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Sub-Genre Media Newsletter:
Semi-frequent musings on indie film, media, branded content and related items from Brian Newman.

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Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media

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What I’m Thinking About:
Academy Awards

Green Book: I don’t have much to add to the backlash over the Best Picture results from the Academy Awards, as there’s been enough written about why Green Book wasn’t deserving of an Oscar. If you need any evidence, just read Shadow and Act, perhaps. Or spend your time watching Yoruba Richen’s The Green Book: Guide to Freedom doc instead, or learn how Don Shirley was evicted from Carnegie Hall in Lost Bohemia.

But I am perplexed that the Academy can’t figure out that the only thing worth watching in their entire show is the thing they keep ruining – the acceptance speeches. Hearing the music swell as they try to push people off-stage might be the most annoying thing on the planet. I hope they play that music when they fire their leadership someday. And that can’t come too soon; only in Hollywood can you cause this much mayhem, keep your job and have the town think you saved the show…!
It’s unconscionable that they found time to add a commercial for a nonexistent Academy Museum, but then cut short the Best Animated Feature speakers. Even when the acceptance speeches are long or flubbed, they’re still the reason people bother to watch the show. The speeches, the awards themselves, the In-Memoriam and (for some) the songs, are just about the only things worth watching, and the ratings won’t improve much until the Academy figures that out.
Netflix: Some people blame the Green Book win on the dilemma some voters felt they faced in voting for Roma, when it would validate Netflix’s business model. Sorry folks, that battle is over and Netflix already won, even if they didn’t win the big award. It’s ridiculous to listen to these pundits say that Netflix is making TV movies like HBO, when Roma alone proves they’re making cinema.  Future audiences might regret that Green Book won any awards, but they’ll definitely forget they used to go to theaters before they remember that anyone ever cared whether Netflix won an award in 2019.
Availability, or Millions lost: While you could find many of the nominated films online for rent/sale/streaming, there were a lot of films being held back and only available in theaters or nowhere. By the time the Awards come around, everyone who is going to see the movie in theaters has done so, and there are millions more who would watch the films if they were available pre-Awards online. Studios seem to think that the Awards heighten interest post-show, but I’m willing to bet that if every film was available online for a low cost pre-Awards, they’d make millions more – quite possibly during the show when people get bored and decide just to watch that film they just saw getting snubbed.
Alex Honnold wore a The North Face tuxedo to the Oscars for Free Solo. And if that’s not the best brand placement of the past year, I don’t know what is. Sure, lots of fashion companies outfit people for the Oscars, but The North Face sure has gotten more out of their sponsorship of Alex than perhaps any brand/athlete relationship in recent history, and what an unexpected partnership for the red carpet!

Stuff I'm Reading


SVOD Wars Updates: April is coming: And no, I’m not referring to the premier of Game of Thrones, but rather the launch of Disney Streaming service which appears to be having every major media company in a scramble to acquire as many assets as possible:
  1.  Amazon spent $47 Million at Sundance for the rights of five different films.
  2. Disney ended its partnership with Netflix, canceling their Defenders series of shows. (The Motley Fool says now is the time to buy.)
  3. Hulu finds itself in a increasingly more complicated place with Disney now owning 60% of Hulu’s shares after the Fox Acquisition and the launch of Disney+ in April.
New Media

This Kevin Kelly article on AR and the Mirror World in Wired has been making the rounds, but just in case you missed it, and want to know more about where AR is going, it's worth a read. Kelly has a great way of pulling together disparate threads of exploration and summarizing their future directions in a way that makes you say "yup, of course that will happen." And most of it will, but thanks to advertising, with a much more dystopian flare than he tends to foresee.
Attention economics: Another reminder that Fortnite is not the main problem facing the games industry, but rather unreasonable performance expectations for new media and competition over the dwindling time of consumers . This is true for gaming and films - you have a lot more competition, which means your “game”must be stepped up.
Branded Content
MediaPost argues for better metrics on ROI by tying branded to shoppable content.  While I agree we need better measurement tools and think linking branded content is one way to measure success, I’d disagree that it should be a goal for most branded content - usually the most direct connections to sales make for the worst films. Sometimes branded content should be about building the brand, not just measuring sales. But unless we come up with good metrics, this might be the only one we have.
Whatever happened to the Denominator? Asked no one ever until  Kalev Leetaru in Forbes. But while his analysis is of Twitter and his methods are wonkish, he’s right that too often “we have traded more data for less understanding of what is in that data.” Or we’re obsessed with data instead of information… that we can actually use. Worth a read for you data nerds out there.
Peter Berg is launching a branded content division to his production company, Film 47, and I think it’s the model for anyone trying to build a sustainable production company business:
“It just occurred to us that we like the idea of trying to be a small, multifaceted media company that could make the film about an oil rig in Texas that blew up [Deepwater Horizon], and then make a documentary on the environmental cleanup, and everything in between,” Berg continues. “That aimed us at having our own production company/creative agency where we talk directly with clients or work directly with ad agencies, and help take on a more thorough or comprehensive role than a traditional production company.”
Folio magazine demonstrates the need for publishers to have their own Branded Content and it’s a good summary of who is doing what right now.
Copyright © 2019 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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