Is Disney+ about to release Black Widow? I think so!

Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ is coming to Disney+ very soon! Before ‘WandaVision’ debuts on the 15th of January. I’m certain of it!

After over a decade of approximately two movies a year, the momentum of the MCU has been severely impaired by the pandemic. Now that they’ve had to push ‘Black Widow’ a few times the whole universe is very nearly a year behind schedule and it’s holding up not just the cinematic side, but also reshuffling the Disney+ series, as there’s near-certain connectivity from ‘Black Widow’ written into ‘Falcon & Winter Soldier’. Marvel’s already having to rethink a section of the universe as it pertains to ‘Black Panther’, working out how best to proceed given Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death. So the one hitherto reliable part of Disney’s movie business is in a terrible state of uncertainty and isn’t making them any of the big box office dollars they’ve become accustomed to. 

‘Black Widow’ being held up is not just a problem for Disney and the Marvel Universe, but there are probably also many product sponsorships and brand endorsements that will surely be coming to nought. I don’t know for sure, but MCU films often feature phones, cars, watches, etc, as product placement that is then intended to tie-in with their own advertising campaigns or even new product releases scheduled and timed for success. For example, there might be company holding on to their big new flagship phone or some other product because it was set to feature in the movie, or maybe just because their ad campaign features Scarlett Johansson. 

Only a few months ago they revealed that there’s infrastructure on Disney+ for ‘Premier Access’, did they develop it for just one single use? I seriously doubt it. They’ve also restructured recently to put more focus on their streaming services, including plans which are set to go beyond just the family-friendly Disney+.

Cinemas are still shut in some U.S. states, and recently many that had reopened closed back down for a few months. That’d be a surprising business decision to make if they’d seriously thought Pixar’s ‘Soul’ was coming in November followed by ‘Wonder Woman ’84’ in December. Within days of exhibitors making that choice ‘Soul’ jumped to Disney+ (at no additional cost to subscribers) and that other hopeful box-office hit while remaining on the schedule has taken a rare multi-platform approach with a simultaneous release via cinemas and HBO Max. That’s practically unheard of for a film of this size. If Warner Bros are able to do that with their 13million HBO Max subscribers (according to a recent Deadline article) in just the U.S. it’s now many times more conceivable that Disney+ with their 70-something million subscribers (rapidly rising and no doubt about to jump up over the holidays) in many more territories, might try something equally bold. 

In the interests of balance, I was going to argue some reasons they won’t do this, however, it’s really hard to argue against. As I see it, the only reason they won’t put it on ‘Premier Access’ for a fee, is if Disney just pop it into the library at no extra cost to subscribers as they’re about to do with ‘Soul’ in a couple of weeks and WB are doing with ‘WW84’. I even think it’s imminent. My prediction is they’re about to announce ‘Black Widow’ is coming to Disney+ in the first weeks of January, before ‘WandaVision’, which would explain why that show was pushed out of the announced end of 2020 into the start of 2021. It wasn’t production delays, it was because of a release schedule rethink. 

Will they charge extra to watch it? Numbers for ‘Mulan’ are not available, Disney are keeping that info to themselves, but still, Disney have said they were happy with the way it performed via their ‘Premier Access’ service, other sources have disputed this, wondering how, as it clearly lost them money. They clearly weren’t convinced by the release strategy as they moved ‘Soul’ onto the service at no additional cost, measuring success with the Pixar film in terms of seeing if it drives a spike in subscriptions. They will then have the data and experience of the two ends of an alternative release spectrum, and feedback in the industry towards WB’s plans, fully able to better navigate their future options, calculating sweet-spot for films like ‘Black Widow’. 

The biggest live-action Disney remake was 2019’s ‘The Lion King’ with nearly.$1.7b. That is low when you remember that ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ made nearly half a billion dollars more, and ‘Endgame’ made $2.8. Maybe I’m focusing on the very top of the scale a little too much. So, a better comparison might be that ‘Beauty and the Beast’ made $1.27b, yet that’s only a little more than ‘Iron Man 3’ and less than ‘Black Panther’, ‘Age of Ultron’, and ‘Avengers’. So, it’s fair to say that ‘Black Widow’ could reasonably be expected to be at least as big an audience draw as ‘Mulan’, though, based off reviews of it, and knowing the general reception of Marvel movies, I think it’s fair to say it would do better, not least in China, where reception of Mulan was at best underwhelming, really closer to unfavourable. ‘Endgame’ was the 4th biggest film ever in China, the biggest non-Chinese. The MCU and other comic-adaptations have done really well there, Disney live-action films haven’t come close. So, even opening ‘Black Widow’ in exactly the same way as ‘Mulan’ with theatrical release where possible and elsewhere a home option with some level of cost, would almost certainly be a success.

Plus, Disney will absolutely gain new subscribers, which is now their primary focus. Families who wanted to see ‘Mulan’ were likely already users of Disney+. People who love the MCU, though they too may be subscribed for easy access to the movie titles on the streaming service, may have been taking a break from it, or waiting for the interconnected series to debut. With no ‘Wandavision’ or ‘Falcon and Winter Soldier’ released they may not have been actively subscribed, biding their time and holding on to their pennies. ‘Black Widow’ would instantly change that, causing a surge of fans who’d then be likely to stay active with those series now imminent. If it’s at no added cost, just the reasonable subscription, that also offers an alternative to illegal piracy, which was rampant with ‘Mulan’.

So in summary, why was ‘Wandavision pushed back two weeks? Simple. They’re going to release ‘Black Widow’ beforehand, maintaining something closer to the original release order, and regaining momentum for the Marvel Universe.

Could Black Widow Get A Wonder Woman 1984-Style Release?

Here I was, putting the finishing touches on a post entitled ‘Could Disney do a Mulan-style release for ‘Black Widow?’. Yet the perils of writing about film in 2020 overtook me, as things in the movie world have shifted yet again, and there’s now a different release strategy that looks far more likely.

To summarise briefly, I was going to argue that between their reportedly underwhelming results from the ‘Premier Access’ release of ‘Mulan’, and the upcoming release of Pixar’s ‘Soul’ at no added cost to subscribers, I expected Disney to take the data gained from these two approaches and find a middle ground between them. Arguably it seemed likely Disney wouldn’t develop the PVOD infrastructure that we now know is built into Disney+ for a single-use, ultimately leading to them offering ‘Black Widow’ on ‘Premier Access’ for a more modest fee and with extended exclusivity.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Warner Bros just confirmed that they’ll be releasing the highly-anticipated tentpole ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ on their streaming service HBO Max on December 25th, the same day as the cinematic release in the US, though it will be available internationally a week earlier where HBO Max isn’t an option.

Simultaneous releases for big movies like this have been almost unheard of because the theatrical exhibitors don’t agree with them. Until now it’s been considered a strategy that would cannibalize their audience, but this year, it’s a pandemic that’s cannibalized the audience, so studios and theatres are willing to try anything to stay afloat. The theatres know they can’t keep their side of the deal like before, the box office numbers they’re bringing in are a fraction of what they used to be, so they are more willing to compromise to avoid films going entirely to streaming because they hope to get as many customers as legal capacities allow with a big tentpole like a DC movie to show. There’s an eager audience with a strong desire to see it on the big screen as intended, and the number of people wanting that experience doesn’t have to fill every seat, it can’t, so they just have to equal 50% or less, which dare I say it, should be easy enough for a four-quadrant sequel like this.

There’s also the international aspect to consider. ‘Wonder Woman’ took more than $412 in the US and $409 internationally at the box office, hugely outperforming expectations. Where HBO Max isn’t an option, WW84 should be able to fill many cinemas to their reduced capacity limits quite easily, especially around the end of year holidays as it’s more likely to appeal to the whole family than WB’s last attempt at reigniting cinemagoing, ‘Tenet’. Here in the UK, we don’t yet have HBO Max unless you want to get clever with a VPN, so I’m already making plans to get a nicely distanced seat booked at the boutique cinema near me, which I believe will adjust their screening schedule to make sure it’s there on opening night. So making a big movie like this available in cinemas wherever possible, while also catering to your locked-down biggest market via a home-based option, seems like a pretty good plan. 

So, the question now is, will Disney follow a similar approach for their delayed MCU movies like ‘Black Widow’? There are some solid reasons to think they might.

Rather than going the route of PVOD for $30 again, it seems there are already signs Disney’s moving away from that system. Their subscriber numbers for Disney+ far exceed their original projections, so they’re taking more than they were forecasted to anyway, without having to add an additional fee. Currently, there are only 9 million subscribers to HBO Max (though that will jump up in December in time for WW84’s release) while Disney+ has over 70 million, the latter having rolled out to a number of countries earlier this year. 

Disney+ ‘Premier Access’ backfired badly with ‘Mulan’. Firstly reviews weren’t overly glowing, leaving a lot of buyers feeling like it wasn’t worth the premium cost they’d just shelled out. Then stupidly just weeks later Disney released it on all other PVOD services, ones that didn’t require a Disney+ subscription on top of the cost of the movie, essentially giving a better deal to non-subscribers than their Disney+ customers, which was a really bone-headed move. Now, many who would have been tempted to pay for something via ‘Premier Access’ will be wary, holding off for a better deal, or just, like myself with ‘Mulan’, waiting a few more months for it to be included for free. 

A few weeks ago Disney announced they’d be accelerating their plans to focus on direct-to-consumer services, restructuring the business considerably in aid of their streaming services. This has had an almost immediate impact on the release schedule as it looks like they’ll be moving a number of their big films to premiere on Disney+. There were already some live-action family-focused ones such as ‘Godmothered’ set to go to the service, but I expect that will soon be followed by others including ‘Cruella’ and ‘Pinocchio’, films that would otherwise have been expected to go well in cinemas like the other live-action remakes of classics such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Lion King’.

Some of those are far off anyway, while ‘Black Widow’ has been ready to release for months, and it potentially an instant huge earner, maybe close to a billion dollars if it’s anything like the rest of the MCU. However, like ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ I don’t think it will be shifted exclusively to streaming on Disney+ as there are still some countries where the service isn’t available, and even where it is, there are still some cinemas open and eager to show the film. Some of my local independent cinemas regularly show films that are simultaneously on PVOD, if the film is good and will be worth seeing on the big screen they sell enough tickets to make it worth it. A cinematic simultaneous release could suit ‘Black Widow’ very well indeed, covering most eventualities if circumstances shift, and presenting tempting avenues for the audience to finally see this film they’ve been waiting so long for. 

I’m really looking forward to finally seeing ‘Black Widow’ whenever it’s released in whatever way I can, hopefully at the cinema though I’ll be happy enough to watch it at home if needed, especially if it’s included at no extra cost in my Disney+ subscription. While nothing quite makes up for not being able to see films like these on the big screen with an audience, what’s worse is not seeing new films at all, especially when we know they’re finished and ready to be seen. 

Is Covid-19 Saving ‘The New Mutants’ from the Jaws of Failure?

Filmed in the summer of 2017, the first trailer for this Marvel comics movie in the universe of the X-Men came out in October 2017 with a theatrical release date set for April 2018. This was then pushed back, not once, not twice, not even thrice, but at least four times! 

The Fox/Disney merger caused huge uncertainty with a number of projects that were in early stages of production but as this was essentially finished already and undergoing some reshoots it seemed to be shelved for a while, surprising many when it did get a new cinematic release scheduled under the Disney ownership. All seemed positive for it to come out in April until the COVID-19 pandemic pushed all movie releases back, making this a punchline and declared ‘cursed’ by critics and pundits. 

Disney announced this week that they’re pushing everything else on their schedule back again, most imminent of these was ‘Mulan’. It wouldn’t have been surprising then for this to be included in the list of films getting new release dates, though as it’s already been pushed so many times it seemed like it would be taken off the release schedule altogether and instead just go to streaming, but, as it’s not a good fit for Disney+, Hulu isn’t international, and pre-existing agreements seem to suggest it would have to go to initially HBO Max (also not international) as an exclusive streaming platform.

With the ComicCon panel online sparking rumours it was about to have a new date (the same day Disney moved a bunch of other titles to new dates) or be dropped on streaming, which would’ve been a great way to do it if that was what they were going to do, in the end, the panel brought neither. So, when the perfect opportunity to move or release the movie passes with nothing changing, ‘New Mutants’ now stands as one of the very first new wide releases on the schedule and by far the best known.

That leaves us with two possibilities. One, it’s about to be moved back yet again but Disney didn’t take the prime opportunity to announce that. Or two, something that could be sheer brilliance, ‘The New Mutants’ is going to get released as scheduled on August 28th, becoming one of the first new movies in cinemas in months.

Recently there have been other films proudly announcing that they were going to be deliberately releasing as one of the first new wide-releases, some suggesting they were doing it altruistically to benefit cinemas, others admitting they hoped to boost their box office chances. ‘The New Mutants’ wasn’t seen as one of those, it was caught up as a victim of the international cinema closures, yet now, by apparently holding to the once merely optimistic August date, it may give Disney an opportunity to turn a long-shelved, almost scrapped, troubled production, into at least a modest box-office success.

Marketing the movie with a stronger emphasis on its X-Men ties, a young cast popular from ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, even highlighting the director’s huge success with ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, could tempt people, especially those who are not in the older, vulnerable groups, back out to cinemas. 

When it looked like the film was being shelved and reworked, this seemed unlikely to get people into even a quarter of the seats in cinema screens, now, after there have been next to no new films released for nearly half a year, this has a really good chance of filling every available seat in many cinemas. Being as it was a film that might have originally been put into just one or two of the smaller screens with a few slots per day, it’ll now get a far bigger release than even the last X-Men film, potentially taking half, or more if popular, of the empty screens. What a potential turnaround. 

I’m hoping this actually is Disney’s plan, if so it’s a brilliant one, though I’ve got to resign myself to the more likely scenario that it’s either about to be rescheduled or reshelved yet again. I hope not, because I’m not the only one who has gone from originally only going to see this at the cinema if I heard really excellent reviews and found myself with some spare time and money, to planning to see it at my earliest possible convenience because I’m desperate to get back to seeing things at the cinema and a weird psychedelic super-powered horror could be just the ticket!

Golden Globes 2020: My predictions, a few thoughts and printable PDF ballot

Here are my predictions (first and second choice indicated) and a few thoughts especially on the few things I’ve actually seen so far. The winners will be announced on Sunday, January 5th 2020. Here’s my printable ballot sheet for you to make your own predictions.

The full list of nominees for the 77th Golden Globes are:

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

1917
1. THE IRISHMAN – Seems to almost definitely be the frontrunner here, though Scorsese hasn’t endeared himself very well recently, which could work against him.
2. JOKER – Could possibly take it as the critical reception was overwhelmingly positive.
MARRIAGE STORY
THE TWO POPES

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

CYNTHIA ERIVO – HARRIET
2. SCARLETT JOHANSSON – MARRIAGE STORY
SAOIRSE RONAN – LITTLE WOMEN
CHARLIZE THERON – BOMBSHELL
1. RENÉE ZELLWEGER – JUDY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

CHRISTIAN BALE – FORD V FERRARI
ANTONIO BANDERAS – PAIN AND GLORY
2. ADAM DRIVER – MARRIAGE STORY
1. JOAQUIN PHOENIX – JOKER – Is this even in need of debating? He’s a great actor, people were blown away by this performance, it’s near enough a lock.
JONATHAN PRYCE – THE TWO POPES

BEST MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME
2. JOJO RABBIT – I’m really looking forward to seeing this very soon, it looks wonderful and may manage a surprise win.
KNIVES OUT
1. ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD – Obvious choice which has divided critics a little though not enough to make it an underdog.
ROCKETMAN

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

2. ANA DE ARMAS – KNIVES OUT
1. AWKWAFINA – THE FAREWELL – One of the few I’ve seen so far and it’s brilliant. She’s wonderful, this should be an easy win.
CATE BLANCHETT – WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
BEANIE FELDSTEIN – BOOKSMART
EMMA THOMPSON – LATE NIGHT

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

DANIEL CRAIG – KNIVES OUT
ROMAN GRIFFIN DAVIS – JOJO RABBIT
1. LEONARDO DICAPRIO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
2. TARON EGERTON – ROCKETMAN – He’s local, would be nice to see him win, but I think as attention-grabbing as this role is, it’s potentially overshadowed by some of the other nominees.
EDDIE MURPHY – DOLEMITE IS MY NAME – Had some buzz before release but once it was out I heard very little about it and no buzz or praise has lingered so I doubt it’s win-worthy.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – ANIMATED

2. FROZEN 2 – Seems like an obvious choice, maybe too obvious and too soon.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
THE LION KING – Really beautiful visual work, but it added nothing of value to the story, so very unlikely to win.
MISSING LINK
1. TOY STORY 4 – The Toy Story films have been infallible, this had a high risk of disappointing, yet it didn’t, so I think may clinch a win out of relief and enduring affection.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – FOREIGN LANGUAGE

2. THE FAREWELL (USA) – Not going to win, sorry, the winner is as good as set.
LES MISÉRABLES (FRANCE)
PAIN AND GLORY (SPAIN)
1. PARASITE (SOUTH KOREA) – Clear winner, it’s dominating the conversations about foreign language films recently.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (FRANCE)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE

KATHY BATES – RICHARD JEWELL
ANNETTE BENING – THE REPORT
2. LAURA DERN – MARRIAGE STORY
1. JENNIFER LOPEZ – HUSTLERS – There was a lot of buzz about this, though it’s not nominated otherwise, so this may be a win to show a general sense of support for a film that only narrowly missed out.
MARGOT ROBBIE – BOMBSHELL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN ANY MOTION PICTURE

TOM HANKS – A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
ANTHONY HOPKINS – THE TWO POPES
2. AL PACINO – THE IRISHMAN
JOE PESCI – THE IRISHMAN
1. BRAD PITT – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE 

1. BONG JOON HO – PARASITE – I just have a hunch that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will exercise the foreign aspect of their organisation, going for someone who might otherwise be overlooked.
SAM MENDES – 1917
TODD PHILLIPS – JOKER
2. MARTIN SCORSESE – THE IRISHMAN – He’s not endeared himself in the industry recently with some critical comments that suggest some insensitivity to audiences and the current state of cinema and the changing nature of distribution.
QUENTIN TARANTINO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE

1. NOAH BAUMBACH – MARRIAGE STORY
BONG JOON HO, HAN JIN WON – PARASITE
ANTHONY MCCARTEN – THE TWO POPES
2. QUENTIN TARANTINO – ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD
STEVEN ZAILLIAN – THE IRISHMAN

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT – LITTLE WOMEN
2. HILDUR GUÖNADÓTTIR – JOKER
RANDY NEWMAN – MARRIAGE STORY
1. THOMAS NEWMAN – 1917
DANIEL PEMBERTON – MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE

“BEAUTIFUL GHOSTS” — CATS – I can’t see anyone wanting to give Cats an award for anything.
2. “I’M GONNA LOVE ME AGAIN” — ROCKETMAN
1. “INTO THE UNKNOWN” — FROZEN 2 – Seems most likely.
“SPIRIT” — THE LION KING
“STAND UP” — HARRIET

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

BIG LITTLE LIES
THE CROWN
KILLING EVE
2. THE MORNING SHOW
1. SUCCESSION

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

2. JENNIFER ANISTON – THE MORNING SHOW
1. OLIVIA COLMAN – THE CROWN
JODIE COMER – KILLING EVE
NICOLE KIDMAN – BIG LITTLE LIES
REESE WITHERSPOON – THE MORNING SHOW

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

1. BRIAN COX – SUCCESSION
KIT HARINGTON – GAME OF THRONES
RAMI MALEK – MR. ROBOT
TOBIAS MENZIES – THE CROWN
2. BILLY PORTER – POSE

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

BARRY
1. FLEABAG
THE KOMINSKY METHOD
2. THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL – The only one I’ve actually seen in this category, consistently good, maybe not at its very best this last season, however.
THE POLITICIAN

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE – DEAD TO ME
2. RACHEL BROSNAHAN – THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
KIRSTEN DUNST – ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
NATASHA LYONNE – RUSSIAN DOLL
1. PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE – FLEABAG

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – MUSICAL OR COMEDY

MICHAEL DOUGLAS – THE KOMINSKY METHOD
1. BILL HADER – BARRY
BEN PLATT – THE POLITICIAN
2. PAUL RUDD – LIVING WITH YOURSELF – I really loved this show, it had some great ideas and developed them very well indeed, plus Rudd pulls a double shift so is rightly included in this category.
RAMY YOUSSEF – RAMY

BEST TELEVISION LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

CATCH-22
1. CHERNOBYL – I think this could, and should, sweep the awards for which it’s nominated.
FOSSE/VERDON
THE LOUDEST VOICE
2. UNBELIEVABLE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

KAITLYN DEVER – UNBELIEVABLE
JOEY KING – THE ACT
HELEN MIRREN – CATHERINE THE GREAT
2. MERRITT WEVER – UNBELIEVABLE
1. MICHELLE WILLIAMS – FOSSE/VERDON

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT – CATCH-22
SACHA BARON COHEN – THE SPY
RUSSELL CROWE – THE LOUDEST VOICE
1. JARED HARRIS – CHERNOBYL – Superb throughout, it was compelling and he anchored the whole series, a clear winner to me.
2. SAM ROCKWELL – FOSSE/VERDON

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

PATRICIA ARQUETTE – THE ACT
1. HELENA BONHAM CARTER – THE CROWN
TONI COLLETTE – UNBELIEVABLE
2. MERYL STREEP – BIG LITTLE LIES
EMILY WATSON – CHERNOBYL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, LIMITED SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

ALAN ARKIN – THE KOMINSKY METHOD
2. KIERAN CULKIN – SUCCESSION
1. ANDREW SCOTT – FLEABAG
STELLAN SKARSGÅRD – CHERNOBYL
HENRY WINKLER – BARRY

The Odd Futility of ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’

Fox pulled a bit of a surprise out of the bag when they announced in September that there would be an ‘Untitled Deadpool Movie’ released in December 2018, just 7 months after the success of ‘Deadpool 2’.

It transpired that this shock mystery release is a new ‘family friendly’ edit of ‘Deadpool 2’, with about 20 minutes of added scenes. Shamelessly edited to obtain a franchise-low rating of PG-13 in the U.S. so it can capitalize on a slightly younger audience that hadn’t previously been able to see it in theaters. With needed cuts that all-important target was obtained.

However, here in the U.K. both ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ were rated 15 (for clarity here that means nobody under 15 will be admitted regardless of if they have an older guardian accompanying them). Therefore the nearest equivalent rating here in the U.K. would be a 12A, which allows 12’s and above to see it unaccompanied, while under 12’s can also see the movie if accompanied by an adult.

The ‘family friendly’ re-edit ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’ has been given its U.K. rating by the BBFC and it’s… a 15!

That means with all the edits, cutting out enough to placate the U.S. rating board the MPAA, they’ve not changed it in any meaningful way in the eyes of the BBFC.

There’s a clear and simple reason for this. Though the marketing has said that no ‘Fs’ will be given in ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’, meaning we know that the most offensive language has been removed, this was never the biggest hurdle for it’s U.K. classification.

Violence seems to be the most obvious explanation. U.S. audiences are far less concerned by that in their PG-13 movies than U.K. audiences are. So while the re-edited movie may be less rude and crude than before, it’s no less violent, something we care about on this side of the pond, especially when it comes to what children see.

I am fascinated by what Fox has done here, making two edits of a film to capitalize on a larger audience, and while others may hate it (especially when it comes to a character like Deadpool), I’d not be against having an option of edits for some films, especially in this genre I’m so fond of. Whether this is a one-off oddity or a new trend will largely depend on box-office success, something that will be clear in a few days time once the numbers for the U.K. and U.S. are released. 

I do think it will be a success in the U.S. and I think it will have a little success in the U.K. with fans who saw ‘Deadpool 2’ and now want to see the 20 minutes of new footage and are interested to see what else has changed. If the violence had been largely cut, I think we would be looking at a far larger success story on this side of the Atlantic as teens want something to go see with their friends as they enter the school holidays. 

Nevertheless, if it is to become a new technique used by studios to widen their audience, they might want to refine it a little, taking into consideration some international variations that would make a huge difference in overseas markets. All the work of re-editing and drastically changing a film to theatrically release it for a younger audience, seems like a lot of work for a limited reward if it only makes a discernable difference to the American theatres.