Which films remaining in 2021 will outperform their box office expectations? Barry Wetcher/WB
Ryan Reynolds’ 20th Century video game comedy Free Guy is unexpectedly over-performing at the box office with nearly $60 million in the United States in its first two weeks. Paramount’s Paw Patrol took in a decent $13 million in its opening weekend despite also being available on Paramount+. Dwayne Johnson’s Disney adventure Jungle Cruise is cruising (sorry) toward $100 million domestic.
Despite the warranted pessimism surrounding the box office at the moment, there have been a few pleasant surprises here and there. So rather than focus on the doom-and-gloom of the lumpy theatrical recovery (the 2021 year-to-date box office is still 70% off of 2019’s), let’s instead look toward a future of hopeful breakouts.
Which upcoming films stand the best chance at over-performing at the box office?
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore
In the new normal Hollywood currently finds itself, Dergarabedian is reluctant to examine cinematic success in such binary terms. He sees multiple paths that exist outside of just raw dollars and cents.
“Over-performing can take many forms right now,” he told Observer. “Even if a movie has a soft performance in theaters, it could be kicking ass on streaming. Consider that an over-performance can be a metric that ties together multiple elements of an ecosystem of sentiment that’s layered in and around the sheer numbers of streaming and box office.”
“Over-performing can take many forms right now. Even if a movie has a soft performance in theaters, it could be kicking ass on streaming.”
Any film that is well-received by critics, embraced by audiences, but doesn’t necessarily do all that great at the box office under these unprecedented circumstances can still be an overall win. (Here’s looking at you, The Suicide Squad.) But in terms of sleeper candidates that may be flying under the radar, Dergarabedian sees Dear Evan Hansen, Many Saints of Newark, Halloween Kills, Jackass Forever, Last Night in Soho, House of Gucci, West Side Story and Sing 2 as reasonable lottery tickets.
“One movie that is not a slam dunk is The Matrix 4,” he warned. “It’s been a long time since The Matrix franchise. But if it’s really good, there’s no reason it can’t reach $100 million domestic.”
Perusing the upcoming film lineup, the box office expert was impressed with the volume and scale of the features on the horizon: “With this lineup of movies, it feels like summer in the fall.”
Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Marvel Studios
Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro
Due in large part to the current age limitations of vaccines and higher caution among parents, Robbins sees a clear absence from the calendar of family-skewing movies with appeal to younger kids. In that void steps a number of high-profile branded biggies that could potentially soak up big box office totals—if all goes well.
“Considering the audiences who are showing up right now, films like Shang-Chi, No Time to Die, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Halloween Kills, and Dune each stand out to me,” he told Observer.
With the lack of family friendly biggies, the larger tentpole movies and their compatriots will have to endure some heavy lifting to expedite theatrical recovery. The hope is that a logjam of blockbusters will spur more consistent ticket sales the rest of the year.
“The movie business is still at the mercy of elements beyond its control, but it certainly isn’t alone in that challenge.”
“Still, those aforementioned movies are the best bets for the industry right now and they would provide healthy lead-ins to similarly targeted blockbusters like Eternals, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Top Gun Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the fourth Matrix as they’re currently dated through year’s end,” Robbins said. “For audiences that have already shown a willingness to come back, these are the kinds of movies that can generate a strong draw for the communal theatrical experience.”
These are all films that appeal to a young male demographic, and as it continues to venture out to theaters, these blockbusters need a healthy global marketplace to thrive. That’s one of the downsides to nine-figure budgets. Robbins explains that the industry is now at a point where studios are asking themselves if the risk-reward ratio of partial box office runs from a fractured global distribution favors the current plan to release them under status quo conditions or to delay anything again to later in the year or even into 2022.
“The movie business is still at the mercy of elements beyond its control, but it certainly isn’t alone in that challenge,” he said.
Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Sony Pictures Entertainment
Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations
Bock also sees a demo-specific surge that offers both opportunity and limitation to the current movie marketplace.
“The pandemic has been a return to ’80s filmmaking where seemingly every other successful was tailor-made for 13-year-old boys,” Bock told Observer. “When we look at the films that have had unexpectedly large openings—Mortal Kombat, Demon Slayer, Godzilla vs. Kong, Free Guy—a majority of them point to men 35 and under making up a sizable audience. So, for the time being, and since horror films have been really the only genre that has been pandemic-proof, it seems this trend will continue through the fall.”
“The pandemic has been a return to ’80s filmmaking where seemingly every other successful was tailor-made for 13-year-old boys.”
As a result, he highlights Malignant, Jackass Forever, Halloween Kills as films that have a clear path to success. At the same time, he sees larger films that demand adult audiences such as Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune as likely stragglers. Then there’s Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which was recently delayed (again) until Oct. 15.
“Venom 2 is an interesting dilemma; on one hand it caters to young men, but to truly bloom at the box office, it will rely heavily on families just as its predecessor did,” Bock said. “So, depending on how these COVID counts shake out this fall, it might not be the last move Sony makes with their superhero flick.”
Which films remaining in 2021 will outperform their box office expectations? Barry Wetcher/WB
When shopping for a new TV, one is bound to be inundated by flashy terminology. That’s everything from HDR and UHD to refresh rate, color balance, smart features, and lighting tech. Specifically, QLED vs. OLED displays.
TV brands like Samsung are big in the QLED arena, featuring all-new 2021 sets like the Neo QLED 4K and 8K models. You’ll also find brands like Sony and TCL producing QLED sets. When it comes to OLEDs TVs, LG leads the charge with this technology. Look for LG’s A1, G1, and Z1 model designations to ensure you’re netting yourself an OLED display.
Let’s take an in-depth look at these two competing TV technologies. We’ll discuss where they come from, how they’re different from each other, and what each one does well (and not so well). We’ll also share which one we think most people will be happiest with. Spoiler: It’s the OLED TV, but there are caveats you need to be aware of.
Once you’ve settled on which TV tech is right for you, check out some of the best QLED TV deals and best OLED sales available now.
What is QLED?
QLED stands for Quantum Light-Emitting Diode. In non-geek-speak, that means a QLED TV is just like a regular LED TV, except it uses tiny nanoparticles called quantum dots to super-charge its brightness and color. The technology was introduced by Sony in 2013, but shortly after that, Samsung began selling its QLED TVs and established a licensing partnership with other manufacturers, which is why you’ll also now find QLED TVs from Sony, Vizio, Hisense, and TCL.
How do quantum dots work? Check out our deep dive into the technology for all of the details.
As cool as quantum dots are, a QLED TV still produces light more or less the same way as a regular LED TV: By using a backlight made up of hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of LEDs, which sits behind a traditional LCD panel. It’s these LEDs that give LED (and QLED) its name.
Curiously, it’s this use of QLED as a marketing term that started a war between LG and Samsung in 2019. In a complaint to South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), LG claimed that Samsung’s so-called QLED TVs aren’t real QLED TVs at all. That’s because, according to LG, a true QLED TV would use quantum-dot LEDs that emit their own light, and not the quantum-dot-film-over-an-LED-backlight that Samsung uses.
In a retaliatory move, Samsung told the FTC it was unhappy with all of the ads LG had been running, which attacked Samsung’s QLED TVs.
The FTC ultimately took Samsung’s side, but with a stipulation: It must make it clear in future advertisements that its QLED TVs use a backlight. Details, details.
The LCD panel — essentially millions of tiny shutters that open and close too quickly to see — in conjunction with the color filters, creates the picture you see by letting just the right amount of light and color escape and reach your eyes. It’s a clever system, but it relies on a combination of dimming the LED backlights and using the shutters to block the remaining light to produce accurate on-screen blacks, and it doesn’t always succeed. We’ll discuss this more below.
What is OLED?
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Somewhat surprisingly, the “Light Emitting-Diode” part of that name has nothing to do with an LED backlight as it does with QLED and LED TVs. Instead, it refers to the fact that every single individual pixel in an OLED set is also a teeny, tiny LED light — but one that is incredibly thin and can produce both light and color in a single element. In other words, OLED TVs don’t need a backlight because each OLED pixel produces its own light. If you want to impress your friends, you can use the industry terms for these kinds of displays: “emissive” or “self-emissive.”
There are several advantages to this design, but most would agree that when it comes to OLED TVs, the biggest advantage is the superb black level that can be achieved. Unlike a QLED or LED TV that must dim its backlight and block what remains for dark scenes, an OLED TV simply turns off the pixel. When the pixel is off, it emits no light and no color, making it as dark as when the TV itself is turned off. With no separate backlight, it’s also a lot easier to make an OLED screen flexible, which is why OLED pioneer LG has developed several OLED TVs that roll up (or down) to disappear entirely.
Only one company makes OLED TV panels: LG Display. It sells those panels to its sister company, LG Electronics, which uses them to build some of the very best TVs you can buy. But LG Display also sells OLED panels to companies like Sony, Philips, and Panasonic, which is why you’ll see OLED televisions from these companies, too. Even though the panels themselves are essentially identical, the image processing that Sony, LG, and others do is proprietary, so you’ll still see significant differences in picture quality from one OLED TV to another.
What about mini-LED?
In late 2019, TCL started selling the 8-Series, the very first QLED TVs powered by a mini-LED backlighting system. Mini-LEDs are tiny when compared to regular LEDs. This means that a QLED TV that could normally accommodate hundreds of LEDs can now accommodate tens of thousands of mini-LEDs. The result? Way more control over backlighting, leading to black levels that come far closer to OLED than any non-OLED display has ever achieved.
Mini-LED is still in its infancy, but as TCL and other companies continue to improve it, the technology could greatly improve QLED picture quality with pricing that should be considerably less than OLED.
And let’s not forget about micro-LED. Conceptually similar to mini-LED tech, micro-LEDs are even smaller than their mini brethren. Samsung made big waves at CES 2020 with the announcement of The Wall, a nearly bezel-free micro-LED display available in multiple gargantuan sizes. At CES 2021, Samsung’s The Wall lineup received an even slimmer redesign (24.9 mm thick) and a multitude of new sizes ranging from 32 to 75 inches.
QLED vs. OLED
Now that you know what all those letters stand for, and what they mean in terms of display technology, let’s compare QLED to OLED in the categories that matter most when buying a TV: brightness, contrast, viewing angles, and other notable performance considerations, like response time and lifespan — all important factors when you’re shelling out up to $6,000 for a top-of-the-line flatscreen.
Black levels and contrast
Contrast is the difference between the darkest part of an image and the brightest part. If a TV can deliver a truly black dark portion, it doesn’t have to make the bright parts quite as bright to achieve good levels of contrast. That’s why, when it comes to black levels, OLED reigns as the undisputed champion — because of its ability to go completely black when it needs to.
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends
QLED TVs by contrast (ahem) are forced to dim their LED backlights and block the remaining light, something that is very hard to do perfectly. It can trigger something called “light bleed,” as the light spills onto what’s supposed to be a black section of the screen.
But is it noticeable? Definitely. If you’re watching an intense action movie and two characters are running through a parking lot at night, for example, you may notice a slight glow on parts of the scene that are supposed to be pitch black, or in the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen while watching a movie that uses a wider-than-16:9 aspect ratio.
As we highlighted earlier, mini-LED backlights are one way QLED TV makers are trying to improve this situation. It has real potential, but we’re not quite ready to declare it an OLED killer.
For now, OLED comes out on top. If a pixel isn’t getting electricity, it doesn’t produce any light and therefore stays totally black.
QLED TVs have a considerable advantage when it comes to brightness. Because they use separate backlights (instead of relying on each pixel to create its own light) these LED backlights can be made incredibly, achingly bright. Add a quantum dot’s ability to maximize that light by producing brighter hues in the color spectrum without losing saturation and you’ve got a display that is more than bright enough to be seen clearly in even the most brightly lit rooms.
OLED panels can’t compete on a pure brightness basis. Their light-emitting individual pixels simply can’t produce the same amount of light. In a darkened room, this isn’t a problem. In fact, we’d argue it’s preferable because OLED can achieve the same contrast with less brightness, making dark-room viewing a less retina-searing experience. But in well-lit environments, or where lots of daylight streams in through windows, QLED TVs are more visible — especially if you’re playing HDR content under these conditions.
OLED panels have become brighter over the years, but they still can’t match QLED TVs.
OLED once blew all the competition out of the water in this section, but the use of quantum dots in QLED TVs have allowed it to inch forward in terms of color accuracy, color brightness, and color volume, according to Samsung, which claims that a wider range of better-saturated colors at extreme brightness levels is an advantage.
While there’s no denying the fact that these quantum dot TVs deliver fantastic colors, we have yet to witness better-saturated colors at high brightness levels deliver a real advantage in normal viewing situations — so we’re going to declare it a draw for now. We’ll need to see some tangible evidence to declare QLED a winner.
Response time, input lag, and refresh rate
Response time refers to the time it takes for a pixel to switch from one state to another. The faster the response time, the crisper the image, especially during fast-action scenes. Though there is likely a speed of response time beyond which the human eye is incapable of telling a difference, we know from standardized measurements that OLED TVs are way faster — orders of magnitude faster than QLED TVs.
Typical QLED response times vary between two and eight milliseconds, which sounds pretty good until you realize that OLED’s response time is about 0.1 millisecond. Yup, it’s no contest.
Input lag, on the other hand, refers to the delay between taking an action (like pressing a button on a game controller) and seeing the result of that action onscreen. As such, input lag is really only a concern for gamers — it doesn’t have a noticeable effect on passive viewing of content at all.
Moreover, the amount of input lag you experience has little to do with one display technology over another, but more to do with how much image processing is happening on your TV behind the scenes. Both QLED and OLED TVs can achieve very low levels of input lag if you turn off all extra video processing or simply use the TV’s Game Mode, which effectively does the same thing.
Refresh rate is another category that will inherently matter more to gamers than casual viewers. The refresh rate is the number of times per second the TV updates what it’s showing onscreen. It’s closely related to frame rate, which is the number of times per second your TV show, movie, or video game sends a new update to the TV.
As long as these two rates are close multiples of each other, e.g. a frame rate of 30 FPS and a refresh rate of double that (60 Hz), you’ll never notice a problem. And since regular TV content like movies and TV shows are always delivered at consistent frame rates, this is hardly ever a concern.
But some games running on consoles or PCs will change their frame rate from one scene to another. To keep everything looking as it should, TVs need a feature called VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate. This lets your TV alter its native refresh rate to match these changes in frame rate. If your TV doesn’t support VRR, it can cause some unwanted side-effects like screen-tearing when used with the kinds of games that require VRR.
You can find VRR models in both OLED and QLED TVs. Currently, you can find VRR TVs from Samsung, Sony, and LG. If you’re a PC gamer who wants a big-screen gaming experience, VRR support is a key feature to seek.
Given OLED’s unbeatable superiority in response time and refresh rate, it owns this category.
With QLED screens, the best viewing angle is dead center, and the picture quality diminishes in brightness, color, and contrast the further you move side to side, or up and down. While the severity differs between models, it’s always noticeable — despite TV makers’ best efforts to eliminate the issue.
OLED screens, by comparison, can be viewed with no luminance degradation even at drastic viewing angles — up to 84 degrees. Some QLED TVs have improved in terms of viewing angle, with anti-reflective layers helping, but OLED maintains a clear advantage. So if you like to arrange family screenings for your favorite movies, and want to make sure there isn’t a bad seat in the house, an OLED TV is best for you.
OLEDs have come a long way. When the tech was still nascent, OLED screens maxed out at 55 inches. Today, screen sizes as large as 88 inches are possible, but only at great expense — the $30,000 price puts it out of reach for almost everyone. QLED technology is easier and less expensive to produce at larger sizes. Samsung’s 85-inch Q900TS 8K QLED TV is only $7,000, while its largest consumer model currently measures 98 inches.
LG says you would have to watch its OLED TVs five hours per day for 54 years before they fell to 50% brightness. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, as OLED TVs have only been out in the wild since 2013. QLED is even newer, but its source of backlighting — the LED — has a long and proven track record. For that reason and that reason only, we’ll award this category to QLED.
Winner (for now): QLED
An example of screen burn-in on an OLED TV. Note that the visible zebra pattern, known as moire, is caused by taking a photo of a TV screen and is not part of the burn-in. Ian O’Shaughnessy
Both QLED and OLED TVs can occasionally exhibit something called image retention. This is when a TV temporarily continues to display part of an image after the original image has disappeared. It usually presents itself as a kind of shadow — that is when it presents itself at all.
When image retention does occur, it’s usually the result of having the same visual element onscreen for long periods of time. Network logos in the corner of the screen have been known to cause it, as can video games that present the same interface elements throughout gameplay.
Image retention typically goes away on its own once you switch to some other kind of content that doesn’t show the problematic on-screen elements.
Because of their self-emissive nature, OLED TVs are also susceptible to the much rarer permanent version of image retention, which is known as “burn-in.” Burn-in is caused when one or more OLED pixels have their normal brightness permanently diminished to a lower state. The only fix for this is to lower all of the rest of the pixels to the same state, but that’s hardly a good solution.
For an absolute guarantee that you won’t experience burn-in, your best bet is QLED TV.
LG, as the biggest maker of OLED TVs, acknowledges the potential for image retention within its user manuals for its OLED TVs but says that under normal viewing conditions it shouldn’t happen.
So what constitutes “normal” viewing conditions? Well, for one thing, keeping your TV on the same channel for 10 hours a day, two months in a row, is apparently not normal. One of our readers did this by watching MSNBC on his LG C8 OLED TV, which created what he claims is a burn-in shadow of a portion of the MSNBC peacock logo and a portion of the “Live” graphic that often accompanies it in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Should this scare you away from buying an OLED TV? Absolutely not. But if you’re picking a TV for use as a commercial display in a store, or perhaps in a waiting room, or if you think you’ll use it to play the same video game exclusively for months at a time, it’s definitely something to be aware of.
For an absolute guarantee that you won’t experience burn-in, your best bet is QLED TV.
As you’re now very much aware, OLED panels don’t require a super-bright backlight. Those backlights consume a fair amount of power, which means OLED TVs are inherently more energy-efficient. They also emit less heat than QLED TVs.
In today’s viewing age, it’s possible to spend hours staring at TV screens with few breaks in between. Eye fatigue is a real symptom of the act, and it’s usually caused by excessive blue light production. LCD-based sets tend to show more intense blue light than anything, and this is true even in scenes that don’t feature gobs of the shade. Go too far, and your irritable eyes could eventually lead to sleeplessness, which itself can contribute to a whole range of health problems. That’s why some OLED makers — most notably LG — are now seeking Ocular Guard certification for their panels.
Created by German safety testing firm TÜV Rheinland and previously marketed under the less-exciting “Eye Comfort Display” moniker, Ocular Guard certification tests a range of elements in TV panels to determine whether they’re too harsh on the eyes.
In theory, OLED TVs should offer better overall eye comfort than QLED and any other LCD-based screen, because OLED produces significantly less blue light than LED-backlit QLED TVs. It’s nothing a special pair of glasses can’t handle, but if you want to ensure you have the safest viewing experience possible that doesn’t require purchasing new glasses, OLED is your champ.
Once upon a time, this category would be handily won by QLED TVs, but OLED TVs have come down in cost, and since we’re talking all-premium here, comparable QLED TVs cost about the same (or more, depending on the size). 2021 is already shaping up to be a big year for TVs, especially for the U.S. market. Samsung, Sony, and LG all have new premium TVs hitting shelves, featuring brighter OLED displays, improved image processing, and aesthetic redesigns for Samsung’s The Wall TV.
If you’re shopping around and see QLED TVs for cheap — and some of them are incredibly affordable — keep in mind that, unlike OLED TV, there is a big range in picture quality with QLED TVs because there are far more variables in their design, picture processing, and build. Only the very top-of-the-line QLED TVs are equivalent to OLED in picture quality.
Both of these technologies are impressive in their own ways, but we’re here to pick a winner, and for the moment, it’s OLED. With better performance in the categories that most people will notice while watching TV shows and movies, it’s the best picture quality you can buy.
QLED comes out on top on paper, delivering a higher brightness, longer lifespan, larger screen sizes, and lower price tags. OLED, on the other hand, has a better viewing angle, deeper black levels, uses less power, and might be better for your health. Both are fantastic, though, so choosing between them is subjective. QLED is the better all-rounder, but OLED technology excels when you can control your room’s lighting.
The fact is, you can’t go wrong with either technology. That is, of course, until the next generation of display technology comes along. Mini-LED technology, for example, is looking like a promising way for QLED TVs to deliver better black levels.
Samsung also is working on embedding quantum dot tech into OLED panels to create a new kind of TV: QD-OLED, which might create a TV with the best of both worlds. But since that’s likely a few years away still, we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know is that the company is serious, as it doubled down on its plans with an $11 billion investment. We’ll be watching developments closely to see how this technology evolves.
Hyperactive production companies are the engine behind Hollywood’s current content feeding frenzy. Pixabay
Right now, nearly every major conglomerate with a toe in Hollywood is trying desperately to attract a large subscriber base to their streaming service in order to appease Wall Street. To do that, these companies need to build out their SVOD platforms with prodigious libraries of both exclusive original films and television series as well as pre-existing catalogues to keep those subscribers on the hook. As a result, Hollywood finds itself in a content consolidation craze as this feeding frenzy is spurring the merger and acquisition market.
This cascading feedback loop has elevated the value of production companies. Why? Because studios are hungry for the mass production framework and talent relations they bring to the table. For the most part, each major studio — Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, etc. — has an in-house production arm. But there are still independents working the market and increasing their own value in the process.
Here are the top movie and television production companies in the United States in terms of their contributions to major SVOD platforms, according to Reelgood’s Q2 2021 SVOD Catalog and Viewing Insights report.
Top Movie Production Companies in the United States
Top 10 U.S. Production Companies by SVOD Movie Viewing Share Reelgood
Top 10 U.S. Production Companies by Movies Available via SVOD Reelgood
While studios are often the owners of high-profile intellectual property, production companies can also come complete with their own war chest of IP. Amazon dropped $8.45 billion on MGM primarily for a library that includes Rocky, Legally Blonde, and partial rights to the James Bond franchise.
Looking at viewing shares among SVOD platforms in the United States during Q2 2021, Reelgood — a streaming aggregator that tracks every TV show and movie available online for its 2 million-plus users — determined which production companies’ libraries are generating the most attention among streaming audiences at the moment.
On the film side, Warner Bros.’ contributions to HBO Max are attracting the most views for the production company’s movies. That’s what happens when a studio releases its entire 2021 film slate day-and-date in theaters and on streaming. From Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat through Space Jam: A New Legacy and The Suicide Squad, WB’s films have helped HBO Max recover from a rocky start. The streamer is on pace to add more than 11 million new subscribers in 2021.
Films from Walt Disney Pictures, the majority of which can be found on Disney+, dropped three places in the ranking compared to Q2 of last year. Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures (Sony) went up in ranking, with the most views coming from Netflix even though most of both companies’ content are on Peacock Premium and STARZ, respectively. Sony is the only major studio without a premium SVOD platform, enabling them to sign lucrative licensing and content deals with the likes of Netflix, Disney, and Amazon. Paramount remained in second place, with Prime Video logging the most views for the company, although Paramount+ holds most of its catalog. ViacomCBS’s split content endeavors has put a ceiling on Paramount+, which likely could be performing better in the streaming arena.
Top TV Show Production Companies in the United States
Top 10 Prod Companies by TV Shows Available via SVOD as of June 30, 2021 Reelgood
Top 10 Prod Companies by SVOD TV Show Viewing Shares in Q2 2021 Reelgood
In terms of TV shows, Warner Bros. remains the most popular among streaming audiences. However, Netflix is the platform garnering the most eyeballs for the production company’s titles, as the streamer currently has the most series from Warner Bros. Television compared to other SVODs. These include saved originals such as Lucifer, licensed content such as Riverdale and Gotham, as well as day 1 originals such as The Kominsky Method.
Universal Television, whose small screen library is mostly are streaming on Peacock, and 20th Century Television rounded out the top three, buoyed by views from Hulu. Hulu’s licensed library remains one of the most in demand in the streaming field. The same is true for MGM and Paramount Television, though the latter’s catalog is mainly available through Paramount+.
Surprisingly, content from the British Broadcasting Corp. did not have enough viewing share to make the top ten, even though it currently has the most TV shows licensed by SVOD platforms, including its own BritBox streaming service, Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix.
Sony has released the first trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. Matt Kennedy/Sony Pictures
After an immediately infamous leak Sunday night ahead of its CinemaCon unveiling, Sony has released the full first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home to the public. Can Film Twitter please, PLEASE, relax now? No? That’s on brand.
It’s been confirmed that Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina will be reprising their roles of Electro and Dock Ock, respectively, from the original Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man trilogy and the Andrew Garfield-led Amazing Spider-Man films. It’s been rumored that Maguire and Garfield will also be appearing, though that has not yet been confirmed.
In the trailer we see Peter (Tom Holland) and MJ (Zendaya) talking on a roof. Peter, emotional after his secret identity was revealed in a post-credits scene for Spider-Man: Far From Home, is agonizing over this new reality of his life. How can he keep the ones he cares about safe if everyone knows who he is? Even more pressing, Peter is under investigation for the murder of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Desperate, Peter goes to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help. Maybe there’s a spell that can make everyone forget the truth. But Wong (Benedict Wong) tells him not to do it, that it’s too risky. Strange promises Wong he won’t dabble in such affairs, but gives Peter the wink of approval. Of course, the spell goes wrong.
Bad things are happening. Strange and Peter are fighting unseen foes on top of trains. Destruction abounds (we’re perhaps finally getting the Sinister Six; there might be a dark shot of Lizard). Strange comments that they’ve tampered with the multiverse, a concept of which he knows “frighteningly little.”
The trailer then ends with a Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe, 2002’s Spider-Man) bomb rolling and about to detonate (with the iconic laugh heard) and Dock Ock (a de-aged Alfred Molina, who originally played the role in 2004’s Spider-Man 2) eerily saying “Hello, Peter.”
Notably, we do not see Maguire or Garfield reprising their respective Spider-Man characters. But we still get a flavoring of of the multiverse elements being introduced that will tie No Way Home to past Spidey flicks and the MCU’s future with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I’d say there’s a strong chance Maguire and Garfield show up in the second trailer at this point.
Spider-Man: No Way Home, which may or may not be Holland’s last official appearance in the MCU, is slated for a December 17 release.
Jin Sakai is back and better than ever, thanks to the upgraded release of Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut. Aside from taking advantage of the PlayStation 5’s hardware to improve visuals and performance, Sucker Punch went the extra mile by adding in an entirely new region with this expansion. Set on the titular Iki Island, Jin will have a new quest to complete that hits very close to home for this conflicted samurai-turned-ghost. Just like the main game, though, the main quest is just one part of what you can do on this brand new island.
Iki is home to all sorts of side content, including side quests, collectibles, and brand new challenges, like the Archery Challenges. These are sort of the companion to the bamboo challenges from the main game, only instead of testing your skills with the blade, you’re given unique tests for your aim and speed with a bow. Completing the first will reward you with a brand new charm, and doing the subsequent challenges will further improve that charm’s effects. Iki is a big place, so we’ll guide you to each Archery Challenge location here.
How Archery Challenges work
Unlike the bamboo tests from the base game, where you just needed to hit a series of increasingly long button strings in the correct order to succeed, Archery Challenges in Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut ask you to not only be precise with your arrows but also speedy. Each challenge tasks you with hitting 22 targets in a given location, with a different grade given for how fast you can hit them all.
Bronze: All targets hit within 22 seconds.
Silver: All targets hit within 15 seconds.
Gold: All targets hit within 7 seconds.
Obviously, you will want to go for gold. However, seven seconds may seem downright impossible. And at first, you might be better off saving your gold attempts for after you’ve at least gotten silvers on each of the eight challenges and then trying them again. The reason being that the Charm of Concentration, which you earn for doing the first Archery Challenge, increases how long you can remain in concentration mode while aiming, which slows down time. Every challenge you beat increases that time limit more and more.
Other ways to help with these challenges include equipping Tadayori’s Armor, which also boosts concentration time and reload speed, plus any minor charms you have that further boost your bow skills. Finally, if you’re really struggling, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut includes some very handy accessibility options, specifically aim assist, that will make lining up your shots much easier.
East of Lone Spirit Falls
This Archery Challenge is almost impossible to miss since it is so close to where you start off when your first arrive on Iki Island. Just go slightly east from the Lone Spirit Falls between the rivers. Some archers will approach you and introduce the rules of Archery Challenges.
From Yahata Forest on the eastern coast of Iki, simply start going south. You’ll quickly encounter the group of archers hitting targets in a meadow full of pink flowers.
East of Kidafure Battleground
To the east of Kidafure Battleground, the next challenge is on the western bank of the Zasho river. The archers you’re looking for are taking shots at targets lined up by a waterfall near a field of tall grass.
South of Kidafure Battleground
From the middle of Kidafure Battleground, go south just past the small lakes, but not so far as to hit the river feeding into Laka Nagata. The archers you’re looking for are shooting at lanterns they’ve positioned at the abandoned huts.
Way up top at the northern end of Iki is Raider’s Promontory. The challenge is on the western island, but the path to the actual challenge will be inaccessible when you arrive. Instead, take a detour to the left of the path and utilize some grappling points to reach the challenge.
From the far north to the far south, head from Weeping Mother’s Meadow southwest to the edge of Senjo Gorge. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see all the vibrant purple trees. Find the archers and take on their challenge.
Sticking to the south and not too far from the previous challenge is Raiders Memorial. Unlike the other challenges, this one is a bit more hidden than the others. Here is where you learned about the memorial for warriors who were slain by Tadayori Nagao, who you might recall from one of the base game’s mythic tales. If you haven’t done that tale yet, you will need to head back to the main game and do so before you can access this challenge.
Once you’ve done that tale and have the Tadayori armor set, wear it here, and speak to the man at the top of the stairs to unlock this Archery Challenge.
West of Saruiwa
Finally, on the far southwest coast of a narrow peninsula on Iki is our last challenge. Right between Saruiwa and Sarubashi, this challenge is almost impossible to miss. You will find the archers set up right on the beach, waiting to test your skills with a bow and arrow.
If you get at least a bronze score in all eight challenges, you will earn yourself the Pride of Ishikawa trophy, so it’s worth it to track them all down and give them at least a good shot.
Despite what you may have heard, Disney isn’t buying Sony’s roster of Marvel characters. Sony
A quick perusal around the internet over the last 24 hours will reveal a juicy yet baseless rumor making the rounds: Disney is going to buy Sony Pictures specifically to acquire the remainder of the Marvel Comics character library. As enticing as this gossip may sound for comic book obsessives who would love to see the Disney-owned Marvel Studios complete its collection, logic has other plans.
Here’s every reason why Disney will not be buying out Sony when it comes to Marvel.
Sony isn’t for sale
Sony Pictures has long been a source of speculation when it comes to Hollywood’s ravenous merger and acquisition appetite. Sony Group, which was once rumored to be eyeing an exit from Hollywood to better focus on its core businesses, could make a pretty penny on the open market by dangling the entertainment division. But in May, CEO Yoshida Kenichiro shot down that possibility by reaffirming that Sony Pictures is not for sale. Definitively.
The CEO is happy with Sony Pictures’ position as the lone major content arms dealer in Hollywood, which has led to big money licensing deals with the industry’s biggest studios. Speaking of which…
Sony and Disney have already struck a licensing deal
Back in April, Sony and Netflix agreed to a massive Pay 1 window licensing deal rumored to be worth $3 billion. Two weeks later, the company struck a Pay 2 licensing pact with Disney. You simply don’t lock in those two long-term agreements if a sale is in the near-term future. (You also don’t go out and spend $1.2 billion to acquire anime streaming service Crunchyroll, as Sony did in April, if you want to rid yourself of your entertainment division). It’s just not a sound strategy and would further complicate a future sale, not expedite it.
And if you’re Disney, you don’t fork over a massive licensing sum for the less valuable Pay 2 window if you’re angling to buy the joint. Double dipping may be common at Super Bowl parties, but not at the corporate executive levels of Hollywood.
Disney probably couldn’t buy Sony
Disney has become known for its splashy acquisitions during the Bob Iger era. This include Pixar ($7.4 billion), Marvel ($4 billion), Lucasfilm ($4.05 billion), and Fox ($71 billion). Sony Pictures Entertainment could fetch around $30 billion, a tall order after such a spending spree over the last 15 years, even for a company with a market cap of $315 billion. While Disney isn’t going to turn away from a competitive advantage, the company doesn’t appear to be in the market for a major addition at the moment.
More importantly, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission would have a conniption if such a move was proposed. Disney has already absorbed one major studio in Fox. Would regulatory powers really allow the company to acquire a second? Chair of the FTC Lina Khan has been vocal about her desire to crack down on monopolies. Though she’s mostly focused on big tech companies such as Amazon and Apple, a Disney power play of this magnitude would elicit backlash.
Sony is banking on its Marvel roster
The other reason Disney is unlikely to buy out Sony and acquire its roster of Marvel characters is because Sony is, uhh, using them! The studio is all in on its terribly named Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (SPUMC).
Tom Hardy’s Venom somehow earned $856 million worldwide back in 2018, Jared Leto’s Morbius and Venom: Let There Be Carnage are due out in the near future despite COVID-related delays, and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man may very well be reclaimed exclusively for Sony’s burgeoning continuity. Plus, there’s a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel in the works.
In 2019, Sony tapped Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) to create a Marvel TV universe for the studio with a five-year, nine-figure deal. Amazon Prime Video is expected to be the on-screen home for the upcoming deluge of series.
Spider-Man: Far From Home ($1.1 billion) is Sony’s highest-grossing film worldwide of all time. The studio isn’t throwing away its most prized asset(s) in a one-off deal when it can instead leverage them for lucrative recurring revenue and value long-term. As the lone high-profile third-party film and TV provider to an industry desperate for streaming success, Sony finds itself in a unique position cushioned with payment potential.