What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:21 AM 4/5/2018

by Ray Rahman

Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures

What's news: John Krasinski looks to best Steven Spielberg at the weekend box office. Plus: YouTube steps up its security, the MPAA annual report points to streaming gains and Black Panther heads to Saudi Arabia. — Ray Rahman

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Stuck in third place, should CNN abandon its "food fight" formula? Jeremy Barr writes: 

As CNN has become the most visible media target in the current polarized political climate, frequently on the tongue of a president with 50 million Twitter followers, the network's ratings are still a work in progress. During primetime, CNN is stuck in third place in both total viewers and the key demo (25 to 54), behind the Trump-friendly Fox News and the administration-critical MSNBC.

Some say the network has suffered by adhering to an "outmoded" formula, according to a longtime veteran producer who was among the more than dozen insiders interviewed by THR for this look at the network.

“That, to me, is why their ratings are suffering,” says Angelo Carusone, president of the left-leaning advocacy group Media Matters for America. “They think that this clash model is somehow good for ratings, and it’s not.” Full story.

  • Will 'A Quiet Place' Make Noise?

    Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures

    A slew of new films will battle Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One this weekend, writes Pamela McClintock: 

    A Quiet Place on top? According to tracking, the John Krasinski-directed horror film, sporting a near-perfect 99 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, should open in the $20 million to $25 million range, possibly enough to unseat Ready Player One, which heads into its sophomore weekend. Quiet Place cost a modest $17 million to produce before marketing.

    Blockers, with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 88 percent, could hit $20 million in its debut, a strong showing considering the recent R-rated comedy slump. Meanwhile, Chappaquiddick is tracking to open to a troubled $2 million to $4 million, and The Miracle Season is looking at a $3 million debut. Full story.

    Ready Player One's China performance: Riding rave local reviews and effusive word of mouth, the film surged past the $100 million mark in China on Thursday. It's now clear that the Middle Kingdom will prove to be the sci-fi tentpole's biggest global market by far and will outpace the movie's performance in North America.

    Avengers: Infinity War tracking: The Disney and Marvel film is tracking to open to a huge $175 million-$200 million at the domestic box office. Projections could easily increase in the three weeks that remain before the movie's debut in theaters on April 27.

    The annual MPAA report...

    Streamers save the day: In 2017, digital home entertainment soared 31 percent year-over-year to $32.1 billion, while physical home entertainment spending continued to plummet, down 15 percent to $15.7 billion. Thanks to digital — up a staggering 161 percent from five years ago — total home entertainment spending was up 11 percent ($47.8 billion).

    Top rentals: Ben Affleck's The Accountant topped the list of U.S. digital movie rentals, followed by Moana and Wonder Woman, both box-office blockbusters.

    Box office: North American box-office revenue came in at $11.1 billion, down 2 percent from 2016, while attendance hit a 22-year low. Foreign revenue climbed to $29.5 billion, an uptick of 7 percent thanks mainly to the China box office. Full story.

    Saudi Arabia's new entertainment landscape...

    AMC: The theater chain looks set to win the race to open the first cinema in the country. AMC revealed that it had won the country's first license to operate cinemas alongside its local partner, the Development and Investment Entertainment Company, and would be opening Saudi Arabia's first movie theater in Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District on April 18.

    Black Panther: It will get a gala premiere April 18 at Riyadh's AMC-branded cinema, thus becoming the first film to screen to the public in a movie theater in the country since  lifted a 35-year cinema ban. The news makes Disney and its regional distribution partner in the Middle East, Italia Film, the first to officially release a movie in the kingdom.

    Cirque du Soleil: The theatrical company will produce a performance for the first time in Saudi Arabia. The production will be designed exclusively for Saudi National Day, on Sept. 23 of this year, at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh for a live and televised audience.

    MoviePass-AMC cold war thaws...

    More theaters: The movie subscription service has now made peace with AMC and covers all of its theaters, no longer excluding 10 locations — including in New York and L.A. The move follows MoviePass adding Mark Cuban's Landmark Theatres to the list of cinemas its customers can utilize, and shaving another dollar off a subscription to bring the price to $6.95 per month.

    Acquiring MovieFone: MoviePass and its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, said they acquired the cinema service Moviefone from AOL parent company Oath. MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe in a statement said acquiring Moviefone "will help us grow our subscriber base significantly and expand our marketing and advertising platform for our studio and brand partners."

    Sue Kroll's new banner...

    Big slate: The former Warner Bros. marketing chief has officially launched her own production banner, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, and will act as a producer on The Six Billion Dollar Man, the recently greenlighted update on the 1970s television show, as well as on Nemesis, the comic adaptation that Ridley Scott and Jules Daly are developing; YA adaptation The Selection; and an untitled Sandra Bullock comedy.

    Chaos Walking hits speed bumps...

    Reshoots: Chaos Walking, Doug Liman’s adaptation of the best-selling YA novel of the same name, is the latest big-budget movie to undergo significant reshoots. Thanks to scheduling issues with stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, the reshoots will likely force the Lionsgate movie to push back its release date, currently set for March 1, 2019.

    Timeline: The reshoots, or "additional photography," are expected to last two or three weeks but will not take place until the end of this year or early next — December or even January. 

    Steven Spielberg talks Indiana Jones...

    Could a female Indy be next? "We’d have to change the name from Jones to Joan, and there would be nothing wrong with that," Spielberg said in a U.K. interview. He added that he was "pretty sure" the upcoming installment would be Harrison Ford's last and that it was time the character "took a different form."

    Elsewhere in film...

    Cannes: Everybody Knows to open festival: Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language psychological thriller, starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, is set to open the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which will run May 8-19.

    Jennifer Ehle, Scott Speedman join Damian Lewis thriller: They, as well as Gil Bellows, have joined Ricky Tollman's indie political drama Run This Town, which already boasts Lewis, Ben Platt and Nina Dobrev in its cast.

    X-Files star Annabeth Gish joins Charlie Says: The actress will join the upcoming drama about the Charlie Manson murder trials, starring Matt Smith as the notorious cult leader.

    Yellow Submarine back in theaters: Per Rolling Stone, "The Beatles' Yellow Submarine will return to movie theaters across North America this summer to mark its 50th anniversary. The film is set to start screening July 8th."

  • TV's Awards Show Race

    Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images

    The Globes go up for grabs as cord-cutting (and obscure noms) dent Oscar viewership and millennials abandon in droves, but broadcasters covet live events. Michael O'Connell writes:

    During the first months of 2018, TV's three biggest awards shows — the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes — lost 14 million viewers between them, a stunning 18 percent decline from their collective haul the previous year.

    But even that narrative can't quiet the fight for broadcast rights. "These things are still incredibly important to broadcast television," says Rob Mills, senior vp alternative series, specials and late-night at ABC Entertainment. "It's important to lock them in long-term." 

    What's up for grabs: The Oscars are still the crown jewel of ABC's calendar (all the way to 2028), and the Grammys broadcast is locked up by CBS through 2026. However, the current TV rights for the Emmys expire after this year, and NBC's talks to keep the Globes have not been productive so far. 

    Bringing back young people: The Oscars saw a 54 percent decline in adults 18-to-34 since 2014. Many call out the lack of mainstream hit films to lure back younger fans and the masses. Predicts an optimistic producer, "Nominate Black Panther for best picture and you'll see a turnaround." Full story.

    Kenya Barris' next move...

    ABC exit? Multiple sources say that the Black-ish creator and Girls Trip writer is actively trying to get out of his overall deal with ABC Studios, his creative home since 2015. Barris has three years remaining on the lucrative four-year deal he signed in 2017.

    Heading to Netflix? Those same sources say he is in preliminary talks to join Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy with a mega-deal with Netflix. "Talks are very real," says a source of Barris' potential move to the streaming giant.

    ABC tension: Last month, the network yanked a politically themed episode of Black-ish following creative differences between the network and Barris. At the time, ABC called the decision to scrap it a mutual one between the network and Barris, though sources say otherwise. Full story.

    Roseanne week two ratings...

    Still strong: Viewership dipped by 17 percent, but it was still a huge night for the revived sitcom in its second week. The episode averaged a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 15.2 million viewers. Among adults 18-49, the second week marks a 24 percent drop.

    YouTube reacts to shooting...

    Increased security: The company is planning new security at its offices. YouTube said that it "will be increasing the security we have at all of our offices worldwide to make them more secure not only in the near-term, but long-term."

    New details about the shooter: Hours before Nasim Aghdam would open fire during lunchtime at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, police found her sleeping in her car some 30 miles south in the heart of Silicon Valley.... Read more.

    Viacom gives CBS an answer...

    No deal: Viacom has rejected CBS Corp.'s initial merger proposal that had been submitted March 30 to kick off negotiations between the two entertainment companies controlled by the Redstone family as they consider recombining 12 years after their separation. The all-stock proposal from CBS used a ratio of the two stocks and valued Viacom below its market price.

    Sinclair drama thickens...

    SAG-AFTRA: "We stand with our members and journalists everywhere in challenging corporate directives that call into question the journalistic integrity of the news presented to the public. SAG-AFTRA opposes such directives in the interest of defending the professionalism of journalists...." Full statement.

    Sinclair boss: “You can't be serious!” Sinclair chairman David D. Smith told the New York Times. “Do you understand that as a practical matter every word that comes out of the mouths of network news people is scripted and approved by someone?”

    He went on: “Not that you would print it, but do you understand that every local TV station is required to ‘must run’ from its network their content, and they don’t own me. That would be all their news programming and other shows such as late-night talk, which is just late-night political so-called comedy.”

    NBC's Bob Greenblatt talks reboots...

    Bringing back The West Wing? Maybe: "We can't just reboot everything," Greenblatt said. Friends, for example, he says will never happen. Seinfeld is also virtually guaranteed to never be rebooted. Asked specifically if he'd revive Cheers, he suggested it may be beyond the point that would make sense to revive the Ted Danson comedy. "I'd love to have the Cheers reboot if it were 20 years ago," Greenblatt said.

    The Office is another possibility, though likely without the full original cast, and The West Wing also seems to have favorable odds of returning. Greenblatt noted that West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin would get behind it "if he weren't busy doing 10 other extraordinary things." Read more.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Shades of Blue reaches its end: The Jennifer Lopez-starring NBC cop drama's third season will be its last. The show's final 10 episodes premiere June 17.

    Netflix enlists Sarah Chalke to lead adult animated comedy Paradise, P.D.: The streamer announced a 10-episode, straight-to-series order for the show, with Sarah Chalke (Rick and Morty) set to lead the voice cast. Scheduled to premiere this year, Paradise, P.D. hails from Waco O'Guin and Roger Black, the creators of Comedy Central's Brickleberry.

    History scraps Bill Clinton impeachment drama: Ryan Murphy isn't the only one scrapping scripted projects about Monica Lewinsky — History is nixing The Breach: Inside the Impeachment of Bill Clinton, the six-part scripted series from Emmy winner R.J. Cutler (Nashville).

    Sandra Oh's Killing Eve renewed at BBC America: The thriller has earned an early second-season pickup just days before its series premiere.

  • The #MeToo Legal Debate

    Photographed by Charles W. Murphy

    "Did the law fail us?" Five experts on workplace harassment explore the tension between activism and a "rush to judgment” and voice concerns about due process amid the new court of the media:

    Larry Gross: "The real change to me is #MeToo means 'everybody now tell your story.' There's a concept in sociology and media studies called the 'spiral of silence,' which means when something isn't talked about, it becomes harder to talk about it. Nobody wants to be the one who stands up and says an unpopular opinion. This, I think, is the reverse."

    Eve Wagner: "You know, I'm old enough to remember the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas days. I was an associate at a large law firm. We thought, 'Oh my God, this is it. We're finally having this dialogue.' And there was a dialogue, but then the backlash came. I heard male partners walking down the halls going, 'Well, I'm never going to have lunch with a female associate.'" Full roundtable.

    What else we're reading...

    — "When you merge the message with the medium, you make a messium." Susan Crawford argues against the AT&T-Time Warner merger. [Wired]

    — "The business of being Cardi B." Sidney Madden writes: "Like the liquor in the cups of the concertgoers and the weed smoke around them, the Cardi B effect was not only perceptible, it was intoxicating." [NPR]

    — "Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsay follow their instincts to find You Were Never Really Here." Mark Olsen writes: "Pairing two of international cinema's most determinedly idiosyncratic and creatively willful talents is a bit like introducing an unstoppable force to an immovable object; disaster could ensue." [Los Angeles Times]

    — "Dwayne Johnson: The pain and passion that fuel the Rock." Josh Eells' profile begins: "If the world seemed a little bit sluggish this morning — if the birds weren't singing as sweetly, or the sun hung a bit lower in the sky — it might be because Dwayne Johnson didn't work out." [Rolling Stone]

    — "Is Diego Boneta Mexico's next big Hollywood star?" Alex Williams writes: "Hollywood has the Mexican directors. Now we’ll need the actors. The former teen idol and telenovela actor is ready to make like Tom Cruise." [The New York Times]

    — "Beasts at the box office: Why the horror anthology refuses to die." Jeremy Dyson asks: "What makes these pictures so endlessly fascinating and appealing?" [The Guardian]

    — "Fixer Upper is dead. Long live Fixer Upper." Claire McNear writes: "After five seasons, Waco design darlings Chip and Joanna Gaines are bidding HGTV farewell. But are they really going anywhere?" [The Ringer]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Mike Myers' Dr. Evil returns as ousted Trump cabinet member." [Tonight Show]

    + "John Cena gives epic response to former WWE rival Dwayne Johnson's toothbrush threat." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys have their own spy language." [Late Night]

    + "How Coquette became a 'refuge' for Hollywood stars in New Orleans." [Where Hollywood Eats/THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "SallyAnn Salsano on the changing reality TV industry and returning to Jersey Shore." The creator of the MTV hit discusses an evolving business. [Bachelor Party/The Ringer]

    + "Simon Pegg: Interview." The actor talks Ready Player One, Rey's Star Wars parentage and more. [Happy Sad Confused/MTV]

    Today's Birthdays: Lily James, 29, Hayley Atwell, 36, Pharrell Williams, 45, Roger Corman, 92.