Happy Friday and welcome to another edition of Popculturology!
I’ve been playing catchup with a few shows the past few days.
What a great season of Star Wars: Visions. I caught up on the final three episodes of the season the other night. “Aau’s Song” was my favorite of that batch, but “Screecher’s Reach” is probably still my favorite of the entire season. They’re all great, though. Every time I start an episode of Visions, my immediate thought is “whoa, this is the most important Star Wars story ever told” — and then I start the next episode and feel the same.
I’m still working my way through the final season of Atlanta. I think I have an episode left to go, after watching “Snipe Hunt” and “The Goof Who Sat By the Door” this week. Both great episodes. My distaste for camping kicked in almost immediately while watching “Snipe Hunt.” I cannot stress to all of you how much the idea of sleeping outside in the woods terrifies me. I don’t know what’s out there. I’ve watched way too many Bigfoot shows and documentaries. It’s so dark out there. “The Goof Who Sat By the Door” was an instant classic for Atlanta. Brilliant all around.
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- Feature Presentation: Disney+ and Hulu sitting in a tree …
- Bonus Features: Updates from the writers’ strike
- The News: Loki’s squishy release date, Beetlejuice sequel official
- Trailer Watch: The Righteous Gemstones, Flamin’ Hot
- Playlist: The Other Two
- What to Watch: Fool’s Paradise and Blackberry
- Snack Break: A new Mtn Dew Kickstart flavor!
- Odds and Ends: Nick Fury returns in Secret Invasion featurette
Disney+ and Hulu sitting in a tree …
Don’t delete your Hulu app just yet, but its days are numbered.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced this week that Disney+ and Hulu will merge into a single app by the end of the year.
“While we continue to offer Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ as standalone options, this is a logical progression of our [direct-to-consumer] offerings that will provide greater opportunities for advertisers, while giving bundle subscribers access to more robust and streamlined content, resulting in greater audience engagement and ultimately leading to a more unified streaming experience,” Iger said during an earnings call on Wednesday (via The Hollywood Reporter).
A lot of corporate speak for “we’re gonna put these two apps together.”
This move has long been speculated. Since the inception of Disney+, there’s been questions when it comes to which Disney-owned shows and movies go where and why. The Simpsons is on Disney+ but its Sunday night partner Bob’s Burgers is on Hulu. (Disney owns both these shows despite them running on Fox.) The upcoming Flamin’ Hot movie will be available on both platforms.
When Hulu launched in 2007, it was a joint venture between a few studios and some investment firms. Disney is now the majority owner of Hulu, owning 67 percent of the streaming service since purchasing 20th Century Fox and buying AT&T out of its share. Disney+ is (duh) owned by Disney, so there’s been the question of if — when — they would merge the two into one app.
This continues a trend of consolidation of streaming apps. Warner Bros. Discovery recently announced that it will combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single app called Max. (I’m pulling for Disney to call the combined Disney+/Hulu app “Walt.”) There’s also a premium version of the Paramount+ app that includes the former Showtime app, creatively called “Paramount+ with Showtime.”
To me, the least surprising part of all of this is that Disney won’t sell Hulu. While there had been some speculation that they’d sell off the streamer, that never made sense. Hulu not only controls a ton of content, but it’s where a lot of ABC and FX shows are available to stream the day after they air. (It’s also the streaming home of Happy Endings, which should be more than enough to earn your subscriber dollars.)
One wrinkle in this is that Comcast still owns 33 percent of Hulu. Disney can’t just roll something it doesn’t fully own into Disney+.
“How that ultimately unfolds is to some extent in the hands of Comcast and … basically a conversation or a negotiation that we have with them,” Iger said during the earnings call.
Don’t expect every show currently on Disney+ and Hulu to make it through the merge, though. Disney CFO Christine McCarthy revealed during the earnings call that the studio “will be removing certain content from our streaming platforms.”
I’m not smart enough to understand how removing content saves money. I think it involves tax write-offs … ? (Disney removing content will reportedly save the studio $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion.) But Disney isn’t alone in doing it. WBD infamously removed a ton of content from HBO Max in the wake of the the merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery, wiping out shows like Westworld before licensing them out to other apps.
Which Disney+ shows will disappear? The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars shows are safe. Will the Mighty Ducks show get sent to Tubi?
Weird times at these studios. After years of expansion, driven by subscriber numbers boosted during the pandemic, these streaming apps aren’t seeing the level of success that they hoped they’d get for the massive investments in apps like Disney+ and HBO.
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Updates from the writers’ strike
With the studios still unwilling to agree to the WGA’s terms, the work stoppage stretches on.
Tony Gilroy stops ‘all non-writing producing functions’ on Andor
With many writers also serving as producers or showrunners, some of the studios have tried to push those people to continue their non-writing responsibilities while the WGA is on strike. According to the WGA, that’s a no-go — but that hasn’t stopped some producers from attempting to walk that line.
Andor creator Tony Gilroy was one of those people. While scripts for Season 2 of Andor were finished before the strike began, Gilroy was still “contributing producing services including casting and music-related duties,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
After other writers called Gilroy out for this, he seems to have pulled back from doing any work on Andor.
“I discontinued all writing and writing-related work on Andor prior to midnight, May 1,” Gilroy said in a statement to THR.“After being briefed on the Saturday showrunner meeting, I informed Chris Keyser at the WGA on Sunday morning that I would also be ceasing all non-writing producing functions.”
Rough that Disney is still pushing forward on production of Andor without Gilroy around. The critically acclaimed show would be better served pausing until the strike is over.
‘Please listen to me about what this means, the latest drama at Fox News!’
While Seth Meyers is the person on camera reading every edition of “A Closer Look,” Late Night writer Sal Gentile is the genius behind the segment. He chatted about the strike with The Daily Beast, sharing what he’s doing while not writing “A Closer Look.”
“Believe me, I have them bookmarked. So yeah, I have thought about it a lot, and I’ve certainly had a lot of time circling the picket line and sitting at home,” Gentile told The Daily Beast. “Without the outlet [of ‘A Closer Look’], I am just going to pace around my apartment talking to anybody. My wife, my 3-year-old, ‘Please listen to me about what this means, the latest drama at Fox News! You guys don’t understand that it’s a broader statement about the condition of the political right!’”
Gentile offered his thoughts on the strike and the current system in general.
“Even if you don’t know the specifics of what the guild is asking for and the back and forth of the negotiations, you recognize the broader existential problem here, which is that this very elite class of people who have amassed all of this capital are trying to disrupt all of these industries to make more money for themselves and pay you less money,” Gentile said. “And it’s happening everywhere.”
The Last of Us was going to audition actors with video game scripts
Yeesh. This is a bad look. Variety reported on Thursday that HBO was going to have potential actors for The Last of Us’ second season audition by reading lines from The Last of Us Part II. That’s the video game, not an actual script from the upcoming season.
Mayim Bialik won’t host Jeopardy! out of solidarity with the writers. Ken Jennings will.
Mayim Bialik has stepped away from her hosting duties during the final week of shooting on Jeopardy! Season 39, Deadline reported on Thursday. The trade notes that “the questions were written in advance of a season and the strike” but all of the shows writers have been on the picket lines.
Ken Jennings will fill in for Bialik.
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Loki pushed to fall?
OK, the sourcing on this is dubious, but here goes. The website Cosmic Circus claims that we should expect the second season of Loki this fall. I’d previously heard that the show was due for this summer, but it appears that Disney has pushed it back a bit.
And why might that be?
Cosmic Circus weirdly cites “odds and adversities that this show is facing in the current climate” for the push to late fall, but then also goes into the Jonathan Majors situation.
“Given the nature of the allegations, Marvel and Disney are closely monitoring the case before making any official decision,” the site writes. “However, according to sources familiar with the situation, Marvel has already started preparations (if push comes to shove and the need arises) to recast Kang the Conqueror.”
I’m still not sure how Marvel Studios keeps Majors on board. Despite being the main villain for the upcoming Multiverse Saga, Majors’ legal issues may prove too much for the studio to keep him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
How Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy tricked Warner Bros. into casting Murphy as Scarecrow
For pretty much the entire time since Christian Bale was cast as Christopher Nolan’s Batman and Cillian Murphy played Scarecrow in Batman Begins, I’ve heard the story that Murphy auditioned for Batman, didn’t get the role but was kept around to play the movie’s villain.
Turns out there’s a bit more to that story.
“When we had our first conversation I think both of us knew that you weren’t going to wind up playing Batman,” Nolan said during a chat between him, Murphy and Entertainment Weekly. “We did those screen tests very elaborately, on 35mm, with a little set. There was just an electric atmosphere in the crew when you started to perform. We did two scenes — there was a Bruce Wayne scene and a Batman scene — and I made sure that executives came down and watched what you were doing on set. Everybody was so excited by watching you perform that when I then said to them, ‘Okay, Christian Bale is Batman, but what about Cillian to play Scarecrow?’ there was no dissent.”
Murphy would not only stick around to play Scarecrow in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, but he’d have a small role in Inception before being cast as the star of Oppenheimer, Nolan’s big summer movie this year.
Beetlejuice sequel is official, adds Jenna Ortega, Justin Theroux and Monica Bellucci
After years of speculation, Warner Bros. made the Beetlejuice sequel official, claiming the Sept. 6, 2024, date that currently belongs to the now-paused Blade.
In addition to Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara returning, Jenna Ortega will play the daughter of Ryder’s character, Lydia. Deadline reported on Tuesday that Justin Theroux had also joined the project in an unknown role. Monica Bellucci will play Beetlejuice’s wife, according to THR.
Full confession here: I’ve never seen Beetlejuice. Many of the words I’m typing here mean nothing to mean. Is it a movie I should see, especially before a sequel comes out? (I am familiar with Community’s Beetlejuice bit.)
Will Poulter on the future of Adam Warlock
The Guardians of the Galaxy cast loves James Gunn. For weeks (months?), we’ve heard how they can’t imagine portraying the Guardians characters under the direction of anyone but Gunn. But there have been cracks in that thinking. Chris Pratt nudged the door open to playing Star-Lord in future MCU movies. And when asked about the future, Will Poulter seemed open to returning as Adam Warlock without Gunn.
“Do I wish James was directing whatever the next installment of Adam Warlock is? Sure,” Poulter told GQ. “If I had my pick I wouldn't want anyone else—but I do genuinely trust that he's done his best to set up the character in a way that feels like it best serves him.”
There’s obviously no world where Gunn directs another MCU movie (unless Warner Bros. Discovery panics and reboots DC Studios in a year and Gunn returns to Marvel Studios), so if Poulter wants to play Adam Warlock again, it’s going to be under a new director.
Might that director have some notes from Gunn? During a Twitter Q&A, Gunn was asked if he “had conversations with Marvel about their plans for the [Guardians] now that you’re done?” Gunn’s response: “Yes.”
Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance director holds out hope for a return
I loved The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. When Caitlin and I started the series after it debuted, we weren’t sure about it. Neither of us had watched the original Dark Crystal movie, so the world was new to us. But, wow, did we quickly get fully pulled into that world.
Netflix unfortunately canceled the series after just one season, which was a shame not only because of the insane amount of work the crew had put into Age of Resistance but for how the first season set up future stories.
“I won’t tell you. Because I still have hope that it can come back,” Leterrier told io9. “I mean, who would have thought that 37 years later that [we would’ve been able to bring Dark Crystal back]? So, I have high hopes. You know, it might not be me. It might be my grandson or, you know, Jim Henson’s great-grandson, but somebody will direct the rest of this show because we need to tell that story. And beyond. I mean, Thra is a place we want to go to.”
I would love to see The Dark Crystal return in some way. Not sure which streamer could pick it up. (Whoever wants to be in the Henson business should also figure out the rights issues with A Muppet Family Christmas.)
- Weapons loads Pedro Pascal. The Mandalorian and The Last of Us star has joined Weapons, the next film Zach Cregger, according to The Hollywood Report. Cregger, who wrote and directed Barbarian, will do the same on Weapons.
- Dan Stevens to fight an untitled monster. The Beauty and the Beast actor has joined the upcoming Universal monster movie from Scream VI’s Radio Silence, Deadline reported on Thursday.
- Digman renewed for a second season. Deadline reported on Wednesday that Andy Samberg’s cartoon has been renewed by Comedy Central.
- Final season of Jack Ryan premieres June 30. Prime Video will bring the John Krasinski series back for a six-episode fourth season.
- Minx makes Starz debut on July 21. The second season of Minx was canceled by HBO Max while it was in production before being picked up by Starz.
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The Righteous Gemstones
The Righteous Gemstones is by far one of the best shows currently running on HBO. The only thing that would make this show better is if HBO were to find a way to cross it over with Succession.
The Righteous Gemstones Season 3 premieres on HBO on June 18.
Eva Longoria makes her theatrical directorial debut with Flamin’ Hot, the story of the creation of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. The streaming film is based on the biography of Richard Montañez, who claims to have been behind the birth of the popular snack. (There’s some dispute over whether Montañez had a role in the development of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos …)
Flamin’ Hot premieres on Hulu and Disney+ on June 9.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
The Other Two
Episodes: “Cary Watches Other People Watch His Movie” and “Brooke Drives an Armpit Across America”
How is The Other Two on only its third season? It feels like this show has been around for a decade. This is such a fantastic show, and I’m thrilled that it’s back.
Here’s to The Other Two co-creators, Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, for fully maximizing their cast. This show is more than just Cary and Brooke now, and it’s even stronger because of that evolution. Like, how lucky is The Other Two to have cast Josh Segarra as Brooke’s random ex for its first season, and now gets to have the on-the-rise actor as a main character?
“It really is so convenient to be powerful.” — Pat to her kids
“I’m talking about the whole pit. Tip to taint.” — Streeter
- The IP Era’s Venture Capital Philosophy Has Poisoned Movies (Jacob Oller, Paste)
- Hannah Gadsby Thinks ‘Toxic’ Dave Chappelle Is ‘Boring’ (Chris Murphy, Vanity Fair)
- Scarlett Johansson Opens Up About the Pain and Triumph of Disney Legal Battle Over Black Widow and Wes Anderson’s ‘Liberating’ Cannes Film (Tatiana Siegel, Variety)
- Into Thin AirPods (Casey Johnston, Defector)
- Emilio Estevez Wants To Show You The Way And Has Ideas For Three More Young Guns Movies (Mike Ryan, Uproxx)
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Fool’s Paradise and Blackberry
It’s an Always Sunny in Philadelphia double feature!
Charlie Day makes his directorial debut with Fool’s Paradise. As rookie projects go, Day has assembled a cast that rivals that of a Coen brothers movie.
Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchel star in Blackberry, a movie about the rise and fall of the once-dominant communication device. (I had one once. I wasn’t impressed.)
Day, Howerton, Rob McElhenney and Megan Ganz discussed both movies during the most recent episode of The Always Sunny Podcast.
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Mountain Dew Kickstart Strawberry Start-Up
Whoa, it’s a new Mountain Dew Kickstart flavor. Fun fact about me: I don’t drink coffee. My first daily dose of caffeine comes from a Mountain Dew Kickstart. I cycle through the Fruit Punch, Orange Citrus and Pineapple Orange Mango flavors. There are other flavors, but these are my three favorites.
Strawberry Start-Up might crack that rotation. Amazon dropped a case off at our house on Thursday, and I didn’t waste any time tasting it. (It was warm, hence the ice. I’m not a psychopath. I don’t normally drink this as if it’s a cocktail.)
Despite being advertised as “strawberry lemon flavor,” the lemon part is very subtle and the strawberry part isn’t Jolly Rancher sweet.
‘I’m Nick Fury. Even when I’m out, I’m in.’
Marvel Studios released a new featurette for Secret Wars on Wednesday. This one looks good. Really good. The series has a ridiculous cast — Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke, Don Cheadle … I really hope Secret Wars lives up to how good it looks in trailers and featurettes.
Samurai Jack creator talks animation
Legendy animator Genndy Tartakovsky did a segment for Wired where he answered a bunch of questions from Twitter about animation. I loved watching Tartakovsky — who has created Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Primal and the original Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts while also directing the first three Hotel Transylvania movies — talk about how he approaches cartooning and storytelling.
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