What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:14 AM 4/9/2018

by Ray Rahman

A Quiet Place and Blockers Still - Split - Photofest - H 2018

What's news: A Quiet Place makes a lot of noise in its box-office debut. Plus: HBO programming chief Casey Bloys opens up about Big Little Lies and more, Netflix and Amazon drive a global reality TV renaissance and Mean Girls the musical tries to make "fetch" happen on Broadway. — Ray Rahman

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  • 'Quiet Place,' Big Weekend

    It was a good weekend at the movies all around, writes Pamela McClintock: 

    The big winner: Paramount's A Quiet Place opened to a booming $50 million, well ahead of expectations and one of the top debuts of all time for a horror title behind last year's It ($123.4 million). It's also the second-best three-day bow of the year so far behind Black Panther ($202 million).

    Overseas, the film opened to a pleasing $21 million from its first 40 markets for a global cume of $71 million, suggesting the pic will be a huge profit generator.

    Paramount: "It's rare for a horror movie to do so well. A Quiet Place has broken free of any genre," says studio distribution chief Kyle Davies. "Then there's the experiential aspect of the movie. It's intense and people are engaged from the minute it starts."

    The rest: Blockers opened to $21.4 million, the best launch for an R-rated comedy since fellow Universal comedy Girls Trip last summer ($31 million). Chappaquiddick also came in ahead of expectations, opening to $6.2 million — and with a notably older audience (35 percent of ticket buyers over the age of 55). Inspirational film The Miracle Season debuted to $4.1 million for LD Entertainment. 

    Ready Player One: The Steven Spielberg film held up well in its sophomore outing, falling a slim 40 percent to $25.1 million for an 11-day domestic total of $96.9 million. Globally, the movie saw its grosses climb to $391.3 million, including a massive $161.2 million in China, the best showing of all time for a Warner Bros. title.

    Specialty: Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really, a revenge thriller from Amazon Studios starring Joaquin Phoenix, scored a promising theater average of $43,304 in its debut in three cinemas in New York and L.A. Full weekend box office.

    The SXSW factor: One thing Ready Player One, A Quiet Place and Blockers all had in common before becoming hot box-office titles? They all debuted at SXSW.

    "I think SXSW was the most valuable thing for the movie," says producer Andrew Form of Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, which produced A Quiet Place for Paramount. "The buzz that we were able to generate from the screening before 1,200 people and critics really launched the film." Full story.

    A Quiet Place could have been a Cloverfield film...

    Almost: “I guess it crossed our mind and we had spoken to our representatives about that possibility,” said Quiet Place screenwriter Scott Beck in an interview with Slash Film. “It was weird timing, though, because when we were writing the script, 10 Cloverfield Lane was at Paramount. We were actually talking to an executive there about this film, and it felt from pitch form that there might be crossover, but when we finally took the final script in to Paramount, they saw it as a totally different movie.”

    Zoe Saldana versus elitists...

    Defending Marvel: “I’ve been in rooms with people in this industry who are great at what they do, but they’re absolutely elitist and they look down at movies like the Marvel films or actors like myself," Saldana said in an interview with Net-a-Porter. "They think we’re selling out in some way.... Those elitists should be a little more cognizant about what playing a superhero means to a young child. Because you’re not just dissing me, you’re dissing what that child considers important in their world."

    News from NAB Show in Las Vegas...

    Sony: The studio is opening a new Digital Media Production Center in Glendale, Calif., in May, which will be the company’s home to L.A.-based crews for gear, training and education about its latest production technologies that include 4K and high dynamic range capabilities.

    Pixar: Pixar's vp and inclusion strategist Britta Wilson talked inclusion: "At Pixar, there's great desire to create an inclusive environment. But we don't know what we don't know. We started by creating awareness of that type of environment. We are trying. We are not there yet...but we are certainly very excited about that."

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? New Avengers: Infinity War TV spot: Now with more Black Panther! The ad, which debuted Saturday, features Wakandans preparing for some sort of battle, with the people of the fictional African nation chanting throughout. Watch.

    ? New Solo trailer drops: The new preview shows Han meeting Lando and Chewie — including his surprise at finding out the latter is 190 years old — and taking the Millennium Falcon for a spin. Watch.

    [icon:deals] Rep Sheet Roundup: Modern Family star Ed O’Neill has left Paradigm for Gersh.… Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich AsiansAwkwafina has signed with PR firm Kovert Creative.… Proud Mary director Babak Najafi has left UTA for Paradigm and also returned to Magnolia for management.… Lisa Vanderpump has signed with Management 360. More here.

  • "They Earned It"

    HBO boss Casey Bloys opened up to Lacey Rose about Big Little Lies' impact, pay parity, staying competitive and more:

    On the Big Little Lies salary saga (including one exec's "rape" comment): "Obviously, it was a really unfortunate statement, not just the choice of words but also the statement because it's not reflective of how we feel as a network. Let me just say this about Big Little Lies' season two. Whatever anybody was paid was 100 percent earned and well worth it. This show was a giant hit for us and for the industry. I know there's fascination with the negotiations but, listen, they earned it."

    On the producer mega-deal era: "For someone like Ryan Murphy or Shonda Rhimes, who are prolific creators of quality content, that is the market now. And it’s a unique skill that they have. But as a business, you kind of have to adjust to the marketplace.... Ryan or Shonda probably don’t make sense for us because we're not in the volume business and that's what they're getting paid for. But in general, across the board, costs are going up...."

    Competing against free-spending rivals: "Money is obviously very nice but it doesn't automatically mean quality. It's very hard to curate content and it matters how you engage with talent and how you treat them. In a crowded marketplace, it matters how you put things out into the world."

    "We don’t put a new show out every week. We take our time, and we try to make every show feel like an event — something special because they are special to us.... So, it really is a hands-on approach as opposed to kind of a factory. And that sell to creators in an ever more crowded world really resonates." Full Q&A.

    Netflix and Amazon's global reality TV play...

    Unscripted's resurgence: Nonfiction formats, from game shows to makeover programs and guilty pleasures, are finding new life online. Netflix and Amazon Prime, and to a lesser extent Apple and YouTube, after tiptoeing around reality for years, have fully embraced the genre, commissioning new or rebooted formats and bulking up their libraries with shows featuring shiny floors, baking competitions and people behaving badly. Full story.

    Viacom-CBS update...

    Counteroffer: Viacom, after rejecting CBS Corp.'s initial merger proposal, late last week submitted a counteroffer. Viacom didn't immediately comment, but one source said the counterproposal pushed for a higher price tag. CNBC reported that Viacom in the letter asked CBS to sweeten its bid by $2.8 billion. Details.

    Jimmy Kimmel says uncle...

    Apology: Kimmel on Sunday said he wanted the feud between himself and Sean Hannity to end and also apologized for anyone offended during their back and forth, which started after he joked about the First Lady. The late night host said it was "fun" to exchange jabs with Hannity, but ultimately, it was doing more harm than good, calling the building animosity between the men and their fans "harmful to our country."

    Kimmel: "Mrs. Trump almost certainly has enough to worry about without being used as a prop to increase TV ratings," wrote Kimmel. "I am hopeful that Sean Hannity will learn from this too and continue his newly found advocacy for women, immigrants and First Ladies...." Full note.

    Simpsons addresses Apu stereotype controversy...

    Last night: In the episode, titled "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," Marge and Lisa indirectly discuss the portrayal of Apu, which has recently become a hot topic of debate. With Lisa looking at a picture of the character, she says to Marge: "Something that started decades ago, and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" Read more.

    SNL's newsy weekend...

    Wakanda Forever: With Chadwick Boseman in as host, the show took advantage with multiple Black Panther-themed skits — one involving Black Jeopardy and another the Wakanda salute. Watch.

    Cardi B's big news: During Cardi B's performance of "Be Careful," the SNL cameras eventually pulled back to reveal the singer's white evening gown was indeed showcasing her baby bump. She'll likely share more details tonight, when she co-hosts NBC's The Tonight Show alongside Jimmy Fallon.

    Other targets: Alec Baldwin brought back his Trump impression, and Weekend Update invited "Mark Zuckerberg" to the show to demonstrate his proficiency at being a human being. Watch.

    Tony Robbins apologizes...

    Under fire: The life coach made headlines after a video of him speaking to a crowd in San Jose spread online. Robbins seemed to criticize some of the women who have joined the #MeToo movement, saying some victims of sexual abuse do not take responsibility for themselves. On Sunday, Robbins issued an apology.

    Statement: "I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement. Let me clearly say, I agree with the goals of the #MeToo movement and its founding message of 'empowerment through empathy,' which makes it a beautiful force for good. I am committed to helping to educate others so that we all stay true to the ideals of the #MeToo movement..." Full apology.

    New American Horror Story details...

    Returning cast: Ryan Murphy confirmed at an event Friday that Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billy Eichner, Cheyenne Jackson, and more would be returning for the anthology's eighth season, which he teased takes place in the near future — "18 months from today." 

    Also of note: Murphy said there would be three nonwhite leads, that Joan Collins will play one character's grandmother and that production begins June 16. Read more.

    Broad City season 5 intel...

    Abbi Jacobson: "We’re going to go back to summer months, which feels more appropriate for the show," Jacobson told the New York Times. "Last season we shot in the winter, and it got darker in many ways. And now in season five, even more than in four, it’s very much more serialized and intense, while still obviously maintaining comedy first. It goes deeper than we ever have in the friendship."

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? CBS gives Mom a sixth season: The network has renewed the Chuck Lorre-produced comedy, which means he'll continue to have three series on the network for the 2018-19 schedule.

    ? HBO's new indie films: The network has picked up U.S. rights to two indie features: the romantic comedy The Boy Downstairs, starring former Girls actress Zosia Mamet; and My Friend Dahmer, Marc Meyers' adaptation of John Backderf's graphic novel, which features ex-Disney Channel star Ross Lynch as future serial killer Jeff Dahmer.

    ? RIP, Chuck McCann: The goofy, good-natured comedian and TV host who was a hero to kids of all ages in and around New York City in the 1960s before he jumped into films, network television and commercials, died Sunday at the age of 83.

    TV's novel revival game...

    Old books, new shows: Fueled by the seemingly insatiable hunger for high-end TV among international broadcasters, cable outlets and streaming platforms, producers are dusting off decades-old novels and films and turning them into limited series — including John le Carre's 1983 The Little Drummer Girl (for AMC); Umberto Eco's 1980 The Name of the Rose (in Italy and Germany; and Joseph Heller's 1962 Catch-22 (with George Clooney via Hulu), to name a few.

    “On one side, the producers are going through their rights catalogs, seeing: what IP do we have, what can we do with it,” says Herbert L. Kloiber of Germany's TMG, a producer on The Name of the Rose series. “But you're also seeing a desire among the authors to have their books adapted in a way that better reflects that scale and the original intention.” Read more.

  • 'Mean Girls' on Broadway

    Tina Fey's 2004 hit comedy comes to Broadway in a new musical directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw. David Rooney reviews:

    There's a place on Broadway for the intimate chamber piece, but going small is generally not the preferred route for a musical comedy spun out of a popular teen movie. Writer Tina Fey and the creative team behind Mean Girls clearly understand this, as evidenced by their elevation of Regina George (played with a delectable streak of cruelty by the divine Taylor Louderman) from imperious arbiter of high school hotness to full-blown arch villainess, a Medusa with a better hair-care regimen. Full review.

    What else people are saying: "In moments of pure fan service, we get the one-liners we’ve been waiting for." — New Yorker. "I have to admit I had a great time whenever Louderman’s Regina strutted her calculating, vampy stuff in songs of malicious intent." — The New York Times. "Where Mean Girls glows most is in the spotlight it shines on its cast." — Time Out

    The Olivier Awards were last night...

    The big winner: Hamilton dominated the British theater awards ceremony with seven wins, equaling the 2012 haul of Matilda for the most awards received by a musical. Those honors included new musical, outstanding achievement in music for Miranda, lead actor in a musical for Giles Terera as Aaron Burr, and supporting actor for Michael Jibson's haughty King George.

    More winners: Jez Butterworth's modern Irish pastoral The Ferryman, scheduled to transfer to Broadway in the fall, won for best play, best director (for Sam Mendes) and best actress (Laura Donnelly); Angels in America took home best play revival. See the full list.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Zuckerberg gets a crash course in charm. Will Congress care?" An in-depth report on how Facebook is prepping its founder for the hot seat. [The New York Times]

    — "Apple, Amazon and Google also are bracing for privacy regulations." Christopher Mims writes: "U.S. technology companies have stayed largely exempt from significant government regulation and self-policing of privacy, but that is about to change." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "A landslide of classic art is about to enter the public domain." Glenn Fleishman on the impending IP free-for-all: "For the first time in two decades, a huge number of books, films, and other works will escape U.S. copyright law. " [The Atlantic]

    — "Watching Paterno during the #MeToo era." The movie's screenwriter talks to Kate Arthur about how the HBO movie examines the complicity of "good people who make terrible mistakes." [BuzzFeed]

    — "Trading Spaces is back, hideous design aesthetic and all." Marah Eakin writes: "Long, long ago, before Property Brothers, shiplap, and 10 million iterations of House Hunters ruled the home improvement marketplace, there was Trading Spaces." [AV Club]

    — "Why Nicole Kidman's Instagram marks a new era in stardom." Josh Duboff argues: "The actress is at the forefront of a new trend of 'serious actors' using the social-media platform." [Vanity Fair]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Author Lawrence Wright and former FBI agent Ali Soufan." The duo talk to Kim Masters about Hulu's The Looming Tower. [The Business/KCRW]

    + "Reflecting on Laguna Beach and The Hills with creator Adam DiVello." He discusses his past shows as well as his upcoming series Music City. [Bachelor Party/The Ringer]

    What's happening this week...

    Monday: Laura Ingraham returns to Fox News. 

    Tuesday: Andre the Giant airs on HBO.... Elton John: I'm Still standing — A Grammy Salute airs on CBS.... New Girl returns to Fox for its seventh and final season.... Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the Senate.

    Wednesday: Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House.... Beirut hits theaters nationwide.

    Friday: Rampage hits theaters nationwide.... Bosch season four drops on Amazon.... Lost in Space season one and Chef's Table season four drop on Netflix.

    Today's Birthdays: Elle Fanning, 20, Kristen Stewart, 28, Leighton Meester, 32, Jay Baruchel, 36, David Gordon Green, 43, Jay Chandrasekhar, 50, Cynthia Nixon, 52, Dennis Quaid, 64.