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Your Daily Edition July 20, 2016

Daily Edition

Box-Office Preview: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ Targets $55M-$60M Bow

Justin Lin directs the third installment of Paramount's rebooted series, which makes its official world premiere Wednesday at Comic-Con; 'Ice Age: Collision Course' and 'Lights Out' also open nationwide, while 'Absolutely Fabulous' debuts in select theaters.

All eyes will be on the North American box office this weekend to see if Paramount's Star Trek Beyond can beat expectations and chase away the blues impacting a wide array of studio tentpoles so far this summer.

Prerelease tracking shows the movie — which makes its official world premiere Wednesday night at Comic-Con — opening in the $50 million-plus range, but good reviews could push that number past $55 million, if not $60 million. But to match the last two films in the rebooted franchise, Star Trek Beyond will have to do more; Star Trek Into Darkness opened to $70.2 million in May 2013, while Star Trek blasted off with $75.2 million in May 2009.

Whatever the case, Star Trek Beyond will have no trouble taking the box-office crown. Paramount co-financed the $185 million movie with Skydance Productions.

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Justin Lin took over directing duties from J.J. Abrams, who helmed the first two installments in the revived franchise. Simon Pegg wrote the script with Doug Jung, while Abrams' Bad Robot banner produced the film.

Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and the late Anton Yelchin reprise their roles, while Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella join the franchise. This time out, the crew of the USS Enterprise are stranded on an unknown planet, where they face a new enemy, the ruthless military commander Krall (Elba). 

Star Trek Beyond currently boasts a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, ahead of the 86 percent rating for Into Darkness but slightly behind the 2009 film (95 percent). Overseas, the sci-fi tentpole opens in roughly 46 percent of the marketplace this weekend, including the U.K., Australia, Russia and Germany. It doesn't land in China until Sept. 2, however

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The weekend's two other new wide releases are New Line Cinema's horror pic Lights Out and Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth outing in Fox's animated film franchise. If tracking is right, Collision Course will open in the $25 million range, a series low. The movie faces plenty of competition, between The Secret Life of Pets and the staying power of Finding Dory.

The last film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, debuting to $46.6 million domestically in July 2012, made 82 percent of its final gross overseas, a massive $716 million, and Collision Course is already off to a strong start offshore, earning an early $127 million. The franchise is especially huge in Latin America.

The voice cast sees the return of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez, Pegg and Chris Wedge. Newcomers include Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Devine, Nick Offerman, Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Roach.

Mike Thurmeirer and Galen T. Chu directed from a script by Michael J. Wilson. Critics have been none too kind to Collision Course, which currently sports a 15 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lights Out, from New Line and distributed by Warner Bros., is a microbudgeted horror film produced by James Wan. The pic, starring Teresa Palmer as a young woman who tries to protect her brother from a malevolent spirit connected to their mother's past, is tipped to earn $13 million-$15 million in its debut, according to Warner Bros. insiders. Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, Billy Burke and Maria Bello also star.

Elsewhere, Fox Searchlight opens the adult-leaning British comedy Absolutely Fabulous in select markets across the country. The film, targeted at women and directed by Mandie Feltcher, is based on the television show of the same name written by Jennifer Saunders, who stars opposite Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks.

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‘Pokemon’ Movie Rights Land at Legendary

After the new augmented reality game Pokemon Go became a sensation, the studio sealed a deal for film rights with the Japanese-based The Pokemon Co.

On the heels of Pokemon Go fever, Legendary has closed a deal for the film rights for the iconic Japanese property.

Legendary and The Pokemon Co. on Wednesday announced that they will launch the first Pokemon live-action film franchise based on Detective Pikachu, a new character in the Pokemon universe.

Details on the plot and story of the character are being kept under wraps. The film will be fast-tracked to start production in 2017.

Back in April, before the augmented reality game had become an obsession, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed that Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment, which since January is a division of China's Dalian Wanda Group, was nearing a deal for the Pokemon property in a top-secret auction.

After Pokemon Go, an app game that allows users to travel around collecting Pokemon, became a phenomenon quickly after its July 6 launch, Legendary set about closing the deal with The Pokemon Co., the Japanese outfit that manages the rights to the franchise spun from the hit Nintendo game. Sources say Netflix was very hot on the property.

Universal Pictures will handle distribution of the live-action film outside of Japan. Toho will handle distribution in Japan.

Pokemon, first created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, is a franchise of video games, trading cards, TV shows, comic books and movies that center on the unique creatures that are collected by Pokemon Trainers, who then train them to battle for sport.

The first video game, launched for Game Boy, was released in 1996. The first film, Pokemon: The First Movie — Mewtwo Strikes Back, was released in 1998 and there have been 19 films released based on the property.

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Some ‘Divergent’ Stars Expected to Opt Out as Finale Shifts to TV

Sources say the studio will reconfigure the project, dubbed 'Ascendant,' as a TV movie and position it for a spinoff series.

In a shocking move, Lionsgate is jettisoning the finale of its Divergent Series to the small screen.

Sources say the studio will reconfigure the project, dubbed Ascendant, as a TV movie and position it for a spinoff series, with Lionsgate TV taking the reins on production. Lionsgate declined comment.

Shailene Woodley starred in the first three movies, which never lived up to expectations as the next big YA franchise. It is unclear whether she or her co-stars Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort would return for a TV version, but a source close to the actress wouldn't rule it out. It's worth noting that Woodley has made the leap to the small screen with HBO's upcoming limited series Big Little Lies, but that likely would be a prestige project.

Woodley, who stars in the series as a woman living in a dystopian world where people are into groups based on their priorities, has been approached to join the TV version of Ascendant, but everything at this point is to be determined, with the ultimate network being a major consideration. Lionsgate will begin shopping the project to networks in the coming days. Though Woodley has been approached, other talent that are signed on for the fourth chapter in the franchise have not received word. Sources say many were blindsided by Lionsgate's plan.

“They haven’t come to us to discuss deals, but if they think they can skimp on actors' options, they can think again,” said the rep of one of the co-stars.

Agents say they expect very serious negotiations for their clients. But some feel it would set a dangerous precedent if actors simply go along with a move from film to TV. Sources say Lionsgate had an option for all of the main talent for the fourth and final film, but it had a theatrical requirement. This new arrangement would involve complete renegotiations of their contracts.

Ascendant was dated for June 9, 2017, but after the franchise's third installment, Allegiant, became a box-office dud — earning just $66 million domestically — Lionsgate began to rethink its strategy for the fourth film based on Veronica Roth's book series. Sources say the stars have not even received a script for the final installment.

For Lionsgate TV, the Divergent series could be a win for the independent studio. The TV arm recently fought to save ABC’s Nashville after the network canceled it and was able to ink the cast — including star Connie Britton — to return for a new season at Viacom-owned CMT. The studio’s other TV credits include Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black and Dear White People adaptation as well as E!’s The Royals.

Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.

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Margot Robbie to Star in, Produce Thriller ‘Bad Monkeys’

Robbie joins fellow producers Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark on the project.

Universal Pictures is hitching a ride on Margot Robbie's rising stardom.

In a move just weeks before the actress stars in Suicide Squad, Universal has optioned the rights to Bad Monkeys, a novel by Matt Ruff, to act as a Robbie vehicle.

She is attached to star and also will produce via her LuckyChap Entertainment banner. Also producing are Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber (Central Intelligence) and Dylan Clark (War of the Planet of the Apes).

Ruff’s 2008 novel centers on a woman named Jane Charlotte, who has been arrested for murder. She denies the charges, saying she is part of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil, Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, aka Bad Monkeys.

This confession lands her in the jail’s psychiatric wing, where she is probed by professionals. The twisty story is meant to keep you guessing whether Jane is crazy, sane or a liar, with many things not as they seem.

LuckyChap’s Josey McNamara will serve as executive producer. Universal executive vp Jon Mone will oversee production on behalf of the studio, while Nicholas Nesbitt will oversee on behalf of Bluegrass.  

Robbie, currently onscreen as Jane in The Legend of Tarzan, also stars in Suicide Squad, which is tracking for one of the biggest debuts this summer ahead of its Aug. 5 opening. The actress plays DC villainess Harley Quinn, one of the most popular characters in the DC stable, and her portrayal has been creating buzz since last year.

Warner Bros. is so impressed with Robbie’s take on the character that it already is developing a spinoff movie, which she would also produce, marking her growing clout as she creates projects for herself. She is expected to show up at Saturday's Suicide Squad panel at Comic-Con.

Robbie is repped by Management 360, Aran Michael Management in Australia and attorney Jeffrey Bernstein. Ruff is repped by publishing agent Melanie Jackson Agency.

RNC Day 3 Speeches: Crowd Boos Cruz, Chants “We Like Mike” for Pence

Eric Trump and Trump's VP pick Mike Pence were two of the speakers who took the stage after Ted Cruz's surprising speech at the RNC on Wednesday.

The third night of the Republican National Convention delivered highly anticipated speeches from Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and from his former GOP rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

While Pence stressed unity within the party amid the night's theme to "Make America First Again," Cruz delivered on the headline-making news that circulated before the night even began when he refused to endorse the official GOP nominee during his primetime address.  

When Cruz took the stage, he stuck to the speech that was delivered ahead of time to media, saying very little about Trump in his speech. Instead, Cruz focused on criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration and on freedom. He did endorse some Trump policies, saying: "We deserve an immigration system that puts America first, and yes, builds a wall."

But when he urged voters to head to the polls to "vote your conscience," adding, "To those listening, don't stay home in November," the crowd realized that the official endorsement was not going to come.

The moment incited chants from the crowd, who began to shout "We want Trump." By the end, the crowd began to boo and Trump himself emerged from the back of the Quicken Loans Arena in a clear bid to pull attention away from his former rival. The cameras focused on a smiling Trump as he greeted and shook hands.

The Trump family and New York delegates were visibly disappointed while Cruz continued to smile on stage. After Cruz concluded his speech, the scene turned chaotic as supporters yelled "Say his name!" and booed while Cruz exited. His wife Heidi Cruz also had to be escorted out amid reports of an altercation with a donor.

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The night's speakers were expected to continue to take aim at Clinton — the presumptive Democratic nominee was the subject of a mock court session put on by Christie the night prior. He had the crowd chanting "Guilty!" and "Lock her up!" when reciting examples of Clinton's acts. Dr. Ben Carson also delivered an eyebrow-raising speech that linked Clinton to Lucifer.

Tuesday also saw humanizing speeches from his children Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. See those and other highlights from Day 2 here.

In addition to being plagued by the plagiarism controversy, the RNC has been hit with criticism that the focus on Clinton is upstaging the point of the convention — to unite the part and celebrate its nominee — and the overwhelmingly white gathering of delegates at the convention.

Several arrests were also made Wednesday afternoon right outside the convention. It appeared at least 10 arrests were made after two police officers were assaulted during an anti-Trump protest.

On Wednesday, Trump arrived to the Cleveland hall via helicopter. Melania Trump was not with him, but will be attending Thursday when her husband will formally accept the nomination with a speech. Trump's appearances tonight mark the third night in a row that he has bucked convention, as candidates typically do not appear until the final night. 

Reaction to Cruz's refusal to endorse Trump was swift, with Trump himself taking to Twitter to comment on his failure to honor the night's pledge:

Disney’s Bob Iger Among Hosts of Hillary Clinton Fundraiser at Haim Saban’s House (Exclusive)

Clinton has never been desperate for support in Hollywood, where everyone from Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams to Jeffrey Katzenberg and Katy Perry has turned out to support the Democratic frontrunner.

Hillary Clinton has scheduled her next Hollywood fundraising event, and it's a big one.

The Democratic frontrunner for president — who officially will secure the party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention, which runs July 25-28 in Philadelphia — will shake hands Aug. 22 at the Beverly Park home of billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban.

Saban is set to host the big-ticket event alongside Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger, Chernin Group chairman and CEO Peter Chernin and entertainment and sports executive Casey Wasserman. (Iger recently joined the effort Wasserman is spearheading to bring the Summer Olympics to Los Angeles in 2024.) All four men are reliable Democratic Party donors and Clinton backers. Additional hosts will be named before the event.

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The gathering is expected to be Clinton's first major Hollywood stop coming off next week's convention. But it's not the first time she's been hosted by longtime supporters Saban and his wife, Cheryl. The couple opened up their home in May 2015 for a fundraising event that also was attended by Chernin and Wasserman

They're just two of many Hollywood A-listers to show their support for Clinton during this campaign. Other notable fundraisers have been hosted by George and Amal Clooney, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, TV producer Karen Mack and husband Russell Goldsmith, and music manager Scooter Braun and his philanthropist wife Yael Cohen Braun.

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Fox News Chaos as Possible Roger Ailes Replacements Identified

What would Fox News look like without Ailes?

Update: 21st Century Fox announced that Ailes will leave the network on Thursday. Read here.

As 21st Century Fox negotiates an exit package with embattled Fox News chief Roger Ailes, one that is expected to conclude imminently, the parent company is also scrambling to put a succession plan together.

Among the names that have emerged: Bill Shine, a longtime Fox News executive who runs primetime programming and also oversees Fox Business Network; Jay Wallace, who in April was promoted to executive vp news and editorial; Jesse Angelo, CEO and publisher of the New York Post; and David Rhodes, a former Fox News staffer who is now president of CBS News.

Sources have dismissed reports that the Murdochs would bring in someone from their British broadcaster Sky. And Rhodes is seen as a real long shot. He has maintained a relationship with Ailes, but he is under contract at CBS, where he has a strong relationship with president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who is known to keep favored executives around for decades.

Ailes, 76, has also been in his Fox News office in Manhattan this week, even as the fall-out from ousted anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit and an internal review conducted by New York law firm Paul, Weiss, have intensified the pressure. Insiders describe a surreal atmosphere, especially as the network has hundreds of staffers in Cleveland for the Republican national convention. “No one knows what the hell is going on,” said one. “We’re just trying to focus on the work.” 

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Meanwhile, Ailes is also being slammed by a bombshell New York magazine report that Megyn Kelly told lawyers conducting the review that she was the target of unwanted sexual advances early in her career at Fox News. (Ailes’ lawyer, Susan Estrich has denied the report. "Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly," she said in a statement released July 19. "In fact, he has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping her achieve the stardom she earned, for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.")

One scenario, say sources, would be to temporarily put Shine and Wallace in a dual role running Fox News, giving the Murdochs time to conduct a search for a permanent replacement. Shine, who has been at Fox News since the network’s inception in 1996, is senior executive vp programming. Sources tell THR he returned to New York from Cleveland on Tuesday amidst the flurry of apparently premature reports that Ailes was out.

Wallace, last April was promoted to executive vp news and editorial (the job previously held by Michael Clemente). He has oversight of Shepard Smith Reporting and the Fox News Deck, as well as the programs that originate from the network's Washington, D.C., bureau such as Special Report with Bret Baier and Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday.

Jay Wallace is known to be well-regarded by Ailes, who said in a network press release announcing his recent promotion: “Jay’s television journalism acumen has played a major role in the success of Fox News throughout his nearly 20 years here and his leadership during the current election season has especially stood out. He’s both liked and respected throughout the newsroom and I’m certain he’ll excel in this position.”

But the question is what would Fox News look like without Ailes?

He has his hand in virtually every aspect of Fox News from coverage to the graphics to guest bookings. He has always viewed himself as a producer. And his laser focus on what is on the television screen — and what viewers will respond to — has made him one of the most successful executives in the business. In building the top-rated cable news network, and a revenue-generating juggernaut, Ailes forged close relationships with his top on-air stars. So much so that Bill O’Reilly, Greta van Susteren and Sean Hannity all have clauses in their contracts that allow them to leave if Ailes does, say multiple sources. It is an unusual wrinkle in an industry where eye-popping salaries are on the wane and many news division heads chafe at the care-and-feeding requirements of their top stars. 

“It’s one of the things that I get accused of — defending talent too much,” Ailes told THR during a wide-ranging interview in March 2015. “But I like talent and think they're vulnerable. They get out there in front of the public and take all the criticism. They do a lot of hard work. So one of my jobs as a producer is to protect them."

Ailes is known to have given O’Reilly in particular, considerable autonomy. “Ailes does not micromanage me,” O’Reilly told THR during a recent interview. “If I do something that tees him off then I'll hear about it, sometimes from him directly. I have to make split-second decisions every day of my life about how to handle people, what questions to ask, my tone. I can't be worrying about what they think. Ailes understands that. He knows I can't be perfect. He knows I'm going to make mistakes. So that's his genius: understanding who the person is.” 

If Ailes’ management style is unusual, it’s also proved effective. He’s created a business that contributes almost 25 percent to the bottom line of 21st Century Fox, the single most profitable asset in the company’s portfolio. Fox News and Fox Business generated $900 million in ad revenue, $1.5 billion in affiliate revenue and $2.5 billion in total revenue last year, according to data from SNL Kagan. Their operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) totaled $1.6 billion. (In comparison, Time Warner's CNN and HLN generated $600 million in ad revenue, $700 million in affiliate fee revenue and $1.4 billion overall, with around $500 million in OIBDA.)

Meanwhile, Kelly, who anchors the network’s 9 p.m. program, is said to be in negotiations with Fox News management for a new deal when her current contract comes up next July. She is the network's second-most watched personality after The O’Reilly Factor. And she's also made no secret of her desire to take the next step in her career and also be home to see her three children. 

Kelly’s live show means she goes to work around the time her kids are coming home from school and gets home after they’ve gone to bed. “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she told Variety in an interview published April 5.

“I’ve had a great 12 years [at Fox News], and I really like working for Roger Ailes. I really like my show, and I love my team. But you know, there’s a lot of brain damage that comes from the job. There was probably less brain damage when I worked in the afternoon. I was less well known. I had far less conflict in my life.”

Kelly has said she’d like to do more interviews, a la Charlie Rose. And a primetime interview special last May on the Fox broadcasting network, produced by Ailes, may have been a trial balloon for a bigger role at the company. So Kelly’s on-air colleagues are waiting to see what kind of deal — and how much power — she’ll get if she stays.

The loss of O'Reilly would also leave a huge hole — and if van Susteren and Hannity also took advantage of their exit clauses, most of the network's primetime lineup would collapse. A potential talent exodus that has not gone unnoticed on Wall Street. 

Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a report Wednesday: "Mr. Ailes is widely viewed as the architect and soul of Fox News Channel. Therefore, losing Mr. Ailes injects some degree of risk into its future. But we struggle to identify any material negative near-term financial implications."

The biggest risk seems to be key talent. "However, we question: where else would they go?" Juenger wrote. "The most damaging theory (and this is just a theory, we have not heard it espoused by journalists or investors) is if Mr. Ailes were to set up a new, competitive network/service and bring this talent with him."

Juenger in that context highlighted that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, "both rather noteworthy personalities of their own, have struggled to set up their own services."

Similarly Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said in a report that he does not expect Ailes’ departure to have a “meaningful impact on the business given the strong political cycle providing a headwind to audience shares and the long-term nature of affiliate fees.”

But he also acknowledged that a "disruption of this nature may introduce some challenges. Reports that the unit’s CEO is set to depart in the wake of sexual harassment allegations introduce concerns for investors beyond the allegations themselves. Fox News is more heavily dependent on its CEO for its personality and operations than are most other networks. Because of this, the network has historically operated as an independent fief, and many of the network’s highest profile on-air commentators evidently prioritize loyalty to its current leader rather than to the parent company. These elements lead investors to question whether recent developments create new risks."

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Feds Look to Seize ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Rights as Part of Malaysian Corruption Action

A complaint filed by the government discusses money to Martin Scorsese's company and who Leonardo DiCaprio thanked during the Golden Globes.

As part of a massive asset seizure tied to what was allegedly stolen from Malaysia, the U.S. government is seeking the civil forfeiture of rights to the Oscar-nominated film, The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Authorities have yet to charge any individuals with embezzlement, but in bringing a civil forfeiture case, federal authorities are targeting more than $1 billion in assets allegedly diverted by high-level officials at the country into a fund called 1Malaysia Development Berdhard (1MDB) and then into shell companies. Some of the money is said in a complaint filed in California federal court on Wednesday to have landed in Beverly Hills and New York City real estate, artwork by Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a Bombardier jet, while some of the funds went into the entertainment business including productions funded by Red Granite Pictures, run by CEO Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

The government now is looking to lay claim to these assets, which not only include rights, profits and royalties to The Wolf of Wall Street but also song publishing divisions of music giant EMI.

According to the complaint, about $100 million went into Red Granite, which has also produced Friends With Kids and Dumb and Dumber To and was previously flagged for using embezzled money in a since-settled civil lawsuit. Of that, tens of millions allegedly went into The Wolf of Wall Street, which tells a financial corruption story of its own by focusing on Jordan Belfort, who was convicted of stock market manipulation nearly two decades ago.

"These funds are directly traceable to the $700 million wire transfer and $330 million wire transfers unlawfully diverted from 1MDB to the Good Star Account," states the complaint.

The feds are also tracing where the money went during the production of Wolf of Wall Street. For example, 17 payments totaling $3.9 million is described as going to Scorsese's company Sikelia Productions. Another $48 million went to a company that managed payroll on the film. At least $4.1 million went to a special effects company, $2.5 million went to the Screen Actors Guild and approximately $80,000 went to a yacht charter company.

Although the film's star Leonardo DiCaprio isn't specifically mentioned, the complaint talks about "Hollywood Actor 1" who during his Golden Globe acceptance speech thanked “Joey, Riz and Jho,” referring to Red Granite principals Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland as well as Jho Low, a Malaysian financier and close associate of Aziz.

The complaint also talks about how Low withdrew more than a million dollars at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas and gambled with Aziz, McFarland and the "lead actor" of Wolf of Wall Street, presumably DiCaprio.

The money was originally earmarked for 1MDB, which according to the U.S., "was ostensibly created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people," before allegedly being diverted between 2009 and 2013. During this time, authorities say that public officials in Malaysia and their associates defrauded foreign banks and laundered money. It's said that the criminal conduct happened in three stages — the first occurred when a billion dollars was sent into a Swiss bank account with allegedly false information provided about ownership; the second occurred through bond offerings arranged by Goldman Sachs and guaranteed by 1MDb and an investment fund owned by the government of Abu Dhabi; the third happened through diversion of money into a bank account in Singapore.

According to the complaint, it was Low who then laundered hundreds of millions of dollars into the United States. Low is accused of using this money to acquire a "substantial interest" in EMI Music Publishing Group besides substantial purchases of real estate and art.

As for Aziz, he was allegedly sent $238 million from the Swiss account, and nearly $100 million went to real estate and the funding of Red Granite (which has been subject to public scorn and shadowy hounding.) States the complaint, "The funds sent from Aabar-BVI to Red Granite Capital, which were thereafter transferred into the United States for use by Red Granite Pictures, did not represent a legitimate investment by 1MDB, IPIC, or Aabar in Red Granite Pictures."

A California federal court will now hear any objections from parties asserting a valid claim to these assets and will ultimately make a determination whether the assets are traced to illicit sources.

At a press conference, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called this a "significant step to combat international corruption" and the "largest single action" ever brought by the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

She clarified that authorities will seek anything that Red Granite would receive going forward from its hit film, but didn't believe it was possible to seize past royalties.

Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general, added that "neither 1mdb or the Malaysian people saw one penny of profit" from Wolf of Wall Street, which was even banned from being shown in Malaysia. She said, "Instead, it went to the relative of corrupt officials."

Update: Here's the statement from Red Granite:

"To Red Granite’s knowledge, none of the funding it received four years ago was in any way illegitimate and there is nothing in today’s civil lawsuit claiming that Red Granite knew otherwise. Red Granite continues to cooperate fully with all inquiries and is confident that when the facts come out, it will be clear that Riza Aziz and Red Granite did nothing wrong. Red Granite does not expect the lawsuit — which is limited to future proceeds generated by a single film, and which was not filed against Red Granite or any of its employees — to impact its day to day operations, and the company continues to move forward with exciting new projects.”

Comic-Con: What to Expect From 11 Big TV Panels

With a seemingly endless number of panels, here's how some of the new and returning shows plan to cut through the Comic-Con clutter.

Cutting through the clutter of 400-plus scripted series in the Peak TV era is a hard task. But being able to grab headlines during San Diego Comic-Con may be even harder as a seemingly endless number of panels highlight the best in TV, film, comics and so much more. With so many options of what to see — and we're not even counting the convention floor — here's a look at what to expect from 11 of the biggest TV panels set to take place during the July 21-24 pop culture geekfest.

1. Game of Thrones (HBO) Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss make a rare public appearance to field questions about the recently concluded sixth season. However, don't expect much from the tight-lipped duo about the future of the series. (Friday, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Hall H)

2. The Walking Dead (AMC) The zombie drama will unspool the trailer for its highly anticipated seventh season, announce a premiere date and reveal the casting for comic book character Ezekiel. But don't expect to find out who was on the receiving end of Negan's bloody beat-down. (Friday, 1-2 p.m., Hall H)

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3. Star Trek (CBS All Access) Celebrating 50 years, the star-studded panel will feature William Shatner and other franchise stars in a conversation moderated by Bryan Fuller, showrunner of CBS All Access' upcoming Star Trek reboot. Our money is that Fuller will introduce (and maybe bring out) his series' new Capt. Kirk. (Saturday, 2-3 p.m., Hall H)

4. Once Upon a Time (ABC) The fantasy drama also will have casting to be revealed for characters from the Land of Untold Stories — perhaps Sinbad and Scheherazade. (Saturday, 10-11 a.m., Ballroom 20)

5. Luke Cage (Netflix) The stars of the Marvel drama will mark their first time at a convention together by unveiling the teaser trailer for the Netflix series and may have some breaking news. (Thursday, 5:45-6:45 p.m., Ballroom 20)

6. Mr. Robot (USA) Fresh off its Emmy nominations, the cast — including leading man Rami Malek — makes their SDCC debut. As for what to expect, showrunner Sam Esmail is still hard at work in the editing bay and won't be attending but may send along an exclusive clip from an upcoming episode of the closely guarded series. (Thursday, 6-7 p.m., Room 6BCF)

7. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Continuing the show's annual tradition, the panel will again feature the writers room spilling secrets behind the nerdy comedy's most beloved scenes. Be on the lookout for special guests, with some stars from the series known to make a surprise appearance. (Friday, 10-11 a.m., Ballroom 20)

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8. American Gods (Starz) Fan favorite Bryan Fuller returns to the Comic-Con stage for his highly anticipated reboot of Neil Gaiman's popular graphic novel. But we're holding out hope for an update on Hannibal. Look at you, fan questions. (Friday, 3:15-4:15 p.m., Room 6BCF)

9. Fear the Walking Dead (AMC) Expect a trailer for the second half of season two to bow as the show returns to Hall H. (Friday, noon-1 p.m., Hall H)

10. Bates Motel (A&E) As the Psycho prequel series approaches its endgame, expect the panel to announce casting of the Hitchcock movie's most iconic character: Marion Crane (originally played by Janet Leigh). (Friday, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Room 6A)

11. Agents of SHIELD (ABC) The fun-loving cast will unveil the blooper reel from season three as well as tease what to expect from season four. (Friday, 3-4 p.m., Ballroom 20)

Bookmark THR.com/ComicCon to keep up with all the highlights. 

 

‘Ice Age: Collision Course’: Film Review

Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary return in a franchise that's starting to show its age.

Toward the end of Ice Age: Collision Course, while attempting to divert the path of an incoming killer asteroid, Ray Romano’s woolly mammoth Manny sighs, “This isn’t working.” It’s a sentiment likely to be shared by many enduring this disappointing chaotic fifth installment of the wildly successful computer-animated franchise.

While the Ice Age movies have increasingly tended to place shtick ahead of substance, there had always remained a certain sweetness at their core, manifested through the various milestones taking place in the main characters’ prehistoric lives. Sadly, 15 years in, even the domestic developments surrounding Manny and his brood have been relegated to the sidelines, displaced by too many shrill characters frantically attempting to pad the emaciated plot.

Given the films’ track record, there’s still sufficient distraction for younger fans to allow Fox to handily build on the more than $2.8 billion they’ve amassed in worldwide grosses to date (it had its premiere at the Sydney Film Festival), but others can’t help but notice the vast emptiness of it all.

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The new chapter, as with the previous ones, kicks off with a Scrat prologue, with Neil deGrasse Tyson this time providing the introduction as the hapless saber-tooth squirrel is chasing his elusive acorn throughout the cosmos, ping-ponging off celestial bodies and helping to initiate the Big Bang Theory in the process.

Meanwhile, back down on terra firma, Manny and Ellie (Queen Latifah) aren’t exactly thrilled about the impending marriage between daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) and the perpetually upbeat Julian (newcomer Adam Devine), but the threat of an empty nest quickly takes a backseat to that ginormous, fiery rock hurtling toward them. Manny desperately needs to come up with a plan, but it’s hard to concentrate, what with the cacophony of creatures that have been crammed into IA5.

Joining the likes of Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Denis Leary), Shira (Jennifer Lopez) and Granny (Wanda Sykes) is a whole menagerie of new characters played by Nick Offerman, singer Jessie J, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Strahan, among others.

It’s as if co-directors Michael Thurmeier and Galen Tan Chu, both veterans of the Ice Age franchise, sensed that there was essentially nowhere left to go with the concept and opted to instead overstuff the production with too many characters breathlessly doing tired, pop culture-heavy “bits” like it was open mic night at the Paleolithic Punch Line.

Even when screenwriters Michael Wilson, Michael Berg and Yoni Brenner, also no strangers to the Ice Age universe, attempt to introduce something fresher, such as Geotopia, a new age-y community living inside a giant geode, the concept never comes to life.

In the absence of a skeleton of a storyline to hang a film upon, you’ve got a lot more of Simon Pegg’s hyper swashbuckling weasel Buck (he sat out Dawn of the Dinosaurs) and noticeably more Scrat, which is never a bad thing — although every time the film checks up on his outer space adventures, it disrupts whatever remaining investment there was in its main plotline.

As always, it all at least looks very nice — the Ice Age movies could always be counted on to possess a state-of-the-art, visual luster, and Collision Course certainly does well by those 3D glasses. At times it feels as if you could reach right out and stroke all that undulating CG fur.

For the most part, though, that blazing asteroid can’t arrive soon enough.

Distributor: Fox
Production companies: Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios
Cast: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Adam Devine, Keke Palmer, Max Greenfield, Jessie J, Jessie Tyler Ferguson, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Wanda Sykes
Directors: Michael Thurmeier, Galen Tan Chu
Screenwriters: Michael Wilson, Michael Berg, Yoni Brenner
Producer: Lori Forte
Executive producers: Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha
Editor: James Palumbo
Composer: John Debney

Rated PG, 94 minutes