A sobering reality has gripped Hollywood as domestic film industry revenue fell an estimated 16% during the all-important summer season.
The number of tickets sold in the United States and Canada this summer is projected to fall to the lowest level in a quarter-century.
The results have put the squeeze on the nation’s top theater chains, whose stocks have taken a drubbing. AMC Theatres Chief Executive Adam Aron this month called his company’s most recent quarter “simply a bust.”
Such blunt language reflects some worrisome trends. Domestic box-office revenue is expected to total $3.78 billion for the first weekend of May through Labor Day — a key period that generates about 40% of domestic ticket sales — down nearly 16% from the same period last year, according to comScore. That’s an even worse decline than the 10% drop some studio executives predicted before the summer began.
And the number of actual tickets sold this summer paints a bleaker picture, with total admissions likely to clock in at about 425 million, the lowest level since 1992, according to industry estimates.
No one can fully explain why. Studio executives, movie theater operators and analysts cited the usual explanations for the summer slump. There are the obvious reasons: Too many bad movies, including sequels, reboots and aging franchises that no one wanted to see. Some point to rising ticket prices, which hit a record high in the second quarter, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. Then there are long-term challenges, including competition from streaming services such as Netflix and the influence of the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. How about all of the above?
What is clear: This summer was marred with multiple high-profile films that flopped stateside, including “The Mummy,” “Baywatch,” “The Dark Tower” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Sequels in the “Alien,” “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises also disappointed. (International ticket sales are helping to ease some of the pain.) Read the rest of this entry »
Written and produced by Austin Bragg. Performed by Andrew Heaton and Austin Bragg
See her full interview here.
The vivacious brunette performer transformed the image of women on television first as Van Dyke’s sexy, vulnerable wife Laura Petrie and then as single career girl Mary Richards in her own series. Her work in the two series brought Moore five Emmy Awards, in 1965, 1966, 1973, 1974 and 1976. She won another Emmy for 1993 TV special “Stolen Babies.”
Moore was also a powerhouse producer via her MTM production company with then-husband Grant Tinker, producing her own series as well as “The Bob Newhart Show” and spinoff series “Rhoda” and “Lou Grant,” among others.
She combined wholesomeness and sex appeal with cracker-jack comedic timing. In many ways Moore was a throwback to Hollywood golden era leading ladies like Myrna Loy and Jean Arthur, but with a decidedly updated twist.
Her role as Laura Petrie, the suburban wife of comedy writer Rob Petrie, also represented a step forward for the portrayal of women on television. Though they maintained separate beds, the Petries otherwise shared an active, romantic marital life. And unlike Desi Arnaz on “I Love Lucy,” Van Dyke’s character was not threatened by his wife’s talents or her intelligence.
The series made Moore a star, and she worked on films under contract at Universal. With the exception of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in which she played third fiddle to Julie Andrews and the scene-stealing Carol Channing, the studio’s attempts to fashion her in the Doris Day mold was unsuccessful. Moore also tried her hand at the Broadway stage, co-starring with Richard Chamberlain in David Merrick’s musical version of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Read the rest of this entry »
Just weeks after Debbie Reynolds’ death at age 84, the legendary entertainer’s most famous movie is dancing back onto the silver screen for a limited engagement. Singin’ in the Rain will screen Sunday, Jan. 15, and Wednesday, Jan. 18, in theaters nationwide as the first film in this year’s TCM Big Screen Classics series.
Reynolds landed her breakout role in the 1952 musical, playing a budding actress caught up in Hollywood’s transition from the silent era to the talkies. Though she had no dancing experience at the time, then-18-year-old Reynolds held her own with the likes of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in numbers like “Good Morning” and “You Were Meant for Me.”
Kevin D. Williamson writes: Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.
“The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior.”
But what to do when Stalin was not there? The mere mention of his name, even in his absence, would trigger fanatical applause, and nobody wanted to be the first to stop. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn related one famous story:
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.
That same night the factory director was arrested.
Stalin is long gone, and the Soviet Union, too, having been deposited, as Ronald Reagan predicted, onto the “ash heap of history.” But the craven instinct on display in the scene Solzhenitsyn described remains.
The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior. There is something atavistic in us that is older than the human part — the inner chimp — that makes those who listen to its voice keenly aware of their places in the social hierarchy. Even a predator instinctively recognizes a predator higher up the food chain.
“The language there is interesting: She did not write that Price ‘did not applaud,’ ‘refrained from applauding’, or even ‘failed to applaud,” but that he refused to applaud, a formulation that converts passivity into a positive act, one from which we are to derive something of significance about his fitness for the role of secretary of health and human services.”
Which is not to say that National Public Radio’s Marilyn Geewax is a Stalinist, but rather that they were what she is, representatives of the same species.
Geewax, who is a senior business editor for NPR, is very interested in applause. This week, she expressed some concern that Representative Tom Price has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of health and human services. Read the rest of this entry »
It would have A. driven his opponents, haters, and enemies crazy. What did he mean? Is that all? What will Meryl Streep say now? Better still, it would have neutralized the controversy, tempered the division, honored her contribution to entertainment, confirmed that both of them are winners, while demonstrating non-newsworthy, off-the-rack, standard-issue presidential courtesy.
STATE OF CULTURE: 36,500,000 Watched NFL Wild Card Game On FOX Last Night. 16,800,000 Watched The ‘GOLDEN GLOBES’… pic.twitter.com/ouNDqT7ee9
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) January 9, 2017
The social critic and academic blames 1960s disruptions of gender roles (and not the entertainment industry) for Madonna’s and J. Lo’s difficulty letting go of their youth as she chastises them to “stop cannibalizing the young.”
Camille Paglia writes: In December, at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in New York City, Madonna was given the trophy for Woman of the Year. In a rambling, tearful acceptance speech that ran more than 16 minutes, she claimed to be a victim of “blatant misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.”
It was a startling appropriation of stereotypical feminist rhetoric by a superstar whose major achievement in cultural history was to overthrow the puritanical old guard of second-wave feminism and to liberate the long-silenced pro-sex, pro-beauty wing of feminism, which (thanks to her) swept to victory in the 1990s.
Madonna’s opening line at the awards gala was edited out of the shortened official video: “I stand before you as a doormat — oh, I mean a female entertainer.” Merciful Minerva! Can there be any woman on Earth less like a doormat than Madonna Louise Ciccone? Madonna sped on with shaky assertions (“There are no rules if you’re a boy”) and bafflingly portrayed the huge commercial success of her 1992 book, Sex, as a chapter of the Spanish Inquisition, in which she was persecuted as “a whore and a witch.”
I was singled out by name as having accused her of “objectifying” herself sexually (prudish feminist jargon that I always have rejected), when in fact I was Madonna’s first major defender, celebrating her revival of pagan eroticism and prophesying in a highly controversial 1990 New York Times op-ed that she was “the future of feminism.”
Crawford exhibits “crazed willpower and misery in her facial muscles,” says Paglia. Getty Images
But I want to focus here on the charge of ageism that Madonna, now 58, leveled against the entertainment industry and that received heavy, sympathetic coverage in the mainstream media. Her grievances about the treatment of women performers climaxed with this: “And finally, do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”
First of all, lack of radio airplay may indeed hamper new or indie groups, but in this digital age, when songs go viral in a flash, rich and famous performers of Madonna’s level fail to get airplay not because of their age, but because their current music no longer is attracting a broad audience. When was the last time Madonna released hit songs of the brilliant quality of her golden era of the 1980s and ’90s? Lavish, lucrative touring rather than sustained creative work in the studio has been her priority for decades. Read the rest of this entry »
We, as the voting public, have demands as well, and we put them in video form, so our friends in the Entertainment Community can understand.
John Oliver may well care about gay people, but it turns out gay people don’t care a huge amount about John Oliver.
The British comedian and host of “Last Week Tonight” joined up with Billy Eichner for a segment of “Billy on the Street” to find out what gay people think of him. Eichner scours the streets of New York for gay people to sample, while Oliver stands awkwardly by his side. At first the pair’s struggle seems to be to find someone who’s even heard of him.
“Who’s John Oliver?” one man asks…(read more)
Among the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ duties is to determine the national security impact that the foreign takeover of an American industry could have on the U.S. Congress has expressed concern and has asked its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, to probe the national security issues associated with the Chinese acquisitions of American entertainment companies.
A one-time commander in China’s Communist Red Army has launched information warfare with an aggressive plan to invest billions in all six major Hollywood studios, a show business trade publication reports, describing the foreign deal as an unprecedented push into the U.S. entertainment sector. The former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regimental commander, Wang Jianlin, is China’s richest man and he’s aggressively pursuing a big chunk of one of the world’s most influential industries.
“The former People’s Liberation Army regimental commander, Wang Jianlin, is China’s richest man and he’s aggressively pursuing a big chunk of one of the world’s most influential industries.”
A few years ago, Wang doled out $2.6 billion to buy the nation’s largest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, and now he’s taking it a huge step further with the studio deals that will have a huge impact on production. Chinese money has been shaping the movie industry for years, mainstream news reports have revealed, and one major newspaper reported earlier this year that China is expected to become the world’s biggest box office by the end of 2017.
“This may cause Americans to wonder what the U.S. government is doing to counter the information warfare. Specifically, a division of the U.S. Treasury, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, is responsible for reviewing transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by foreigners.”
“This has changed how Hollywood behaves in big ways—like the flood of money coming in to co-finance blockbusters, or sequels that get the green light simply because they performed well in China,” the article states.
An industry expert cited in the article says that very few foreign companies have ever successfully cracked the Hollywood code in a big way, but Chinese buyers are getting closer to that goal.
“Wang doled out $2.6 billion to buy the nation’s largest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, and now he’s taking it a huge step further with the studio deals that will have a huge impact on production.”
This may cause Americans to wonder what the U.S. government is doing to counter the information warfare. Specifically, a division of the U.S. Treasury, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is responsible for reviewing transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by foreigners.
“This has changed how Hollywood behaves in big ways—like the flood of money coming in to co-finance blockbusters, or sequels that get the green light simply because they performed well in China.”
Judicial Watch is investigating what this agency is doing to scrutinize the Chinese Communist takeover and is drafting public records requests for the CFIUS and other pertinent agencies.
After all, among the CFIUS’s duties is to determine the national security impact that the foreign takeover of an American industry could have on the U.S. Congress has expressed concern and has asked its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to probe the national security issues associated with the Chinese acquisitions of American entertainment companies.
“Judicial Watch is investigating what this agency is doing to scrutinize the Chinese Communist takeover and is drafting public records requests for the CFIUS and other pertinent agencies.”
These disturbing revelations come on the heels of an equally alarming Hollywood story Judicial Watch reported illustrating the Obama administration’s hands off policy when it comes to illegal activities in the powerful entertainment industry. It involves a big-screen movie about traitor Edward Snowden, who has been criminally charged by the U.S. government under the Espionage Act. Read the rest of this entry »
The Friends of Abe has acted as a clandestine club for Hollywood conservatives for more than a decade, hosting secret events where they could vent rightwing views and hear speeches from visiting Tea Party luminaries.
“Effective immediately, we are going to begin to wind down the 501 c3 organization, bring the Sustaining Membership dues to an end, and do away with the costly infrastructure and the abespal.com website,” the executive director, Jeremy Boreing, told members in an email, a copy of which the Guardian has seen.
“Today, because we have been successful in creating a community that extends far beyond our events, people just don’t feel as much of a need to show up for every speaker or bar night, and fewer people pay the dues that help us maintain that large infrastructure.”
The announcement caught members by surprise and fueled speculation that infighting over Donald Trump’s candidacy, among other factors, had drained commitment. Others said the group had been losing steam for years.
Lionel Chetwynd, a producer and screenwriter and co-founder of the FOA, recently spoke of the primary campaign causing a “civil war in slow motion”, which fractured friendships and shredded solidarity.
Boreing, a director and producer, put a positive gloss on the announcement, saying the initial hunger for fellowship had prompted the group to build an expensive website, rent offices and hire staff, including lawyers and accountants.
“It’s time to change how we do it. As our group has grown in size and success, many of the structures that helped us grow have become less useful … It means an end to the standing organization, but not an end to the mission or the fellowship.”
Boreing vowed to maintain the mailing list and stage events, but without the infrastructure, staff or budget requirements.
“We will still get together for drinks and speakers, but we may reassess how we approach those events logistically. In short, FOA will return to its roots. It will be a passion project, like it was in the beginning … We’ll still be a private organization that protects the names of our members at all costs.”
Boreing did not immediately respond to interview requests.
Members expressed surprise and dismay at the weakening, and perhaps loss, of a refuge from what they see as Hollywood’s bullying liberal ethos.
It was the one place where many of its members – actors, producers, writers and technicians – felt safe from liberal sneers and potential retribution. Read the rest of this entry »
Actor/Director George Clooney held a couple of high priced fundraisers for Hillary Clinton while simultaneously lamenting the amount of money in politics today.
Bryan Menages writes: Hitchcock is the unquestioned master of suspense. But what is it about his scenes that makes them so gripping, and why do they stand up to repeated viewings, even when you know the twist?
To answer this, the Nerdwriter turned to blocking—how you position stuff and people in relation to each other—specifically, the blocking in an early interaction from Vertigo. In the lengthy scene, a retired detective (Jimmy Stewart) meets a shipping tycoon (Tom Helmore) in his office, where he’s about to be lied to quite a bit.
During the meeting, Hitchcock uses the chairs to suggest power, with the dominant party at any given time being physically higher than the seated party. Similarly, the back half of the room is slightly raised and blocked by partial walls, almost like a stage…(read more)
French grande for MIRAGE (Edward Dmytryk, USA, 1965)
Designer: Guy Gérard Noël (1912-1994)
Poster source: Posteritati
Owen Boss writes: The release next week of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” — which tells the true story of the security contractors who responded to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya — may force Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to wade back into a debate she hoped would be behind her, political watchdogs said.
“This takes an issue that is not good for her out of her control and pushes it out into popular culture, which is much worse for her than having it discussed on cable news.”
— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson
“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period,” said Cornell University law professor William Jacobson. “Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”
The big-budget action-drama, directed by Michael Bay, is focused on the American contractors who valiantly battled the terrorists who overran the compound on Sept. 11, 2012, and killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. State Department communications expert Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, a Winchester native.
“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period. Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”
— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson
Clinton, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time of the attack, has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to secure the consulate, and was forced to defend herself against the allegations during a grueling, daylong appearance before the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi in October.
The movie, starring Newton native John Krasinski and Toby Stephens, will be released by Paramount Pictures on Jan. 15, less than a month before the Iowa caucus, an inopportune time for Clinton’s campaign, Jacobson said. Read the rest of this entry »
Alfie  directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Michael Caine
…a gun-grabbing “effort” distinguished by its lack of effort. At some point America’s creative class decided that celebrity PSAs should all operate the same way. The cast appears sequentially, usually standing against a uniform blank background, and instead of uttering a sentence or two they each say chunks of sentences that are stitched together to form a statement. You know how this goes. Instead of
Celeb one: I oppose gun violence.
Celeb two: So do I. America needs to change.
Celeb three: Call your congressman today.
You typically get
Celeb one: I
Celeb two: oppose
Celeb three: oppose
Celeb four: I oppose
Celeb five: gun violence
Celeb six: gun violence
Celeb seven: I oppose gun violence
They’ve got the basic shtick down here but all the details are wrong. There’s no broader statement. They’re just repeating a mantra over and over. There’s no uniform background, so there’s not even a pretense that these people have gathered to make their point…(read more)
This should be the Democratic Party slogan. https://t.co/QW4JvZiLi0
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 2, 2015
Unfortunately for Cranston and the makers of Trumbo, it has all been for naught. The film has imploded at the box office, and even by the standards of a sluggish season at the movies, Trumbo is a cold dud.
…Based on the Bruce Alexander Cook’s biography of the same name, Trumbo tells a well-worn tale about the moment when Hollywood woke up to the fact that Tinseltown was underwater. Most of the sea was rosewater, with a vast assortment of pink “co-travellers,” but as Allan Ryskind shows in Hollywood Traitors, there were plenty of hardline Stalinists and admirers of Adolf Hitler working to undermine American culture from within the studio system, as well. And like a lot of the mythologized “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo was in fact a Soviet lackey who followed the Comintern’s lines like a sacred screenplay.
Of course, this history makes for poor copy in today’s Hollywood, which has increasingly become dependent upon those denizens of the Internet who see politics and entertainment as two sides of the same cudgel. The better story, for their purposes, is that Trumbo was a victim of political bigotry. Like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Trumbo was a freethinker who did not fall into the atavistic mindset that demanded a puritanical allegiance to God, country, and American capitalism, you see. Trumbo names and shames the protagonist’s “oppressors,” from the fiercely anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by Helen Mirren) to the ardent American nationalist John Wayne (played by David James Elliott). In other words, the enemies were Republicans—much like today.
Although thoroughly red, Trumbo still has to contend with green. Enter Bryan Cranston, the film’s talented leading man. Until recently, Cranston was not well-known for professing political views in public. But as the release date for Trumbo crept closer, Cranston, like a lot of actors, began to believe that his cinematic performance was enough to justify his own “expert” opinions. As such, Cranston has appealed to the left by calling Obamacare “fantastic,” while at the same time he has (begrudgingly) sung the praises of Donald Trump. By doing all this, Cranston has toyed with the milquetoast middle in order to deflect any potential blowback from conservatives on the lookout for liberal bias. Read the rest of this entry »