Seven Film Industry Storylines Set to Dominate 2019

By Tom Grater & Jeremy Kay & Louise Tutt & Melanie Goodfellow | Screen International, January 2, 2019 | Go to article overview

Seven Film Industry Storylines Set to Dominate 2019


Tom Grater & Jeremy Kay & Louise Tutt & Melanie Goodfellow, Screen International


Will Netflix continue to disrupt? What will happen after the Disney-Fox deal? Will Apple emerge?

Will Netflix continue to disrupt the industry in 2019?

Short-ish answer: very likely, although it is notoriously hard to second-guess Netflix and say what form that disruption will take. While it can’t trump the game-changing audacity of its core business, streaming, it hasn’t lost its knack for the big statement, as evidenced recently by the binging model, an appetite for local-language investment, costly producer deals, and a willingness to stage theatrical releases for awards contenders – even orchestrating a 70mm limited run for its number one Oscar contender ROMA.

Don’t expect the company to move into theatrical distribution in a meaningful way – that would entail a major operational and philosophical pivot and involve reporting theatrical grosses, something the company has never done and surely wants to resist for many years to come. This is merely a ploy to entice subscribers by keeping A-list talent like Alfonso Cuaron, Sandra Bullock and the Coen brothers happy and turn them into repeat collaborators, and of course qualify films for awards consideration as Netflix seeks (this season, at any rate) a coveted first best picture Oscar nod.

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is expected to be among the films on Netflix’s 2019 slate that will also get the theatrical treatment. Ordinarily, the mob story would be on any pundit’s tip sheet to premiere in Cannes, but this is a Netflix film, so it will be fascinating to see how the streaming titan’s sensitive relations with the festival evolve (see below).

A ferocious competitor saddled with an $18bn debt load, Netflix has done a great job convincing its lenders that it remains an evergreen business, whether or not that argument actually has any merit, especially given that it is losing its Disney content as the latter prepares to launch its own Disney + VOD platform in late 2019. What seems likely is in the short term Netflix will continue to throw huge wads of cash at anything it wants, so long as it can keep its 130m-and-counting global subscribers engaged.

What will be the implications of Disney’s acquisition of Fox?

The Walt Disney Company’s $70bn-plus acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets – which was confirmed after the former beat out a rival bid from Comcast in summer 2018 – should be completed in the first half of 2019.

The ramifications for the global film business are wide reaching and complex, but what is clear is that the entertainment studio that emerges from the deal will be a colossus. Disney already holds approximately 27% market share of box office in the US, while Fox’s is around 9%, meaning the combined pair would be pushing 40% of domestic total, and perhaps even more if Disney’s next 12 months live up to the billing.

The company’s release slate for 2019 is formidable – the likes of Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, Aladdin, Frozen 2, Dumbo,Toy Story 4 and Star Wars: Episode IX all look set to return big numbers. Fox has the big-budget Alita: Battle Angel on its slate for 2019, as well as X-Men films The New Mutants and Dark Phoenix, and the third film in the successful Kingsman franchise.

That kind of theatrical domination will also be paired with the launching of the company’s VOD service Disney+, which is expected to go online in late 2019 and should provide a new level of competition to the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

What will happen to Harvey Weinstein? …

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