What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:09 AM 8/28/2017

by THR Staff

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What's news: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and the VMAs circus took over the Forum last night. Plus: HBO's programming chief talks about a long wait for more Game of Thrones, a Chinese firm sets up a $100M fund for top U.S. directors and ESPN inks a mega-deal for Top Rank boxing. — Matthew Belloni and Erik Hayden

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^Kendrick Lamar's big night at MTV VMAs. The artist took home the award for video of the year at the honors handed out last night. Full winner's listA few memorable moments, noted by Victoria Berggren and Kara Haar... 

+ Katy Perry opened the show by flying over the crowd on a harness. The host of the evening pretended she had lived in space for the past year and just landed on Earth. She opened a newspaper that read "The World Is on Fire" as the headline. Watch. 

+ Taylor Swift debuted her new music video for "Look What You Made Me Do." The video started with the pop singer singing as a corpse in a graveyard. She was biting diamonds and sitting on a throne with snakes while singing her latest single. Watch. 

+ Jared Leto gave a speech in tribute to Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who committed suicide July 20. “I think about his family, his band, who are really his brothers, and I think about his voice … that voice will live forever,” said Leto. Watch.

+ Heather Heyer's mother presents honor. Reverend Robert Lee introduced Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed earlier this month during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. "I want people to know that Heather never marched alone, she was always joined by people from every race and every background," said Bro. Watch.

+ Paris Jackson impersonates Trump. Michael Jackson's daughter also turned her attention to "these Nazi white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country." Watch. 

[icon:rambling] What else happened last night. The cable network also replaced the best female and best male video awards with one artist of the year prize. Best/worst dressed I Red carpet photos I Not on TV. 

  • Movies Knocked Out By Fight


    While new entries disappointed, Saturday night's super-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor was a knockout victory for theaters, Pamela McClintock notes: 

    The fight earned $2.6M from 532 locations in North America locations to come in No. 8. Earlier on Sunday, comScore showed the special event earned $2.4M from 481 theaters, but the grosses were later revised upwards for the U.S. and Canada.

    The result is one of the biggest victories ever for Fathom Events, which partnered with Mayweather Productions in beaming the boxing match into cinemas. In many theaters, the price of entry was north of $20. At the box office, the live broadcast of the fight in theaters scored the third-best showing of the day behind The Hitman's Bodyguard ($3.9M) and Annabelle: Creation ($2.8M), according to comScore.

    The Mayweather-McGregor offering saw its biggest grosses in New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Nashville, San Diego and Miami.

    + Total U.S. box office weekend revenue is estimated at $65M, the worst showing since 2001 ($59.4M), the Sept. 21-23 weekend almost 16 years ago, and down 45 percent from the same frame last year when Don't Breathe opened to an impressive $24.6M. Summer revenue is now down more than 14 percent from 2016.

    Elsewhere in film...

    SAG-AFTRA's newly re-elected president speaks. Fresh off an election campaign that in part relitigated a tumultuous past, president Gabrielle Carteris spoke with Jonathan Handel to process the rough campaign and look to the road ahead. Full Q&A. 

    + On the TV/theatrical deal with the studios and producers: "One thing we did differently was outreach to our high-profile members to get them involved. Several hundred of them engaged in the negotiations. We invited them to pre-meetings and formal negotiating sessions, and they really came out."

    + On the interactive strike: "The interactive strike is the longest strike we have been in. We are willing to go back to the table, but we have promulgated a contract that has garnered more than 50 projects. I hope we can come to a fair contract for our members."

    + On upcoming contract talks: "One is the upcoming commercials contract. Another is Telemundo, which is a big thing for us. Spanish-language content is the fastest growing part of our industry. And we will continue on the path to organize that work."

    ^Chinese film fund bets $100M on Hollywood directors. Patrick Brzeski writes: A mysterious Chinese firm named Starlight Culture Entertainment Group has signed an impressive roster of veteran filmmakers to development pacts, including F Gary Gray, Roland Emmerich and James Wan. Full story. 

    China box office: Valerian notches modest $29M win. That's considerably better than the film's disastrous $17M North American debut and also an improvement on Luc Besson's Lucy, which opened to $20M in China in 2014. Full wrap. 

    Wanda stock crashes amid rumor of chairman's detainment. Dalian Wanda Group forcefully denied rumors that its billionaire chairman Wang Jianlin was detained by authorities. But the damage had already been done to shares in its Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, which plummeted some 10 percent on Monday.

    Alibaba Pictures pacts with Wolf Warrior II production company. Jack Ma's film studio says it will work closely with Beijing Culture on film financing, marketing and distribution after the studio's latest release pulled in more than $800 million.

    Cinefamily suspends activities after sexual harassment allegations. The L.A. independent film venue announced the temporary suspension after two top executives recently resigned from the company. An investigation is underway over the allegations.

    R.I.P., Tobe Hooper. The "horror movie pioneer whose low-budget sensation The Texas Chain Saw Massacre took a buzz saw to audiences with its brutally frightful vision, has died. He was 74," the Associated Press reports.

    Rep Sheet Roundup: A Wrinkle in Time star Storm Reid has signed with CAA, as has Manchester by the Sea star Lucas Hedges … Former The Nightly Show head writer Robin Thede has signed with WME … BuzzFeed star Quinta Brunson has signed with ICM Partners. … Screenwriter and novelist Rafael Yglesias has signed with Verve. More.

  • ESPN Punches Back at UFC

    Illustration by Remie Geoffroi

    Timed to the big fight on Saturday, Top Rank reached a four-year deal with ESPN to bring boxing to linear television for the first time in decades, Marisa Guthrie reports:

    Under terms of the mega-deal, Top Rank will create a direct-to-consumer boxing vertical with international reach, and ESPN will get a minimum of 16 fights a year to run on ESPN (or ABC primetime), with a minimum of two additional direct-to-consumer live boxing cards exclusive to ESPN's upcoming multisport digital service that's set to launch in early 2018.

    Also included in the deal are at least 50 additional hours of programming on ESPN each year, including studio shows, documentaries and other boxing programming. The ESPN deal also all but ends Top Rank's relationship with HBO, where the promoter's fights have aired on PPV.

    "I fucked up the business because the network said, 'What the hell are we doing the minor-league stuff for when all the good stuff is going [to premium cable and PPV]?' " says Bob Arum. "We had a really, really flawed system. The problem was we were all making money with it. So if you're making money, you know, what the hell."

    + Mayweather vs. McGregor pirated streams reach nearly 3M viewers. Illegal streams of the anticipated event were advertised on e-commerce sites including Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, according to digital security company Irdeto.

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    TV Planner: What's ahead this week. Narcos returns for a rebooted third season, Power and Twin Peaks wrap their seasons and Suits celebrates a milestone. Details.

    CBS to acquire Australia’s Network Ten. The deal, which thwarts Lachlan Murdoch's attempt to gain control of the broadcaster, will also see the launch of streaming service CBS All Access down under.

    Paramount Network unveils first Heathers promo. The show is described as a "pitch-black" comedic anthology and the footage includes one of most iconic quotes from the original cult favorite. Watch.

    Fox pilot watch: The Orville. Critic Daniel Fienberg takes an early look at an upcoming series that "isn't the Seth MacFarlane sci-fi comedy that Fox wants you to believe it is." Also: "It's not Galaxy Quest."

    ^Game of Thrones waiting game begins. Sunday night's finale could be the last for a long time. Production on the eighth season is slated to begin in October and run as late as August 2018, sources say. That could push the return of the six-episode final run into 2019 with a more than 16-month gap.

    + HBO programming president Casey Bloys: "Our production people are trying to figure out a timeline for the shoot and how much time the special effects take. The shooting is complicated enough — on different continents, with all the technical aspects — and the special effects are a whole other production period that we're trying to figure out. That is a big factor in all of this."

    + Finale showrunner chat. David Benioff and Dan Weiss both acknowledge the complicated nature of the reveal, with Weiss explaining why it was so challenging to craft the scene. Spoilers here. 

    + Actor chat Liam Cunningham. The actor who plays Ser Davos Seaworth shares his perspective on where the show will go in its final six episodes, and his expectations for the mood for its imminent final table read. Full Q&A. 

    Reminder: Emmy voting ends today. As awards voting heads into its final 24 hours, here's where the competitive television race stands today in the latest Feinberg Forecast and a rundown of who should win and who will win honors in September. 

  • Fall's Most Anticipated Movies

    Looking past summer already? Here's a comprehensive look at this fall's buzzy sequels, notable biopics and a slew of Oscar contenders that are hitting the big screen. Full list.

    What else we're reading...

    "Off with her head." Yashar Ali writes: "Kathy Griffin lost jobs, money, and friends after releasing a provocative image of President Trump. But the comedian refuses to bend the knee." [The Cut]

    "How do you make a TV show set in the West Bank?" David Remnick writes: "What the thriller Fauda reveals about what Israelis will watch - and what they won’t." [The New Yorker]

    "The poetic work of trailer recutters." Patton Oswalt writes: "Online, would-be film editors and directors make new teasers for classic movies, and sometimes they kick loose aesthetic revelation." [The New Yorker]

    "A game you can control with your mind." Cade Metz reports: "A number of companies are working on ways to control machines simply with a thought. But they are likely to be met with skepticism." [The New York Times]

    "Kelly Kahl kept his eye on the prize at CBS." Stephen Battaglio profiles the CBS entertainment president, whose "skills as a network TV scheduler were developed during his years growing up in Burlington, Wis." [The Los Angeles Times]

    Today's birthdays: Armie Hammer, 31, Jack Black, 48, Shania Twain, 52, David Fincher, 55, Jennifer Coolidge, 56, Daniel Stern, 60, Luis Guzmán, 61.