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December 20, 2020

‘Monster Hunter’ Ekes Out Narrow Top Box Office Spot Over ‘Croods,’ Also on PVOD

It’s beginning to look like anything but Christmas at movie theaters. On a weekend where normally multiple films would open, including some of the biggest hits ever (“Titanic,” “Avatar,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” among them), the total for all titles looks to fall short of $9 million.

The top film this weekend has, at times, taken more than $100 million, and usually at least $50 million. That’s despite the usual competition of pre-holiday events vying for attention.

Normalcy would also include the release of major films, more than 4,000 theaters playing the biggest hits, and not to mention the absence of a pandemic killing more than 3,000 people a day. Things are different this year: Fewer than 40 percent of theaters are open, with 150 less than even last weekend.

That allowed “Monster Hunter” (Sony) to claim the top spot this year with $2.2 million in 1,736 theaters. From veteran genre maven Paul W.S. Anderson, starring his “Resident Evil” lead (and wife) Milla Jovovich, this is a film that normally might take advantage of an off-week midwinter, or around Labor Day, to bring in action fans and maximize interest with less competition.

This year, they got the less-attention part down pat. But unlike the titles in his successful “Resident” franchise, which always have opened to over $10 million, and sometimes double that or more, and then reaped substantial foreign bounties, that won’t repeat here. The video-game based film cost around $60 million, making the shortfall more acute. Early foreign returns (including a disastrous, pulled Chinese run over perceived racism) are little more than $10 million so far.

Could this have scored better as a Premium Video on Demand or streaming release? Impossible to say, and of course, based on current window acceptance by theaters, perhaps it will show up soon. But this is a horrible result. Predicting grosses is unscientific these days, but $4 million seemed to be a reasonable guess for a weak but understandable outcome. The result is barely half of that.

“Monster Hunter” did eclipse the other film taking advantage of the opportunity — a generous description for the current situation. That was “Fatale” (Lionsgate), a variation on “Fatal Attraction” with Hilary Swank. Opening in 1,107 locations, it grossed $925,000. Again, this made more sense than going straight for home attention? That will be better seen when those results can be analyzed down the road.

Premium VOD access for “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal) likely cost the DreamWorks Animation release the top spot. Its 35-percent drop was modest, but a slew of family-oriented library titles had small drops, if any, this weekend. That suggests it might have held better without the competition; the film also lost 209 theaters, some because of reluctance to assent to home availability dates one week earlier than originally planned. Universal moved it up, presumably related to both “Soul” (Disney) and “Wonder Woman 1984” (Warner Bros.) soon available free to subscribers on their studios’ streaming sites. (“Croods” costs $19.99 for a two-day rental).

That was the same drop seen by “The War With Grandpa” (101), the longer running comedy that has clicked ahead of most recent releases. That also popped up on VOD this week (at $14.99).

"News of the World"

“News of the World”


Only three of this week’s top 10 are unavailable for home viewing (among VOD and streaming options), with one of them (“Half Brothers”/Focus) added to that option this week. Next Friday does bring three wide theater-only releases. “News of the World” (Universal), “Promising Young Woman” (Focus), and “Pinocchio” (Roadside Attractions) open along with the day-and-date release of “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters and on HBO Max. That result is among the year’s most anticipated.

Patty Jenkins’ film opened initially in 32 territories to under $40 million, about half in China. This comes in about half of the original film. How much of that is COVID related? With its female lead, it was actually not as big a hit overseas in 2017 as domestic (the shares ended up equal), and as a sequel around a holiday date without much competition (other than China, where it came in second), that doesn’t sound great. But as more locations open and the actual holiday sets in, this is just an initial take.

The Top 10

1. Monster Hunter (Sony) NEW – Metacritic: 42; Est. budget: $60 million

$2,200,000 in 1,736 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $1,267; Cumulative: $2,200,000

2. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 4; Last weekend #1; also available on Premium VOD

$2,000,000 (-35%) in 1,906 theaters (-209); PTA: $1,049; Cumulative: $27,030,000

3. Fatale (Lionsgate) NEW – Metacritic: 43

$925,000 in 1,107 theaters; PTA: $836; Cumulative: $925,000

4. Elf (Warner Bros.) REISSUE – Last weekend #3; also available on VOD

$(est.) 400,000 (no change) in 555 theaters (-82); PTA: $1,045; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 267,300,000

5. Half Brothers (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$260,000 (-47%) in 846 theaters (-540); PTA: $307; Cumulative: $1,797,000

6. The Polar Express (Disney) REISSUE – Last weekend #7; also available on VOD

$(est.) 225,000 (-8%) in 440 theaters (-51); PTA: $511; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 285,700,000

7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner Bros.) REISSUE – Last weekend #6; also available on VOD

$(est.) 220,000 (-8%) in 487 theaters (-47); PTA: $452; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 168,600,000

8. The War With Grandpa (101) Week 10; Last weekend #6; also available on Premium VOD

$170,000 (-34%) in 803 theaters (-277); PTA: $212; Cumulative: $18,187,000

9. Freaky (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #4; also available on Premium VOD

$165,000 (-48%) in 561 theaters (-674); PTA: $294; Cumulative: $8,500,000

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Universal) REISSUE – Last weekend #16; also available on Netflix

$(est.) 120,000 (-8%) in 217 theaters (-57); PTA: $553; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 451,300,000

Source: IndieWire film

December 20, 2020

LA Film Critics Announce 2020 Award Winners (Updating Live)

The voting for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s (LAFCA) best films and best performances of 2020 is underway — virtually of course — on Sunday. The awards will be announced via the voting body’s Twitter account. The group is led by Claudia Puig as president, with more than 60 other journalists comprising the voters. The LAFCA vote arrives on the heels of Friday’s New York Film Critics Circle announcements, which crowned Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” as the best film of the year, and Chloe Zhao as the best director of the year for “Nomadland,” among many other prizes. Among most critics’ groups, these two films seem to be jockeying for the top slot so far.

These awards are a chance for LA voters to shine a light on under-appreciated gems, or throw support behind films already gaining steam in a long awards season ahead. With the Oscars delayed until April 25, there’s still plenty of time for new films, or even forgotten ones, to surface and make an impact. As December winds to a close, critics will also be filing their year-end top 10 lists, another opportunity to bring attention to movies otherwise vulnerable to getting lost in the fray of bigger titles.

Last year’s big LAFCA prize went to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” and he also won best director. Those wins went on to repeat at the 2020 Academy Awards. LAFCA’s other winners last year included Antonio Banderas for Best Actor for “Pain and Glory,” and more idiosyncratic (but no less deserved) choice of Mary Kay Place for Best Actress for “Diane,” plus Song Kang Ho for Best Supporting Actor, “Parasite,” and Jennifer Lopez for Best Supporting Actress, “Hustlers.” In 2018, “Roma” took LAFCA’S Best Picture prize, with Debra Granik taking Best Director for “Leave No Trace.”

As previously announced for this year, the recipients of LAFCA’s 2020 Career Achievement award will be Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Harry Belafonte. Meanwhile, legend Norman Lloyd will be honored with the organization’s first-ever Legacy Award.

Voting for LAFCA’s best films of 2020 begins at 10 a.m. PT, so check back for updates.

“Small Axe,” Shabier Kirchner
Runner-Up: “Nomadland,” Joshua James Richards

“Soul,” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Runner-Up: “Lovers Rock”

Glynn Turman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Runner-Up: Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”

“Mank,” Donald Graham Burt
Runner-Up: “Beanpole,” Sergey Ivanov











Source: IndieWire film

December 19, 2020

William Friedkin Shuts Down ‘Exorcist’ Remake Rumors: ‘Not Enough Money or Motivation in the World’

William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist” is the gift that keeps on giving, with a total of five films spawning out of William Peter Blatty’s source novel, and even a canceled Fox TV series from 2017. Reports emerged back in August that a reboot of the possession tale that started ’em all was in the works from Morgan Creek Entertainment, planned for theaters in 2021.

But director Friedkin is here to tell you that whatever “Exorcist” reboot or remake is in the cards, he has nothing to do with it. “There’s a rumor on IMDb that I’m involved with a new version of ‘The Exorcist,’” he tweeted this week. “This isn’t a rumor, it’s a flat-out lie. There’s not enough money or motivation in the world to get me to do this.”

Indeed, Friedkin hasn’t been involved with any of the “Exorcist” spinoff films, which most recently included “Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist,” directed by Paul Schrader and released in 2005. Friedkin’s last feature film, however, was 2017’s “The Devil and Father Amorth,” a documentary about a priest, Father Gabriele Amorth, as he performs his ninth exorcism on an Italian woman. Clearly the material still fascinates him. Earlier this year, Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary “Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist” released, taking a deep dive into the making of the 1973 that reportedly sent audiences reeling down the aisles.

“Exorcist” follow-up films have seen middling success. John Boorman’s 1977 film “Exorcist II: The Heretic” is widely considered one of the worst films ever made, even with star Richard Burton and original “Exorcist” actor Linda Blair at the center. William Peter Blatty’s own “The Exorcist III” received a slightly better reaction, but nowhere near the original film’s achievements, which included 10 Academy Award nominations and two wins. 2004’s “Exorcist: The Beginning” was also a critical and commercial failure.

Friedkin’s representatives did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.

Source: IndieWire film

December 19, 2020

George Clooney Tried to Talk Ben Affleck Out of Playing Batman

George Clooney has long been vocal about his much derided brush with playing the Caped Crusader in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin.” From the perhaps too anatomically correct Batsuit to the movie’s wild swings in tone, the 1997 sequel to “Batman Forever” is universally regarded as a flop. (Even though it made more than $238 million at the box office, albeit against a $160 million budget.)

Clooney recently reflected again on what a disaster the movie personally was for him during a new episode of “The Howard Stern Show” (via Deadline). Clooney sat down with Stern and his co-host Robin Quivers to discuss his new film “The Midnight Sky” on Netflix, among other wide-ranging topics. Though at the time of the release of “Batman & Robin” Clooney was hot off “ER,” which he starred in through 1999, the Batman film was meant to be his big break onto the big screen.

“It’s so bad that it actually hurts to watch,” Clooney said on the show. “It physically hurts. You’ll be flipping the channels and it’ll just pop up and I’m like ‘Oh no, no, no.’”

Clooney also told Howard Stern that the post-traumatic stress of it all led him to try and talk Ben Affleck out of playing Batman. (Affleck first appeared as the Dark Knight in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and will next be seen again in Zack Snyder’s new cut of “Justice League” on HBO Max, and the upcoming Flash movie.)

“I’ve sort of had both rounds….I’ve been a big flop. I’ve bombed in things, and I’ve had big successes. That doesn’t mean they listen. Ben didn’t listen to me, and ended up doing a great job, and I was wrong,” Clooney said. “But I can only impart my wisdom from my experience. I just said, ‘Don’t have nipples on the suit.’”

Clooney said of “Batman & Robin,” “The truth of the matter is, I was bad in it,” adding, “Akiva Goldsman, who’s won the Oscar for writing [2001’s ‘A Beautiful Mind’] since then, he wrote the screenplay. It’s a terrible screenplay. He’ll tell ya. I’m terrible in it. I’ll tell ya. Joel Schumacher, who just passed away, directed it and he’d say, ‘Yeah, it didn’t work.’” Clooney added, “We all whiffed on that one.”

Source: IndieWire film

December 18, 2020

Here’s What Critics Groups Can Tell You About This Year’s Weird Awards Season

This year’s Oscar season may look different from other editions, but one factor remains unchanged: Critics groups continue to play a role in the conversation… and sometimes play against it. This week, IndieWire announced the winners of its annual critics survey, with 231 critics voting from around the world. The 15th edition of the critics survey found “Nomadland” in first place, but “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” was just behind it, and “First Cow” settled into third place. The week ended with “First Cow” winning the New York Film Critics Circle, while “Never Rarely” won prizes for its screenplay and actress Sidney Flanagan, and “Nomadland” took home the best director prize for Chloé Zhao. How might these wins impact the months to come?

While this week’s episode of Screen Talk was recorded just before the NYFCC vote, Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson could read the tea leaves, using the critics survey as a starting point for assessing how critics are playing a role in this awards cycle. The hosts also debated the Sundance Film Festival lineup, which has a lot of exciting movies but may not have the same kind of marketplace impact we’ve seen in the past. Or…will it? Opinions vary. They also touch on “Tenet,” which they both finally got a chance to see (with subtitles, of course).

Watch the full episode above or listen to it below. 

Screen Talk is available on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and SoundcloudYou can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with Thompson and Kohn on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Browse previous installments here, review the show on Apple Podcasts and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the hosts address specific issues in upcoming editions of Screen Talk. Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on Apple Podcasts right here.

Source: IndieWire film

December 16, 2020

Exclusive SXSW Online Pass Discount for Enrolled Students

SXSW Conference Atmosphere - 2019 - Photo by Aaron Rogosin

SXSW is offering students a special registration rate for SXSW Online 2021, an exclusive digital experience from March 16-20. If you are currently enrolled as a college undergraduate, postgraduate, or in high school grades 9-12, read on!

Learning goes beyond the classroom at SXSW and positions you in front of potential future employers, mentors, and creative collaborators.

Find inspiration in powerful presentations by diverse visionaries at the Conference. Featuring a variety of programming themes and session formats, the Conference explores what’s next in the worlds of film, culture, music, and technology.

Lay the groundwork for your career with expert advice and one-on-one coaching by professionals at Mentor Sessions. Connect with other students and the larger creative community moving the conversation forward across a wide range of industries, interests, and groups during Meet Ups and other networking opportunities throughout the event.

Discover what’s next – from buzz-worthy film screenings and tech startup competitions to future-focused exhibitors and global emerging artists. Whether you’re looking to find what career is right for you or to connect with creatives from around the world, SXSW programming is aimed at fostering creative and professional growth.

Currently enrolled students may apply today to join us March 16-20 at a special rate. To apply, complete the SXSW 2021 Student Discount Application form and attach a valid copy of your official transcript from your registrar’s office. After we receive and verify proof of enrollment, you will be sent an email with a registration coupon.

For SXSW Online, we’re offering one pass that covers the entire event, allowing attendees to take in programming and connect with others across the many industries that SX serves. Don’t miss the opportunity to join us in March at this exclusive student rate!

Apply Now

Stay in the SX know – sign up for SXSW Event Updates and check out SXSW News for announcements, programming features for professional development, and beyond throughout the season.

Have a group of 10 or more? Learn about our Group Registration Rates.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the latest SX coverage.

SXSW Conference Atmosphere – 2019 – Photo by Aaron Rogosin

The post Exclusive SXSW Online Pass Discount for Enrolled Students appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

December 15, 2020

Cynthia Erivo, Mark Mothersbaugh, Beatie Wolfe, Baratunde Thurston & More Join SXSW Online 2021

Introducing the first programming announcement for SXSW Online 2021, an exclusive digital experience packed with powerful presentations from some of the world’s most inspired thinkers and diverse visionaries from the ever-evolving worlds of tech, film, music, and beyond.

“Spanning numerous industries, the Featured Speakers in today’s announcement strongly reflect the programming themes that will underscore our upcoming event,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. “As always, SXSW brings together the world’s most important thought leaders to address society’s most important challenges.”

From creating postcards for democracy to combating climate change with aquaculture, the initial Conference lineup explores our 2021 Themes including A New Urgency – a look at how business, non-profit, government, science, and tech communities are tackling global crises and what advancements are needed to create immediate and lasting progress. Dive into programming across all seven themes with a stellar roster of Featured Sessions and Featured Speakers including Dominique Crenn, Cynthia Erivo, Cherie Hu, Wyclef Jean, David E. Kelley, Michael Lewis, Mark Mothersbaugh, Cat Packer, Nonny de la Peña, Maria Sharapova, Baratunde Thurston, Logan Ury, Amy Webb, Beatie Wolfe, Andrew Zimmern, and more.

Looking for your next creative collaborator? Ready to elevate your career to the next level? In need of some inspiration? For SXSW Online, we’re offering one pass that covers the entire event, allowing attendees to take in programming and connect with others across the many industries that SX serves. Register to attend SXSW Online 2021 from March 16-20 early to save!

Get to know the initial round of Featured Speakers and Featured Sessions below. Stay tuned for more big announcements in January including Conference Keynotes and Featured Speakers, sessions accepted from PanelPicker® speaking proposals, Film Festival screenings, Music Festival showcases, and more. SXSW Comedy Festival content will be announced as we get closer to the March event.

Featured Speakers

Amy Webb – Quantitative futurist, professor of strategic foresight at the NYU Stern School of Business and the Founder of the Future Today Institute, a leading foresight and strategy firm that helps leaders and their organizations prepare for complex futures. She is the best-selling, award-winning author of several books, including The Big Nine: how The Tech Titans And Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity and The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream. She serves as a technical, script and creative consultant for films and shows set in the future. All of her futures research, frameworks, and tools are open source and made freely available to the public.

Angela Benton – Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Streamlytics, a next generation data intelligence ecosystem which helps everyday people and companies ethically access consumer data streams. Prior to her role at Streamlytics, Angela Benton founded the first accelerator for minorities globally in 2011, NewME was acquired in December 2018. Benton has been featured on Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs; Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and their Most Influential Women In Technology; Business Insiders’ 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology, and many more.

Angela Roseboro – As Chief Diversity Officer for Riot Games, Angela Roseboro develops and implements initiatives to drive inclusion and cultural growth. Roseboro manages all activity relating to diversity and inclusion (D&I) while also leading the recruiting team in driving inclusivity in Riot’s hiring and talent sourcing processes. Prior to joining Riot, Roseboro was the Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Dropbox. Previously she provided human resource guidance to Fortune 500 companies including T. Rowe Price, Jones Lang LaSalle, Genworth Financial, Whirlpool Corporation, and Manpower International.

Ann Hiatt – During her 15 years as the Executive Business Partner for Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, and Eric Schmidt, CEO/Executive Chairman of Google, Ann Hiatt received her initial business training and now consults with executives and companies across the globe to reverse engineer their moonshot goals. Hiatt is an international speaker and her first book, Bet On Yourself, will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.

Allison Murphy – In February 2019, Allison Murphy assumed the position of Senior Vice President, Ad Innovation at The New York Times Company. In this role, Murphy leads the development and delivery of The Times Company’s ad innovation strategy, directing cross-functional teams responsible for accelerating the Company’s development of market-leading ad platforms and products. She is also responsible for the Company’s advertising mission, a cross-functional team that spans product, tech and data to accelerate digital advertising.

Baratunde Thurston – Emmy-nominated host Baratunde Thurston has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. He’s the executive producer and host of two podcasts: How To Citizen with Baratunde and We’re Having A Moment which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator and host of the weekly pandemic show, Live On Lockdown. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time”. Right now, the writer, activist, and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor, and empathy.

Benjamin Hubert – Award-winning British design entrepreneur Benjamin Hubert is the founder of the creative agency, LAYER. LAYER is focused on experience-driven design for both the physical and digital worlds. Led by Hubert and a growing creative team, LAYER is partnering with forward-thinking brands – including Nike, Google, Bang and Olufsen, Samsung, Braun, Fritz Hansen and Vitra – to create products that will help define the way we live, work and communicate in the future, from A.I. to smart wearables and furniture systems, to the next generation of media devices and mobile communication tools.

Bruce Mau – A brilliantly creative optimist, Bruce Mau’s love of thorny problems led him to create a methodology for whole-system change. A serial entrepreneur since the age of 9, he became an international figure with the publication of his landmark S,M,L,XL, co-authored with Rem Koolhaas. He is the author of Massive Change and MC24. He is cofounder and CEO of Massive Change Network and Bruce Mau Studio, based in Chicago, and Chief Design Officer for Freeman.

Bryony Cole – Since launching the top-rated podcast, Future of Sex, Cole has been on stages across the world, defining the direction of sextech for governments, technology and entertainment companies. In 2020, she launched Sextech School, the first and only program empowering entrepreneurs in the pursuit of breakthrough sexual innovations in technology.

Cathy O’Neil – Having earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard and postdoc at the MIT math department, Cathy O’Neil was a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. After switching over to the private sector for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw and RiskMetrics, she then left finance in 2011 to work as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks. She wrote Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. O’Neil is a regular contributor to Bloomberg View and author of Weapons of Math Destruction. She recently founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company.

Cat Packer – Within her role as the first Executive Director and General Manager of the Department of Cannabis Regulation, Cat Packer leads the licensing and regulation of commercial cannabis activity within the City of Los Angeles and manages the implementation of the City’s cannabis related policies and programs. Packer previously served as California Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, where she worked to ensure the successful and equitable implementation of various cannabis policy reforms, as well as the Campaign Coordinator for Californians for Responsible Marijuana Reform, a social justice-centered campaign in support of the 2016 Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Cherie Hu – Cherie Hu is the founder and publisher of Water & Music, a newsletter about music-industry innovation that reaches over 10,000 subscribers. She has written hundreds of articles on music, tech and finance for the likes of Billboard, Forbes, NPR Music, and Pitchfork. Hu currently teaches a course on music and gaming as an adjunct professor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

Dr. Michael Watkins – Michael Watkins is the Director of Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system, including such legendary missions as Voyager, Cassini, and the Mars Curiosity rover, as well as the upcoming Mars Perseverance rover, Europa Clipper, and more. Watkins also serves as a Vice President of the California Institute of Technology, which staffs and manages JPL for NASA. He has led major science and engineering teams for JPL for 25 years.

Jim McKelvey – Cofounder of Square Jim McKelvey is a serial entrepreneur, glassblower, philanthropist, and Independent Director of the St. Louis Fed. McKelvey is also a master glass artist and author, having written the world’s most widely read text on the subject, The Art Of Fire. His industrial design work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and The Smithsonian in Washington DC. His glass studio, Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis, is one of the main US hubs for the glassblowing arts. He is also the founder of LaunchCode, a nonprofit making it possible for anyone to learn programming and land a full-time job in under six months, for free. McKelvey’s newest venture, Invisibly, is working to give people control of their online identities.

Joost van Dreunen – An academic and entrepreneur with an expertise in video games, Joost van Dreunen teaches at the NYU Stern School of Business. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of SuperData Research, a games market research firm, which he sold to Nielsen in 2018. He is an advisor and investor, author of One Up, and and writes a weekly newsletter on gaming, tech, and entertainment called SuperJoost Playlist.

Logan Ury – Behavioral scientist turned dating coach Logan Ury is an internationally recognized expert on modern love. As the Director of Relationship Science at the dating app Hinge, Ury leads a research team dedicated to helping people find love. After studying psychology at Harvard, she ran Google’s behavioral science team—the Irrational Lab. She recently published her first book, How To Not Die Alone.

Michael LewisNew York Times bestselling author Michael Lewis’ most recent works are The Fifth Risk, The Undoing Project, Flash Boys, and The Big Short. The Blind Side, published in 2006, tells the story of Michael Oher, a poor, illiterate African-American kid living on the streets of Memphis whose life is transformed after he is adopted by white Evangelical Christians. Before that he wrote Moneyball, a book ostensibly about baseball but also about the way markets value people. Both of his books about sports became movies, nominated for Academy Awards, as did his book about the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Short. His other works include Boomerang, The New New Thing, Coach, Losers, and Liar’s Poker.

Steve DeAngelo – A globally recognized cannabis leader, Steve DeAngelo was dubbed “the father of the legal industry” by former Speaker of the California Assembly Willie Brown. As a lifelong activist, author, educator, investor, and entrepreneur, he has spent more than four decades on the front lines of the cannabis reform movement. His most notable business achievements include cofounding Harborside, one of the first six dispensaries licensed in the US, a publicly-traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange with five dispensary locations in California including one of the first to feature a drive-thru; Steep Hill Laboratory, the first cannabis analytics company; and Arcview Group, the first dedicated cannabis investment network.

Featured Sessions

AI and Great Power Competition – President Xi Jinping claims China will be the AI world leader by 2025. Russian President Vladimir Putin says whatever country leads in AI will be the ruler of the world. Google’s former Chairman Eric Schmidt warned there is a digital Berlin Wall being erected. The link between AI and great power competition will set the stage for the rest of this century. How will the private and public sector in western democracies work together to survive and thrive? More importantly, how can we create technologies that are authentic to our values? Join experts at the intersection of AI and national security who are on the frontlines of this fight – Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman and CEO of Pryon Igor Jablokov. Gain insights on AI advancements and explore what role you can play in this challenge.

Aquaculture, Food Systems and Climate Change – Food is simply the biggest lever we have to combat climate change and improve the health and wellbeing of the planet’s growing population. Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic animals and plants, is vital as the planet’s fastest growing food production system. Seafood is one of the healthiest proteins to consume and one of the most efficient and sustainable to produce. Done well, aquaculture can be a powerful force for ecological and social good. The moderated panel of experts will discuss aquaculture’s key role. Join award-winning ocean activist Alexandra Cousteau; four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality and chef Andrew Zimmern; multi award-winning writer and producer David E. Kelley; and organic seaweed farmer and entrepreneur Sarah Redmond to explore the context of the global climate crisis and aquaculture’s key role in transforming our food systems.

Can VR Create Real Change? – VR has gotten quite a reputation for creating impact. But does the hype really add up? We are at a pivotal moment in history, with socio-political division at an all-time high and less than a decade left to prevent climate crisis. Could creating virtual realities actually help move us towards a better tomorrow? Join AR/VR producer and director Fifer Garbesi; award-winning immersive artist and professor Gabo Arora; Director of EarthXR Tiffany Kieran; and founder of Emblematic Group Nonny de la Peña as they dig into the impacts of this medium, putting real change and direct action front and center.

Driving Action & Advocacy Through Online Community – Online communities are not new; but as the world has adapted to 2020, these digital spaces have proven their worth in a whole new way. Reddit has witnessed this first hand, as more people have joined its many thousands of communities for connection, distraction, and belonging in a time of unprecedented disconnection. While IRL experiences continue to evolve in unexpected ways, the communities on Reddit remain a constant source of conversation and companionship, as well as a valuable lens from which to examine human psychology, behavior, and sentiment. Join Reddit’s COO Jen Wong and CNN’s Kerry Flynn for a conversation about why online communities were made for this moment, their role in the digital ecosystem, and the value they bring to brands looking to build real connection, advocacy, and drive action.

How to Scale a Mission-Driven Brand – Join Supergoop! CEO and Founder Holly Thaggard and her early-stage investor, world-class tennis champion and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova, for an inspiring conversation sharing insights on how Thaggard scaled her company from a mission to end the skin cancer epidemic to a business with millions in revenue, all while innovating a category and changing consumer behavior. Hear from Sharapova first-hand about how she identified a promising investment opportunity in a young, but high-growth brand with an authentic mission as its north star, and advice for other emerging entrepreneurs prioritizing mission and doing good.

Inside GENIUS: ARETHA, the Story of the Queen of Soul – National Geographic’s GENIUS is an Emmy-winning anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate, and complex personal relationships. The third season will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius, incomparable career and the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. She will be portrayed by Oscar-nominated Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, The Color Purple) and Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) will play Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin. Our acclaimed panelists including GENIUS: ARETHA executive producer and director Anthony Hemingway; multi award-winning producer and author Brian Grazer, multi award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo; Broadway and television costume designer Jennifer Bryan; and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks will explore the craft and care that goes into honoring her legacy and bringing her story to life.

The New Marketplace of Music Royalties – The Music Modernization Act takes effect this year, mechanical streaming royalty rates are on the rise, and the newly formed MLC, along with BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, SoundExchange and others, is tracking music royalties using new technologies. These changes are empowering creatives and independent artists, especially in the wake of Covid-19. As music royalty rights grow in value, what do royalty holders need to know in order to maximize and leverage their royalty assets? This panel of global thought leaders will help royalty owners, managers and advisors make informed decisions regarding the potential value and versatility of royalty copyrights and licenses. Join Founder and CEO of Sound Royalties Alex Heiche; CMO of The Mechanical Licensing Collective Ellen Truley; entertainment lawyer Robert A. Celetsin, and Grammy award-winning musician and actor Wyclef Jean for a discussion on the democratization of the music industry is underway as the expansion of digital streaming transforms the landscape of music royalties.

Postcards for Democracy: A Collective Art Demo – Artistic visionaries DEVO cofounder Mark Mothersbaugh and self-proclaimed “musical weirdo” Beatie Wolfe share a love of tangible artforms, in and amongst their futuristic explorations. In light of the threat to our 225yr old postal service, at a time that could jeopardize the democracy of the country, Mothersbaugh and Wolfe joined forces for this collective postcard art demonstration. The aim of this campaign is to encourage as many people as possible to support USPS (if we don’t use it we’ll lose it!), our right to vote, and democracy as a whole via the power of art.

What is Taste? – Without taste, the experience of eating would be a routine and joyless chore. Taste is an almost magical part of our individual experience because everyone’s perceptions and preferences are so unique; but what IS taste, really, and what informs it? It is so much more than a chemical reaction on our taste buds. Taste is made up of shifting cultural norms, food science and technology, and the art of cooking, of bringing a dish to life through careful preparation and the right ingredients. And by better understanding how all of these elements work together, you can develop an even deeper appreciation for your favorite food experiences. Cofounder of So Vegan Ben Pook, three-Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn, CEO of Motif FoodWorks Jonathan McIntyre, Ph.D, author and scientist of senses and emotion Rachel Herz, Ph.D. will discuss how culture, science, and technology shape one of the most important aspects of our lives.

Register for SXSW Online 2021

From March 16-20, experience Conference sessions and Keynotes, music showcases, film screenings, world-class networking, online exhibitions, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW, all in a digital setting.

Groups of 10 or more can save big with Group Registration rates. Currently enrolled students may also apply to purchase a SXSW Online Pass at a special discounted rate.

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Featured Image of 2021 Featured Speakers: (l-r) Cynthia Erivo; Mark Mothersbaugh and Beatie Wolfe; Baratunde Thurston; and Dominique Crenn – Photo by Amanda Demme.

The post Cynthia Erivo, Mark Mothersbaugh, Beatie Wolfe, Baratunde Thurston & More Join SXSW Online 2021 appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

December 15, 2020

The 2021 StoryCorps Mobile Tour: Recording Conversations Remotely Across the U.S.

In 2021, we’re partnering with local radio stations in cities throughout the U.S. to remotely record the conversations of local residents and preserve them in the Library of Congress.

Since 2005, the StoryCorps Mobile Tour has facilitated thousands of meaningful conversations between people who know and care about one another. This year, for the safety of participants during the pandemic, our tour will begin remotely, with appointments in our “virtual recording booth.” Participants can record remotely from their homes using an internet-connected device.

Reservations, which are free and available to the public, become available approximately two weeks before the tour’s arrival in each location and can be booked here. The initial tour itinerary is below; additional dates and locations will be announced in spring 2021.

Location Partner Dates
Boston, MA WBUR January 5 – February 13, 2020
Mississippi Mississippi Public Broadcasting February 12 – March 30, 2020
Little Rock, AR KUAR March 24 – April 24
Baltimore, MD WYPR April 28 – May 29

In a StoryCorps interview, two people record a meaningful conversation with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process step-by-step. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a link to download their interview. With participant permission, their conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The interview process and experience for announced stops will be conducted via StoryCorps Virtual, a new, browser-based platform that allows both participants to see and hear one another during their conversation, and to be joined and guided by a StoryCorps facilitator remotely.

“StoryCorps tells an authentic American story — that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness and heroism. Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten. During this pandemic, the value of preserving these stories, and of strengthening connections between people who may feel physically isolated, is more important than ever.”

— Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is the Founding Partner of the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. CPB’s support has enabled the StoryCorps Mobile Tour to visit 180 towns and cities nationwide since 2005, recording tens of thousands of stories.

Source: SNPR Story Corps

December 14, 2020

Explore vs. Exploit in Storytelling

Source: Visual Storytelling

December 13, 2020

It’s a $7 Million Box Office Weekend, and Most of It Belongs to Universal Studios

This weekend, there are six first-run movies in the box office top 10. (The others are reissues.) Of those six titles, five belong to Universal Studios and its specialty arm, Focus Features; they account for more than 60 percent of the weekend’s total gross.

Led by “The Croods: A New Age,” which had no real competition as the #1 title for its third weekend (it alone provided over 40 percent of the weekend gross), the studio’s lineup is not exactly a theater lifeline. All of the films are available on Premium VOD now or will be soon, and total grosses will amount to something over $7 million divided among somewhere between 2,200-2,400 theaters. That would mean an average of around $3,000 per complex. Calculating an average of eight screens per location, that’s about $375 per screen.

"Monster Hunter"

“Monster Hunter”


Things should improve next week with Sony’s video-game adaptation “Monster Hunter” with Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa, which opens wide December 18 (a last-minute date change, moving up one week), and four titles going Christmas Day. Those include the HBO Max day-and-date “Wonder Woman 1984,” (Warner Bros.), “News of the World” (Universal), “Pinocchio” (Roadside Attractions), and “Promising Young Woman” (Focus). They will play over the seven days through New Year’s Eve — what is usually the year’s most lucrative period. (In 2019, that stretch grossed around $500 million.) Meanwhile, Pixar’s much-anticipated “Soul” debuts on Disney+ on December 25 with no theater play.

Holdovers fell less than normal with no new wide titles, but the performances weren’t strong to start. Among the library titles, some actually increased with the addition of more theaters. What is curious is their overlap with home viewing. “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation,” and “Polar Express” are also on at least one VOD provider’s top 10 list for the weekend. Overall, a consumer can choose to see six of the Top Ten at home, with the other four available by December 25.

“Wild Mountain Thyme”

Bleecker Street

Two day-and-date play titles launched in theaters this weekend. “Wild Mountain Thyme” (Bleecker Street), an Irish romance starring Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan, grossed $100,466 in 450 theaters. “Archenemy” (RLJE), an action film with a time-dimension twist, did $55,700 in 94 theaters.

Of course more than half of theaters are closed, the overwhelming COVID-19 surge discourages cinemagoing, and there is nothing remotely resembling a normal release schedule. Nor would it be fair to say that it can’t get worse: There are few signs of government aid, losses are piling up, and Warner Bros. and Disney lead the strategy of taking titles out of theater play or allowing theaters to parallel home choices. It’s a grim season for exhibitors.

The Top Ten

1. The Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$3,010,000 (-32%) in 2,115 theaters (-90); PTA: $1,423; Cumulative: $24,260,000

2. Half Brothers (Focus) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$490,000 (-30%) in 1,386 theaters (+17); PTA: $354; Cumulative: $1,382,000

3. Elf (Warner Bros.)  REISSUE; Last weekend #5

$(est.) $375,000 (+15%) in 637 theaters (+87); PTA: $589; Cumulative: $(adjusted): $266,800,000

4. Freaky (Universal) Week 5; Last weekend #3; also available on Premium VOD

$315,000 (-34%) in 1,235 theaters (-267); PTA: $255; Cumulative: $8,234,000

5. The War With Grandpa (101)  Week 10; Last weekend #6

$267,000 (-16%) in 1,080 theaters (-205); PTA: $247; Cumulative: $17,965,000

6. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Warner Bros.)  REISSUE; Last weekend #11

$(est.) 250,000 (+30%) in 534 theaters (+148); PTA: $468; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 168,300,000

7. The Polar Express (Warner Bros.)  REISSUE; Last weekend #13

$(est.) 235,000 (+32%) in 389 theaters (-17); PTA: $604; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 285,400,000

8. All My Life (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$(est.) 205,000 (-45%) in 965 theaters (-5); PTA: $212; Cumulative: $(est.) 685,000

9. Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.)  REISSUE

$(est.) 195,000 in 816 theaters; PTA: $239; Cumulative: $413,200,000

10. Come Play (Focus) Week 7; Last weekend #7; also available on Premium VOD

$176,000 (-23%) in 610 theaters (-163); PTA: $289; Cumulative: $9,209,000

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Source: IndieWire film