HBO Max: First Thoughts

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Before we begin this post, I just want to remind you all that next month is going to have a movie-based theme. I will not go into it, but for the sake of having content and not having to worry about talking about how crappy the world is, that’s what’s happening. Also, while I do share my thoughts on HBO Max right here, you can also check out my half-hour long video of my first day with the service. If you want to check it out, click down below and if you like the video, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel, which will have an all-new Blu-ray collection update coming this June!

PLEASE NOTE: If this is buggy, the video is currently being processed for copyright reasons.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Here’s a post you don’t see often! Me talking about a streaming service! As you know, I have a large physical media collection, one in which I don’t plan on getting rid of ANYTIME soon. But today, we are going to be talking about the new streaming service HBO Max.

HBO Max is marketed as a platform “where HBO meets so much more.” Essentially, if you have HBO Now, it’s basically that, but with more shows and a purple background! Heck, it’s even the same price at $14.99/month! Although I did find a discount that let me get it for $11.99/month, so yay! Discounts! By the way, that discount is no longer available as it is a pre-order offer.

You get all sorts of old and new HBO content including movies and TV series. From everything to the fantastical, dark realms of “Game of Thrones” to a display of our reality within “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” There are also new original shows on the service as well that you cannot get anywhere else. One of the most notable titles is “Love Life,” starring Anna Kendrick, which dropped three episodes to the service on day one. It still has more episodes remaining, all of which are supposed to drop later on. Also joining the club with “Love Life” is “Craftopia,” a competition where 9 to 15 year old contestants get creative and try to take home the “Craftrophia.” You also have all new “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” a staple of the Warner library for years with brand new episodes. Plus “On the Record,” which centers around Drew Dixon, a former A&R executive. When it comes to originals and exclusives, the lineup does not intrigue me. But there is plenty more coming in the future including “The Flight Attendant” starring Kaley Cuoco, “Raised by Wolves,” exectuive produced by Ridley Scott, and there’s even continuations of past IPs such as an all new season of “Search Party,” which started as a TBS original, but will now be releasing new episodes via HBO Max.

I like the selection of outside content this service is starting out with. It’s got all twelve seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” four seasons of “Impractical Jokers,” the Without Borders specials of “Conan,” and even though I haven’t sat through a whole episode yet, “Rick and Morty” is also on the service, and I have always been wanting to check that out. Plus, for those of you who smashed your television set once “Friends” was taken off of Netflix, you are in luck as HBO Max now has the entire series on their service. However, if you were going to watch the planned “Friends” reunion special, well that’s impossible at this point as production was halted due to COVID-19.

The service has individual libraries including Crunchyroll, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, and DC. For those of you who are DC fans, a lot of the big players are there when it comes to movies including “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” “Shazam,” “Supergirl,” “Joker,” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” However, when it comes to missing titles, some big ones are unfortunately not on the service. Including “Man of Steel,” Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, and “Superman: The Movie.” Keep in mind that other services have these movies including Netflix and the separate DC Universe streaming service. Given how this new HBO Max service has shows including “Doom Patrol” on it, it would not surprise me if DC Universe fizzles out and HBO Max picks up a lot of the load that DC Universe left over. It’ll probably take shows like “Harley Quinn” or “Titans” and maybe implement them in the DC section. Given how HBO Max is trying to be a colossal service full of content, why not have these DC shows, which are likely being presented to a somewhat niche market be given to a wider audience? I would like to watch the new “Harley Quinn” show, but I don’t need another subscription to do it. As for other DC TV shows, HBO Max also has CW’s “Batwoman,” Cartoon Newtork’s “Teen Titans,” and HBO’s own “Watchmen.”

As for movies, HBO originals make a presence, including the recently released “Bad Education” starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. But a lot of the movies present are either from Warnermedia in some capacity including all the “Harry Potter” films, minus the first “Fantastic Beasts” installment, the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, “The LEGO Movie,” “King Kong,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Also included are a bunch of movies that you can find airing on the HBO airwaves regardless of who owns it including “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw,” “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” “Die Hard,” “Alita: Battle Angel,” “American Pie,” “Madagascar,” and “Stuber.” So while this is basically a Warner Bros. streaming service, it is welcoming other distributors and outlets to join the party, which if you are going to have a variety of content like this, it kind of makes the $14.99/month price worthwhile. Disney+ is $6.99/month, which kind of makes sense as it only seems to be catering to particular demographics. If you are a fan of “Star Wars,” Marvel, Pixar, or if you have a kid, Disney+ is for you. But HBO is more on the side of Netflix where they have content for everybody, including some of the most adult media of all time. But if you want to put on say “Sesame Street” or “Adventure Time” or “Scooby-Doo” or “Happy Feet Two” for the kiddos, it’s good for that too.

Now for a few negatives, I will point out that a variety of platforms will be getting HBO Max including Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, newer Samsung Smart TVs, as a YouTube TV addon, and so on. But of the range in platforms available for HBO Max viewing, two of them ARE NOT Amazon Fire and Roku. Keep in mind, the other HBO apps, specifically HBO Now and HBO Go are still availabe on these devices but HBO Max is not as there is currently no deal that will allow HBO Max onboard. I would also be willing to bet if there is ever a case where HBO Max does wind up on those platforms that it will go in HBO Now’s place given how the services are basically the same thing but one has more content. Also, I will point out that I get a lot of my media on my Sony Android 4K HDR television, which DOES get HBO Max, thankfully. But one of the things that I noticed that was missing at launch happened to be options for 4K. This sort of surprised me as a lot of the movies already on the service happen to be able on 4K elsewhere, including through physical media. Plus, while HBO does not necessarily have a 4K channel setup through regular television, they do have 4K content. A couple of seasons of “Game of Thrones” are available on 4K Blu-ray, and the same goes for “Westworld.” Going back to Disney+’s $6.99/month asking price, I will also point out that while the library is smaller and catering to a niche demographic, one of the pros of the service is that there’s plenty of 4K content available and there is no extra cost for it unlike services such as Netflix, in which you have to upgrade to their premium package if you have a lower tier. Maybe 4K will be a future implementation, but 4K TVs in general have been getting cheaper year after year so I figured HBO might want to start keeping up with these times a little bit. Again, as much as I think HBO Max will serve me well overtime, I see benefits to my physical media collection which I have spent years building. Yes, I can go watch “Wonder Woman” with the push of a button through HBO Max, but what if I want to watch it on 4K? Boom! I got the disc! That and I don’t need internet for it! Booyah! I will also point out, even though HBO Max has a variety of content that I am willing to watch, there’s a lot that I wish they had. Even though I already own it physically, I noticed that one of the key movies they were going to put on the service were those of the “Matrix” franchise. In fact, if you watch promos for HBO Max, you’d know that “The Matrix” was a core player in those promos. It’s kind of weird how it’s not on the service! The only “Matrix” property on HBO Max as of writing this is “Animatrix,” otherwise known as the one “Matrix” thing nobody talks about. It’s kind of bonkers!

Oh yeah, and I am looking forward to the Snyder Cut. If you asked me, I personally enjoyed the 2017 “Justice League” film more than most people and I will not deny that I had fun with it. But getting an alternate version of the film that may line up more with what the director could have originally put out does excite me. I wish it would also physically come out on Blu-ray and 4K as it would be nice to have on disc, but only time will tell.

I want to know, HBO Max just recently launched, but what are your thoughts on the service? Are you enjoying it so far? What have you watched on it? Why did you get HBO Max? To watch “Game of Thrones” again and be disappointed with the final season once more? To watch “Friends” in a time where you literally cannot hang out with friends? To watch real REAL CINEMA like “Casablanca” or “Citizen Kane?” Where does HBO Max rank for you in a world with seventy thousand streaming options available to buy? Let me know down below! Speaking of things down below, if you want to check out HBO Max for yourself and maybe sign up, go to the link below the paragraph!

HBO Max

Thanks for reading this post! Here’s a weird thing to talk about in a post about a brand new streaming service! Physical media! Coming soon, for my 400th post, I’m going to be providing an all new update on my Blu-ray collection, which will contain new movies, but the same movie reviewing moron talking about them all! I will be doing it in video form on my YouTube channel but I will also be talking about it on here and sharing the video for you all to watch. To check this out along with other great content, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, maximize your time by liking my Facebook page, otherwise known as that thing you’ll be checking when you’re distracted from whatever you’re watching on HBO Max. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 5

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 5 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Per usual, real world matters first! Because life sucks! The United Kingdom is currently in a bit of trouble as evidenced from actions taken this past Thursday. Britain has confirmed they have extended their countrywide lockdown for a total of three more weeks. This was announced by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is taking on responsibilities in place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was previously announced to have a positive case of COVID-19. With this extension, the country’s lockdown is likely going to last until the second week of May unless things change.

For the record, a good number of people in my country, specifically the United States, often point out that the economy is likely to collapse should we keep these restrictions going for any longer. One take that I found interesting mainly because I don’t hear it all that much, is the one given by the recently mentioned Dominic Raab. He suggests the opposite and thinks if we loosen these restrictions, the economy is going to go to hell. After all, since there’s always a chance of a second outbreak, there’s always a chance of a second economic downfall.

Although here in America, people clearly want the economy opened back up, including medical expert Anthony Fauci. The well-known director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” which discusses the role young people have in spreading the virus. He explained on the show that he’s likely missing baseball season as he suggests, “I’m living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.” He also thinks that sporting events like baseball and football could happen should there be a lack of an audience in stadiums.

President Donald J. Trump, who Fauci has been seen alongside for much of this crisis through cameras, wants the economy opened back up by May 1st, as I mentioned in part 4. As of suggesting that notion, certain states have declared the idea of opening back up on said day like Trump is opting for. One notable state is Ohio, which much like much of America, is planning to follow phases as to what exactly will open at supposed times. Restaurants may be more essential than bars, and bars may be more essential than football stadiums.

Speaking of U.S. states, one of the most talked about states in general regarding this crisis, has been New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose brother is a CNN reporter who has been tested positive for COVID-19, has been a significant voice in not only trying to pull his state into the right direction, but for the rest of the country as everybody deals with this. Although another voice that New Yorkers heard last week was former presidential candidate and current New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who had some unfortunate news for the state. De Blasio suggested that all major gatherings for the month of May have been canceled except for certain events like farmers’ markets. So if you are expecting to attend a “Last Week Tonight” taping this May, sorry to say, you’re gonna have to continue staring at John Oliver in front of a white void.

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Well, at least he got the rat painting he’s been searching a month to find.

Fun fact, when this whole crisis initiated, I was in Florida, which may be one of the worst hit states when it comes to this mess. For the record, Florida does not have the most cases for the virus, in fact none of them hold a candle to New York. In fact, my state, Massachusetts, has more cases to my surprise! But when it comes to properly closing everything in the state, those ends have not been met. In fact, Governor Rick DeSantis just opened a crucial element to what makes Florida Florida, the beaches. I should note that not all beaches have been opened, and they are NOT open for the purposes of bringing blankets, chairs, and coolers. They are specifically open for exercise-related purposes, plus taking care of pets. Individuals are still supposed to keep their distance from others and avoid gatherings of 50 people. Many of south Florida’s beaches, such as those in Miami, continue to remain closed, but if you live in Duval County (Jacksonville), there’s a good chance that you can find an open beach near you.

The beaches managed to receive a major turnout. However, not everyone is happy, as partially evidenced by the reaction that surfaced on social media. One of the top trending topics of the past weekend is #FloridaMorons. Here’s some of the tweets that surfaced.

Just because we talk about movies here…

Also, one man wanted to drop a public service announcement…

Thank you, sir! Very informative!

Now that we are done with our continuously depressing and ridiculous reality, let’s move onto movie topics. This first part is not a main topic since it may not have as much relevance as others, but I do feel it needs to be talked about. One of the topics I discussed last week is “Parasite’s” Hulu debut. Now Hulu has been a pretty popular streaming service that has been relevant for a few years. In fact, now that Disney oversees them, they are included in a bundle package with their other streaming services including Disney+ and ESPN+. But for a streaming service overseen by a company that does not make many independent features, “Parasite” has earned an ASTOUNDING success on the service so far. The movie dropped on Hulu Wednesday April 8th, where from then on, it was not long before the film immediately became the most streamed foreign or independent feature on the service in just a week. According to IndieWire, the film is also the second most watched film on the platform of all time. This beats the likes of mega-titles such as “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “A Quiet Place,” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Given the film’s Korean background, how Hulu does not even serve Korea, plus the necessity for non-Korean viewers to read subtitles, it should come as a surprise that “Parasite” is as popular as it is on Hulu. Although keep in mind, the film has already been a critical success in the states, not only having major buzz from reviews, but tons of award wins as well, including the Academy’s Best Picture, which no international feature has received prior to “Parasite.” The film has made over $50 million at the U.S. box office, indicating success. So either everybody wanted a chance to watch the film again, or there’s a possibility that a majority of Hulu users missed out on the theater experience but now have an opportunity to watch at home.

Speaking of theater experiences and watching something at home, Lionsgate is trying to recreate the communal theater atmosphere while keeping movie watchers on their couch. One of the best parts of going to the movies sometimes is the reactions people can blurt out during a presentation. If you have seen the last two “Avengers” movies, you’d understand. Lionsgate is attempting to get people together to react to their favorite movies without hearing anybody else and with the intention of keeping viewers behind closed doors.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIONSGATE MOVIES ON YOUTUBE

Throughout the series, I have often touched upon the goings on behind some of the bigger studios. Disney and Universal have shuttered theme parks, delayed films, and have decided to put some of their films like “Artemis Fowl” and “Trolls: World Tour” straight to a digital streaming service. Paramount delayed a ton of films, but some of their classics will be airing on CBS soon. Warner Bros. has stated in the past about its optimism to release “Tenet” in theaters on time, all the while delaying big films like “Wonder Woman 1984.” But one of the major studios I have not talked about all that much yet in this series is Lionsgate. While they don’t have the franchise power that a company like Disney has, they do possess the rights to iconic properties including “The Hunger Games” and “John Wick,” which are relevant to this topic.

Recently, specifically Friday April 17th, Lionsgate teamed up with Fandango, YouTube, and NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) to get people to watch “The Hunger Games” on YouTube for free. This is part of an event called “Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies.” These are movie night events hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), will feature celebrity guests, special programming, and opportunities for fans to interact via YouTube live. While the odds of watching “The Hunger Games” on one of these Fridays will no longer be ever in your favor, there are still a few movies listed for this special occasion. These include…

  • DIRTY DANCING (APRIL 24)
  • LA LA LAND (MAY 1)
  • JOHN WICK (MAY 8)

Just a reminder, if you want to watch “John Wick” during this occasion on YouTube, there is an age restriction. For the record, “John Wick” is rated R whereas the other films listed are rated PG-13. So if you want to watch your fan favorites with OTHER PEOPLE, I never thought I’d say that ever again! go to the Movieclips YouTube channel, check to see if one of the movies is playing or will be playing, and enjoy! This event will benefit the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a foundation dedicated to helping workers within the motion picture industry. This even includes the many theater employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Even companies behind food are getting in on this, which does make sense as cinemas and food go together like bread and butt–, sorry. Popcorn and butter. I don’t always agree with that statement, my apologies to all popcorn eaters who butter on their popcorn at the movies, but still, it makes sense here. So feel free to amuse yourselves over my forced statement all damn day.

Popcornopolis, which judging by the name, you can probably tell makes popcorn, will be donating 10% of its sales to the cause. Meanwhile, SnackNation, typically known for being a healthy snack delivery service for offices and homes, will be giving away a specially priced box of goodies for these movie nights. The box will include fruity candy, chips, puffs, popcorn, and more. The box is priced at $9.95 and shipping is free. So if you are tired of going to Target to get some Sour Patch Kids while also buying tons of toilet paper, give this snack box a shot, and if you don’t use it for one of these movie nights, it could always work for something else you pop on at home. “Tiger King” is pretty hip right now, why not give that a shot? If you wanted to get some grub from SnackNation for “Dirty Dancing,” there is a solid chance that you might not get it on time. But if you wanted something for “La La Land” or “John Wick,” by all means place your order!

Also in on this are major movie theater chains including AMC Theatres (Please make it through this!), Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark Theatres.

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON CANCELLED FOR FIRST TIME EVER

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Alright, my fellow nerds. Buckle up. This is possibly the most dissatisfying news any comic convention fanatic will ever hear. San Diego Comic-Con, known for pioneering the comic con name and blueprint has officially been cancelled for the first time ever. The event started out small and has grown ever since. It has achieved fame for its success at bringing together communities of nerds of all kinds from comic book collectors, sci-fi fanatics, movie buffs, fantasy lovers, and TV junkies. It’s even gotten so big that “Conan” on TBS has done shows in San Diego as the con goes on! It’s an event so lively that even if you don’t get to go, you are guaranteed to hear something from it that is extravagant in the nerd world, mainly because there is heavy self-promotion going on in the sacred “Hall H,” where celebrities talk to fans, crews behind projects promote trailers, and the effort to get in is just as hard as it is to get through waiting at the DMV. Sadly, this year, there won’t be any of that. Last year, SDCC brought some great news to the nerd sphere, especially within Marvel, because that is where they laid the groundwork for phase 4, advertising plans for each theatrical movie set to release, and even the shows they’re planning to drop onto Disney+. Unfortunately, this news is already outdated as we won’t be seeing one of those projects, specifically “Black Widow,” this May and instead wait until November, which is when “Eternals” was originally supposed to release.

Who knows what could have happened this year? Would we finally get another trailer to “Godzilla vs. Kong?” Would we get a look at footage for James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad?” Maybe we’d get word that Warner Bros. will release the Snyder Cut the same day that Universal plans on releasing the Butthole Cut for “Cats.” Who knows?

Not to get selfish here, but I go to a couple cons every year, and I don’t know if I’ll even get to go to one based on this information. San Diego Comic-Con is such a powerful name in this industry. So powerful in fact that they even felt it was necessary to call out another con for using their name, even when this has been a thing that has been done for years to the point where it has become commonplace. It’s a comic convention where people get together to be happy, not an international format of “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire!” But with the first sentence of this paragraph in mind, with a name San-Diego cancelling, I have a feeling that others may eventually follow in the con’s footsteps because of name power. For all I know, that could be different because every area of this Earth is dealing with COVID-19 in its own way, but I figured that the U.S., or at least most of it, would be done with this virus in a couple months that way we can gain a sense of normalcy. But who knows at this point?

By the way, I could go for a massive bucket of overpriced movie theater popcorn right now.

MOVIES THEATERS ON REOPENING

AMC Shore 8 - Huntington, New York 11743 - AMC Theatres

Remember how in part 3 I was talking about the possibility of AMC falling into its grave? Well, turns out they have a plan! To specify, a $500 million plan. Has a nice ring to it. Keep in mind, AMC has MASSIVE debts, so while $500 million does not cover everything, it’s likely to help during this time. Wall Street has officially parsed AMC, giving them the thumbs up. This will give AMC some time to prevent themselves from heading into dreaded Chapter 11 bankruptcy territory. Stock-wise, AMC is now at $3.20, up 31% reaching their highest level in a couple of weeks. Similarly, Cinemark, a nationwide chain whose subsidiaries include Rave Cinemas and Century Theatres, is also up. While not as high as the 31% for AMC, it bounced up 16% to achieve $13.48 per share.

Speaking of AMC and Cinemark, movie theater operators such as these have planned for a hopeful summer reboot. After all, the kids are out of school, you can only go to the beach so many times before getting sunburned all over, so the cinema is a great outing. Cinemark themselves stated that they are planning for an opening on July 1st, suggesting that they plan on spending June rehiring employees and will screen some classic films during the summer. How classic? I don’t know. Could be black and white, color, old, new, across the board. But I would kill to see “Endgame” in a theater again. I would love to take someone who hasn’t seen the movie just to see how’d they react to it in a theatrical environment, because that movie, plus the Jackoff-winning Best Picture “Infinity War” were literally built for audiences to come together. And while it is disappointing for a film like “Black Widow” to not come out until November instead of May, I would much prefer that, when I can likely see it with a crowd, then curling up in my room watching it as it goes straight to streaming. In fact, I still have no plans to get Disney+. HBO Max might be on my radar though (I’ll get back to that).

While I did talk about reality before, I should bring it up again. The Governor of Georgia, otherwise known as Brian Kemp, has recently announced that he gave the green light to businesses to reopen their doors beginning April 27th. Regardless of whether or not this is stupid, which I personally think it is, movie theater chains will likely need longer than a week to rehire and retrain people before opening doors again, as insiders suggest. As for local theaters, I don’t know what the case will be, but chains are likely to follow a structured process. Maybe they will open all their theaters at once, maybe vary state by state, do a few at a time, but who knows?

THESE DELAY STORIES ARE GETTING TIRESOME!

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So… “Black Widow” has been delayed. “Eternals” has been delayed. “The New Mutants” has been delayed. “Top Gun: Maverick” has been delayed. “Infinite” has been delayed. “A Quiet Place Part II” has been delayed. Now the Caped Crusader has something he’d like to say to all of those movies.

That’s right guys! Unfortunately, Matt Reeves’ upcoming “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight, The Lighthouse), has been pushed back from it’s original release date, June 25th, 2021, and will now hit theaters October 1st, 2021. If you had to ask me, here’s my response.

If you ask me, “The Batman” is a film that I am definitely looking forward to, and I am disappointed by the announcement. Despite the flack Pattinson sometimes gets for his past roles, most notably “Twilight,” he has generated an excellent acting method over the past number of years. Plus, it’s f*cking Batman, how could I not get excited over a movie with Batman in it?

Well, okay, maybe not all of them are that exciting. By the way, f*ck the convenient Bat Credit Card.

Although I will state, as disappointed as I am, it could still be worse. After all, movies like “Top Gun: Maverick,” which I’ve previously talked about had trailers and a marketing campaign all set up. “Batman” hasn’t even finished filming yet. In fact, production shut down earlier this year due to the virus. While I am underwhelmed and dissatisfied with the news, I cannot say I’m scarred for life. Although not having a “Batman” movie during summer blockbuster season does feel a little weird. Maybe this is a case, much like “Joker” where the delay to October can be favorable for “The Batman” as there COULD be an effort to get some awards buzz for the movie. There could be a possibility that “The Batman” is also intentionally made for mature audiences, perhaps the MPAA will give it an R rating, making the Dark Knight the DARKEST Knight. Even so, this is NOT the delay we deserve. NOR is it the one eager movie and comic book fans need right now.

“The Batman” is being put out by Warnermedia, which should not be surprising as DC Comics and Warner Bros. go together like peanut butter and jelly. Speaking of Warnermedia delays, a movie set in the universe of HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos,” originally set to release September 25th, 2020, is now coming out March 12th, 2021. The film is a prequel to the recently mentioned title and is currently going by the name of “The Many Saints of Newark.”

Also in DC Comics movie news, a couple more titles have been moved around. “Shazam 2,” which was supposed to release April 1st, 2022, is being pushed back seven months to a new November 4th release. I have no problem with this, because that just means I have probably already figured out what I might want to do on my 23rd birthday about 2.5 years before it even arrives.

Alright, kids. Buckle up. This movie deserves its own paragraph, because while I am busy bitching about all of these movies that have been pushed back like a skinny dude in a wrestling match, there’s one movie that has believe it or not, been pushed FORWARD. I’m talking about another DC movie, “The Flash!” The film was supposed to release July 1st, 2022 but has recently been pushed forward to its new June 2nd release date, also in 2022. I have NO IDEA if this movie will be out by this time, and to be honest, it’s almost wishful thinking. This film was supposed to come out in 2018 as the DCEU’s sixth installment. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, famous for movies including “21 Jump Street” and TV shows including “The Last Man on Earth” were supposed to get the ground running. They sent a treatment, but they couldn’t direct the film because they were busy. Seth-Grahame Smith was hired to direct, but he dropped out in 2016 due to creative differences. Then, Rick Famuyiwa said he was directing as of June 2016, and production was going to start in January 2017. But by the looks of things, that did not seem to last, as Screen Junkies reported that Robert Zemeckis was on a shortlist of directors to take on “The Flash.” Also on the shortlist, Sam Raimi and Matthew Vaughn, two famous directors within the comic movie realm. This comes three months after a Variety report that Joby Harold (Edge of Tomorrow, Underground) was going to rewrite the script. FLASH (see what I did there?) forward to June 2017, look who’s back! Lord and Miller, that’s who! While things did not seem to go far, the Wrap reported that the dynamic duo were in talks to direct the film again. Then in February 2018, another duo popped up, this time it was John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. These two managed to create one of the best comedies of the past five years, “Game Night,” and they also acquired comic book movie experience through writing the Disney/Sony collaboration, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Then came July 2019, where the duo announced their departure from the project! As of now, the project is expected to be helmed by Andy Muschietti (It, Mama) and Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, Bumblebee). Also joining the project as a producer is Barbara Muschietti, Andy’s sister. As for Ezra Miller, who plays The Flash in the DCEU, who knows what’ll happen to him after the recent controversial video of him released where he chokes a woman? This project is going GREAT so far!

Holy crap, that was a mouthful. You think “The New Mutants” is having trouble? At least that movie got f*cking shot! “The Flash” has not even reached “production” level! It’s insanity! I remain hopeful that this film comes out in June 2022, but this is one of those cases of where I’ll believe this movie when I see it.

Warnermedia has also delayed two movies to November 2021. One of which was the movie Tom Hanks was shooting in Australia when tested positive for COVID-19, an untitled Elvis film. The film was originally supposed to come out October of next year. However, one film got the “F9” treatment where it won’t even see the light of day this year. It was once set to come out this November, but that will not be happening.

Moving away from Warnermedia, let’s talk about Sony. Recently I discussed that the studio pretty much abandoned the summer of 2020, pushing back films including “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius.” But it just so appears that they have delayed one of their Fall projects as well, specifically “Venom 2,” which is now titled “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Based on the title, the film is likely to have the comic book villain Carnage as the main antagonist, information that has been teased since the first movie. I’ll be blunt here, I am not looking forward to “Venom 2.” This is a delay that I am not personally offended by. I will say, I do feel bad for the people behind the film, because the first one came out in an October as well and grossed over $800 million. Then again, that piece of crap people like to call “Venom” grossed over $800 million even though it is most likely the worst movie that I have seen which is related to “Spider-Man.” This sequel has one thing giving me mixed thoughts, and that is the director. I feel like the vision for the first “Venom” is entirely corporate and lacks soul. I still wonder why people even clapped at the end of the movie. Even though Ruben Fleischer did some decent stuff in the past, like “Zombieland,” this was an idea that felt rushed and underwhelming. And honestly, they should have gone for the R rating. But this time, it is being directed by Andy Serkis, who definitely has a knack for visual effects, both in terms of acting and behind the scenes. However, I’ve heard “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” was not the best work in the world. It has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating that a majority of critics liked it, but it’s also not the finest number of all time. I like Andy Serkis, but I have vivid memories of the first “Venom” and they’re not pretty. I still have a bad taste in my mouth. The “Venom” sequel hits theaters June 25, 2021, which was “The Batman’s” former release date, as opposed to when “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was supposed to hit theaters, October 2nd, 2020.

HBO MAX LAUNCH DATE ANNOUNCED

Now I love physical media, and I will likely continue to buy it even in a time where I cannot leave my house. It is by far the best way to watch a movie. Although if I were to invest in a streaming service anytime soon, one of my options is likely going to be HBO Max, which, yes, it will have HBO content. This service will be launching May 27th, as announced in a trailer down below.

Doesn’t HBO have a couple fancy streaming services already? Sure, but this is one may be worth your time. Aside from including bunches of HBO content including “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” and “The Sopranos,” they will also be shipping in content from alternate channels such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and truTV, all of which are owned by Warnermedia. So this means in addition to all of the HBO programming available at launch, viewers will have access to content including “Conan,” “Impractical Jokers,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Miracle Workers.” Also available for TV are all the seasons of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” two of the longest running situation comedies of all-time. Another really long series that you can invest some time in is “South Park,” the long-running animated series that caters to an adult demographic. That series in particular will join the service this June. They’re even using content from a streaming service that I don’t know how many of you knew existed, DC Universe. From this, it can be confirmed that one of the starters for this service is “Doom Patrol,” based on a previously established superhero team. One show I am still wondering about is DC’s “Harley Quinn,” which recently dropped season 2 on DC Universe, but who knows what’ll happen in regards to coming to HBO Max? But don’t worry, there’s movies too! Some of the upcoming titles are “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Star is Born,” “The Dark Knight,” “Joker,” “The Matrix,” “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” the DCEU movies, and the Studio Ghibli library. The service is likely to serve around 10,000 hours of content at launch, which is more than Disney+ and Comcast’s Peacock, which is now available for Xfinity customers, but will be available for everybody else starting July 15th.

The downside however, is the price. At $14.99/month, which is more than what one would pay for Hulu, which has significantly more content, it is not the cheapest service out there. However, HBO has been known for their premium programming, therefore it is no surprise that a premium price would be placed for HBO Max. But if you are a Charter customer, it is free as long as you are currently paying for HBO. Certain AT&T customers, specifically those paying premium prices for AT&T’s services, will also be given HBO Max for free. Nevertheless, even though I don’t stream much, I think I would get some use out of HBO Max if I were to buy a subscription. Warner Bros. is my favorite movie studio, HBO is a notable channel with a lot of content known for quality, and TBS, plus truTV, have done some originals I like, plus some that I have missed out on that I want to check out like “Wrecked.” I just hope that said originals make it to the service in the first place.

Speaking of originals, there is some original content coming to HBO Max. Season 3 of “Search Party,” which originally aired on TBS, will debut on the service. Anna Kendrick will be starring in a new comedy, “Love Life,” which comes from Lionsgate Television. But if you have kids, there will also be content related to “Sesame Street” and “Looney Tunes.” HBO Max was going to have a “Friends” reunion at launch, but it has been delayed due to COVID-19 complications. Sorry, they will not be there for you.

Going back to my original point, HBO Max launches May 27th on smart devices, so if you cut the cord but miss many of the cable-based shows, or you just want some acclaimed TV and movies to watch, HBO Max may get your seal of approval.

HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Going back to my comment on physical media, it is fun to collect, but not everyone does it anymore. In fact, it’s getting hard to do in these times now that places like the mall have basically shut their doors down. Walmart’s still open, so there’s that. And if you do want to know what new releases are on DVD and Blu-ray, some notable titles include “Bad Boys For Life,” “Ip Man 4: The Finale,” “The Gentlemen,” and “Like a Boss,” which already released on digital, but needed some time to come out on physical formats. Out of these films, the only one I’ve seen is “The Gentlemen,” which honestly underwhelmed me. Hopefully that won’t be the same case should some of you give it a shot.

As for digital media, there is not much new content to pick from. However, “Wendy,” a movie that takes place on an island and follows a young girl in world that is increasingly facing destruction, has just dropped on services as of April 17th. So if you are expecting me to talk about any blockbuster titles dropping, think again.

Thanks for reading the fifth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” This was a long one to make, so I’ll try to wrap things up quick. If you’re wondering where my reviews are, I want to make them, but the apocalypse is currently my priority. Plus, “My Spy” hasn’t dropped on Prime yet, so there’s that. But should things still be hectic next week, which they most likely will, there’s a good chance you’ll see a part 6 to this series. Because life sucks! I have not left my house for *anything,* even a walk, for almost a month now. How did the country, no, the WORLD even get here?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, why not check out my Facebook page? Give it a like and keep up with the latest info through Mark Zuckerberg’s wonderland! I want to know, did I miss anything for this past week? What are some your big points as of late regarding film and COVID-19? It could even be something I already mentioned! Or, what are you looking forward to seeing on HBO Max? Is there something you want to see that has not been fully announced? If they drop TBS’s “King of the Nerds” on the service, I’m sucking all my money into it. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes Part 3

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 3 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The spread continues! The United States is still the most affected country by this virus and one can only wonder when collective optimism will set in. What is happening? Masks weren’t safe then but they’re safe now? The New England Patriots sent protective equipment to New York? Speaking of New York, apparently it is just recently reported that the state has suffered its highest death toll yet. Although at the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo feels that the decrease in hospitalizations could bring hope. Speaking of hope, the death toll in Italy and Spain seem to be falling.

There’s also continuous talk about about a drug. President Trump is suggesting to use hydroxychloroquine in order to stop the virus. For the record, this is a drug that is used to cure malaria and mosquito bites. Trump has a financial interest in Sanofi, which is a French drugmaker that makes a brand-name edition of the drug. He also suggested that if the drug is combined with azithromycin, an antibiotic, it could be “a game-changer.” However, not everyone is onboard, including expert Anthony Fauci, who has stood alongside Trump from day to day during this crisis. Fauci suggests that there is only “anecdotal evidence” of the drug helping people.

Also, Easter is this Sunday, and given how there are strong recommendations for people to stay home nowadays, there is a high likelihood that family gatherings will be avoided. I often visit relatives out of town on Easter Sunday, but given the current situation, that does not seem to be happening. But, if you live in New Zealand and you have kids that are feeling down, feel free to cheer them up by letting them know that the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, considers the Easter Bunny an essential worker.

As stated in the video, it may be tough for the bunny to get everywhere, but if you want to spread some positivity to your children, here you go. Also, remind them that the Tooth Fairy is essential as well. Although if that Tooth Fairy shows up as The Rock, then reconsider what I just said.

Once again, this has been a rather uneventful weekend for the box office, and one of the biggest concerns as far as box office goes has to do with AMC Theatres, which I’ll get to eventually. But as a continual substitute to the theater, many movies are constantly being dropped onto VOD services early. Some recent highlights include “Bad Boys For Life,” the highest grossing January film of all time, and “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which appropriately dropped on April Fools Day. But with physical life in abandonment for the time being, there may be some concerns about big festivals. San Diego Comic-Con, arguably the most important comic convention in relation to film, is still on. However, weeks ago, Cannes, the annual festival held in France, has been postponed from May to sometime in June or July. And it was just announced from festival director Thierry Fremaux that there are no plans to digitally transform the event, suggesting that “it’s a model that won’t work.” And this doesn’t even cover all of the festival news that is relevant for this post. Here’s more!

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST IS BACK ON (Sort of)

SXSW Conference & Festivals | March 13-22, 2020

One of the benefits of a large gathering like South by Southwest is the ability to mix the intention of interacting with other people, networking, while also putting the idea of entertainment into the mix. In fact, I was going to go to South by Southwest this year, but unfortunately, it got canceled the week I was supposed to depart. I also highly detest the recent actions of South by Southwest, because even though they are allowing people to move their purchased tickets to an alternate date in an upcoming year (which my mother did do for 2021), there is no option for a refund. While I am all for making money, SXSW is the kind of organization to me that purely resembles greed. In fact, they didn’t even cancel their event, the city of Austin did!  However, they do seem to be somewhat sympathetic to their vendors. According to various sources, Amazon Prime Video is going to be digitally showcasing various projects that were supposed to play at the festival last month. All the people behind the projects need to present a fee in order to let their work shine. Keep in mind that the revealing of work that was supposed to be presented in person in front of the masses on Prime is optional, so if you were expecting to see something in particular at the festival, maybe it won’t make it to Amazon’s service. Also keep in mind, if you are planning seeing on these pieces of work, you do not need to pay for Amazon Prime, but you do need an Amazon account. As long as you have that, you’re good to go.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL DENIES GOING DIGITAL

Last year, the Venice Film Festival honored Todd Phillips’ “Joker” with the Golden Lion, which is the festival’s highest honor. This year, there is perhaps some wonder if it would be a joke to keep the festival running in September. Keep in mind that Italy has the second highest count of COVID-19 cases to date and who knows about a second wave and if that’s a possibility? However, according to Variety, a Venice spokesperson reported “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event.” This is in response to a recent interview between festival director Alberto Barbera and Italian news agency ANSA who said he is not weighing digital options. That by the way, is in response to what is happening with the Toronto International Film Festival, where there is consideration for both physical and digital aspects. At this point, it may be too early to tell given how the festival is about five months into the future. We’ll have to see if Italy is stable by then, and if there is enough reason to keep the festival on in person.

DELAYED MOVIES AND NEW RELEASE DATES

Well, it appears that COVID-19 is doing its own stunts now. “Top Gun: Maverick” has officially been delayed, which honestly disappoints me because it was one of my most anticipated films of the summer. It looked like another one of those films, kind of like the recent “Mission: Impossible” movies, where Tom Cruise does everything he can to nearly kill himself. Instead, the film is now coming out in December, which really has me scared, because this puts my most anticipated film of the year, “Dune” in a tough position. While I have no real idea how much money “Dune” will make, this is giving me the creeps because while I cannot exactly anticipate how well of a marketing campaign “Dune” is going to have, if it weren’t for a nostalgic, somewhat recognizable property stepping in, I figured “Dune” would have a massive chance at succeeding. Plus, I recall early reports of one person suggesting that the footage that has already been seen of “Dune” is on the level that matches “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.” Can the praise get any better than that?! The 2020 adaptation of “Dune” could arguably be the greatest story ever told if the movie matches this previous word of mouth! Although at the same time, I’ll mention it again, as far as this summer goes, “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of my most anticipated films. Don’t think I’m trying to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. If anything, I want the movie to succeed, but I also want “Dune” to succeed. Maybe this could be a case where “Dune” heavily succeeds, thus leaving “Top Gun: Maverick” in the dust, which would also be disappointing. It feels like there’s no winning in this case. Speaking of Paramount films, they are also delaying “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” idea that will ultimately be brought to the big screen. The movie will follow the titular sponge as he goes on a quest with Patrick Star to find his missing snail, Gary. Also in Paramount movie news, “A Quiet Place Part II” has a new release date, specifically September 4th, giving it a Labor Day weekend slot. For the record, the movie has already been delayed as of March 12th from its original release date, March 20th, but has not received a new date until now. I am beyond thankful that “A Quiet Place Part II” is not considering the streaming route, because having seen the original installment, it is one of those movies that you have to be in the theater to truly feel its impact. At least that’s what I got with the first one. When I saw “A Quiet Place” a couple years back, it was a highlight in my movie experience journey because it was one of the few movies that FORCED me to be quiet to fully enjoy the product. I could barely chew my popcorn, I almost couldn’t even take as big of sips of my drink as I usually would, it was a one of a kind time at the movies. I’m willing to bet that John Krasinski made “A Quiet Place Part II” with the same thoughts in mind that he had for the first one. SILENCE THE AUDITORIUM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I’m looking forward to September, let’s just hope that there are enough reasons to go to the movies by then.

While “A Quiet Place Part II” is sticking to a theatrical release, one movie that I was kind of looking forward to seeing in theaters is no longer going to be there, and will end up heading straight to that tenth streaming service you guys have, Disney+. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “Artemis Fowl.” For those of you who don’t know, “Artemis Fowl” is based on a book about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who must find his father while facing underground fairies. I was kind of looking forward to seeing “Artemis Fowl” even though I have not read the book personally. The movie sort of looked like a visual trip, and if successful, could have spawned the next big fantasy franchise. I wonder if this is a sign that Disney may end up throwing in the towel on the franchise before it even starts. After all, the film was made on a $125 million budget, so I guess they were expecting a return of hundreds of millions. The real question is, could the film have broken even? Who knows? I have not heard much word of mouth about “Artemis Fowl” from anybody else, but the trailers do intrigue me. It at least had my attention.

Speaking of Disney+, one of the suggestions people happened to make is to release “Black Widow” early on the service. Quite honestly, I think that is a ridiculous idea that could cost Disney a lot of money, and it seems that we are sharing a thinking cap because Disney has officially pushed back the MCU timeline, and placed “Black Widow” on the November 6 release slot. When I say the MCU timeline, I mean it almost 100%. Every movie that is supposed to eventually come out in the MCU has been delayed except “Black Panther 2.” Even “Captain Marvel 2,” originally set to release in June 2022, is moving up a couple weeks for a new July 8th release during the year. For those who don’t know, “Eternals” was originally supposed to come out November of this year, but having two MCU films come out at once is a little extreme, so now it is coming out February 12th, 2021. At this point, November is looking like a respectable month for popular nerd culture. Between “Black Widow,” a movie that Marvel fans are FINALLY getting to see. “No Time to Die,” the 25th Bond film that is supposed to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as the character. Plus, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which I am curious to hear more about. I think one of these is going to get bumped to a different release date to guarantee avoidance of being a box office bomb, because November is a pretty big month for movies, and even though there are blockbusters at the time, a lot of focus from those who are heavily invested is going to be leaning towards the Oscar bait films.

As far Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake goes, that is now coming out on July 24th. Should it get delayed again, I think that is another film that Disney is going to keep in theaters with all their might, because part of the marketing emphasizes the big battles of the film, and those could be stellar to see on the silver screen. The one thing that I think will be diminished though is its IMAX run. Because unless Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” gets delayed and “Mulan” still comes out, “Tenet” is going to have a long run in many IMAX theaters. It was shot on IMAX cameras after all! “Mulan” now takes the place of theme park ride-inspired “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, which has now been pushed back to July 30th, 2021. Another big pushback comes from the Lucasfilm side of things, specifically for “Indiana Jones 5,” which is kind of unfortunate because Harrison Ford ain’t getting any younger. At this point with a film like “Indiana Jones 5,” I will believe it when I see it.

Remember how Disney bought Fox? Guess what? Their slate is getting kicked in the ass too! Wes Anderson was supposed to come out with “The French Dispatch” on July 24th, but now it is being pushed back to October. This could be some good news for Wes Anderson as the director behind the film has a history of being acclaimed, and having a unique style to his films. This unique style can be reinserted into everyone’s heads and perhaps bring up a reason for this film to contend for awards. If this came out in the summer, maybe it would have as much of a chance, but keep in mind. Award season pretty much gets into full swing in the fall. Summer is mainly for blockbusters and popcorn movies. Those movies don’t usually rack up the Oscars.

Universal is also in the news, because they recently pushed back Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” That film was supposed to come out July 3rd this year, but it has been pushed back to July 2nd of next year. In addition, “Sing 2,” which is a sequel to a well-liked film starring Matthew McConaughey as a mouse who runs a theater, is also getting pushed back. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is currently sitting where “Sing 2” was originally going to be, but much like the situation I mentioned earlier with Marvel, it could be weird to have two of the same types of movies releasing at once. Therefore, “Sing 2” will be coming out December 22nd, 2021. Keep in mind, the film was supposed to come out this year in December, but was delayed to its previous July spot. Honestly, this delay is not that bad, because the original “Sing” came out in December 2016, and ended up being a hit for Illumination. Maybe this sequel will do the same. Speaking of keeping things in mind, Universal was making a movie based on the popular play “Wicked,” which was set to release in the current spot where “Sing 2” resides. Due to “Sing 2’s” recent pushback, it could be possible that “Wicked” will be out in 2022. By the way, not steering away from animated features, this week is interesting for film, because remember “Trolls: World Tour?” It’s in the middle of its marketing campaign and if you are a parent who wants to torture yourself in order to please your kids, it comes out digitally this Friday, April 10th. Advertisements have suggested that the movie will also be playing in theaters. But the real question is, what theater in the United States is still open at this point? When you are increasingly going to get shamed for not wearing a mask outside, what theater is open?

AMC MAY NOT SURVIVE

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Now I understand that there are more important things in life than film. There’s health, happiness, and safety. Unfortunately, the news makes me feel ill, unhappy, and like I’ll never ever be safe again. If you all know me, you’d be aware that my safe place in life is the movie theater, and one of my regular stops for my experiences happen to be AMC locations. It’s where I often go for my press screenings, as an excuse to use Stubs points, and on occasion, for Dolby and IMAX. Depending on where you live in the United States, there is a solid chance that you have at least one AMC location near you. In fact, I recently went to downtown Burbank, California and they have three locations within minutes of each other, and this is walking distance I’m talking about! Even though AMC technically is a large chain that owns a lot of theaters, they do a good job at giving a sense of prioritization on the moviegoing experience. In fact, in recent years, they’ve been expanding their fleet, renovating theaters, putting in new seats (which admittedly, sometimes underwhelmed me), implementing reserved seating options, and one of their most notable innovations to the American movie market was their Stubs A-List program, which is basically their response to MoviePass as it began to die down. They even have an On Demand service now! In fact, even though I am a physical media junkie, that is probably a place where I’ll consider renting a movie one night (as long as Sony Android TVs) can get it. AMC just recently used to be the biggest chain in North America, but has recently been dethroned since Europe’s Cineworld bought the Canadian chain Cineplex. Now that Cineworld owns both Cineplex and Regal Entertainment Group, they are now the largest theater chain in regards to the continent.

Having said that, AMC Theatres is a pretty big chain. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. AMC Theatres has spent a lot of money on changes in recent years, recently laid off a ton of employees, and is currently in debt. To make matters worse, S&P Global has recently downgraded AMC Theatres to a CCC-. The association to insert here is “Default imminent, with little prospect for recovery.” Keep in mind, that if you live in the United States, that means if AMC Theatres closes down for good, you are likely to lose a country-wide total of over six hundred cinemas. Just a couple weeks ago, I was reminding people that the smaller, indie theaters might be in a bit of trouble right now. They’re making AMC look like RadioShack! In fact, one of the cool ideas I have been seeing recently is that theaters are doing pop-up sales, where they are selling popcorn to paying customers even though there are no movies going on. This has happened at a couple locations near my house, specifically the Somerville Theatre and Capitol Theatre, both of which are in Massachusetts and owned by Frame One Theatres. I don’t know if a chain like AMC would do that, because I think they are more concerned about protecting what they have by letting people go than continuing operations and getting mocked. But, again, if any theater wants to take up my suggestion on a popcorn or candy delivery service, be my guest! I’ll probably order from it twice a day just to provide some support. That, and I love my movie theater popcorn. It could be through the organization itself, maybe through Uber Eats, maybe Grubhub could be a good idea. After all, pretty much the only thing I can do in life right now is stay inside and put on a movie. I need decent popcorn to go with it! But sticking with the main idea, the loss of AMC, can bring a tremendously dark impact to the industry. Because that means no more Prime Theatres, no more specifically branded Dolby Cinema, and no more A-List. But also, keep in mind the large theater count the chain has and how much of a reduction this truly can provide. There will be significantly less places to go to watch a movie. If you’re lucky enough to have somewhere like a Regal or Cinemark nearby, then you’re probably in luck. I’ve got Showcase Cinemas. Even though I’ve been to their theaters a number of times, I really think they are overhyped and their setup is occasionally bonkers (although their Providence location might have my favorite IMAX theater). And I don’t know if another chain is going to swoop in and take all the AMC locations that could die as a result of this. AMC is not the only chain hurting here. For all I know, maybe one of the big toilet paper companies can come in and start something new. Come on in to “Angel Soft Theater!” Your ass is safe on both our toilets and our auditorium chairs!

One YouTuber I regularly watch goes by the name of John Campea (Collider Movie Talk, The John Campea Show) and he suggested that studios should step in and help AMC financially during this dire time. If the studios have enough money, this is a swell idea. After all, there is a strong bond between movie theaters and studios. One cannot essentially exist without the other. And given how studios are perhaps likely to lose money should they rely on digital sales for their films, they are probably well off giving some of what they have to a chain that has given them tons of strength over the years. I often make fun of how much money Disney has, but wouldn’t it be a great story if Disney gave some money to AMC? I’d dig it. Time will tell when it comes determining the fate of AMC Theatres, but that is largely going to depend on when this crisis diminishes or ends, if people are not too scared to go out into the masses again, and if movies are even going to release by the time this ends. Again, if “Tenet” is not in theaters this July, I think I can officially call it quits on this year for film. Because that news will break me. Pixar’s “Soul” hasn’t been delayed yet. Maybe that will come out in June. Again, it’s hard to tell at this point given how confusing this virus really is.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

I did do this last week, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll continue this trend, but given how On Demand is becoming more of a core element to the movie-viewing experience given the current situation, I figured I’d share some new releases that are out On Demand this week. First off is “Ip Man 4: The Finale.” I have not seen any of these movies, but one things that intrigues me is that it stars Donnie Yen, who has been brought to my attention in recent years. The actor is probably one of the more badass men I have seen in an action film as far as newer material goes. While I will declare that “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is not exactly the “Citizen Kane” of action, Donnie Yen may have been the best part of the movie. Up next is “Like a Boss,” which came out in January. This does not look or feel like my type of movie, but I believe I almost went to a press screening for it. Not sure though. The film stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, alongside Salma Hayek and it is about friends who are trying to start a beauty company. The film clocks in with a total of an hour and twenty-three minutes. Did the editor want to finish their job as soon as possible or something? By the way, for those of you who prefer buying the physical copy, both films are scheduled to come out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 21st. If you have Disney+, there is heavy promotion going on right now to get people to watch Pixar’s “Onward,” and if you have the service, it is now watchable any time you want.

Thanks for reading the third part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” As long as this crisis is unfortunately still with us, this series is going to continue, and maybe even get me to delay my scheduled film reviews. Although, for all I know, my review of “My Spy” might not even come out until next year given how I would probably be shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I open my mouth about it right now. As for myself, I have not left my house in awhile, and I continue to remain healthy. If you want to use your time wisely, be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Since we’re all online right now, why not take a break from learning how to use Zoom for a quick second and check out the Scene Before Facebook page! You won’t regret it! I want to know, is there any COVID-19 movie news that happens to be significant that I missed? What have you been doing during this crazy time? Any movies you want to recommend? TV shows maybe? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 2

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 2 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the United States, which is where my main demographic happens to be, we unfortunately have more cases of COVID-19 than anybody else. Records are meant to be broken, but if only they were not broken like this. Although at the same time, there has been a significant increase in testing here in the United States, so while it does not make the record necessarily less disheartening, it still adds in a piece of needed information.

Now I do not typically talk about politics that much on Scene Before, but this is one of the rare instances where I have no choice. President Donald Trump has said that he wants the United States back in operation by Easter. The reason for this mostly has to do with Trump’s personal admiration towards the holiday, suggesting that it would be wonderful if the United States had “packed churches.” However, experts are saying that this would not be the best idea and Trump should wait longer.

Personally, I am still optimistic that we can get through this pandemic in a matter of a couple of a months, maybe a few even. But Easter Sunday is a bit too quick based on how many people are seemingly continuing to avoid the act of social distancing. I can possibly see certain portions of the economy putting lights back on in a matter of weeks, but it would not equate to a full-fledged, well-oiled machine. Maybe restaurants will be open again to an extent where people can sit down, but with a limited capacity, and takeout will continue to be highly encouraged. I do not know for sure, but anything’s possible. I said it part 1, I’ll say it again in part 2, I am not a doctor.

These are some general goings on during the COVID-19 situation, but for movies, things have been interesting. In fact, if you look at Box Office Mojo right now and notice the weekend totals, it’s kind of creepy. There’s not even a section for the previous weekend in regards to how much money each movie made. Should this go on for a long time, I wonder if the box office is going to partially change its ways and measure intake by monitoring how much is made by tracking how many rentals are purchased on cinema-specific sections on streaming services. I doubt that’ll be the case since there currently seems to be eager anticipation for the opening of movie theaters by sometime in the summer, but who knows? For all I know, this summer in movies for the most part will be cancelled. I am about to present some evidence as to why.

MAJOR MOVIES DELAYED: WONDER WOMAN 1984, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, MORBIUS, PETER RABBIT 2, ETC.

One of the biggest pieces of news in terms of movies getting delayed comes from Sony. The reason being is that when everybody found out about this, it didn’t involve just one movie. It involved Sony’s entire summer lineup. For those who don’t know, movies like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius” put out trailers in anticipation of a summer release date this year. Guess what? Both have been moved to March 2021! And if that’s not enough, forget about “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” because you won’t be seeing that movie either! For the record, that movie was supposed to come out this upcoming weekend as of writing this post. That was until it was delayed to August, but now it is going to be a January 2021 movie! You honestly can’t write this! I was looking forward to these films (minus “Peter Rabbit”) but now I have to wait even longer! In fact, Sony’s delays doesn’t just affect current films set to come out that are either finished or nearly finished, but it also affects a heavily cursed movie, specifically “Uncharted!” Can that movie catch a break? What’s it on, like it’s SEVENTH director right now?! The film that has practically been in development hell for a long time and was set to come out on March 5th, 2021, which is now where “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” will be releasing. Instead, it will be coming out on October 8th, 2021.

In addition to Sony, Warner Bros. has been in a bit of trouble too, but at least their situation feels more of a semblance of optimism. For those who don’t know by now, “Wonder Woman 1984” is getting delayed, which is one of the movies I really didn’t want to see get pushed back, because part of me predicted that theaters would be open by the time this film is supposed to come out. Turns out that’s not the case, because the film’s previous release date of June 4th is no more. “Wonder Woman 1984” is now coming out on August 14th, which does disappoint me, but it does me hope that we will still be seeing a summer movie season in 2020. This also reinforces the crew’s commitment to theatrical experience, which may bring a sigh of a relief to major chains, smaller theaters, and an organization like NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), especially after Universal abruptly announced “Trolls: World Tour” was going to go to streaming as soon as it hit the minimal amount of theaters that would be open this April. Speaking of theatrical commitments, Warner Bros. is also optimistic in regards to releasing Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is scheduled to come out July 17th. First off, it’s a Christopher Nolan movie. If Warner Bros. announced that “Tenet” was going to go straight to streaming and skip theaters, there’s a good chance that Nolan would end his work relationship with Warner Bros. altogether. Second, if you want my personal thoughts on this matter, “Tenet” is my second most anticipated film of the year, right below “Dune” which is set to come out in December. If “Tenet” is not seen this summer, I am considering quitting movie watching altogether. Whether or not this situation goes away by July is still a mystery, but I would not be surprised if we reach the very beginning of July and hear that “Tenet” gets bumped to another release date. I think there’s an itty-bitty chance of that happening, but I am not too sure. Plus, the film cost $205 million to make. I do not think “Tenet” will join the billion dollar club, but if this is still around in July, part of me wonders if the film will break even.

Much like Sony, Warner Bros. is having notable production troubles regarding the ongoing crisis as well. “The Matrix 4” has officially shut down. Looks like that “Keanu Reeves Day” coming up in 2021 where “John Wick 4” and “The Matrix 4” release simultaneously will not be a thing anymore should these troubles keep up. Speaking of Warner Bros. productions, “The Batman” has shut down indefinitely. The film was scheduled to come in June 2021 and star Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Good Time) as the Caped Crusader.

Sticking with the recently mentioned productions of “The Matrix 4” and “Uncharted,” both were in production in Germany, specifically in Studio Babelsberg. Termination of production of many on such property left them without pay and there is a current threat of legal action. But speaking of “The Matrix,” if this news has you down and you need your fix of the franchise, the original trilogy will be on Netflix starting this April.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is still coming out in June. Let’s just hope that stays put.

ESPN GETS CREATIVE WITH THEIR LINEUP

I don’t usually talk about sports on this blog, but this is a rare case where it is necessary. For those of you who don’t know, Disney owns you. It’s a fact. Also, for those of you who don’t know, Disney-owned ESPN is going to doing movie nights on Fridays for now on, specifically on movies revolving around sports. Not surprisingly, the movies that will be aired will all be Disney productions. Part of this goes into how the network recently aired “The Rookie,” a baseball film from 2002. For those of you who want to know, this upcoming Friday’s lineup will feature “Glory Road,” the 2006 title revolving around the 1966 NCAA basketball National Championship and the story of the first all-black starting lineup in this situation. Other films in the lineup include “Miracle,” “Secretariat,” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Given how major sports like the regular seasons of NHL, NBA, and MLB have been affected by the outbreak, sports-related outlets have to get creative. 24 hours of SportsCenter on ESPN featuring the top 10 social distancing moments of the day is not going to cut it. I have no idea how long ESPN will be doing this, but just a reminder that Disney now owns Fox, and while I am not seeing any reports of them airing any Fox films, it doesn’t mean that there is no chance that Disney could allow ESPN to take Fox films and present them over the airwaves. This could allow the airing of films like “Rookie of the Year,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Battle of the Sexes,” or even my personal favorite sports film of all time, “The Sandlot.” Such a good movie.

Also, if you don’t want to wait to watch these films on ESPN, or if you don’t want as many ad interruptions, they are currently available on Disney+, but if you are bored on a Friday night and the Internet is down, you may want to take advantage of watching your favorite sports movies on ESPN.

COVID-19 GETS A MOVIE

One of the things both my mother and I have been saying recently is that this virus is kind of like a movie. In fact, if you talked to me at in the past couple weeks and asked me what I could possibly be thinking about, my answer would be the “five years later” transition in “Avengers: Endgame.” I would not want to be in New York right now, because I can only imagine what it would be like to look at Lady Liberty! Although according to The Hollywood Reporter, it seems we are living in a movie world right now. Kind of. The Hollywood Reporter is suggesting that we are getting the first COVID-19 movie of this specific era. And it is a Canadian thriller shot on a soundstage in Vancouver, where a bunch of people are in an elevator and they quickly suspect that one Chinese individual who joins the ride happens to have the virus. “Corona” is shot handheld in order to be realistic, it’s an interesting move, and it could provide some tension, maybe in a way that could make the viewer a part of the story. The movie does not necessarily revolve around the virus as much it focuses on fear and racism. Plus, those two things will be taken into consideration and apply to how a group of people, varying in terms of walks of life and personality, could potentially react to a virus like this. By the way, if there is a company or organization out there that wants this movie, it is looking for a buyer. I am not surprised that we are getting a movie on COVID-19, but I am surprised that we are getting one this early.

If you want to view the trailer, click the video below.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

Last week, I discussed one of the big stories going on in the movie world is that the current theatrical releases, or in some cases, movies that haven’t even hit the big screen yet, have gone straight to VOD, or on digital services. These mainly include various cable-based On Demand channels, or streaming services like Prime Video, Google Play, and FandangoNOW. But over the past week, more things have happened in relation to this, and some new movies that barely seen the light of day are now being inserted to these On Demand services. By the time you’re reading this, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which released in select theaters on February 21st, then eventually expanding on February 28th, will be available for digital viewing. It’s supposed to release April Fools Day, which makes sense since the movie heavily involves pranking. As for DVD and Blu-ray, that is not known at this point, especially considering how it has not been close to the ninety-day mark of the film’s official release. For all I know, it might not get a DVD, which I hope does not happen. But keep in mind the possibility is there considering how the last DVD for the show itself was for season 5, which aired in 2016. From season 6 and on, there are no plans to put out DVDs. As of March 31st, “Bad Boys For Life” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are both available for digital purchase with a pop of $20. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which released in four theaters to make $16,825, will be hitting On Demand services starting April 3rd.

Thanks for reading the second part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” I can guarantee you that more is likely to come, especially when considering that the Massachusetts stay at home advisory has been extended to May 4th. I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing though, considering how I still have reviews to do, and I just started online classes for my university. Again, I am still committing to putting out a post a week, and it might be easy to do so given how much time this crisis is likely going to give me. And if you’re wondering about me personally, I am okay. I currently contain no symptoms or evidence of having COVID-19, and given how it has been fourteen days since I got back from the fantastically run state of Florida, I am most likely in the clear. I have not personally invited anyone into my home, and I rarely have gone outside for anything. In a way, my practice from when I was twelve years old and playing video games all day has paid off for this very moment. Outside is so overrated!

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But man, I do miss the movie theater.

If you have time, which you do, let’s admit it, go ahead and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! And since you’re wasting time staying six feet away from others while only being trapped in your personal space, go ahead and follow the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, what is your biggest piece of recently seen news regarding films and COVID-19? I covered a number of topics today, but for all I know, maybe I missed something important. It happens. Let me know down below, and let’s get through this together! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020): All Other Movies Can Suck It

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WARNING: The following blog post contains paragraphs of graphic fanaticism among a Movie Reviewing Moron who writes to avoid embarrassing himself.

Da-na-du-dun!

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“Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is directed by Chris Henchy, a name behind the scenes on various Will Ferrell titles and co-creator of the website, Funny or Die, one of the production companies behind this movie. The film stars Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, and Sal Vulcano as the four Jokers that pull pranks on unsuspecting people all the while trying to embarrass each other. Joining them is Paula Abdul, who is throwing a party in Miami. She invites the Jokers to come down to the party, but due to how they are missing an extra ticket, the four lifelong friends compete against each other to see who will and who won’t go to the party. Given how there’s four people, the one big loser sits out.

If you know me, it would not be that much of a secret that I adore the “Impractical Jokers” TV show. It is probably the best thing on TV right now that is not a game show. I’ve watched the show, I’ve been to their live comedy gigs, I’ve bought their merch, and I have personally talked to one of them up close. These humble gentlemen honestly deserve every solitary speck of success they can get. They may play cruel boys on TV, but trust me, they are some of the finest men I have seen in my life.

With this in mind, this brings up a problem that I will continue to highlight in this review. Not with the movie specifically, but with me reviewing the movie. Although my review process could admittedly, end up translating to what I think of the film. I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan. As a fan, there are certain expectations that I am waiting to have fulfilled. I want fun challenges that are purely hilarious. I want the four guys interacting with each other, maybe having a good time, or getting angry at one another. But I was honestly curious not only how an “Impractical Jokers” movie could work, but if it will work. After all, the equipment they use for television works for what it is, but I wondered if that is what they’d use for the movie. I have no idea what the movie is shot with, but they did a good job in terms of differentiating this film in terms of appearance from the TV show. It looks bolder, the color grading looks really good, and it still maintains a similar feel to the show itself. After all, the aspect ratio looks similar and the on-screen graphics are within the same barrier, while having some differences.

Speaking of similarities, I think like the TV show, the movie is really good. Now, there are several episodes of the show I’d probably rather watch again before this movie, but “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun trip from start to finish. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a film that knows exactly what the fans want. Great challenges, a fine display of chemistry between the four Jokers, and “in the moment” stakes. Honestly, it’s funnier than a good portion of the recent comedies to have come out. Why? Because like the show, this movie tries its best to be raw. During the challenges, I felt a connection to the guys. The reason why “Impractical Jokers” as a concept works so well is because these guys are not pranking because they want to be jerks. Scour them in real life, they’re wonderful! but they highlight how scary pranking unsuspecting people really is.

However, this also brings a flaw into play. I will admit, even though I did enjoy the road trip bits, that is the inferior portion of the film. The reason being is because “Impractical Jokers” becomes reliant on a written script. “Impractical Jokers” is at its best when it is spontaneous, because I cannot see exactly what is coming. The best thing about the real lives of Joe, Q, Sal, and Murr is that you cannot write what happens next, making you willing to go along with what is happening as if everything was improv. When I was watching “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” I noticed a few scenes that took place in hotels, and they specifically focused on Murr. The movie basically could have left out those scenes and barely affect the final product perhaps.

I will probably end up remembering this movie for how far it goes with its challenges. I am not going to go into all of them, because you know, spoilers. But they teased one scene online involving a tiger. INSANELY AWESOME. I cannot go into specific detail about it, but it is one of those things you kind of have to see to believe.

Speaking of things you have to see to believe, Murr faces a challenge that he called the most embarrassing moment of his life. All I can say is that it takes place in a club. That scene alone is worth the price of admission, because I lost my ability to breathe from laughing so hard at such a scene.

And of course, the guys are charismatic and relatable. They are legit best friends and this movie made me feel like the fifth Joker joining the ride alongside them. Each Joker has their moment, especially considering how this movie takes the time to insert multiple dedicated punishments. Each one of these is as great as the next and some of these I cannot even talk about because I need to guarantee that everyone going into the theater will laugh as uncontrollably as I did while watching it.

I will also mention once again, I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan, and as a fan, I have been impressed by what I saw. I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. But that brings a question… How much would this movie appeal to people who have never seen the show?

One of the things about “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” that I personally enjoyed is its tendency to deliver on inside jokes. There are cameos from people who are heavily affiliated with the show, there’s a “Where’s Larry?” joke, and even a mention of “Up your ass, and to the left,” one of the show’s commonly used phrases.

But this movie, based on what I have heard, was mainly made for the “Impractical Jokers” fanbase, which I believe is quite honestly an underestimated fanbase. One of the issues that can come from that is the fact that there seems to be an inserted sense of exclusivity. As a fan, I had fun with this tribute of sorts, but I still wondered what the average Joe (whose last name is not Gatto) would think of it. I think if you are not familiar with the “Impractical Jokers” show, you can have a good time with this movie. The guys are likable, but the road trip elements could be a little bit iffy. Plus, Paula Abdul is someone in this film that I am surprised I am not talking about more. It is at its core, FUN. And of course, pranks are not for everybody. I have grandparents who probably won’t watch stuff like this. I get it, no biggie. I think if you go into this movie expecting to chill with four friends on screen who maybe you’ll want to befriend yourself, this could be a movie for you. If you have never seen the show, some things could fly over your head, but the movie does stick to a story that many can enjoy. Maybe this movie will end up being swell enough for you to want to check out the show on television. It’s on literally all the time on truTV, so if this film is good enough in the theater, it could translate to how much you’d like the show on television.

I will say though, as much as I enjoyed how “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” differentiates itself from the show instead of just simply being an extended episode of the property, although ultimately brought to the big screen, it’s also a detractor. If I were to make another movie in this franchise, which I do want to see, I wish there was a tremendous focus that goes to what makes the show great, and if they were to have a subplot again that steers away from challenges, I wish it just had a little more dimension. Granted, the concept is intriguing. Having the jokers resolve an incident from high school was a pretty good idea, but for some reason, based on the sudden steer from reality at certain times, it just didn’t pay off every once in a while. I don’t know why. Again, when I think “Impractical Jokers,” I think of “in the moment” challenges, I don’t think of extended plots. Speaking of which, I get that this movie does have to make money, and I’m not suggesting “Don’t support it,” but there was one scene that felt like it was made for television. Why? Because it censors nudity. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is PG-13, and has some language to back it up. But there is a scene shown in the marketing where Murr is getting on a boat and his butt is revealed. Only thing is, it is censored by a graphic of Murr’s face. Should “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” have been rated R? I’m not so sure, but it would make some parts of this movie somewhat juicier. But again, gotta make that money! Besides, the show itself is TV-14, so by the movie being PG-13, it sort of does attract a similar audience. Maybe they ultimately made the right move. Does this take away from the buttload of fun I had with the movie? HELL NO! I dug this film! That my friends, is no joke!

In the end, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun film. In fact as of this review, I saw it twice! Is the road trip plot a little lackluster? Sort of, but the guys make up for the lackluster plot by being themselves. Four breathtaking dudes who have a connection. The movie does a good job at adapting the source material for the big screen, allowing it to feel like a separate entity from truTV’s long-running program. The challenges are gutbustingly funny, there is a sense of replay value that could be achieved with this film over time (again, I saw it twice), and there seems to be a lot of passion put into the final product. Now, the movie would definitely be better if they heightened the situations a A LITTLE LESS, and if I cared more about the recently mentioned road trip stuff, but I can probably confirm that when I look back at 2020 in film, this will be one of the year’s funniest flicks. I’m going to give “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for “Emma,” directed by Autumn de Wilde and starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is based on a Jane Austen novel and is being marketed as a new vision of the classic tale. What do I think of it? Find out in my next review by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Another way to find out is by liking my Facebook page, and supporting Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for world domination of all mankind. I want to know, did you see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite Joker? You know, what the hell? I’ll even count Batman Jokers! Who is your favorite Impractical Joker? Or who is your favorite on-screen interpretation of the Joker character from DC’s Batman? Let me know down below, or you’ll be tonight’s big loser! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Damned! (1998): An Impractical Joke

AND NOW… A special 45 second preview of The 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards!

*All copyrights belong to their respective owners*

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about movie that even its director knows might stray away from award territory!

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“Damned!” is directed by James Murray, who also has a role in the film as Judas. This film has a cast including Ronney Ascher, Marti Cooney (The Thing About My Folks, Lie Down with Dogs), Matthew Glass (Blood Done Sign My Name, SK8 Magic), Hank Poje (Guilty Pleasures), David Hubbell (Rockabilly Vampire, Sleepy Heads) and Jeremy Guskin (Henry Danger, Just Add Magic) and the story follows Jesus in his teen years in an alternate telling of biblical tales.

I want to get some information out of the way before diving into this review. “Damned!” is one of the earliest pieces of media with some sort of relation to James S. Murray, now famous for his presence on truTV’s hit series “Impractical Jokers.”

This is also a film that according to said show, Murray himself tried to hide from existence. Such a fact was stated when the film was screened to a small audience as part of one of the show’s trademarked “punishments.” Some would suggest that “Damned!” is nearly feature-length, clocking in just over the fifty minute mark, which is slightly longer than a typical episode for certain network TV shows.

With that being said, I figured since “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is coming out pretty soon, I figured I’d get in the mood and watch Murr’s supposed disasterpiece. Having seen it, it’s not a disasterpiece. I don’t even know what exactly this is.

True story about this film, it was revealed from Murray himself that since he recently graduated college at the time, his parents were going to buy him a Ford Taurus. Instead, this movie was made for about $25,000 to $30,000. This must be driving this guy nuts.

In all seriousness, this movie is not even close to being good, nor is it close to being competent. I am not sure how much training Murr has had to become a filmmaker prior to the late 1990s, but I feel like some of the basic rules of filmmaking are ignored here. There are a lot of shots in this film, most notably in the first ten minutes, that feature human subjects in center-frame, which is kind of awkward. I do not exactly feel like I am immersed into the interactions between characters because of this. Yes, as a viewer I understand the differences between characters, what they look like, that sort of thing, but there are times where shots feel like I see one person and there is a sudden morph in the next one when I see somebody else. Speaking of the opening scene, there is an action sequence that takes place that may be the weirdest in history. Between the handheld, in-your face punching shots, the overacting, and one cartoony special effect, it all adds up to make you wonder if Tommy Wiseau secretly directed this!

Oh hai Jesus!

I should point out that the one of first lines of this film is a forced utterance of the phrase “Jesus Christ!” Congratulations, “Damned!” You have joined Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” in the ranks of the oddest opening film lines ever!

The bewildering and odd action continues to the film’s culmination, which for the select few who currently intend on watching “Damned!” in the future, I won’t spoil much related to it. I get that this film is lower in its budget compared to many others, but hearing the song that played in the opening titles also play in the final action sequence almost felt too repetitive. This may be a fortunate reality we’re dealing with here, and I think James Murray himself will be proud of me for saying this, I do not think I’ll remember the climactic action sequence all that well. Only time will tell though…

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Let’s talk about Christ himself. Obviously this is not the Christ many followers will look up to. Jesus in this film is sort of whiny, and occasionally so in a over the top manner. The first scene in this film where we meet Jesus involves him finding out he is adopted. Later on in the film, this brings in an important point to the story, where Jesus has a meeting with God, his real father. This movie barely has a concept of time. It describes events that happen through white text on black backgrounds. But it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes of runtime to get from the exposition of Jesus finding out he is adopted to personally meeting with God. I would imagine that not that much has happened in that time, at least that is what the movie makes it feel like, and Jesus may still be dealing with these newfound internal thoughts of his. I found myself bewildered as soon as I heard God say “Are we gonna start this again?,” once Jesus refuses to call him dad? Did the people of Earth suffer brain damage? Is God suffering from brain damage? AM I SUFFERING BRAIN DAMAGE?!

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One of the aspects that kinda sorta maybe ties this film together is that the main story often cuts away to this show about Bible Mysteries and how it tries to solve various myths. “Damned!” is the kind of movie that I would consider to be so bad that it is full of cheese, and part of it has to do with this quirky show that has this overacting host who tries to emphasize how bold he is, but it almost makes me wonder if seeing stuff like this takes away from the actual movie. Maybe it kind of ties everything together, but for some odd reason, it does not feel like it belongs in the final product. It feels slapped together and randomly inserted at various points, almost as if “Damned!” really was two different movies in one and it has multiple personality disorder.

I also want to point out one of the funnier aspects of the film, maybe not if you are some random viewer who tunes into this, but it could get a laugh out of you though. For those of you who watch “Impractical Jokers,” which as mentioned, Murray stars in, you may know that one of the four Jokers goes by the name Sal Vulcano. Guess what? He’s in this movie! Yeah, he plays a character by the name of “Lawnmower Boy,” who is basically a random third party observer of the main action. Just a little factoid for those who wanted to know. His role does not really stand out in the film, but it honestly makes the film slightly funnier than Murray probably intended that it should be in the beginning. What makes this even funnier is that the color scheme and background on Vulcano’s end feels a bit depressing and out of place compared to the slightly less depressing background on the other characters’ end.

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Speaking of interesting performances, one of the characters in this film goes by the name of Herbie and I don’t know what exactly James Murray happened to be thinking when drafting this character. I can honestly imagine him in front of a typewriter going “I’m going to write a guy who gets excited over breakfast being the most important meal of the day and random bowling balls!” To say that HE of all people happens to be the most cartoon-like of all this movie’s characters is actually kind of insane. It’s almost unbelievable!

Even though I have decided on my final thoughts on “Damned!,” there is a part of me that does not entirely know what to think of it. I say so because “Damned!” is different from some bad movies I have seen. Films like “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” made me feel gross. Films like “Batman & Robin” made me laugh for the wrong reasons. Films like “Cats” made me nearly fall asleep. Films like “The Emoji Movie” made me feel angry. Granted, all those films are more than an hour long, and this thing barely passes fifty minutes, but those films all made me feel something for however long they went on. “Damned!” on the other hand made me feel nothing. I just watched in awe of the sheer madness of whatever it was that was happening on screen, but rarely had I experienced any full emotional outburst or experiential feeling inside me. And the reason why I can sum that up to be the case is because the film does not lend itself to being one thing. Is it a Bible mystery movie? Is it a teen Jesus movie? Is it a comedy? Is it an action flick? I do not know! If James Murray has an answer to this, please tell me! IMDb defines it as a comedy, but was that Murr’s vision? I want to know!

In the end, “Damned!” is… Something. I don’t even know what! All I know is it’s not good! I almost wish I was a part of the screening Murray experienced against his will in the mid 2010s just to experience what the atmosphere must have been like. This is a film with some of the most mind-numbingly terrible acting I’ve seen, some of the worst framing I have seen, and some of the worst writing I have ever seen! And I will say I am glad that Murr himself realizes that this film is what is, a disaster. He even suggested that if he were to go back in time, he would have taken the Ford Taurus. In fact if you look at the poster I showed at the beginning of the post, the top says “A JAMES MURRAY MISTAKE.” For all I know, maybe this film was not a mistake. Because what would have James done with the car? Use it to move away from New York? If that were the case, maybe “Impractical Jokers” would have never happened. So for my sake, I think that is one of the biggest positives I can say about “Damned!” But still, this is f*cking horrendous. “Damned!” is a film that is like those easily viewed neighbors you go by every day on the train. You don’t know why you’re looking at them, but somehow you are. You don’t know what to feel afterwards, but mission accomplished. I’m going to give “Damned!” a 1/10!

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Thanks for reading this review! TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 16TH, IS A BIG DAY! That’s right! The 2nd Annual Jackoff awards are here! By the way, as of this post’s publication, VOTING FOR BEST PICTURE is open for less than SEVEN HOURS. Once the clock hits midnight on February 16th, voting is CLOSED! If you have yet to vote for Best Picture, this is your final chance!

BEST PICTURE VOTING FORM!

Also, if you are an “Impractical Jokers” fan, I should have you all know that this Thursday is the premiere of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” in select theaters, and I am going to be at the first show in Dorchester, MA! With that in mind, I will have a review up very soon! Also, be on the lookout for my reviews for “Birds of Prey” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Be sure to follow Scene Before, otherwise known as flicknerd.com, if you want to see more great content! To do so, subscribe via an email or a WordPress account! I want to know, did you see “Damned!”? What did you think about it? Or, are you going to see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

 

Rhode Island Comic Con 2018 Review/Haul

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is the fourth year in a row I have gone to an event that pretty much defines who I am at this point, Rhode Island Comic Con! Over the years I have met some fantastic guests there including Charles Martinet (Super Mario Bros., The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses), Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool, The Exorcist), Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds, Supernatural), and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit). This year, the guest lineup continued to not disappoint. The lineup featured guests from all walks of nerd life, from “Star Wars” to “Deadpool” to “It” to “The Walking Dead” to even “Impractical Jokers.” Not only that, but this year, while I will say guest-wise is probably not #1 for RICC (which says something based on how fantastic this year’s lineup is), is the best in terms of one thing many customers have talked about as their pet peeve with the con. Organization.

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Let’s take this from the top. In 2014, RICC has its third convention ever. They get shut down by the fire marshal on their first day, Saturday, due to poor attendance flow. Capacity exceeded by over three thousand people. As for those who left the convention, they couldn’t reenter, and there were also people who simply couldn’t enter no matter what. Rhode Island Comic Con f*cked up. In 2015, the first year I went, it started out well, then my father and I decide to go from the Dunkin Donuts Center to the Rhode Island Convention Center. I wanted to catch a panel. Turns out the time spent getting from one place to another took forever and a half. This year, I had a slightly similar, but MUCH LESS worrisome issue. In 2016, the convention decided to try out their eventual continued method of having some headlining or popular guests on the Dunkin Donuts Center floor. A few of these guests included Millie Bobby Brown, Stan Lee, and the one I wanted to see the most, Gal Gadot. One of the advantages of Stan Lee and Millie Bobby Brown in regards to the customers is that they had multiple opportunities to see them. However, Gal Gadot was only at the convention for one day. Despite getting in somewhat early, I had to end up waiting in line for five hours, with an unusual twist and turn brought into the mix. This caused me to miss Gal Gadot’s panel too. How unfortunate. In 2017, I had trouble getting into a panel for Channel Awesome, there was no real line for Channel Awesome’s room. Even employees didn’t know all of what to do in this sort of situation. Also, one of the biggest downfalls of 2017’s Rhode Island Comic Con is after walking in, chances are some people are going to want to go into the Rhode Island Convention Center portion of the event. That’s where many of the guests, vendors, and panels happen to be located. To do that, you basically have to go around the entire Dunkin Donuts center in a circle. Should I say donut? Speaking of limited options regarding travel, the skybridge between the Rhode Island Convention Center for 2016 and 2017 was a one way. Want to switch back to the Dunkin Donuts Center from the Rhode Island Convention Center? Well, go down an escalator, leave the building, go find a small entry, get scanned by someone, and you can party all you want from there. This year however, NONE OF THAT WAS THERE! YAY!

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I love Rhode Island Comic Con, but when it comes to placing all of their event’s vendors, celebrities, and crowds, this is where they fail. This year, I cannot even believe that I was on a two-way skybridge at Rhode Island Comic Con. Guys, it’s not that hard! It all worked out! One interesting thing about this year though is that most of the celebrities who resided in the Rhode Island Convention Center were not on the usual floor that a majority of the celebrities of previous shows happened to be on. Instead, they were on the fifth floor. Many of them were in a ballroom which has also been used for several of the event’s panels in the past. This pretty much meant the main floor was completely dedicated to shopping, charity, sponsors, contests, and artists. The Dunkin Donuts Center is about the same as it has been since 2016. You’ve got your vendors, you have some places to grab food court-style grub, including of course, Dunkin Donuts. Downstairs contains some celebrities on the show floor, and more vendors. The one big difference this year however is that the photo ops are not organized down in the Dunkin Donuts Center. Instead, it’s inside the main area of the Rhode Island Convention Center. It’s located in a region where for the past couple of years, celebrity guests would have been sitting down signing autographs as customers wait in line. There’s a different organizer this year as well. Last year was Celeb Photo Ops whereas this year is Epic Photo Ops. I can’t compare the service between the two, mainly because I didn’t get a professional photo op this year. I took photos alongside celebrities at their table, which I actually think has more value attached to it because pro photo ops usually consist of fast-paced lines and limited interaction. In some cases with photos at the table, the lines to get to the celebrity may be on the slower side, but it’s worth it because you get to have a higher chance at an actual face-to-face conversation.

Speaking of face-to-face conversations, I’ve gotten to have one at a panel this year. No, I wasn’t onstage talking to someone, but the whole panel was essentially a Q&A. With that in mind, one of the questions that was taken happened to be mine. This panel I’m referring to is “Impractical Jokes from Murr with Special Guest Joey Fatone!” In other words, the panel was for guests James Murray (Impractical Jokers) and Joey Fatone (Impractical Jokers: After Party). My question for the panel regarded the “Impractical Jokers” show asking what might be the best fake names the guys have ever came up with. James and I seem to agree that “Disfatt Bidge” is brilliant.

On the topic of James Murray: Pet Cremator and Grandparent Divorce Attorney, I happened to meet and talk to him when he was at the con on Sunday. He was there for Saturday and Sunday, and to my surprise, his line was actually capped for much of the time I was there. I know that having someone from “Impractical Jokers” show up to the con can make that particular guest stand out because at least in my book, “Impractical Jokers” isn’t all that nerdy. It has individuals who have done nerdy things and are interested in said things as well, but still. That status, believe it or not, actually may have helped Murr. Many guests have showed up to Rhode Island Comic Con this year. Most of the guests are from movies and TV. For the most part, the movie or TV show would have a nerdy connotation to it. For TV shows, these include “Star Trek,” “The Walking Dead,” “Smallville,” “Power Rangers,” and “Batman: The Animated Series.” For movies, these include “Star Wars,” “It,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Shazam,” and “Deadpool.” Having a less than nerdy individual from a less than nerdy show might add some diversity to Rhode Island Comic Con and maybe bring in a different audience or for the nerds, show to others that they enjoy things that don’t have superheroes, lightsabers, blasters, or explosions. When it comes to meeting James Murray, I got him to sign my copy of “Awakened.” This is a book he wrote alongside Darren Wearmouth, which will soon be getting a sequel called “The Brink.” I also got a selfie alongside him, which is a bit different from what people usually do at these cons, which is allow somebody around the table to snap a pic of the celebrity simply standing next to you. Interesting approach, but I feel bad for those customers who don’t have a front-facing camera or a cell phone because then it slightly alters the tradition. Also, out of the celebrities I’ve met at a con, I found Murr to be perhaps the most outgoing of all of them. When I was in line for him on Sunday, he’s coming out of this private area and without me even looking at him, he pats me on the shoulder like a champ. Not only that, but he just starts hi-fiving and greeting everyone, it’s like the most charismatic game show host ever. Although then again, I guess Murr is the most charismatic game show host ever because he will be hosting a game show with the other Jokers called “Misery Index” which is set to air on TBS.

Also, I couldn’t get a picture, but Murr’s banner at one point had a sticky note with the words “FERRETS RULE!” and his eyebrows and facial hair was censored out by more sticky doohickeys. Some of you reading might be aware that James has a ferret tattoo on his leg, which by the way he did show. However when it was revealed, it was not in the best of situations. Murray explained that he was in the process of flipping over his mattress, as one does. Long story short, he hit his bedside and now there’s a bruise on his tattoo. Things happen I guess. By the way, that driver’s license photo where Murray has no eyebrows. IT’S REAL AND HE BROUGHT IT WITH HIM.

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Another guest I met was Tara Strong (The Fairly Oddparents, Teen Titans Go!). If you have ever been a modern day kid, chances are you have been exposed to her work somewhere. I’ve seen her as Timmy Turner on Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly Oddparents,” she’s been some numerous voices on “Family Guy,” she can be found as a voice on “My Little Pony,” she even had an uncredited role as “Bellybutton” in “Ted.” I got her autograph, not for me, but a friend. And I assure you all right now reading this that what I’m about to tell you is a true story. I met Tara Strong on Friday, November 2nd. Nice gal, she managed to ask me if I was voting the midterm elections. I didn’t. Part of me wanted to, but when you have to take an hour and a half train commute from one town to the other and back, it affects such a thing really. However, she handed me a sticker promoting “Nerds Who Vote” as a sign of encouragement. That night however, I was going through my stuff and realized that I left my autograph in the building! I went back the next day, cutting the line to get into the convention without even knowing. But it was my birthday weekend so in my book it’s OK. I go inside and rush to Tara Strong’s table. She’s not there yet, and I’m not the first in line. Once everything’s all situated there, one person asks me what I’m there for. I was expecting them to disregard my comment saying I left an autograph behind. Turns out it was in front of Tara waiting for me!

There’s good people in this world! Thank gosh! If I was told I had to cough up money for another autograph, I would have. I promised my friend I’d bring this to her. However, I have such massive respect for those working at Rhode Island Comic Con and Tara Strong herself for saving this autograph for me as opposed to leaving it hanging somewhere mysterious.

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Another item I got autographed was my “Deadpool 2” steelbook. This bad boy is a Best Buy exclusive which came with a 4K, Blu-ray, and digital copy code. It also has an extended director’s cut marketed as the “Super Duper $@%!#& Cut.” Interestingly, it also came with a slipcover featuring a bubble quote from “Deadpool” saying “I like to be on top. Obviously.” There were a number of “Deadpool” related guests announced including Stefan Kapicic, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, and creator Rob Liefeld. Believe it or not, Liefeld’s appearance kind of flew over my head. Plus, I was more interested the people from the movie side of things. Also, Brianna Hildebrand unfortunately cancelled her appearance, which ultimately wasn’t too big of a deal to me, because I already met her back at the same con in 2016. Nice lady if you ask me. But I gotta be honest, meeting Stefan Kapicic was very interesting. It’s almost like he was more excited to meet me than I was to meet him. I presented my steelbook to him and just calmly loses his mind. It’s easy to tell Kapicic has a passion for what he’s doing. I think he almost gave me a free autograph because I asked how much it was and the timing between signing and all of the words and phrases mentioned in our talk made Kapicic or his assistant either forget this is a job or become so infatuated with my product that signing it was a privilege. Speaking of infatuation, when it comes to Morena Baccarin, I spent a tad less time with her, but to be fair, she had a longer line. She didn’t have too much to say, but she was very nice.

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Oh yeah, I also got a pic with her. We make a great 20 year age difference couple. Sorry if her husband has to see this.

Another celebrity I met happened to be Meat Loaf. To be honest, I never really listened to his music, so there’s not much I can say about that. The only thing I’ve really seen him in was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which coincidentally, had another celebrity who appeared at the con the same weekend, Tim Curry, AKA Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The biggest highlight of the interactions has to be the introduction. I introduce myself, and he just mocks me for acting like I forgot my own name.

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That’s all the celebrities I met, but I also managed to encounter some awesome items for purchase as well! Well, mostly for purchase.

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This first item was actually free. I played a game where I happened to have a chance at winning an inexpensive item. The one I ended up winning was a wristband. Judging by the band, you might be able to guess that Dave & Busters was a sponsor this year of Rhode Island Comic Con. The items on the table basically consisted of whatever cheap merchandise could be produced and have a slapping of Dave & Busters’s own name on it.

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Moving onto more expensive items, I stopped at this one shop I’ve actually already visited this year at New York Comic Con and Terrificon. The shop goes by the name 3D Printing by Muckychris. They’ve had some nice 3D printed materials, with some standouts inluding the “Fight Club” soap bar and Darth Vader’s damaged mask as it was seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However my item of choice at this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con happened to be a t-shirt. When I saw this shirt at Terrificon, I wanted to desperately get said shirt. I didn’t. When I went to New York Comic Con, I noticed the store, but they apparently weren’t advertising the shirt I wanted. To be fair, they had another cool shirt that stood out to me, but I ended up passing on it. However, when they arrived at Rhode Island Comic Con and I saw my shirt of choice, I felt like I scored. Well, almost scored, in all technicality. Turns out they didn’t have a large! I ended up settling for an extra large however, which isn’t a bad thing. The shirt, as suggested in the picture, is a parody of the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” logo, and instead says “Sulu: A Star Trek Story.” Many people know Han Solo as a “Star Wars” character. For this shirt, the logo was switched up to cater to a “Star Trek” character. And you know what? I don’t know how big these fights are nowadays, but if they are still around, I should literally be going around wearing this shirt to whatever “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” convention I come across. I say that because this shirt can almost resemble a demonstration for sci-fi franchise peace. While people continuously fight over which franchise is superior, I’ll just be walking around in this $20 t-shirt saying, let’s come together! May the force live long and prosper! Also, 3D Printing by Muckychris handmakes products in New Jersey and can be found on this website below.

https://muckychris.patternbyetsy.com/

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Speaking of t-shirts, I went by one shop I’ve gone to at Terrificon and actually purchased something from, MTC Toys. However, this time, instead of getting two t-shirts, I ended up getting one. The variety in the store is certainly something to get excited about, but the prices are a little less exciting at times. However, with as much variety as this store has, you can basically argue that the price doesn’t really matter. The shirt that really stood out to me, as you see in the picture above, is one that resembles the guys from “The Big Bang Theory” as DC superheroes. For the record, I have a strong feeling this t-shirt is completely based on the “Justice League” cosplay the show’s characters had to do for a contest at the comic book store on New Years Eve. Sheldon was The Flash, Leonard was Green Lantern, Howard was Batman, Raj, to his everlasting shame, was Aquaman. Even Penny and a guy she knew, Zack, joined the party as Wonder Woman and Superman. Based on their names, you can probably guess who is who. As you can also see, the shirt also has the saying “The Big Bang Theory” has popularized over the years, “BAZINGA!” MTC Toys is from North Tonawanda, NY. They have been to many comic cons for over two decades, selling lots of t-shirts and fan merch.

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Lastly for clothing is a sweatshirt I’ve actually worn not long after I got it. As you can see, it is for Marvel’s “Iron Man.” I consider Iron Man to be one of my favorite superheroes, and his interpretation by Robert Downey Jr. is unbelievable. But I gotta say, while this sweatshirt is certainly nice-looking, I don’t think it was worth the “on-sale” price of $39.99. It didn’t take long for the front zipper of this thing to stop working (yes, there’s a front and back zipper). To be honest, while I might end up wearing this sweatshirt again, it REALLY could be better. However, what is better than this sweatshirt is the store where I got it from, FYE. FYE has actually been a part of Rhode Island Comic Con every year since I went, and each year they seem to switch up the merchandise to spice things up in one way or another. Some standouts included an FYE exclusive “Hocus Pocus” Blu-ray which came with four glow in the dark postcards. There were a lot of Funko Pops, including exclusives from FYE itself and seasonal conventions. The store even had some of the items you’d find at the FYE booth in New York Comic Con. Some of these items included eight “Friday the 13th” movies inside a steel lunchbox, a Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years blanket, and I believe they had cereal as well, because FYE is somewhat known for selling food. If I had to go back in time and give up this sweatshirt though, I probably wouldn’t mind doing such a thing. After all, FYE also had a jacket resembling the one Finn wore in the “Star Wars” franchise. Although at the same time, part of me might be safer not getting it so I don’t get any criticism for dressing up like a black guy. Still, cool jacket.

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As you guys know, I am a movie nerd, so therefore, this next purchase satisfied my hunger. There’s one store I went to whose name I actually don’t know which had a bunch of wine glasses. I don’t drink so that’s none of my concern. However, I did manage to pick up something else they had, ceramic coasters. These things were $7 each, but I managed to get four coasters for $25. As you can see, these coasters are for “Blade Runner 2049,” “John Wick,” “Justice League,” (2017 film) and “The Thing.” (John Carpenter) I enjoyed all of these movies so these purchases were certainly done without regret.

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One of my cheapest purchases at the con comes from Mad Mike’s Emporium. Mad Mike’s is a shop from East Greenwich, RI, selling new and used toys, video games, collectibles, and rare findings. I ignored the toys here, however there was one video game that absolutely caught my eye. One of my childhood games is “Need For Speed: Underground 2.” I have played its predecessor, “Need For Speed: Underground.” However, the most complex platform I’ve ever played it on is the Game Boy Advance. Therefore, some might argue I’ve never played the game for real. I believe I first saw the game at the shop on Sunday. If that’s the case, I didn’t buy it because I had overpriced food in my hand and I was looking for a place to sit down. Once I heard the price, $5, I was dead-on intrigued. I just started playing the game, and I see some of the differences between this game and its sequel, but I’m enjoying it so far.

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The last purchases I’ll go over come from a shop called Horror Decor. Their catchphrase is “Make every day a living nightmare.” One of my everlasting nightmares is the fact that Blockbuster Video is on its last legs. Speaking of which, the store managed to have two items that truly stood out to me. The first one is a Blockbuster tote bag and the other is a pillow that resembles a Blockbuster Membership Card. Before I found these gems of badassery, I always wanted some sort of merchandise related to Blockbuster. I go to stores like Newbury Comics and Thinkgeek and find a shirt that says “Blockbuster and Chill” from time to time. However I never officially got my hands on it either due to a lack of intrigue or the sleeves not really being the ones a man should have. These two items however, are just plain awesome. There’s a good chance that around Christmas time I’ll be using that tote bag to carry in gifts that hopefully are delivered by December 24th or 25th, that way I don’t have to give late fees to my recipients. And the pillow, while it may not be the all time most comfortable thing I’ve laid on, will certainly be a fantastic addition to my mancave. Also, just so you know, Blockbuster is not completely dead. There is still a location in Bend, Oregon. So if I were to make a trek there sometime, I’d probably ask if I could use my pillow as a valid membership card. I’d probably get a no, but I’d rather get that “no” than lose physical media altogether.

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If you read my post for last year’s Rhode Island Comic Con and what I did there, chances are you may know that one of my purchases was for the original “Star Wars” trilogy. For the record, when I say original “Star Wars” trilogy, that means the original trilogy before all of the special editions. One reason why I value that purchase so much is because it takes away some of what made the special editions somewhat cringeworthy. It removes some of the added CGI, Darth Vader’s “No” at the end of “Return of the Jedi,” and the infamous moment where Han Solo doesn’t shoot Greedo first. However, on Friday, November 2nd, I think I made the 2018 special edition of “Star Wars,” and that is partially in thanks to the 501st Legion, who has partnered with charities such as The Jimmy Fund and Make-A-Wish. In this special edition, not only does Han not shoot first, Han is not even involved in the duel whatsoever. Instead, the dorky Earthling who lacks some people skills named Jack Drees is doing all of the work. “Star Wars” fans will never get to see the final cut, but they get to savor over this image.

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When it comes to Rhode Island Comic Con, this has been another great year. And it is probably likely the year where I’ve had the least complaints about how things are run. The vendors are lively and know their audience. There is so much to do and see. The celebrity lineup this year, again, is full to the brim and brings tons of variety. The skybridge IS ACTUALLY TWO WAY! THANK GOSH! I’ll probably be coming back to Rhode Island Comic Con next year mainly because it is a tradition at this point. I’ve been four years in a row, might as well make it five! I will also say that Altered Reality, the company that organizes Rhode Island Comic Con does have some other conventions I want to check out. There’s one convention that goes on during the summer called ComiCONN that goes down every year. It takes place at the Foxwoods casino in Ledyard, CT. It’s smaller than Rhode Island Comic Con, but it would be fun to go at least for a day. Altered Reality is also expanding their lineup, because they have a new con on the weekend of May 3rd through May 5th. It is called Epic Comic Con. It’s set to take place at the Showboat Atlantic City. The Showboat is a casino which opened in 1987, closed in 2014, and reopened in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll be going there, because school might be serious at that time. Plus, if plans don’t change, May 3rd is also the release date for “Avengers 4,” so my priority that weekend would be to shove my review for that on the Internet as soon as possible. Although I will say, I visited the website for Epic Comic Con and it says that the con is supposed to be set for June 21st through the 23rd. So at this point, planning for the con is a mystery to me. As far as my next con goes, I don’t know what it will be. There’s PAX East coming up in March. That’s also the same month as CTGamerCon, which is set at the Mohegan Sun casino. Maybe I’ll go to that. Winter however is not the busiest time for cons, so I don’t think I’ll be going to any cons during the winter. We’ll see if anything comes up though. Thanks to Rhode Island Comic Con for another spectacular year and I hope to see the con again in 2019!

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Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review for “The Grinch” which is in theaters now. It’s definitely making lots of money. My friend and I planned on seeing it at an IMAX, so we’re going to see what this is all about. Also, on Monday, I’m going to see “Second Act” starring Jennifer Lopez. For the record, the movie does not release until December 21st, which means it will ultimately be crushed by “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” and “Bumblebee.” However, I have reserved passes for an early screening so I’ll be getting to see the movie early. I don’t know when the review embargo lifts, but there’s a good chance you’ll probably have to wait about a month to see my review on the film. I don’t know. Be sure to stay tuned for that review, and a review you’ll see perhaps much earlier. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you go to Rhode Island Comic Con this year? What are your thoughts? Did you go before? What did you think then? Or, if you have any suggestions of future cons, near or far, that I should visit, what are they? Please list your suggestions in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CON ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Going to New York Comic Con 2018!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we get any further and dive into any specifics I have associated with the main topic of this post, I’d just like to say that I hope everyone at San Diego Comic-Con is having a wonderful experience this weekend, but f*ck each and every one of you who didn’t bother giving this guy a ticket! I have feelings, ya know! I hope those long lines will show you what you’re worth, jerkfaces! Speaking of things that are long, let’s talk about a couple who had a long journey making their own baby. The couple goes by the names of Paul and Genevieve, and they have gone through literal hell trying to conceive. When it comes to editing videos or memorizing comic book knowledge, these two are OK. Making babies? Eh, forget about it! This is all explained… in “What the IVF?”

“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series featuring the recently mentioned couple. The premise of the series is pretty much what I said up above. These two are trying as hard as they can to have a baby, but to do it, they go through methods containing difficulty equal to winning the arcade game Stacker. In other words, Genevieve’s uterus is rigged and after each sexual act or IVF cycle, it must be game over. Witness the dynamic duo as they encounter problems in sex, math, appointments, tests, and pains in the ass–err I mean needles! You can find the latest content from “WTIVF?” on YouTube, including new episodes uploaded each and every Monday. The latest episode in the series, episode 19, goes over the couple’s first embryo transfer, and maybe there’s hope, a miracle on the rise. Watch to find out! Be sure to subscribe to the “What The IVF?” YouTube channel (link below), and speaking of social media, be sure to check out “What the IVF?” on other noteworthy places on the interwebs! All the links are down below, check em out, and be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

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Now I’ve done a few con announcements here on Scene Before, specifically for Rhode Island Comic Con and Terrificon, and I’ve been to those and another convention (PAX East). But the thing about those conventions is that those are all in the New England region. This convention we’re gonna be talkin’ about, this is not just the first con I’m going to outside the New England area, it is one of the biggest and most revered conventions in all of history! That con, is New York Comic Con!

As far as my personal attendance there goes, I’ll say that you will be able to find me in the convention center for two out of the four days this convention goes on for. What days you ask? Those will be Friday and Sunday. Note how I didn’t say Saturday, my friend couldn’t get tickets for that day unfortunately. Doesn’t matter, that means I get a day to perhaps roam around New York City and see what’s what!

Sticking to the con itself, New York Comic Con has been around since 2006, and is held by the for-profit organization known as ReedPOP. Greg Topalian, former VP of Reed Exhibitions is credited as the founder of both New York Comic Con and ReedPOP. This organization is also behind conventions such as C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo), PAX (Penny Arcade Expo), Comic Con Seoul, Comic Con Africa, Hyderabad Comic Con, Comic Con Paris, Emerald City Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, BookExpo, Oz Comic Con, Indonesia Comic Con, Mumbai Comic Con, ComplexCon, Bookcon, and more!

This convention is going to feature a bunch of faces, including some of your favorite celebrities from movies and TV, artists, and a few other people in the mix! Let’s go over some group guests that stand out!

The first group is a bunch of people that maybe years back that you’d wonder, HOW’D THEY GET ON TV? Now you just wonder, how do I survive without this show? This first batch out of the oven is a group of four folks I like to call the Impractical Jokers! Call em what you may, Impractical Jokers, The Tenderloins, four lifelong friends who compete to embarrass each other, whatever, I LOVE THESE GUYS. If you guys don’t watch “Impractical Jokers,” I’ll tell ya, it’s a riot! Turn on TruTV, go ahead and do yourself a favor and prepare to laugh, cringe, and question humanity. It’s one of those times where me cringing isn’t a negative towards something I watch! IT’S THAT GOOD. By the way, if you’re thinking that one or two of the Jokers will be at the con, that ain’t happening! All four are appearing! If you’re going to New York Comic Con, this is your chance to meet Murr, Sal, Joe, and Q! Then again, considering the fact that they live and film their show around the area, it’s not that surprising that they’ll be at a con like this. Although keep in mind, the New York Comic Con website suggests that they won’t be autographing, so you probably won’t be talking with them much. I will say though, from a personal perspective, that’s somewhat surprising. I can kind of understand Q, Sal, and Joe not autographing, but what about Murr? He actually just released his new book, “Awakened” so I was figuring with that out right now, it would be a grand opportunity to promote the book. Since they’re paneling, I can imagine there will be some talk about the book, but no signing? I’m not judging here, but I’m kinda surprised. Also, one more thing, to those who are attending, all four will be at the con THURSDAY ONLY, so if you’re going Thursday (which I’m not, :(), you can meet the Jokers.

As for other groups, we’ve got a bunch of folks from Critical Role joining in on the fun! We have Liam O’Brien, Laura Bailey, Marisha Ray, Matthew Mercer, Sam Riegel, Travis Willingham, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, and Brian W. Foster. If you had to ask me which of these folks I’d be most excited to meet, I’d personally pick Laura Bailey. I don’t watch a lot of “Critical Role,” but she’s Lucina in the “Fire Emblem” video game series, which I have played. She’s also one of my goto characters when I’m playing one of the newer “Super Smash Bros.” games.

Another group showing up is part of the cast of “Star Wars: Rebels!” Now that the series is over, it doesn’t mean that the cast’s con appearances are! This year at New York Comic Con, feast your eyes upon guests including Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Steve Blum! If you are a “Star Wars” fan and that info doesn’t satisfy you enough, I’ll have you know that there are more “Star Wars” guests that I haven’t even gone over! One such guest is Grey DeLisle, or as she’s known on IMDb, Grey Griffin. She’s been in several pieces of “Star Wars” content, such as “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” and even a couple of “Star Wars: Rebels” episodes now that we’re on that topic! Griffin is also known for tons of voiceover work in other material, just look at her IMDb, she’s got a ton of credits!

Got a few more groups to go over, one of which is “Boy Meets World,” or depending on which generation you grew up in, “Girl Meets World.” We have Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, and Will Friedle, if you have watched either one of these shows, then you’re in luck at NYCC! You will get a chance to meet these three characters from the franchise (Fri-Sun)!

We also have a couple people from “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” specifically Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, that way you can actually meet Lois and Clark in a big metropolis (New York)! Is it just me or has Dean Cain been going to a lot of cons recently? Seriously, I’ve been seeing his name on con guest lists a lot over the past year or so.

One of the more successful shows on Starz goes by the name of “Outlander,” and a number of its cast members will be appearing at the con. The list includes Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser). Both cast members have been present in the show’s entire series and play major roles.

Now in case you don’t already know, this is a BIG CON. But one thing that personally surprises me about it is that badges are still available for purchase. Saturday is sold out, but Thursday, Friday, and Sunday are all still available. Although my friend and I will tell you, getting the badges is not easy. It almost got to a point where she gave up. This was a graduation gift from her, so I can’t thank her enough. For example, before you can actually purchase any badges, you actually need to create an account that will allow you to purchase badges. That’s like going into some warehouse store like Costco and someone who works there tells you if you want to be a member, you need to go on your phone, go to Costco.com, and create a “Costco Confirmation” account, or as they call it “CC.” Once that’s done, you are eligible to be a member! And the tickets are not cheap! For the tickets that are on sale, you have to pay somewhere in the fifty dollar range, which funny enough, is almost the price of a Gold Star Costco membership! Also, for those of you who like to buy passes with multiple days for one price, I gotta tell ya, that’s not a thing. NYCC used to have that, however in 2017, that was discontinued. Why? I don’t know, probably to get more money.

In recent news, it has become apparent that New York Comic Con is partnered with Anime Expo. If you go to New York Comic Con this year and happen an anime junkie, you’re in luck! During NYCC, there is going to be a four day anime festival known by the name “Anime Fest @NYCC x Anime Expo.” Anime Expo, if you are not already aware is a large convention held annually in Los Angeles, CA. According to Wikipedia, the total number of attendees at these conventions have reached numbers in the six digit marks! You don’t necessarily need a badge to New York Comic Con to take advantage of an experience like this, but if you are curious about any sort of discount you could possibly get for possessing an NYCC badge, you can’t get one. All the discounts have been sold out. You can still however pay the standard price to attend this event on each day of its run.

New York Comic Con is from Thursday October 4th to Sunday October 7th in New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center! I hope to see you there, and I can guarantee that this will definitely be a unique con experience. This con is one of the biggest nerd celebrations in the world, and just for that alone, I am super stoked to see what this thing is all about! Over the next couple of months I’ll be asking myself, is NYCC worth the hype? And maybe when it comes time to do my review and haul of the convention, that question will be answered. Thanks for reading this post! Be sure to stay tuned for more great content coming to Scene Before, including my review for “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again.” I just got tickets for a showing of the movie on Sunday, so expect a review of that movie sometime soon! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, are you going to New York Comic Con? Have you been before, tell me your thoughts on it! Also, is it worth the hype? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!