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The future of Star Wars revealed
And more Netflix layoffs
What to know
Vanity Fair pops the hood on the future of Star Wars… If you’re a Star Wars fan or even a casual observer of entertainment trends, get thee to Anthony Breznican’s massive feature on the future of the franchise. He talked to everyone about the upcoming shows (Obi Wan, Andor, Ahsoka, The Acolyte), broke some news about a 5th new series that’s said to star a group of kids and be ‘80s Amblin-inspired, and he got some info on the movie slate. Taika Waititi’s standalone film is up first, then Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron, while Kevin Feige and Rian Johnson’s projects are a bit further off. Star Wars is at a crossroads, Kathleen Kennedy insists that they are telling one story but is also aware that they can’t keep rehashing the same characters. The big takeaway is that streaming shows are the focus for now and movies will be more eventized and sporadic. That seems like a good strategy to me. ✨
Netflix lays off 150 employees… That’s 2% of its entire workforce severed as the company tries to pullback costs amid slowing revenue. The streamer is also axing 70 part-time jobs in its animation studio and freelance roles in social media and publishing. This seemed like an impossibility just a few months ago, but things are moving fast in the streaming wars and this is surely not the last contraction of a giant platform that we’re going to see. 😕
Ron Howard’s Thai cave rescue movie hits theaters and streaming in August… August is such an odd no-man’s land. It’s not summer blockbuster season, nor proper awards season yet. Amazon is apparently trying to hedge. It better hope the movie is fantastic for it to make noise in the doldrums of summer. 🤔
Netflix secretly screens upcoming content for user feedback… This isn’t that surprising, movie studios have been doing test screenings for ages, but this might be the first we know of a streaming service doing it. 🍿
Michel Gondry returns to moviemaking… Gondry hasn’t made a movie since 2015, so this is a big deal! He did do Showtime’s Kidding with Jim Carrey in the interim though, check it out. 🎥
Tom Brady to be center of Netflix comedy roast… Sounds like he wants to get his ego deflated a bit. 🏈
Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers - May 20 | Disney+ family movie | 🍅 75%
Love, Death + Robots s3 - May 20 | Netflix adult animation anthology | 🍅
Men - May 20 | Alex Garland horror film in select theaters | 🍅 81%
Downton Abbey: A New Era - May 20 | Drama film in theaters | 🍅 78%
The New York Times Presents: Elon Musk’s Crash Course - May 20 | FX/Hulu documentary | 🍅
What to watch
We are headed for a future where “live action” movies featuring human characters will be entirely animated. 100% photorealistic CGI will be used to create an entire “live action” human-focused film from whole cloth. Want proof? That image above is animation. It comes from “Beyond the Aquila Rift,” one of the dozens of shorts that make up Netflix’s thrilling, chilling, and titillating animated anthology series Love, Death + Robots.
The very adult series employs a variety of creators and animation styles to tell its diverse genre stories (think Black Mirror meets Star Wars Visions, The Animatrix, and Heavy Metal) — but the installments that use photorealistic CG technology are among the most striking. Shorts like “Aquila Rift” and “Lucky 13” will blow you away with mind-bending story and disturbingly real animation quality. If you think you know what good CGI looks like, guess again. We are almost across the uncanny valley, it is only a matter of time.
If that was all Love, Death + Robots had to provide it would have been enough, but this series isn’t about to rest solely on the aesthetic of just a few shorts. It presents 26 thought-provoking fantasy and sci-fi stories that cover everything from sentient yogurt overlords to underground mind-controlled monster battles (what if Pokémon was really f*cked up and dark). The shorts aren’t subtle, as mentioned above this series is for adults and when Netflix warns viewers about “language, violence, gore, nudity, and smoking” it means it. As the studios further sanitize their tentpole sci-fi and comic book franchises, Love, Death + Robots stands out as a refreshing change of pace.
One of the benefits of our streaming wars era is there’s always something new to discover. Love, Death + Robots is so distinct, futuristic, and genre-friendly, it’s wild that it hasn’t become a bigger hit for Netflix. Maybe that will turn around this Friday when nine more installments hit the service and more people like me catch up on it. Either way, everyone will likely look back and say it was ahead of its time.