Sonny Bunch is the Culture Editor of The Bulwark. Before serving as editor-in-chief of the film site Rebeller, he was the executive editor of and film critic for The Washington Free Beacon. He is currently a contributor to The Washington Post and his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Commentary Magazine, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association
January 28th, 2021 | 35 mins 54 secs
On this episode, Sonny talks to CNN’s Frank Pallotta about the state of streaming. What does it mean that the WWE Network is headed to the Peacock? Are HBO Max’s conversion numbers good enough? Why is Disney trying to charge people $30 to rent a cartoon? All this and more on this week’s episode.
January 21st, 2021 | 44 mins 41 secs
This week Sonny is joined by Peter Labuza to talk about the past, present, and future of antitrust as it relates to Hollywood. In an age of consolidation and technological advance, how will the end of the Paramount Decrees influence what happens in filmmaking? Peter is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California, where he also earned his PhD in Cinema and Media Studies. His research explores the legal, financial, and political history of creative industries.
January 14th, 2021 | 55 mins 8 secs
This week on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, Sonny is joined by Chris McKenna. Chris was the co-showrunner on NBC’s (and later Yahoo’s) Community, earning an Emmy nomination for his classic episode “Remedial Chaos Theory.” He’s also the co-writer of the most recent series of Spider-Man films, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Lego Batman. On this week’s podcast, he discusses the differences between writing for TV and movies, his winding path to screenwriting success, and what it’s like to work with the great Chevy Chase.
December 31st, 2020 | 52 mins 17 secs
On this episode of the Bulwark Goes to Hollywood, David C. Lowery — the singer and guitarist for the bands Camper van Beethoven and Cracker — talks to Sonny Bunch about the economics of the music business, the difficulties of making a living as a middle class musician, and why what’s happening in the world of movies may resemble what happened to the music business in the early 2000s. How does TikTok resemble Spotify, and what dangers does it present to the world? Most importantly: How much would it cost Sonny to license the opening riff of “Teen Angst,” the hit song on Cracker’s debut album, “Cracker”? (Spoiler: way too much for Sonny to be able to afford.)
December 17th, 2020 | 41 mins 14 secs
On this week’s episode, James Emanuel Shapiro, the COO of Drafthouse Films who started the analytics department at the Alamo Drafthouse and also works as a distribution consultant, talks with Sonny about the epic, amazing, spectacular, disastrous mess that is the decision made by Warner Bros. to release their whole 2021 slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. Will theaters play ball? Does a shrinking window mean Netflix originals might show up on big screens owned by AMC, Regal, and Cinemark? Will anyone want to work with Warners ever again? All this and more will be discussed on this week’s episode!
December 10th, 2020 | 40 mins 4 secs
Sonny talks this week to Ian and Eshom Nelms, the fraternal directorial team behind Fatman, about the circuitous path to making that film, the vagaries of indie economics and budgeting, the clash between critics and audiences on the film, and the possibility of a sequel on the horizon after its surprisingly strong VOD performance. There’s some spoiler-y conversation in the last 10 minutes or so of the show, so you should rent the movie before listening if that sort of thing bothers you!
December 3rd, 2020 | 39 mins 56 secs
You may remember Tony Davis as the guy who explained to us why popcorn grease is destroying movie theater projectors. (He also had lots of interesting thoughts on 3D and the economics of the theater business, but mostly, judging by responses I received: popcorn grease.) He’s back this week to explain why the home theater set you can build in your home looks about as good as a standard (read: non-IMAX or Dolby) theater. (Whether or not it sounds as good is a separate issue.) And he has a few suggestions for theater owners as to how they could step up their game.
November 19th, 2020 | 37 mins 17 secs
Sonny talks to the Austin-based Alison Macor this week about the life and times of Warren Skaaren this week. Skaaren’s battles with the studios and the Writer’s Guild to get proper credit for his work on Top Gun, Batman, Beverly Hills Cop 2, and Beetlejuice are the subject of her excellent book, Rewrite Man. Consider picking it up after listening to this podcast; it’s a quick read and a great view into a professional script doctor’s process.
November 12th, 2020 | 25 mins 53 secs
This week Sonny talks to Derek Dye, the Senior Brand Manager for Highland Ventures, which is the parent company of the iconic Family Video brand. The chain is spearheading the #SaveTheVideoStore campaign, which hopes to raise awareness for those remaining stores. Derek and Sonny discuss the difficulties of operating a video store in general, the extra hardships created by a lack of new content coming from Hollywood, and a good way to save a few bucks while you build up your home video library. Plus: Stranger Things, which will feature the store in their forthcoming season!
November 5th, 2020 | 47 mins 58 secs
This week, Sonny talks to Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post) and Peter Suderman (Reason Magazine), his old friends from Across the Movie Aisle, about the world of movies and movie writing post-Trump. Is Christopher Nolan right that Hollywood studios should be looking to foreign box office dollars? Does Netflix have buyer's remorse about their mega-deals with super-producers? And now that The Trump Show is coming to a close, will the world of cultural writing be able to focus a bit more on, you know, the culture?
October 29th, 2020 | 38 mins 38 secs
This week on the show, Sonny talks to Shannon Moore, the Director of Field Marketing at Allied Global Marketing’s Washington, DC office. Sonny’s been a working film critic for 15 years or so, and the first question he always gets—after “What’s your favorite movie?” which he refuses to answer on general principle—is “How do you see the movies? Do you, like, get a private screening?” So he decided to have Shannon on to talk about this and other facets of marketing movies.
October 22nd, 2020 | 37 mins 7 secs
Sonny is joined today by Natalie Metzger, VP of development and production at Vanishing Angle. She is a Spirit Award nominated producer whose credits include GREENER GRASS, THUNDER ROAD, THE ROBBERY, and THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW.