Payments Summer Blockbusters Waiting To Be Written


For good or ill, summer blockbuster season is undeniably upon us.

The highest grossing two movies of the last month have been "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" — a movie about two superheroes in spandex costumes punching one another over differing definitions of the word “heroic” — and "Captain America: Civil War" — a movie about two large groups of adult people in spandex outfits punching each other over a disagreement over the definition of the word “heroic.”

It’s not that we don’t love a good popcorn movie here at PYMNTS, it’s just that things can get a little repetitive when it comes down to paying big bucks for a movie ticket, bucket of popcorn and a supersized cup of soda. The superhero phase of the summer has passed and whether that is good or bad news will likely hinge on how entertaining one thinks spandex-bedecked slugfests are. Still to come are a "Star Trek" sequel, a "Ghostbusters" reboot,  an "Independence Day" reboot/sequel (Squeeboot?), and the sequel to "Finding Nemo" - this time called "Finding Dory."

When we say it’s all been done before, it is not a result of reading a lot of Sartre and suddenly becoming super existentialist about film - this stuff has literally all be done before, probably at some point in the last 30 years.

And not only is a little boring to watch New York City get trashed by a different set of superheroes that are putatively defending it, or watch yet another version of the Death Star going up in a blaze of glory, it also seems a great waste of material, since as financial services writers we feel pretty certain that with only a little bit of adapting, some smart casting choices and the right director/writer, one could pull all sort of excellent movies directly from our pages over the last few weeks.

Think we’re kidding?

We most certainly are not — and if someone writes one of the these movies, we don’t want any money.

But you have to take use to the Academy Awards when the inevitable nominations occur.

Caper Film  

Real Story:  Lending Club’s Recent History

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Leading Actor:  Ben Affleck (as Renaud Laplanche)

This is admittedly the story that needs the least adaptation to make into a movie. Mostly, the dramatic elements are all pretty much there for the picking. The upstart business in just the right place at the right time, the meteoric success, the scared competitors in big banking, the market contraction, the shady deals, the high-speed come apart, CEO resignation and potential Department of Justice action.

Plus, given the length of time over which this story unfolds, Lending Club is open for interpretation depending on how things shake out from here. The first movie could be about the dramatic rise and sudden fall; the entire second movie could be about the fallout as the executive team spends the rest of eternity in the courts.

This story barely needs a screenwriter — a competent recapper with an ear for dialogue will more or less do it.

In either case, the story needs the loving touch of Steven Soderbergh, who with the "Ocean’s Eleven" movies proved you can make a very watchable and popular movie about a likable scoundrel cheerfully breaking a giant pile of laws. And insofar as Renaud Laplanche the public figure has proven to be a likable, quotable, charming individual who was the apparent architect of his own downfall, one can easily argue that Ben Affleck’s entire life so far has been an audition for this part.

"Star Trek" Prequel

Real Story: Amazon’s expansion into everything (and how it was the real beginning of Starfleet)

Director:  George Lucas

Lead Actor: Patrick Stewart (as Jeff Bezos, year 2076)

OK, from our most obvious choice on the list we move to the most controversial because, admittedly, it takes place 60 years in the future, and Patrick Stewart is playing a 110-year-old Jeff Bezos in a "Star Trek" movie directed by George Lucas.

Hear us out.

Amazon has made what can only and best be described as a sincere effort to be the place where all shopping stems from. There are myriad ways to demonstrate that — with the ever increasing rollout of private label household goods, the expansion of Prime Fresh groceries, bridal, or its new wildly successful apparel line. In parallel, Amazon is also increasingly consolidating control of how, where, when and at what speed goods ship, through their myriad investments in air freight, ocean cargo transport, land transport, shipping logistics technology and drone technology. This is just the headline news from PYMNTS since the start of 2016.

We also can’t help but point out that the existence of Blue Origin strongly demonstrates that Jeff Bezos is interested in boldly going where no man has gone before.

So take what is a clear obsession with supplying goods and services combined with an almost equal focus on building the universe’s most efficient shipping logistics network, then throw in Blue Origin and draw all of those things to their logical conclusion.

You realize that Amazon needs to invent three things: replicators (so they can make everything), teleporters (so they can offer Prime Instant Shipping), and warp drives (so they discover Vulcans and begin trading with them).

Amazon has to invent the "Star Trek" universe — and be honest with yourself, doesn’t Amazon seem like the kind of place that would have a prime directive?

We think George Lucas should be given a chance to tell the fictional story of how Amazon invented Starfleet in its original quest to boldly go where no man has gone before (so that omnichannel commerce options could be established throughout the universe). He’s looking for a job these days, and it’s only fair since J.J. Abrams got to direct a "Star Wars" movie after directing a "Star Trek" movie.

Plus, George Lucas owes the world a good prequel — and this could be the chance to make the swashbuckling space opera about intergalactic trade negotiations that he clearly has always wanted to make.

Patrick Stewart is the obvious choice for all distinguished bald men, and he is meaningful to "Star Trek" fans. It would be hard to explain why Jeff Bezos has become British in later years.

Fish Out Of Water Comedy

Real Story: Apple’s Attempts At Chinese Expansion

Director: The Cohen Brothers

Lead: George Clooney (as Tim Cook)

While many perhaps would lean toward writing Apple’s 2016 as a bit of a Greek tragedy, it still seems perhaps a bit premature to be putting out quite so many black flags, given Apple’s still relatively strong position as a very valuable tech company. Apple still makes the best and most desirable version of its mainline product, the iPhone. Its problem is coming up with its next act — as the smartphone market is apparently done with its explosive growth phase — and settling into a more cyclic and less frenetic upgrading cycle.

So as for the what’s nexts, the signature innovations meant to stand aside from the iPhone haven’t offered stirring results. Apple Pay is stuck in neutral, Apple Watch entered the market to great fanfare that quickly cooled to light derision as consumers quickly realized that as far as gadgets go Apple Watches were short on both battery life and practical uses. Apple TV didn’t manage to grab up the types of exclusive content that was widely touted as its potential sweet spot in the market — and while Apple Music has done comparatively better, it still trails segment leader Spotify. We’d mention Apple News, but no one else has in quite some time, and we wouldn't want to confuse readers.

And while all of that does wonders to explain the recent lead weights on Apple’s quarterly earnings, none of it would make for a particularly good movie.

What would make for an excellent movie, on the other hand, would be a fish out of water comedy about Tim Cook’s visit to Beijing this week.  The visit is important to a number of Apple’s business lines — from the core iPhone product to a variety of its services, and particularly Apple Pay. Some have even noted that Apple’s automotive ambitions in the self-driving car arena may require less heavily regulated China as a launching pad, a theory rendered a bit less plausible by Apple’s $1 billion investment in a Chinese ride-sharing service. All of these could be amusingly presented through a comedic lens.

But what makes this visit particularly well-suited for dark comedy specialists like the Cohen brothers is that this week’s visit has a particularly amusing punchline: Tim Cook got to be in a front row seat in China to hear Alipay and Samsung Pay announce their big partnership to connect the two services. The story also has lots of potential for Apple-related running gags, like Tim Cook being unable to find a merchant anywhere on Earth that accepts Apple Pay, or constantly forgetting to put on his Apple Watch.

The Cohen brothers are the obvious go-to for dark fish out of water comedies. George Clooney is an obvious choice for two reasons. The first is that he and Tim Cook are actually the same age. The second is that Apple and Tim Cook notoriously don’t have a great sense of humor about themselves. Casting George Clooney to play Tim Cook is so overwhelmingly flattering that it could go a long way to soothe any hurt feelings.


Will any of these films be coming soon to a theater near you? Probably not. There are still an infinitude of comic book movies to make. But in a just world — and in a world where summer entertainment were more entertaining — they would be.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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