Slow Horses

STREAMING REVIEW: 

Apple TV+;
Thriller;
Not rated.
Stars Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jack Lowden.

This darkly funny spy thriller series is based on the 2010 novel of the same name and gives Academy Award-lauded star Gary Oldman another shot at playing a grumpy old mentor following his Oscar-nominated turn in Mank and his Oscar-winning performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour

Needless to say, Oldman has the role of crusty crank down to a science.

He plays Jackson Lamb, the alcoholic ringleader of a band of misfit MI5 agents relegated to Slough House (not-so-affectionately called “Slow Horses”) after they have bungled their spying assignments. The irascible boss Lamb is bent on making their work lives insufferably tedious and pointless until the band of quirky secret agents is unwittingly drawn into a real spy caper involving the MI5 ‘A’ team and its boss Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Recalling great old spy movies of the 1970s with all their grime and grit — albeit set after the fall of the Berlin Wall — “Slow Horses” succeeds in offering a mystery through-line for its first season (another is on the way) while also introducing characters that keep the viewers’ interest. In addition to Lamb (Oldman) and Taverner (Thomas), we meet River Cartwright (Jack Lowden), the young spy determined to make good, as well as his grandfather and retired MI5 officer David Cartwright (the venerable Jonathan Pryce), among other intriguing personalities. Like any good characters, they are fun to watch and leave viewers wanting to spend more time with them — no matter what the next assignment may be.

Talent Talk: ‘Titanic 666’ Actress Giovannie Espiritu Discusses Working on the Tubi Original

Filmmaker-actress Giovannie Espiritu has worked on both sides of the camera.

Her first short film, Ultra-Feminist, got an Honorable Mention at Outfest: Fusion, and her second film, ALLY 3000, won over 12 awards at film festivals in scriptwriting, social justice and women in film. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors and the Producers Guild of America.

As an actress, her television credits include “ER,” “Bones,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Trauma,” “Perfect Harmony” and “Young Sheldon.” She can currently be seen as the lead in the Amazon series “Dyke Central.” She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at Method Fest for the feature film Fiona’s Script. Other feature film work includes supporting roles in the thriller D-Railed with Lance Henriksen and Middleton Christmas with Eileen Davidson and Michael Pare.

Recently, she was recognized as one of 23 “Most Influential Filipina Women in the World” in the Innovator & Thought Leader category by the Filipina Women’s Network and given a “Special Thanks” credit at the end of Pixar’s Turning Red for being the on-call acting coach for Rosalie Chiang.

Espiritu can now be seen on Fox Entertainment’s free ad-supported streaming service Tubi in the the service’s original film Titanic 666, which started streaming April 15. She plays Nancy, an overzealous fan to Mia, a social media influencer played by Annalynne McCord.

In Titanic 666, 110 years after its namesake’s deadly journey, the Titanic III is fated to repeat one of history’s greatest disasters. A faithful replica of the original, the mammoth cruise ship is safeguarded with the most advanced technology to assure clear passage on its maiden voyage for the famous influencers, historical enthusiasts and other excited travelers on board. But unbeknownst to all, there is a stowaway amongst them with vengeful intentions to channel dark forces still at sea. As the ship halts over the surface of the original gravesite, crew and passengers are terrorized by ghosts. 

We asked Espiritu about her experience starring in the Tubi original.

MPN: How did you first get involved in and what attracted you to the project?

Espiritu: I auditioned for Titanic 666, back when it was still called Dead Water. As a working (not name) actor, I generally audition for everything and anything my team sends me. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what project is until you book it. 

MPN: You’ve done lots of work for traditional television outlets and studios. What was different/similar about participating in a project that would appear on a free streaming service such as Tubi? Had you watched the service before?

Espiritu: I actually didn’t know about Tubi until working on this. It’s great that there are so many outlets now for filmmakers and storytellers to showcase their work. I feel like, with the advent of streaming networks, more diverse stories and points of view can be told. We need more of that in the world today. I think that acting and storytelling can help the world become a more empathetic place.

AnnaLynne McCord (left) and Giovannie Espiritu in Titanic 666. (Photo courtesy of Tubi © 2022)

MPN: Can you describe your on-set experience? Are there any fun stories?

Espiritu: I loved working on this. First of all, the location in Long Beach was beautiful. The Queen Mary is such a majestic ship and imbued with so much history, I felt like it was like a fairytale in a way … well, a haunted fairy tale, because it is haunted in real life. I had an orb show up in my behind-the-scenes pictures and I ended up getting freaked out, so I asked production if I could stay in my car or hang out with the background talent instead of being alone in my room. 

MPN: Can you describe the character you play? What did you identify with most about your character?

Espiritu: With Nancy, I have an affinity for the loner, losers and outcasts, because I definitely feel like one a lot in my life. Her breakdown was: “She has no life or friends and is a super fan of the influencers.” It was easy for me to do because I tend to put people on a pedestal in my real life and I’m an introvert by nature. 

MPN: What was your favorite scene?

Espiritu: I loved running around like a crazy person in the ballroom when the ship crashes into the iceberg, but my favorite scene to film was when Mia (Annalynne McCord), Jackson (Derek Yates) and I find Idina (Lydia Hearst) doing her seance because we actually got to go down into the boiler room.

MPN: How would you describe Titanic 666 to viewers? What kind of fans will like it?

Espiritu: If you love campy movies like Sharknado, I think you’ll enjoy it. It is a silly, fun, titillating ride. It knows what kind of movie it wants to be. 

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MPN: In addition to being a performer, you are also active politically. How does your political activism inform and affect your career choices?

Espiritu: My identity is already political. I used to be an undocumented dreamer born to a teenage mom. I spent time in a Biblical Doomsday cult as a teen. I became a young mom myself and had to learn how to navigate the world as a single parent trying to make ends meet on gig work. Most of my storytelling comes from that worldview where I try to heal generational trauma, and dismantle the patriarchy mainly because I’m trying to figure out and heal myself through art. 

MPN: What’s next for you?

Espiritu: I’m traveling to Indonesia this week to do some scouting and research for a feature film that I’ve been commissioned to write. Hopefully, I’ll direct it. I also have a few shorts in development and I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a personal documentary since my upbringing is so unusual. And I’ll be performing in a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco at the end of May. V, formerly known as Eve Ensler, who wrote the play, will also be there, so I’m super excited. I admire her so much. Her work has sparked movements of education for women globally.

Apple TV+ Bows Trailer for May 6 Peanuts Mother’s Day Special

Ahead of the premiere of the new Mother’s Day special “To Mom (And Dad), With Love” on May 6, Apple TV+ unveiled the trailer for the original special, which is based on the classic “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.

“To Mom (And Dad), With Love” is a Mother’s Day celebration of friendship and family featuring the Peanuts gang. While the other kids are excited to celebrate the special day, for Peppermint Patty it’s just a reminder that she didn’t grow up with a mom. With her good friend Marcie by her side, she soon realizes that real families come in all shapes and sizes, and that Mother’s Day is an opportunity to thank that special person in your life who means the most to you. Meanwhile, Snoopy and Woodstock embark on an epic adventure to find Woodstock’s long-lost mom.

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Produced for Apple TV+ by Peanuts and WildBrain, the special is directed by Clay Kaytis and executive produced by Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Paige Braddock, Josh Scherba, Stephanie Betts, Amir Nasrabadi and Anne Loi, and produced by James Brown and Timothy Jason Smith.

 

Tubi Expands Nielsen Relationship for Ad Ratings

Tubi April 29 announced that it is working on an expansion of its current integration with Nielsen that will allow for enhanced and comprehensive measurement through the latter’s digital ad ratings product. As part of this integration, measurement of Tubi will expand coverage of streaming devices, including computer, mobile and connected TV (CTV) inventory served on specific CTV devices.

This aims to give advertisers a more comprehensive view of ad performance on Tubi, inclusive of co-viewing.

Tubi’s contends the integration with Nielsen will advance advertiser need for third-party measurement in the fast-growing ad-supported OTT space, with measurement and transaction in line with traditional TV audiences. Tubi’s expanded relationship with Nielsen will include co-viewing measurement and allow for buying target audiences across its library of more than 40,000 movies and television series.

“As a movie and television streaming service with 80% of our viewers watching on TV screens, we’re excited about the proposed integration of Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings measurement across our device partners,” Mark Rotblat, chief revenue officer at Tubi, said in a statement. “This upcoming device coverage replaces slim proxies with comprehensive and stable currency-grade measurement, allowing our advertisers to transact on audiences in a way that is apples-to-apples with traditional TV.”

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With the proposed Nielsen DAR integration on Tubi, brands can now leverage deeper contextual insights and align brand objectives with the thousands of movies and television titles audiences consume. Additionally, advertisers will be able to better understand the demographic and interest-based attributes of an audience.

“In this increasingly fragmented media landscape, the need for independent measurement is more critical than ever, as is providing more transparency to advertisers,” said Ameneh Atai, GM of digital audience measurement at Nielsen.

Redbox Gets Access to $50 Million in Additional Financing, Stock Soars

Redbox Entertainment, in a regulatory filing, disclosed it has received access to line of credit worth $50 million, as part of a restructured “Voting and Support Agreement” with HPS Investment Partners. As previously, reported, Redbox downsized its board of directors to five from nine members, including the addition of three new directors.

The news sent Redbox shares up than 32% in midday trading.

Redbox, which posted a net loss of more than $140 million in 2021, is attempting to transition the company from its legacy packaged-media kiosk business to include a digital focus on transactional VOD and ad-supported VOD content. The company generated $35.1 million in digital revenue, down from $39.7 million in 2020.

Redbox is eyeing more than $31.4 million in long-term debt this year, a tally that jumps to $271.5 million in 2024.

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‘The Bad Guys,’ ‘Sonic 2’ Look to Repeat North American Box Office Supremacy

Ahead of the summer box office debut in May, two family-themed movies look to retain the top spots at the North American box office through May 1.

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys and Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog 2 look set to top ticket sales with a projected $14.2 million and $11 million in respective revenue. Both movies look to up their combined box office tallies to $200 million in ticket sales through the weekend

Rounding out the podium looks to be Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore with $8.5 million in ticket sales, potentially upping its North American haul to $80 million.

Weekend newcomer is Briarcliff Entertainment/Open Road Films’ Memory, featuring Liam Neeson again reprising the antihero role that continues to resonate with moviegoers. The movie is projected to generate $3.5 million in ticket sales — well behind theatrical repeats The Northman (Focus Features) at $6 million, A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once with $3.9 million, and Lionsgate’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent with $3.7 million.

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Nielsen: ‘Bridgerton’ Dominated Weekly Streaming Chart Through April 3

The second season debut of Netflix’s period romantic drama of “Bridgerton,” combined with the first season dominated weekly household streaming through April 3, according to newly released data from Nielsen. The series from showrunner Shonda Rhimes generated more than 3.2 billion minutes streamed across 16 episodes. The tally is more than the combined minutes streamed (2.7 billion) for the next four shows on the chart.

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Source: Nielsen Streaming Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and Apple TV+), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

Charter Cools Q1 Video Sub Losses, Broadband Gains

Charter Communications April 29 reported a first-quarter (ended March 31) loss of 123,000 video subscribers, compared with a decline of 156,000 subs in the first quarter of 2021. The pay-TV operator had 15.7 million residential video customers at the end of the quarter, down from 16 million subs last year.

Charter added 164,000 residential high-speed internet subs compared to 334,000 subs added during the previous-year period. The company ended the quarter with more than 30 million broadband subs — up about 1 million subs from the same period a year ago.

When combined with Comcast, the two pay-TV operators control more than 60 million U.S. broadband households — underscoring their recent partnership to develop new streaming video platforms that could offer consumers cheaper streaming video access to Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max, among other third-party services.

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“We remain focused on our primary goal of driving connected customer and mobile broadband relationship growth,” CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement. “Our new joint venture with Comcast will allow us to provide a next generation streaming platform that offers new and differentiated direct-to-consumer products to meet demand in a fast-changing video environment.”

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Tops Disc Sales Charts for Second Week

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home had no trouble keeping the No. 1 spot on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended April 23.

It’s the second consecutive week in the top spot for the Marvel Studios’ production, which arrived on disc April 12.

The collection of the three Marvel Cinematic Universe-set “Spider-Man” movies (2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home in addition to No Way Home) remained No. 2 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart but slid to No. 4 on the overall disc sales chart.

For its second week, Blu-ray Disc formats accounted for 68% of total No Way Home unit sales, compared with 77% in week one. By format, 49% came from regular Blu-ray and 19% from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, compared with 46% and 31% respectively a week earlier.

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The week’s top newcomer, at No. 2 overall and No. 3 on the Blu-ray Disc chart, was Paramount’s Jackass Forever, the latest installment in the “Jackass” comedy stunt franchise, and fourth theatrical release under the main brand. It earned $57.7 million at the domestic box office. Jackass Forever sold about 12.6% as many copies in its first week as the standalone No Way Home did in its second.

Universal Pictures’ animated sequel Sing 2 dropped to No. 3 overall and No. 4 on the Blu-ray Disc chart.

Rounding out the top five the overall sales chart was Paramount’s Scream relaunch, which was No. 5 overall and No. 7 on the Blu-ray chart. The No. 5 Blu-ray was Lionsgate’s 2012 horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods, which climbed back up the charts thanks to a re-release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray through a Best Buy-exclusive Steelbook edition (it was No. 9 overall and had 99% of its unit sales reported as being from a 4K format).

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended April 24 again had Spider-Man: No Way Home at No. 1 and Sing 2 at No. 2. Jackass Forever debuted as the No. 3 rental.

Universal’s Marry Me remained No. 4, while Scream dropped two spots to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 4-23-22
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 4-24-22
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 4-23-22
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 4-23-22
Sales Report for Week Ended 4-23-22
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 4-25-22

 

Hulu Taking ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Off Netflix Platform in October

Disney-owned Hulu will take over streaming all six seasons of the popular comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” from Netflix, beginning Oct. 3. The series, which co-stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy, has become a hit for Netflix since landing on the platform in 2017 through a distribution agreement.

The series regularly ranks among Nielsen’s top 10 acquired streaming shows on a weekly basis. In 2020, the series won seven Primetime Emmy awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series.

“Based on the number of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ GIFs we Slack every day, it’s no surprise that we are absolutely thrilled to welcome … the wonderfully unique residents of [the show] to Hulu,” Joe Earley, president of Hulu, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to share the award-winning, blisteringly-funny, yet heartwarming series and characters with our subscribers. We know they’ll fit in nicely.”

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