What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:08 AM 1/3/2018

by THR staff

will smith - Getty - H 2017
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What's news: Netflix orders a sequel to the pricey, critically panned Will Smith action film Bright. Plus: James Murdoch may be the odd man out in a Disney-Fox deal, Amazon enlists Kate Beckinsale for a TV thriller and Spotify is hit with a $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit. — Erik Hayden

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  • Netflix Wants More 'Bright'

    The streaming giant has greenlit a sequel to the fantasy cop drama with stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton expected to return, along with director David Ayer, Mia Galuppo and Borys Kit write: 

    + Not returning for round two is writer Max Landis, who was paid a reported $3 million to $4 million for his screenplay in 2016. Multiple sources have told THR that Ayer will take over scripting duties. Bright had a budget of $90 million, making it Netflix's first big foray into tentpole filmmaking. 

    + While the film was largely panned by critics, an average of 11 million U.S. Netflix users streamed Bright during its first three days of release, according to Nielsen. That is likely an underestimate, since Nielsen only tracks the users who watched the film through a TV not counting those that streamed on a computer or mobile device. Details.

    Elsewhere in film... 

    ? Latest Harvey Weinstein fallout: Two investigations into the disgraced mogul on accusations of sexual assault have been filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office and are "under review," spokesman Greg Risling said Tuesday.

    + The Weinstein cases, received on an unspecified date last month, were filed by the Beverly Hills Police Department. The executive has had police reports filed against him in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York and London.

    ? American Cinema Editors unveil nominees. For best edited dramatic feature, Dunkirk and The Shape of Water are nominated with Blade Runner 2049, Molly’s Game and The Post. For the best edited feature film, comedy, Baby Driver is nominated with Get Out, I, Tonya, Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Full list. 

    ? Bollywood is betting on Korean remakes. As official remakes of Hollywood films gather steam in India's Hindi-language film industry, more remakes of Korean action titles are being put into production to capitalize on a national youth craze for all things K-Pop.

    ^At Palm Springs Film Fest last night: "I want to acknowledge what a difficult year 2017 has been for all of us," Jessica Chastain said onstage, helping kick off the fest. "Major change is coming. Change is good. Change is needed. We are all in this together. Each one of us is diminished by flawed systems. Through our joint efforts, we will make things better. We must make things better." 

    Chastain is one of the backers who helped launch the new Time's Up sexual harassment prevention initiative. Last night, the actress put a positive light on some members of Hollywood's male population. "We have sadly heard a lot about the bad boys of Hollywood, but I would like to send some deserved love to a few of the good guys with whom I've had the pleasure of working," she said. More details. 

    ? Get Out takes home another fest top honor. The Jordan Peele film won big at the Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival, taking home the top prize for best picture. Christopher Nolan was honored with the best director prize for Dunkirk. Full list.

    Casting Society unveils Artios Awards nominees. Beauty and the Beast, Guardians Vol. 2, Logan Lucky, Greatest Showman and Wonder will compete in the big budget comedy category and Baby Driver, Detroit, Dunkirk, The Post and Wonder Woman are drama contenders. Full list. 

    ? Universal unveils Fifty Shades threequel trailer. The final installment of the franchise, set for release on Feb. 9, just ahead of Valentine's Day, teases the pregnancy of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). The clip.

    Golden Globes ink Facebook deal for preshow. The two-hour stream will act as this year’s official red-carpet preshow and the HFPA will share coverage from both the red carpet and backstage, updating live on the Globes Facebook page. The red-carpet content will include 360-degree videos and more.


  • Odd Man Out?

    Rupert Murdoch’s younger son, James, who turned 45 in December, has roughly all of 2018 to consider his options with Disney, where CEO Bob Iger is sizing him up for a role after the merger clears regulatory hurdles, Paul Bond and Georg Szalai write: 

    Among the assets Disney is purchasing is Star India and Fox’s 39 percent interest in satellite TV giant Sky, both of which James is an expert at running. His experience with international media could also come in hand for the global push being made by National Geographic, an asset that Disney is buying and insiders say he has a special affinity for.

    But that could mean he may have to report to Disney International chairman Andy Bird, while some insiders say James wants to report directly to Iger so that he’d have a shot at positioning himself as successor when the CEO retires at the end of 2021.

    “If James Murdoch is appointed or otherwise tipped as a successor, we think this would be positive for Disney because of his experience running large media enterprises and because of the pairing of long-term vision and an entrepreneurial streak,” said Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser. Guessing game: A post-merger title or no?

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Showtime's The Circus will return (without Mark Halperin). "Replacing Mr. Halperin will be Alex Wagner, a CBS News anchor and former MSNBC host," the N.Y. Times reported. "She will join two of the original hosts, the writer John Heilemann ... and Mark McKinnon, a Stetson-sporting political consultant."

    ? Vice Media's latest fallout: Chief digital officer Mike Germano and president Andrew Creighton had been put on leave in light of sexual harassment claims against them. The move follows a detailed Times report that interviewed more than 100 staffers. Company memo.

    ? CNN's social video platform sees YouTube gains. "On average, YouTube users are watching more than 100 million minutes of Great Big Story content every month, according to Khalil Jetha, vp of audience development for emerging brands at CNN, which has put $70 million into Great Big Story to date," Digiday reports

    ^FX's The Assassination of Gianni Versace, reviewed. Ryan Murphy follows up his O.J. Simpson season with a solid, though less effective, American Crime Story (premiering Jan. 17). The takeaway: "Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez take a backseat to Darren Criss in a juicy if uneven saga."

    ? Amazon's thriller series The Widow finds star. Add Kate Beckinsale to the long list of feature stars turning to the small screen. The eight-episode drama from ITV is from The Missing and Fleabag duo Harry and Jack Williams.

    ? E! gives Rose McGowan her own series. The actress and activist has signed on to produce and star in a five-part doc series titled Citizen Rose. It will follow her eventful life, which includes being among the first to speak out about disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein.

    ? Netflix gives Ricky Gervais another special. The streaming giant has preemptively bought the rights to the comedian's next stand-up show. The untitled special is his second stand-up project with Netflix and joins "Humanity," which is due in the first quarter.

    ? ABC's The Bachelor has middling return. The premiere averaged 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.5M viewers on Monday. In the key demo, that represented a disheartening 29 percent drop from the comparable premiere last year, one that aired Jan. 2.

    In THR, Esq: Spotify sued for $1.6 billion. Wixen Music Publishing filed a lawsuit in California federal court that alleges that Spotify is using Petty's "Free Fallin'," the Doors' "Light My Fire" and tens of thousands of other songs without a license and compensation. Details.


  • Broadway's New High

    Broadway grosses hit another record high in 2017, with overall box office surpassing $1.5 billion for the first time, driven by premium pricing for such in-demand shows as Hamilton, Hello, Dolly! and Springsteen on Broadway, David Rooney notes: 

    Box office through Dec. 31 - a 53-week cycle in 2017, due to a variance in the calendar - soared to a massive $1.637 billion, according to figures released Tuesday by trade organization The Broadway League.

    That represents a substantial hike of almost $300 million from last year's already unprecedented high of $1.367 billion, which toppled the previous record of $1.362 billion in 2014. Attendance for the calendar year also rose to a record total of 13.74 million, besting the previous high of 13.25 million in 2016.

    Noted: The average ticket price climbed by $15 to $118, pushed by premium sales for a number of SRO productions. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    "Jon Bernthal is learning to keep his demons at bay." Stephen Rodrick's cover story: Netflix's The Punisher actor "has gone from someone you cross the street to avoid to a family man living a quiet life in a quiet town." [Esquire]

    "Hollywood’s official response to #MeToo is off to a rocky start." Christina Cauterucci writes: "It makes sense to enlist boldfaced names to fight harassment in the industry that employs them, but there’s nothing to suggest that the group will succeed where others have failed at, say, legislative reform." [Slate]

    "How seriously does Dave Chappelle want to be taken?" Jesse David Fox notes: "Present-day Dave Chappelle wants to be taken seriously, except when he doesn’t, and therein lies the issue." [Vulture]

    "Justin Timberlake is rebranding as a white man." Ann-Derrick Gaillot on the star's album teaser: "Timberlake is indulging in the inexplicably popular fallacy that music with heavy country influences are somehow more profound or emotionally acute than music that is electronic." [The Outline]

    "David Bowie's son launches an online book club in his honor." Screenwriter/director Duncan Jones "decided to start an online book club to honor his literature-loving dad" starting with Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor. [The Los Angeles Times]

    "The X-Files continues to disrespect Sully." Ira Madison III writes: "if you’ve ever hoped that The X-Files would evolve into the type of show that treats Scully with as much respect as Mulder, it’s time to give up that fantasy." [The Daily Beast]

    "Inside DC’s controversial Watchmen and Justice League crossover." "No one came to us and said, 'Hey, you should do Watchmen in the DC Universe,'" DC chief Geoff Johns tells Graeme McMillan. "We know the skepticism going in there." [Wired]

    What else we're seeing...

    + This year's Coachella fest unveils full lineup. [Billboard]

    + "Anderson Cooper walked out of the new Star Wars movie." [Late Show]

    + "Jimmy Kimmel predicts the winner of The Bachelor." [Live!]

    Today's birthdays: Justin Paul, 33, Nicholas Gonzalez, 42, Dan Harmon, 45, Mel Gibson, 62, Stephen Stills, 73, Thelma Schoonmaker, 78.