Tag Archives: disney

Democrats on the Senate and House Antitrust Subcommittees Call for Hearings on the Disney/Fox Deal

On Thursday, Disney announced they’d be acquiring a large portion of 21st Century Fox including its film and TV studio, some cable networks, and some sports networks. The deal is priced at $52.4 billion.

Some have called into question the merger for numerous reasons including its impact on consumers, creators, and the job loss due to the merger. That questioning now includes some elected officials and Democrats in the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees have called for hearings on the deal.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in statement said:

This week we have seen the announcement of another industry-changing merger, which would have major implications in television, film, and media. Yesterday, Disney announced that it is acquiring 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, cable entertainment networks, and international television businesses. I’m concerned about the impact of this transaction on American consumers.

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, I have asked Senator Lee, who has worked closely with me in this area in the past, and Chairman Grassley to schedule a hearing on the proposed merger so that there is appropriate oversight over the antitrust review process.

Klobuchar is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.

Klobuchar has also asked Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who chairs the subcommittee, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Comittee, to schedule a hearing on the proposed deal. Lee and Klobuchar in October called for a hearing regarding the AT&T and Time Warner merger.

The House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has called for a closer look at the deal and in a statement:

Another day, another mega-merger. Disney’s proposed purchase of 21st Century Fox threatens to put control of TV, movie, and news content into the hands of a single media giant.

If it’s approved, this merger could allow Disney to limit what consumers can watch and increase their cable bills. Disney will gain more than 300 channels, 22 regional sports networks, control over Hulu, and a significant portion of Roku.

America is in a Monopoly Moment. We need more competition than before, not less, to create an economy that has more choices and innovation, lower prices, and better jobs. The House Antitrust Subcommittee should look at this proposal very closely.

In the deal, the companies said the regulatory process would take up to 18 months and that review would likely be by the Justice Department. No Congressional approval is needed.

X-Men vs. Avengers Will Cost 5,000 to 10,000 Jobs

We’ve mentioned a few of the ways the Disney takeover of Fox is bad for consumers and the Writers Guild of America West has voiced their concerns for creators. There’s another reality, this merger will cost people their jobs, a lot of jobs.

Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG has issue a report titled, “Disney’s $2 Billion in Synergies is Good for Jobs #FakeNews,” that estimates that 5,000 to 10,000 jobs could be at stake if the merger is approved and goes through.

In the announcement Disney said they’d expect $2 billion in savings through synergy. That’s corporate speak for cost-savings through cutting jobs. According to annual reports, Disney’s global workforce is 195,000 and Fox is about 22,000.

In a memo to employees Fox owner Rubert Murdoch outright admits there will be layoffs.

We are deeply committed to finding opportunities for our people as well as ensuring that anyone impacted is well taken care of.

So, when you’re cheering on the X-Men’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the new Fantastic Four film under the Marvel Studios banner, remember the thousands fired to make that happen so you can be entertained.

Writers Guild of America West Warns About the Expense to Creators When it Comes to the Disney and Fox Deal

We’ve laid out a whole lot of reasons the Disney and Fox deal isn’t good for consumers and the Writers Guild of America West has issued a statement opposing the $52.4 billion deal as it’s not good for creators.

In the relentless drive to eliminate competition, big business has an insatiable appetite for consolidation. Disney and Fox have spent decades profiting from the oligopolistic control that the six major media conglomerates have exercised over the entertainment industry, often at the expense of the creators who power their television and film operations. Now, this proposed merger of direct competitors will make matters even worse by substantially increasing the market power of a combined Disney-Fox corporation. The antitrust concerns raised by this deal are obvious and significant. The Writers Guild of America West strongly opposes this merger and will work to ensure our nation’s antitrust laws are enforced

The deal still needs to pass regulatory hurdles before it’s completed, a process that’s expected to take as long as 18 months.

How Does the Disney and Fox Deal Impact BOOM! Studios First Look and Investment?

In 2013, 20th Century Fox inked a first-look deal with BOOM! Studios providing the movie studio a mountain of intellectual property to create future movies with. In 2014, that deal expanded to include 20th Century Fox TV. In 2017, things shifted a bit as 20th Century Fox made a “strategic investment” in the comic book giving the company a minority stake in the “largest independently-controlled” comic book and graphic novel library.

Not even six months later Disney has announced it is acquiring a sizable chunk of Fox’s assets in a massive deal that will see the movie and scripted portions of Fox coming under the Disney banner. A question was raised, how would this deal impact Fox’s with BOOM!?

We reached out to BOOM! Studios pondering what the future held for the comic publisher under this deal and received the following from Vice President, Marketing Arune Singh:

While we don’t have any information beyond what has already been reported in the press, we are excited for the new opportunities that this partnership  provides for our friends at Fox. Both Fox and Disney are world class organizations with exceptional teams, so we look forward to their shared success in the future.

In regards to BOOM! Studios, there will be no immediate changes to how we operate day-to-day. Fox is a valued partner but they are also a minority shareholder, meaning we will continue to operate independently and pursue the same opportunities that have made BOOM! Studios such a success for over twelve years.

While the future remains cloudy, expect the next major opportunity to read the tea leaves at 2018 San Diego Comic-Con and if BOOM! and Fox partner again for another drink-up.

“Opportunity” for R-rated Deadpool to Continue Under Disney

We’re generally down on the whole Disney purchased FOX assets as it’ll be bad for consumers, creators, and more but fans want to know the really important stuff, like will Deadpool remain R-rated in future movies?

Journalist Ben Fritz says that’s a possibility, not a definite:

Short version, if next year’s sequel makes as much as the original, Deadpool 3 will be R-rated. Deadpool 2 will be released June 1, 2018.

Disney Buys Fox Assets for $52.4 Billion in Blow to Consumers

There’s irony that on the day the FCC is voting to kill Net Neutrality, hurting consumers and putting more power into internet providers and especially those that are content providers, Disney and 20th Century Fox have announced a $52.4 billion all-stock deal.

  • The deal values the 21st Century Fox assets in the transaction at $66.1 billion. That includes $13.7 billion in 21st Century Fox debt, or $28 a share. The enterprise value of the deal is $69 billion.
  • Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger has extended his contract with the company through the end of 2021.
  • 21st Century Fox will spinoff Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Sports, Fox News, Fox Television Stations and a handful of other assets into a new company. The 20th Century Fox lot in Century City will also remain with the spinoff Fox company.
  • 21st Century Fox will continue to pursue its acquisition of the remaining 61% stake in Euro satcaster Sky that it does not already own with the intention of Disney taking it over when the Disney-Fox transaction is completed. Disney gets Fox’s current 39% interest in Sky no matter what.
  • Disney expects to save $2 billion from combining Disney and Fox’s overlapping businesses within two years of the deal’s closing.
  • Disney will launch direct-to-consumer streaming with sports and entertainment services launching in 2018 or 2019
  • Disney gets Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu bringing their total to 60%, a majority. It is expected they will try to buy the other stakes.
  • Disney will gain back the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Avatar, the Simpsons, Planet of the Apes, Alien, as well as Star Wars: A New Hope.
  • Disney also gains numerous tv channels like FX and National Geographic.
  • Disney will have about 40% of the movie market.

20th Century Fox also invested in comic publisher BOOM! Studios earlier this year giving the company a minor stake in the comic publisher. This also includes a first look deal. We’ve asked BOOM! how this deal might impact them.

While fans are cheering on the idea that the X-Men and Fantastic Four can now play with the Avengers, 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch made it clear who really wins, shareholders:

We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry. Furthermore, I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.

That value will be built off of the backs of consumers and the employees who will lose their jobs due to this merger. While geek sites are praising the deal and its potential, they overlook the disaster in a making for themselves and consumers.

In the early 1980s US media was held by just 50 corporations — and the number has dropped to only a handful since then. Reported in 2012, Business Insider just 6 corporations control 90% of the media in America. Things have shifted a bit since then, but reality is just a few corporations control the vast majority of the movies, television, newspapers, and radio you listen to and consume. Disney’s purchase of Fox’s movie and television production allows them to flex even more weight and in a way that harms consumers, creators, and theater owners.

Here’s just a few ways things can go off the rail:

  • Disney has “launched” their own movie service, “Movies Anywhere” after they pulled out of their deal with Netflix. Along with Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox have all signed on to the service. While there’s some good in how the service works, having the studio controlling a major distribution channel is rife for abuse, especially when they own Fox too. They could pull all that content from Netflix and other services making Movies Anywhere the only online digital app to view their films legally. Add in the power of the data gained from consumers using their own app and you have a scenario where others can be muscled out or muscled to take part decreasing consumer choice and increasing costs.
  • Disney and Fox, as well as Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, own stakes in Hulu. With this deal Disney now owns 60% of Hulu, a controlling stake. Expect Disney to attempt to purchase the other 40% from Comcast (which owns 30%) and Time Warner (which owns 10%). Hulu will either be downgrading as to not compete with Disney’s other direct to consumer distribution plans or things will be folded into this platform. However, when it comes time for renegotiation of content, Disney will absolutely put the pressure on content providers to get a better deal resulting in some to pull their content and/or signing exclusive deals. The digital content wars have begun.
  • Speaking of increasing costs, Disney has been muscling theaters to pay more for their films. Disney has recently had two recent spats with theaters over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi where they demanded greater cuts to show their films and greater demands as to what screens the films will be seen on. Movie consolidation would allow Disney to continue this trend either causing ticket prices to increase, theaters to stop showing their films, or theaters even going out of business. Again, a bad deal for consumers.
  • Disney has revoked access for reporters over coverage they didn’t like (this negative piece could get us blacklisted for all I know). Disney has banned The Los Angeles Times from all advance screenings of their movies as a vindictive response to an investigative piece it published on Disney’s relationship to the city of Anaheim. Other sites joined in with the Los Angeles Times in solidarity such as the AV Club and Washington Post. It was that pressure that caused Disney to relent, but, it shows they are willing to stifle the press over negative coverage. Is a company who has shown blatant attempts to manipulate the press for positive coverage owning more ways to reach consumers a good thing? Imagine that extending further to any article Disney deems as negative freezing them out and only providing access to those who will only provide positive coverage. This is a chilling effect for entertainment coverage and free press. This consolidation would give Disney somewhere between 30-40% of the movie market share.

There’s also the jobs lost from the merger, Disney now owning Fox’s development studios and how that might impact creation of entertainment, and the unwillingness of Disney competing with itself in theaters and thus decreasing overall film output.

The United States has a long history of fighting corporate consolidation and monopolies recognizing that competition is a good thing and corporate control is rife for abuse. If we ever needed regulators to step in and save consumers, it’s now. It is expected for the regulatory review to take as long as 18 months before the deal can be fully approved.

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

2017 has been filled with “anticipated” films and yet none of them feel quite as anticipated as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, what’s sure to be a billion dollar film and a dominating presence for the next few months. The film exceeds expectations in many ways and falls flat in others, but overall, it’s 2.5 hour thing of force, action, and a surprising amount of humor.

The Last Jedi focuses on just a few settings and plot points but its themes are consistent for each. Like The Force Awakens‘ homage and comparison to A New Hope, it’s difficult to not compare The Last Jedi to Empire Strikes Back. Both are the middle chapter of a trilogy but how each film parallels each other is an interesting thing. The Last Jedi, like Empire, is about “hope.” It’s a word that’s brought up numerous times and unlike Empire‘s down take on that theme, The Last Jedi gives us a more inspired version that guides us to the yin of the Empire‘s darker and more negative yang. This film sees the light beyond the darkness the spark of rebellion from a small flame and it makes sure we see it too.

The film picks up from The Force Awakens with the Rebellion on the run and the First Order in pursuit. It’s really one long space battle and pursuit with some side quests. The issue at hand is the Rebellion’s lack of fuel making it inevitable the First Order will catch them to finish them off. Numbering just 400 individuals, hope is dim. A mission is cooked up to give the Rebellion a chance to escape and survive involving pass codes and disabling the main pursuing ship. A sidequest taken up by Finn and new character Rose (played by Kelly Marie Tran) and takes us to one of the few different locations, a gambling world that’s beautiful but with a dark undercurrent.

Here too the concept of “hope” is explored but in this case, it’s a discussion about what “hope” the 99% have against the 1% that exploit them. Though subtle, this is where the film gets its most outright political with an exploration of excess and what the wealthy 1% do with their money. Rose, representing the common worker, discusses the exploitation of ore and mineral and while she describes the world as beautiful can’t help but seeing the corrupt darkness it represents. A class warrior angle is presented and out of everything, it’s one of the more interesting aspects of themes. War has raged and there’s going to be individuals who profit off of it either through the sales of arms or exploitation of worlds and people. Here, that’s on full display.

When not focused on Finn and Rose’s quest, or the impending doom that is the pursuit in space, the movie explores Rey’s exploration as she attempts to lure back Luke Skywalker to help her and the Rebellion. Luke is a grizzled old man who has given up the ways of the Jedi instead living as a hermit at an old Jedi temple/outpost and attempting to enjoy his life. He’s seen the folly of the Jedi and the failure they represent and after his attempt to restore the Order, and it’s failure in Kylo, he’s given up deciding it’s best for the Jedi to die out and let a natural balance to the Force take over. Rey’s focus is to get Luke back into the battle thinking he represents the hope the Rebellion needs but she also wants to understand her own history and what she’s experiencing herself.

The Last Jedi is a brutal film with no problems destroying ships, sets, and killing characters and in each instance doing so with a style and look that’s jaw dropping. Director Rian Johnson (who also was the writer) delivers an amazing looking film with a style unto itself focused on using color to create the mood and setting. Every costume, everyone room, every scene has a color palette carefully chosen and to be debated for years. What’s Rey’s dark blue/grey mean? Why is Luke wearing black? There’s choices in that space alone which could see endless articles written.

Johnson also gives us nostalgia. There’s scenes that outright call back to the original trilogy. A speech in a elevator lift, a talk about what someone might do, they’re dialogue and scenes at times that feel lifted from other films emphasizing an almost cyclical nature of it all. There’s also throne room scenes that feel like they’re straight out of Return of the Jedi. And even Revenge of the Sith gets a nod in some ways.

Things aren’t all great. There’s some characters that fall flat like Benicio Del Toro‘s DJ whose delivery just feels like another take on the Marvel’s the Collector. And, the choice of the actor for the role seems rather odd as the screen time for this is rather limited. Again, Gwendoline Christie‘s Phasma goes down as the most overhyped and underused character in a long time. While there’s a final conflict between Phasma and Finn, it feels forced as if Johnson had to come up with something for the character. Snoke’s fate too feels a little too abrupt and anticlimactic with too many questions left out there. Finally, while I like Rose the character, she quickly turns into a do everything character starting as a maintenance person and then flying a plane in the final battle as if every person in the Rebellion excels at everything (the defense is she’s shown piloting a ship, which questions why she was in her maintenance role to begin with). And not all the settings work too, while I appreciated its themes of the 1%, scenes in the gambling world also feel a bit there for the kids based on some of who we meet and what happens. It lightens up what otherwise is a pretty dark film.

But, there’s also so much that’s good.

The film has a surprising amount of humor and there’s some really good laughs. It does a great job of taking our still relatively new heroes of Poe, Finn, and Rey, and adding more to them as to why we should like them. The action sequences are jaw dropping at times with space battle after space battle and an ending move that’s “holy shit” levels of amazing.

But, what I keep coming back to is that theme of “hope.” Johnson gets how to take a theme for a film and weave it into everything. From the obvious, the “hope” of escaping the First Order and the “hope” of sparking a new Rebellion, but also the “hope” we place in heroes. There’s the instance of it that Rey places in Luke where the idea of legends vs. reality is explored, but also Poe and his interaction with Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (played by Laura Dern). Poe must learn to respect “hope” in some ways and that direct results that are clear might not always be the answer. Sometimes you have to accept and “hope” things will turn out all right in the end.

And that’s where The Last Jedi and Empire Strikes Back diverge the most. Empire had us looking for “hope” but ended on a “down note.” The Last Jedi seems to recognize in this day and age that wouldn’t work and we need a real Rebellion, we need to see the sparks, and the film reminds us that from the tiniest flames a raging fire can grow.

Through it’s setting of constant pursuit, it’s acceptance of a dire situation, and it’s focus on the better tomorrow, Star Wars: The Last Jedi feels like it embodies today’s zeitgeist of “the resistance” and creates a Rebellion for us to be believe in.

Overall Rating: 9.0

Underrated: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace



Star_Wars_Phantom_Menace_poster.jpgReleased in 1999, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Brian Blessed, Ray Park, and Frank Oz. It  is also widely known for being a stonking pile of manure.

Released sixteen years after Return Of The JediThe Phantom Menace was set 32 years before Star Wars, and follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala, in hopes of securing a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.

Now that you’ve read (basically) the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry, allow me to tell you why this movie is underrated.

Look, I’m not claiming it’s good, just that it isn’t (quite) as bad as you think it is. And it does have good moments. If I can’t convince you, maybe I’ll make you laugh…?

Anyway.

If you’re of a certain age, or your parents are, then you would have been beyond excited to see this movie when it hit the theaters in 1999. I remember watching the lines on the local news back in England being in awe that anybody would care about a movie that much, but nearly twenty years later I can begin understand the level of excitement people would feel surrounding the return of such a beloved franchise – indeed, as I type this I am already planning to line up for the latest Star Wars flick, The Last Jedi, two hours before the screen doors open. But that’s after having two good movies released in the last two years, so can you imagine the excite fans of the franchise would have had in the weeks and months (hell, years) leading up to May 19th, 1999 when the movie finally opened for the masses. It would have been incredible! In the years before the widespread usage of the Internet (in comparison to what we see now), there were conversations in schools, at the water cooler and frankly anywhere fans would gather. The excitement was palpable wherever nerds and fans gathered. It’s hard to overstate how much hype was in the air surrounding the first Star Wars movie in sixteen years.

And then the movie was released.

fanboys.jpg

If you’ve never seen this movie, then you should check it out. It’s a great send up of nerd culture circa 1998 with a touching heart. Rumour has it the movie is based on real events – whether that’s true or not I’m unsure.

Look, without beating around the bush, it’s safe to say that it didn’t live up to expectations. At all. The movie is widely regarded as the worst live action entry into the saga, and rightly so, and fans have often said that the movie is best left forgotten in the deep recesses of history. Which is a touch harsh, but I understand where they’re coming from. But here’s the thing; despite the movie’s obvious flaws, I still feel like it gets the short end of the stick quite a bit.

Why? Well let me break out the bullet points…

  • Firstly, it was the first Star Wars movie in a generation, and as such it was the first time that many of us were able to sit in a chair and experience that title sequence – next time you see a Star Wars movie in the theatre and those titles start to roll with that music… you tell me that isn’t an incredible moment. Almost makes what came after those titles worth watching.
  •  Secondly, you can’t tell me you weren’t grinning from ear to ear with the extensive lightsaber duels. Everything is better with lightsabers.
  •  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there were people for whom this was the first Star Wars movie they’d experienced and as such it served, for those folks at least, as a gateway into the franchise.
  •  How many of you who did see, and loath, this movie in the cinema rushed out to see Episode II – Attack Of The Clones opening night because it couldn’t have been as band as this one, right? It wasn’t, was it? If nothing else, that the first movie was the worst in the new trilogy should be seen as a bright spot.
  • Dual lightsaber! Darth Maul’s dual blades were the first time we had seen a break from the standard style lightsaber from the original trilogy, which opened up a breadth of on-screen options for the iconic weapon going forward.darth maul.jpeg

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was always doomed to fail. No movie with as much hype as this one will ever meet expectations. But eighteen years on, while the movie may not hold up visually any more with the advances in digital technology, and Jar Jar Binks is still an annoying fuckwit, I came to realize that the movie isn’t as bad as you would think. Aside from Jar Jar, and a little too much time spent on the pod racing subplot, the movie isn’t bad. Could it have been better? Absolutely – I won’t argue that. But it wasn’t as  bad as you’ve heard, certainly not as bad as its reputation would have you believe.



Next week we’ll return to a more comic themed Underrated. Until next time!

Movie Review: Coco

Coco-Family-PosterPixar seems to have the magic capable of making children smile and adults weep. And with Coco, they add to that a masterful, universal story about family filled with music and visuals to delight the senses.

And while it is universal, it is also very specifically Mexican, while also never feeling false or like it appropriates their culture. Given our current political climate in the United States where Mexicans are denigrated as “bad hombres,” “drug dealers” and “rapists” (and that’s just by the president), this presents a true representation of a culture where family and remembering your legacy is key. It also ends a long and painful history where Disney has really failed in representing Latinos and Latinx culture.

Our story centers around Miguel, a young boy who is obsessed with music despite it being banned from his family for generations. His nonagenarian great-grandmother Coco was abandoned as a child by a musician father who went off to seek his fortune. Left without a patriarch, the family’s matriarchy learned to make shoes, a trade which is their family’s legacy and heritage.

On the Day of the Dead, they place all of the photos of their extended and departed family on the ofrenda to remember them, including a photo of Coco as a child with the face of her musician father torn out. Miguel comes to believe that this missing great-great-grandfather might in fact be one of Mexico’s greatest singers of all time, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), so he breaks into de la Cruz’s memorial at the graveyard to borrow his guitar to play in a talent competition.

Because of the weakening of the barriers between worlds on Dia de los Muertos, Miguel finds himself transported to the land of the dead where he must find a member of his family to give him a blessing to help him return. Hearing a con artist ne’er-do-well skeleton named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) mention that he knows how to get access to de la Cruz (who is still a hugely big deal in the afterlife apparently), they decide to team up. Hector’s price is he needs Miguel to put his picture on his ofrenda so he can cross over to see his family and loved ones. Having been forgotten, he is in danger of completely fading away, suffering a “second death” from which no one knows where you go.

This brings to the forefront the film’s theme on the importance of remembering your family and loved ones. Perhaps better than any other Pixar movie to date, this has well-developed themes that make it not only entertaining but meaningful.

Also unlike other Pixar movies, this is a musical. But unlike the traditional Disney princess model of musical, here the music is an organic part of the story and storytelling. They sing songs that are thematically relevant, but they always do so because there is a talent competition, a concert, or so on. In this way, it’s very similar to last year’s Sing Street. There’s also an easy comparison to Kubo and the Two Strings, although that film did less with its music as a storytelling device, but both films up the ante with delivering authentic stories about family and loss mixed with a realistic, loving tribute to another culture.

And the music is excellent. One of the recurring songs is de la Cruz’s biggest hits “Remember Me.” This takes on special significance when understanding that it is the remembrance of our family that continues to sustain them even after death. A final version of the song sung at the end with Miguel reunited with his family will not leave a dry eye in the theater.

And then there’s the visuals. Pixar is able to deliver a beautiful, stylized version of the land of the dead that is surreal, vibrant, and beautiful. The use of color, especially of orange marigold petals, brings life to the film in unexpected ways. The “sugar skull” look of so many different faces gives each character a different look and feel.

The most spectacular are some of the creatures that act as “spirit guides” in the land of the dead. Based on dragons, monkeys, dogs, and other creatures they are day-glo, beautiful, and magical. Miguel’s great-great grandmother’s spirit guide is a giant winged cat-dragon who may be the most impressive visual feat of the film.

The music and the visuals brings up one of the more interesting details many will not notice, but when Miguel plays his guitar, his fingers are playing actual chords and his strums and finger picking is correct for the music he’s playing. This is yet another example of a film taking the time to make sure all its details are right and authentic.

A word of caution: don’t go see this movie in 3D. It doesn’t need it. And wearing sunglasses in the theater will only dampen the beauty of the color palatte, as well as making it harder to wipe away tears that will flow from all but the most stone-hearted among us.

This is not a perfect film. The plot twist at the end is a tad predictable, but for a medium whose entire raison d’être is repeat viewings ad nauseum on home video, it doesn’t need to be. Will it hold up over repeat viewings? Absolutely.

With so many families now spending time during the holidays going to see movies together, there is simply no better choice out there than Coco. Make a date to take your familia as soon as possible.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5

If It’s the X-Men in the MCU That You’re Focused On, Your Priorities are Skewed

Today, the entertainment industry was chattering away as the news broke that 21st Century Fox and Disney were in negotiations for Disney to purchase some of Fox’s business. The television properties would remain but it’s believed Fox’s movie business and tv production would head to Disney if the deal went through according to CNBC, though Bloomberg has reported the deal is dead right now.

The news spread across the geek-o-sphere with sites excited about seeing the X-Men, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four back at Marvel and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Marvel is owned by Disney). They were excited that Star Wars: A New Hope would be with Lucasfilm which meant original cuts and more!

Beyond the fact that none of this is happening any time soon, what these sites overlooked in their naivete is that Disney gobbling up some of Fox’s entertainment business further consolidates movie and television production and increasing Disney’s power and control. And currently, Disney is being pretty evil.

In the early 1980s US media was held by just 50 corporations — and the number has dropped to only a handful since then. Reported in 2012, Business Insider just 6 corporations control 90% of the media in America. Things have shifted a bit since then, but reality is just a few corporations control the vast majority of the movies, television, newspapers, and radio you listen to and consume. Disney’s purchase of Fox’s movie and television production would allow them to flex even more weight and in a way that harms consumers.

Here’s just a few ways things can go off the rail:

  • Disney has “launched” their own movie service, “Movies Anywhere” after they pulled out of their deal with Netflix. Along with Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox have all signed on to the service. While there’s some good in how the service works, having the studio controlling a major distribution channel is rife for abuse, especially if they were to own Fox too. They could pull all that content from Netflix and other services making Movies Anywhere the only online digital app to view their films legally. Add in the power of the data gained from consumers using their own app and you have a scenario where others can be muscled out or muscled to take part decreasing consumer choice and increasing costs.

Disney and Fox, as well as Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, own stakes in Hulu. And while they have signed a deal with that service, there is no reason that couldn’t end if Disney were to control Fox or a deal pressed against Hulu which the service couldn’t accept and survive.

  • Speaking of increasing costs, Disney has been muscling theaters to pay more for their films. Disney has recently had two recent spats with theaters over Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi where they demanded greater cuts to show their films and greater demands as to what screens the films will be seen on. Movie consolidation would allow Disney to continue this trend either causing ticket prices to increase, theaters to stop showing their films, or theaters even going out of business. Again, a bad deal for consumers.
  • Disney is currently pulling access for reporters over coverage they didn’t like (this negative piece could get us blacklisted for all I know). Disney has banned The Los Angeles Times from all advance screenings of their movies as a vindictive response to an investigative piece it published on Disney’s relationship to the city of Anaheim. Other sites have joined in with the Los Angeles Times in solidarity such as the AV Club and Washington Post. Imagine that extending further to any article Disney deems as negative freezing them out and only providing access to those who will only provide positive coverage. This is a chilling effect for entertainment coverage and free press. This consolidation would give Disney somewhere between 30-40% of the movie market share.

So before you celebrate how the X-Men might fight the Avengers, stop to think how if that happens you could have less choices in how you see that film and pay more to do so.

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