Film News Roundup

Mergers and Criterion and Jane! Oh My!

Unfortunately, there will be no Women in Film History profile today. I want to be sure I get the chance to revisit the films I’m highlighting before writing about them. But keep an eye out! Profile #4 (Ida Lupino!) will be sent out by Monday. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of thoughts on Film Industry news!

Disney/Fox Merger

Earlier this week, Disney officially bought 20th Century Fox for 71.3 BILLION dollars. First of all, that’s a level of money that basically just seems fake. Do you know what I could do with $71.3 Billion? End poverty in several cities, pay off a butt-ton of student loans and healthcare bills, never work for the rest of my life, and make several mid-budget films!!! And have cash left to spare!

Disney is taking their oligopoly and inching ever closer to a monopoly. In many ways, with Disney’s own streaming service launching this summer and the fact that it now owns most of Hulu, we are headed back to the vertical integration days of old (which, I might remind you, did not hold up in court).

Additionally, this merger will cause over 4,000 layoffs. This merger so clearly harms many while only benefitting a few.

But beyond the egregious and irresponsible display of corrupt capitalism, there is legitimate concern about what this will do to film as an art form. Already, Disney has announced that it is disbanding Fox 2000, a label which was responsible for releasing films like Hidden Figures, The Hate U Give, Life of Pi, The Devil Wears Prada, and Love, Simon— films that featured women, people of color, queer characters, and were mid-budget and often aimed at underserved teenage audiences.

There’s an exhausting, terrible homogeneity to so much of Disney’s output (see: the directing style in nearly every Marvel film ever as well as the company’s sequel-mania), and while they’ve made some paltry efforts to increase diversity both in front of and behind the camera, that diversity will never be important in the face of profit. I’m not looking forward to a future where the only films I can see in theaters are serial-styled superhero movies. Mickey Mouse has Hulked into a ravenous beast.

Criterion Channel

Okay, obviously I needed to get all that off my chest, but all is not yet lost! Today Criterion announced the release date for The Criterion Channel, and gave us a preview of their first month of programming! After Filmstruck died last year, there has not been a reliable service that provides access to classic, indie, and international films, but the Criterion Channel promises to do just that. While the absence of Turner Classic Movies is notable and makes this service fall short of Filmstruck, there is so much that the Criterion Channel is offering, including weekly Women Filmmaker recommendations on Wednesdays, and access to classics such as Mildred Pierce. Their first featured collection is all film noir, including the fantastic Big Heat starring the incomparable Gloria Grahame.

MoviePass is at it again…

The disastrous company is back on their shizz! After dismantling the Unlimited Movies for $9.95/Month plan last year, they’ve reintroduced the plan (albeit with some major catches). I quit MoviePass last year after their restrictions led me to buying ticket traditional tickets anyway— not to mention I felt it was ethically questionable to patronize a company that didn’t appear to have the capital to actually pay the theaters for the tickets I was using.

But somehow this company still exists! And their choices continue to be baffling. If you want to read up on this, I suggest Alissa Wilkinson’s coverage on Vox. She’s written about the company for a few years now and approaches the issue with appropriate skepticism.

New in TV

There’s so much good TV coming out over the next couple of weeks! First and foremost, my girl Jane is returning for her final season!!! If you haven’t seen Jane the Virgin, you are missing out on one of the most empathetic, funny, and well-written shows out there— as well as the queen herself, Gina Rodriguez, and the insanely gorgeous costuming.

If you’re into horror, this the month for you. Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina releases its second round of episodes on April 5th, and there promises to be plenty of witchcraft, gore, and girl power. Over on FX, the inimitable Taika Waititi is debuting What We Do in the Shadows, the new series based on his mockumentary vampire film. And if you have CBS All-Access you can watch Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone reboot on April 1 (and admittedly, I might need to sign up for the service just for that!).

Finally, if you haven’t yet seen the brilliant Shrill on Hulu, starring Aidy Bryant and based on the memoir by Lindy West, it is definitely worth your time.

That’s it for now! If you ever have comments or questions, or want a movie recommendation, reply to this email or tweet me at @merrittmecham.