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Why three European art parks — outdoor spaces with large-scale, site-specific sculpture — have become essential places to engage with culture.
www.nytimes.com | 9/21/17

Magnolia Pictures has picked up U.S. rights to Susanna Nicchiarelli’s “Nico, 1998,” the distributor announced on Wednesday. The film is a look at the last two years of the Velvet Underground singer and actress’s life. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Danish actress, singer and songwriter Trine Dyrholm plays Nico during singer and former Warhol superstar’s last hurrah during the final two years of her life, 1987 and 1988, when her new manager convinces her to go on tour and promote her new album. Nico is also looking to reconnect with her son.

“Nico, 1988” won Best Film in Horizon section at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Magnolia is planning for a 2018 theatrical release.

Also Read: Magnolia Picks Up Icelandic-Language Movie 'Under the Tree'

Nicchiarelli wrote and directed the movie, which is an I Wonder Pictures release of a Vivo film with Rai Cinema and Tarantula production in coproduction with VOO and BE TV. Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa, Joseph Rouschop and Valérie Bournonville produced, while the executive producer is Alessio Lazzareschi.

Magnolia SVP of Acquisitions John Von Thaden negotiated the deal with Charlotte Mickie of Celluloid Dreams representing the filmmakers.

“Susanna Nicchiarelli has conjured up a beautifully filmed window into the world of Nico that rings truer than any documentary could,” Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “It would not have been possible without the daring, transcendent performance by Trine Dyrholm as the reluctant, deeply flawed icon.”

Also Read: Magnolia Picks Up Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson Comedy 'Person to Person'

“I am so excited that my film will be seen by an American audience, and I am really proud that ‘Nico, 1988’ has been acquired by such a highly regarded, tasteful distribution company,” Nicchiarelli said in the statement. “Magnolia has handled some of my favorite films. I trust that my unconventional look at the last years of Nico, a European, will be appreciated in the United States, the very place that discovered the original Nico and made her a star.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Magnolia Picks Up Icelandic-Language Movie 'Under the Tree'

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www.thewrap.com | 9/20/17

Magnolia has acquired North American rights to Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s “Under the Tree.”

The comedy follows two neighboring families as tensions mount between them in a tranquil suburb. A giant tree, which casts a looming shadow on one of the neighbors’ properties, is at the center of it. “Under the Tree” stars Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson, Edda Bjorgvinsdottir, Sigurdur Sigurjonsson, Thorsteinn Bachmann, Selma Bjornsdottir and Lara Johanna Jonsdottir.

The Icelandic-language film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is screening at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Contemporary World Cinema section. Magnolia is planning an early 2018 release.

Also Read: 'Stronger' Toronto Review: Jake Gyllenhaal Hangs Tough in Boston Marathon Bombing Drama

Sigurdsson’s previous projects include “Paris of the North” and “Either Way,” which had a U.S. remake as “Prince Avalanche.”

“Under the Tree” was written by Sigurdsson and Huldar Breidfjörd and produced by Grimar Jonsson. It was co-produced by a group including Iceland’s Netop Films, Poland’s Madants, Denmark’s Profile Pictures, and Germany’s One Two Films, and got additional support from the Icelandic Film Center, Danish Film Institute, Polish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, EURIMAGES and ZDF/Arte.

Magnolia senior vice president of acquisitions John Von Thaden negotiated the deal with Jan Naszewski of New Europe Film Sales and Peter Van Steemburg of ICM representing the filmmakers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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Jessica Chastain Brings Poker Princess Molly Bloom Into Sharp Focus at Toronto

'Kodachrome': Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis Make Grown Men Cry in Toronto

www.thewrap.com | 9/9/17
Hungary's prime minister says that a ruling by the European Union's top court upholding the relocation of asylum-seekers opens the way to a "mixed culture and population" on the continent.
www.foxnews.com | 9/8/17

AMC Entertainment’s stock is down 31 percent since Aug. 1 amid a brutal box office slump, but the company sees plenty of upside in a relatively under-tapped European market and a solid fall slate. One area it does not see upside: the $10/month unlimited movie subscription service, MoviePass.

AMC blasted the service last month, calling it “not in the best interest of moviegoers, movie theaters and movie studios,” and Chief Financial Officer Craig Ramsey said it’s still not a good deal for the cinema chain at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference conference in Beverly Hills on Thursday.

“We believe in subscription and we believe it has relevance in theatrical exhibition,” Ramsey said, citing programs at AMC’s Odeon theaters in the U.K. and Germany.

Also Read: AMC Theatres Seeks to Block New MoviePass Subscription Plan

“But it needs to be approached sensibly and priced right — that’s probably the biggest issue we have is the pricing and how that might set up some unrealistic expectations,” he said. “There is a day of reckoning for that type of strategy.”

Ramsey also hit the brakes on premium video on demand, as studios including Fox have expressed interest in delivering films to home consumers earlier — for a higher price.

“There’s some things we’re willing to do around windowing and there’s some things we’re probably less cooperative on,” he said. “We want to ensure our downside is protected.”

Also Read: Box Office Bummer: Why Movie Theater Companies Like AMC Just Lost $1.3 Billion

AMC, which is owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, sees some better opportunities in the Old World. Over the last 12 months, AMC has acquired European chains Odeon and Nordic, and Ramsey said there are opportunities to apply its premium features in the U.S., like recliners and large format screens, to a European market that is relatively underserved.

“Screens per million is about half in those European markets as it is in the U.S.,” he said.

Ramsey chalked down this summer’s box office slump to “a six month phenomenon,” and waved off concerns that it might be more of a secular than cyclical effect.

Also Read: China's Dalian Wanda Group Sues Online Critics Over 'Malicious Rumors'

“Sometimes you get fatigue a little bit and then you get that movie that brings you back to the theater.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

AMC Theatres Seeks to Block New MoviePass Subscription Plan

Box Office Bummer: Why Movie Theater Companies Like AMC Just Lost $1.3 Billion

AMC Entertainment Reports Brutal Q2 Earnings As Summer Box Office Slumps

www.thewrap.com | 9/7/17
The "time is not right" for Cardiff's European Capital of Culture bid.
www.bbc.co.uk | 9/6/17

Joe Wright’s stunning “Darkest Hour” is no ordinary biopic of Sir Winston Churchill. It is a vigorously directed, tightly paced war thriller with nothing less at stake than saving the world from Adolf Hitler.

Anchored by an exacting, measured but sweetly responsive lead performance by Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour,” which premiered on Friday night at the Telluride Film Festival,  is the best of many great cinematic portraits of Churchill. There is no other way to watch Oldman than in near disbelief that anyone could bring Churchill back to life this
convincingly. It will be difficult for any other actor to top Oldman
this year.

The story will be familiar to some, especially to those who know World War II well or have read any Churchill biographies. The film opens with King George asking Churchill to take over the role of Prime Minister, since Neville Chamberlain is woefully ineffectual against Hitler, whose army is sweeping through Europe with alarming speed.

Also Read: See Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in 'Darkest Hour' Trailer (Video)

A master of biting wit and blunt wisdom, Churchill is disliked by many in government for those very reasons. To some it seems he has all of the grace and elegance of a bulldog. He smokes, drinks, shouts – he is simply too much for many of the staid members of Parliament.

It’s surprising to see how many in the British government fought Churchill, or tried to moderate him, somehow thinking that Hitler was a man who could be dealt with reasonably. Our fascination and enduring admiration for Churchill is due mostly to his being the only prominent leader to draw an inflexible line against fascism. This film is about that line and its effectiveness.

Built as a fast-paced thriller, “Darkest Hour” is a countdown. How bad
will things get? Can Churchill save the day? In some ways, he’s his
own worst enemy because his gruff manner and occasional cruelty are
not exactly winning personality traits.

Also Read: 'Downsizing' Review: Matt Damon Is the Incredible Shrinking Everyman

This film is about a specific moment in time when events teetered on a precipice. The Allied path to victory was far from assured, so a large part of the strategy was to inspire a frightened and shaken nation to acquire the psychological temperament of winners. That was one Churchill’s most significant gifts, and was perhaps his most powerful tactic to combat Hitler. He needed to reach over the government and speak directly to the people.

He was resourceful, improvisational and absolutely unafraid of taking
on the greatest menace the modern world has ever known. The world
could use another Churchill right about now.

Joe Wright’s ambition here is remarkable. He hasn’t directed anything
this vibrantly alive since “Pride & Prejudice.” The dynamism pulsing
through “Darkest Hour” is surprising, since we might imagine a movie
about Churchill’s speech-writing and strategizing to be slow and
plodding. But in Wright’s hands it is anything but.

Ably assisted by Valerio Bonelli’s propulsive editing and Bruno Delbonnel’s opulent cinematography, the film flirts with magical realism throughout. The camera may pull back in a breathtaking shift of perspective, show a battle from high above as remote bursts of fire, or take us on a slow-motion tour through the streets of England, where ordinary people soldier forth on the brink of total disaster.

Also Read: 'The Shape of Water' Review: Guillermo del Toro's Glorious Romance Blends Horror and Delight

Anyone expecting the standard “Masterpiece Theater” style will be dazzled by the frenetic energy that churns the narrative, not to mention the painstaking attention to the details involved at every level – costumes, score, and production design are all eminently Oscar worthy.

But there is no doubt that “Darkest Hour” belongs to its lead. Oldman
has every mannerism and inflection nailed down completely, yet he
never loses focus on why we need yet another film about Churchill. Now
more than ever, it’s essential to remember what real leadership looks
like. To be reminded that it’s not about easy answer. To be shown that
the strengths that saved us in the past may be the very strengths we
need to save us once again.

It’s interesting that both Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and Wright’s
“Darkest Hour” swirl around a parallel chain of events. One could cut
“Dunkirk” into the middle of “Darkest Hour” to frame the story of how
300,000 soldiers became stranded on those beaches.

These two films arrive at a crucial time for Europe and the US, when once again border tensions are building and misguided leaders scapegoat minorities to feed resentments. Wright’s film doesn’t make overt allusions to these conflicts, but it does gives a clear example of what can sometimes happen when being on the right side is a lonely place to be. It also shows quite clearly that sometimes playing it safe is the most dangerous play of all.

Oldman is supported by a great cast, including standout Kristin Scott
Thomas as his wife Clementine and Lily James as Churchill’s typist
who comes to mean much more to the film than that humble occupation.
Lily is Winston’s first audience for his legendary speeches and builds
a connection with him that helps humanize his character. The great Ben
Mendelsohn as King George does not so much give us a stuttering King
as one who already has already conquered his affliction.

Also Read: 'Dunkirk' Review: Christopher Nolan's WWII Saga Spins a Sensational Story of Struggle and Survival

“Darkest Hour” will be a major player in the Oscar race, if Friday night’s
crowd reaction is any indication. Oldman received a richly-deserved standing ovation. In his remarkable career he’s gone from playing Sid Vicious to Winston Churchill. No one seems more surprised than he. At the Q&A after the screening he said when he was first asked to play the part he laughed out loud.

Some might say that classic Hollywood has made comeback, focusing once again on WWII. But “Darkest Hour” is so much more than that. It feels alive and fresh – the kind of cinema that doesn’t waste a second.
Wright has made sure every shot is indispensable. He has made not just
one of the best films of the year, but one that will inspire some of
us to hold up our fingers in a “V” sign to keep our spirits high, to
demonstrate our confidence that we can win this game we’re currently
clearly losing.

As Churchill would say, “It is the time to dare and to endure.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

See Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in 'Darkest Hour' Trailer (Video)

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www.thewrap.com | 9/2/17

One stark lesson of this summer’s miserable box office: Studios may no longer be able to rely on overseas markets as a life raft for tentpoles that underperform in North America.

Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” grossed just $229 million in China, less than the $320 million 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” earned there when the country’s box office was significantly smaller. Worse, the total overseas revenue for “The Last Knight” was $471 million, nearly half the $859 million the previous installment earned.

As Hollywood’s domestic box office has cratered by more than 14 percent this summer, studios are discovering that other pricey studio projects — including Paramount’s “Baywatch” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” — are failing to score both at home and abroad.

“If [the box office] starts dwindling internationally, that’s a problem,” Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst at ComScore, told TheWrap. “Studios have always counted on those international markets to make up the difference for any shortfall in the North American box office for specific films.”

Also Read: Box Office Bummer: Why Movie Theater Companies Like AMC Just Lost $1.3 Billion

But this year that strategy has proved to be less than meets the eye as established franchises are not proving to be as bankable as expected even as overseas box office has ticked up 3 percent so far this year (North American sales are down 6 percent for 2017 to date).

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” earned about $70 million less domestically than its 2011 predecessor, “On Stranger Tides,” and was by far the lowest-grossing movie out of all five of Johnny Depp’s “Pirates” films.

While the franchise continued to perform fairly well overseas, with “Dead Men” reeling in $618 million in international markets, that was the smallest foreign gross since the first “Pirates” film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” which came out 14 years ago and made just $3 million in the world’s second-largest movie market, China.

Also Read: Movie Franchise Watch: Superheroes Keep Rolling While Other Sequels Sink Summer Box Office

“Dead Men” hauled in $172 million in China but it still fell nearly $200 million short of the foreign gross for “On Stranger Tides.”

Even “Baywatch,” based on an internationally syndicated show that reached upwards of 1 billion people a week in nearly 150 countries, earned just $119 million internationally and a dismal $58 million in North America despite megawatt headliner Dwayne Johnson and plenty of hype. That simply wasn’t enough to make up for its belly flop at home. (The R-rated comedy didn’t get past China’s regulators.)

But with China’s appetite for this summer’s crop of Hollywood hits relatively light, and certain tentpoles like Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” not even hitting the market yet (the superhero flick premieres in China on September 8), the Middle Kingdom hasn’t come through for Hollywood this year.

Also Read: Hollywood's Summer of Dog Days: Box Office Down 12 Percent

While studios only get about one-fourth of the Chinese theatrical gross, compared with roughly half in the U.S., the sheer size of that market has frequently bailed out big-budget would-be blockbusters that flopped at home.

Paramount’s “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” grossed just $45 million at the domestic box office earlier this year, but took in $301 million internationally, led by China with $164 million. Headliners Vin Diesel and Donnie Yen — two of China’s biggest stars — undoubtedly helped push it up the Middle Kingdom’s charts.

And Legendary’s video-game adaptation “Warcraft” earned just $47 million at the domestic box office last year, but brought in a whopping $386 million in international markets, including $214 million in China.

Dergarabedian said sometimes it takes just one movie to turn things around. That happened in China this summer, pushing its box office up 6 percent year-over-year — but Hollywood had nothing to do with the country’s home-grown $800 million smash hit “Wolf Warriors 2.”

Also Read: 'It' Remake to Scare Away Box Office Slump With Record $50 Million Opening

And while the European box office held strong during the dog days — helped by Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk” — that also wasn’t enough to save the industry’s bacon.

Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic was extremely popular in the United Kingdom, where it grossed $63.2 million, making it the country’s second highest-grossing film of the year after Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” “Dunkirk” has grossed $397 million worldwide through August 23.

AMC Theatres, the world’s largest cinema chain, may be the best example of what’s happened this summer. The company has expanded in Europe (and is owned by a major Chinese entertainment company, Dalian Wanda Group) but its geographic diversity couldn’t compensate for a disastrous summer season at home.

Also Read: July Box Office Down Despite 'Spider-Man' and 'Planet of the Apes'

The company’s stock tanked about 25 percent earlier this month after AMC previewed disastrous second-quarter earnings. Still, AMC CEO Adam Aron told investors, “Gains in Europe were more than counterbalanced by the weak American results.”

The movie business may be more international than ever, but Hollywood still shapes the box office. And there was no saving this dry, cold American summer.

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www.thewrap.com | 8/29/17

An orphan girl’s dream of becoming a top ballerina in Paris hardly sounds like the stuff of big-time animated fare, not unless the “girl” were a talking ferret or goat or wombat or whatever, followed around by a smart-ass insect.

But the French family flick “Leap!” is content to believe in computer-rendered humans to care about, a picturesquely painted 19th century City of Lights to be transported to, and a story of pluck, talent, hard work and adventure that you’ll always be ahead of, but never entirely mind seeing play out. Especially if you’ve got a wide-eyed youngster in tow, or never quite got over the undiscovered performing genius you always knew was inside you.

Called “Ballerina” in its European run — where a girl-specific title and lack of emphatic punctuation clearly aren’t turn-offs to family audiences — this modestly budgeted but appealingly energetic piece of aspirational fluff is best when its modern sensibilities mesh with its old-fashioned themes, and jarringly off whenever it feels the need to kowtow to contemporary kidpic tropes like slang, fart jokes, and anachronistic references.

Also Read: Weinstein Company to Launch Animated Label Mizchief

A vigorous, pop-scored “dance off” between the underdog heroine and her snooty rival? In our “Pitch Perfect”/hip-hop battle era, why not. But dialogue that has our twirling, jumping protagonist’s boy pal jokingly call what she’s doing “kung fu”? That’s not pop culture winking, it’s lazy wisecracking.

“Leap!” does start with a certain uphill battle of sympathies, trying to convince us the sun-kissed, massive, bell-towered, country orphanage on the coast of Brittany is a place from which anybody would want to escape. (Couldn’t the artists have tried to make it seem a tad horrifically Dickensian, instead of ripe for a Gallic getaway?) No matter: ebullient Félicie (voiced by Elle Fanning), always kicking up her heels, wants out so she can fulfill her dream of dancing for the Ballet de Paris, so we want that for her, too.

Also Read: Carly Rae Jepsen, Bob Saget Sing 'Fuller House' Theme Song Together

With the help of her raggedy best pal Victor (Nat Wolff), a budding inventor working on human wings, the pair escape the clutches of the orphanage’s rotund, overprotective guardian Luteau (Mel Brooks) and make it to cobblestoned, lamplit Paris, where the Eiffel Tower is still under construction, and where Félicie is ready to start building her own destiny.

Thankfully it’s easy to sneak into the sumptuous Palais Garnier opera house, where she meets a beleaguered, limping cleaning woman named Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), who takes Félicie in to her servants’ quarters at the home of her wealthy employer, a Cruella de Ville knockoff named Régine le Haut (the deliriously mean-voiced Kate McKinnon). Regine has an equally odious (and, regrettably, stereotypically blonde) daughter Camille (Maddie Ziegler), who’s being groomed for upcoming success at the Palais’s ballet school.

Watch Video: Kate McKinnon Reprises Jeff Sessions Impression for Seth Meyers

Until Félicie swipes Camille’s acceptance letter, that is, pretends to be her, and joins the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School. Eventually she works her way into contention for the role of Clara in an upcoming production of “The Nutcracker,” thanks to rigorous off-site training with Odette, a one-time star ballerina sidelined by traumatic injury, who sees promise in her untrained, exuberant charge.

It’s patently unfair to compare animated froth like “Leap!” to any classic of dance cinema like “The Red Shoes,” especially when the “Leap!” dance sequences, though spirited, clumsily mix motion-capture choreography with the kinds of physics-defying feats we expect from animation. Yet it’s worth noting that the most entertaining and sensitively handled parts of “Leap!” are in the more human-sized feelings of nurtured passion and artistic bonding that any good tale of the fleet of foot requires.

No matter how much directors Eric Warin and Eric Summer (who wrote the story with Laurent Zeitoun) try to distract with dumb comedy — usually involving the annoying Victor — or cartoony action (there’s a typically overwrought climax on the unfinished, yet-to-be-gifted-to-the-U.S. Statue of Liberty), the relationship between Félicie and Odette is a warm, heart-tugging one, whether focused on the intricacies of dance mentorship or augmented by pop songs and inspirational platitudes.

And Jepsen fans, don’t fear: the Canadian singer’s howitzer of bubblegum “Cut to the Feeling” gets its just due in the big dance finale — and if you feel the need to complain about technopop scoring an 1880s-set ballet, you aren’t the audience for “Leap!” (Also, you’re heartless.)

A final note about the disingenuous, cynical poster for “Leap!”, which stresses Victor in his winged contraption holding Félicie above Paris, as if humans flying were the movie’s construct, and our heroine needed male help: Most of the international posters for “Ballerina” spotlight Félicie in dance garb, because, well, it’s about ballet. Was the Weinstein Company afraid to alienate brothers tagging along with sisters on a family trip to the movies?

Sometimes, you just wish the people who make these decisions would take a flying …

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www.thewrap.com | 8/24/17

BARBADOS IS LEVERAGING its $6 million investment in CARIFESTA XIII against the opportunities to break into the European Union’s (EU) cultural industries market. Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley...

www.nationnews.com | 8/16/17

Last week, AMC Theatres fired the shot heard ’round the popcorn machine  — and erased more than $1.3 billion in market value for the four biggest movie theater chains in North America.

AMC, which has been aggressively buying up cinema chains and adding recliners and fancy food options to its theaters, announced plans on August 1 to cut costs and previewed brutal second-quarter earnings. After a profit of 7 cents a share in the first quarter, the world’s largest exhibitor reported a massive loss of $1.35 a share.

That sent the company’s stock plunging more than 25 percent — and signaled trouble for the entire exhibition industry. Weak box office proved to a drain for Regal, Cinemark and Canadian chain Cineplex as well. All three reported disappointing second quarter revenues and all saw their share prices ?drop, though not as a steep AMC’s.

Also Read: AMC Theatres Slashes Costs to Deal With Box Office Slump, Stock Plunges 25 Percent

What went wrong?

1. Blockbuster drought

Second-quarter box office was down 1 percent compared to last year — with hits like Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” failing to match last summer’s string of global blockbusters like Disney/Pixar’s “Finding Dory,” Disney/Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” or Disney’s “The Jungle Book.”

And the next three months look brutal compared to last year’s $2.95 billion-grossing third quarter — including Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets” and Warner Bros. “Suicide Squad,” which each grossed more than $300 million domestically, as well as surprise hits like Sony’s “Sausage Party” and Sony/Screen Gems’ “Lights Out.”

Through August 9 this year, the third quarter box office has added up to just $838 million — and the upcoming release schedule is pretty bare as far as guaranteed nine-figure films.

Also Read: AMC Entertainment Reports Brutal Q2 Earnings As Summer Box Office Slumps

2. Debt-fueled dealmaking

The box office slowdown comes at a particularly bad time for AMC in particular. The company made three separate billion-dollar acquisitions last year, picking up U.S. exhibitor Carmike and European chains Odeon & UCI and Nordic.

As a result, AMC has about $4.9 billion in total debt as of June 30 — and it is now pausing acquisitions to try to reduce that burden.

3. High overhead

AMC plans to cut staff and introduce strategic pricing to help fill seats. “The company has embarked on a domestic cost reduction and revenue enhancement plan to better align operating expenses with theatre attendance in its markets and reduce general and administrative costs for the balance of 2017 and into 2018,” AMC said in an August 1 release.

In addition, AMC and Regal recently agreed to sell Open Road Films, the distributor of Best Picture winner “Spotlight” co-owned by the two exhibitors, to Tang Media Partners. The goal: shedding more non-core assets. (The companies previously announced that the venture had cost them each $49 million in losses.)

Also Read: Tang Media Partners Names Rob Friedman CEO of TMP Entertainment

4. It’s a cyclical business

While domestic box office is down 4 percent from a record-breaking 2016 at this point, it’s flat compared to 2015 and up from 2014.

And even if the third quarter proves to be lackluster, the movie business has a way of delivering twists. Most people didn’t expect much from horror film last winter’s “Don’t Breathe,” but it rolled to nearly $90 million domestically on a sub-$10 million budget.

Disney/Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” should get things back on track in November, and the year ends with a new “Star Wars” film, which could be the savior the cinema world needs.

“The Force Awakens” pushed the 2015 box office over the $11 billion mark and helped it set a new record when it looked like a much longer shot just weeks before. Can “The Last Jedi” save 2017’s bacon? Theater chains sure hope the Force will be with them.

Related stories from TheWrap:

AMC Theatres CEO Says 'Acquisitions Are Paused' to Reduce Debt

AMC Entertainment Reports Brutal Q2 Earnings As Summer Box Office Slumps

AMC Theatres Slashes Costs to Deal With Box Office Slump, Stock Plunges 25 Percent

www.thewrap.com | 8/10/17

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough is weathering Twitter backlash after he blasted young people for “playing video games,” which is a lot different than the 1940s, when thousands of young men served in World War II.

“Young men in the 1940s liberated Europe from Nazism and the Pacific from the Japanese Empire. Today, too many stay home playing video games,” the TV host tweeted in a follow-up to a tweet about smartphone culture. Philip Carter, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, pointed out that many young men are still serving in the military, and not sitting at home playing video games: “Hey @JoeNBC who do you think is fighting our post-9/11 wars? A narrow slice but one that defies your caricature.”

To that, Scarborough responded, “A narrow slice of the best and bravest among us. Unfortunately, the trend lines of overall society are not as promising. We have work to do.”

Our smartphone culture impacts young men in the most profound way. It is often younger women who suffer the most. https://t.co/cagBUD9rUE

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

Young men in the 1940s liberated Europe from Nazism and the Pacific from the Japanese Empire. Today, too many stay home playing video games. https://t.co/e7FTe0O20P

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

Hey @JoeNBC who do you think is fighting our post-9/11 wars? A narrow slice (https://t.co/aLtpIarRIM) but one that defies your caricature. https://t.co/L2jmH5WEOj

— Phillip Carter (@Carter_PE) August 7, 2017

A narrow slice of the best and bravest among us. Unfortunately, the trend lines of overall society are not as promising. We have work to do. https://t.co/EFmLOsayhZ

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

Twitter users were quick to mock Scarborough for his wartime nostalgia. “Love @joenbc, but this is a legit old man yells at cloud tweet,” said CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski. To which Scarborough doubled down on his old-man-yells tweet: “If you’d get off your XBox & back away from your 3 fantasy baseball league computer screens you’d see data supports my Old Man concerns.” Scarborough did not cite any specific data to support his concerns.

“These are only millenials [sic] that neither you nor I personally know, and certainly none that follow me on Twitter or watch Morning Joe!” he added.

One veteran called Scarborough’s tweet “insipid,” saying, “I deployed seven times to Iraq/AFG. I was wounded in action. I play a LOT of video games now, as I did back then. The comparison is insipid.”

Others virtually eye-rolled at a man complaining about lack of military engagement when he himself never enlisted: “Middle-aged man who never fought in or enlisted in the military wishing that young men might have the chance to be killed in battle.”

Love @joenbc, but this is a legit old man yells at cloud tweet. https://t.co/qYcFEbBWG5

— andrew kaczynski ???? (@KFILE) August 7, 2017

If you'd get off your XBox & back away from your 3 fantasy baseball league computer screens you'd see data supports my Old Man concerns. https://t.co/RFZQ5OxDln

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

These are only millenials that neither you nor I personally know, and certainly none that follow me on Twitter or watch Morning Joe! https://t.co/Ux50bMwPuw

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

love when these National Greatness conservatives pine for the old days when millions of young people got killed https://t.co/P2R8fB3nSW

— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 7, 2017

I actually prefer to live in a world where the young can play games rather than die in wars. But that's just me. https://t.co/bbNIOREB5s

— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 7, 2017

God I miss the good old days when millions of people were killing each other https://t.co/eGP6JTxMfg

— Atrios (@Atrios) August 7, 2017

There is far too much of this war glorification on both sides; the idea that war is morally uplifting and inculcates society with virtue. https://t.co/p6WJQeubfT

— B. A. Friedman (@BA_Friedman) August 7, 2017

Middle-aged man who never fought in or enlisted in the military wishing that young men might have the chance to be killed in battle. https://t.co/cH1wdPBALD

— corey robin (@CoreyRobin) August 7, 2017

I deployed seven times to Iraq/AFG. I was wounded in action. I play a LOT of video games now, as I did back then. The comparison is insipid. https://t.co/ppC1EAIrt9

— Literally Thanos (@mistermegative) August 7, 2017

It's a shame there were no recruiting offices in the Florida panhandle when you were growing up ????

— Joe Palank (@JoePalank) August 7, 2017

Scarborough kept engaging with the backlash. Another veteran tweeted, “I served 3x in Iraq and went to Afghanistan as a civilian. I’ll also pwn you in @Battlefield 1, Joe. Catch me on @Xbox as I Miss Obama.” Apparently, Scarborough himself plays video games even as he cites them as a societal issue, as he responded, “Thank you for your service to America. I am deeply grateful. You would also own me. I’m more of a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 guy.”

I served 3x in Iraq and went to Afghanistan as a civilian. I'll also pwn you in @Battlefield 1, Joe. Catch me on @Xbox as I Miss Obama. ????

— Richard White (@CheekyAmriki) August 7, 2017

Thank you for your service to America. I am deeply grateful.
You would also own me. I'm more of a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 guy.???? https://t.co/kbNfRokyoV

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

The responses to Scarborough’s take on video gaming seemed only to further affirm his thoughts on the matter. “The stupidity of these responses suggest an ignorance of current trends and the need to get out in the sun…which I am going to do now,” he tweeted, after three hours spent engaging online with critics.

The stupidity of these responses suggest an ignorance of current trends and the need to get out in the sun…which I am going to do now.???? https://t.co/ohluLxirwS

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017

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www.thewrap.com | 8/7/17

AMC Entertainment, the parent of AMC Theatres, made three billion-dollar deals last year, acquiring Carmike Cinemas and European chains Odeon & UCI and Nordic Cinema. But after a disastrous second quarter weighed down by a box office slump — and plenty of debt to reduce — the company won’t be making any major purchases in a while.

“Acquisitions are paused,” AMC President and CEO Adam Aron said on a Friday morning conference call following the company’s earnings release. “To acquire anything else of size right now requires us taking on more debt, which conflicts with our need and desire to de-lever.” Aron added that given AMC’s low share price — the company is trading at more than $16 through mid-morning trading even after a 9 percent jump, close to its 52-week low of $14.80 a share.

Aron spent much of the call providing an extensive explanation for AMC’s rough earnings report, which he largely attributed to a surprisingly and profoundly weak summer movie slate. He also said that while AMC’s legacy theaters held up better than the average cinema — the Carmike theaters decidedly did not.

Also Read: AMC Entertainment Reports Brutal Q2 Earnings As Summer Box Office Slumps

“Our legacy AMC theaters were stars, outperforming the indnstry, but our acquired Carmike theaters were not stars,” Aron said. “Admissions revenues at legacy AMC theaters were down 3.1 percent (compared with the industry as a whole being down 4.4 percent). By contrast, the newly acquired Carmike theaters had a revenue decline of 11.3 percent.”

Aron also addressed AMC Entertainment’s Chinese parent Dalian Wanda Group, which has recently sold off its theme park business and 77 hotels to deal with debt issues of its own.

“Our major shareholder, Wanda, has over the past five years been an extraordinarily smart and supportive investor in AMC,” Aron said, also reinforcing a statement the company gave earlier that Wanda funding was not used in any of AMC’s acquisitions.

Also Read: AMC Theatres Slashes Costs to Deal With Box Office Slump, Stock Plunges 25 Percent

Later in the call, Aron fielded a question about premium video on demand, as studios look to deliver new films to an audience that increasingly doesn’t want to wait for content without waiting for the traditional theatrical window. But despite plenty of conversations, Aron doesn’t think a resolution is coming anytime soon.

“I don’t think you’ll see PVOD in the United States in 2017,” he said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

AMC Entertainment Reports Brutal Q2 Earnings As Summer Box Office Slumps

AMC Theatres Slashes Costs to Deal With Box Office Slump, Stock Plunges 25 Percent

AMC Theaters Says Wanda Has 'Never Been a Source of Acquisition Funding'

www.thewrap.com | 8/4/17

AMC Theatres, which is owned by China’s recently embattled Wanda Group, announced plans to cut costs and “enhance” revenues in a Tuesday filing as the world’s largest exhibitor contends with a box office slump, which sent its stock plummeting 25 percent in after-hours trading.

Despite the success of superhero tentpoles like Warner Bros. “Wonder Woman” and Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the second-quarter box office was down 2 percent compared with 2016. And without a lot of sure bets hitting theaters in the following three months, AMC has decided to make moves to deal with what it projects to be a softer gate.

“Against the U.S. industry backdrop of a weaker than anticipated second quarter and estimates for a very challenging third quarter, the company has embarked on a domestic cost reduction and revenue enhancement plan to better align operating expenses with theatre attendance in its markets and reduce general and administrative costs for the balance of 2017 and into 2018,” AMC said in its release.

Also Read: AMC Theatres Sets Condition for Shorter Theatrical Windows

AMC said it expects its cost savings and revenue enhancement plan to result in a gain of $30 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a common metric measuring a company’s profitability, through the end of the year. That plan “will include strategic pricing, promotional incentives, adjusting scheduling practices, reductions in operating hours, staffing levels, and additional general operating expense line items,” and will affect AMC’s main support center in Kansas as well as domestic cinema locations.

AMC parent Wanda has dealt with a cash crunch of its own, recently disposing of its theme park business and 77 hotels as it works to get its debt level under control — and appease Chinese regulators, who have cracked down on cross-border deals. Last month, AMC denied that its string of recent cinema company acquisitions, including that of European chain Nordic Cinema Group, depended on Wanda financing.

The company also shared some second-quarter earnings guidance, projecting revenue between $1.2 and $1.204 billion and a net loss of $1.34 to $1.36 a share, owing mainly to a pre-tax impairment charge from its investment in National CineMedia.

Related stories from TheWrap:

AMC Theatres Sets Condition for Shorter Theatrical Windows

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AMC Theatres Is Now the Biggest Movie Theater Company in the World

www.thewrap.com | 8/1/17
Earlier, he led critical initiatives for the expansion of the company in North America and Europe including significant acquisitions like Cognitive Arts and Element K.
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www.bbc.co.uk | 7/20/17
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AMC Entertainment has denied recent reports that funding from China’s Dalian Wanda has been used for some of its recent acquisitions.

In a statement released Tuesday, the theater group also said it had completed four of its recent deals to buy Starplex Cinemas, ODEON & UCI Holdings, Carmike Cinemas and Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB. AMC Entertainment was acquired by Dalian Wanda in 2012.

“At no time was Wanda ever a source of funding for any of these acquisitions or individual theatre purchases,” said AMC, adding, “AMC has never received committed financing from any bank headquartered in mainland China for any purpose, including for acquisitions. All committed debt financing for AMC’s three most recent acquisitions were funded by a syndicate of US-based banks with AMC as the borrower without financial guarantees or credit enhancements from Wanda. The fourth acquisition was funded by AMC’s available cash on hand.”

Also Read: China's Wanda Sells Theme Parks to Sunac in $9.3 Billion Deal

Earlier this week, a Wall Street Journal article stated that the Chinese government is halting Wanda’s overseas deals after regulators met at the big state-owned lenders in June and advised them that six of Wanda’s most recent international transactions were subject to the government’s restrictions on capital outflows.

According to Variety, a document circulated Tuesday (which has since been removed), that appeared to contain instructions to banks to not provide finance for the acquired companies; it also indicated that up to two of the six deals had not been completed.

Additionally, AMC’s statement from Tuesday said that AMC’s “intercompany transactions” with Wanda are “de minimis.” The company stated that as previously disclosed, “Wanda routinely reimburses AMC for general administrative and other expense in what are typically immaterial amounts incurred on behalf of Wanda.”

Also Read: China's Dalian Wanda Group Stock Dives After Regulators Probe

“The only current vehicle for making payments by AMC to Wanda is through the issuance of dividends, which are offered equally on a per share basis to all AMC shareholders,” the statement read.

Adam Aron, AMC Chief Executive Officer and President, added, “AMC is an American company run from its Leawood, Kansas headquarters by our management teams located in the US and Europe. Our shares are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and our shareholder roster includes some of the biggest U.S.-based institutional investors, as well as Dalian Wanda which owns a majority of our shares. Wanda has been a terrific shareholder, and we are grateful for Wanda’s support of AMC’s efforts over the past few years to grow our business, to increase our profitability, to sustain some 45,000 U.S. and European jobs for AMC employees, and to improve the movie going experience for our more than 350 million U.S. and European guests each year.

“Wanda does not actively participate in the day-to-day running of AMC beyond the Board of Directors service of three Wanda executives side-by-side with six American directors on the AMC Board. Accordingly, recent press reports notwithstanding, we greatly look forward to Wanda’s continued support as an AMC shareholder.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

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www.thewrap.com | 7/18/17
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“I’ll save Surrealism!” is the sort of brash artistic mission statement only uttered by the young, usually in the first flush of self-regard, adult possibility and creative power. And it’s there that we reunite with fledgling poet and future cult filmmaking legend Alejandro Jodorowsky (played by his adult son, Adan Jodorowsky), in the director’s latest look back at his own life, the wonderfully strange “Endless Poetry.”

Having explored his lonely childhood in 2013’s “The Dance of Reality,” Jodorowsky has much more to say on the subject of building a life in art. This new chapter involves teenage Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovitz) leaving boyhood and becoming an appropriately angry young man, splintering his relationship with his dutiful yet weepily dramatic and literally operatic mother (Chilean soprano Pamela Flores, who sings all her character’s dialogue), as well as with his domineering, unusually cruel father Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky — Adan’s older brother, who was the young co-star of their father’s 1970 classic “El Topo”), all in the pursuit of personal and artistic freedom.

Alejandro’s vow to himself is to become a successful, important poet, and nothing is going to get in his way. This means denying his father’s demands to stay home and work in the family’s general store. It also means shaking free of Dad’s vise-like psychological hold. In one sequence, father and teenage Alejandro brawl during an earthquake, in another, the defiant adolescent recites the poetry of Federico García Lorca out loud — a habit the patriarch despises and forbids — while a vision of Jaime’s enormous, disembodied head floats nearby, angrily shouting an abusive gay slur.

Also Read: Cult Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky Sounds Off on Why Spielberg Is 'Killing the Cinema,' Talks Comeback

Young adult Alejandro leaves home and falls in with a community of artists who will become his friends, lovers, and rivals, Chilean poet Enrique Lihn (Leandro Taub) among them. Described as “super-tenors”, “ultra-pianists,” “poly-painters,” and “symbiotic dancers,” it’s a bohemian Modernist clubhouse of misfits and strivers, the sort of comrades whose intensity requires a complementary, oppositional energy from every other member of the group.

Alejandro further sets out to locate his muse. Into a bar staffed with old men dressed in black walks poet Stella Diaz (Flores again, in a dual role), who appears to have been beamed in from the future, an almost proto-punk rock figure in extreme makeup and bright red wig. She barks, “Ustedes son nada!” (“You people are nothing!”) at no one in particular, and it’s hormonal and literary friction at first sight. It’s also a recipe for histrionics and disaster, the twenty-something carousel of sex and rage, drunkenness and inspiration, wheel-spinning and frustrated ambition that often pours the foundation of a lifetime devoted to art.

Also Read: 'Jodorowsky's Dune' Review: A Riveting Chronicle of 'The Greatest Movie Never Made'

The character of “Pierrot” — a sad, pantomime clown dating back to the 17th century — darts in and out of the action, a stand-in for Jodorowsky’s self-perception (at one point he gets a job in a circus as a clown who farts for laughs), the holy fool at the center of an absurd life. Meanwhile, recurring elements from Jodorowsky’s most famous films, “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain,” emerge to point the young artist toward his own poetic destiny.

Parental bonds are destroyed and religion’s shackles broken; literal fires consume the past; sex and blood and cruelty form complicated bonds; demons and death conduct a fantasy street parade; and broken friendships shake Alejandro loose of his home so that he can, finally, leave everything behind. (Specifics: boat to France. Agenda: saving Surrealism.)

The filmmaker’s outsize, and sometimes unnerving, stylistic choices jump into the frame and vanish just as quickly. Set facades, including a caricature of a steam locomotive, are shown being put into place by silent extras. Some of those helpers are covered in head-to-toe in black body stockings, and they hand props to actors from scene to scene. Naked bodies figure just as prominently, in the service of both visual shock and emotional tenderness. Blank masks, clown shoes, and dancing skeletons turn humans into props themselves.

Also Read: US, Canada and Mexico Submit Joint Bid for 2026 World Cup

And narrating it all is the director, appearing on camera to guide, hover, and, most poignantly, comfort his characters, as he redirects focus to his most pressing concerns, aging and forgiveness. “Old age is not a humiliation,” he announces with the authority only an 88-year-old can earn, describing the detachment and understanding of humanity that stretching into one’s ninth decade affords.

That also means, inevitably, understanding and absolving the father he grew to hate. And as a restless son, leaving for Europe for good, delivers an angry goodbye to an uncomprehending father, Jodorowsky stands by, seemingly grateful for the pain, explaining, “By not loving me, you taught me that love is an absolute.” It’s the end, but the effect is that of an enticing prologue to a story that seems to have only just begun.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/14/17

Congress is a tad busy these days, what with various committees investigating the Trump campaign for admittedly seeking dirt from Russia on candidate Hillary Clinton. Not to mention the turbulent fight to pass a health care bill.

So, it’s unlikely that Congress will give immediate relief to a newspaper alliance seeking an anti-trust exemption to collectively negotiate a bigger cut of online ad revenues from digital advertising giants Google and Facebook.

Even in “normal times,” it’s “rare” for Congress to grant any industry an anti-trust exemption, law professor Herbert Hovenkamp told TheWrap.

Also Read: Why HBO Host John Oliver Can't Be Muzzled by a Coal Boss

“These things cook around for years and decades and they are almost never granted,” said Hovenkamp, a law professor specializing in anti-trust law at the University of Pennsylvania.

“In current times, I’d say there’s practically no chance. Congress is not very patient or happy about the press,” said Hovenkamp, a law professor specializing in anti-trust law at the University of Pennsylvania. “I don’t see them giving the institutional press any favors.”

The News Media Alliance, a newspaper trade group that represents more than 2,000 American newspapers, published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on Monday calling on Congress for an antitrust safe harbor against Google and Facebook, which the group considers a “digital duopoly,” according to the alliance website.

Also Read: First Amendment Under Attack? TheWrap's Sharon Waxman Weighs in With Panel of Experts (Video)

Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at the newspaper group, acknowledges that “in this political environment it is difficult to get anything done.”

“But, there is definitely an interest from policymakers on the impact of the duopoly on local news organizations and concern that with this online dominance there may not be a path forward to fund local journalism over the long-term,” Boyle told TheWrap.

Boyle noted that Congress passed the Newspaper Preservation Act in 1970, granting newspapers an anti-trust exemption by allowing two papers in the same city to combine business operations but keep separate newsrooms.

Also Read: Is Freedom of Expression in Danger in Trump Era? First Amendment Experts Weigh In (Video)

Federal anti-trust laws prevent companies from banding together and fixing prices for consumers or dictating worker salaries. The newspaper group wants an exemption to join forces and collectively negotiate better deals with the two internet giants.

“Because of this digital duopoly, publishers are forced to surrender their content and play by their rules on how news and information is displayed, prioritized and monetized,” the newspaper group said on its website.

A “duopoly” is like a monopoly, except two businesses dominate a particular market instead of just one. Before the internet, newspapers collected 100 percent of the revenues from ads placed in their papers.  Now that newspapers have migrated to the internet, they are forced to share a larger and larger cut of their digital ad revenues controlled by Google and Facebook.

Also Read: What Happens if the Media Defies White House Camera Ban?

“CBS’s net profit margin is 10 percent and Google’s is around 30 percent,” University of Southern California professor emeritus Jonathan Taplin told TheWrap.

“What’s the difference? CBS pays a lot to create content. Google doesn’t. Google is a free-rider,” said Taplin, author of the book, “Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.”

Even if Google and Facebook are duopolies, they are not violating anti-trust laws unless they collude together to fix prices, which is not being alleged by the newspaper group.

Also Read: James Woods Fires Back After Neil Patrick Harris Diss Over 'Gender Creative' Tweet

“Even if they are selling ads at a high price, that is not illegal under the anit-trust laws,” Hovenkamp said.

Google and Facebook are monster digital advertising companies that collectively earned 85 percent of all new digital advertising revenue in 2016.

Tim Worstall, a fellow at the free-market think tank the Adam Smith Institute in London, said he was “howlingly sceptical [sic]” of the request for anti-trust exemption relief.

Also Read: Whoopi Goldberg Slams Black Lives Matter Activist Over 'Planet of the Apes' Criticism (Video)

“The industry is being gutted, that’s entirely true, but then it should be,” he wrote in a recent in an Forbes article. “No to the antitrust exemption therefore, let the newspaper industry adapt to the changing economic geography, don’t prop it up.”

Goggle has not escaped anti-trust crack-downs. Last month, the European Union slapped Google with a $2.7 billion fine for favoring its own services in search engine results.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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www.thewrap.com | 7/13/17

The numbers speak for themselves. Daddy Yankee is number one in the world.

The Puerto Rican reggaeton artist, whose hits include ‘Gasolina’ and most recently ‘Despacito – Remix,’ generated over 44,735,586 monthly listeners on Spotify. This milestone crowns him as the number one artist worldwide, as confirmed by the global music streaming service.

This achievement by the Latin artist, who is currently on his European tour “Tamo En Vivo,” isn’t only for the international music market, which includes all genres, but he also earned the number one spot for Latin music on Spotify.

“Being the first Latin artist to reach #1 in Spotify marks a precedent not only for my career but for the industry in general,” Daddy Yankee told Associated Press in an email. “The musical digital revolution has unified the world, and this is the proof. We are all in the same boat with no labels or stereotypes.”

Daddy Yankee also revealed that when he began his career over 20 years ago, there were those who doubted he could make in the music industry—or even as an international star at that. However, he didn’t let any of the skepticism shape this future. “But I never stopped. I had to keep fighting. I had to make big sacrifices, to miss important moments with my family, to feel the prejudice of many people that didn’t open the doors for me,” he said.

Rocio Guerrero, Spotify’s head of Latin culture, shows and editorial added: “Spotify has been supporting Latin music for many years, and this is the moment that shows our passion and love for the genre are equally supported by our audience. We are grateful for all of our artists, and specifically for Daddy Yankee’s influence in bringing global appreciation to Latin music.”

Spotify recently reached more than 140 million users with over 2 billion playlists. Daddy Yankee’s playlist is titled “This is: Daddy Yankee” and can be accessed via cellphone, computer or tablet.

“Thanks to all the fans and colleagues that gave me the opportunity to collaborate with them. We did it!” said Yankee.


people.com | 7/10/17
Jeremy Corbyn called the 133-year-old gala Europe's "biggest celebration of working class culture".
www.bbc.co.uk | 7/8/17

Opening night at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the social events of the season. This year, of the Czech Republic’s biggest cultural and political figures walked the red carpet, dressed to the nines and hobnobbing with American actors Casey Affleck and Uma Thurman. It was a glitzy affair, not unlike many other galas, save for one major difference: Once the opening-night film, “The Big Sick,” let out, everyone lined up for a heaping plate of goulash.

And that indelible image – high society in their finest eveningwear, juggling flutes of champagne and hearty platters of comfort food – just about summed the experience at Karlovy Vary, which began in 1946 and this year celebrated its 52nd edition.

The festival, which opened on June 30 and runs through July 8, is the biggest event of its type in central Europe and one of the major festivals in Europe, uniting international auteurs, big name actors and flashy financiers for a weeklong celebration in a postcard Bohemia town. But for all of its heft, the festival has a remarkably homey atmosphere.

Like a satisfying portion of warm stew and pillowy dumplings, it feels gratifyingly unpretentious.

Also Read: Karlovy Vary Film Festival to Give Awards to Jeremy Renner, Uma Thurman

That welcoming feeling has turned a number of film-folk into perpetual returnees. Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa is one such example. He’s no stranger to the circuit, having premiered his film “Austerlitz” in Venice last year and “A Gentle Creature” in Cannes this past May. Though “Austerlitz” is playing in Karlovy Vary this year, Loznitsa came to the festival with a different set of intentions.

This festival, he told TheWrap, is “a cherry on the cake for my year. Venice and Cannes are for work — here, I relax!”

That’s a sentiment shared by many of his contemporaries who end returning time and again, thanks in part to a vast selection that includes around 150 films. Though the festival programmers reserve three competition sections for world and international premieres, they fill the numerous non-competitive slots with notable titles from Sundance, Berlin, and Cannes, turning the Bohemian event into a modest sized festival of festivals.

That’s a welcome relief for a director like Loznitsa, who said he spent his entire Cannes shuffling between professional and promotional obligations, and only had enough downtime to eat and change clothes. In Karlovy Vary, he had time to do something that would have been impossible in May: Once our conversation ended, he was off to catch some movies.

Also Read: Casey Affleck to Receive President's Award From Karlovy Vary Film Festival

For director Jonas Carpignano, festivals like Karlovy Vary not only offer him the chance to explore other directors — they allow him to see his own work in a new light. When “A Ciambra” premiered at Cannes, he was there physically, but he wasn’t ‘there’ mentally.

“I was wondering if the volume was too low, and worrying about the cast,” he explains. But in Karlovy Vary, he was able to sit down, relax and discover his film alongside the audience.

The New York-born, Calabria-based filmmaker is already well-known figure in festival-land. The boisterous 33-year-old has won numerous prizes and toured extensively with his two shorts and two features, all of them set in the same Calabrese town, and all them formally audacious mixes of documentary and neo-realist fiction.

Carpignano has a fascinating approach, taking real-life figures and having them dramatize their lives. Though the films are scripted in advance, he works with his actors – all of them playing themselves – to hit their beats naturally. His films are set in the small town where he lives, with side-characters from one film becoming the leads of the next. In world where Marvel reigns supreme, he’s created a wholly different kind of shared cinematic universe.

Also Read: Helen Mirren, Jude Law, John Malkovich and Others In the Best Film-Fest Trailers You'll Ever See (Video)

“A Ciambra” attracted the support of Martin Scorsese, who signed on as executive producer and offered notes in the editing room. The film took top honors at Director’s Fortnight sidebar at Cannes and sold to IFC Films, who are looking to release it this autumn.

But the festival circuit can be a little too insular for Carpignano’s liking. “Yes, there are civilians,” he told TheWrap. “But it’s mainly people who do this for a living. You come to Karlovy Vary and there are students there.

“The bubble in Cannes creates energy around some things that later fall down, and some things that go unnoticed end up exploding. When you’re out of the big bang, it’s great to go to a festival and see what sticks.

“You see the films that are continuing to play and you realize how the real world responds to the movies that are out there. That’s one thing I really appreciate about this festival.”

Also Read: Cannes 2017: Thoughts on a Political, Indie-Minded Festival

Karlovy Vary offered a number of worldwide premieres as well, and a successful berth can launch a film towards greater renown. That certainly seems the case with “The Cakemaker,” which is without a doubt the buzziest title playing in competition this year.

The German/Israeli production received a standing ovation so long and impassioned that director Ofir Raul Graizer still seemed shell-shocked hours after the film’s Tuesday screening. The festival’s artistic director, Karel Och, corroborated that response, tweeting a video of the ovation and calling it “unforgettable.” Speaking to TheWrap on Thursday, Och said that he had never seen anything like it.

Check in with any random festivalgoer, and you’d good reason to believe him. People have been responding in droves to this delicate melodrama about a German baker Thomas, who falls quickly and passionately in love with a visiting Israeli businessman Oran. When Oran suddenly dies, Thomas heads to Israel to meet his lover’s wife Anat, who of course had no idea that her husband was seeing another man.

The film expertly treats questions of identity, forgiveness, and the weight of secrets. It was a labor of love for all involved. You can never tell what might move the jury, so let’s abstain from any award prognostication for the time being, But we can say this with certainty: One way or another, Graizer and crew will leave this festival knowing that they’ve got a film that plays.

That might be the greatest honor Karlovy Vary can offer.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/7/17
[Deutsche Welle] Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila speaks six languages and lives across two continents. On July 6, he will be honored with the German International Literature Prize. He spoke with DW about his life and work.
allafrica.com | 7/7/17

Robin Wright, Viola Davis, Julianne Moore, and Laura Linney are among the throng of 50 actresses over 50 currently making waves in Hollywood.

Nicole Kidman (birthdate: 06/20/67)

The Australian Oscar winner appeared in no less than four movies at 2017’s Cannes Film Festival.

Helena Bonham Carter (birthdate: 05/26/66)

After starring in 2015’s “Cinderella,” this Oscar nominee reprised a different Disney role as the Red Queen in “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

Robin Wright (birthdate: 04/08/66)

A Golden Globe-winning actress, Wright plays Claire Underwood in Netflix’s “House of Cards” and will appear in 2017’s “Wonder Woman” and the long-awaited “Blade Runner” sequel.

Halle Berry

(birthdate: 08/14/66)

Aside from the fact that she’s the only black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, she most recently starred in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and will be in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”

Salma Hayek

(birthdate: 09/02/66)

Salma Hayek has been a household name since forever and it’s no wonder — she’s had notable movie roles  “Frida,” “Desperado,” and “Wild Wild West.”

Viola Davis (birthdate: 08/11/65)

An accomplished SAG and Emmy winner, Davis stars in ABC’s hit series “How to Get Away with Murder” and 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”

Gong Li (birthdate: 12/31/65)

After making her American film debut in 2006’s “Miami Vice,” Li helped bring Chinese cinema to Europe and the U.S.

Sarah Jessica Parker (birthdate: 03/25/65)

Following the enormous success of her breakout series “Sex and the City,” Jessica Parker starred in a string of romantic comedies. She stars in HBO’s new with comedy “Divorce.”

Diane Lane (birthdate: 01/22/65)

The Oscar nominee has been busy, voicing the mother in Pixar’s “Inside Out,” playing Cleo Trumbo in “Trumbo,” and Martha Kent in 2013’s “Man of Steel” and 2016’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Vivica A. Fox (birthdate: 07/30/64).

Since the ’80s, Fox has made a name for herself in both film and TV, including appearances in Fox’s “Empire” and reprising her role as Jasmine Dubrow in “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

www.thewrap.com | 7/7/17

Annette Bening has been named as the president of the 74th Venice Film Festival jury — the first woman to preside over the competition jury in 11 years. Last year, the jury was headed by Sam Mendes, who directed Bening in “American Beauty.”

“It was time to break with a long list of male presidents and invite a brilliant talented and inspiring woman to chair our international competition jury,” Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera said in a statement.

“I am extremely happy that Annette Bening has accepted this role, which she will carry out by virtue of her stature, her intellect and the talents she has manifested over the course of her career, in Hollywood, Europe and on the stage,” he added.

Also Read: 'Katrina: American Crime Story' Casts Matthew Broderick as FEMA Director

The last woman to head the Venice jury was Catherine Deneuve in 2006. Bening is the sixth female jury president at the world’s oldest film festival, following Deneuve, Gong Li (2002), Jane Campion (1997), Sabine Azéma (1987), and Suso Cecchi D’Amico (1980).

Bening has been nominated for an Academy Award four times (for “The Grifters,” “American Beauty,” “Being Julia” and “The Kids Are All Right”) and has won two Golden Globes over the course of her career. She most recently starred in Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women.” Upcoming projects include “The Seagull,” opposite Saoirse Ronan, and the drama “Life, Itself,” with Olivia Wilde and Oscar Isaac.

“I’m honored to be asked to serve as the president of the jury for this year’s Venice Film Festival,” Bening said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing the movies and working with my fellow jury members to celebrate the best of this year’s cinema from all over the world.”

Also Read: '20th Century Women' Review: Annette Bening Anchors Strong Ensemble Piece

In recent years, the Venice Film Festival has become an important awards season stop: past world premieres include “La La Land,” “Spotlight” and “Gravity.”

The 74th Venice International Film Festival runs Aug. 20-Sept. 9. The full lineup will be announced on July 27.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Annette Bening Joins 'Katrina: American Crime Story'

'20th Century Women' Review: Annette Bening Anchors Strong Ensemble Piece

'20th Century Women' Star Annette Bening on Why Acting Still Scares Her

Annette Bening to Receive Career Achievement Award at Palm Springs Film Festival

Annette Bening Braves the '70s as a Single Mom in '20th Century Women' First Trailer (Video)

www.thewrap.com | 7/5/17

LONDON — A vivid piece of American sports culture was displayed in London's Hyde Park as baseball came to town on July 4, the U.S. Independence Day.

The exhibition Tuesday featured several former major leaguers playing a Home Run Derby in one of London's best-known open spaces.

It's part of Major League Baseball's plan to showcase the game to build interest in Britain and Europe, where soccer is the overwhelmingly favorite sport. The move comes during the summer hiatus in England's Premier League.

Belfast and Derry City and Strabane councils hope to win the honour in 2023.
www.bbc.co.uk | 7/5/17

LONDON — A vivid piece of American sports culture was on display Tuesday in London's Hyde Park as baseball came to town on July 4, the U.S. Independence Day.

The exhibition featured several former major leaguers playing a Home Run Derby in one of London's best-known open spaces.

It's part of Major League Baseball's plan to showcase the game to build interest in Britain and Europe, a region where soccer is the overwhelmingly favorite sport. The move comes during the summer hiatus in England's Premier League.

Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to land one of the crown jewels of European media was dealt a setback Thursday after the British government said that 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion ($14.9 billion) takeover of Sky needed to be scrutinized by U.K. competition authorities. Culture secretary Karen Bradley said she was “minded to” have Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority... Read more »
variety.com | 6/29/17

Uma Thurman and Jeremy Renner will receive special awards at the 2017 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, KVIFF organizers announced on Tuesday.

Both actors will be given Presidents Awards at the festival, one of the oldest and most important showcases for film in Central and Eastern Europe. KVIFF has been taking place since 1946 at a spa town outside of Prague in the Czech Republic.

Thurman, who recently served as president of the Un Certain Regard jury at Cannes, will be given her award by festival president Ji?í Bartoška during the festival’s opening ceremony on June 30. The Oscar nominee for “Pulp Fiction” and Golden Globe winner for “Hysterical Blindness” is currently working on the comedy “The War With Grandpa” with Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

Renner will receive his award at the festival’s closing-night gala on July 8. Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 film “Arrival,” in which Renner co-stars with Amy Adams, will screen as part of that celebration. The two-time Oscar nominee will also introduce the upcoming Taylor Sheridan drama “Wind River,” for which he won raves at Sundance and Cannes, at Karlovy Vary.

Also Read: 'Wind River' Goes From the Snow in Sundance to the Beach at Cannes

Previously announced awards will go to film composer James Newton Howard and to director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty, all of whom will receive Karlovy Vary’s signature Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. Czech director Václav Vorlí?ek will receive the President’s Award for Artistic Contribution to Czech Cinema.

The 2017 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will open with “The Big Sick,” the acclaimed romantic comedy directed by Michael Showalter and starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, from a deeply personal script by Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon.

Guests at the festival will include actress/director/producer Trudie Styler, who will present her directorial feature debut, “Freak Show”; Canadian director Denis Côté, who will serve as a mentor in the festival’s Future Frames section; Byelorussian director Sergei Loznitsa, who will present his film “Austerlitz”; and Belfast-born director Mark Cousins, who will come to the festival with “Stockholm, My Love.”

Films screening in Karlovy Vary will include new works from George Ovashvili, Rachel Israel, Lionel Rupp, Rainer Sernet, Jun Geng and the late Krzysztof Krauze. Special sections will salute the work of Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi and Czech cinematographer Ji?í Brde?ka.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, and John Travolta Celebrate 'Pulp Fiction's 20th With Beachside Screening (Photos)

'Wind River' Star Jeremy Renner on Playing a Man Who Loses His Child (Video)

'The Square' Wins Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival

www.thewrap.com | 6/20/17

The seams are starting to fray. The strain is showing. We all are starting to crack up under the pressure of a Donald Trump presidency.

This was entirely predictable. As we have been subjected to his daily bullying, Twitter temper tantrums, outright lying and open contempt for our Constitution, of course our nerves are giving up — as is our ability to maintain civility and decency in response to so much coarseness.

The president is setting the tone for the country, and that tone is nasty, aggressive, crude and ugly. There are those who are openly trying to hew to a higher standard. But a lot of us are absorbing the energy of this administration and reflecting it back to the wider culture.

Also Read: Kristen Gillibrand F-Bombs Trump, Twitter Explodes

We should not be surprised to see our lower impulses poking through the fabric of civility. Like when Montana political candidate Greg Gianforte body-slams a journalist who merely asked him a question, breaking his glasses. That behavior would have seemed outrageous recently, like last year. This year Gianforte got elected. (He later apologized.)

On television and on social media, we are seeing the downgrading of our public discourse. Kathy Griffin stepped over the line with her unfunny parody of a bloody, beheaded Trump. She too apologized, but CNN still fired her, understandably.

The usually measured Reza Aslan lost control of his emotions and called Trump “a piece of s—,” an embarrassment and a stain on the presidency. Just those last two remarks would have been powerful enough, but Aslan could not restrain himself, apparently, after Trump insulted the Muslim mayor of London in the wake of a horrific terror attack.

Aslan was out of line, but Trump pushed him there. CNN fired him too.

Also Read: CNN Fires Reza Aslan Over Trump 'Piece of S--' Comment

And then on Friday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) dropped the F-bomb a bunch of times. A senator? Asked about Donald Trump’s accomplishments in the White House at a forum at New York University on Personal Democracy, Gillibrand said, “Has he kept his promises? No. F— no.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has also loosened his language, in April calling Trump’s budget a “s—ty budget.”

Expect more of this kind of thing. Bill Maher looks like he’s barely holding on to his sanity from week to week on his HBO show. In his case, releasing the strain with the F-bomb doesn’t appear to be helping.

The takeaway from the historic testimony by former FBI director James Comey on Thursday was to underscore that our president is a liar. A serial liar. An inveterate liar. A shameless liar.

Also Read: Bill Maher: Kathy Griffin 'Owes Me a Fruit Basket for Getting Her Off the Front Page' (Video)

This is not something that is under great debate. The Guardian this weekend urged the United Kingdom to rescind an invitation to Trump for a state visit. The paper’s assessment: “Trump is an habitual liar, as evidenced again in last week’s sworn congressional testimony by his sacked FBI director, James Comey. Trump is a bully, as Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, among many others, can testify from personal experience. And Trump is a coward.

“Donald Trump is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of president of the United States. That is a view widely held in the U.S. and among America’s European allies, by politicians and diplomats in government and by rank-and-file voters repelled by his gross egoism, narcissism and what Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has rightly termed his ‘stupefying ignorance.’

Make no mistake, we are living day by day through history that will be sifted through and revisited again and again in the decades to come. It is why we must pay such close attention to our own conduct, our own language and discourse — even as we try to hold the president to account.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Trump Calls Former FBI Director Comey 'Cowardly' but Twitter Doesn't Buy It

Trump Meetings Are Like Getting Drunk and Waterboarding Yourself, Ex-Twitter CEO Says

Kirsten Gillibrand F-Bombs Trump, Twitter Explodes

CNN Fires Reza Aslan Over Trump 'Piece of S—' Comment

www.thewrap.com | 6/12/17
The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture will feature the works of performers, artists and thinkers from Europe’s largest ethnic minority.
www.nytimes.com | 6/9/17
A center to showcase the art and culture of Europe's Roma is being set up in Berlin, a project that backers hope will help tackle prejudice against the minority.
www.foxnews.com | 6/8/17

Honoring the best in motion picture marketing, the 18th annual Golden Trailer Awards were held tonight in Beverly Hills, with newly-minted superhero franchise “Wonder Woman” taking home the night’s top prize — Best Of Show.

“Wonder Woman” also took home the prize for Best Fantasy/Adventure trailer.

Also Read: 5 Reasons 'Wonder Woman' Shattered the Box Office Ceiling

But the night’s biggest winner was “The Lego Batman Movie.” Warner Bros’ hit animated film won for Best Animation / Family, Best Animation / Family TV Spot (for a Feature Film), Best Voice Over TV Spot (for a Feature Film), Best TrailerByte for a Feature Film, and Best Radio / Audio Spot.

“Atomic Blond,” the Universal/Focus thriller “Atomic Blond starring Charlize Theron won for Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster Trailer, Best Motion/Title Graphics, and Best Sound Editing. And the Documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” also took home two awards, winning for The Don LaFontane Award for Best Voice Over, and Best Documentary.

Other winners include “Baby Driver,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Logan,” “Dunkirk,” and more. Read on for the complete list of winners.

Also Read: Charlize Theron Beats a Man With Her Stiletto in New 'Atomic Blonde' Trailer (Video)

2017 GOLDEN TRAILER AWARD WINNERS
Legend: Film Title, Studio, Trailer House or Creative Vendor

AWARDS PRESENTED DURING THE LIVE STAGE SHOW INCLUDE:

Best Of Show
Wonder Woman, Warner Bros., Open Road Entertainment/ AV Squad

Best Opening Weekend
Captain America: Civil War, Disney/ Marvel

Best Action
Baby Driver, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Create Advertising London

Best Animation / Family
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Rogue Planet

Best Comedy
The House, New Line Cinema, mOcean

Best Documentary
I Am Not Your Negro, Amazon Studios/Magnolia Pictures, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Drama
Dunkirk, Warner Bros., Buddha Jones

Best Fantasy /Adventure
Wonder Woman, Warner Bros., Open Road Entertainment/ AV Squad

Best Horror
IT, New Line Cinema, Buddha Jones

Best Independent Trailer
Manchester By The Sea, Amazon Studios/ Roadside Attractions, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Music
Logan, 20th Century Fox, Rogue Planet

Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster Trailer
Atomic Blonde, Universal/Focus, AV Squad

Best Teaser
Blade Runner: 2049, Warner Bros., Wild Card

Best Thriller
A Cure for Wellness, 20th Century Fox, Trailer Park, Inc.

Golden Fleece
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Trailer Park, Inc.

Most Original Trailer
The Nice Guys, Warner Bros, Big Picture

Trashiest Trailer
Bad Santa 2, Broad Green Pictures, mOcean

Best Independent Trailer (for film budget shot under a million US)
Deep Water: The Real Story, Blackfella Films, The Trace House

Best Motion/Title Graphics
Atomic Blonde, Universal/Focus, AV Squad

Best Romance
The Light Between Oceans, DreamWorks, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Original Score
La La Land, Lionsgate, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Sound Editing
Atomic Blonde, Universal/Focus, AV Squad

Best Trailer – No Movie
The Kill Team, Cornerstone, Intermission Film

Best Video Game Trailer
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision, gnet

The Don LaFontane Award for Best Voice Over
I Am Not Your Negro, Amazon Studios/Magnolia Pictures, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Foreign Action Trailer
Collide, Universum Film GmbH, Trailerhaus GmbH,

Best Foreign Animation Family Trailer
Loving Vincent, Cinema Management Group, Zealot UK

Best Foreign Comedy Trailer
David Brent: Life On The Road, eOne, The Editpool

Best Foreign Documentary Trailer
I am Bolt, Universal Pictures International, Zealot UK

Best Foreign Drama Trailer
Lion, The Weinstein Company, Zealot

Best Foreign Graphics in a Trailer
Loving Vincent, Cinema Management Group, Zealot UK

Best Foreign Horror Trailer
Evolution, IFC Midnight, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Foreign Independent Trailer
Jawbone, Vertigo Releasing, Intermission Film

Best Foreign Music Trailer
Raw, Focus World, Motive

Best Foreign Romance Trailer
My Cousin Rachel, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Create Advertising London

Best Foreign Teaser
Lady Macbeth, Altitude Film Entertainment, Intermission Film

Best Foreign Thriller Trailer
The Girl With All The Gifts, Saban Films, Picture Production Company

Best Foreign Trashiest Trailer
The Lure, Janus Films, Jump Cut

Golden Fleece Foreign
A Few Less Men, Studio Canal, The Solid State

Most Original Foreign Trailer
Evolution, IFC Midnight, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Action TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
John Wick: Chapter 2, Lionsgate, AV Squad

Best Animation / Family TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros., Buddha Jones

Best Comedy TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Baywatch, Paramount Pictures, Workshop Creative

Best Documentary TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
13th, Netflix, AV Squad

Best Drama TV Spot (for a Feature FIlm)
Arrival, Paramount Pictures, Buddha Jones

Best Fantasy Adventure TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Doctor Strange, Disney, Trailer Park, Inc.

Best Foreign TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Train to Busan, Well Go USA Entertainment

Best Graphics in a TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Moonlight, A24 Films, GrandSon

Best Horror TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Don’t Breathe, Screen Gems, The Refinery

Best Independent TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Moonlight, A24 Films, GrandSon

Best Music TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
La La Land, Lionsgate, Seismic Productions

Best Original Score TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Walt Disney Studios, AV Squad

Best Romance TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
La La Land, Lionsgate, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Sound Editing in a TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Sully: Miracle On The Hudson, Warner Bros., The Editpool

Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, Disney/ Marvel, Aspect

Best Teaser TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Sausage Party, Sony Pictures, Viacom Velocity

Best Thriller TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
A Cure for Wellness, 20th Century Fox, Trailer Park, Inc.

Best Video Game TV Spot
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Sony PlayStation, PlayStation Creative

Best Voice Over TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros. Pictures, Transit

Golden Fleece TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Assassin’s Creed, 20th Century Fox, Rogue Planet

Most Original TV Spot (for a Feature Film)
Sully: Miracle On The Hudson, Warner Bros., The Editpool

Best Action (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Narcos, Netflix, Transit

Best Animation / Family (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Simpsons, FX Networks, We Are Royale

Best Comedy (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Last Week Tonight, HBO, mOcean

Best Documentary (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Get Me Roger Stone, Netflix, Create Advertising Group

Best Drama (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Big Little Lies, HBO, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Fantasy Adventure (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Stranger Things Season 1, Netflix, Trailer Park, Inc.

Best Foreign (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
The Silent Valley, HBO Europe, Good Hands

Best Graphics (in a TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
American Horror Story, FX Networks

Best Horror / Thriller (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Westworld, HBO, Motive

Best Independent (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Netflix, Create Advertising Group

Best Music (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Westworld, HBO, Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Original Score (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Better Call Saul S2, Netflix, Buddha Jones

Best Promo for a TV Network
Netflix Empowering Women, Netflix, mOcean

Best Sound Editing (in a TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Legion, FX Network, Create Advertising Group

Best Voice Over (in a TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
Designated Survivor, ABC Entertainment Marketing, In-House

Most Original (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series)
American Horror Story, FX Networks

Best Action Poster
The Magnificent Seven, Sony, Ignition

Best Animation / Family Movie Poster
Pete’s Dragon, Walt Disney Studios, Cold Open

Best Billboard
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Warner Bros., Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Comedy Poster
The Nice Guys, Warner Bros., Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Documentary Poster
Lo and Behold, Magnolia Pictures, P+A

Best Drama Poster
Hacksaw Ridge, Lionsgate, LA

Best Fantasy / Adventure Poster
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Walt Disney Studios, LA

Best Foreign Poster
The Man Who Was Thursday, Picturesque Films, Good Hands

Best Horror Poster
Alien: Covenant, 20th Century Fox, InSync Plus

Best Independent Poster
Moonlight, A24, InSync Plus

Best International Poster
Get Out, Universal Pictures, LA

Best Motion Poster
The Birth of a Nation, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Motive

Best Romance Poster
La La Land, Lionsgate, LA

Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster Poster
Wonder Woman, Warner Bros., Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Teaser Poster
Kong: Skull Island, Warner Bros., Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Thriller Poster
Split, Universal Pictures, LA

Best Video Game Poster
Halo Wars 2, 343 Industries/ Microsoft Studios, Concept Arts, Inc.

Best Wildposts
Dr. Strange, Walt Disney Studios, LA

Most Original Poster
Simpsons 600, FXX, LA

Trashiest Poster
Jon Glaser Loves Gear, truTV, BPG

Best Comedy TV Series Poster
The Simpsons 600, FX Network, The Refinery

Best Documentary/Reality TV Series Poster
American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, FX Networks, Ignition

Best Drama/Action TV Series Poster
Big Little Lies, HBO, Leroy & Rose

Best Horror/Thriller TV Series Poster
Fight of the Living Dead, YouTube Red, Cold Open

Most Innovative Advertising for a Feature Film
Arrival, Paramount Pictures, M3 Creative

Most Innovative Advertising (for a TV Series / Streaming Series)
truTV, truTV and Movement Strategy

Most Innovative Advertising for a Video Game
Fantastic Contraption, Northway Games, kertgartner.com,

Most Innovative Advertising for a Brand / Product
The Tale of Thomas Burberry, Black Label Productions, Intermission Film

Best Viral Campaign
Rings, Paramount Pictures, Thinkmodo

Best TrailerByte for a Feature Film
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros. Pictures, Transit

Best TrailerByte for a TV Series/Streaming Series
Fargo S3, FX, LA

Best pre-show Theatrical Advertising for a Brand
“Universe”, Dolby Laboratories, Dolby Laboratories

Best Opening Title Sequence or Closing Credit Sequence
XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Paramount, Greenhaus GFX

Best Opening Title Sequence or Closing Credit Sequence for a TV/Streaming Series
Big Little Lies, HBO, Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Radio / Audio Spot
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros., Trailer Park, Inc.

Best Trailer for Book or Novel
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Warner Bros., Jax

Best Film Festival Poster
Madame Butterfly, Thunderbird Releasing, Picture Production Company

Best Film Festival Trailer
America’s Art Colony, Crash & Sue’s, Provincetown International Film Festival

Related stories from TheWrap:

'The Mummy' to Get Wrapped Up by 'Wonder Woman' at the Box Office

7 Male Superheroes 'Wonder Woman' Beat Critically or Financially (Photos)

How DC Can Maintain Its 'Wonder Woman' Goodwill: Let Diana Lead (Commentary)

www.thewrap.com | 6/7/17

A very lackluster May at the domestic box office — highlighted by the weakest Memorial Day weekend in 18 years — has sparked the phrase “franchise fatigue” once again.

While “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continued Marvel Studios’ streak of dependable hits, other sequels like “Alien: Covenant” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” while providing solid returns for their studios, haven’t met expectations.

However, even as some long-running franchises are finding their domestic numbers plateauing or declining, they have remained extremely profitable hits thanks to continued interest from moviegoers in developing overseas markets. In fact, some recent sequels are now getting upwards of 75 percent of their total global box office cume from outside the U.S., compared to between 60-70 percent for their predecessors.

Also Read: Disney Crosses $3 Billion at the Global Box Office in Just 5 Months

“The more films you make in a series, the harder it is to avoid taking a downtick,” Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock said. “The good news for now is that we’ve seen these overseas markets pick up the slack and studios are banking on it.”

The first movie to do this in 2017 was “The Fate of the Furious,” which is the sixth film to reach an overseas total of $1 billion. With a domestic cume of $223 million, it is by no means a disappointment for Universal, as that total is just $15 million lower than that for “Fast & Furious 6.”

But back in 2015, interest in this franchise spiked after the death of Paul Walker, leading to a $1.5 billion worldwide haul for “Furious 7” with a franchise-high $353 million from the U.S. while overseas totals more than doubled the $550 million for “F&F6.” While that additional interest has largely subsided in the U.S., Universal has been able to sustain it internationally, particularly in China, where “Fate” passed “Furious 7” to become the highest grossing foreign film in that market.

 



Also Read: 'The Fate of the Furious' Revs Past $1 Billion Overseas



 

As a result, roughly 82 percent of the $1.22 billion grossed by “Fate” has come from overseas. It’s a sign that the studio’s decision to transform Vin Diesel’s car franchise from a series about street racing into a globetrotting stuntfest starting with 2011’s “Fast Five” has been a lucrative one, allowing the franchise to find overseas appeal as a broader action series rather than one based in the specifics of car culture. The addition of action stars like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham has also kept the franchise fresh for global audiences 16 years and eight movies in.

“Pirates of the Caribbean,” on the other hand, is seeing an noticeable drop in domestic openings with each successive sequel. Disney will take a $78 million Memorial Day Weekend opening for any blockbuster, but it’s still a drop from the $90 million three-day opening for “On Stranger Tides” and 44 percent down from the $139.8 million M.D. Weekend opening for “At World’s End” 10 years ago.

The two films since “At World’s End” have seen diminishing returns, with “On Stranger Tides” becoming the first in the franchise to gross under $300 million domestically. “Dead Men,” meanwhile, saw the largest domestic second-frame drop off in “Pirates” history, dropping 65 percent from a $62 million three-day opening to an estimated $22 million in weekend two thanks to strong competition from “Wonder Woman.” It is now looking at a 10-day domestic estimate of $115 million, down 25 percent from “On Stranger Tides.”

Also Read: US Film Production Jumps 7 Percent to $7.5 Billion in 2016, FilmLA Study Shows

However, “On Stranger Tides” crossed the $1 billion mark anyway thanks to another spike in overseas returns to the tune of a franchise-high $804 million, then a Disney record for international totals. The film was a particular success in Japan, where it grossed $108 million. “Dead Men” is enjoying similar success abroad, having passed the $500 million global mark on its second Sunday with $386 million coming from overseas (77 percent share). Compared at today’s rates, that puts “Dead Men” 22 percent  ahead of the overseas pace set to this point by “On Stranger Tides,” and its overseas:domestic ratio could increase even more when it opens in Japan July 1.

So what’s the difference? Bock thinks that one factor is the increased investment in overseas movie theaters in recent years, making blockbuster movie-going more available to developing markets. This allowed “Pirates” to capitalize on markets like Russia, where the $63 million gross for “On Stranger Tides” was more than double for that of “At World’s End.”

“China and Europe, for the most part, are still in their infancy in terms of blockbuster viewing,” Bock says. “They’re just getting some of these IMAX screens and it’s a new thing for them.”

 

 



Also Read: 'The Fate of the Furious' Revs Past $1 Billion Overseas



 

 

 

IMAX CEO Greg Foster says that outside the U.S., the draw of a big Hollywood release still hasn’t faded, thanks in part to social media sustaining word of mouth. He also notes that demographics for IMAX screenings in several Asian markets tends to skew young, as younger audiences see going to these blockbusters on opening weekend as an event in much the same way American audiences still turn out for Marvel and “Star Wars” films.

“When you look at Indonesia, India, Taiwan, etc., you see a very young population that has been very exposed to American culture,” Foster says. “It’s a hobby of theirs.”

In the case of “Pirates,” Foster also believes that the success of “Dead Men” is owed to how Disney has built and marketed their brand worldwide. Indeed, Disney seems to have taken a particularly international approach to their marketing, as the film became the first Hollywood release to hold its premiere in Shanghai. The cast also promoted the film at Disneyland Paris, while fan screenings in Europe, Russia and South America were also heavily promoted.

Also Read: 'Wonder Woman' Ropes in $100 Million, Record for Movie With Female Director

“More than any other studio, I think Disney has done a great job building the trust of moviegoers, so every blockbuster they release is seen as an event,” Foster said. As for the future of summer franchises and the recent drop in numbers, Foster remains optimistic.

“I think if you told someone six months ago that ‘Pirates 5’ was going to make $78 million Memorial Day weekend, they would have said ‘Sold,'” he continued. “The North American box office, while it might not be growing every single weekend, it is still a significant portion of the box office depending on the title.”

“Also, titles that tend to be iconic and translatable are still doing well across the board. For IMAX’s box office for ‘Pirates,’ it was still even: a third from North America, a third from China, and a third from international sans China. That tends to be how our movies perform on average.”

Also Read: Fox News Panel Ponders If 'Wonder Woman' Is Patriotic Enough

But Bock believes that studios are going to have to make a major decision at some point should some of these franchises continue to drop domestically. Later this month, three more sequels will hit theaters: Pixar’s “Cars 3,” Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3,” and Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

“Transformers” is a particularly crucial sequel, as Paramount has suffered several flops this year such as “Rings,” “Ghost In The Shell,” and most recently, “Baywatch.” “Transformers” remains the studio’s one dependable hit machine, but its most recent entry, “Age of Extinction,” showed signs that this franchise is also facing a widening domestic/overseas ratio as 78 percent of its $1.1 billion gross ($858 million) came from overseas, with $320 million coming from China.

“For all of these studios, the only thing set in stone on their slates for the next five years is sequels,” Bock said. “It still makes sense for studios to produce these films, but in most cases they’re not going to have the public goodwill in their back pocket like they used to.”

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www.thewrap.com | 6/4/17
Not even a crack starved addict, not even a demented simpleton with the DTs, not even a petulant puerile brat, not even an uncultured, uneducated dolt, not even a pig-ignorant oik, not even the worst type of culture-starved yob in Europe would have behaved like the President of the USA at the NATO conference. So how was his virgin tour?

The Trump administration will not try to break up Silicon Valley’s powerful monopolies — Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“I have no hope whatsoever,” said USC dean emeritus Jonathan Taplin, author of the new book, “Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.”

Taplin describes President Trump as “subservient to” the tech giants, but says President Obama was the same.

“Politicians seem to be over-awed by real billionaires,” Taplin told TheWrap. “I don’t even know if Trump is a real billionaire. But I’m certain Peter Thiel, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg are real billionaires.”

Also Read: 3 Biggest Takeaways From Google I/O 2017

Google’s market power is being investigated overseas, however.

In the European Union, antitrust regulators are expected to issue a ruling in the next few months whether Google breached EU anti-trust rules and should be fined.

“The EU is pretty much leading that charge,” Taplin said.

EU regulators are looking at three possible anti-trust violations: squeezing out rivals in internet searches, through Google’s Android mobile operating system, and with Google’s “AdSense for Search” platform, which produces search results that include advertising.

Also Read: Bill Maher Calls Apple, Google, Facebook 'Essentially Drug Dealers' for Addictive Kids' Apps (Video)

Google denies the allegations and says it increased competition.

Taplin believes that U.S. anti-trust regulators would take a second look at Silicon Valley companies if voters were to elect Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as president in four years.  “She’s made monopoly the core focus of her work,” Taplin said.

“It’s never healthy in a democracy to have such concentrations of private power,” Taplin said. “We have confronted this problem one hundred years ago, and I am pretty confident that a new progressive resistance is at hand.”

Also Read: Google, Facebook Could Lose $2.9 Billion in Digital Ad Sales

Google is more than a search engine, Facebook is more than a social media platform, and Amazon is more than an online book store, Taplin said.

Facebook and Google are actually hugely successful advertising agencies. The two giants are locked in a struggle to sell the most ads based on legalized spying on their users and selling the data to advertisers, Taplin said. “For the moment, Facebook seems to be winning,” Taplin wrote in his book. “Whichever company can accumulate the most data on you can then sell highly pinpointed advertising at the highest price.”

Google and Facebook have disrupted the entertainment and news industries by scooping up most of the advertising revenue, not putting the money back into creating content, and Google’s subsidiary YouTube has not adequately policed pirated works, Taplin said.

Also Read: Feds Should Break Up Google, Facebook Monopolies, NYT Op-Ed Argues

In first quarter of last year, 85 cents of every new dollar spent on online advertising was paid to Google or Facebook. “So all providers of content, be they musicians, filmmakers, journalists, or photographers, have to deal with Google or Facebook if they want to attract an audience,” he said.

Taplin has experience in the music and film industries as the former tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band, and a film producer for Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders and Gus Van Sant. He penned a New York Times op-ed about his book last month.

The other Silicon Valley monopoly, Amazon, now controls 70 market share of all online new book sales, whether print or digital, Taplin said.

Also Read: 10 Underrated Shows You Can Watch on Amazon Prime (Photos)

Now Amazon is expanding its reach into all kinds of retail sales

“You look at even fashion retail, Amazon’s making unbelievable strides in that,” Taplin said. “You’re seeing what the effect is on the mass market retails like Sears and K-mart and they are probably going out of business in the next year.”

To dilute the advertising market power of Google and Facebook, Taplin favors a federal privacy law that would require users to affirmatively opt-in to data-mining by online companies — which is key to their online advertising services — instead of the current system of requiring consumers to opt-out.

He also proposes a government-ordered break-up of the Silicon Valley monopolies, as AT&T was broken up, and require the licensing of the companies’ patents for free to “create a whole bunch of new firms.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

3 Biggest Takeaways From Google I/O 2017

Bill Maher Calls Apple, Google, Facebook 'Essentially Drug Dealers' for Addictive Kids' Apps (Video)

Google, Facebook Could Lose $2.9 Billion in Digital Ad Sales

Feds Should Break Up Google, Facebook Monopolies, NYT Op-Ed Argues

www.thewrap.com | 5/31/17

With the 2017 Cannes Film Festival concluded, a few thoughts on what we learned at the festival’s 70th anniversary edition:

Politics are never too far below the surface at Cannes. One of the biggest stories of the past several years has been the ongoing migrant crisis, but Vanessa Redgrave’s impassioned agit-doc “Sea Sorrow” was the only Cannes film to tackle the subject head-on.

Though “Jupiter’s Moon” followed a Syrian refugee, the film was more interested in the religious allegory aspect and in crafting spectacular action set-pieces. African migrants popped up in Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” and Jonas Carpignano’s “A Ciambra,” but both films were ultimately about other subjects (Haneke’s about upper class malaise, Carpignano’s about a young Roma’s coming of age). Though the crisis shows no signs of abetting, it has become woven into the fabric of everyday life.

*

The big studios were conspicuously absent this year, with many of them choosing the fall festival circuit to launch their major titles, and so they’ve has taken on a different role, now acting as a career boost for up-and-coming young directors. Filmmakers like Benny and Josh Safdie, Tyler Sheridan and Sean Baker have all considerable success in the American independent scene. Now that they return with the Cannes stamp of approval, they will find themselves playing to a larger audience than they ever had before.

Also Read: 'Good Time' Cannes Review: Robert Pattinson Lurches Desperately Through Queens

Both Director’s Fortnight winners “The Rider” and “A Ciambra” mix documentary and fiction, having real people play versions of themselves in visually accomplished, highly cinematic retellings of their stories. While Netflix — and the way it’s challenging existing distribution models — has been the talk of the festival, these two Fortnight winners show that bold young directors are challenging film form itself.

*

For all of its fully-justified acclaim, Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider” is still more of a festival film. Expect it to gallop through Telluride and NYFF, but its finish line will likely be at either the Gotham Awards or the Independent Spirits.

*

Diane Kruger’s Best Actress win will certainly kick off an Oscar campaign, putting her in the spot occupied last year by Isabelle Huppert for the 2016 Cannes entry “Elle.”

Obviously, though, Kruger would have a different awards narrative than Huppert. For one thing, she’s better integrated into the American industry. She’s starred in mostly commercial fare since 2004’s “Troy” with an occasional jaunt back to Europe. While Huppert was of the “lifetime achievement” model, Kruger would be more “breakthrough dramatic role.”

She could also get a boost if Germany submits “In the Fade” as its foreign nominee. The straight-ahead drama was a little too meat-and-potatoes for Cannes intellectuals, but the Academy seems likely to eat it up.

Also Read: 'In the Fade' Cannes Review: Diane Kruger Shines in Familiar Drama

The Agnes Varda documentary “Faces Places” received unanimously ecstatic acclaim. It may well be the best-loved film of the entire festival. Add on the desire to honor a true cinema legend and you have the makings of a real player for doc awards.

*

Because Netflix is opting to give Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” a qualifying run, Adam Sandler might very well needle himself into the awards conversation. His warmly received turn as eldest son in a dysfunctional New York family gives the comedian a real opportunity to change his image within the industry. Whether or not he’ll act on it is another question.

*

Sweden’s Palme d’Or winner “The Square,” Hungary’s “Jupiter’s Moon,” Austria’s “Happy End” and Germany’s “In the Fade” all seem likely to be their country’s foreign film Oscar submission. Now that “120 Beats Per Minute” has won the Grand Prize, it has more heat in its quest to rise to the top of France’s always-packed lineup of possibilities.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/28/17

Chloe Zhao’s drama about a rodeo competitor, “The Rider,” has won the top prize in the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight sidebar.

The film by Chinese-American director Zhao, which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics on Tuesday, features several real-life rodeo figures, including Brady Jandreau, playing versions of themselves.

Jonas Carpignano’s “A Ciambra,” which tells a migrant story that has connections to Carpignano’s previous film, “Mediterranea,” won the Europa Cinemas Label, a prize open to all European films in the competition. The film was executive produced by Martin Scorsese.

The SCAD Prize, which is handed out by the French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers to the best French film in the Fortnight, was given to two films, Claire Denis’ “Bright Sunshine” and Philippe Garrel’s “Lover for a Day.”

Also Read: 'The Rider' Cannes Review: Spectacular Rodeo Tale Is the Festival's Sleeper Hit

Benoit Grimalt’s “Back to Genoa City” won the Illy Prize for short film.

Directors’ Fortnight is a section run independently of but concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival. This year it consisted of 19 competition films, one special screening and 10 shorts.

Other films in the competition this year included Abel Ferrara’s “Alive n France,” Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project,” Bruno Dumont’s “Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc,” Rungano Nyoni’s “I Am Not a Witch,” Geremy Jasper’s “Patti Cake$” and Amos Gitai’s “West of the Jordan River.”

Awards in Cannes Un Certain Regard and documentary competitions will be announced on Saturday, with the Palme d’Or and other main-competition awards revealed at a ceremony on Sunday.

Also Read: Sean Baker's 'Florida Project' Acquired by A24

The Directors’ Fortnight awards:

Art Cinema Award: “The Rider,” Chloe Zhao

SCAD Prize: TIE, “Bright Sunshine” (“Un Beau Soleil Interieur”), Claire Denis; and “Lover for a Day” (“L’Amant d’Un Jour”), Philippe Garrel

Europa Cinemas Label: “A Ciambra,” Jonas Carpignano

Illy Prize: “Back to Genoa City” (“Retour a Genoa City”), Benoit Grimalt

Related stories from TheWrap:

'In the Fade' Cannes Review: Diane Kruger Shines in Familiar Drama

'Good Time' Cannes Review: Robert Pattinson Lurches Desperately Through Queens

'The Beguiled' Cannes Review: Sofia Coppola, Nicole Kidman Deliver a Southern Gothic Hoot

www.thewrap.com | 5/26/17

You don’t need a VR headset to watch Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary about the Grateful Dead, “Long Strange Trip,” because this four-hour movie is as immersive a wade into the waters of the Bay Area-germinated psychedelic band’s history as 2D gets. That being said, if you devoted 240 minutes to a history of, say, KISS — another group with decades of fame, devoted fans, and controversy — you might also earn the word “immersive,” but it wouldn’t feel justified.

With “Trip,” which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese and feels of a piece with that filmmaker’s own music docs (about Bob Dylan and George Harrison), there’s a groovy synergy to spending so much movie time with an outfit famous for its unlikely impact, free-wheeling jams, pharmacological notoriety, Guinness-recognized touring prowess, and ever-expanding fan base, who catalog performances with the care and precision of archaeologists.

And in the story of hippie rock god Jerry Garcia alone, the comprehensive length bestows an added heaviness to the beloved frontman’s own funny, funky, and ultimately tragic journey trying to keep the good time going for as long as he could. You don’t have to be a Deadhead, or even a casual listener, to find in “Long Strange Trip” a compelling tale of what happens when iconoclasts become icons.

Watch Video: Watch a Trailer for the Puff Daddy Documentary Produced by Puff Daddy

To give an appropriately epic story its due, Bar-Lev (“The Tillman Story”) breaks the movie up into theme-meets-timeline acts with titles like “This Is Now” (young group struggles), “Who’s In Charge Here?” (successful group struggles), and “Deadheads” (massively successful group struggles). But the throughline that proves most resilient comes in the opening moments, with a Garcia interview clip from just before his death, in which he talks about the impact of the Frankenstein myth on his childhood, specifically the 1948 film “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

For a fearful kid who’d just lost his father, a movie that leaned into bizarreness gave him hope. Says Garcia, “I thought to myself, ‘I want to be concerned with things that are weird. That seems like fun.'” Cue the assembled influences: the beatniks, Haight-Ashbury, LSD-fueled happenings with Ken Kesey.

What emerges is a hodgepodge folk-meets-rock-meets-free-jazz combo made of a bluegrass-virtuosic guitarist (Garcia), a blues-mad harmonica player (“Pigpen” McKernan), a fleet rhythm strummer (Bob Weir), a classically-trained avant-gardist turned bassist (Phil Lesh), a pair of polyrhythmic drummers (Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), and countless keyboardists and accompanists.

Also Read: 'Promised Land' Cannes Review: Elvis Presley, Meet Donald Trump

Record contracts required them to go into the studio and lay down tracks, but for the Dead, the live gig was the real feast. The fun was in the ephemeral and the flowing, in connecting with bandmates and audiences. A sound designer describes abandoning his post in the mixing truck to watch Garcia play “Morning Dew” from the audience, making accidental eye contact with Garcia, then getting a nod as if to say, it’s OK, enjoy the moment. When Garcia visited L.A.’s Watts Towers, its solidity unnerved him. He saw nothing enjoyable in building a monument for posterity.

The be-here-now approach didn’t make for the smoothest-run or most responsible of organizations, however, as related by their early-’70s tour manager, a wiry Brit named Sam Cutler, the movie’s most vividly anecdotal interviewee. While touring (and drugs) built their reputation, drugs (and touring) took their toll. (Much is made of how dangerous it was in to accept a beverage of unknown provenance from any band member.)

As the group grew into a road behemoth that spawned a fan culture of tie-dyed twirlers and tape-obsessed tokers willing to see every show — concerts became known as much for the out-of-control Deadhead scene as what happened onstage — Garcia grew more uncomfortable with his deified status, and retreated further into heroin. Drugs had gone from tripping the fantastic, to triggering the escape hatch.

Especially heartbreaking is a final-act sequence in which Garcia is nudged into reconnecting with old flame Brigid Meier, first shown earlier in the film in previously unseen home movies, and who had given him his first acoustic guitar. It’s a short-lived rekindling, however, due to the musician’s addiction. With Garcia’s death, in 1995 at age 53 from a heart attack, it’s not surprising “Long Strange Trip” ends shortly after.

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What makes Bar-Lev’s accomplishment so rewarding is how skillfully he weaves it all: the unearthed archival footage, interviews (mostly the core group and key insiders), and a biographical tempo that never lets the celebration bore the uninformed, or the darker elements unduly harsh the buzz. There’s room for Al Franken to argue entertainingly for the 1980 Nassau Coliseum recording of “Althea,” and for Phil Lesh to movingly wonder if less touring and more focus on Garcia’s problems might have saved his bandmate and friend.

The levels always feel right in Bar-Lev’s mix, so that no section ever feels like a solo that’s gone on too long. The touring/backstage footage alone, from the Acid Tests in the ’60s to the famed European tour in the early ’70s, and through the stadium craziness of their money-making heyday, would make any documentarian envious as a visual chronicle of a true rock odyssey.

It’s no secret irony that the archive of Dead recordings left behind — from over 2,000 performances — pushes against Garcia’s distrust of eternal totems. But it’s also realistic to imagine that, wherever he is in the rock cosmos, if he could screen “Long Strange Trip,” he’d give Bar-Lev the same nod that sound designer got.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/26/17

Fox News has taken drastic steps to clean up its image in recent months: Dumping employees accused of sexual harassment and racist comments, backing down from a right-wing conspiracy theory, and siding with a mainstream media reporter over a Republican candidate accused of body-slamming him.

Even Monica Lewinsky, who wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that the network and founder Roger Ailes made her life a “nightmare” in the ’90s, said there  are “positive signs that the younger generation at Fox — James and Lachlan Murdoch — seem to want to change the culture Mr. Ailes created.”

But Lewinsky is one of many who is a little skeptical about the networks’ motives for changing its ways. She and others believe Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, might be cleaning up their corporate culture only to impress British media regulator Ofcom as parent company 21st Century Fox seeks its blessing to take over UK pay-TV giant Sky.

Also Read: Fox News Insists Sean Hannity Will Return From His Vacation

Loyola journalism professor Kate Pickert said Fox News’ recent moves are “all high-profile and could be designed to neutralize public criticisms” in the middle of an important business deal. But she feels the company had no choice but to change after sexual harassment allegations drove out Ailes last year and Bill O’Reilly last month. (Ailes died earlier this month.)

“The network deserves credit for acting, but it only did so with Bill O’Reilly because the New York Times wrote about old cases and advertisers began boycotting his show. What matters more is the work environment for Fox News employees. We really don’t know if this is changing and it will be some time before we can judge whether there has been a culture shift that impacts employees,” Pickert told TheWrap.

Also Read: Fox News Says Andrea Tantaros' Lawsuit Reads 'Like the Plot of a Television Drama'

A company insider noted, however, that Ailes was out within weeks of public allegations of sexual harassment against him last summer — before the Sky News deal was in play. A recent statement by 21st Century Fox said that the “transformed leadership at Fox News brings it closer in line with a long-held commitment to a diverse workplace.”

But not all the developments have been behind the scenes. This week, Fox News notably retracted an article about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich that fueled baseless right-wing theories. Sean Hannity, the network’s biggest star, objected and kept fueling the theory until finally agreeing not to talk about it anymore on his Fox News show.

Meanwhile, though Fox News has long been accused of a Republican slant, a Fox News crew sided with a Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, who said Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte “body slammed” him on Monday. Gianforte’s campaign derided Jacobs as a “liberal journalist.”

But Pickert said the network’s changes to its culture aren’t likely to result in sweeping changes to its coverage.

“As far as Fox News’ coverage, I don’t see that shifting dramatically anytime soon. The network still occupies a highly profitable niche, appealing to viewers who want a news and opinion perspective that leans right,” Pickert said.

Fox News declined to comment for this story.

Ailes ran Fox News for 20 years but stepped down last year after a series of sexual harassment allegations that he denied up until his death last week. In the 10 months since he resigned, Fox News has fired Bob Beckel over an accusation that he made an offensive remark to an African-American employee, parted ways with a longtime executive accused of racist comments, fired cash cow O’Reilly and accepted the resignation of former co-president Bill Shine, who was accused in some of the lawsuits plaguing the company of permitting a culture that included harassment and discrimination. (O’Reilly and Shine have denied the accusations. Beckel has not responded to requests for comment.)

Fox News has also added female executivesordered sensitivity training for all employees, brought in human resources guru Kevin Lord to make sure things run smoothly going forward and announced plans to gut the entire floor of offices occupied by Ailes to create a state-of-the-art open newsroom as part of a renovation of its New York City headquarters.

Also Read: Love Him or Hate Him, Roger Ailes Built the Silos We All Live In

Sean Hannity, who is essentially the last of the old guard, recently tweeted that it would be the “total end” of Fox News “as we know it” if the network lost Shine. Then the network lost Shine.

When Shine, a direct protégé of Ailes, stepped down, a number of conservative sites posted articles with headlines such as, “Is Fox about to become CNN?” Another worried about “the left-wing takeover of Fox News” and suggested Lachlan and James Murdoch are significantly more liberal than their father.

The Hill media columnist Joe Concha told TheWrap he doesn’t really care why Fox News is cleaning up its image. What’s important is that it is.

Also Read: Fox News Plans to Gut Roger Ailes' Old Office, Convert Into Expanded Newsroom

“Maybe the executives don’t like that the company is being portrayed in the media as having this horrible culture. Yes, there is obviously a business aspect to this but also, what choice does 21st Century Fox have? I seem them as taking real steps here,” Concha said.

Fox bid $14.4 billion for all of Sky, of which it already owns a 39 percent stake. The deal was cleared by the European Commission earlier this year but remains a sensitive subject after a previous attempt in 2011 was blocked by a phone hacking scandal at one of the Murdoch family’s British newspapers. The scandal revealed close ties between politicians, police and the employees of the paper.

It remains to be seen if Fox News plans to continue to work on its culture if the Sky Deal goes through. The only people who know for sure are named Murdoch.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Fox News Says Andrea Tantaros' Lawsuit Reads 'Like the Plot of a Television Drama'

Fox News Tops Cable Ratings Despite MSNBC's Big Week

Fox News Fires Bob Beckel After Racism Accusation

www.thewrap.com | 5/26/17

Once again, Milo Yiannopoulos has ruffled some feathers. On Wednesday, the far-right firebrand took to Facebook — a social media site from which he hasn’t been banned — to comment on the Manchester terror attack.

In two separate posts, Yiannopoulos called out singer Ariana Grande for failing to take what he perceived to be the appropriate action to condemn terrorism following the incident.

He wrote, “Little girls are being killed thanks to a murderous ideology. Why won’t Ariana Grande condemn it? It’s a supreme act of cowardice. She has a unique chance: this is the first opportunity to strike a blow against Islamic terror *in culture*. She could be a cultural icon for generations. She owes it to her dead fans. So why won’t she act?”

Also Read: Morrissey Slams the Queen, UK PM, Immigration in Manchester Attack Facebook Rant

Yiannopoulos then called the singer “pro-Islam” and “anti-America” and deemed her “too stupid to wise up and warn her European fans about the real threats to their freedom and their lives.”

Many were quick to take to social media to condemn Yiannopoulos’s words. As Mic reported, Facebook user Jason Healy responded with “That’s low Milo, even for you. The depths you will go to for a bit of publicity. On the backs of children. You sir are a disgrace.”

Also Read: Ariana Grande Postpones Tour, 'Wonder Woman' London Premiere Canceled After Manchester Attack

Others took to Twitter to express their outrage:

@HanFreakinSolo I hate Milo Yiannopoulos but we can't live in a world where we support violence. There'll be a counter protest I suspect. Support that.

— Tom Johnston (@tomjonty) May 24, 2017

Islamophobe Milo Yiannopoulos may be protesting Linda Sarsour's CUNY commencement speech tomorrow. Go and counter-protest Neo-Nazis in NYC: pic.twitter.com/yEQgR3S13I

— LEFT????? (@LeftSentThis) May 24, 2017

Although Grande has not yet made a public statement, she did express her shock and sadness over the event via Twitter.

broken.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.

Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ariana Grande Postpones Tour, 'Wonder Woman' London Premiere Canceled After Manchester Attack

Manchester Bombing Update: 3 More Suspects Arrested, UK Steps Up Security

John Stamos to Take Stage in Manchester: 'My Heart Aches for the Victims'

www.thewrap.com | 5/24/17
EU culture ministers agreed on Tuesday (23 May) to stricter content requirements for online audiovisual platforms. Under the proposed new rules, at least 30% of the content offered by companies such as Netflix, Google Play and iTunes will have to be produced in Europe. EURACTIV Spain reports.
www.euractiv.com | 5/24/17

The honeymoon phase is waning across the French Riviera, as the Cannes Film Festival shirks bonjours and gets to the business of its annual contribution to global film.

Translation: everyone’s screening schedule is packed, no one is eating or sleeping and you’re lucky if you catch a passing glimpse at Rihanna on the Croisette.

But a French lens on the AIDS crisis has moved many critics, we have a 2017 “Toni Erdmann” and Netflix boss Ted Sarandos was not shackled Jean Valjean-style for showing his face.

“120 Beats” Strikes Critical Chords

In America, there is an esteemed (if not excessively familiar) narrative canon that documents the rise and devastation of HIV/AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s — Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” the recently adapted ‘The Normal Heart,” the forgotten VHS-era gem “And The Band Payed On.”

This year’s Cannes competition slate offers “120 Beats Per Minute,” which perhaps for the first time shows us the pandemic’s impact on a French community of queer brothers and sisters, specifically the country’s branch of the ACT UP movement. Its effect was ravishing.

Also Read: Cannes, Day 3: Good Reviews After Boos for 'Okja'; More Selfie Shame; Gyllenhaal's Dog Day

Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson called it “a vital contribution to queer and political cinema, a testament to crusaders of recent history whose nobility does not overshadow their complicated and individual humanity.”

Lawson also salutes the film’s unflinching approach to gay sex — which, demonstratively, is getting closer to reality all the time — as “frank and even-handed, allowing for all its beauty and danger, its capacity for release, for connection, even for protest.”

TheWrap’s Ben Croll praised director Robin Campillo for recognizing “that the fervent intensity that drives someone to become an activist — that burning passion to make the world a better place — is the same passion that can cause schisms and acrimony with equally like-minded associates.”

Also, can the U.S. import one if its stars, Arnaud Valois? Asking for a friend.

120 BEATS PER MINUTE brings the French ACT UP movement to life in vivid detail. My #Cannes2017 review. https://t.co/LwMdD913z9

— erickohn (@erickohn) May 20, 2017

Widely Palme-tipped 120 BEATS PER MINUTE lacks game for me except in the sex scenes, and when it's funny. Solid and sincere, not outstanding

— Tim Robey (@trim_obey) May 20, 2017

Totally absorbed by 120 BEATS PER MINUTE, a supple, smashing depiction of an ACT UP group in Paris. Best so far at #Cannes2017

— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 20, 2017

Few films I'd call vital but 120 BEATS PER MINUTE is just that. Dancing /fucking /protesting as 1. Unforgettable. Best of comp. #Cannes2017

— Elena Lazic (@elazic) May 20, 2017

Ted Talk

You might have heard that a lot of people have a lot to say about the inclusion of Netflix in the Cannes competition, and that Netflix is not in the business of appeasing French theater owners. And that Cannes is.

The streaming giant’s Chief Content Officer and veritable public face Ted Sarandos touched down in France to support his company’s two titles — highly publicized, thanks to their star power and Netflix’s outlaw status this year — “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.”

“The story of this festival, for whatever reason, has been those two films. And remember, those films were invited here solely on their merits. Thierry [Frémaux, Cannes Artistic Director] has an incredible track record of cultivating the greatest movies of the year from all over the world, and these two films, according to him, qualify,” Sarandos said, in an interview with the UK’s Telegraph.

French theater owners balked at the idea of Netflix being invited to the nexus of European cinema with no firm plans to release their titles theatrically in the country. Netflix said they were considering it, but before a deal was struck, the festival appeased the establishment and announced it would mandate a European theatrical run from all festival titles.

“If you are inventing qualifications for how a film has to appear on a commercial basis, that seems very out of step with the spirit of the festival, and the independence of the festival,” Sarandos said.

Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” premiered to great reviews. Noah Baumbach’s “Meyerowtiz Stories” premieres Sunday.

“The Square” Lingers

Not unlike last year’s sensation and eventual awards contender “Toni Erdmann,,” Ruben Ostlund’s ambitious and gratifying art-world film “The Square” is long (almost two-and-a-half hours) but long-lingering after critics left the screening Friday night.

“Aren’t we humans a sorry lot?” is the question the film inspires, according to TheWrap’s Pond.

A museum curator chases millennial viewers and shirking screens in this ensemble piece that features faces like Dominic West and Elizabeth Moss. It’s the film’s provocative questions about humanity and the social contract that has everyone buzzing, though:

The Square: an hour of anxious art-world LOLs, then the teeth-grinding really begins. Gleaming, sly, thrillingly pushes its luck. #Cannes70

— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) May 19, 2017

Not 100% on how it adds up, but THE SQUARE is something else: a scathingly funny comedy about intervention & social responsibility #Cannes17

— AADowd (@AADowd) May 19, 2017

Ruben Östlund turns an art museum into a city-state of bizarre, dysfunctional and Ballardian strangeness in The Square #Cannes2017 #Cannes70

— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) May 19, 2017

Force Majeure was about your reaction in an emergency, The Square is about your reaction when someone asks for help #Cannes2017

— Alicia Malone (@aliciamalone) May 19, 2017

man, can you believe there’s already a sequel to THE CIRCLE? (this is a joke about THE SQUARE)

— Emma Stefansky (@stefabsky) May 19, 2017

The Square: this year's Toni Erdmann, as in, looong film that flies by. On 3,5 hrs sleep, I didn't blink. This is HIGH compliment. #Cannes70

— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) May 19, 2017

Director's Statement on The Square, for a better idea of what Ruben Östlund is going for this time. Just wait till you see it. pic.twitter.com/yquvNZpNc7

— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) May 19, 2017

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www.thewrap.com | 5/20/17

Jesse Eisenberg will play Marcel Marceau, a hallowed member of the French Resistance and world famous mime, in the upcoming film “Resistance,” CAA announced at Cannes on Friday.

Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz (“Hands of Stone”), the film will follow Marceau’s efforts to rescue Jewish orphans whose parents were killed by the Nazis in World War II while using comedic theatrics to keep the kids’ spirits up during Europe’s darkest hour. The film’s antagonist, who has yet to be cast, will be Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo captain who tortured and slaughtered prisoners during Nazi Germany’s occupation of France and became known as the “Butcher of Lyon.”

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After France was liberated in 1944, Marceau made his first major performance as a mime for 3,000 of General Patton’s soldiers and went on to become one of the most famous mimes in the history of theater. He received France’s National Order of Merit in 1998 and even left an impact on pop culture by becoming one of the major influences for Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

“Resistance” will be produced by Claudine Jakubowicz and Carlos Garcia de Paredes, who produced and arranged financing for “Hands of Stone.” Baptiste Marceau, the mime’s oldest son, will serve as consultant and executive producer.

“Resistance” will shoot in early 2018. CAA is packaging and repping the film.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/19/17

Woody Allen has little love for Hollywood, it seems, as the “Annie Hall” director trashed the Big Six studios during an interview on Facebook Live for his latest film, “Wonder Wheel,” which stars Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet in a Coney Island drama.

During his interview with Robert Weide, who directed “Woody Allen: A Documentary” in 2012, Allen said he has no patience with Hollywood execs who demand creative input in exchange for financing his films.

“When I make a film, I like the people backing the film, sometimes the studios, to put the money in a brown paper bag and then go away,” Allen said. “And then six months later I give them film. That’s the way I’ve always been able to work, having complete control of every aspect of the film.”

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But when studios don’t do business that way, talks with Allen can go south very fast.

“It came to a point where the studios would say to me, ‘Look, we’re not banks. If you’re asking us for $12 million, we want to read your script, we want to know who you’re casting, and we want to have some input. We’re not just bankers,'” he said.

“I, on the other hand, regard them as at best bankers, if not criminals, and I said, ‘No, you can’t read my script and I’m not interested in your input.’I said this politely… And they said nicely, ‘Get lost.'”

Allen said that after making “Match Point” in 2005, he found satisfaction making films produced outside the studio system in Europe. (“We’ll give you the money and we’re bankers. We don’t care about input. That’s all for the studios.”) His recent films have still been distributed by Hollywood-based specialty wings like Sony Pictures Classics, but he says he doesn’t care whether his films flop at the box office or not.

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“It’s always, ‘We’ll put this out in the summer because it will be counter-programming to all the big movies’ or ‘We’ll put this out in Easter,'” Allen said about how distributors handle his films. “There is always a story as to why their plan to really squeeze the last dollar out of the box office of the picture has failed miserably, and the picture is awash in red ink.”

Still, for all his frustration with Hollywood, he had some kind words for Amazon Studios, who is both distributing and producing “Wonder Wheel” for a reported budget of $25 million. Allen called Amazon part of the “rich, patron-of-the-arts sucker group”…though he meant that in a good way.

“Amazon is a perfect example of a company that’s so successful that someone like me is peanuts and chump change,” he said. “These guys make billions… So they can reach in their pocket and say, ‘Give it to him and shut him up,’ and I make my film, and if it makes a few dollars you don’t even notice it on an Amazon ledger. And if it loses a few bucks they couldn’t care less.”

“And the people up there like the quality of my work. They like the films. Not everybody does, but they do. So they feel no pain with me and they’re happy to give me the money and let me do my thing.”

Allen also discussed the enduring popularity of “Annie Hall” and why he decided to make his next film about Coney Island. For more, watch the Facebook Live interview in full below.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/18/17

The calls for strong leadership in the fight against global and national malnutrition have multiplied during the past decade. The role of nutrition champions in advocating for nutrition, formulating policies, and coordinating and implementing action in nutrition have increasingly been recognized in such countries as Peru, Brazil, Thailand, and the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Global initiatives such as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, the African Nutrition Leadership Programme, and the European Nutrition Leadership Platform have invested in building up capacity for leadership among national governments, civil society, and the private sector. The World Public Health Nutrition Association’s guide on competencies needed to build up the workforce in global public health nutrition identified leadership as key. More widely, leadership within the field of public health has been highlighted as key to moving child or maternal health higher up on the global agenda and tackling critical issues such as HIV and AIDS at the national and community levels.

While evidence within the nutrition and public health arenas points time and again to the role of leadership in successfully crafting nutrition policies and movements, little is actually known about the characteristics of leaders in nutrition: who they are, how they function, with whom they work, and what makes them effective.
 
This chapter aims to answer some of these questions. It first reviews the literature on leadership within both nutrition and other disciplines. It then draws on interviews conducted with 89 influential decision makers in four countries with high burdens of undernutrition: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, and Kenya. The chapter also highlights a case study on leadership from Zambia and 10 nutrition champions identified as part of a global selection process run by Transform Nutrition in 2015, in order to conveythe depth and breadth of the experience of these leaders.

This paper is a chapter in Nourishing millions: Stories of change in nutrition. Gillespie, Stuart; Hodge, Judith; Yosef, Sivan; and Pandya-Lorch, Rajul (Eds.) Ch. 18 Pp. 161-172. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.

www.eldis.org | 5/16/17

This weekend, a strange European phenomenon will arrive on American television for only the second time in its 61-year history.

Logo TV will be airing the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, a cross between “The X Factor” and the Miss Universe pageant that offers Yanks a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a culture that doesn’t have jazz and blues as the foundation of its pop music.

For those who’ve never seen — or even heard of Eurovision — before, here’s a quick primer to get you caught up.

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What exactly is this contest?
Eurovision began as an idea back in the mid-1950s as a way for Europe to come together after World War II had ripped it apart. It was a pretty revolutionary effort for its time. Television was still the wild West of communications and the Olympics hadn’t yet become an international broadcasting event. Eurovision was one of the first major attempts to hold an event that people from a wide range of countries could watch. With that in mind, the organizers wanted each country to showcase a song that was indicative of their culture.

That sounds like a pretty noble goal
Yes … but it was also very out of touch with what was happening with music at the time. Rock ‘n’ roll was beginning to take root and The Beatles would take the world by storm just a few years after Eurovision’s inception. This meant that Eurovision’s lineup of ballads and cultural pieces quickly felt antiquated compared to the rock revolution that was going on in the charts. And that was six decades ago … the entries would only get weirder from there.

How weird?
For starters, there was once a rule implemented on and off over the years stating that participants could only enter songs that were in their country’s main language. When that rule was in effect, some countries found a loophole: make the lyrics complete gibberish. In 1968, a Spanish singer named Massiel won with a song that just consisted of her singing “La La La” over and over and over. Songs with titles like “Boom Boom” and “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” poured out while the home-language rule was in effect.

Then there are the artists themselves. As Eurovision has evolved, more and more ridiculous acts have come out of the woodwork. Finnish monster-rock bands, Russian grandmas and Latvian pirates are among the acts that have performed for a TV audience of hundreds of millions in recent Eurovisions. And that Finnish monster rock band actually won.

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Jeez! So is this just some musical freak show?
Well … only partially. Let’s be fair, there’s always are some solid bits of Europop on hand every year to up the quality. Sweden won in 2012 with a really nice song called “Euphoria.” There’s also a small handful of top stars on the winners’ list you might recognize. ABBA used Eurovision as a launch pad to stardom in 1974 with their song “Waterloo,” and French-Canadian Celine Dion’s win in 1988 was her biggest claim to fame before “Titanic” came out. Quality — or at least creativity — does tend to win out at Eurovision.

OK, so how does this contest work?
First, all the countries have a national contest where they vote on which song will represent at Eurovision. The participants are divided up into two semifinals, with the 10 countries getting the most votes in each semifinal advancing to Saturday’s final. In the final, all 26 countries get three minutes to make a good impression, and then the whole continent votes “Idol”-style (not for their home country, of course), as do professional juries for each country.

Then the show transitions to a long procession of national “ambassadors” reading out who each country gave their votes to. The top 10 performers in each country’s vote get points, with 12 points going to the top vote-getter, followed by 10 and then eight down to one for the rest of the order. The same goes with the juries, but with 10 points going to the performer in first place.

And what does the performer with the most points win?
This trophy. Oh, and their country gets to host the competition next year.

What? No prize money? No contract? No vague promises of superstardom?
Nope. The winners do get their 15 minutes of fame, but beyond ABBA and Celine, Eurovision winners almost never make it big. Again, Eurovision long ago moved away from the sort of music that leaves a lasting cultural impact.

Even now, a good chunk of the acts are homogenous power ballads that can blur together when performed in succession. Still, even with the good musical acts few and far in between, Eurovision is worth watching just for the spectacle of it all. The Disneyland-esque sweetness of the proceedings is oddly charming, and the lack of stakes for the performers keeps it feeling light and fun rather than a battle for wealth, glory, and continental supremacy.

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It has also made headlines in recent years that have allowed it to take steps beyond the realm of annual oddities like the Running of the Bulls. The winner in 2014 was gay Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth, who performed as drag queen superstar Conchita Wurst. The victory transformed Conchita into an LGBT icon in Europe, even as Russian conservatives raged in fury and used the singer as an example of why Russia shouldn’t be a part of the EU. For all of Eurovision’s platitudes about tolerance and peace, this was a moment where those ideals were actually acted upon, even if it meant breaking the general tone of inoffensiveness.

If it’s supposed to be European, why is Australia a competitor?
It turns out that Eurovision has a major cult following in Australia, and they were invited to compete two years ago as a thanks for all the support down under. The expansion of the European Union means countries like Azerbaijan and Israel get to compete too.

So…if all these countries that aren’t strictly European are competing, and the show is airing on American TV , does this mean we may be seeing the USA compete in Eurovision soon?
Eh…don’t count on it.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/13/17

The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be. The foundation of European culture was laid by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, stabilized by Christianity, reformed and modernized by the fifteenth-century Renaissance and Reformation and globalized by successive European empires between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Thus the European Culture developed into a very complex phenomenon of wider range of philosophy, Christian and secular humanism, rational way of life and logical thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment, naturalism, romanticism, science, democracy, and socialism. Because of its global connection, the European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt and ultimately influence other trends of culture. As a matter of fact, therefore, from the middle of the nineteenth century with the expansion of European education and the spread of Christianity, European culture and way of life, to a great extent, turned to be "global culture," if anything has to be so named .


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