Hnetflix

Film | by Shane “Excelsior” Hnetka

Before we get into this issue’s Hnetflix I’ve got to mention Stan Lee, who passed away at 95 on Nov. 12. For many, Stan “The Man” single-handedly created Marvel Comics — though in reality, he got a lot of help from artists Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto (Ditko  passed away earlier this year).

Despite his faults — Lee had a tendency to hog glory and toss his collaborators under the corporate bus — Stan worked hard to make his superhero comics resonate with contemporary audiences, infusing Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Hulk with heart and humanity. He is, along with Kirby (The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men) and Ditko (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange), an indisputable architect of the entertainment mega-entity Marvel is today.

Rest in peace, Stan.

FilmStruck Strikes Back

How about a film business story with a happy ending for a change?

Recently, corporate scumbags at WarnerMedia — which was bought by bean-counting profit-hog AT&T this past summer, and yes, that’s relevant to the story — announced the end of their classic movie streaming service FilmStruck.

FilmStruck specialized in classics from Warner’s Turner Classic Movies archive as well as the Criterion Collection library. In short, it was perfect for movie lovers (at least in the U.S.; it wasn’t available in Canada).

Warner and AT&T announced the turd-move in a statement basically saying they didn’t want to support a piddly niche service (this from the same company that just launched the very niche superhero streamer DC Universe). But here’s the good news: a campaign was launched by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese and Edgar Wright to convince Warner to save the site, and… well,  it worked! Sort of!

On Nov. 16, Criterion announced the launch of its own streaming service, the Criterion Channel, which will house the entire Criterion library as well as original Filmstruck programs that would’ve died with that service. It’s great news, and in fact something I’d advocated for in the draft of this column I had to rip up after Criterion’s Friday announcement (not that I’m bitter).

But the best news? The Criterion Channel is slated to launch in Canada as well as the United States!

You can read more, and sign up, at Criterion.com.

Cinema Matters

Netflix has been buying up and producing movies like crazy lately. It feels like they’re trying hard to add some prestige cinema to their acclaimed TV shows.

Too bad they keep butting heads with actual movie theatres that might screen these prestige movies.

Case in point: the Coen brothers’ new Netflix movie The Ballad of Buster Scrubbs was recently shown in theatres. A very small number of theatres. Netflix isn’t even releasing numbers for how the film did. It’s widely viewed as a “fake release” designed to attract Oscar nominations. Nobody’s buying it.

Netflix also has Alfonso Cuarón’s acclaimed new film Roma. The company wanted to release Roma in 70mm through the Alamo Drafthouse chain, but negotiations failed thanks to Netflix’s absurd demands (the company wanted the entire box office and insisted the Drafthouse play Roma on their biggest screen for four weeks. Strangely enough, Drafthouse declined).

Netflix just doesn’t seem to understand movie theatres. Hopefully they’ll figure it out eventually.