Month: January 2021

Denzel Washington’s ‘The Little Things’ Leads Box Office Despite HBO Max Debut

Would audiences pay to see a new movie on the big screen if they could watch the same title at home from the comfort of their couch? Prior to the pandemic, the response from theater operators and cinema purists would have been a resounding “no.”

Yet Hollywood is finding that, at least while a plague of Biblical proportion rages, the answer is: sorta.

“The Little Things,” a crime thriller starring Denzel Washington and Rami Malek, topped domestic box office charts, debuting to $4.8 million from 2,171 venues in North America. At the same time, it was available to HBO Max subscribers for a monthly fee that’s less than a single movie ticket in some parts of the country. “The Little Things” is one of 17 films from Warner Bros. that will premiere simultaneously in cinemas and on the HBO Max streaming service.

In normal times, those box office receipts would spell disaster. But today, it actually ranks as one of the stronger COVID-era opening weekends. HBO Max didn’t report how many viewers opted to stream “The Little Things.” However, Warner Bros. and its parent company WarnerMedia said the film “immediately shot up to No. 1” on HBO Max. It’s unclear what that benchmark means.

“We are absolutely thrilled by how Warner Bros.’ ‘The Little Things’ is performing on HBO Max — it immediately shot up to number one, where it currently remains,” said HBO Max executive VP and general manager Andy Forssell. “Following the breakthrough success of ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ ‘The Little Things’ shows the insatiable appetite our audience has for high quality, feature films.”

John Lee Hancock directed “The Little Things,” which centers on two police officers trying to catch a serial killer. Overseas, where HBO Max is not yet available, “The Little Things” kicked off with $2.8 million from 18 countries. The R-rated action film had the strongest showing in Russia with $1.1 million in sales, followed by Saudi Arabia with $871,000.

Still, these are bleak times for movie theater operators. Any film exhibitors hoping that ticket sales could return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 were stymied by another round of release date delays. Earlier in January, MGM postponed the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” from April to October. That prompted rival studios to once again push their films scheduled for early 2021, such as “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters Afterlife,” “Cinderella,” and “A Quiet Place Part II.” It’s also widely expected that Universal will delay “Fast & Furious” installment “F9” (set for May 28) and Disney may bump the Marvel adventure “Black Widow” (set for May 7), which would clear the film calendar until at least June. Should that come to pass, it would be devastating to those in the business of showing movies on the big screen. By summer, it’ll have been over a year since theaters have operated at normal levels. Most U.S. venues have already gone 10 months without much — if any — revenue.

In some ways, the theatrical market is equally as impaired as it was last March when theaters were entirely closed. As of late January, around 65% of theaters remain shuttered and those that reopened have been running at limited capacity. It seems that conversations about reopening theaters in major markets like New York City and Los Angeles have been all but abandoned. A botched COVID-19 vaccine rollout, combined with new strains of the virus, have only further complicated plans to get people back to the movies.

Box office analysts predict the theatrical business will get back to normal in 2022. David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, says that timeline is based on “healthy demand for quality, reasonably priced, out-of-home entertainment.”

“The vaccination process will pick up through the spring as the supply bottlenecks open up,” Gross said. “The government will spend whatever it takes to make the vaccination campaign successful, including overcoming the new COVID variants.”

Elsewhere at the domestic box office, Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” collected $1.84 million in its 10th week of release, enough for second place. Those ticket sales represent a 2% increase from last weekend, which is impressive because the animated family film has been available to rent on home entertainment for almost two months. It has made $43.9 million in North America. Overseas, “The Croods” sequel made $1.3 million, bringing it past the $100 million mark for a global total of $144.38 million.

“Wonder Woman 1984” came in third place with $1.3 million from 1,864 locations. The Warner Bros. superhero adaptation, which premiered concurrently on HBO Max, has brought in $39.2 million after six weeks in North American theaters. To illustrate how depreciated the box office is, the original “Wonder Woman” grossed $38 million in its first day in theaters in 2017. Internationally, “Wonder Woman 1984” added another $1.1 million, bringing box office receipts to $112.8 million overseas and $152 million globally.

Liam Neeson’s action thriller “The Marksman” plunged to the No. 4 spot after leading the box office the last two weekends. It made $1.25 million in its third outing for a domestic tally of $7.8 million. The movie is currently playing in 2,018 theaters.

Rounding out the top five was Sony’s “Monster Hunter” with $740,000 in its seventh week of release. The film, an adaptation of a popular video game, has generated $11.1 million to date.

At the indie box office, Bleecker Street’s drama “Supernova” opened with $98,670 from 330 screens for a bleak $299 per-screen-average. Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth star in the emotional film about a longtime couple who find a way to cope after one is diagnosed with early onset dementia. It’s gotten strong reviews (Variety’s critic Guy Lodge called it “delicately heart-crushing”), yet the film’s target audience of older adults is one that’s been especially reluctant to return to the movies. In today’s theatrical landscape, it’s that much harder for movies from specialty studios to find their footing.

But, notes Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, “with great reviews and an excellent cast, ‘Supernova’ should find favor over the long haul.” And it’ll help that indie films won’t have notable competition in the coming weeks.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #DenzelWashington #TheLittleThings @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

California’s Coachella music festival canceled for third time

The Coachella music festival due to be held in southern California in April 2021 was canceled on Friday by local health officials because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It was the third time the outdoor event, one of the largest music festivals in the world, had been canceled or postponed because of the pandemic.

“The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival currently scheduled for April 2021 are hereby cancelled,” an order from Riverside County Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said.

It said the decision was made to reduce the likelihood of exposure to the virus.

Coachella brings half a million fans to an open-air site in the California desert. Its April 2020 event was initially rescheduled for October 2020, and then again to April 2021.

Festival organizers did not immediately return a request for comment. No details for the April 2021 line-up had been announced and no new dates for the event were given.

The decision follows a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in southern California in the past two months.

After being wiped out in 2020, other major cultural gatherings are shifting dates again for 2021. Organizers of the Glastonbury music festival in England last week cancelled the June event and the Cannes film festival in France this week postponed its traditional May event to early July.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #California #Coachella @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Actress Cicely Tyson, groundbreaking Emmy and Tony winner, dies at age 96

Actress Cicely Tyson, who specialized in portraying strong Black women caught up in life’s struggles during a 60-year career that earned her three Emmys and a Tony Award, died on Thursday at age 96, her manager said in a statement.

No cause of death was given. Tyson had recently completed a memoir, “Just As I Am,” which was released just this week.

Tyson’s most-lauded performances came in historical works such as the 1972 movie “Sounder” in which she played a Louisiana sharecropper’s wife. That film earned Tyson her only Academy Award nomination, but she received an honorary Oscar in November 2018.

She also won two Emmys for the same TV movie, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” – one for best actress in a miniseries or movie and one for actress of the year. The 1974 movie covered a woman’s life from slavery to the 1960s.

Tyson picked up another Emmy 20 years later for “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.” Her nine other Emmy nominations included playing Binta, the mother of the slave Kunta Kinte in the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries “Roots,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta, in “King,” and the inspirational educator in “The Marva Collins Story.”

Her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement that Tyson

“thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life.”

“Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree,” he added.

Tyson’s career boomed even in her 80s. In 2011, she was part of the ensemble of the much-praised film “The Help” and in 2013, at age 88, she won a Tony for a Broadway revival of “The Trip to Bountiful,” the story of a woman returning to her small hometown. It was her first time on Broadway in 30 years.

Even after turning 90, Tyson was busy. In 2015, she starred with frequent collaborator James Earl Jones in a Broadway revival of the two-person play “The Gin Game.” The New York Times said Tyson and Jones, who had last appeared on Broadway almost 50 years earlier, proved “that great talent is ageless and ever-rewarding.”

In February 2019 at age 94, Tyson was on the cover of Time magazine’s “The Art of Optimism” edition and an interviewer asked if she had considered retiring. “And do what?” was her response.


Tyson said she used her career to take on issues important to her, such as race and gender.

“I realized very early on when I was asked certain questions or treated in a certain way that I needed to use my career to address those issues,” she said in a People magazine interview in 2015.

Tyson told CBS she saw the Hollywood hierarchy as a ladder with white men at the top, followed by white women and Black men. Black women were at the bottom.

“And we’re holding on to the last rung,” she said. “And those fists are being trampled on by all those three above and still we hold on.”

Actress Viola Davis said she was “devastated” by news of the death of Tyson, who played the mother of Davis’ character on the TV legal drama “How to Get Away with Murder” from 2015 to 2020.

“You were everything to me!” Davis wrote on Instagram. “You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls.”

LeVar Burton, who portrayed Kunta Kinte in “Roots,” praised his “first screen Mom.”

“Elegance, warmth, beauty, wisdom, style and abundant grace,” Burton wrote on Twitter. “She was as regal as they come.”

Tyson was born in December 1924 in New York and grew up in the city’s Harlem neighborhood, the daughter of immigrants from the West Indies. She was a secretary and model before taking acting jobs in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, she became one of the first Black actors to appear regularly on U.S. television, playing George C. Scott’s secretary on the series “East Side, West Side.”

One of her early stage roles was in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production about race that helped boost the careers of Jones, Maya Angelou, Louis Gossett Jr., Godfrey Cambridge and Roscoe Lee Brown.

Tyson took parts as prostitutes in two other plays in the 1960s before deciding to make a stand.

“After that, I was offered the part of another whore and I said no because I didn’t want to get typecast and because it was demeaning to Black women,” she told the New York Times.

Tyson was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2016. When she was presented with a Kennedy Center Honor in December 2005, filmmaker-writer Tyler Perry said: “She chose to empower us when we didn’t even know it was possible to be empowered. Cicely refused to take a role that would not better humanity.”

Tyson was married to jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis from 1981 to 1988 and Davis, who died in 1991, put her on the cover of his album “Sorcerer.”

Their marriage was rocky, troubled by reports of his alleged philandering, domestic violence and substance abuse. But in a 2015 interview with CBS, Tyson said: “I don’t really talk about it but I will say this: I cherish every single moment that I had with him.”

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #CicelyTyson #Tony @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Cannes Film Festival postponed due to COVID-19

The 2021 edition of the Cannes Film Festival will be postponed until July because of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said on Wednesday.

Last year’s event was cancelled and replaced by a low-key event in October showcasing short films but without the A-list movie stars, directors and producers.

The festival will take place from July 6-17, the organisers said in a statement, two months later than planned.

Hollywood superstars normally flock to the Mediterranean town’s “Croisette” promenade for the two-week extravaganza, the world’s biggest cinema showcase and a major market for the industry.

The palm-fringed town has been a subdued version of its normally glamorous self since the coronavirus outbreak. Many of its swankiest hotels are closed, as are its restaurants and bars.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #FilmFestival #Covid @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Dwayne Johnson shares stories from his crazy youth in ‘Young Rock’

Dwayne Johnson may be one of the most successful and popular celebrities in Hollywood, but he says there’s a lot more to his life than wrestling champion, football player and actor.

In the new TV comedy series “Young Rock,” starting on NBC on Feb. 16, fans can watch stories from his colorful but complicated life growing up in multiple places.

“There is so much more I have to share with the world,” the “Fast & Furious” star says at the start of the show.

“Young Rock” takes its premise from the tongue-in-cheek fiction that Johnson is running for U.S. President in 2032 and is being interviewed about his life. The actor and producer has often flirted publicly with the idea of running for the White House, most recently in 2019 when he said it wasn’t the right time.

Johnson, 48, is played in the TV series by three actors at age 10, 15 and 18 in snapshots that start with him growing up in Hawaii as the son of wrestler Rocky Johnson and mixing with larger-than-life characters like Junkyard Dog and Andre the Giant.

After living in 13 different U.S. states by age 13, the show depicts what Johnson calls “my years when I was the star of getting arrested all the time.”

“We use these terms wild and crazy… but it was incredibly complicated and it was incredibly tough growing up,” Johnson told television reporters on Tuesday.

“At age 18 I remember… I was just so determined to make something of myself. That was so important to me,” he added.

Johnson is now one of the highest-earning actors in Hollywood, with 214 million Instagram followers and a career that ranges from animated movie “Moana” to the former comedy series “Ballers.”

Recreating his youth in the comedy series was surreal, he said: “Never, ever did I think I’d be in this position where people are bringing to life the people in my life.”

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #TheRock #DwayneJohnson @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Keira Knightley says no interest in filming sex scenes for men

Actress Keira Knightley is no longer interested in doing sex scenes just to appeal to men, she said, calling her no-nudity decision partly a result of having two children.

But if a female director was behind the camera, that might be a different matter, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star said in a podcast.

“I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze. Saying that, there’s times where I go, ‘Yeah, I completely see where this sex would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot,'” Knightley said in a conversation with director Lulu Wang in a Chanel Connects podcast.

“So therefore you can use somebody else, because I’m too vain and the body has had two children now and I’d just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked,” she added.

The British actress, 35, added a no-nudity clause to her contract after having children, saying she was more vocal now than she had been as a breakout star in her early 20s in movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement.”

“If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body acceptance, I feel like, I’m sorry, but that would have to be with a female film-maker,” Knightley said. “I don’t have an absolute ban, but I kind of do with men.”

“I don’t want it to be those horrible sex scenes where you’re all greased up and everybody is grunting. I’m not interested in doing that,” she added.

Knightley gave birth to her second child with musician James Righton in 2019.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #KeiraKnightley #Movies @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

Larry King, decades-long fixture of U.S. TV interviews, dead at 87

Larry King, who quizzed thousands of world leaders, politicians and entertainers for CNN and other news outlets in a career spanning more than six decades, has died aged 87, his media company said in a statement on Saturday.

King had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports. He died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Ora Media, a television production company founded by King, said in a post on Twitter.

“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster,” it said.

Millions watched King interview world leaders, entertainers and other celebrities on CNN’s “Larry King Live”, which ran from 1985 to 2010. Hunched over his desk in rolled-up shirt sleeves and owlish glasses, he made his show one of the network’s prime attractions with a mix of interviews, political discussions, current event debates and phone calls from viewers.

Even in his heyday, critics accused King of doing little pre-interview research and tossing softball questions to guests who were free to give unchallenged, self-promoting answers. He responded by conceding he did not do much research so that he could learn along with his viewers. Besides, King said, he never wanted to be perceived as a journalist.

“My duty, as I see it, is I’m a conduit,” King told the Hartford Courant in 2007. ““I ask the best questions I can. I listen to the answers. I try to follow up. And hopefully the audience makes a conclusion. I’m not there to make a conclusion. I’m not a soapbox talk-show host… So what I try to do is present someone in the best light.”


King’s guests included U.S. presidents dating back to Gerald Ford, international leaders such as PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and entertainers ranging from Bob Hope to Snoop Dogg.

King never hid his old-fashioned proclivities and liked to reminisce about performers such as Frank Sinatra and Arthur Godfrey. In 2006 he admitted to a guest that he had never searched the internet, saying: ““What do you do – punch little buttons and things?”

But by 2012 King was on the internet himself with his “Larry King Now” show on Ora TV, and later Hulu’s streaming service. He also was a regular presence on Twitter, promoting his interviews and tossing out random thoughts – “I have no desire to eat an artichoke,” “My favorite flavor of Jell-O is lime” and “I love to say ‘sacre bleu!'” – in what was essentially an online version of the column he had once written for USA Today.

King was an established radio talk-show host when he made his first television broadcast for CNN from Washington on June 3, 1985, five years after Ted Turner started the network.

“”Larry King Live” would become one of CNN’s highest rated shows. He left CNN amid falling ratings in 2010 after 25 years with the news network, but stayed busy with his Ora TV show.

“I’ve known a lot of people who were experts in six or 12 things but Larry seems to be an expert in everything,” Don Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes”, told the Hollywood Reporter. “He’s also never confrontational, which is majorly important. In an age when so many people are miserable, he seems to be one of the happy ones.”


King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on Nov. 19, 1933, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. He said at age 5 he knew he wanted to be on the radio and in 1957 he moved to Miami, which he had been told had a burgeoning radio market.

King started doing odd jobs at a Miami station and one day was asked to fill in for an announcer who walked off the job. Before he went on the air, the station manager urged him to change his last name to King because it was easier to pronounce and less ethnic than Zeiger.

King became a fixture in Miami but as his reputation grew, so did his troubles.

In 1971 he was arrested on a grand larceny complaint filed by Miami financier Lou Wolfson, who had been in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wolfson allegedly paid King in hopes of gaining influence on the administration of then-U.S. President Richard Nixon.

The charge against King was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired, but the scandal knocked him off the air for some three years. He did public relations work for a Louisiana racetrack until station WIOD in Miami hired him.

King rebounded and the Mutual radio network gave him a nationwide audience in 1978. He relocated to Washington, a move that led to the CNN job.

He suffered a heart attack and had bypass surgery in 1987, prompting him to start the Larry King Cardiac Foundation a year later. He had surgery in 2007 to clear a blocked artery, was treated for prostate cancer in 2010 and said in 2017 that he had been treated for lung cancer.

King was married eight times to seven women, most recently to singer Shawn Southwick, who was 26 years younger. He had five children, two of whom died in 2020.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #LarryKing #TV @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

South African jazz ‘giant’ Jonas Gwangwa dies aged 83

 South Africa jazz trombonist and composer Jonas Gwangwa, whose music powered the anti-apartheid struggle, died on Saturday aged 83, the presidency said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa led the tributes to the legendary musician who was nominated for an Oscar for the theme song of the 1987 film “Cry Freedom”.

“A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest,” Ramaphosa said.

“The trombone that boomed with boldness and bravery, and equally warmed our hearts with mellow melody has lost its life force” the president added.

There were no immediate details on how or where Gwangwa died.

He passed away on the third anniversary of the death of the “father of South African jazz” Hugh Masekela and the second anniversary of the death of Zimbabwean musical legend Oliver Mtukudzi. Jan. 23 had become “the day the music died” The South African and other media outlets said.

Gwangwa was born in October 1937 in Soweto and went on to have a career spanning 40 years.

“He delighted audiences in Sophiatown until it became illegal for black people to congregate and South African musicians were jailed merely for practicing their craft,” the presidency’s statement said.

He was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga, South Africa’s highest national award presented for achievements in art and culture, in 2010.

The award recognised his work as composer, arranger and musical director of the Amandla Cultural Ensemble, a cultural group formed by activists from the African National Congress in the 1970s.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #JonasGwangwa #Jazz @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ delayed again amid pandemic

The global release of the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” was postponed to October from April, its producers said, another setback for movie theaters trying to rebuild a business crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The movie’s new debut date is Oct. 8, according to an announcement on the James Bond website and Twitter feed.

“No Time to Die”, from MGM and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, had originally been set to hit the big screen in April 2020 before moving to November 2020 and then April 2021.

The film, which cost an estimated $200 million to produce, marks actor Daniel Craig’s last outing as agent 007.

Cinema owners were hoping “No Time to Die” would kick off a rebound in moviegoing. The pandemic devastated the film business in 2020, and ticket sales in the United States and Canada sunk 80%. That hurt independent theaters and big chains including AMC Entertainment, Cineworld Plc and Cinemark Holdings Inc.

With the virus still rampant in many areas, including in the key Los Angeles market, Hollywood studios appear reluctant to send their biggest films to theaters.

Many cinemas are closed, and ones that are open enforce strict attendance limits to allow for social distancing. [L1N2JO00Q]

The UK Cinema Association said the decision to delay the film’s release was “clearly disappointing … (but) at the same time not surprising”.

“Clearly – like the producers of the film – the UK’s cinema operators look forward when the time is right to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy this and other major titles on the big screen, their natural environment,” it said, calling for government support for the sector.

The Bond franchise is one of the movie world’s most lucrative, with 2015’s “Spectre” raking in $880 million at the box office worldwide, while “Skyfall” in 2012 grossed more than $1 billion globally.

The next closely watched movie is “Black Widow” from Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Studios, currently scheduled to debut in theaters on May 7.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #JamesBond #movies @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com

‘Metallica’ producer Bob Rock sells rights to over 40 tracks

Record producer Bob Rock has sold his share of rights from a catalogue of 43 songs, including heavy metal band Metallica’s self-titled album and singer Michael Bublé’s “Call Me Irresponsible” to Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the latest music insider to sell lucrative record catalogues as the explosion of online streaming attracts investors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing list of music industry professionals to monetise their older work by selling valuable tracks and albums as the global health crisis has all but shut down earnings from live concerts.

London-listed investment firm Hipgnosis announced a discounted placement offering of its ordinary shares on Thursday along with the deal, which is at least the fifth for the company this month after agreements with Shakira and Neil Young.

“The breadth of Bob Rock’s enormous successes are almost impossible to match by any creator in the history of music,” said Hipgnosis Songs Founder Merck Mercuriadis, who has previously been a manager to artists Elton John and Beyoncé.

Rock co-produced Metallica’s self-titled 1991 record, most commonly referred to as “The Black Album”, which includes hits such as “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven”. Songs from the album have been streamed more than seven billion times, Hipgnosis said.

Rock has also extensively worked with Bublé, and the duo’s “Call Me Irresponsible”, released in 2007, won a Grammy for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album”.

The value of the music deals was undisclosed.

IVOX NEWS by Reuters #rock #BobRock @ivoxnews www.ivoxnews.com