What's news: Disney unveiled a torrent of new film slate details (plus fun Star Wars and Avengers footage) at its fan convention this weekend. Plus: BBC finally named a female Doctor Who, Game of Thrones returned with the endgame in mind and Hollywood lost two legends. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
[Note: To sign up to receive this Today in Entertainment briefing by email each day, click here.]
Director Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes succeeded in scaring off Spider-Man: Homecoming at the North American box office, Pamela McClintock writes:
The sequel won the weekend with an estimated $56.5M from 4,022 theaters. That's a relief for 20th Century Fox, considering many had expected a closer race between the two films. Sony and Marvel Studios' rebooted Spider-Man ended up declining more than expected in its sophomore outing, falling 61 percent to $45.2M for a domestic total of $208.3M.
War for the Planet of the Apes came in 22 percent behind sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which debuted to $72.6M in 2014. That's not a terrible fall off but is another reminder of the troubling sequel fatigue that's causing Hollywood studio executives plenty of angst. Fox has said all along this would be the final title in the refurbished series about intelligent primates.
The other big headline: Michael Showalter's The Big Sick, which expanded nationwide after a stellar limited run. The romantic comedy placed No. 5 with $7.6M from 2,597 cinemas for an early cume of roughly $16M.
Elsewhere in film...
► New: China blocks banks from financing Wanda's foreign acquisitions. The order appears to retroactively apply to six of Wanda's largest overseas deals, including the buyout of Legendary and AMC Entertainment, according to a WSJ report.
+ Other Wanda deals included in the order were: U.S. exhibitor Carmike Cinemas, U.K. yacht maker Sunseeker International, Europe's largest movie theater chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group and Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group.
► Luc Besson talks about the risks of Valerian. In conversation with Stephen Galloway, he opens up about his arm's-length relationship with Hollywood and his lifelong obsession with an "impossible"-to-film French comic book. Full Q&A.
► New Matt Damon title to open Venice Film Fest. Alexander Payne's Downsizing will kick off the late August fest. The satire stars Damon as a man who shrinks himself to find a better life. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda will be honored at the fest.
► John Lasseter steps down as Toy Story 4 director. At D23, Josh Cooley was upped to sole director. He previously had been co-director with Lasseter, who will remain as producer. At the same panel, details were revealed for The Incredibles sequel.
► Live-action Aladdin finds its two stars. After a monthslong search and testing over 2,000 actors, relative newcomer Mena Massoud and Power Rangers star Naomi Scott have been cast as Aladdin and Jasmine in the Guy Ritchie-directed movie.
^Star Wars: The Last Jedi footage unveiled. The 3-minute clip unveiled at D23 gives an idea what Episode VIII may look like, but it is vague enough that there's no spoilers. A Carrie Fisher line (and a Mon Calamari joke) make a great kicker. Watch here.
► Avengers: Infinity War footage wows D23 convention. The trailer, screened for attendees and not released online, begins with the Guardians of the Galaxy on their ship, floating through a creepy section of space. Plot details.
► Ava DuVernay's Wrinkle in Time trailer debuts. The nearly 2-minute clip, set to a cover of "Sweet Dreams," features ambitious set pieces and designs for the adaptation of the 1963 children’s classic by Madeleine L'Engle. Watch here.
► Nutcracker remake bumps Mulan for holiday 2018 release. Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, from director Lasse Hallstrom, will hit theaters on Nov. 2, 2018, which had been the studio's date of the live-action Mulan remake.
► Box office: Wonder Woman passes final Harry Potter pic. The tentpole is now the third-biggest Warner Bros. release of all time, not accounting for inflation; if all goes as planned, the studio will announce the sequel at Comic-Con later this week.
Rep Sheet Roundup: Insecure star Yvonne Orji signs with UTA, as has “Birthday Sex” singer Jeremih … Australian pop singer-songwriter Cody Simpson signs with ICM Partners … Keala Settle, a star of Waitress, signs with 42West, as has rapper Meek Mill … Malcolm David Kelley, who played Walt on Lost, signs with Portrait PR. Details.
Welcome back! Sunday's Game of Thrones season seven opener doesn't top last year's explosive finale, but it's still great having the Starks, Lannisters and dragons back on TV, critic Daniel Fienberg writes in his review:
There's been some sense or concern that the seventh season of would follow in the footsteps of several previous shows to get picked up for two concluding seasons, offering a lot of set-up in the penultimate season, but leaving the real action for the eighth season next year.
In that light, it can't be denied that "Dragonstone" is what Game of Thrones premieres have generally been, which is to say primarily table-setting, or at least examining the position of the chess pieces on the table in preparation for larger future movements.
There are very few shows that can deliver as much action and excitement as the season six finale and there are perhaps even fewer shows that can make a table-setting episode this much fun, so it's all the more bittersweet that not only is winter here, but the end is in sight.
Elsewhere in TV...
► BBC reveals first female Doctor Who lead. Jodie Whittaker, 34, will be taking over for Peter Capaldi, who is leaving after the Christmas special. Whittaker has appeared on such shows as Broadchurch and in comedy film Adult Life Skills.
+ Inevitable backlash: Yes, some viewers are now saying that the character "is always a man" and that the BBC "just ruined the character for the sake of political correctness."
► SAG-AFTRA reaches deal with NPR, strike averted. The two sides reached a tentative agreement on a three-year successor contract, as a result of late-night talks near the end of a 24-hour contract extension that came on top of a two-week extension.
► FX's The Strain is redefining itself in its final season. After Sunday's premiere, a chat with showrunner Carlton Cuse, who talks about dramatic endings, departures from the source material, and the challenges of depicting a nuclear winter on television.
► HBO unveils first look at Al Pacino as Joe Paterno. HBO Films has released a new image of the actor as football coach Joe Paterno in its untitled Barry Levinson project on the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
^With 11 new shows, reality dominates summer TV. And NBC's Jennifer Lopez vehicle World of Dance ranks as the top summer freshman since Under the Dome — thanks in part to airing after America's Got Talent, which is averaging a big 3.6 rating among adults 18-to-49 and 15.7M viewers per episode with live-plus-7 Nielsen returns.
► FX plans crime drama from Walking Dead, Fargo creators. Joe and Anthony Russo will adapt The Mastermind, based on the Atavist magazine articles. The drama, currently in development, hails from Fargo's Noah Hawley along with Robert Kirkman.
► Netflix's Narcos plans season three reset. Boyd Holbrook won't be returning as Steve Murphy when the third season premieres in September and the drug cartel shifts its focus to the successors of Pablo Escobar.
► Tyler Perry inks multiyear content partnership with Viacom. Perry has been a reliable producer in the comedy space, including his slate of series on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. Paramount will have first-look rights to his film projects.
► R.I.P., Bob Wolff. He spent eight decades as a sportscaster and provided the play-by-play when the New York Knicks captured their two NBA championships in the 1970s. He was 96. Full obit.
New! Post-Emmy nom race landscape so far. As the dust settles, Scott Feinberg weighs in on the standings for all Primetime categories — and many Creative Arts races, too. Full Feinberg Forecast.
Two screen giants passed away this weekend. George Romero, the Night of the Living Dead director who kickstarted the zombie genre, and Martin Landau, a legendary actor who won an Oscar for Ed Wood. Romero appreciation. I Landau obit.
What else we're reading...
— "John Boyega is Hollywood's next wave." Anna Peele's new cover story profile: "the moment we - the world - realized Boyega was going to be a star was not the same moment when he realized it." [GQ]
— "Naomi Watts: 'My soul was being destroyed.'" Tom Lamont's profile: "At 32, she was unhireable. At 48, she is unmissable. The Gypsy star talks lucky breaks, bad reviews and being in therapy." [The Guardian]
— "Viceland keeps growing - but in what direction?" Jason Parham writes: "The young network's flagship shows are back for a second season. Is there room for them in today's fragmented media landscape?" [Wired]
— "Look out, YouTube and Facebook." Sahil Patel reports: "Amazon has built a platform that not only offers publishers another place to distribute videos but also the opportunity to make money from day one." [Digiday]
— "George Strait's long ride." Kelefa Sanneh's profile: "For decades, he’s been country’s most consistent hitmaker. Can he keep holding on?" [The New Yorker]
— "L.A.'s most expensive new restaurant wants to depress you." Gary Baum takes a critical look at "Vespertine, where a meal can easily run $500 per person and the entire experience is intentionally joyless." Full review.
What's ahead this week...
Monday: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert kicks off "Russia Week" shows ...Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk review embargo lifts at 1 pm PST.
Tuesday: Warner Bros. holds Dunkirk premiere in N.Y. ... Amazon/Magnolia hold Landline premiere in N.Y.
Wednesday: TBS' Conan begins its Comic-Con show lineup with the casts of Bright and Supernatural.
Friday: Valerian, Dunkirk and Girls Trip hit theaters in wide release ... Netflix's Jason Bateman drama Ozark premieres.
Today's Birthdays: Billie Lourd, 25, Jason Clarke, 48, F. Gary Gray, 48, Mark Burnett, 57, David Hasselhoff, 65, Donald Sutherland, 82.