The Films-Without-Superheros Edition Monday, March 27, 2023

Apple And Amazon Plan To Spend Billions On Movies For The Big Screen. Will The Pricey Gamble Pay Off?, by Rebecca Rubin, Variety

For Apple and Amazon, the move is not exactly a benevolent bid to help out beleaguered movie theaters; it’s a way to promote their respective streaming services. Ideally, the more attention that a movie gets on the big screen, the more people will want to see what else is available online — and sign up for (or keep paying) monthly subscriptions to AppleTV+ or Prime Video. It also helps to lure top talent, who don’t want their labors of love to get lost in the shuffle of streaming, and it plays a part in getting big-budget movies into the black.


Distributors have, for the most part, reverted back to some version of an exclusive theatrical window. They found it leads to greater financial success for big-budget blockbusters and indies alike because there’s more money to be earned down the line from ancillary markets, like home entertainment.

Behind Apple And Amazon’s Billion-Dollar Bet On Movie Theaters, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

The simplest answer for Apple and Amazon is that they had to promise a theatrical release in order to win certain projects. Like Netflix before them, Apple and Amazon are still proving themselves as movie distributors.


What stands out about the movies coming from Apple and Amazon is that they are primarily films for adults without superheroes. Perhaps the biggest change in thinking over the last six months is what kinds of movies can work theatrically.

Close to Reality

Apple’s Best Hope For New Headset: A Smartwatch-Like Trajectory, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Earlier demonstrations were lower-key affairs, meant to show progress and secure the headcount needed to keep going. The latest preview took place in the Steve Jobs Theater, Apple’s biggest showcase, suggesting that a public unveiling is getting close. The executives attended the event ahead of heading to their annual offsite, held at a resort in Carmel Valley, California.

The demonstrations were polished, glitzy and exciting, but many executives are clear-eyed about Apple’s challenges pushing into this new market.

At Apple, Rare Dissent Over A New Product: Interactive Goggles, by Tripp Mickle and Brian X. Chen, New York Times

Some internal skeptics have questioned if the new device is a solution in search of a problem. Unlike the iPod, which put digital songs in people’s pockets, and the iPhone, which combined the abilities of a music player and a phone, the headset hasn’t been driven by the same clarity, these people said.

The product is being birthed during a period of limbo. This year, Mr. Ive’s successor overseeing industrial design, Evans Hankey, departed. With design’s leadership in flux, Mike Rockwell, an engineer, has been leading development of the device.


I Could Play 'Disney Dreamlight Valley' Until The End Of Time, by Swapna Krishna, Wired

It’s a perfect balance between binge-playing and pacing yourself, between a quest-based adventure game and a life-sim one.

The FDA Has Approved A Video Game—Yes, A Video Game—as An Official Treatment For ADHD, by Hannah Schneider, Well+Good

The game developer says that the system measures the areas that the child struggles with while they're playing. The software then tailors future gaming sessions to address those specific areas of attention or focus.


Apple’s Big Gamble: The 6th Birthday Of APFS, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

No one outside Apple knew at the time, but six years ago, on 27 March 2017, it made one of its biggest corporate gambles by rolling out a completely new file system in iOS 10.3. Every upgraded device silently converted its storage to the first release of Apple File System (APFS), but Apple didn’t reveal that until over two months later at WWDC. Six months after iOS 10.3, Apple upped the stakes further when it did the same with its upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

Although APFS has certainly had its moments in the following six years, those gambles have paid off, and proved key enablers in the success of Apple silicon Macs. Had there been no APFS, many of the fundamental technologies like Secure Boot and the Signed System Volume (SSV) would have been far tougher if not impossible to implement. Macs and Apple’s devices had been in dire need of a modern file system for years; while there was a time when it looked as if that could have been ZFS, in 2014 Apple decided to write its own file system from scratch, with Dominic Giampaolo as lead engineer.

"Like A Frog In Boiling Water": How Big Tech Stole Our Ability To Focus, by Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

We have been conditioned for distraction: the ping of a text, the knock-knock of a Slack message, the itchy urge while doing one thing that we ought to be doing something else. We know that the churning desire to always be multitasking is not good for our brains, bodies or mental health. We also live in a world that is not going to slow down for us.

So Mark has a different approach. Indeed, "Attention Span" explores how we got to this state of un-focus and why our tanks feel so drained so much of the time, but her book also recognizes that we can't just make all the noise go away. Our minds don't need a formula for drilled down focus, they need space to wander. The secret is learning how to wander well.

Bottom of the Page

I probably will never be stepping into a movie theatre anymore, and I do not have FOMO when it comes to films. What I worry is Apple yielding to market pressure, and switch from being the stage for great storytelling to being the platform for great special effects first and foremost.


Will a day come when we can binge 'television series' on a big screen? After all, a season of Ted Lasso is shorter than two John Wick 4. And there are plenty of natural breaks in-between episodes for audience to go to the restroom as well as refill their popcorn tubs.


Thanks for reading.