Microsoft Studios’ “Halo 5: Guardians” sci-fi video game is set to become the basis of a reality-competition eSports series. Microsoft Studios’ 343 Industries, developer of the blockbuster “Halo” first-person shooter series, has struck a deal with TV production company Pilgrim Media Group to develop the show. The partners did not reveal an expected premiere date,… Read more »
As rival ABC tests new ideas like a live in-studio audience and the appeal of a popular sportscaster at “Good Morning America,” NBC has bet on a familiar face to bring it back to pole position in TV’s ongoing morning-news wars. Matt Lauer, who has been part of the on-air staff at “Today” for more… Read more »
Bradley Cooper And Gavin O’Connor Working On ‘Atlantic Wall’ Bradley Cooper and director Gavin O’Connor are working together on World War II drama Atlantic Wall. Production company Imperative Entertainment nabbed writer Zach Dean’s concept when it was still just a…
NBCUniversal Intl. Studios, Germany’s RTL and France’s TF1 have greenlit “Gone,” a procedural drama series based on Chelsea Cain’s novel, “One Kick.” The show, which stars “Tyrant’s” Chris Noth, has been created by “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s” Matt Lopez. The show, which comprises 12 one-hour episodes, is the first fruits of a pioneering deal between the… Read more »
This week, AT&T unveiled DirecTV Now, its ambitious over-the-top streaming service directly targeted at cord-cutters who’ve had enough of paying for cable or satellite TV. It’s yet another blow for the increasingly embattled pay TV industry — but one they might bear some responsibility for accelerating.
As consumers move from a big box in the living room to high-definition screens anywhere and everywhere, a shift to internet TV was probably inevitable. But with constant price jumps and a reputation for adversarial customer service, incumbent cable companies may have helped facilitate their own disruption.
Hale Boggs, the chairman of Manatt Digital Media, told TheWrap that while the rise of streaming can’t simply be chalked up to escalating bills and interminable calls with customer service representatives, traditional cable and satellite providers didn’t exactly help themselves by taking a proactive approach.
“As a general proposition, for the pay-TV industry writ large over a period of many years, there was probably some complacency created,” he said. “You had some legacy customer relationships — frankly, you didn’t have tons of choices. Sort of assuming customers would always be there.”
And like any other quasi-monopoly, there was little incentive to accommodate customers with the pricing and service plans they actually wanted. Taxi services maintained an old-school phone dispatch system and nebulous tipping policies up until ridesharing companies like Uber cannibalized their business — and by then it was too late. Glen Rothstein, a partner at Greenberg Glusker who specializes in entertainment law, told TheWrap that plenty of cable customers also feel like they’re getting a raw deal.
“Many television viewers simply believe they are not getting reasonable value from their cable companies because too many channels exist that they do not watch — and they do not want to pay extra dollars,” Rothstein said.
Americans have been migrating away from those bloated packages in droves. ESPN, a mainstay of basic cable packages, has plunged from 101 million subscribers five years ago to just north of 88 million, with its two biggest subscriber drops ever coming in the last two months.
High-end cable and satellite packages provide more than ever for those who can afford them, from literally thousands of channels to dozens of films on demand and a smorgasbord of live sports, but younger viewers who are tight on cash – or simply don’t want to lock themselves into a byzantine cable contract – aren’t necessarily finding value. Streaming companies – even those owned by traditional TV providers like DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV – are marketing directly against those old service models, highlighting the month-to-month, cable box-free aspect of internet TV.
“Many traditional cable television customers believe they are paying less and getting more by switching over to streaming services,” Rothstein said.
The dwindling subscriber numbers certainly speak for themselves, but Boggs said he believes there will always be a market for a premium, fully-loaded cable or satellite service, which the incumbent players are best positioned to continue to deliver. That being said, the advent of streaming services has created alternatives for the millions of Americans who like TV, but not at the terms and conditions offered by Big Cable.
“In the last five years, you’ve had all this competition develop,” Boggs said. “Which is frankly a good thing — it allows choice. I wouldn’t say it’s just a product of bad service or product. I think the product’s pretty good.”
That’s why he thinks AT&T launching DirecTV Now — which, with its enticing introductory offer of more than 100 channels (including high-priced ones like ESPN) for $35 a month, might be the streaming provider to beat — is a savvy attempt to have it both ways. He also sees an opportunity for cable companies to learn from some of the better practices pioneered by streaming companies — which might help them rebuild their reputation.
“[Streaming] makes companies rethink their pricing models and delivery models,” he said. “Cable companies are adapting to that. I think that’s healthy for them, their consumers and their competition.”
And even though the decline of cable subscribers is a real concern — ESPN has been an albatross on Disney’s stock price, even as its movie studio barrels toward a record year — Boggs says it’s wildly premature to declare the era of Big Cable over.
“Even with all of the doom and gloom around ESPN subscriptions, you still have 88 million,” he said. “That’s a really big number.”
Boggs said that consumers’ price sensitivity with regard to cable is somewhat curious to him, given their usually significantly higher expenditures on wireless data. To him, that means they view their cell phones as absolutely a requirement, while TV is an optional diversion that can be cut back on.
The stats seem to back that up – according to a Pew survey, 64 percent of Americans said they viewed a TV set as a necessity in 2006, but that number dropped to 42 percent in 2010. And a separate Pew survey from last December found that 70 percent of cord cutters have a smartphone.
So while cable companies haven’t done themselves many favors, no amount of friendly customer service could reasonably be expected to stem that tide.
“You get wrapped up in what you’re paying for content coming from cable TV,” he said. “But they can’t live without that mobile device.”
Scandinavian digital entertainment group MTG Studios is partnering with Red Arrow International to co-produce international drama series Embassy Down. Created and written by hot Danish scribe Anders Frithiof August (The Legacy, Follow The Money), the eight-part political thriller will be made mainly in English with local languages incorporated. It’s slotted to premiere in the Nordics in 2018 on MTG’s video streaming service Viaplay. Red Arrow is leading the co-financing…
NBC has put in development an hourlong procedural drama from Mike Daniels (Sons of Anarchy). The project, produced by Universal TV, stems from the writer-producer’s overall deal with the studio.
Described as a character-driven police procedural with an emotional spin, the untitled drama explores the complex personal life of a former cop and mother who returns to the force, in part, to solve the murder of her detective husband. In the vein of NBC’s breakout This is Us, the…
CBS is not ordering additional episodes of the third season of “The Odd Couple,” which will run 13 episodes, Variety has confirmed. However, the show is not cancelled and will remain in contention for a fourth season, though ratings will likely have to improve for the comedy to score a renewal. Produced by CBS Television Studios,… Read more »
Co-existence and opportunity, not competitive threat, was the message that emerged from SMF Ignite, a conference on digital content in Singapore on Tuesday. The sessions were held at Pixel Studios, the new permanent facilities for short-form story-telling opened this week at One North, Singapore. The building also contains production facilities incubator offices and a Star… Read more »
Today in things that should be obvious but need to be spelled out anyway, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed that the studio has no plans to make a sequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie is a prequel, with the plot revolving around a band of Rebel Alliance fighters who steal the Death Star plans, so the original Star Wars movie already told the story of what happens after Rogue One a few decades ago. Still, people were apparently hoping there’d be a follow-up for some reason, so Kennedy and director Gareth Edwards touched on that topic during an interview in the latest issue of Empire Magazine (via /Film).
Kennedy refers to this nonexistent sequel as Rogue Two and specifically says that it’s not happening, with Edwards joking that the sequel “will be directed by George Lucas”—a reference to the fact that the …
The series will star David Arquette as Captain Barnabas.
Steven Mnuchin, an investment banker-turned-Hollywood producer whose credits include “Suicide Squad,” is poised to be named U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Mnuchin emerged this year as Trump’s fundraiser-in-chief, a surprising turn to many who know his past includes pocketing money stolen by Bernie Madoff and prominently backing Hillary Clinton.
He also, according to his critics, helped bankrupt Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, the studio responsible for “The Fighter,” among other films. And he hasn’t always gotten along with Trump himself. (Mnuchin has not responded to requests for comment.)
Trump has described Mnuchin as “a professional at the highest level with an extensive and very successful financial background.” Here are five things you may not know about Mnuchin:
1. Trump and Mnuchin have had a tumultuous past
Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years, leaving in late 2002 at age 39 with a reported $46 million stake in the bank, according to the Wall Street Journal. He then accepted a job with business magnet George Soros, one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, a private investment firm.
According to The New York Times, “Mr. Trump has attacked both Mr. Mnuchin’s investment company — suing it in 2008 over a building deal — as well as Goldman Sachs, the Democratic Party and other institutions Mr. Mnuchin has supported.” So he’s an obvious choice to be Trump’s financial point man.
2. Relativity Media doesn’t like his bank very much
In October 2014, Relativity Media announced that Mnuchin would be joining founder Ryan Kavanaugh as co-chairman of the company’s board. But according to the New York Post, “The once-cozy relationship between Relativity Media and backer OneWest Bank… turned hostile after the California lender swept up nearly $50 million from the studio leading up to its bankruptcy — and then hit up the studio’s international distributors for even more money.”
The Post cited a letter and an email obtained by the paper that said Relativity explicitly blamed the bank, founded by Mnuchin, “for violating bankruptcy procedures and for delaying the release of a movie recently considered to be the studio’s savior.”
In 2013, Mnuchin’s newly formed partnership with filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer, RatPac-Dune Entertainment (the three better known as the “RatPac”), closed a massive financing arrangement with Warner Bros. to fund its movies, which included “American Sniper” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” It is perhaps those valuable Mnuchin contacts that Trump is most interested in as he seeks to hit up Hollywood for donations.
3. But Mnuchin used to like Hillary Clinton well enough
According to Politico, Mnuchin contributed more than $120,000 to both Democrats and Republicans over the years, of which $64,000 went to Democratic candidates and $40,000 to Republicans. He donated $7,000 to Clinton’s New York Senate bids. Of course, Trump also supported Democrats before going into politics, giving at least $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, $5,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $20,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 cycle, “effectively buying the election prospects of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, respectively,” according to a report by Politico.
4. That time he was accused of throwing old people and minorities out on the street
In December 2008, Mnuchin took advantage of the economic crisis by buying out IndyMac Bank, a collapsed Pasadena lender. He and a group of investors got it for pennies on the dollar, changed its name to OneWest, and went on to rake in billions of dollars by foreclosing on homes, The New Republic said.
Under Mnuchin’s leadership, OneWest “routinely jumped to foreclosure rather than pursue options to keep borrowers in their homes; used fabricated and ‘robo-signed’ documents to secure the evictions; and had a particular talent for dispossessing the homes of senior citizens and people of color,” the New Republic contended. Maps obtained by the magazine showed that of the 36,382 OneWest California foreclosures between 2009 and 2015, 68 percent occurred in zip codes with a majority non-white population.
The New Republic said that as part of a standard deal it made on transactions for failed banks during the financial crisis, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation agreed to cover all losses above the first 20 percent on loan defaults. That essentially lowered the foreclosure risk, and OneWest, protected by the government and taxpayer dollars, went on to rake in $3 billion in profits from 2009 to 2014. Not bad if you consider the initial investment: $1.65 billion. Meanwhile, the FDIC wound up losing $13 billion on the IndyMac deal, on top of the $2.4 billion it owed OneWest for its foreclosure costs, the New Republic said.
It all would have gone great for Mnuchin if it weren’t for the Occupy movement in Los Angeles. After it learned of the foreclosures, activists hit Mnuchin’s $26 million Bel Air estate to protest the eviction of a woman forced from her home for being two weeks late on one mortgage payment. The activists threatened to move the evicted resident’s furniture into Mnuchin’s mansion. Eventually 20 police officers and a helicopter were called in to restore order.
5. Making off with Madoff millions
Mnuchin grew up in one of the wealthiest families in New York City. His father, Robert Mnuchin, worked for Goldman Sachs for 30 years before opening a posh art gallery that sold Kandinskys and de Koonings. But that didn’t stop his son from pocketing $3.2 million from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme victims.
According to Bloomberg, Mnuchin Jr. withdrew the cash from his mother’s account right before the scheme blew up. It was money that was essentially stolen from Madoff’s investors, who lost everything. Madoff’s victims sued Mnuchin in an attempt to recoup some of their savings, but the suit was dropped because of time restrictions.
“This was one of hundreds of cases that there was a decision on,” Mnuchin told Bloomberg. “There is nothing special about this case.”
Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions have set a March 10 release of psychological thriller “The Wall,” directed by Doug Liman and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena. “The Wall” follows two soldiers pinned down by an Iraqi sniper, with nothing but a crumbling wall between them. Their fight becomes as much a battle of will and wits… Read more »
Amazon Studios and Roadside Atrractions are partnering to distribute Doug Liman’s psychological thriller The Wall for release on March 10. That puts it on the same date as Warner Bros.’ Kong: Skull Island.
The deal on The Wall follows RSA’s and Amazon’s collaboration on a number of previous releases, including that of critically-acclaimed Manchester By The Sea, which just garnered top praise from the National Board of Review. The Wall, which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Noc…
After partnering on this year’s acclaimed indie weepy “Manchester By The Sea,” Amazon Studios is collaborating again with Roadside Attractions to distribute the psychological thriller “The Wall.”
It will be distributed by Roadside and is set to open in theaters on March 10, 2017.
The film follows two soldiers who become pinned down behind a crumbling wall by an Iraqi sniper. “Their fight becomes as much a battle of will and wits as it is of lethally accurate marksmanship,” the synopsis reads.
Liman directed “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “Edge of Tomorrow.” Taylor-Johnson stars in “Nocturnal Animals,” in theaters now, and has starred in past films “Kick-Ass,” “Savages,” “Godzilla” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Cena is a WWE superstar who has also appeared in “Trainwreck” and “Daddy’s Home.”
“The Wall” was penned by first-time screenwriter Dwain Worrell.
The thriller was produced by Amazon Studios, Big Indie Pictures and Picrow. David Bartis is producer and Ray Angelic executive produced. FilmNation is handling international sales.
Along with Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester By The Sea,” Roadside and Amazon have previously partnered together on other recent films including Whit Stillman’s summer hit “Love & Friendship” and Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq.”
“Manchester By The Sea” has already earned more than $1.6 million in ticket sales and successfully expanded this past weekend to 48 theaters. The film will expand to 150 theaters this weekend.
“Manchester By The Sea” was named Best Picture this morning by the National Board of Review along with three other wins including Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan), and Best Breakthrough Performance, Male (Lucas Hedges). Affleck won Best Actor at the Gotham Awards last night. Additionally, the film was nominated for five Spirit Awards including Best Feature.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” won’t get a sequel no matter how well the “Star Wars” spinoff performs at the box office, according to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
In the latest issue of Empire Magazine (via slashfilm), Kennedy makes the confirmed that the studio does not intend to make a sequel to the film, which Kennedy jokingly refers to as “Rogue Two.”
Lucasfilm Chief Creative Officer and former Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll states that “Rogue One” was always intended to be a self-contained film, even though it is actually a prequel to “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
Director Gareth Edwards also added that if you were to have a sequel, “that sequel will be directed by George Lucas,” a reference to that first original “Star Wars” film that launched the franchise.
Hardcore “Star Wars” fans have speculated that the film would end poorly for the team led by Felicity Jones’ character, the daughter of a scientist working on the creation of the Empire’s Death Star.
After tickets went on sale online for “Rogue One” Sunday night, reports started coming in that Fandango was so overwhelmed that it crashed.
Not true, TheWrap has learned. In fact, there were so many requests for tickets that Fandango experienced its biggest first day of sales this year, and set up a kind of online waiting room to process all the orders.
While Fandango didn’t crash, it did suffer intermittent slowdowns, as did other online ticketing sites. Fandango sold hundreds of thousands of tickets within minutes of offering them.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters Dec. 16.
The film will include interviews with Bono, Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, Lenny Kravitz and many more.
Every year, just in time for Oscar consideration, studios release a slew of prestige movies supposedly based on true stories. And every year, it turns out that most of those movies embellish the truth, gloss over inconvenient facts, and invent things for the sake of the plot. Does any of this matter? If people are getting their history from movies, yes. The data-collecting website Information Is Beautiful, founded by London-based journalist David McCandless, decided to investigate 14 recent fact-based Hollywood films to see just how accurate or inaccurate they are. The resulting report, titled “Based On A True True Story?,” shows that not all biopics are created equal. While Selma and The Big Short get high marks for honesty, the former being clocked at 100 percent accurate, The Imitation Game is deemed to be only about 41.4 percent true. So maybe don’t cite that film in any term …
Many fans’ dreams came true when Lionsgate announced Tuesday that “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda would be a creative producer and “musical mastermind” to help the studio develop and produce an adaptation of Patrick Rothfuss’ “Kingkiller Chronicle” fantasy trilogy.
The biggest fan of Rothfuss’ work may have just been Miranda himself, who has never been shy about his love for the books and author on social media.
The studio is mounting a feature film and accompanying TV series adaptation of the fantasy series, which follows musician Kvothe and his own three-day autobiographical account of his adventures.
Miranda will compose original music for the project, as well as writing songs and maybe even develop a stage version one day.
Here’s a few things to know about your next favorite franchise.
1. This collaboration may have been born on Twitter
The Miranda-Rothfuss mutual admiration society is an ongoing, public thing, with Miranda frequently tweeting at Rothfuss or just tweeting quotes from the books, and in 2015, he proposed working together, informally.
“Patrick, if you’re interested in adapting your masterpiece, call me first. Huge admirer of your writing,” he said after a fan suggested the idea.
“If I have any say in the adaptation….” Rothfuss answered.
2. There’s some “Kingkiller” in “Hamilton”
Miranda was not lying when he professed to be a Rothfuss fanboy. In fact, that a pivotal scene from the first book in the series, “The Name of the Wind,” inspired one of “Hamilton’s” songs.
In April, Miranda revealed that “The Story of Tonight” featuring Hamilton and his fellow idealistic and buzzed friends singing about the coming revolution, “is me trying to capture the feel of Kvothe & his friends leaving the Eaolian.”
3. Casting is going to be a hot topic
Rothfuss himself has some thoughts on who should play various characters in the movie, such as Natalie Portman (circa 2007) as the female lead, Denna. As for the lead character Kvothe, he’s less sure.
“Kvothe is … tricky. I don’t think I’d like a star in the role. I don’t want Brad Pitt as Kvothe,” the author said in 2007. “I just want Kvothe as himself. To that purpose, I think I’d need to get a no-name actor with some serious acting chops to play the male lead.”
4. Get ready for lutes to become cool
Music is central to the world of “Kingkiller,” and lead character Kvothe plays the lute. Miranda is already thinking about how to compose new music for the instrument.
“*stares at a lute for 20 minutes, sweats profusely* Okay, so we’re doing this,” he tweeted shortly after the news broke.
5. The story is not over
“The Kingkiller Chronicle” is intended to be a trilogy. But though it’s been five years since the second book, “The Wise Man’s Fear,” was released in 2011, there is still no release date for Book 3, working under the title “The Doors of Stone.”
How very George R.R. Martin.
Fox CEO James Murdoch isn’t the only studio owner pushing hard to offer new movies to home viewers in the period when theaters insist on showing them exclusively. Warner Bros. also considers it an “imperative” to “offer consumers more choices earlier,” studio chief Kevin Tsujihara told an investor gathering today.
“We’re having very constructive conversations with the exhibitors for the first time that we’ve had in a long time,” he told Credit Suisse’s Technology, Media…
Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said the studio is doubling down on its major franchises in a Tuesday Q&A session at an investor conference, undoubtedly good news for fans of DC Comics, Harry Potter and the Lego movies. And some of that content may be delivered direct to consumer.
In remarks at the Credit Suisse Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Tsujihara said given the challenges of today’s film market, marquee intellectual property is more critical than ever.
“What is becoming more and more important is really these big franchises,” Tsujihara said.
The studio chief pointed out that three years ago, the top 10 films made up about 25 percent of the box office. This year, the top 10 will comprise about 30 percent, which makes nailing tentpoles that much more important. Tsujihara also said that the proliferation of prestige TV has favored big spectacle movies.
“If you look at what’s happening with the quality of the television product, the movies that are breaking through are the big franchises,” he said, adding that only Disney has a comparable selection of big franchises as Warner Bros.
Tsujihara also underscored Warner Bros.’ stepped-up direct-to-consumer efforts, mentioning its recent acquisition of gaming-focused Machinima. He said the studio’s been working on that line of business, hinting at a potential dedicated DC Comics product to capitalize on its “rabid” fan base.
Also Read: Warner Bros. to Acquire Machinima
“We’ve been working on that quite feverishly over the last 12 months,” he said of Warner Bros.’ direct-to-consumer pipeline.
Like many other studio chiefs — who have been watching, and in some cases, reaping the benefits of Chinese money flowing into Hollywood — Tsujihara said the potential opportunities to tap into the fast-growing movie market of the world’s most populous country is massive.
“The size of that opportunity for a movie studio is bigger than anything we’ve seen internationally in a long time,” Tsujihara said.
Also Read: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Goes to Warner Bros.
Tsujihara downplayed the impact of the proposed AT&T acquisition of studio owner Time Warner, saying that his division would continue to focus on producing hits for Time Warner’s cable channels, such as TNT and HBO.
“The biggest way for Warner Bros. to move the needle was if we created a hit show for Turner or HBO,” he said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity we potentially have with [HBO series] ‘Westworld.’”
Tsujihara pointed out that early viewing for “Westworld” is ahead of the first season of “Game of Thrones,” which has grown into HBO’s biggest current hit.
He also addressed potential changes to viewing windows, which he said have been the subject of productive talks with distributors “for the first time in a long time.”
“We’re working with them to create a new window,” he said. “We have to offer consumers more choices earlier.”
And regardless of when they get to see it, Warner Bros. plans to produce plenty of new content from familiar — and reliable — intellectual property.
“Do we have an opportunity to rejuvenate ‘Looney Tunes?’” he asked.