In the golden age of TV, the existential-animation is king

From the critically lauded time traveling of Rick and Morty to the antics of a Hollywood horse, animation is the place to find Tv that Sartre mightve liked

Why is a talking cartoon horse stimulating me weep? It’s a question many of us might have asked ourselves as the new season of BoJack Horseman- an improbably moving Netflix cartoon about a version of Hollywood populated by talking animals- surfaced over the weekend.

The characters, led by BoJack( was put forward by Will Arnett ), induce terrible decisions about sexuality and dating, sell themselves short, and generally end up miserable in the funniest possible ways. It’s a indicate at the forefront of a recent harvest of animated TV series for adults that outshine most live-action shows this side of Twin Peaks to its implementation of sheer emotional aspiration.

There’s BoJack, Adult Swim’s critically lauded sci-fi series Rick and Morty, the Duplass brethren’ Animals on HBO, and Archer, a workplace slapstick about a spy bureau that has gone crazily off the rails. In broad words, TV is still embracing what critic Jenny Jaffe dubbed the” sadcom“- a indicate with an ostensibly comic outlook that trades in for pathos – but something special is happening in animation. With animated demonstrates TV is able to flex different muscles.

BoJack, for example, had a partly wordless episode last season that featured a gorgeous sequence of its titular protagonist, a washed-up performer and pony, chasing a newborn seahorse through a cave filled with multicolored, glowing ocean anemone. The impact was somewhere between Looney Tunes and Fantasia. Archer has had a dream sequence that has lasted two full seasons and counting. It’s not that you can’t do that sort of thing on live-action television( merely look at the Sopranos for ambitious dreaming sequences ), simply that it is so much harder to pull off and takes a lot of fund. In cartoon sitcoms, as Archer demonstrates, you can use character as an anchor and change utterly everything else without breaking the show.

Rick
Rick and Morty … Dr Who’s sardonic offspring. Photograph: Adult Swim

Rick and Morty, always gleefully profane, also seems as though it ought to be ill-suited to its narratives’ hardcore existentialist leanings. On newspaper, it sounds like an appealingly high-concept sci-fi series. It follows a bitter mad scientist and his dim grandson on the various kinds of spacefaring adventures you might ensure on Doctor Who or Star Trek, but, to give credit where due, in far weirder visual terms, with aliens who are truly alien.

It is, in big measure, a cartoon about disturbingly genitalian interplanetary ogres, xenocidal gaseous intelligences, and plenty more who otherwise look like something HP Lovecraft sneezed. But like BoJack, Rick and Morty is better at plumbing some very deep intra-family emotional depths than nearly anything shooting with an actual camera- in a recent episode, Morty’s mother and sister get into a fight and are was transformed into giant, inside-out Clive Barkerishmonsters; only then can they reconcile.

Dan Harmon, who co-created the present with Justin Roiland, described it to me this route to me before it premiered in 2013:” If[ Justin] says,’ Well, I want there to be a giant testicle monster with testicles hanging off of it, and it has a vagina in the middle of it ,’ what I can provide is,’ OK, what kind of narrative might make use of that? Does the testicle monster come in on page one, and what are we learning on page five ?'” You, too, can learn valuable emotional lessons from testicle ogres, reader.

Success breeds success on television, so it’s easy to see how these presents stand on the shoulders of giants like South Park, The Simpsons, and Futurama. Without those proofs of theory, Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman and Archer aren’t possible. For Harmon, BoJack creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Archer’s Adam Reed and hopefully many more to come, the colorful and plastic trappings of genre fiction and children’s fantasy- it’s hard to watch BoJack without thinking of Richard Scarry’s children’s books– aren’t incongruous or nonsensical. They’re a new emotional country, fertile, welcoming and as big as anything you can think to draw.

These indicates are all formally ambitious in more abstract routes, as well; Harmon and Bob-Waksberg both seem to understand that stasis is built into the nature of the half-hour comedy – you’re transgressing the rules if you don’t put things back where you observed them at the end of 30 minutes. For decades, the commission has been a very comforting kind of television to ingest. But what Harmon and co understand is that approach speaks to a kind of depressing, existential truth: most imperfect people can’t change. Thankfully for a new generation of animators, they can.

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Disney is ditching Netflix in 2019 to launch its own streaming service

Bad news if you were just get used to all of the new Disney stuff hitting Netflix: that deal is on the way out.

Disney has just announced plans to end its distribution agreement with Netflix in 2019, instead opting to launch its own streaming service sometime during that same year.

The announcement came as part of some takeover news: Disney is paying $1.48 billion to acquire another 42 percentage of BAMTech a company that exists under the Major League Baseball umbrella in addition to the 33 percentage stake it bought for$ 1 billion last year. This dedicates Disney the majority controlling stake of BAMTech.

Meanwhile, Disney also will be launching a separate ESPN-branded streaming service early next year. Itll be wrap into a rebuilt version of the ESPN app, and host creeks from the MLB, NHL, MLS, and various college sports networks.

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Twitter, Airbnb and others to file opposition to Trumps immigration order

Twitter and other tech companies, including Netflix, Salesforce, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb and AppNexus, plan to file an amicus brief tonight voicing opposition to President Trumps executive order on immigration.

The filing, first reported by Bloomberg, follows a week of outspoken commentaries from tech industry leaders against the immigration order which barred refugees from entering the United States indefinitely and temporarily curtailed travel to the U.S. for citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. A challenge to the presidents order has reached the 9th CircuitCourt of Appealsin San Francisco, and the companies intend to file their brief in this case.

Twitter and AppNexus corroborated their participation in the amicus brief to TechCrunch, and sources with knowledge of the filing confirmed the participation of Uber, Airbnb, Yelp, Square, Reddit, Kickstarter, Github, Mozilla, Dropbox, Twillio, Netflix, Zynga, Salesforce, Lithium, Official records of the general assembly, Pinterest, and Medium.

Executives from most of the companies involved have spoken out against the immigration prohibit, withAirbnb launching an ad campaign during the Super Bowl underscoring inclusiveness with the hashtag #weaccept.

Several of the companies have said their employees are directly impacted by the ban, and Uber has created a $ 3 million legal defense money for drivers affected by the ban. Ubers CEO Travis Kalanick was set to attend a session of Trumps business advisory council on Friday, but stepped down from his post on the council Thursday evening after blowback from users and employees about his participation.

The amicus brief will highlight the contributions of immigrants to the tech economy while stressing the immigration controls already in place. The companies intend to argue that Trumps order is discriminatory and will have a negative impact on American businesses.

The experience and energy of people who come to our country to seek a better life for themselves and their children to pursue the American Dream are woven throughout the social, political, and economic cloth of the Nation, a draft of the amicus filing obtained by TechCrunch states.For decades, stable U.S. immigration policy has exemplified the principles that we are a people descended from immigrants, that we welcome new immigrants, and that we offer a home for refugees attempting protection. At the same time, America have all along acknowledged the importance of protecting ourselves against those who would do us harm. But it has done so while maintaining the fundamental is committed to welcoming immigrants through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter our country.

A final version of the brief is expected to be filed with the 9th Circuit later tonight.

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Netflix in talks to retain Marvel and Star Wars movies after 2019

Netflix is still in active talks with Marvel over potentially retaining streaming rights to Marvel and Star Wars movies after 2019, which is the date Disney has defined for when itll remove Disney and Pixar movies from the subscription service in favor of its own in-house Disney streaming offering.

We already knew the fate of Disneys Marvel co-production TV indicates, including Daredevil, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Iron fist, Luke Cage and The Defenders was not subject to the new arranging Disney announced earlier this week. These ongoing talks around feature-length Marvel and Lucasfilm-made movies disclose those could also still have a future at Neftlix.

When the bargain was announced earlier the coming week by Disney CEO Bog Iger, the fate of the Marvel and Star Wars films wasnt yet fixed. Netflix told Reuters on Friday that active debates are going on right now to retain streaming rights beyond 2019, and it seems possible that this could end up being the result depending on Disneys aims with franchises housed under the Marvel and Star Wars brands.

While it sounds far away from something determined, it could be that Disneys own streaming service is focused more on entertainment for households and children, while the more mature reach of the Star Wars and Marvel films end up being better suited for a distribution platform with a broader audience. Its also very possible that Disneys still assessing how it would position Marvel and Star Wars dedicated subscription services, something its been rumored to have mulled in the past.

Whatever the outcome, Netflix isnt slacking on its alternative content alternatives: The company continues to invest in and make plenty of original content, and will only be ramping up those efforts in the near future.

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Netflix lands the Coen Brothers Western TV series

Netflix is going to be home to the first television indicate created by the Coen Friend, the directing duo thats behind The Big Lebowski, Fargo, True Grit and many more cinemas. The show is called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and is described as a Western anthology that will follow six stories about Americas Wild West. Joel and Ethan Coen will make, write and direct, and the anthology should premiere sometime next year.

The show has been characterized as more of a mini-series in previous descriptions of the project, which was considered for a feature-length movie but instead will be a multi-part indicate because of the scope. Each chapter will be its own unique tale; the casting includes Tim Blake Nelson as the titular character, Ryne Daley, James Franco, Zoe Kazan and others.

This should be a quite interesting project for Netflix, and also something the company is probably happy to be able to announce now that news is out that Disney is removing its movie catalog from its U.S. service in 2019 to create its own dedicated streaming service. Marquee content from other big-name sources that Netflix owns exclusive distribution rights to will be especially important in helping reassure investors and analysts that the streaming giant wont suffer much from loss of the Disney deal.

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David Letterman returns to TV with six-episode Netflix deal

David Letterman has signed a deal to host six episodes of a new program for Netflix.

The company hasnt released many details of the topics, format or guests, but it sounds like it wont just be a standard in-the-studio talk show Netflixs Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement, David Letterman is a true television icon, and I cant wait to see him out in the wild, out from behind the desk and interviewing the people he finds most interesting. Well have to see if he keeps the beard.

While Netflix has had its most high-profile successes with scripted shows like House of Cards and Stranger Things, its also home to Chelseaand Bill Nye Saves the World. Neither show seems like a big hit (its hard to say for sure, since the company doesnt release ratings information), but Netflix is still funding them it probably helps that theyre cheaper to produce than something like Sense8.

Letterman, meanwhile, has largely stayed out of the spotlight since leaving theLate Showon CBS in 2015. He did, however, appear in the climate change documentary programYears of Living Dangerouslyand he also reminded everyone how funny he can be in a recent, wide-ranging interview with New York magazine.

Lettermans new show is scheduled to premiere next year.

Heres what I have learned: If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first, he said in the announcement. Thanks for watching. Drive safely.

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Netflix and Amazon on edge as Disney plans own streaming service

Studio will pull all titles from rivals and try to corner market in family-friendly fare from 2019

Disney is to pull its movies from Netflix and take on the streaming company with the launch of its own service from 2019, showing family-friendly fare such as the Toy Story films, Frozen and its forthcoming sequel, and The Lion King. The move is being seen as a potential major challenge to Netflix, whose shares fell 4% in after-hours trading on the back of the news, and to Amazon.

Disney said it had not yet made a decision on whether to include Marvel, home to the Avengers franchise and characters such as Iron Man and Captain America, and Lucasfilm, the company behind Indiana Jones and Star Wars, in the new service. The company has been identified as a potential buyer of Netflix, with which it has an exclusive film distribution deal in the US, with a market value of about $75bn.

Disney is launching its service in the US, but chief executive Bob Iger told analysts to think of it as a global service. The company is also launching a streaming service for ESPN, the sports network with rights to top flight-competitions including Major League Baseball and the NFL.

The launch of our direct-to-consumer services marks an entirely new strategy for the company, said Iger, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.

The service will initially be family-focused, drawing on Pixar and Disney fare and including productions from the Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

Disney said it would become the exclusive home in the US for subscription video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate. The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, said Iger.

In 2015, Disney began experimenting with its own streaming service in the UK, Disney Life, priced at 9.99 a month and specialising in kids and family content from Bambi and The Jungle Book to Pixars Toy Story franchise, as well as more modern blockbusters such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Disney gained the capability to launch the new streaming service thanks to its purchase of a majority stake in BAMTech, a subsidiary of MLBAM, the internet arm of Major League Baseball. Disney already owned a stake, but is paying $1.58bn for an additional 42%.

Earlier this week, Netflix moved to reduce its reliance on licensing intellectual property from rivals by acquiring comic book company Millarworld. It hopes that the company whose properties Kick-Ass and Kingsman have already been turned into films that have been shown on the network will do for it what the acquisition of Marvel has done for Disney.

By owning its own franchises, Netflix is hoping to reduce its rapidly growing content budget. It has already committed to spending $16bn on the production and licensing of films and TV shows over the next five years.

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Iflix raises $133M for its Netflix-style service for emerging markets

Iflix, an Asia-based startup Netflix-like streaming services in emerging markets, has landed $133 million in fresh funding to accelerate its business.

The investment was led by U.S. media conglomerate Hearst, which counts BuzzFeed, Vice and Roku among its investment portfolio. The group was joined by anothernew backerEDBI the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board alongside undisclosed clients of Singapore-based DBS bank. Existing investors joining includedEvolution Media, UK broadcaster Sky, Malaysias Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT.

Iflix was started in May 2015, initially in selected Asian markets. Today its streaming service is priced around$ 3 per month and available in1 9 countries thanks to expansions into the Middle East and Africa. The business has raised close to $300 million from investors to date. It started off with a $30 million pre-launch round in 2015, before adding $45 million from Sky last year and completing a $90 million create in March of this year.

That most recent round valued the company at $500 million, but theres no term on what the valuation following this new financing is.( Were working on get that detail .)

Netflix is the most obvious rival to Iflix but, with over 100 million paying subscribers and 5. two million new additions in the last quarter alone, few can rival the U.S. media giant. In that respect, more regional competition includes Singapores HOOQ, which is backed by telecom firm Singtel, and PCCW Media-owned Vuclip, as well as local single-country streaming services are more valid comparisons.

Iflix said it had five million registered users back in March, but it isnt giving an update on that this time around. It instead hailed tremendous growth which it said includes a 3X increased number of subscriber numbers and 2X rise in user engagement over the past year. Revenue, it told, is up 230 percentage year-on-year, but it is keeping quiet on raw figures.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Iflix CEO Mark Britt played down inevitable comparings with Netflix, insisting that the services do not share the same target audience.

We very genuinely dont see Netflix as a competitor, we consider ourselves as a new service for the mass marketplaces, he said.

Britt has pointed out that Netflixs model targets the global elite, those with high-end devices like an iPhone, disposable income and a charge card for pay. Iflix, he claimed, is aimed at those with lower-end devices and poorer quality internet access, but a desire to always eat on mobile.

If Netflix is the iPhone of content streaming, our aspiration is to be the Android, Britt added. Wed love to be a secondary selection to the upper socials ifyou love Netflix you should probably get Iflix as an addition but for themass market, the majority of their consumption is on a mobile device.

Iflix chairman Patrick Grove at a promotional event in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this year

Theres certainly plenty of tart to fight for. A recent report from Media Partner Asia forecast that online video intake in Asia alone could outshine $20 billion by 2020, although the above figures falls to $3.2 billion when China which is dominated by local players, and where Iflix is not present is removed.

Nonetheless, Iflix has taken steps that are similar to Netflix. This year it began broadcasting its own original programming bringing an underground comedy series from Malaysiato its platform earlier this year and that is expanding to a dozen countries. While in March it hired Sean Carey, who was formerly VP of global television for Netflix, as its own chief content officer. It has also moved into live sport, having captured the rights to Indonesias soccer league, and Britt said it is focusing on acquiring more local content, including first releases from cinema and local productions.

Weve realized the key for us is local content , not the Western content studios the majority of our top 10 content is regional or local, he told TechCrunch. Western content defines the bar for binge-watching, but in terms of reaching the mass marketplace, whats having a bigger impact is taking content from local cinema or distributors.

Thats where this new funding is likely to be put to work, growing that local collection with a focus on exclusives and first-runs. Britt said that Iflix may also look to enter new regions, too, with Latin America on the listing of possibilities entries thanks to its similarities with regions where Iflix already plays.

The opportunity is very real in emerging marketplaces globally, he added. TVhas run from stalling in the last few years to actual decline in most emerging markets. Our understanding of that is that it is actually yesterdays product[ since] themajority of the emerging classes worldwide are aged under 25.

Were the only platform talking with[ studios and producers] about what this new experience should look like for these 1.3 billion people[ in emerging markets] in the next few years, Britt said.

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Netflix to debut Disenchantment, a new animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, in 2018

The creator of the longest-running scripted primetime series ever, The Simpsons, is preparing to launching a new reveal for Netflix. The streaming service today announced it has ordered 20 episodes of an animated slapstick series called Disenchantment, from The SimpsonscreatorMatt Groening. The first episodes are set to debut in 2018, the company tells, and will be released ten at a time.

The series is being produced for Netflix byThe ULULU Company, and will see Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein( The Simpsons, Futurama) serving as executive producers. Animation is being to be undertaken by Rough Draft Studios the animation production company also used by Futurama.

The premise for the adult animated comedy series is one involving the disintegrating medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where characters will include a hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci, among other ogres, sprites, harpies, gremlins, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools, says Netflix, in its announcement of the new series.

The show will also be voiced by several well-known names, including Broad Citys Abbi Jacobson, Nat Faxon, who had worked before on animated series The Cleveland Show, and has a role in Netflixs newer demonstrate Friends from College; along with Eric Andr, John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Matt Berry, Jeny Batten, Rich Fulcher, Noel Fielding, and Lucy Montgomery.

Ultimately, told Matt Groening, Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sexuality, and how to keep laugh in a world full of suffering and imbeciles, despite what the elders and wizards and other dorks tell you.

Cindy Holland, Netflix VP, Original Content , noted that the new series will bear Groenings trademark animation style and biting witticism, and added that we think its a perfect fit for our many Netflix animation fans.

News that Matt Groening and Netflix were teaming up on a new animated series had been reported back in January, 2016,though the details of their project was then being kept under wraps. All that was known at the time was that Groening would create and write the new depict. Plot details or a premiere date werent available.

The series will help to expand Netflixs portfolio of animated series with a high-profile name, and potential hit. The streaming service today has several other animated series, including BoJack Horseman, F is for Family, the forthcoming Dr. Seuss adaptation of Green Eggs& Ham, and the recently renewed video game-inspired Castlevania.

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Netflix was the top grossing app in Q2, with mobile revenue up 233% since last year

Netflixs booming subscriber growth, announced in the companys earnings last week, is also being felt on the App Store, where its app has again become the top earner in terms of revenue. According a recent report from app store analytics firm Sensor Tower, the app in Q2 assured 233 percent revenue growth year-over-year to $153 million in the most recent one-quarter. Thats up from the $46 million considered at this same hour last year, across both top app store platforms, and on the iOS App Store alone.

This level of growth sets Netflix far ahead of the average revenue growth across both app stores, which is currently at 56 percent. In other terms, Netflixs move up the revenue charts isnt merely tied the ongoing growth of the app ecosystem and its related app industries, but is attributable specifically to Netflixs ability to add new subscribers.

Last week, the streaming service reported it had added 5.2 million subscribers in the quarter, which was more than the 3.2 million it had expected. The majority, or 4 million-plus, of those subscribers came from international markets, which can also help to explain the App Store revenue increases. Often, new Netflix users are signing up for the streaming service via their telephones and then paying through in-app purchases.

Netflixs revenue in the second one-quarter was up by 32 percent, to $2.79 billion; in the prior one-quarter, it find 36 percentage revenue growth, to reach $2.48 billion. However, these figures take into account the revenue generated by subscribers across platforms including mobile, desktop computer, set-top boxes, and elsewhere.

With 233 percentage growth across the app stores, Sensor Towers report rightly points out that Netflixs mobile revenue is far more pronounced than non-respendable revenues being generated by non-mobile platforms.

Netflix is also outpacing its streaming rival Hulu, whose app store revenue grew by only 22 percent during the one-quarter, the report also noted.

One of the big depict for Netflix as the company said itself during its earnings its is slate of original content. This has been a huge investment for the company in recent years. Netflix said earlier that it plans to invest$ 6 billion in original content this year, including 40 feature film. The company has been willing to pay top dollar for movies, too, as with its $90 million+ investment in its first potential blockbuster, the Will Smith fantasy epic Bright orMartin Scorseses $ 100 million-plus mob movie The Irishman.

Netflix even issued a challenge of sorts to the Hollywood movie industry in its earning release , noting that it now plans to disrupt the movie business as it once interrupted TV.

just as we changed and reinvented the TV business by putting consumers first and making access to content more convenient, we believe internet TV can similarly reinvigorate the movie business, the statement read.

Beyond Netflix, a number of other subscription-based businesses made the top revenue charts during the course of its one-quarter, too. On the iOS App Store, Pandora clocked in at# 3 pointing to some gains for its premium subscriptions; Spotify was# 5; and YouTube, which offers subscriptions via YouTube Red, was# 6.

Across both the iOS App Store and Google Play combined, Pandora was# 4, Spotify# 7, YouTube was #10 and the other streaming service, HBO NOW, also popped up in the# 9 slot. The full report from Sensor Tower, which focused on non-game apps growth and revenue, is here.

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