’s what we’re saying here. This first stage lasts for about eight or ten listens. Then you get to…
STAGE TWO - “Hmm, I appear to be humming it in public loud enough for people to hear me.”
We’ve all been there. A song gets lodged into your subconscious so firmly that you start singing or humming it out loud without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s really quite embarrassing. One time I was in an elevator with a few other people and realized, to my horror, that I had been humming “The Chicken Dance” for a solid five seconds. Five seconds is not a long time in the grand scheme of things. It’s less than a blip. But it is an absolute eternity to be humming “The Chicken Dance” in a crowded elevator. Hum it for five seconds right now. Start the clock. You’ll see.
“Misbehavin’” isn’t nearly as bad as that. It’s actually a fun song to have stuck in your head. The only problem you can run into is if someone hears you and says something like, “Hey, that song sounds familiar. I can’t place it. What is it?” Now you’ve got a dilemma. You can try to explain it all, sure. But please do take a minute to consider how unhinged you’ll sound trying to explain this to a stranger in a few short sentences. “Well, it’s actually an original song from a show called The Righteous Gemstones that is about a dysfunctional family of televangelists led by John Goodman — like, a character played by him, not actually him. It’s a song that his wife and brother-in-law sing to while clogging and it happens in a flashback and it’s called ‘Misbehavin’ and one of the characters is a real slick black sheep named Baby Billy who is played by Walton Goggins - you know, from The Shield and Justified - and…”
The second option is to just say “A song I saw on a TV show” and then mention the weather or some other elevator-appropriate conversation topic. Up to you. But choose wisely.
Between the launch of Stranger Things 3 on Netflix tomorrow and Donald Trump's military hardware heavy celebration, the Fourth of July 2019 is going to feel a lot like a throwback to the closing years of the Cold War.
However, unlike those now seemingly almost balmy days of the Reagan Era, it's the U.S. President going full Politburo parade on the National Mall and the return of the Duffer Brothers' Upside Down has loaded up its own narrative DeLorean with more plutonium than Dr. Emmett Brown was ever able to get from the Libyans in Back to The Future.
With that, unless you want to read a bunch of filler, there isn't really much more I can say about Stranger Things 3 except that its back bigger than ever and having lost some of the charm of the original premise and premiere from back in July 2016.
Now, not to say that Stranger Things 3 has drained the nostalgia well completely dry or gone all eighties Ready Player One style, it hasn't. The Shawn Levy EP'd and now Cary Elwes starring series still has less CGI overall than one minute of that soulless Steven Spielberg washout. However, with no spoilers intended, the artfully constructed saga, with well-considered calls back to the near perfect first season, suffers from being entombed like the basement of the Hawkins National Laboratory by its own once again increased budget ambitions.
There are other debilitating ambitions in play here too.
In the one of the simply silly aspect of the tentpole mind meld that has superpowered, Sc-fi and supernatural fueled Hollywood in full Borg mode the past decade, Netflix have basically banned any discussion of what actually occurs during the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana.
Unabashedly wanting to mitigate any critical and spoiler blast radius for its own summer blockbuster, the streamer leaned on to critics not to “disclose specific storyline information, including episodic spoiler information.” Which is fair enough, but then micromanaging Netflix followed with an absurd list of 17 specific plot points that it did not want reviewers to “mention or allude to.”
Gutting most significant analysis of the eight new episodes of the Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder, David Harbour and Finn Wolfhard-led global sensation and playing on a pack mentality to stay in favor with the Reed Hastings-run company, the sprawling restrictions reek more of something Michael Deaver would have tried to bully the White House press pool with way back in the day over the Great Communicator's latest verbal misstep. Or, to be truly blunt, it's a lot like the discovery cul-de-sac of Charlie Kessler's now shuttered plagiarism lawsuit against the Duffer Brothers over where the idea for Stranger Things came from.
All of which is a real shortsighted shame because with one Hell of a finale and the addition of an excellent Maya Hawke, this Stranger Things is a pretty great endgame, even if there is a Season 4 to come or not.
With all that I can't say, some of which happens mere minutes into the first episode and some of which is almost as incidental as the ongoing New Coke joke of the season, there's no real reason I can offer you on a how Stranger Things 3 gets from Point A to a Cold War Point Z. After the occasional plot potholes of 2017's Season 2, you have to trust me that the Duffers and Netflix have learned a lesson or two the right way. The overuse of special effects aside, they’ve rightly decided to stick to their core strengths instead of trying to flex too many new muscles.
'Stranger Things' Season 3: Netflix Unveils Behind-The-Scenes Photos — Gallery
At the same time, the creators and the streamer also recognized the rare benefit of working with a cast that is literally growing up before our eyes in a time when a lot of us were kids.
Yes, there is ever quickening repartee and stifled sexual tensions between a reenergized Ryder and Harbour's now parenting Sheriff Hopper but the move towards the angst of adolescence in the age of The Smiths, The Cure and mallrats for Brown's Eleven, Wolfhard's Mike, Caleb McLaughlin's Lucas, Gaten Matarazzo's Dustin and relative newcomer Sadie Sink's Max is where the Demogorgon really hits the road.
So, there are a number of elements in Stranger Things 3 that are as almost as over the top as Trump's Leonid Brezhnev homage shindig tomorrow. Beyond that, at the heart of the world of Upside Down, things strange and not, are still alright — for new fans and old.
And, to name check a certain Motley Crue song from 1985, that's very Home Sweet Home.
Martin Scorsese's new Bob Dylan film begins with George Méliès' 1896 short “The Vanishing Lady,” in which the famed illusionist and “Hugo” subject makes his assistant Jehanne d'Alcy disappear before our eyes, but some viewers might not cotton to how this strange prologue sets the table for Scorsese's own sleight-of-hand. More than just a concert documentary or an inside look at the fabled tour of the same name, “Rolling Thunder Revue” is nothing less than a feature-length magic trick of a movie — a séance disguised as a straightforward PBS-style program. There's a reason why it's streaming on Netflix with the subtitle “A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.”
It's entirely possible to watch and enjoy “Rolling Thunder Revue” without picking up on how it blurs the line between fact and fiction, but this feels like a movie that wants to get caught. It becomes a richer, fuller experience when you start to pick up on the mischievous ways in which Scorsese is messing with the record. Start pulling at the loose threads and it no longer feels like you're watching a historical document from 1975, but rather like you're hearing the distant echoes of a song that you already have stuck in your head.
If you haven't watched the film yet, and think that you might have more fun sussing through its mysteries on your own, then we advise you to stop reading here and come back later to cross-check your findings. For everyone else, here are the four big lies that unmoor “Rolling Thunder Revue” from the raw facts of the matter and transform the movie into a feverish tale of masks, memory, and the timeless pursuit of a deeper kind of truth.
1. Sharon Stone didn't actually have an affair with Dylan when she was 19
“Rolling Thunder Revue”
In what might be the most eyebrow-raising bit of fiction in the film, Sharon Stone — yes, “Casino” star Sharon Stone — shows up as a talking head interview subject and genuflects about how she met Dylan outside of a concert venue when she was just 19 years old and needed some help getting into the show. Stone would actually have been 17 at the time the rest of the joke would be a bit ickier if Scorsese didn't fudge the math, but a Photoshopped picture of the young blonde standing with Dylan in a crowd of fans makes its all too easy to go along with the gag. It also helps that Dylan himself acts as Scorsese's accomplice, as he mumbles to the camera about the night he met Stone with her mom, and remembers the girl telling him that she was going to be a famous actress one day.
If Stone's suspicious body language doesn't give it away, you might catch on when she says that she joined the Rolling Thunder Revue on the road for a while, and implies that she and Dylan had something of a low-key affair that lurid detail is baked into the lyrics of “Just Like a Woman,” which Dylan supposedly tricked Stone into thinking he wrote about her. If this were true, it feels like the kind of thing that you probably would have heard in passing at some point over the years. But it's easy enough to go along with in the moment, as Scorsese clearly establishes the Rolling Thunder Revue as the kind of thing that could have swept up anyone in its path.—DE
2. Retired Politician Jack Tanner is actually a Robert Altman character
“Rolling Thunder Revue”
One of the real world backdrops to “Rolling Thunder” is Jimmy Carter's successful presidential campaign. To narratively link the two, Scorsese dips into the film world of a fellow auteur, Robert Altman. “Tanner ’88” was a HBO mockumentary miniseries, written by Garry Trudeau and directed by Altman, in which former Michigan U.S. representative Jack Tanner played by actor Michael Murphy runs for the Democratic nomination for President. In “Tanner 88,” the under-funded underdog Tanner competes against the real politicians who were actually gunning for 1988 nomination, principally Jesse Jackson and eventual nominee Michael Dukakis.
In Scorsese's story, Tanner still played by Murphy in 1976 was a young congressman who was close to Carter. When Tanner gets caught in a storm and his flight gets diverted to Niagra Falls, it's Carter — a real-life Dylan fan, who referenced the singer in campaign speeches — who recommends Tanner go to the Rolling Thunder Revue concert and calls Dylan personally to get Tanner into the sold-out show. Tanner goes on to put Dylan and the politics of the era in perspective.
“I was one of the youngest members of Congress, so I was torn between two generations there,” says Tanner in Scorsese's film. “And a lot of them were quite a bit older than me and Dylan was considered the enemy by a lot of these guys. I'd grown up in this era where you wanted to be an adult, you wanted to drink a martini with your dad, and now it was, 'Never trust anyone over 30.' And I'm caught in the middle of this.”—CO
3. Filmmaker Stefan van Drop doesn't exist
“Rolling Thunder Revue”
One of the best talking head interviews in “Rolling Thunder Revue” is courtesy of European filmmaker Stefan van Drop, who was a fly on the wall behind the scenes of Bob Dylan’s tour and captured all of the sensational concert footage. The only problem is that van Drop did not record this footage because van Drop is not a filmmaker or even a real person. The “filmmaker” is actually a fictional character played by Bette Midler's husband, Martin von Haselberg. The actor turns van Dorp into one of the documentary’s most hilarious characters, a pompous director unafraid to share sly insults about Dylan and the fellow musicians he “filmed” on the tour. To make the joke land even harder, von Haselberg introduced “Rolling Thunder Revue” in character as van Dorp at the film’s Lincoln Center world premiere.—ZS
4. Jim Gianopulos was never a concert promoter
“Rolling Thunder Revue”
Anyone familiar with the movie industry might recognize the name Jim Gianopulos when it pops up on screen during a talking head interview. Gianopulos is the chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, a position he’s held since March 2017. The documentary would have viewers believe that early in his career Gianopulos was a concert promoter who helped book the revue despite his reservations that a non-stadium tour was a good idea for Dylan. In real life, Gianopulos had zero connection to Dylan’s tour. Prior to Paramount, the executive worked as the co-chairman and later the sole chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, which included at the time 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000, Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios, Fox International Productions, and Fox Home Entertainment.—ZS
“Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese” is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix.