What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:03 AM 8/29/2017

by THR staff

Conjuring 2 Publicity Still 2 H 2016
Courtesy of New Line Cinema

The Conjuring 2

What's news: In an unusual move, actor Ed Skrein quit Lionsgate's Hellboy reboot over criticism that his character had been whitewashed. Plus: Summer box office in the U.S. has suffered a historic decline, a $900M lawsuit over The Conjuring franchise moves forward and Disney pledges $1M to the Red Cross over Hurricane Harvey.  — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • Whitewashing Criticism Gets Result

    Ed Skrein is leaving Lionsgate's Hellboy reboot after an outcry over his casting, Aaron Couch writes: 

    The actor, who is known for playing the villain in last year's Deadpool, joined the cast of the Hellboy reboot last week and was set to play rugged military member Major Ben Daimio, who in the comic books is Asian. Some on social media objected to the casting, calling it another example of Hollywood whitewashing a character.

    The producers and Lionsgate say they will re-cast "with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material." Casting outcries like this one are common, but it's unheard of for an actor to respond with a thoughtful statement explaining that he's leaving the project.

    Skrein: "It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voice in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that."

    Elsewhere in film... 

    ? Summer box office suffers historic decline in U.S. Pamela McClintock notes: By the time Labor Day wraps, revenue will end up being down nearly 16 percent over last year, the steepest decline in modern times and eclipsing the 14.6 percent dip in 2014. It will also be the first time since 2006 that summer didn't clear $4 billion.

    + The good news? The international box office - which is up more than 3 percent year-to-date - helped save a number of summer event films that underperformed in the U.S. Pirates 5 has grossed $618M overseas for a global total of $790M, while Transformers 5 stands at $604M globally after earning $474M offshore. And The Mummy scared up $328M abroad for a worldwide cume of $407.8M.

    ? Angelina Jolie opens up about filming for First They Killed My Father"Jolie and her international heads of department and crew trained local counterparts, corralled large numbers of extras, braved tarantulas and snakes in the jungle, and avoided landmines and other unexploded ordnance. 'Luckily, we were able to complete the film without a single incident on set,' she says," Screen Daily reports.

    ? Legendary courts lawyer to be new CEO. The studio behind Pacific Rim and The Great Wall is aggressively pursuing attorney Josh Grode to take on the CEO role. A source close to the situation stressed that an arrangement had not been finalized

    ? $900M Conjuring lawsuit against Warner Bros. moves forward. A Virginia judge has largely rejected the studio's motion to dismiss and has tentatively scheduled a trial for April 16. The lawsuit comes from Gerald Brittle, who published a book entitled The Demonologist.

    ^First look: Evangeline Lilly‏ in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The actress suited up Monday to celebrate late comic book artist Jack Kirby's 100th birthday, sharing the first photo of herself wearing her Wasp costume for the 2018 film.

    ? Lynyrd Skynyrd movie is banned by judge. The family of two bandmembers killed by the 1977 plane crash have won an injunction against Cleopatra's Street Survivor.

    Westboro Baptist Church movie in the works. Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea are attached to produce This Above All, based on the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member. Marc Webb is set to direct and Nick Hornby will pen the screenplay. 

    Steven Spielberg doc to debut at NY Film Festival. HBO's Spielberg, directed by Susan Lacy and featuring interviews with Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks and more, will be on the lineup when the fest kicks off Sept. 28. 

    ? Trailer watch, Super Troopers 2. All the boys are back: Mac, Thorny, Rabbit, Foster, and Farva, for the sequel following the goofy, outrageous Vermont State Troopers courtesy of Broken Lizard. Watch.  

    New It movie causing legit clowns to lose work. Warner Bros.' upcoming Stephen King adaptation has ticked off the clowns. The president of the World Clown Association: "People had school shows and library shows that were canceled" over a backlash.

  • 'Thrones' New Rating High

    Game of Thrones' seventh season solidified it as the biggest show on TV — and Sunday's finale further cemented that status, Michael O'Connell writes: 

    The abbreviated penultimate run, just seven episodes, has been averaging an astonishing 31M viewers per episode once live, time-shifted, on-demand and streaming plays are tallied. That's up 34 percent from the previous record-shattering season in 2016. As for Sunday's finale, the last episode that will air for potentially 16 months, HBO logged another all-time high 16.5M viewers with live tune-in and night-of streams.

    The final episode of the seventh season marked a 13 percent increase from the previous mark set two weeks earlier (10.7M viewers), and a 36 percent gain over last year’s finale (8.9M viewers). It was also up 19 percent from this seasons' debut, which clocked in at 10.1M viewers.

    Final season forecast | Every season finale, ranked I Finale Q&A

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    ? Apple TV, studios in conflict over pricing for content. Per the Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz and Tripp Mickle: Apple is "scrambling to strike deals with Hollywood studios to offer ultra-high definition films on its new Apple TV, but discussions have been hampered by disagreements over pricing, according to people with knowledge of the talks."

    + "Apple wants to have major Hollywood films available in ultra-high definition on the new device, expected to go on sale later this year. However, it wants to charge $19.99 for those movies - on par with what it sometimes charges for new HD movies, the people with knowledge of the discussions said. Several Hollywood studios want to charge $5 to $10 more for 4K movies, the people said," the Journal reports.  

    ? Disney pledges $1M to Red Cross over Hurricane Harvey. The company and its local Houston affiliate KTRK announced the cash donation on Tuesday. ABC will also air a "Day of Giving" dedicated to those affected. 

    ? Showtime hit with lawsuit over failed boxing streams. Errors and buffering streams weren't what fans paid $99 to see, according to the suit. The complaint is seeking for each member of the class actual damages or $200 in statutory damages.

    ? CBS' "first meaningful" international acquisition. Analysts weigh in on the buy of Network Ten, which will give CBS control over Ten’s main network, its two digital terrestrial channels Eleven and One and catch-up TV streaming service Tenplay.

    ^Channel 4 relaunches Great British Bake Off. Alex Ritman notes: The show is returning to to U.K. TV screens Tuesday night, almost a year after it switched broadcasters in a three-year, $93M deal. But now its facing more competition.

    ? CBS teams with Glenn Geller for CIA drama. Three months after exiting his post as CBS entertainment president, the exec is partnering with Madam Secretary showrunner Barbara Hall to develop Family Business as a series.

    ? Animal Planet renews Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet. The show, which centers on Dr. Jeff Young and his staff at Planned Pethood Plus as they take care of animals in need, has been greenlighted for a fourth season.

    VidCon names new CEO. The company behind the annual online video conference has appointed programming executive Jim Louderback as its full-time CEO during its year of global expansion. 

    ? Hulu adds The CW to live TV service. The move makes the young-skewing channel the fifth major broadcast network to stream live on the platform.

    In THR, Esq: Buck Rogers ownership at center of trial. The lawsuit is between descendants of author Philip Francis Nowlan, who created the fictional space explorer in the 1920s, and descendants of John Flint Dille, whose newspaper company once syndicated a Rogers comic strip. Details.

  • Tracee Ellis Ross Speaks Out

    New podcast: This year's Golden Globe winner for best actress in a comedy series discusses with Scott Feinberg what it was like growing up as Diana Ross' daughter, why her current show and character are socially significant, and why she has mixed feelings about the accolades that she's been racking up. Listen.

    What else we're reading... 

    "Building bridges between East, West." Ryan Faughnder profiles Donald Tang, who is looking to "create a film company that can both succeed in the U.S. and take advantage of the growing entertainment market in China." [The Los Angeles Times]

    "Veep’s secret weapon." Anna Silman profiles Sarah Sutherland: she "had never had an onscreen role - and still had the lease on her East Village apartment - when she read for a role on Veep with casting director Allison Jones." [The Cut]

    "How TV became art." Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey look at 90 years of television writing to trace the history of the medium from its early days to ubiquity. [The New Yorker]

    "Star-studded films that almost didn't get released." Guy Lodge notes: "The release of the oft-delayed period drama Tulip Fever, filmed three years ago, is the latest starry project that’s suffered from a bungled journey to the screen." [The Guardian]

    "Taylor Swift’s 'Look What You Made Me Do' begins with a bang." Ben Sisaro notes: "The song obliterated Spotify’s record for most plays in a single day, while the emo band Brand New opened at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart." [The New York Times]

    Today's birthdays: Liam Payne, 24, Lea Michele, 31, Carla Gugino, 46, Joel Schumacher, 78, William Friedkin, 82.