Bleats

There's A Lot To Be Learned From 'Joker' And Its $1 Billion Earnings Run

Laughing all the way to the bank.

There were a few doubts about the Joker film before its release. Would Joaquin Phoenix put on a great show as the Clown Prince of Crime? Will it be good without Batman in it (technically)? Is it going to even make any money?

Well as it turns out, not only was Joaquin Phoenix fantastic, the Batman-less film was good enough to make a lot of money. Like, a lot of money.

Laughing all the way to the bank.

Warner Bros. (via Entertainment Weekly) has confirmed that Joker will cross the $1 billion worldwide box office mark, making it the first R-rated film in history to do so and the most profitable comic book movie made by virtue of its (relatively) low budget compared to, well, almost every other comic book movie.

It’s honestly astonishing that Joker has reached the $1 billion milestone given all the polarising pre-release buzz but hey, it proves that we know nothing about what the audience wants.

But in saying that though, there are a few lessons to be taken from this little(ish) Joaquin Phoenix-starring vehicle that could shape how Hollywood approaches movie-making going forward.

Who needs China anyway?

The biggest surprise surprise about Joker‘s $1 billion dollar run is how it managed to do so without being released in China, which is arguably the most profitable country for making box-office dollars outside of the U.S.

With a greater number of studios doing deals with Chinese companies and compromising content just to appease China (and its wallet), it’s quite pleasing to see a film be so wildly successful without the need to brown-nose another country.

That certainly bodes well for future films as it demonstrates that you don’t need to suck up to an authoritarian country to make money.

People seem to like stuff that’s different and weird (and good)

If you look at the list of highest-earning films of 2019, all the ones that out-grossed Joker were all easily-digestible family fare.

It’s simply mind-boggling how a violent and unsettling film like Joker could be so successful yet so seemingly commercially unfriendly given how it’s missing Batman, aka its most marketable element.

It goes to show that people dig different films that aren’t aimed at children or to sell toys, and they particularly like them when they’re, you know, actually pretty damn good as well.

That’s a promising lesson for filmmakers: make movies the big studios can’t, offer something different, make sure it’s good (duh) and people will come.

Y’all still love comic book movies

Despite the deluge of comic book films that get dropped upon us every year and the cries of “superhero film fatigue,” Joker‘s success shows that everyone is still frothing on them and will be for the foreseeable future.

Martin Scorsese ain’t going to be happy about this.

'National Treasure' Is The Greatest Example Of A Good-Bad Film

It's the perfect guilty pleasure and/or hangover film.

If you want to see a good-good movie, you go for the deluge of Oscar-bait that gets dropped at the end of the year. Those in the mood for “so bad it’s good” stuff need to watch The Room with a bunch of friends. But if you’re feeling something that’s in the low-effort, “good-bad” range, then look no further than the Nicolas Cage-starring National Treasure.

You heard me.

It’s essentially the Indiana Jones of the 2000s; It’s got a fantastic actor hamming it up as a resourceful historian type, the snarky best friend, some sort of treasure McGuffin and an epic, twist-filled chase to hunt down said treasure McGuffin.

But unlike Indiana Jones, you’d struggle mightily to defend National Treasure as a “good” film.

The plot plays jump rope with being either incomprehensible and/or improbable, the directing and production design is the cinematic equivalent of the colour beige, the action scenes seem like half-arsed rip-offs of better movies, and the characters are ultimately all pretty dumb and no scene-stealing performance from Nicolas Cage can make up for the lackluster writing.

Sorry to break it to you like that, Riley.

Yet despite all those flaws, National Treasure is something you can watch on repeat, whether you’re sick of what’s on Netflix or nursing a brutal hangover, and never get bored. For of its flaws, the film unashamedly leans into the hamminess of it all. It knows it is cheesy and it has fun with it.

That last point is the key thing as to why National Treasure works: the film is just pure, unadulterated fun that doesn’t require you to think too hard, all while maintaining an endlessly optimistic vibe about almost everything, even when the heroes are in dire straits.

It’s quite nice to watch an adventuring protagonist who isn’t weighed down with some sort of dark baggage because no one wants to watch someone be a drag for two hours (unless you’re one of those few people who really like Zack Snyder’s DC films).

And of course, National Treasure gave us one of the best Nicolas Cage memes of the 2000s:

National Treasure‘s brand of dumb yet optimistic fun is why the movie remains endlessly entertaining even as it turns 15 years old. With all the dark stuff the world has gone through in 2019, National Treasure is the perfect form of escapism we all need right now.

Here’s hoping we will get National Treasure 3 sooner rather than later. We’re long overdue a new adventure featuring some dumb treasure hunt and Nicolas Cage saying meme-worthy lines about stealing something important.

You Don't Have To Like Taylor Swift To Get Behind Her Campaign Against Controlling Men

The rights over her music isn't the big issue here.

Taylor Swift has been stuck in a hell of a music rights fight with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta, and things have now escalated further.

The mega-star took to Twitter to reveal that Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta are essentially holding her old music ransom unless she caves in to their demands. There’s a lot happening in Taylor Swift’s message so let’s try and go through this bit by bit.

Firstly, Tay Tay states that Scooter and Scott are allegedly trying to throw a wrench in her plans to perform a medley of her greatest hits at the 2019 American Music Awards, where she will be getting the Artist of the Decade Award.

Secondly, she claims they’re also not allowing her to use her old music for a Netflix documentary project, even though there’s no reference to the pair in the film.

Thirdly, Tay Tay claims that Scott Borchetta gave her an ultimatum in which she’ll be allowed to use her old music, but only if her agrees to not re-record new versions of her old songs (which she’s allowed to do in 2020) and to also stop publicly talking about him and Scooter Braun.

She then concludes her message with a plea to her fans and peers to help get the message out that she just wants to own and perform her music without any trouble.

There’s a lot to unpack in Taylor Swift’s tweet, which you can read in full right here:

Just to quickly recap what’s happened so far for those out of the loop: Scooter Braun bought Tay Tay’s old record label, which is the home to all the master recordings to her pre-2018 music, meaning she doesn’t actually own her music.

What this means is all royalties from that music don’t go to Tay Tay but to Scooter and Scott instead. The only way to get around this loophole is to essentially re-record all her old songs again and make new “master recordings” of her music, which Scooter and Scoot are allegedly trying to stop happening.

Tay Tay did try to buy the rights to her pre-2018 master recordings but it was rebuffed by Scooter Braun, whom she called a “bully” on social media, and now they’re stuck in this bitter feud that is shaping up to go even more downhill.

There’s a lot happening in this Taylor Swift/Scooter Braun/Scott Borchetta conflict but it’s difficult not to side with Tay Tay with this one.

She’s the one who spent countless hours of hard work writing all those songs that are currently under the control of Scooter and Scott. Tay Tay should be able to perform them whenever she wants to and not have a couple of dudes controlling her and her work. The fact that she’s been forced onto social media to plead her case is a demonstration of the power imbalance at play.

This whole saga is more than just Taylor Swift and her music, it’s about creative freedom and the worrying amount of power men hold in the music industry. Hell, you don’t have to even be a fan of hers to support her campaign for creative freedom against some dudes in suits.

Scooter and Scott have yet to respond to Tay Tay’s statement at the time of writing.

It remains to be seen how this all shakes out but at the very least, it seems like Taylor Swift has ensured she’s got the public on her side with her Twitter message.

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