AT&T announced that HBO and HBO Max have gained 2.85 million new domestic subscribers in Q2, bringing the combined service’s U.S. total to 47 million. Globally, HBO and HBO Max boast 67.5 million subscribers, a 12 million upward spike in the last year. The company, which is spinning parent company WarnerMedia off into a new conglomerate with Discovery Inc., now forecasts 67 million to 70 million worldwide subscribers by the end of 2021.
It’s been a bumpy road for the fledgling streaming service full of criticism, skepticism, and false starts. But as of right now, the SVOD platform and its premium cable sibling are growing at a steady clip. Much of that growth has been attributed to Warner Bros.’s controversial (and costly) decision to release its entire 2021 film slate day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max. The studio has signaled that this is a one-year pivot due to the pandemic and has already struck a deal with Cineworld, the second-largest global movie theater chain, for exclusive theatrical windows of 45 days beginning in 2022. But that doesn’t mean that WB is detonating its film funnel to HBO Max.
Warner Bros. CEO Jason Kilar said Thursday that the studio will produce at least 10 movies exclusively for HBO Max in 2022. “Motion pictures matter and will continue to matter,” he said, per Variety. “They also matter at home in terms of the response we’ve gotten,” he added, highlighting HBO Max consumer sign-ups. Ironically, streaming exclusive movies are known to decay in viewership rather rapidly and struggle to leave a lasting cultural footprint. Yet they still represent high value in driving new subscription growth.
Godzilla vs. Kong proved to be both a box office victory and a popular streaming selection for the company while upcoming titles such as The Suicide Squad, Dune and The Matrix 4 are also expected to make waves.
Previously, WarnerMedia launched Warner Max in February 2020 with the aim of producing eight-to-ten mid-budget movies per year for HBO Max. However, Warner Max was phased out beginning in October after producing Unpregnant, Charm City Kings, On the Record and American Pickle. Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Movie and Zack Snyder’s Justice League were meant to be branded as Warner Max titles as well before the banner’s dissolution. Warner Bros. Picture Group now oversees all films for WB and HBO Max.
Upcoming superhero films such as Batgirl, Static and Blue Beetle have all been rumored to potentially arrive as HBO Max exclusives, though that remains unconfirmed. What is clear, though, is that Warner Bros. intends to continue supplying HBO Max with a steady diet of movies through both exclusive titles and theatrical films arriving after a shortened window.
The trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home is out and is that Doc Ock we see?
The first teaser trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home has finally dropped. Marvel Studios and Sony debuted the highly-anticipated clip at CinemaCon on Tuesday (Aug 24) and it provides a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming film, which is to say, a lot.
It picks up right after the events of Far From Home, the 2019 movie where spoiler alert: Spider-Man’s identity was revealed to the whole world to be Peter Parker (Tom Holland).
No Way Home sees Peter dealing with the fallout of his identity reveal. Desperate, he approaches Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help in making people forget he’s Spider-Man. But things go awry when Strange’s spell unleashes the multiverse, leading to the return of former villains and (possibly) other Spideys.
We see Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) at the end of the three-minute clip, as well as teasers of other villains such as Electro and the Green Goblin. And there have also been whispers that other versions of Spider-Man as played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will appear in this film.
“We tampered with the stability of space-time,” Doctor Strange told Peter in the trailer. “The multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little.”
As we mentioned, it’s A LOT – and it’s just a teaser trailer.
On Sunday, leaked versions of what was rumoured to be the trailer began circulating on the Internet. The topic trended on Twitter as Spider-Man fans, eagerly awaiting their first look at the forthcoming film, shared the link.
Sony Studios quickly stepped in to take down links to the purported trailer and issue a copyright statement.
And in an ironic turn of events, Tom Holland – notorious for sharing spoilers at inopportune times – responded on Instagram Stories, saying “You ain’t ready!”.
The latest installment in the Spider-Man series also sees the return of Zendaya, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei reprising their roles from previous films. On top of which, viewers can anticipate a few other familiar faces, such as the afore-mentioned villains and (possibly) Spideys.
Marvel boss Kevin Feige has also confirmed that the events of No Way Home will tie into the next Doctor Strange film, due out in March 2022.
Representing the third Spider-Man movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, No Way Home is currently slated for release in theatres on Dec 17. CNA
Fast & Furious 10 gets official release date: Catch it in 2023
Coming up fast after F9, Universal Pictures has just announced the release date of Fast & Furious 10.
Directed by Justin Lin, the second to last installment of the billion-dollar saga is set to hit theatres on Apr 7, 2023. The film will be the first in a two-part finale for the series, culminating in Fast 11.
Lead actor and producer Vin Diesel previously told Entertainment Weekly that filming will start in January 2022, with the possibility of the final two movies being shot back-to-back.
The 10th installation of the Fast saga is expected to include regulars such as Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges and Sung Kang.
Dwayne Johnson confirmed last month that he will not be returning to the series. Following the infamous feud between himself and Diesel, which the latter chalked up to tough love, the two eventually drifted apart.
“I wish them well on Fast 9,” Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I wish them the best of luck on Fast 10 and Fast 11 and the rest of the Fast & Furious movies they do that will be without me.
While this marks the finish line for the main franchise, fans can still expect more movies set in the Fast world. Similar to Hobbs & Shaw, further spin-offs are in the works. CNA
Christina Applegate Reveals Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
TV star Christina Applegate revealed Tuesday that she’s been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The 49-year-old Dead to Me actor announced her condition on Twitter, saying it’s been a “tough road” since her diagnosis a few months ago.
Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) August 10, 2021
“Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS,” read the tweet. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”
She didn’t provide any further details.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, with an estimated 90,000 people living with the disease, according to the MS Society of Canada. On average, the organization states, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day, with most diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 49. There are a myriad of symptoms, from muscle stiffness to vertigo to bladder issues.
Applegate is the latest celebrity to publicly reveal they have the disease; fellow actor Selma Blair has been very public with her condition, sharing details of her struggles and symptoms.
Applegate has a 10-year-old daughter, Sadie, with her husband, Martyn LeNoble.
Barack Obama Is Hosting a Scaled-Down 60th Birthday Bash at His Martha’s Vineyard Home
Former President Barack Obama reached a major milestone this week, as the erstwhile commander-in-chief turned the big 6-0 on August 4, which also happened to be the same day as Meghan Markle’s 40th birthday. Like a true Leo, Obama wanted to celebrate his special day with a lavish party and hundreds of his closest friends, but alas, after months of planning, he had to seriously scale down the fête due to growing COVID-19 concerns and the Delta variant.
Barack and Michelle Obama initially invited around 475 guests to the glamorous party, scheduled for this Saturday, August 7, at their palatial 29-acre compound on Martha’s Vineyard. The couple has long vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard with their daughters, Sasha and Malia, the Obamas eventually purchased a seven-bedroom, 8.5-bathroom waterfront estate in Edgarton for $11.75 million in 2019.
The party, which was already going to be outside, had a strict COVID-19 testing regimen, and all guests would follow C.D.C. health protocols, and be required to submit a coronavirus test, which was then given to a medical “coronavirus coordinator” in order to be able to enter the Obama compound. Barack and Michelle Obama are both fully vaccinated, and have encouraged others to get their shots. Even with all of this, the optics were…not great, with the growing Delta variant and increased mask guidance.
Since the former POTUS is, you know, a human being that understands that sometimes you have to change your plans because of a global pandemic, he decided to make the right decision and cancel his big bash. On the eve of his 60th, Obama informed a large number of guests (many of whom had already made their way to Martha’s Vineyard, per the New York Times) that he was canceling his 60th birthday party.
“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with covid safeguards in place. Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” an Obama spokesperson, Hannah Hankins, shared in a statement on Wednesday. “President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
The invitee list originally included the likes of George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, according to the New York Post, but now that it’s limited it’s to just family and close friends, so it’s unclear who, exactly, made the cut.
Just because it’s going to be a smaller crowd doesn’t mean that the Obamas aren’t going all out with the celebration, of course. The preparations for the party already started yesterday, as the Daily Mail spotted tents and catering arriving at the Obama compound. The party is still outdoors, though there will be fancy open-sided tents, a very impressive menu and chic set-up.
Speaking of food, there will reportedly be plenty of seafood, of course, but the 44th President is also offering a plant-based menu, much like at the upcoming Met Gala next month. Bloomberg managed to score a peek at the vegan menu, and honestly, it sounds amazing, with options like meat-free cheesesteak egg roles and lots of dishes created with Impossible Foods beef and pork alternatives.
Those that did manage to keep their invite to Obama’s birthday celebration (and even those who didn’t make the cut) don’t need to bring gifts for the former Prez, as he’s reportedly encouraging guests to instead donate to youth-focused programs like My Brother’s Keeper and the Girls Opportunity Alliance, or the Obama Foundation’s Global Leadership programs.
The frantic calls to replace Natalie Portman in new HBO film
Hollywood agents are desperately trying to replace Natalie Portman after she dropped out of HBO’s Days of Abandonment.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘frantic calls were made to Hollywood agents’ to find a last-minute replacement for Portman.
Unfortunately, due to Australia’s strict two-week quarantine rules and ongoing lockdowns, no A-listers were available to take the role at such short notice.
Replacement: Hollywood agents are desperately trying to replace Natalie Portman after she dropped out of HBO’s Days of Abandonment
The news comes after she pulled out from her new movie just a day before filming was set to commence, effectively putting a stop to production, The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
‘Due to unforeseen personal reasons, Natalie Portman has stepped down from HBO’s Days of Abandonment prior to the start of filming,’ HBO said in a statement.
‘Unfortunately, the production will not move forward. We are very sorry we won’t be able to bring this beautiful story to the screen with our talented writer/director and cast.
No luck: Unfortunately, due to Australia’s strict two-week quarantine rules and ongoing lockdowns, no A-listers were available to take the role at such short notice
‘We send our sincere thanks to our cast, producers, and crew for all their passion and hard work.’
Natalie was also set to executive produce the film, based on the best-selling novel by Elena Ferrante.
The film had been in pre-production, and centred around a woman named Tess, who abandoned her own dreams in favour of maintaining a stable home life, only for her husband to walk out on her.
Exit: The news comes after she pulled out from her new movie just a day before filming was set to commence, effectively putting a stop to production
The Federal Government had committed $3.4million to the project as part of its location incentive program, while Communication Minister Paul Fletcher had said he expected the production to generate more than $25million for the local economy.
While it’s not known what ‘personal reasons’ prevented her from going ahead with the film, Natalie has deleted the majority of posts from her Instagram account.
Natalie and her family relocated Down Under in September last year, ahead of her filming Thor: Love and Thunder in Sydney.
Film: The film had been in pre-production, and centred around a woman named Tess, who abandoned her own dreams in favour of maintaining a stable home life, only for her husband to walk out on her.
Britney Spears’ guardians say still concerned about her mental health
“She raised potential options including a 5150 psychiatric hold,”
The father of Britney Spears on Friday rejected efforts to remove him as the controller of his daughter’s estate and said there have been recent discussions over whether to place the singer again in a mental health facility for evaluation.
Jamie Spears said in court documents that Jodi Montgomery, who is in charge of the singer’s personal and medical affairs, had called him in early July to express concern that Spears was not taking her medications properly.
“Ms. Montgomery felt that Ms. Spears was spiraling out of control,” Jamie Spears said in the court documents.
“She raised potential options including a 5150 psychiatric hold,” Jamie Spears said. Under California law, a 5150 order allows a person to be held for psychiatric evaluation if they are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Spears has been under the court-appointed conservatorship since 2008 when she had a mental health breakdown and was briefly placed under a 5150 hold. The nature of her health issues have never been disclosed.
Her lawyer last month filed a formal request for Jamie Spears to step down as conservator of her estate, saying his presence in her life was harmful.
Montgomery’s lawyer on Friday said she does have concerns about the “Toxic” singer’s mental health but that Jamie Spears had misrepresented their conversation.
Jamie Spears said in his filing that “there are no grounds whatsoever” to remove him as conservator, citing his work in taking his daughter from debt and millions of dollars in lawsuits to a current value of more than $60 million.
The bid to remove Jamie Spears as conservator was initially set for a court hearing in late September but lawyers on both sides say they support an earlier date.
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