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Quibi is one of the most anticipated platform launches of the year and it's also one of the most talked about in Hollywood circles. While the short-form service, which comes out on April 6, is launching around the same time as HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock, the presence of ex-Walt Disney Studios chairman and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is the main reason for the wagging tongues.
The other reason the town is keeping a particularly close eye on Quibi is its lineup of projects from top stars, both in front of and behind the camera. Steven Spielberg is writing a horror drama — his first writing project since A.I. — and other stars to sign up include Steven Soderbergh, Sam Rami, Antoine Fuqua, Jennifer Lopez, Liam Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Kiefer Sutherland, Lena Waithe, Anna Kendrick, Sophie Turner, Reese Witherspoon and LeBron James.Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Katzenberg's partner in Quibi is former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who he persuaded to join him over dinner in San Francisco, shortly after she revealed she was leaving Hewlett Packard. Whitman is ostensibly overseeing the tech of the service, while Katzenberg corrals creatives.
The service is launching April 6, despite the current COVID-19 crisis impacting production on a few of its Daily Essentials and news-related shows, with a 90-day free trial. Starting at $4.99 with ads and $7.99 with no ads, the platform is set to have 175 original shows in its first year, totaling around 8,500 episodes.
Katzenberg tells Deadline how he's feeling about launching a major new platform in the middle of a global pandemic – calling the fallout “heartbreaking” and “distressing” with people’s lives “being turned upside down” – who he expects to sign up to Quibi and how he’s in talks with J.J. Abrams for potential projects.
DEADLINE: You’re 10 days away from launch. How are you feeling ahead of April 6?
JEFFREY KATZENBERG: I’m quite excited. I'm confident. I think that we're about to bring some joy and happiness and laughter and something different to people's lives in a moment in time, which you can't get enough of that. In a way, it's the one silver lining, I think that Hollywood, the best and most talented people have tuned out and made some extraordinary content that will delight people and is going to bring a lot of enjoyment to them. I'm proud of the Quibi team and, most importantly, our suppliers and creators, what they're delivering every day.
DEADLINE: How has COVID-19 affected those launch plans?
KATZENBERG: One of the things that we did a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of where we're finding ourselves, is to give Quibi away free for the...
Lila Caracci, this week, is in a mood. As revealed in last week’s episode of HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend,” Naples’ resident rebel and feminist played by Gaia Girace is now pregnant by her abusive loser husband Stefano, and mama ain’t happy. The baby news came in total contradiction to Lila’s beliefs, as the miserable newlywed has firmly denounced marriage and children knowing they will offer no escape from her crummy life.
Lila remains, as ever, one twisted sister. She seems to almost manically flip between despair and sociopathic glee like in, say, the moment she feels a pang in her womb, pulls out blood from between her legs, holds out her hand to Lenu Margherita Mazzucco and, with a sick grin, says, “Does this mean the baby is dead?” Indeed, in the opening scene, Lila has miscarried.
She has a similarly demonic grin, served with a downright Kubrickian stare along with it, in a later scene where she seems to be emboldened by physical abuse, and having an audience for it. Storming into their flat, Stefano seizes her throat upon learning that Lila has allowed her brother Rino and his girlfriend to use their apartment as a pied-à-terre for sexual trysts — all in front of Lenu. Insecure in his own masculinity because he can’t successfully knock his wife up, Stefano punches the wall, threatens to kill Lila, calls her a “fucking bitch,” and storms out. Lila turns to Lenu, who’s just been invited by her schoolteacher to a party, and giddily asks Lenu if she can join her. Between Lila’s expression, the unsettling sound design, and an eerie dissolve, “My Brilliant Friend” for a minute there suddenly feels like a horror movie.
Speaking of horror movies, this week’s episode, titled “Erasure,” veers into supernatural territory when Lila’s wedding portrait — already deformed by its subject when Lila cuts it up into pieces and reassembles the shards into a modernist kind of collage — suddenly catches on fire in the now Solara-owned shoe shop. The rabbling women of the town become convinced that Lila is some kind of wicked witch who willed the fire to happen, which echoes Stefano’s claims last week that Lila has an “evil force” inside of her.
Back to the third-act party sequence, though, which feels like it’s setting the stage for what’s to come the rest of this season. There’s a lovely scene when, on the way up to Lenu’s teacher’s flat in a more moneyed corner of Naples, Lenu and Lila get into an elevator, which is apparently a first for Lila. It’s a testament to Girace’s subtle, sly performance that this moment, which feels unexpected and even improvisatory, is the sweet center of the episode.
We have charts from five VOD and streaming platforms; they don’t use the same metrics, and are not independently verified. However, FandangoNOW leads the herd in its decision to list by the nearest equivalent of “grosses” — that is, the number of transactions times the cost. With the majority of releases at $19.99, it gives a better view of comparative performance.
Across the board at FandangoNOW, iTunes, and Amazon Prime, “Sonic the Hedgehog” Paramount and “Bad Boys for Life” Sony —the two top theatrical releases of 2020 — are thriving. Spectrum Cable’s weekly chart, which appears to be a little slower to pick up trends, doesn’t yet show those two films at all. However, like FandangoNOW, it does reflect the presence of the faith-based terminal illness romance “I Still Believe” Lionsgate, the other significant new release over the past week.
Other new titles like STX’s “Brahms: The Boy II” available at a lower price of $9.99 and the year’s best-reviewed new film “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” Focus, which was released Friday — are so far sight unseen.
To judge by platforms that rank by transactions, lower prices do help. We also list Netflix, which is based on the streamer’s ranking of viewings. It presents perhaps the most curious test of what interests the public and what the future of movies and other forms of recorded entertainment looks like.
We will cover this in far more detail midweek as well as look at winners and losers so far and possible trends and changes to come.FandangoNOW
full week rank based on total sales price, not no. of transactions
1 Bad Boys for Life Sony – $19.99
2 Sonic the Hedgehog Paramount – $19.99
3 The Invisible Man Universal – $19.99
4 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Disney – $4.99
5 Onward Disney – $4.99
6 Bloodshot Sony – $19.99
7 Jumanji: The Next Level Sony – $4.99
8 Birds of Prey Warner Bros. – $19.99
9 I Still Believe Lionsgate – $19.99
10 The Call of the Wild Disney – $4.99iTunes
rank based on transactions; list includes current and highest position during the week
1 1 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Disney – $4.99
2 1 Sonic the Hedgehog Paramount – $19.99
3 2 Bad Boys for Life Sony – $19.99
4 1 1917 Universal – $5.99
5 2 Jumanji: The Next Level Sony – $3.99
6 3 Onward Disney – $4.99
7 7 Knives Out Lionsgate – $5.99
8 7 Contagion Warner Bros. – $3.99
9 9 Ford v...
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week we overcome being an ugly duckling, spend some more time with those with autism, have our third eye melted, look at some hip hop legends, and get exonerated for crimes we didn’t commit.Autism: The Sequel
Director Tricia Regan is bringing hope at just the right time.
Revisiting the subjects of the 2007 Emmy-winning documentary Autism: The Musical, Autism: The Sequel offers a heartwarming inside look into the daily challenges and triumphs of adults on the autism spectrum.
In 2006, HBO debuted the 2007 Emmy®-winning Autism: The Musical, a poignant, heartwarming film that followed five children on the autism spectrum as they wrote and performed their own musical. We revisit the stars of this musical 12 years later in Autism: The Sequel as the original subjects, now in their early 20s, navigate what independence means to them as they manage challenges and triumphs as adults.
If there was a way to excise the uplifting string arrangement towards the end of the trailer, I would do it. It’s not to say this documentary isn’t an uplifting story, but when you consider that these kids, who are now adults, are still struggling to live day-to-day with autism, it seems like a different approach could have been made to reflect their current accomplishments. This is a story that will continue long after this doc is done. This specific story is a celebration, but, also, there is the very real fact that there are more mountains for them to climb. It’s inspiring.The Innocence Files
True crime aficionados, rejoice!
Through the lens of The Evidence, The Witness and The Prosecution, The Innocence Files shines a powerful light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit organization the Innocence Project and organizations within the Innocence Network have uncovered and worked tirelessly to overturn. The Innocence Files is executive produced and directed by Academy Award® nominee Liz Garbus, Academy Award® winner Alex Gibney, Academy Award® winner Roger Ross Williams; with episodes also directed by Academy Award® nominee Jed Rothstein, Emmy Award® winner Andy Grieve and Sarah Dowland.
You have a veritable who’s who of directing talent who have lined up to tell some very real stories. Stories that, without question, cast a deep and long shadow over the criminal justice system. No one deserves to be wrongfully convicted, much less jailed, for an...