What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 8/17/2017

by THR staff

Deadpool Still and SJ Harris - Inset - Photofest - H 2017
Photofest (Deadpool)

What's news: Steven Soderbergh is readying Logan Lucky for theaters, with tracking in the $8M range. Meanwhile, Deadpool 2's on-set death leaves the stunt community asking questions, ABC signs a mega-deal with Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and a fresh crop of films is tackling "reality YA" subjects. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • How Disney Can Beat Netflix

    After unveiling its big streaming plan, Disney should now move to stream movies the day they're in theaters, analyst Ben Weiss argues: 

    By letting the Netflix deal lapse, Disney will walk away from an estimated $200 million to $300 million a year in licensing revenue that is likely pure profit for Disney because the marketing and distribution costs have already been incurred during the theatrical release. No studio reaps more benefits from the economics of home video distribution than Disney.

    Therefore, it says a lot about Disney’s view of the future of home entertainment that it is willing to upend the favorable economics of the existing structure in order to seed its own branded service with film product, rather than perpetuate its lucrative licensing model. To replace the up-to $300 million that will disappear when the Netflix deal ends, Disney would need to attract 8 million subscribers, paying $10 a month, assuming a 25 percent operating margin.

    With the proliferation of competition in the streaming market, it will be difficult for Disney to sustain this level of scale with 9-month-old films and library content. But what could be a more efficient customer acquisition and retention tool for the new Disney service than Elsa, Lightning McQueen or Dory, brought to your fingertips on opening night? Full column. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Deadpool 2 death leaves stunt community asking tough questions. Veterans question the decision by producers to give the green light for the motorcycle scene to SJ Harris, a professional racer.

    + "She was a highly qualified motorcyclist racer but not an experienced stunt person," says Conrad Palmisano, a veteran stunt coordinator and second unit director with 47 years in the entertainment industry. Palmisano expresses concerns about Harris' racing background and how it would prepare her for this particular stunt.

    + The Deadpool 2 production was her very first job on a movie set. Several stunt people tell reporter Scott Johnson that her skills on the racetrack notwithstanding, the stunt work on Monday called for a professional stunt worker.

    ? Mission: Impossible 6 shoot delayed after Tom Cruise injury. The actor was left with a broken ankle while jumping between buildings on the London set. According to Paramount, the film has been delayed up to nine weeks.

    ? Paramount picks up Blake Lively spy thriller. The Rhythm Section, a package with Lively attached to star and Reed Morano to helm, adapts Mark Burnell's series of novels. Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are also on board

    Alicia Vikander's Tulip Fever gets Labor Day release. The Weinstein Co.'s period drama will open in theaters nationwide Sept. 1, instead of rolling out Aug. 25. It would be the first time in 25 years without any new nationwide offering at the Labor Day box office.

    ^Fantasy is waning. Next up: gritty "Reality YA" movies. A fresh crop of films, including the Black Lives Matter-inspired The Hate U Give, are more likely to be formed by personal narratives than dystopian sci-fi like Hunger Games or Divergent

    ? Box office preview: slow August weekend. If tracking is correct, The Hitman's Bodyguard may shake down Steven Soderbergh's star-studded Logan Lucky when opening nationwide this weekend, with $18M and $8M debuts expected.

    Christopher Nolan jetting to China to support Dunkirk. The filmmaker is set to visit Beijing in support of his critically acclaimed WWII drama later this month. Rumors of Nolan's visit were met with considerable fan excitement as word spread across Chinese social media.

    ? South Korea's Okja distributor to start cinema business. Next Entertainment World (NEW), the South Korean investor-distributor that handled local distribution for Bong Joon Ho's Netflix film, said that it is entering the exhibition business.

    St. Vincent to direct gender-bending Picture of Dorian Gray. Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) will direct Lionsgate's adaptation featuring the self-absorbed character of Gray as a woman. This will be Clark's feature directorial debut. 

    Also: Chateau Marmont threatens lawsuit for "Cateau Marmont." Ashley Cullins notes: Lawyers for the Sunset Strip hangout recently sent a letter to the Toluca Lake cat grooming/boarding service threatening a lawsuit if the name isn't changed.

  • TV Earning Season Trends

    Pay TV subscriber losses hurt industry players because big portions of their profits come from their cable networks business, Georg Szalai notes in his earnings season wrap: 

    After a worse-than-expected first quarter of 2017, cord-cutting gained further steam in the latest period. Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson, analysts at MoffettNathanson, estimated a whopping 941,000 subscribers cut the cord during the second quarter, up from 809,000 in the year-ago period.

    Credit Suisse analyst Omar Sheikh in a forecast suggested that "subscriber losses [are] likely to get worse in the second half." He argued: "With new marketing for Hulu and YouTube TV likely around the start of the new NFL season, we expect both new services to grow materially in the second half and recapture more customers dissatisfied with the expanded basic bundle. However, they will, of course, also likely cause some incremental losses to traditional [pay TV operators]."

    + TV advertising outlook debated I Direct-to-consumer initiatives in spotlight.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Carlton Cuse, ABC sign $20M mega-deal. ABC Studios has reunited with the Lost co-showrunner with a four-year overall deal. The goal will be for Cuse to help bring ABC Studios into the competitive cable landscape as the studio slowly builds a roster of programming.

    OWN orders series from Michael B. Jordan, Moonlight writer. The network has given a straight-to-series order to a drama from Tarell Alvin McCraney and exec produced by Jordan. The lyrical drama is inspired by events in McCraney’s own life. 

    ? USA sets Suits spinoff with Gina Torres. The NBCUniversal-owned cable network confirmed that the backdoor pilot will air as the Aaron Korsh-created procedural's season seven finale and is slated to air in the first quarter of 2018. 

    ? HBO's social media accounts hacked. The cabler's official Twitter account was the victim of an apparent hack Wednesday, as were the accounts of several shows by OurMine, leaving a message reading "just testing your security."

    "Universal Music, MTV at odds over 'Despacito' VMAs snub." "MTV says the uber-popular video for 'Despacito' didn't earn a nomination at its Video Music Awards because it wasn't submitted for consideration, but Universal Music Latin Entertainment says MTV didn't ask the label to submit the video until last week," the Associated Press reports.

    ^Bachelor in Paradise star: scandal wouldn't have happened if he were white. "I think people wanted it to be something different," says DeMario Jackson of his on-set encounter with Corinne Olympios. "They wanted the angry black guy and this little, innocent white girl. But it wasn't that." Full Q&A. 

    ? ABC pilot watch: Ten Days in the Valley. Kyra Sedgwick and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje are "decent leads in a kidnapping thriller that feels a lot like stuff ABC has done before," writes critic Daniel Fienberg.

    ? A&E's Scientology and the Aftermath season 2, reviewed. The Emmy-nominated docuseries,which returned Tuesday, remains deeply important. Takeaway: "As long as [Leah] Remini keeps the spotlight on others, it's excellent TV."

    YouTube expands originals team. Pushing further into scripted programming, the company has hired WGN America’s Jon Wax and Fox Broadcasting’s Angela Courtin to serve as development and marketing executives at YouTube Red. 

    ? HBO's Real Time sets Al Franken return. More than a month after bowing out of his appearance on Bill Maher's show over the host's highly criticized use of the N-word, the Democratic senator is set as Maher's top-of-the-show guest on Friday's episode.

    ? Tribeca to launch inaugural TV festival. Tribeca Enterprises, the company behind Jane Rosenthal's, Robert De Niro's and Craig Hatkoff's annual lower Manhattan film festival, said is planning a new TV fest for Sept. 22-24

    Also: Pros and cons of Emmy variety contenders. Scott Feinberg writes: The talk and sketch categories got injections of much-needed new blood and stiff competition in a season that mined the zaniness of the real world. And If voters reward a once-a-weeker, Last Week Tonight is the likeliest.

  • Top U.S. Film Schools

    It's back: THR is unveiling its annual Top 25 Film Schools after consulting with educators, alumni and industry pros to rank the best of the best. Topping the list for the fifth straight year? USC. Full list.

    + Top 15 international film schools revealed. Overseas correspondents — in London, Hong Kong, Sydney and elsewhere — get the scoop on where to learn filmmaking in a foreign land. Full list. 

    + The Hollywood insider's guide to L.A. private schools. Status off the studio lot means landing an A-list institution for your kids as THR surveys the 29 top K-12 campuses best-suited for famous families and moguls in the making. Full list. 

    What else we're reading...

     — "Why James Bond couldn't afford to lose Daniel Craig." Andrew Pulver writes: "Craig’s sensitive and sometimes scary take on 007 morphed the franchise into a sleek supercar. No wonder its producers were so set on him staying." [The Guardian]

     — "Will Steven Soderbergh's strategy ... pay off?" Ryan Faughnder on Logan Lucky: "A key part of the plan was to buffer the risk of going rogue by limiting the marketing costs, which add up to tens of millions of dollars per movie for the studios." [The Los Angeles Times]

     — "The sitcom’s ready, but the network’s canceled." John Jurgensen notes: "Paul Reiser’s There’s…Johnny! is in limbo after NBCUniversal’s streaming service Seeso shutters." [The Wall Street Journal]

    "Can Rotten Tomatoes crush a movie at the box office?" Sean Fennessey writes: "Moviegoers, critics, and filmmakers weigh in on the website that is torturing major studios." [The Ringer]

    "Patti Cake$': The story behind the feminem underdog movie." Chris Lee writes: "How an indie about an unlikely, up-and-coming hip-hop M.C. – featuring an actor who'd never rapped before – became its own underdog success story." [Rolling Stone]

    Today's birthdays: Giuliana Rancic, 43, Donnie Wahlberg, 48, Sean Penn, 57, Julian Fellowes, 68, Robert De Niro, 74.