What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:11 AM 5/4/2018

by Ray Rahman

Susan Wojcicki_Youtube Brandcast - Publicity - H 2018
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

What's news: Netflix's boss discusses Cannes — and acknowledges mistakes. Plus: YouTube's chief gets transparent, Solo is tracking to break records over Memorial Day weekend and a holy preview of the 2018 Met Gala. — Ray Rahman

  • Hastings Talks Cannes

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings addressed the Cannes controversy while speaking in France, writes Rhonda Richford:

    "We made mistakes": Reed Hastings signaled a strategy shift following the conflict surrounding Cannes. "At times we have a reputation as a disruptor, and sometimes we make mistakes," Hastings said about the ongoing controversy preventing Netflix films from being shown at the festival.

    He continued: ”I think we got into a more difficult situation with the Cannes Film Festival than we meant to because, you know, we're not trying to disrupt the movie system; we are trying to make our members happy. We make our content for them." Read more.

    Harvey Weinstein team's new addition...

    It's Alan Dershowitz: "I have been retained to consult with Benjamin Brafman, Esquire who is representing Harvey Weinstein," Dershowitz states in a declaration. "I have agreed to consult on the specific issue of Mr. Brafman’s access to his client’s [Weinstein's] personal and business emails....” Read more.

    Miramax's wallet...

    New credit line: Miramax has secured a $300 million revolving, multi-bank credit facility that extends for five years. The deal will allow the studio to ramp up its slate to produce and finance four to six films a year as well as deficit finance two to three television series per year.

    Weekend box-office preview...

    More Infinity War: The tentpole is slotted to earn north of $100 million to $125 million in its sophomore weekend after opening to a record-breaking debut last weekend. On Friday or Saturday, Infinity War will become the fastest film in history to cross $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

    Elsewhere: The Overboard remake is tracking to earn $10 million to $15 million in its debut, while Jason Reitman's Tully, starring Charlize Theron, will go after the specialty crowd when rolling out in approximately 1,300 cinemas for an estimated $3 million to $4 million. Read more.

    Looking ahead to Solo: The upcoming Star Wars stand-alone film is looking at a $160 million-plus haul over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, which would be a historic start — the current Memorial Day record holder is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with $139.8 million. Full story.

    European film report...

    Hollywood's market share slips: The European box office held steady last year, with revenue hitting $8.4 billion in 2017. European films gained ground, but Hollywood completely dominated at the top of the box- office food chain: Of the top 10 films in Europe last year, all were U.S. studio titles, with one exception: Dunkirk. Leading the pack was Despicable Me 3.

    Country breakdown: France and the U.K. led the way, with local titles accounting for 37 percent of French ticket sales, and a whopping 37.4 percent in Britain. Overall, there was not a single non-English-language feature to make it into the top 20. Read more.

    MoviePass' competition...

    Cutting rates: Sinemia, a MoviePass competitor well known in Europe, has slashed its prices to about half what its more famous competitor charges, though its subscribers still get nothing close to a movie ticket per day. The new plan costs $4.99 per month, which gets users a single ticket monthly, or $6.99 for two tickets.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Benedict Cumberbatch's Cold War spy drama: He’ll star in the upcoming thriller Ironbark, based on the real-life story of Greville Wynne, a British businessman who helped the CIA penetrate the Soviet nuclear program during the Cold War.

    ? J.J. Abrams, Paramount plot superhero thriller: With his World War II zombie movie Overlord already catching early buzz, director Julius Avery is now in negotiations to helm The Heavy, a superhero movie Abrams' Bad Robot is producing for Paramount.

    ? Mandy Moore's World War II drama: The This Is Us star is in talks to join Roland Emmerich's Midway — the story of the battle of Midway as told by the leaders and the soldiers who participated.

    ? Liam Neeson's next thriller: The actor has signed on to star in Charlie Johnson in the Flames, a war novel adaptation to be directed by Tarik Saleh.

    ? Issa Rae joins coming-of-age comedy: The Insecure star is joining Black-ish actress Marsai Martin in Tracy Oliver's (Girls Trip) Little, centered on a woman who gets the chance to relive a carefree life as her younger self when adulthood becomes too much.

    ? Jenny Slate's romancer: The Obvious Child star and Alex Sharp are set to feature in The Sunlit Night, a coming-of-age drama that also stars Gillian Anderson and Zach Galifianakis.

    ? Tina Turner doc in the works: The film — heading to the market in Cannes — will be the first to tell the story of the iconic What's Love Got to do With It singer.

    ? The MTV Movie & TV Awards nominations are here: Black Panther topped the list of nominees on the film side, while Stranger Things was the one to beat on the TV side. See the full list.

  • YouTube Looks Inward

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki went in front of a live audience to address some of the company's recent woes, writes Natalie Jarvey:

    Transparency: Standing before a packed house inside New York's Radio City Music Hall last night, Wojcicki boasted that YouTube now has 1.8 billion logged-in users. But, she acknowledged, "with openness also comes challenges, as some have tried to take advantage of our services.”

    She also rattled off the steps that YouTube has taken to clean up the videos on its site: “It's incredibly important to me, and to everyone at YouTube, that we grow responsibly. There isn't a playbook for how open platforms operate at our scale. But the way I think about it is, it's critical that we are on the right side of history." Read more.

    New shows: The streamer is expanding its slate of ad-supported originals with new projects from Will Smith, Priyanka Chopra and LeBron James. One of the projects involves bungee jumping over the Grand Canyon. Read more.

    CBS earnings...

    Record revenue: CBS reported record revenue of $3.8 billion for the first quarter, along with all-time quarterly highs in adjusted income.

    Les Moonves: "We achieved these record results thanks to the many ways we are delivering our must-have content, including our direct-to-consumer services — CBS All Access and Showtime OTT — which continue to grow rapidly and are now contributing meaningful dollars to our bottom line while attracting younger viewers.”

    Revamping kid's programming? The exec said that CBS basically offers children's programming only because it is legally obligated to do so — "I think we have 10 to 15 kids watching" — but because Netflix is doing well in that demographic, he's rethinking his strategy. Read more.

    Conan's cut...

    Thirty minutes: A year after signing a new four-year deal with TBS, the network announced that it’ll reduce Conan O'Brien's late-night series from an hour a night to a half hour a night come 2019.

    The new look: Late-night's longest-tenured host will continue to air four nights a week and, starting next year, will unveil a less structured 30-minute format that will feature guests and a variety of segments drawn from the newly expanded Team Coco portfolio.

    O'Brien: "A half-hour show will give me the time to do a higher percentage of the comedy in, and out, of the studio that I love and that seems to resonate in this new digital world...." Read more | Conan talks to reporters

    Last Man Standing buzz...

    Resurrected? A year after ABC canceled the Tim Allen comedy, Fox is in early talks to revive the multicamera comedy for a seventh season. Allen, sources say, has signed on and has been — along with producers 20th Century Fox Television — the driving force of the revival. Discussions are also underway with producers and stars from the former ABC comedy to return. Read more.

    The What We Do in the Shadows show is set...

    Adaptation: Three months after handing out a pilot order for a reboot of the Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi vampire comedy, FX has given the project a 10-episode series order, set to bow in 2019. It's unclear if Clement and Waititi, who starred in the feature, will have onscreen roles.

    Catherine Zeta-Jones goes digital...

    Facebook Watch: The social network has given a straight-to-series order to dark comedy Queen America, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. Created and written by Meaghan Oppenheimer (Fear the Walking Dead), the 10-episode series follows Vicki Ellis, the most renowned and ruthless pageant coach in the state of Oklahoma.

    Kimmy Schmidt's endgame...

    Four seasons and a movie? Sources say Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will wrap at the conclusion of its upcoming fourth season — and there are talks of doing a movie after it's all done. Details.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Carrie Coon is joining The Sinner: The critically adored actress and Leftovers grad has been tapped to star in the second season of the USA Network anthology series, taking over for season one star Jessica Biel.

    ? Jay-Z's working on a Meek Mill docuseries for Amazon: Amazon says the six-part series will explore the rapper's "fight for exoneration while exposing flaws in the criminal justice system."

    ? The Crown enlists Jason Watkins: The BAFTA-winning actor has been tapped to play Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the Netflix series.

    ? AT&T: We "demolished" the Justice Department. In a post-trial brief, AT&T urged U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon to reject any forced divesture of DirecTV or Turner in the Time Warner merger trial. Read more.

  • Met Gala Preview

    With a suggested "Sunday best" dress code, the annual benefit should create some holy interesting red-carpet moments. Booth Moore writes:

    “I have heard that there may be some Pope looks and some Madonna looks — the virgin mother and the singer,” says one luxury fashion house representative. And yes, Madonna “Like a Virgin” Ciccone will be in attendance, as will John Jesus Christ Superstar Legend.

    Blame it on this year's exhibition: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. “There isn’t a cross left in New York City,” jokes stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, who's dressing Uma Thurman and Lily Aldridge, among others

    Who else is coming: Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, in what could be her last communion if rumors are to be believed that she's exiting Conde Nast, gala co-chairs Rihanna, Amal Clooney and Donatella Versace, and stars Chadwick Bozeman, Evan Rachel Wood, Priyanka Chopra, Gary Oldman, Selena Gomez, Jimmy Fallon, Jared Leto and Jaden Smith.

    Synergy: Sources say there will be a small red-carpet moment for Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling and Anne Hathaway — aka the stars of Ocean's 8, about a female crew who pull off a diamond heist at the Met Gala. Read more.

    The United State of Women Summit is this weekend...

    Star, power: Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross will interview former first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles as part of the summit.

    Summit preview: Says former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett: “There's an enormous amount of energy focused on equity for women that is being driven and owned by women, from the #MeToo movement and Time's Up, the activists from Parkland, the young gymnasts who stood up and were courageous about confronting their abuser...,” Full Q&A.

    And now for our 20th edition of...

    ?The Three-Question Interview: a series of short Q&As with interesting executives and personalities. Next up: Molly Thompson, head of A&E IndieFilms.

    A&E Network announced it would scrap all scripted programming and focus on nonfiction. How does A&E IndieFilms fit into A&E Network's overall strategy? We’ve always seen IndieFilms as our foothold into the independent film world, where directors are allowed to make the film they want to make and they’re not encumbered by the constraints of television. And now that the industry in general is more accepting of documentaries, we’re able to bring some that creative talent into the mainstream network.

    What do you think has been driving the recent boom in demand for documentary content? It just boggles the mind. It certainly must have something to do with subscription video and Netflix. For one thing, they put a ton of marketing behind the documentaries they’ve done. But beyond that, people love documentaries — I think it’s just a matter of helping people find them.

    Is there push-and-pull when you want to bring something to TV but the director or producer insists on a theatrical release? Always — everybody wants to be theatrical. But the truth is, while that’s always been the case, I think we’re in a different moment now. I think creators really actually are quite excited about working in television. There’s more opportunity for real documentary filmmaking. A lot of people see TV as an opportunity to do something longer, because in theaters there’s usually no place for a six-hour film. And often, there’s also a bigger audience.?

    What else we're reading...

    — "Ticketmaster's former boss wants to create a rival — to tickets." Anne Steele writes: "Nathan Hubbard imagines a world where fans can get into a concert or sporting event by showing just their faces." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Sandra Bullock and Mindy Kaling break out of 'actress solitary confinement.'" Reggie Ugwu writes: "Hollywood can be isolating, but the female set of Ocean’s 8 finally gave the stars a chance to compare notes on agents, pregnancy and more." [The New York Times]

    — "Solo's Paul Bettany on joining the Star Wars universe and his villain." Eliana Dockterman interviews the man who'll play baddie Dryden Vos. [Time]

    — "Lifetime's Harry & Meghan promises a feminist-friendly love story and a touch of Princess Di." Kate Stanhope digs into the upcoming movie's plot lines." [Los Angeles Times]

    — "Tully is a daring, and baffling, look at motherhood." David Sims writes: "The duo behind Juno returns with a film starring Charlize Theron as a mom suffering from postpartum depression." [The Atlantic]

    — "Superstore's third season proved it's one of TV's best comedies." Todd VanDerWerff writes: "Funny and meaningful and beautifully constructed — sitcoms don’t get much better than this." [Vox]

    — "How Dear White People is turning texting and Twitter into astounding emotional art." Laura Bradley writes: "TV is still figuring out the best way to represent characters’ digital lives onscreen, but Justin Simien’s Netflix series is a stand-out." [Vanity Fair]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Charlize Theron: It's not 'brave' to gain weight for a role." [Late Show]

    + "Keith Urban reveals Nicole Kidman has a cameo on one of his songs." [Late Night]

    + "Bill Hader's most obscure impressions." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    From the archives...

    Today in 1944: THR reviews the Gaslight premiere. “When top-flight stars of the caliber of Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten join forces in performing a psychological thriller, the public is assured of an extraordinary attraction.” Read more.

    Today's Birthdays: Erin Andrews, 40, Lance Bass, 40, Will Arnett, 48, Ana Gasteyer, 51, Richard Jenkins, 71.