Paramount+ is getting 14 South Park movies starting with two this year

Two decades after the release of Bigger, Longer and Uncut, the first and only South Park movie to date, series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will produce 14 direct-to-streaming films for Paramount+ as part of a new deal the two signed with ViacomCBS to keep the show on Comedy Central through 2027. According to Bloomberg, the agreement is worth more than $900 million over six years, easily eclipsing the approximately $500 million AT&T subsidiary WarnerMedia spent in 2019 to secure exclusive streaming rights to the show for HBO Max.

Parker and Stone haven't made a movie together since 2004's Team America: World Police. The first two films included in their ViacomCBS deal will debut later this year. Stone told Bloomberg he and Parker plan to expand the world of South Park by using the movies as an opportunity to introduce new characters and concepts.

What the deal doesn't include is streaming rights to the South Park TV series. As mentioned above, Viacom licensed those to WarnerMedia in 2019, and that agreement is still in place. However, the $900 million investment in the brand does suggest the company will attempt to bring the series to Paramount+ eventually. 

ViacomCBS executive Chris McCarthy hinted as much in the press release announcing today's news. "Matt and Trey are world-class creatives who brilliantly use their outrageous humor to skewer the absurdities of our culture and we are excited to expand and deepen our long relationship with them to help fuel Paramount+ and Comedy Central," he said. "Franchising marquee content like South Park and developing new IP with tremendous talent like Matt and Trey, is at the heart of our strategy to continue growing Paramount+."

Facebook will host a paid movie premiere this month

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many film festivals have shifted to online-only or hybrid formats. Later this month, another movie will premiere as a paid online event. This time around, you'll be able to watch it on Facebook.

Users in any country where Facebook's paid online events are available (which now number more than 100) can watch the premiere of The Outsider, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. A virtual ticket costs $4, and the film will debut on August 19th at 8PM ET. It'll be available for 12 hours.

As Axios reports, a Facebook Live panel discussion will follow the premiere of The Outsider. The doc will hit select theaters and other streaming platforms in September.

Facebook will run some promos for the event, which is being run by distributor Abramorama, but it won't take a cut of ticket sales. The company is waiving commissions on creators' revenue through 2022.

The film has already caused controversy. Officials at the museum asked the filmmakers to cut 18 "defamatory" scenes from The Outsider, but directors Pamela Yoder and Steven Rosenbaum said they wouldn't back down. Michael Shulan, the museum's former creative director and a central figure in the film, reportedly claims in the movie that the museum represents the “Disneyfication” of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Film distribution is a tough nut to crack for indie studios and filmmakers, especially when they try to release movies in a number of markets. Much like others have had success in hosting online classes or livestreaming gameplay on Facebook, they could harness the platform's enormous reach to find an audience.

It remains to be seen whether other filmmakers and distributors premiere their movies on Facebook. Still, with the company having its fingers in an ever-increasing number of pies, it's not hard to imagine Facebook being interested in hosting similar events in the future.

Facebook will host a paid movie premiere this month

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many film festivals have shifted to online-only or hybrid formats. Later this month, another movie will premiere as a paid online event. This time around, you'll be able to watch it on Facebook.

Users in any country where Facebook's paid online events are available (which now number more than 100) can watch the premiere of The Outsider, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. A virtual ticket costs $4, and the film will debut on August 19th at 8PM ET. It'll be available for 12 hours.

As Axios reports, a Facebook Live panel discussion will follow the premiere of The Outsider. The doc will hit select theaters and other streaming platforms in September.

Facebook will run some promos for the event, which is being run by distributor Abramorama, but it won't take a cut of ticket sales. The company is waiving commissions on creators' revenue through 2022.

The film has already caused controversy. Officials at the museum asked the filmmakers to cut 18 "defamatory" scenes from The Outsider, but directors Pamela Yoder and Steven Rosenbaum said they wouldn't back down. Michael Shulan, the museum's former creative director and a central figure in the film, reportedly claims in the movie that the museum represents the “Disneyfication” of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Film distribution is a tough nut to crack for indie studios and filmmakers, especially when they try to release movies in a number of markets. Much like others have had success in hosting online classes or livestreaming gameplay on Facebook, they could harness the platform's enormous reach to find an audience.

It remains to be seen whether other filmmakers and distributors premiere their movies on Facebook. Still, with the company having its fingers in an ever-increasing number of pies, it's not hard to imagine Facebook being interested in hosting similar events in the future.

Netflix is making a documentary about SpaceX’s upcoming Inspiration4 civilian flight

When Inspiration4, SpaceX’s first all-civilian flight, takes off next month, Netflix will chronicle the historic mission with a documentary series. Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space will stream in five parts, with the first two episodes debuting on September 6th. In that way, it will be the first docuseries from the streaming giant to chronicle an event in near real-time.

Early episodes will detail, among other things, the astronaut training Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman and his crewmates had to undertake ahead of the flight. Meanwhile, the final feature-length episode will recount the mission’s flight to space and eventual return to Earth and include footage from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The finale doesn’t have a release date yet, but Netflix expects to start streaming it sometime in late September.

The production involves parts of the team behind ESPN’s The Last Dance Michael Jordan documentary, including director Jason Hehir. Alongside the series, Netflix will release A StoryBots Space Adventure, a hybrid live-action and animation special that will feature the Inspiration4 crew answering questions from kids about their flight. The special will debut on September 14th, one day before the Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to lift off.

Netflix is making a documentary about SpaceX’s upcoming Inspiration4 civilian flight

When Inspiration4, SpaceX’s first all-civilian flight, takes off next month, Netflix will chronicle the historic mission with a documentary series. Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space will stream in five parts, with the first two episodes debuting on September 6th. In that way, it will be the first docuseries from the streaming giant to chronicle an event in near real-time.

Early episodes will detail, among other things, the astronaut training Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman and his crewmates had to undertake ahead of the flight. Meanwhile, the final feature-length episode will recount the mission’s flight to space and eventual return to Earth and include footage from inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The finale doesn’t have a release date yet, but Netflix expects to start streaming it sometime in late September.

The production involves parts of the team behind ESPN’s The Last Dance Michael Jordan documentary, including director Jason Hehir. Alongside the series, Netflix will release A StoryBots Space Adventure, a hybrid live-action and animation special that will feature the Inspiration4 crew answering questions from kids about their flight. The special will debut on September 14th, one day before the Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to lift off.

An Apple TV bug is muting some purchased and rented movies

Some folks who buy or rent movies on Apple TV are running into a major issue when they watch films through the app. Occasionally, flicks are playing without audio, according to 9to5 Mac. The bug is reportedly affecting various systems that support the TV app, including smart TVs, the Apple TV device and other streaming devices, such as Roku sticks and Chromecast with Google TV. The issue seems to have been occurring for at least the last month.

The cause of the issue is unclear. 9to5 Mac speculates the TV app may not be decoding the audio track correctly due to a problem with digital rights management (DRM). According to the report, users have been having mixed success when requesting refunds due to the issue — Apple seemingly hasn't fulfilled all such requests from customers, though it's not clear why. Engadget has contacted Apple for comment.

Whatever the cause of the problem, it's undoubtedly frustrating to spend money to rent or buy a film only to find you're missing out on a significant proportion of the experience. If you do encounter this problem, it might be worth connecting your Apple account to Movies Anywhere and see if the movies you bought on the iTunes Store play correctly there. 

An Apple TV bug is muting some purchased and rented movies

Some folks who buy or rent movies on Apple TV are running into a major issue when they watch films through the app. Occasionally, flicks are playing without audio, according to 9to5 Mac. The bug is reportedly affecting various systems that support the TV app, including smart TVs, the Apple TV device and other streaming devices, such as Roku sticks and Chromecast with Google TV. The issue seems to have been occurring for at least the last month.

The cause of the issue is unclear. 9to5 Mac speculates the TV app may not be decoding the audio track correctly due to a problem with digital rights management (DRM). According to the report, users have been having mixed success when requesting refunds due to the issue — Apple seemingly hasn't fulfilled all such requests from customers, though it's not clear why. Engadget has contacted Apple for comment.

Whatever the cause of the problem, it's undoubtedly frustrating to spend money to rent or buy a film only to find you're missing out on a significant proportion of the experience. If you do encounter this problem, it might be worth connecting your Apple account to Movies Anywhere and see if the movies you bought on the iTunes Store play correctly there. 

‘Black Widow’ star Scarlett Johansson sues Disney over streaming strategy

Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over the company's decision to release the movie in theaters and on Disney+ simultaneously. Johansson claims that the move constituted a breach of contract, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the suit, Johansson says Black Widow was supposed to be released exclusively in theaters, per her deal with Marvel. As is often the case for movie stars, a large portion of Johansson's salary was tied to its box office success.

To watch Black Widow on Disney+, viewers need to fork over $30 for a Premier Access pass. Disney initially estimated that the film generated $60 million in revenue on Disney+ from its opening weekend earlier this month, along with $80 million in domestic and $78 million international theatrical revenue.

The move may have impacted Black Widow's performance in theaters (though it's worth bearing in mind that many cinemas around the globe are still closed amid the pandemic). The total worldwide box office tally is currently $319 million. As Variety points out, that puts it on track to become one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies to date. Only one of the six other Marvel movies released since early 2018 has made less than $1 billion in theaters.

Johansson's representatives tried to re-negotiate her deal after news emerged about the new Black Widow release strategy, the suit says, but Disney and Marvel were allegedly unresponsive. Releasing Black Widow on Disney+ simultaneously could cost Johansson over $50 million, according to a WSJ source.

In 2019, before COVID-19 changed everything and with Disney+ on the horizon, Johansson and her team contacted Marvel for confirmation that Black Widow would still be a theatrical-only release. According to an email from March 2019 that's cited in the filing, Marvel's chief counsel Dave Galluzzi confirmed that. “We understand that should the plan change, we would need to discuss this with you and come to an understanding as the deal is based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses,” the email states.

Movie theaters around the world were forced to close their doors following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distributors scrambled to revamp their release strategies. Warner Bros. has adopted a hybrid format this year, with its movies coming to both theaters and HBO Max on the same day (aka day-and-date releases). It will return to theater-first releases next year.

However, that approach was criticized by prominent directors, including Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros. owner WarnerMedia reworked some deals and reportedly paid creative talent who were due a cut of box office revenue north of $200 million. NBCUniversal also released The Boss Baby: Family Business in theaters and on Peacock on the same day.

Disney adopted different tactics. Several of the movies it has released day-and-date (including Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon and Cruella) were initially locked behind that $30 pass on Disney+. Artemis Fowl, and Pixar movies Soul and Luca skipped theaters entirely in many countries and went straight to Disney+ as part of the regular library.

‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus’ anime trailer reveals a replicant on the run

Adult Swim and Crunchyroll has released the first trailer for Blade Runner: Black Lotus, the anime series they're co-producing, at San Diego Comic-Con this year. The show is set in Los Angeles in the year 2032, putting its events in between the original Harrison Ford movie set in 2019 and the sequel film starring Ryan Gosling set in 2049. It features a new replicant named Elle known as the "Black Lotus," who was created with special powers. She seems to have escaped from her creators, and is currently being hunted down by authorities.

In the action-packed trailer, you'll see Elle take down foe after foe — she goes from not knowing how she's able to knock a handful of men completely out cold to wielding a katana — in a backdrop of smoke, fog and neon lights. Elle is voiced by Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist) in the English version and Arisa Shida in the Japanese version. The show will run for 13 episodes, which will be directed by Shinji Aramaki (Ultraman, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, SAC_2045). It's produced by Alcon Entertainment and animation studio Sola Digital Arts, with Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) serving as a creative producer.

When Blade Runner: Black Lotus debuts this fall, you can watch it in English on Adult Swim and in Japanese on Crunchyroll.

‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus’ anime trailer reveals a replicant on the run

Adult Swim and Crunchyroll has released the first trailer for Blade Runner: Black Lotus, the anime series they're co-producing, at San Diego Comic-Con this year. The show is set in Los Angeles in the year 2032, putting its events in between the original Harrison Ford movie set in 2019 and the sequel film starring Ryan Gosling set in 2049. It features a new replicant named Elle known as the "Black Lotus," who was created with special powers. She seems to have escaped from her creators, and is currently being hunted down by authorities.

In the action-packed trailer, you'll see Elle take down foe after foe — she goes from not knowing how she's able to knock a handful of men completely out cold to wielding a katana — in a backdrop of smoke, fog and neon lights. Elle is voiced by Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist) in the English version and Arisa Shida in the Japanese version. The show will run for 13 episodes, which will be directed by Shinji Aramaki (Ultraman, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, SAC_2045). It's produced by Alcon Entertainment and animation studio Sola Digital Arts, with Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) serving as a creative producer.

When Blade Runner: Black Lotus debuts this fall, you can watch it in English on Adult Swim and in Japanese on Crunchyroll.