For now the answer is content and celebrities — and oodles of both.
The new short-form streaming service Quibi, which debuted April 6, was meant to be ideal for smartphone users on the go. But now that no one’s going anywhere, what’s the main attraction?
For now the answer is content and celebrities — and oodles of both.
Quibi stands for “quick bites,” which refers to the service’s plan to offer short video segments (10 minutes or less) designed for small screens (your phone). But little else about Quibi is bite-size. In its first year, the company’s partners (chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman) are spending more than a billion dollars on content acquisition alone.
That’s partly because everyone in Hollywood seems to be doing a Quibi show, including heavy-hitters like Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Hart and Jennifer Lopez. Its debut lineup already consisted of more than 40 shows, including Liam Hemsworth’s “Most Dangerous Game,” Queen Latifah’s “When the Streetlights Go On” and Chrissy Teigen’s “Chrissy’s Court.”
But that is just a fraction of what Quibi says it will release in its first year: about 8,500 “quick bites of content” and around 175 new shows. Thirty-five of these shows will be “movies in chapters”; 120 will be unscripted reality shows or documentaries; and the rest will be news and lifestyle pieces, or what they call “daily essentials.”
Of course, times were different even just a month ago. Given all the halted productions and frozen budgets, how many beyond the first 50 will happen? And will anyone pony up $4.99 a month (or $7.99 without ads) to watch Quibi? That’s hard to predict in this time of economic uncertainty and social distancing, in which few people are commuting and more are working from home. That’s a lot less phone time between train stations — and a lot more home time for long-form binges.
For now, Quibi’s roster of boldface names is impressive. Here’s who we knew about in time for publication, listed in alphabetical order. (Others involved in Quibi shows are denoted in bold.)
Alexandre Aja : The director is developing a live-action adaptation of the horror manga “Tomie.”
Stephen and Robbie Amell : The two actors (and cousins) are doing a spinoff of “Code 8,” their crowdsourced sci-fi thriller about oppressed super-people. The original film’s director, Jeff Chan , will be the showrunner.
Eric Andre : He’s expanding his Adult Swim talk show sketch, “Rapper Warrior Ninja,” in which rappers must overcome weird obstacles while freestyling.
Will Arnett : He’s hosting a show called “Memory Hole,” which examines so-called under-discussed subjects (the focus of the first season is Canada), with guests such as Jason Bateman and Patton Oswalt . It debuted April 6. Arnett is also producing the animated series “Your Daily Horoscope.”
Ayo & Teo : The duo behind the viral dance challenge “Rolex” will be hosting “The Sauce,” a cross-country dance-competition series. ( Usher is judging and executive producing.)
Tyra Banks : She’s starring in and executive producing a docu-series called “Beauty,” which examines standards of beauty around the world and the ways in which they’ve developed.
Chancellor “Chance the Rapper” Bennett : He’s taking over Ashton Kutcher’s role in yet another “Punk’d” revival, which will continue to be devoted to pranking unsuspecting celebrities like such as Sabrina Carpenter, Megan Thee Stallion , Migos and Ty Dolla $ign . High jinks began on April 6.
Jason Blum : The Blumhouse impresario executive produced “Wolves and Villagers,” a “Fatal Attraction”-like story starring Naomi Watts .
Joel Kim Booster : He’s co-hosting (with Keke Palmer ) the rebooted “Singled Out,” which has been redesigned for all genders and sexual orientations across 20 episodes and debuted April 6. He’s also writing and co-producing the Fire Island rom-com “Trip” starring Bowen Yang .
Guy Branum : The comedian is resurrecting the 2003 rom-com “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” (He’s presumably not the guy they’ll be losing.)
Scooter Braun : The manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande is all over Quibi. He’s producing “&Music,” a music docu-series about behind-the-scenes music people like choreographers, video directors and stage designers (Grande, Ozzy Osbourne and Martin Garrix also appear). He’s also producing and judging an untitled music competition series, executive producing a celebrity tattoo docu-series and executive producing his client Demi Lovato ’s talk show, “Pillow Talk with Demi Lovato.”
Kate Brooke : The showrunner of “A Discovery of Witches” is writing and producing a new thriller called “Holland Park,” about an American nanny in London caught up in a kidnapping.
Titus Burgess : The actor and singer is hosting a deconstructed cooking competition called “Dishmantled,” in which a mystery dish is cannon-blasted into the faces of chefs who must identify and recreate it. (Seriously.) Michael Che , Rachel Dratch and Jane Krakowski are among the judges for this strange ritual.
Bill Burr : The comedian is writing, directing, producing and starring in “Immoral Compass,” a show based on Tyler Falbo’s digital shorts about moral dilemmas.
Kay Cannon : The “Pitch Perfect” screenwriter is producing an adaptation of the book “Dead Spots,” which is about a supernatural crime-scene cleaner.
Kiari “Offset” Cephus : The Migos member is taking celebrities for a ride with “Skrrt with Offset,” which debuted April 6. Guests include Cardi B , Dapper Dan , Jay Leno , T-Pain and more.
Andy Cohen : After writing the books “The Andy Cohen Diaries” and “Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries,” the talk show host is writing and executive producing the six-episode animated series “The Andy Cohen Diaries.”
James Corden : His Fulwell 73 company is producing the mind-reading show “Gone Mental with Lior,” featuring the Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard , who regularly stuns on Corden’s late-night show. Unsurprisingly, Corden will also be a guest, as will Zooey Deschanel , Kate Hudson , Ludacris, Ben Stiller and more.
Darren Criss : He’s the co-creator, songwriter and star of the 10-episode musical comedy “Royalties.” Amy Heckerling is directing all 10 episodes.
Tom Cruise : Quibi is developing a series called “Les Grossman,” about Cruise’s immortal “Tropic Thunder” character. While the service hasn’t confirmed Cruise’s involvement yet, do you think they could do it without him, playaaa? “Thunder” vets Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux were announced to be taking part at CES.
Steph Curry : He’s executive producing a docu-series about a Newark basketball team, titled “Benedict Men.”
Cara Delevingne : The model and actress is hosting and executive producing a practical joke series — working title “Pranks” — in which she’s assisted by a squad of female accomplices.
Guillermo del Toro : First Quibi announced that the Oscar-winning director was creating a modern vampire film — working title “Aftermath.” Then Quibi said that it was about zombies. Either way, it’s about the undead, del Toro’s specialty.
Laura Dern : She’ll be doing the pouring in Nick Hornby ’s bartender series “Just One Drink,” which he’s writing and executive producing. Dern is also executive producing.
Adam Devine : This comedian is angling for a Darwin Award with “Bad Ideas with Adam Devine,” an adventure/travel show in which he puts himself and some famous companions in precarious positions (like wearing yummy chum in piranha-infested waters).
Zac Efron : He reportedly nearly killed himself making “Killing Zac Efron” — requiring a medevac to a hospital in Australia after living off the grid in Papua New Guinea for this adventure/survival series.
Idris Elba : He’s facing off against rally car driver Ken Block in “Elba vs. Block,” an eight-episode series featuring stunt challenges like the Flaming Obstacle Course and the Wall of Death. The stunts begin April 13.
Dakota Fanning: She will present and executive produce the true crime series “Last Looks,” exploring the dark side of the fashion industry.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly : The sibling directors are helming a suicide comedy called “The Now,” starring Dave Franco , Bill Murray , Daryl Hannah and O’Shea Jackson Jr .
Jon Favreau : His company Golem Creations, along with Seth Green’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, is executive producing a stop-motion toy car chase series called “Micro Mayhem.”
Dexter Fletcher : The “Rocketman” director’s involvement with an unspecified film was announced at CES.
Will Forte : He’s co-starring with Kaitlin Olson as home renovators who luck into a cartel stash house in “Flipped.” The comedy, which co-stars Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria , debuted April 6.
Ron Funches : The comedian is hosting a game show called “Nice One!,” in which comedians like Chris Hardwick try to toast, not roast, each other.
Evan Funke : The celebrity chef is pursuing his obsession in “Shape of Pasta,” which started April 6.
Antoine Fuqua : He’s executive producing the $15 million drama “#Freerayshawn,” starring Stephan James as a framed Iraq vet and Laurence Fishburne as a hostage negotiator. It debuts April 13.
Seth Grahame-Smith : The author of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is executive-producing “The Last American Vampire,” focusing on a vampire-FBI team-up.
Robert Greene : The author of “The 48 Laws of Power” is executive-producing an adaptation of that bestseller, alongside Drake , who is set to direct one episode.
Tony Greenhand : Celebrities such as Blake Anderson, Hannibal Buress , Nikki Glaser and Bella Thorne join a joint endeavor with the weed expert Greenhand in “Let’s Roll With Tony Greenhand.”
Catherine Hardwicke : She’s directing and executive-producing the 14-episode sci-fi thriller “Don’t Look Deeper,” starring Don Cheadle and Emily Mortimer .
Mary Harron : The “American Psycho” director is helming “The Expecting,” a horror film about a disturbing pregnancy starring AnnaSophia Robb .
Kevin Hart : He’s producing, writing and starring in “Die Hart,” playing a would-be action hero version of himself who takes classes from John Travolta ’s action-school coach. (It’s an expansion of the opening scene of his film “Kevin Hart: What Now?”)
Liam Hemsworth : The “Hunger Games” star is the hunted prey “Most Dangerous Game,” a retelling of a classic short story with Christoph Waltz playing the mastermind in one of Quibi’s first shows to launch. May the odds be ever in his favor.
Michael Hirst : The “Vikings” creator is developing the historical drama “Charlemagne.”
Boyd Holbrook : He’s playing a man wrongfully accused of terrorism (and pursued by a detective, Kiefer Sutherland ) in a reboot of “The Fugitive.”
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley : The model and actress is hosting and executive producing a show about beauty icons with the working title “The Go See.”
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson : He’s executive producing an animated adaptation of the graphic novel “Trill League,” about a team of black superheroes.
O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson : His involvement with an untitled heist series was announced at CES.
LeBron James : He’s producing a docu-series about the first year of the public school he opened in Akron, Ohio, called “I Promise.”
Kendall and Kris Jenner : The model and her mother, Kris, are executive producing a parody series about the impersonator “Kirby Jenner,” who pretends to be Kendall’s fraternal twin on Instagram. (A Twinstagrammer?) Ryan Seacrest is also executive producing.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson : He’s executive producing a Hawaii-set comedy called “Last Resort,” along with Paul Feig .
Joe Jonas : He’s expanding his Instagram travelogue of the cities explored on tour with “Cup of Joe,” along with guests like Jack Black, Tina Fey , David Hasselhoff (in — where else? — Germany) and Matthew McConaughey . It debuts April 27.
Rashida Jones : The writer-actress and her writing partner Will McCormack are executive producing a flower design series called “Centerpiece,” in which such guests as Ava DuVernay and Maya Rudolph create floral centerpieces with host Maurice Harris of Bloom & Plume.
Anna Kendrick : She’s executive producing and starring in the comedy “Dummy,” playing a woman who becomes buddies with her boyfriend’s sex doll. It debuts April 20.
Liza Koshy : The “Liza on Demand” star is hosting a moving-floor-based dance competition called “Floored.” Guests include Danielle Brooks , Anna Camp , Rumer Willis and Maddie Ziegler . The dancing begins April 27.
Kevin Kwan : The “Crazy Rich Asians” author is examining elite brands’ familial dynasties with “Empires of Luxury.”
Queen Latifah : She’s starring as a police detective investigating a double murder in “When the Streetlights Go On,” one of the first shows available at launch. Mark Duplass, Tony Hale and Chosen Jacobs co-star.
Thomas Lennon : Another Quibi MVP, he’s starring in and writing both the “Reno 911!” revival and the Napa Valley comedy “Winos.” Wendi McLendon-Covey is also producing and co-starring in “Reno 911!”
Doug Liman : The director-producer is adapting a Steven Gould story for “Crazy Talented,” in which psych ward patients discover their mental issues are actually superpowers. His 30 Ninjas company is also producing “Don’t Look Deeper.”
Jennifer Lopez : She’s executive producing and participating in “Thanks a Million,” a pay-it-forward-style show that debuted at launch, featuring guests such as Nick Jonas, Yara Shahidi, Gabriel Iglesias, Kristen Bell, Tracy Morgan, Karlie Kloss and Aaron Rodgers , who pay back people who’ve helped them out along the way.
Demi Lovato : Her talk show, “Pillow Talk With Demi Lovato,” will explore body positivity, gender identity, social media, activism and more.
Miles “Lil Yachty” McCollum : The rapper is starring in “Public Figures,” a comedy inspired by events of his youth.
Jed Mercurio : The “Bodyguard” creator is developing a sci-fi thriller, “Transmissions,” about a scientist who’s receiving signals from deep space.
Neal Moritz : The “Preacher” producer is behind the rom-com “We’re Never Getting Married,” about two friends struggling through a destination wedding at Martha’s Vineyard.
Cam Newton : The Carolina Panthers quarterback is executive producing and participating in the sports series “Iron Sharpens Iron,” pairing athletes from completely different sports to train together. (For example, Newton with Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young , U.S. Women’s National Team captain Carli Lloyd with UFC champion Amanda Nunes .) It debuts April 20.
Trevor Noah : The “Daily Show” host is executive producing and starring in a comedic travelogue about his interactions on tour — the working title is “Canceled.”
Will Packer : He’s executive producing a Donald Sterling documentary called “Blackballed.”
Jim Parsons : He’s executive producing the comedy “The Monarchy Is Going To S***.”
Travis Pastrana : The motor sports star is hosting the Nitro Circus stunt show “Life-Size Toys.”
James Patterson : The author is an executive producer on the adaptation of his book “Toys.”
Paula Pell : She’s the co-creator and star of the comedy “Mapleworth Murders,” about a mystery writer who just so happens to have homicides committed in her vicinity on a disturbingly regular basis. Her “Saturday Night Live” colleagues (such as Fred Armisen , Maya Rudolph , Tim Meadows and Tina Fey ) pop by as characters to be accused — or killed. Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers are executive producing.
Sam Raimi : He’s executive producing the horror anthology “50 States of Fright,” exploring folklore and urban legends from around the country, starring Karen Allen , Rachel Brosnahan , Asa Butterfield , Rory Culkin , Taissa Farmiga , Travis Fimmel , Ron Livingston , Elizabeth Reaser , Christina Ricci and Ming-Na Wen . The scares begin on April 13.
Megan Rapinoe : The soccer star is hosting a docu-series about young athletes called “Prodigy,” which premiered on April 6.
Ryan Reynolds : His involvement with an unspecified animation project was announced at CES.
Nicole Richie : She’s executive producing and starring as her rapper alter ego in the comedy “Nikki Fre$h,” which debuted April 6. Her husband Joel Madden ’s music company is overseeing the music.
Adam Rippon : The Olympic figure skater is hosting “This Day in Useless Celebrity History.”
Kathleen Robertson : The actress is writing and executive producing the remake of 1995’s “Swimming with Sharks” starring Kiernan Shipka and Diane Kruger .
Michelle Rodriguez : Her involvement with a show called “Ten Ton Chum” was announced at CES.
Matt Rogers : Bowen Yang’s co-host on the “Las Culturistas” podcast teams up with the comedian Dave Mizzoni to host the LGBTQ competition “Gayme Show!” Celebrities helping contestants battle to become “Queen of the Straights” include Rachel Bloom, Nicole Byer , D’Arcy Carden and Ilana Glazer .
Justin Roiland : The “Rick & Morty” co-creator makes “Gloop World,” a clay animation show where two blobs are roommates, with Seth Green ’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.
Anthony and Joe Russo : Inspired by the Reed Tucker’s book “Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC,” the “Avengers” directors and brothers are exploring comic book rivalries on “Slugfest.” Pow!
Andy Samberg : He’s hosting and executive producing a single-bite cooking competition called “Biggest Little Cook-Off.” (In other words, quick bites. Get it?) He also appears on “Mapleworth Murders.”
Ridley Scott : He’s executive producing the gaming thriller/horror “CURS_R,” about a computer survival game that tricks players into playing for their lives.
Will Smith : He’s hosting and executive producing the comedy showcase “This Joka,” a Las Vegas stand-up series featuring such comics as Demi Adejuyigbe, Shawn Wasabi and George Wallace .
Steven Soderbergh : He’s executive producing the thriller “Wireless,” about a crash survivor (played by Tye Sheridan ) trying to communicate on his smartphone.
Steven Spielberg : He’s creating a horror series — working title “After Dark” — that will unlock on phones only after the sun has set in the viewer’s location.
Veena Sud : The showrunner for “The Killing” is the creator, writer and director of the ride-share thriller “The Stranger,” starring Dane DeHaan as a sociopath terrorizing his driver Maika Monroe . It debuts April 13.
Jimmy Tatro : He’s the co-creator and star of “Junior High,” an expansion of his YouTube series, and a co-star on “The Now.”
Chrissy Teigen : She’s the judge presiding over small claims cases in “Chrissy’s Court,” where she rules on real-life cases. Teigen’s mother Vilailuck acts as bailiff in the 10-episode series, which premiered on April 6.
Sophie Turner : She’s starring as a suicidal plane crash survivor who has to find a will to live in an adaptation of Alex Morel’s “Survive,” debuting April 6. Corey Hawkins co-stars.
Gabrielle Union : She’s executive producing “Black Coffee,” a comedy about a former basketball star who opens up a coffee shop.
James Veitch : The comedian known for his spam email Ted Talks hosts the “Q-Talks” comedy special, co-starring Regina Hall , Lisa Kudrow , Niecy Nash and Kristen Schaal .
Sasha Velour : This “RuPaul’s Drag Race” champ is hosting and executive producing an eight-episode drag revue called “NightGowns.” The series made its grand entrance on April 6.
Mark Wahlberg : He’s executive producing “Run This City,” a docu-series that debuted April 6 about Jasiel Correia II, the former mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, who during his term was charged with fraud, bribery and extortion.
Lena Waithe : She’s exploring sneaker culture in the docu-series “You Ain’t Got These,” with guests Carmelo Anthony , Mike Epps , Billie Jean King , Hasan Minhaj , Nas , Questlove and more. It kicked off April 6.
Alexander Wang : The fashion designer sets his talk show, “Potty Talk,” in the bathroom.
Allen Strickland Williams : He’s the creator of the comedy “Unmatched,” about people who refuse to settle down.
Reese Witherspoon : The actress-producer — who is married to Quibi’s head of content acquisition and talent, Jim Toth — is hosting “Fierce Queens,” a docu-series, which debuted April 6, about female animals who lead their packs or pods (hyenas, humpback whales) as well as the femme fatales who dine on their mates (fireflies). Toth, beware!
WWE wrestlers : Wrestlers — Sasha Banks , Brie Bella , Nikki Bella , Alexa Bliss , Sonya Deville , Charlotte Flair , Nia Jax , Becky Lynch and Natalya — team up with young women to help them become stronger in “Fight Like a Girl,” starting April 13.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .
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