Saturday, March 25, 2017

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2335
  • Friday, Mar. 24, 2017
Netflix re-ups with Sandler, plan 4 more films together 
In this May 16, 2016 file photo, Adam Sandler, a cast member in "The Do-Over," poses at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Netflix is doubling down on Adam Sandler. The streaming giant has extended its deal with the comedian for four more feature films.

As part of a previous four-movie deal, Sandler has already produced and starred in two films for Netflix. While neither "Ridiculous 6" nor "The Do-Over" received anything close to good reviews, Netflix said Friday they are the biggest film releases for the service. Sandler's next Netflix film, "Sandy Wexler," debuts April 14.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said Sandler's films have proven "extremely successful" with Netflix subscribers.

To date, the majority of Netflix original films have been smaller dramas or documentaries. But some of its most ambitious and priciest acquisitions are due out this year, including "War Machine" with Brad Pitt and "Bright" with Will Smith.

  • Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017
Disney CEO Bob Iger gets contact extension to July 2019 
In this Thursday, June 16, 2016, file photo, Disney CEO Bob Iger poses for selfies with visitors on the opening day of the Disney Resort in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Disney CEO Bob Iger is getting a one-year contract extension.

The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday ended any speculation that Iger would retire this year, extending contract to July 2, 2019.

Iger's base salary of $2.5 million will be unchanged, but he gets a $5 million signing bonus, according to filings with the Security Exchange Commission. He made a total of $43.9 million in 2016, when tacking on stock awards and other perks.

Speculation had been swirling over whether the 66-year-old Iger would extend his contract. There's no obvious successor at Disney since Iger's heir apparent, COO Tom Staggs, left last year.

Since taking the top role in 2005, Iger has acquired Star Wars owner LucasFilm, Pixar and Marvel and driven improvements in Disney's consumer products and parks division, most recently with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016.

In February, Iger indicated he was amenable to extending his contract.

"If it's in the best interest of the company for me to extend my term, I'm open to that," he said during a conference call with analysts.

Orin Smith, the lead independent director of Disney's board, said in a statement Thursday that Iger's "strategic vision" and successful record show that it is in the best interest of Disney to keep Iger aboard while they seek his successor.

  • Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017
CBS renewing 18 series for fall, including 5 freshman shows 
In this image released by CBS, Mayim Bialik, from left, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory." (Darren Michaels/CBS via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CBS says it's bringing back 18 of its current series for the 2017-2018 season.

Announced Thursday, those pickups include six comedies, nine dramas, the reality series "Survivor," and newsmagazines "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours."

Returning scripted shows include "The Big Bang Theory," ''Blue Bloods," ''Hawaii Five-O," ''Life in Pieces," ''Madam Secretary," ''Mom," ''Scorpion" and all three editions of "NCIS" — Los Angeles, New Orleans and the original.

In addition, five freshman series made the cut. They include "Bull," ''Kevin Can Wait," ''MacGyver," ''Man with a Plan" and "Superior Donuts.

The network's full 2017-18 schedule will be unveiled in May. CBS is on pace to finish the season as the most-watched network for the 14th time in 15 years.

  • Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017
Box office reaches new record, but international sales flat 
This image released by Lucasfilm Ltd. shows Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in a scene from, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The Motion Picture Association of America said Wednesday that the worldwide box office reached a record $38.6 billion in 2016, though international revenues were essentially stagnant.

The MPAA's annual report showed a global increase of .5 percent in ticket sales from 2015. While China, the world's second-largest market after the U.S., has long been a priority of Hollywood, it dropped 1 percent last year with $6.6 billion in ticket sales.

Box office in North America hit a record $11.4 billion, although the increase of $300 million was due largely to rising ticket prices. About 11 percent of North Americans, the MPAA said, are frequent moviegoers — those who go to the theater at least once a month. They make up 48 percent of all tickets sold.

About 71 percent of the U.S./Canadian population went to the movies at least once in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015.

Among the year's biggest box-office hits were "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," ''Finding Dory" and "Captain America: Civil War" — all of them, it's worth noting, released by the Walt Disney Co. The MPAA noted that three of the top five grossing films drew a majority female audience.

"Even with an incredible variety of viewing choices available to audiences, cinema remains the premier way to experience the magic of our movies," said MPAA chief Chris Dodd. "And the good news is, there are positive signs for growth in the future."

Other notable conclusions from the report include:

  • Younger moviegoers increased. The biggest jump was for 18- to 24-year-olds, who went on average 6.5 times in 2016, up from 5.9 times in 2015.
  • The appeal of 3-D continued to slide. Sales of 3-D movies fell about 8 percent to $1.6 billion, even though there were 30 percent more 3-D releases.
  • African-American and Asian moviegoers continue to increase. Per capita, Asians/Other Ethnicities go more than any other group, seeing on average 6.1 movies a year.
  • Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017
Writer's lawsuit says Disney copied his plans for "Zootopia"
This image released by Disney shows Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, in a scene from the animated film, "Zootopia." (Disney via AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

A screenwriter and producer sued Walt Disney Pictures on Tuesday claiming the studio copied his ideas to create the Oscar-winning animated film "Zootopia."

Gary L. Goldman, whose credits include work on film adaptations of "Total Recall," ''Minority Report" and "Big Trouble in Little China," filed the copyright infringement lawsuit Tuesday in a federal court in Los Angeles. His lawsuit states he pitched his "Zootopia" concept to Disney in 2000 and 2009 and there are substantial similarities between his project and last year's animated blockbuster.

Disney rejected the lawsuit's claims in a statement. "Mr. Goldman's lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations. It is an unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn't create, and we will vigorously defend against it in court."

The lawsuit states Goldman pitched Disney his "Zootopia" concept as a way to explore life in America through a civilized society of animals. Disney's "Zootopia" explores prejudice through a bunny's quest to become a respected police officer in a city where predator and prey co-exist side-by-side. The film won the best animated feature at last month's Academy Awards.

"About five years ago, almost six now, oh my god, we got this crazy idea to talk about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place," said Byron Howard, one of the film's directors during his acceptance speech at last month's Oscars.

The lawsuit includes drawings Goldman commissioned for his pitches to Disney. He contends the ideas of his project and the animated film, as well as the style of some of its characters, are substantially similar.

"Both works explore whether the societies can live up to utopian ideals and judge and credit others fairly as individuals not as stereotypes, based on conceptions of merit not natural order, and the protagonists are challenged to strike a balance between the utopian and counter-utopian positions, optimism and pessimism, nature and individuality, and self-acceptance and self-improvement," the lawsuit states.

In Disney's film, Ginnifer Goodwin plays the bunny character, Judy Hopps, who strikes up an alliance with a sly fox played by Jason Bateman to thwart a conspiracy that threatens peace in their metropolis. Goldman's lawsuit states the two main protagonists of his pitch were a doe-eyed squirrel named Mimi and a hyena named Roscoe.

The lawsuit does not state how much damages Goldman and his company, Esplanade Productions, are seeking. He is asking a federal judge to block Disney from future "Zootopia" projects until the case is resolved.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017
ASC photo gallery showcases artistry of members
A still shot from Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, ASC
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- 

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) is exhibiting still photographs by nine of its members at the historic ASC clubhouse in Hollywood. Curated by David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery, the temporary exhibit runs through March 31. The gallery is open to the public by appointment during weekdays from 11am-4pm.
 
Photographs on display were shot by some of the world’s top cinematographers including, Russell Carpenter, James Chressanthis, David Darby, Stephen Goldblatt, Jacek Laskus, Phedon Papamichael, John Simmons, John Toll and Theo Van de Sande.
 
Five photos from each of the ASC members comprise the exhibit. A limited edition of each photograph has also been printed and is available for purchase. Proceeds fund the nonprofit organization’s educational initiatives.
 
“The ASC is passionately dedicated to advancing the art and craft of cinematography through education,” said Kees van Oostrum, ASC president. “Photography not only inspires the work of directors of photography, but it has inspired many great artists throughout history. We hope that by sharing some of our members’ images we are able to encourage others to pursue the art form and foster an appreciation for the visual language.”

To make an appointment, contact office@theasc.com or call (323) 969-4333.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017
"Beauty and the Beast" to be shown in Malaysia without cuts 
This image released by Disney shows Dan Stevens as The Beast, left, and Emma Watson as Belle in a live-action adaptation of the animated classic "Beauty and the Beast." (Disney via AP)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- 

The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday its movie "Beauty and the Beast" will open in Malaysia on March 30 without the cutting of a gay scene as had been ordered by film censors.

The re-telling of the animated classic was originally scheduled to start showing on March 16 but was postponed after Disney refused to edit the film.

"We are pleased to announce that Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' has now been approved to be released in Malaysia with no cuts, with a PG13 rating" on March 30, the Walt Disney Co. (Malaysia) said in a brief statement. No details were provided.

Malaysia's top two cinema chains also announced that advance tickets for the March 30 showings would be on sale soon.

Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid had earlier said the movie was approved with a minor cut involving "a gay moment" because scenes promoting homosexuality were forbidden. He said the film was given a PG13 rating, which requires parental guidance for children under age 13.

Abdul Halim couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A government official said the reversal came after a film appeal committee reviewed the movie and decided that the scene wasn't offensive. The official, who declined to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media, said the appeal committee had different members than the earlier group that wanted the scene cut. He declined to provide further details.

The film's characters include manservant LeFou, who plays the sidekick to villain Gaston, and, according to director Bill Condon, "is confused about his sexuality." Condon has described a brief scene as a "gay moment."

Russia approved the movie but banned children under 16 from watching it without the accompaniment of someone over 16.

Malaysia's censors in 2010 loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but still kept a tight leash on tiny bikinis, kisses and passionate hugs.

The new rules allowed depiction of gay characters, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.

Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping in Malaysia.

  • Monday, Mar. 20, 2017
Colin Farrell tapped to play Oliver North for Amazon 
In this combination photo, actor Colin Farrell, left, appears during a portrait session, on May 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Lt. Col. Oliver North appears before a congressional committee holding hearings on the Iran-Contra affair on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jordan Strauss and J. Scott Applewhite, Files)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 

Colin Farrell is slated to star as Oliver North in a limited series from Amazon.

Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed Farrell in the film "Lobster," will direct the untitled, one-hour series that will cover the Iran-Contra scandal. Ben Stiller is among the executive producers.

North, a decorated U.S. marine and a Fox News commentator, was at the center of the scandal over the sale of weapons to Iran and the channeling of proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s during Republican President Ronald Reagan's second term.

Lanthimos says he's excited to be working with Farrell again and that the story feels "very fresh and relevant to our times."

Farrell, active in films, starred in the second season of HBO's "True Detective."

  • Monday, Mar. 20, 2017
Penelope Cruz to play Versace in "American Crime Story"
In this combination photo, fashion designer Donatella Versace, left, attends an event honoring her with the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award on Feb. 8, 2007, in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Penelope Cruz attends a special screening of "ma ma", on May 24, 2016, in New York. (AP Photos/Mark J. Terrill, left, and Charles Sykes, Files)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Penelope Cruz is headed to television to play fashion designer Donatella Versace in the third installment of "American Crime Story" on FX.

The Academy Award-winning actress will star in the 10-episode series focused on the 1997 slaying of Versace's brother, Gianni. Donatella Versace took over the famed fashion house after her brother was killed.

Co-executive produced by Ryan Murphy, the Versace story is expected to air in early 2018.

Cruz won a supporting actress Oscar in 2009 for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," directed by Woody Allen. She has appeared in numerous other films including the blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" with Johnny Depp.

  • Monday, Mar. 20, 2017
CBS reaches deal to keep "Big Bang Theory" on air 
In this image released by CBS, Mayim Bialik, from left, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco appear in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory." (Darren Michaels/CBs via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

CBS says it has reached a deal with producers of "The Big Bang Theory" to keep the show on the air for two more years.

The network said Monday it agreed with Warner Brothers Television to extend the show that debuted in 2007. Along with the drama "NCIS," it is consistently one of the two most popular shows on television when original episodes are aired.

No details about the agreement were released. Producers have agreements with actors Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar to continue for two more years, and are negotiating similar deals with Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

CBS will also premiere a prequel, "Young Sheldon," next year about the character as a 9-year-old. Parsons will help narrate the series.