More Don’t Look Up

The point is, you’ve got to open on Netflix.

That’s right, unless you’ve got a superhero movie, you want to be day and date on the flat screen. Hell, skip the theatres completely, even though the owners of these megalopolises will bitch, they’re ancient, history, in the rearview mirror like record stores. And yes, there are record stores, selling vinyl, catering to the diehards, but the truth is the masses have moved on to streaming, on demand, and there are always Luddites and fetishists keeping the old game alive. Hell, people ride HORSES!

Money is secondary to being seen, heard, impact. Blowhards like Gene Simmons focus on money first, but despite being in the R&RHOF no one is going to remember KISS’s tunes once this generation fades away. They’re of the moment, fodder. And despite it all, the truth is that Gene is a fame-whore, otherwise why do that inane reality TV series, he’d make much more money doing a couple of gigs on the road. But no, he wants to be SEEN, he wants to be in the public eye!

That’s the game and that’s the hardest thing to do in today’s culture…get notice, get traction, go viral, become a point of public discussion.

Don’t expect the media to get the future, these are the same people who want to save NEWSPAPERS! The “Washington Post” commissioned a study, it said “only 14% of Washington Post subscribers are under 55, compared with 61% of the U.S. adult population”: This is like that old Sam Kinison routine about people starving in Africa, he said not to send them food, but SUITCASES! They’ve got to MOVE! We need local news, but the newspaper paradigm no longer fits with the desires of the public. Why is it boomers who were pushing the envelope in the sixties are all about preserving the past in the twenty first century, maybe the means of production need to be torn away from them, then again, the younger people are doing a good job of ignoring them anyway.

But the younger generation, the youngest generation, will go to a movie theatre, it’s an event, outside supervision of their parents. And now movies are like the dead and gone circus, something for kids to look forward to that anybody over the age of twenty five winces at the thought of.

Entertainment has shifted to the flat screen. On demand. Which is one of the many reasons network has failed. And HBO too. Want to create buzz, put the whole show on at one time, let us see all of the vaunted “Station Eleven.” Now, if you miss an episode or two, what do you do? GIVE UP, not catch up. You’re behind the buzz. But if it’s a land mine waiting to be discovered, whenever you find it it’s new, kind of like a record album, which is why music has always lasted longer than movies, think about it.

As for “Ted Lasso”… Would it be as popular if it weren’t on Apple? No. Apple is a religion. And even so, I haven’t watched the second season, I can’t watch week by week, it’s too frustrating, I forget things, and now that it’s over no one is talking about it so I’m not watching it, whereas if it had all dropped day and date…

What is it with Hollywood and the news that they can’t see that Netflix won, why do they keep rejecting the streaming giant’s paradigm instead of embracing it. You’ve got a DVD by mail company that switches its game, goes to on demand streaming, and dominates. Meanwhile, HBO Max and Disney+ have stalled. Well, they could have a plethora of product day and date but it looks like the wankers at those companies are so infatuated with themselves, think they’re so smart, that they can’t learn from the people who invented the paradigm and emerged victorious. You copy the winner, you jet into the future, try to get ahead of them as opposed to try and drag people back to the past.

So the cognoscenti said “Don’t Look Up” was a loser. But it’s the biggest winner of the holiday season, how did that happen?

Well, it turns out that critics are meaningless. And that those following the game on a micro level, so deep counting grains of sand, are clueless. It’s quite simple, create a film that’s more story than visual effects and it’s perfect for the flat screen. And if it appeals to the public, it can go viral. Going viral at the theatre? Well, right now many people won’t even go because of viral, i.e. the virus. But, to go viral outside the home you’ve got to get the message to people, they’ve got to want to go, they’ve got to find a theatre and a time that are convenient, they’ve got to actually get up and go and then they’ve got to pay for it. Meanwhile, EVERYBODY’S ALREADY PAYING FOR NETFLIX! If they hear about something they can immediately check it out. Kinda like Spotify. Oh, that’s right, Spotify killed the music business. Just ask the major labels whose fortunes have turned around, just ask those with a billion streams making beaucoup bucks. And we do live in a winner take all world, why should it be any different in music? Why should we keep the marginal in music in business, it would be best if they GOT OUT! Furthermore, 66% of streaming is catalog. Just like people want to stream “Friends.” You’re competing against history, you’ve got to be just that good, being new is not good enough.

So, Netflix funds “Don’t Look Up,” it opens in theatres to satiate the brain dead film industry and reviews are bad and it tanks. Then it goes to the flat screen and it BLOWS UP! It’s a mania. People are hearing about it from multiple sources, they’ve got to check it out for themselves, they’ve got to experience it, they want to be a member of the club, they want to give their opinion when everybody else does. This is what we’re looking for in our lonely culture, a rallying point that makes us feel connected, one of the group, ALIVE!

And who cares if you have a negative opinion. Only in the twenty first century do we have groupthink, where everybody has to have the same take. The chiaroscuro of the past is what made American culture great, the various thoughts and opinions. We used to discuss art. Has anybody talked to you about a hit record recently? There’s nothing to SAY! There are no breakthroughs, it’s a backwater culture, a business, but “Get Back” hits the flat screen and for weeks people talk about the Beatles, they’re still talking about the Beatles. The original “Let It Be” wasn’t even ninety minutes, how long can you sit in a theatre, but “Get Back” was EIGHT HOURS! Turns out people love to go deep, if you make it convenient, if you can turn it off and on when it suits you, go to the bathroom, eat… Yes, “Get Back” couldn’t exist in a pre-streaming world, the medium affected the product, which is why streaming series trump movies, people want to go deeper, they want to luxuriate in the experience.

But don’t expect Hollywood to learn any lessons. Never forget, the moribund music business propped up retail, afraid of moving into the future and offending it. And then what did Best Buy do? RECLAIM THE FLOORSPACE! Yes, Best Buy didn’t care about the record business, not at all. You prop up your past at your peril. If it weren’t for Daniel Ek, the labels would have been sold off for scrap long ago. Forget Steve Jobs and Apple, selling files was a finger in the dike of file-trading. But it served the labels’ agenda. Ownership. Come on, who wants to own anything in this world when you can rent the best and the brightest at your fingertips? And that’s what streaming is, on demand rental based on a subscription model. We don’t want to be pecked to death by ducks. Give it all to us for one low price. And we’ll consume at will. So many subscribing are upside down, they forget to cancel, but they want that access, you never want to give up access, you never want to be disconnected, isn’t that what the smartphone is all about? They ruin the theatre experience, because people can’t get off them, but if you’re watching and texting at home no one cares…better, see?!

Hollywood will hang on to the past until the very last minute. Yes, Spielberg needed “West Side Story” presented on the big screen. End result, NO ONE SAW IT! But if it’s as good as the buzz, if it broke on Netflix it would have been a phenomenon. Meanwhile, when it finally hits the flat screen it will be old news. It might get some traction, but you want to strike, want easy availability, when the buzz hits. And the buzz can die in less than a day. This is why Hollywood hates Rotten Tomatoes. But the public is sick of being snookered, people don’t want to waste their time, they won’t settle for substandard entertainment, that’s so last century.

So now you’ve got to watch “Don’t Look Up.” To be an American. You want to see what the brouhaha is all about, just like you watched “Squid Game.” We hear all about the grosses of the new Spiderman, but it has just a fraction of the impact of “Squid Game.” 007? Dead and gone. But if it had opened on Netflix… As for “West Side Story,” believe me Spielberg isn’t interested in the money, he’s got more than enough, he wants people to see his work!

If you build it, that does not mean people will come. The Field of Dreams was last century, today kids don’t even play baseball, it’s a sport for oldsters to watch and follow. But somehow, in Hollywood, they’re convinced the old rules still apply. They’re the WSJ editorial writers, decrying electric cars while the world is going to plug-ins. Either you do that or the valuation of your company tanks. Once again, never bet against the future.

The aforementioned Steve Jobs was all about chopping off the past and jumping ahead, into the future, beyond what the public thought it wanted, He killed ports, he even killed Microsoft, yes, it’s Apple that is the world’s most valuable company, verging on three trillion, Then again, one person makes a difference, now Apple is about refinement, not innovation, and they don’t know how to keep it simple. Jobs kept wanting a simple interface.

You know what sucks? The Amazon Prime interface. You know what is great? The Netflix interface. And Apple TV+ is slow and Hulu is confusing and… It’s not brain surgery, it’s just that no one is willing to take a risk.

Please do, we’re looking for leaders, we’re looking to glom on, we’re looking to be a member of the group, keep those precepts in mind.

And if you want a water cooler moment, which is virtual now, since people don’t even go to the office, drop it all at once and see if it catches fire. Hype no longer works, at best you can fan the flames and turn them into a conflagration. Hype didn’t make “Squid Game” a hit, word of mouth did! Word of mouth is superior to advertising. And it spreads like wildfire. So you’ve got to be ready if there is ignition. Which is what is so great about digital, the ability to instantly unspool to everybody. Assuming everybody cares. Make it easy for them, will you? Put it on the flat screen first, then we’ll decide. We always decide. But given access and timing we can all decide in a matter of days and then you’ve got a hit, and the truth is once you’ve got a hit you can write your own ticket in entertainment. You can negotiate better deals, renegotiate old deals, pick up on new opportunities. The future is bright, if you’d just take off your shades and stop living in darkness, get out of the Polo Lounge and get down with the people, the ultimate arbiter, to succeed today you’ve got to be involved, not at a distance. And one more thing, the public is smart, appealing to their intellect is a winning path, which is why HBO killed network television, and now Netflix is killing HBO.


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