What's news: Comcast's Brian Roberts makes the $65 billion Fox bid official; how will Disney's Bob Iger respond? Plus: Sky-high expectations for Incredibles 2 as it gets set to top the box office, Apple is lining up stars for its premium programming and Frances McDormand is renewing her Oscar call for inclusion riders. — Erik Hayden
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Comcast Corp. has made it official, unveiling an all-cash bid for large chunks of 21st Century Fox, valued at about $65 billion, trumping The Walt Disney Co.'s deal that was originally valued at $52.4 billion, Paul Bond writes:
+ The formal bid is expected to lead to a bidding war with Disney. Wall Street expects Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger will not throw in the towel easily. "Disney is in a strong position to compete with a higher bid from Comcast," said MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson in a recent report.
+ "Dear Rupert, Lachlan and James, We have long admired what the Murdoch family has built at Twenty-First Century Fox. After our meetings last year, we came away convinced that the 21CF businesses to be sold are highly complementary to ours, and that our company would be the right strategic home for them." Comcast's letter.
+ "Disney under gun to respond." "Under the terms of its merger agreement with Fox, Disney has the right of refusal on any counteroffer. While it will have five days to make a fresh bid, the clock doesn’t start ticking until after the Fox board has assessed the Comcast offer and deemed it superior to Disney’s," notes Gerry Smith. [Bloomberg]
+ Up to $80 billion? "If a bidding war takes off, and it could given Fox’s strategic importance and the capacity of both companies to stretch their balance sheets, bids could reach up to $80 billion, according to John Janedis, a media analyst at Jefferies LLC. That is the maximum value at which the companies could maintain their investment-grade credit ratings," writes Elizabeth Winkler. [Wall Street Journal]
Elsewhere in TV...
► AMC teases trial strategy in $270M Walking Dead profits case. For the first time publicly, the network conceded that it expects to lose its summary judgment motion, urged the judge to order a trial and teased what its trial strategy would be.
► CNN renews Jeff Zucker's contract through 2020. In recent months, the network re-upped his contract to keep him at the company through the next presidential election. It's not clear when his previous contract was set to expire.
► Apple's Are You Sleeping rounds out cast. Aaron Paul, Ron Cephas Jones, Elizabeth Perkins and Mekhi Phifer are among the seven actors joining the cast of the drama from exec producer Reese Witherspoon.
► Amazon plans Just for Laughs docuseries. Described as a "Hard Knocks for standup comedy," from producer Jimmy Fox and director Neil Berkeley, the untitled series will follow up-and-coming comedians in New York and Los Angeles.
^Meet Live Nation's comedy guru. During an office visit, Geof Wills discusses the economics of touring and whether he thinks Roseanne Barr could ever tour again: "I don't know whether [people would] actually show up. She's a racist. It's horrific." Q&A.
► World Cup TV revenue rises. While broadcasting revenue was slightly (2 percent) above FIFA's target of $3 billion, sponsorship deals generated $1.65 billion, $200 million more than projected, largely due to deals with Chinese companies.
► VH1 renews RuPaul's Drag Race. The cabler has renewed the Emmy-winning reality competition hosted by RuPaul for an 11th season. The series' half-hour aftershow also will return with the new season.
► Apple orders Hilde Lysiak mystery series. The emerging streamer has handed out a 10-episode order to a new drama inspired by the real-life story of 11-year-old Lysiak. The series is being created by Dana Fox and Dara Resnik.
► Hulu's Kansas City finds cast. The streamer is near a deal for the comedy pilot and, ahead of its official pickup, has locked in John Slattery, Allison Tolman and Rafe Spall to star. The politically themed pilot was written by Zev Borow.
New Awards Chatter podcast: Barbra Streisand. The singer opens up to Scott Feinberg about her odds-defying career, why she fights for creative control and what convinced her to embark on a rare concert tour that was later turned into a Netflix variety special. Listen.
It has been nearly 14 years since The Incredibles played on the big screen, opening to $70.5 million in November 2004 on its way to earning $633 million globally. How high can the sequel fly? Pamela McClintock forecasts:
+ Can Finding Dory be topped? Fellow Pixar sequel Finding Dory swam away with $135M domestically on the same weekend in 2016. Disney is projecting a domestic start in the $120M-$140M range for Incredibles 2.
+ Comedies struggling. Warner Bros.' Tag is tracking to open in the $12M-$15M range, underscoring the difficulties that comedies continue to face at the box office, even when boasting a star-studded cast.
+ To watch: The weekend's third new offering is Sony's $16M budgeted Superfly from music video helmer Director X. The studio puts the film's expected five-day opening between $10M and $12M, but that could be tough, based on Wednesday's opening-day gross of roughly $1M. Full preview I Incredibles 2 marketing rollout.
Elsewhere in film...
► Documentaries are hot at box office this summer. Sundance and Cannes titles focused on the Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Fred Rogers and Pope Francis have had surprising staying power in theaters.
► Ewan McGregor to star in The Shining follow-up. The actor will star in Doctor Sleep, Warner Bros.’ adaptation of the Stephen King book, a Shining sequel. He will play the grown-up version of Jack Nicholson’s son. Mike Flanagan is directing.
► S-Town podcast to get movie treatment. Spotlight director Tom McCarthy is reteaming with Participant Media. Playwright Samuel Hunter will adapt the story, which will be produced by This American Life.
► Netflix hires director of original films. As Scott Stuber ramps up production efforts, Ori Marmur has joined the streamer. He previously worked on such films as The Green Hornet and R.I.P.D.
Quoted: "Can we successfully legislate morality? Perhaps not. But we can ask our better selves to go forward together, to take us farther than we have gone before.” — Frances McDormand, restating her call for inclusion riders at Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards last night.
^Warner Bros.' Tag, reviewed (opens tomorrow). Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm and Hannibal Buress lead the ensemble in this comedy about a group of childhood friends caught up in a decades-long game of tag. The takeaway: "Close, but not quite 'it.'"
► The Conjuring prequel The Nun unveils trailer. Bonnie Aarons reprises her role as the sinister sister and Demian Bichir plays Father Burke in the Corin Hardy-directed film, which hits theaters Sept. 7. Full clip.
► Melissa McCarthy movie enlists James Corden. The late-night host is lending his voice to Super Intelligence, a new comedy from New Line that is about to begin production. Ben Falcone is directing the movie, written by Steve Mallory.
► Sundance, Toronto to allocate credentials to underrepresented critics. Brie Larson announced at the Women in Film event last night that both film festivals have committed to include 20 percent of underrepresented critics. Details.
► Tiffany Haddish movie finds distribution. Roadside Attractions and Topic Studios are partnering to release The Oath, a satirical thriller starring Haddish and Ike Barinholtz. The movie, which Barinholtz also wrote and directed, is set to bow in the fall.
*R.I.P., Francoise Bonnot. The Oscar-winning editor of Costa-Gavras' 1969 thriller Z has died. She was 78. Full obit.
In Heat Vision: How did that Wonder Woman character survive? Director Patty Jenkins tweeted Wednesday morning that Chris Pine would be returning as Steve Trevor for the sequel. Here's a few theories based on DC Comics history. Full story.
It's here: Six of TV's top funnymen — Louie Anderson, Sean Hayes, Tracy Morgan, Ray Romano, Marc Maron and Tony Shalhoub — sit down for a (sometimes) serious talk about "nerve-wracking" nude scenes, dressing up as a woman and how the #MeToo movement is changing men. Full Comedy Actor Roundtable.
What else we're reading...
— "At Snapchat, redrawing the bounds of reality." Reggie Ugwu writes: "Augmented reality may change entertainment as we know it. For Snapchat, the revolution starts with 15-second cartoons." [New York Times]
— "AT&T’s Time Warner prize - a load of Hollywood headaches." A triple-byline read: "Unruly talent, high costs, clashing cultures and an ambitious ad strategy await leaders of the soon-to-be telecom-media giant." [Wall Street Journal]
— "California filming incentives are falling behind the competition, new study says." David Ng notes: "The Milken Institute said in a new report released Thursday that Georgia and New York continue to give California a run for its tax dollars." [Los Angeles Times]
— "Inside the Trump-era late-night monologue pressure cooker." Laura Bradley writes: "Boiling down a weekend’s worth of stories into a six-minute monologue to lead the show is fraught, and getting fraughter." [Vanity Fair]
— "Can Lil Wayne regain his relevance?" Justin Charity writes: "Finally free from Cash Money, the commercially exiled rapper is at last able to release his long-awaited album Tha Carter V. But will anyone care when he does?" [The Ringer]
From the archives...
+ On June 14, 2002, Doug Liman and Matt Damon's thriller The Bourne Identity hit theaters, kick-starting an action franchise that has spanned five films so far. Flashback review.
Today's birthdays: Lucy Hale, 29, Torrance Coombs, 35, Diablo Cody, 40, Sullivan Stapleton, 41, Jay Roach, 61, Marla Gibbs, 87.