Watch List Year 1: Thank You!

A note to readers.

Watch List Year 1: Thank You!

A year ago this week, I did something brave and quite possibly insane – I quit my job and started a newsletter. Ty Burr’s Watch List was the product of a number of factors: a need to stretch my legs after two decades of sitting in the same chair at The Boston Globe; a dissatisfaction with the ways traditional media was failing to respond to the streaming revolution and its domino effects; a wish to have a more direct and personal relationship with my readers; a sense that people might welcome some assistance cutting through the thickets of video on demand to find one good movie; and an almost profound desire to never have to watch another superhero film again. Unless it was one of the good ones.

The leap off the cliff was scary at the time and sometimes it still is, but the reason the Watch List has worked at all is because of you. The support you’ve given this newsletter and its author in the past twelve months has been tremendously meaningful, whether you’ve signed up for free or have supported this quixotic project by becoming a paid subscriber. If you’re among the latter, your participation in keeping the conversation going by way of the comments under the posts has been gratifying to experience – I think of the Watch List community as a family, jostling, knowledgeable, and bighearted. It’s great fun, and it’s also unexpectedly moving. You’re all invited over for Thanksgiving.

To those paid subscribers: I truly hope you’ve been getting your money’s worth. You’re the early adopters, hardy enough to underwrite the enterprise as the author figures out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve thrown a lot at the wall this first year – I mean, a lot – and your response to some of my more personal columns, including the ones giving full vent to political and cultural frustrations, has encouraged me to do more in this vein, so long as it comes from a place of genuine feeling. I’m not a Beltway pundit or a Times Op-Ed scribe like Ross (Don’t) Douthat. I hope I’m speaking in a more common and personal voice, one that others might find familiar.

To the free subscribers, I trust you’ve found enough helpful information and diverting posts to keep you around a while longer and to consider becoming a paid member. This is how I make my living now, and as much as I love to write about movies and popular culture and would do it for free if I could, the sordid truth is that I can’t. Bodhi needs biscuits. If the Watch List has led you to discover, say, three good films available on demand in the past year, that’s the cost of a subscription in movie-ticket purchases for two right there. And if any of my non-film writings – on birds, on politics, on family and memory – have spoken to you, your financial support is one way to return the favor. As is simply passing the word and telling friends about The Watch List.

The coming year will see some consolidation and some fresh developments. More podcasts, for one thing, with guests who are well-known specialists in their fields. For paying subscribers, I’ll be inaugurating a series of webinars on film classics, older and of recent vintage: First up in August, David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.” (Yes, it makes sense – in fact, it’s the one Lynch movie that does make sense, and we’ll talk about why.) I’ll be reporting from the fall film festivals on what to look forward to as we head into awards season. There will be columns on the economics of cord-cutting and the overwhelming landscape of video-on-demand channels. How much are you paying for all those services, and which ones are really worth it? And I’ll continue to turn over stones in the digital stream to recommend movies and other entertainment, new and old and in between.

Beyond that, I would love to hear from you about what has worked for you in this newsletter and what could stand improvement. The comments section is open to all today, as is my email inbox: The questions are similar to those I asked about a month after I launched last July: Are there too many posts or not enough? (And if you haven’t yet discovered the Weekly Digest that packs everything into one Friday email, go to your account page and uncheck everything except that.) Are the posts too long or not long enough? Is the mix of reviews for theatrical releases and streaming movies one that works for you, or would you rather see more of one or the other? The picks too obscure? Too mainstream? My wish for the Watch List is the same as when I sent out my first post: That it be entertaining, funny, thought-provoking, and informational, but above all that it be useful. I hope it’s proving so for you.

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