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Netflix’s Rim of The World shows where sci-fi is headed

Monday May 27, 2019. 03:30 PM , from Ars Technica
Enlarge / Netflix really knows how to keep this controller in the hands of certain niche audiences. (credit: Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
If the movie Rim of the World, which premiered on Netflix this week, looks a little familiar to you, that's on purpose. It's the story of four kids, thrown together at summer camp in the middle of an alien invasion, faced with the task of carrying the one object that can defeat the aliens across war-torn Los Angeles. It's a fun ride through childhood friendship forged amid killer aliens and saving the world. Sound like a 1980s-style adventure, like what Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment used to make? Well, good.
Maybe you'll see echoes of Stand by Me in its story of four kids on a road trip, or the vibe of Goonies and Explorers in the movie's diverse tweens in science-fictional, action-adventurous peril. Sharper-eyed nerds will spot locations such as Courthouse Square on the Universal backlot (the clock tower in Back to the Future) and the Sepulveda Dam used in Escape from New York and the closing credits of Buckaroo Banzai. These kinds of movies used to be a reliable product. 'There were a couple of them every summer, and they were great, and I loved them. They were emotionally important to me,' says Zack Stentz, who wrote Rim of the World. 'And Hollywood stopped making them.'
Now, though, digital streaming services like Netflix are upending Hollywood's business model. Small screens can do what big screens won't.
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