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11-24-2022 Daily Edition November 23, 2022

Daily Edition

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Tracking for $150M-$170M Domestic Box Office Opening

The long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water should open to at least $150 million-$170 million when sailing into North American theaters on Dec. 16, according to early tracking. And those are conservative estimates. Directed by James Cameron,The Way of Water hits the big screen more 13 years after Avatar made history in becoming the […]

The long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water should open to at least $150 million-$170 million when sailing into North American theaters on Dec. 16, according to early tracking. And those are conservative estimates.

Directed by James Cameron,The Way of Water hits the big screen more 13 years after Avatar made history in becoming the top-grossing film of all time at the global box office, a crown it still wears today with more than $2.92 billion in ticket sales, counting re-releases and not adjusted for inflation. That includes a domestic tally of $785.2 million.

More bullish observers believe the Christmas corridor tentpole has a shot at becoming only the fourth December tentpole to cross $200 million in its opening weekend behind last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260.1 million), 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248 million) and 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($220 million). One difference: those films were all fanboy events, whereas the first Avatar was more of a slow burn.

Cameron’s groundbreaking movie opened to $77 million over the Dec. 18-20 weekend in 2009, and then enjoyed extraordinary legs.

Other variables: The Way of Water is 30 minutes longer than Avatar, or three hours and 10 minutes, meaning the sequel will have fewer showtimes.

Avatar 2 hopes to join an elite club of longer Hollywood tentpoles that have done blockbuster business in theaters, including Avengers: Endgame (three hours and 2 minutes) and Cameron’s Titanic (three hours and 14 minutes). The two films rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on Comscore’s list of the top-grossing movies of all time at the worldwide box office behind Avatar, not adjusted for inflation.

Disney inherited the Avatar franchise when buying up 21th Century Fox, including 20th Century.

Cameron produced the sequel alongside his longtime Lightstorm partner Jon Landau. It stars Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.

In September of this year, Disney and 20th Century issued a remastered version of the first Avatar in order to prime audiences for the sequel. The rerelease grossed an impressive $76 million-plus at the global box office, bringing the film’s current gross to more than $2.92 billion.

Way of Water once again centers on Worthington’s Sully and Saldaña’s Na’vi character, Neytiri. It picks up a decade after the original and follows their family, with additional stars, including franchise newcomers Vin Diesel and Kate Winslet.

In addition to coming on tracking on Wednesday morning, Disney said Tuesday night that The Way of Water has landed a coveted China release on Dec. 16.

Senate Panel to Hold Hearing on Concert Ticket Sales Following Taylor Swift Eras Tour Fiasco

Taylor Swift’s Eras tour fiasco at Ticketmaster in November may have shined a light on a larger issue. A Senate antitrust and consumer rights subcommittee says it will be holding a hearing — on a date to be determined — on concert ticket sales following the debacle.  U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee […]

Taylor Swift’s Eras tour fiasco at Ticketmaster in November may have shined a light on a larger issue. A Senate antitrust and consumer rights subcommittee says it will be holding a hearing — on a date to be determined — on concert ticket sales following the debacle. 

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) say they will be looking into the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. “The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” says Klobuchar. 

On Nov. 15, Ticketmaster experienced issues and site slowdowns during Swift’s presale for verified fans. The company sold two million tickets during the presale but continued to have problems the following days, which resulted in Ticketmaster canceling the general sale, citing high demand. Fans quickly took to social media, slamming the entertainment giant and expressing their concerns. 

“American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues,” says Lee. 

The Senate hearing announcement follows the Minnesota Senator writing an open letter to Ticketmaster’s President and CEO Michael Rapino, questioning the company about its business practices. She also explained that she’s been skeptical about the company since it merged with Live Nation in 2010.  

Other lawmakers quickly chimed in, with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) joining Klobuchar in calling on the Department of Justice to hold the company accountable for “anticompetitive behavior and investigate the state of competition in the market for live entertainment.” Top legal chiefs in several states also added that they have launched investigations into Ticketmaster. 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added, on Twitter, during the Swift ticket debacle: “daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with Live Nation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.” 

Before the ticket sales issue, Live Nation released their most recent earnings report on Nov. 3. According to the results, Live Nation saw 44 million fans attend 11,000 of its events in the most recent quarter, with ticket sales for concerts up 34 percent. 

While the Senate panel hearing date has not been released at this point, the White House also posted on Twitter saying the Biden Administration wants to cut down on “junk fees” for tickets, airlines and hotels. 

Margot Robbie Says ‘I, Tonya’ Made Her Realize She Was a “Good Actor” (Prompting Her to Email Quentin Tarantino)

Margot Robbie made history in London on Tuesday, becoming the youngest-ever star to be given a special “BAFTA: A Life in Pictures” tribute. Usually an event reserved for actors and filmmakers with decades of work under their belts, BAFTA welcomed the 32-year-old two-time Oscar nominee to its London headquarters in full acknowledgment of her achievements […]

Margot Robbie made history in London on Tuesday, becoming the youngest-ever star to be given a special “BAFTA: A Life in Pictures” tribute.

Usually an event reserved for actors and filmmakers with decades of work under their belts, BAFTA welcomed the 32-year-old two-time Oscar nominee to its London headquarters in full acknowledgment of her achievements since breaking out in 2013 with both About Time and The Wolf of Wolf Street, noting that she had appeared in almost 30 films while also carving out a hugely successful career as a producer.

Among the titles given the spotlight in a conversation that spanned the breadth of Robbie’s career so far, starting with her teenage years on Australian cult soap opera Neighbours and concluding with her latest feature, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon (for which she’s heavily tipped to get her third Oscar nomination), was her 2017 hit I, Tonya, in which she played disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding.

The first major production from Robbie’s own LuckyChap Productions banner, which she set up in 2014, I, Tonya also offered another key milestone, she admitted.

I, Tonya was the first time I watched a movie and went, ‘OK, I’m a good actor’,” she told the audience. With this realization, she said she then felt like she was “good enough” to be “ready to reach out to my idols,” which included Quentin Tarantino, a move that eventually led to her playing Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Although she didn’t know he was prepping the movie at the time, she said that working with Tarantino had long been a “bucket list thing for me.” In the end, Robbie became the director’s solitary choice to play Tate.

After the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the film faced criticism over Robbie’s lack of screen time and lines, something she said “did not bother” her. Although she admitted that several scenes she’d filmed had been cut, she “watched it and thought we got across what we wanted to get across.”

Robbie also admitted to mimicking a scene from the film in which Tate watches her own movie in the cinema, going to the same theater where it was shot by herself where Tarantino’s feature was screening.

“I just went there and watched it on a random Tuesday afternoon and sat in pretty much the same seat,” she said. “I had pretty much the same experience [as Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood], even down to the fact that the person I bought the ticket off was like, ‘but you’re in the movie,’ and I was like, ‘I know’.”

Just like in the film, the ticket seller even asked for a picture with Robbie, “I was like, ‘We’re practically doing the scene from the film’!”

‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Review: Disney+’s Delightful Standalone

Marvel's goofiest cosmic heroes stop by Earth in hopes of picking up the perfect present for Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) in a Christmas-themed entry from writer-director James Gunn.

In retrospect, it makes an odd sort of sense that the first Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes to get their own Christmas special (that is, a proper Yuletime-themed standalone and not merely a story set in late December; sorry, Iron Man 3 and Hawkeye) would be the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sure, they’re literal aliens so new to the entire concept that they understand Santa to be a flamethrower-wielding freak whose elves want to stab his eyes out, as spelled out in a jaunty original tune over The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special‘s opening credits. But of all the Marvel sub-franchises, none have been more explicitly focused than this one on the holiday-appropriate concepts of family, love and home — and none better at spiking the deep feelings associated with them with just enough irreverence to keep its sweetness from turning cloying.

Written and directed by James Gunn, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special opens by bringing in the big guns, emotionally speaking: an animated flashback invoking memories of Yondu (Michael Rooker), whose death in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 still ranks high on any list of Marvel’s most tearjerking moments. Here, the irascible Ravager fills the genre-requisite role of Christmas skeptic — Kraglin (Sean Gunn), in the live-action present, explains it’s Yondu who ruined the day for a young Peter by trashing his tree, throwing out his presents and scolding him for his sentimentality.

Moved to pity by this anecdote, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) takes it upon herself to “save” the day for Peter, who’s been grieving Gamora since the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Enlisting the help of her BFF Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis sets out for Earth in search of Kevin Bacon — a hero Peter speaks of with such reverence that the duo assume him to be ruler of all Earth, or at least of most people — with the intention of delivering him to Peter as the perfect gift.

The special devotes a sizable chunk of its 40-ish minute run time to sitting back and enjoying the spectacle of Mantis and Drax, total weirdos even by Guardians standards, struggle to make sense of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. Upon landing near the Walk of Fame, they fall in with the costumed characters posing for photos by the Chinese Theater and discover tequila shots at a raucous bar. They also learn, eventually, that Kevin Bacon is not a real hero but only an actor who plays heroes, providing the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special cast with many (maybe too many) opportunities to make winking comments about how totally repugnant actors are.

The chaos that ensues once they find him is predictably zany, with Mantis reassuring a pair of terrified cops that “We are not doing anything wrong, we are just taking the legendary hero Kevin Bacon to give him as a present to our friend, who is sad about Christmas.” The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special contains few real curveballs, give or take a delightfully eclectic soundtrack that eschews the usual “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World” covers for the likes of Fountains of Wayne’s “I Want an Alien for Christmas.”

But that’s hardly a complaint when shocking the audience was never the project’s goal to begin with. It was to deliver on all the twinkly lights and fuzzy feelings we’ve come to expect from our Christmas entertainments, and that it does in spades. So of course there’s a moment when a character’s face lights up with awe at the sheer magic of the moment, and another when a character tearfully declares something “the greatest Christmas gift I could ever get.” Of course the real Christmas spirit winds up being the friends we made along the way, or something, even if one of the “friends” in this case is a disoriented A-list actor who has no idea how he wound up partying with extraterrestrials in the first place.

The Scrooge in me can’t help but point out that, despite the gang’s adorably scrappy vibe, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is as slick a bit of marketing as they come. Its release could not be better timed to remind audiences how much we love these characters, who haven’t headlined a big-screen adventure in five years. The script is sprinkled with crumbs of awkward (though thankfully easy to ignore) exposition that will surely become relevant once they return to theaters in 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. And the whole project is underwritten by the kind of studio clout and money that can get a Kevin Bacon to show up and hang out with aliens for a few days.

And yet it all works, at least if (like me) you’re a bit of a sucker for the Guardians to begin with. It’s funny enough to provoke out-loud laughter and poignant enough to elicit that telltale sting behind the eyes, if not quite enough to draw full-on tears. Maybe it lacks the heft of a true Guardians feature or series, but it’s exactly the holiday confection you’d want from this motley crew: shiny, fluffy and just odd enough to feel personal.