Robert Sheehan’s career and life: Love/Hate, breakup from Sofia Boutella and rampant baby fever

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Robert Sheehan was introduced to many Irish homes as the dangerous yet endearing criminal gang member Darren, in the iconic RTE series Love/Hate.

But the Laois native got his acting chops many years before and his success has only gone from strength to strength since he was brutally killed off Love/Hate in series three, with three IFTA nominations and one BAFTA nomination under his belt.

Career

Robert found his love for acting at primary school when he played the role of Oliver in Oliver with a Twist.

When he was unsure of whether acting was a sustainable career choice, Robert studied film and television at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. However, never one to conform to traditional schooling measures, he missed several months of the course to film Summer of the Flying Saucer and failed his first year examinations - he decided not to attempt the repeats

Robert started out on The Clinic and gained notoriety when he played the role of Nathan Young in the British series Misfits, before deciding to leave the show after just two seasons despite being regarded as a “cult favourite”.

Since Love/Hate Robert went on to star in Red Riding, The Mortal Instruments and Mortal Engines and more recently, the Netflix superhero show, The Umbrella Academy.

Living near to Laois

Robert spent a year living in Los Angeles as her perused his acting career, but he gave up the Hollywood life in lieu of London so he could be closer to his parents in Portlaoise.

“A prolonged time in Los Angeles didn’t do anything good for my spirit,” he said.

“I think it’s because you have to live a somewhat single-track life. Of course, you can have friends and a community and people you trust in Los Angeles, but it’s the means of distribution.

“It’s the traffic, man. It’s the way you get around. It’s a way of life that is quite significantly different to what I was used to. It’s also the cultural gulf. I enjoy feeling a bit different, but after a while I yearn for my own, for the craic, for the ease and the fluency of people who speak not only your language, but your cultural language.”

Relationships

Robert started dating actress Sofia Boutella in March, 2014, but the pair announced their separation in October 2018 to say they had separated.

The Bad Samaritan star said his long distance career led to their break up and he turned to mediation to help him heal the sadness.

He told the Irish Times: “I was away from home, quite far from home. I was in Portland, Oregon, doing a film that was fairly taxing. It was eight weeks, mostly at night. It was that film Bad Samaritan.

“I was at the end of a relationship. It was making me pretty sad and it was making her pretty sad and it was a lot. [Meditating] didn’t do anything for six months, [but then] it just deepens and widens and it casts tendrils out into previously unexplored dark inside yourself. It’s delicious, it really is. It makes you more emotionally fortuitous”.

Baby fever

The 33-year-old has been open and honest about his broodiness that started when he was in a relationship with Sofia, but hasn’t subsided despite his apparent singledom.

Speaking about getting baby fever after holding a friend’s baby, Robert said: “If the swimmers comply. I’d love to be a dad.

“I was holding Tom and Laura Hopper’s baby yesterday and it was so nice. I really want one, my ovaries are glowing.

In the 2018 HotPress interview in which he revealed his split from Sofia, he admitted: “There’s no way that I’m not starting a family.”

He even told the RTE Guide back in 2019: “I think that I’m getting more restless as I get older. That’s why meditation is good for me because it reminds me that I don’t have to be constantly doing that.

“It’s not necessarily running away from anything. Luckily, I don’t have many demons that I quarrel with. Meditation teaches me how to be OK with myself, be OK with no noise or distractions.”

How to watch Prisoners of the Ghostland in Australia

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When a Nicolas Cage joint is sold as his ‘wildest movie yet’, fans might have reason to feel some doubt: there’s a career’s worth of self-consciously wacky, OTT roles to bring up in comparison.

That makes Prisoners of the Ghostland all the more tantalisingly bonkers. Now playing in select cinemas around Australia, this samurai western has been highlighted by Cage himself as “the wildest movie I’ve ever made”. There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

Prisoners of the Ghostland is the English-language debut of eccentric Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono, who first shocked the festival circuit with Love Exposure and Suicide Club. With Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella amongst its cast, this is a suitably messy mongrel of genre and culture, mashing together a Mad Max-style mission and feudal samurai aesthetics.

Cage is caged up in a leather suit with explosives on the neck, arms, and scrote, forced to voyage into the desolate Ghostland to retrieve a favourite sex slave (Boutella) of the tyrannical Governor (Bill Moseley). If that sounds nasty in text alone, check out the explosive trailer below. Like, literally explosive: things don’t bode well for Cage’s various body parts, as we witness blooming mushroom clouds and hear him hiss “I…am…radioactive!”

If you’re getting strong Escape From New York vibes, that’s probably intentional: although Cage looks a bit less stoic than Snake, more furious and unhinged. Another influence could be the 1971 spaghetti Western (ramen Western?) Red Sun, in which Toshirō Mifune has to track down a stolen samurai sword or face harakiri.

Use our handy session time finder to see if there are Prisoners of the Ghostland screenings near you, depending on ongoing COVID regulations and venue capacity limits.

AMC+ to Stream Exclusive Films with Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage, Jason Sudeikis

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Add AMC+ to the list of streaming services serving up exclusive movies. Every week in November, subscribers will get access to “Friday Movie Streamieres.” In the case of the Bruce Willis movie, “Apex,” the film will hit AMC+ on the same day it arrives in theaters. While these aren’t exactly blockbusters, this is a unique value for subscribers of the service, and it hints at a more aggressive strategy for AMC+ moving forward.

AMC+ Exclusive Movies No Man of God August 19, 2021 FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) meets with the incarcerated Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) in the hopes of understanding the psychology of the serial killer and providing closure for the victims’ families. (Streaming Nov. 5)

Apex November 12, 2021 Serving a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, ex-cop Thomas Malone (Bruce Willis) is offered a chance at freedom if he can survive a deadly game of Apex. Six hunters pay for the pleasure of hunting another human on a remote island, but once Malone arrives all hell breaks loose. The trailer is notable for how sleepy Willis seems and the brilliant computer voiceover that states, “The universe can’t seem to kill him.” Amazing. (Streaming Nov. 12)

Prisoners of the Ghostland August 31, 2021 In the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber (Nicolas Cage) is sprung from jail by a wealthy warlord, The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) has run away. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days if he doesn’t find the missing girl, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption. (Streaming Nov. 19)

South of Heaven October 8, 2021 Convicted felon Jimmy (Jason Sudeikis) gets early parole after serving twelve years for armed robbery. Upon his release he vows to give his girlfriend Annie (Evangeline Lily), who is dying of cancer, the best last year of her life. But things are never that simple and when he is given a “side job” from his parole officer (Shea Whigham), it sets off a series of events that leaves Jimmy in the crosshairs of a local crime boss (Mike Colter). Now, he must stop at nothing to save Annie and fight for whatever time they have left. (Streaming Nov. 26)

“On the heels of our successful debut of the Joe Manganiello-led Archenemy, which became the most streamed movie on the service this summer, we’re thrilled to bring subscribers even more action-packed films direct from theaters each week in November,” said Courtney Thomasma, general manager for AMC+. “Our ever-expanding slate of streaming exclusives continues to make AMC+ a must-have destination for fans to discover not only premium series, but also exciting new films.”

‘Apex’ Trailer

AMC Plus November 2021 Programming Announced

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AMC has announced the programming coming to the AMC+ streaming service in November. The AMC Plus November 2021 lineup includes a wide variety of critically-acclaimed and commercial-free programming, including compelling new dramas, fan-favorite franchises, and film collections from across the company’s entertainment networks and targeted streaming services.

The AMC Plus November 2021 programming includes a weekly lineup of new action movies and thrillers with “Friday Movie Streamieres.” Teaming with RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, AMC+ will unveil a new film premiere every Friday in November, including No Man of God, the chilling psychological drama about Ted Bundy starring Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings) and Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

Also included is the day-and-date release for Apex starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Neal McDonough (Yellowstone); Prisoners of the Ghostland, a shared exclusive from Shudder, starring Nicolas Cage (Con Air) and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service); and South of Heaven, a love story with an action-thriller twist starring Emmy-winner Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso, We’re the Millers) and Evangeline Lilly (Lost).

“On the heels of our successful debut of the Joe Manganiello-led Archenemy, which became the most streamed movie on the service this summer, we’re thrilled to bring subscribers even more action-packed films direct from theaters each week in November,” said Courtney Thomasma, general manager for AMC+. “Our ever-expanding slate of streaming exclusives continues to make AMC+ a must-have destination for fans to discover not only premium series, but also exciting new films.”

The AMC Plus November 2021 slate also includes the premiere of crime thriller Ragdoll, dystopian Italian-language limited series Anna, new episodes of Doctor Who: Flux, and more.

Members will get early access to episodes of Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond one week ahead of their AMC debut, culminating with the Season 7A and series finales, respectively, on November 28.

AMC PLUS NOVEMBER 2021 HIGHLIGHTS

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula – New Episodes of Season 4 Continue Every Tuesday

The groundbreaking Shudder Original series follows ten drag artists from around the world competing for a $100,000 grand prize – the largest in show history. Season four will feature a spectacular lineup of guest judges including Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical film series), Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows), Kristian Nairn (Game of Thrones), Misha Osherovich (Freaky), Queer country music icon Orville Peck, pop metal star Poppy, Ray Santiago (Ash vs. The Evil Dead), Bob the Drag Queen (We’re Here), and more.

Behind the Monsters – New Episodes Continue Every Wednesday

The new original docu-series Behind the Monsters takes a deep dive on cinematic horror icons, including Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Candyman, Chucky and Pinhead, and features interviews with horror experts and the writers, directors and actors from the original films that made each character the stuff of genre legends. Written and directed by Gabrielle Binkley and Anthony Uro and produced by Stage 3 Productions, Behind the Monsters is executive produced by Phil Nobile Jr., Kelly Ryan and Mark Shostrom. *Shudder Original

The Nightingale – Film Premieres Wednesday, November 3

Set during the colonization of Australia in 1825, the film follows Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish convict desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). She becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies and when British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. *IFC Films Unlimited

Death of Stalin – Film Premieres Wednesday, November 3

The one-liners fly as fast as political fortunes fall in this uproarious, wickedly irreverent satire from Armando Iannucci (Veep, In the Loop). Moscow, 1953: when tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin drops dead, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to be the next Soviet leader. *IFC Films Unlimited Exclusive

One Lane Bridge –Season 2 Finale Premieres Thursday, November 4

This season, when Detective Ariki Davis (Dominic Ona-Ariki) is trying to harness his Māori gift of matakite to save his boss Stephen Tremaine (Joel Tobeck) from attempting suicide on the infamous One Lane Bridge, he inadvertently triggers a cataclysmic chain of events – unleashing rivalries and uncovering long buried secrets. Burdened by his second sight, Ariki’s loyalties are tested as he navigates a murder investigation rife with ulterior motives and conflicts of interest, including his own. *Sundance Now

Dead & Beautiful – New Film Premieres Thursday, November 4

Five rich, spoiled Asian twenty-somethings (Gijs Blom, Aviis Zhong, Yen Tsao, Philip Juan, Anechka Marchenko) are suffering from upper class ennui, unsure how to spend their days when so little is expected from them. In search of excitement, the five friends form the “Circle,” a group where they take turns designing a unique, extravagant experience for the others. But things go wrong when the privileged urbanites awaken after a night out, to find they have developed vampire fangs and an unquenchable thirst for flesh, blood, and adventure at any price. *Shudder Original

Feed the Beast – Series Binge Premieres Thursday, November 4

AMC’s adaptation of the Danish series Bankerot (“Broke”), Feed the Beast is a crime drama starring David Schwimmer as Tommy Moran and Jim Sturgess as Dion Patras. The two friends are like brothers, but Dion is unable to stay out of trouble and Tommy is unable to move past it. On the brink of losing everything, a dusty pipe dream of opening an upscale Greek restaurant in their hometown of the Bronx is all they have left to turn their lives around. Together, they take on the insanity of the New York restaurant world and navigate its underbelly of petty criminals, corrupt officials and violent mobsters.

Bankerot (“Broke”)– Series Binge Premieres Thursday, November 4

See the original Danish series that inspired the AMC adaptation. This thoughtful and touching dark-black comedy series follows Thomas and Dion, two old friends in dire straits trying to open a restaurant. Dion is just out of prison. Thomas is still suffering from the traumatic death of his wife. Life has been rough to both of them. Black-market creditors are on their neck – so are their families, social services, and the police. Can the two old friends rise to the challenge?

No Man of God – New Film Premieres Friday, November 5

In 1980, Ted Bundy was sentenced to death by electrocution. In the years that followed, he agreed to disclose the details of his crimes, but only to one man. No Man of God is based on the true story of the strange and complicated relationship that developed between FBI agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) and an incarcerated Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) in the years leading to Bundy’s execution. The film made its critically-acclaimed world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. *AMC+ Exclusive

Eli Roth’s History of Horror – Season 3 Finale on November 5

This season continues to explore the fun and the fear of scary films – both timeless classics and wildly frightening films that flew under the radar – with episodes exploring a variety of themes including Infections, Psychics, Sequels (That Don’t Suck), Holiday Horror, Apocalyptic Horror, and Mad Scientists. Master of Horror Eli Roth returns as host, with an all-star lineup of interviewees including Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Tilly, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Combs, Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, Greg Nicotero, Robert Englund, Meat Loaf, Giovanni Ribisi, Vanessa Hudgens, Jonah Ray, Margaret Cho and more.

The Graham Norton Show – New Episodes Premiere Every Friday

BBC AMERICA’s BAFTA-award-winning talk show returns with a packed lineup of celebrity guests, laugh out loud stories and exciting musical performances. Guest lineup is as follows:

Friday, November 5 – Dame Judi Dench, Salma Hayek, Jamie Dornan, Tinie Tempah and Jesy Nelson

Friday, November 12 – Paul Rudd, Ron Howard, Halle Berry, Stephen Fry, Miriam Margolyes, and Gregory Porter

Friday, November 19 – Guests to be announced.

Friday, November 26 – Guests to be announced.

Doctor Who: Flux – New Episodes Premiere Every Sunday

Last seen battling the Daleks in Revolution of the Daleks, the Doctor and assistant, played by the superlative

double act of Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gil have been exploring the universe together. But now,

epic and gripping six-part 13th season, time is running out and the doctor is forced to face up to the secrets

of her own past, which have been stalking her.

Doctor Who: Flux, introduces John Bishop, as Dan Lewis and Jacob Anderson, as Vinder. Additional cast joining the series this season include Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Toast Of London, Downton Abbey), Thaddea Graham (The Irregulars, Us), Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners, A Very English Scandal, World On Fire), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Designated Survivor, Downton Abbey), Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty, Intergalactic, The English Game), Sara Powell (Unforgotten, Damned), Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia), Gerald Kyd (Cold Feet, Britannia) and Penelope Ann McGhie (The Crown, Harry Potter).

The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Early Access to New Episodes Continues Every Sunday on AMC+, One Week Ahead of AMC Linear Premieres; Series Finale on November 28

Season two of The Walking Dead: World Beyond concludes the epic story of Iris (Aliyah Royale), Hope (Alexa Mansour), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Silas (Hal Cumpston) — four friends who journeyed across the country on a mission that transformed everything they knew about themselves and the world. As they face off against the mysterious Civic Republic Military and fight for control of their own destiny, goals will shift, bonds will form and crumble, and innocence will be both lost and found.

World Beyond: Episode Diaries – New Episodes Continue Every Thursday

Dive deeper into The Walking Dead: World Beyond, with these special bonus episodes featuring behind- the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with the cast and creators. *AMC+ Exclusive Series

Fear the Walking Dead – Early Access to New Episodes Continue Every Sunday on AMC+, One Week Ahead of AMC Linear Premieres; Season 7A Finale on November 28

Alicia enlists help to search for a new home for her people, but the search is more complicated than imagined.

Fear the Walking Dead: Episode Diaries – New Episodes Continue Every Thursday

Dive deeper into Fear The Walking Dead, with these special bonus episodes featuring behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with the cast and creators. *AMC+ Exclusive Series

Ragdoll – New Series Premieres Thursday, November 11

From the award-winning producers of Killing Eve, this modern-day Faustian thriller stars Henry Lloyd-

Hughes (The Irregulars, Killing Eve), Thalissa Teixeira (Too Close, The Musketeers) and Lucy Hale (The Hating Game, Pretty Little Liars). Six people have been murdered, dismembered and sewn into the shape of one grotesque body suspended from a ceiling in a block of flats in London– nicknamed the “Ragdoll.” Assigned to this shocking case are newly reinstated DS Nathan Rose (Lloyd-Hughes); his best friend and boss, DI Emily Baxter (Teixeira); and the unit’s new recruit, DC Lake Edmunds (Hale).

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by sending them a list of his next victims, with Rose’s name at the very end. And with those victims to protect, our heroes soon come under intense public scrutiny. A gruesomely imaginative serial killer thriller, Ragdoll captures the fascinating but flawed friends struggling with the consequences of institutionalization and trauma. *AMC+ Original

Great White – New Film Premieres Thursday, November 11

A blissful tourist trip turns into a nightmare when five seaplane passengers are stranded miles from shore. In a desperate bid for survival, the group tries to make it to land before they either run out of supplies or are taken by a menacing terror lurking just beneath the surface. Starring Katrina Bowden (30 Rock), Aaron Jakubenko (Tidelands), Kimie Tsukakoshi (Riptide), Tim Kano (Neighbours) and Te Kohe Tuhaka (Love and Monsters). *Shudder Exclusive

Stella Blomkvist – Season 2 Binge Premieres Thursday, November 11

The hit Icelandic noire drama, Stella Blómkvist based on the novels by the pseudonymous writer of the same name. Smart, ruthless and with a taste for fine whiskey, Reykjavik lawyer Stella Blómkvist (Heida Reed) prefers her method of justice – her own. But as she becomes increasingly involved with some of Iceland’s most powerful political figures, Stella is faced with a series of dramatic new cases that will force her to push her unique skills – and the law – to the limit. *Sundance Now Original

Apex – New Film Premieres Friday, November 12 **Day-and-Date Release with Theaters

In this sci-fi action-thriller starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard, Fifth Element) and Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers, Captain America: The First Avenger), five elite hunters pay to hunt down a man on a deserted island, only to find themselves becoming the prey. *AMC+ Exclusive

Anna – New Limited Series Premieres Thursday, November 18

Based on the critically-acclaimed Italian novel, Anna is a dystopian story of a ravaged world destroyed by a virus which kills adults but spares children. Set amongst parched fields and mysterious forests, the crumbling hulks of shopping malls and abandoned cities pierce deserted wide-open spaces on an island reclaimed by nature and run by savage communities of survivors, most of whom are children. Anna only has one guide: a book left by her mother with instructions on how to survive. But, with each passing day she discovers that the old rules no longer apply, and instead has to make up new ones as she goes along. *AMC+ Original

True Crime Story: Indefensible – New Episodes Premiere Thursday; Season 1 Finale on November 18

Jena Friedman travels the country to unspool real cases on the ground, but unlike most true crime shows, this one doesn’t end when the criminal gets locked up. Jena finds there’s always more to the story and drives to a different outcome beyond the simple whodunnit. Using her unflinching comedic point of view and disarming interview skills, Jena uncovers the “why” and “how” not only of crimes themselves, but of the sometimes dysfunctional criminal justice system. *SundanceTV Original

Hollington Drive – New Series Premieres Thursday, November 18

On a Summer evening in the seemingly idyllic suburb of Hollington Drive, 10-year-old Alex is declared missing. As grief tears through the community, sisters Theresa and Helen fight to hold their lives and their families together. Secrets and lies begin to surface as long-held facades falter. *Sundance Now Exclusive

Prisoners of the Ghostland – New Film Premieres Friday, November 19

In the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, a ruthless bank robber (Nicolas Cage) is sprung from jail by a wealthy warlord, The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) has run away. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days if he doesn’t find the missing girl, the bandit sets off on a journey to find the young woman — and his own path to redemption. The film was an official selection at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. *Shudder Exclusive on AMC+

Vita & Virginia – Film Premieres Wednesday, November 24

Set amidst the bohemian high society of 1920s England, Vita & Virginia tells the scintillating true story of a literary love affair that fueled the imagination of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated writers. Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton), the brash, aristocratic wife of a diplomat refuses to be constrained by her marriage, defiantly courting scandal through her affairs with women. When she meets the brilliant but troubled Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), she’s immediately attracted to the famed novelist’s eccentric genius and enigmatic allure. Their intense relationship leaves both women profoundly transformed and inspires one of Woolf’s greatest works. *IFC Films Unlimited

The Strings – New Film Premieres Thursday, November 25

In the dead of winter, a musician travels to a remote cottage to work on new material, but soon finds herself under attack from a mysterious dark presence. *Shudder Exclusive

South of Heaven – New Film Premieres Friday, November 26

Convicted felon Jimmy (Jason Sudeikis) gets early parole after serving twelve years for armed robbery. Upon his release, he vows to give Annie (Evangeline Lily), his childhood love, now dying from cancer, the best last year of her life – unfortunately it’s not that simple. In typical crime thriller fashion, things don’t go as planned. *AMC+ Exclusive

Finding Joy – Season 1 Binge Premieres November 25

Six-part comedy series created, written by, and starring two-time Irish Film and Television Academy Awards winner Amy Huberman (Striking Out, Cold Feet) explores the many ways in which modern thirty-somethings seek happiness and fulfillment in these digital times. The series follows 34-year-old Joy (Huberman), a single woman looking for happiness in all the wrong places after the recent break-up from her long-term boyfriend Aidan. While Joy struggles to keep up a cheerful and in-control veneer, the cracks start to show, causing those close to her to worry that she isn’t coping well.

Let’s Overanalyze Netflix’s New Viewing Metrics

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SNL’s Squid Game parody. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by NBC

Netflix is such a big force in the culture that it’s rarely not making headlines in some way. But even by that standard, the streaming giant has been dominating news cycles to an almost ridiculous degree the past few weeks.

➽ There was its massive dominance at the Emmys last month, where it not only crushed rival HBO but tied Nixon-era CBS for the most wins of any platform in TV history.

➽ That was soon followed by the shocking success of Squid Game, which came out of nowhere (at least to clueless American audiences) to become a global sensation worthy of SNL parody just a month after launch. (And Nielsen now confirms how big it is: The show’s first full week snagged a massive 1.9 billion minutes of streaming in the States, an 800% jump from opening weekend. Needless to say, it was the No. 1 streaming show in America.)

➽ There was also the far less welcome controversy generated by the latest stand-up special from Dave Chappelle, whose decision to use his platform to question trans people’s identity prompted a walkout of Netflix employees and a clumsy reaction by execs. Things got to the point that late Tuesday, co-CEO Ted Sarandos had to do a series of press interviews admitting he “screwed up” his handling of the situation.

➽ And then there was the other big Netflix story of the week: The company’s third-quarter earnings. The news here was once again positive, as the streamer added another 4.4 million net global subscribers (double projections) and said it’s making more money from each subscription, too.

I’ll get back to the latest developments on Chappelle, but Netflix also used its quarterly report card to make some news on the data front. Rather than just offering a glimpse at viewership numbers through its earnings letters, or whenever it feels like bragging about something on Twitter, the streamer promised to “release title metrics more regularly” so that “members and the industry can better measure success in the streaming world.” It also said it would now reveal how many hours of viewership shows and movies subscribers consume rather than simply saying how many accounts sample something. Theoretically, these could be big developments, signaling the start of a new era of transparency for Netflix. In reality? Well …

While it is a good thing the streamer seems to be making an effort to be a bit more open about who’s watching what on the service, Tuesday’s announcement sent mixed messages about just how much things are going to change. Consider:

➽ The words “more regularly” in the aforementioned Netflix statement are maddeningly vague. If that phrase ends up meaning weekly or bi-weekly reports, then yes, the company will have taken a big step toward letting outsiders figure out how stuff is performing on the service. A monthly release would also be a step up from the status quo (numbers at least every three months, usually with one or two random data tweets in between) but not exactly a game changer. Anything less frequent would be a distinction without a difference. I emailed Netflix PR Wednesday for clarity; as of now, the company said it isn’t offering any more details on how its new plan will work.

➽ Number of hours consumed is absolutely a more valuable metric than the previous “accounts who watched for two minutes” number. It does away with all those doubts folks understandably had about people sampling something, bailing, and yet still being counted as a “viewer.” But this new data point has its own set of problems, not the least of which is that it ends up comparing apples and oranges — or in this case, comedies and dramas. A half-hour comedy such as Emily in Paris now automatically starts out at a disadvantage versus an hourlong drama. Things get even jankier when you throw in differences in how many episodes a series produces per season. For example, a five-episode limited series has to work twice as hard to tally up as many hours viewed as a standard ten-episode drama. And something like The Chair — a half-hour dramedy with just six episodes — is now going to have to be really, really popular to land on any future top ten lists. This is exactly the rationale Netflix execs have given in the past when asked why they weren’t releasing time-spent-watching data, by the way.

➽ In explaining its rationale for the change in measurement, Netlix correctly said this new yardstick is more in line with what Nielsen has been releasing (total minutes consumed) and that it does a better job reflecting audience passion for a title. After all, subscribers who really, really love Never Have I Ever or Lupin may watch an episode two or three times. That doesn’t show up when you’re only looking at which accounts clicked play, nor does it factor in folks who grew bored and tuned out a couple episodes into a show. All of this is true, but hours spent watching also doesn’t take into account members who like to take their time watching a series (not everyone binges in a weekend!) and thus may not have all their viewing show up in a report that measures the first four weeks a show is on the platform. It also diminishes the impact of subscribers who begin watching a show toward the end of a measurement period.

Despite these issues, I don’t think Netflix’s latest evolution on data reporting should be written off as meaningless. For one thing — and this is a pretty important point — we still don’t know all the details of these changes. While the wording of the letter sure makes it seem as if we’re never going to know how many member accounts sampled a title — i.e., if the new metric replaces the current one — maybe the streamer will surprise us and decide to release both, the way it did in some sample lists released in the shareholder letter. If so, it would sort of be huge: We’d be able to see if a half-hour show or a comedy special actually was generating interest among members but simply had too short a running time to crack a top ten. If Netflix wants reporters and the entertainment industry to take it seriously when it says it wants us to be able to “better measure success,” it should report more data and not simply different versions of it.

Another way Netflix could shock us all is if it started releasing hours viewed for all original shows. That would go a long way toward ensuring that comedies and series with smaller episode counts don’t get erased simply because their shorter run times make it difficult to generate as many hours of viewing as something that takes twice as long to watch. But if it won’t go that far, Netflix could at least decide to expand beyond reporting just on series and movies and publish regular lists of its top-performing comedies and specials, too, so we’d at least know how titles with similar lengths are doing. I would think creators of Netflix’s half-hour series would insist on this. If you’re Mindy Kaling, for example, do you want season three of Never Have I Ever being negatively compared to season four of You simply because your half-hour comedy simply has fewer hours with which to generate audience consumption?

Look, Netflix is never going to satisfy the reporters, agents, and producers who want to be able to quantify streaming audiences the same way we’ve measured TV consumption the past seven or so decades. There are some who are convinced the data it has been putting out the last year or two is b.s., and they’re not going to be swayed by a new flavor of it. (For the record, I am not a Netflix Numbers Truther. While the company clearly choreographs data dumps to paint its programming in the most positive light, I don’t think it simply makes stuff up — if only because the stats Netflix puts out end up in the company’s earnings reports, which means that if the data were fabricated, execs could end up going to jail over it.) But if Netflix is going to play the numbers game, it should at least commit to putting out data points that have real meaning and allow folks to make accurate comparisons among different programs. Even Squid Game has rules.

And Then There’s the Chappelle Stuff

Netflix employees and allies stage a protest. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As expected, trans activists and their allies within Netflix used a rally and walkout Wednesday to draw attention to their anger over both Chappelle’s special and the company’s actions surrounding its release. I wrote a more detailed look at what was at stake in a special extra edition of Buffering sent out Tuesday (you can read it here if it’s not in your inbox), and Vulture covered the events at the protest, too.

I have no clue what happens next in this ongoing story. Sarandos, having initially focused his energies on defending Chappelle, is now working overtime to assure Netflix staffers he also understands why the special has made them so uneasy. It’s not for me to say whether or not he’s said or done enough, but it seems clear to me that he is at least trying to rebuild whatever trust was broken between some staffers and the company.

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AMC+ Makes a Date With Movie Premieres

Bruce Willis in Apex. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by RLJE

It’s been a big couple of weeks for feature films streaming on subscription services and opening in theaters the same day. HBO Max, which has been doing the shared windows thing with Warner Bros. movies since last December, debuted The Many Saints of Newark on October 1 and gets the new Dune today at 6 p.m. ET. Peacock shot to number one in Apple’s App Store over the weekend just as Halloween Kills landed on the service (and simultaneously slayed at the box office). And now, the smaller-but-growing AMC+ is looking to get in on the day-and-date action, too — part of a bigger effort to bulk up its movie offering.

Buffering has learned that the AMC Networks–owned platform has worked out a deal with sister company RLJE Films to bring the new Bruce Willis action film Apex to AMC+ on Friday, November 12, the same day the picture will open in theaters and be available via standard VOD purchase. The movie is one of four titles AMC+ will debut in November under the banner of “Friday Movie Streamieres” (hey, it’s better than “Peacocktober”) as the service attempts to expand its series-heavy lineup with new or nearly new theatrical films. The full slate:

➽ No Man of God (November 5): Elijah Wood plays an FBI analyst who, in 1980, develops a complex relationship with the imprisoned Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby), hoping to better understand the inner workings of the famed serial killer.

➽ Apex (November 12): Willis is an ex-cop who’s landed in jail for something he didn’t do and is now trying to win his freedom by competing in a Squid Game–like competition where six sick folks pay big bucks to hunt humans like Willis. (The film was shot last year.)

➽ Prisoners of the Ghostland (November 19): Nicolas Cage does his villain thing in this Sundance flick, playing an evil bank robber who is let out of jail in order to track down the missing granddaughter (Sofia Boutella) of a rich tyrant (Bill Moseley.) The catch: Cage’s character is locked in a leather suit set to self-destruct if he doesn’t complete his mission within five days. The movie will also stream on AMC-owned Shudder (which, by the way, really is a must-stream destination during Halloween season.)

➽ South of Heaven (November 26): Ted Lasso himself, Jason Sudeikis, goes a bit darker, playing a paroled convict whose desire to give his dying girlfriend (Evangeline Lilly) a memorable final year gets derailed when he ends up running afoul of a crime boss.

While Apex is the only day-and-date release on the AMC+ November calendar, the other movies were all released to theaters relatively recently. South of Heaven, for example, opened in limited release just two weeks ago; the others opened later this summer. And while none of them burned up the box office or made a big splash in the culture, in some ways that’s an advantage for AMC+: For most consumers, these films will essentially be AMC+ originals with well-known actors (Willis, Sudekis, Cage, Wood) as stars. Rising streamers such as AMC+ are always looking for ways to get folks to sample their platforms, and having this lineup of films on offer gives AMC+ marketing execs a new hook with which to tempt consumers.