‘Finding Dory’ and Disney’s Continued Success



Finding Dory was where Disney found the treasure it was looking for. A sequel to Finding Nemo, this movie was slated to be a blockbuster hit for the production house. However, no one could have ever predicted the phenomenal success that the movie has enjoyed. The movie ended up breaking a lot of records and left Disney with a number of lessons to continue its winning streak.

2015 was not the best year for Disney. It was almost December and this behemoth producer was still struggling to reach the $5 billion mark. On the other hand, its rival, Universal, had already touched that elusive figure by July, thanks to the crackling success of its fantasy movie, Jurassic World. However, 2016 put Disney back on the map and a lot of the credit goes to Finding Dory. Disney had no problem touching the $5 billion mark by July this year. Finding Dory broke many records in the process. It enjoyed the biggest weekend debut for an animated film at $136.2 million, the biggest Friday opening for a cartoon film at $55 million, and highest ever average per theater at $31,634 for each screen. Finding Dory went on to become the highest grossing film of the year at over $422m in domestic business and, of course, the highest earner for the producer to date.

The secret behind the phenomenal success of Finding Dory can be attributed to the nostalgia that the movie has tapped into. Finding Nemo, where it all began, came out a good 13 years ago and was a ‘90s kids’ favorite. So, when Finding Dory was announced, it was not just another animated movie from Disney, it was a trip down the memory lane for the people who are now in their twenties. People swamped the theaters to relive a beloved memory, and Disney did not disappoint them. So, the target demographic for this movie expanded. The same can be said for another superhit delivered by the production house this year: The Jungle Book, a good movie with great animation. However, it was the nostalgia attached to the franchise that helped fill up the theaters.


A whole generation has grown young in the time that has elapsed between Nemo and Dory. Not only have the kids who watched Finding Nemo grown up, but the artists who worked in it have become big names now. In this case, it was Ellen DeGeneres. Her talk show is hugely popular and the celebrity has not left any stone unturned in promoting the movie. This has certainly given a huge boost to the ticket sales.

The production house has now made a conscious effort towards expanding their target demographic. It is not only doing that by recreating the “classics,” but by making the content of its animation movies more mature. Zootopia, for instance, is a fresh concept. It has no predecessor, but was still not completely advertised as a kid’s movie. The story line is complex with well-developed characters and implicit messages. There is no preaching, but a good story with characters displaying different shades of grey. It also touches upon issues like bullying, racism, and more. This is something that you will not expect from a kids’ movie. So, the recent spree of successful movies that have come out of the Walt Disney studios has a lot to do with its newfound ability to reach beyond the kids and attract the larger population of adults as well. Disney movies are no longer limited to kids and their parents, but for teenagers and adults as well.


Disney appears to have found a formula that is working well for it. The company will dish out many more such revivals to some of its popular older characters and movies. Tapping into nostalgia can be tricky business, because you are promising to revive treasured memories. So, expectations are pretty high.

Disney has ensured that every movie has the distinctive characters and great stories. Creating an immersive world around these two things is another major achievement for Disney’s animated films.

2016 is far from over and Disney has a promising lineup of movies in store. There is Pete’s Dragon in August, Marvel’s Doctor Strange in November, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December. Movies like Marvel’s Doctor Strange are eagerly awaited and have the potential to create more box office records. Without a doubt, this is going to be an incredible year for Disney.



Are We Hyping Up “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” Too Much?



Gilmore Girls was a phenomenon unto itself when it aired. So, when Netflix announced that it will be reviving the series for one more season, a fan uproar ensued. The news was made sweeter by the announcement that Amy Sherman-Palladino would be at the helm of things. Sherman-Palladino, tge original show runner, had left the show before the final season was shot. What’s more, all the beloved characters would be reprised by the original actors in the revival season. Add to it the regular tweets from the cast and the tidbits of news coming out from the sets of the show, and you have got a really big hype created around the show. Not that the showrunners aren’t loving all the hype. But, then again, the question arises whether or not all this hype is really going to pay off. Will the show be able to deliver? This is a question that every fan and every critic has in mind.

At the root of all the hype is the legendary stature that the original series enjoyed. It was a show that gave America two of its favorite girls: Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. They were independent, self-reliant and witty, and gave the audience a good dose of laughter with a lot of emotional scenes from the mother-daughter duo. Lorelai and Rory were like a family to the fans; they would wish well for them and pray for them to achieve their dreams. So, when the same fans are told that they get to spend one last season with their favorite girls, they are going to lap it up. They will want to know everything that has happened to the girls during the break. Whether Lorelai and Luke got married? Did Rory get to become the reporter like she wanted? What has been Sookie up to all these years?

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Then, there is the case of the return of the original showrunner, Amy Sherman-Palladino. Though the last season did try to answer all the questions that the fans had, but the absence of the creator and former executive producer was the proverbial elephant in the room. The fans had this parting wish that they would get to see what Amy had envisioned for the Gilmore Girls, and the revival gives them just that. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life plans to take the beloved show to its intended climax. This is a big thing for the fans, who would love to know the answers to many questions that were left unanswered. People are waiting to relive the Stars Hollow moments once again.

Whether the hype is going to do justice to their expectations is something that is simply impossible to predict at this point. But, given the fan following behind the show, the hype generated around the revival is nothing unexpected. The thing with nostalgia, on which this revival is banking, is that there are a lot of things that can go wrong. The audience is expecting the same magic from the revival that they had experienced with the Gilmore Girls previously. For this to happen, each and every character has to be in the right place and say exactly the right things. If anything is out of place, it can take the magic away leading to the viewers being disappointed, and maybe even angry, which nobody wants. The first trailer, however, left fans incredibly excited, as it delivered a scene of a fast-paced conversation between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel). The vibe of the scene felt incredibly similar to the original show, and even included a similar setting: their kitchen.

So, in a way, yes, the hype around Gilmore Girls is too much, but only in an expected way. The feeling of reliving the good old days plays a much larger part in wanting to watch the show than the show itself. Viewers are going to watch this revival with huge expectations and some of them are going to be disappointed for a fact simply because their expectations might not be realistic. However, the fans who will be watching the show for the love of characters may find a sense of closure in the finale. They will get to know about the lives of their favorite characters and will also get to finally know how the show was supposed to end.



Stranger Things and its Impact on Netflix



To nobody’s surprise, Netflix again managed to put together another blockbuster of a series for its subscribers with Stranger Things, starring Winona Ryder. With this, it proved again that it has an excellent understanding of what audiences are looking for, and that Netflix will deliver them exactly that. Since Netflix began to produce original programming, its content strategy has been to identify the key niches with unique tastes. Once it finds a niche of subscribers, who together form a group big enough to deliver return on its investment, Netflix commissions a show that is directed at this niche. All of this is evident in Stranger Things. It is a salute to the bygone era of the ‘80s, a time when the supernatural, science fiction, and similar themes attracted more attention. In a way, Stranger Things generates a sense of nostalgia in people who lived through the ‘80s. In its quest to make the show particularly nostalgic to this group of audience, Netflix has left no stone unturned. You will find references to almost every major cultural phenomenon from those times, and the show will let you relive those times. All that nostalgia has worked spectacularly, resulting in the massive hit that is Stranger Things.

The plot of Stranger Things revolves around the plot of a boy, Will Byers, gone missing: his friends, his family, and his town’s police chief all attempt to solve the mystery and bring Will back. Along the way, other people in the seemingly normal town go missing, and the characters constantly have encounters with the weird and supernatural. The show keeps up its spooky element to keep audience members on the edge of their seats. Additionally, the cast (which features many kid actors and newcomers, as well as older faces like Winona Ryder and David Harbour) gives spectacular performances throughout the first season.


For Netflix, this is a huge win. Lately, Netflix has become very aggressive in its strategy against the television networks. Instead of solely relying on third party content, it started producing its own content to offer the subscribers, so that it can compete against the traditional networks. Honestly, Netflix has tasted immense success with its shows. Many of them have won a series of awards, including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Master of None. Likewise, Netflix’s subscribers have been singing praises for its efforts. Naturally, it is crucial for Netflix to continue to deliver more amazing shows. That is why the success of Stranger Things formed an important link in the 2016-17’s roster for Netflix. The streaming service is planning to release 600 hours of original programming this year. This will put it in direct competition with the best of the TV networks. With enough high-performing shows, Netflix might finally be able to build a powerful lineup that will effectively win it strong points against Game of Thrones and HBO.

Clearly, Netflix has extremely ambitious plans. But, it has to convince its investors that it can deliver on its promises. Stranger Things has done this for Netflix. It is already the highest searched show on Netflix ever. Netflix does not reveal any numbers to indicate the success of its shows. But, industry reports put Stranger Things ahead of even House of Cards. Only Orange is the new Black and Fuller House managed to stay ahead of season 1 of Stranger Things. What is even more surprising is that this show was actually a low budget (by show business standards) project. Obviously, these are the kinds of shows that Netflix banks on to generate income. The most profitable shows are those which cost less to make, and gross huge revenues. But, they are only one brick in the wall.


Another upcoming Netflix show, Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down, which has already cost an unbelievable $120 million to produce, is a different ballgame altogether. Shows like this are the crowd-pullers. Backed by such as massive budget, they are also promoted the most. They will get Netflix the bulk of its new subscribers as they are mainly aimed at the masses. They are produced to attract subscribers than to actually make profit. Netflix will be happy even if the show just breaks even. Stranger Things, on the other hand, was not only produced on a low budget, it was also not marketed much. Thus, the bulk of the revenue that it generates is profits for the business.


When Netflix says that it will be releasing 600 hours’ worth of original programming this year, not all of these shows will appeal to everyone. The flagship shows like The Get Down create an audience for Netflix, which promptly exposes them to other shows in its lineup. Then, it is up to the subscriber to pick and enjoy the “cost-effective”, highly profitable, and high quality programs.

Things have not always worked perfectly for Netflix. It has missed its growth estimates in the last quarter, and it is presumably under pressure to deliver. Stranger Things provides the streaming service the much-needed breather to keep the investors in the positive mood. In that respect, Netflix has won, for now.


Aziz Ansari Makes Emmy Nomination History for “Master of None”


Aziz Ansari made history this year by earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. With this, he became the first South Asian actor to ever get nominated for a leading role in a Hollywood television series.

Aziz Ansari has been selected for his leading role as Dev Shah in the comedy show, Master of None. Dev is a 30-year old actor who tries to make his way through life in New York City. Ansari plays Dev, the protagonist, and he co-created the show with Alan Yang. They also serve as the executive producers of the show.


In addition to Ansari, the show Master of None itself made it into the nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series. It is not difficult to see why Ansari and his show earned the nomination. The show provides an insightful look into a ‘desi’ household and further provided an immigrant’s narrative. It revealed the state of affairs and conditions faced by an immigrant in the US, which is worlds apart from what is generally portrayed by other Hollywood shows (lookin’ at you, Big Bang Theory).

Ansari singlehandedly managed to break all stereotypes about Asian men, and caused a paradigm shift in how Asian men are seen in the country. He presented Dev as a romantic and sexually desirable lead, which in itself was a bold move for an audience that was never used to seeing Asian men in such light.


Also, Master of None has been able to precipitate the various ‘diversity’ challenges faced by minorities, especially Indians, in Hollywood. In the fourth episode, “Indians,” the show was able to capture such problems without being too over the top about it. Commenting on this, Ansari said, “I think every minority actor runs into that. You hear people say things like, ‘Oh, they already got the black guy.’ Or, ‘Oh, they already got their Asian lady.’ It kind of feels like, to minority actors that I’ve spoken with, once they have one (minority actor cast) they’re like, OK, we’ve placated the ‘diversity issue.’ That was coming from a real place.”

Apart from overt racism, Ansari has successfully portrayed how casual racism manifests itself in the society today. “If you’re a minority, you’re experiencing all sorts of casual racism all the time. And at a certain point, you just get numb to a lot of it, and you’re like, whatever,” Ansari said.


The Indian-American actor is among the handful of people from South Asian countries to have received any recognition from the Emmy Awards. In fact, only four other people from the region have been nominated in the past, but none of them were for the leading roles. Ansari also received a Golden Globe nomination for his role Master of None. Other people of Indian descent who have received the nominations are Naveen Andrews and Ben Kingsley. Andrews was nominated way back in 2005 for his supporting role in the show Lost. Kingsley has earned 4 nominations for his work on different miniseries – Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, Joseph, Anne Frank: The Whole Story, and Mrs. Harris.

Netflix renewed Master of None for a second season, set to premiere in 2017. You can watch the Emmy Awards on September 18 on ABC to see if Ansari and Master of None come out on top.

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