What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:36 AM 4/23/2018

by Ray Rahman

Westworld Still 17 Season 2 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of HBO

What's news: I Feel Pretty failed to top two returning films at the box office. Plus: Westworld (and all its mystery) returned for its second season, CinemaCon kicks off in Las Vegas tonight and the Harry Potter saga comes to Broadway. — Ray Rahman

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MoviePass poll...

Results: An exclusive survey conducted by the National Research Group with THR found that 83 percent of MoviePass patrons are more satisfied with MoviePass than any other subscription service (think Netflix) and are seeing more movies than they did previously.

Frequency: On average, subscribers have taken six more trips to the cinema in the past six months than nonsubscribers, and they are twice as likely to go on opening weekend.

And nearly half of MoviePass customers say they are now willing to take a trip to the theater alone, while a hefty number (42 percent) happily go midweek. 

Less picky: Another key finding — MoviePass customers also are far less concerned about a movie's Rotten Tomatoes score, with 35 percent saying they would be willing to ignore a bad rating. Read more.

  • Schumer's Third-Place Debut

    The weekend box office saw an old winner take the top spot, writes Gregg Kilday

    STX Entertainment's I Feel Pretty charmed enough moviegoers to collect an estimated $16.2 million at the North America box office over the weekend.

    But that wasn’t enough to knock A Quiet Place ($22 million) out of the top spot, which the Paramount movie reclaimed during its third weekend of release, or to bump Warner Bros.' Rampage ($21 million) from the No. 2 slot.

    As for the other new releases, Fox Searchlight comedy Super Troopers 2 ($14.2 million) debuted in fourth position, and the Lionsgate thriller Traffik ($3.9 million) opened in ninth place.

    Amy Schumer's track record: Pretty’s third-place opening fell short of Schumer’s last two features, 2015’s Trainwreck, which debuted to $30.1 million, and 2017’s Snatched, which bowed to $19.5 million, but it did edge ahead of prerelease expectations, which had pegged the pic’s opening in the $13 million to $15 million range. Full story.

    Verne Troyer passes...

    RIP: Troyer, an actor best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers series, died at the age of 49.

    No cause of death was immediately given, but the statement on the actor's official Facebook page read: "Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it’s never too late to reach out to someone for help." Read more.

    Friends pay tribute: "Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him," said Troyer's Austin Powers co-star Mike Myers. "It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed." More tributes.

    Sly Stallone's phone call to Trump...

    Pardon? "Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson," the president tweeted over the weekend. "His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!"

    Spider-Man sequel intel...

    Going global? Marvel head Kevin Feige teased what's to come in the Spider-Man franchise: “We start filming early July. We film in London.... We shoot a lot of films in London but there’s another reason we’re shooting in London which is, yes, Spidey, of course, will spend some time in New York, but he’ll spend some time in other parts of the globe.”

    James Cameron talks Avengers...

    Quoted: “I’m hoping we’re going to start getting Avenger fatigue,” the director said at his production company offices this weekend. “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, Come on, guys, there are other stories to tell besides, you know, hypogonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process.”

    CinemaCon kicks off in Las Vegas tonight...

    Preview: Hollywood studios will descend on Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Monday for CinemaCon, where they will show theaters owners and press what they have in store for the remainder of the year via a parade of stars and buzzy footage.

    The key questions: What’s the future of the Transformers franchise? Will Bohemian Rhapsody sing in the wake of Bryan Singer? Will Aquaman be the DC hero Warners needs? Read more.

    Host Q&A: What does National Association of Theater Owners president John Fithian think about MoviePass? "We don't have a position on it, principally because it's a matter of competitive pricing, but we may have more of a response by CinemaCon."

    Trump? "I think the president has shown some inclination of late to blame the entertainment industry for gun violence in America, and that is disconcerting." Full Q&A.

    Honoree Q&A: What does Get Out star Lil Rel Howery, who'll be feted with CinemaCon's breakout performer of the year award, want to do next? Less comedy: "I'm mixing it up," he says. "Sometimes, your agents want to put you in a category. Your audience will put you in a box, too, if they only see you do the same thing. I want to do as much stuff with heart in it as I can." Full Q&A.

    Fandango deal: Ahead of CinemaCon, the online movie ticketing service has added National Amusements' Showcase Cinemas to the list of theaters it covers. National Amusements is a privately held company owned by the Redstone family and run by Shari Redstone.

    The overseas factor: "Feature films have been trending offshore, especially to the U.K., Canada and Australia," says FilmL.A.'s Adrian McDonald, who cites incentives and favorable exchange rates as key forces luring Hollywood abroad. Read more.

    Notes from Tribeca...

    The Seagull, reviewed: "Annette Bening scores another triumph with her turn as the vainglorious, aging actress Irina and is well matched by the rest of the cast, especially Elisabeth Moss, seemingly born to play the desperately lovesick Masha." Full review | Cast Q&A

    Zoe, reviewed: "A human/robot love story that is less deeply imaginative than Spike Jonze's Her, the picture is nevertheless a beautifully acted, affecting drama that teases some questions society may need to answer sooner than we expect." Full review.

    Bradley Cooper talks Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born and more: "She said right from the beginning that this is going to be a barter," Cooper told Robert De Niro. "[She said] ‘I’m gonna rely on you to get a performance that’s honest out of me’ — because she’s never done a film before — ‘and I'm gonna make sure that you turn into a musician. Because we’re going to sing everything live.’ And I thought, ‘Wait, wait, what?'" Read more.

    Letter from Cannes...

    On Lars von Trier: "Cannes' decision to welcome the 'banished' filmmaker back is emblematic of the contradictions at the heart of the festival — especially when it comes to gender," writes Leslie Felperin.

    "What’s hard to wrap your head around is where exactly the festival, a celebration of independent thought and artistic risk-taking, draws the line between acceptable and offensive." Read more.

  • 'Westworld' Returns

    Let's talk about it...

    What happened: "Roman World does not exist in Westworld, but the park at the center of the series is nevertheless taking some cues from the Roman Empire," writes Josh Wigler. "Putting it another way: you know how that mighty civilization collapsed? The hosts running rampant over Westworld have more or less asked Ancient Rome to hold their collective beer." Full recap.

    The creators explain all that time-jumping: "Through the first season, we are not aware that Dolores is actually remembering things and mistaking them for reality," Jonathan Nolan tells THR. "One of the things we were excited for in the second season was now playing cards up with the idea that hosts mistake their realities for their memories, get lost in time, bounce back and forth." Read more.

    About that nude scene: "It was liberating and it was empowering," said the actor who showed all last night. "At the premiere, I knew the scene was coming up, and I went through a multitude of feelings about it. Once you see it in front of you, and you see yourself naked, so much falls away from you." Full Q&A.

    What's next: The final moment of "Journey Into Night" lays out a deadly new mystery for the show's sophomore season. What are the takeaways from the premiere, and what does it mean for the show's future? Read here.

    Matt Smith breaks silence...

    On The Crown's pay-disparity controversy: "Claire is one of my best friends, and I believe that we should be paid equally and fairly and there should be equality for all," Smith said.

    He added: "I support her completely, and I'm pleased that it was resolved and they made amends for it because that's what needed to happen. Going forward, I think we should all bear in mind that we need to strive to make this better and a more even playing field for everyone involved — but not just in our industry, in all industries." Read more.

    Choosing not to watch Roseanne...

    Critic's notebook: "I'm not watching Roseanne for a number of reasons," writes Tim Goodman, "so let me enumerate them in order of weighted reasoning:

    1. I didn't like the original.

    2. I don't like Roseanne, the person.

    3. I don't care to understand my divided country from that perspective — I know that perspective because I'm living in it, reading about it and watching its supporters behave badly while also in it. I'm not just happy to be in a bubble from people like the fictional Roseanne (or the real one) — I delight in the distance. I'm a proud coastal elite. I don't want any part of those Roseanne-esque people and their ignorance or viewpoints." Read more.

    The BAFTA TV Craft awards...

    Winners: The Crown and Game of Thrones came home with two wins each at the London honors, while Thrones (much of which is filmed in Northern Ireland) also took home a special award in recognition of those involved in putting together all 67 episodes of the series made to date. See the rest.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Netflix pay raises: CEO Reed Hastings' base salary dipped but he received a $24.4 million payday in 2017, up 5 percent compared with the $23.2 million he made in 2016, the company disclosed. Meanwhile, content chief Ted Sarandos saw his pay jump more than 18 percent to $22.4 million. Read more.

    ? American Idol goes live nationwide: In a first for the franchise, the rebooted ABC series will air live in all time zones across the country for a three-week span, beginning with the April 29 show (at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET) — allowing voters on both coasts to simultaneously cast their votes.

    ? Amy Robach named 20/20 co-anchor: She'll join David Muir on the ABC primetime newsmagazine following Elizabeth Vargas' departure from the network.

    ? Sharp Objects trailer: The first trailer for HBO's Amy Adams drama, adapted from the Gillian Flynn book, is here. Watch.

    Rep Sheet Roundup: Endeavor has named Courtney Braun its head of legal affairs, while Lagardere Sports agent Jay Danzi has joined WME as a partner (with client Jordan Spieth in tow).… UTA has acquired music-focused Circle Talent Agency, hired London-based music agent Sarah Casey and promoted eight coordinators to agent.… PMK*BNC co-chair/CEO Michael Nyman has left to start investment venture Acceleration. More here.


  • Hogwarts on Broadway

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth story in J.K. Rowling's wizardry saga, arrives on Broadway destined to repeat its spectacular London success, writes David Rooney:

    Playwright Jack Thorne, director John Tiffany and his indispensable movement collaborator Steven Hoggett achieve the near impossible: They mount a persuasive case that this story we all know from novels and/or movies only now has found its nonpareil medium.

    The two plays have a combined running time of almost five-and-a-half suspenseful hours. And when you get a load of the illusions pulled off right before your eyes — mostly with old-fashioned sleight-of-hand and crafty lighting; only occasionally with more elaborate techno-trickery — it's not hyperbole to call the show sheer magic. Full review.

    In other news...

    Another royal baby: Kate Middleton and Prince William welcomed their third child today, a baby boy who becomes fifth in line to the throne.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Is Facebook's Campbell Brown a force to be reckoned with? Or is she fake news?" Nellie Bowles writes: "Since joining the Silicon Valley company in 2017 to repair its frayed relationship with the news media, many have considered the former CNN and NBC anchor as little more than window dressing." [The New York Times]

    — "Amazon's critics get new life with Trump's attacks on the company." A report on how "the president has become an unlikely ally for an array of Amazon critics." [The New York Times]  

    — "Church of the Donald." Ruth Graham writes: "Never mind Fox. Trump's most reliable media mouthpiece is now Christian TV." [Politico]

    — "Mel Brooks: 'I've never been a fan of political correctness.'" The Oscar-winning filmmaker sits down for a wide-ranging interview. [Daily Beast]

    — "Cantina talk: Solo isn't really an origin story." Graeme McMillan addresses that and other speculation surrounding the Star Wars film. [Wired]

    — "'We're on life support': Is streaming the final note for professional songwriters?" Jack Denton writes: "Operating without a union, songwriters are still paid through royalty structures created in the days of player pianos and Tin Pan Alley. And in the streaming era, that's a losing formula." [Pacific Standard]

    — "What would Prince want? Two years later, his estate is a mess and his legacy is unclear." Karen Heller writes: "Paisley Park now features a gift shop, a restaurant (vegetarian, like the artist) and a vast party space, all operated by the overseers of Graceland." [The Washington Post]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Celebrating 80 years of Superman." A conversation with Brian Michael Bendis." [Mothership / USA Today]

    + "Bradley Whitford." The actor enters the garage. [WTF With Marc Maron]

    What's happening this week...

    Tuesday: The Kevin James: Never Don't Give Up stand-up special drops on Netflix.

    Wednesday: The Handmaid's Tale season two premieres on Hulu.

    Friday: Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters nationwide.... The Week Of, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, drops on Netflix.

    Today's Birthdays: Dev Patel, 28, John Cena, 41, John Oliver, 41, Kal Penn, 41, George Lopez, 57, Michael Moore, 64, Lee Majors, 79.