What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:16 AM 4/16/2018

by Ray Rahman

Anthony Scaramucci 2 - Photographed by Andrew Hetherington - H 2018
Photographed by Andrew Hetherington

What's news: After an early-weekend scare, Dwayne Johnson's Rampage rebounds. Plus: Netflix's global expansion runs into regional politics, the Mooch spills the beans on everything and Hollywood remembers late director Milos Forman. — Ray Rahman

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  • The Rock Bounces Back

    Dwayne Johnson's Rampage defeated A Quiet Place at the box office after all, writes Pamela McClintock: 

    Comeback: On Friday afternoon, New Line's Rampage appeared to be dropping like a rock at the U.S. box office.

    But thanks to the star power of Dwayne Johnson, Rampage made something of a recovery, opening to $34.5 million, one of the best showings ever for a video game adaptation and enough to win the weekend. That was still behind expectations, however.

    The horror runner-ups: A Quiet Place continued to defy expectations in its sophomore outing, earning $32.6 million for a domestic total just shy of $100 million at $99.6 million. Truth or Dare, the latest microbudget collaboration from Universal and Blumhouse, opened to a strong $19.2 million. Full weekend box office.

    Specialty market: Bleecker Street's Beirut, starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike, grossed $1.7 million from 754 theaters for a five-day debut of $2.2 million. Sophie Fiennes' documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami scored an enviable per-theater average of $20,147 upon debuting in three theaters. And Chloe Zhao's 2017 Cannes entry The Rider launched to $45,268 from three theaters for a screen average of $15,089.

    Rampage in China: Overseas, the movie roared loudly in China, biting off $55 million for a foreign debut of $114.1 million and solid global start of $148.6 million.

    Rampage's other achievement: Per IndieWire, the film has the dubious distinction of being the most well-received video game-to-movie adaptation on Rotten Tomatoes — with a 50 percent "rotten" score. (Tomb Raider was the previous record holder with 49 percent.)

    About Truth or Dare...

    A step back for Blumhouse? "The film is impressing at the box office, but, after filmmaker-driven hits Get Out and Split, Truth or Dare plays like a property caught between a director and a studio at different places in their creative ambitions," writes Richard Newby. Read more.

    Speaking of Blumhouse...

    Halloween reboot intel: Jason Blum had good things to report about David Gordon Green's Halloween reboot, saying: "I feel really good about it, I saw a cut of it two nights ago. I think David did a terrific job…. He did everything I hoped he would do which is respect the DNA of the franchise and bring something totally new to it and we’re really very very excited for people to see it."

    Hollywood's new biopic trend...

    Living subjects: "In recent years, [the] process of selecting lives worthy of cinematic lionization has been dramatically reconfigured," Chris Lee writes in Vulture. "There’s been a sharp increase in projects plotted around people who are not only still alive, but who are relatively young and still vital — and continue to impact the popular culture into which the movies about them will soon submerge."

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Infinity War cast grows: Per directors Joe and Anthony Russo, the upcoming Avengers film has added another name to its roster: Carrie Coon, who'll play villain Proxima Midnight.

    ? Cannes: Paul Dano's Wild Life set to open critics' week: The 1960s-set drama, which premiered at Sundance and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, will open Cannes Critics' Week sidebar; Alex Lutz's second feature Guy will close the week. Both will screen out of competition.

    ? Are you ready for a Deadpool pop-up bar? Well, there's going to be one anyway in New York and L.A. — for fans 21 and older — as part of a promotional campaign between the Fox film sequel and beverage company Mike's Harder. Details.

    ? RIP, R. Lee Ermey. The Golden Globe-nominated actor, best known for his role as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, has died. Ermey, whose nickname was "The Gunny," was 74. Read more | Hollywood pays tribute.

    Remembering Milos Forman...

    Critic's notebook: "It's not always easy to analyze why some artists remain productive and culturally connected through their entire careers while others pass out of the spotlight," writes Todd McCarthy. "But for two decades, Forman shared the upper echelon of international filmmakers with distinctive works that no one else would have made remotely the same way." Read more.

    Hollywood reacts: "We lost one of the greatest directors in the history of film," said Michael Douglas. Jim Carrey tweeted, "What a force. A lovely man." Woody Harrelson: "He was a loving papa bear who would yell your name with his big Czech voice...." Read more.

    Czech Republic mourns: "He will always be here," says Czech actor and president of the Karlovy Vary international film festival Jiri Bartoska. "Every time you say his name, you remember the stories he told in his unmistakably deep voice, his laughter, the smoke from his cigar ever hanging in the air." Read more.

  • Netflix's Global Politics

    As the streamer goes global, can it avoid regional politics? Scott Roxborough and Alex Ritman write:

    As Netflix gets bigger — and more international — the company is running up against a challenge more threatening than Facebook or Amazon Prime: local politics. The streamer is under fire, around the world, not for its disruptive business model, but for the political content of its programming.

    Scandals involving shows in Brazil, Israel and the Philippines highlight the challenge for the streaming giant as it tries to grow internationally while staying above the local political fray. Nowhere is this clearer than in Russia, where the country's culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, has gone so far as to accuse Netflix of “mind control.”... Read more.

    Netflix at TED...

    The anti-Apple? "We're like the anti-Apple," Reed Hastings said of his company's culture at the TED Conference over the weekend, Wired reports. "They compartmentalize, we do the opposite. Everyone gets all the information.” (An interesting thing to say about a company that famously does not make its viewing metrics public....) Hastings added: “I find out about big decisions made all the time that I had nothing to do with.” 

    The Handmaid's Tale season two is coming...

    Review: "The first six episodes of the new season are very, very good, something nobody could have taken for granted with Bruce Miller and company moving farther and farther from Margaret Atwood's source material," writes Daniel Fienberg.

    "With [Elisabeth] Moss again leading the way, The Handmaid's Tale continues to thrive in many of the same emotional, yet soaringly beautiful, ways it succeeded last year...." Full review.

    SNL's splashy Saturday...

    New impressions: Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro reinvented a classic scene from their 2000 hit Meet the Parents, but this time in the form of new characters — Trump lawyer Michael Cohen (Stiller) and Robert Mueller (De Niro). Watch.

    Old friend, new host: Former SNL writer John Mulaney hosted the show for the first time, resulting in a number of memorable sketches he had a hand in creating — including a Les Miserables spoof that involves ordering lobsters at diners. Video.

    Ian Somerhalder's new Netflix series...

    Another vampire show: The streaming giant has handed out a 10-episode, straight-to-series order for vampire drama V-Wars, based on the IDW novel of the same name with Vampire Diaries alum Somerhalder set to star. The order comes as another IDW property, the beloved Locke and Key, is awaiting word on a new home after Hulu's surprising pass on the pilot.

    Plot: V-Wars revolves around a doctor (Somerhalder) who enters a world of horror when a mysterious disease transforms his best friend into a predator who feeds on other humans. As the disease spreads, society fractures into opposing camps pitting normal people against these vampires.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Sarah Silverman's Hulu show gets renewed: The comedian's late night-esque series I Love You, America has been picked up by the streamer for 11 more episodes on Sept. 6 — just in time for the midterm elections.

    ? ESPN argues no obligation to tennis analyst after racial controversy: Tennis analyst Doug Adler is suing ESPN for wrongful termination after he made a comment during a Venus Williams match that some perceived to be a racial slur. Details.

    Rep Sheet Roundup: Helen Hunt has left CAA for UTA.… Siblings and Olympic ice dancing medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani have signed with UTA.… HuffPost has signed with ICM Partners.… ShamelessEthan Cutkosky has signed with The Rosenzweig Group for management. More here.


  • A Night With The Mooch

    America's most profane and short-lived White House communications director is plotting his next moves, hoping to parlay those 11 days of notoriety into a book, a possible TV show and talking-head ubiquity. Rich Cohen writes:

    Here's the scariest phrase you can hear from Anthony Scaramucci, who, at least since the second grade, has been known as the Mooch: "Let me tell you what I really think." It comes as the thunder clap that precedes a freak summer storm, a torrent of obscenities followed by a plain hard-spoken truth.

    "I got up close and personal to [the politicians]," he says, leaning across a table at the Hunt & Fish Club, the steakhouse off Times Square that he partly owns, named for the social club John Gotti had in Queens. "They're the worst people in America. They have the worst values. They're amoral, twisted, backstabbing liars...."

    On his upcoming book: "I think it'll provide insight to people that don't really understand Trump's ethos," he says. "He's a shooter in the NBA. He's a home-run hitter in Major League Baseball. He's the starting quarterback, no huddle offense, 'Let's go run the plays' guy."

    On the infamous New Yorker interview with Ryan Lizza: "The Lizzas and the Scaramuccis will never talk again. They're dead to the Scaramuccis. Likely can't get restaurant reservations in certain Italian neighborhoods on Long Island. One of the most egregious, most dishonest, backstabbing, low-life things that you could do to a fellow Italian."

    On the historical record: "By the way, from 1650 to 2150, there will only be one person remembered from that 500-year period — Neil Armstrong." Full story.

    + "Every place I mention is totally hot": Where does the Mooch hang when he's in New York? See the list.

    Barry Diller opens up about...

    Cynthia Nixon's campaign: "Not excited. Period."

    His ambitious, still-under-construction NYC park: “I think it’s a crazy concept to say that a park on a pier is actually for some rich people. Will there be some rich people? Yes. But there will be some poor people and some people of all colors and all this and all that...." Full interview.

    In other news...

    Beyonce blows everyone in Indio anyway: "Beyonce is bigger than Coachella," reads the New York Times review headline of Bey's performance at the festival (which included a Destiny's Child reunion). They weren't the only ones: "May be the best of all time," says EW, while Cosmopolitan said: "PURE MAGIC."

    What else we're reading...

    — "MoviePass, the $9.95-a-month cinema subscription service, could shake up the film industry — if it survives long enough." Ryan Faughnder writes: "One of the industry's biggest concerns is that MoviePass' inexpensive offering could devalue the cinematic experience by getting millions of people used to going to the movies while paying very little." [Los Angeles Times]

    — "Black Panther in Saudi Arabia? Hollywood sweeps into Islamic kingdom." Erich Schwartzel and Margherita Stancati write: "Saudi Arabia wants to do more than export oil. So it’s importing popcorn machines." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Icahn Enterprises selling Tropicana Entertainment for $1.85 billion." Carl Icahn’s company currently owns about 84% of the casino owner. [Wall Street Journal]

    — "As TV viewing habits change, local broadcasters turn to live streaming." A.J. Katz writes: "National usage has tripled to nearly 15 million OTT-only households since 2013." [Adweek]

    — "Another Harry Potter landmark: At $68 million, the most expensive Broadway nonmusical play ever." Michael Paulson reports on the pricey lengths the production has gone — including renovating the theater itself to make it more Hogwarts-y. [The New York Times]

    — "Inside Tom Cruise and John Travolta's Scientology feud." Tom Sykes writes: "The long-rumored feud between the church’s two biggest stars explodes into public view with a new interview from an ‘apostate’ former member." [Daily Beast]

    — "How one joke on Roseanne explains the show." Emily Nussbaum writes: "You can’t understand who you are unless you know your history. That probably goes for sitcoms, too." [New Yorker]

    — "At last, it's Jason Statham's time to shine." Drew Millard writes: "After years of fighting humans, Jason Statham gets to fight a gigantic shark." [The Outline]

    — "David Foster, the godfather of schmaltz." Jacob Bernstein writes: "David Foster, the Jerry Bruckheimer of power ballads, likes to say that he hasn’t seen the inside of an elevator in more than 30 years because he’s afraid of hearing his own music." [The New York Times]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Kay Cannon makes her directorial debut." An interview with the Blockers helmer. [The Business/KCRW]

    + "Aisha Tyler/Louie Anderson." Two interviews for the price of one. [WTF With Marc Maron]

    The week ahead...

    Wednesday: The Looming Tower series finale drops on Hulu.... The Wine Show debuts on Ovation.

    Thursday: The Scandal series finale airs on ABC.... Ex on the Beach debuts on MTV.

    Friday: I Feel Pretty and Super Troopers 2 hit theaters nationwide.... Dope season 2 drops on Netflix.

    Today's Birthdays: Anya Taylor-Joy, 22, Claire Foy, 34, Jon Cryer, 53, Martin Lawrence, 53, Ellen Barkin, 64, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 71.