“West Side Story”, Spider-Man and Hollywood’s Older Go-To-Go Problem

This is the December 14, 2021 issue of the Wide Shot newsletter about the entertainment business. If this has been forwarded to you, please log in here to receive it in your inbox.

Hollywood is in the middle of a two-week period that is revealing pretty much everything important about the 2021 box office and the industry’s generational problem.

Last week’s unveiling of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” – an update to the Leonard Bernstein musical that was itself an update from “Romeo and Juliet” – was another example of what just doesn’t work in today’s market: Films for which the main audience is well over 35 – and related musicals that are not “Hamilton”.

Despite excellent reviews, “West Side Story” grossed a meager $ 10.5 million from Friday to Sunday in the US and Canada. That’s a blow to Walt Disney Co., which inherited the ambitious project through the acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets.

Older audiences, and older women in particular, are the most reluctant to return to multiplexing as COVID-19 continues to spread its presence.

Some of these moviegoers just don’t come back, according to a recent study by research company Quorum. The study portrayed the typical movie-goer who is “probably lost” as a movie-goer. This audience is more likely to be female, over 35 and not white.

Of the group of former cinema-goers who returned to the cinema the least, 63% were female in the survey. Among the study participants aged 45 and over, 57% are “former cinema-goers”.

This is a disastrous trend for the music genre that recently spawned bombs like In the Heights and Dear Evan Hansen. And if boomers, Gen Xers, and older millennials don’t return for Spielberg, good luck to anyone making rom-coms or adult dramas for theatrical release. Even older, male-centric action films struggle in relative terms (Hello, James Bond).

At the other end of the universe is Spider-Man: No Way Home, which will wipe the record for the biggest opening weekend since the pandemic.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is set to hold the record for the biggest opening weekend since the pandemic.

(Photo illustration by Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times; Meg Boulden / Unsplash)

Estimates for Sony Pictures’ newest Marvel feature are everywhere, but with strong pre-sales, an opening weekend in the US and Canada of more than $ 150 million is within reach, according to people who saw the audience polls and before the release Presale dates. Boxoffice Pro’s Shawn Robbins predicts the film could hit $ 200 million. Sounds crazy, but … maybe? Other distributors are more cautious and are forecasting an opening of around $ 125 million.

Note that the highest three-day opening since the pandemic began is Venom: Let There Be Carnage at $ 90 million. Stray thought: Who would have thought the two biggest openings of 2021 would be Marvel films not published by Disney? (“Shang-Chi,” released by Disney, will be number 3 in the opening of the year after “Spider-Man” debuts.)

There are a couple of takeaways provided everything goes as expected.

First, the Marvel audiences, which are generally younger and more masculine than the film music audience, are ready to return to theaters. In addition, they were prepared by “Black Widow” and “Eternals”. It helps that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” looks very satisfactory to the fans when compared to the other two films that had mixed reception.

Sony is in full court press mode for anything Spider-Man related. The Tom Rothman-run studio in Culver City has been releasing Spider-Man NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for the past few weeks. with AMC Theaters and published marketing materials for the next animated Spider-Verse image and the Spidey spin-off “Morbius”.

Sony’s long-running Spider-Man universe got an adrenaline rush when Disney agreed to let Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige produce Sony’s own Peter Parker films with ex-Sony executive Amy Pascal in exchange for making the popular Character can use in the MCU. The deal was revised in 2019 after a dispute over financial terms.

I’ve covered this business long enough to remember when Hollywood was concerned about losing younger audiences to streaming and video games. Now it seems like Generation Z is watching everything. This includes TikTok influencers and video game gurus on Twitch, but also Tom Holland and Zendaya on the big screen.

It would be a cruel irony if it turns out that industry should have been more concerned about losing this generation’s parents.

Things we wrote

The latest Hollywood Awards dispute. The head of the Critics Choice Awards wants to replace the Golden Globes. But as my colleagues reported in a detailed article, Joey Berlin is now facing a detailed review of the functioning of his organization. And yes, the Golden Globe nominations took place. But who pays attention to it?

Lizard people, deadly orgies and JFK. Oh my! How QAnon hijacked Hollywood to spread conspiracies.

Crazy about made-to-measure. TV broadcasters are annoyed at Nielsen with the way audiences are quantified. Can this company still count in the age of streaming?

The latest from our Explaining Hollywood franchise: How do I get a job as a TV director?

Illustration by Juliette Toma for The Times for a story about becoming a director.

(Juliette Toma for The Times)

Number of the week

45 to 120

Beginning next year, Peacock paid subscribers will have access to most Universal Pictures films 45 days after their theatrical release.

“Most” is a keyword in this case, because certain blockbusters, including the next “Jurassic World”, wait 120 days before switching to the paid tier of the streaming service.

But still … this is a potentially important move by Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal to bolster its year and a half old streamer, which is lagging behind its major competitors in terms of active users.

With this deal, NBCUniversal joins the ranks of other media companies that are pursuing the “45 days, then streaming” model of film release. Warner Bros. movies will get 45-day movie windows next year before they land on HBO Max. Paramount + also has a 45 day waiting period for new movies.

The studios experimented with simultaneous multiplex and streaming releases during the pandemic. Hands down, it worked for the world’s HBO Maxes and Paramount Pluses. But filmmakers hated it. The new 45-day plans seem to be the closest thing to a compromise in the movie business.

The Pitch: Product Placement Hell on Wheels

The Pitch is the semi-regular segment of Wide Shot that highlights Hollywood marketing stunts and other commercial accidents.

Move over Peloton Girl. Mr. Big’s resuscitated body is ready to go.

Sports tech company Peloton shares fell 11% Friday after HBO killed Max’s “Sex and the City” revival “And Just Like That …” Carrie Bradshaw’s greatest love interest (played by Chris Noth) by killing himself even overexerted from Peloton’s bikes.

I don’t know who is trading peloton stocks based on fictional television stories, but I’m not a financial advisor and this is the era of meme stocks, after all.

The company responded by hiring Ryan Reynolds’ branding company to run an ad showing Mr. Big, safe and sound, chatting to real-life instructor Jessica King. The whole thing came together in 48 hours.

This isn’t the first time Reynolds’ companies have crossed the Maximum Effort peloton. Reynolds previously featured on Internet Peloton’s famous training hostage Monica Ruiz in a fun ad for his Aviation Gin brand.

Peloton probably isn’t happy with the way their product was used on the HBO Max show, although they’re now making the most of the situation. The New York Times asked if the bike maker could sue HBO for the damage to its brand and how Peloton made it possible to display its product in such an unflattering way.

But in terms of exposure, it couldn’t get a better result for HBO Max.

Netflix abbreviates “Cowboy Bebop”

Daniella Pineda raises her hand in front of John Cho's face in one scene

Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) in Cowboy Bebop.

(Geoffrey Short / Netflix)

Not all restarts work. Netflix has canceled its costly and highly acclaimed live-action reboot of the classic anime “Cowboy Bebop” less than a month after its debut.

Netflix shows live and dies by the numbers, and the Hollywood Reporter justified the decision: “According to Netflix’s top 10 site, the series has accumulated nearly 74 million viewing hours worldwide since its debut – so it got a lot of sampling out of the” gate – but in In the week from November 29th to December 5th, it fell by 59 percent. “

Reviving a show with such an enthusiastic sect must have been a good idea back then. Compare this result with “Squid Game”, which was not based on existing intellectual property and was comparatively cheap to produce. The South Korean show became Netflix’s most watched program. Green light!

You should read …

Deal time: Vox Media and Group Nine Media are in advanced talks about a merger, reports the Wall Street Journal. The stock deal would unite two of the largest digital media companies; Vox Media would get 75% of the property.

This profile of “Succession” star Jeremy Strong got a lot of people talking. (The New Yorker)

The sublime spectacle in which Yoko Ono disturbs the Beatles. In Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back, Ono is a performance artist at the peak of her powers, writes Amanda Hess. (The New York Times)

If you’ve ever wondered how the luxury grocery chain Erewhon is became the ultimate low-key hangout for celebrities and influencers, this is a must see. (LAT)

Hollywood production

The days of shooting in the three main categories increased last week by 24% compared to the same period last year and by 1% compared to 2019. – Thomas Suh Lauder

Film tracker on site


I was just listening to the audio version of Michael Pollan’s latest book, This Is Your Mind On Plants, which explores mankind’s complicated relationship with naturally occurring psychoactive drugs. The section on caffeine really scared me.

About Gloria Skelton

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