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Harry Potter in Paris #EuropeInAutumn #Moonlight #Chatelet #ParlezVousFrancais

Space invader in Paris! #EuropeInAutumn #StreetArt #FunkyFrance

Netflix to start showing ads by 2018

netflix-television

Netflix. In the TV and even film business, Netflix has been crowned the King. I attend various film festivals and television markets (just at MIPCOM in Cannes, France), and wherever I go people are talking about Netflix and the VOD platforms.

There are different flavors of VOD - from the IPTV services that work with a TV, to Over-the-Top (OTT)  services which you can enjoy on your laptop, tablet or smart phone. There’s the T-VOD (transactional) services such as iTunes or your cable company’s offerings; S-VOD (subscription) like NetflixHulu Plus, and Amazon Prime - and CrunchyRoll’s premium service; and A-VOD (advertising) which includes regular HuluCrunchyroll’s free service, and even YouTube.  (see more here)

Lately the momentum has shifted rapidly away from “linear” TV networks (including premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime) towards these VOD services. The numbers still favor the traditional networks, but the viewership habits are changing rapidly, so most industry people predict that this will continue until eventually everyone can watch whatever they want on any device, including their TV. Will linear networks still exist as they do today? Or will they all eventually evolve to only VOD shadows of their current selves?

HBO and CBS have both announced this week they will soon offer “cutting the cord” VOD services - where anyone can subscribe just to the VOD service without owning cable (like me - I don’t have cable anymore). The question remains whether other networks will follow and when, but the trend is clear.

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And in our niche anime market segment, the leader CrunchyRoll sold their company in the past year to a major media entity (Otter Media, an online video company co-owned by former Fox head Peter Chernin's company and AT&T), and Funimation has been putting significant resources into their own VOD efforts (which may lead to a deal as well). Even Korean drama VOD leader DramaFever sold to Softbank in the past week, which follows Viki's sale to Rakuten last year.

So, how does this all relate to Netflix and ads? Well, Netflix has notoriously invested hundreds of millions of dollars recently into original content deals, including popular dramas “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” to family and adult animation, international shows (especially in Europe) and even exclusive feature films (the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel being the first announcement, followed up by a 3-film deal with Adam Sandler).

As more and more media companies roll out their own VOD services, it becomes difficult to imagine a “Spotify" type service where every movie and TV show is available on one platform. So, what do we do as consumers? Do we sign up for a bunch, and hop around? Or will there be a future Google-like start-up or tech company that becomes sort of a "TV Guide" for the brand new world of VOD? Or do we revert to piracy?

Whatever the result, Netflix itself will need to add subscribers if they want to grow revenue. And when that becomes impossible, there’s only one place they can turn: advertisements.

Now, they insist they won’t. But I’m old enough to remember the beginning of cable TV, which insisted its value was “ad-free”.

And as we all know, Wall Street and the might stock price commands the most attention of public companies.

So, when Netflix loses its subscriber growth, but still must fund expensive original productions to differentiate itself, that’s when it will follow in the footsteps of cable in the 80’s. The one company Netflix admires most, HBO, does not yet have commercials, although it does have product placement revenues. The revenue mix to all these companies will be up in the air as the digital disruption continues, and we all shift our habits away from the traditional couch-potato-flipping-on-the-TV model.

By 2018 will Netflix really have advertising? Product placement? “Sponsored by” shows? My bet is there will indeed be versions of advertising through Netflix. They may not look like today’s commercials (and Netflix is an innovative company) but the power of Madison Avenue and corporate brand revenues is simply too attractive to ignore.

Of course, only time will tell! What do you think - let me know!

—Stu

Addicted to staircases and doorways. #EuropeInAutumn #CannesDo (at Port de Cannes)

2 cool German genre films - direct from Berlin!

TOKYOPOP Fam:

Guten Tag!!

It’s my final day in Berlin, Germany! Next up is France - this Europe trip has been quite amazing, especially meeting talented artists and creative people.

The goal of my blog is to focus on whatever inspiration comes my way - not focusing on Asian Pop Culture or anime/manga, although those topics certainly pop up. Many cultures fascinate me, and connecting with art and artists from across the globe is my true raison d’être.

So, today I want to discuss two German genre films I watched this week, from two filmmakers I met during this trip. I’m actually in the early stages of working on a film that takes place during the time of the Berlin wall, and I’ve fallen in love with the city. It has such a fascinating history, and turbulent change has attracted a wide art scene, as well as its infamous weekend-long club scene (not really my thing).

It’s a gritty, bohemian city full of contrast and contradiction. In the same way that Tokyo has such characteristics in a slick, futuristic way, Berlin’s approach is grimy yet classical. Both cities touch and torment your soul.

In that vein, “Stereo” sucks you into a seemingly typical German town with indistinctive German characters while eventually taking you down a twisted, convoluted path. The genre film is a relatively rare beast in Germany, and filmmaker Max Erlenwein masters it in a subtle, merciless manner. I was truly impressed, and asked Max if we could meet up again - hopefully we can find a project together!

If you can find “Stereo” online, check it out. It’s German language so English subtitles help :-) And the score by Enis Rotthoff - another recent friend - was fantastic! I can’t wait to watch Max’s previous film, wait for it, “Elvis versus Bruce Lee” - which is searchable on YouTube.

The other film I just watched is “Pandorum” from filmmaker Christian Alvart. Christian is further along in his career than Max is - and older (close to my age - and, man, that’s old! LOL).

When I met him, he was on location in Hamburg, directing “TATORT”, Germany’s top-rated action TV show. I also got to briefly meet top actor Til Schweiger, who is starring in Christian’s episodes.

Christian is one of those Renaissance filmmakers (an older version of Leo Kei Angelos, my director for “Knockouts” - concept video coming soon!), who writes, directs, operates camera, edits, and probably would even hold the boom if he had an extra arm!

As one of the key genre directors in Germany, I started with one of his English-language works, “Pandorum” (2009). I’d also like to watch “Case 39” but couldn’t find it online so ordered the DVD via Netflix for when I’m back in Los Angeles.

“Pandorum” was quite an impressive level of production design. The budget seems quite high - perhaps close to 10 times higher than “Stereo” - but that comes out in the sci-fi set pieces, the sophisticated camerawork and visual design.

I never felt the film compromised quality, especially compared to many “B-movie” sci-fi films I’ve seen in my life. Of course, it doesn’t compete at the level of Ridley Scott’s films, but I can honestly say it respectfully approaches it.

The performances in “Pandorum” are a bit scattered, even amongst the same actors, and sometimes provided a good laugh or two. Same thing with the storyline and dialogue but the action was fun, creates were well-done and fresh, and ultimately I was very satisfied with my time spent watching the film.

Both Max and Christian approach filmmaking quite seriously, and the German “attention to detail” feels consistent with the culture’s image. In fact, sometimes I wonder why Japanese genre films get so wild and blunt as opposed to the notorious Japanese craftsmanship we find in anime and even sentai. But then again, there are simply so many more Japanese genre films and the budgets are significantly lower than these 2 films, so it’s inevitable.

Genre films are not the only films I like - my tastes range pretty extensively, as they do in music and art and literature (including manga) - but when I find genre films that I really enjoy, it definitely makes me happy.

And, thanks to Max and Christian, Berlin continues to make me happy!

Tschüs!! (German for “Cheers”!)

—Stu

STEREO-Film-Moritzbleibtreu-juergenvogel-2014-plakatpandorum_ver5_xlg

Making chocolate mousse. #EuropeInAutumn #BerlinBaby #SueMeChef

Tower Bridge on my morning run #LondonCalling #GodSavetheQueen #EuropeInAutumn

Manga X High Fashion in London

TOKYOPOP Fam,

"Ay up" from Britain!

This week I’m out in London, wandering the streets of Soho and Shoreditch for the first time in many years.  Wow, this city has changed!  (and wow it’s expensive…)

In between meetings, I’ve gone running a few times (along the Thames River, through Hyde Park, and even by Buckingham Palace during changing of the guards), enjoyed various cuisine, and discovered this!

Dropping by the boutique, I learned (thanks McQ host Cole Simmons!) that the manga creator Yoshiyasu Tamura (田村吉康)was the artist who did these designs.  Interesting stuff - I kind of liked the jeans.  But I’m not sure if it’s *that* unique at this point, to be honest.

Anyone have any opinions?

Here’s a good blog about it too!

The trip has been cool - London is a pretty happening place.  Oh, and I had some bubble tea (“boba” for those of us from LA) from an interesting chain named Bubbleology.  This shop has expanded from the UK to Russia, Poland and other European countries.  It’s a funky concept, but my favorite is still Gong Cha!

A few pics from my London trip below.

Cheers and yoroshiku!

—Stu

Hanging around:

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Bubbleology:

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Alexander McQueen X Yoshiyasu Tamura:

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NFL in London…WTF?? #EuropeInAutumn #GodSavetheQueen #LondonCalling

Quick post-marathon recovery run in London! #EuropeInAutumn #GodSavetheQueen

Happiest fly in the world. #sugarhigh #flymetothemoon

Berlin Street Art

Just posted a short blog with some photos on the TOKYOPOP site here!

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