On March 18 Binge subscribers will take part in a global screening of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a marathon movie event into the world of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gai Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller).
And for Executive Director Alison Hurbert-Burns it will cap off a deal liaised over and above Foxtel’s Warner Bros. output. The film realises Director Zack Synder’s original vision for a film he was unable to complete.
“We’ve done this really for the fans. I’ve been following this story in entertainment circles for years,” she tells TV Tonight.
“Zack Synder had taken the DC Universe into a slightly darker and more serious angle with Batman v Superman and other things. He thought this film would go in a certain direction and he had to come out of it.
“But his daughter died so he stepped away quite suddenly. Warner got Joss Whedon in to finish it. He’d obviously been doing Avengers and Marvel, but it was such a different sensibility that the outcome was very different.
“I haven’t seen it yet but I understand he took characters out that Zack had envisioned, villains and stories.
“Binge exists for these types of fans in the Streaming generation”
“Last year HBO Max announced that they wanted to bring it back with Zack on board. This online movement has raised money for suicide prevention for Zack’s daughter, in her name and her honour. They’ve done things respectfully, it hasn’t just been shouty. They genuinely love and are so passionate about this show. Binge exists for these types of fans in the Streaming generation. We can’t wait to bring it to the screen.”
Indeed fans will have plenty to sink their teeth into. The new version clocks in at some 4 hours, on par (in duration, anyway) with Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Gone with the Wind and The Ten Commandments.
“That’s why we think it’s so cool for Streaming because, whilst it’s nice to see things on the big screen, with everyone’s home set ups, you have the ability to pause and make a cup of tea or go to the toilet!”
In News Corp’s December statement, Binge had 468,000 subscribers, of which 431,000 were paying with the remainder on a free trial.
Biggest titles have included The Undoing, The Flight Attendant, Euphoria, Upright and Discovery of Witches.
“We’ve just finished launching Devils, which comes to us from the BBC, with Patrick Dempsey. It’s a high concept drama set in the world of banking. It’s a Sky Vision co-pro with Sky Italia based on an Italian book.
“It’s set in this finance world and it’s just such a gripping program that has proved really popular with our audience. It was the number one hit of January.”
“Weekends is where we see subscribers sign up”
Peak viewing times are Friday and Saturday nights, just like the old video rental habits.
“Back in the Blockbuster days, you’d often go on the weekends,” she agrees, “but we also see in the evenings, 8:30 / 9:00 maybe after people have watched Free to Air we see an evening peak. But certainly weekends is where we see subscribers sign up, but also viewing behaviour peak. And interestingly Sundays are a very strong day.”
But last year Binge also attracted some comment around a promotion in which drama fans were given a free subscription in exchange for public reviews (published here). Will they be hired when the contest ends?
“It was something that started before I joined and I think we were really looking at it as a promotion as we launched. We knew people were trying to find things to watch during COVID. They’ve been some, some great people to work with and we’ve loved working with them. I think we haven’t quite worked through the next steps.”
“I’m buoyed by how many good stories we get pitched”
But there’s good news with Binge open to local commissions separate from Foxtel. Hurbert-Burns says announcements will come, likely to be in the genre of Drama.
“I’m buoyed by how many good stories we get pitched and how many cool things there are to bring to the screen,” she explains.
“Certainly for Binge, we’re always looking for great drama, initially, to connect with our audiences. Rather than being different to Foxtel, necessarily, for me it’s a reflection of the audience at the time and what they’re looking for. As you come out of COVID, shutdown or hard economic times, we were initially looking at things that were uplifting.
“But we’ll have a bit more to announce on that soon.”
Zack Snyder’s Justice Leaguepremieres on March 18 on Binge and Foxtel’s DC Movies Pop Up Channel (Ch. 402).