‘Game Of Thrones’ Breaks Record With 32 Emmy Nominations


The divisive final season of “Game of Thrones” smashed the record for most Primetime Emmy nominations by a drama series in a single year, earning a whopping 32 nods on Tuesday.

HBO’s fantasy epic enraged fans with its bumpy conclusion but still trounced the competition to strengthen its iron grip on the small-screen equivalent of the Oscars.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — Amazon’s story of a 1950s housewife-turned-stand up comic — was a distant second on 20 nominations.

“Thrones” is the most decorated fictional show in the awards’ seven-decade history, and now has 161 nominations overall — including 47 wins.

“For those who will be adding 2019 to their long list of nominations and or wins from other years — it never gets old!” said Television Academy chairman and CEO Frank Scherma.

The show about families vying for the Iron Throne broke a 25-year nominations record for a drama series in a single year previously held by “NYPD Blue,” which earned 27 nods in 1994.

Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington were recognized in the lead acting categories, while eight other “Thrones” cast members swept the board in the supporting and guest acting categories. The shortened eighth and last season also won a slew of technical awards.

“Thrones” capitalized on a threadbare year for drama, with several big hitters such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” missing from the main categories. The next highest-placed drama — AMC’s “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul” — managed just eight nominations.

HBO’s acclaimed limited series “Chernobyl” placed third overall this year with 19 nominations, ahead of perennial Emmys powerhouse “Saturday Night Live” on 18.

Dark hitman comedy “Barry,” also from HBO, was joint fifth overall on 17 nods, tied with FX mini-series “Fosse/Verdon.”

HBO Reclaims Crown

This year’s nominations saw HBO reclaim its title for most-nominated network from web streaming giant Netflix, which last year had ended its 17-year winning streak.

HBO claimed 137 nods to Netflix’s 117 – a record for each, meaning the pair tighten their joint stranglehold on the prestigious awards.

Netflix’s “When They See Us,” the true story of five men wrongly accused of raping a Central Park jogger, earned 16 nominations including eight acting nods.

“Thank you to the real men for inviting me to tell their story… Love you, brothers,” tweeted series creator Ava DuVernay.

Amazon Prime enjoyed a stellar year, more than doubling its haul to reach 47 nods, just behind NBC with 58.

As well as “Maisel,” dark British comedy “Fleabag” performed well for Amazon, with five of its actresses receiving nominations including lead Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Waller-Bridge, who is currently rewriting the upcoming 25th James Bond film, also received a writing nomination for “Fleabag.”

“CRYING AND DYING … I cannot speak!!!!!! Our whole team is in bits,” tweeted Sian Clifford, who earned supporting actress recognition.

But there was disappointment for the final season of CBS ratings smash “Big Bang Theory,” which failed to register in any main categories.

A-listers Julia Roberts and Jim Carrey were shunned by voters, who ignored their respective performances in Amazon’s “Homecoming” and Showtime’s “Kidding.”

While Netflix/BBC thriller “Bodyguard” earned a drama series nod, its lead actor Richard Madden was a surprising omission.

Record Entries

The Emmys recognizes shows that were on in the 12 months to May 31.

That meant several voters’ favorites were absent from main categories this year, including Hulu’s new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The former drama series winner still managed to pick up 11 nominations in technical categories, for episodes submitted from the tail-end of its previous season.

“Big Little Lies” and “Stranger Things” also just missed the cut-off this time around.

The Television Academy’s 24,000 members sifted through a record number of entries for this year’s Emmys.

The nominations were announced in a livestreamed presentation from Los Angeles hosted by “The Good Place” actress D’Arcy Carden and “The Masked Singer” panelist Ken Jeong.

Final-round voting will now begin to pick winners who will be revealed at a glitzy Los Angeles show on September 22.

‘Spider-Man’ Flies Again To Top Box Office

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2019, a giant inflatable Spider-Man is displayed on the red carpet for the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” World premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.  Chris Delmas / AFP


Once again Spider-Man seems to be trapping everything that flies by: “Spider-Man: Far From Home” took in an impressive $93.6 million in North America over the US holiday weekend and has passed the half-billion-dollar mark worldwide, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations estimated on Sunday.

This latest in the Spider-Man franchise, made by Sony and Disney-owned Marvel, set a record six-day total for a Tuesday release of $185.1 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Its storyline follows on the blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” to focus on how Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) confront a world without Iron Man. Also starring are Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal and J.B. Smoove.

Coming in second in its third week out was Disney/Pixar collaboration “Toy Story 4,” at $34.3 million. The film again features the voices of Tom Hanks as Woody, the eager but empty-holstered cowboy doll, and Tim Allen as space toy Buzz Lightyear.

In third, at $10.8 million, was Universal’s alternate-universe romantic comedy “Yesterday.” Himesh Patel stars as a struggling musician who, after a mysterious global blackout, is the only person in the world to remember the Beatles and their music — and takes full advantage of it.

Patel does his own singing; Danny Boyle, of “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire” fame, directs.

Fourth spot went to Warner Bros. horror film “Annabelle Comes Home,” at $9.8 million.

In fifth was Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin,” taking in $7.6 million in its seventh week out.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Midsommar” ($6.6 million)

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” ($4.8 million)

“Men in Black: International” ($3.6 million)

“Avengers: Endgame” ($3.1 million)

“Rocketman” ($2.8 million)


Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series

Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series
Actors of the TV show “How to sell drugs online (Fast)” pose during the 2019 Cannes International Series festival, in Cannes on April 6, 2019. VALERY HACHE / AFP


A new Netflix series billed as the teenage “Breaking Bad” is inspired by a real-life German youth who ran an online drug empire from his bedroom, its creators told AFP.

The makers of “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” even met up with Maximilian S. on one of his days out of prison where he is serving seven years for “running the Amazon of illegal drugs” — selling everything from MDMA to marijuana.

While his mother thought of him as a “lazy and grumpy” 19-year-old who wouldn’t leave his room, he made 4.4 million euros ($4.9 million) worth of Bitcoin in little over a year from his Shiny Flakes online store.

Police still couldn’t access all of his Bitcoin accounts when he was jailed in 2015.

“When you think of the drug business, you think of the Cali cartel and Pablo Escobar,” said the series’ makers Philipp Kassbohrer and Matthias Murmann on Sunday as the series was premiered at the Canneseries festival in the French Riviera resort.

“But this young German weirdo guy who was doing this himself was having a big effect on the European drug market.

‘Best dealer in Europe’

“He was the best dealer in Europe and he didn’t just do it in the Darknet (that part of the internet hidden from public view), he did it in the clearweb,” Murmann said.

“You could find his site on a normal browser. It had customer reviews and everything: ‘If you liked this drug, you might like to try this…'”

The young man they would later know as “Max” — who was treated as a juvenile by the courts — turned up one day at their offices when the series was still being shot after he heard his story had been picked up.

“We thought he was making it up. But it was him,” said Murmann, a self-confessed geek himself.

“He had to sleep in jail but he could travel around during the day. It was interesting to get his mindset,” and to find out how proud he was of the “customer experience”.

He even showed the director “how he arranged the MDMA in boxes. ‘No, I did it like this,’ he said. It as a real headspin for the actors,” Murmann recalled.

By that point, shooting had already begun of the show, which they had turned into a buddy story of a 17-year-old high school student who sets up a drugs site with his wheelchair-bound best friend to try to win back his girlfriend, who has returned for a year out in the US as pill-popping party animal.

‘He was a bit too smart’

“It was inspired rather than based on him because when we dug into his true story we found it was very short and boring,” Kassbohrer added.

“He was a little bit too smart. He only made one big mistake and that’s why he got arrested… but when he turned up, it was a weird bridge with reality.”

The pair, whose BTF studio makes late-night TV shows and computer games, used fast editing and smartphone-style pop-ups to recreate the superconnected lifestyles of Generation Z teenagers.

Kassbohrer said “Max” was like many of this age group, trying to make their mark but in his own terribly misguided way.

“He really is a nice guy but you cannot forget that he did something very criminal and he was connected to people who were doing even bigger criminal things.

“He didn’t think it through, he was just focusing on the user experience and the technical side,” Kassbohrer added.

In fact, he was so proud of his “customer experience” that he gave an interview to “a journalist friend of ours when he was still dealing and told her that he even had a customer services and marketing department, when it was just him in his room.”

He had that “Steve Jobs thing” of not fully thinking through the consequences, Kassbohrer said, “just like Jobs hadn’t worried about people dying in China to make iPhones.”

“How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” goes online on May 31.


Top 10 Nollywood Movies People Loved In 2018


2018 was yet another big year for Nollywood as the industry continues to get better and better.

With a lot of movies increasingly hitting the big screens and receiving more recognition globally, many say the Nigerian movie industry is now truly coming into its own.

Here are 10 of the most liked and successful movies of the year according to Google’s viewer ratings, in no particular order.

“Merry Men”


This movie tells the story of four young men, considered to be Abuja’s most eligible, as well as notorious bachelors.

They have thriving businesses, fast cars, massive homes and the attention of women in no short supply.

While they are known as the Merry Men, the ladies call them the Real Yoruba Demons.

The movie stars, Folarin Falana, Ayo Makun, Ramsey Nouah and Jim Iyke.

Directed by Toka McBaror and produced by Ayo Makun, the movie was released in September 2018 and is liked by 98% of the viewers.

Read Also: 2018: The Year Of Wakanda, Assurance, Fever, And Hard Goodbyes

“New Money”

Starring Jemima Osunde as Toun Odumosu, the movie tells the story of a young lady, who goes from being a shop girl to a billionaire,after her absentee father leaves her his empire to run.

Directed by Tope Oshin, the movie was released in March 2018 and liked by 92% of the viewers.

The star-studded movie features Folarin Falana, Osas Ighodaro, Wofaifada, Daniel Etim Effiong, Adeolu Adefarasin, Kalu Ikeagwu.

“Lion Heart”

Veteran actress Genevieve Nnaji stars in this flick as Adaeze Obiagu, a young lady who has to step up to the challenge when her father is no longer able to handle the company due to health issues.

Her father Ernest Obiagu (Pete Edochie), leaves the company in the hands of an uncle and both of them have to fight to save the company from a huge debt or lose it altogether.

An inspiring drama which addresses issues around family values, succession, and female empowerment, “Lion Heart” marks Nnaji’s directorial debut.

“It highlights the various challenges faced by women, particularly in male-dominated industries,” she told Women and Hollywood.

Online movie streaming platform, Netflix, also announced that it acquired the worldwide rights for the movie.

According to Google, 96% of viewers liked the movie.

“Up North”

This movie tells the story of a young rebellious heir, Bassey Otuekong (Banky Wellington), who is sent to Bauchi for his NYSC assignment as a punishment and as a way of humbling him, while also being groomed to take over his father’s company.

It explores love, friendship and family politics, all of which collide, creating memories to last a lifetime.

Directed by Tope Oshin, the movie features Rahama Sadau, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Adesuwa Etomi Wellington, Hilda Dokubo.

It hit cinemas in December 2018

“Wedding Party 2”

The romantic comedy starring Banky W as (Dozie) and Adesua Etomi as (Dunni) is a sequel to ‘The Wedding Party’, which became a monster hit after its release in December 2017.

The story is about two people genuinely in love and the unnecessary interference of family members as well as the hassles of inter-cultural marriages.

While the first movie explores the flamboyant Nigerian wedding culture, the sequel, which is also full of humour and warmth, captures the concept of destination weddings, which is gradually gaining ground among Nigerians.

The movie has remained a favourite for many, despite being released on December 15, 2017, and is one of the top trending movies of 2018.

Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, it was liked by 93% of viewers according to Google.


“Royal Hibiscus Hotel”

In this romantic comedy, a disillusioned London chef, Opeoluwa (Zainab Balogun), visits Nigeria and struggles with her matchmaking mother as well as in restoring the family’s rundown hotel.

She’s heartbroken as she discovers her new lover, Deji (Keneth Okoli), is working on a deal to buy the hotel.

An Ebony Life Films production, the movie which was directed by Ishaya Bako had its world premiere on September 9, 2017.

It was then officially released in February 2018 and is liked by 94% of the viewers.


Nigerian Immigrant Gary Barbar (Jimmy Jean-Louis), works as a teacher in the United States and is quite successful.

However, from time to time, he suffers violent flashes of visions and nightmares of a past that he knows nothing about.

His entire life and aspirations eventually hinge on finding the truth and meaning behind the nightmares.

In trying to find answers, he returns home to Benin City but is totally unprepared for the complications that await him.

Esohe, directed by Charles Uwagbai, is an epic film that explores themes of reincarnation, love and the supernatural.

It features Jemima Osunde, Chris Attoh and Toyin Aiyemakun.

“King Of Boys”

This movie follows the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale), a businesswoman and philanthropist with a promising political future.

As her political ambitions see her outgrowing the underworld connections responsible for her considerable wealth, she’s drawn into a power struggle that threatens everything she holds dear.

To come out of this on top, she is caught up in a game of trust and ruthlessness.

The movie was directed by Kemi Adetiba and is her second film after her directorial debut, The Wedding Party.

It was released in October 2018 and is liked by 97% of the viewers.

“Chief Daddy”

The movie tells the story of billionaire industrialist Chief Beecroft, a flamboyant benefactor to a large extended family of relatives, household staff and assorted mistresses.

He lives extravagantly, until the day he dies suddenly and the ‘bullion van’ stops.

“Chief Daddy” also explores the chaos caused by having numerous children from different women who were not aware of the existence of one another, until their father’s death.

Directed by Niyi Akinmoloyan, the movie was released on December 14, 2018.

According to Google, it is liked by 96% of viewers.

“God Calling”

This is a movie that explores themes of faith, spirituality, and self-discovery.

Starring Zainab Balogun, the story looks at the life of a young woman, Sade, her family, and her faith through the lens of an unconventional encounter with God in the modern age.

After suffering a personal tragedy, she is taken on a journey of self-discovery and faith which transforms the lives all those around her.

Directed by BB Sasore, the movie features Karibi Fubara, Nkem Owoh, Richard Mofe Damijo, Tina Mba, Onyeka Onwenu, among others.

It was released in December 2018 and is liked by 100% of the viewers.


“Lara And The Beat”

This movie tells a story about the young and beautiful Giwa sisters caught in the center of a financial scandal with their late parents’ media empire.

The sisters are forced out of their privileged bubble, and must learn to build their own future and salvage their family’s past.

Produced by Tosin Coker, the movie was released in July 2018 and it is liked by 94% of the viewers.

Cast: Seyi Shey, Vector, Somkele Iyamma, Sharom Ooja among others.

Marvel Comics Legend Stan Lee Dies At 95

In this file photo taken on October 20, 2016 Executive Director of the film, Stan Lee poses for photographers at the world premiere of Marvel Studios ‘Doctor Strange’ in Hollywood, California.
Frederic J. BROWN / AFP


Marvel legend Stan Lee, who revolutionized pop culture as the co-creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk who now dominate the world’s movie screens, has died. He was 95 years old.

Lee, the face of comic book culture in the United States, died early Monday in Los Angeles, according to US entertainment outlets including The Hollywood Reporter. He had suffered a number of illnesses in recent years.

“My father loved all of his fans,” his daughter told Hollywood monitor TMZ. “He was the greatest, most decent man.”

The New Yorker, known for his distinctive tinted glasses and impish grin, frequently appeared at fan events where he was revered.

Lee ended up in the comics business by accident, thanks to an uncle who got him a job when he was a teenager filling artists’ inkwells and fetching coffee.

“I felt someday I’d write the ‘Great American Novel’ and I didn’t want to use my real name on these silly little comics,” he once said, explaining why he had forsaken his given name, Stanley Lieber.

Lee rose through the ranks to become a comics writer, making millions of superhero fans dream of his fantastic universes and humans with extraordinary powers, and eventually led the Marvel empire for decades as its publisher.

From Spidey to Black Panther to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Lee collaborated with other authors and illustrators to put his lively imagination on the page.

Iron Man, Thor and Doctor Strange would follow — and today, all three heroes have multi-film franchises that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lee has appeared in cameo roles in nearly every Marvel movie — including as a bus driver in “Avengers: Infinity War,” a film that united many of the indelible characters he brought to life.

“Awww man, heartbreaking. R.I.P. to a true pioneer and legend,” tweeted Australian filmmaker James Wan, who directed many of the “Saw” and “Insidious” movies as well as helming “Aquaman,” an upcoming superhero film based on the character by Marvel rival DC Comics.

“My youth wouldn’t have been the same without him. So grateful to have met the guy, and told him how thankful I was for his work. #stanlee”

Hollywood Must Pay To Chase Internet Pirates, Court Rules


Canada’s high court on Friday ruled that Hollywood studios and other copyright holders must pay internet service providers to chase down Canadians who illegally download movies or other online content.

The decision will make slightly more difficult efforts to fight infringements under Canada’s new 2015 copyright law.

The amount that internet service providers should be reimbursed to dig up information on subscribers suspected of infringing on copyrights, however, must still be determined at a future court hearing.

The case was triggered by a group of film producers who got together to fight illegal sharing of their films.

Led by Voltage Pictures, the production company behind “The Hurt Locker” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” sought to know the identity of a customer of Canadian internet service provider Rogers so that they could sue that person. Eventually they planned to sue about 55,000 more Rogers customers, so this was the first of many requests.

Rogers collected the information, but asked the producers to pay a fee of Can$100 (US$77) for it.

In court, Voltage argued that charging for the information would make it cost-prohibitive to track down tens of thousands of alleged law breakers.

Rogers says it receives more than two million requests from rights holders per year to send notices to customers alleging breaches in an effort to discourage ongoing infringement.

Taking the additional step to identify those customers to rights holders risked multiplying its administrative costs, it argued.

The Supreme Court in its ruling said Rogers is entitled to “reasonable costs” for complying with so-called Norwich orders, and sent the matter to a lower court to determine the amount.


Six Robert Redford Movie Roles For The Ages

In this file photo taken on September 01, 2017, US actor Robert Redford attends the premiere of the movie “Our Souls at Night” during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido.


The legendary Robert Redford — who has said he intends to retire from acting — has done it all: from romantic leads to Westerns to playing the Great Gatsby.

The 81-year-old heartthrob may yet continue his impressive career behind the camera but his days in front of it appear to be over.

From Barbra Streisand’s lover in “The Way We Were” to a renegade cowboy in “The Electric Horseman” to a 70-something voyager adrift at sea in “All is Lost,” Redford has had dozens of memorable turns.

Here is a look at the classic performances that made Redford an American classic:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

“Don’t tell me how to rob a bank. I know how to rob a bank!”

Redford uttered that key phrase as the Sundance Kid to Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy — the pair played affable outlaws in perhaps the granddaddy of all buddy films.

Tracked by a posse, the handsome, quick-witted and quick-drawing leaders of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang split to Bolivia, where their illicit antics ultimately prove their demise.

The glib humour did not sit well with critics, but the hippy Western was a huge hit with moviegoers and it made Redford a bankable star.

Robert Redford attends a photocall during the 74th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido on September 1, 2017. Tiziana FABI / AFP

The Sting (1973)

Redford and Newman reunite, this time as con artists in 1930s Chicago where they seek revenge on a big-league mobster by setting up an ambitious scam.

Redford plays a charming but novice grifter in a blockbuster film.

His memorable performance as Johnny Hooker is optimistic and believable as he tries to pull off the big con, and it led to the only best actor Oscar nomination of his career. He lost to Jack Lemmon, but the crime caper won seven other Academy Awards, including best picture.

The Great Gatsby (1974)

This Francis Ford Coppola adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterful 1925 novel was intended to cement Redford’s role as a leading man in Hollywood romantic dramas. The film earned mixed reviews though it was a financial success.

He played the mysterious and decadent Jay Gatsby opposite Mia Farrow’s Daisy Buchanan. The sparks between the two were muted at best, and Redford caught flak for being too dull in a role critics said he should have nailed.

The film nevertheless won two Oscars for costume design and best original score.

All the President’s Men (1976)

Redford bounced back in full force in a stunning portrayal of a presidency in turmoil.

He took on the role of Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman played Carl Bernstein in the adaptation of the Washington Post journalists’ book about how the pair uncovered Watergate, which proved to be the biggest political scandal of the 20th Century.

Many critics point to this classic as one of Redford’s most important roles. It was not his first foray into politics though.

His satirical turn as a hapless US Senate hopeful in “The Candidate” in 1972 raised eyebrows, and Redford had contemplated a run for Senate in the 1970s.

The Natural (1984)

Redford emerged as a sporting star in this classic hero’s story about a rising baseball phenomenon whose lifelong love of the game helps him overcome tragedy and mount a spectacular comeback.

The big-budget spectacle is overindulgent at times, but Redford shines in his scenes in the ballpark.

And while the feel-good Hollywood ending — a Redford home run to win the pennant gives the actor almost mythic status — is the stuff of dreams, author Bernard Malamud’s novel that is the movie’s source material has a far darker ending: the slugger strikes out.

Out of Africa (1985)

Redford portrays untamable and aloof hunter/adventurer Denys Finch Hatton, who engages in a steamy, ill-fated affair with plantation-owning baroness Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep).

The film, which draws from the writings of Denmark’s Isak Dinesen, was a sweeping cinematic spectacle, scooping up seven Oscars including best picture.

Redford and Streep play headstrong, independent spirits contending with a changing Africa and Blixen’s dissolving personal life.

When Streep’s character asks Redford what is wrong with marriage, his answer is devastating: “Have you ever seen one you admire?”


Taraji, Tyler Perry Thank Fans As Acrimony Trends Again



Lead actress in Tyler Perry’s Psychological Thriller, Acrimony, Taraji P. Henson, has thanked fans for the love shown to the movie even as it trended again, nearly four months after its release.

The actress took to her Instagram to show her appreciation on Tuesday.


Also, the movie director, Perry, went on the platform to thank fans for the fresh buzz and the conversations that were generated as a result.

Read Also: 
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony Trends Again, Months After Release



Starring Taraji P. Henson and Lyriq Bent, Acrimony tells an intriguing story of a faithful black woman who feels enraged after being “betrayed” by her husband.

The story starts when she meets Robert in college. He seems to be the perfect handsome selfless dude until her mother’s funeral when he exploits her grief to seduce her and then gets her to take $25,000 out of her inheritance to buy him a vintage car.

Shortly after, she finds out that he’d been sleeping with someone else.

However, she forgives him, and they get married eventually.

But things start to turn sour as they go broke and Robert continues to work on an invention which he believes will make them rich.

He spends years working on the invention and eventually trying to secure an appointment with Prescott – a company that has a lottery system for sourcing potential clients.

However, he comes off as lazy and in fact crazy – especially to Melinda’s sisters who in the first instance never really trusted his intentions.

In a sad turn of events, they get divorced but Robert’s invention finally succeeds.

He’s finally rich after striking a million dollar-deal and will be getting married to another woman, Diana, who will now reap the benefits (yacht, diamond ring, sky-view penthouse).

Melinda finds out and goes crazy. She’s hell-bent on taking revenge.

On their (Robert and his new wife Diana’s) honeymoon cruise, she appears and shoots Robert, makes the crew of the boat jump overboard and is about to shoot Diana, but Robert knocks her overboard.

As Diana goes for help, Melinda climbs back onto the boat, and attempts to hit Robert with an axe, but her leg gets caught in the anchor chain, pulling her off the boat, where she drowns.

It’s no doubt that Acrimony is indeed one that leaves most viewers in utter shock and in a state of introspection.

At the weekend, it emerged as one of the top trends, with nearly 20k tweets, leaving some puzzled and others joining the debate over who was to blame for the outcome.

Since its premiere on March 30, the movie has grossed $43.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $2.8 million in other regions, reaching a worldwide total of $46.3 million.


Superman Going Strong At 80

In this file photo taken on July 19, 2012, The Superman costume that was worn by Christopher Reeve in “Superman: The Movie.” is displayed at Profiles In History in Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles, on July 19, 2012 in California, 80 years after his birth in 2018, Superman continues to represent the collective imagination of superhero references. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP


In an era when superheroes seem to be everywhere — there were literally dozens in the most recent “Avengers” film — the Man of Steel stands apart.

Eighty years after his debut in Action Comics #1, dated June 1938, Superman is still an American cultural icon, the hero of reference and the undisputed star of DC Comics.

And today, the comic book publisher — also known for Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern, among others — is counting on Superman more than ever.

“He is the mold people worked with, the template for the idea of a superhero,” explains Jared Smith, who works in a comic book store in Washington.

“Superman is a very idealized character. They call him the Boy Scout of America. He always does the right thing and tries do to the good thing.”

In Action Comics #1, 13 pages were dedicated to the story of Kal-El, an alien from the planet Krypton with supernatural strength, sent to Earth by his father before his home planet was destroyed.

Superman’s debut was a smash success. A year later, DC Comics gave the Man of Steel his own book, and introduced another formidable hero: Batman.

Eighty years on, the formula has not changed: Superman has more or less always appeared in his red, blue and yellow suit with the “S” symbol on the chest.

In his appearances on the silver and small screen, in comic strips and video games, he has fought for truth, justice and the “American Way.”

In Illinois, the town of Metropolis — which shares a name with Superman’s fictional home — organizes an annual festival celebrating the hero.

This summer, on the heels of a “Man of Steel” mini-series, DC Comics will reboot the standalone “Superman” series. For the challenge, they tapped Brian Michael Bendis, a legend in the genre who worked for two decades at rival publisher Marvel.

“You always feel the legacy of the character when you hop on, and I’ve had that joy a couple of times, but there’s something different about Superman,” Bendis said in an interview with pop culture website Nerdist.

“I think there’s something fascinating about the fact that not only did this character invent the genre but it stayed true and became the core, soul, and centre of the genre for the entirety of its existence.”

– Too perfect?-

Superman is an immigrant on Earth, raised by a farmer and his wife from infancy in fictional Smallville.

Eventually, he takes the name Clark Kent, moves to Metropolis and becomes a journalist.

His two creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were Jewish high school students when they first came up with the idea for Superman.

Their parents were immigrants, and their character personified the American dream — a metaphor for immigrants who fled Europe in the 1930s for the peace and prosperity of America.

It’s a theme that Bendis plans to pick up.

“People would come from all over the world just to live in Metropolis, to be watched over by the most famous immigrant,” Bendis told The Washington Post.

“It’s not going to be this huge message, it’s just going to be there — just flavour, the way we see the world.”

From time to time in the past, Superman’s popularity waned — his chiselled perfection was sometimes too much for an imperfect audience, who turned to Spider-Man and the X-Men, whose flaws they could identify with more readily.

“They made him so powerful as a character that there was nothing that could really threaten him, so after that, they introduced the idea of Kryptonite from his planet that could take away some of his powers,” Smith explains.

To keep Superman in step with society, writers tried to keep him in sync with political and societal changes of the times — in 1978, he met boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who took him to the ghettos of Metropolis.

More recently, Superman wanted to surrender his American nationality in protest at the government, which he felt had betrayed him.

In another storyline, he saved migrant workers from a white supremacist, a nod to far-right violence seen in some corners of the country.

Smith even recalls that the Man of Steel had something of a “socialist start,” fighting capitalists “who were taking too much money or not treating their workers well” in the 1930s and 1940s.

As ever, he fights for the American Way, whatever the definition.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Struggles To Take Off At Box Office

 AFP photo


“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the latest prequel in the hugely popular film franchise, struggled to achieve escape velocity this holiday weekend, with an estimated $101 million four-day take falling far below expectations.

Analysts had predicted the Disney/Lucasfilm project — directed by Ron Howard and with Alden Ehrenreich as a young version of the swashbuckling Han Solo — would reach $130 million to $150 million, possibly setting a Memorial Day weekend record.

But the film, with a cast including Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke, was falling short not only in North America, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations predicted, but also abroad.

“The news is grim overseas,” said Hollywood Reporter, saying the film was heading for barely half the $300 million global take many had predicted.

Last weekend’s No. 1 film, “Deadpool 2” from 20th Century Fox and Marvel, took second spot this weekend, with a four-day estimate of $53.5 million.

That movie stars Ryan Reynolds as the foul-mouthed, irreverent title character as he forms an X-Force team to protect a young mutant from evil Cable (Josh Brolin).

Third place went to Disney/Marvel collaboration “Avengers: Infinity War,” which took in $20.1 million in its fifth weekend out. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth.

In fourth, with $12 million in ticket sales, was a movie featuring no superheroes or interplanetary battles, and with a sedate sounding title — “Book Club” — that belies its racy storyline.

The Paramount film tells the story of four aging friends — Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen — who decide to read the steamy book “Fifty Shades of Grey” and find it stimulating more than just their intellects.

And in fifth was Warner Bros. comedy “Life of the Party,” at $6.5 million. It stars Melissa McCarthy as a newly divorced mother who returns to college, only to find herself in class with her (deeply embarrassed) daughter.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“Breaking In” ($5 million)

“Show Dogs” ($4.2 million)

“Overboard” ($4.1 million)

“A Quiet Place” ($2.7 million)

“RBG” ($1.4 million)


How Guillermo Del Toro Became ‘Monster-Mad’ Director

Guillermo del Toro accepts the Distinguished Collaborator award during the Costume Designers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 20, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP


Long before he was the celebrated director of fantasy romance “The Shape of Water,” this year’s top Oscar contender with 13 nominations, Guillermo del Toro was fascinated with monsters and the movies.

Teachers in his hometown, Guadalajara, Mexico, remember him coming to class with giant cockroaches, and friends recall helping him shoot his first movie at their school — an eight-millimetre short film featuring a gelatinous monster.

Those who knew him before he was Guillermo del Toro, the award-winning filmmaker, remember him as just Guillermo — an affable teenager with a love of strange creatures, a soft spot for misfits and explosive creativity.

“You could already see his imagination, his fantastical way of interpreting reality, in the short films he was making as a teenager,” says Anne Marie Meier, a Swiss film critic who met Del Toro when he was 16 and taking a screenwriting workshop that she taught.

“He was passionate about insects,” she says with a laugh.

“He had a competition going with the other kids to see who could find the biggest cockroach in Guadalajara. He would show up to class saying, ‘I’ve got one that’s seven centimetres!'”

Meier, who lives in Guadalajara, also remembers Del Toro as a voracious consumer of popular culture.

“He loved to play with whatever caught his interest. He feasted on culture, read comics, drew graphic novels and went to the movies all the time,” she says.

First films

Guillermo del Toro attending the premiere of “The Shape of Water,” at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science in Beverly Hills, California on November 15, 2017.  Robyn Beck / AFP


“The Shape of Water,” set during the Cold War, tells the story of a mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a strange amphibious monster held captive at the top-secret US government research facility where she works.

Adored by critics, it is up for several of the top prizes at Sunday’s Oscars, including best picture, best director and best actress.

Del Toro has come a long way — yet in some ways not far at all — from his first teenage films, says photographer Mariano Aparicio, who helped the director make his first movies.

View of a reproduction of Del Toro (C) with his first camera in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico on February 28, 2018.
Ulises RUIZ / AFP


Aparicio has fond memories of their first effort: a short called “Nightmare,” which they made when they were 17.

“There were no video cameras then. We had a Super 8,” he tells AFP.

“It was pure silliness. It was a lot of fun though. The movie was about a gelatinous monster that comes out of the toilets and starts running around our school.”

They filmed the movie together, taking turns with the camera, he says. But the script was Del Toro’s.

“You had to send the film to the United States to be developed. It was an agonizingly long wait. Then you edited it with a special cutter and glued it together,” says Aparicio.

After “Nightmare” (parts one and two), Del Toro made “Matilde,” a horror movie filmed at his grandmother’s house.

It bore many of his future trademarks, blending the supernatural with the religious imagery he grew up with in his devoutly Catholic household.

Del Toro’s mother, Guadalupe, played the lead — a wheelchair-bound woman who gets swallowed up by an ominous crack in her wall.

His mother also appeared in one of his first professional films, “Geometria” (1987), which featured his father, as well.

Terror and wonder

Ulises RUIZ / AFP


Del Toro, 53, comes from a world infused with all the terror and wonder of a fairy tale.

When he was a boy, his father won the lottery, then used his newfound fortune to build an empire of car dealerships.

Del Toro set about building a fantastical world within the family’s stately new mansion, covering his bedroom walls in aliens and monsters.

But, as in many of his movies, the real monsters in the story turned out to be human — in particular, the people who kidnapped his father in 1998, when Del Toro was just starting to make it in Hollywood.

The harrowing ordeal ended with fellow director James Cameron helping Del Toro put together the $1 million cash ransom to get his father released.

After that, Del Toro moved the rest of the family to the United States.

Today, he splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto.

But “at bottom, he’s still fundamentally Mexican,” Meier says.

“His protagonists all have some weakness. I think it’s important for him to have fragile characters. That’s typical of Mexican cinema,” she says.

From the vampires in “Cronos” to the magical fable “Pan’s Labyrinth” to the title demon in “Hellboy,” Del Toro’s work has often featured creatures from the depths of his imagination.

Del Toro arriving for the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of Lumiere film festival, on October 14, 2017 in Lyon central eastern France.


Despite the dark shadows that have haunted his life and many of his films — and the fact that he has become one of Hollywood’s hottest directors — friends say Del Toro still has the same gentle, fun-loving, sometimes mischievous side he had in his youth.

Mexican movie critic Leonardo Garcia Tsao has known Del Toro since he was a 20-something who “only wanted one thing in life: to make movies.”

The critic tells a story of finding himself at the Cannes film festival one year, stuck in a hotel room next to a horrifically noisy neighbour watching television.

He pounded on the wall relentlessly, to no avail: the neighbour was apparently determined to watch TV at full blast.

“In the morning, I opened the door, and it was him,” he says with a laugh. “Guillermo was my noisy neighbour.”


Hollywood Mogul Weinstein Apologises After Sex Harassment Claims

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein issued an apology Thursday and announced he was taking leave after the New York Times published a bombshell report accusing him of sexual harassment over several decades.

“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” the movie mogul said in a statement to the Times after its damning story was published.

Weinstein added that he had hired therapists and planned to take a leave of absence “to deal with this issue head-on.”

Lisa Bloom, one of Weinstein’s lawyers who specialises in sexual harassment cases, separately said in a statement that her client “denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

According to the Times, Weinstein’s allegedly inappropriate behavior goes back nearly three decades and he has reached private settlements with at least eight women.

His accusers, the Times said, include celebrities such as actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.

Judd recalled being invited to Weinstein’s suite at a posh Beverly Hills hotel two decades ago expecting a breakfast meeting to discuss business.

Instead, the actress said, Weinstein appeared in a bathrobe and asked if she could give him a massage or watch him shower.

Two former assistants and an Italian model made similar accusations and allegedly reached settlements.

One of the assistants was allegedly badgered by Weinstein into giving him a massage while he was naked, leaving her “crying and very distraught” in the words of a colleague, Lauren O’Connor, the Times said.

– ‘Toxic environment for women’ –
O’Connor said Weinstein, who co-founded Miramax and is co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, had created “a toxic environment for women” at his firm.

Many in the entertainment industry spoke out on Thursday in the wake of the Times report, expressing support for his alleged victims.

“The women who chose to speak about their experience of harassment by Harvey Weinstein deserve our awe,” actress and self-proclaimed feminist Lena Dunham said in a tweet. “It’s not fun or easy, it’s brave.”

McGowan also published a series of tweets, jokingly saying in one of them that she wanted “to buy the movie rights.”

In his statement, Weinstein said he had been working over the past year with Bloom and a team of therapists “to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”

He added that he respected all women and was hoping for a second chance although he knew he had “work to do to earn it.”

“I have goals that are now priorities,” he said. “Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process.

“I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call.”

He appeared to justify his alleged misconduct saying he had come of age in the ’60s and ’70s “when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.”

“That was the culture then,” he said. “I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.”

He said one year ago he began organizing a $5 million foundation to provide scholarships to women directors at the University of Southern California.

“It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her,” He said.

Weinstein is considered a powerhouse in Hollywood and many of his movies have picked up Oscars over the years, including “Good Will Hunting,” and “The Artist.”

He formed the Miramax production house in the late 1970s with his brother and then sold it to Disney. The pair went on to create The Weinstein Company, producing such hits as “The King’s Speech,” “The Butler,” and “The Imitation Game.”