Weekly International News Wrap: 'Avengers' Assemble, Murdoch Comes Apart and Canada’s Early Morning Porn
Joss Whedon’s Avengers heads for a monster foreign bow; Rupert Murdoch’s testimony is a nightmare for the British government and an Ontario morning news channel goes hardcore.
Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look back at the media stories making headlines around the world this week.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE FOR GLOBAL DOMINANCE
Marvel Studios and Joss Whedon are looking at box office in Harry Potter territory as The Avengers rolls out worldwide. Whedon’s film uniting Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America has earned a (super) heroic $17.1 million from just 10 international markets.
Avengers posted the biggest opening day ever in New Zealand, earning $800,000, scored $6 million on one day in Australia, $2.9 million in France and $3.7 million in Italy. Whedon’s superhero mash up scored $1.2 million in Taiwan, the best opening gross of all time there, and enjoyed the second-highest opening day ever in the Philippines, grossing $1.3 million.
The Avengers is beginning its foreign rollout a week ahead of its North American bow May 4. MovieTickets.com reported that presales for Avengers is pacing ahead of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger combined, suggesting Whedon’s film could open to more than $150 million domestically.
MURDOCH DISASEMBLES IN PHONE HACKING INQUIRY
“I failed” admitted Rupert Murdoch in testimony this week to a U.K. panel into phone hacking at his now shuttered Brit tabloid News of the World. The News Corp. mogul admitted being “guilty of not having paid enough attention” to illegal phone hacking at NOTW but claimed News Corp. has cleaned up its act and was now “a new company altogether.”
But it was testimony by News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch that dominated the news, when emails from Murdoch lobbyist Frederic Michel appeared to show close ties between News Corp. and U.K. culture secretary Jeremy Hunt while Hunt was involved in deciding whether News Corp. should be allowed to take full control of Brit pay TV firm BSkyB.
Hunt said he would hand over private emails and text messages with his special advisor surrounding the BSkyB takeover bid. But the opposition Labour Party continues to insist that Hunt must resign.
GOTYE LESS THAN GLEE-FUL
Glee’s cover of hit Somebody That I Used to Know didn’t win over the song’s writer, Australian singer-songwriter Gotye. In an interview with the Sunday Mail, Gotye griped that the show’s cover on its April 10th episode, made his song seem “dinky and wrong.”
Glee and U.S. music fans appeared to disagree. Somebody That I Used to Know climbed to the top of the Billboard 100 singles chart after Glee aired and his appearance on Saturday Night Live, making Gotye the fourth Australian artist to have a No. 1 song. in the U.S.
MCGREGOR, KRUGER, PAYNE AND GAULTIER JOIN CANNES JURY
Actors Diane Kruger and Ewan McGregor, The Decendants director Alexander Payne and fashion designer Paul Gaultier will be among those joining jury president Nanni Moretti on the international Competition jury in Cannes next month. Completing the jury are British director Andrea Arnold, Palestinian helmer Hiam Abbass, French actress Emmanuelle Devos and Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peckwould.
GAINSBOURG JOINS SKARSGARD FOR LVT PORNO
Charlotte Gainsbourg is back for a third round with Danish director Lars von Trier, signing up to co-star in von Trier's pornographic drama Nymphomaniac alongside Stellan Skarsgard.
Von Trier plans to shoot Nymphomaniac as two feature length films and to do both soft and hardcore versions of both. Nyphomaniac will shoot in Germany this summer.
FELICITY JONES, KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS JOIN FIENNES FOR INVISIBLE WOMAN
Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tom Hollander are among those who’ve joined the cast of Ralph Fiennes's sophmore directorial outing The Invisible Woman, a drama based on the life of Nelly Ternan (Jones), the woman who had a secret, decade-long relationship with writer Charles Dickens (Fiennes).
SKARSGARD AND SANADA JOIN RAILWAY MAN
Stellan Skarsgard and Hiroyuki Sanada have signed to join the cast of Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man, which already boasts Oscar winners Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
Jeremy Irvine also stars in the big screen adaptation of Eric Lomax’s best-selling book detailing the epic true story of a war hero and the woman who matched his courage to reclaim the man she loved.
KID CUDI JOINS KAYNE WEST IN QATAR
Kanye West has been spotted in the Middle East nation state of Qatar, reportedly shooting a music video alongside fellow rapper Kid Cudi.
Kanye and his crew were seen late last week filming at the spacious ceremonial court in Education City, a vast complex on the outskirts of Doha, the country’s capital. Students living in the area reported seeing camels and horses on the set while Twitter was awash with Kanye sightings around town.
CHERNIN TAKES STAKE IN ENDEMOL INDIA
CA Media, the Asian investment arm of The Chernin Group has taken a 49 percent stake in Endemol India, a division of indie TV production giant Endemol. The Mumbai-based Endemol India has produced successful local versions of formats such as Big Brother, Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal, among others.
CAMERON JOINS CHINA CO-PRODUCTION WAVE
Director James Cameron told THR he is looking at the posibility of producing Avatar 2 as a co-production with China.
China has certainly been good to Cameron. Avatar was the country’s all-time box off office champ in 2010, and the recent release of Titanic 3D had the largest opening ever in China, taking in $58 million in its first weekend. Cameron was in Beijing this week for the second Beijing International Film Festival and Beijing Film Market. Also attending the festival's star-studded opening ceremony on Monday were Fox chief Jim Gianopulos Avengers star Jeremy Renner, Hong Kong actor-producer Andy Lau and local auteur Ann Hui.
RESULTS SEASON: NETFLIX, NINTENDO CLOBBERED. IMAX UP
Netflix's stock got clobbered in trading this week, dropping more than 10 percent Tuesday following a lower subscriber forecast for the current quarter and news that it will spend money on the launch in another European country late this year.
Netflix fell to a loss in its first quarter even while adding 3 million streaming members to its ranks, bringing its total to 26 million worldwide. Revenue grew to $870 million from $719 million in the year-ago quarter, and the company reported Monday a net loss of $5 million, reversing net income of $60 million a year ago. The loss marks the first quarter in seven years where Netflix was unable to turn a profit.
While Japanese gaming giant Nintendo booked its first loss in over 30 years, losing 43.2 billion yen ($533 million) in the fiscal year ended March 31 as revenue fell 36 percent on weaker demand and price cuts for its Wii and portable 3DS consoles. Annual sales were down to 647.65 billion yen from over 1 trillion yen ($12.5 billion) the previous year.
But Canada's IMAX Corp. on Friday swung to a first quarter profit on higher recurring revenue from digitally super-sizing and screening Hollywood tentpole titles. Earnings for the three months to March 31 were $2.5 million, compared to a loss of $1 million in 2011, due in part to a one-time charge of $2.1 million related to a discontinued subsidiary last year. Overall revenue rose 23 percent to $55.6 million.
REDFORD, T-BONE OPEN SUNDANCE LONDON
Robert Redford officially opened the inaugural Sundance London film and music festival this week, joined on the stage of the sprawling O2 arena by music legend T-Bone Burnett and author/screenwriter Nick Hornby (High Fidelity).
The fest also secured a Royal seal of approval with HRH the Prince of Wales signed up to introduce the global theatrical premiere of Harmony: A New Way of Looking At Our World.
U.K. STUDIOS BRACE FOR SPORTS ONSLAUGHT, TEAM BBC OUTNUMBER TEAM GB
U.K. distributors are steeling themselves to face down a perfect storm of sporting entertainment this summer, including the European Soccer Championships, Wimbledon tennis tournament and the London 2012 Olympics. The U.K. Film Distributors Association, whose members include all the major studio overseas' outposts and account for more than 97 percent of all titles released in the U.K., said there are several high-profile rollouts scheduled during and around the events.
Warner Bros. is planning to unleash The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in what will be the final build up to the London 2012 Olympics. And on July 27, Universal is planning the British rollout for its family adventure The Lorax, already a U.S. box office hit, on the day of the Games' opening ceremony.
Fox’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Paramount's G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Ted, Universal's adult comedy are among the other studio tentpoles set to square off against the British summer of sport.
Meanwhile, the BBC appears more than ready to face the Olympic storm. There will likely be more accredited BBC staff for this summer’s Olympic Games than competing British athletes, according to media reports. The pubcaster has dished out passes to 765 staff to cover London 2012, up from the 493 that worked for the Corporation on the Beijing Games.
The official number of athletes selected to compete for Team GB has not been released as yet but estimates put the team at around 550.
IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN IN GERMANY
Kermit the Frog has run afoul of Germany's media authorities, with local watchdogs finding the amphibian showman guilty of illegial product placement after his appearance last year on commercial network Pro7.
ZAK, the federal commission charged with regulating the German airwaves, found Kermit guilty of illegal product placement in an appearance last year on commercial network Pro7. Kermit used the on-air spot to promote the theatrical release of Disney's The Muppets. Because the promo was not marked on screen as an ad, Pro7 violated German media laws banning product placement. Pro7 has admitted the error.
CANADIAN BREAKFAST PORN
And finally, Canada found a new home for hard news when a cable glitch caused a local morning newscast on Hamilton, Ontario-based TV station CHCH-TV to be rudely interruped by three minutes of a gay porn film. CHCH appologized to its viewers but blamed the mix-up on cable provider Shaw Cable.