Making Headlines This Week
A Great Disturbance in the Force
Lucasfilm announced that director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Jungle Book) will be producing a live-action Star Wars series for the upcoming Disney streaming service. This is obviously extremely exciting news for Star Wars fans.
However, the news was somewhat undercut by its strangely tone-deaf timing. Last month, Disney’s announcement that Benioff and Weiss (of Game of Thrones fame) would produce a new trilogy of Star Wars films received significant backlash. Despite CEO Kathleen Kennedy being a frequent spokesperson for diversity in Hollywood, some critics observed that thus-far there have been 25 writing and directing credits since the revival of Star Wars in 2012, and all 25 have been white males. Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and others asserted that it was time for a women or a person of color to finally get a chance to play in the Star Wars sandbox.
With this backdrop, I think Disney failed to “read the room” by breaking this Favreau news on International Women’s Day, of all days. For a decision that was likely made months ago, and a show that won’t air for at least year or two, it was a head-scratching marketing and PR blunder. Whether you agree with the backlash or not, this is yet another example of how the current Hollywood landscape is shifting and how even the big powers in the industry are still learning how to navigate the new terrain.
Everybody Hates Oscar
People often joke that the Oscars celebrate all the movies that nobody actually went to see. Well, this year many people decided to go the extra mile and avoid the entire ceremony itself. Viewership for the ceremony hit an all-time low of 26.5 million. Since 2014, there’s been a steady downward spiral—43.7 to 37.3 to 34.4 to 32.9 to 26.5.
America is quickly losing interest in the awards ceremony. Why? I think it’s primarily due to its increasingly political focus. People tune in to celebrate movies, not for a parade of politically-charged speeches delivered to the cheers of a like-minded audience. Of course, to a certain degree, Art has always and will always be political. But right now the amplified and heavy-handed political emphasis seems to be suffocating the life out of the art and people are growing weary of it. In other words: “Less talk! More rock!”
All Hail the King of Wakanda!
Marvel’s latest superhero flick, Black Panther, continued to obliterate the Hollywood box office. After topping the charts for a 3rd consecutive week, the film also cracked the top 10 domestic grossing movies of all-time (with over $516 million and counting). It is currently sitting in 9th place and should finish as high as 7th. The film has already earned over $100 million more than any other of Marvel’s solo films.
The film has transcended normal blockbuster status to become a cultural phenomenon and has clearly resonated with America. I think it’s an important reminder that while much of the Hollywood diversity movement may get bogged down by political correctness and social agendas, there is a very real hunger in America for diversity and representation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that of all the superhero films released in recent years, the two most successful have starred and been directed by African Americans (Black Panther) and women (last year’s Wonder Woman).
Pop Culture Trivia of the Week:
In honor of this week’s Academy Awards:
- Walt Disney holds the record for most Oscars won with 22.
- The record for most Oscars won by a single film is 11 (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Titanic, and Ben-Hur).
- Katharine Hepburn holds the record for most acting Oscars with 4.
- Shirley Temple is the youngest to win an Oscar at 6 years old, while Christopher Plummer is the oldest to win at 82.
Interesting Read of the Week:
The Disney adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time hit theaters this week. As someone not familiar with the book or its author (Madeleine L’Engle), I found this article fascinating.
Weekly Culture Rant:
Every time I see people throwing out the word “snub” in relation to movie awards, I think of Princess Bride, when Vizzini keeps saying “inconceivable!” and Inigo Montoya finally says, “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
A “snub” is when something has overwhelming popular and critical support, but is somehow and shockingly ignored in the award nominations. A snub is not just any movie or person that doesn’t win the award. There can only be one winner. This doesn’t mean that every other nominee was “snubbed.” If a film or person was nominated for a prestigious award, then by-definition they weren’t “snubbed.” *End of Rant*
See you next week!