‘Frozen 2’ Tops North American Box Office With $127 Million

British singer and television personality Stacey Solomon (C) poses with people dressed as characters from the film on the red carpet as she arrives to attend the European premiere of the film “Frozen 2” in London on November 17, 2019.
Niklas HALLE’N / AFP

 

Disney’s new release “Frozen 2” iced out competitors to top North American box offices over the weekend, taking in an estimated $127 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday.

The film follows the beloved characters from 2013 hit “Frozen,” as they travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest in search of the origin of Queen Elsa’s (voiced by Idina Menzel) magical ice powers.

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“Frozen 2,” which has come out just in time for the winter holidays, set a November record for an animated movie and secured the third-best start for an animated film behind fellow Disney titles “Incredibles 2” (2018) and “Finding Dory” (2016), according to Variety.

In second was last week’s leader, “Ford v. Ferrari,” with an estimated $16 million. The Fox film is based on the true story of how a team at Ford built a car to challenge Ferrari’s longtime dominance of France’s classic 24-hour Le Mans race.

New Sony release “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a drama about a journalist’s relationship with beloved television star Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks), debuted in third place with an estimated $13.5 million.

Thriller “21 Bridges” opened at fourth, taking in an estimated $9.2 million. The new movie from STX Films stars Chadwick Boseman as an NYPD detective who shuts down all 21 of Manhattan’s bridges to find two suspected cop killers.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“Midway” ($4.7 million)

“Playing with Fire” ($4.6 million)

“The Good Liar” ($3.4 million)

“Charlie’s Angels” ($3.2 million)

“Last Christmas” ($3.0 million)

“Joker” ($2.8 million)

AFP

Disney Tops Earnings Estimates Ahead Of Streaming Launch

 

Walt Disney Co. on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, fueled by the release of blockbuster films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” as it prepared for its new streaming television service.

Disney profit in the recently ended quarter was $1.05 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year ago, on revenue that grew 34 percent to $19.1 billion.

The slump in profits came as Disney absorbed key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox and geared up for its launch of the streaming service Disney+ that aims to compete globally against Netflix and others.

“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming The Walt Disney Company to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience,” said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.

“We’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on November 12.”

Iger said the company reached a deal for the service to be on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, the latest distribution agreement for Disney+.

Disney shares were up more than five percent in after-market trading following release of the earnings figures.

‘Lion King’ roars

Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operations with box office hits “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” fueling gains.

The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the forthcoming release of a sequel to “Frozen” and the final installment of the “Star Wars” film saga.

It will thereafter take a “hiatus” from “Star Wars” box office films but has an array of spin-off shows planned exclusively for its streaming service.

Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

However, integrating Fox into Disney has cost more than expected and the newly added studios have brought in less money than hoped.

Disney saw smaller revenue gains in its cable and broadcasting operations as well as its theme park division.

Iger would not disclose details of pre-sales of Disney+ subscriptions, but said the price — $6.99 monthly — has met with “great enthusiasm” by consumers.

The Disney+ online streaming service will debut in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands before gradually expanding internationally in Europe then rolling out worldwide.

Its films and TV shows will be available, along with the library it acquired from 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.

Disney+ will also combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.

Apple rolling

Apple last week launched a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.

The Apple TV+ on-demand streaming service launched in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month.

Original Apple TV+ shows have so far been met with lukewarm early reviews, but the low subscription price and an offer of year-long memberships free with purchase of the company’s devices was expected to encourage viewers to tune in.

Netflix, meanwhile, has budgeted $15 billion this year for original shows, on top of the billions it has devoted to exclusive productions in recent years.

Amazon, which has deep pockets thanks to its e-commerce and cloud services, has also poured cash into original shows for its Prime Video service.

This sets up a potential spending war among the major streaming players, according to analysts.

Even more competition looms on the horizon, with AT&T’s Warner Media to launch its “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”

NBCUniversal’s Peacock service is also launching next year.

‘Lion King’ Fends Off Tarantino, Maintains Box Office Rule

In this file photo taken on July 9, 2019, US singer/songwriter Beyonce arrives for the world premiere of Disney’s “The Lion King” at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood.

 

Disney’s “The Lion King” held on to its reign in North American theaters, taking in $75.5 million over the three-day weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said on Sunday.

The healthy haul for the Disney production brought its total to $350.8 million and put it on top of the box office for the second week in a row, capping a streak of successes for the studio after its “Avengers: Endgame” was last week named the highest-grossing movie of all time and now has global box office earnings of $2.7924 billion.

Directed by Jon Favreau, “The Lion King” is a remake of the 1994 animated film, employing hyper-realistic computer-generated images with a voice cast including Donald Glover as Simba and Beyonce as Nala, together with Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James Earl Jones.

Despite rave reviews, director Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” came in a distant second place with $40.4 million.

The ninth of the 10 movies Tarantino has said he will make before retiring, “Once Upon a Time” is set in Tinseltown in 1969 and features an ensemble cast typical of the director’s work, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning and Al Pacino among the stars.

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” came in third in its fourth week with $12.2 million. Continuing where “Avengers: Endgame” left off, the production by Sony and Disney’s Marvel Studios is the latest installment in the blockbuster franchise, with Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man leading a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya and Jake Gyllenhaal.

“Toy Story 4,” came in fourth, taking in $9.9 million in its sixth week in cinemas, which have brought it more than $395.6 million in total.

The latest installment in the family-friendly Disney/Pixar animation franchise that began in 1995, the movie features the voices of Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear).

The fifth spot went to Paramount’s “Crawl,” with $4 million in its third week. Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario play a father and daughter battling hungry gators after a hurricane hits their Florida town.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Yesterday” ($3 million)

“Aladdin” ($2.7 million)

“Stuber” ($1.6 million)

“Annabella Comes Home” ($1.6 million)

“The Farewell” ($1.6 million)

Disney’s 3D ‘Lion King’ Sends Animation Roaring Forward

IMAX private screening for the movie “The Lion King” at AMC Loews Lincoln Square theatre on July 17, 2019, in New York City. PHOTO: Lars Niki / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Disney’s blockbuster 3D remakes of animated classics have rampaged through box offices in recent years, but the studio is banking on its latest — “The Lion King” — to climb right to the top of the food chain.

With a star-studded voice cast including Beyonce and estimated $250 million budget, Hollywood’s reigning hitmaker has spared no expense bringing arguably its most beloved source material roaring to photo-realistic life.

Expectations are sky-high for the film about young lion cub Simba avenging his father’s death to emulate the commercial success of “The Jungle Book” (2016), “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) and “Aladdin” (2019).

A trailer for the new “Lion King” was watched by 225 million people in its first 24 hours in November, shattering Disney’s record.

But while the film — set for release Friday — is being billed as the Mouse House’s latest “live-action” movie, it is in fact a different beast altogether.

With no human characters in sight, almost every shot — from the pixel-perfect hairs of Mufasa’s glistening mane to the eerily realistic hyena eyes piercing through the Elephant Graveyard gloom — was conjured from scratch using computer-generated imagery.

And yet “The Lion King” is not strictly a 3D animation either, in any conventional sense.

It is instead something totally new, says director Jon Favreau — a film shot by a traditional camera crew, but entirely inside a virtual reality 3D world.

Filmmakers and actors at the studio were able to don digital headsets and “step into” a video game-style African savannah to film — or simply watch — rough computer-generated versions of Simba and his pals cavorting through the Pride Lands.

“The crew would be able to put on the headsets, go in and scout and actually set cameras within VR,” Favreau told journalists in Beverly Hills this week.

“Whenever anybody visited I would pop them into the equipment.”

– ‘Hakuna Matata’ –

The novelty was not lost on child actor JD McCrary, who voices the young Simba early in the film.

“We put on the headsets and had these little control things in our hands,” he said. “We saw everything, we saw the Pride Lands, Pride Rock, the watering hole… We saw it all man, and it was so cool!”

But this groundbreaking method had immense practical benefits that shape the way the film actually appears, according to Favreau.

Talented crew who had no experience in high-tech visual effects could bring their experience and traditional techniques, as well as their actual camera “dollies” and cranes, right into the VR studio.

Set dressers, script supervisors and cinematographers could watch the film unfold and make real-time adjustments to the lighting, camerawork and shots.

This all took place before the footage was sent to London-based visual effects firm MPC, which polished it to the lifelike luster of the final movie.

In another liberating break from tradition, the voice actors — who traditionally speak their parts alone in sound booths — were recorded together on theater stages, giving them free rein to riff and improvise.

The iconic scene in which Simba is taught the philosophy of “Hakuna Matata” (“no worries” in Swahili) was, fittingly, created in this way.

Seth Rogen, who voices warthog Pumbaa, said it was “amazing” to be asked to ad-lib in “probably the most technologically incredible movie ever made.”

– ‘Circle of Life’ –

The 1994 “Lion King” is seen as the peak of Disney’s 1990s “renaissance,” spawning a smash-hit Broadway musical version.

The remake copies the first film’s storyline to a beat, even bringing back James Earl Jones as the voice of Simba’s father Mufasa.

Iconic songs including “Circle of Life” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from the original’s Oscar- and Grammy-winning soundtrack return intact, as well as many of the musicians behind them.

Composers Hans Zimmer and Lebo Morake combined once again for the soundtrack, with Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice providing a new credits song.

But the film diverges in other ways.

The cast are called upon to sing their own songs — from actor-musicians Beyonce and Donald Glover (Simba) to the comically offbeat Rogen.

While the original was criticized for its mainly white cast, the creators of the remake wanted to enhance its African flavor.

Uganda-born Florence Kasumba portrays sinister hyena leader Shenzi, while South Africa’s John Kani lends his voice to the wise Rafiki.

Disney’s Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Casts A Box-Office Spell

 

“Aladdin” apparently still has the old magic, as the new Disney film took in an estimated $86.1 million in the Friday-to-Sunday period in North America to lead all box-office offerings, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported.

The film, released on the US’s four-day Memorial Day weekend, is expected to earn $105 million when Monday’s ticket sales are included, well beyond earlier estimates of around $80 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The live-action movie, directed by Guy Ritchie, stars Will Smith as the genie and the Egyptian-born Canadian actor Mena Massoud as the wily charmer who pretends to be a prince to catch the attention of the lovely Jasmine (Naomi Scott).

The new version is an adaptation of Disney’s 1992 “Aladdin,” which featured the unforgettable voice of Robin Williams as the fast-talking genie (and the less well-known actor Scott Weinger as Aladdin).

Last week’s box-office leader, Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” slipped to second, taking in $24.4 million for three days ($30.5 million for four).

Keanu Reaves again stars as retired hitman John Wick, this time being chased by an army of killers after a contract is put on his head. Also starring are Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane and Anjelica Huston.

In third was Disney blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame,” taking in an estimated $16.8 million for three days ($21.9 million for four).

“Avengers,” with an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin, has broken domestic records but, with a worldwide take of $2.68 billion, is still shy of the $2.79 billion earned by all-time leader “Avatar” in 2009.

Fourth place went to Warner Bros.’ “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” at $13.3 million ($17 million). Its animated title character (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) teams up with a young boy (Justice Smith, in a live-action role) to seek the boy’s missing father.

And in fifth was new Sony horror thriller “Brightburn,” at $7.5 million ($9 million). Elizabeth Banks, David Denman and Jackson A. Dunn star in the story of an alien tot who arrives on Earth and realizes, as he grows up on a Kansas farm, that he has superpowers.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Booksmart” ($6.5 million for three days; $8.0 million for four)

“A Dog’s Journey” ($4.1 million; $5.8 million)

“The Hustle” ($3.8 million; $4.8 million)

“The Intruder” ($2.3 million; $2.9 million)

“Long Shot” ($1.6 million; $2 million)

#AvengersEndame: Fans Stir Twitter Storm As Avengers Endgame Continues To Break Records

 

 

The Avengers have assembled for the last time, and they are destroying the competition — even before hitting US movie theaters.

“Avengers: Endgame,” the last in a 22-film arc featuring the beloved Marvel Universe superheroes, shattered records upon its release in Asia, specifically in China, Disney — which owns Marvel Studios — announced Thursday.

The movie raked in $169 million on Wednesday, its first day of release in 25 markets including China, Australia and several countries in Europe.

It set single-day box office records in China, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, said Disney, which bought Marvel Studios in 2009.

The film’s performance in China was impressive — $107.5 million.

In France, “Endgame” scored the biggest opening day for a Marvel film. It set an overall opening day record in the Netherlands, Greece, and Egypt.

The figures indicate that “Endgame” will surpass the receipts generated by the previous episode in the “Avengers” saga — “Infinity War” — which came out last year, it added.

The film will go into wide release in the United States and Canada on Friday, with showings in select cities from Thursday.

Experts predict the well-reviewed “Avengers” finale — featuring Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and a raft of other stars — could make $200-260 million in its opening weekend in North America.

The film clocks runs just about three hours, leading US movie chain powerhouse AMC to schedule showings around the clock in several dozen cinemas to satisfy demand from moviegoing fans.

In India, the country’s main ticket trader said advance sales had exceeded 2.5 million, and some cinemas in the usually Bollywood-mad country are planning around-the-clock screenings.

Pundits are predicting a debut weekend that could break records with the first billion-dollar worldwide opening in history.

The 21 preceding films — featuring many of the comic book heroes created by the late legend Stan Lee — have earned about $19 billion globally.

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Fans who have seen the movie all over the world, have stirred storms on social media, some attempting to spoil the fun for those who are yet to see the movie, many others expressing how enthralling their experience at the theatres was, giving other fans great reason to head back to the movies, for what some argue is an experience they may never get again.

Fans of the Avengers strike a pose while dressed in costumes for a costume contest before the first screening of “Avengers: Endgame” at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California on April 25, 2019. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

Disney Donates $5m To Restore Notre-Dame Cathedral

Flames burn the roof of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019.
FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

 

 

Disney, which scored millions with the 1996 animated blockbuster “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” said Wednesday it would give $5 million to restore the fire-damaged Paris cathedral.

“Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history,” said Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger in a statement.

“The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbours in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece.”

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Disney’s connection to the storied cathedral includes its 1996 animated hit “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” based on the Victor Hugo novel. The film, with animated incarnations of Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Frollo, sold an estimated $325 million in tickets worldwide.

The company also manages Disneyland Paris, a 5,510-acre theme park about 20 miles (32 kilometres) east of the French capital.

The Disney donation is among the first major contributions from a US entity following Monday’s blaze, which gutted the grand Paris landmark, destroying the roof, causing the steeple to collapse and leaving France reeling with shock.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced the tech giant would give an unspecified amount, while Henry Kravis, co-founder of investment fund KKR and his wife Marie-Josée Kravis, said they would give $10 million to the project.

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana has also promised $100,000.

Billionaire Bernard Arnault and his LVMH luxury conglomerate, Total oil company and cosmetics giant L’Oreal also each pledged 100 million euros ($113 million).

However, the slew of announcements from French giants raised eyebrows in France, with some politicians on the left arguing that the ultra-rich could best help protect the country’s cultural heritage by fully paying their taxes — or helping the “human cathedral” of people in need.

AFP

Disney’s ‘Dumbo’ Hits $45 Million To Top N.American Ticket Sales

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 11, 2019, US director Tim Burton arrives for the world premiere of Disney’s “Dumbo” at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood. 
Robyn Beck / AFP

 

Disney’s new live-action film “Dumbo” took flight over the weekend but didn’t quite make the expected altitude, taking in an estimated $45 million in North American theatres, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

Analysts expected the movie, Tim Burton’s live-action remake of the 1941 classic about a small elephant with huge and magical ears, to take in at least $50 million in its opening three-day weekend, according to Variety. The film had a $170 million production budget.

With a cast including Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green and Danny DeVito, “Dumbo” may yet catch on overseas, where it has taken in $71 million. The last Burton/Disney live-action collaboration, “Alice in Wonderland,” earned $1.02 billion worldwide.

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“Dumbo” pushed last weekend’s box office leader, “Us,” down to second place but the Universal horror film still brought in a respectable $33.6 million. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Us” stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a couple frighteningly confronted by their doppelgangers.

In the third spot was another Disney film, “Captain Marvel,” which had North American ticket sales of $20.5 million, pushing its cumulative worldwide total to just under $1 billion. Oscar winner Brie Larson stars as a former fighter pilot with superpowers.

Lionsgate’s “Five Feet Apart,” featuring Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse as a pair of enamoured teens who must keep their distance as they deal with cystic fibrosis, came in fourth at $6.3 million.

Fifth place went to new release “Unplanned” from Christian production company Pure Flix, at $6.1 million — a shade over its $6 million production budget. Ashley Bratcher stars in the true story of a young Planned Parenthood employee who becomes an anti-abortion activist.

Rounding out the weekends top 10 were:

“Wonder Park” ($4.9 million)

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” ($4.2 million)

“Hotel Mumbai” ($3.2 million)

“A Madea Family Funeral” ($2.7 million)

“The Beach Bum” ($1.8 million)

AFP

 

From Black Panther To Avengers: Disney Hauls In $7.325bn At 2018 Box Office

Disney posted its second-best year at the box office ever, raking in $7.325 billion worldwide for everything from “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” to hit animated sequel “Incredibles 2” and the latest “Star Wars” film.

Disney remains the only studio to ever post more than $7 billion in annual box office receipts. In 2016, it recorded its best year at $7.6 billion.

“Thanks to the support of fans of Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm around the world, it’s been a monumental year for The Walt Disney Studios,” chairman Alan Horn said in a statement.

In North America, Disney made nearly $3.1 billion, a new industry record, thanks to the runaway success of “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Incredibles 2” — now all among the top 10 highest grossing films of all time.

Each one earned more than $600 million in the United States and Canada.

Cumulatively, those three films alone made $4.64 billion worldwide.

Other successes on the Disney slate include Marvel superhero flick “Ant-Man and The Wasp,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Mary Poppins Returns” — which has already made more than $200 million around the world and is still in theaters.

In 2019, Disney has another massive year ahead on the silver screen, with “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” leading the Marvel charge in the spring, and “Frozen 2” due at year’s end, along with “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

New versions of animated classics “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” are yet to come, as is Pixar’s “Toy Story 4 .”

AFP

Disney, Warner Bros Go Head To Head At CinemaCon

General atmosphere during the CinemaCon 2018 The State of the Industry and Walt Disney Studios Presentation at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CinemaCon/AFP

 

Hollywood rolled out the big guns at the CinemaCon convention on Tuesday as Disney and Warner Bros. locked horns with rival presentations of their upcoming movies.

Disney kicked off the day of the big beasts at the annual Las Vegas film industry get-together with footage from its hotly anticipated “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” while Warner answered the challenge by wowing fans with new images from “Aquaman.”

Disney traditionally keeps back its juiciest surprises for its own biennial D23 Expo, but delighted delegates with a look at the first meeting between Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian.

Scenes from the Ron Howard movie — the second “Star Wars” spinoff after “Rogue One” (2016) — showed the pair’s encounter in a sleazy dive bar on a snowbound world, watched by a colourful menagerie of new alien characters.

There was also a glimpse of what looked like the pivotal moment in “Star Wars” lore when Han wins the Millennium Falcon starship from Lando in a card game.

‘Perfect stories’ 

Hollywood decamps to the Nevada desert for four days every year, taking over Caesar’s Palace to show theatre owners what they can expect to be making their money from over the following 12 to 24 months.

While most studios wheel out their biggest stars to promote their performances, Disney opted this year to let its movies do the talking.

The audience was treated to preview footage of Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King,” and a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette for Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin.” All three movies are due out next year.

“Aladdin is one of those perfect stories. It just burrows down inside of you,” the movie’s star Will Smith said in a preview video.

CinemaCon was also shown a new trailer for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” as well as the opening sequence of animation “Incredibles 2” from Disney-owned Pixar and scenes from Rob Marshall’s upcoming holiday release, “Mary Poppins Returns,” starring Emily Blunt.

There was a marked difference in presentation style as Warner Bros. previewed its slate later in the day, adding some welcome pizzazz with a roll call of its biggest names.

It set out its stall with a parade of its DC Comics superheroes, treating delegates to behind-the-scenes footage from “Aquaman” and sending director James Wan onstage to introduce a “work-in-progress” trailer.

The footage of what is expected to be one of this year’s big Christmas films gave delegates a glimpse of the mythical underwater world of Atlantis, its distinctly humanoid residents riding seahorses into battle.

Comedian and actor Will Arnett, playing host on behalf of Warner Bros., lightheartedly chided “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa for indulging in some rather colourful language.

“You went from ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘Aquaman,'” Arnett told the musclebound 38-year-old Polynesian-American, his mouth curling into a smirk.

“Does it feel good to work on something that’s more realistic?”

Cheeky questions 

“Have you ever wanted to play a character who wears a shirt?” Arnett demanded, as Momoa, joined onstage by co-stars Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, took the cheeky line of enquiry in good spirit.

Warner showed a brief sizzle reel of the numerous superhero projects in its DC Extended Universe pipeline, featuring David F. Sandberg’s “Shazam!” and Patty Jenkins chatting about “Wonder Woman 2,” which she revealed will be set in the 1980s.

The cast of “Ocean’s 8” — led by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett — turned up to pique excitement over the female-skewed heist spin-off, and Bradley Cooper appeared for “A Star is Born.”

A trailer for the romance, which he stars in and directs, was praised by the Hollywood press for the chemistry between the “Hangover” actor and pop sensation Lady Gaga.

“I always wanted to tell a love story and this project was around before and it always stayed with me… to me, music is the surest way you can communicate love,” Cooper said.

STX Films — in business for just three years — closed out CinemaCon Tuesday with a showcase of nautical thriller “Adrift,” starring Shailene Woodley (“Divergent”).

Woodley, 26, described the movie as “a survival story that’s really about true love” and tenacity in the face of adversity.

“It’s not every day you get to work with a filmmaker who is willing to shoot this thing on the ocean,” she added.

Jennifer Garner introduced revenge thriller “Peppermint,” and STX also showcased the upcoming “Second Act,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and Peter Berg’s spy drama “Mile 22,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Lauren Cohan.

AFP

Disney May Buy Sky News In Fresh Takeover Twist

ROBYN BECK / AFP

 

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox on Tuesday proposed selling rolling TV channel Sky News to Disney in order to finally seal control of pan-European satellite broadcaster Sky.

Fox — which for a long time has sought to buy the 61 percent of British pay TV giant Sky that it does not already own — has also offered to ring-fence the 24-hour news channel instead, it said in a statement, as it looks to allay concerns over Murdoch’s increasing media influence.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulator provisionally ruled earlier this year that Murdoch’s planned takeover was not in the public interest and that a deal would hand him too much power in swaying public opinion.

“We believe that the enhanced firewall remedies we proposed to safeguard the editorial independence of Sky News addressed comprehensively and constructively the CMA’s provisional concerns,” Fox said in a statement on Tuesday.

New York-listed entertainment titan Fox has already bid £11.4 billion for the 61-percent of Sky it does not already own but in Britain concerns linger over the strengthening influence of Australian-born US tycoon Murdoch.

At the same time however, Disney announced last December that it would buy Fox for $52.4 billion.

Fox stressed on Tuesday that Disney would in any case purchase Sky News even if it didn’t buy Murdoch’s group.

“21st Century Fox (21CF) proposed new ring-fencing remedies which would effect the legal separation between Sky News and the rest of Sky, establishing Sky News as a distinct company within the Sky Group, with its own fully independent board and under the management control of the head of Sky News,” it said.

“Under this proposal, Sky News would operate entirely independently with guaranteed funding by 21CF for 15 years.”

It added: “Alternatively, The Walt Disney Company has expressed an interest in acquiring Sky News, with a view to adding it to Disney’s existing portfolio of television channels, whether or not Disney’s proposed acquisition of 21CF proceeds.”

The CMA had also stated in January that its media plurality concerns would fall away on completion of Disney’s Fox takeover.

London-listed Sky on Tuesday stated that both of the Fox proposals would “comprehensively address any plurality concerns”.

The CMA, which published the Fox concessions in full on Tuesday, is conducting a review and will submit a final report to the British government on May 1. Britain’s Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will then issue his verdict.

Fox is meanwhile ramping up it’s Sky takeover efforts after US cable giant Comcast offered more than £22 billion for the entire group in February.

The Fox bid, pitched at £10.75 per Sky share, is significantly lower than the Comcast offer of £12.50.

Black Panther Crushes Deadpool’s Record, Rakes In $218m

Boys and Girls Club Long Beach members received the celebrity treatment with concessions and more during an advance IMAX screening of ‘Black Panther’ on February 15, 2018 in Long Beach, California. Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMAX/AFP Jesse Grant / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA /AFP

 

As the US kicked back for a long weekend, Disney’s “Black Panther” got off to a superhero start in the North American box office, rocketing to the top spot with estimated earnings of $218 million, data showed Sunday.

According to figures from industry tracker Exhibitor Relations, the highly-anticipated 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe earned $192 million over Friday, Saturday and Sunday — exceeding predictions of $170 million.

Thanks to Presidents’ Day in the US on Monday, “Black Panther’s” estimated earnings were boosted to a stratospheric $218 million — crushing “Deadpool’s” 2016 Presidents’ Day record of $152.1 million.

The film, from Disney-owned Marvel Studios, features a star-studded, almost entirely black cast led by Chadwick Boseman as the first non-white superhero to get his own stand-alone movie in the franchise.

Starring alongside Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o, Boseman plays the titular superhero also known as T’Challa, king and protector of the technologically advanced fictional African nation of Wakanda, an affluent, never-colonized utopia.

In at second was family-friendly “Peter Rabbit,” based on Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s book. Mixing live actors with computer-generated animation, it brought in an estimated $22.1 million over the holiday weekend for total earnings of $53.1 million.

James Corden voices the lead bunny which feuds with garden owner Domhnall Gleeson for the affections of sweet-hearted neighbour Rose Byrne.

American director Ryan Coogler (L) and American actor Chadwick Boseman pose on arrival for the European Premiere of ‘Black Panther’ in central London on February 8, 2018. PHOTO: Tolga AKMEN / AFP

Dropping to third was last week’s box office champion, Universal’s “Fifty Shades Freed,” with takings of $19 million, down from $38.6 million the previous week.

Starring Dakota Johnson as English lit major-turned-publisher Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, her kinky lover-turned-husband, “Freed” is the last of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, which has enjoyed massive popularity among primarily female audiences.

Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” placed fourth in its ninth week in theaters, matching last week’s earnings with $10 million.

Featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black, the family film tells the tale of a group of teens transported inside a video game world.

Director Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17” dropped two places into fifth, taking $9 million.

The film recounts the story of three young Americans who foiled a terrorist attack on board a train in France in 2015. In an alternative approach that divided critics, Eastwood cast the three men — none of whom had any acting experience — to play themselves.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“The Greatest Showman” ($6.3 million)

“Early Man” ($4.2 million)

“Maze Runner: The Death Cure” ($3 million)

“Winchester” ($2.7 million)

“Samson” ($2.4 million)

AFP