It’s hard to know what’s going on at the moment. The COVID-19 crisis has most of the world in a state of self-isolation and the entertainment industry is trying its best to chug along. This week has been a strange mix of studios furloughing hundreds of thousands of people and delaying movies until next year, all while acting like everything’s completely normal actually. So with that in mind welcome to this edition of Last Week’s Episode.
Disney has been at the center of much of the worst corporate behavior this week, furloughing massive amounts of staff despite being a multi-billion dollar company. Of course, their theme parks closing meant hundreds of thousands of staff lost their jobs but the crisis also hit the multiple IPs the company own, including Lucasfilm and Marvel. The biggest question here is how long the employees will be affected. “Marketing and distribution departments were affected, one insider said, as Disney’s film release calendar has been upended by the mass closure of movie theaters across the country. A time frame for the furloughs, which differs from a layoff in that employees retain benefits like healthcare, was not immediately clear.” [Variety]
Maybe part of the reason that Disney is acting so thrifty all of a sudden is that in the new entertainment landscape their grip is slipping–only slightly, this is Disney we’re talking about–as Netflix’s share price soared to an all-time high topping the Mouse House for the very first time. [Variety]
Abigail Disney–the daughter of Roy E. Disney–has long been an outspoken critic of the company that her grandfather Roy Disney and great uncle Walt Disney founded. The filmmaker and philanthropist has once again been calling out the corporate culture of Disney which has stopped paying 100,000 workers, whilst protecting the bonuses for corporate during this crisis.
OK, I've been holding my tongue on the theory that a pandemic is no time to be calling people out on anything other than failing us in a public health sense. I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation. But I feel a thread coming on….1/ https://t.co/G1mUq7RmAV
— Abigail Disney (@abigaildisney) April 21, 2020
Disney aren’t the only ones who are behaving abhorrently during this crisis. Ellen DeGeneres–who has long been dogged by rumors and stories of her terrible treatment of staff–has reportedly abandoned the long running crew of her show during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The core stage crew for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, consisting of more than 30 employees, received no written communication about the status of their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their mental and physical health from producers for over a month, said two sources, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.” [Variety]
Weirdly Normal New Announcements
In the wave of ever changing global politics and the general feeling of panic that each day holds it’s weird to see multiple studios announcing the big projects that they’re acquiring for the apparent “after-covid” timeline. But this first project is so exciting that we’ll allow it just this once. Leslye Hyland will be taking on a “female-centric” Star Wars series that will take place in a “different part of the Star Wars timeline.” That sounds a lot like it could be an adaptation of Claudia Grey’s brilliant Leia, Princess of Alderaan novel… but who knows! Either way we’re here for more women of the Galaxy, especially women of color so whatever project this is we’re here for it. [Variety]
Next up is the news that Universal has optioned The Green Hornet for adaptation. Though it’s unclear whether it’s for film or TV either are likely and we’d probably expect some kind of grim and gritty take… in which case can we suggest Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim as the crime-fighting duo? [CBR]
More pulp news, this time of the DC Comics variety as J.J. “The Rise of Skywalker” Abrams has announced that he’ll be helming a Justice League Dark series for HBO MAX. This is honestly a notoriously cursed property that gets re-announced at least once a year so who knows if it will happen but if it does they better be bringing Matt Ryan’s Constantine and Derek Mears’ Swamp Thing with them into the brave and prestige world of WB’s massive new streamer. [Polygon]
Sad news for anime fans everywhere. Sony has decided to adapt One Punch Man. Could it be good? Maybe, the series, manga, and webcomic that its based on are brilliant but do we trust the writers of Venom and the studio system to not make this a white washed mess… not really.
Sony Pictures is developing a live-action movie based on the popular manga series #OnePunchMan.
The movie will be written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner who wrote Venom and both of the recent Jumanji films for Sony. pic.twitter.com/SPPEGDf6Wi
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) April 21, 2020
One of the Chrises–of the Pine variety–is up for a reboot of The Saint. A modern Robin Hood style story about a gentleman thief who robs from the rich and gives to the poor and was originally brought to life by Roger Moore in the British TV show of the same name. Val Kilmer starred in a ’97 reboot movie but The Saint hasn’t been seen or heard from since then. [Deadline]
One of our faves, Supergirl’s Nicole Maines, will be getting bloodthirsty in a new vampire movie called Bit which is headed to VOD from the 24th of April!
.@NicoleAMaines leaves small-town Oregon behind to start a new life with the “Bite Club,” a group of women who welcome her with open arms — then turn her into a vampire, in “Bit.”
— Melissa Silverstein (@melsil) April 21, 2020
Speaking of fave, heist show Leverage is getting a shiny new reboot with almost all of the old gang: Beth Riesgraf, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane are back as series regulars, and Aldis Hodge will be reoccurring (he’s also starring in Showtime’s City on the Hill). Who won’t be returning? IRL trash bag Timothy Hutton, who is being replace by perpetual good boy Noah Wyle (ER). A dream come true for many fans! [Deadline]
I have to be careful writing the #Leverage reboot pilot or you folks will figure out what my AO3 handle’s been for the last decade.
— John Rogers (@jonrog1) April 23, 2020
Remember that new Hunger Games book which for some reason will focus on young President Snow? Well, guess what in shocking news it’s also getting a movie adaptation from Lionsgate. Surprising no one the book about a sympathetic young demagogue will become a feature film and honestly that sounds like the last thing we need in 2020.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) April 21, 2020
Cool People Enjoying Stuff
It’s not all horrible though as we’re all just trying to live our best lives in the quarantine, including Chip Zdarsky who gave made a list of the things that are keeping him going over at IGN as part of their awesome series centering comics creators and their self-isolation picks. Chip’s suggestions include Parks and Recreation, The Leftovers, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and loads more. [IGN]
Megan Thee Stallion continued to bring us joy with her love of anime as she was interviewed on Crunchyroll’s instagram live account the whole thing is a joy and you can enjoy some of it below and a full interview here.
HOT GIRL MEG WAS LIVE ❤️ pic.twitter.com/k3vfKPKmuW
— 💓 your favorite anime Auntie 🇳🇬💓 (@blackgirlsanime) April 14, 2020
Jennifer Tilly is nothing short of royalty and she’s doing what she does best: being cool on the internet and showing respect to her iconic role in The Bride of Chucky. She posted this extremely fun pic on insta featuring none other than Tiffany herself!
Bored. 💦 pic.twitter.com/P1ozTNOYDn
— Jennifer Tilly (@JenniferTilly) April 16, 2020
More sad anime news as the highly-anticipated and long awaited new Evangelion movie Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 will be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie was originally meant to open in June this year but it’s now unclear when we’ll be able to see the next installment in the massive mecha franchise. [Anime News Network]
The adaptation of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s beloved musical In The Heights has been the latest big release to be impacted by coronavirus with the movie being delayed almost a year until next summer.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) April 21, 2020
There was also some big superhero news as Warner Bros. announced a slate of changes including the big one: The Batman will now be released next October rather than in its prime summer spot. Either way Matt Reeves’ take on the Dark Knight will likely demolish blockbuster competitors especially if rumors of it being a darker and more horror-tinged take on the hero are true.
All of Warner Bros. release date changes:
– #TheBatman: Oct. 1, 2021 (was June 2021)
– #TheFlash: June 3, 2022 (July 1, 2022)
– #Shazam2: Nov. 4, 2022 (April 1, 2022)
– #TheManySaintsofNewark: March 12, 2021 (Sept. 25, 2020)
– Untitled #Elvis film: Nov. 5, 2021 (Oct. 1, 2021) pic.twitter.com/QtCKw6V10S
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) April 20, 2020
Batman, Shazam, and The Flash aren’t the only comic characters who have been shuffled because of the pandemic life. Eddie Brock is joining them in the newly titled Venom: Let There Be Carnage. That outrageous subtitle will be joining the Andy Serkis directed movie when it hits on its new release date of June 25, 2021 rather than its October 2020 date.
What Happens Next?
As we traverse this strange new world it’s hard to not wonder what comes after all of this. Over at The AV Club Katie Rife and A.A. Dowd recored an interview with the General Manager of Chicago’s Music Box theater about what they think comes next for art house movie theaters. [The AV Club]
On the other side of the proverbial aisle, Deadline reported on the rumored AMC bankruptcy which apparently isn’t the worst thing that could happen to the massive cinema chain. “While distribution and rival exhibition sources wouldn’t be shocked if AMC files Chapter 11 in the near future, that’s not necessarily a scarlet letter for the biggest theater chain in the world. Rather it’s the best thing that could happen for AMC which is saddled with $4.9 billion debt and currently valued at $327.3M.” [Deadline]
Nice Free Stuff to Enjoy
We all need some good free stuff to enjoy at the moment, so we’ll end of that high note. The fine folks at Studio Ghibli released a bunch of awesome backgrounds to utilize during your regularly scheduled Zoom meetings. [Open Culture]
If you’re a fan of theater then you’ll be happy to discover Stream On which offers up ten minute plays from playwrights around the world, celebrating their work and bringing it to new audiences!
A new online play festival, Stream ON! will showcase 10-minute plays written by playwrights around the world!https://t.co/Qk22k4ASHI
— BroadwayWorld (@BroadwayWorld) April 17, 2020
Stay safe out there!
See you next week!