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The 9 biggest takeaways from 'Totally Under Control,' a new documentary filmed in secret about the Trump administration's coronavirus response

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On October 1, the directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger finished their coronavirus documentary, the first major film about the pandemic to be released in the US.

The next day, President Donald Trump announced he had the virus. The trailer for the film was also released; it's been viewed more than 6 million times. That weekend, more and more officials within Trump's orbit tested positive for COVID-19.

The timing of Trump's illness is a remarkable coincidence: The film is set to premiere on October 13. (It comes to Hulu on October 20.)

Made in relative secrecy over the past five months, "Totally Under Control"— a reference to Trump's claim early this year that the coronavirus outbreak was under control — is all about the federal government's woeful failure to slow the coronavirus' spread through the US.

"While the current administration makes its claims for a job well done, the fact is that the US response to COVID-19 is one of the worst, with 4 percent of the world's population and 21 percent of the deaths," Neon, the film's distributor, said in a statement to IndieWire last month.

Trump rally

Neon added: "Had the federal government done its job properly — by following clear guidelines in place based on past pandemics — most of the death and destruction could have been avoided."

Business Insider viewed the film ahead of its release. Here are the nine biggest takeaways.

In 2019, the US government simulated a pandemic with 'eerie similarities' to the coronavirus

Dubbed "Crimson Contagion," the scenario involved a highly lethal influenza virus that originated in China and spread throughout the world. The Department of Health and Human Services conducted the scenario in 2019, from January to about August.

HHS detailed its results in October 2019, in a draft report that The New York Times later published. It found that the government lacked funding for personal protective equipment and antiviral drugs, that federal agencies were conflicted about how to manage the response, and that state governments received confusing messages about lockdowns and school closures.

In short, the report read like a preview of the year to come.

The Trump administration ignored advice on how to deal with a pandemic

In 2016, Beth Cameron, a senior director for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council, and her team put together a 69-page briefing on how the federal government could coordinate its response to a pandemic.

The report "intended to allow the people in the White House to ask questions," Cameron said in the film. "What should we do? And also, what do we need to do to get ahead, so that we're not constantly reacting?"

The Trump administration did not use the playbook, Cameron said. And in 2018, the national security adviser John Bolton disbanded the Global Health Security and Biodefense team.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that the Obama administration "did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this." He later admitted he was wrong.

The US's first coronavirus tests were faulty — and the CDC didn't address the issue for 3 weeks

CDC coronavirus test

The original tests, which were shipped to laboratories on February 5, contained a faulty assay, meant to measure the presence of a virus. Labs around the country notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the problem, but the agency didn't address it until February 28.

In the meantime, universities and labs couldn't develop their own tests quickly, because they would have had to slog through weeks of Food and Drug Administration bureaucracy. So in February, the US conducted next to no tests of its residents.

"It was as if we were flying blind, and we knew it. And frankly, there was nothing we could do except wait," Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, said in the film.

The White House's early testing strategy 'was designed to miss community transmission'

Testing shortages in the US persisted for months, but they were worst at the start of the pandemic. At the end of February, the US was testing fewer than 100 people a day, while in South Korea officials were testing 10,000 people a day.

To target the limited tests, the CDC restricted testing to people who'd traveled from China or had contact with people who'd tested positive. But this strategy assumed the US didn't already have "community transmission," or when a virus spreads through a community without a known source.

By late February, though, the virus had already spread to half the states. By focusing only on people with known links to China, the CDC testing strategy "was designed to miss community transmission," Dr. Taison Bell, an infectious-disease specialist and critical-care physician at the University of Virginia, said in the film.

Trump officials sold most of the US's protective masks to China in February

In February, the Trump administration created the "CS China COVID Procurement Service" partly to encourage American producers like 3M to sell their inventories of N95 masks to China.

One month later, when American hospitals desperately needed N95s, they were forced to import them — and pay up to 10 times what American producers would have charged, according to the documentary.

Mike Pence's coronavirus task force had more than twice as many industry reps and politicians as scientists

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses reporters during his daily Coronavirus Task Force news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 10, 2020.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

As of March, just six of the 20 members of Vice President Mike Pence's coronavirus task force had scientific expertise. One of them was Ben Carson, who's a surgeon by training but has little public-health expertise.

Other members of the task force included Joseph Grogan, a former lobbyist for Gilead Sciences (the company behind remdesivir); Stephen Biegun, a former lobbyist for Ford who served as Sarah Palin's foreign-policy adviser in 2008; and Ken Cuccinelli, a climate-change skeptic who was formerly the attorney general of Virginia.

Jared Kushner's PPE task force consisted largely of unpaid 20-something volunteers working 7 days a week

jared kushner nba

When 26-year-old Max Kennedy Jr. volunteered to be on Jared Kushner's coronavirus task force, he joined a group of other young, unpaid volunteers in a windowless conference room in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The walls were covered in TVs that blared Fox News 24/7.

Kennedy and the other volunteers — none of whom had experience in supply chains — were put to work trying to buy PPE from Chinese factories.

"We thought we'd be auxiliary support," Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, said in the film. "Instead, we were the team."

He said he and other volunteers used their personal email accounts to communicate with the factories.

Kennedy quit the task force in April. That month, he sent an anonymous complaint to Congress detailing the task force's incompetency.

"In my time on the task force," he said, "our team did not directly purchase a single mask."

Kushner told California Gov. Gavin Newsom he had to publicly thank Trump to get testing supplies

gavin newsom

In April, when Newsom asked the White House for 350,000 testing swabs, Kushner told his advisers that the federal help would hinge on Newsom doing him a favor.

Newsom would have to call Trump, and he would have to thank him publicly. Newsom apparently did the former, and on April 22, he publicly thanked the president for a "substantial increase" in testing supplies.

Newsom has denied this version of events, saying that "no one told me to express" gratitude.

State and federal governments bid against one another, eBay-style, for ventilators and PPE

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"It's like being on eBay with 50 other states," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the situation in March, when severe equipment shortages forced states to bid against one another for the right to purchase critical supplies like ventilators and masks from private companies.

The bidding war drove up the price of those supplies, increasing profits for foreign manufacturers at taxpayers' expense. FEMA also outbid many states, driving Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to express frustration during a teleconference with Trump on March 19.

"I got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or has a chance to me, I'm going to lose every one of those," Baker said.

Trump laughed.

"Well, we do like you going out and seeing what you can get, if you can get it faster," Trump said. "And price is always a component of that also. And maybe that's why you lost to the feds."

SEE ALSO: Trump's positive COVID test shines a light on the president's pandemic failures. It also shows Americans how we can make our country stronger.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 6 times Trump contradicted public officials about the coronavirus pandemic

An explosive new documentary details how Jared Kushner's coronavirus task force consisted mainly of 20-something volunteers buying PPE with personal email accounts

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When Max Kennedy Jr. volunteered to help out on Jared Kushner's White House COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force, he thought he'd be helping out senior staff with rote tasks like data entry.

"My old boss called me and said he heard Kushner's task force needed younger volunteers who had general skills and were willing to work seven days a week for no money," Kennedy, now 27, said in the forthcoming documentary about the Trump team's coronavirus response, "Totally Under Control." The film, which was made in secret over the past five months, is slated for on-demand release on October 13.

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Despite his "apprehension" about working for the Trump administration, Kennedy volunteered because he felt like it was the right thing to do, he said.

So Kennedy traveled to Washington, DC, and showed up at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Once there, he said volunteers were led to Conference Room A, a windowless underground meeting space. TVs covered the walls, all blaring Fox News.

After they sat down, Kennedy said representatives from FEMA and the military came in and gave them a "pep talk." The officials told volunteers they needed to procure "the stuff" for the US government — Kennedy said they were referring to personal protective equipment, or PPE.

Trump FEMA

Then the officials left, leaving Kennedy and the other volunteers. Slowly, they realized what was happening.

"We thought we'd be auxiliary support for an existing procurement team," Kennedy, who is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, said in the film. "Instead, we were the team."

Kennedy said he and a dozen inexperienced volunteers had become a core component of the US government's efforts to procure PPE.

A severe shortage of PPE across the US

Kushner formed the COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force in March to address what had become a pressing issue: the US's severe shortage of PPE and other medical equipment. Already, hospitals in many regions were running out of masks and ventilators, and workers were making single-use masks last over several days. One surgeon in Fresno, California, told The New York Times it was like being "at war with no ammo."

PPE protest US Capitol lawn

There were multiple reasons for these shortages, including a lack of preparations by previous administrations — many of the Strategic National Stockpile's 12 million N95 masks were expired, for instance. But in February, the Trump administration created the "CS China COVID Procurement Service," which existed partly to encourage American producers like 3M to sell their entire inventories of N95 masks to China.

One month later, when American hospitals desperately needed N95 masks, they were forced to import them and pay up to 10 times more than the price that American producers would have charged, according to the documentary.

Using personal email accounts to buy critical supplies

For the rest of March and well into April, Kennedy sat in Conference Room A with the other volunteers, whom he said had no experience in supply chains or medical issues. With very little direction, the team members opened up their personal laptops and got to work, Kennedy said.

"We started cold emailing people we knew who had business relationships in China, looking for factories online, and emailing them from our personal Gmail accounts," Kennedy said in the film.

The group was also told to prioritize leads from "VIPs," which mostly consisted of well-connected and wealthy Trump supporters, BuzzFeed News and The New York Times previously reported. The task force kept track of such leads in a spreadsheet called "VIP Updates."

One "VIP," the Silicon Valley engineer Yaron Oren-Pines, received a $69 million contract to provide 1,000 ventilators to New York state after he tweeted at the president, Business Insider previously reported. Oren-Pines never delivered, and the state has tried to get its money back.

As the team worked, the TVs kept playing Fox News 24/7, Kennedy said, adding that he remembered the channel's coronavirus-death counter ticking steadily upward.

Kennedy said nobody told the other volunteers how to buy PPE

Buying PPE without any experience or advice turned out to be difficult, largely because Kennedy said he and the other volunteers had no idea how procurement worked, and nobody would tell them.

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"We would call factories and say, 'We think the federal government can send you a check in 60 days,' and they would say, 'There's someone with a briefcase of cash, and they're offering to pay me right now,'" he said in the film. "And we would run around the FEMA building looking for someone who could tell us what payment terms the government was allowed to offer, and no one ever told us."

A week into their work, Kennedy said several government employees walked into Conference Room A and told the volunteers they had to sign nondisclosure agreements. They offered an ultimatum: Sign the NDAs, or leave the room immediately, according to Kennedy.

"We all had built our own relationships with manufacturers, and it felt like if we walked away, it would negatively affect our ability to buy this critical, life-saving equipment. And so we all begrudgingly signed the NDA," he said in the film.

Kennedy quit the task force in April. That month, he also broke his NDA, sending an anonymous complaint to Congress that said the task force was "falling short."

"In my time on the task force, our team did not directly purchase a single mask," he said in the film.

Kushner's program was mostly shut down in May, even though state governments and healthcare facilities were still experiencing critical shortages of PPE and ventilators.

The White House didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on the film or Kennedy's characterization of the task force.

SEE ALSO: Jared Kushner's shadow coronavirus task force used a spreadsheet called 'VIP Update' to procure PPE from inexperienced Trump allies over legitimate vendors

DON'T MISS: A volunteer on Kushner's coronavirus team filed a complaint to Congress warning the group was 'falling short' on helping health care workers

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The global coronavirus death toll has officially reached 1 million — although experts believe the actual death toll is much higher

The Trump administration forced states to bid eBay-style for masks and ventilators, according to an explosive new documentary

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One of the most powerful moments in "Totally Under Control," a new documentary about the US government's coronavirus response, is Mike Bowen's testimony before Congress.

At a House hearing on May 14, Bowen, a Texas mask manufacturer, described how federal officials ignored his repeated warnings about mask shortages — and how the entire country was suffering the consequences.

"I'm getting 500 to 1,000 emails a day," Bowen said. "I'm getting emails from moms, I'm getting emails from old people: 'Please, send me masks.'"

Then he started to cry: "I can't help all these people," he said.

By then, nearly 100,000 Americans had died.

mikebowen

A veteran of the medical supply industry, Bowen knew that the US did not have enough N95 masks to manage a pandemic, according to the documentary, which directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger filmed in relative secrecy over the past five months.

On January 22, Bowen emailed the US Department of Health and Human Services with a proposal: His company, Prestige Ameritech, could start producing an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week.

"We can't protect Americans. That's too late. But I could make at least enough N95s to protect healthcare workers," Bowen said in the film. All he needed, he added, was financial support from the federal government.

The Trump administration didn't take Bowen up on his offer, even though President Donald Trump learned on January 23 that the coronavirus had the potential to spread globally. Less than a week later, Trump was also warned that the virus could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Instead, in February, the Trump administration encouraged other American mask manufacturers like 3M to sell their entire inventories of N95 masks to China, as part of its CS China COVID Procurement Service.

More than a month later, many US hospitals were dangerously low on PPE and ventilators. Workers were using the same single-use masks for several days, and nurses wore garbage bags instead of hospital gowns. One surgeon in Fresno, California, told the New York Times it was like being "at war with no ammo."

PPE protest US Capitol lawn

Instead of helping states get the supplies they needed, Trump told governors to go it alone.

"Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Trump said, according to the New York Times.

With no direction or leadership, states were forced to bid against each other for limited supplies, driving up the prices of equipment and increasing profits for the private companies that had imported them, according to the documentary.

"It's like being on eBay with 50 other states," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on March 31.

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Increasing profits for private companies 

The bidding war increased profits for mostly foreign manufacturers, and forced taxpayers to cover the extra cost. In many cases, Americans were forced to pay up to 10 times more than the price that local producers would have charged, according to the documentary. 

The federal government also outbid states on several occasions, driving Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to express frustration during a teleconference with Trump on March 19.

"I got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or has a chance to [sell to] me, I'm going to lose every one of those," Baker said. 

Trump laughed.

"Well, we do like you going out and seeing what you can get, if you can get it faster," Trump said. "And price is always a component of that also. And maybe that's why you lost to the feds."

jared kushner coronavirus task force covid-19

By the end of March, it was clear the government's free-for-all strategy wasn't working. So Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner set up his own PPE procurement task force with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

The FEMA supply chain task force was meant to help the federal government procure additional masks and supplies, partnering with other government initiatives like Project Airbridge to deliver PPE to hard-hit areas.

But the task force proved to be a disaster, as Business Insider previously reported. Max Kennedy Jr., one of its members, said in the film that the team consisted largely of inexperienced, 20-something unpaid volunteers "cold-emailing Chinese factories" from their personal Gmail accounts.

"In my time on the task force, our team did not directly purchase a single mask," he said.

Eventually, FEMA procured additional PPE and sent it to states. Even so, shortages of PPE and other medical supplies have persisted across the US.

"It is hard to believe that our nation finds itself dealing with the same shortfalls in PPE witnessed during the first few weeks that SARS-CoV-2 began its unrelenting spread," Susan R. Bailey, president of the Journal of the American Medical Association, wrote at the end of August.

She added: "But that same situation exists today, and in many ways things have only gotten worse."

SEE ALSO: An explosive new documentary details how Jared Kushner's coronavirus task force consisted mainly of 20-something volunteers buying PPE with personal email accounts

DON'T MISS: The 9 biggest takeaways from 'Totally Under Control,' a new documentary filmed in secret about the Trump administration's coronavirus response

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The global coronavirus death toll has officially reached 1 million — although experts believe the actual death toll is much higher

The best 4K Blu-ray players

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  • To play the best-quality movies on a 4K TV, you need a 4K Blu-ray player that supports 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
  • 4K Blu-ray players are also capable of high dynamic range (HDR) technology for enhanced contrast and colors.
  • The Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player balances price and performance better than any other player on the market, making it the best fit for most buyers.

Streaming services might offer the most convenient way to watch movies at home, but if you want the very best video and audio quality on a 4K TV, there's still no real substitute for a disc format. Yes, you do actually have to get up from the couch to pop in a movie, but the performance benefits of discs are clear — especially when watching 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the latest and greatest disc format for movies and TV shows. The format uses an Ultra HD video resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels for impressive detail, along with high dynamic range (HDR) support for enhanced contrast and colors. 

Without internet bandwidth limitations and buffer times to worry about, 4K Blu-ray allows studios to present content with less compression than streaming services. Less compression means you'll get more accurate images with better detail, along with lossless sound for a greater range of frequencies. For more information about all the benefits of 4K Blu-ray, be sure to read our additional breakdown of features

Of course, to watch 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays you'll need a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are also backward compatible with regular Blu-rays and DVDs, so even if your 4K disc collection is just getting started, you'll still be able to watch all of your old discs, too. There are several worthwhile 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player models available from companies like Sony, LG, and Panasonic. Some gaming consoles even include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drives as well.

I've been covering the consumer electronics industry for seven years, and during that time I've demoed and reviewed numerous media devices and Blu-ray players. Through hands-on testing and expert reviews, we've picked the best 4K Blu-ray players you can buy for a variety of needs and budget levels.

Here are the best 4K Blu-ray players in 2020:

Prices and links are current as of 10/20/2020: Replaced the discontinued Xbox One X with the Xbox One S. Added additional slides for 4K Blu-ray player buying advice and 4K Blu-ray benefits. Jacob Roach contributed to an earlier version of this guide. Updated by Steven Cohen.

The best 4K Blu-ray player overall

Thanks to its affordable pricing, excellent media support, and solid build quality, the Sony UBP-X700 is the best 4K Blu-ray player for most people.

When it comes to covering all of the basic features most buyers will need from a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Sony UBP-X700 essentially checks every box — and it offers all of those capabilities for a surprisingly low price.

The device provides 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc playback with support for both HDR10 and the more advanced Dolby Vision HDR format. Like competing models, the UBP-X700 also features backward compatibility with standard Blu-rays and DVDs, along with 4K upscaling to make those older discs look better on modern Ultra HD TVs. 

Connectivity options are also solid thanks to dual HDMI connections — the extra HDMI port can be used for dedicated audio output to an AV receiver if you want to bypass having to also transmit the video signal through a receiver. A coaxial digital out is included as well, but the player is missing a digital optical port. The lack of an optical connection shouldn't be an issue for most modern TVs and audio systems, but it could be a problem if you want to plug the player into certain soundbar models.

The X700 doesn't include all of the audiophile bells and whistles that are integrated into more expensive players, but it will still output lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X from compatible discs just fine. You can also play high-resolution audio files up to 24bit/192kHz in multiple formats, including FLAC.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity are included as well for access to select apps, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. The X700 actually has greater support for streaming services than most Blu-ray players, but it's still lacking compared to a smart TV or a dedicated streaming box

As great as overall performance is on the X700, there are a couple of noteworthy drawbacks worth mentioning. Unlike Sony's step-up UBP-X800M2 and UBP-X1100ES, the X700 does not include Bluetooth support, so you can't connect wireless headphones for private listening. 

The player's Dolby Vision playback is also hindered by an odd design choice on Sony's part. Instead of automatically detecting when a Dolby Vision disc is being played and then automatically switching to Dolby Vision output, you have to manually select Dolby Vision in the settings menu. Sadly, if you leave Dolby Vision selected, the player then incorrectly forces Dolby Vision output for any disc you put in — even if it doesn't support Dolby Vision. This results in an inaccurate image. 

For buyers who don't have a Dolby Vision TV or who really don't care about the differences between HDR10 and Dolby Vision, this really shouldn't be an issue. Just disable Dolby Vision and forget about it. If you're buying a 4K Blu-ray player with Dolby Vision in mind, however, having to manually turn the setting on and off could prove to be very annoying. With that in mind, we recommend the more expensive LG UBK90 as a better player for Dolby Vision.     

Despite these flaws, there's no denying the value of the X700. Home-theater enthusiasts who want more advanced features and connections will have to opt for a more expensive player, but most buyers who simply want to watch 4K Blu-rays on their 4K TV should be more than satisfied with what the Sony UBP-X700 has to offer.

Pros: Affordable price, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, access to some streaming apps

Cons: No optical audio output, lacks Bluetooth, Dolby Vision has to be manually activated, missing some advanced video and audio features, no HDR10+ support



The best 4K Blu-ray player for Dolby Vision

The LG UBK90 offers a solid assortment of features for a mid-range 4K Blu-ray player, along with support for automatically detecting Dolby Vision discs.

Though it's more expensive than Sony's X700, the LG UBK90 is a more convenient player for buyers who are specifically looking for a reliable Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

The device offers all of the same basic features you'll find on all players, including 4K disc playback and backward compatibility with Blu-rays and DVDs. The UBK90 also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision playback from compatible 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Unlike the more affordable Sony X700, however, the LG has no issues automatically activating or deactivating Dolby Vision playback when it needs to. No matter what 4K disc you put in, the player will be able to recognize if it should output in HDR10 or Dolby Vision, and then adjust accordingly.

Dual HDMI outputs are included for easy video and audio connectivity. There is one digital optical output, but no digital coaxial output — the latter is commonly found on many soundbars. Wi-Fi and Ethernet are also supported, and you can play high-resolution audio in the FLAC format. When it comes to apps, however, the player only includes access to Netflix and YouTube. In other words, if you're looking for a device to stream movies on, this isn't it. 

You won't get any advanced tone mapping features, chroma upscaling, Bluetooth connectivity, or multi-channel analog audio ports, but for buyers who want a straightforward 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player with convenient automatic Dolby Vision playback, The LG UBK90 is one of the most affordable options. 

Pros: HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, Dolby Vision playback is automatically detected, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, optical audio connection

Cons: No Bluetooth support, lacks advanced video and audio features, very limited library of apps, doesn't support HDR10+



The best high-end 4K Blu-ray player

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is pricier than a lot of other 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players, but it offers comprehensive HDR format support and advanced processing. 

As an all-around great 4K Blu-ray player, it doesn't get much better than the Panasonic DP-UB820. While it's on the expensive side, its performance is basically unmatched by any other model in its price range. In fact, as a home theater journalist, this the Blu-ray player I bought for my own entertainment setup — and I couldn't be more happy with my purchase.

Unlike most 4K Blu-ray players, which only support one or two HDR formats, the DP-UB820 supports all four HDR types: HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma. The player also has no issues automatically selecting the proper format that should be played. This means you never have to worry about manually selecting Dolby Vision or researching which HDR version a 4K Blu-ray disc supports. As long as all of the HDR formats are enabled in the settings, the player will simply activate the best format supported by each disc.   

It's also a network connected player, meaning you can stream (from the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) Netflix, YouTube, and a few other apps. With that said, the app selection is not as wide as most standalone streaming media players, like a Roku or Fire TV Stick. Wirelessly streaming videos from a connected DLNA-compatible device, such as a computer or media-enabled hard drive, is also supported.

Powering the DP-UB820 is Panasonic's HCX processor, which is the same chip found in the company's much more expensive DP-UB9000. With it, the DP-UB820 is able to interpolate 4:2:0 color signals into 4:4:4, which refers to a ratio in something known as chroma sample. To spare you the technical details, higher numbers can result in more defined colors in individual pixels and an overall higher-quality image with smoother gradients.

The player also has Panasonic's HDR Optimizer feature, which uses tone mapping to better scale HDR performance to your TV's particular capabilities (HDR10 only). Your HDR display will use its own tone mapping by default, but you may find better results relying on Panasonic's process instead of your TV's.

If you have an extensive collection of DVD and regular Blu-ray movies, the DP-UB820 can upsample them to 4K. While they still technically won't be true 4K, upscaling can make movies in Full HD or standard definition look a lot better on a 4K TV.

As for sound, the DP-UB820 leaves nothing to be desired. The built-in 192-kHz/32-bit 4-DAC produces excellent audio quality. Panasonic gives you ample connectivity to take advantage of it, too. The DP-UB820 supports digital and optical outputs, as well as HDMI and, most impressively, 7.1-channel analog output for surround sound. The DP-UB820 also supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and high-resolution digital audio file formats.

Panasonic also integrated Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can control playback with your voice if you have a compatible smart speaker at home. 

Kris Heering of Sound and Vision gave the player a "top pick" award, saying it "offers reference-level video performance and also sets a new bar for HDR playback with both HDR flat-panel TVs and projectors."

On the downside, the player doesn't include support for SACD or DVD-Audio discs, but those formats aren't exactly popular, so this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker. For a sturdier build and even more advanced audio connections, you could opt for the more expensive DP-UB9000, but in general, the DP-UB820 really is the high-end 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player to beat right now.  

Pros: Support for all of the major HDR formats, high-end audio processing, advanced tone mapping and chroma upsampling, compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant devices

Cons: Remote seems flimsy compared to the main unit, no support for SACD or DVD-Audio, pricier than many competing players



The best 4K Blu-ray player for gamers

As a gaming console that doubles as a Ultra HD Blu-ray player,Microsoft's Xbox One S is a versatile entertainment hub.

Though Microsoft and Sony are both gearing up to release new consoles later this year, if you're a gamer who wants to watch 4K Blu-ray movies, then the current-generation Xbox One S remains a solid option.

As a game console, the Xbox One S supports many popular titles and can even output select games in HDR. With that said, while the system can upscale 1080p games to 4K, it does not support native 4K resolution for games.

As an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, however, the Xbox One S offers full 4K playback support. Though Xbox consoles originally had some issues with 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray black levels and color output, Microsoft has since fixed these problems with firmware updates.

Now, the Xbox One S offers 4K Blu-ray video quality that's comparable to most standalone players. With that said, the console only supports HDR10 for disc playback and does not offer Dolby Vision or HDR10+ (Dolby Vision is supported for Netflix streaming).

There's also another potential downside related to the device's disc tray and fan. Since the Xbox One S is designed to be a gaming console first, it can be noisier than a typical Blu-ray player when it's reading a disc. Whether the extra noise outweighs the added gaming benefits the console provides, will ultimately depend on your preferences as a buyer.

For shoppers willing to spend more, it's also important to note that the upcoming Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 consoles will both include 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray support as well. Both of these consoles will cost $200 more than the Xbox Series S, however, and it remains to be seen just how well they will perform as Blu-ray players.

Pros: 4K HDR10 support for 4K Blu-ray discs, Dolby Vision support for Netflix, HDR gaming capabilities, excellent user interface

Cons: Disc reader and fan can be loud, no Dolby Vision or HDR10+ support for discs, doesn't support native 4K gaming



The benefits of 4K Blu-ray

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers several key benefits over streaming services and older disc formats, like regular Blu-ray. Most notably, the format offers superior compression, color, and audio quality.

Compared to 4K streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presents video and audio content with far less compression. This means you'll get a more stable image with no drops in quality.

For instance, you might sometimes notice your videos becoming blocky or fuzzy when streaming movies on Netflix. If you watch the same video on a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, those issues will be virtually eliminated. This is because videos on a disc can be encoded with more data and presented at higher and more consistent bitrates. In other words, the video never needs to buffer and it will always look consistently good. 

Expanding upon the previous Blu-ray format, 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays can hold up to 100 GB of information, allowing them to store movies and TV shows in 4K resolution. 4K offers four-times the number of total pixels compared to the Full HD resolution previously used on standard Blu-rays. This enables 4K Blu-ray movies to offer more detail than ever. 

In addition to including more pixels, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs also add support for high dynamic range (HDR) with 10-bit color. This process allows for a wider range of colors, contrast, and brightness compared to standard Blu-rays. You'll need a compatible 4K HDR TV to take advantage of this feature, but the improvements can be dramatic.  

When it comes to audio, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray supports lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. If you have the right audio gear, this means you'll get to hear movie soundtracks bit for bit as they were meant to be heard with surround effects in all directions — even from above.



What you should look for in a 4K Blu-ray player

When shopping for a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, there are a few key performance specifications and extra features that you should look out for depending on your needs.

  • HDR support: Though all 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and players support the standard HDR10 format, only specific models add support for more advanced HDR formats, like Dolby Vision and HDR10+. If you have a TV that's compatible with Dolby Vision or HDR10+, and you want the very best picture performance, it's worth seeking out a player that can output those formats.
  • Advanced video options: Since all 4K Blu-ray players can simply pass the data contained on a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc directly to a TV, default image quality is nearly identical on all models. With that said, certain players include enhancement features, like chroma upsampling and specialized tone mapping, that can help improve 4K HDR contrast and gradient performance. Many players also include advanced upscaling capabilities to make lower-quality videos, like Full HD (1080p), look better on 4K TVs. Most buyers will be fine simply letting their display handle all the work, but enthusiasts might prefer the enhancements a high-end player can provide.
  • Audio capabilities: When it comes to general home theater playback, all 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays include support for outputting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio over HDMI. Some players also include a digital optical connection for transmitting audio if you can't use HDMI. On top of that, certain models offer added support for more advanced audio processing and features, including high resolution music playback, multi-channel analog outputs, and support for SACD and DVD-Audio discs.
  • Connectivity: Ethernet and Wi-Fi are common on many players for keeping your device current via firmware updates. Bluetooth connectivity is also featured on certain models for connecting to separate devices, like wireless Bluetooth headphones.
  • Smart features: Though app selection on most Blu-ray players is rather limited, certain models include access to streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. More expensive models even offer compatibility with voice assistants. This feature may be redundant if you already own a smart TV or streaming box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.), but it's convenient if you don't like to switch between devices in order to access Netflix.


How to watch 'Rebecca,' Netflix's new romantic thriller starring Lily James and Armie Hammer

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  • "Rebecca," Netflix's newest original film, is now available to stream. 
  • The thriller is directed by Ben Wheatley, and stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas.
  • "Rebecca" is based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, which was originally adapted into a 1940 film by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • The movie tells the story of a newly married woman who begins to suspect foul play in the death of her husband's first wife. 
  • A Netflix Subscription starts at $8.99 a month for the basic plan and up to $15.99 a month for the Premium plan with 4K HDR streaming.

Eighty years after legendary director Alfred Hitchcock made his Hollywood debut with the 1940 classic "Rebecca," a new take on the same story is now available to stream on Netflix. Filmmaker Ben Wheatley, who directed 2015's "High-Rise," takes over the director's chair for this lavish retelling of the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier. 

"Rebecca" focuses on the romance between a young woman (Lily James) and a widower named Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer). After getting married, the new Mrs. de Winter moves into Manderley, her husband's luxurious estate. Throughout the sprawling mansion the memory of Maxim's deceased first wife, Rebecca, haunts every room. As Maxim grows cagey and irritable about his past, new secrets are exposed that could place the couple in danger. 

Lily James ("Cinderella") stars as Mrs. de Winter, a role originally played by Joan Fontaine in the Hitchcock film. James is joined by Armie Hammer ("Call Me by Your Name") who steps into the role of Maxim de Winter, a part originated by Laurence Olivier. Kristin Scott Thomas rounds out the cast as Manderley's imposing caretaker Mrs. Danvers. 

With the debut of "Rebecca," Netflix continues to pack its content library with high-profile original films and series. The movie could offer mystery and romance fans something to satisfy their thriller itch this Halloween season. With that said, the movie has received mixed reviews so far.

Zac Ntim, Entertainment Fellow at Insider, gave the film a C grade in his full review. The movie currently holds a middling 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a far cry from the "100% Fresh" rating the 1940 original holds

How to watch 'Rebecca'

To watch "Rebecca," you'll need to have a Netflix subscription or be lucky enough to live in an area where the movie is screening in select theaters. The film is rated PG-13 and carries a running time of 121 minutes. The movie debuted on Netflix on October 21. You can check to see if the film is playing in theaters in your area through the Fandango website.

Netflix offers three subscription tiers depending on your needs. $8.99 a month gets you standard definition (SD) streaming with one screen access at any given time. For $12.99 a month, you get up to 1080p high definition (HD) streaming for up to two screens at the same time. Finally, the $15.99 per month plan offers the best video quality with up to 4K HDR streaming and support for four screens at any given time. 

Most modern smart TVs have the Netflix app preinstalled. If you don't have a smart TV, you can download the Netflix app on Apple, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, Chromecast, Roku, and Fire TV devices, as well as watch via a computer or laptop. You can view a complete list of supported devices here.

How to watch the 1940 version of 'Rebecca' directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of "Rebecca" is available to stream for free through the TVTime channel on Roku devices. Unfortunately, the movie is not currently available on any other streaming services or digital rental platforms.

Outside of streaming, Hitchcock's "Rebecca" is available for purchase on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. The disc features an HD video presentation sourced from a new 4K digital restoration, along with an extensive selection of special features. 

What other shows and movies are on Netflix?

Netflix features a huge library of movies and shows, and new content is added every week.

Some recent additions include "The Devil All the Time" starring Tom Holland, the sixth and final season of the Emmy-winning comedy "Schitt's Creek," Aaron Sorkin's high-profile drama "The Trial of the Chicago 7," and "Enola Holmes" starring Millie Bobby Brown. After COVID-19 delayed production, the fourth season of the popular sci-fi series "Stranger Things" is now slated to premiere sometime in 2021.

If you'd like to sample some of Netflix's original content before you sign up, you can stream some movies and shows for free right now. The free selection features 10 titles, including the movie "Bird Box" starring Sandra Bullock, and the first episode of "Stranger Things."

Netflix tips and tricks: 12 ways to get the most out of your Netflix subscriptionHow to watch Netflix for free — you can now stream 'Stranger Things,' 'Bird Box,' and other titles without a subscriptionHow to watch 'Enola Holmes,' Netflix's new original movie starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill, when it premieres on September 23How to watch 'The Devil All the Time' — Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson star in the new Netflix original thriller

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Apple reportedly considered buying the latest Bond movie but balked at the price. If it wants Apple TV+ to be taken seriously, it should pay whatever it takes.

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On Friday, Bloomberg reported that MGM was entertaining the idea of selling the rights to the latest 007 film, "No Time to Die." The reports say that Apple and Netflix were both interested in acquiring an exclusive license for their respective streaming services. MGM, which is the studio that owns the Bond series, reportedly wanted $600 million to bypass a theatrical release and sell the film to one of the services, a price that neither company was willing to pay.

Apple is said to have been considering an offer for closer to half that in order to secure the rights for the next year, which was a non-starter for the studio. MGM has since denied the reporting, and reiterated that it's committed to releasing the film in theaters. 

"The film's release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers," a spokesperson for MGM said. That would mean the release would come a full year after it was originally supposed to debut in theaters, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Still, The Hollywood Reporter says that the studio is accruing interest of $1 million per month on the money it borrowed to make the film, and has already lost $30 million due to the shutdown of movie theaters. That gives MGM a pretty strong incentive to make some kind of deal since there's no guarantee that people will be returning to theaters in the numbers it would need to make back the $250 million it spent producing the film.

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For Apple, I can understand why the price MGM might be asking would seem like a lot of money for a single film, but here's the thing: Apple should do it, no matter how much it costs. For that matter, Apple should offer MGM enough money to convince it to license the entire Bond library. That might cost a billion dollars or more, but it would be well worth it for Apple.

Here's why.

Apple needs TV+ to be more than a side project, and it needs to be more than an afterthought for customers. 

Apple launched TV+ mostly relying on original content. While it has started to have conversations with Hollywood studios about licensing older shows, according to a report from Bloomberg earlier this year, so far it hasn't found a big-name franchise to add to its library. 

Although Apple doesn't break out Apple TV+ subscriptions, it's estimated that most of its current subscriber base is taking advantage of the free year of the service Apple was handing out when you bought a new iPhone or Mac last year. That trial was due to expire at the end of the month, though the company has extended it until February 2021. 

After that, the question is whether Apple TV+ is compelling enough for people to shell out money for another streaming video service. Right now, I suspect the answer is no, despite Apple having two major advantages for such a new service.

One of the more complex issues facing a new streaming service is getting it on the screens people are using. 

This is actually one of the easier ones for Apple. 

The company already has more than one billion iOS devices in the hands of its users, along with Macs and Apple TV boxes in their homes. It also worked hard to get its streaming service on other platforms like Roku and FireTV, as well as most smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio, and Sony manufactured in the past two years. 

It doesn't matter how much you promote a streaming service, it has to actually be available on the devices people use. Apple has put TV+ everywhere in a way that's unique for the usually closed-ecosystem device maker.

Apple is easily one of the most prolific and effective marketers. 

Aside from its streaming rival Disney, it's hard to think of another company that spends as much effort and money to tell its customers about the products and services it makes.

Besides, Apple gave away TV+ for free to just about anyone who wanted it. The problem is, giving away things for free isn't really Apple's thing, regardless of the fact the company spent billions on content for the service. All of that investment means that the company will want to see a return, especially considering how important its services division is to its overall growth in the next few years.

For all the advantages Apple has in terms of marketing and distribution, it lacks the one thing that makes all the difference: content. 

It's hard to overstate how important this is.

So far, Apple has one real hit show, "Ted Lasso." There are a few other good series like "The Morning Show" and "For All Mankind." The former even won an Emmy, but neither has attracted the kind of attention or following of the quirky show about an American football coach hired to coach the fictional AFC Richmond club in the English Premier League. 

Making good content is hard. It's really hard during a pandemic. Even more difficult is building up enough good content to make it worth paying for. That's what it's competing against — massive libraries of familiar and entertaining content.

Netflix has the largest content library and its goal is basically to always have something to watch. It doesn't have to be the best thing on TV, but it's there and people are always going to subscribe to it.

Disney Plus's thing is that it has "The Lion King,""Toy Story,""Star Wars," and "The Avengers," all for $6.99 per month. It has, by far, the highest value content, and people are willing to pay for it, if for no other reason than it reminds them of their childhood. 

Apple TV+ has a handful of shows no one had ever heard of until a year ago. Most people still probably couldn't name more than two.

On the other hand, there are few franchises as durable as James Bond, which is now on its 25th film. It's also a reliable money maker, with 2012's "Skyfall" bringing in over $1 billion worldwide. While it wouldn't make money directly for Apple, those numbers show that Bond can still attract an audience, which is ultimately what Apple needs.

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Jason Aten

And, make no mistake, Apple could easily spend $500 million or more to provide it with a tentpole franchise that meant people would stick around when their free trial expires. It has enough cash to simply buy MGM if it really wanted to. For that matter, the company's $192 billion in cash would almost be enough to buy Netflix. The price isn't the issue.

In fact, the next logical step would be for Apple to negotiate a deal not just for the latest film, but to pay $2 billion for the entire franchise and be the exclusive streaming provider for all Bond films. Currently Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime each have a few films each.

That isn't to say that Apple should just spend money for the sake of spending it. If the measure of success for a streaming service was based on the amount of money it spends per minute of content, Quibi wouldn't be shutting down.

Plus, Apple already spent a lot of money on the content it has. The trick is, it needs to spend what it takes to build a library. James Bond would be a good place to start.

SEE ALSO: Apple's search deal with Google is in direct conflict with what it values most: privacy

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The 19 most important execs and creatives leading Disney's 'Star Wars' franchise into bold new territory

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With the "Skywalker Saga" behind it, the "Star Wars" franchise is heading for a bold future.

Much of that future belongs to Disney Plus. The streaming service, which has amassed more than 60 million subscribers since launching in November 2019, is home to the first live-action "Star Wars" series, "The Mandalorian," of which the second season premiered on Friday.

And there is plenty more in the works for the service, from an Obi-Wan Kenobi series to an untitled series headed by "Russian Doll" cocreator Leslye Headland.

As the franchise enters a new era, Business Insider identified the executives and creatives most essential to the future of the franchise based on what we know is in development. Some projects, such as "The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson's new film trilogy, lack any details surrounding them, but are still in the works.

The Mandalorian season 2 Disney Plus Baby Yoda 3

Johnson's trilogy isn't the only "Star Wars" film project on the table. "Thor: Ragnarok" director Taika Waititi will direct a movie and Kevin Feige will produce one (it's unknown whether they are related).

Disney has three release dates set for a "Star Wars" trilogy in 2023, 2025, and 2027, but no details have been announced beyond that after the "Game of Thrones" showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, exited the first movie as writers and producers in October last year.

Overseeing all of this is Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Though her contract expires next year and she's hinted at uncertainty about her "Star Wars" future, she's still in charge of the franchise's direction right now.

But creatives like "The Mandalorian" executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni could have plenty of say in that, as well.

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Kathleen Kennedy — president, Lucasfilm

As "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' handpicked successor, Kennedy was named Lucasfilm president in 2012 (the same year that Disney bought the company for $4 billion), giving her the keys to one of the most lucrative franchises of all time. 

Kennedy has decades of experience in Hollywood, having produced hits like "Jurassic Park" and "Back to the Future." She cofounded the production companies Amblin Entertainment and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.

During her tenure as president of Lucasfilm, the "Star Wars" franchise has completed the "Skywalker Saga" with the sequel trilogy, along with two standalone movies and the first live-action "Star Wars" TV show, "The Mandalorian," for Disney Plus.

While the finale of the new trilogy, "The Rise of Skywalker," was met with poor response from critics last year and 2018's "Solo" underwhelmed at the box office, the Kennedy/Disney "Star Wars" era has been largely successful on paper, with four of the movies grossing more than $1 billion worldwide and "The Mandalorian" being a massive success.

But behind-the-scenes drama, including last-minute director changes on "Solo" and "The Rise of Skywalker," has led to some speculation about Kennedy's future with the company (and her contract expires in 2021). In November 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Jon Favreau, the creator of "The Mandalorian,""will have a lot of say over the future of 'Star Wars.'" 

Kennedy told Rolling Stone ahead of the release of "The Rise of Skywalker" that she was uncertain about her future as president. 

"I don't know yet," she said. "I'm looking at all of that. It's been incredibly satisfying to reach this point where we've completed the saga and, I think, made a really wonderful movie. It's going to feel very satisfying to the audience. So that's what I'm focused on right at the moment — and what the future holds, who knows."

But for now, Kennedy is still in the driver's seat.



Michelle Rejwan — senior VP of live-action development and production, Lucasfilm

Rejwan oversees all live-action development and production for theatrical and streaming content for Lucasfilm.

According to her bio on the official "Star Wars" website, she works closely with Kennedy in shaping the creative strategy for the "Star Wars" franchise. She was named senior VP of live-action development and production in June 2019.

Kennedy's contract expires in 2021, and she told Rolling Stone in November 2019 that she's uncertain about her future as president of Lucasfilm. With or without Kennedy, though, The Hollywood Reporter reported at the time that Kennedy envisions a "key role" for Rejwan in charting the franchise's future, suggesting bigger things for the exec's future at the company.

After all, her official bio says that she "has been a key member of the Lucasfilm Creative Brain Trust since 2015." She was thrust into the franchise thanks to her role on J.J. Abrams' production team on "Star Wars: The The Force Awakens" and then "The Rise of Skywalker," which Abrams directed.

In an interview with Laughing Place, a Disney news site, Rejwan noted how the franchise's timelessness impacts today's storytelling choices.

"Those timeless stories reveal even more levels over time and over generations," she said. "That is another test that you don't know [the result of], but you put forth what feels authentic and true to you and to the characters that are experiencing that conflict at that time. But I think 'timeless' is an excellent word that we hope to live up to, because that is very much in the DNA of Star Wars."



Bob Iger — executive chairman, The Walt Disney Company

Iger isn't Disney CEO anymore, but he's still a powerful force at the company as the board's executive chairman.

Iger stepped down from the CEO role in February to lead the company's "creative endeavors" through when his contract expires at the end of 2021. 

"In thinking about what I want to accomplish before I leave the company at the end of '21, getting everything right creatively would be my No. 1 goal," Iger told The New York Times in February. "I could not do that if I were running the company on a day-to-day basis."

If Iger is going to have a say in creative choices at the company, that could impact "Star Wars," which he's had plenty to say about in the past.

After "Solo" disappointed at the box office in 2018, grossing less than $400 million worldwide, Iger expressed regret about Disney's release strategy for the movies, telling The Hollywood Reporter there was "too much, too fast" and to "expect some slowdown" (the next "Star Wars" theatrical movie is set for release in 2023).

He then told Bloomberg in November 2019 that there didn't seem to be much demand for "Star Wars" standalone movies like "Rogue One" and "Solo."

The emphasis on Disney Plus reflects these sentiments. While there has been "some slowdown" on theatrical movies, there are three live-action "Star Wars" series in the works for Disney Plus (not including "The Mandalorian") and the animated series, "The Bad Batch." 



Kareem Daniel — chairman of media and entertainment distribution, The Walt Disney Company

With Disney Plus playing such a large role in the "Star Wars" franchise's future, that means Disney's new streaming head will, too.

Kareem Daniel was elevated to chairman of the new media and entertainment distribution group this month, which prioritizes streaming as Disney reels from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on its business. Daniel will make decisions on advertising, sales, operations, technology, and distribution of Disney's content. 

Daniel has held a variety of roles at Disney over 14 years, starting as an intern hired by Disney CEO Bob Chapek while he was in grad school. He then joined the company in strategic planning in 2007 and was most recently president of consumer products, games, and publishing.

"He is a brilliant executive who has an unbelievable objectivity when it comes to fact-based decision making," Chapek told Bloomberg. "It perfectly positions him to be the right guy to make decisions. Not because there's a legacy of the business, but because it's right for today."



Alan Horn and Alan Bergman — cochairmen, The Walt Disney Studios

With a new "Star Wars" trilogy on the theatrical calendar starting in 2023, the Walt Disney Studios will play a key role in the future of the franchise.

Under the new organizational structure, Horn and Bergman remain in the charge of the company's movie arm, overseeing the development and production of movies across the studio's division, including Lucasfilm.  

Since Horn joined Disney as head of the film studio in 2012, Disney has grown into a box-office juggernaut. Bergman, the former Disney Studios president, was elevated to cochairman in 2019.

The studio is coming off of a record-breaking 2019 with seven movies that grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, but has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, forcing most of its movies into next year or on Disney Plus.

Under the new organizational structure, the latter could be more of a regular occurrence, as Daniel, Horn, and Bergman work to determine what movies go to theaters and what go to streaming.

The likelihood of a "Star Wars" movie going straight to streaming is unlikely considering how much they make at the global box office, but Horn has acknowledged the importance of streaming for Disney.

"Netflix and companies like Amazon represent the great disruption in our business and a seismic shift in consumer offerings and viewing patterns," Horn told The Hollywood Reporter. "The interesting thing, which is not resolved yet, is how big is the consumer appetite for these incremental services? I like our chances."



Jon Favreau — creator of "The Mandalorian"

Favreau has quickly grown into a bonafide Disney creative leader.

After launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe with "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2," the director took on live-action remakes of Disney animated classics "The Jungle Book" (2016) and "The Lion King" (2019).

So it made sense that he would dip his hands into another Disney franchise. Favreau created "The Mandalorian" for Disney Plus last year, the franchise's first live-action TV series. It was a raging success and garnered an Emmy nomination for best drama series this year.

The Hollywood Reporter reported last year that Favreau "will have a lot of say over the future" of the franchise. Recent comments made by former Disney CEO (and current executive chairman) Bob Iger suggest as much.

During an earnings call in February, Iger teased the possibility of "Mandalorian" spinoffs, saying there's the "possibility of infusing it with more characters and taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series."

Favreau himself hasn't ruled out the world of "The Mandalorian" expanding.

"The line is blurring now," Favreau told Variety regarding the series potentially making the jump to the big screen. "Things that you would have only seen in the movie theater, you're seeing on streaming, and I think it could go the other way as well."



Dave Filoni — executive producer of "The Bad Batch" and "The Mandalorian"

Filoni, an animation extraordinaire who was a director and artist on Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender," took a stab at directing live action for the first time last year with two episodes of the "The Mandalorian," which he also serves as an executive producer on.

He'll also be executive producing a new animated series called "Star Wars: The Bad Batch," coming in 2021. It's a spinoff of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," the animated series that got a final season on Disney Plus this year and that Filoni was also an executive producer, writer, and supervising director on.

To sum it up, Filoni knows a thing or two about "Star Wars."

Kennedy sees Filoni having a "key role" in steering the future of the franchise, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"There isn't a thing that we do in the storytelling space that I don't check with Dave," Kennedy told Vanity Fair last year. "What I find about Dave is you don't just sit down and have a discussion about plot or review characters inside the Star Wars world. You end up having meaningful, thoughtful discussions about what it is we're trying to say inside the storytelling. He has a lot of empathy."

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas holds him in high regard, too. He's known today as "The Chosen One," according to Vanity Fair, and Lucas' protege ever since landing the job to craft "The Clone Wars" more than a decade ago.

"We still talk and if I'm stuck I will bug George for ideas, because he is the canon," Filoni told Indiewire in February. "He created it and I respect that. One of my jobs and purposes is to keep things as intact to what George laid down as possible."



Filoni is joined by a few other prominent players on "The Bad Batch."

Brad Rau — executive producer and supervising director

Jennifer Corbett — executive producer and head writer

Athena Portillo — executive producer



Leslye Headland — showrunner of untitled "Star Wars" Disney Plus series

Lucasfilm announced in May that Headland would develop an untitled "Star Wars" series for Disney Plus. She'll write, executive produce, and serve as showrunner on the series.

Headland is coming off of the success of Netflix's "Russian Doll," which she cocreated. It was nominated for best comedy series at last year's Emmys.

Headland told Entertainment Weekly in July that it was "shocking" to be a gay woman in charge of a "Star Wars" TV series. 

"Although I know it's true because there are so few of us that are allowed to sit at the table, so to speak, and many, many more that are still not allowed," Headland said. "It's an honor in the sense that I feel incredibly grateful and lucky."

 



Taika Waititi — director and cowriter of untitled "Star Wars" theatrical movie

Taika Waititi, director of "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Jojo Rabbit," has seen his career blow up in the last few years.

He won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay this year for "Jojo Rabbit." He's set to direct the "Ragnarok" follow-up, "Thor: Love and Thunder.""What We Do in the Shadows," the FX series based on his movie of the same name, was nominated for best comedy series at the Emmys this year. And he directed the finale of "The Mandalorian" season one. 

Now he's ready to return to "Star Wars." Lucasfilm announced in May that he'll direct and cowrite an untitled "Star Wars" movie for theatrical release.

 



Krysty Wilson-Cairns — cowriter of untitled "Star Wars" theatrical movie

Wilson-Cairns is cowriting an untitled "Star Wars" movie with director Taika Waititi.

Cairns was nominated for an Oscar this year for best original screenplay for the World War I movie "1917." She also wrote for Showtime's "Penny Dreadful."

 

 



Tony Gilroy — showrunner of "Rogue One" spinoff series

Gilroy, known for directing "Michael Clayton," is returning to the "Star Wars" universe as showrunner of Disney Plus' "Rogue One" spinoff series for Disney Plus, which will take place before the events of the movie and star Diego Luna as his "Rogue One" character Cassian Andor.

Gilroy stepped in for major reshoots and script rewrites on "Rogue One," the 2016 "Star Wars" standalone movie that leads right into the opening scene of "A New Hope."

He opened up about the process in an interview on "The Moment With Brian Koppelman" podcast in 2018.

"If you look at 'Rogue,' all the difficulty with 'Rogue,' all the confusion of it … and all the mess, and in the end when you get in there, it's actually very, very simple to solve," Gilroy said. "Because you sort of go, 'This is a movie where, folks, just look. Everyone is going to die.' So it's a movie about sacrifice."

Even though he said on the podcast that he's "never been interested" in "Star Wars" and wouldn't be interested in making another "Star Wars" movie, Gilroy will have a hand in another major "Star Wars" project.



Joby Harold — writer of Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus series

Variety reported in April that Harold would replace Hossein Amini on writing duties for Disney Plus' Obi-Wan Kenobi series, in which Ewan McGregor will reprise his role from the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy.

The series takes place between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope."

Harold executive produced "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum" and is writing director Zack Snyder's upcoming Netflix zombie movie, "Army of the Dead."

 



Deborah Chow — director of Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney Plus series

Chow has been tapped to direct the Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney Plus after directing two episodes of "The Mandalorian" season one. 

She's also directed episodes of AMC's "Better Call Saul" and Netflix's "Jessica Jones," among many other TV credits. 

She was the "Star Wars" franchise's first female director.

"Honestly, when I first got the job, it didn't even occur to me," Chow told Rolling Stone last November of the accomplishment. "It's ridiculous to think how long it took me to realize that that might be the case ... In some ways, that was good that it wasn't a focus. I mean, I'm very proud, obviously; it's an accomplishment. At the same time, I'm a director. I just want to be judged based on the work, like everyone else."

Chow told Rolling Stone that if she hadn't gone on to the Obi-Wan series, she would have stuck with "The Mandalorian."

"I'm glad to get to stay in the universe," she said. 



Kevin Feige — producer of untitled "Star Wars" movie

As president of Marvel Studios and creative chief of Marvel, Feige oversees the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. But as a huge "Star Wars" fan, Feige couldn't stop there.

The exec will produce a new "Star Wars" movie along with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

"With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in 'Star Wars' storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a 'Star Wars' film together," Walt Disney Studios cochairman Alan Horn said in a statement last year.

"In an interview during The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast in November 2019, Feige briefly teased his "Star Wars" plans.

"I love that world and I love the notion of exploring new people and new places in that universe, but that's all that can be said for now," Feige said.

 



Rian Johnson — creator of new "Star Wars" film trilogy

Johnson's "The Last Jedi," the second entry in the new trilogy, was met with critical praise and box-office success in 2017. But the movie was still controversial for some fans, and Johnson said he even received death threats after the movie's release. 

That didn't stop him from wanting to return to the franchise. 

Lucasfilm announced back in 2017 that Johnson would create a new "Star Wars" film trilogy, and would write and direct the first installment.

There haven't been any official updates about the movies since then. Disney has "Star Wars" movies on the theatrical release calendar for 2023, 2025, and 2027, but it's unknown if those are for Johnson's movies.

Johnson offered an update in January, telling Variety that he was "still talking to Lucasfilm." So it seems like his trilogy is still on the table.



The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'Rebecca' to 'Over the Moon'

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Rebecca Kerry Brown Netflix

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Netflix's "Rebecca" and the animated "Over the Moon" are its most popular movies this week, but Adam Sandler's "Hubie Halloween" is still going strong at No. 3.

That means the top three most popular movies this week are all Netflix originals.

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: New data may show the reason Peacock canceled 'Brave New World' after just 1 season

9. "Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "After unearthing a tomb that had been untouched for 4,400 years, Egyptian archaeologists attempt to decipher the history of the extraordinary find."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "This fascinating documentary about extraordinary finds makes a clear statement about the reclamation of Egypt's heritage."— Guardian



8. "Holidate" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fed up with being single on holidays, two strangers agree to be each other's platonic plus-ones all year long, only to catch real feelings along the way."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 45%

What critics said: "The best thing that 'Holidate' has going for it is that Roberts and Bracey do have great chemistry, but they just don't have a story or a script that can do it justice."— Associated Press



7. "Tremors: Shrieker Island" (2020)

Description: "When massive mutant creatures infiltrate an island nature preserve, scientists recruit a legendary monster hunter to battle the beasts."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 40%

What critics said: "There's clearly just not enough money at the disposal of the filmmakers to do anything more with the franchise than they've already done."— Bloody Disgusting



6. "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch" (2018)

Description: "A grump with a mean streak plots to bring Christmas to a halt in the cheerful town of Whoville. But a generous little girl could change his heart."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "The latest animated iteration of Christmas' most famous nemesis might not be strictly necessary, but it's still pretty fun — and revamped just enough to feel fresh."— Entertainment Weekly



5. "Yes, God, Yes" (2019)

Description: "A devoutly religious teen grapples with her own sexual awakening, and attends a Catholic school retreat in the hopes of suppressing her newfound urges."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

What critics said: "Maine's film captures something indelible about adolescent female desire, without condescending or objectifying, because she understands, subjectively, what that looks and feels like: all the confusion and shame, but yes, also the pleasure."— Los Angeles Times



4. "ParaNorman" (2012)

Description: "When an army of zombies invades a small town, it's up to an odd local boy with a knack for communicating with the dead to save the day."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 89%

What critics said: "The film avoids the pandering of many animated features, bringing an acerbic edge and a thrilling intelligence to its story."— New Yorker



3. "Hubie Halloween" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Hubie's not the most popular guy in Salem, Mass., but when Halloween turns truly spooky, this good-hearted scaredy-cat sets out to keep his town safe."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 50%

What critics said: "None of this is particularly original, but nobody said you had to be original to make people laugh."— Vulture



2. "Rebecca" (2020, Netflix original)

Description:"A young newlywed moves to her husband's imposing estate, where she must contend with his sinister housekeeper and the haunting shadow of his late wife."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 42%

What critics said: "In its depiction of one woman living in the shadow of another, Wheatley's film proves, ironically, to be stuck in a shadow of its own."— Rolling Stone



1. "Over the Moon" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fueled by memories of her mother, resourceful Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon on a mission to prove the existence of a legendary moon goddess."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 81%

What critics said: "A CG-animated musical fantasy that still manages to infuse sufficient charm and genuine warmth into the inescapable familiarity."— Hollywood Reporter



13 movie night essentials for fun family time at home

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  • Family movie nights are fun way to spend an evening at home together any time of year.
  • With the right setup, including a small digital projector or television set, some snacks, and comfy seating, it can also be just as enjoyable as a trip to the theater and more budget-friendly.
  • If you're considering which streaming services offer the best movies for your family's viewing preferences, you can try out Disney Plus, Hulu, and Netflix through their free trial periods.

Movie night is a big event in our house, and one of the few activities our schedule allows us to enjoy together almost every week. Besides dedicated family time, what makes it special is the setup. The first task is finding a flick we can all agree on, although we usually take turns picking one to watch on the big screen. After that is the next most important step: snacks, usually some combo of popcorn, candy, and cookies. Then, settle in, park it a comfortable chair, wrap up in cozy blanket, and watch the show.  

If you're looking to make your family movie night into a running tradition, it's important to settle on a few essentials that will make it easy, except for maybe deciding what to watch. Below are some suggestions we've collected to help you enjoy a trip to the theater without leaving the comfort of home.

Here are 13 things to make a great family movie night at home:

The popcorn, of course

Popcorn is the best part about a trip to the theater, besides the movie itself. The Lukue Microwave Popcorn Popper makes it easy to recreate that experience — just add kernels and set the cook timer for two to three minutes. Unlike the bagged stuff, you won't be stuck with a bowl full of unpopped kernels either. It's also easy to clean and small enough to stow away in the cabinet. If you want something a little bigger, there are plenty of options available.

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Popcorn buckets

You can leave your popcorn in the bowl, or you can dish it out into one of these novelty popcorn containers that look just like the tubs you'd get at the theater. This way everyone can have the flavor they want too.

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Delicious low-sugar candy you and your kids will love

Finding the right candy to go with salty popcorn is the holy grail of movie snacking, but if you overdo it with too much sugar, it throws the whole thing out of balance. Besides, giving the kids anything too sweet before bedtime is never a good idea. Perfect Snacks Peanut Butter Cups have a lower glycemic index than most candy bars to keep everyone focused on the show and not bouncing off the walls. If you'd rather have a chocolate bar or sour candies, there are plenty of other tasty, low-sugar treats out there.

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Cookies that taste great and even have some nutritional value

Just because a cookie isn't loaded with empty calories doesn't mean it has to taste like cardboard. Each of these cookies from Lenny & Larry comes packed with 16 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. There are other flavors available too, in case chocolate chip isn't you're favorite.

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Refreshing beverages for everyone

You've got the popcorn and candy — now you need something to wash it down with. Whatever you're drinking, a set of Tervis Tumblers will keep everything cold for the entire movie. They're also durable to the point of being virtually indestructible, so there's no worry about pausing the move to clean up broken glass. You can get them in a variety of colors or even with some of your favorite movie characters.

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The perfect seat for kids

Getting kids to sit still for the entire length of a film can be a challenge, unless you have one of these bean bag chairs. They melt right into its armchair shape, glued there for the next 120 minutes. It's lightweight, so you can carry it anywhere in the house, and large enough for a teenager.

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A TV that gives you the theater experience

These days it's not hard to find fantastic values on large TVs with glossy high-definition picture quality, like this 65-inch model from TCL for less than $800. Besides the HD 4K resolution, what's great about this one is that it puts Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services in one place with the built-in Roku software, and it's easy enough to use that you might not have to ask the kids to set it up for you. There are other great options if you're looking for something a little smaller or less expensive, like TCL's 43-inch Class 4 Series 4K UHD Smart Roku TV for just $230.

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A projector that can make any wall into a movie screen

The great thing about a projector is that you can turn any place in the house, or outside it, into a theater — all you need is a flat wall. This one connects to a DVD or Blu-Ray player, gaming consoles, or even smartphone or tablet. And there's almost no limit to how big you can make projections. This one can go as large as 14 feet from corner to corner, as long as you have enough to space and a dark enough room.

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Big sound in a small package

While TVs have evolved, their sound systems often aren't all that great. One minute, you'll be straining to hear a conversation; the next, a deafening action sequence starts. Soundbars are a great option for most home theaters because they don't take up much space, they're easy to set up, and they deliver an awesome audio experience. Vizio's 36-inch SB362An-F6 is a 2.1 channel model that uses Dolby and DTS technologies along with a pair of built-in subwoofers for a deep stereo sound that will fill most living rooms. It's also a great value. If you're set on a more robust surround sound speaker system, there are plenty of options.

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Lights that make your screen stand out and save your eyes

A simple adhesive strip of LED lights that attaches to the back of your television can really make your home theater pop. The light helps reduce eye strain, so your eyes don't have to adjust between the dark room and the screen. This set from Power Practical comes with a wireless remote to adjust the colors to boost the picture contrast too.

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A luxurious plush throw at a matinee price

One thing you can't do at the theater is snuggle up under a warm throw blanket with someone you love. L.L.Bean's Wicked Plush Throw is incredibly soft thanks to brushed fleece on both sides, and it's made to the exacting standards you expect from one of our favorite heritage brands. It's also machine washable, which comes in handy wherever kids and snacks intersect.

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Matching family pajamas make movie night an event

It's not unusual to see fans in costumes for the latest Star Wars or Marvel movie, so why not recreate that experience at home, too, but with matching pajamas. Even better, everyone's ready for bed when the credits roll. Sleep sets featuring characters like Marvel Fairisle and "The Mandalorian" start at $42 for kids at Hanna Andersson, and you can find plenty of other options at Target and Walmart. PJ's from Primary are another great option if you're looking for something that's not specific to a movie franchise.

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A small, powerful heater to warm up the screening room

If you're struggling to get the temperature right in your home theater, a space heater can take the edge off the chill, whether you're in the basement or just needing a break from winter. Despite a svelte 4-pound frame, this one cranks out plenty warmth on three different settings. It's also got an automatic shutoff feature in case you forget about it when the show's over.

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How Stephen King scares his audience in 3 steps

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  • Stephen King is one of the most prolific writers in the horror genre — he's sold more than 350 million copies worldwide.
  • His books are very similar to the style of H.P. Lovecraft, the father of the cosmic horror genre.
  • It's not the evil clowns, the ghosts, or monsters that make King's books so scary, but their firm link to the society we live in.
  • He uses three of the most basic literary devices — foreshadowing, callback, and payoff — to achieve his scare.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

Following is a transcript of the video.

"The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years--if it ever did end-- began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspapers floating down a gutter swollen with rain." This is how Stephen King begins "It," his 22nd novel, published in 1986. It's a passage that really exemplifies what King does best: instantly engrossing you in the horrific and unknown. And it's this unique ability that has made him one of the best-selling writers of our time, selling over 350 million copies worldwide and earning him the distinguished title of Master of Horror.

Yet, despite his success and popularity, King is still a difficult writer to discuss among the literary circle. Once described by The New York Times as "a writer of fairly engaging and preposterous claptrap," there has been a long-standing discussion on whether King's works are really literature or just glorified pulp. Nonetheless, King has managed to create some of the most iconic and haunting stories ever to come out of the genre. Which raises the question: How does he do it?

Like any writer, King isn't shy to share his sources of inspiration, most notably writers like Richard Matheson of "I Am Legend" and Bram Stoker of the now classic "Dracula." But perhaps the writer that most closely resembles his style is H.P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential writers of the horror genre. He single-handedly created a whole new subgenre that is now more commonly known as cosmic horror, in which unknown cosmic entities and phenomena beyond our understanding, often portrayed as ancient, mythical monsters, became the subject of horror. But the monsters of Lovecraft were never really monsters.

Instead, they were metaphors that symbolized Lovecraft's deep fear of the rapid technological and scientific advancements in the early 20th century. The helplessness he felt towards the changes around him reflected in the hopeless struggle of people against forces that are far beyond their control. Lovecraft believed that people's inability to truly understand their reality was the most merciful thing in the world and that doing so would be enough to drive anyone to insanity.

In many ways, this is the same kind of horror that King taps into. Whether it's vampires, a haunted hotel, or a rabid dog, the subjects of King's horror all represent our fear for something else. More specifically, the societal fears of the American people. In "Danse Macabre," King's study of the horror genre, he explains that there are two different kinds of horror.

The first is horror that plays on our phobic pressure points. These are fears based on our individual phobias, like the fear of spiders or ghosts, something that a lot of recent horror movies have based themselves on. But these horrors also have a clear limit, as they target a very specific group of people with that specific phobia. Which is why more effective and successful works of horror play with what's known as national pressure points. These are political, societal, and psychological fears that are shared by a wider spectrum of people. Like in the works of Lovecraft and King, are represented by the abnormal and the supernatural. It's what King excels at, living through some of the most tumultuous periods in American history.

His debut novel, "Carrie," on the surface a book about a girl with telekinetic powers, is really a story about the suppression of female sexuality in the '60s, published just six years after the famous Miss America protest in 1968. And in "The Shining," a book about a family stranded in a haunted hotel, King picks apart the concept of patriarchy that is deeply rooted into the American culture to discuss the cyclical nature of parental legacy. Sometimes it's more personal.

Two of his most famous works, "Misery" and "Cujo," deal with addiction and the lack of self-control it accompanies and were written by King during his own struggle with drugs and alcohol. Like Lovecraft, the horrors that King portrays are self-reflective and grounded in our reality. Which in turn makes the horror feel that much more real. They're representations of American fear. Things that threaten the very foundation of the society we live in. And just like Lovecraft, it's reality that terrifies King. As he once put it, it isn't the physical or mental abnormalities that really horrify us, but the lack of order in our reality they represent.

So, how does King put this on paper? The first thing to note is that situation comes first. King's books are often based on situations rather than intricate plots. Every single one of his works is based on a series of what-if scenarios. Like what if an ancient, cosmic evil in the shape of a clown terrorized a small town in Maine? Then he drops a group of well-fleshed-out characters right into the heart of the situation. But it's not to help them work their way free, but to simply watch what happens. And it's this spontaneity that allows for some of the most unexpected and shocking moments in King's stories. And it's impossible to talk about Stephen King without talking about suspense.

Another master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, once said suspense is "the most powerful means of holding on to the viewer's attention." And it's what King also excels at. Grabbing your attention and keeping it on something horrific, so you're unable to turn away. And he accomplishes this by applying three of the most basic literary devices. The first step is foreshadowing. Both his books and adaptations are riddled with lines and moments that hint at what's to come. This is why King's stories have an overarching sense of doom and dread.

Unlike most horror novels and films, it's not the uncertainty of danger that has you on edge, but exactly when that danger will finally happen. Then, the next step is callback, where King racks up the suspense by continuously reminding the audience that the danger is lurking. And oftentimes, it takes a while for the danger to actually show its face. And then, finally, the payoff. In which the suspense we've been building towards reaches its peak and we finally face the danger we've been waiting for. And it's at this final moment that King scares us. And you can very well see this throughout King's career. Even in the passage that started this video. With just one line, foreshadowing the terror to come, a callback to the longevity of said terror, and, finally, the payoff to the very thing that started it all.

Analyzing the works of Stephen King is a great opportunity to understand what really scares us at the end of the day. His works are prime examples that show us that our object of fear very much exists in our own reality. Sometimes it's not the monsters or ghosts that scare us, but the horrors of everyday life lurking in the corners, waiting to strike. And it's this horror that King knows and understands perhaps better than anyone. And if that's not enough to make him the Master of Horror, it would be hard to find someone else that deserves it more.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2019.

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The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'Holidate' to 'Mile 22'

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Holidate

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Netflix's "Holidate," a Christmas-themed romantic comedy, is its most popular movie this week.

Mark Wahlberg's "Mile 22," which flopped in theaters in 2018 critically and financially, has also been a hit on the streaming giant this week. 

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: The 5 most anticipated TV shows returning in November

9. "Hubie Halloween" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Hubie's not the most popular guy in Salem, Mass., but when Halloween turns truly spooky, this good-hearted scaredy-cat sets out to keep his town safe."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 51%

What critics said: "Sandler surely knew this mildly offensive, juvenile celebration of cheap scares, slapstick gags and bodily function 'jokes' was sure to land near the bottom of the large pile of terrible movies starring [himself]."— Chicago Sun-Times



8. "Snowden" (2016)

Description:"This thriller traces Edward Snowden's journey from Army recruit to disillusioned government analyst bent on exposing vast U.S. surveillance programs."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 61%

What critics said: "It's a forthright attempt to engage with this fascinating, opaque figure and show what it cost him personally."— Guardian



7. "Mile 22" (2018)

Description: "An officer in a top-secret CIA unit leads his team in escorting a prized intelligence asset to safety, with enemy forces hot on their trail."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 23%

What critics said: "Not surprisingly, the performances tend to get lost amid the mayhem — the point here is style, not substance."— CNN



6. "Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "After unearthing a tomb that had been untouched for 4,400 years, Egyptian archaeologists attempt to decipher the history of the extraordinary find."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "This special little film boasts all the qualities of a great documentary."— Decider



5. "His House" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "As a young couple from war-torn South Sudan seeks asylum and a fresh start in England, they're tormented by a sinister force living in their new home."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100%

What critics said: "The script's cleverest gambit is to blur our sense of what kind of movie we might be watching — a thriller about a haunted house or a portrait of the dehumanization of the refugee experience?"— Los Angeles Times



4. "Knock Knock" (2015)

Description:"A devoted husband and father on his own for the weekend has his life turned inside out after giving shelter to two young women during a storm."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 37%

What critics said: "Knock Knock, which is about two women wreaking havoc on a married man, aspires to be titillating. But more than anything, both persistently, persuasively angle to make you angry."— BuzzFeed



3. "Over the Moon" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fueled by memories of her mother, resourceful Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon on a mission to prove the existence of a legendary moon goddess."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 78%

What critics said: "The acclaimed animator behind such powerful figures as Ariel, Aladdin, Tarzan and Rapunzel has a new heroine and she's going further than any of his creations — the moon."— Associated Press



2. "Rogue City" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Caught in the crosshairs of police corruption and Marseille's warring gangs, a loyal cop must protect his squad by taking matters into his own hands."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "Violent, law-defying cops would be a tough sell at any time, but 'Rogue City' is oblivious to the changed context surrounding their stories. They don't hold much romantic allure nowadays."— New York Times



1. "Holidate" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fed up with being single on holidays, two strangers agree to be each other's platonic plus-ones all year long, only to catch real feelings along the way."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 45%

What critics said: "'Holidate' won't change your mind about the tread-worn challenges of romantic comedies, but its leads leverage their charms nicely."— Variety



AMC is up 80% as movie-theater stocks stocks surge after Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is effective

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Movie-theater stocks are surging after a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate announced good news on Monday.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said that its vaccine had passed the final stage of clinical trials and was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing people from developing COVID-19. It's a major milestone in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares for AMC Theatres, the biggest theater chain in world, were up 80% to $4.45 a share on Monday. Cinemark Theatres shares were up more than 40%. 

Disney shares were also up more than 10% on Monday following Pfizer's vaccine news. 

Movie theaters still have a long road to go, but this is a rare bit of good news for the theatrical industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

AMC and Cinemark are two major chains that remain open even when others like Regal and Cineworld have once again closed their doors in the US and UK.

AMC said last month that its unprecedented windowing deal with Universal Pictures "puts AMC in a position where we can open our theatres when others may feel the need to close." AMC and Universal agreed in July to shorten the theatrical window from the typical 75 days to just 17 days, at which point Universal could make its movies available for digital rental. AMC will receive a portion of the revenue.

Universal is one of the few movie studios to still have releases on the theatrical calendar, including the upcoming Blumhouse thriller, "Freaky."

The only tentpole movie still on the calendar this year is "Wonder Woman 1984" from Warner Bros. in December.

But for the most part, the calendar for the rest of the year is desolate, as studios have pushed major releases, like Disney's "Black Widow" and Warner Bros.' "Dune," into next year.

Disney is even debuting its Pixar movie "Soul" on its streaming service Disney Plus on Christmas Day.

SEE ALSO: The China box office has surpassed North America's as the biggest in the world this year with $2 billion

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NOW WATCH: What living on Earth would be like without the moon

The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'The Impossible' to 'Easy A'

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easy a emma stone

Summary List Placement

Emma Stone's 2010 teen comedy "Easy A" celebrated its 10th anniversary in September and now it's among the most popular movies on Netflix.

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

Netflix's original movies like "Holidate" and Over the Moon" took a backseat this week to library titles like "The Impossible,""Mile 22," and "Knock Knock."

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: Disney Plus now has over 73 million subscribers

9. "Midnight at the Magnolia" (2020)

Description: "Longtime friends and local radio hosts Maggie and Jack fake it as a couple for their families and listeners in hopes of getting their show syndicated."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: N/A



8. "Over the Moon" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fueled by memories of her mother, resourceful Fei Fei builds a rocket to the moon on a mission to prove the existence of a legendary moon goddess."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 79%

What critics said: "What started off like a mournful but fairly standard fairy-tale becomes, at least for a while, a candy-colored, throbbing extravaganza."— Vulture



7. "Easy A" (2010)

Description: "When a lie about Olive's reputation transforms her from anonymous to infamous at her high school, she decides to embrace a provocative new persona."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

What critics said: "Stone gives a terrific performance, her knowing drawl implying intellect and indifference with underlying warmth."— Time Out



6. "Dr. Suess' The Grinch" (2018)

Description: "A grump with a mean streak plots to bring Christmas to a halt in the cheerful town of Whoville. But a generous little girl could change his heart."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "The latest animated iteration of Christmas' most famous nemesis might not be strictly necessary, but it's still pretty fun — and revamped just enough to feel fresh."— Entertainment Weekly



5. "Holidate" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Fed up with being single on holidays, two strangers agree to be each other's platonic plus-ones all year long, only to catch real feelings along the way."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 46%

What critics said: "You'll find better deals on the sale shelf at the Christmas Store — on Dec. 26."— Boston Globe



4. "Knock Knock" (2015)

Description: "A devoted husband and father on his own for the weekend has his life turned inside out after giving shelter to two young women during a storm."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 37%

What critics said: "As a piece of social satire, 'Knock Knock' winds up being not just toothless but anticlimactic."— RogerEbert.com



3. "Mile 22" (2018)

Description: "An officer in a top-secret CIA unit leads his team in escorting a prized intelligence asset to safety, with enemy forces hot on their trail."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 23%

What critics said: "Wahlberg's unbearable vanity vehicle, deafening and deadening."— Guardian



2. "Operation Christmas Drop" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "A by-the-book political aide falls for a big-hearted Air Force pilot while looking to shut down his tropical base and its airborne Christmas tradition."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 54%

What critics said: "Everything in 'Operation Christmas Drop' falls predictably into place like children nestled all snug in their beds. Each plot point and character dynamic appears predetermined, and not in a seasonally charming way."— New York Times



1. "The Impossible" (2012)

Description: "Tracking one family's harrowing experiences, this gripping drama depicts the chaos generated by the massive 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 81%

What critics said: "The Impossible is a nimbly acted drama that is at once a stellar visual achievement and a life-affirming story of familial love and courage."— USA Today



Werner Herzog's new film, 'Fireball,' explores the power and mystery of meteorites

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On November 7, 1492, a fiery space rock whistled through the sky. It rocketed into a wheat field near the town of Ensisheim, in modern-day France, punching a hole 3 feet deep into the soil. A young boy was its only witness, according to historical accounts. 

Ensisheim at that point was the headquarters of Austrian troops. Just weeks after the meteor's arrival, the Austrian military commander, King Maximilian, came to the town on his way to battle the French. Upon learning about the impact, Maximilian declared it to be a sign of divine favor – and the town believed him.

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"For those people, wonderful supernatural signs in the heavens were messages," Professor Simon Schaffer, of Cambridge University, says in "Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds," a new documentary from filmmaker Werner Herzog about meteorites. "This was, as it were, an email sent from God to the subjects of Maximilian to tell them that his rule was legitimate, that he'd defeat his enemies, and that they should obey his command."

Herzog co-directed the documentary with British volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer. It premiered Friday on Apple TV+ and takes viewers on a sightseeing tour of some of the world's most historic meteorites and impact craters. The film also features the people who study these space rocks. 

This is the second documentary Herzog and Oppenheimer have made together; the previous one, "Into the Inferno," was about volcanoes. With "Fireball," the pair hope to further elevate science through filmmaking.

"We always said, 'this has to be a new form,'" Herzog told Business Insider. "'We should depart from the National Geographic movies. Yes, they have very good stuff, but let's put it on a different level. This sense of awe, the raw excitement.'" 

'Stones that are falling from the heavens'

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In the documentary, Herzog and Oppenheimer visit the Vatican, where a Jesuit priest named Brother Guy Consolmagno presides over an extensive meteorite collection. The film also includes shaky footage of the Black Stone, a sacred rock in the city of Mecca that Muslims circle during their pilgrimages. It might be a meteorite, though researchers have not been allowed to study it. 

"We found footage shot by a Pilgrim on his cell phone," Herzog said of the footage shown. "Like metal particles attracted by a magnet, everybody's converging and screaming in this hustle, and jockeying for position for touching or kissing it. It's just phenomenal, phenomenal."

Each scene in the film relates to the central premise: that wherever they've fallen, meteorites have shaped human political and religious life. 

"These are stones that are falling from the heavens," Oppenheimer told Business Insider. "This is some clue that the gods are intervening in human affairs."

Of course, the documentary does not neglect Earth's most famous asteroid impact. About 66 million years ago, a giant space rock slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula in modern-day Mexico with a force equivalent to millions of nuclear bombs. It triggered a mile-high tsunami, acidified the oceans, and released billions of tons of sulfur that blocked sunlight and cooled Earth. An estimated three quarters of all plant and animal species on Earth died as a result, including the dinosaurs. That mass extinction eventually paved the way for mammals to reign. 

"We probably wouldn't be here ourselves, Homo sapiens, as a species, were it not for this colossal impact," Oppenheimer says in the documentary. 

The impact crater is located near Chicxulub Puerto, which Herzog describes in the film as "a beach resort so godforsaken you want to cry."

Tracking space rocks before they hit

Asteroids at any time have the potential to impact the world's future, the new film reminds viewers. 

In the documentary's second half, Herzog and Oppenheimer visit the Pan-STARRS Operational Center in Hawaii, where astronomers scan rows of computer monitors for signs of asteroids that might become meteorites by entering Earth's atmosphere.

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Of the 25 million bits and chunks of space debris that become meteors, most burn up in the atmosphere. Even most of the ones that land, becoming meteorites, are too tiny to make much of an impact either.  

If the Pan-STARRS team does detect a large asteroid, their options then depends on its size. The group could likely warn people living in the asteroid's path. But a very large space rock — say a few kilometers in diameter — could crash with the force of the Chicxulub asteroid, and escape would be impossible.

Programs like Pan-STARRS also don't catch everything; NASA's scanning program, for instance, detected less than half of all "city killer" asteroids larger than about 460 feet wide in 2019. 

If the Hawaiian observatory detected an asteroid heading toward the US, Herzog said, he knows how he'd spent his last few hours: "I would start shooting a movie." 

SEE ALSO: A car-size asteroid flew within 1,830 miles of Earth over the weekend — the closest pass ever — and we didn't see it coming

DON'T MISS: One of the biggest meteorite crashes in Earth's history flung debris across 3 continents 800,000 years ago. Scientists finally found the crater.

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NOW WATCH: Researchers say King Tut had a dagger made from space rock

Greta Thunberg spoke zero words to anyone outside her family for 3 years before becoming the face of the youth climate movement, a new film reveals

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Greta Thunberg, one of the world's most prominent climate activists, has spoken at United Nations summits, and addressed parliaments in the UK, France, and other countries. She's met Barack Obama and the Pope.

But a new documentary called "I Am Greta" reveals that Thunberg didn't speak to anyone outside her family for three years.

"They call it selective mutism," Thunberg's father, Svalte, says in the film, which came out on Hulu November 13. "She didn't speak to anyone but me, my wife, and her little sister maybe for three years."

Thunberg has Asperger's syndrome, which she calls her "superpower." Young children with Asperger's may develop selective mutism, speaking only to people they are comfortable with, like their families, but not strangers.

"I don't like making small talk with people or socializing," Thunberg says in the documentary, adding, "sometimes I go quiet for hours simply because I can't talk."

'I was sick. I almost starved to death'

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Since 2018, Thunberg has become the face of a youth climate movement more than 4 million strong. She started the "Fridays For Future" movement — or School Strike for Climate, as it says in Swedish on her now famous sign. In March 2019, Thunberg led more than 1 million students around the world in walking out of Friday classes to protest inaction on climate change.

Then in September of that year, she led a worldwide climate strike that included 4 million people across 161 countries — the biggest climate-change protest in history.

Thunberg had been thinking about climate change — and the lack of action to curb it — since age 8. Three years later, she says, she became depressed by the seemingly impossible task of saving the planet.

"We saw a film in school. There were starving polar bears, floods, hurricanes, and droughts," Thunberg says in the documentary. "And the scientists said that we didn't have much time left to change our behavior."

That's when anxiety and illness set in.

"I stopped eating. I stopped speaking. I was sick. I almost starved to death," she says.

Thunberg's father said she stayed home from school for a year during that time.

From there, it took "many years" for her to start feeling better, she says in the film. Her desire to fight for climate action played a role in her recovery.

"I felt that why should I give up when there an infinite number of things you could do to make a difference," she says.

A voice for the youth movement

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The genesis of Thunberg's activism career came in May 2018, when she won a climate-change essay competition for the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

In December of that year, Thunberg was invited to speak at the United Nations climate-change conference in Katowice, Poland.

It was the beginning of a public-speaking career.

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One of her most famous speeches was an impassioned call to action at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, a few days after the global climate strike. 

Thunberg chastised world leaders with tears in her eyes: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," she said.

Time Magazine named Thunberg its 2019 Person of the Year.

'It feels like I'm speaking a completely different language'

Thunberg says in the documentary that despite the many invitations she's gotten to address policymakers, her frustration has mounted as world leaders continue not listen to her.

"I honestly do not understand why I am invited," she says, adding, "it feels like all they want is to be spotlighted to make it look like they care, as if they are doing something."

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During one meeting highlighted in the documentary, Thunberg spoke to members of the European Economic and Social Committee about the need to limit carbon emissions. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, spoke after Thunberg, but he didn't address the science she'd laid out. Instead, he floated the possibility of regulating toilet flushes across Europe.

"It feels like I'm speaking a completely different language, or as if the microphone isn't even on," Thunberg says in the film. "Sometimes when they just sit there and talk, I wonder to myself what would happen if I just stood up now and screamed."

SEE ALSO: Here's how Greta Thunberg started a global climate movement in just 18 months

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NOW WATCH: These 3 leaders are transforming how Europe approaches climate change and sustainability goals

Filmmakers behind 'Greyhound,' 'Greenland,' and more say streaming and digital rentals rescued their mid-budget movies amid the pandemic — and it could lead to lasting change in Hollywood

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Director Ric Roman Waugh was already working on his next movie in Saudi Arabia when he got a call last month that he said left a pit in his stomach. It was about "Greenland," his apocalyptic thriller starring Gerard Butler that was set for theatrical release this year.

The movie, about a deadly comet hurtling toward Earth, was the latest to skip theaters in the US for a digital release amid the coronavirus pandemic. It will debut on premium video-on-demand (PVOD) platforms on December 18 and then be available to stream on HBO Max in 2021.

Waugh told Business Insider that he had a "tremendous amount of anxiety" before the deal closed. While he would have liked to see "Greenland" on the big screen, it became clear that wasn't in the cards. All he could hope for was that the movie found a proper home.

"You have to ask yourself what's the best thing for the movie," Waugh said. "This pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon."

It's a tough reality that many filmmakers have faced this year as the pandemic shifts the theatrical release calendar, forces many movie theaters to shut down, and pushes studios to rethink distribution strategies. Even big-budget tentpoles like Disney's "Mulan" and "Wonder Woman 1984" have pivoted to streaming releases on Disney Plus and HBO Max, respectively.

But these movies, in normal times, rely on the profits made from worldwide box office and "nothing has changed on that front" despite a newfound focus on digital and streaming, said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst. 

And while the Hollywood blockbuster will survive the pandemic, it has already transformed the industry in ways that could have long-lasting ramifications for low-to-mid-budget movies like "Greenland," which cost $35 million to produce.

"Even before the pandemic, the mid-budget movie was becoming a tougher marketplace theatrically," Waugh said. 

Business Insider spoke with filmmakers of mid-budget movies that have had their planned releases upended by the pandemic. They were generally optimistic about the theatrical experience, but acknowledged that the pandemic could have longterm effects on Hollywood and make streaming deals more important.

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PVOD and streaming could benefit mid-budget movies even after the pandemic

When theaters are fully operational again, there are signs that studios will continue to embrace PVOD and streaming.

For instance, Universal Pictures has struck deals with several theater chains to shorten the theatrical window (movies that have bigger opening weekends will typically have longer windows as part of the deals). This could foreshadow a bigger trend and a change for low-to-mid-budget movies in particular.

"As much as I'll mourn the loss of the long window, the reality is that the world is just a different place today," said Adam Goodman, a producer on the upcoming straight-to-PVOD movie "Songbird" and cofounder of the production company Invisible Narratives.

"Songbird," which was the first movie to film in Los Angeles this year amid the pandemic, will debut on PVOD services on December 11 and then a yet-to-be-announced streaming service, similar to "Greenland" (both movies were produced by STX Films). 

"We obviously had hoped to be in theaters, not just for the theatrical experience but we wanted to be out of the pandemic," Goodman said.

When it was obvious that that wouldn't be the case, the movie shifted gears. Goodman said that the movie is "budget-minded" for PVOD, but didn't disclose the movie's exact production budget. In other words, it's a low-to-mid-budget movie.

Aaron Schneider, the director of Apple's Tom Hanks-starring World War II movie, "Greyhound," noted that the pandemic could cause a crowded release schedule once circumstances are back to normal, one in which movies that aren't "events" could struggle to break through. That makes digital and streaming deals essential.

"Nobody wants to see the theatrical industry harmed, but studios need audiences," Schneider said. "Imagine a world without streaming. The theatrical pipeline right now is like people standing outside the door for Black Friday. The doors open and there's only so many cashiers. It's the same for theaters. There's only so many screens and so many theaters. All of these films will be standing in line for their turn once all this is over."

Many movies, from "Greyhound" to "Greenland," already dodged that bullet.

Streaming services are looking for new content

Several major services jumped into the streaming war either just before or during the pandemic, from Disney Plus to Apple TV Plus, and HBO Max to Peacock.

These, along with the surge in digital rentals, created options for movie studios amid the pandemic that otherwise would have ground Hollywood to a halt. Studios have even experimented with a mix of both PVOD and streaming; Disney Plus debuted "Mulan" for an additional fee and "Wonder Woman 1984" will eventually head to PVOD after its HBO max run.

The streaming space has created a competitive landscape where companies are looking to snatch up content that might attract subscribers, like "Greyhound."

The movie, which debuted exclusively on Apple TV Plus in July, cost $50 million to produce and Apple bought it for $70 million after a bidding war between streaming services, according to Deadline.

It seems to have worked out well for Apple. The movie's premiere generated the most sign-ups to Apple TV Plus this year, according to analytics company Antenna (Apple has not said how many subscribers Apple TV Plus has).

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"Were we disappointed it didn't go to theaters?" said Schneider, the "Greyhound" director. "Sure, we made it for theaters and we work in the theatrical motion picture business. But we were equally thrilled in the middle of a pandemic that we found a way to get the film to an audience. It boiled down to what's the most available audience for the film."

"Greenland" cost $35 million to produce and has earned $43 million from international markets where it opened in theaters. But as coronavirus cases surged in the US, the movie's production company, STX Films, decided it couldn't keep stalling and changed strategies.

HBO spent between $20 million and $30 million for the pay TV and streaming rights to the movie, according to Deadline, which will start in early 2021. Waugh didn't discuss deal terms, but said he was happy with the deal. HBO declined to comment on deal terms and STX did not respond to a request for comment.

"You hope that if it goes to streaming that it doesn't just get dumped," Waugh said. "You wonder how it cuts through the clutter. But I was relieved to see a phenomenal deal. HBO will have to get behind it for how much they paid for it."

These streaming deals will continue to be important for mid-budget movies after the pandemic.

As next year's (and maybe even beyond) theatrical calendar is weighed down by tentpole "event" movies, PVOD and streaming alternatives could continue to be a safe haven for more cost-friendly fare. The recent windowing deals Universal has struck with major theater chains like AMC and Cinemark signal as much, and it's possible that more studios look to land their own agreements with exhibitors. Studios will continue to weigh what's best for theaters and PVOD (or streaming) on a movie-by-movie basis.

"After the dust settles, a new ecosystem could arise," Schneider said. "Movies may look and feel different for a while."

SEE ALSO: 'Wonder Woman 1984' will stream the same day it hits theaters and could open the door for 'Black Widow' and other tentpole movies to follow

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NOW WATCH: Warren Buffett lives in a modest house that's worth .001% of his total wealth

Taylor Swift's massive fanbase sets Disney Plus up for an easy win with its new 'folklore' concert album

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Taylor Swift debuted "folklore: the long pond studio sessions" concert on the Disney Plus streaming platform Wednesday. The concert film features the album's producers and Swift herself detailing "the stories and secrets behind all 17 songs."

A Disney Plus exclusive, the move is a smart one by Disney that taps into a large fanbase that is known to follow Swift's every move. This is the second Taylor Swift project for the platform in 2020, as her Paris "City of Lover" concert was available for a month on both Disney Plus and Hulu.

With 87.5 million followers on Twitter and 140 million on Instagram, her legions of fans made Swift the highest paid celebrity in 2019, with $185 million in pre-tax income. Much of her money comes from tour dates, and Swift holds the title for the highest grossing US tour of all time, with each show making about $9 million a night.

But unable to tour amid a pandemic, Swift's film on Disney Plus offers fans the next-best thing.

 

Taylor Swift fans— aka Swifties— were speculating that something was going to happen with the singer soon, as she posted a snap on Instagram with the caption "not a lot going on at the moment."

 

 

Some fans have decided to subscribe to the streaming platform in order to watch the film.

A relative newcomer to the streaming scene, exclusives like this one from Swift fits squarely into Disney Plus' mission to quickly grow its subscriber base amid the pandemic, which has forced Disney to close many of its parks and dock its cruises. Disney announced in September that it was cutting 28,000 jobs, and in October it reorganized its business to prioritize streaming content.

With the streaming business front and center, releasing content that drives new sign-ups is top of mind for the company.

 

 

Some fans, however, called on fellow Swifties to provide a password for viewing the concert.

 

Songs from the film will also be available on streaming services, according to Variety. 

Read More: Disney Plus sign-up data around 'The Mandalorian' season 2 shows how essential original series are for the streamer's growth

This has been a whirlwind month for Swift, who had her masters sold by Scooter Braun and won "Artist of the Year" at the American Music Awards, but did not attend in person because she was re-recording her first six albums. 

Disney Plus has premiered numerous exclusives to the streaming site this year, including a live-action "Mulan" and Beyoncé's "Black is King,"which also scored a Grammy nomination.

The "folklore:the long pond studio sessions" concert film is now available on Disney Plus.

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I watched James Woods play Rudy Giuliani in a 2003 TV biopic, made before both became national embarrassments

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"I'm just not much of a cuddler," said the actor James Woods, playing the titular character in the 2003 TV biopic "Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story."

This "cuddler" clip from the film went viral on Twitter this week, and for good reason. It depicts Giuliani courting his future second ex-wife, Donna Hanover (played by Penelope Ann Miller), on a moonlit walk on the beach with an obviously green-screened "ocean" in the background.

Dated production values aside, the clip is jarring because it harks back to a time — which may be hard to believe for anyone under 30 — when both Woods and Giuliani were not the national embarrassments they are today.

I watched "Rudy" on Amazon Prime, fully expecting the rest of the movie to be as laughably bad as the beach-stroll scene. Shockingly, for a 17-year-old made-for-basic-cable biopic, it's not terrible.

Capsule 'Rudy' review: Kind of OK!

I'm as surprised as anyone, but "Rudy" is a kind-of-OK TV movie.

The scenes depicting Giuliani's actions on the morning of 9/11 — when he scurried from building to building trying to survive the collapsing towers and maintain a functioning government — have an effective docudrama feel to them, not unlike the Oscar-nominated 2007 film "United 93."

And when Woods (as Giuliani) is angrily barking at his staffers, psychologically abusing his wife, and riling up hundreds of cops with an incendiary "tough on crime" speech — the actor truly captures his subject.

Also to the filmmakers' credit, "Rudy" is no hagiography. The script is based on the book "Rudy!" by the longtime Village Voice investigative reporter Wayne Barrett— who spent a large portion of his career aggressively chronicling and skewering both Giuliani and Donald Trump.

Giuliani's naked ambition, racial insensitivity, wanton cruelty, and heavy drinking are all plainly depicted. The true-to-life scene in which Giuliani tells the press he's separating from Hanover — before he even told his wife— is both rage- and squirm-inducing.

While it's tough to be shocked by much anymore, I was shocked that the howl-inducing beach-stroll clip from "Rudy" was not indicative of the movie as a whole, which for its time and milieu was pretty good.

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The respected character actor and 'America's Mayor'

At the time "Rudy" aired on USA Network, Woods had been a respected character actor for the better part of three decades, working with esteemed directors like Sergio Leone, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese. He appeared in a classic early "Simpsons" episode, lampooning his over-the-top intense screen presence. He was a two-time Oscar nominee and an Emmy-winner. He even got Emmy nods for both "Rudy" and for playing the odious Trump mentor Roy Cohn in the 1992 HBO movie "Citizen Cohn."

Concurrently, Giuliani in 2003 was less than two years removed from being Time magazine's Person of the Year, was broadly respected for his leadership on 9/11 and its immediate aftermath, and was already touted among the GOP front-runners for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Flash forward 17 years later, and Woods is a prototypical angry-boomer social-media troll. Over the past decade, the actor has become better known for his hard-right pro-Trump rants, conspiracy theories, and baseless accusations like calling Democrats "virulent anti-Semites" than for his acting.

Woods has been suspended by Twitter multiple times, to which he once responded: "If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife." As free-speech tourists will do, however, Woods in 2015 sued a random Twitter user who called him a "cocaine addict."

Over that same period, the erstwhile "America's Mayor" Giuliani launched a brief and disastrous run for president, got divorced for a third time (with his ex alleging he was serially unfaithful and drinking heavily), and has become better known for unhinged cable-TV appearances than for his calm, empathetic demeanor as America's mourner-in-chief in 2001.

For good measure, Giuliani also hatched the Ukrainian shakedown scheme that got Trump impeached, and he has since moved on to the "national embarrassment" stage of his distinguished career, pursuing baseless voter-fraud conspiracy theories and undermining democracy to the bitter end.

Woods and Giuliani have destroyed whatever positive reputations they had, but of all the things they have to be embarrassed about, "Rudy" is not one of them.

SEE ALSO: If you must talk politics with family at Thanksgiving, here are a few ways you can (and a few ways you shouldn't)

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The top 9 movies on Netflix this week, from 'The Christmas Chronicles 2' to 'Hard Kill'

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Holiday movies continued to be popular on Netflix this week, including "The Christmas Chronicles 2" and two "Grinch" movies. 

Every week, the streaming search engine Reelgood compiles for Business Insider a list of which movies have been most prominent on Netflix's daily lists that week. On Reelgood, users can browse Netflix's entire movie library and sort by IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

The new Ron Howard-directed movie "Hillbilly Elegy," based on the bestselling memoir of the same name, also made the list.

Below are Netflix's 9 most popular movies of the week in the US:

SEE ALSO: New data shows how Netflix's 'The Queen's Gambit' has grown into a word-of-mouth hit since its release

9. "The Christmas Chronicles 2" (2020, Netflix original)

Description:"Unhappy over her mom's new relationship, a now-teenage Kate runs away and lands at the North Pole, where a naughty elf is plotting to cancel Christmas."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 70%

What critics said: "An unremarkable if far from unpleasant sequel arriving just in time to brighten your locked-down holiday festivities."— Los Angeles Times

 



8. "If Anything Happens I Love You" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Grieving parents journey through an emotional void as they mourn the loss of a child in the aftermath of a tragic school shooting."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "If Anything Happens I Love You is a stunner, a true heartbreaker."— Decider



7. "Hillbilly Elegy" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "An urgent phone call pulls a Yale Law student back to his Ohio hometown, where he reflects on three generations of family history and his own future."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 25%

What critics said: "The best thing I can say about this movie is also the most damning, given Mamaw's proud indifference to anyone's good opinion of her. It's respectable."— New York Times



6. "Hard Kill" (2020)

Description: "When a billionaire hires a team of mercenaries for protection, they soon realize world-changing technology and his daughter's life are also at stake."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 0%

What critics said: "The production notes inform us that the unimaginatively titled Hard Kill was filmed in a mere ten days, making you wonder how they spent eight of them."— Hollywood Reporter



5. "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "Decades after his trusted apprentice betrayed him, a once-joyful toymaker finds new hope when his kind and curious granddaughter comes into his life."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

What critics said: "A sprawling musical extravaganza whose candy-colored, dandily overstuffed revelry spills over with joy and jubilance and every other happy J-word."— Entertainment Weekly



4. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)

Description: "The Grinch decides to rob Whoville of Christmas — but a dash of kindness from little Cindy Lou Who and her family may be enough to melt his heart."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 49%

What critics said: "Director Ron Howard usually lets his comedies gestate organically, but his Grinch is frantic from start to finish."— Time Magazine



3. "The Princess Switch: Switched Again" (2020, Netflix original)

Description: "When Margaret's Christmas coronation complicates her love life, her double Stacy steps in to save the day. But will a third look-alike ruin their plan?"

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 67%

What critics said: "Though inevitably the formula wears a little thinner in spots this time, it's a frothy fantasy that should satisfy viewers' itch for confectionary-looking Christmas fluff."— Variety



2. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" (2013)

Description: "Inventor Flint Lockwood battles mutant food beasts created by his notorious machine, including shrimpanzees, tacodiles and jellyfish sandwiches."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 70%

What critics said: "Here is another happy, psychedelic digimation for kids, its two-dimensional characters delirium'd into 3D."— Financial Times



1. "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch" (2018)

Description: "A grump with a mean streak plots to bring Christmas to a halt in the cheerful town of Whoville. But a generous little girl could change his heart."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 60%

What critics said: "'The Grinch' is a respectable, if safe, retelling of Dr. Seuss' holiday classic."— Detroit News



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'The Irishman' is a fictionalized true crime story about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a mystery that still hasn't been solved

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  • Long-time International Brotherhood of Teamsters boss, James "Jimmy" Hoffa, went missing in 1975. 
  • While theories surrounding his disappearance are still circulating today, the case has been described as one of America's greatest unsolved mysteries.
  • Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, among many other legendary actors, is a fictionalized account of Hoffa's disappearance from the point of view of Mafia hitman Frank Sheeran. 
  • The film is based on a book by ‎Charles Brandt, "I Heard You Paint Houses," which details interviews and confessions that Sheeran once reportedly made to Brandt before he died. 
  • Scorsese and De Niro have both said the film isn't necessarily a true representation of Sheeran — rather it's about a character they built together based on Sheeran.
  • "The Irishman" was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, at the 92nd Academy Awards in February, though it didn't win any.
  • It was recently added to the Criterion Collection, which released a new documentary featurette in partnership with Netflix about the making of the film.
  • Here's what we know so far about the real-life Jimmy Hoffa and the ongoing investigation into his disappearance. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

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James "Jimmy" Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant near Bloomfield Township, Michigan, just 25 miles from Detroit. The next day, he was reported as a missing person. Seven years later, in 1982, he was declared "presumed dead."

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica, History



Jimmy was a long-time leader of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, "North America's strongest and most diverse labor union," according to the organization itself.

Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters



While the union has been known for supporting truckers across America ...

Source: History



... it also became known for its ties to organized crime and the Mafia specifically.

Source: History, The New York Times



The mob ties and mysterious disappearance of Hoffa are the basis of the Martin Scorsese-directed Netflix film "The Irishman."

Source: Netflix



The story is an adaptation of the book "I Heard You Paint Houses"— Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran's account of his involvement with the Mafia, the Bufalino crime family, and Hoffa's death.

Source: Netflix, Esquire



Although Sheeran claims to have shot his long-time friend, Hoffa, on orders from the Bufalino family, he's reportedly one of 14 people who've taken responsibility for Hoffa's disappearance over the years.

Source: Newsweek, Esquire



The film depicts Sheeran as the last surviving member of his mafia generation. It tells the story of his involvement, and his relationship with Hoffa, from his own point of view, which is why historians and critics are skeptical of how accurate this portrayed confession really is.

Source: Esquire, Newsweek, USA Today



While the confession and description of how Sheeran killed Hoffa and what he did with Hoffa's body is skepticized to this day, the reason why Hoffa was targeted in the first place is not, and it goes back to the election of John F. Kennedy into the White House.

Source: USA Today



Hoffa served as the Teamsters president from 1957 through 1967. During that time, JFK was elected President of the United States. The president appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy, Attorney General.

Source: History, Biography, JFK Library, Washington Post



Robert and Hoffa had a long-standing and well-documented feud. Kennedy's then-new position as Attorney General allowed the two to face-off even more intensely than before.

Source: Washington Post



Although Bobby was no longer Attorney General following the assassination of his brother, Hoffa was still facing other charges and trials, particularly in Nashville.

Source: Tennessean, Washington Post



Eventually, Hoffa was sentenced to 13 years in prison under multiple convictions including jury tampering, fraud, and racketeering.

Source: History, Biography



Hoffa was sent to Lewisburg Federal Prison in Pennsylvania.

Source: Biography, USA Today



While he was in prison, Hoffa's vice president Frank "Fitz" Fitzsimmons stepped in.

Source: Biography, USA Today



Hoffa was released from prison after almost five years on probation granted by the Nixon Administration. The administration changed his sentence from 13 years to 6 and a half years, and Hoffa would serve the then-remaining year and a half under probation.

Source: The New York Times



"The Irishman" emphasizes that Hoffa wanted to relax with his wife when he left Lewisburg, but not that he became known as a prison reform activist as well.

Source: The Harvard Crimson, The New York Times, Getty Images



The part of his post-prison life the film focuses on — and the part arguably most important to his disappearance — is that he wanted to reclaim his place on top of the Teamsters union. But, in Hoffa's absence, mobsters reportedly had formed a successful relationship with Fitz that they didn't want to change.

Source: USA Today, The Harvard Crimson



It's believed by historians that Mafia members wanted to continue working with Fitz. The theory continues on to say that Hoffa had too much information on the Mafia and its involvement with the Teamsters, and they wanted him dead so he couldn't reveal what he knew.

Source: USA Today, USA Today



When police started to investigate Hoffa's disappearance, they found his car at the restaurant where he reportedly had a lunch planned with Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano of New Jersey and Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone of Detroit.

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica, History, USA Today



"The Irishman" has been reviewed as "great filmmaking, but bad history," by author Dan Moldea who has been researching Hoffa for more than four decades. Other historians and critics say the same.

Source: USA Today



As a loose reiteration of Sheeran's account of what happened, the film hints at the cremation of Hoffa's body. However, historians like Moldea think it's possible that his body was shoved into a waste drum and buried in a New Jersey Landfill.

Source: USA Today, USA Today



No one really knows what happened to Jimmy, and some people including members of Hoffa's family and investigative reporter Scott Burnstein think we never will.

Source: USA Today



But with the resurgence of the story and persistence of investigators, other people including Moldea are hopeful that the truth will come out soon.

Source: USA Today, USA Today