Amazon spent how much on LOTR?!
And The Weeknd's new show needs work
What to know
Amazon is spending $50 million per episode on Lord of the Rings… OK, remember on Friday when I was marveling at HBO spending $20M/episode on Thrones and Netflix dropping $30M/ep on Stranger Things? They’ve both been outdone by Amazon and its big bet on The Lord of the Rings. Amazon’s got $86B in cash on hand, so they can take a swing like this — but with that kind of spend, they must be hoping the show hits the zeitgeist hard. I’m skeptical it will. 😱
The Batman outperforms most day-and-date releases on HBO Max… Despite the 45-day wait, WB’s The Batman just debuted higher than Wonder Woman 1984, Dune, The Suicide Squad, and Matrix Resurrections on HBO Max — despite all of those having simultaneous theatrical releases. Deadline speculates that this shows the power of the 45-day window to build hype, but maybe Batman is just a more popular property than the four aforementioned? Interestingly, The Batman opened lower on HBO Max than Mortal Kombat. 🦇
The Northman proves “the danger” of bloated arthouse budgets… As Everything Everywhere All at Once continues to dominate the indie circuit, another more troubling story has emerged regarding adult-aimed, non-IP genre fare. The Northman, Robert Eggers’ $90 million Viking epic, debuted to just $12 million across nearly 4,000 theaters. While reviews were good, that total means it will likely be a financial failure. For those of us who want more original movies in theaters, this hurts to see. ⚔️
The Weeknd and Sam Levinson’s new HBO drama to undergo significant reshoots… Despite finishing production on multiple episodes, The Idol is heading back to set with new cast and crew members. Hollywood productions go through reshoots all the time—and HBO has famously thrown out entire pilots (see Thrones)—but this level of fixing isn’t normal. HBO says the retooling will give The Weeknd and Euphoria creator Levinson the chance to “build, refine, and evolve” their vision. 🕶
Elon Musk clinches deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, will take company private… what could possibly go wrong?! 🐦
Elon Musk to get New York Times/FX documentary treatment… good timing! 📺
Star Wars candles will let fans smell Grogu and the Ewoks… uh, hard pass. 👃
We Own This City — Apr 25 | HBO drama miniseries | 🍅 95%
The Offer — Apr 28 | Paramount+ drama miniseries | 🍅 50%
Under the Banner of Heaven — Apr 28 | Hulu drama miniseries | 🍅 80%
Ozark s4 pt 2 — Apr 29 | Netflix drama series | 🍅 93%
What to watch
With so many TV shows and so little time, the decision to watch a show always comes down to “is it worth it?” Even if you didn’t read the exposés or listen to the nonfiction podcasts, you likely already know the broad strokes of the Elizabeth Holmes story. Is it worth investing 8 hours into a retelling? With The Dropout, now on Hulu in full, creator Elizabeth Meriwether (New Girl), director Michael Showalter, and star Amanda Seyfried make a strong case for yes. They turn a well-known story into a fast-paced pot boiler and bring to life those stranger-than-fiction moments with disquieting, uneasy tension. Most importantly though, the series cleverly unravels Holmes, positing her at first as a determined hero and then flipping her to villain status as the lies and misdeeds mount. It’s a tricky balancing act that’s more successful in the back half of the season when Meriwether zooms in on the victims and the real heroes who took action against Elizabeth. When the show makes the Theranos CEO the true villain of the story, it is excellent. Seyfried is all in, as is Naveen Andrews (who’s a long way from Lost). This framing then gives room to some wonderfully nuanced supporting performances from Stephen Fry, William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Alan Ruck, Dylan Minnette, Camryn Mi-Young Kim, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, LisaGay Hamilton, and Sam Waterson. Seyfried is bound to get a lot of recognition come award season for her work nailing Holmes’ put-upon voice and mannerisms, but The Droupout is an ensemble drama in disguise and that’s what makes it truly special.