Even James Bond Can’t Stop the Streaming Trend

I love “Gladiator.” I love “The Godfather Part II.” I love all the “Fast & Furious” movies. But my heart completely belongs to Bond. You know … James Bond.

So, I knew that the new Bond film, “No Time to Die,” would be one of the few films that I would risk Covid for (more on that here). I went to the theater last weekend in my KN95 mask to see the 25th movie in this iconic franchise.

It’s only my second film in person in nearly two years. I know this from opening the Fandango app, which tells me that I last bought movie tickets on Jan. 5, 2020 (four seats for “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”). The app, in fact, tells the story of the pandemic and, more important, a trend that started way before we were locked down.

I saw 14 movies in 2018 in the theater, six in 2019, and only two in 2020, both during holiday breaks with my kids. And for 2021, I am now at two, “No Time to Die” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” It’s fair to say my moviegoing pattern reflects a larger trend: More and more, people are watching movies at home.

I’ve been having debates with a lot of Hollywood types in recent months on this shift in consumer habits, insisting that the tide has turned against analog theaters in favor of the home movie-watching experience. That includes in a lively interview I just did with Ari Emanuel, the chief executive of Endeavor, the giant entertainment agency whose business has moved far beyond talent representation to live events and more.

Emanuel has been a real cheerleader for the theatrical experience, insisting to me that “the movie business is not going away.” To underscore that, he’s called me several times to crow about big box office returns for some recent films, like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which did $141 million in the domestic box office in 10 days. More important, Emanuel pointed out, two-thirds of the “Venom” tickets were sold to people under 35 years old.

Impressive, Ari, but you’re giving me examples of movies that are best viewed in a big, raucous crowd, and these types of films are few and far between.

“No Time to Die,” however, brought in less than expected at the box office — $56 million for the weekend — despite a lot of marketing and hype. One reason for the smaller number might be that Bond films attract an older crowd (some two thirds of the ticket buyers were over 35, by one estimate). And, even with Covid hesitancy, the Bond performance is an indication of a trend of decline: The opening weekend for “No Time to Die” was 20 percent lower than the opening weekend for the previous Bond film, “Spectre,” which was down 20 percent from the one before that, “Skyfall.”

It might just be that Bond is a fading franchise. Yet I think that many consumers, like me, are being pickier about what they venture out for during the pandemic. And many, too, have changed their view of their home: It’s now seen as the true center of their lives, a trend we also see in new approaches to retail and work, and thus, often a better place to watch a film. (It’s here I should mention that I’m working on a limited-series podcast about the show “Succession” for HBO, which is part of WarnerMedia and a major player in the streaming wars.)

When it comes to entertainment, viewers are increasingly using a range of digital tools, from mobile phones to large televisions with on-demand service, that don’t include movie theaters. My own teen sons leap from one device to the next effortlessly, but could not be coaxed into going to the theater last weekend, even though I stuffed the offer full of chicken wings and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. And these were kids raised regularly going to the theater.

Still, without them — “Sorry, Ma!” — I trekked to the AMC multiplex in Georgetown, and I was thrilled to be there. Curiously, the Bond film made an interesting turn away from cool gadgetry, one of the go-to elements in the series’ long history. This time I could count the cool tech on one hand, and some of it has been used before: a bionic eye, a watch that shorts things out, cars with a lot of weaponry. The only fresh tech I noticed was an unfolding gravity plane that turned into a submarine, which also did not even feel especially new, and some magnetized suits that allowed the villains to jump down an elevator shaft.

“Sure, Bond gets a cool watch, a classic bulletproof (and gun-equipped) Aston Martin, and he rides in something called a gravity plane,” Engadget wrote, but the gadgets “come few and far in between. Instead, the film focuses on Bond’s human drama: his inability to trust; his persistent death-wish; the danger he brings to others.”

In other words, gadgets don’t kill people, Bond does.

4 Questions

This week I’m chatting with Ifeoma Ozoma, a tech policy expert with experience leading global public policy efforts at tech companies. With State Senator Connie Leyva, she helped draft and push through the Silenced No More Act, a new California law that protects workers who speak out about harassment and discrimination even if they’ve signed a nondisclosure agreement.

1. A lot of people don’t sponsor a bill and help pass it after being at odds with their companies over harassment or discrimination issues. What prompted you to do what you did?

I picked up almost everything I know about effective policy engagement while working on the public policy teams at Google, Facebook and Pinterest. I also learned a great deal about the quiet waysthe tech industry works with lobbying groups like the Chamber of Commerce to kill certain bills and manage communications around policy efforts.

There’s a lot of talk about “tech accountability,” but unfortunately very little tangible progress. It was only fitting that I’d use all of the experience I gained in tech to benefit workers in California harmed by abuses in the industry. Working with Senator Leyva, equal rights advocates and the California Employment Lawyers Association to turn this bill into a law is my proudest achievement. Millions of workers outside of tech (as well as tenants across the state) will also be protected by this bill.

2. What are the chances that this will rid the industry of nondisclosure agreements?

The Silenced No More Act was never about ridding the industry of all NDAs. As I wrote for the The Times back in April, there are legitimate uses of nondisclosure agreements for maintaining the confidentiality of intellectual property. The tech industry’s pervasive use of both types of NDAs (nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements) to silence workers who would speak up about discrimination, harassment or other forms of unlawful conduct is abhorrent. It’s also a serious issue for shareholders kept in the dark about activity that impacts their investments, as companies use resources to defend and protect individual wrongdoers.

A really important facet of Silenced No More is that it will require all nondisparagement and similar concealment clauses to include language that explicitly tells workers they can speak up about abusive or unlawful conduct, regardless of the other language in their agreements. The next challenge will be getting companies to extend the protections from Silenced No More to their global work forces.

3. We recently saw some Southwest Airlines employees protest vaccine mandates. While I could not agree less with their reasoning, why are tech employees not exerting their power in the same way, by staging walkouts and taking other actions?

I’ve worked on addressing vaccine misinformation for years, so I have thoughts on that walkout for another time. Tech workers (a more inclusive/accurate term than employees) are intentionally kept from collectively organizing through a variety of means. Workers are separated into so many categories of employment that they usually aren’t able to communicate with everyone in an office (let alone company) because contractors and part-time and full-time employees are on separate email lists with different layers of access.

The type of siloing of teams, highlighted in the reporting on Theranos, which kept workers from communicating with one another about their assignments or any other workplace concerns, is rampant across the industry. Finally, regular turnover and almost two years of virtual and remote work mean that many workers have not met people outside of their team or had the opportunity to organize in a safe or surveillance-free environment.

Even with all of those barriers in place, tech workers and organizers like Chris Smalls, Clarissa Redwine, Laurence Berland, Meredith Whittaker, Claire Stapleton and many others have fought to organize walkouts and other actions to exert power in their workplaces. The industry’s response has been to fire almost all of them.

4. You helped create the Tech Workers Handbook website, full of all kinds of resources for employees. What is the most important thing for someone suffering harassment or discrimination to do? What is the most important thing not to do?

The Tech Worker Handbook is all about equipping workers with the information they need to make their own informed decisions. I’m really clear on the site that it is not a guide or call to whistle-blow because every individual’s situation is unique. What people need most isn’t a set of instructions or rules but free access to resources and information so that they can figure out what the best course of action is for themselves and their families.

That said, what I think anyone who reads through the different sections of the handbook will take away is that the most important thing to do in any situation is to prepare for the absolute worst — which in my case was getting pushed out of Pinterest and losing health insurance. The most important thing not to do is assume good intentions on behalf of a company’s H.R., legal, or comms teams. Once you speak up externally, you become Public Enemy No. 1.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and other stuff

Here’s the good news, amid weeks of terrible coverage for Facebook’s top executives over all manner of alleged bad behavior and sloppy management: The always fantastic Claire Foy, who starred in the Netflix hit series “The Crown,” will play the Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg in a scripted series. Here’s the bad news: It’s titled “Doomsday Machine.” Ouch.

The drama is based on the nonfiction book “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination” by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang of The Times. Oh yeah, also: The whistle-blower Frances Haugen will be chatting with the Facebook Oversight Board, at its invitation, and also to the British Parliament’s Online Safety Bill Committee. She will be telling both groups — how shall I put this delicately? — that Facebook’s pants are on fire.

Other stuff: Magic Leap, the heavily funded and much hyped augmented-reality company, said it has another $500 million in the kitty, at about a $2 billion valuation. In addition, its chief executive, Peggy Johnson, a former Microsoft exec who replaced the founder Rony Abovitz last fall, said a second version of its headset, which looks like something you might weld with, will be out in 2022.

But, um, math: The Florida-based Magic Leap was worth over $6 billion in 2019. It has raised $3.5 billion overall, and it had previously raised $542 million of that in 2014 at a … drum roll … $2 billion valuation.

Magic Leap has a slew of high-profile investors, including Google, Andreessen Horowitz, Qualcomm, AT&T, Alibaba and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. This round’s funders were not revealed, which prompted the very funny Dan Primack of Axios to tweet: “There’s always something a bit odd when you raise that much $$ but won’t disclose investor names. Either you’re embarrassed by them, or they’re embarrassed by you.”

In other news, my fave new tech word is one just coined by Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory: “ampliganda.”

While it sounds like a sexually transmitted disease, it’s actually far worse. She notes in a recent Atlantic article titled “It’s Not Misinformation. It’s Amplified Propaganda”: “In fact, we have a very old word for persuasive communication with an agenda: propaganda. That term, however, comes with historical baggage. It presumes that governments, authority figures, institutions and mass media are forcing ideas on regular people from the top down.

“But more and more, the opposite is happening. Far from being merely a target, the public has become an active participant in creating and selectively amplifying narratives that shape realities. Perhaps the best word for this emergent bottom-up dynamic is one that doesn’t exist quite yet: ‘ampliganda,’ the shaping of perception through amplification. It can originate from an online nobody or an onscreen celebrity. No single person or organization bears responsibility for its transmission. And it is having a profound effect on democracy and society.”

Lastly, the most interesting chatter I heard this week was about the possibility that, at some point soon, one of the large Silicon Valley venture firms might go public — not unlike how Emanuel’s Endeavor finally did — to allow the public in on the private action before start-ups have an I.P.O. While GSV Capital and several European firms did an I.P.O. about a decade ago (it’s now called SuRo Capital), it’s not an easy thing given how volatile the venture business can be.

Have feedback? Send a note to swisher-newsletter@nytimes.com.

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