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Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Tops ‘Good Dinosaur,’ ‘Creed’ Heading Into Thanksgiving
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” led a crowded field of box office contenders heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. The final film in the popular futuristic series nabbed $13.7 million on Wednesday, pushing its domestic haul to $183 million.
Globally, “Mockingjay – Part 2” has earned nearly $320 million. It is expected to top stateside charts for the second weekend in a row with $75 million, despite debuting last weekend to a weaker than expected $102.7 million, the lowest opening for any “Hunger Games” installment.
“Creed” punched above its weight, picking up $6 million from 3,350 locations in its opening day. The Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”) drama focuses on the son of Rocky Balboa rival Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. Sylvester Stallone dons the monosyllables once again to play Balboa, »
- Brent Lang
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Receives PG-13 Rating
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has officially received a PG-13 rating, for content described as “sci-fi action violence.”
This will mark the second “Star Wars” film to receive a PG-13 rating, following the most recent installment in the franchise, 2005’s “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” All the other movies in the series were released with PG ratings.
The seventh film in the popular franchise opens on Dec. 18 and is predicted to rack up at least $170 million over its domestic opening weekend. “The Force Awakens” has already garnered more than $50 million in advanced ticket sales.
Director J.J. Abrams recently announced a charity contest to win tickets to the movie premiere in London or Los Angeles. Through a partnership with Omaze, fans that donate $10 or more can enter the contest to win, with the proceeds going to 15 different charities chosen by the cast and filmmakers.
For those that can’t wait for the Dec. »
- Margaret Lenker
Are 'The Walking Dead,' 'Leftovers' Risking Viewer Loyalty With Cliffhangers?
Forgive loyal TV viewers lately if they’re beginning to feel like Charlie Brown, with writers of their favorite series playing the role of Lucy, tantalizingly dangling a football in front of them, only to snatch it away.
Certainly, “The Walking Dead” has played a version of that game, based on recent events (and Spoiler Alert for those who aren’t caught up). Not only did the series strongly imply the death of a significant character, Glenn (Steven Yeun), on screen, but then compounded that by removing his name from the credits and issuing an extremely cryptic statement about his future via the program’s companion discussion show, “The Talking Dead.”
In that same on-air forum, guest Damon Lindelof noted that one would hope “Dead’s” producers weren’t engaging in “a shenanigan,” a rather quaint way of saying that someone has pulled a devious trick. Yet Lindelof could easily be accused of the same, »
- Brian Lowry
12 Days of Binging? December Gets Busy With TV Series Premieres
Television’s Christmas vacation has been canceled.
The month of December used to be consigned to reruns, hoary holiday specials, movies and classic TV marathons. Network execs were loathe to launch any major priorities in the month because of the conventional wisdom that potential viewers were too distracted by holiday-related pursuits.
But a quick look at the premiere schedule for the final four weeks of the year underscores how busy the frame has become for new and returning series premieres.
NBC has its highest-profile new comedy of the season, the Eva Longoria starrer “Telenovela,” getting a showcase preview with two episodes airing Dec. 7 behind the penultimate episode of “The Voice’s” winter season. “Superstore,” the America Ferrera-Ben Feldman workplace comedy that has generated solid advance buzz, opens for business with two episodes airing on Nov. 30, also behind “The Voice.”
- Cynthia Littleton
Now Adele Is Making Thanksgiving Football More Fun
The second match-up of the NFL's three-game Thanksgiving slate was already likely to be the best tilt of the day: the undefeated Panthers are in Dallas to face America's Team, the Cowboys, whose rapidly unraveling season was given a new lease on life, sort of, by the return last week of quarterback Tony Romo from a broken left clavicle. The combination of perfect record and comeback narrative makes that a far better game than the festival of irrelevance between the Eagles and Lions at 12:30, and arguably a more interesting one than the Packers-Bears match-up at 8:30—at least in terms of on-field action. When you factor in off-field activity, however, the Panthers ran away with the day. The video above is by Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart, and features him with teammates Luke Kuechly, Fozzy Whittaker, Ben Jacobs, and Greg Olsen doing their best Adele. (Noticeably absent is team showman, »
- Neil Janowitz
TV’s Best Side Dishes: Supporting Stars We’re Thankful For
There’s plenty of good television to be thankful for this year.
The turkey is the main course on Thanksgiving, but the side dishes are often standouts of the meal. While television’s leading stars deserve all the attention they get, Variety‘s TV team is giving thanks to some of the year’s best supporting stars this holiday season.
Breakout TV Performances We’re Thankful For »
- Variety Staff
New Star Wars Trailer Focuses on Mysterious Kylo Ren
Star Wars fans received a Thanksgiving surprise Thursday as The Force Awakens' official Facebook page dropped another minute-long preview for the much-anticipated film. This time, the action revolves the movie's masked and hooded villain Kylo Ren, a mysterious adversary played by Girls actor Adam Driver.
We will face them. December 18, 2015. #TheForceAwakens
Posted by Star Wars Movies on Thursday, November 26, 2015
The latest preview harkens back to the first Force Awakens trailer released nearly a year ago, with a spooky voice – since identified as Andy Serkis' Supreme Leader Snoke – asking, "There's been an awakening. »
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Tracking 20% Above Top Films of the Year on Digital Platforms
Three weeks prior to release, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” already ranks as the #1 film of 2015 based on social and digital engagement. The film has been engaged with 230 million times throughout the year to date, with the majority of activity across YouTube and Instagram.
With “Star Wars’” sights set on box office records, digital strength to date is an encouraging sign. “Star Wars” is the only film that tracks with a 2015 Dar-Film rating above 200 million. Even the top grossing films of the year — “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Furious 7” and “Jurassic World” — track 20% below “Star Wars.”
For the seventh consecutive week, “Star Wars” also ranked on the Dar-Film leaderboard below. The combination of superiority against the top-grossing film of the year and continued weekly activity confirms “Star Wars’” likelihood of smashing box office records, despite recently tempered expectations.
Each week Variety publishes ListenFirst Digital Audience Ratings (Dar) – Film, a measurement »
- Jason Klein
‘Creed’s’ Tessa Thompson on Joining the ‘Rocky’ Franchise and Singing in the Film
Tessa Thompson turned heads as the lead in the indie satire “Dear White People.” After a small role in Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” the actress broadens her horizons in Ryan Coogler’s “Creed,” in which she also sings. Thompson shared how the upcoming reboot breathes new life into the “Rocky” franchise.
How do you relate to your character?
Bianca is an aspiring singer. She reluctantly, I think, falls in love with Michael B. Jordan’s character, who is the offspring of Apollo Creed. We were interested in what it means for young people pursuing their own dreams and having a relationship.
How does “Creed” differ from previous “Rocky” films?
The movie definitely brings a new kind of audience into the franchise. In this film, Philadelphia is a character in the movie. It’s also a part of Philadelphia that we’ve never seen. Ryan Coogler is into the stories that he writes, »
- Mannie Holmes
Ifp Gothams Boost Further Kudos Campaigns
“Birdman” and “Boyhood.” “Citizenfour” and Julianne Moore. They all won Oscars this year. But they were also winners of 2014 Ifp Gotham Awards, the first major awards show of the season and one that really poses a chicken-and-egg question about statuettes and campaigns and who influences what.
“Because we’re so early, by putting a spotlight on our nominees and winning films we’re giving confidence to distributors, encouragement to go on and campaign,” says Joana Vicente, executive director of the Independent Feature Project, which has been sponsoring the Gothams now for 25 years. “Not that the films would need it but, especially with the smaller ones, but it’s really a boost. It ends up having an impact, which is great, though that’s definitely not the mission — the mission is to elevate and celebrate independent films.”
Two new categories have been added to the program: Breakthrough Awards will recognize achievement »
- John Anderson
‘Brooklyn’ Director John Crowley on His Own Irish Journey
John Crowley directs Fox Searchlight’s “Brooklyn,” about a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) going from Ireland to America. He spoke with Variety about his own emigration and early influences, including brother Bob Crowley, the Tony-winning stage designer.
Where were you raised?
I was raised in Cork, with one brother and two sisters. My brother is 17 years older than me. In 1974, when I was 4, he went to England, to the Bristol Old Vic. Starting in 1980 or ’81, my parents sent me once a year to see him. He’s great fun, and happens to be a great designer. I spent inordinate amounts of time watching tech rehearsals. That was the beginning of my artistic education. I grew up hearing his opinions on aesthetics and the importance of story.
That changed your goals?
When I was 11, I wanted to be a fireman, which my dad had been. From age 11 on, I wanted to be involved in theater. »
- Tim Gray
Pixar's 'Dinosaur' and 'Creed' Look To Take a Bite Out of 'Mockingjay' This Thanksgiving
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 enters its second weekend amid a flurry of opinions when it comes to its $102.6 million opening weekend. It also faces much stiffer competition this Thanksgiving weekend than Part 1 did a year ago, which only had Penguins of Madagascar to contend with, while Part 2 not only faces a new Pixar release in The Good Dinosaur, but also Creed, which has been (rightfully) well-received. All will be competing for holiday eyeballs when folks aren't stuffing their faces, taking in football and parades or knocking each other out for Black Friday deals. When it comes to Mockingjay 2, the last two Hunger Games films have fallen 53% in their second weekends, and that would seem to be the high bar for Part 2. I'm thinking more along the lines of a 56% drop, which means it may be a dogfight for #1 this weekend. All previous Hunger Games films have finished first in their second weekend, »
- Brad Brevet <email@example.com>
‘Men in Black 4’ Will Add Female Agent; Producers Discuss Will Smith Return
The producers of “Men in Black 4” hopes to reinvigorate the franchise by adding a female agent to the mix.
According to the BBC, producer Laurie MacDonald promises that “there will be a prominent Woman in Black in the fourth [film],” which she’s developing with husband Walter Parkes. While 1997’s “Men in Black” seemingly inducted Linda Fiorentino’s character into the agency at the end of the film, she was conspicuously absent from the two sequels. “Men in Black II” featured Lara Flynn Boyle as the villainous Serleena, but the franchise has yet to have a female agent take a lead role.
Original franchise star Will Smith is currently not attached to the project, but Parkes hedged that the actor could be lured back, telling the BBC, “Never count Will out.”
The original movies centered around Smith’s Agent J and his alien-hunting partner K (Tommy Lee Jones) as they tracked »
- Laura Prudom
Adele's '25' Sales Grow to Over 3 Million in U.S.
Adele's 25 has now officially sold just over 3 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. Before 25 was released, it always seemed like a sure thing that 25 would sell a million copies in its first week. But then, the question became: Could it beat Britney Spears' single-week album sales record for a female artist (Oops!…I Did It Again, with 1.32 million). After that feat seemed achievable, prognosticators started to aim much higher: Might it hit 2 million and perhaps surpass *Nsync's thought-to-be-unbreakable record of 2.42 million (set when its
- Keith Caulfield, Billboard
TV Ratings: 'Empire' Falls to Low on Thanksgiving Eve
In a move that should surprise few, Thanksgiving Eve brought ratings drops for the handful of series that aired original episodes — particularly Empire, which fell to a same-day series low. The Fox drama tumbled a steep 30 percent to a 3.1 rating among adults 18-49. That's by far a night-of low for the top-rated broadcast series, which airs its fall finale next week. It's a dramatic drop that the show hasn't taken yet, but not altogether unique given TV viewers' tendency leave the tube before the holiday weekend (biggest bar night of the year!). And
- Michael O'Connell
‘Hunger Games’ Heats Up Thanksgiving Box Office
It seemed quite appropriate that “The Hunger Games” was leading the box office on Thanksgiving morning as the aroma of turkey and the fixings began wafting from the nation’s kitchens. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” has nothing to do with pilgrims, of course. The final chapter in Lionsgate’s blockbuster young-adult sci-fi film franchise about Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) liberating her country Panem brought in roughly $13.7 million from 4,175 theaters on Wednesday. That put the reigning box-office champ on pace for more than $70 million over the five-day holiday weekend and gave it the inside track for the top spot ahead. »
- Todd Cunningham
Adele Impersonates Harry Potter. Also, She's Going On Tour for the First Time In Four Years.
"Hello, it's me, Adele," says the record-smashing British superstar singer before bursting into laughter. "I can't even say that anymore." She has a good reason to be excited: Turns out Adele has been "bluffing" us this whole time, and she actually is going on tour ("of course"), and she can't wait to see all of us there. On a video posted to her Facebook, Adele announces her upcoming 2016 tour and impersonates Harry Potter, pointing a wand at all the countries she's going to on her tour to the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, France, and Holland. You can go to her site and register for advance ticket sales. »
- Greg Cwik
Latest 'Star Wars' Trailer Features New Scenes With Kylo Ren, Han Solo and Chewbacca
Disney gave Star Wars fans something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, releasing yet another preview of the upcoming Force Awakens sequel. The latest, minute-long spot, which was posted on Star Wars' Facebook page, calls back to the first Force Awakens trailer, released roughly a year ago. Like that first look, this preview also begins with a voiceover from Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis): "There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?" But this time, viewers hear Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) say, "Yes." The preview features more menacing shots of the Force Awakens villain as well as
- Hilary Lewis
Former 'Donkey Kong' Champ's Cartoon Likeness Lawsuit Dropped
A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by former Donkey Kong record holder Billy Mitchell — who was featured in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong — over his claim that a Cartoon Network show stole his likeness, The Associated Press reports.
Mitchell had taken umbrage with the Regular Show character Garrett Bobby Ferguson, a floating head with a beard who cheats his way to video game glory. Cartoon Network said Ferguson is a transformative depiction of Mitchell — who also sports a beard and long brown hair — and New Jersey Federal District »
Oscars: Why the Familiar 'Star Wars' Tune Could Hurt 'The Force Awakens'
This story first appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe. Will the Force be with John Williams once again come Oscar time? Should the maestro's score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens land an Academy Award nomination, it will be his 50th overall and his fourth go-round in the category for Star Wars material. But some early speculation about the film's music centers on how heavily it relies on Williams' original Star Wars score (for which he won his third of five Oscars): Audiences likely will love
- Melinda Newman
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