Sunday, December 16, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 61 - 70 of 3324
  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Disney results jump on strong movie slate
In this Aug. 8, 2017, file photo, the Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Walt Disney Co. reports earnings Thursday, Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Walt Disney Co.'s earnings for the latest quarter sailed passed expectations, boosted by a strong slate of movies such as "Incredibles 2" as the company moves toward closing its $71.3 billion deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets.

Disney and other media companies are facing a shifting landscape as more TV watchers switch to streaming rather than traditional cable bundles.

But Disney's diversified entertainment portfolio, which runs from films and cable channels to theme parks, helped buoy its results. Studio entertainment revenue, which includes theater box office and streaming, jumped 50 percent to $2.15 billion on the strength of films such as "Avengers: Infinity War" and the latest "Ant-Man" movie.

Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 29 rose 33 percent to $2.32 billion, or $1.55 per share, from $1.75 billion, or $1.14 per share last year. Excluding one-time items, net income totaled $1.48 per share. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.31 per share.

The Burbank, California-based company's revenue rose 12 percent to $14.31 billion from $12.78 billion last year. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $13.81 billion.

A reduced tax rate also boosted results by $1.2 billion.

Disney is building its streaming service offerings. It launched $5-a-month ESPN Plus streaming service with sports in April. And a Disney-branded streaming service is expected to launch later next year.

In a call with analysts Thursday CEO Bob Iger gave a few new details about the new streaming service, which will be called Disney Plus. No pricing has been disclosed.

The company plans to keep investing in Hulu and use it as a home for more general programming. Family-friendly shows and movies will head to Disney Plus.

The streaming service will feature five categories of material: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Original programming will include "The Mandalorian," the first live action Star Wars series, created by Jon Favreau; a rebooted "High School Musical" series and a new documentary series focused on Disney.

Disney Plus will also produce original movies specifically for streaming. Initial titles will include a prequel to the "Star Wars" film "Rogue One" starring Diego Luna; "Noelle," starring Anna Kendrick as the daughter of Santa Claus; a live-action "Lady and the Tramp" and a movie about the Marvel character Loki starring Tom Hiddleston.

With the pending Fox deal, Disney now also takes a controlling stake in streaming service Hulu, which is jointly owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and AT&T.

The Fox acquisition is expected to close at the beginning of next year. With it, Disney gets Fox TV and film studios, Marvel's X-Men and Deadpool, along with programs shown on such Fox channels as FX Networks and National Geographic. Fox's productions also include "The Americans," ''This Is Us" and "Modern Family."

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights using data from Zacks Investment Research. 

  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018
Israel Film Fest addresses reaction to Jason Blum after he made anti-Trump remarks on stage
Jason Blum (photo by Kurt Iswarienko/courtesy of Israel Film Festival)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- 

This past Tuesday (11/6) during opening night proceedings of the 32nd Israel Film Festival (IFF) at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, was honored with the 2018 IFF Achievement in Film and TV Award. But during his acceptance remarks, he was critical of President Trump, prompting some in the audience to walk out and others to boo. Blum was then escorted off stage, quite a departure from what was to have been a tribute to him.

The Israel Film Festival issued a statement today (11/7) clarifying what happened, noting that a majority of the 1,200 attendees was respectful as Blum made his remarks. Festival organizers did not in any way remove Blum from the stage. To protect him when an audience member in no way associated with the Festival charged the podium, event security ushered Blum off the stage.

“Over the past three decades, we have never shied away from allowing a filmmaker or actor to express themselves either personally or through their work,” said Meir Fenigstein, IFF director and founder.  “We have often highlighted films that some may deem not to their liking or are controversial. We in no way condone violence but do wholeheartedly support dialogue that allows people to share ideas and viewpoints in a respectful way.  Sadly, some audience members at last night’s opening greatly lacked that respect and turned an evening of celebration and recognition into something else.

“This is the first time we have ever experienced anything like this,” Fenigstein continued.  “I am in total shock, but I realize that yesterday was a very tense day in America with the elections.”

The IFF continues through Nov. 20. Screenings will be held at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills and the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018
Bryan Cranston confirms "Breaking Bad" movie in development
In this July 19, 2018 file photo, "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan speaks at the "Better Call Saul" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston has confirmed that a film based on the series is in development. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Bryan Cranston has confirmed that a "Breaking Bad" movie is in development, though he's not sure he's in it.

Following reports that "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan is prepping a two-hour movie connected to the AMC series, Cranston on Wednesday called into the sports talk radio show "The Dan Patrick Show" and confirmed the project is indeed in the works.

Cranston said he hasn't yet read the script and that his character, Walter White, may not even be in it.  Cranston said he would "absolutely" return to the character if he was in it.

The two-hour spinoff is set to begin shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in mid-November under the code name "Greenbrier."

Gilligan's "Breaking Bad" prequel series "Better Call Saul" last month concluded its fourth season.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018
Trial for acclaimed director opens in Russia
Russian theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov waits for a start of court hearing in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
MOSCOW (AP) -- 

Russia's arguably best-known contemporary theater and film director pleaded not guilty Wednesday as his fraud trial opened in Moscow.

Kirill Serebrennikov's midnight arrest during a movie shoot in August last year sent shockwaves through Russia's art circles and was seen by some as a chilling omen of a return to Soviet-style censorship.

Serebrennikov's work both on stage and on the screen challenged the establishment, its values and lifestyle. But despite that, his productions have enjoyed lavish state funding and his plays are still frequented by top Russian officials.

A Moscow court on Wednesday opened the trial against Serebrennikov, three of his associates and an accountant who has pleaded guilty in the case and testified against him.

Serebrennikov, 49, is accused of embezzling 133 million rubles (about $2 million) of state funding. Investigators initially claimed that the director and his associates stole the funds allocated for staging several productions, claiming that one of these plays never saw the light of day — when in fact it was staged to critical acclaim. The investigators later withdrew that claim, and have not clarified where they believe money was stolen from.

Serebrennikov and the three people who worked for his projects pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, all of them saying that the indictment is too vague and does not explain how the money was embezzled.

Speaking at the start of the trial Serebrennikov said he has "never stolen anything from anyone."

He called on the Culture Ministry which is the injured party in the case to explain why it believes that he swindled them.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018
Aretha Franklin doc "Amazing Grace" to finally see the light
In this March 13, 1972 file photo, Aretha Franklin holds her Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blue performance of the song "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," in New York. More than 46 years after it was shot, the Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace” is finally being released. “Amazing Grace” will premiere Monday at the DOC NYC film festival. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

More than 46 years after it was shot, the Aretha Franklin concert film "Amazing Grace" will finally be released, ending one of the most tortured and long-running sagas in documentary film.

The late gospel singer's estate and film producers said Monday that "Amazing Grace" will premiere Nov. 12 at the DOC NYC film festival with the full support of Franklin's estate. The film, largely shot by Sydney Pollack, captures Franklin's performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood in January 1972.

The music from the two performances was released as a landmark double live album in 1972. But Pollack's footage proved virtually impossible to edit because the filmmaker failed to sync the sound. After acquiring the film's rights from Pollack in 2007, producer Alan Elliott brought in a team to construct the film, which Elliott calls "a labor of love."

"Aretha's fans will be enthralled by every moment of the film as her genius, her devotion to God and her spirit are present in every frame," Elliot said in a statement.

Franklin first sued Elliott in 2011 for planning to release the film without her permission. "Amazing Grace" nearly saw the light of day in 2015, but it was yanked at the last minute from the Telluride and Toronto film festivals after Franklin's attorneys obtained an injunction against its release. They argued the film was "the functional equivalent of replaying an entire Aretha Franklin concert," and couldn't be screened without her consent.

A Colorado court largely agreed, ruling in 2016 that the concert film didn't constitute "fair use," prompting a new round of negotiations. Telluride also listed the film in its 2016 lineup only to pull it yet again. Last year, Telluride executive director Julie Huntsinger told Variety that "(Franklin's) resolve for it not being shown is so intense, and I don't think any us really understand it all the way."

Franklin passed away in August. Pollack died in 2008.

The late singer's estate said "Amazing Grace" was an important part of Franklin's legacy.

"'Amazing Grace' is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin," Sabrina Owens, Franklin's niece, said Monday. "This film is authentic and is my aunt at her core. She was a daughter of the church, she loved gospel music, and she always incorporated some form of sacred music in her concerts."

An Oscar-qualifying release of "Amazing Grace" is planned for this fall, with a larger rollout in theaters likely coming next year. The film doesn't yet have distribution.

  • Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
AICP Gives initiative expands to Dallas
Ali Brown, VP, executive producer, PRETTYBIRD
LOS ANGELES -- 

With Thanksgiving almost here, efforts are underway around the country to collect food, clothing and other goods for those in need, and AICP is doing its part with the annual AICP Gives campaign. This year marks the first year the food and goods drive will be conducted in Dallas, joining efforts in L.A., Austin and New York,.

AICP Gives got its start in 2010, put in motion by the West chapter board in an effort spearheaded by Ali Brown, VP, executive producer at PRETTYBIRD; Jessie Nagel, co-founder of communications agency Hype; and Mikel Elliott, co-founder and CEO of the production services company Quixote. Since then it’s helped thousands of people with its donations and that number is sure to grow as the campaign expands to new cities within different chapters. 

“A hallmark of our industry is generosity, and it’s especially powerful to see that spirit of caring harnessed in a unified effort,” Nagel, who continues as a West Board member, commented. “With the addition of Austin in 2017 and Dallas in 2018, AICP Gives continues to grow in scale and scope as we reach towards a national initiative of goodwill, kindness and sharing.”

In both L.A. and New York, AICP Gives donations are forwarded to Gobble Gobble Give, a nonprofit that’s fed and provided care packages to thousands of needy families and individuals for the last 21 years. Founded by a group of friends in the Echo Park neighborhood of L.A., it’s expanded to communities in cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Boca Raton, Detroit and Nashville. 

Among the items that are encouraged for donation are canned or packaged foods that can be consumed without cooking, preferably with flip-top packaging to avoid the need for a can opener. Also on the list are new clothing items, particularly packages of socks; used coats and blankets in good condition; new towels; unopened soap and shampoo bottles; toothbrush and toothpaste kits; and miniature can openers.

More info on AICP Gives, including lists of the drop-off locations in L.A. and New York and coordinator contacts in Austin and Dallas, can be found here.  In L.A. and New York, the locations includes production houses, editorial shops and visual effects studios. In L.A., the list also includes Quixote facilities in Hollywood, West Hollywood, Sun Valley and Pacoima. 

In Austin, drop offs can be arranged by contacting Brandon Tapp, EP at Lucky 21. In Dallas, drop-offs can be coordinated through producer Laura Lyons.

AICP members--indeed, all industry partners and affiliates--are encouraged to collect donations both on sets and in offices. Deadlines and final drop-off dates will vary by city, and those details will be posted on the AICP Gives web page in in anticipation of Gobble Gobble Give’s Thanksgiving Day distribution.

Nagel said the choice of Gobble Gobble Give was a natural. “They’re scrappy and independent, like us, and so it felt like the right match. We hoped that the people they serve would feel the impact of our contributions in a big way, and they have. This is a relationship that’s grown since we first launched AICP Gives.”

In addition to PRETTYBIRD’s Brown, Nagel credits EP Rick Fishbein, now with Element but previously with Green Dot Films, as a key player in the creation of the effort. She also credits Quixote, the bicoastal production services and studio rental company, for supporting AICP Gives from the outset.

With the new campaign efforts in Texas, AICP Gives has provided support for Hurricane Harvey victims, an Austin-based women’s shelter and the North Texas Food Bank near Dallas.

In New York, AICP Gives partners with Wits End, the production equipment and rental company, which handles pick-ups at drop-off locations in the city. In L.A., production rental shop Line 204 has joined in to provide hub location pick-ups to be delivered to Quixote, which is handling deliveries to GGG. Postal, the post production studio that’s a sister shop to Humble, has contributed notably as well, designing this year’s AICP Gives poster. 

What’s next? It’s time to pitch in and give, Nagel summed up. “AICP Gives is a great opportunity to try and spread a little joy at holiday time,” she noted. “It’s always amazing to see our industry come together for people in need.” 

  • Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
Shaquille O'Neal, Ken Jeong team for reality TV comedy pilot
This combination photo shows actor Ken Jeong at the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss the film "Crazy Rich Asians" in New York on Aug. 14, 2018, left, and retired Hall of Fame basketball player Shaquille O'Neal during an NBA basketball news conference in Miami on Dec. 22, 2016. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Shaquille O'Neal and Ken Jeong are trying out as comedy teammates.

TBS said it has ordered a reality series pilot that will test the pair's ability to take on odd jobs.

The pilot, with the working title "Unqualified," could be the basis for a series.

The concept: O'Neal and Jeong try to master jobs including mall rent-a-cop, substitute schoolteacher and train conductor.

TBS said basketball great and sports commentator O'Neal and doctor-turned-actor Jeong showed their chemistry when they appeared on the series "Drop The Mic."

In a joint statement, O'Neal and Jeon said they are "built to hustle."

Jeong's credits include "Crazy Rich Asians," ''The Hangover" and "Dr. Ken."

O'Neal has appeared or done voice-overs in films including "Scary Move 4" and "The Lego Movie."

  • Monday, Nov. 5, 2018
NBC says it will stop airing Trump immigrant ad
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

NBC says that "after further review," it will stop airing President Donald Trump's campaign advertisement that featured an immigrant accused of murder.

The advertisement aired on "Sunday Night Football" and on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday.

CNN rejected the same ad, declaring it racist. That drew a public rebuke from the president's son, Donald J. Trump Jr.

NBC said Monday that in its further review, it recognizes the insensitive nature of the ad.

  • Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018
Raymond Chow, producer behind Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, dies at age 91
In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005 file photo, film producer Raymond Chow speaks to The Associated Press in an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, file)
HONG KONG (AP) -- 

Legendary Hong Kong film producer Raymond Chow, who introduced the world to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and even brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen, has died at age 91.

Hong Kong' secretary for commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said in a statement Friday that Chow "helped nurture a pool of Hong Kong talents and brought them to the international stage."

Chow was a journalist who became a publicist for Shaw Brothers Studios, which churned out hundreds of films and popularized the kung fu genre. Studio founder Run Run Shaw soon moved Chow to the production side of the business after Chow complained that the movies — made on low budgets and short schedules — weren't good enough.

"I said I did not think I could keep my job because the pictures were so bad," Chow told Asiaweek magazine in 1983. Frustrated with Shaw Brothers' assembly-line ethic, he created his own production company, Golden harvest, in 1970.

He soon outmaneuvered his gigantic old employer to grab the actor who would become synonymous with kung fu movies. Chow signed Bruce Lee in 1971 after seeing him on a Hong Kong television variety show.

"Facing you on the screen, you feel his presence is very strong, very powerful," Chow told The Associated Press in 2005.

Golden harvest signed Lee to a three-picture deal, with each breaking all Hong Kong box office records.

Those movies were followed by "Enter the Dragon," the first Chinese martial arts film to be produced by a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros. It cost $500,000 and earned $40 million at the box office. Tragically, Lee died days before the film's release in 1973.

Lee's death left a void for kung fu heroes in Hong Kong's film industry that young performers were eager to fill. Chow signed one of them, a former stuntman named Jackie Chan, in 1979.

Chan's first taste of success in Hong Kong had come the year before with the film "Drunken Master." After signing with Chow, he made a number of increasingly popular Chinese-language action-comedy movies that made him a superstar in Asia.

Chow invested plenty of time and effort introducing Chan to Western audiences. He arranged for Chan to spend time in Los Angeles learning English and star in his first English-language film, 1980's "The Big Brawl," which flopped. A year later, Chow gave him a minor role alongside top Hollywood names in "The Cannonball Run." But it was 1995's "Rumble in the Bronx" that catapulted Chan to worldwide fame. The film was released on 1,700 screens in North America and grossed $32.4 million, becoming the most successful Hong Kong film released in the U.S. Three years later, Chan teamed up with Chris Tucker in 1998's "Rush Hour," becoming a Hollywood A-list actor.

Chan acknowledged the debt he owed to Chow's grooming.

"Mr. Chow gave me a chance to follow my dreams," he told Variety in 2000. "I think today that without Golden harvest, there is no Jackie Chan."

Golden harvest also helped bring to the silver screen another set of unlikely martial arts characters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which began as a comic book and then became an animated kids' TV show with a cult following. Intrigued by the name, Chow agreed to produce a live-action movie based on the four crime-fighting, human-sized turtles after Hollywood rejected the idea.

The movie about the pizza-eating, surfer-lingo-spouting terrapins named after Renaissance artists became a worldwide smash.

Chow said that he made his choice based on a "gut feeling."

"It's very weird, very unique and very interesting. ... You have to be unique these days to be a big success."

Chow was born in Hong Kong to a nationalistic father skeptical of Western influences. Following his father's wishes, he completed his secondary and university studies in Shanghai.

As a journalist, Chow worked at English-language news outlets in Hong Kong, including United Press, which later became United Press International; The New York Times; and Voice of America.

Chow, an avid bridge player, told Forbes in 1990 about the business lessons he learned playing cards.

"When you are fortunate, you try to take advantage. And when you get a bad hand, you just try to watch yourself, minimize your losses, so that you don't get killed."

Golden harvest made its last film in 2003. Chow sold his controlling stake four years later to a Chinese businessman, who changed the name to Orange Sky Golden harvest.

  • Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018
Netflix to give 3 films an exclusive run in theaters
This image released by Netflix shows Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs in a scene from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” a film by Joel and Ethan Coen which will have an exclusive run in theaters before becoming available on Netflix’s streaming service. (Netflix via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Netflix will give three films an exclusive run in theaters before making them available on its streaming service.

Up until now, Netflix has steadfastly insisted on releasing films in theaters only simultaneously with their streaming premiere. Netflix's major pivot will give a handful of its most anticipated movies a stand-alone run in a relatively small number of theaters. Major chains still refuse to screen films that don't adhere to an exclusive 90-day window.

Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," the Coen brothers' "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and the Sandra Bullock-starring thriller "Bird Box" will play in theaters for one to three weeks before premiering on Netflix.

The move could aid the Oscar aspirations of "Buster Scruggs" and, in particular, "Roma," which critics have hailed as one of the year's best.

 

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