Monday, August 10, 2020

SEE: New Crabsuit Vehicle from James Cameron's AVATAR Sequels!

James Cameron's AVATAR sequels are well underway again thanks to New Zealand's control of the coronavirus outbreak. Further evidence of the production moving along is the recent release of these concept art images from producer Jon Landau revealing the new Crabsuit vehicles for underwater duties.

The Crabsuits are "human driven multifunction submersibles" and are one of the assortment of new vehicles from RDA (Resources Development Administration). RDA is the "largest single non-governmental organization in human space. Its power is such that it outmatches most of Earth governments in wealth, political influence, and military capability."

If there was any doubt that the AVATAR sequels will have a large underwater component, consider it now quashed.

Note the large lettering on the arm of the Crabsuit, "CET-OPS", likely Cetaceous Operations, though cetaceous refers to Earthbound mammals of the order Cetacea (ex. whales).

Of course, you can expect a multitude of these Crabsuits being deployed undersea on Pandora (and/or other worlds), most likely from the "Sea Dragon" (also pictured), a "massive mothership that carries an array of other sea-going craft in the sequels."

In what state theatrical release be living in on December 16, 2022, no one knows. Hopefully, we will be well on our way to full recovery, post Covid-19. We can all use something to look forward to and the AVATAR sequels definitely fill the bill!

Here are the upcoming release dates as they are currently slated:

AVATAR 2 (Dec. 16, 2022)

AVATAR 3 (Dec. 20, 2024)

AVATAR 4 (Dec. 18, 2026)

AVATAR 5 (Dec. 22, 2028)

Sources: Jon Landau | Avatar Wiki

Monday, June 15, 2020

Set Photo: AVATAR Sequel Production Starts Up

My friend Jon Landau (producer) just sent out an iPhone photo of the AVATAR sequel production from New Zealand. I'm so glad that they are able to restart shooting!

Apparently, it was quite a process of quarantines and screening protocols to land back in New Zealand and launch it, but launched they have!

You can click the image for an enlarged view.

There appears to be a very interesting structure that the actors are performing on. Thoughts on what it may be? A structure (tree perhaps), ship or rock formation?

Fascinating seeing the blue and green screening being used at the same time.

I see face shields and masks being used and social distancing in effect - great job guys!  I'll post more when I get 'em!

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Hollywood Changes in Production: Coronavirus

Hey guys, I wanted to jumpstart our conversations on the future of Hollywood, specifically in production, and even more specifically how it is affected by the coronavirus. We'll be talking about distribution in the coming days too because obviously streaming is emerging as the clear frontrunner now.

We all know that things are changing in Hollywood production and the coronavirus is adding complexity and speeding that up. Technology changes are coming yes, but productions now have to think about crew and talent bubbles, location safety, transportation, etc - it's a lot to consider, let alone implement.

Here are some of the things that need to be considered regarding production in these times:
- Smaller movies. Smaller locations, sets, crews, talent, etc. Think about all the roles that need to be careful - Makeup for example. Very close contact with actors.
- Virtual productions, especially for larger budgets. Think THE MANDALORIAN, AVATAR, TINTIN, THE LION KING, etc. Anything that can be done behind a computer could and should become the gold standard. More on that in upcoming posts.
- Tightly controlled bubbles. Everyone involved in the production needs to be in their own bubble. Just like what the NBA is thinking of doing on July 31.
- Daily testing with swabs and/or non-invasive temperature checks.
- Ensuring locations/sets have exceptional air circulation and filtration.
- Specialized medical teams. Productions are going to need them.
- Specialized cleaning teams. Productions are going to need them.
- Using Zoom for the bulk of required meetings.
- Insurance. The coverage is going to look a lot different. Less extravagant locations and more green screens and perfcap volume sets. More on this in the coming days.

I see some immediate changes. Since theater releases are not going to happen on a large scale anytime soon, productions are going to have to align with digital streaming pipeline workflows and release schedules. That's the new time slots. Anything to ease this transition and integration with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc is going to boom.

Other fast changes include production bubbles - studios will need to house, feed, transport, and safely enable sets for all crew members - perhaps even family members for longer productions. This is no small feat. Tight budget controls will need to be in place, especially because distribution is in flux and not as certain as theatrical.

Marketing is going to undergo huge changes. No more festivals or industry events. No more mammoth budgets for red carpets, travel, and awards. Think more about social media, influencers, and short clipped "trailers" on Tiktok for example.

Even as more and more of society opens up, theaters will remain one of the worst places for infection. A second wave is a very real possibility. I shudder to think about it.

Here's the bottom line: Expect many more first-run movies on streaming services. Take the recently released BECKY, starring Kevin James and Lulu Wilson, written by a friend of mine, Nick Morris. It was slated to premiere at Tribeca this spring and be released in theaters, but now it released on several digital platforms like Apple TV+ and Vudu. No theatrical. That will continue to happen in the industry. Hopefully, we can get to a place where there is a simultaneous release on digital and also any theatrical territories that have opened up in the future.

The coronavirus has definitely done one thing: Sped up adoption of streaming services around the world, and the acceptance of that distribution by studios. I don't believe theaters are dead. They're going to change, but they will be back.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The Future of Cinema: Re-imagining Theaters

 Ok, let's assume that the coronavirus is going to be around a while and that a vaccine is some time away from being ready. Let's say another 12 to 18 months. That would probably require the re-imagining of theaters by theater owners, right?

Thankfully, many theaters and their employees have been saved somewhat by federal stimulus (USA) so far, is it enough?

Theater patrons need to feel that they are safe when they return to the cinema, so social distancing and mask-wearing must be in place and monitored (probably not too far off from monitoring recording devices in the audience). It can be done.

Christopher Nolan's TENET (July 17) is tentatively planned for release in July as well as Disney's live-action MULAN (July 24). Does this mean there is a good chance it will happen? Well, let's go to the top to find out:

When John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) spoke to Variety on this very subject, he said:

"Some states will be able to reopen relatively quickly. Others may take a while. The question is how long will that take? We’re not just a national industry. We’re a global industry. Major studios won’t release big, wide-release films if only a couple of states and a handful of countries in Europe are open. They need a wider footprint. We don’t need 100% of markets to be in business, but we need a majority of them."

Aha. So a majority would mean literally 50%+ of all worldwide markets must be open for business, not just some states and provinces where Covid-19 has had its restrictions reduced. That's about 100 countries, give or take out of the 195 that exist today. Clearly, some countries have more impact than others (USA, China).

Will this happen for July 2020? Good question. I won't get into coronavirus numbers here, but some countries are not doing well, or are experiencing new outbreaks and hotspots. To release tentpoles like TENET and MULAN, studios are going to need some sort of confidence of box office return. 

Now, this is focused on NATO and theatrical release, what about a combination of theatrical and streaming? That might be able to whet the appetite of studios. What do you think?

And what about social distancing within theaters? Have you seen mockups of what a theater might look like when they reopen? It's not pretty, but functional. Revenue will be clearly down from pre-coronavirus. More screenings may alleviate demand.

Wearing masks must be mandatory obviously and while not being comfortable at all, it's a sacrifice that has to be made for the privilege of going to the cinema.

Improved air filters for air conditioning / heating would probably be prudent.

As I mentioned yesterday, drive-ins will need to address washrooms and concessions; so will theaters. There must be protocols to be strictly followed. Ordering your popcorn and soda through an app (reserving a washroom stall?) and having it delivered to your seat might help with lineups.

So, if the stars align and half the world box office markets open around the world; studios decide to release their big-budget tentpoles; theaters adopt revised seating plans / restrict washroom use to one or two / clean everything all the time / deliver concessions to your seat, and you don't mind wearing masks, maybe paying more and risking infection, WOULD YOU GO?

Surely I've missed some things here - let me know in the comments!

Sources: Variety
Images: The Guardian | IMDb

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Future of Cinema: Drive Ins?

At least in the short term what are our options? With Covid-19 still a threat and movie theaters being a contagion even before the coronavirus was a big deal (I can't tell you how many times I've caught a bug from someone sneezing close to me), what's left?

Could this be the return of the drive-in theater?

Several aspects of drive-ins have to be looked at as dodgy (I've been watching a lot of Ozzy Man reviews lately), namely the washrooms and the concessions.

The latter could be addressed by having car window service by masked servers (with or without rollerskates) but the biggest issue in my mind is the washrooms. With double and triple features being the norm, that's a lot of time to go without facilities, so something has to be done. The perfect solution (albeit expensive) is perhaps the public washrooms that are abundant in France:

Or perhaps a washroom that uses UV rays?

To be sure though, something needs to be improvised. I'm not sure having an attendant outside of every washroom to go in a clean after each user is the answer. Anybody have a suggestion?

On to projection! I'm wondering if it is possible to remove projectors from the cinemas and place them in improvised shelters to project onto screens (or large walls)? Is that even possible with the need for much larger screens and longer distances involved? What about brightness? If we need a short term solution only for drive-ins, perhaps using this strategy and using vacant stadiums (or their parking lots) for the cars?

I'd like to see something that is pop-up, easily removed, yet highly functional for seeing what we all love - the movies.

And until such time as new releases are made available, we'll have to rely upon past films and curated evenings for entertainment. Clearly, drive-ins alone won't amount to the box office revenue that the industry has enjoyed in the past, but as a stop-gap perhaps it will be enough.

What are your thoughts on drive-ins as a short term (or longer) solution to get Hollywood up and running again?

Monday, June 01, 2020

Alright - Who's up for more MarketSaw?

Hey guys! I think I'm in a place now where I can spend some amount of time a day on the site and I'm anxious to get back to things that I love to do - like this.

I'm thinking that a new direction might be a good idea - something like "The future of cinema" or "What to look for in the coming years in Hollywood", or similar.

3D is still around obviously, but in a much different way after much evolution over the years.

Coronavirus has changed the world and that includes cinema. What things will be changing permanently? Let's discuss.

What about new technology? Have you seen the new Unreal Engine 5 that is around the corner? Check the review below:

What do you think? I think it looks bloody amazing. More TOMORROW!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

AVATAR 2 Pushed to December 2021

Disappointed to hear this one guys. But surprised? No. AVATAR 2, once slated for December next year has been pushed back another year to December 17th, 2021.

Disney has also announced that AVATAR 3 is now pegged at December 22nd, 2023 and AVATAR 4 is December 29th, 2025. If there is an AVATAR 5 it won't see projector light until 2027.

I haven't heard the reasoning behind the decision to delay but I would add it up to be post-production needs and internal influences within Disney.

More when I get it.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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