What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 6/29/2018

by THR Staff

Photofest

Today: Summer box-office, despite some high-profile underachievers, is on the upswing. Plus: Disney shuffles its marketing exec ranks, Drake drops a new album, Mark Burnett gets a new MGM deal, and a closer look at the top films of the year at midpoint. — Erik Hayden

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  • Mark Burnett's New Deal

    JC Olivera/Getty

    The reality TV kingpin has been selling series and signing new pacts right and left, Michael O'Connell writes:

    + New contract: The veteran producer and reality pioneer has signed a new deal with the company, one that will see him extend his contract through 2022 and carry the new title of Worldwide Television Group chairman.

    + MGM resume: Burnett has overseen the key acquisitions of unscripted shingles Evolution Media (Vanderpump Rules) and Big Fish Entertainment (Live PD). He has also seen scripted output thrive, most notably with the 2017 breakout The Handmaid's Tale. Fargo, Vikings, Get Shorty and Condor are also on its current slate. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    Showtime orders Halo live-action series. Based on the game franchise, the scripted drama from showrunner Killen and director Rupert Wyatt has been slated for 10 episodes by the premium cable network. Pick up I Game's lore.

    YouTube orders Jordan Peele sci-fi anthology. The Oscar-winning writer-director has set the series Weird City at the platform. The straight-to-series pickup comes less than a month after Peele inked an overall TV deal with Amazon Studios.

    DC outlines comic universe streaming service. There will be original TV and animated series based on DC’s characters, a library of shows and movies spanning decades, and will also serve up digital comic books and a storefront.

    ► Amazon makes play for younger viewers with YA orders. Picked up to pilot are Panic, from writer Lauren Oliver and based on her book of the same name; The Wilds, from Sarah Streicher; and drama College, from Marja-Lewis Ryan.

    ^CBS' Late Show gives floor to Jon Stewart for Trump remarks. "I know you're upset about all the criticism you've been taking with the fake news and the fake late-night show, it's just that we're all still having a hard time adjusting to your presidency as it goes into its' 500th year." Full clip. 

    HBO's televangelist comedy finds stars. The premium cable network has handed out a pilot order to the comedy The Righteous Gemstones, with Danny McBride (also writing and directing) and John Goodman starring.

    Netflix to adapt Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. Sources say the streamer hopes the British Indian author's magical realist novel will help the company expand further into the Indian market. Details.

    Comedy Central plans Bruce Willis roast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will preside while Nikki Glaser, Lil Rel Howery, Dom Irrera, Edward Norton, Kevin Pollak, Jeff Ross and Cybill Shepherd will be present.

     World Cup TV ratings strong, not historic. Viewership figures for the first round of the tournament have been impressive with several on-field upsets helping to drive international viewership. Ratings I Telemundo suspends hosts. 

    *R.I.P., Harlan Ellison. The eccentric science-fiction writer and fantasist, whose innovative body of work spanned novels, short stories, comic books and one contentious episode of the original Star Trek, has died. He was 84. Full obit. 

    + CAA launches online database of TV writers of color. The agency's Amplify Database is a searchable directory of more than 800 television scribes of color. The pool of writers was compiled based on voluntary self-identification and publicly available sources. Details.

  • Summer Box-Office Boom

    Courtesy of Marvel; Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    The summer box office is headed for near-record levels, a consolation prize of sorts as Hollywood braces for a studio consolidation, Pamela McClintock writes:

    + Optimistic so far: Revenue for the season is pacing 15 percent to 16 percent ahead of last summer, when ticket sales fell to their lowest level in more than a decade, according to comScore. At its current pace, summer 2018 could come close to matching the May-August stretch in 2013, when revenue hit a record $4.8 billion at the domestic box office.

    + Big picture: Despite certain blips, the summer season has cemented a year-over-year gain. Earlier this week, 2018 domestic revenue hit $6 billion faster than any year in history. That represented an eight percent uptick over 2017, and revenue for the full year could set a new record, eclipsing the $11.4 billion collected in 2016. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    Legendary lands $1B revolving credit facility. Just three months after former attorney Joshua Grode joined the studio as CEO, he has quickly made his mark with the new facility, which replaces the previous $585M credit facility with favorable terms.

    Disney's Indiana Jones 5 delayed as writer is brought on. Jonathan Kasdan, the son of Raiders of the Lost Ark scripter Lawrence Kasdan, is being brought on to write a new draft of the feature. It will miss a July 10, 2020 release date.

    Warner Bros.' Shining sequel enlists Rebecca Ferguson. The actress is in talks to star opposite Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep, the author’s follow-up to 1977's title that was the basis for the 1980 horror classic from Stanley Kubrick.

    Disney marketing executive shuffle. Ricky Strauss, who has led marketing for Disney's film studio for six years, is transitioning to a new role running content and marketing for the entertainment company's forthcoming streaming service. Asad Ayaz will assume the role of president of marketing for the studio. Details.

    ► Michael Moore teams with Tom Ortenberg to release Fahrenheit 11/9. The doc maker unveiled the release date (Sept. 21) and showed off footage from his upcoming doc focused on Trump during his interview with Stephen Colbert. 

    ^Socially progressive Westerns are highlighting female and native stories. New projects like Damsel and Woman Walks Ahead are reflecting a more inclusive view of the West, distancing themselves from their predecessors' habit of objectifying women and marginalizing Native American characters. Full story.

    Universal, Blumhouse find director for Stephen King adaptation. Fatih Akin, the German director behind last year's Golden Globe winner In the Fade, will direct Firestarter based on the 1980 book. Scott Teems will adapt.

    Universal unveils trailer for The House With a Clock in Its Walls. The Cate Blanchett and Jack Black movie is based on the 1973 gothic horror novel by John Bellairs. The Eli Roth-directed film will hit theaters on Sept. 21. Full clip.

    Fox 2000's Amy Adams drama sets fall 2019 release. Filmmaker Joe Wright's The Woman in the Window, starring Adams, will open in theaters on Oct. 4, 2019. The movie is set for the same corridor where Gone Girl found success.

    AMC Theatres, Real D Renew Pact for 3D Screens. The new deal through 2024 also includes a commitment by AMC, the country's largest circuit, to install RealD 3D systems in new theaters, as well as upgraded existing locations.

    ► Theater Owners elect new NATO chairman. Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob has been named chairman of the trade association, and Marcus Theatres' Rolando Rodriguez has been elected vice chairman.

    *R.I.P., Stanley Anderson. The stage, film and TV actor known for playing the president in a number of movies, has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 78. Obit.

    + THR chief critic picks top films at year's midway point. Todd McCarthy writes: The first six months of 2018 at the movies have yielded an exceedingly modest crop, though some soon-to-be-released favorites from Sundance and Cannes will liven things up. His favorites.

  • Media Confronts Attack

    SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

    The story developed in a pattern that's become all too familiar in recent months, Jeremy Barr writes: 

    Details: By the end of Thursday the incident became clearer: five journalists at Maryland's Capital Gazette newspaper, including the editor, had been gunned down by a man in his 30s for a still-unknown reason. The suspect was charged this morning. 

    Light on punditry: On cable news the programming was heavy on breaking news coverage, as details were still flying in left and right as the day drew to an end. But, some in media and entertainment couldn't resist putting the blame on the president and his administration. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    "Movie studio seeks a behind-the-scenes role in L.A. schools." Ryan Faughnder writes: "The superhero project is part of a new school initiative crafted by movie and TV studio Warner Bros." [Los Angeles Times]

    "Taylor Sheridan is this century's John Ford." Stephen Rodrick's profile: "Seven years ago, Sheridan was a forty-one-year-old struggling actor living in a dingy Hollywood apartment." [Esquire]

    "A Senate committee votes for peace in the music industry." Ben Sisario writes: "The Music Modernization Act moves one step closer to law. It aims to bring analog-era music copyright law into the digital age." [New York Times]

    "Biggest questions facing Drake on his Scorpion album." Andrew Unterberger notes: "there's a reason why you rarely read a Drake essay these days without the phrase "too big to fail" appearing at least once." [Billboard]

    "AT&T, Sprint boost customer fees." Drew FitzGerald writes: "The administrative increases will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the companies." [Wall Street Journal]

    "The psychology of MoviePass outrage." Alyssa Bereznak writes: "Subscription services offer financial incentives that users love to get really mad about. Why can’t we be rational about companies like MoviePass?" [The Ringer]

    From the archives...

    + On June 29, 1972, Warner Bros. hosted the world premiere of Robert Redford's political drama The Candidate: "Redford, who dominates the picture, has never been more assured or appealing." Flashback review.

    Today's birthdays: Colin Jost, 36, Melora Hardin, 51, Matthew Weiner, 53, Sharon Lawrence, 57, Richard Lewis, 71, Gary Busey, 74.