What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:00 AM 7/25/2017

by THR Staff

What's news: Wanda's billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, is signaling that he'll keep his dealmaking in China. Plus: Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky is getting early raves, MSNBC hit a new ratings milestone and HBO's legal fight with a coal baron over a John Oliver segment is heating up. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • Wanda Signals Hollywood Retreat

    Joe Pugliese

    A little less than a year ago, Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin said he planned to pour billions into all six of Hollywood's major studios. Now he's unlikely to sign a sizable deal with any of them, Patrick Brzeski reports: 

    Addressing the swift regulatory crackdown that has engulfed his Dalian Wanda Group in recent weeks, Wang said his new international investment strategy would essentially be a retreat from the world stage. "Wanda will respond to the state’s call and has decided to keep its main investment within China," Wang told Caixin, a leading Chinese business news outlet, over the weekend.

    Wang's statements were followed Sunday by reports that Beijing's recent clampdown on Wanda's international dealmaking was approved by Chinese president Xi Jinping himself. The news suggests that Beijing's about-face on the topic of outbound investment — from previously encouraging Chinese companies to go global to aggressively reining them in — is a priority that stretches to the very top of the Chinese leadership. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film... 

    Next James Bond movie gets release date. The next installment in the franchise has set a release date of Nov. 8, 2019. This will be the 25th film in the long-running series. Per the NYT, Daniel Craig will be back

    ► Anne Hathaway in talks for Barbie movie. The long-in-the-works feature was originally set to star Amy Schumer, who dropped out in March, citing "scheduling conflicts." Australian director Alethea Jones is in talks to direct. 

    Captain Marvel getting CA tax incentives. It is one of three big-budget films — the others being Midway, about the World War II battle that Roland Emmerich is directing, and a Paramount project listed as Island Plaza — that will benefit under the new round of tax credits.

    M. Night Shyamalan thriller Glass adds Sarah Paulson. The American Horror Story actress joins James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson for the Universal film, a sequel to Unbreakable

    ^Logan Lucky, reviewed. Steven Soderbergh's Southern heist comedy stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes and Hilary Swank. The takeaway: "A rollicking good time."

    + Early takes: The Guardian: "It’s all wonderfully preposterous, but also endearing and gratifying." The Film Stage: "The reward is watching Soderbergh waltz with a deceptively loose style so thought-through that it’s baked into the movie’s bones."

    ► 20th Century Fox, Chernin plan The Marriage Pact. The book from author Michelle Richmond follows newlyweds who join a mysterious group known only as the Pact. Justin Haythe (Red Sparrow) will adapt the title for the screen. 

    Avatar sequels enlist original castmember. C.C.H. Pounder will reprise her role as Moat in James Cameron's four sequels. In the 2009 sci-fi fantasy, Pounder played the Omatikaya Clan's tsahik, or spiritual leader.

    Mel Gibson crime drama rounds out cast. Tory Kittles has joined Vince Vaughn in Dragged Across Concrete, from filmmaker S. Craig Zahler. The Liongate/Summit movie, which also counts Jennifer Carpenter and Laurie Holden in its cast, is shooting in Vancouver.

    ► George Romero remembered at public memorial service. Fans dressed as zombies turned out Monday in Toronto to bid farewell to the gore-obsessed auteur who lived and shot his movies in the Canadian city for more than a decade until his death July 16.

    ► Sony's Emoji Movie criticized for "tasteless" tweet. The post, a reference to The Handmaid's Tale, featured an emoji donned in a handmaid's robe with the caption, "A Smartphone Original: The Emoji's Tale." The tweet read, "Blessed be the Emoji." That didn't go over well.


  • MSNBC's New Ratings Feat

    David Needleman

    Maintaining a streak of ratings momentum and general good news, MSNBC logged a new first last week, Michael O'Connell notes: 

    It ranked as the most-watched primetime network in all of cable. That status, held Monday (July 17) through Friday (July 21) and not for the entire seven-day week, saw the cable news network averaging 2.33 million viewers between 8 and 11 p.m. 

    MSNBC had previous topped the other cable news outlets for the five-day week, once in May and once before in 2012, but this is the first time it also outranked cable's entertainment networks. The network finished the week ahead of Fox News Channel, Disney, USA and HGTV.

    Good news for MSNBC was also good news for Rachel Maddow. Her show ranked No. 2 in all of basic cable, trailing only WWE Entertainment.

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    HBO fights energy company over John Oliver's Last Week TonightThe cabler filed documents criticizing coal baron Robert Murray for repeated attempts to chill free speech. The pay network says the so-called "John Oliver Effect" is no reason to impose an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech.

    "Disney splits with the YouTube star Jake Paul." Per a NYT report: "The news came at the end of a week in which Mr. Paul, 20, attracted negative attention after a news report on him feuding with his neighbors."

    ABC firms up fall premiere dates. The last of the broadcast networks to set their fall premiere dates, the network will get things started a little early in September — slotting the premiere of Dancing With the Stars for Sept. 18, the day after CBS airs the 2017 Emmys. Full schedule.

    CBS pilot watch: SEAL Team. Critic Daniel Fienberg takes a closer look at the upcoming series, a "derivative, but likely to succeed, entry in the fall's network military drama sweepstakes."

    ^Trailer: Alias Grace. Netflix's miniseries, based on the story of convicted murderer Grace Marks and Margaret Atwood's best-seller, makes its global launch Nov. 3. Watch here.

    Sony Pictures TV promotes trio to co-presidents. Jeff Frost will oversee the business side of the independent studio, while drama execs Jason Clodfelter and Chris Parnell will oversee the creative side. They replace Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who left for Apple.

    Hulu appoints Google veteran as CMO. Kelly Campbell will be responsible for leading Hulu's marketing strategy across its streaming video and live television services. She will also oversee Hulu's brand and performance marketing. 

    TBS' People of Earth season 2, reviewed. The comedy about alien abductees, which returned last night, aims to come out from under the radar in season two, writes Tim Goodman: "Experience it.

    Netflix unveils new releases for August. Marvel's The Defenders is coming along with original Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. Also available on the streaming service will be films like The Matrix, Practical Magic, Sing and I Am Sam. Full list.

    ► In THR, Esq: Fox and Paramount accused of using stolen computer graphic technology for hit films ... Anthony Pellicano prepares for new prison sentence ... Judge asked to stop Irving Azoff outfit from "gouging" Pennsylvania radio stations.


  • Marvel Casts Unite

    Christopher Patey

    Exclusive photo: Just before the stars of Disney and Marvel's Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok took to the Hall H stage at Comic-Con on Saturday, the worlds of Asgard and Wakanda collided backstage for the first-ever Marvel family photo of the two casts. Behind the scenes I Larger image.

    What else we're reading... 

    "Why we should let stage actors be great onstage." Isaac Butler and Dan Kois write: "The idea that film work is the greatest honor any artist can attain is a deeply maddening one." [Slate]

    "We’re approaching a major turning point in Trump-era pop culture." Mark Harris writes: "the next wave of Trump-era art will probably be about the world we’re in, not about the world too few of us saw coming." [Vulture]

    "Projection mapping is lighting up L.A." Ethan Varian reports on the visual tech that's been used for a Game of Thrones event: "as the underlying technology has advanced and become more affordable, projection mapping has exploded." [The Los Angeles Times]

    "Claims of skulduggery at a hot magic show." Jennifer Schuessler writes: "The magician Derek DelGaudio has tried to keep his work invisible on the internet. Did another professional secretly film his show?" [The New York Times]

    "Snopes faces an ugly legal battle." Alexis Madrigal writes: "what’s going on? Well, it probably won’t surprise you that there’s a startup tech company and a lawsuit involved." [The Atlantic]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Rob Lowe had a close encounter with a wood ape." [Tonight Show]

    + "Charlize Theron sorta trained with Keanu Reeves." [Late Night]

    + "Stephen introduces his Anthony Scaramucci impression." [Late Show]

    Today's Birthdays: James Lafferty, 32, David Denman, 44, Miriam Shor, 46, D.B. Woodside, 48, Matt LeBlanc, 50, Darren Star, 56,

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