What's news: Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk is getting raves from critics as it looks to battle a wave of summer sequels. Plus: HBO's Game of Thrones premiere has hit a series rating high, Alec Baldwin is going to star in NBC's live staging of an Aaron Sorkin film and Disney is at odds with its fired Kermit the Frog actor. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
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Look out! Here comes a summer blockbuster hopeful that isn't a sequel or comic-book based and it is getting rapturous reviews. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk lives up to the hype, chief critic Todd McCarthy writes in his review:
Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. These are not the first words you expect to see applied to a giant-budgeted summer entertainment made by one of the industry's most dependably commercial big-name directors.
But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas but that conveys the whole through isolated, brilliantly realized, often private moments more than via sheer spectacle, although that is here, too.
Somber, grim and as resolute in its creative confidence as the British are in this ultimate historical narrative of having one's back to the wall, this is the film that Christopher Nolan earned the right to make thanks to his abundant contributions to Warner Bros. with his Dark Knight trilogy. He's made the most of it.
+ Early takes: The Guardian: Nolan's "best film so far." EW: "easily the best film of the year so far." USA Today: "Nolan's feat is undeniable." Empire: "stunningly rendered." The Telegraph: Nolan is "at the peak of his powers."
Elsewhere in film...
? Sarah Jones' family awarded $3.9M in Midnight Rider verdict. "A railroad owner must pay $3.9 million to the family of a movie worker killed on a Georgia railroad trestle in 2014, a jury decided Monday in civil verdict," the Associated Press reported.
? Disney facing VFX firm's injunction bid. In a new lawsuit, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Beauty and the Beast are now under the microscope for use of facial capture technology.
? Sony Pictures loses key co-financing partner. Insiders say chairman Tom Rothman was not part of the $200M slate deal with LStar Capital in 2014, and he wanted the arrangement to end. Sources deny the studio is in talks with any other slate partner.
? World's largest Imax theater opens in South Korea. The country's largest exhibitor CJ CGV opened the screen on Monday, measuring 31 meters wide and 22.4 meters high. It is about five times the size of screens found in the average multiplex cinema.
^Hollywood's next big thing: Dunkirk star Fionn Whitehead. The 20-year-old, who went from London barista to leading actor, didn't even know what he was auditioning for before landing his high-stakes debut role in Christopher Nolan's war epic.
? Girls Trip director on the backstory of the film. Malcolm D. Lee, helming Universal’s R-rated comedy out Friday, wanted an authentic rebuttal to reality shows like Love and Hip Hop and the Real Housewives franchise. Q&A.
? Sony finds director for Robotech adaptation. Andy Muschietti, who directed the upcoming film version of Stephen King’s It, has been tapped to develop and helm the studio’s adaptation of the anime featuring giant armored warriors.
? Glow actress plans dark comedy. Christina Hendricks, Alysia Reiner and Anna Camp are set to star in Egg, from Marianna Palka, who recently starred in Netflix's wrestling comedy. Production will begin at the end of the summer in N.Y.
? Kyle MacLachlan joins indie drama G.L.O. The Twin Peaks revival star is joining Maria Bello, Josh Wiggins and Taylor Hickson in the indie high school drama. Keith Behrman is directing the film now shooting in northern Ontario.
? Women in Film, The Black List launch feature lab. It will be a weeklong residential program for six writers who will receive one-on-one mentoring with established screenwriters and peer workshopping sessions.
? R.I.P., Evzen Kolar. The veteran film executive, who also produced such movies as Surf Ninjas and City of Industry, has died. He was 67. Full obit.
Noted: James Murdoch joins Tesla board. The 21st Century Fox CEO has been added to the board as the vehicle company has been pressured for months by large investors to add a couple of directors who don't have ties to Elon Musk. Details.
Winter arrived in July with the seventh-season premiere of Game of Thrones, but there's nothing cold about the HBO series' viewership, Michael O'Connell notes:
Coming back from the longest hiatus in its history, the drama nabbed a series high showing for a first-run telecast with an average 10.1M viewers. What's more, initial views from streaming have the tally growing to 16.1M viewers, shattering any previous one-day record for the show.
The show's ratings have risen steadily since it debuted in 2011. The linear premiere of the first episode averaged 2.22M viewers, with subsequent first-run live premiere airings on the network growing until leveling out at the roughly 8M viewers who tuned in to both the fifth- and sixth-season premieres. This latest premiere marks a 27 percent spike from the most recent one.
+ Podcast watch: THR has teamed with the Post Show Recaps podcast for weekly deep dives into each new episode of the HBO fantasy drama. Listen here.
Elsewhere in TV...
? Netflix spending spree boosts subscriber growth by 5M. The streaming giant surpassed expectations by growing to nearly 104M total members during a quarter that has traditionally been weak for its business.
+ More subscribers are now overseas. The company highlighted the "symbolic milestone" of "more international than domestic members" in the latest quarter, ending it with 52.03M international and 51.92M U.S. subscribers.
+ Exec quote: On a call with investors, content chief Ted Sarandos elaborated on the streamer's recent cancellations, noting that "failure is not such a bad thing. If you're not failing, maybe you're not trying hard enough."
? AMC's Walking Dead resumes production after stuntman's death. Five days after the death of stuntman John Bernecker the show resumed shooting and AMC president Charlie Collier flew in from L.A. to be on set in Georgia.
? NBC's A Few Good Men enlists Alec Baldwin. The actor is set to star in a live staging of Aaron Sorkin's film, with Sorkin writing and the net's go-to event producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan attached to EP. Baldwin will play Col. Nathan Jessep.
^Comic Con: What to expect from the big TV panels. With so many options of what to see — not counting activations outside the convention center — here's a look at what to expect from panels including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld, Star Trek: Discovery and more. Full preview.
? CW pilot watch: Valor. Critic Daniel Fienberg takes a closer look at the upcoming military conspiracy thriller that "isn't likely to last long enough to redefine the brand."
? MTV finds Scream season three stars. Rapper-actors Tyga and C.J. Wallace have been tapped for leading roles in the six-episode season, which will return in March with a special three-night binge model.
? ABC's Grey's Anatomy spinoff enlists Paris Barclay. The former DGA president will serve as the producing director and executive producer on the pilot and series, which centers on a group of firefighters.
? FX inks deal with Ex Machina screenwriter. Oscar nominee Alex Garland has nabbed an overall deal with FX productions. He will develop, write and produce TV series for FX networks.
It's a deal: Paradigm to relocate L.A. offices. The agency signed a long-term lease to move to the Wilshire La Peer Building in Beverly Hills. Paradigm will occupy the entire three-floor structure, which it will renovate in advance of its anticipated spring 2018 move-in. Details.
Steve Whitmire, who had voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years before being fired by Disney, says he was let go because he spoke up about changes being made to the character. The Muppets Studio says it was about how Whitmire conducted himself in the workplace, Ryan Parker reports. The dueling claims.
What else we're reading...
— "These male authors don’t mind if you think they’re women." Ellen Gamerman writes: "With psychological thrillers told from a female point of view a hot genre, male writers find an ambiguous pen name doesn’t hurt." [The Wall Street Journal]
— "How casting-couch culture endures in Hollywood." Ellen E. Jones writes: "Despite A-List actors speaking out, harassment is so rife in the film industry that a manifesto has been launched to stop women being propositioned at auditions." [The Guardian]
— "America's Funniest Home Videos is still an ABC hit." Stephen Battaglio looks at why, noting that "AFV viewers watch the show when it airs in its time period, which means they are not zipping through the commercials." [The Los Angeles Times]
— "The future of French cinema?" Richard Rushfield on Valerian: "The success and/or failure of the far-out sci-fi epic could determine the fate of a revolutionary egalitarian approach to filmmaking." [Vanity Fair]
— "Christopher Nolan’s best movie twists, ranked." Andrew Gruttadaro's "annotated, spoiler-heavy countdown of the director’s most effective plot turns." [The Ringer]
What else we're seeing...
+ "Maya Rudolph struggled getting into character as cartoon emoji." [Late Night]
+ Stephen Colbert's "opening monologue" for his Russia theme week. [Late Show]
+ "Billy Crystal vs. David Letterman in embarrassing old clip." [Kimmel Live]
Today's Birthdays: Priyanka Chopra, 35, Kristen Bell, 37, Jared Hess, 38, Vin Diesel, 50, Wendy Williams, 53, Richard Branson, 67, Paul Verhoeven, 79.