Weekly International News Wrap: ‘Battleship’ Opens Early Abroad, Rupert Murdoch Gets Mixed News and Drag Is Set to Come to Aussie Primetime TV
LONDON – Universal’s Battleship opens in international markets this week, giving it a bigger head start abroad than any summer tentpole release in history. Sony’s new CEO is looking for success with a new corporate vision he unveiled this week. In the U.K., Daniel Radcliffe and Adele topped lists of rich young celebrities, while Simon Cowell’s TV show feels ratings pressure from competitor The Voice. And while Russians lust for adaptations of foreign TV shows, an Australian network is bringing drag to primetime with a musical reality series.
Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look back at the media stories making headlines across the world this week.
'BATTLESHIP' OPENS EXTRA EARLY ABROAD
Universal’s Battleship is rolling out internationally this week and weekend, becoming the first summer tentpole in Hollywood history to target foreign audiences 5 weeks before its U.S. debut on May 18. Directed by Peter Berg, Battleshipstars Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Brooklyn Deckerand Liam Neeson.
More and more, Hollywood studios are testing the once-taboo practice of opening a film first overseas if it is better for scheduling purposes. A movie's performance at the U.S. box office often drove its foreign run, but that is no longer true as most tentpoles nowadays make the lion's share of their money overseas.
NEW CEO SAYS 'SONY MUST CHANGE’
At a strategy meeting in Tokyo, new Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai outlined his vision for turning the electronics and entertainment giant around.
“Sony must change; Sony will change,” said a defiant-sounding Hirai. He said that focusing on emerging markets, reducing the time it takes to develop products and turning around the conglomerate’s troubled TV set division are at the heart of his strategy.
ADELE, DANIEL RADCLIFFE TOP U.K. RICH LISTS
Actors, such as Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson, musicians, led by Adele, and models dominate the Young Rich List of British millionaires age 30 and under that The Sunday Times is scheduled to publish later this month.
Its Rich List 2012 is topped by the Harry Potter star who is worth $85.9 million, followed by Twilight star Robert Pattinson with $63.6 million.
Adele topped the list of young British singers with an estimated fortune of $31.8 million.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MURDOCH
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch got some good news and some bad news this week. Australian pay TV firm Foxtel, controlled by his conglomerate, got regulatory approval for its acquisition of competitor Austar, which is 54 percent-owned by John Malone's Liberty Global.
But later in the week, a U.K. lawyer said he plans to file three phone hacking lawsuits against News Corp. in the U.S. This would bring the scandal that has engulfed the company’s U.K. newspaper operation to U.S. courts for the first time.
U.K. TALENT COMPETITION SERIES SHOWDOWN HEATS UP
In the ratings battle of U.K. talent competitions, ITV1's Britain's Got Talent will later this month move to a later time slot to avoid an overlap with The Voice on the BBC.
The show, produced by Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment and featuring Cowell as a judge this season, has lost the direct Saturday night showdown with The Voice over the past three weeks during an overlap of the two shows. Last weekend, the latter also drew more viewers overall for the first time when focusing on certain ratings data.
LIONSGATE INTERNATIONAL REORGANIZED
Lionsgate has completed a restructuring of its Lionsgate International division, with new management blood in the sales and publicity forces unveiled Thursday. The mini studio's international feature film arm bolstered its team with a number of promotions following the recent acquisition of Twilight studio Summit Entertainment.
TIM ROTH HEADS TO CANNES AS JUROR
British actor Tim Roth, known for his roles in Reservoir Dogs and Lie to Me, will return to the Riviera next month as president of the Un Certain Regard Jury at the Cannes film festival. He will help pick the best of 20 films selected for the official selection's category alongside a jury that has yet to be announced.
Roth, who first came to Cannes with Quentin Tarantino's 1992 cult hit, will give his honest opinion of the selection and present awards to the winners on May 26, the day before the festival wraps.
ITALY UNVEILS NOMINEES FOR TOP FILM HONORS
Marco Tulio Giordana’s drama Story of A Massacre earned 16 nominations Thursday in the race for the David di Donatello awards, Italy’s top film awards. The movie about a famous 1969 bombing in the country, was followed closely by films from auteurs Nanni Moretti and Paolo Sorrentino.
Story of A Massacre, which was released only on March 30 in Italy and has not yet screened outside the country, has been mentioned as a likely in-competition selection in Cannes next month. The festival is set to unveil its lineup on Thursday.
RUSSIA’S BIG HUNGER FOR TV ADAPTATIONS
The number of Russian adaptations of foreign TV shows went up by one third in 2011, reaching the figure before the 2008 economic downturn. The U.S. remains the biggest supplier of formats, followed by the U.K. American shows accounted for nearly 40 percent of all adaptations.
DRAG GOES PRIMETIME IN AUSTRALIA
Australia’s Ten Network this week unveiled I Will Survive, a new musical reality series that will look to find an actor for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on Broadway.
Created with FremantleMedia Australia, the show has started auditions this week around the country. Finalists in the TV format will be invited on a road trip that will retrace the footsteps of the original movie through Australia’s outback from Sydney to Alice Springs with the contestants required to perform at each outback location.