The Paramount Consent Decrees Are Over

In a decision that will undoubtedly shake the already weakened movie theater business, New York federal judge granted a motion by the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate Paramount Consent Decrees.

During the major anti-trust action in the late 1940s, U.S. Supreme Court ordered film studios to divest themselves of their exhibition holdings. Furthermore, it established rules governing licensing relationships between theater owners and major studios like Warner Bros. and Paramount. Until then, studios controlled cinemas, allowing them to exclusively show titles they deemed profitable. Paramount Consent Decrees banned practices like “block-booking” (bundling multiple films into one theater license) and “circuit dealing” (licensing films to all movie theaters under common ownership instead of licensing on a theater-by-theater basis).

Since major movie theater chains like AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas are already teetering on the age of ruin due to the pandemic, big studios will now be able to more easily take control over the movie distribution. This, in turn, will lead to further narrowing of choices offered to movie-going audiences as studios will inevitably promote their biggest titles – both good and bad – while forcing out B-movies, independent productions, and similar outliers out of distribution. So, get ready for even more Disney’s live-action remakes. Yay.

Layoffs at DC Comics; DC Universe Shutting Down?

According to a recent article by The Hollywood Reporter, roughly one-third of DC’s editorial staff has been fired this week. Among those laid off were editor-in-chief Bob Harris, senior VP of a publishing strategy and support services Hank Kanalz, VP of marketing and creative services Jonah Weiland, VP global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase, senior story editor Brian Cunningham, and executive editor Mark Doyle. So far, at least, Jim Lee will remain CCO.

The future of the streaming service DC Universe is also looking bleak. Most of the staff have been laid off, as WarnerMedia wants to focus on the new streaming service, HBO Max. HBO Max already streams DC movies, as well as TV shows like Harley Quinn and Doom Patrol. DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer is also being closed down after over two decades. And finally, WarnerMedia is still looking to get rid of its game division – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Ironically, all these decisions are coming barely two weeks before DC FanDome, an online all-day event featuring the latest announcements regarding DC comics, movies, and TV shows.

New York Comic-Con Going Virtual

Speaking of comic book conventions, this year’s New York Comic-Con will take place entirely online since, understandably, organizers don’t want their event to become a COVID-19 nightmare. This week’s press release promises Starz, Hulu and FX will present their TV shows, CBS All Access will feature its slate of Star Trek programming while Dreamworks will showcase its television animation.

Recently, San Diego Comic-Con followed a similar route. Unfortunately, its online edition titled Comic-Con@ Home was pretty much a bust. According to an analysis by the social media analytics firm ListenFirst, tweets mentioning Comic-Con at Home were down 95 percent compared to 2019’s live convention. Even worse, YouTube videos of the event showed an average of 15,000 views per panel. These otherwise solid YouTube numbers are abysmal when you’re hosting the biggest comic book convention in the world.

Organizers of New York Comic-Con want to follow a different tactic by encouraging participation of its audience. This year’s event will feature live streaming of events as well as the interaction between viewers and guests at the con through YouTube’s Community and Live Chat features. Now, this might either work or fail spectacularly. After all, the internet is a cesspool. And yet, you have to admire organizers for at least trying to replicate a little bit of magic of a comic book convention where interaction between fans, stars, and creators is often one of the highlights.

New York Comic-Con will take place on October 8–11, 2020.