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Olympics Ratings Remain Low On Night Of Nathan Chen’s Historic Quad Display

A week into the PyeongChang Olympics and Team USA currently has nine medals, and for a moment it looked like Nathan Chen was poised to add to that collection last night in men’s figure skating.

Coming off an initially weaker than expected performance, the Salt Lake City native put some history on the ice at the XXIII Winter Games in NBC’s primetime as he pulled off a record five clean quadruple jumps and one more with a touch. In the end though, like the efforts of Lindsey Vonn in the women’s super-G ski event, it just wasn’t enough to make it the podium.

In an Olympics that is down almost 8% overall from the XXII Winter Games of 2014 and looking to be heading towards an overall low despite its multi-platform efforts, NBC may be feeling a bit like that coming off the first Friday of official competition of the 2018 Games.

With a 13.0/23 in metered market results for NBC and NBC Sports Network’s primetime coverage, the net matched its low for the PyeongChang games. The combo of the Comcast-owned outlets slipped to the same rating in early numbers on February 15.

One sliver of silver is that the NBC/NBCSN metered market meld did top the comparable night results of the Sochi games from 2014 by 11% but was still behind Vancouver 2010.

It should be noted that the Meredith Vieira hosted Valentine’s Day 2014 primetime coverage of the competition out of Russia was only shown on NBC itself. However, if you go NBC ’18 to NBC ’14, last night’s Mike Tirico fronted coverage took a small stumble of 4% from that Friday of just over four years ago when a number of potential viewers were clearly out for a romantic or hopefully romantic dinner.

Compared to the NBC-only primetime broadcast of the first Friday of official competition of the 2010 Winter Olympics out of Vancouver, last night’s NBC and NBCSN combined coverage dipped 3%. In a focus very telling of the changing media landscapes, a look at just NBC ’18 to NBC ’10 reveals a drop of 16%

It’s not really competitive apples to apples, but Hell, if we are talking stats, last night’s primetime Olympics show on the two NBCUniversal outlets unsurprisingly fell 23% from the Katie Couric co-hosted Opening Ceremony of February 9.

Hitting a low in official competition at that point, the first Friday of the Sochi 2014 games went on to score 19.2 million viewers for its NBC-only broadcast – which was basically what the February 14 and February 15 nights of the 2018 Games have achieved on NBC and NBCSN put together.

As we say every day, we’ll update with more Olympics ratings and the rest of what was on last night later when those numbers come in. In the meantime, here is a stat for you: last night’s primetime coverage hit a high of 14.8/25 during the women’s skiing on NBC proper and the men’s free skate figure skating on NBCSN in the 10 – 10:15 PM ET slot.

Have a good long weekend America.

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‘Black Panther’ Poised To Slash ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ 4-Day Haul With $213M

Saturday AM writethru, after Friday, 8:58PM: By the time the four-day President’s Day holiday stretch ends, Black Panther will have surpassed many of Marvel’s mightiest on the all-time domestic B.O. openers chart. Not to mention Disney continues to crowd the list, now taking up eight of the top 10 slots. Black Panther is now looking at the sixth-best opening of all-time on a three-day-basis with an estimated $185.8M per industry projections Saturday AM and a mind-blowing $213M over four days. Note that between Friday night and this morning (roughly a seven-hour time frame), estimates changed. Currently, Saturday should see around $61M which puts us at these figures. Anything significantly greater, and Black Panther breaks even more records.

How much do moviegoers love Black Panther? The Ryan Coogler-directed movie earned an A+ CinemaScore, Marvel’s second after 2012’s The Avengers. On Screen Engine/ComScore PostTrak, moviegoers are giving the pic an 88% definite recommend, a 95% overall positive score, while a third plan to see it again in the theater.

On the three-day all-time chart, Black Panther is just above Captain America: Civil War ($179.1M). Back in January, Fandango reported that out of the gate in its first 24 hours, Black Panther outstripped the advance tickets sales of Civil War. However, analysts didn’t rush to comp the Wakanda superhero to Marvel’s other titles. They just couldn’t believe at the time how massive this was going to be. PostTrak reports that 55% of the crowd bought their tickets online, indicating it was a major event for many, just like a Star Wars film. While Black Panther is under Avengers: Age of Ultron on the three-day all-time openers list ($191.2M), the pic is beating the sequel’s four-day run ($204.4M). Black Panther has already left Disney’s Beauty and the Beast ($174.7M) and WB/DC’s Batman v. Superman ($166M) in the dust to become the biggest pre-summer opener of all-time.

Black Panther is now at $76.4M for Friday. Thursday’s previews of $25.2M rep 33% of Friday’s ticket sales. Similar to a Star Wars title, Black Panther was a big pre-planned event for many this weekend, with Fandango advance ticket sales driving 36% of Thursday’s preview figure or $9M. 

Disney

We hear from PostTrak that African American moviegoers at 40% are driving Black Panther‘s ticket sales. Diverse casts in films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, the Fast and the Furious series, Twilight and Hunger Games have always yielded big business, but Black Panther, with its near-total Black ensemble cast, is a groundbreaking landmark for Hollywood. Disney will continue to break glass ceilings soon after Black Panther: On March 9, the studio will open the feature adaptation of the children’s classic A Wrinkle In Time, which at a $100M-plus budget is the first production of its scope to be directed by a woman of color, Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay (at one point before Coogler, she was in talks to potentially direct Black Panther). The pic is currently tracking for an opening around $35M four weeks out from release, but those estimates are bound to increase. Between Black Panther and Wrinkle, Disney will own the pre-summer space, much like they did with Zootopia and Jungle Book in 2016. In addition, Disney certainly has to be trailoring Wrinkle on Black Panther. In addition, Disney’s 2019 live-action release The Lion King touts a large Black cast that includes Beyonce, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Keegan-Michael Key, James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard and Eric Andre, among many others.

RelatedDeadline’s New Hollywood Podcast With Letitia Wright

Black Panther in CinemaScore audience exits shows a 50/50 male-female audience with 25+ repping 66% of the crowd. Close to 70% came because it’s Black Panther, while 15% bought tickets because of Coogler and 28% because they are Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman fans. Already, the leading exhibitor AMC is reporting that 33 venues have already set admissions-revenue records for a single title on an opening weekend in play at the chain, and Saturday isn’t even over yet. Twenty-one AMC locations held more than 40 showtimes for Black Panther with AMC Southlake 24, in the Atlanta market, recording an astounding 83 showtimes yesterday.

Social media is on fire as people leave the theater: RelishMix is reporting that Twitter hashtags for #BlackPanther and @TheBlackPanther have set an all-time movie record since Thursday night, with 559K unique Twitter posts in one day (100K per day is exceptional) — and that’s over twice what the social media monitor saw with #LastJedi which peaked out at 232K in a day back in December.

After hiring Boseman back in October 2014 in a five-picture deal, Marvel spurred momentum for Black Panther by introducing him in Captain America: Civil War. Disney literally showed the media the first footage of the casino heist scene back in April during a Marvel press day. That footage became public back in July, when the studio unveiled it at San Diego Comic-Con.

Disney aired the first trailer for Black Panther in June during the NBA Finals Game 4, clocking 89M views in the first 24 hours. In addition, there was another trailer during NBA’s opening night on Oct. 17. Tickets went on sale on Jan. 8. This was announced during the ESPN College Football National Championship. Kendrick Lamar had a halftime performance during that event; he produced an album of songs from and inspired by the film. RelishMix notes, “Panther successfully took a page out of other big social movies like Pitch Perfect 3 and Fifty Shades Freed” in harnessing the social media powers of recording artists Lamar, The Weeknd and SZA. Already Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars” has cleared 18M-plus views on YouTube:

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There was a massive synergy program with integrations in ESPN College Football Playoffs and on ABC’s Blackish, Grownish, TGIT (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder), and Bravo’s Real Housewives. In the last week on ESPN, NBA All-Star D’Andre Jordan carpooled to an arena with Kenny Mayne, where they get a rare sighting of the Black Panther in an integrated car chase cameo.

RelishMix reports that Black Panther‘s social media universe resides at 901M, which is off the charts for a February release, especially when stacked up against other Marvel titles and their first week SMU’s, i.e. Thor: Ragnarok at 858M and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at 792M. Black Panther counts 390K daily YouTube views, driving toward a total of 340M, which is immense, and nearly matching those on Facebook (330M). Some of Disney’s social media stunts for the pic included the first-ever video Q&A on Tumblr with Boseman. There was also a Twitter live Q&A event in NYC (Feb. 12) streamed globally and into 10 IMAX theaters around the US – archived for placements in Apple TV, Roku, Amazon (it’s a social marketing stunt that no other studio has attempted on such a mass scale).

RelatedDeadline’s New Hollywood Podcast With ‘Black Panther’s Winston Duke

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Black Panther had a presence at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 13, working with such renegade designers as Cushnie Et Ochs, Ikiré Jones, Tome, Sophie Theallet, Fear of God, Chromat, and Laquan Smith, who created custom pieces inspired by the film.

Promo partners included Lexus, which ran a spot during Super Bowl LII titled “Long Live the King,” with fresh footage and clips showing the superhero’s sister and bodyguard using the 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport performance sedan to collect him. By partnering with Black Panther, The Toyota Motor Corp. auto brand was aiming at a younger demographic, and in the ad world, the younger the demo is, the more culturally diverse. According to RelishMix, the Lexus tie-in spot generated 4.3M views on social following the Super Bowl telecast.

Dominic Patten/Deadline

Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan worked closely with the movie’s other promo partner, Pepsi’s Brisk Ice Tea. PepsiCo and Unilever launched an arts program in urban areas in partnership with Jordan, providing an opportunity to young film, visual arts and writing visionaries to be mentored by established artists. Jordan directed, produced and starred in a Super Bowl commercial celebrating artists’ creative hustle and spotlighting his process for transforming into his Black Panther character Erik Killmonger. Creators had the chance to win an apprenticeship at Jordan’s production company. In addition, Brisk hosted an event for Black Panther fans during the NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, CA, on Feb. 16-17 with interactive Marvel-inspired installations. The pop-up event showcased the nine new Brisk labels created by emerging artists to kick off and promote the Creators Class program. The labels will debut on all Brisk packaging nationwide later this month.

Related‘Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan On Marvel Movie, Directing & ‘Creed 2’

Lancome featured a line of make-up products worn by Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright on the red carpet.

Synchrony Financial teamed with Coogler and Marvel to award the Ghetto Film School Fellows program with a $50K grant. The Ghetto Film School Fellows is a non-profit program that helps aspiring filmmakers from local communities, giving them a better chance at reaching their dreams, free of charge. The students take part in a 30-month process in which they can visit sets, screen their films, and find help to get into college. Coogler stopped by the Ghetto Film School to speak to students.

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Other highlights this weekend:

Early Man

Lionsgate

–On Saturday night, Jumanji : Welcome to the Jungle will become Sony’s second-highest movie of all-time at the domestic box office. We’ve been saying this for a while, but it’s really happening this weekend. The Jake Kasdan-directed movie sails by Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 ($373.5M) and is now behind the director’s original Spider-Man movie ($403.7M).

–Also tonight, Fox’s The Greatest Showmanalso in the same 9th weekend as Jumanji, will fly by Oscar-winner La La Land‘s $151.1M domestic totalthe title responsible for reinvigorating the original musical on screen. There’s no such thing as coincidence, and both musicals featured music by the Oscar-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

–Lionsgate/Studio Canal/Aardman’s Early Man is coming in with a lowly estimated $4.7M over four-days, which is just not good for any movie. There’s simply too much family product in the marketplace, with Peter Rabbit, Jumanji and then you have Black Panther pulling in everybody. Lionsgate gets a distribution fee and is on the hook for P&A, with StudioCanal covering it. Early Man gets a B CinemaScore. Twenty percent of the audience was under 18, with 72% being over. The young set gave it a B+ and 74% bought tickets because it was an Aardman Animation title.

—China’s megahit Monster Hunt 2 ,which now owns the Middle Kingdom record for the best single day at the B.O. with $97M, is also in play stateside, with Lionsgate quietly distributing. Pic looks to make an estimated $529K over four days in 70 locations.

Industry estimates for the weekend of Feb. 16-19:

1..) Black Panther (DIS), 4,020 theaters  / $76.4M Fri (includes $25.2M in previews) /3-day: $185.8M /4-day: $213M/Wk 1

2..) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 3,725 theaters  / $4.1M Fri (-27%) /3-day: $17.8M (-28%) /4-day: $23M /Total: $54M/Wk 2

3..) Fifty Shades Freed (UNI), 3,768 theaters  / $5.7M Fri (-69%)/3-day: $17.4M (-55%)/4-day: $19.6M/Total: $78.8M Wk 2

4..)   Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 2,800 theaters (-336) / $1.87M Fri /3-day: $8.1M (-19%)/4-day: $10.6M /Total:$380.3M/ Wk 9

5..) The 15:17 to Paris (WB), 3042 theaters  / $2M Fri (-44%)/3-day: $8M (-36%)/4-day: $9.5M/Total: $27.2M/ Wk 2

6..) The Greatest Showman  (FOX), 1,936 theaters (-437) / $1.3m Fri  / 3-day: $5.7M (-11%)/4-day: $7M /Total: $156.4M/Wk 9

7..) Early Man (LG), 2,494 theaters  / $850K Fri /3-day: $3.5M /4-day: $4.7M/Wk 1

8..) Maze Runner: Death Cure (FOX), 1,892 theaters (-1,031) / $645K Fri /3-day: $2.7M (-56%) /4-day: $3.3M/ Total: $54.8M/Wk 4

9..) Winchester (CBS/LG) 1479 theaters (-1001)/$570K Fri/ 3-day: $2.2M (-58%)/4-day: $2.6M/ Total: $22.3M/Wk 3

10..) The Post  (FOX/DW), 1,050 theaters (-815) / $465K  Fri  /3-day:$2M (-44%)/4-day: $2.45M/Total: $77M/Wk 9

11..) Samson (PURE), 1,249 theaters  / $630K Fri /3-day: $1.86M /4-day: $2.2M/Wk 1

Notables:

Monster Hunt 2 (LG) 70 theaters/$118K Fri/3-day: $426K /4-day: $529K/Wk 1

Friday, 11:53AM: The first set of estimates are in, and they’re showing that Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther is headed toward a historic weekend with $200M-$205M over four-days, $175M over three. These figures do not come from Disney. The Ryan Coolger-directed, an co-written pic with Joe Robert Cole should post an estimated $72M today, with last night’s $25.2M previews repping 35% of that number.

On a three-day and four-day basis, Black Panther‘s estimates are easily the pre-summer records beating Beauty and the Beast ($174.7M 3-day, $188.2M 4-day) and Warner Bros./DC’s Batman v. Superman ($166M 3-day, $181M 4-day). If these figures maintain, then Black Panther will own the 7th best opening of all-time at the domestic box office behind Captain America: Civil War ($179M). The pic is also on track to beat Marvel’s Iron Man 3 ($174.1M 3-day, $185.4M 4-day). Beyond amazing, especially for this time of year, but this holiday always works in the majors’ favor: ComScore reports that 23% K-12 and 9% colleges are off today, figures which will respectively spike to 88% out and 34% out. Over four-days, Coogler’s Black Panther beats the first four days of F. Gary Gray’s Fate of the Furious’ debut by 86% (or $107.3M). Gray owned the previous opening record for a movie directed by an African American.

Fifty Shades Freed

Universal Pictures

Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed is estimated to take $5.5M today, -70% with a 4-day between $15M-$20M in second place. On the high end, this sends the threequel’s cume to $79M-plus.

Lionsgate/StudioCanal/Aardman’s family title Early Man is eyeing $1.1M today, $6.1M over four-days in its opening.

PureFlix’s sword and sandal movie Samson is looking at $750K for Friday, $2.6M over the four-day holiday.

Twentieth Century Fox

A huge shoutout for this weekend: Never bet against Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron singing together. 20th Century Fox’s original musical The Greatest Showman which was slow out of the gate will out-sing Lionsgate’s Oscar-winning La La Land ($151.1M) at the domestic box office on Saturday. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won last year’s original song Oscar for “City of Stars” from the Damien Chazelle feature musical, and the songwriting duo are up again this year for “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. The original musical about P.T. Barnum will earn $5M-$6M over four days.

Friday, 8:24AM: Black Panther‘s previews are exactly where we told you we would see them and Disney is reporting $25.2M this morning. This is the second best Thursday ever for a Marvel movie after Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27.6M) and some nickels above Captain America: Civil War ($25M). Among pre-summer releases and their preview nights, Black Panther ranks second behind Batman v. Superman ($27.7M). Already, according to Fandango, 61% are considering seeing Black Panther a second time.

Imax auditoriums grossed roughly $3M last night, which is tied with the large format exhibitor’s results for Ultron and Civil WarBlack Panther Imax figures also blew away the preview results of Deadpool which made $2.265m on 372 screens two years ago. Black Panther is in play on 404 Imax screens.

A bulk of advance tickets have been purchased by churches, youth groups, fraternities, sororities, and student groups as they celebrate the first major Black ensemble blockbuster on screen. There is a viral crowd-sourcing effort that has taken place called the  #BlackPantherChallenge — which allows kids to see the movie for free. Frederick Joseph, a New York-based philanthropist, launched the crowd-funding initiative last month to raise $40K and help children in Harlem see the movie. The challenge fueled 400 GoFundMe drives that have raised over $400K. Donations have arrived from J.J. Abrams, Chelsea Clinton, Viola Davis, and Ellen DeGeneres (who pledged $10K to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem).

Thanks to you, the #BlackPantherChallenge became the largest GoFundMe in history for an entertainment event.

Then you raised $300k, enough to buy tickets for over 23k children.

NOW…you’ve raised over $400k around the world, enough to send over 30k children to see the film! pic.twitter.com/4JVzBHTwtg

— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) February 12, 2018

In Sacramento, Cyrus Mulitalo, a Sacramento State football hall of famer took advantage of the challenge and is sending 200 kids to see the movie on Saturday. We’ve already reported below that Oscar winner Octavia Spencer bought out two theaters in Mississippi so children would get the chance to see Black Panther. Here is Davis’ rally for the challenge.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: Writethru with demos, 11:20pm: We have a read on Thursday night estimates for Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther and they look fantastic.

Earlier tonight sources were spotting the movie between $22M-$24M, and now the thinking is that the Ryan Coogler-directed movie about Marvel’s Black superhero T’Challa will clear $25M. Black Panther will either beat or tie with  Captain America: Civil War ($25M) as the second best Marvel preview ever behind Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27.6M). This is also easily the second biggest pre-summer preview night ever behind Batman V. Superman which made $27.7M. On the high end, it’s nearly double the $12.7M what Deadpool posted prior to its record February four-day weekend of $152.1M. These early estimates for Black Panther are exclusively from Deadline, so if you see them reported by a rival trade, they got them from us.

Other records being broken: Advance ticket sales continue to go wild over at Fandango with Black Panther now their fourth-biggest pre-seller of all-time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A few weeks ago, Fandango reported that Black Panther is their biggest superhero ticket-seller.

Note there is a margin of error when shooting from the hip this early. Tonight’s numbers could be much higher by morning. If Black Panther continues on this pace, it’s looking approximately at $65M for Friday (including Thursday), $161M over three and $180M-plus for four. Again, none of this comes from Disney.

Already in its first two days abroad, Black Panther, with $23.3M, is beating the opening figures of MCU deeper universe character Doctor Strange. 

It’s a special night and weekend for many people. Black Panther is a cultural milestone, becoming the highest-grossing title to star a Black ensemble cast. It will also be a record-breaking opening for an African-American director. Already, in ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrak audience reactions Black Panther is flying off the charts with an enormous 91% definite recommend (Typically anything in the 70% range is pretty good) and an overall 96% positive score and five-star rating. Those over 25 at 61% are the biggest crowd turning out with M25+ (34%), F25+ (27%), M25- (21%) an F25- (18%).

Regal cinemas and 270 RealD locations are showing exclusive content from Black Panther in over 270 locations at 6PM tonight, preceding the film.

Octavia Spencer has bought out two Feb. 17 screenings of Black Panther in Mississippi for those “families who are low on funds,” just as she promised in her Jan. 31 Instagram Tweet. On January 31, she posted that she was planning on buying out some screenings “in an under-served community there to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero. I will let you know where and when Mississippi. Stay tuned. #KingsAndQueensWillRise#blackpanthermovie”

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Avengers: Infinity War Footage Arrives In Disney Channel Special

Well, that didn’t take long. Less than 2 weeks after the Infinity War TV spot that aired during the Super Bowl, we now have more brand-new footage to go over, thanks to the exclusive special look from the Disney Channel. News that the footage was going to be aired was shown in a commercial featuring Tom Holland earlier in the week that promised a special look into Infinity War, and they were not playing. Additionally, we were treated to new footage from A Wrinkle in Time and The Incredibles 2.

The promotional campaign has been ramping up for Infinity War now that Black Panther is officially in theaters. We’ve seen the leaks of the official LEGO sets that made their debut at the New York Toy Fair earlier this week and they go well with the previously released TV spot, filling in gaps. For instance, when Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange or together at the beginning of the spot, they’re at Strange’s mansion after a battle with Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian of Thanos’ Black Order.

And while Black Panther is out in theaters, it really doesn’t go into the details of Infinity War and is truly more of a standalone film, even during the post-credit scenes that vaguely hint at things that we’ve already seen in the recently released footage. We know that Captain America‘s new shield is built from Wakandan Vibranium and there are subtle hints that the precious resource may also be used in Tony Stark’s new state-of-the-art suit that has been shown off in all of the new footage. We still need to know how the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy end up on Wakanda in the first place.

Now that we’ve seen two previews of brand-new footage in less than 2 weeks, it’s safe to say that we probably won’t be seeing anymore until a few months after Black Panther has been out in theaters, much like the promotional material for Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out a few months after The Last Jedi had been in theaters as a way to not distract fans from the movie that is currently in theaters. With that being said, it’s going to be hard to steal some of Black Panther‘s thunder at this point in time.

The Disney Channel provided us with a special look at Infinity War and it’s probably the last that we’ll see for a while, so enjoy it and examine it along with the previous trailer and TV spot. There’s still the second part of the Infinity War comic prelude that’s coming out soon, so hopefully that will shed some more light on Thanos and his Black Order and possibly go into their backstory a bit. It seems unlikely that the movie will have the time to delve into the backstory of the Black Order in a movie packed to the gills with so many characters. In the meantime, check out the brand new exclusive footage of Infinity War below, thanks to Marvel.

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Why Local-Language Remakes Are Thriving at the Global Box Office


With Hollywood focused on churning out tentpoles, international moviegoers are flocking to regional adaptations: “People want to see their own stars and their own stories”

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J.J. Abrams Claims Last Jedi Backlash Came from Fans Threatened by Women

J.J. Abrams isn’t concerned about the criticisms of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi and claims that most of the hate surrounding the movie is because some Star Wars fans are “threatened by women.” The Last Jedi is certainly one of the most divisive Star Wars movies and fans all have very specific gripes about it and one of the main complaints that comes up over and over is the diversity in the movie. Some fans love Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo and Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, while others hate them.

In a new interview, J.J. Abrams explains where the hate for The Last Jedi really comes from and he doesn’t pull any punches. The director’s main point is that the negativity surrounding the movie doesn’t actually stem from the movie. Instead, he believes that certain “fans” of Star Wars feel “threatened by women,” and believes that the internet is tailor-made for hate. He explains.

“Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars. If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars. You can probably look at the first movie that George (Lucas) did and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”

As far as the complaints about The Last Jedi and the cries to have it officially removed from Star Wars canon, J.J. Abrams is not concerned in the slightest. The cries and critiques will have no influence on Star Wars 9, according to the director. Instead, he admits to being excited to show fans where Rey, Poe, Finn, and Kylo Ren are going in the final installment of the new trilogy. Abrams had this to say when asked about fan outcry and a possible effect on Star Wars 9.

“Not in the least. There’s a lot that I would like to say about it, but I feel like it’s a little early to be having the Episode IX conversation… I will say that the story of Rey and Poe and Finn and Kylo Ren – and if you look, there are three men and one woman, to those that are complaining that there are too many women in Star Wars – their story continues in a way that I couldn’t be more excited about and cannot wait for people to see.”

J.J. Abrams is no stranger to taking over franchises and getting criticized. He started with the Star Trek franchise and is now working on his second Star Wars movie and he’s more than aware of the criticisms. However, the director doesn’t really care about it either way and probably would not be able to finish the next movie if he worried about every specific detail that fans want included. Abrams went on to discuss the passionate Star Wars fan base. He had this to say.

“I think everyone is going to have their point of view. Certainly, something I discovered early on in the Star Wars world, is that you’re going to have an incredibly passionate and vocal fan base, and they’re all going to have a lot of specific opinions.”

There you have it. J.J. Abrams is not going to bow to fan pressure while making Star Wars 9, which starts filming this summer. Women will continue to be a strong presence in the Star Wars universe, especially with Rey getting more powerful with her Jedi training and the reading material that she stole from Ahch-To. J.J. Abrams’ perspective on the negativity surrounding The Last Jedi is not something that everybody will want to hear, but it’s his opinion and he’s the one that’s making another Star Wars movie, not us. You can read more of the interview with J.J. Abrams over at Indie Wire.

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Will Black Panther 2 Bring X-Men’s Storm Into the MCU?

Could we see Storm show up in Black Panther 2? There’s a lot that goes into answering that question, but we need to start off by saying that Marvel hasn’t even announced a Black Panther sequel yet. However, the movie is set to break the bank at the box office this weekend and the response to the movie from critics and fans alike has been stellar. So one has to imagine that Black Panther 2 isn’t so much a question of if, but when. And when it does happen, there’s a very real possibility famed X-Men member Storm could be part of it.

Let’s start with how director Ryan Coogler feels about it. He hasn’t tackled the subject of Strom being in Black Panther 2 head on, but he’s addressed the possibility of the X-Men being in the MCU when and if the Marvel/Fox purchase is approved by regulating bodies. He feels that Kevin Feige is the best hands to put those characters in. Feige has also made it clear he wants Coogler back for Black Panther 2. So if Feige wants that to be Storm’s intro to the MCU, Coogler would likely go along with it. Here’s what the director had to say in a recent interview.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know enough about that acquisition to even talk about it, man. I’m like caught up there while we were trying to finish the movie. So, I think, look, if it’s something that goes through, I can’t think of better hands for those characters to be in than Kevin [Feige]‘s. I’ll say that.”

For those who may not know why this is even a question worth asking, beyond the fact that seeing Storm in Wakanda would be cool, the character actually has a history with Black Panther in the comics. In 2006, Storm and T’Challa were married before getting divorced during the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men event in 2012. So there’s plenty of connective tissue there and the Wakanda that the Black Panther movie sets up seems tailor-made for Storm. Alexandra Shipp, who plays Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, actually wants such a movie to happen, as she expressed in 2016. She’s even got a pitch for it.

“I want that movie so bad. I’ve got a pitch, I’m like coming up with a vision board, I want this movie to happen. Honestly it doesn’t have to be me – if Chadwick [Boseman] was like ‘you know what, I really want to do this with Halle [Berry]‘ I’d be like yo, that’s fine at least make the movie.”

So, how does Chadwick Boseman feel about all of this? As we know, his character T’Challa is in a relationship with Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia. When asked about bringing Storm into Black Panther 2 in a recent interview, the actor said, “Are you trying to break up my relationship with Nakia? It sounds like that’s what you’re doing right now.” Nyong’o was similarly defensive when expressing her feelings about the idea in the same interview.

“I’m not happy to talk about this, at all! I feel very territorial. That’s my king! I’ve already told him, he better not have that. He will have a problem on his hands.”

It’s tough to say where Black Panther 2 could take the story, but Lupita Nyong’o and Chadwick Boseman being opposed to the idea may actually be a good way to feed into the narrative. Imagine Storm and Nakia both wanting to be with T’Challa, all while some force threatens Wakanda or the world? Could make for an interesting dynamic. This interview with Comicbook.com doesn’t really help answer the question of whether or not we’ll see Storm in a Black Panther sequel, but it lets us know if that does happen, it’s going to get very interesting for the cast. We’ll have to see how things shake out, but we can’t rule out Storm popping up in Black Panther 2.

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The Beastlies Franchise Teams J.J. Abrams & Mattel

You may not know what The Beastlies are now, but J.J. Abrams and Mattel are about to put the adorable little creatures on the map. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Mattel announced their partnership today to bring sculptor Leslie Levings’ creature creations to life. The project goes back to 2010 when Abrams walked into the comic book shop that Levings was working in and spotted her Beastlie sculptors for sale. J.J. Abrams has been a fan ever since and the two met to talk about the possibility of one day working together.

J.J. Abrams calls the The Beastlies a “passion project” and revealed that it’s been in the works for a number of years now. The director also revealed how excited he was to be working with Mattel and Leslie Levings. He had this to say.

The Beastlies is a passion project we have been working on at Bad Robot for years with the creator of these extraordinary creatures, Leslie Levings. To finally bring The Beastlies to the world, in collaboration with the brilliant minds at Mattel, is an absolute dream.”

Though Abrams is excited, he really didn’t explain what exactly the new franchise will be all about. However, we will find out soon enough now that Mattel is involved.

Leslie Levings started creating The Beastlies years ago and was shocked to learn that J.J. Abrams was a fan of her work. As previously mentioned, Abrams walked into the comic shop where she worked with his son and noticed The Beastlies right away, but Levings was not working that day. She didn’t think anything of her new fan but was taken aback when Abrams reached out to her to have a meeting at Bad Robot to discuss a partnership. The Beastlies are an “ongoing line of small but expressive monsters,” according to Leslie Levings.

Mattel president Richard Dickson recalled meeting J.J. Abrams on the set of The Force Awakens when the director brought up The Beastlies. The two later met and Abrams showed off some of the expressive creatures and pitched the idea to Dickson. He explains.

“He presented this character concept he believed is aesthetically inspiring and creative, and then we got together the character drawings and creative conversations and that brought us to the point where we could reveal the partnership and concept. The combination of J.J. and Bad Robot’s content creator powerhouse abilities and Mattel’s global marketing and branding abilities seemed a strong match for an amazing collaborative effort.”

The Beastlies are about to get a lot more expressive in the near future. Though it’s a franchise, it isn’t clear which will come first, the TV show or a movie.

The Beastlies are going to be taking over the world pretty soon and one can instantly see the potential that J.J. Abrams saw in Leslie Levings’ creations. The little adorable monsters are now going to be mass produced as opposed to hand-made by Levings, although she still plans to make them in her spare time. You can read the whole announcement of the Bad Robot, Leslie Levings, and Mattel partnership over at Deadline.

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How One Star Wars Toy Changed The Last Jedi

Star Wars toys have been a huge part of the franchise, going back to A New Hope when George Lucas set a deal to receive profits on the merchandise. Even when movies come out that the fans aren’t crazy about, the toys are still bought and collected. However, there was one toy that showed up on the set of The Last Jedi that forced director Rian Johnson to change a part of the movie that had already been shot.

It seems kind of ridiculous to think about, but Rian Johnson really did have to change part of The Last Jedi after he received a prototype toy for Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer fighter ship. The new ship is definitely one of the cooler designs to come out of the latest Star Wars movie and apparently, the missiles were originally intended to shoot from the bottom of the vehicle, not from the wings. But the toy had them shooting from the wings. Industrial Light and Magic VFX supervisor Mike Mulholland explains.

“Initially, the plan was to have missiles on the underside, and shoot them off, and that was it. But halfway through production Rian got a toy, a prototype toy of the Kylo fighter. And they had the missiles on the side wings! So, we went and redesigned a bit of it [in the movie] so that we could open it up and pop them out… I’ve heard of the toys’ influence in the past, but that was the first time for me.”

It’s hard to believe that it was actually easier to redesign the TIE Silencer for the movie than it was to change the design for a prototype of a toy, but that’s the power of CGI for you. Rian Johnson also wanted to shoot the space battle scenes using practical effects, but it turns out that it wasn’t nearly as efficient as using the CGI, which ended up working in the production’s favor after the TIE Silencer prototype came into play. Even though the scenes are all done in CGI, they still have the distinct feel from the original trilogy that Rian Johnson was initially after.

While many Star Wars fans were upset with the story of The Last Jedi, nobody can dispute how amazing it looks on the big screen. Rian Johnson went out of his way to give the movie a darker feeling, like The Empire Strikes Back, and the director succeeded. There are some epic space battles that push the boundaries of what VFX can do as well as some understated shots on Ahch-To that are impressive.

A prototype of Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer forced Rian Johnson to change the design of the ship in The Last Jedi. That’s pretty ridiculous to think about, but it happened, and nobody would have ever known if Mike Mulholland form Industrial Light and Magic hadn’t said anything. You can check out the toy version of the TIE Silencer below and check out the original interview with Mike Mulholland over at Radio Times.

Hasbro Star Wars Episode 8 Class D ForceLink Kylo Ren’s Tie Silencer Toy https://t.co/H8vpAMsOgN#Toys#VintageStarWars#Starwarspic.twitter.com/OYuTedYYvz

— Star Wars Stuff (@StarWarsStuffs) September 30, 2017

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Black Panther Audience Loses It When Fifty Shades Plays Instead

A packed movie theater in Atlanta was treated to the first 10 minutes of Fifty Shades Freed instead of Black Panther and the crowd was not amused. One Marvel fan just keeps shouting, “No!” over and over again. The two movies could not be more different than each other and one has to wonder how a mix up like that could ever happen in the first place, especially on the opening night of Black Panther, a movie that people have been looking forward to for months.

One moviegoer took to social media to share a few videos from the first 10 minutes of Fifty Shades Freed with a crowd both laughing and angry at the same time. There are many people laughing, but there are just as many who are shouting and displaying their disgust with the mishap. A few people went and told the theater manager and the movie was changed to Black Panther. However, why did it take 10 minutes for that changeover to occur? 10 minutes of Fifty Shades Freed sounds like an eternity.

Black Panther surpassed Captain America: Civil War‘s Thursday night screenings with an impressive $25 million, which puts the movie on track to earn upwards of $180 million for the weekend and over $200 million if the Monday holiday is taken into account. This is all after already shattering Fandango’s presale records for the first quarter of the year, which is another impressive feat. But, will Black Panther have what it takes to keep the momentum going in movie theaters, or will it fizzle out? The movie is still getting rave reviews from critics and fans, so it just might have the staying power to keep earning.

The Thursday night screenings brought out the Black Panther super fans who came out in force, dressed as their favorite characters or in traditional African clothing. Rapper MC Hammer was seen dressed up with his crew in Oakland, while fans from all over the United States dressed up as well. One duo even dressed like Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall from Coming to America, which has to be seen to be believed. Fans we’re even spotted raising their fists at the end of some screenings while others brought in percussion instruments to play on the way out of the theater.

Fifty Shades Freed probably had the best attended screening in its short history at the box office with the Black Panther crowd. That should have been the tip-off that something was wrong right there. “Why are all of these people here to see Fifty Shades Freed?” Or, the whole thing could have been a prank that went on for far too long. Whatever the reasoning behind it, Black Panther fans got what they wanted in the end. You can check out the video of the theater playing the wrong movie below, courtesy of The Chef Steve’s Twitter account.

Aiight so this happened at Atlantic Station. They played 50 shades instead of black panther pic.twitter.com/5WhvX270Y5

— The Chef (Steve) (@ChefWaites) February 16, 2018

I never laughed so hard. I’m happy i came to the black theatre pic.twitter.com/pxdTFK4Qt3

— The Chef (Steve) (@ChefWaites) February 16, 2018

Dawgggggg pic.twitter.com/1WxKIgDtXW

— The Chef (Steve) (@ChefWaites) February 16, 2018

LMMFNFNDNDNDNDNDN DAWG THEY PLAYING THE WRONG MOVIE

— The Chef (Steve) (@ChefWaites) February 16, 2018

Lmaoooooooooo pic.twitter.com/xVGwwOCdHX

— CURE (@CureHipHop) February 16, 2018

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Disney’s Lion King Remake May Ditch One of Its Best Original Songs

Is The Lion King live-action remake leaving out one of the best songs from the original movie? We recently reported that Elton John is going to be teaming up with Beyonce to work on the movie’s soundtrack, which is great news for fans since he’s so tied to the original movie. However, based on his comments about the project, it sounds like one of the best songs from The Lion King won’t be showing up in the remake. Unfortunately, if Elton John is to be believed, Be Prepared isn’t going to be a part of this new movie’s soundtrack.

During a recent interview, Elton John revealed that, not only is he working with Beyonce on a new song for the end credits of director Jon Favreau’s upcoming reimagining of The Lion King, but that several of his songs from the original animated movie’s soundtrack are going to be featured the live-action version. The problem is, when he listed off the four songs to be included, he omitted Be Prepared, which signifies, for whatever reason, Scar isn’t going to be singing the beloved tune this time around. Here’s what Elton John had to say about it.

“They need to have a new end credits song. There’s going to be four of our songs in the film, from the original: Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Hakuna Matata, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King and Circle of Life. And then there will be an end, closing song, and we’ve been speaking to Beyonce’s people and hopefully Tim and I and her can cook up something. That’s going out in 2019 as well. And it will be great to work with her. So we will see.”

It was pretty easy to get caught up in the fact that Beyonce, who is going to be voicing Nala in the new version of The Lion King, is going to be working with Elton John on a new song. But Be Prepared is clearly not mentioned here and the legendary singer/songwriter was pretty specific about the fact that four songs of his from the original movie are going to be used. Why not Be Prepared? That’s surely going to disappoint a great many fans.

Jeremy Irons, who voices scar in the original version of The Lion King, sings Be Prepared when revealing his plan to kill Mufasa. It’s not only a great sequence, but truly an outstanding song and one that fans of the original are very fond of. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange) is providing the voice for Scar this time around. Can he not sing? Are they going to write him a new song to sing? Is scar just going to explain his plan to the hyenas with plainly spoken words?

Save for this glaring omission from the soundtrack, virtually everything about The Lion King live-action remake sounds great so far. Jon Favreau has lined up a stellar cast and, given what he managed to do with The Jungle Book, this movie should look incredible. Elton John even teased in his interview with The Sun that he’s “a little bit of the opening of it, which is amazing.” That lines up with what we heard coming out of D23 last year. The Lion King is set for release on July 19, 2019.

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