Trashed Movies, Batgirl, A Scoob! Spinoff, DC Restructuring, and Merging Streamers: My Thoughts on the Many Early Shifts at Warner Bros. Discovery

Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot to talk about! I mean, wow! Before we dive into what has been happening lately at Warner Bros. Discovery, let me give you a recap of some of the events that went down during AT&T’s possession of Warner Bros..

If you asked me what I thought about the state of Warner Bros. a year ago, I would have said I was nervous. Warnermedia’s decision to put all of their big movies on HBO Max hurt most of those movies that already happened to be finished. This ultimately hurt their box office, not to mention potential word of mouth and longevity. Sure, it definitely seemed like a good idea to combat COVID-19 and certain titles like “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune” had a halfway decent performance, but it does not change the fact that for the most part, the performance of most of these films were financially hindered. While some may argue that Warnermedia offered viewers a choice by putting their movies both in theaters and on streaming, they also had a long-term goal on prioritizing content for HBO Max, which was created through said ownership.

For the most part, HBO Max was not a bad idea. It contained a lot of the latest movies from studios like Universal, Fox, and Warner Brothers, the entire DC library, some of the shows from Turner networks like TBS and TNT. They had a good thing going. Then in 2020, it was announced that Warner Brothers’s entire slate of films for the next year would go to HBO Max in addition to theatres, as recently mentioned. This technically started with the 2020 film “Wonder Woman 1984.” The unexpected move led to the film’s star and director, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins respectively, receiving more than $10 million as a result. Alternate stars on the other hand were not favored.

“Representatives for major Warner Bros. stars like Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie wanted to know why their clients had been treated in a lesser manner than Ms. Gadot. Talk of a Warner Bros. boycott began circulating inside the Directors Guild of America. A partner at one talent agency spent part of the weekend meeting with litigators. Some people started to angrily refer to the studio as Former Bros.” –The New York Times

Legendary Pictures, the production company behind “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune,” noted that they, like others, were not given advance notice on the move. On a nearly dated “Saturday Night Live” episode, host and “Dune” star Timothee Chalamet ended the show by unveiling a Legendary sweatshirt, symbolizing his support for the company.

While one perk of HBO Max is the freedom for viewers to watch the new films as many times as they want for 30 days, the caveat for the studio is that the films are free as long as the viewers subscribe. In addition to hurting the movie theaters that work alongside the studios, movies like “In the Heights,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Reminiscence,” “King Richard,” and “The Matrix Resurrections” did not even make their budgets back.

You could make the argument that HBO Max benefited from this. Sure, they had some subscribers come aboard. In fact the service topped their projections (70 million) by the end of 2021 by earning 73 million paid subscribers. But that is not enough. Warner Bros. lost one of their key filmmakers, specifically Christopher Nolan, and has damaged their trust with others as they felt backstabbed by these recent events. Denis Villeneuve, while he ultimately finished and released “Dune” in October 2021, found out about his movie’s simultaneous HBO Max release on the news long before the film ultimately came out. It is the studio’s project at the end of the day, but it does not mean Warner Bros. and AT&T can ignore common sense and decency with their fellow creators. This was a multi-million dollar collaborative effort, and it is very much Denis Villeneuve’s movie as much as it is Warnermedia’s. When Villeneuve promises he will bring forth a franchise, his mouth cannot be kept shut in situations like this.

Now that David Zaslav is responsible for the position of CEO, a position previously held by Jason Kilar, many big changes have come about in such a short time. As of now, there are no more day and date Warner Bros. movies. “The Batman,” “Elvis,” and “DC League of Super-Pets” all released in theaters exclusively for a period of time. There are still movies that have been released on HBO Max exclusively, like the romantic comedy “Moonshot,” but without the day and date option. But for the most part, the new administration has allowed their few theatrical exclusive films to shine.

Now, as a fan of the moviegoing experience, this is great. I am glad to know these movies are being seen the way the filmmakers intended. I do not know if Warner Bros. is going to restore its relationship with Christopher Nolan, but that is probably going to depend on how well “Oppenheimer” does for Universal. Although as someone who has found streaming convenient and messy, this month has demonstrated the messier elements on the HBO Max side of things.

Recent events have shown my slight lack of trust from streaming providers. Last week, HBO Max removed six films. It is normal for a streamer to get rid of their film or television content. Maybe the deal has expired and a project needs to move somewhere else, or maybe a property is under new ownership. These are perfectly valid reasons to remove a film from a service, despite disappointing the fans of that movie. What is unusual however is that a set of “Max Originals,” meaning that these projects were exclusive to HBO Max, were removed from the service. I emphasize, not HBO the channel, HBO Max. Despite being intended and marketed as exclusives, they were removed. Although if you look around, they are not QUITE exclusive. This is probably why they were called “Max Originals” and not “Max Exclusives.” These films are available for purchase on platforms like Google Play and Vudu, therefore they are not unwatchable. Well, except “Superintelligence,” you should never ever watch that movie even in your sleep. And there is also good news for physical media collectors. These movies, like the recently mentioned “Superintelligence,” are also available on DVD. So while these films may be gone from HBO Max, you can pay to watch them in other ways.

Nevertheless, an event like this shocks me as the films are technically Warner Brothers movies, which HBO Max would perhaps most likely try to maintain as they are a part of the brand. It is the same reason why you never saw “The Irishman” leave Netflix. It is the same reason why you never saw “Manchester by the Sea” leave Prime Video. It is the same reason why you never saw “LEGO Star Wars: The Holiday Special” leave Disney+. With the exception of that last one, these titles are available elsewhere such as DVD and Blu-ray, but these are ultimately the studio’s and streamer’s projects to control and maintain on their respective services. Or so I thought. They can practically do anything now and it is kind of unreal to think about.

So HBO Max got rid of six “exclusive” films. Fine. They can do that. People can still watch them elsewhere? Okay, that’s wonderful. I think it is a bit weird to not at least leave them on the service for people to at least watch, although at the same time I do not think people subscribe to HBO Max nowadays to watch “The Witches.” These films, or more specifically, where they ended up, are partially the result of the previous administration. “Superintelligence” was once supposed to release theatrically, but it was eventually dropped exclusively on HBO Max through Ben Falcone’s pitch. “The Witches,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, was supposed to be released theatrically, but was ultimately moved to HBO Max. However, it was released theatrically in international markets. I can understand why a move like this was made. In addition to promoting HBO Max, COVID-19 was still somewhat new and prominent in late 2020. But if there is something I can say “The Witches” and “Superintelligence” have in common other than their release, it is their lack of longevity. When you release a movie in theaters, you ultimately do more than simply release it for the big screen. If the movie is successful on the big screen, there is a chance it could also succeed when it comes to VOD and physical media. It already has word of mouth, and if enough people are curious, it could have a second wind. This is a tried and true method that works almost every time.

Despite my confidence, and we will dive more into that, in regard to David Zaslav as CEO, this is perhaps the one big conundrum that has come up during his time as the head of the company. If there is an outside force that is making these movies disappear, I wish I knew about it. But for now, this makes no sense.

Speaking of movies you will not be seeing anymore, let’s talk about “Batgirl.” During Jason Kilar’s run as CEO, it was announced that we would be seeing an HBO Max exclusive “Batgirl” movie set in the DCEU. The film was previously in development, partially under the creative juices of Joss Whedon, but he left the project a year after its 2017 announcement. The film would star Leslie Grace (In the Heights) and similar to “The Flash,” which we will be talking about later, viewers would be treated to Michael Keaton as he returns to play Batman. Before Zaslav became CEO, another DC film once set to hit HBO Max, “Blue Beetle,” was officially no longer an HBO Max exclusive and would instead play in theaters. This is how every other DCEU film, including the day and date-specific “Wonder Woman 1984” and “The Suicide Squad,” released.

“Batgirl,” both before and after Zaslav’s beginning as CEO, was never announced to receive the same treatment. In fact, one more announcement in this crazy week is that the release of “Batgirl” would be cancelled. Nobody in the viewing public would ever get to see the movie, no matter what. Not in theatres, not on HBO Max. No bat time, no bat channel.

Obviously this came as a shock given how the film finished shooting and happened to be in post-production. And not to ignore Leslie Grace’s titular character, who wouldn’t want to see Michael Keaton as Batman again? This could have been a good movie. But after seeing more information, I had my doubts as to whether it was actually good to begin with.

“Batgirl” was originally intended for HBO Max, and when you do not have to worry about the stakes of the big screen, there is, theoretically, less of a vision that encapsulates quality. I am not saying straight to streaming movies cannot work, but it comes with a major price tag from a viewer’s perspective as being “inferior.” “Batgirl” had a $90 million budget. In DC speak, this is about the same as 2019’s “Shazam!” although about half as much as Matt Reeves’s “The Batman.” While Leslie Grace may not have carried the star power of Robert Pattinson, the movie had plenty of big names alongside her including J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, and as mentioned before, Michael Keaton. The directing team behind the film, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah had experience with action films before, not to mention 2020’s biggest picture (not that there was much competition), “Bad Boys for Life.” The two even have experience at DC’s competitor, Marvel Studios. While they never made a Marvel film, the duo handled directing duties for two episodes of the Disney+ original series “Ms. Marvel.”

For all I know, these people gave 110% to every part of the production. Leslie Grace could have given the performance of the year. Michael Keaton could have given his best portrayal of Batman yet. And this would be a movie that could establish Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah as future in-house names at DC kind of like the Russo Brothers were to Marvel for some time. But given how “Batgirl,” is cancelled as a tax write-off as of last week, I, and the viewing public as a whole, will never know for sure.

There is a saying that actions speak louder than words, but given how I have never seen “Batgirl,” I unfortunately can only rely on words at this point. However, other people have seen the movie through test screenings, and the results are reportedly not great. While the movie is said to have scored similarly to “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” which is still set to release this December, one source says the consensus led to a verdict that indicated “Batgirl” is not big enough for theaters, nor appropriate enough for a platform like HBO Max, as revealed by Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni on an episode of his podcast, “The Town.”

“This is someone who was in the test screening a couple months ago where they were trying to figure out what to do with this movie and I called him and we chatted and he said that after the screening, the executives Walter Hamada of DC and some of the others there ask the audience, “Did this feel big?” and clearly they were trying to figure out whether it felt like it deserved a theatrical release and the consensus was absolutely not. He said it played like a TV pilot, the stakes were very small… He said it felt a little like Dark Phoenix.” -Matthew Belloni

Why are they releasing “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and not “Batgirl?” That is a great question. If you ask me, I think it is a somewhat marketable film that could do well around the holiday season, or in this case, well enough to compete with “Avatar: The Way of Water,” but nevertheless. Although “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” was planned as a theatrical release this whole time, and may have been executed as such during the production. And the first trailer of the film promises some neat treats for those looking for a big screen experience. I reiterate, I have not seen “Batgirl,” but I think there is a reason why I am seeing material for “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” and nothing for “Batgirl.” While I genuinely feel terrible for everyone behind the film, I stand by David Zaslav’s decision to cancel “Batgirl.” I would rather have a genuinely great movie that will win over audiences as opposed to a terrible movie that could cause people to compare it to “Batman & Robin.” People are going to literally have to say that the best Batgirl movie is somehow “The LEGO Batman Movie!” Who thought we’d be saying that in this day and age?! And Zaslav cancelled the film for this reason. During a recent conference call, Zaslav was asked about the cancelation of “Batgirl,” which he stated was part of a restructuring of DC through a 10-year plan. This plan would be similar to what Alan Horn and Bob Iger established with producer Kevin Feige over at Disney’s Marvel Studios. In addition to that, Zaslav wants to make sure that audiences are not only getting good movies, but happen to be getting their money’s worth at the cinema similar to the studio itself through the box office as it releases its newer content.

“We’ve seen luckily by having access now to all the data, how direct-to-streaming movies perform. And our conclusion is that expensive direct-to-streaming movies in terms of how people are consuming them on the platform, how often people go there or buy it or buy a service for it and how it gets nourished over time is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the motion – in the theaters. And so this idea of expensive films going direct-to-streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it. We can’t find an economic value for it.” –David Zaslav

However, I am not saying the axing of “Batgirl” is not unfortunate for the audience. I was looking forward to potentially seeing the movie. This is also an unfortunate cancelation in terms of diversity. Because Leslie Grace is Afro-Latina, giving a fresh look to the DCEU’s main heroes. This means that most of the studio’s upcoming lineup, like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash” will continue to center around white male characters. While these films are likely to be successful, it avoids giving a particular audience a film they can call their own. While “Wonder Woman” and its vastly inferior sequel obviously happen to be anthems for women, it does not change the fact that there are still some audiences who probably have not seen themselves in the heroes DC is providing. Sure, the “Suicide Squad” movies feature two different African-American leads, but as far as non-team movies go, diversity has some ways to go. Superman is a white male. Shazam is a white male. The Flash, while played by an actor who currently identifies as non-binary, is as far as we know, a white male. Harley Quinn, while not a male, is more of an anti-hero as seen in projects like “Birds of Prey.” This could have been DC’s chance to give the audience a different kind of hero. And while this may be towards the villain or anti-hero route, DC is lucky that the Dwayne Johnson-starring “Black Adam” is set to come out as the iconic movie star happens to be Black and Samoan.

At the same time though, while this is unfortunate, I will reiterate, I agree with Zaslav’s decision to cancel the film. It is not a pleasant decision to make, but as a business move, it makes sense. I am not saying people are not interested in seeing a Latina superhero, but I think that if people want a character like Batgirl, such a character should receive better treatment than what she is getting at the moment. I have to remind everyone reading this that I am a straight white male, therefore it is my responsibility to acknowledge that a lot of the movies that have come out in the superhero genre revolves around people like me. Some are great like “Iron Man” while others are not so great like “Morbius.” This is the same thing I have said about “Ghostbusters” since I watched the 2016 Paul Feig-directed reboot. You cannot just remake the movie with women and call it a day. You have to have a good script, great chemistry amongst the cast, and solid humor. Now obviously every movie has its fans, but I saw the movie and felt that it failed on those recently mentioned objectives. Pitching and selling a “Batgirl” film to the audience is half the battle. The other half is delivering a great story or experience that will stand the test of time, and I can only assume that “Batgirl” did not meet certain standards to make that happen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cancelation of “Batgirl” has more to do with the reset plan in regard to DC and not as much to do with the talent behind the film like Leslie Grace.

“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt” and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.” -WB Insider (The Hollywood Reporter)

On that note, I will remind you that “Batgirl” is not the only upcoming Warner Bros. film that was announced to be cancelled last week, as the quote suggests that “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a Christmas-themed “Scooby-Doo” film, was also part of the chopping block. The film was set to come out on HBO Max this year, which does not surprise me as 2020’s “Scoob!” skipped theatres and went straight to VOD due to COVID-19. While I watched “Scoob!” a couple years ago and thought it was a trainwreck, I will note one thing that was not a problem was the look of the film or the animation style. Overall, it looked very polished. Once again, I can only use assumptions here, but I would not be surprised if this streaming-mindset affected production in terms of how polished the film could turn out. Once again, I feel bad for the crew, but I think that this is a proper business decision.

Although if I must be real, I find it shocking that “Batgirl” was cancelled at the time it was. I am less shocked after finding out that it probably was not that good. Although what I am saying is that there is another DC film that based on public outcry, probably should have been cancelled first. In fact, recent events further indicate the complications behind this film’s existence. That film being… “The Flash.”

The Flash is one of the more well-known DC superheroes, and the hero’s popularity has only jumped due to the success of CW’s original series that is soon to enter its final season. Although on the movie side, there has been extensive development in regard to bringing the red speedster to the big screen but for several reasons, they could not quite get it out before the end of the previous decade. Having seen both “Justice League” and its eventual “Snyder Cut” on HBO Max, I think Ezra Miller did a fine job bringing Barry Allen to life and I would not mind seeing more of the character. Unfortunately, if Miller continues to play the character, I may have second thoughts.

After seeing Ezra Miller’s shenanigans of choking a woman in a bar, assault, restraining orders, harrassing a woman in her own apartment, and most recently, burglary, this only makes Zaslav’s final decision on “The Flash” that much harder to make. You could say that releasing “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is also hard because Amber Heard is in it, but that’s a cakewalk compared to this. For one thing, the public is divided on whether Heard is innocent or guilty after her recent trial with Johnny Depp. And not to undermine the events prior to or of said trial, many of Ezra Miller’s crimes or arrests have happened after they finished shooting “The Flash.” As time has shown, I believe in redemption. Since joining Marvel, James Gunn held back on making inappropriate jokes over the Internet, and even after his firing and rehiring, he kept his cool. But at this point, when Ezra Miller has already been cast, the movie is shot, and it is set to release next year. This is a dilemma if there ever was one. As a viewer who is not in charge of a substantial company or its products, it is easy for me to say that they should cancel the movie or recast Ezra Miller and reshoot every scene with the character of Barry Allen. But the film already has a budget of $200 million, and this requires a massive return of the crew, the actors, everybody.

…But in my own little fantasyland, I also think it is worth it. …Kind of. It’s not my money, and if it were, for all I know, I might not have said this.

Similar to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” where there were three Spider-Men on the lineup, “The Flash” is a movie where we are seeing the return of Michael Keaton as Batman, making “Batgirl” one of the two films where the iconic actor dons his cowl. That, alongside another Batman appearance from Ben Affleck, will obviously get butts in seats. This is certainly a film that people will want to see in theaters before streaming, making HBO Max a concept that must be left out of the equation. But this involves potential delays, recasting, and so on. The other alternative I can get behind at this point is releasing the film as is and announcing Ezra Miller’s firing beforehand. I could almost see there being a disclaimer before the film starts stating the wrongdoings of Ezra Miller and a note that Warner Bros. does not condone or approve of his actions. While it may not be comfortable to provide in a public setting, it is better to condemn this consistently inappropriate or incorrect behavior rather than continue to enable it. There is a good chance Ezra Miller is already canned and such a thing has not been announced, but I think this is a message that should be announced before the public starts a trend claiming Warner Bros. “defends assaulters” or something along those lines. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but this is exhibit A as to why that is not true. On the bright side, reports have surfaced that “The Flash” is apparently a good movie. Obviously, film is subjective, so if it comes out, we will see if that statement holds true. But it is nice to hear Warner Bros. Discovery has confidence in the film’s quality, unlike “Batgirl.” Some of the general audience more than likely will not care about what Ezra Miller has done in the past, but it does not change the fact that word gets around. Plus Miller is getting into trouble on a consistent basis. They have already been the subject of multiple negative events as of this year. My confidence in Miller or their image’s ability to change by next year, or even 2024, is quite low. What if they end up in prison for a year? What is Warner Bros. Discovery going to do then? Imagine if Ezra Miller shows up at the premiere and how awkward that could be given everything they have done. This is not exactly my idea, but one alternative is finding a way to remarket the film as a “Batman” movie. I do not know how much the script would warrant such a thing, but given the marketability of the “Batman” IP and the fact that there are two Batmen in the movie, it theoretically makes sense.

Until then, there is no easy answer to this ongoing problem. “Batgirl” may have had its reasons to be cancelled, but this only makes me wonder what is going to happen with “The Flash.” If the movie gets cancelled because of Ezra Miller, it is a solid publicity move in the short term, but this also ends up being a disservice to the rest of the people behind the film who had nothing to do with Ezra Miller other than working with them. But at the end of the day, filmmaking is a business. And if Ezra Miller keeps doing what they’re doing, or worse, the business of the film is only going to trickle bit by bit. “The Flash” is still set to come out, and I am glad to hear it is good. But is it worth it? Much like “Batgirl,” but for completely different reasons, “The Flash” at this stage is probably going to hit some landmines if the studio wants it to be released theatrically. But at the same time, the movie is too big, not to mention too expensive, for HBO Max.

Sticking with HBO Max, let’s ask a question… WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING TO HBO MAX?!

Remember how HBO Max was supposed to be Warnermedia’s big streaming service? It was the thing that was going to make HBO Now look like HBO Then. Some not so surprising news that came out of last week’s events was the merging of HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service. Now, that has not happened yet. You will not find “Property Brothers” on HBO Max, nor will you find “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on Discovery+.

This is not the first time in recent years that Warner had one of its streaming services fold into another one, as DC Universe gradually dissolved in 2020 and all of its film and television content like “Titans” and “Harley Quinn” ended up on HBO Max, with the latter now airing its third season.

Now if you ask me, I like the fact that all of this content is merging. I am probably not going to watch all of it. But it is nice to know that the options are there. For all I know, there could be a new show that I could put on in the background one day. I think one big problem consumers face is that there are too many streaming services out there. I do not have Discovery+, as it is one of the few services I do not consider a priority. Slimming two services into one is not necessarily a bad concept. My one concern is how much more I’d be paying, that is if there is a price hike. I will revisit this issue later, because I need to talk about one of the most poorly guided comparisons I have seen in this day and age.

Remember how I said actions speak louder than words? Well, words are pretty powerful. Some people tend to take them seriously.

I understand that this may be an exaggeration, but it still must be pointed out. When talking about the differences between HBO Max and Discovery+, this was done through a side-by-side chart indicating that HBO Max’s content was male-skew and Discovery+’s content was female-skew. Now to be fair, I am a man and I have never watched Discovery+ on my own time. I rarely turn on any of Discovery’s channels. But this is a loose and stereotypical assumption to make in this day and age. Because this declares that gendered content is put into boxes. HBO is one of the most sought-after cable networks of all time by all genders. “Game of Thrones” was a huge hit over recent years. Recent series like “Scenes From a Marriage” have been met with acclaim. And APPARENTLY, women don’t watch “EUPHORIA?!” If anything, they’re the target audience! Literally every woman on this planet wants to be Zendaya! She is good-looking, she has an Emmy, and she is dating Spider-Man! You think women do not watch “Euphoria?”

I am not saying that some of these classifications do not make sense. HBO has a lot of scripted content, and that is their forte. Although HBO Max has plenty of unscripted or reality content like the original show “Legendary,” truTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” and the TBS reboot of “Wipeout.” It is very much a service for everyone in same way that Netflix or Prime Video is. Discovery+ is very much a comfort food network. Most of their content is within the reality genre like “90 Day Fiancé,” “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” and “Chopped.” Again, I am a man, and I do not know of many men, but I know they are out there, who lean into Discovery’s content more than they do with the type of content HBO provides, so Zaslav and the infographic are technically onto something. But it does not mean that this is the best analogy to give to the public.

Also, you are telling me “The Bachelor” is a male-skewed show?! Again, I imagine there are some men who watch. Although if you want to talk about HBO Max strictly having male-skewed content, I raise you “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” “The Bachelor: Winter Games” and “Bachelor Pad!” The only guys watching these shows are those who are trying to impress their significant other that this show specifically targets! Obviously, there are others, but you get my point! What man turns on the television, looks at that night’s lineup, and thinks, I’m gonna pour myself some wine, and watch young women fight over a guy?! The majority would flip the channel in a heartbeat.

There are also plenty of HBO or HBO Max scripted shows that do not mainly target men. In addition to the recently mentioned “Euphoria,” look at shows like “Big Little Lies,” “Gossip Girl,” “Insecure,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” “Love Life,” and let me just remind you that HBO has a show literally called “Girls.” HBO and HBO Max apparently suggests that women do not watch shows like “Succession,” “Silicon Valley,” “Divorce,” “The White Lotus,” or “Mare of Easttown.”

The men/women analogy would have probably worked in the 1920s. More so in the 1820s. But definitely not in the 2020s. This was probably delivered with the best intention in mind, but it does not change the fact that the delivery was terrible. The infographic itself is helpful and for the most part, an accurate representation of both streaming services. HBO Max is definitely more lean in and Discovery+ is certainly more lean back. Those are good comparisons. Plus, while I did address that HBO Max is not short on unscripted content, it is no doubt that scripted content is their bread and butter in the same way that unscripted content is to Discovery+.

Now let’s go back to the price concern. While it is nice to know that I would not be paying for two different streaming services at the same time, one of the nice things about HBO Max is that while it is not the cheapest service out there, it offers a lot of great, sometimes award-winning content, for a reasonable price. HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-included tier at $9.99 and an ad-free tier at $14.99. Discovery+ also offers two tiers. An ad-included tier at $4.99 and an ad-free tier at $6.99. These prices make some sense given how Discovery+ is more of a niche service in the same way that the horror-based Shudder would be to a certain degree. Should we see these two services combine, I think it is perhaps likely that the service to be offered will have an increased price from HBO Max’s current price. If it increases by $1, I do not see much of a problem. $2? Okay, whatever. $3? Now you are pushing it. I understand that adding more content can justify a price increase, but there comes a tipping point. If I find out that this new streaming service costs $19.99/month or more, which is the current price for Netflix’s top tier, I would have to debate on ignoring the service and worry about my other subscriptions for the time being. There is plenty of great content being offered through services like Hulu and Prime Video that I’d rather flock to for a better value. I especially worry for those who have Discovery+ and not HBO Max, because their increase could be worse.

There is no official word as to what the name of the combined service is, and this presents a problem if they come up with a new name. The beauty of HBO Max is that the name HBO is one of the most coveted television brands ever conceived. No offense to Discovery, but when most people think of “television,” HBO is often seen as the gold standard nowadays. They could come up with a new name, let’s just use Warner Discovery as an example, but this could result in brand confusion. This could be HBO’s most bewildering matter since trying to explain the difference between HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max. What makes HBO Max different? I don’t know, it’s purple! This could be a short term confusion once the audience collectively realizes where their preferred content ended up, but nevertheless.

Phew. We made it to the end. Just to recap, I still use and enjoy HBO Max. The third season of “Harley Quinn” is great fun and I cannot wait to see the rest of it. I am excited to see where David Zaslav takes the Warner Bros. brand in the future. I am curious about movies like Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” which looks like a trip if there ever was one. I just hope that Zaslav realizes within the mistakes that have been made recently, that this Warner Bros. Discovery ship remains as tight as possible. While I remain saddened for the crews behind the films, I think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” were the right moves. If the movies were not up to a certain standard, then why should they be put out to begin with? The main basis of the movie business is profit. This is part of why “Batgirl” was cancelled, but I am also glad to know that we will not potentially be seeing the next “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” or the next “Catwoman” or the next “Morbius.” It is still NOT Morbin’ time! I don’t care who says it! Why is “The Flash” not cancelled? Sure, I hear it is a good movie, but the closer we get to its release, the more I worry about the film itself in addition to its star’s ability to not cause chaos. Is there a weird move will we see next from Zaslav and crew? Who knows? Until then, all I can do is sit back and wait for movies like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and go back and watch the many hit movies and television shows on HBO Max like “Peacemaker,” “The Carbonaro Effect,” and “The Bachel–” Hahaha, never mind that last one.

Thanks for reading this post! If you liked this post and want to see more, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! If you are interested in more of my long-form content, check out my five-thousand word analysis as to why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” the recent anime from Mamoru Hosoda. This is a movie which is by the way, as of this post’s debut, NOW STREAMING ON HBO MAX! Until then, I want to know your thoughts! What do you think about the recent events at Warner Bros. Discovery? Do you think the brand is in a good direction? Do you think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” was a wise decision? What do you think they should do with “The Flash” at this point? Also, about those six movies that were taken off HBO Max, did you watch any of them? Tell me your thoughts. If you ask me, I think “An American Pickle” is one of the most overlooked comedies in recent times and a hilarious parody on modern society. Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The 4th Annual Jackoff Awards

WARNING: This post is over 12,000 words long. It contains words like “award,” “show,” and “Jackoff.” There are many more, but these are just a sample. Grab some popcorn, get a soda, and enjoy the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards at your own pace. Enjoy.

Hello everyone! Welcome to the The 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! We’ve got a great show ahead where many movies enter, and one leaves triumphant as 2021’s Best Picture. Fun fact, I almost ended up calling this year’s show the Jacks. Because 9 out of 10 general audience members agree, award shows need to shorten their runtime. We’re really putting the “off” in Jackoff. Today is a celebration of everything movies, that is as long as they are not shorts, made for television, straight to DVD, or some Christmas thing featuring Danica McKellar. 

… 

We love you, Danica. 

Here’s how the show works. Every movie that yours truly, Jack Drees, saw this year has been qualified in advance to be nominated for a Jackoff. Those that have been nominated compete against four other films to win the category, and the winner gets my respect. However, with Best Picture, the ultimate category, that is not the case, as ten movies will compete in that category and the winner has been decided in advance by the people’s vote. I sent out a form for willing participants to fill out, the votes have been counted and the tallies are here! But one thing that is true for every category, I must have seen the film for it to be nominated. Sorry, “Cruella!” 

Another rule I must state, 2021 has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has not fully come to an end and that is evident in the entertainment industry. You may have noticed a trend that many films have come out on streaming at the same time they hit theaters. Disney has done this with films like “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which has received a Best Animated Feature nomination. Warner Brothers has also done this with “Tom & Jerry,” which has been nomin— Haha, sorry. Bad example. Either way!! Films that hit theaters and streaming at the same time do qualify for the Jackoff Awards. I am willing to accept just about any film to step into the ring as long as they had a theatrical release. The general rule for the Jackoffs is that the movies featured and nominated have to be in theaters, because if they’re on streaming, then that is technically a TV film. Therefore, films like “The Tomorrow War,” “Home Sweet Home Alone,” and “Vacation Friends” do not qualify for this year’s Jackoff Awards. Apologies in advance, but these are the rules. 

We’re gonna start the show the same way we always do, with a little monologue. And if you thought that I would be telling all the jokes this year, it just so turns out that’s not true. Plot twist! I’m being voiced by Chris Pratt! It’s time for “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Nobody in Order to Please Himself!” 

I’m going to state some facts about this year in film, and since there is no audience, there shall be no laughs. But, for those of you checking this out yourselves, feel free to jump into the auditorium and react however you’d like. Even throw tomatoes at me if you please! And I will say that 2021 has been a great year for film. Lots of fun blockbusters, some great animated flicks, and fun times at the movie theater. It’s been great year overall! Unless you’ve been chopped by Venom, eaten by a Sandworm, devoured by King Shark, ran over by Dom Toretto, or sucked into a ghost trap. 

I want to congratulate the creative minds behind season 2 of COVID-19. It all started with the ongoing plot of getting the vaccine into people’s arms and ended with an epic cliffhanger… What will the world do without Betty White? What will Impractical Jokers be like without Joe? Will booster shots make you run races faster?! Find out in the hopefully short-lived, season 3! 

Last year, you may have watched some award shows like the Golden Globes, the SAGs, and the Critics Choice and may have noticed some degree of virtual technology being implemented. You may not remember this, but at the Golden Globes this year, when Daniel Kaluuya won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture he said, “I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, this is an honor, and now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go in my chair, and watch the rest of the show with my pants off.” 

“Four Good Days” starring Mila Kunis and Glenn Close has received a Best Picture nomination for today’s ceremony! Congratulations. In addition, Mila Kunis and Glenn Close were nominated for their performances as Molly and Deb, and the film also received a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. Four good days is also how long it is gonna take the average person to read the 4th annual Jackoff Awards!

I want to give a big congratulations to Denis Villeneuve and his brand-new movie. I really enjoyed the first half of the pilot episode of “Dune.” Very much so that I willingly watched it twice in two days. 

“Dune” released this year in theaters and on HBO Max on October 22nd to successful results given the current circumstances. The film is based on a novel by Frank Herbert and centers around a group of people who attempt to bring peace to the sandy planet of Arrakis. It’s interesting seeing a movie where people actually want the desert planet. Isn’t it often the other way around? There’s a reason why a couple Skywalkers went away from Tatooine. You think they wanted to spend their lives in all this freaking sand? What’s so beautiful about Arrakis? Does it have a profitable pod racing industry?

“Space Jam” received its first sequel after a couple decades, “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” The film stars LeBron James, who is joined by his co-star, the green screen. 

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” released this year and has been a big success for both Marvel Studios and Sony. Studio executives everywhere all thought the same thing, “We should try making more superhero movies!” 

I don’t know EVERYTHING about Spider-Man, partially because the character has existed for such a long time, it’s hard to catch up on every single comic, video game, and television episode. But I do know that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is said to be one of the top 2 “Spider-Man” films in the past six months. 

Speaking of “Spider-Man,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was also a big success at the box office. The film made over $90 million on its opening weekend, which at the time, was a COVID-19 pandemic record. SPOILER ALERT! Tom Hardy has a mask on for most of the film!

Other MCU movies that came out this year include “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi,” and “Eternals.” In the time that it took me to tell you this information, they announced five sequels to each of these movies. 

Zendaya’s had quite a year between “Spider-Man,” “Dune,” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” all these films have had some degree of success. Fun fact about Zendaya, she once said if she could not be an actress, she’d be a teacher or a basketball player. So she settled for being Spider-Man’s girlfriend. 

Zendaya is both a love interest to Tom Holland’s character in the “Spider-Man” movies in addition to the two being real life partners. Things were going great in their relationship until Zendaya found out Tom Holland sleeps on the ceiling.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” released early this year in March! “Godzilla vs. Kong” has received a Best Visual Effects nomination, congrats! SPOILER! The winner of the film is every city that these two titans didn’t destroy. 

“Army of the Dead” released in theaters and on Netflix this May. This is Zack Snyder’s first Netflix feature film and second directorial effort ending with “of the Dead” after his attempt at remaking “Dawn of the Dead.” The film is about a group of people in Las Vegas trying to take a lot of money while also avoiding sleazy zombies. In other words, it’s just a weekend in Vegas. Nothing too crazy. 

“West Side Story,” the Steven Spielberg-directed remake starring Rachel Zegler was nominated for several awards today. You want to know how many nominations this movie got? It’s a Jackoffs record! 11 nominations baby! Unbelievable! “West Side Story” is arguably the second-best shark movie directed by Steven Spielberg. 

It was a jaw-dropping experience. 

Steven Spielberg, speaking of which, during last year’s show, he was actually recognized as that year’s Roger Deakins award winner, which is given out to anyone who has an outstanding achievement in film worth celebrating. The achievement, allowing Hollywood to make one dinosaur movie every three years. 

Steven Spielberg has film credits going back to 1959. Yeah, Steven Spielberg has been making films for such a long time, that when it came time to make the “Jurassic Park” movies, he reflected on a time of his life when an asteroid hit the Earth. Steven, you invincible son of a gun.

San Diego Comic-Con cancelled their in-person event for the second year in a row, once again resorting to their Comic-Con at Home concept. On the bright side, a lot of the core demographic going will not have to face a certain problem, which is, going out and talking to people.  

AMC Theatres had quite a year. Have you guys been following the story about the meme stocks? At one point, everyone jumped on the bandwagon to raise GameStop’s stock, then they did the same with AMC. Over the winter, all these people on the Internet came together to bump AMC’s stock price, which helped the chain in terms of keeping their cash flow deep into the year. Yeah, they had so much dough that they started projecting all their movies in bright digital gold! 

WHY IS VENOM HURTING MY EYES?! 

Also at AMC, have you seen this? They’re now playing an advertisement starring Nicole Kidman. She’s walking into an AMC, going through the auditorium entry hall, she enamors herself with the wonder of the big screen. This is a first in AMC’s history and has aired a number of times during television broadcasts. I’ll also add, they’re apparently airing this ad in theaters, the place exactly where you happen to be buying AMC’s products! Congratulations, AMC! You figured out an algorithm, it’s called, going to a website, and suddenly seeing it advertised on your computer for the next three days! 

I ALREADY bought a house on Zillow! What makes you think I want to buy another one?!

Also, what’s with Nicole Kidman’s outfit? This makes me think that I should not go to the movies and instead buy a ticket to the freakin’ opera!

Speaking of cinemas, this year we lost the Arclight chain. For those who don’t know Arclight Cinemas, they were a small chain of theaters mostly in California. They had locations in other states as well including Illinois and Massachusetts. Unlike some multiplexes, they had a policy that they’d usually play somewhere around seven minutes of trailers, which could sometimes come out to three trailers in total. That’s a great policy! AMC and Regal saw this idea and thought it would be great if they implemented SEVENTY minutes of trailers! 

That movie was great! But it can’t beat that 27th trailer!

2021 was the year when everyone and their rich mother went to space. Jeff Bezos. Michael Strahan. Richard Branson. It’s kind of like the space race except that everyone had enough money to upgrade to first class if they wanted to. 

One of the biggest stories when it comes to the celebrity space race has to do with William Shatner, one of the most famous actors in all of sci-fi. Known for his role as Captain Kirk, who journeyed strange new worlds in “Star Trek,” Shatner finally got the chance to ACTUALLY go where… Well, in this case, few men have gone before.

Two months after Shatner’s joyride in space, he ended up crashing his Mercades SUV into a sedan. True story. So, I’m assuming in addition to grampy Bill’s car keys, we’re also taking away his piloting privileges too? 

“Free Guy” was released this year, which made my top 10 of the year as I wrote it. “Free Guy” stars Ryan Reynolds as a non-playable character in a video game who wants to become a hero. Gamers everywhere are calling “Free Guy” “unplayable,” “broken,” and has received the complaint, “why is this one cutscene going on for two hours?!” 

“The Mitchells vs. The Machines” was nominated for Best Animated Feature! “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of the year’s best films, unless your name is Siri, Alexa, or Okay, Google! 

Andrew Garfield was nominated for his performance in “Tick…Tick…BOOM!”, a spectacular musical! “Tick…Tick…BOOM!” is a great movie, but it would have been better had the title not spoiled the fact that the protagonist failed to destroy the bomb at the end. 

You see what happens when Netflix fails to get the rights to “Mission: Impossible?” 

One of the biggest movies of the summer was “F9: The Fast Saga.” Now if you have witnessed the second iteration of the Jackoff Awards, you’d be aware that I surfaced a highly missed marketing opportunity that I feel everyone involved with “Fast & Furious,” or in the case of the movies nominated that year, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” should have considered. You may remember that I pointed out that the movie could have really used a promotional partnership with MAACO, the body shop perfect for all your uh ohs and explosions that make Jason Statham and The Rock look totally badass. Unfortunately, MAACO did not come up with a marketing deal regarding “F9.” Although this is a Jackoffs exclusive, another company reached out to the folks behind “Fast & Furious” about a commercial. But much like MAACO, the plan did not fall through. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you what could have been the perfect cross-promotion for “F9: The Fast Saga” and a famous insurance company.

You ready for some awards? No? Too bad! You’re getting awards! It’s time to commence the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards, starting with Best Animated Feature!

Movies have a way of bringing their viewers to worlds they cannot experience themselves. Animated features are no exception. Between robot apocalypses, magical wonderlands where everyone is gifted, and immersive social media worlds, animations this year have brought us to places that take us from reality and plant us in an unfamiliar, but exciting environment. As far as the previous year goes, these five animations are the greatest escapes of them all. Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE 

  • Belle (Nozomu Takahashi, Yuichiro Saito, Toshimi Tanio, Genki Kawamura)
  • Encanto (Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith, Jason Hand, Nancy Kruse, Lin-Manuel Miranda)
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht)
  • Sing 2 (Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy)
  • Raya and the Last Dragon (Osnet Shurer, Peter Del Vecho)

And the Jackoff goes to…’

Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Kurt Albrecht for “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!”

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of my late tagalongs this year, but I ended up having zero regrets when it comes to finally watching this absolute masterpiece of a film. Given how late I ended up watching this movie, I ended up not reviewing it, but in my top 10 movies of the year, I noted that this film is probably the hardest I have laughed at an animation since “The LEGO Movie,” and animations have a way of making you laugh in some ways that most live-action movies cannot. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” ends up working because of its animated nature, a lot of the styles and choices that are made and implemented into this final product are truly beyond the imagination despite using a concept that has been used in other movies, some of which can be called the greatest of all time. And you know what? I think “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” belongs in that club. It is one of the greats not just for animation, but also amongst movies in general. Congratulations to “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” you have won Best Animated Feature!

Moving onto Best Visual Effects, this category reflects realism within the imaginary. Authenticity within the imposters. The implementations within the mainstays. Special effects have had a large impact on films over the years from miniatures to puppets to modern day CGI. These five films are the latest and greatest amongst the aesthetically pleasing. Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS 

  • Dune
  • Eternals
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • The Suicide Squad

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Dune!”

Wow. Wow. Wow. Denis Villeneuve packed a punch, threw it, and it hit us all like a giant sandbag! The visual effects for “Dune” are a literal achievement, because even though the book has been adapted time and time again, Villeneuve brought a modern, detailed, almost auteur-like feel to the film. Everything from the giant sandworm to the spice to the explosive fight sequences. Let’s put it this way. A great blockbuster can show you jaw-dropping visual effects that will take your breath away. An epic blockbuster can make your jaw drop just from seeing visuals in the trailer. “Dune” is a massive, big budget, sci-fi treat. As mentioned in the monologue, I saw “Dune” twice in theaters, and I was easily marveled both times. The locations, the environments, the surroundings within all the locations. It adds up to be one of the most thrilling and inviting film experiences of the year. The visuals for “Dune” only make me more excited for “Dune: Part Two,” because if so much care was put into this film, I think it is safe to say that its sequel could receive similar treatment. Congrats to “Dune,” and this is its first win of the night!

It is time to unveil the first Best Picture nominee of the night! We will talk a bit about what the movie entails, and play a trailer for you all to enjoy. This is the first of ten nominees, and the winner was chosen by you at home. Who won the award? We will find out at the end of the show.

Our first Best Picture is the biggest movie in a couple years. Having broken box office records that we would be accustomed to be seeing broken in the 2010s, before there even was a pandemic, this film was an experience like no other. Finishing the touches of a two year old cliffhanger, Tom Holland returns to the big screen as the masked web-slinger, Spider-Man, to face his most multiversal challenge yet. Also joining him this time is Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, who tries to help Spider-Man in his ongoing crisis, only to lead themselves to a mistake that could mean the end of several civilizations as we know them. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, with great power, it is therefore my great responsibility to tell you that this is “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

2nd place. It is something that most people, despite its occasional prominence, try to avoid. Because why be the runner-up when you can be the best? Supporting actors like these five on the other hand, turn a second position into first. These supporting actors vow to amaze to a point where they steal scenes and bring a balance to the movie at hand alongside the leading roles. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

  • J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) 
  • Jared Leto (The Little Things)
  • Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man: No Way Home) 
  • Mike Faist (West Side Story)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah!”

It is has been over a year since my first and only viewing of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” but I was amazed by just about the entire cast from LaKeith Stanfield to Jesse Plemons to even Dominique Fishback. I thought everyone did a great job and offered some of the year’s best collective chemistry. However, if I had to pick one actor to praise above all, it would have to be Daniel Kaluuya, as he carried every scene he was in, and delivered the best mix of physicality and mentality brought to the screen this year. Kaluuya was a force of fire, bringing a real personality to life with a captivating, emotionally thrilling interpretation of Fred Hampton that had my jaw dangling from one moment to another. Kaluuya delivered one of the most attention-grabbing scenes of the year, where he gives a speech at a rally. Let’s just say I looked forward to it with what little I saw in the trailers, but I was even more impressed when we got the actual result. Here is a clip of Daniel Kaluuya from “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

And of course, we cannot have a Best Supporting Actor award without a Best Supporting Actress award. The job of the supporting actress is not necessarily to walk underneath the shoulders of giants, but accompany them on their cinematic journey. These five ladies walked the walk and much more. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

  • Judi Dench (Belfast) 
  • Glenn Close (Four Good Days) 
  • Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho) 
  • Ana de Armas (No Time to Die)
  • Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)

And the award goes to…

Ariana DeBose for “West Side Story!”

In a film as sappy as “West Side Story” can come off, it also comes with a little bit of bleakness. Several scenes take place in darker areas or have a more rugged color palette. Whenever Ariana DeBose comes on screen as her character of Anita, it just makes you want to move. Whether she’s busy singing about America, trying to convince people close to her to speak English, or simply talking smack to those around her, DeBose brings every dose of personality to the film that she can. I saw “West Side Story” twice, and while I really loved DeBose the first time around, I got incredibly giddy, almost to level of a kid on Christmas morning, whenever she spoke during the second viewing. Not only because her character was well written, but because Ariana DeBose brought her own flair to the role. “West Side Story” is Steven Spielberg’s first musical, but with DeBose in the mix, it feels more like he already made ten of them. You know DeBose is the winner when you literally grin like an idiot as soon as she starts speaking. Here is a clip of Ariana DeBose in “West Side Story.”

Our second Best Picture is yet another adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, who has been nominated for his efforts, this film is the story of a young boy named Paul Atreides, played by the remarkable actor Timothee Chalamet, who has been sworn to protect the universe’s most valuable asset. Joining Chalamet is one of the year’s most recognizable and talented casts with Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, and Stellan Skarsgard. The film has been hailed as a cinematic achievement, taking a book once considered unfilmable, but somehow marvelously bringing it to life. In this film, we are introduced to a magnificent universe of worlds, rivalries, and sandworms. Nominated for 10 Jackoff Awards, this is “Dune.”

As a guy who often cuts his nails a couple times a month and his hair buzzed as often as he can, I do not often think of makeup or hair as an essential feature of my being. But for these five groups, this is their livelihood, and they utilized said livelihood to let their respective actors and characters shine and simmer. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING 

  • Being the Ricardos (Ana Lozano, David Forrest, Kim Santantonio, Kyra Panchenko, Michael Ornelaz, Teressa Hill, Yvonne Depatis-Kupka)
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Vickie Lang, Kristyan Mallett, Donald McInnes)
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Donald Mowat, Love Larson, Eva Von Bahr)
  • In the Heights (Martha Melendez, Betsy Reyes)
  • West Side Story (Judy Chin, Kay Georgiou)

And the award goes to…

Donald Mowat, Love Larson, and Eva Von Bahr for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye!”

I’m going to be real with you. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a film that I never looked back on because of its story. Because of its screenplay. Because of how much I liked the characters themselves. A lot of what I like about “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is about aesthetic. From the costumes to the color palette to the makeup. The makeup and hairstyling departments receive their award today mostly because of one character herself, Jessica Chastain’s Tammy Faye. Jessica Chastain is one of my favorite actresses, so therefore I have a good idea of what she looks like and how she comes off whenever she performs. I rarely experience this with some actors, but as I watched “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” I felt like I had a true revelation that I was not for once watching Jessica Chastain, who again, is a proper thespian by herself, but she has been heavily enhanced her makeover which very much feels like the real life character she attempts to project. For that alone, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” earns its win. And I should also note the crisp hair job done on Andrew Garfield, who looks mighty impressive. Congratulations!

Now we move onto one of my favorite categories, Best Original Score. The original score of the film can sometimes make or break the production. Sometimes I watch a movie and maybe think it is not too great, but maybe I will listen to the music after. Whereas others utilize the score to their full potential to match the tone and feel of the film, making you more immersed into what is happening. I have listened to parts of some of these scores during my free time this year and have also admired them when watching the film from where they originate. Here are the nominees for Best Original Score.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 

  • Dune (Hans Zimmer) 
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (Tom Holkenberg)
  • Raya and the Last Dragon (James Newton Howard) 
  • The Suicide Squad (John Murphy) 
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (Michael Giacchino)

And the Jackoff goes to…

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 16: Composer Hans Zimmer arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Hans Zimmer for “Dune!”

This is “Dune’s” second win of the night! It needs eight more for a clean sweep! It also needs four more to tie the record for the most wins in a Jackoffs ceremony. For your information, last year, “Tenet” set the record for most wins in a single ceremony with 6 wins, which included Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture. After my second screening for “Dune,” I left the theater around 12:30 a.m. and made a half-hour trek home. My trek consisted of night skies, little traffic, and me blasting Hans Zimmer’s booming tunes in the car. One of my favorite scores of all time is from “Blade Runner 2049,” also directed by Denis Villeneuve. Also, it was partially composed by Hans Zimmer alongside Benjamin Wallfisch. Zimmer returned for “Dune,” making this next collaboration a worthy followup. During the press screening I attended the day before the film came out, I was in an end seat next to a wall. If you have ever been to theaters with two random seats on the sides, you know what I’m talking about. There were times during the score where percussion became enormously present and gargantuan that I could feel the walls shaking. So much love and passion was put into the score of “Dune,” and history shows it. While producing the score, Zimmer drove the team crazy with so many ideas, and clearly some great ideas made it into the final cut. The book was a huge inspiration for Zimmer during his younger years, so I am glad that he is getting to make a project he is proud of. And frankly, I am proud of it too. Congrats to Hans Zimmer! Here is a sample of the score for “Dune.”

Our third Best Picture was voted my #1 movie of the year, and it is almost not even a close competition. In a year of great comic book movies, I have hailed this film as the greatest installment in the Detective Comics Extended Universe to date and another home run for director James Gunn, whose creative freedom is extremely evident. This film delivers the greatest cross between dark humor and heart ever conceived. Anybody can make an R-rated film with tons of blood and gore in it, but it takes a true genius to create one with blood and gore, with emotionally charging scene after scene. This film has a stacked cast from Margot Robbie to Joel Kinnaman to Sylvester Stallone to John Cena to James Gunn mainstay Michael Rooker. With some of the industry’s most awe-striking visuals, the film is a feast for the eyes, and I’m not just talking about mature content. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Suicide Squad.”

Just recently, I just showed you a revolutionary GEICO commercial, and you may just be thinking, that’s all the stuff he has today for commercialized content. No, I have another. And you might be thinking, why is this guy showing all this tied in commercialized crap? First off, I’m not getting paid for this, so it’s not tied in. Second, this is such a neat coincidence because I actually have been working on another awards show dedicated to commercials and selling you all sorts of stuff. …It’s called The Game Awards. It’s gonna be great. 

With that being said, I am proud to announce the second ad of the night. I want to thank one of the official sponsors for the Jackoffs. I am sure they are having a headache just thinking about our partnership. What do I mean? Just watch the ad. Take a look.

We are moving onto the design categories of the ceremony. What do Best Costume Design and Best Production Design have in common? Well, you cannot wear a building, so that’s one difference. Although as for commonalities, both crafts have their people who dedicate hours upon hours to making sure the talent look as pretty as the backgrounds that surround them. We will be starting this segment of the ceremony by honoring the designers who create labors of love that they wear on their sleeves, and talent wears all over themselves. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN 

  • Dune (Bob Morgan, Jacqueline West)
  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Michael O’Connor)
  • The Last Duel (Arthur Max)
  • Last Night in Soho (Odile Dicks-Mireaux)
  • West Side Story (Paul Tazewell)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Odile Dicks Mireaux for “Last Night in Soho!”

How could I not pick this film? The film is literally about someone who wants to be a fashion designer! It’s like going to Chicago and missing out on deep dish pizza! What are you doing with yourself? I contend that “Last Night in Soho” may be the most aesthetically pleasing film of the year. Not only is it a breathtaking, time-travelling trip back to the 1960s, it accentuates the beauty and glamour that said era provides. When my grandfather sits in a rocking chair and tells me what happened back in his day, I would not think he would have lived in London, but I would love to imagine that he lived in an era as enchanting as this. All the clothing is Heaven-like from the dresses to the suits, everyone is dressed to nines and makes all the neon surroundings that much more attractive. Congratulations to Odiles Dicks Mireaux!

And speaking of surroundings, it is time to honor five production designers who made the best surroundings of the year. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN 

  • Belfast (Jim Clay)
  • Dune (Patrice Vermette)
  • The French Dispatch (Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo)
  • Last Night in Soho (Marcus Rowland)
  • West Side Story (Adam Stockhausen)

And the winner is…

Marcus Rowland for “Last Night in Soho!”

THIS. WAS. TOUGH. I mentioned when talking about “Last Night in Soho’s” costumes that the surroundings of the film are a pure highlight. I am not lying. Every frame of this film is infused with color that fits the characters in front of them, from particularly quirky walls to the neon that flies all around the city. The same goes for another nominee, “The French Dispatch,” but looking back, I felt more through the 1960s nostalgia of “Last Night in Soho” compared to the typical Wes Anderson quirkiness of “The French Dispatch,” not to put such an aspect down. Years ago, certain filmmakers fought to keep the art of black and white filmmaking alive, and while such a debate may have been worth having at the time, I would love to go back in time and introduce them to “Last Night in Soho,” which may have one of the finest color palettes in film history due to its similar, but slightly varying environments, and the variety of neon lights that come in scene after scene. When we go back to the 1960s, the movie theater felt attractive to the point where part of me wanted to watch “Thunderball.” Congratulations! “Last Night in Soho” takes home both design categories!

Our fourth Best Picture is a collaboration between acting legend Glenn Close, who you may know from the Oscars as the lady who wouldn’t stop shaking her butt, and a modern actress with the whole package, Mila Kunis. The film is based on a true story that has been slightly changed for the screen, but said changes did not stop the movie from delivering one of 2021’s most compelling and enthralling scripts. Close and Kunis deliver two great performances with Kunis arguably giving the best of her career. At the end of the day, this is a real drama with important issues that showcases the struggle of addiction. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “Four Good Days.”

Every year during the Jackoffs we take a moment to recognize two people who have earned respect in the industry through their craft. Why two? One is alive, and one is not. We will be presenting the first of two lifetime achievement awards tonight, the Roger Deakins award. The Stan Lee award, which is presented for someone no longer with us, will be awarded later in the show. 

The Roger Deakins award is given to individuals who are still with us today who have brought a major punch to the movie world. Past recipients include Roger Deakins, a cinematographer known for crafting brilliant shots through films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski. Bill Murray, an actor whose comedy chops have made many movies worth audiences’ time through the years. And Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest directors of all time with a resume ranging from Jaws to Jurassic Park to Minority Report. Coincidentally, those three movies are going to apply to this year’s recipient. Because this year’s winner has created some of the most iconic sounds in film history. And I do not mean sound design, sound mixing, but something you hear almost every movie. Music. This year’s winner was born in Flushing, New York, where his music origins are clear. He ended up being the son of a percussionist for CBS Radio and the Raymond Scott Quintet. During his college years, he attended UCLA and Los Angeles CIty College, beginning his mark on his Angelino background and as one of Hollywood’s greatest composers. When he started, he was a piano player for productions like “Some Like it Hot,” and he even composed a few scores himself during that time during an episode for “Playhouse 90,” more episodes for “M Squad,” and even more episodes for “Bachelor Father.” His earliest film composition was for “Daddy O,” which currently stands at a 1.9/5 stars on Letterboxd, a 2.7/10 on IMDb, and a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes. Obviously, the film of a lifetime. But he went on to craft some of the most iconic movie scores of all time, many of which are continously blasted and hummed today. “Jaws,” “Superman,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Harry Potter.” Chances are if you ever saw a movie, you may have heard this man’s music somewhere. Did I mention he comes from a family of music? Yes? Well, that legacy lives on as he has a few kids of his own, a couple of whom are rock musicians. He is no stranger to the awards scene, having won 5 Oscars, 3 Primetime Emmys, 7 BAFTAs, and 4 Golden Globes. He also holds the most Oscar nominations for a living person with a total of 52. He has collaborated with Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His work with the latter allowed him to sell the most popular orchestral album of 2020. Perhaps his most famous creation is his scores for “Star Wars,” which have been celebrated as much as the movies which they come from. He composed every movie in the “Skywalker Saga,” including the most recent installment, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which some thought may be his last work in the “Star Wars” franchise. That is until it was announced he would be composing the music for “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the upcoming show on Disney+. I am also proud to announce that I have very close seats at a concert event he is doing this year at the Hollywood Bowl this September. The world would never be the same without this man’s music. This year’s Roger Deakins Award goes to the maestro of our time, John Williams!

ORLANDO, FL – APRIL 13: Composer John Williams attends the 40 YEARS OF STAR WARS PANEL during the 2017 STAR WARS CELEBRATION at Orange County Convention Center on April 13, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** John Williams

I could play a victory celebration, but unfortunately we do not have time to waste. But hopefully unlike Chewbacca, John Williams ends up getting his award. Congratulations to John Williams, one of the greatest composers of all time.

Now, for those who are new around here, I am currently a college student, and I often find myself doing assignments that I make strictly for the professor to grade and then almost never touch again. Although there is one assignment I did last year for a class called Comparing Cultures Through Film. The assignment was at the end of the term, I had to take what I have learned about films I watched in that class, which takes an aspect of culture that applies heavily in its time and place, and make a film about a culture that speaks to me. So I chose to tell a story that blends YouTube, physical media, and technology. I have the film for you all to watch, it’s just under 7 minutes, I hope you all enjoy it.

Our fifth Best Picture is one of the two animated films to receive such a nomination tonight. Originally slated for a wide release by Sony in 2020, but ultimately dropped onto Netflix and in select theaters in 2021, this film is one of the past year’s most exciting screenplays. Known for producing past animated hits like “The LEGO Movie” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, among others, deliver another hilarious adventure that support the notion that the animated genre is for everyone. With stars Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Michael Rianda as the Mitchells, they all come together to deliver one of the most charming and delightful robot apocalypse movies of all time. Nominated for 4 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

Let’s move onto the sound categories. Once again, we are sticking with tradition and starting with Sound Editing, because E comes before M, therefore editing comes before mixing. These are the five movies of the year that deliver the most pleasing sound concepts. Here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.

BEST SOUND EDITING 

  • Dune 
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 
  • The Suicide Squad 
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

And the award goes to…

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife!”

This is the only nomination “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” had for the entire ceremony, and it wins because of its unique standpoint. I often compare “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which if I did a Jackoff Awards in 2016, I probably would have nominated for this exact category. Part of it is because of its use of sounds that are nostalgic to the point that the make themselves prominent to the viewer. Because let’s put it this way, anybody can make a ghost scream. Anybody can turn on a proton pack. But “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” delivers an impressive use of nostalgia through what I can only describe as minimalism. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” despite being one of the year’s most highly anticipated blockbusters, executes each nostalgic sound beautifully by allowing the viewer to take everything in one scene at a time, not to mention one second at a time. I very much enjoyed the sounds in “Dune” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” but those films occasionally feel more chaotic, although I will admit, the former does have plenty of time to breathe. All the films deserve to be nominated, but only one can win, and this is the one. Congrats to “Ghostbusters: Afterlife!”

Now here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing!

BEST SOUND MIXING 

  • Belfast 
  • Dune
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • The Last Duel 
  • No Time to Die

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Dune!”

This is “Dune’s” THIRD win. Once again, this was a tough one! But I chose “Dune” because all the sound in the film helped bring this story to life. Many people have different interpretations and ideas of how the book would appear in real life, but I think it is safe to say that Denis Villeneuve and a bunch of other people who work on the movie have brought this fantastical universe to our reality in both a grand and compelling fashion. Between the sandworms, the explosions, and the sounds of the sand which is always in sight, “Dune” is a movie that is not afraid to make its presence known. “Dune” is one of the most boisterous films of the year between its booming score from Hans Zimmer and intense action sequences. But it does not imply that there are no moments of subtlety. The sounds for the one on one fight between Paul and Gurney is one of the simplest, yet enchantingly audible sequences of the year. “Dune’s” sound mix is a balancing act at its finest, and that is why a hearty congratulations must be given to the team who put this mix together.

Our sixth Best Picture is yet another animated movie that is being honored at today’s ceremony. From Disney, comes a film where a young girl goes on a quest through the realm of Kumandra, where dragons almost cease to exist. With a voiceover cast ranging from Kelly Marie Tran to Sandra Oh to Awkwafina, this film is as adventurously fun as it is ridiculously funny. Scored by James Newton Howard, whose talents have also been shown through the scores for other 21st century Disney pictures including “Treasure Planet” and “Maleficent,” the film promises a journey of friendship, trust, and discovery. Speaking of music, this is an unusual Disney feature where there are no written original songs, allowing us to focus more on the characters in each one of their moments. Nominated for 3 Jackoff Awards, this is “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

It is time to recognize the Best Screenplays of the year, and we will be starting with the original category. For the newcomers to this awards show, no, we will not be continuing with the sequel category. But before we get to the second of the screenplay categories, we shall honor five original ideas that brought joy and wonder to audiences this year. Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

  • Being the Ricardos (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)
  • The French Dispatch (Wes Anderson)
  • Last Night in Soho (Edgar Wright, Krysty Wilson-Cairns)
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Mike Rianda, Jeff Rowe)

And the winner is…

Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe for “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!”

Yes, animated movies can win categories too! “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is one of the most charming movies I have watched in a long time. The film is from Sony Pictures Animation, a studio I do not often think about, but they have been on a roll the past couple years between this and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Animations often excel because they try to execute ideas that would not often work in a live-action environment. Maybe something would be too crazy, or hyperactive. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” embraces that idea and dials it up to an 11 with some of the most intense and insane attempts at humor, yours truly has ever seen. This is the vibe of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” if someone decided to put it in animated form and give it a style that is almost reminiscent of “The LEGO Movie.” Everything from the inserted bubble texts to the cutaway with the monkey to the massive, outrageous action sequences, some of which I cannot even believe they got away with in a film that was probably meant for families, was top notch. It’s like the crew decided on a rule to be as crazy as possible and went with it. And for that, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is a gem. Congratulations!

And when I say we are not moving onto the sequel category, I mean it. Even though we are moving onto a category which contains ideas that are inspired by others, not one of them is a sequel. However it is time to honor a remake that takes inspiration from a sci-fi novel, an idea based off of a news story, a historical event based on a 2004 book by Eric Jager, the true life story of the man who created “Rent,” and a remake based on a popular musical inspired by “Romeo & Juliet,” so many ideas, so many recreations, so much glory. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

  • Dune (Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth)
  • Four Good Days (Rodrigo Garcia, Eli Saslow)
  • The Last Duel (Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon)
  • Tick, Tick…BOOM! (Steven Levenson)
  • West Side Story (Tony Kushner)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Steven Levenson for “Tick, Tick…BOOM!”

Last year’s Jackoffs had an interesting result for the Best Original Screenplay category, and that is almost imitated this year. I say almost, because this involves something that happened with this Adapted Screenplay category. The thing, of the five nominees, the one to win is the only one that was not nominated for Best Picture. “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” was a movie that came out of nowhere for me. I did not watch the film on Netflix, I ended up watching it in the theater. But I feel like doing so allowed me to sink myself in to some of the points this movie was trying to make through its script. “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” feels like the combination of the everyday dreams and nightmares of being a struggling writer. The film has marvelously realized numbers, imaginative sequences, and as an aspiring writer, I felt the words uttered on the screen, especially in one scene towards the end of the film. It took me back to a screenwriting class where I learned a lesson that I had to keep in mind every single day. It is something that as a writer that I understand why I need to hear it, but it is also something that makes me wonder if it limits my creativity. The idea that I should write what I know. I consider writing an escape. I want it to be a travel away from what I know. If you enjoy writing or are an artist of any kind, “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” is for you. Congratulations to Steven Levenson!

Our seventh Best Picture is a tale of perspective and truth coming together. This story is told in three ways, with each one having slight differences compared to the last. Actors like Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer grace the screen through this gritty epic where questions and bias arise. Directed by Ridley Scott, this film encapsulates what happens when the fight for the truth becomes the fight for everyone’s lives. Trust, companionships, and emotions are all broken in this two and a half hour story that pits friend against friend, allowing for a match that could change the course of history. Nominated for 6 Jackoff Awards, this is “The Last Duel.”

Editing is one of the most essential aspects of any production. Including this one. I edited the trailers. I edited the intro. I edited the sketches together. Just about any production you can think of comes together because of an edit. Whether it was done on Adobe Premiere, Avid, Final Cut, or even a splicing machine, editing lines everything up together and allows a previously existing vision to finalize itself into its ultimate form. These five movies have the greatest edits of the year. Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing.

BEST FILM EDITING 

  • Being the Ricardos (Alan Baumgarten)
  • The French Dispatch (Andrew Weisblum)
  • The Last Duel (Harry Gregson-Williams)
  • The Suicide Squad (Fred Raskin, Christian Wagner)
  • West Side Story (Michael Khan, Sarah Broshar)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Harry Gregson-Williams for “The Last Duel!”

A few of these films are nominated because of their editing quirks. On the other hand, “The Last Duel” is nominated for how it handles seemingly normal editing techniques. “The Last Duel” has some of the most intense sequences ever created for modern cinema. I do not know what Ridley Scott’s goal was with this film, or Harry Gregson-Williams’s for that matter, but the two have joined forces to make a film that part of me almost never wants to watch again because of how GREAT it is. It did its job from a storytelling perspective of making you care for the characters at hand. The final battle between the two leads was gripping and emotional. The camera lingers on each character long enough to properly highlight their stakes within the situation. If the sound, shots, or interlinks were messed with a single bit, it would be harder to consider this film to be as epic as it is.

“The Last Duel” also has a nomination for Best Cinematography. And joining it happen to be four other truly deserving nominees who have their fair share of beautiful wides, breathtaking closeups, and marvelous shadows. The job of the cinematographer is to deliver the finest and divinest images for the biggest and smallest screens. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 

  • Dune (Greig Fraser)
  • The Last Duel (Dariusz Wolski)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Bill Pope)
  • Tick…Tick…BOOM! (Alice Brooks)
  • West Side Story (Janusz Kamiński)

And this year’s Best Cinematography award goes to…

Dariusz Wolski for “The Last Duel!”

Dariusz Wolski has had an impressive resume throughout his career. Doing everything from blockbusters like the first four installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” to more adult fare like “News of the World.” With the latter and this very film included, this is Dariusz Wolski’s first win and second nomination. Wolski has a trademark of delivering shots that cover the entire scope of an area. His wides deliver some of the finest pieces of camerawork of the year. With an essence of detail and inclusion, each shot looks as inviting as the next. And there is no wonder why he and Ridley Scott have collaborated from one project to the next between “Prometheus,” “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” and “The Martian.” The two are currently working on a Napoleon Bonaparte project alongside a sequel to “Gladiator,” giving audiences more to look forward to. Congratulations!

Our eighth Best Picture is one of the two Marvel Studios films that has been nominated today. Of the two, this one released first, specifically in September when theatrical exclusives were on the rise again. Having banked a $70 million opening weekend, this film is a financial success by the standards of the pandemic era. Much like “Black Panther,” one of this film’s strengths is its well-executed diversity while also writing a compelling story. Much of the film centers around two characters played excellently by Simu Liu and Awkwafina, the latter of whom also appears in another Best Picture nom, “Raya in the Last Dragon.” With stunning visuals, stunts, cinematography, and Marvel’s trademark blend of comedic and serious nature, this is yet another action-packed thrill that just about anyone can enjoy. Nominated for 3 Jackoff Awards, this is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

They say not every film is perfect. Whoever said that is right, not every movie has the word “perfect” in the title. Speaking of films not being perfect, there have been lots of films over the years that have been great, but if they tweaked one or two little things, they could make for the ultimate Friday night on the couch or at the theater. Can you imagine how much better “Jaws” would be if the shark shot lasers? Can you imagine how much better “Clerks” would be if the convenience store were guarded by wrestling robots? Can you imagine how much better “Cats” would be if… They… DIDN’T make it? When it comes to 2021’s films, I think a lot of them are absolutely fantastic, including our Best Picture nominations. But there’s always room for improvement. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the fourth edition of Film Improvements!

We are down to the final five and it is time for Best Original Song. Last year we honored four films that made brilliant, compelling originals for all to enjoy. Why four? Because one movie had two songs. This year, we honor five. While times and honorees change, the ideas are still the same. These five movies, artists, and songs, moved audiences everywhere this year. Whether it was animated or live-action, the songs were pitched perfectly and written elegantly. I would also like to note that a couple nominees’ names have been added since announcing them two weeks ago. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG 

  • A Million Miles Away – Mamoru Hosoda, Kaho Nakamura (WRITER), Taisei Iwasaki (WRITER/COMPOSER), Kaho Nakamura, and Kylie McNeill (PERFORMED BY) (Belle)
  • Down to Joy – Van Morrison (Belfast)
  • Dos Oruguitas – Lin Manuel Miranda (WRITER/MUSIC), Sebastián Yatra (PERFORMED BY) (Encanto)
  • On My Way – Alex Lahey (The Mitchells vs. the Machines)
  • No Time to Die – Billie Eilish (No Time to Die)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Mamoru Hosoda, Kaho Nakamura, Taisei Iwasaki, and Kylie McNeill for A Million Miles Away from “Belle!”

This is the second year in a row where an animated film is the winner for Best Original Song, following in the footsteps of Rocket to the Moon from “Over the Moon!” “Belle” is a film that despite this Best Original Song nomination, is not exactly the most original concept as it was inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.” After all, Belle is a character that is prominent in both of these tales. But one of the best moments of the entire film comes toward the end where one character makes an unexpected choice, and then belts out this song. I will not say anything more because doing so will spoil the movie, but this song helped give “Belle” the proper finale it needed and deserved. I like all these songs. No Time to Die is as epic as can be and I went to a “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” taping a couple weeks ago where Sebastián Yatra played Dos Oruguitas for all of us, which was amazing. That was also a contender because of the emotion such a song can provide, even to someone who doesn’t speak Spanish. But A Million Miles Away wins because it handles its subject matter brilliantly while also being a great song on its own. It is wondrous, emotionally charging, and has wide range of instruments to accompany it by the end. Below I have provided two links to the song. The FIRST is the Japanese version. The movie comes from Japan, so therefore some would call this the proper version. This one is performed by Kaho Nakamura. But the SECOND version, for some of my audience who may prefer something different, is in English. That one is sung by Kylie McNeill. Feel free to listen to one song, both, you choose. These are eight minutes each, so listen wisely! Here now is the song A Million Miles Away from “Belle!”

We are down to the final four! It is anybody’s game! “Dune” could possibly win one or two more Jackoffs! There are a couple films that have not won an award all night that could swoop in and take the cake like “Four Good Days” and “Belfast,” maybe Meryl Streep could come in and steal every award! We still have FOUR categories! We’re almost at the end.

One of the most important positions, in fact, what is arguably THE most important position for all of filmmaking, is the director. Movies like “Dune,” “Tick…Tick…BOOM!,” and “West Side Story” would not have been adapted properly had it not been for the touch and passion their auteurs, Denis Villeneuve, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Steven Spielberg provide. While originals like “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho” would not be here if it were not for the unique, and sometimes off the wall thinking of the minds of Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright. All five directors deserve the honor, but one will leave the best of them all. Here are the nominees for Best Director.

BEST DIRECTOR 

  • Denis Villeneuve (Dune) 
  • Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch) 
  • Edgar Wright (Last Night in Soho) 
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tick…Tick…BOOM!) 
  • Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

And the Jackoff goes to…

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 22: Director Steven Spielberg attends the Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation during Comic-Con International 2017 at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Steven Spielberg for “West Side Story!”

Last year, he won the Roger Deakins Award! This year, he claims another victory! Spielberg is Best Director. I’m gonna tell you the truth. If you asked me what my thoughts were about Steven Spielberg doing a “West Side Story” adaptation a year ago, I would not have cared. I love Spielberg, but “West Side Story” was never something I watched, never something I listened to, so I did not know what to expect. But the more I watched the teaser trailer, I had an idea that Spielberg may have known what he was doing. While I never ended up watching the 1961 film prior to this ceremony, I have seen the 2021 film twice in the theater. There was a constant between one show to the next. Enormous numbers, epic music, tremendous performances all around, and swooping shots allowing for some of the finest camerawork all year. “West Side Story” was a huge part of Spielberg’s growing up, and now that he has aged to a certain point, he was able to take his child-like wonder and combine it with his perked up experience. Some directors say they want to be the next Spielberg. Many friends of aspiring filmmakers hope said aspiring filmmaker becomes the next Spielberg. Here is hoping that this movie will inspire future filmmakers the same way “Jaws” did for one generation and “Jurassic Park” did for another. Congrats to Steven Spielberg!

This next Best Picture is the latest film from Edgar Wright, known for his fast-paced and exciting previous efforts like “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Baby Driver.” The film centers around a young girl, played marvelously by Thomasin McKenzie, who moves into an apartment in London with the hopes of taking her dreams of becoming a fashion designer to the next level. And her life is much like a dream as she occasionally ends up in the 1960s, where we meet a dazzling, promising singer, portrayed elegantly by Anya Taylor-Joy, who has a complicated rise to being a star. The film is as attractive through its neon infusion as it is suspenseful through its stellar script. Nominated for 5 Jackoff Awards, this is “Last Night in Soho.”

Now we just presented Best Director, and one of the most important jobs of a director is making sure their actors are competent and comfortable enough to do their job. Because the job of an actor is to convey to the audience that they are believing the lie that is in front of them. Even if it is truth within an adaptation or social commentary. Sometimes actors, like Nicole Kidman for example, play actors. But just because they play themselves, does not mean they forget to do so with talent. It does not mean they forget that the audience is watching them and waiting for that one moment that will take them out of their seats and into the scene, feeling totally convinced and in agreement with the lie that’s in front of them. Here are the nominees for Best Actress.

BEST ACTRESS 

  • Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) 
  • Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) 
  • Mila Kunis (Four Good Days) 
  • Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza) 
  • Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)

And the award goes to…

Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye!”

Much like “West Side Story,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a movie I never ended up reviewing on Scene Before, but had I been given the chance to do so, I would have been RAVING about Jessica Chastain. For a long while, Rachel Zegler was the frontrunner for me. She packs such enormous talent for a body as tiny as hers. Jessica Chastain came swinging and swooping in at the last minute, delivering an inconceivably on point performance for her character of Tammy Faye. I never grew up with Tammy Faye, nor was she ever a part of my life. But between her almost cartoon-like expressions, accentuating the heavily detailed makeup on her face, all the way to her trademarked voice, Chastain put me in a trance that was difficult to exit. Chastain has had quite the resume thus far with “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Martian,” and my all time favorite movie, “Interstellar.” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” as a movie, is no “Interstellar,” but Chastain’s performance here may be her greatest yet. Here is a clip of Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

It is time for Best Actor, where we honor the male liars! This year, we will be honoring five men big and small, young and old, thin and thick, black and white, these are not lies. But the five men who have been nominated have delivered some of the most delicious and convincing lies of the past year. Here are the nominees for Best Actor.

BEST ACTOR 

  • Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) 
  • Jude Hill (Belfast) 
  • Will Smith (King Richard) 
  • Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza) 
  • Andrew Garfield (Tick…Tick…BOOM!)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Andrew Garfield for “Tick…Tick…BOOM!”

WHAT A YEAR for Andrew Garfield! You know how good it has been for Andrew Garfield? Well, aside from being in a film with the guy who made “Hamilton,” let me remind you, Jessica Chastain just won Best Actress. Her co-star in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” was Andrew Garfield, who also did a great job in that film! I have never known about the story behind Jonathan Larson, I have never watched or listened to “Rent,” I knew nothing about this movie’s subject matter. And in a way, I don’t see myself getting myself too much further down the rabbit hole, but Andrew Garfield not only brings Jonathan Larson to life, but I saw a little bit of myself in him. An aspiring artist who hopes to simply get by from day to day, working on his lifetime masterpiece that nobody actually might see, only to occasionally get close to a semblance of success without actually achieving it. I was floored by this story and as an artist, I can see myself going through some of the things this character goes through, and Garfield embodied that from start to finish. Garfield also sang the numbers like a champ, giving him some extra points if you ask me! Here is a clip of Andrew Garfield in “Tick…Tick…BOOM!.”

It is time for the second of the two Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Stan Lee award. This award is given to someone who is no longer with us as of the past year, but has earned a great deal of success while revolutionizing the industry. Past recipients have been Stan Lee, the cameo master and Marvel creator whose characters are used in television and film. Syd Mead, whose work as a visual futurist helped bring us films like “Blade Runner” and “Tron,” and Ennio Morricone, a legendary composer known for his scores in westerns, some of which have been used in a variety of media to this day. Now, a Golden Girl will join the ranks. The winner of this year’s Stan Lee award is an actor whose movie credits include Lake Placid, Bringing Down the House, and The Proposal. While she definitely appeared in a film from time to time, her forte was television. Every now and then, you would find her on game shows from “Match Game” to “Tattletales,” and even “Password,” which had been hosted by one of her husbands, Allen Ludden. She has become a celebrity game show icon to the point where she is perhaps more well known in the genre compared to some television hosts. Her most famous creation for television is “The Golden Girls,” which aired on NBC from 1985 to 1992, with a total of 7 seasons and 180 half-hour episodes. The show consistently reairs its episodes on television and has become known for its chemistry between its cast and its iconic theme song, “Thank You For Being a Friend.” At age 95, she joined the Academy, making her the oldest new member at the time. Some of her later roles were in big budget animations like “The Lorax” and “Toy Story 4.” In the latter of the two, she played a character kind of named after herself, Bitey White, which she would go on to portray once more in the Disney+ original “Forky Asks a Question.” This would become this legend’s final acting credit, and just one of the 126 she has listed on IMDb. When she was not busy blazing a trail on her own variety show, or earning a Guinness World Record, or doing one of the episodes for TVLand’s “Hot in Cleveland,” she was an activist and animal lover. She has dedicated as much of her life to helping animals as much as she spent living out her acting career. When she died at age 99, people did point out that she got to live a good life, but there were also complaints from some that she did not get to make it to 100. When you are 99 years old and people still think you died too soon, you have made a massive impact on those who look up to you. I am proud to honor one of the most revolutionary actors and personalities of all time, one who is so beloved that Alex Trebek once selected her to replace him when he leaves “Jeopardy!.” This year’s Stan Lee Award goes to Betty White.

Some say that Betty White’s death made 2021 end with a whimper. I prefer to think that she brought gold to the Heavens and the great beyond. And maybe, a little extra gold would not hurt. Congrats to Betty White, may she rest in peace and thank you for being a friend.

Our final Best Picture nominee is proof that not all remakes are terrible. Based on a play of the same name, which takes some inspiration from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” this film is about the rivalry of two dancing street gangs and the perils of falling in love with someone from the other side. The film has a remarkable cast, led by Rachel Zegler as Maria, who hopes to make herself comfortable in New York City, an enormous, unfamiliar environment as far as she is concerned. Directed by last year’s Roger Deakins Award winner, Steven Spielberg, he continues to prove that he is arguably the greatest director to ever set foot in the film industry. Enchanting musical sequences with booming music and intricate choreography deliver a treat for both the eyes and ears, but it does not stop the film from having incredibly compelling moments from character to character in every other scene. Nominated for a record-breaking 11 Jackoff Awards, this is “West Side Story.”

We have arrived at the final category, Best Picture. First off, I want to give a big congratulations to all of the nominees tonight. Second, I want to remind everyone of how this works. Unlike the other eighteen categories presented during the ceremony, Best Picture is the only one where I do not choose a winner. That is decided by the people at home, the viewers. I have tallied the votes one by one, and I can declare that one of these movies is going home with the biggest honor of the night. Past honors have gone “Avengers: Infinity War,” “1917,” and “Tenet.” So, will another MCU film take home the crown? Will DC steal Marvel’s spotlight this year? Will “Dune” or “West Side Story” acquire yet another win? Will an animated movie claim victory? It’s hard to say… To me… All these movies are winners. I cannot choose one.

I mean that literally and figuratively. I gave the voting power to the public.

Here are the nominees for Best Picture!

BEST PICTURE 

  • Dune (Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve, Cale Boyter, Jon Caracciolo Jr.)
  • Four Good Days (Rodrigo Garcia, Jacob Avnet, Jon Avnet, Marina Grasic, Jai Khanna)
  • The Last Duel (Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Jennifer Fox, Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck)
  • Last Night in Soho (Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Edgar Wright)
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht)
  • Raya and the Last Dragon (Osnet Shurer, Peter Del Vecho)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Kevin Feige, Jonathan Schwartz)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal)
  • The Suicide Squad (Charles Roven, Peter Safran)
  • West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger)

And the Best Picture of 2021 is…

“Dune!”

This is the tenth nomination and fourth win for “Dune.” The film also won Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Mixing. “Dune” was also nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Director. This is the second Best Picture win for a Warner Brothers film.

To make it to the top, one must not fear! Warner Brothers takes home another Best Picture win, and “Dune” is officially the most respected movie of 2021! In a year where we have three comic book movies nominated for Best Picture, all of them are beaten by the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic! Like many movies of the past couple years, including last year’s Best Picture winner, “Tenet,” “Dune” was on its way to being one of the biggest movies of its time, only to face a significant hurdle. COVID-19. The film was set to release in December 2020, only to be pushed back almost an entire year where it would end up releasing both in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time depending on your market. Again, I saw “Dune” twice in theaters! And both theatrical experiences added up to be some of the most exciting of the year. Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. In addition to “Dune,” he directed my #2 film of the 2010s, “Blade Runner 2049,” a movie that may honestly be better than its 1982 predecessor. While “Dune” has been brought to the screen before, it should not come as a surprise that Denis Villeneuve brought an epic interpretation of Herbert’s novel to the forefront given his knack for great sci-fi. The book was a part of his growing up, much like composer Hans Zimmer’s, who also won an award for Best Original Score during this exact ceremony. Some remember that “Dune” was once brought to the screen by director David Lynch. Despite Villeneuve’s respect for Lynch, he tried to refrain from using his material as inspiration, and Hans Zimmer did not even watch Lynch’s film to begin with. This provided for one of the year’s most unique film experiences, even though I could compare it to franchises like “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.” Although, in actuality, the book came out before the first “Star Wars” movie, so it’s like we have a patterned family tree on our hands. And it is one of greatness. Much like those two franchises, “Dune” is no stranger when it comes to showing off its technical aspects. The sound is obnoxiously beautiful and the effects are a special kind of special. You truly have not watched a movie until you witness a full-scale sandworm. The film has a cast stacked to the brim between Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, and Stellan Skarsgard as one of the creepiest looking and sounding villains I have heard in my life. I. WANT. MORE. I put “Dune” amongst the ten best pictures of the year for a couple reasons. Like its nine competitors, “Dune” was a great movie on its own. Some claim that the movie feels unfinished. I prefer to think that the movie finishes the story it sets out to tell. It has a main character who goes through an arc and changes through the runtime, but it promises a new story as a reward for those who sat through this already exciting one. Promises have been made, but not by forgetting to deliver something great with what we already have. “Dune Part Two” releases in 2023 and hopefully this sequel can follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. Congratulations to Warner Brothers! Congratulations to Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve, Cale Boyter, and Jon Caracciolo Jr! Congratulations to “Dune,” you have won Best Picture!

That’s all the winners! That’s all the categories! Categories like Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, and even more categories that some award shows may or may not decide to present! Congratulations to all of the movies that have released in 2021, regardless of whether or not they were honored at this ceremony! I want to give a special shoutout to all our winners and nominees! Thank you for making this edition of the Jackoffs a great one! Shoutout to everyone who voted for Best Picture, you made your choice possible by clicking a button! If only life were always that easy!

That’s our show! For those who want to stick around on Scene Before I have reviews coming for “The Batman” and “Turning Red!” I will hopefully see you all for a fifth ceremony in 2023, where I am thinking of changing the name. Apologies to winners of the Twitter poll in 2018. Until then, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, check out the Facebook page, and Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Top 10 BEST Movies of 2021

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Happy start to the new year as we get excited for another slate of movies and cinematic history! Speaking of cinematic history, it’s time to reflect on some of said history as I count down the top 10 BEST movies of 2021. If you are new to Scene Before or have not read my countdowns in the past, the rules go a little something like this. First off, this is a subjective list. This is a list of the movies that I think are the best. This is not a test of how much I know about movies, nor should it be a test of how much you and I agree on movies. As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks. Also, I should note that I have not seen every single movie that has come out in 2021. I still have not seen “Licorice Pizza,” I still have not seen “Don’t Look Up,” I still have not seen “The Matrix Resurrections.” I have not had the time or motivation to see every movie that has come out this year, it’s just the way it is. So if you’re wondering why there’s a movie that is not on this list, I either didn’t enjoy it as much as the ten listed here, or I didn’t see it. One or the other. OR, it was not released in theaters. For the sake of not clogging this list, I’m only listing films that came out this year theatrically, so apologies in advance to “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” as good as that movie is. Before we dive into my main ten, I want to list three honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention: Tick, Tick…BOOM!

Kicking off the honorable mentions list is “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” stars Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, who would eventually go on to create the musical “Rent.” Speaking of musicals, this is a beautifully done couple hours of Andrew Garfield singing and dancing his way through life as a struggling artist that sort of reminded me of my own life as an aspiring artist myself.

Honorable Mention: Eternals

Up next for honorable mentions is “Eternals.” “Eternals” is the twenty-sixth MCU movie and Chloe Zhao’s first film released after the Oscar-winning “Nomadland.” This film introduces a bunch of new characters to the universe and gives them all their own moment to shine through a beautiful, visually stunning, slightly romantic tale that makes many of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe installments feel small.

Honorable Mention: West Side Story

And finally for honorable mentions, we have “West Side Story.” I saw this film at an IMAX Fan Event and was blown away. Rachel Zegler shines as the lead role of Maria, and the same can be said for a lot of the other actors in their respective roles, especially Ariana DeBose as Anita. With stellar cinematography, an enchanting retelling of a classic tale, and dazzling musical sequences, “West Side Story” is my favorite musical of the year. Steven Spielberg has another top-notch project to put on his endless resume.

With that being said, these are my top 10 BEST movies of 2021!

#10. Free Guy

Starting off this list is “Free Guy!” I was looking forward to this movie for a long time. The film was originally set to come out as early as summer of 2020, but of course, it got pushed back multiple times due to COVID-19. Honestly, it was worth the wait. I think this is a perfect film for today’s gaming culture because it successfully deals with topics and issues that gamers have to push themselves through today between microtransactions and not being in on the latest trends. But even with that in mind, it is just a damn good movie. Directed by Shawn Levy of “Night at the Museum” fame, this film centers around a non-playable character who wants to become a hero in a video game after realizing how mundane his life is. That’s a cool concept, which eventually becomes well executed. Ryan Reynolds stars in this film and at times you can say that you can pick on some of his trademarks as an actor, but for a film like this, it works. Plus the climax is epic and hilarious in every way. There are only a couple movies I can think of this year where I’ve laughed harder. If you like Taika Waititi already, I promise you, you will want his autograph with authentication on it by the end of this film. The dude plays this executive and he’s got the personality of a DJ who spends his spare time in a gang or something! I don’t know if his mannerisms were his ideas or the director’s, but he brought this character to life! I think “Free Guy” is one of this year’s most accessible, fun, and entertaining flicks. Check it out!

#9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

This year we returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while “Black Widow” was entertaining, it is not good enough to be on this list. So instead, we’re gonna talk about the badass film that came out after it, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings!” This has everything an MCU origin story needs and more. New likable characters, intense non-stop action, and glorious CGI from start to finish. I will admit, the third act is a bit of diversion from the first two, which is why this is a bit lower on the list, but I still had a ton of fun with it. I saw it twice in IMAX and I had fun both times. Also, can we just admit that Wong may be arguably the MCU’s best supporting character at this point? People often joke about the MCU and how it often relies on humor to keep things going. This film is no exception when it comes to humor, and by that, I mean, it is sometimes ridiculously funny. It’s got some of the most laugh out loud lines I’ve heard in the saga. There are quite a few martial arts sequences that it feels weird to say, twenty-something movies in, had my jaw drop to the floor in regard to how marvelous they were executed. They were quickly paced, fun, and had me on the edge of my seat. What really makes the movie though is the chemistry between the characters. There’s a lot of family drama within Shaun and the people who raised him, and I felt all of that. Also, I could literally watch a sitcom with the two main characters, Shaun and Katy. The two are delightful together and brilliantly cast. Simu Liu and Awkwafina have brought one of my favorite relationships into the MCU today. I don’t often think my mother would want to watch a comic book movie in her spare time, it’s never been her genre, but I would recommend this film even to her. I think it’s just an easy film to digest. If you’re not into comic books or superheroes, I think you’d still like this movie, and that is one of the best compliments I can give a movie of this kind. 

#8. The Last Duel

Coming in at #8 is “The Last Duel!” Ridley Scott directed two movies that came out in 2021, the other being “House of Gucci.” Of those two, I only saw this one, and it was great! This film is told in a rather unconventional order, but I think it was a great way to go about telling this story. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon deliver their first script to the big screen together since “Good Will Hunting” and brings in a compelling cast along with them. Adam Driver gives one of the best performances I have seen from him. Jodie Comer, who was already delightful in “Free Guy” is a different kind of great in “The Last Duel.” This film ultimately reveals what happens when you have one story, and three different people with altering perspectives. I left this film feeling satisfied because of how it ended, but to get to that ending, I had to go through one of the all-time most uncomfortable moments I’ve endured as a moviegoer, but it made the ending incredibly worthwhile and all the more fulfilling.

#7. Dune

At #7, we have “Dune!” I tried reading the book for “Dune” and gave up quickly. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t have time for it, but it did not stop me from absolutely looking forward to the “Dune” movie. It was my most anticipated film of the year and it did not disappoint. This is sci-fi at its finest. Denis Villeneuve continues to make a case as to why he’s one of the best directors working today. “Dune” has been out since October, so I don’t know if it is still in cinemas near you, but if it is, or if it ever comes back, PLEASE make an effort to go see it in a theater. Maybe Oscar season will give it some help. “Dune” was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had watching a movie on the big screen in some time. I went to the press screening for it the day before it opened, I had one of those end seats right next to the wall. It’s one of those situations where there’s two seats next to the stairs, then on the other side is the main part of the row. At times I could literally feel the wall next to me shaking like there’s no tomorrow. “Dune” is a film that introduces its fair share of lore and characters, and rarely is it ever uninteresting. People argue that the ending of this film is a bit abrupt, and you could make that argument, I could see why you would say that. But this film ends at a proper place. It’s Paul Atreides starting at one point, fulfilling an arch, and therefore finishing at another. To me, it didn’t feel abrupt, it felt like the end of one story and the start of another. As for that other story, I cannot wait for it. 2023 is gonna be epic when “Dune: Part Two” hits the big screen.

#6. Four Good Days

Coming in at the next spot is “Four Good Days,” which is arguably Mila Kunis’s best work as a performer. Well, acting-wise I should say. “Family Guy” as a concept has heavily influenced me over the years, but that’s more on the written portion than anything else. But when it comes to “Four Good Days,” this is one of those movies that came out of nowhere for me. I honestly don’t know if I wouldn’t have seen this if it weren’t for seeing a clip of it on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” so good on them for advertising it properly. Kudos to the marketing crew. As for the actual movie, it is one of those movies that is hard to believe that it is somehow in actuality, a true story. It’s real. A lot of things were changed in the film, but the story is nevertheless real. Mila Kunis and Glenn Close have dynamite chemistry and may be one of the best on-screen pairs I have seen in a long time. If you have a chance, check this movie out. One of the most moving experiences I’ve felt in a while.

#5. Raya and the Last Dragon

Up next, is one of this year’s surprises and overall best animations, Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon!” If you know the history of this movie and all the development changes that happened after all the press it got at D23, you could look at it with a bit of skepticism, but it turns out that the changes did not matter much as the movie kicks ass from start to finish! All the characters from Raya to Sisu to Boun are charming and inviting. This movie is so hypnotizing and fun that it is easy to forget that the villain is literally a bunch of blobs. How imaginative! Either way, if you want a great family movie, I give this the highest of recommendations. Also, shoutout to James Newton Howard, your score is incredible. I listened to the prologue several times this year. Weirdly enough, and I’m not complaining about this because it works, this is one of the rare Disney animated movies where you don’t see anyone singing. If you ask me, this is what the live-action “Mulan” should have been. Take notes! Also, between Netflix’s “Over the Moon,” which more people should watch at least one time and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” animation revolving around Asian culture has been killing it lately!

#4. Spider-Man: No Way Home

For many, this was the most anticipated film of the year. For me, it was kind of that at first, then the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. Then I saw the movie only to have said nerves washed away. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” This is the second top 10 in Scene Before history, not counting honorable mentions or MCU films where he is not the focal point, where a movie featuring Spider-Man makes it in. This character is showing no signs of slowing down. Every goal that this movie had written down, it checked off. It entertained the audience. It brought nostalgic feels while also trying to freshen up the characters of today. For me, this was an event film that felt bigger than “Avengers: Endgame,” because I went to see this film twice in two days and both times my theater LOST their minds over everything that was on screen. And I gotta give credit to Jon Watts and the writers of this film. Even though this film relies heavily on aspects of the past, it’s not like the live-actionish version of “The Lion King” where it doesn’t try anything new. There are some real character moments in this film that I personally was not ready for. I knew given how this was the third film of a trilogy, I would be getting something rather emotional, but even with that, seeing this all play out made me motionless a couple times. Tom Holland is great as Spider-Man and gives his best portrayal of the character yet. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock is back and just as impressive as his 2004 interpretation. And I would argue Willem Dafoe is even better in this film than he was in 2002’s “Spider-Man.” Do I think we’re getting too many superhero movies? If they continue to make them as good as this, then absolutely not. If we kept getting more movies like “No Way Home” as opposed to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” then bring em on!

#3. Last Night in Soho

We are nearing the end of this countdown and I cannot go on without mentioning Edgar Wright’s latest master class work, “Last Night in Soho.” This film reminded me of why I love movies. I went to see this at a 9:30 p.m. opening Thursday night screening at a historic venue near Boston in 35mm. I went for the nostalgic gimmick and intent to support local cinema, by the way, if you are a cinephile and in the Boston area, PLEASE make a trip to the Coolidge, but I ended up getting something much more. “Last Night in Soho” works not only because of Edgar Wright’s neon-infused, trippy, downright disturbing vision, but because of the compelling performances of its two lead actresses, Thomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy, the latter of whom I’ve seen in other works, but I will say this is probably the best she’s done to this day in regards to cinema. I will admit, I am a sucker for neon. It’s my favorite chemical element. Gosh, that’s how much of a nerd I am. I literally have a favorite element on the periodic table. Therefore, I was a tad predisposed to loving the atmosphere of the film as it waltzed back and forth from the 1960s London to present London. Each and every frame had me transfixed on the screen like I was five years old and looking at action figures. I had an idea on how they did some scenes as I looked at the shots, but part of me wanted to know as soon as I left the film how they put certain scenes together. I mean, even if you take out the fantasy and horror element, at its core, this movie is about dreams. Like “La La Land,” where the whole idea of the film is about people who want to pursue what they love, and the consequences or dangers they may face because of it. The two films are completely different in terms of setting, genre, subject matter, and I’d say the movie we’re focusing on is more dramatic as opposed to comedic, but they have similar themes and the main characters have alike motivations. “Last Night in Soho” is perfect for any movie night with the lights dimmed and the popcorn right in the palm of your hand.

#2. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my favorite animated movie of the year, and I would also claim that this is the hardest I’ve laughed at an animation since “The LEGO Movie,” it’s another project from producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines!” I waited months to watch this film, but after I watched it, I don’t think I’ve felt as satisfied after watching an animation since last year’s “Over the Moon.” Yep, I’m mentioning that movie again, it’s that good. This is a brilliant story about a dysfunctional family whose lives collide between tools and technology. The dad is obviously tech-challenged, but everyone else, including our lead character Katie, has a hang on things. The film does what a lot of other films with a sci-fi angle have done over the years like “The Terminator” and “2001,” which basically develops the story to the point where the robots try to destroy humanity and take over. Not a new concept, but the way it is handled here is INCREDIBLY fresh and the evil A.I. antagonist is undeniably brutal and ridiculously savage. It’s like if GLaDOS from “Portal” were transferred into a cell phone and had the ability to magically disintegrate the remains of Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and OK, Google! I love this movie. I enjoy animations, and I hate how people think animations are “only for kids,” because this one can suggest that THEY ARE NOT. This is probably the most fun I’ve had watching an animation in some time. There are actually some really dark images I’m almost shocked this movie got away with. And of all the movies I have seen this year, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” may have the greatest replay value because they pack the screen with so much information that I want to look at all of it in clear detail. Between that, in addition to the the unique animation style, a concept that Lord and Miller are not a stranger to courtesy of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and the bone-breaking, throat-destroying hilarious writing, “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is probably going to warrant repeat viewings. All movies are made to make money, but I think “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” comes off as this year’s greatest animated passion project!

#1. The Suicide Squad

Alright, here we go. We have made it to #1 and I assure you all that this pick was probably a definite since I first saw the movie. If you thought “Spider-Man: No Way Home” would be my favorite comic book movie of the year, guess what? You’re wrong! The film is epic in every way, but because of a couple minor issues, it’s lower on the list. This next film is a comic book movie that met every expectation, sometimes exceeding it, gave me one of the best theatrical experiences of the year, and made me laugh harder than I do during most comedies! James Gunn, you have done it again! My #1 movie of 2021 is the bloody, the brilliant, the diabolically insane masterpiece! I’m talking about “The Suicide Squad!” I have not seen every single DC movie in existence. I’ve seen a lot of the highly praised ones like “The Dark Knight,” Tim Burton’s “Batman,” “V For Vendetta,” and I honestly think “The Suicide Squad” outranks ALL of them! This film is not only ridiculous, mature fun, but it is also a surprise! Because if you wondered where my excitement level was in 2020 when this movie was being made, I would have put them low considering how 2016’s “Suicide Squad” was not that great, and “Birds of Prey” was barely passable and I mean BARELY despite the amazing talent of Margot Robbie. When I saw the trailers for this film, I was fully onboard. It promised brutal action, an immature yet genius script, and tons of humor. And we got all of those! But what I was not expecting months before going into “The Suicide Squad” is the amount of heart it had. James Gunn, based on his outings with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a delightful way of balancing mile a minute humor with real connections with real people, even if they aren’t people! This film got me to care about a man-eating shark who wears shorts and has the vocabulary level of a three-year-old. On the surface, he’s a killer that will tear you apart, but at the end of the day, all he wanted was friends. Polka Dot Man… Holy s*it. I LOVE HIM. I was at a mall the day after I saw this movie and I bought his Funko the moment I saw him. Polka Dot Man may have the most twisted mind I have seen in recent film history. He turns people into his mom and kills them! I mean, the guy on the surface is practically a joke character, but they successfully managed to turn a joke into a logical part of a storyline that made sense and provided real depth and emotion. I love what they did with him. Ratcatcher II may be responsible for delivering this year’s most emotionally charging ending. I won’t even say what it is, but the second time I watched this film after obtaining it on 4K Blu-ray, I had water in my eyes because she highlighted this film’s idea of people being misunderstood. What it means to come off a certain way and not be given a chance. This is the third movie with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and this is frankly the best she’s ever been as the character. She’s wonderfully insane, occasionally loud and upbeat, and super funny when she needs to be. There is a great scene, very well directed I’d say, where we see Harley killing all these people and we get her perspective on it, and she basically thinks she’s in wonderland! It’s kind of sick, but beautiful! Will Smith did not come back for this film, instead the lead this time is Idris Elba, and much like 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which had Will Smith playing Deadshot, Elba’s character of Bloodsport is doing the mission he’s assigned to for his kid. His rivalry with Peacemaker, oh my god. That was fun to watch. Speaking of Peacemaker, I think his costume may be the most ridiculous yet awesome costume in recent superhero movie history. Yes, it’s comic accurate, but it literally looks like something out of a kids superhero movie, but based on the content of this R rated film, it did not distract me, especially from the surprisingly compelling performance from John Cena himself. He’s been in things in the past, but he’s not exactly proven his acting abilities to the world. “The Suicide Squad” however made him incredibly convincing. Most specifically in the third act. Some might compare this to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which too was directed by James Gunn, because it has criminals trying to save the universe, and both involve select comic book characters that some regular Joes won’t be able to point out, but I honestly think this movie did that concept better. It handles SO MUCH blood and gore while also trying to provide hints of heart every which way, and that makes this movie so damn watchable. This is the best R rated comic book flick I have seen in my life, and the fact that this film is OVER “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on this list to me represents how great of a year it is for the genre, even if “The Suicide Squad” undeservedly flopped at the box office. I’d think twice before putting this film on with your kids, but I highly recommend it to just about anyone who loves a great action film with tons of humor. “The Suicide Squad” is my personal favorite film of 2021.

Thanks for reading this countdown! I always enjoy recapping the year in film and showcasing my favorites of the year, and depending on how things go in the next month or two, these ten films could be the Best Picture nominees of the Scene Before award show, The 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! I’ve still got more movies to see, so things could change! I always love celebrating the things I love. But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as tomorrow I will be releasing my list for the top 10 WORST movies of 2021. This year, collectively, was a better year for film than the last, but trust me when I say that within all the special snowfalls that looked pretty, we had some occasional treacherous downpours. We’ll be talking about those TOMORROW, January 12th! If you want to see this list and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of 2021? Our lists are probably not the same, so I am excited to hear your picks! List them in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Suicide Squad (2021): The Best DC Movie Ever

“The Suicide Squad” is written and directed by James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) and stars Idris Elba (Thor, Pacific Rim), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), John Cena (Blockers, Wipeout), Joel Kinnaman (Robocop, For All Mankind), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Over the Top), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder, Fences), Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Divergent), Peter Capaldi (Paddington, Doctor Who), Daniela Melchior (The Black Book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and David Dastmalchian (MacGyver, Ant-Man). This film is a sequel, well kind of, to 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and is the latest film set in the Detective Comics Extended Universe. The film is about a bunch of vigilantes, some of whom we’ve seen before like Harley Quinn and Rick Flag, in addition to newbies like Peacemaker and King Shark who are put on a mission to destroy all traces of Project Starfish.

When I saw “Suicide Squad” five years ago at the theater, I enjoyed it. Safe to say, my opinion quickly changed as soon as the home video release period came up because I got the movie as a Christmas gift, I popped it in, specifically the extended edition, and found myself displeased with what was in front of me. Harley Quinn was great, but the way they handled certain plot points and some of the editing was not up to my standards. Looking back, it looked like an effective ad campaign for Hot Topic without even mentioning the brand’s name once. Therefore, I was a tad weary going into “The Suicide Squad,” because prior to “Wonder Woman 1984” which came out last December, “Suicide Squad” has long stood as my least favorite DCEU film. So it has an offputting stain of displeasure. But there were also a few attractive factors brought to table that made me feel the need to see this film as soon as possible.

First, the film is rated R. While we have gotten some comic book movies over the past few years with said rating, including “Birds of Prey” which is also set in the DCEU, this did intrigue me as the previous “Suicide Squad” was PG-13 and I was curious to know how this film could be taken in a darker direction. Plus, if the “Deadpool” movies have proven anything, it’s that there is some REAL fun to be had with R rated comic book films.

Second, James Gunn. In case it matters, this guy is responsible for my senior quote in high school. This is a true story by the way, for my senior quote, I did some searching and came across one in particular from James Gunn’s IMDb page that stood out to me.

“I have a very strong imagination and have since I was a little kid. That is where a lot of my world comes from. It’s like I’m off somewhere else. And I can have a problem in life because of that, because I’m always off in some other world thinking about something else. It’s constant.” -James Gunn

I chose this quote because of how much I relate to it. I too consider myself to be imaginative, and in addition to that, I cannot say how much this ties to Gunn himself, but I have ADHD, therefore I am constantly wandering off from my own reality to somewhere else in my head. Here’s the thing, I graduated high school in 2018. That same summer, Gunn was fired by Disney due to old, offensive tweets being resurfaced. Gotta say, on the topic of my choice of senior quote, AWK-WAAAARRD. Keep in mind, Gunn notes that he is not the same man he was when he was younger. He has matured, he has evolved. But for those of you who know the story, he eventually was hired by Warner Bros. and DC. Of all the projects that Gunn could have chosen for DC, he ended up doing what we now know as “The Suicide Squad.” I have heard a number of stories on this film’s production. But one of the things that I have heard, at least on James Gunn’s part, is that the studio basically gave Gunn complete freedom to make whatever the hell he wanted.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, I really liked the trailers for this film. John Cena looked like he was gonna be a riot. Margot Robbie, per usual has a fine balance of mystery and humor within her Harley Quinn persona, and right off the bat, this actually did feel like a James Gunn film with the songs they chose for each trailer. In the end, this was easily my most anticipated film of the summer. And I thought that BEFORE the film had a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score for a period of time. But the past has proven that hype can kill a film. It’s happened to me with “Midsommar,” and in the case of James Gunn, I’ll even add that this happened with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which was my #2 most anticipated film of 2017, but I do not remember it fondly. I had a freight train of thoughts going into this film. What are my thoughts leaving the film?

It’s the best DC film ever.

Not just DCEU, I mean DC period. Like… Better than “The Dark Knight.” Better than “Wonder Woman.” Better than “V For Vendetta.” THIS FILM SLAPS!

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is what happens when you let a director make their movie! James Gunn is outright unhinged with this film. He’s the sole writer and director, and he has pretty much made every decision possible regarding the product. Not once did I feel like I was watching something that was done by a studio head at Warner Brothers. I think it is hilarious how in just less than a month, we get “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” arguably the most corporate, commercialized film Warner Bros. has put out to date, and then we get this masterpiece from James Gunn. Unbelievable!

When 2016’s “Suicide Squad” came out, I said that it felt very much like another version of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” After all, you have all these criminals coming together for the same purpose, but despite them being bad, they join forces to save the world. Plus both films sort of relied on rock heavy soundtracks, which looking back, “Guardians” did A LOT better than “Suicide Squad.” “Suicide Squad” felt as if it was trying to copy the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy” but the former attempted to in a way that was inferior to the latter. I am glad to note that we got the ACTUAL director of that “latter” to come in and make something great out of a franchise that provided one of the worst comic book films of the last five years. And much like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” part of the success is achieved from taking lesser known, or less appreciated comic book characters and putting them into scenarios that can turn them into gold. In MCU speak, I bet a lot of people knew who The Incredible Hulk was before his movie came out. Same can be said for Thor. The same cannot be said for the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the DCEU, we’ve already had a movie with the Suicide Squad, but unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, it changes out a lot of the main characters in the first film like Deadshot and Killer Croc and replaces them with other characters in the second film. Yes, Harley Quinn is back. But I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that most people watching this movie amongst the general audience would care to know who Polka Dot Man is in the comics. I’ve heard of Polka Dot Man before, he made an appearance in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” But I cannot say I was all that familiar with his history as a character.

I never thought I’d say this. “The Suicide Squad” made me care about a superbeing who spews… POLKA DOTS! I mean, WHAT?! Who ever thought this could be possible? Again, this goes to show the master class of James Gunn. He got me to care about a talking tree in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” When you can get me to care about a costumed man who throws magical polka dots at people, he’s not just a good director, he’s a flat out genius. Seriously! You wanna know how much I cared about Polka Dot Man? I literally picked up his Funko Pop the day after my screening! I love this guy! They gave him the social awkwardness of a geek combined with the hyper mania fuel of a kid who just discovered Red Bull. I do not want to give much away about this movie, but by the end of “The Suicide Squad,” there is a visual that references a tactic Polka Dot Man often follows, and it may be one of the single funniest shots I have seen in a movie in years.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Harley Quinn. Right now I am personally having trouble deciding whether I prefer the Margot Robbie Harley Quinn or the Kaley Cuoco Harley Quinn in terms of their personality, but one thing I cannot deny is that Margot Robbie has aced her role in “The Suicide Squad,” providing her most insane portrayal of the character yet. I’ve always admired this iteration of Harley Quinn since 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” I always thought that she could take any scene she’s in and automatically become the star of the show. But the thing that I think makes Harley Quinn better in this movie compared to her last two outings is that Robbie channeled Harley’s inner madness to her full potential. There is a scene in the second act where she just spews tons of dialogue towards someone in particular, filling in all sorts of potential blanks. Quinn has gone from being a hilarious scene stealer to the psychotic lovable moron that she is now.

I also love King Shark. For a lot of people who turn on this movie, I think this portrayal of King Shark is going to be their first introduction to the character. I personally have been watching him through DC’s “Harley Quinn” show, so this is not my first rodeo with him. I like King Shark in “Harley Quinn,” but I LOOOOOVE him in “The Suicide Squad.” Basically, King Shark in this film is a funnier, raunchier version of Lennie from “Of Mice and Men,” a simple minded, CGI, walking, talking, briefs-wearing shark who will tear you to shreds if you so much as even get close to screwing around with him. At the same time though, James Gunn managed to write this character in such a way that effectively personifies him and makes him relatable. We see throughout the film that yes, he is a man-eating shark that can walk on land for some reason, but he has a rather subversively cute motivation that is nicely explored from start to finish. Also, Sylvester Stallone, you are a god. James Gunn picked you for a reason and you knocked this out of the park.

I also want to talk about John Cena as Peacemaker. I think out of all the characters in the movie, he was the one who I think Gunn did the best job at fleshing out in terms of complexity. Having seen Peacemaker’s costume in the marketing, I was a tad skeptical. Would Cena be too goofy? Would I take him seriously? Not gonna lie, as goofy as the costume looks, it really pops and I was able to take Cena seriously in the film. I sometimes talk about “Blockers” and how much I like that movie. Although one fair critique of that film is that John Cena, as funny and likable as he is, does not have the best range as an actor. I like him in the movie, but I think that is a fair critique. Here, I think James Gunn and John Cena are a perfect match for each other. I mean, look back at “Guardians of the Galaxy” and look at Dave Bautista. Sure, he gave a good performance in the film. It does not mean he’s the best actor. I feel like Bautista and Cena are the muscle of their movies. Their performances in their individual movies differ in ways, but that’s who their well-built characters are at their core. During the film, Cena delivered a lot of funny one liners, including some of the more memorable ones.

“It’s not a toilet seat, it’s a beacon of freedom!”

However, by the end of the film, without going into spoilers, there’s a moment where I could tell that John Cena has some legit acting skills. I felt the exact emotions his character was going through. What emotions exactly? I cannot say. But if you watch this film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I will also note for all the parents who want to take their kiddies to the brand new superhero movie that some call “The Suicide Squad,” you may want to think twice, because your kids have probably seen flashy violence in movies like “Batman v. Superman,” painful moments in movies like “Avengers: Infinity War,” but I could only wonder what would prepare your kids for the ultra-gorey and visceral madness that “The Suicide Squad” has to offer. This film is not just violent, it goes over the top in more ways than one. Let me just put it this way. The first act had me laughing and slapping my knees at all the crazy violence going on. That’s the result of a great movie. But the REAL craziness doesn’t even stop there. There’s some real s*it that happens towards the end of the film that no PG-13 film could get away with. It’s basically “Mortal Kombat” in the DC universe!

In fact, one of my critiques for “Birds of Prey,” the DCEU’s first R-rated outing, is that the film, while serviceable, NOT GREAT, but serviceable, has an R-rating attached to it, but I feel like by the end of the film, it does not do much to satisfy its R-rating. “The Suicide Squad” is so mature that it might as well tear the audience to shreds when presented in 3D! So immersive!

Did I mention the soundtrack? Oh yeah, this movie has a good soundtrack! It’s probably just as good as John Murphy’s score! Seriously, by the end, there was a song that gave me goosebumps that I was not expecting from a movie like this! James Gunn chose some songs that not only fit the scenes they were in, but I even think I like this one better than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Granted, I still think the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a better soundtrack than “The Suicide Squad,” but my point stands. The music in this film may as well have been put together by a mastermind!

Supporting the notion that no movie is perfect, let’s talk about one thing that I could consider to be wrong in “The Suicide Squad,” and by wrong, I do not mean that in a huge way, it’s just a slight nitpick. I am not going to get into full details, as this would involve spoilers, but there is a shot in the movie that if you really know how shots and visual effects mix together, it would make *spoiler* feel a bit more predictable. That’s the one nitpick I can come up with aside from one more thing, and again, this is not something that is a turnoff, it’s just something that is noticeable and needs to be addressed.

In 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which stars Will Smith as Deadshot, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. In 2021’s “The Suicide Squad,” which stars Idris Elba as Bloodsport, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. I know Will Smith was not in this movie for a reason, but still, it’s interesting how they barely changed certain traits about the main character. I mean if it ain’t broke don’t fi– Actually, I take that back, the 2016 “Suicide Squad” was pretty broke to begin with.

There’s not really anything else I can think of that turned me off in this film. Every joke landed. Every kill was satisfying. Every character was likable, and by the end of the film, I feel like everyone earned their destiny. James Gunn has a pure talent for making a film completely action packed and bonkers but also leaving enough room to have heart and soul in it. I started watching “The Suicide Squad” grinning ear to ear and laughing my ass off like a maniac, but by the end of it, I was simply in awe and I felt for all the characters. “Suicide Squad” from five years ago had me walking out saying I want to see more of Harley Quinn. “The Suicide Squad” had me walking out saying I want to see more of not just Harley Quinn, but King Shark, Ratcatcher, Peacemaker, EVEN POLKA DOT MAN… among other characters!

In the end, “The Suicide Squad,” I don’t want to sell it short. It’s the best freaking movie Warner Bros. has put out with a DC logo on it. Simply put, Marvel and Disney firing James Gunn is probably the best thing that ever happened to DC. And as a result, it may be one of the best things to happen in James Gunn’s career as “The Suicide Squad” has now become one of my favorite comic book movies of all time. Guys, I urge you to check this movie out. It is the literal definition of bonkers. It is something so violent, so funny, and yet so heartwarming. I almost wonder if we’ll get another DCEU movie like this again. I am looking forward to what’s coming up in the DCEU between “The Flash,” “Aquaman 2,” and “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.” But they are following in the footsteps of something completely unique and mind-boggling that I almost wonder what it’s gonna take to top it. James Gunn, you have made a masterpiece, and I am glad to know that my senior quote that I mentioned earlier has been redeemed! I’m going to give “The Suicide Squad” a 10/10!

“The Suicide Squad” is now playing in theaters everywhere, including IMAX, and you can also watch it for free on top of your subscription on HBO Max until early September.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that at the moment I am currently trying to review all four “Revenge of the Nerds” movies in a brand new review series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” This Monday, August 16th, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.” Stay tuned for that as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary! Also, I want to remind you all that this weekend, “Free Guy” hits the big screen, but I will probably waiting until sometime next week, maybe even next weekend, perhaps later, to share my thoughts on it. Life’s been crazy and busy, it is what it is. But, I will see it, I will review it, I am looking forward to it. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Suicide Squad?” What did you think about it? Or, what do you prefer? 2016’s “Suicide Squad?” Or 2021’s “The Suicide Squad?” My answer is pretty obvious, but I’ll let you share your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Warner Bros.’ Entire 2021 Lineup Going to HBO Max: My Thoughts

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As of right now, I am working on a couple reviews for Scene Before, but I had to make this because it is too important of a topic to ignore. But before we get on with this, I have two new reviews coming soon. My first review will be for “The Last Vermeer,” starring Guy Pearce which is in theaters now. Also, I will be reviewing “Half Brothers,” which opens this weekend. I saw the film early, so look forward to my reviews on those two films.

One of the few streaming services I have chosen to invest time and money into is AT&T’s HBO Max. Said investment has been… okay. Despite a decent lineup, things did not get off to a great start. But when I saw one of the service’s first exclusive films, “An American Pickle,” I could tell that movie-wise, this service had potential.

…Then we got “The Witches.”

And “Superintelligence.” Oh, please die.

Although one hint of news that shocked the world back in November is that “Wonder Woman 1984” would come out this Christmas both in theaters and HBO Max at no additional cost to subscribers. While I would have loved for this film to get a traditional theatrical run, where it joins HBO Max a little less than a year after its release, I am personally glad we are getting the film to begin with, and that it is going to theaters at all. In a year where every other blockbuster aside from “Tenet” got delayed, it is nice to see a true experiential film come to the big screen wherever these screens are open. I was fine with this, because a lot of people are going to stay home for Christmas because they might think it is safe from bad weather and conditions, not to mention COVID-19, but you also have families and individuals who may want an excuse to leave the house. In fact, I’m a part of one of those families, because I already scored IMAX tickets to see “Wonder Woman 1984” with my father and sister on December 27th, two days after Christmas. There is no way that this new technique will stop me from going to the theater.

But now… We have an expansion of this idea.

What was going to be a one-time thing, is now going to be a repeated effort. Because throughout 2021, the entire Warner Brothers lineup will premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. Now, keep in mind, if you plan to watch these movies on HBO Max, read the fine print.

These films, and this also includes “Wonder Woman 1984,” will stream on HBO Max for 31 days after its debut, at which point it disappears, finishes its run in theaters, goes to PVOD and physical media, and eventually returns to HBO Max and related channels. So just because these movies will come to HBO Max, does not automatically mean they will stay on HBO Max. Also, like “Wonder Woman 1984,” the Warner Bros. 2021 films will not supply an additional charge. If you are a subscriber, you do not have to pay extra.

Again, this is for the entire 2021 lineup, so this is a lot of films. Part of the list includes “Tom & Jerry,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Matrix 4,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune.”

A lot of people who follow the industry claim that this is the nail in the coffin for movie theaters. As one who unapologetically loves the movie theater industry, that is a sentiment I have never wanted to hear. It is still only hours after this news, it is not even a full day yet, but I have had some time to gather my thoughts on this.

There is a part of me that absolutely loves this idea, and there’s a part of me that absolutely hates this idea. But just like certain events in “Tenet,” this full love or hate has not happened yet. Right now, my mind is MOST LIKELY somewhere in the middle.

For starters, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Whether you believe it or not, it is the truth. Yes, I continue to go to the movie theater during a pandemic. Some people may question why I do that. That is a personal choice, and I will say that if I were not doing this blog, I may not stop going, but I’d probably go less. But for those people who want to stay home, they have likely been in front of their television for extended periods watching content like “Tiger King,” “The Boys,” “Raised by Wolves,” “The Mandalorian,” and “The Queen’s Gambit.” There have been several television programs watched throughout this pandemic, because people have been stuck at home in need of something to do. There has been plenty of television, but the same cannot be said for movies. Early on we got animations like “Trolls: World Tour” and “Scoob!” on premium video on demand services. These were serviceable options for families. And yes, we’ve gotten more options like “The Witches” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” but if you looked at the 2020 cinematic calendar pre-pandemic, you’d know that these two films probably would not crack the top 10 biggest films of 2020 list. “Wonder Woman 1984” is a perfect example of a big movie that will reach a wide audience. Comic book fans, families, women, and people who want to gaze at Gal Gadot for a couple hours. Admit it, come on.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 04: Gal Gadot attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

You know you love her.

It’s Christmastime, families are together, even if it is in smaller groups, and they might want something to do. This is a great idea for consumer choice. If you want to stay home, or if regulations require you to remain at home, HBO Max is a great idea. Otherwise, it would not be a bad idea to experience “Wonder Woman 1984” the way in which director Patty Jenkins likely intended.

One reality that is becoming increasingly likely is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel regarding COVID-19. The answer as to when precisely the COVID-19 pandemic will end is a different story. We already have multiple vaccine candidates from outlets including Pfizer and Moderna. As to when they will be distributed to everyone, that is a mystery. Cases around the world are spiraling out of control, and humanity’s habits over the winter will likely determine whether we see a sharp increase or decrease in cases and deaths. So in a way, I understand Warner Brothers for wanting to cater to all markets at this time. But at this point, I think they are putting a lot of eggs into the HBO Max basket, and I honestly wonder if their investment will pay off. Having “Wonder Woman 1984” on the HBO Max service is a great way to get a bunch of new subscribers, and having new big movies every other week will only keep said subscriber base growing. However, this is only me theorizing at this point, because we have not seen how “Wonder Woman 1984” has done yet. Because I believe it is inevitable that “Wonder Woman 1984” will make less money at the box office than its predecessor. But how much less is another question. I do believe it will make at least $100 million worldwide. There are enough theaters open to warrant such returns, even with major areas such as Los Angeles county in California unlikely to fully reopen anytime soon. Despite how some will claim that “Tenet” is a movie *made for theaters*, which having seen it, it definitely is, “Wonder Woman 1984” is likely going to reach a wider demographic.

I should also point out, that even if the movie does not do well in the United States for whatever reason, not every country has HBO Max, so that might prompt more people to go the theater. But let’s talk about that. Because when this unprecedented release idea was announced solely for “Wonder Woman 1984,” chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark announced they were onboard. This is despite some outrage at a deal made earlier this year between AMC and Universal Pictures that allow their movies to play within a shortened theatrical window, at which point they make an early streaming debut.

Guess what? AMC does not approve. Here’s some words from the current CEO of AMC Theatres, Adam Aron.

“These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height. However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover. Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.

We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject. As this issue gets sorted out, we are nonetheless encouraged that vaccines protecting society at large against the coronavirus are very much at hand. So, it is our expectation that moviegoers soon will be able once again to delight in coming to our theatres without any worry — viewing the world’s best movies safely in our big seats, with our big sound and on our big screens.

Just to remind you, this is the same company that less than half a year ago made an asinine deal allowing Universal to avoid following the 90 day theatrical window. And sure, this deal may work right now with everything going on, but if we are to return to normalcy, this may not be finest policy to put in place. At this point I applaud AMC because not only does this go against the terms of the deal they made, but this new deal could take away a lot of money that could potentially go towards ticket sales that benefit both the studio and the theater to a degree. This will take away sales on concessions like popcorn and soda, which is where cinemas typically make their profits. In a way, I am a bit infuriated that despite Warnermedia’s previously announced commitment to theaters, they are more concerned about getting numbers on HBO Max.

And I get it, HBO Max, while its launch was not a complete failure, said launch was not necessarily a success either. The service was a bit laggy, they could not get the “Friends” reunion going, in fact they still have not been able to. I’ll also mention that it started off without being available on two of the main platforms, Amazon Fire and Roku, which by the way, IT IS STILL NOT AVAILABLE ON ROKU! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! GET A DEAL STRAIGHTENED OUT! I do not use Roku that much, but a lot of people do! Do the deal for them!

Right now, HBO Max has 38 million subscribers. While that is more than Hulu and Peacock, it is significantly less than Disney+, which honestly shocks me to no end. Because all Disney+ has done for main content since launch is “The Mandalorian” and almost nothing else! Right now, Disney+, which has turned a year old recently, has 73.7 million subscribers. One thing HBO Max has been doing right is delivering a bunch of new content both from the HBO channel and Max’s personal library. Apparently that might not be enough. Maybe bringing big movies like “Wonder Woman 1984” is going to help the service get a boost. Plus, unlike Disney’s previous effort with “Mulan,” HBO Max will not charge $29.99 to watch the film.

In the short term, increased subscriptions sound amazing. Bigger followings are always better. And while it is highly unlikely that “Wonder Woman 1984” will make $1 billion at the box office, imagine if this sticks around. Do you think we will ever see a billion dollar film ever again? I almost wonder if we’ll even see a film make half as much as that. This may start a slippery slope where movies are cheapened and less experiential. In a way, they become more like television. In this supposed future, movies are not made for theaters, they’re made for home. To me, movies are experiences. Some of my most iconic memories have been through watching movies at the theater, and even though I can have fun watching a movie at home, the experience of doing so will likely fail to have a lasting impact. I may have dreaded every moment of watching “The Emoji Movie” in a theater, but at least some of the other people’s reactions were something to remember it by. I now get to remember just how much I hated that movie. Another good example, “Ghostbusters” 2016. I despise that film. More than most films if I have to be quite honest. But the 3D was incredible and even though the film itself was terrible, I at least still have the memory of going. If we have a future where all Warner Bros. movies go to HBO Max, we may simultaneously have a future where we watch one movie, digest it, then forget about it until we move onto the next thing.

So now I ask the big question, does this equate to the death of movie theaters? I cannot say yes. But I also cannot say no. I’ll bring in the overused phrase, it’s 2020, anything can happen. But more importantly, I do not know whether Warner Bros. is going to stick to this plan. After all, when the biggest movie theater chain in the United States arrogantly refuses these terms, that may be a sign that Warner Bros. may want to reconsider their actions.

Also, let me just say on a personal note, that one of my biggest aspirations in my life is to make a film for everyone to see together on the big screen. Either as a writer, director, producer, or a combination of those things. With an uncertain future ahead, if more people continue to stay home, and there is a greater studio effort to do duel releases or skip theaters, my dream may be dead. This is a personal aspiration, but I thought I would let you all know. The COVID-19 pandemic has canceled a lot. But I outright refuse to let it cancel my dreams.

Homer At The Movies GIF - Movie MovieTheater Sexting - Discover & Share GIFs

But hey, if this new deal potentially means less people in theaters… That means less morons on their phones! There’s a silver lining to everything!

Let me be frank here, of all the studios operating today, Warner Brothers is arguably my favorite. When it comes to their older content, their library is enormous, while also maintaining a sense of quality. They have a steady relationship with some talented directors including Christopher Nolan, Patty Jenkins, Zack Snyder, and Todd Phillips. They own some of my favorite properties such as the DC Comics library, the LEGO movies, the “Lord of the Rings” saga, and “The Matrix.” Another reason why I love them is because they have shown they are committed to the theatrical experience, and when this pandemic started, I got a sense that they wanted to keep things the way they were when we had a return to normal, or at least a semblance of that.

Just because I unapologetically adore Warner Brothers, does not mean I cannot be honest. This HBO Max move is kind of scary. Movie theaters have shown they have taken enough pain in the last number of months. I see a recovery in 2021, but there is also a chance that the results of this deal, if it continues, could be cataclysmic for the exhibition industry. This eliminates many jobs, ends livelihoods, and destroys the fabric of many communities. I would love to see a future where moviegoing returns and we can enjoy it the way we did in 2019, but I do not think we can get there if we put a bunch of big movies onto streaming, even if they are in theaters. Admittedly, this is better than what Disney+ is doing with “Soul,” which is making it an exclusive on their service and nowhere else, but it is still kind of frightening as one who hopes to make movies one day.

Movies are not dead, nor are cinemas. But we live in a world where people are itching to get back to concerts, comedy clubs, and sporting events. If we can get those back with enough positive progress, I hope we can do the same for the moviegoing experience. When I saw “Wonder Woman” at a local AMC cinema back on opening Thursday in 2017, I was floored by the fact that Gal Gadot was able to carry such a big, epic, and most importantly, theatrical adventure from start to finish. That memory will stay with me until the end of time, and as we approach “Wonder Woman 1984,” I hope I will have an experience similar to three years ago, and I hope other viewers will get a significant feeling out of their experience as well.

Thanks for reading this post! By the way, just a reminder that “Wonder Woman 1984” will be available on HBO Max for free as long as you’re subscribed starting Christmas Day. However, if you want to leave the house, the film will be available wherever theaters are open. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the HBO Max and theatrical duel release idea for the entirety of Warner Brothers’ 2021 lineup? Mine are quite mixed, but I am also curious to see how “Wonder Woman 1984” will do on HBO Max and the box office, as it may play a factor into making up my mind. Are you planning to watch “Wonder Woman 1984?” If so, where? At home? At the cinema? If you are watching at the cinema, which one are you going to? Let me know down below! 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.

Screenshot (59)

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 4

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 4 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.

As usual, we deal with real world matters first. Since Easter was this past weekend, gatherings at churches and homes within one’s collective connections of a family that was commonplace in years past managed to take a backseat this year.

California has recently extended its stay at home order from April 19th to May 15th. Speaking of California, the state recently joined forces with other nearby states including Oregon and Washington in what they call the Western States Pact. The three announced a plan to put health first and deliver a more scientific-based focus compared to a political focus to stopping the coronavirus. The states are still building specific plans for their area, but they are nevertheless working together to stop the spread.

Speaking of which, the northeast portion of the United States is engaging in something similar. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are joining forces in their own coalition. So, remember all those requests for Andrew Cuomo to run for President of the United States? That won’t be happening anytime soon, but when it comes to coronavirus matters, he is currently dealing with more than just New York. Speaking of Presidents of the United States…

President Donald J. Trump stated this Monday that he is the one that should have control on opening the country back up. He suggests, “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.” Trump also stated he wants to open the United States back up by May 1st, which close medical expert Anthony Fauci declares is “a bit overly optimistic.”

Just today, Andrew Cuomo referred to Trump this morning on NBC’s “Today,” suggesting “We do not have a king, we have a president.” Cuomo is doing what he can to make sure that the state of New York opens back up at what he considers to be the right time for everyone’s health. While Trump is suggesting May 1st, Cuomo fears that this all-powerful decision made by Trump will lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades,” as he stated in MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, and somewhat transitioning to movie news a bit early here, he suggested the possibility of making drive-in theaters an exception to non-essential businesses that remain closed. Keep in mind, drive-ins have still been in operation during the ongoing crisis, but it does not mean that there are some that are not in operation, plus there are others that are just closed because it’s not the proper season for a drive-in to be open. Cuomo suggested, “Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theater. You’re in the car with the same people.” He is not wrong. Drive-ins make for a fun night out while also promoting social distancing. I would not mind drive-ins opening up, but the problem is… What movies are they going to play? Are just going to play “Trolls: World Tour” over and over? Maybe they’ll bring back some classics since there’s nothing else to do.

Going outside the United States, specifically in Wuhan, China, where early cases of the virus originated, the city opened back up after a lively lightshow and countdown declaring the disappearance of COVID-19. Despite the reopening, restrictions still appear to be in place including the closure of schools, shops, and sadly, cinemas. But one thing that has opened is the region’s wet markets. Outsiders are suggesting immediate closure of said wet markets as it serves live animals, including bats, which sources suggest is the reason why COVID-19 spread in the first place.

But of course, we have some movie news to talk about like usual. More delays, more new releases on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital, and some big news involving acclaimed filmmaker Bong Joon Ho (don’t worry, that part is all good news). Also, there’s a big movie that tried something new this weekend, going straight to digital while also having a theatrical release. Before we dive into that, I do want to point out that despite there being a major pandemic, some movie theaters are still open. Keep in mind, many of these theaters are drive-ins. This is now old news, but according to Deadline, 14 movie theaters remained open on the first weekend of April. I also want to point out another article I saw from The Wrap, which suggests that “Trolls: World Tour” played in 21 drive-in theaters this weekend. Even in desperate times, theaters are still active. Speaking of optimistic news, here’s more!

JAMES GUNN SAYS GUARDIANS 3 AND THE SUICIDE SQUAD WON’T BE DELAYED

Usually when I dive into these main topics during the series, I have often emphasized the bad news at hand. A common example is when a major film gets delayed such as “F9,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” or “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it’s about time we get some good news in here and talk about a couple of films that are not being affected by the outbreak, both of which are being directed by James Gunn. To specify, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is a big movie, especially since it’s the third consecutive entry to the franchise being helmed by Gunn himself, but also “The Suicide Squad,” which has finished filming in February and is set to release August 6th, 2021. Gunn spent time on Twitter recently taking questions from fans and he had some notable things to say regarding these two films.

Alright, this resembles some decent progress on the film, and it shows that even in a time like this, people like Gunn in the entertainment industry are still working. But let’s see the next tweet.

Keep in mind, “The Suicide Squad” is not set to come out for a bit under a year and half, so there is plenty of time to edit the film, develop a marketing campaign, and lay out all the elements needed for the film’s post-production process. So the film is coming, and should this pandemic fizzle, there is a solid chance that “The Suicide Squad” will be in theaters during 2021. Now what about that other big comic book James Gunn has up his sleeve?

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is not currently listed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, but there have been previously established plans to make the film. Unfortunately, the film was supposed to come out this year, but due to James Gunn’s controversial tweets leaking, his business relationship with Disney was no more and he was no longer attached to direct the third installment to the franchise. Judging by this tweet right here, Gunn still seems to be working on the film, but an official release date seems rather uncertain at this point. IMDb lists it to come out in 2021, but given how Marvel has many other projects going on, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” might have to wait. But “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is nevertheless a film that I will see should I get the chance to witness it come out, so this information pleases me to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of “Vol. 2,” but I am curious to see what Gunn could deliver to this third installment.

MORE MOVIES GET DELAYED

But of course, with good news, comes bad news. In this case, the bad news is that yet another delay is happening. As if Pixar didn’t suffer enough already by having to put “Onward” on digital early, they just pushed back “Soul” to November. Nobody behind Pixar seems to be popping bottles at this point. “Soul” was originally supposed to come out June 19th, but now has been pushed back to November 20th. By the way, this is releasing the same day as “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I honestly have no idea how well that movie is going to do box-office wise, but given Pixar’s name recognition and since there already has been some anticipation towards this film, there could be a chance that “Soul” is the box office champ of the two when it comes to seeing how they play out on opening weekend. The film is directed by Pete Docter, who also directed 2015’s “Inside Out,” which this film honestly reminds me of. Kemp Powers will co-direct by the way. While conceptually different, “Soul” seems to present the vibe of “Inside Out,” not to mention a somewhat similar concept. The film follows a musician (Jamie Foxx) who loses his passion for music. After being transported out of his body, he interacts with an infant soul while trying to return to said body. The film definitely sounds like it could be emotional, which would not be much of a shocker for a film by Pixar. But now here’s a problem for not just this film, but a bunch of others coming out this year. I don’t know if it is just me, but it now feels like November is CRAMMED with popular titles. From “Soul” to “No Time to Die” to “Black Widow.” While I could look at this as a benefit because it likely means this November will be a pop culture haven, it’s also a negative because I imagine some films that could potentially be big will underperform because they are in such a congested schedule. Or to make matters more interesting, November is also a big month for award season, and now there is probably a bigger focus on pop culture titles that might not be awarded much of anything as opposed to what could be nominated for the Academy’s Best Picture in a couple months.

Also, remember how “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” got delayed to late July? Paramount’s “Infinite,” an upcoming sci-fi flick starring Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Ted), which was originally come out July 31st, has officially been pushed back to Memorial Day weekend in 2021. The film follows a man whose hallucinations are visions of his past lives. I would like to go into some of my past lives at this point just to get away from whatever the hell is going on right now. Think I was done talking about “SpongeBob?” Well I’m not! I say so because the film has been delayed again, but this time only by a week. As of now, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” is coming out August 7th.

TROLLS: WORLD TOUR DEBUTS DIGITALLY

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I’ve talked about this news already, but given how this does document a rare incident, I might as well talk about it. Certain movies like “The Irishman” have a limited run in theaters before being put on Netflix, but for “Trolls: World Tour,” the sequel to DreamWorks’ successful 2016 flick, that’s a different story. You won’t be able to find it on Netflix, but you will be able to find it through services including Prime Video, FandangoNOW, and Vudu. The reason, Universal wanted to put “Trolls: World Tour” out on digital the same day they put it out in theaters. This is kind of an unprecedented situation as movies typically start in theaters and there is a waiting period until the movie comes out on digital and DVD. But nope, Universal thought it would be better to just digitally release the film. I have not seen the film, in fact, I have no plans on seeing the film given how I have not watched the original, but others did manage to show up for this new installment. The movie managed to make more through its digital run than “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” did when it debuted digitally. “Trolls: World Tour” managed to make around $30 million according to reports. This is compared to “Fallen Kingdom,” which managed to rack up $2-3 million. Keep in mind, these reports are exclusive to the United States. Also, another thing to keep in mind, that even though many of the purchases were through digital platforms, theaters were open during the initial days of “Trolls: World Tour,” many of which are drive-ins, so it is not like everybody had to be stuck in their house to watch it. Also, while $30 million may be considered successful in this circumstance, the movie cost $90 million to make, so there could be a chance that Universal will lose money over this. Even though a $19.99 rental for 48 hours can cost more than a single movie ticket, the target demographic for “Trolls: World Tour” is families, especially kids. You can take a family of four to the theater and pay double that price to see the movie, maybe even more. It’s also short of what the first movie raked in on its opening weekend back in 2016, which was over $46 million. If this sequel was in theaters, it probably could have surpassed that due to factors such as name recognition. My biggest wonder for “Trolls: World Tour” is how well it will do over these next few days, not to mention next weekend. I say that because, sure, the movie can have excellent debut to rave about. But if we are treating this as the closest thing to a theatrical release we can get, we have to consider how much of a drop it could make this following weekend. Will it make $15 million? $12 million? $10 million? Could it possibly make more this weekend than it did last weekend? Only time will tell. This straight to digital rollout is an experiment if there ever was one, and its chances towards success have recently shown that maybe theaters COULD have been much better for “Trolls: World Tour,” but this is a new way of doing things, and if we are still in this crisis, things could change.

MY SPY GOES STRAIGHT TO PRIME VIDEO

For those of you who don’t know, “My Spy,” the film where Dave Bautista goes undercover and makes a connection with a nine-year old girl, is a movie that has been promoted from time to time by STX here in the states has already released theatrically in select regions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. But for the United States, it’s a different story. The film has already had free screenings before it was supposed to come out, one of which I went to in January by the way. But the film has had a rough history when it comes to getting a proper release. “My Spy” was supposed to release on August 23rd, 2019. The film had a trailer put out a year ago, so the promotion and marketing process was getting into gear. However, it was pulled from STX’s release schedule in July. The next release date that was announced for the film was March 13th, 2020. And of course, to get the ball rolling on word of mouth and that sort of thing, free screenings started popping up and I got to attend one of them. But, just in the snap of a finger, the release date changed from March 13th to April 17th. I would imagine that the COVID-19 crisis could be a contributing factor, but I also wonder if STX thought if it would be a better time for the film to release in terms of financial gain compared to competition. Nevertheless, it was just announced on April 8th that the film is now going to be distributed by Amazon Studios and instead of going to theaters, it is going directly to Prime Video. So if you are a Prime member, you are likely going to be able to watch “My Spy” for free on the service.

CBS SCHEDULES SUNDAY MOVIE NIGHTS

CBS is a leading name for television. Their standard channels air daytime staples like “The Price Is Right” and “The Young and the Restless” along with notable shows at night such as “Young Sheldon,” “MacGyver,” and “Mom.” Meanwhile, they have been building a name for themselves through streaming by providing material such as a couple of “Star Trek” original shows and a spinoff of “The Good Wife” known as “The Good Fight” through CBS All Access. But if you get access to the main CBS channel, which I’m sure a lot of you do, one thing you might want to keep an eye on is their schedule for May. Every Sunday, CBS is going to air movies under the Paramount label. This will begin with a movie that is very likely to garner attention, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In addition to that “Indiana Jones” film, the network is also airing “The Last Crusade.” Oddly enough, they are skipping over “Temple of Doom.” Other movies to be aired by CBS will include “Titanic,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Mission: Impossible.” This run will last for five Sundays from May 3rd to May 31st. By the way, all the movies are scheduled to begin at 8PM, except for “Titanic,” which will start at 7PM. Earlier on in the series, I discussed that ESPN was going to air movies on Friday nights, said movies are all Disney-owned and focus on sports. One thing that I think would help CBS in a case like this compared to ESPN just a little bit is its accessibility. CBS is a slightly more recognizable channel and unlike ESPN, you can get it on an antenna.

HULU ACHIEVES BEST PICTURE WINNER PARASITE

One of my favorite films of the past year is the Bong Joon Ho-directed masterpiece, “Parasite.” Lucky for me, I own the Blu-ray, therefore I have the ability to watch the film as much as I please through a physical disc. But if you have Hulu, you can consider yourself lucky because “Parasite” is now available on the service. For the record, the film is not the first of its kind to be on Hulu. To be clear, the film was distributed in the States by Neon, which also helped distribute titles including “I, Tonya,” “The Beach Bum,” and “Honeyland.” Films like these have also made it to Hulu. So if you wanted to watch “Parasite” without paying much, just make sure you have a Hulu subscription and you’re good to go. And remember, it won the Academy’s vote for Best Picture, so every film aficionado will tell you that it is bloody important. If you are a little skeptical on watching “Parasite” because it is in Korean, let me just remind you of this quote given by director Bong Joon Ho himself.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Speaking of Bong Joon Ho, his 2013 work “Snowpiercer,” which is being adapted into a series set to air on TNT, is coming out for the first time in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray. The film is set to release on May 25th. It’s one heck of a time to be Bong Joon Ho.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Stuck at home? Jack’s here to help! This week for digital has got a few new movies coming your way. For starters, we have “Underwater,” one of the last films to display the 20th Century Fox label. For the record, Disney did complete their acquisition of Fox’s assets during March 2019, but for a little under a year, they kept putting out films like “Ford v Ferrari” that had the studio label that has achieved fame. Although, with the recent release of “The Call of the Wild,” they are now using 20th Century Studios instead. Sticking with “Underwater,” the film stars Kristen Stewart alongside a crew of researchers as their underwater facility is hit with an earthquake. The film is a box office bomb, making $37.2 million on a $50 million budget. It has a 47% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60% audience rating, so it’s hard to know what exactly you’ll think of it upon first glance. The film is also now available on DVD and Blu-ray if you prefer the physical copy.

“Fantasy Island,” which is based on a TV show of the same name, is now available for digital purchase. If you want to wait for a rental option, that is coming May 12th, the same day the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Keep in mind, the film has a 4.6 on IMDb, which might not be the best of signs.

Also coming out, “The Rhythm Section.” This action flick stars Blake Lively and Jude Law, and is about a woman whose family dies in a plane crash. This woman joins the world of espionage as she seeks vengeance. The film is not out on DVD and Blu-ray until April 28th, but it is available for digital purchase today.

Thanks for reading the fourth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Even in the apocalypse, there is one thing I can promise, and that my friends, is content. Maybe not the content that I want to make, but content nevertheless. Last week I said that I’d probably get shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So with that in mind, now that it is owned by Amazon and has no official release date, I will probably be shoved into an abyss by Amazon executives, or maybe even Jeff Bezos himself, if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So what is happening with the movie is clear, but when I will review it, is unclear. Only time will tell. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, is there any big news I missed regarding COVID-19 and entertainment over the past week? Also, since it is appropriate, what are your thoughts on “Parasite?” Personally, I think it is one of the most twisted movies I have seen in recent memory and it is a blast from start to finish. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marvel Cinematic Universe PHASE 4 Plans Announced

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Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! You thought we were in the endgame? Think again, because, to my lack of surprise, as well as others perhaps, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going anywhere, and as part of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige and crew have officially announced their gameplan going forward in regards to movies and television. While I could not make it to San Diego this year (just like every other year), I had the pleasure of receiving a number of these announcements through social media, which is something Captain Marvel should have brushed up on by now.

This first announcement, doesn’t relate to what some would call “phase 4,” but it happens around that certain timeline and takes place in the same universe, so why not leave it in? Anyway, as you may or may not know, Marvel is finishing up their series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..” It’s a series that I tried watching when it first started, but for one reason or another, I just couldn’t latch onto it. It just didn’t work for me. The show will begin its seventh season during the 2019-20 television season, and will air for 13 episodes. However, if you are caught up with the series, you’d know that season 6 is still in progress, so the show still has time left before ABC dusts it away from its current lineup.

Speaking of television, Marvel in general is seemingly changing the norm of how they release their television programming. Before now, they would release various MCU-related content on ABC such as the recently mentioned “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter,” and the short-lived “Inhumans.” Netflix also had a fair share of content, all of which was recently cancelled such as “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and to what I believe is to a lot of people’s surprise, “Daredevil.” These platforms, for all I know, could lose the ability to air new Marvel content for awhile whereas the TV channel Freeform, and streaming services Hulu and the yet to be released Disney+ are going to be the big three for some time. Speaking of Disney+, Marvel announced a plethora of shows to be exclusively released on the upcoming service.

For the record, Disney+ is expected to be released during the fall. So just a reminder, none of these shows will be available on day one.

The first show to premiere on Disney+ is going to be “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” As you can tell by the title, the series revolves around the known characters played by actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. It is expected to start filming October 2019 and premiere in August 2020. While there are not many details about the series just yet, Mackie and Stan have previously wanted to do their own spinoff film at some point, particularly in the style of a buddy cop story. So who knows? Maybe this series could have some sort of comedic buddy vibe. But only time will tell.

Moving onto 2021 programming, up next we have “WandaVision,” which is short for the characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision meshed together. This series is going to star actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the characters we have previously come to know throughout the Infinity Saga. Although I must point out. This takes place after “Avengers: Endgame,” and Vision died in “Infinity War” only to never come back to life. So my question is… How will they allow him to return? Let me guess, time travel. Because now if the Marvel universe has a problem. Boop! You got a time machine! Want to save Nick Fury from losing an eye? Boom! You got a a time machine! Want to stop Tony Stark’s home from being destroyed like it was in “Iron Man 3?” Boom! You got a time machine! Want to give Captain America the most advanced pop culture lessons of his life? Boom! You got a time machine! Granted, there’s probably more to it, but a time travel element would not be surprising. The show will hit Disney+ in Spring 2021.

Also coming in Spring 2021 is a “Loki” series. Without going into much detail, because this does involve a spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame,” which as of writing this, is still in theaters, it will involve a Loki of the past. That’s all I’ll say. The series will of course star Tom Hiddleston. I don’t know if I am going to watch any of these series, but I think out of all the series on this list, I feel like this is the one I’d be least likely to watch. It almost seems like an idea from a think tank meeting (even though a number of these shows feel the same way). “Remember that mysterious guy from ‘Thor’ who keeps dying and coming back to life? Nobody knows if he’s good or evil? Let’s not deal with any new characters, let’s use this guy some more! Yay!” The way I wrote that sounds generous, but when I imagine it, it sounds like a business meeting all involving out of shape guys in suits smoking cigars.

OK… I take my last statement back, this is a series I’d probably watch. Granted, I don’t want to pay for Disney+, I don’t see any reason to. Plus, as someone who wants to avoid witnessing Disney’s plan for world domination put into action, I want to spend as little money towards them as possible. Although I kinda do want to go to Disneyland to see Galaxy’s Edge the more I think about it. Nevertheless, the next series is “What If…?” For those of you who don’t know, “What If…?” is a franchise that creates and realizes perhaps unlikely or alternate scenarios related to Marvel characters. Some examples from comics include: “What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?,” “What if Captain America had been elected president?,” and “What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?.” While I’m not getting Disney+, if they are ever to release any of these shows on DVD or Blu-ray I am very likely to pick up “What If…?” simply for the concept. The stories presented in the show will not affect the MCU’s timeline, but merely exist just to answer questions through the power of imagination. It is simply something that just provides a unique take of some sort.

Hawkeye in the MCU is an “interesting” character to say the least, because just about every time he appeared in an MCU movie when he first started, I did not care about him as much as the other characters. Then I saw “Endgame” and thought he was one of the best characters of the whole thing. Coincidentally, of the upcoming shows on Disney+, “Hawkeye” is one of them. Also, according to what I have gathered, this series will introduce Kate Bishop, who in the comics is the first woman to earn the Hawkeye title. She’s also a member of the Young Avengers. Here, this show will seemingly spend some time on allowing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye to pass the torch to this younger character. The question is… Will I care about her? Or will she just be another boring bow and arrow fetishist?

That’s it for TV shows. I’ll probably watch NONE of them. Mainly because I feel that the way that everyone is trying to push streaming service upon streaming service towards the consumers is going to eventually make streaming as a whole a significantly worse deal than cable. My family and I have not cut the cord, and honestly, I’m happy. Especially considering how I still have my game shows (streaming IS NOT a good alternative if you are a game show fan for the most part), plus it’s nice to watch a new episode of a show and have it feel like an event, whereas an episode or two of a show, or a whole season, drops on Amazon or Hulu and it’s almost like you unintentionally DVRed something. Plus, I enjoy my livetweeting. It makes me feel like I am part of a community. Another reason why I’ll probably miss out on all these shows is because I REVIEW MOVIES DAMMIT! Movies are a top priority of mine and because I watch and review them excessively, I barely have time for TV. And speaking of movies, let’s reveal what Marvel has planned for that realm of entertainment in phase 4.

First up for movies is a project that I think a good number of people know has been in full swing, “Black Widow.” The plot and details are mostly unknown at this time, but Scarlett Johansson, the woman that I have a crush on who says she should be allowed to play trees, well then, if that’s the case… Vin Diesel? Watch out, you might be fired soon! She is returning as the title character who we have seen in several parts of the MCU such as the “Iron Man,” “Avengers,” and “Captain America” franchises. From speculation, I would imagine this would take place long before the main events of the MCU, kind of like in “Captain Marvel.” I am also willing to bet this will be a grittier film in the franchise (even though they aren’t going for an R rating), while also trying to be fun. After all, Black Widow isn’t really a superhero, kind of like Iron Man, she just plays with toys. And based on what we have seen from her character in comics and movies, this is very likely to be a spy flick. If you ask me, this is not my most anticipated spy-related film of next year, I’d reserve that spot to “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan, but I’ve been eager to see a “Black Widow” solo film for quite some time, so I’m excited!

Plus, ScarJo is a dream girl. Just saying. The film will be released on May 1st, 2020.

Up next is a newcomer to the MCU, specifically, “Eternals.” Some big name actors in the film include Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Desparado), Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Silicon Valley), Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Richard Madden (Rocketman, Game of Thrones), among others. It is going to be about a bunch of eternally living beings who have spent infinite portions of their lives fighting a force of evil referred to as The Deviants. One character, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff is going to be the MCU’s first deaf hero. The film will be released on November 6th, 2020.

The third movie is one that I personally think will be a mega hit at the box office. It’s not to say the others won’t be, but if “Black Panther” from phase 3 has proven anything, it’s that if you put a “visually different” person at the forefront of a superhero project, people will see it. That’s because this movie we’re talking about is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I don’t know if the final product will have a title this long, but only time will tell. Then again, it’s not as much of a mouthful as say “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” The main reason why I’d say this film has a bonkers chance of success is because Shang-Chi is Chinese, and in this film, he is going to be played by Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu. Not to mention, based on comic-related images I have seen, this movie could be a visual treat. Another thing to consider is the Chinese movie market. If this movie is as visually impressive as I think it will be, not to mention as honorable to the Chinese culture as I think some would want it to be, I think a lot of people will go see this in the theater. China, at least to my knowledge, seems to go to a lot of spectacle type films. Some historical examples that come to mind include “Transformers; Age of Extinction,” which to be fair, was partially shot in China, and “Warcraft.” While “Transformers” is popular in the United States, “Warcraft’s” domestic returns led to its underwhelming final box office total despite making more than twice its budget. But it couldn’t reach the total $450 million needed to completely break even. But if anything has been proven, Marvel is an automatic success in the United States. In the US and Canada, “Black Panther,” a culturally significant film for the African community, managed to make over $700 million, which for those countries specifically, is actually more than “Infinity War.” But with the massive potential for winning over China and perhaps other somewhat related Asian communities, plus Marvel’s domestic success, it has a chance of being possibly a bigger success than “Black Panther.” The movie is scheduled for a February 12th, 2021 release.

Another film I saw coming was “Doctor Strange 2,” and we got it! But it technically has a more specific title, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Based on what I’ve heard, Scott Derrickson could be coming back to direct this sequel. It is also suggested that Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong, or in this case, just for fun, I’ll call them Team Benedict, will be returning to reprise their roles. One thing that I found interesting though is that Wanda Maximoff will be in the be in the movie as well, and it will be tied directly to the Disney+ series “WandaVision.”

OK… You gotta be kidding me. I know people give flak to DC for how they do their movies, but at least you don’t have to watch a freaking TV show to perhaps understand or comprehend what is happening in one of the DCEU’s films! Guess I’ll just read the Wikipedia entries for the WandaVision episodes, because I ain’t paying for Disney+. But one thing that does intrigue me, is the notion that this is going to be a more horror-esque movie compared to a lot of the other MCU installments. So who knows? Maybe this could have a wacky funhouse vibe, or maybe be the MCU’s version of “The New Mutants.” Although now that I think about it, “The New Mutants” could possibly end up being another version of this movie depending on how many more times it gets pushed back. Man, that movie premiere is gonna be one big realistic version of a FaceApp demo. This is definitely a movie I would want to see on an IMAX screen, maybe in 3D. Because I saw the original “Doctor Strange” in IMAX 3D, which made for one of the best visual trips of 2016. This film is expected to drop into theaters May 7th, 2021.

But my one request for this movie. JUST GIVE A MORE MEMORABLE VILLAIN. Then again, it’s Marvel, it’s not their strong suit.

When 2015 first started, the YouTube channel RedLetterMedia made a video where they jokingly predicted that we’d eventually get a fourth “Thor” movie called “Thor 4: More Thor.” Believe it or not, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” used that title in their show. Unfortunately, we’re not getting “Thor 4: More Thor.” But we are getting a fourth “Thor” movie titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I have mixed thoughts on this movie, because I REALLY enjoy 2011’s “Thor,” probably more than I should. I know some people don’t like it, but I enjoyed Thor’s character arch and Loki was a solid villain. Granted, the followup in 2013, “Thor: The Dark World,” is in the conversation to be my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. And even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was… “better,” it’s not what I wanted. I thought it was too comedic, and some of the jokes didn’t land. While it is visually stunning, somewhat appealing from a story perspective, the tone just didn’t work. Basically, Asgard is in a state beyond repair in this film. It could have been dark, gritty, maybe a little funny, but not like it was “Deadpool” for kids. I don’t think Taika Waititi is a bad director, in fact, I thought he would be a better suit for something like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he did a “Thor” film instead. It just didn’t stick the landing for me. I’m hoping “Thor: Love and Lightning” will be better, but from what I can imagine, it could be tonally similar to the previous “Thor” installment, which if that’s the case, I’m just hoping that the story actually fits the tone.

One thing that could be interesting is that Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is making a comeback. And similar to a comics storyline, Foster is going to be taking on the mantle of Thor. And based on visuals presented from San Diego Comic-Con, it looks like her character will be holding Mjölnir at some point during the film. As long as Kat Dennings doesn’t show up to play her character from “2 Broke Girls” everything should be rather fine and dandy. The film is predicted to be out November 5th, 2021, so I demand there should be at least one reference to “V For Vendetta,” ESPECIALLY since Natalie Portman is returning!

Now let me just say, I have no idea when these next films are going to be released, part of me is willing to bet that one or two of them, are not even in phase 4, but Marvel Studios chairman Kevin Feige has confirmed that these movies are in development, therefore we are going to cover them. So let’s continue!

Remember the 1998 film “Blade?” Guess what? Marvel is getting to do another project with the character. I personally can’t say I have seen “Blade,” but part of me is willing to imagine that this will be a somewhat different take on the character because the original trilogy was rated R, whereas all the MCU films so far have gotten a PG-13. If you ask me, I would not mind seeing an R version of the character in the MCU, kind of like with Black Widow, but you cannot have everything. One thing that does intrigue me though is that Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) is attached to playing the lead role. He’s a fantastic actor who has a ton of range, and he actually pitched this sort of idea to Marvel Studios through a call. Coincidentally, Ali has been attached to a couple of alternate recent comic book-based products including Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Netflix’s own MCU show, “Luke Cage.”

There’s not much to say on this next film, but I KNEW this was gonna be made at some point, perhaps soon. Why? Because again, it made SO MUCH money. I guess this is what happens when Disney remakes “The Lion King” for a new generation. Wait… I’m talking about “Black Panther 2.” There’s not much to say about this movie yet, but Ryan Coogler suggested that he’d write and direct this film, which does intrigue me because I thought he did a rather decent job with the first one despite its flaws. So… what Disney movie are they gonna retread next? Are they gonna do “Dumbo” because Black Panther is learning to fly for some reason? Are they gonna do a film in the style of “Wreck-It Ralph” where it is revealed that Wakanda is in an arcade cabinet? Are they gonna do one like “Frozen” where Shuri or Okoye just breaks out into an annoying catchy tune? By the way, screw “Frozen,” that movie can rot in hell!

Up next is a film that was supposed to come out in 2020, but based on recent controversy, that’s not happening anymore. Specifically, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” This is a film that I am honestly curious to see, because while I imagine this could potentially be a capper for a trilogy, director James Gunn has previously exposed that this installment is not meant to be a powerhouse of emotion. It is still going to be fun and lively. But if you have been following the news in terms of film recently, you’d know that Gunn was fired by Disney/Marvel over the resurfacing of less than family friendly tweets. Tweets that even he admits, he’s not proud of. If you ask me, I believe James Gunn is a competent director, who may have deserved the criticism that he received, but I’m not sure if Disney should have gone as far as firing him, especially when you consider how much he has changed over the years in terms of his outlook. Nevertheless, I am quite curious to see how this upcoming “Guardians” film turns out, and I do have a shortlist of soundtrack ideas, but I think I should save that for another time. The movie is not expected to begin filming until 2020, but that’s because James Gunn is currently doing a DC movie, specifically “The Suicide Squad.”

Here’s another no-brainer, “Captain Marvel 2.” When your film has the sixth biggest opening of all time, you know you have to make a followup. I’ll be honest, the first “Captain Marvel” did not work for me. I thought the chemistry between Fury and Danvers was kind of hit and miss. The scene where “Just a Girl” plays honestly, while I guess it was trying to be empowering, felt really off for an action scene that was most likely trying to be kick-ass. The final fight, which I imagine was trying to be funny, just ended up being questionable to me. And don’t even get me started on Goose the Cat! But, we are getting another movie, and I’m honestly hoping it is better than this one, but only time will tell. I like Brie Larson as an actress, but when she plays Captain Marvel, she honestly sounds like she’s only been in straight to DVD content. Come on, Brie! You won an Oscar for “Room!” Show me the magic! She did alright in “Endgame,” but she was not in the movie that much so there is that to consider. Then again, I’m a straight white male. So is my opinion even valid to begin with?

Another film on the list of “in development” is a third “Spider-Man” movie. By the way, by the time you finish reading this post, five more “Spider-Man” movies will be released, because they keep cranking them out! I finally saw “Spider-Man: Far From Home” the other day, and honestly, after seeing that film, I’d say a third one HAS to be made. And without going into detail, Kevin Feige suggested that the mid-credits scene from that film implies the third film will involve “a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film.” And it does not surprise me that this is happening. I believe Sony is already satisfied with making their own “Spider-Man” movies in their universe and still enjoys the success they can get from spinning their webs in the MCU. Nevertheless, can’t wait. But if I had any requests, make sure the word “home” is in the title. That way I don’t have to end up confusing “Spider-Man” trilogies and can refer to this as the “Home” trilogy. Seriously! Even if it simply means that there is a minute of the two of the film where we find Peter Parker watching a Mets game, and for that reason it is called “Home Run,” it would still work because the other two movies have the word “home” in their titles too!

The next two films are a couple of projects that I think a lot of people have been asking for. Why? Because Disney just acquired 21st Century Fox recently, meaning they have retained the rights to a couple of big name franchises. One example is “X-Men.” I have no idea how the film will present itself. If anything, it is definitely going to be a complete reboot, staying away from the timeline Fox originally showcased to audiences since the early 2000s. After all, while I didn’t go see “Dark Phoenix,” probably just like everyone else in the world, maybe that movie tarnished the franchise enough to say, “Screw it, it’s over.” But some movie franchises or IPs are like Jenga, you can end the game by collapsing the tower, but you can always start a new one by rebuilding it. Maybe “X-Men” has a place in the MCU. And honestly, if a couple of the phase 1 heroes are going away, I think this is the perfect time to add in new heroes, because if they were still there, I’d honestly worry about clutter in the MCU. Granted, even with them showing up now, that is still a worry. But I also have a slight intrigue as to what this mega franchise can bring to the cinematic universe.

Speaking of Fox, one other franchise they once had, not to mention wasted, is “Fantastic Four.” Since Marvel has the rights to them, they can now possibly… NOT screw it up this time… Hopefully? I imagine it’ll be good, but I’m keeping experience in my back pocket. It’s in different hands, but for all I know, despite its popularity in the comic book world, maybe “Fantastic Four” is simply cursed as a movie franchise. But I am curious about this film and how it’ll turn out, and perhaps a little more excited about this than “X-Men.” Will Dr. Doom be the main villain again? Will the movie have the four in the middle of its title? Or… How about this? How about we get Chris Evans to play Johnny Storm again? Do it just to get some other character in the movie for a second. Maybe the group will be going around New York City grabbing lunch or something and they run into Peter Parker walking with Ned, which leads to Peter pointing at Johnny saying, “Hey! You look like someone I know!” I highly doubt that will happen, but it certainly would make for a proper more realistic “What If…?” scenario. Plus, with Stan Lee gone we’re gonna need new cameo ideas.

That’ll probably do it for all of the MCU-related announcements for phase 4, and again, a lot of these films and TV shows are in development. So who knows? One could get pushed back, maybe one gets cancelled. Perhaps it ends up being a part of an eventual phase 5. Nevertheless, I’m excited for a large number of these projects, and hopefully they will all end up being good! Also, James Gunn, I know it is a little late, but welcome back. I want to know, is there something I’m missing from this list? I think I’ve covered all the ground, after all I have 4,000 words inserted into this thing! Or, what is something that you want to see from the MCU as a TV series, as a movie, as a concept? It doesn’t even have to be for phase 4 if you want it someplace else. Let me know down below! Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I am going to be reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is out this upcoming weekend. I’m going to one of my local theaters for their first screening of the film in 35mm, can’t wait! Also, speaking of Tarantino, be sure to stay tuned for my final installment in my Quentin Tarantino review series, “The Hateful Eight.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you could do me a favor, like this post, share it around with those you know, it really helps me out. And speaking of that, like my Facebook Page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!