Movie theaters in New York demand a 50% capacity rise by Memorial weekend
April 20, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
New York movie theaters have increased their capacity limit to 33% (up from 25%) but NATO New York's Joe Masher says it's not enough and that it's "doing damage to a global industry." Masher is demanding a capacity increase to 50% by Memorial Day weekend which is a huge timeframe for tentpole releases.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has had his door hammered on for months with demands to increase the capacity limit from 25% and while he did increase the new limit to 33% by April 26, 2021, it's not being viewed in a positive light because it doesn't really move the needle much for New York theaters to really survive. Joe Masher, COO of Bowtie Cinemas and head of the National Theater Owners' New York division, had this to say about what's needed for theaters to thrive in the state:
"We’re glad that we haven’t been completely ignored and that a step towards progress has been made, but we have made it very clear that theaters need to have the audience limit raised to 50% by Memorial Day weekend to survive financially. What New York is doing to us right now is simply doing damage to a worldwide industry."
Prior to Cuomo’s announcement, New York was one of the last two states in the country, along with Pennsylvania, to require 25% capacity limits for all of its counties. While some states enforce such a limit on a county-by-county basis — including California, Colorado, and Oregon — major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco raised their limits to 50% earlier this month and more increases for those major markets aren't too far behind. New York City, much like Los Angeles, is a major market for box office revenue so the frustration from New York exhibitors is understandable. We didn't have a summer movie season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but this summer, even if it's not 100% back to normal, can make up for a lot of that loss if theaters are in a position to welcome back moviegoers.
NATO might be particularly baffled by how slow Cuomo is moving on the capacity increases because New York’s rate of Covid-19 infection is now 2.94%, the lowest it has been since last November. Total hospitalizations stand at 3,783 but there also seems to be confusion as to why certain establishments can reopen at larger capacity levels and not movie theaters. For instance, indoor dining has been upped to 50% and the argument is that it's much easier to enforce distancing at a movie theater thanks to blocking off space and assigned seating. Cuomo has never really made it quite clear why movie theaters in the area are being treated so much differently from other establishments and it seems the lack of transparency is a bone of contention.
Do YOU think New York movie theaters will increase their capacity to 50% by Memorial Day weekend?
Them TV Review
April 9, 2021 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: Set in 1953, Them: Covenant follows a black family who, during the Second Great Migration, moves from North Carolina to an all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles. The family's idyllic home slowly transforms into an epicenter of evil forces, next-door and otherworldly, that threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them
Review: The last couple of years have seen a massive uptick in horror stories centered around the African-American experience. Starting with Jordan Peele's Get Out. feature films and television series have embraced the real world scary stories from the Civil Rights era coupled with supernatural elements to great effect. HBO tackled two excellent genre series in Damon Lindelof's Watchmen as well as Misha Green's Lovecraft Country. The next such series is Them from creator Little Marvin and executive producer Lena Waithe. While just as striking and scary, Them suffers from being released less than a year after Lovecraft Country which shares many of the same themes and visual traits ranging from racist-inspired ghosts, monstrous white people, and anachronistic music. Told over ten episodes, Them is still quite literally a haunting series worth checking out.
Them is designed to be an anthology with each season serving as a standalone tale. In keeping this first season, subtitled Covenant, limited to ten episodes, writer/creator Little Marvin has crafted a defined narrative with a concrete ending that doesn't leave things open for a sequel or continuation. Unlike similar anthology American Horror Story, Them will be thematically connected by the African-American experience which is full of worthy stories to tell. The difficulty is the shadow of Lovecraft Country which condensed the story spread over ten hours in Them into a single episode. While that particular episode covered the highlights of the ghouls and spirits haunting the Chicago house, Them explores the deeper aspects of the bright, idyllic suburbs of Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. Setting this season in East Compton before it became a primarily Black neighborhood, Them plays with what we know will eventually happen. it doesn't change the horrors of the events of the series, but it certainly illuminates the aftermath.
Them is made in such a way that echoes the works of Alfred Hitchcock as it opens with a stunning Saul Bass-inspired credit sequence before dropping us into the lives of Livia "Lucky" Emory (Deborah Ayorinde) and her husband, WWII veteran Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas). Along with their two daughters Ruby Lee and Gracie Bell, the Emory clan trade in their lives in the South for the sunny skies of California. A tragic event looms large over their lives in the form of a chilling sequence revisited through the series. Now trying to restart their lives in a new setting, they move into an all-White neighborhood overseen by Betty Wendell (Allison Pill), the suburban housewife of your nightmares. Through calculated plots to drive them out, the Emory family will face down the very real threat of racism. But, that is only half of the horrors this story has up its sleeve.
It would have served as enough for this series to use the human monsters as the sole antagonists, but as you may have gleaned from the trailers, there are actual monsters as well. The home that Henry Emory purchased was mysteriously on the market for a very long time and carries a basement full of horrors that sink into the already traumatized new residents. That aforementioned event that precipitated their move caused Livia to have a mental break and Henry suffers from PTSD from his war service. Already on the edge, their racist neighbors push them to the edge while the supernatural elements of this tale are almost unnecessary. Creator Little Marvin evokes similar visual evil as Lovecraft Country by using blackface and other shameful racist icons coupled with traditional horror elements. Javier Botet, the physical presence behind horrible creations ranging from the It films to Crimson Peak and Mama, is the manifestation of many of these scary specters.
This series has so much intensity that it should come as no shock that the first episode doesn't even take 10 minutes before ratcheting up the horror and then repeats it through the entire sixty-minute running time. There is an intention behind every choice on this series ranging from the brilliant direction, the crisp cinematography coupled with some unsettling camera work, to the soundtrack that ranks as one of the best in recent memory. But while there are many beats that may feel derivative thanks to what has premiered before it, Them shines thanks to the cast. While Ashley Thomas masterfully balances dealing with his war-torn past and keeping his family together, the one that helps this show shine is Deborah Ayorinde. Livia defies conventions of the genre and never settles into being a scream queen or a final girl but manages to circumvent genre cliches and tropes to become one of the most interesting horror characters in a long time.
Had Them premiered first, we likely would still have been praising Lovecraft Country for presenting a more sweeping and epic look at the horror genre through the lens of the African-American experience. But, Them still is a tightly structured combination of supernatural and human horror that manages to keep you glued for ten straight chapters. Every actor in this cast, especially the wonderfully disturbing Allison Pill, embraces the message of this series and dives deep into making this as traumatic and haunting an experience as possible. Some of the choices made by the creative team are somewhat over the top, but it all serves the overall narrative of the story. While this is an attempt to dissect racism through the conventions of the horror genre, it also succeeds in being a genuinely scary story. Them is a solid entry into a new anthology that will hopefully get scarier with each successive volume.
Them premieres on April 9th on Amazon Prime Video.
THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!
****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****
If you were past puberty in the 1990s, you were an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan. From his 1980s action epics Raw Deal, The Terminator, Commando, Conan the Barbarian, Predator and more, Arnold owned Hollywood. Entering into the 1990s with Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it seemed like there was nothing he could not do. Action and comedy both seemed to work for the star, so it seemed only natural to combine them in 1993’s LAST ACTION HERO. A film that ended up very differently than it was original envisioned, Last Action Hero was lambasted by critics and was a massive disappointment at the box office. Excited to see it on the big screen as a kid and revisiting it just recently, I am happy to say that not only does Last Action Hero hold up well almost twenty years later but it remains one of the most underrated movie concepts of all time.
Envisioned as a parody of the films of Shane Black and others, Last Action Hero went through countless rewrites from Carrie Fisher, Larry Ferguson, William Goldman, and Shane Black himself. By the time it made it to screen, Zak Penn and Adam Leff’s original idea had transformed into the fairytale-like adventure we see on screen. Overly engineered by studio executives and notorious for the negative buzz that doomed the final edit, John McTiernan’s film is literally documented as a chapter in a book about Hollywood bombs. While it financially hurt everyone involved in producing it, I still find Last Action Hero to be a charming and fun blockbuster that would eventually pave the way for films like Ready Player One and Free Guy.
By making the central character, Danny Magidan, a teenage boy, Last Action Hero manages to provide the audience with a proxy familiar with the cliches and tropes of the Hollywood action flick. Austin O’Brien brings a smart-ass mentality, not unlike Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone and Uncle Buck. Danny takes solace in action movies after the death of his father and idolizes the fictional Jack Slater played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Friends with old projectionist Nick (Robert Prosky), Danny is gifted a magic ticket that transports him into the fictional Jack Slater movie. From cartoon characters to only attractive people, Slater’s world is as predictable as most studio movies. The average movie fan may not have appreciated all of the in-jokes and industry references, but I found them just as funny this year as they were three decades ago.
Last Action Hero is the only movie I could imagine that could feature a running joke referencing Amadeus as well as copious shots of cleavage and a farting corpse flying around the skyscrapers of Los Angeles. This is a movie that completed post-production mere weeks before it hit theaters which also happened to be a week after the mega-hit Jurassic Park. In the early 1990s, movies that echoed the excess of the 1980s, also Schwarzenegger’s golden years, led to a chilly reception that treated Last Action Hero as derivative and full of senseless violence when it in fact was spoofing those very elements. Last Action Hero is not a film that can be held alongside any of Schwarzenegger’s prior or later movies because it deliberately sets itself apart. Director John McTiernan, whose Die Hard and Predator are also inspirations for Last Action Hero, plays the action straight while the dialogue is anything but.
Running at over two hours, Last Action Hero does feel like it may be ten to twenty minutes too long, but that in itself is an ode to the excess of action films of the era. But, try as I might, I cannot figure out where to trim from this movie. The early scenes in the real world are requisite set-up to learn about the fantasy this movie employs. Within the Jack Slater world, every moment is excessively executed to perfection, especially with the villains. Anthony Quinn is hilarious as mobster Tony Vivaldi while Charles Dance is exceptional as the true villain Benedict. Tom Noonan’s horrific The Ripper is still just as creepy looking as ever while F. Murray Abraham’s duplicitous John Practice plays his cliched role well. On the other side, Frank McRae’s Lt. Dekker may be the most over-the-top character but one that had me laughing every time he was on screen. Then there is Bridgette Wilson as Whitney Slater, the definition of a teenage crush.
Michael Kamen’s score is one that I forgot about for years until I rewatched the film and it immediately transported me into the world of Last Action Hero. The cinematography of Dean Semler (Young Guns, Mad Max 2) manages to illuminate the bright, candy-colored fictional Los Angeles with the grittier and seedier real world of New York City. McTiernan balances the two disparate universes in a way that you can always tell where you are based on the visuals. Last Action Hero manages such a balancing act years before its time and it remains a wonder that we don’t have more movies trying to use a similar plot device more often.
Last Action Hero is impossible to hate. If it had been a serious film, it would have felt formulaic and redundant. Had it been a straight parody, it would have felt too on the nose. By blending the two into this fantastical tale, Arnold Schwarzenegger proved he was not above making fun of himself while still pushing the limits of what a big-budget movie could achieve. With a rousing score, tons of cameos, and lots of easter eggs, Last Action Hero deserved the sequel it was lampooning. Watching this movie now, you may find yourself much more willing to go along for the fireball-drenched ride than you may have been before and more willing to forgive some of the more uneven elements to this ode to a bygone era of filmmaking.
But hey, that’s just my UnPopular Opinion. Tell us your take on Last Action Hero in the comments below.
Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected] or spell it out in the comments below. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you’d care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Venom: Let There Be Carnage delayed by one week
March 31, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE is seeing another release delay but thankfully it won’t be as long as the previous postponements.
The Venom sequel will now be released on September 24, 2021, rather than September 17, 2021. There wasn’t an exact reason as to why the film was shifted a week but there is some speculation. Some believe that Sony Pictures wants to give the film even more breathing room between its release and the August 6, 2021, launch of The Suicide Squad. The release dates don’t seem all that close but since a lot of these blockbusters didn’t get their time in 2020, I think the studios want to ensure completely that their tentpoles are allowed to thrive in a market that isn’t exactly 100% back to normal. Venom: Let There Be Carnage will now be released opposite the Antoine Fuqua film Infinite, the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark, Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Needless to say, there will be a little bit of something for everyone that weekend.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which previously shifted release dates this year from its planned June 25 launch, will have full access to 3D, IMAX, and premium large format screens on its opening weekend. By the time the sequel is released in September, we’re bound to be in less restrictive tiers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Big markets like Los Angeles and New York City currently have movie theaters open at 25% capacity but Los Angeles is expected to move into the orange tier on Monday which will boost that capacity restriction to 50%. Come September, if all goes well, we will be in even better shape.
The first Venom film was released during the first weekend in October of 2018 and despite a mediocre critical reception, the film managed to kill it at the box office and went on to gross over $850 million worldwide. Andy Serkis is stepping in as director of the sequel with Tom Hardy returning as the titular anti-hero. Hardy will also be joined by Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, and Naomie Harris.
What are YOUR thoughts on Venom: Let There Be Carnage changing its release date by one week?
Tokyo Ghost: Cary Fukunaga to helm adaptation of cyberpunk comic book
March 24, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Well, it's about damn time! Straight up, I can't believe it's taken this long for a studio to become hip to Tokyo Ghost. Actually, let's back up for a moment, shall we?
Director Cary Fukunaga (No Time to Die, Beasts of No Nation) has been tapped to direct a feature adaptation of the cyberpunk Image Comics series Tokyo Ghost for Legendary. Written by Rick Remender (Deadly Class, Black Science), with art by Sean Gordon Murphy (Batman: White Knight, The Wake), and colors by Matt Hollingsworth (Little Bird, We Stand on Guard), Tokyo Ghost mixes Blade Runner with a bit of Ghost in the Shell and elements of The Matrix.
Per Image Comics, here's the official synopsis for Tokyo Ghost:
The Isles of Los Angeles 2089: Humanity is addicted to technology, a population of unemployed leisure seekers blissfully distracted from toxic contamination, who borrow, steal, and kill to buy their next digital fix. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for. It’s the biggest industry, the only industry, the drug everyone needs, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay. This duo is about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of Los Angeles to take down the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo.
In addition to his duties as director, Fukunaga will also produce Tokyo Ghost under his Parliament of Owls studio with Hayden Lautenbach. Jon Silk is also producing for his new production company, Silk Mass.
Meanwhile, Remender's other series, Fear Agent, is currently being developed by Seth Rogen's Point Grey for Amazon. As for Murphy, his Chrononauts comic is in the midst of being set up over at Netflix.
When it comes to comic book recommendations, I urge you to read Tokyo Ghost. It's a world-building comic series that introduces outlandish ideas and even outrageous characters. It's the type of series that begs readers to reevaluate how they consume information and at what cost. It also tells a beautifully tragic love story between its two lead characters, who audiences are bound to fall in love with if Fukunaga plays his cards right.
By the way, Fukunaga, can you please pick up the phone and cast either Samara Weaving or Margot Robbie as Debbie Decay? That would be the move.
The Hollywood Reporter
Dramatic video footage of the moments leading up to the arrest of troubled 21-year-old rapper YoungBoy NBA has emerged and some folks on Twitter are pointing fingers to Tekashi69.
The rapper reportedly attempted to flee from the authorities after police pulled him over to arrest him on a federal warrant in Los Angeles yesterday. While NBA YoungBoy, whose real name is Kentrell Gaulden, is not seen in the video, at least two police vehicles can be seen manning a cordoned-off street. A helicopter can also be seen hovering overhead while cops and K-9 searched the area on the ground.
A police speaker is heard playing the message, “Come out with your hands raised and follow directions. If you do not, a police dog will be used to find you.
It’s not clear how long the rapper eluded the police, but he was eventually brought in and remained in custody. Details of the circumstances surrounding the warrant for his arrest are still not forthcoming.
Overnight, calls for the rapper’s freedom have begun to trend on social media. The hashtag ‘FreeYoungboy’ has been used more than 113,000 times on Instagram and is also trending on Facebook.
Footage of FBI searching NBA Youngboy pic.twitter.com/Ge87YV6TNu
— DatPiff (@DatPiff) March 23, 2021
One fan on Facebook said, “Youngboy really predicted this arrest in a song after they picked up 69 , IYKTYK #FreeYoungboy”, while another showed solidarity saying “#FREEYOUNGBOY… we going to hold it down until you get home.. lil brother” followed by a green heart emoticon. Urban Islandz recently reported that YoungBoy turned down a $1 million offer to collaborate with Tekashi 6ix9ine.
Sadly, the rapper’s loyal fanbase has grown accustomed to his legal woes. At the end of 2019, a judge granted the rapper an early release from house arrest, which he was sentenced to for his involvement in a 2016 Florida shooting incident that left an innocent bystander dead.
On the day of his release in 2019, James Manasseh, who was Youngboy’s attorney, said the Baton Rouge rapper would be possibly moving to Los Angeles. “Being in Baton Rouge isn’t conducive to him being able to grow and move forward,” his attorney had said.
It turns out that there is much trouble in the big city for the Southern rapper.
As soon as youngboy turned down tekashi 1mil offer for a feature he go to jail??????????
— Whittway?Dreworld? (@Big_ElDolce) March 23, 2021
Who turned Nba Youngboy arrest footage into gta? ? pic.twitter.com/J4UW39Qeku
— Project Vybz Tv (@project_vybz) March 23, 2021
nba youngboy and kodak black going to jail every other year pic.twitter.com/GHF7VX1147
— ? (@thebackendchiId) March 23, 2021
Arrest footage shows police used helicopters & more to track NBA Youngboy after he reportedly fled on foot ? pic.twitter.com/9ANx4seT6o
— My Mixtapez (@mymixtapez) March 23, 2021
Regal Cinemas to reopen in April as Cineworld reaches new deal with WB films
March 23, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Don't call it a comeback! Parent company Cineworld revealed their plans to reopen Regal Cinemas in the U.S. for the first time in six months as they also launch a multi-year deal agreement with Warner Bros.
The reopening will begin in phases with a limited number of cinemas opening their doors for the WB/Legendary film Godzilla Vs Kong on April 2, 2021. More Regal locations will then open on April 16, 2021, which is just in time for another Warner Bros. title, Mortal Kombat. The new deal with Cineworld will see the 2021 Warner Bros. theatrical film slate playing day-and-date on HBO Max and then in 2022, theatrical films released by the studio will have a 45-day window of exclusivity at Cineworld's Regal locations.
Regal's return signals more good news for the film industry as movie theaters in major markets like Los Angeles and New York City have begun to reopen at 25% limited capacity. This is expected to increase to 50% in the near future and Regal now joins AMC Theatres as the next major movie chain to reopen in these markets. Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger called the news "a great moment for us – the U.S. market represents 75% of our business – and soon will be followed with all our markets. We are great believers in the theatrical experience, which only a year ago (2019) generated $43 billion worldwide."
Cineworld's largest market is in the U.K. and a deal between the company and Warner Bros. has also been struck there. The two entities have agreed to an exclusive theatrical window of 31 days prior to their PVOD launch and that is extended to 45 days for films that open to an agreed-upon box office threshold. The situation in the U.K. in terms of their COVID-19 reopening plan a little behind the U.S. at the moment but they expect to resume operations there in May under current government guidance.
The news was pretty bleak for Cineworld and Regal Cinemas just last year. Back in October, Cineworld temporarily closed 536 Regal locations in the U.S. and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites in the U.K. Regal Cinemas is the number two exhibitor in the U.S. after AMC Theatres so the closure of all of those locations was a major blow to the industry after they had been shuttered since March. Regal did reopen in certain locations but by October it was clear the odds were against them. Major releases like No Time To Die vacated planned release dates and moved into the new year while big box office markets like Los Angeles and New York City weren't budging on reopening their movie theaters.
What a difference a year makes? Things are not 100% back to normal but it's great to hear about reopening plans rather than more news about closures. I'm a firm believer in the theatrical experience and I certainly want to see it survive. The return of Regal Cinemas signals that this is an industry that can come roaring back as moviegoers embrace the communal experience of going to the movies once again.
Are YOU excited to hear that Regal Cinemas will be opening again soon? What are YOUR thoughts on Cineworld's new deal with Warner Bros.?
MoviePass website back online with a countdown clock. Is it coming back?
March 17, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Is MoviePass about to rise from the ashes like the phoenix? The subscription-based ticket service that declared bankruptcy in 2019, has relaunched its website with a mysterious countdown clock.
The countdown clock, which can be found at MoviePass.Ventures, is set to end on Monday, March 22, and it displays a caption that reads "the movie is about to start." As of this writing, the original MoviePass website, Moviepass.com, remains unchanged from the notice of shutdown that was posted when they filed for bankruptcy in 2019. It has yet to be revealed what the countdown clock is for.
Founded by entertainment entrepreneurs Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt, MoviePass was once supported in over 91% of movie theaters nationwide. The service launched in 2011 but it didn't really garner mainstream until 2018 when they lowered their price to $9.95/month. MoviePass, on paper, looked like the perfect way for subscribers to see one film per day in theaters at a low monthly cost.
When MoviePass lowered its prices it caused a huge subscriber surge which led to an unprecedented amount of signups that caused the website to crash. The affordable price also made it the target for its competition and thus began a rivalry between the service and AMC Theatres. Soon AMC Theatres offered their own program to see a film once a day and also offered rewards and incentives on concessions and other perks to sweeten the deal. As AMC was building its program, MoviePass began to face numerous controversies that included blacked-out viewings for blockbuster films (something AMC Theatres wasn't doing), a data leak that exposed subscribers' credit card information and being caught trying to un-cancel users' accounts. The service was meant to be the Netflix of the movie theater experience but the business model strayed from its original concept and, in the end, it created animosity with movie theater chains.
Does this countdown clock indicate some kind of comeback? The founders of the company have been dormant since the bankruptcy filing in 2019 but Spikes and Watt have expressed an interest in bringing MoviePass back. It should be noted that the countdown clock appears a month after it was announced that Mark Wahlberg's company was producing a MoviePass docuseries but it also coincides with the reopening of movie theaters in major cities like Los Angeles and New York City. For now, we'll just have to speculate until Monday if MoviePass is attempting a second round for their ticket subscription service.
Do YOU want to see MoviePass return?
I drove eleven hundred miles to find a photograph I lost
It’s just a polaroid I used to keep of a girl that I once loved
And sleeping leads to nightmares ’cause I never can forget
So now I’m dreaming of Los Angeles as the winter closes in
I said I’m dreaming of Los Angeles as the winter closes in
And we met seven English girls who asked if we’d like to see God
I’m not one for missed adventures so I answered with a smile
We spent the night on razor’s edge
All innocence and sin
Now I’m strung out on the Bowery as the winter closes in
I said I’m strung out on the Bowery as the winter closes in
And I won’t cry if you can’t love me like the way it used to feel
We had our summer on Long Island now there’s wounds that never heal
And I won’t cry if you can’t love me like the way it used to feel
We had our summer on Long Island now there’s wounds that never heal
I’d paint a picture of my mother but I can’t recall her face
She’s even far away at midnight and her laughter haunts my dreams
I ain’t never been this broken
I’ve got nothing left to give
Now I’m searching for salvation as the winter closes in
I said I’m searching for salvation as the winter closes in
Man I’m searching for salvation as the winter closes in
And I won’t cry if you can’t love me like the way it used to feel
We had our summer on Long Island now there’s wounds that never heal
We had our summer on Long Island now there’s wounds that never heal
WandaVision’s finale caused Disney+ to crash
March 5, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
I have yet to watch the season finale of WandaVision. I'm waiting for complete time and space and once I wrap up my shift over here at JoBlo Disney+ will be my first stop. It looks like it is a good thing I've put off watching the finale for a bit because fans of the series that flocked to the streamer to see how the show ends made the platform experience technical difficulties.
Downdetector is a website that monitors web outages and the site showed that there had been a huge spike in people reporting problems with their Disney+ service. The reason this is being blamed on WandaVision is that the outages began when the finale was dropped on the platform around midnight on the West Coast. While Disney+ didn't crash completely, some 2,300 users reported issues accessing the streamer once the finale made its debut. You can take a look at the Downdector map below to see where most of the hotspots were.
WandaVision has allegedly been the culprit during another outage on the streamer in the past. When episode seven made its debut, Disney+ went down for around ten minutes for some users. During this current outage, it looks like the hotspots were confined to the West Coast in areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco. I almost considered jumping on at midnight but I wanted to be 100 percent alert for the final episode. If I had tried to access the site around that time and couldn't see the episode, I think I would've had a minor meltdown. That's just the power of WandaVision folks.
Did any of YOU have issues accessing Disney+ when the WandaVision finale dropped?
Universal shifts F9 release a month and pushes Minions sequel to 2022
March 4, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Universal is pumping the brakes on the release date for F9 yet again. A new report indicates that F9 will move from May 28 to June 25. Meanwhile, Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru will be delayed all the way to July 1, 2022.
Evidence suggests that F9 is switching gears because of concerns related to major overseas markets. In other words, if F9 can’t go big, it’s got to stay home. Well, at least for a little while. While it’s true that theaters in places like NYC are reopening (at a limited capacity) on Friday, Los Angeles cinemas remain shuttered until vaccinations across the city are in better supply. Should overseas markets start to see a reduction in cases of Covid-19, there’s a chance that F9 could hit the theatrical pavement before tearing up domestic screens.
Let’s not make any bones about it, okay? Universal is desperate to get F9 out the door at this point in the pandemic. That said, F9’s new date comes with a bit of a challenge for the studio. That is to say that Focus Features’ Blue Bayou releases on June 25, alongside Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. While some are likely to dismiss the power of Sony’s symbiote sequel, I’ll remind you that the Tom Hardy original grossed $855 million at the worldwide box office during its theatrical run.
Let’s not forget about Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which is its own beast. You and I both know that kids love those pill-shaped troublemakers and are likely to be upset that the film is being delayed to next year. The Gru/Minions movies combined through four titles have grossed over $3.7 billion at the global box office. That’s a lot of money, and the latest film stands to add much more to that total and then some. At the end of the day, it’s all about ending this pandemic and getting things back on track. Let’s get those vaccinations going!
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
March 3, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Texas-based theater chain, Alamo Drafthouse, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing comes along with an asset purchase agreement with Altamont Capital Partners, a previous investor in the company. A new backer, Fortress Investment Group, and its affiliates are also a part of the purchase agreement.
Chapter 11 does sound like doom and gloom for the theater chain that became a big hit with moviegoers due to its focus on the movie fans and their dine-in service but this filing will give the chain the capital it needs to allow operations to run as normal as they emerge from the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most exhibitors, Alamo Drafthouse locations were closed for months beginning last March.
Alamo Drafthouse is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and runs roughly 40 locations with other prominent locations being Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Northern Virginia. As part of the bankruptcy filing, Alama Drafthouse will close down a few underperforming locations and restructure their lease obligations. There is no word as of yet which locations will be closed due to the filing. Founder Tim League will remain involved with the company and among the lender group buying assets and Shelli Taylor, who will be assuming the role of CEO, had this to say about the latest turn of events:
"Alamo Drafthouse had one of its most successful years in the company’s history in 2019 with the launch of its first Los Angeles theater and box office revenue that outperformed the rest of the industry. We’re excited to work with our partners at Altamont Capital Partners and Fortress Investment Group to continue on that path of growth on the other side of the pandemic, and we want to ensure the public that we expect no disruption to our business and no impact on franchise operations, employees and customers in our locations that are currently operating."
The news about Alamo Drafthouse comes on the heels of what could be a return to semi-normal theater operations just around the corner. Shuttered theaters in New York City are set to reopen on March 5, 2021, and Los Angeles is reportedly mere weeks from announcing that their theaters will be reopening as well, albeit, at limited capacity. Many exhibitors believe that there will likely be a revival of moviegoing by the summer as vaccinations continue to increase. Oddly enough in Texas, where Alamo Drafthouse is headquartered, the mask mandate was just lifted and they reopening their state at 100 percent capacity.
Alamo Drafthouse is known for its love for cinephiles and its focus on the pure theatrical experience. They have hosted numerous fan events that are movie-related and they are known for enforcing rules, such as "no talking", with a much stricter policy than other chains. I'm happy that this filing allows them to operate as normal but bummed for the underperforming locations that will have to close in the near future. There is the concern that the new partners involved may try to change things down the line but that's something we'll have to wait and see. The pandemic has certainly kneecapped the exhibition business but hopefully, all of these signs of reopening are an indication that they're coming out on the other side of it.
Are YOU a fan of Alamo Drafthouse? Is there one in YOUR area?
Things are certainly looking up for Dr. Dre as it appears he is now in a blossoming new relationship with Omarion’s baby mama Apryl Jones.
On Thursday (February 11), social media was set ablaze when various outlets began to report that the hip hop mogul was spotted out and about in the company of a lovely woman. In case you might be wondering why this would be something newsworthy, you recall, Dr. Dre is currently in the middle of a bitter divorce from his estranged wife, Nicole Young. He also recently suffered a brain aneurysm in early January but was thankfully released from the hospital a few weeks later.
Over the past few weeks, Dr. Dre and Nicole Young have been embroiled in a heated divorce battle, with the latter attempting to walk away with half of the rapper/producer’s billion dollar empire. Dr. Dre has been extremely vigilant in his efforts to thwart Nicole’s plans stating that she by no means has any rights to such a large amount of cash. Nicole highlighted that she was forced into signing a prenup, and after 24 years of marriage, she could no longer bear what she noted as terrible conditions and treatment. In her filing, she stated that she co-owns the trademark to his popular name as well as his album, “The Chronic.”
The Beats by Dre founder did make one small compromise thus far, agreeing to pay Nicole $2 million in temporary spousal support. Fans are now having their minds blown as they feel they have now witnessed the cause of Dre’s heart softening. He was spotted leaving BOA Steakhouse in Los Angeles on Wednesday night with what seems to be a mystery woman.
The young woman was clad head to toe in houndstooth, and the look was paired with a sheer black bra. Dre sported a signature black sweatsuit, and both parties wore masks. The pair arrived together in a black SUV, and they also left together after dinner. Security attempted to shield the couple from paparazzi, but they were not too successful.
Now social media detectives have done what they do best and have allegedly uncovered the identity of the mystery woman. They believe it is none other than singer Omarion’s baby mother, Apryl Jones. Jones has had her fair share of criticism from the public due to her relationship with Omarion’s friend and former group member, Fizz. Now that that relationship has fizzled out, it appears Apryl is upgrading her list and adding the mogul to the top tier.
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Fans have sounded off on the pairing noting that Jones is “for the streets,” while commenting on how quickly Dr. Dre has moved on. What is your take on this new matchup?
Tenet: Warner Bros. still planning theatrical release in NY & LA
November 6, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
You would think that TENET‘S theatrical run was wrapping up relatively soon, especially since Warner Bros. announced the Digital, 4K Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray, and DVD release for the film on December 15, 2020, but despite that announcement, the studio is still keen on releasing the film in New York and Los Angeles even as COVID cases rise and there has been no announcement of those markets reopening.
Warner Bros. stated in a recent press release that they’re still planning to release the film theatrically in New York and Los Angeles. Some movie theaters in New York State have reopened with safety protocols in place but New York City theaters remain shuttered. The same is the case for movie theaters in Los Angeles and there really isn’t a reopening date in sight. It makes sense that Warner Bros. would want to take advantage of these two markets because they are the biggest box office markets in the States but how long is the studio willing to wait for their locations to reopen?
An NYC/LA release for TENET likely wouldn’t hurt but it may come too little, too late. Once the film is available for home consumption I doubt most people in those areas would take the time to see it theatrically. It’s possible that the press release is just wishful thinking on the part of Warner Bros. and they could be realistic that a wide release in those markets is unlikely. They could be shooting for a limited run for whenever those locations open just to see if they can make a little more money on the domestic front. As of this writing, TENET has grossed $53.8 million at the domestic box office, which is what the film probably could’ve topped on opening weekend in a normal box office climate. The overseas total has propelled the film to $347.1 million worldwide and Christopher Nolan recently stated he was “thrilled” with the film’s box office performance, but Warner Bros. is definitely thinking about what money was lost by choosing to release the film instead of delaying it. You can check out a snippet of the press release below where the mention of the theatrical release in NY and Los Angeles is highlighted:
Burbank, CA, November 5 – “Tenet,” the must-see motion picture event, playing now on the big screen wherever theatres are open, will arrive on 4K, Blu Ray, DVD and Digital on December 15 in time for the holidays. Written, directed and produced by acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” “Dunkirk”), “Tenet” opened globally beginning in August 2020 and has grossed $350 million to date, with the much-anticipated theatrical openings in the major markets of New York and Los Angeles still to come. “Tenet” will be available to preorder from digital and physical retailers beginning November 10.
Do YOU think Warner Bros. will still attempt a theatrical release for TENET in New York and Los Angeles?
Exhibitors blaming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failure to reopen
October 13, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
Throughout this global pandemic, in regards to movie theaters nationwide, it has become clear that Los Angeles and New York are the two biggest box office markets in the States. The fact that they haven’t allowed their movie theaters to reopen yet is the main reason major studios have shifted their tentpole release off if the 2020 calendar and into what they hope to be a more normal 2021 for moviegoing. The key difference between Los Angeles and New York is that California Governor Gavin Newsom has given the go-ahead for movie theaters to reopen in the state at limited capacity but he has left it up to the counties to decide when that should happen. Ventura County, Orange County, and San Diego have all had their theaters reopen so Newsom has at least given the option and guidance to reopen theaters if they choose to do so. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not budged on his stance to keep movie theaters closed and many exhibitors blame his lack of guidance and unwillingness to try to safely reopen on the continued collapse of this particular industry.
In recent days, marquees around New York have been showcasing glaring messages begging and pressuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow cinemas to reopen. A Regal Cinemas in Times Square had a sign that read “48 states have reopened theatres safely. Why not New York, Gov. Cuomo?” Another New York location, The Aurora Theatre near Buffalo, was a bit more depressing with their marquee message that read “Now showing nothing. Starring nobody.”
Cinema owners do have a right to be perturbed because not only can they not reopen but, in the case of New York, they feel there has been a lack of direction from officials in the Empire State about how they can reopen their businesses after being closed for nearly seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brett Bossard, executive director of Cinemapolis, had this to say about their general frustration:
“To say I’m frustrated would be an understatement. They’ve shared no guidelines or benchmarks and that’s left us without any way to properly prepare. We’re operating in the dark.”
While the same issue is facing Los Angeles, there have been some talks that they will get the approval to begin reopening in the next few weeks. The same cannot be said for New York and this has created a growing sense of desperation across the state and it’s a fear that is permeating throughout all of Hollywood. Studios are trying to figure out a way to profitably release their big blockbusters when one of its key markets seems to be closed indefinitely. if you look at the release of Christopher Nolan‘s TENET, you can see why they’re concerned. The film has performed relatively well overseas, clearing $300 million worldwide but it has faltered on the domestic front. The film has grossed a mere $48.3 million domestically on a $200 million budget and reports say it needs about $200 million more to break even. That’s simply not going to happen at this pace for Warner Bros. and its muted domestic performance happened in large part because theaters in New York City and Los Angeles remain closed.
The situation shifted to critical status when the James Bond film NO TIME TO DIE moved off of its November 2020 date to April of next year. It was soon after this that Cineworld decided to temporarily shutter their U.K. locations and also decided to do the same with their Regal Cinemas’ in the U.S. After this took place, exhibitors became vocal in regards to Cuomo in particular that those surrounding him need to persuade him that it’s safe to go back to the movies. Douglas Clark, co-managing partner at the Albany government affairs firm Shenker Russo & Clark, and his partner Richard Lauricella have been lobbying on behalf of the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York for the last two months and they have been calling the governor’s advisers and arguing that movie theaters will not cause a spike in COVID-19 infections. Considering how critical things were at the start of the pandemic for New York, Cuomo has enjoyed soaring popularity for turning things around in a big way for the state and this is why he has been able to absorb some criticism in regards to this issue. This could be why he’s in no rush to allow movie theaters to open their doors in the state.
The criticism, that honestly seems justified, is that movie theaters haven’t been grouped with other forms of shopping and entertainment. Movie theater chains are being lumped in with larger performance venues, like Broadway theaters and arenas, that depend on larger crowds to break even. Cuomo has considered the movie business to be both “high risk” and “non-essential.” The argument is being made that it’s easier to reopen movie theaters at a limited capacity and is likely safe than some of the venues that have been allowed to reopen the state. Also, as previously stated, the lack of direction from the Governor seems to be the main sticking point because without guidance, how can they even prepare to reopen properly?
Complicating things in New York in regards to movie theaters reopening is the fact that it has coincided with the emergence of COVID-19 hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens, which resulted in new closure orders last week. This could be another reason why Cuomo is hesitant to reopen anything at this point but his focus is also likely taken up by the protests that resulted in Borough Park, an ultra-Orthodox community, due to the clampdown. It also led to lawsuits from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, which represents Orthodox synagogues. When this is the issue monopolizing your time, do you really have time to look into safely reopening movie theaters?
Cinema owners stress that other parts of the state’s reopening have taken place on a regional basis so spikes in one particular part of the state, shouldn’t determine the reopening status of another. Joe Masher, chief operating of Bow Tie Cinemas and the president of NATO of New York, had this to say about the matter:
“If there are spikes in Queens and Brooklyn, why should the Capital District or parts of Upstate, which are doing well in terms of COVID suffer? Allow us to prove that we can reopen thoughtfully and safely.”
So, can the global movie business fall on one man? Cinema owners seem to believe that Governor Cuomo has caused a major stall in the industry that may be hard to recover from unless he begins to budge soon. There is no denying how big of a market New York is for the box office and it is the reason studios decided to push some of their bigger releases to next year but the problem is bigger than Cuomo. Exhibitors need bailouts from Congress, which many filmmakers have suggested, and they need help from the studios that will honestly need them to house their big blockbusters. There is a lot of blame to go around but instead of blame, I think alternatives need to be looked into instead of blaming one person or entity for the collapse of the movie industry.
Do any of our readers live in New York? What are YOUR thoughts on Cuomo’s refusal to reopen movie theaters?
Wonder Woman 1984’s Patty Jenkins thinks we could lose moviegoing forever
October 8, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
Director Patty Jenkins has seen her film WONDER WOMAN 1984 delayed several times due to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic and she believes that if movie theaters see another shutdown, it could make us lose movie-theater going forever.
Jenkins spoke with the news agency “Reuters” in an interview from her home in Los Angeles and she got quite candid when discussing the recent temporary closure of Cineworld and Regal Cinemas by saying “If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process. We could lose movie theater-going forever.” Jenkins also suggested that the troubles could lead studios to focus more on streaming and pay less attention to the theatrical arena in the future. The director went on to say “It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable.”
Jenkins has been among top Hollywood names who have appealed to the government for financial help for cinemas. They believe that if the movie theaters don’t get some kind of financial help, it could very well mean their extinction. Even though AMC Theatres and Cinemark have vowed to stay open while Regal has decided to temporarily close, it’s still a very scary time for exhibitors because there is a lack of new content to showcase to moviegoers and 2020 is mostly a lost cause for significant new releases with most films shifting to next year due to the pandemic. Jenkins believes without government intervention, we could end up living in a world where “the only option is to take your kids to watch a movie in your own living room”.
Sadly, I don’t think she’s wrong. The movie theaters are clearly struggling and it looks like no help is in sight. Congress doesn’t appear to be budging on providing assistance and some believe that the studios should do their part but the only thing they have done is move their high-profile releases to later dates, largely to protect their investment so they can make the most money possible. The problem with that is, if movie theaters die out there will be no money to be made so perhaps there should be some aide provided by the studios so the industry can stay afloat. I know it’s all easier said than done but something needs to happen before theatrical moviegoing officially becomes dead.
Do YOU agree with Patty Jenkins? Do YOU think theatrical moviegoing is in danger of dying?
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Movie theaters reducing hours or closing numerous days due to the pandemic
September 30, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
Ever since movie theaters reopened, it has been an uphill battle for exhibitors as they do what they can to stay afloat during the global pandemic. What these exhibitors need is content and with many huge releases making a jump to other dates after 2020, many theater locations are moving towards reduced hours and some are even shutting their doors for multiple days during the week.
Many exhibitors, including AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark, the country's three largest chains, are beginning to limit the number of showtimes, as are scores of other chains and independent houses in order to reduce costs. Other locations, including Cinemark and Marcus Theatres, are going further and closing a small number of their cinemas on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. About 15 or so Marcus theaters and a dozen or so Cinemark sites in smaller or relatively quiet markets have been impacted. Whether other companies follow suit remains to be seen. A Cinemark spokesman had this to say about the reduced hours:
"Cinemark's reopening plan was thoughtfully and strategically designed with multiple contingencies in place to ensure we are able to be nimble and react as needed to the ever-changing environment. That said, we will evaluate opportunities to align with demand, including reducing operating hours while we await new studio content to encourage theatrical moviegoing."
The biggest dilemma for exhibitors right now is the lack of new content. There is nothing new hitting screens until November 20, 2020, when NO TIME TO DIE and Pixar's SOUL attempt to brave the new box office climate. Theaters reopened where they were allowed in time for Christopher Nolan's TENET, which opened over Labor Day weekend. However, without New York and Los Angeles in play, the $200 million event film has struggled, grossing $41 million domestically through September 27, 2020. Exhibitors had hoped that MULAN would follow TENET, but that tentpole was sent straight to Disney+ at a premium price in the U.S. over the Labor Day frame and it's a move that reportedly paid off for the Mouse House. Since these release changes, WONDER WOMAN 1984 vacated its October 2, 2020, date and shifted to Christmas Day while Marvel's BLACK WIDOW was moved off of November 6, 2020, to May 2021.
According to Comscore, there were 3,453 out of roughly 6,000 North American theaters back in operation over the weekend of September 18-20, as more jurisdictions allowed moviegoing. As of now, that number has been reduced to 3,350. Some exhibitors are optimistic that cinemas in Los Angeles may be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks with the same going for New York City. These two locations make up the two biggest box office markets in the States and having them open will definitely give the box office a boost.
Do YOU think 2020 moviegoing is a lost cause at this point? How have YOU movie theater experiences been since they reopened?
Sony Pictures won’t release big films in theaters until pandemic is over
September 11, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
Movie theaters have begun to open gradually after being shuttered due to the pandemic and studios like Warner Bros. have taken a gamble on expensive films like TENET by releasing them into a marketplace where not all of the significant box office markets are open (i.e. Los Angeles and New York). Even though some studios are taking the risk, Sony Pictures is saying they will not release their expensive films in theaters until the pandemic is over or at least until things get back to being close to normal.
The news comes directly from Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Tony Vinciquerra who was recently a guest at Bank of America’s 2020 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. During the conference, Vinciquerra addressed the notion of releasing blockbusters in the current marketplace, since theaters have been reopening in the U.S. and throughout much of the world. Based on his words, if things aren’t normal by the time films like MORBIUS, VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE or GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE are set to hit screens, expect more delays in the future:
“What we won’t do is make the mistake of putting a very, very expensive $200 million movie out in the market unless we’re sure that theaters are open and operating at significant capacity.”
While theaters are reopening there are quite a few stipulations in place while the pandemic is very much active. For one, most theaters are operating at a significantly reduced capacity, in most cases at about 25 percent. This is supposed to increase in the months ahead but the pandemic is so unpredictable that it’s really hard to say in they’ll stick to that plan. Also, while TENET pulled in a decent $20.2 million in this current climate, it’s a far cry from the numbers it could be pulling in. Sony Pictures has a lineup of expensive tentpoles on the way and some of them were pushed off the summer calendar into 2021 to ensure that theaters would be in a place to safely house them. With only a few months left in the year, things don’t seem like they’re going 100 percent back to normal soon and Sony is aware that these new dates are even tentative and that distribution will change, even as things go back to normal:
“You’ll see a lot of strange things happen over the next six months in how films are released, how they’re scheduled, how they’re marketed, but once we get back to normal, we will have learned a lot I think and found ways to do things that are somewhat different and hopefully better.”
A part of me likes that Sony Pictures is being transparent. I feel like some of the other studios are trying to be cautiously naive seeing how things go as release dates draw closer. I actually like knowing a studio won’t risk releasing a $200 million tentpole film into the marketplace so I don’t get my hopes up that it just MIGHT happen.
Do YOU think Sony Pictures is right to not release their expensive films into theaters until things go back to normal in the marketplace?
Borat sequel has reportedly already been shot and screened in secret
September 8, 2020 by: Kevin Fraser
It’s been almost fifteen years since the release of BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN, which found Sacha Baron Cohen playing Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev. The film was an enormous success, and although Cohen has reprised the role on several occasions, it seemed as though a proper sequel wasn’t in the cards…until now.
According to Collider, not only will a sequel to BORAT happen, but it’s apparently already been shot and has even been screened in secret for select industry types. The man could even teach J.J. Abrams a thing or two about secrecy. What will the sequel be about? Well, here’s what Collider’s Jeff Sneider has to say about it:
According to multiple sources, the sequel finds Borat thinking he’s a big movie star after the success of the original 2006 film made him famous, so he’s trying to hide from the public by pretending to be someone else, and starts meeting/interviewing people incognito. One source described the film as “Cohen playing Borat playing Cohen.”
RELATED: Sacha Baron Cohen appears in first look photos for The Spy Neflix series
Keep in mind that this is unconfirmed at the moment, but Sacha Baron Cohen was spotted on the streets of Los Angeles last month playing Borat as he drove a battered old pickup truck which was being towed by a filming van. At the time I guessed that it would be something related to the upcoming American election, but if it winds up being a proper sequel, I certainly won’t be mad.
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Ewan McGregor takes the Long Way Up in trailer for AppleTV+ documentary
September 1, 2020 by: Steve Seigh
Superstar actor Ewan McGregor has been dreaming about taking a trip to South America for years, and now he’s finally hitting the road with his best friend Charley Boorman. For their journey, the duo will ride 13,000 miles from the southern tip of Argentina all the way to Los Angeles. That’s 150 miles every day. But if you think Ewan and Charley are about to let a rigorous travel schedule and a few bouts of bad gas station sushi take the air out of their tires, you’d be wrong. Not only are they going to make the trip, but they’ve also teamed with Apple TV+ to document their entire odyssey.
Apple TV+ has debuted a trailer for LONG WAY UP, a docuseries that reunites McGregor and Boorman for the ultimate adventure in travel and friendship after more than a decade since their last motorbike adventure around the world. In their most challenging expedition to date, the two cover 13,000 miles over 100 days from Ushuaia at the tip of South America to Los Angeles. In order to contribute to the sustainability of the planet, the duo travels on prototype, electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorcycles.
Using cutting-edge technology, they travel through 16 border crossings and 13 countries along with their longtime collaborators, directors David Alexanian and Russ Malkin, who follow in the first two electric Rivian trucks ever made.
Okay, so let me get this straight. Ewan McGregor is talked, devilishly handsome, eco-conscience, and wants to live life to its fullest? Damn, Ewan, is there anything you can’t do? Also, I’m going to need a time machine and a side-car so that I can tag along on this adventure. Let’s make that happen.
The first three episodes of the 11-part unscripted series will premiere globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, September 18. New episodes will roll out weekly, every Friday.
Movie fans flying out to see Tenet because their theaters remain closed
August 27, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
Talk about fan dedication. As many movie theaters have reopened, there are still some key markets where they remain closed. If you live in California or New York, there has been very little indication about when their doors will open again and if you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan in these areas, hoping to see TENET, your options are slim. For some fans, nothing is going to stop them and thanks to a report from “Variety“, we’re learning some fans are willing to fly to locations that have reopened their theaters just to see the film.
California resident Tyler Tompkins booked a plane ride to see TENET weeks before movie tickets for the film even went on sale. This cost to see the film is as hefty as it gets with a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Austin costing him $220. This is without accounting for the ticket itself, popcorn, or soda. His plan is to land in Austin when the film opens on September 1, since movie theaters have opened there, book it to the AMC Barton Creek Square, and see the movie twice before returning straight home. Tompkins had this to say about his decision:
“I’m seeing the movie like three hours after I land. That’s the whole purpose of this trip. My friends think I’m crazy, going all the way across the country to watch it, but we want to show support for this film and we’ll do anything to see it.”
Tompkins is traveling with three other friends and isn’t on this excursion alone but it’s a pretty bold move just to see a movie. Tompkins describes himself as a 24-year old cinephile that moved from Austin to Los Angeles with a few friends hoping to break into the film industry. The pandemic has put a damper on that but he’s not letting it ruin his chance to see TENET, especially since he considers himself ” an evangelical Christopher Nolan fan.”
At least Tompkins was brave enough to give his name. Another movie fan that “Variety” spoke to wanted to maintain anonymity but they’re also from the Los Angeles area and they will be flying out to Salt Lake City over the weekend to catch the film. They’re comparing the TENET experience to “Star Wars fans camping out for tickets, or Apple users queueing for new iPhones. It’s stupid, yes, but it’s something I’m interested in.” The self-proclaimed film junkie plans to catch the film at an IMAX with Utah’s Megaplex Theatres. They were able to pay for their flight with air miles, shelling out a feasible $13 in taxes and fees. Thanks to a free stay with friends, they believe they’ll only spend $50 over the weekend ahead of their August 31 screening. BTW, not throwing any shade at the fact this particular person is wishing not to disclose their name, especially since they’re requesting off work to do this. I suspect that’s the reason for the secrecy and not embarrassment.
Some markets have lifted restrictions on theaters with movies like UNHINGED opening last weekend at 1,823 venues in North America. The opening for the film was a decent $4.1 million which is impressive considering several key markets are out of play. Major markets like New York, California, and New Jersey remain shuttered, and many are critical of all non-essential travel, let alone for an out-of-state movie, even if it’s directed by Christopher Nolan. Even with these markets still dark, reports came in yesterday that TENET’S pre-sale tickets in the U.S. were out-selling Nolan’s DUNKIRK and INTERSTELLAR. This was also the case in the UK and Australia. That’s a solid sign that business could be better than expected as the film opens without the key markets that are normally a big chunk of a film’s box office. Is this because fans are flying out to locations that can actually show the film? I doubt it, but, I can’t say I don’t know people personally who are doing this. I have three friends who are flying out of Los Angeles to Las Vegas just to see TENET. I’m sure the lure of Vegas, while limited due to the pandemic, is also a selling point but that was their motivation. I suppose this is the first big event movie since the world went to hell and theaters closed in March. The anticipation is a lot higher considering the need for the film for some moviegoers.
Would YOU go to these lengths to see TENET?
Showtime has cancelled Penny Dreadful: City of Angels after one season
August 21, 2020 by: Kevin Fraser
We've got another cancellation to bring to you today as Variety has reported that Showtime has pulled the plug on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels after only one season. Billed as the "spiritual descendant" to Penny Dreadful, which lasted three seasons, City of Angels took place in 1938 Los Angeles and followed Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) and his partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) as they investigated a grisly murder and became embroiled in an epic story that reflected the rich history of the city.
"Showtime has decided not to move forward with another season of ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,'" Showtime said in a statement. "We would like to thank executive producers John Logan, Michael Aguilar and the entire cast and crew for their outstanding work on this project." Penny Dreadful: City of Angels received decent reviews throughout its ten-episode first season, but didn't exactly blow up in the ratings department. In addition to Daniel Zovatto and Nathan Lane, City of Angels also starred Natalie Dormer as Magda, a supernatural shape-shifting demon.
The official synopsis for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
A spiritual descendant of the original Penny Dreadful story set in Victorian-era London, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels opens in 1938 Los Angeles, a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) and his partner Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart.
I thoroughly enjoyed all three seasons of Penny Dreadful, but hadn't got around to catching City of Angels yet; My bad. Anyone out there sad to see the spin-off series get the axe?
Tickets for Tenet go on sale this Friday for early screenings
August 17, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
It has taken a while but TENET is so very close to being seen on the big screen. As movie theaters begin to reopen by the end of the month (unless you live in Los Angeles like me – “sigh”) Christopher Nolan‘s highly-anticipated film is gearing up for an unprecedented launch that will see the $200 million film not opening like a traditional blockbuster but with a gradual rollout that could mean TENET will play well beyond its September 3 launch. Don’t want to wait until September 3 to see the film? Well, you’re in luck because Warner Bros. is beginning ticket sales this Friday, August 21, for early screenings.
The studio plans to roll out TENET for sneak peek showings domestically for three days starting August 31, 2020. For those planning to see TENET once it is more readily available, tickets for the film’s opening weekend will go on sale Thursday, August 27, 2020. There are also some details on the deals, coming to us via “Indiewire“, that state theaters have to agree to certain stipulations if they are going to show TENET on their screens. The studio will collect 63% of ticket sales and theaters with more than nine screens must show TENET for 12 weeks.
As far as the early screenings are concerned, theaters can have one showing per night, no earlier than 5:00 PM. Those theaters that screen in premium formats may offer a second showing, however. Theaters must also agree not only to follow local laws but also to comply with the safety standards drafted by the National Association of Theater Owners. These include wearing a face mask anywhere in a theater, with the exception of when consuming food or beverages. Here is what some of the e-mail sent to exhibitors had to say about these standards:
“These special terms are being offered to its exhibitor customers specifically for ‘Tenet’ to address the special circumstances in the market… including the high commercial risk from uncertain consumer demand, reopening rules, health and safety regulations, and socially distancing capacity issues.”
Warner Bros. also requires maximum theater marketing directed to publicizing TENET, at no extra cost to the studio. The studio also requires three trailers for upcoming Warner Bros. films before the TENET is screened. The studio also plans film rental collection in a shorter time frame and ties collection to digital print access. Essentially, Warner Bros. doesn’t want theater chains to use TENET to pay their bills and keep their lights on.
Are these demands unreasonable? Honestly, not at all. All of these exhibitors are hungry for a movie like TENET after being closed for months. They’re banking on the film’s success and if they have to comply to these rules, they’ll just do what they have to do. The one thing I like about the whole release strategy is that it almost guarantees that TENET will have a long life on the big screen so it gives moviegoers some time to think about heading out to see it if they initially feel nervous about braving the crowds and going to the movies again.
Will YOU be trying to see TENET during its early screenings or will YOU wait until it’s more readily available?
TV Review: Quibi’s The Fugitive starring Kiefer Sutherland
August 3, 2020 by: Alex Maidy
Plot: An innocent man on the run, desperate to clear his name, is chased through Los Angeles by the cop who will not rest until he is captured.
Review: When Quibi was first teased, a reboot of the classic series The Fugitive looked to be one of the more exciting prospective properties. Months after launch, Quibi is still searching for a breakout hit and it seems like they saved The Fugitive as a life preserver. Well, the day has come as Quibi still struggles to find a viewer base. Recent releases like Die Hart starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta have felt more like feature films cut into episodic segments and deserve a wider platform to be seen. The Fugitive is not nearly as cinematic as that series and feels like a fairly standard network television drama and not much like the precursor series or the hit feature film. This version of The Fugitive is just okay.
Unlike previous iterations of The Fugitive, this interpretation shares a loose plot structure about a man mistakenly accused of a crime who is hunted down by the police. This time we do not have Dr. Richard Kimble, Sam Gerard, or the One-Armed Man factor into the plot. Instead, we have Boyd Holbrook as Michelangelo Ferro, an ex-con who is accused of a terrorist attack and goes on the run. After him is Detective Clay Bryce, played by Kiefer Sutherland, who has a grudge lingering since the events of September 11, 2001. The two engage in a cat-and-mouse chase through Los Angeles. But, while Holbrook and Sutherland are the primary characters in this series, there is an entire supporting roster who gets a fair amount of screen time. In fact, this series feels more like an ensemble series rather than focused on the titular fugitive.
From Genesis Rodriguez as one of Bryce's detectives to Natalie Martinez as Mike Ferro's wife, there are a lot of female characters in the cast but the most prominent is Tiya Sircar as reporter Pitti Patel. Working for a BuzzFeed/TMZ style news outlet, Patel butts heads with her boss Jerry Conwell (Glenn Howerton) over risky tweets and leaks to the public that impact perception of Mike Ferro's involvement with the terrorist attack. This is clearly a way to work social media and internet news into this timely story while also damning the world of fake news that swirls around our devices on a daily basis. A lot of time is spent with Pitti and the media perspective in this tale. While it certainly is timely enough to incorporate these other perspectives into the narrative, for the short-form presentation that Quibi promises, I was hoping for a more focused tale centered on the "man on the run" format.
In the first episodes shared on Quibi today, some elements immediately jumped out at me. First, it is a weird choice to name the main character Michelango. Sure, they call him Mike most of the time, but it just seems like a bizarre and deliberate choice on the writer's part. Then there is the fact that Boyd Holbrook, a native of Kentucky, hides any hint of an accent while Kiefer Sutherland, a Canadian, is playing a New Yorker living in Los Angeles with a slight Southern accent that goes in and out. Maybe Sutherland was trying to emulate Tommy Lee Jones' Oscar-winning take on Sem Gerard in the 1993 film THE FUGITIVE or maybe it was just a poor creative choice. Either way, Sutherland plays Bryce almost as if he is a surrogate for Jack Bauer. In many ways, this series feels like a fugitive take on 24, and part of me wishes the creators had made that series rather than going with this.
Created by Nick Santora (Prison Break, Scorpion) and directed by Stephen Hopkins (PREDATOR 2, BLOWN AWAY), The Fugitive looks like a higher-end network television series. There are some intense chase sequences and the explosive event that kicks off the series, but overall the scale of this show is fairly small and doesn't compare even to Quibi's Most Dangerous Game. The series doesn't really distinguish itself in the opening episodes to make it feel worth rebooting the classic series and iconic title. What we get instead is a show that is unevenly split over short chapters and doesn't have the narrative flow that a full-length half hour or hour-long show could provide.
Both Kiefer Sutherland and Boyd Holbrook have charisma to spare and both feel miscast here. If anything, flipping the roles and having Holbrook play the cop and Sutherland as the fugitive would have been a much more entertaining show. Airing on Quibi, The Fugitive never works as a movie told in chapters and doesn't add up as an episodic series. It is harmless and you may have fun with it, but this reboot is a waste of the source material. Hopefully, Kiefer Sutherland takes on a project that ends up being as iconic as Jack Bauer but this is definitely not it.
The Fugitive premieres on August 3rd on Quibi.
Funko Pop! welcomes a bloody foot Die Hard figure to the party
July 29, 2020 by: Steve Seigh
Get ready to welcome another must-have Funko Pop! collectible to the party, pal!
Funko has just revealed a bloody new Die Hard Funko Pop! figure as part of their Christmas in July event! As you can see from the image posted above and below, the new figure is modeled after Bruce Willis‘ iconic Die Hard character John McClane, who in director John McTiernan‘s 1988 holiday classic tries to save his wife and several others who’ve taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
RELATED: WTF Happened to Bruce Willis?
Listed under the name “Dark Tank” John McClane Pop!, the new figure features the NYPD officer sans-shoes and smudged with battle damage. My guess is that this Pop will sell like hotcakes so be sure to head on over to WalMart.com where you can pre-order before the figure inevitably sells out. Shipping is set for October 9th, which gives you plenty of time to add “Dark Tank” John McClane to that Die Hard nativity scene you’ve been working on.
Tenet opening internationally first – will hit available U.S screens Sept 3
July 27, 2020 by: Steve Seigh
As part of an ongoing effort to bring Christopher Nolan‘s TENET to theaters, it’s been announced that Warner Bros. will unleash the film internationally on August 26 before bringing the thriller to North American theaters on September 3. Territories set to be included in the tentpole’s international launch are as follows: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Word of TENET making its way overseas comes not long after Warner Bros. said that they were abandoning traditional release plans for Nolan’s next blockbuster effort thanks in no small part to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. By releasing the film overseas, TENET will launch without the aid of major cities like New York and Los Angeles, two hot spots that have been deemed essential for the film’s financial success. For the moment, theaters located in the U.S. are slowly reopening. That said, each theater will reopen under a strict set of guidelines that include staggered seating, no-contact concessions, and sanitization measures that take cleanliness to a whole new level.
This is the third time that TENET has been moved. Originally, the film was scheduled to premiere in theaters on July 17, followed by July 31 and then August 12. Rather than push the film to streaming services, Nolan, as well as the studio, have remained firm on their plans to debut the twisty-looking thriller on the big screen. The school of thought here is that theater owners need a win after being shuttered for several months, and TENET has the potential to draw crowds despite many being hesitant to return to cinemas.
Are you down to return to your local movie theater in mid-August for a screening of TENET? Let us know in the comments section below.
Boyd Holbrook is on the run from Kiefer Sutherland in The Fugitive trailer
July 24, 2020 by: Kevin Fraser
A great deal of money was poured into Quibi (to the tune of $1.75 billion), but several months after its launch, I think it's safe to say that the short-form streaming-service hasn't exactly turned into the success that founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman were hoping it would become. That said, there's still plenty of new content on the way, including The Fugitive, an action-thriller which stars Boyd Holbrook and Kiefer Sutherland. Quibi has dropped a new trailer for the upcoming series, which is full of plenty of man-on-the-run action.
Boyd Holbook stars as Mike Ferro, a blue-collar ex-con who is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb rips through a subway station. Sutherland co-stars as Clay Bryce, a Counter Terrorism Bureau agent who is relentless in his pursuit of Mike. Desperate to clear his name, Ferro is forced on the run, and if that weren't bad enough, his picture is broadcast all across Los Angeles. As a fan of both the 1963 TV series and the Harrison Ford film of the same name, I'm down for more from The Fugitive, but I suppose that means I'm going to have to check out Quibi.
The official synopsis for The Fugitive:
Kiefer Sutherland (24) and Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) star in this edge-of-your-seat crime thriller from the creator of Most Dangerous Game and co-executive producer of Prison Break, in which an innocent man on the run, desperate to clear his name, is chased through Los Angeles by the cop who will not rest until he is captured.
The Fugitive will debut on Quibi on August 3, 2020.
Tenet confirmed will not hit HBO Max before theatrical run
July 23, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
CEO of WarnerMedia, John Stankey, is putting to bed the notion that Christopher Nolan‘s TENET will see a streaming release on HBO Max before its theatrical run. Even though some fans really want that release strategy so they can finally see the film that has encountered several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and theater closures, Stankey revealed that simply just isn’t an option.
The CEO was asked during a conference call with analysts Thursday about the feasibility of releasing major titles like TENET on HBO Max and eliminating their theatrical runs and he doubles down on the fact that for tentpole releases such as this one, he doesn’t see that happening:
“Is it going to happen with a movie like Tenet or something like Wonder Woman? I’d be very surprised if that would be the case. In fact, I can assure you with Tenet, that’s not going to be the case.”
Stankey gave an interview with CNBC after the conference call and went on to explain why you have to release a film like TENET nationwide and not sporadically. This was in reference to certain theatrical markets being online while major ones such as Los Angeles, remain dormant for the time being:
“It needs to release nationwide. So if you have a major metropolitan area — say, Los Angeles — that’s totally out of check and you have other parts of the country that are totally in control, it doesn’t necessarily give you an option to open it in half the country. It just doesn’t work very well that way.”
At the end of the day though, the most important factor in play for TENET is that it’s a film that NEEDS the theatrical experience so a release via streaming wouldn’t serve the film or Christopher Nolan‘s vision for it:
“It’s a movie, an experience, that should be seen in theaters. It was engineered to be that way. As a result of that, it needs to show up that way. Certainly, Christopher would like it to be that way. That’s how he wants that piece of work that he’s done to be seen by moviegoers and that’s why it’s going to be something that shows up in a theater.”
The narrative with TENET really hasn’t changed since the pandemic put its release in question. Streaming was never going to be an option and even though Christopher Nolan really wanted to keep the original date of release, it seems all involved want to make sure the film has a proper theatrical release because that is what the film deserves. This is a $200 million film and it’s clear now that the rollout is not going to be traditional but Warner Bros. is doing what they can to give it the release that’s warranted while also trying to maintain some kind of return on investment. The studio has never flip-flopped on what they were going to do with TENET. They have been 100% about their intentions and kudos to them for sticking to it despite the demand of the fans to get the film out there by any means necessary.
Perry Mason will be back on the case for season 2 at HBO
July 22, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
HBO will be solving more cases with Perry Mason. The cable network has renewed the drama for a second season ahead of its freshman season finale.
HBO had originally billed Perry Mason as a miniseries but this new adaptation has drawn favorable reviews and solid ratings for HBO. The first episode, per HBO, has already reached 8 million viewers. HBO programming EVP Francesca Orsi had this to say about the season 2 renewal:
It has been an exciting journey to work with the immensely talented team behind Perry Mason. Viewers have relished being transported back in time to 1930’s Los Angeles each week, and we are thrilled to welcome the show back for a second season."
The arrival of Perry Mason coincided with the launch of HBO Max and the new streaming service has only given viewers another avenue to catch up on the series. The series, which stars Matthew Rhys in the title role, is based on the character from the Erle Stanley Gardner novels although it takes place before Mason becomes the defense attorney made familiar by the 1957-66 CBS series. This version of Mason, a Los Angeles noir, is a low-rent private investigator haunted by his wartime experience in France and suffering from a broken marriage. The show also stars Juliet Rylance, Chris Chalk, Shea Whigham, Tatiana Maslany, and John Lithgow.
The series is executive produced by Amanda Burrell, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Ron Fitzgerald, Joe Horacek, Rolin Jones, and Timothy Van Patten. Apparently this concept had a long road to make it to air and originally began as a feature film project for Robert Downey Jr. before moving over to becoming a television project. Looks like this incarnation finally paid off for all involved.
Have YOU been watching Perry Mason? Excited to see it come back for season 2?
NATO Chief believes movies should release in theaters despite the pandemic
July 22, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
The head of the National Theatre Owners Association, John Fithian, declares that theaters need to stay open and he believes that studios delaying films in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is not helping matters.
Movie theaters initially closed their doors back in March and recently things have gradually begun to change. Theaters in China have reopened recently but this was after opening after some believed was a bit too early which resulted in their closure again before opening again last weekend. Of the 5,000 or so theaters in the States, about 1200-1500 have reopened, with mostly drive-ins bringing in most of the business. More theaters were on their way to reopening but as the nation continues to hit record-breaking numbers in terms of cases and deaths due to the coronavirus, many states have forced the closure of theaters and other public venues. It's a very messy situation that has led to films like Christopher Nolan's TENET, delaying its release indefinitely.
John Fithian became the latest person to add fuel to this debate and it was sparked when he was asked by "Variety" about Warner Bros.' decision to move TENET from its August 12 release date to a presumed later date in 2020. Fithian emphasized that until a coronavirus vaccine is found, theaters cannot open to 100% capacity and he believes this is the reason that studios and theaters should begin to deal with the "new normal" and just open and release films as planned:
"Distributors should stick with their dates and release their movies because there's no guarantee that more markets will open later this year. Until there's a vaccine that's widely available, there will not be 100% of the markets open. Because of that, films should be released in markets where it is safe and legal to release them and that's about 85% of markets in the U.S. and even more globally. They should release their movies and deal with this new normal. Studios may not make the same amount of money that they did before, but if they don't start distributing films, there's going to be a big hole in their balance sheets. This is a $42 billion-a-year business. Most businesses would take 85% of that instead of zero, which will be what happens if they wait for all of the markets to open up."
On the one hand, I think he has a point. It seems like the studios are waiting for some kind of miracle where the big box office markets open up again and they can make the necessary money off their expensive tentpole releases. They're patiently waiting for Los Angeles and New York City to give approval for their theaters to open but that has yet to be the case, which is why TENET delayed its release again and will be likely why other releases will follow suit. It seems as if Fithian is saying that bringing in some money is better than bringing in no money so studios and theaters should maintain their dates and just adjust to whatever money can make until things gradually get back to normal again. Is this financially feasible for a studio to do this? Probably not but the longer they wait to open films, it's going to kneecap the theaters out there that are waiting to distribute these releases. AMC, Regal, and Cinemark seem to be banking on films like TENET in order to get back into the game but studios are clearly focusing their efforts on the markets that will make them the most money and with Los Angeles and New York City out of play as of now, they don't want to seem to budge until these players are part of the box office conversation again.
Do YOU agree that studios should maintain release dates and open films in theaters that happen to be open or is it smart to wait it out?