The holiday season has begun because Thanksgiving has happened. Not only that, Black Friday pulled in a record $6.2 billion in online sales, up 23.6% from last year.
Anyone who went into a brick and mortar store…good for you!
But also know that sales for this year’s Cyber Monday (Note: That’s tomorrow) are projected to be $7.8 billion, an increase of 18% over 2017. So you’re fighting a losing battle.
Of course none of this much matters in Hollywood when the presents that come in the mail you get most excited about are not the ones you bought online at a special discount but the ones you receive for free. No, we’re not talking about love, thoughtfulness or anything to do with Gift of the Magi.
This is all about…..THE SCREENERS.
Yes, we’re THAT shallow out here. The shallowest. But if it bothered you all that much you wouldn’t ask to borrow them, would you?? Nor would so many of those in the entertainment biz who lived outside of Hollywood make sure that their agents, managers, publicists, unions and post offices have an address to forward these precious little gems to in advance of the holidays.
It’s amazing how a group of people who can mostly afford to go to see every movie on the planet and subscribe to all the streaming services playing a healthy number of all of the film and TV offerings available become absolutely apoplectic (Note: with joy) when one of those unmarked boxes or padded envelopes show up at the door.
How do I know? Because My Name is The Chair and I AM ONE OF THEM. I am a SCREENER QUEEN.
But why not get excited? They often arrive in pretty packaging with thick stock pictures inside. They might also have slick promotional posters, retro faux ads you could hang on the wall in a proper frame, and inside informational data you could only get if you actually read a newspaper or magazine article all the way through. Plus, it’s all contained in a chic canister that evokes the theme of the show or the period it is set in.
This year’s second season of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel arrived in its own cylindrical hatbox wrapped in a pretty pink ribbon the day before Thanksgiving. Well, the first four episodes, anyway. My sister and I were KVELLING! (Note: Translation – bursting with pride).
It was like the holiday gods granted us the entertainment wish we had no idea we were wishing for. I mean, what else would a small family of Jews like us do AFTER stuffing their faces with a meal that only someone with Martha Stewart’s well, let’s politely say panache, could pull off without a hitch? Or WANT to. Because truly, Mrs. Maisel is THE most Jewish thing (Note: In a good way) I have ever seen on TV or in the movies (Note: Fiddler on the Roof and Funny Girl accepted, of course). It IS every ethnic person’s answer to Thanksgiving.
Which brings us back twofold to the issue of screeners. Not only do they give you something to do when you’re all out of ideas or too tired to think of them, they also give you something to do ahead of time that you were looking forward to but had resigned yourself to wait for. Plus, they allow you to catch up with something you had vowed you would see weeks before but had not been able to rouse yourself out of the house to ever attend.
I don’t know about you but the United States is so volatile these days I find that I feel much safer at home torturing myself with cable news 24/7 rather than venturing to a darkened theatre for a few hours, thus allowing the apocalypse to sneak in during a moment when I wasn’t worrying and keeping us all safe.
Know that for this SCREENER QUEEN it is not about showing off by being FIRST but using these advance copies of lusciousness to give me so many much needed jolts of distracting excitements away from our impending and inevitable collective demises.
Which is a shame because here’s what is inevitably noticeable about the crop of deliverables received thus far. If movies are any indication we are finally, if ever so slightly, beginning to diversify representation.
Movie stories about people and cultures we’ve never spent too much time thinking about en masse have finally begun to creep through and onto the COMP gravy train.
The last time a studio spent this much money to send out a rom-com about an Asian couple attending a wedding in Singapore was…NEVER. But of course there has never been a crossover film like Crazy Rich Asians to market directly to Hollywood guild members. If our world were to survive, it would be so encouraging for that community to finally be perceived as silly, sexy and superficially wealthy as so many of the rest of us.
The Hate U Give also gives one hope for the bright future we’ll never see. When Hollywood can actually make an intelligent film about a smart and attractive 16-year-old Black female teenager standing up unapologetically to the white power structure AND be proud enough to send it out for FREE to those same powers-that-be, well…we truly have arrived…somewhere.
I’m not sure where exactly but I do know I found myself thrilled to watch a movie where I could so strongly identify with the feelings of a heroine of a different sex and color who was decades younger than myself. It was so much more pleasurable than feeling nothing but anger during any one of thousands of superhero films where the lead bore no relation to any thought or feeling I have ever had, or had even observed in any other living or breathing thing I had ever known.
Yes, you too can be Black, Jewish or Asian AND actually feel represented by the first initial early batch of 2018 end-of-the year Hollywood screeners. That might not seem like much but it’s something to hold on to in a time when we’re all grasping at straws.
No wonder there’s excitement in the air every time the mail arrives these days.