Quibi has had a rough launch over the past few months, which is understandable for a product that doesn’t make sense and isn’t for anyone. The streaming service, which delivers snippets of TV shows and movies but only in ten-minute increments, and at launch only on your phone, has been doing exceptionally poorly in a time when people on lockdown are streaming more than ever. But Jeffrey Katzenberg is not yet ready to stop throwing money at his brainchild, which is why he ponied up a lot of money for Quibi to distribute its newest attention-getter: a celebrity-filled, quarantine adaptation of The Princess Bride.
As explained by Vanity Fair, the project was initially conceived by Jason Reitman, who wanted to do something fun and charitable during lockdown.
“The week that the stay-at-home order came through in California, I just woke up one of the first mornings, I think like most people did, feeling as though, All right, I need to be able to do something of value,” Reitman told Vanity Fair. “I just thought, Can we remake an entire movie at home? And I had seen that a fan-made Star Wars had been done. I just started reaching out to actors I knew, saying, ‘Is this something you’d want to do?’ And the response was kind of immediate and fast. It was like, ‘Oh — that sounds like fun.’”
Reitman got an immediate response from a lot of big names, one of whom was Jeffrey Katzenberg himself, who has made a $US1 ($1) million donation to World Central Kitchen to acquire the project for Quibi. So when you decline to pay the subscription fee necessary to watch this adorable recreation of a classic children’s film — $US4.99 ($7) a month for ad-supported bite-sized sampler TV — you can at least know that some money went to charity at some point in the process.
It does, admittedly, sound like a cute project, with the entire movie being recreated by actors filming snippets in quarantine, leaning hard into that DIY-but-with-famous-people vibe that has made a lot of media coming out of lockdown so refreshing. It cycles through actors and broken continuities with aplomb, with actors like Common and Sam Rockwell playing Wesley, with Tiffany Haddish and Jennifer Gardner taking turns, among others, as Buttercup. The music is recreated by other artists, based on the original score by Mark Knopfler,
The whole project got the sign off from William Goldman’s estate, producer Normal Lear, and Knopfler. It’ll be rolled out weekly on Quibi, in ten-minute bursts, and will feature a cast including JK Simmons, Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Dave Bautista, Taika Waititi, Makenzie Davis, Zazie Beats, Pedro Pascal, and Fred Savage.
I’m sure it’ll be a treat for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s family, friends, and stakeholders, aka Quibi’s subscription base.