Apple TV+ to Bow ‘Hedy Lamarr’ Starring Gal Gadot

“Hedy Lamarr,” an eight-episode limited series starring and executive produced by Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman” franchise), will premiere globally on Apple TV+.

The series is written and executive produced by Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Treem (“The Affair,” “House of Cards,” “In Treatment”).

Hailed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Hedy Lamarr was first exalted and iconized, then destroyed and eventually forgotten by American audiences, all the while keeping her brilliant mind active through a series of inventions, one of which became the basis for the spread spectrum technology used today. The series will follow the life story of the Hollywood glamour girl, spanning 30 years from Hedy’s escape from prewar Vienna, to her meteoric rise in the Golden Age of Hollywood, to her fall and eventual disgrace at the dawn of the Cold War.

The notion for the historical drama originated from Gadot and producing partner Jaron Varsano (“My Dearest Fidel”), who then partnered with Emmy and BAFTA Award winner Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Treem, the latter of whom created the series, according to an Apple release.

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In addition to Gadot and Treem, “Hedy Lamarr” will be executive produced by Littlefield and Katie Robbins (“The Affair”). Gadot and Varsano will produce through their production company, Pilot Wave. Adam Haggiag (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) and Alexandra Dean (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) will serve as co-producers, with Hedy Lamarr’s children Anthony Loder and Denise Deluca consulting on the series.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and VIZIO smart TVs later this year, according to the release.

Warner Rolls Out New ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Poster

With the planned June 5 theatrical launch of Wonder Woman 1984 delayed to Aug. 14, Warner Bros. has updated the movie poster and also is issuing an animated digital poster.

In a social media post, the movie’s star, Gal Gadot, said she is looking forward to a brighter future for people, society and the power of cinema.

“In these dark and scary times, I am looking forward to a brighter future ahead,” Gadot tweeted. “Where we can share the power of cinema together again. Excited to re-date our WW84 film to August 14, 2020. I hope everyone is safe. Sending my love to you all.”

In a separate tweet, the film’s director, Patty Jenkins, reiterated the studio’s support for a theatrical debut rather than offloading the title to retail channels, including transactional VOD and SVOD.

“Wonder Woman 1984 was made for the big screen and I believe in the power of cinema. In these terrible times, when theater owners are struggling as so many are, we are excited to re-date our film … in a theater near you, and pray for better times for all by then.”

The new Wonder Woman poster (courtesy Warner Bros.)

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Theatrical Release Delayed to August

Warner Bros.’ tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 has had its theatrical release pushed back from June 5 to Aug. 14, the studio disclosed on March 25.

With theaters shuttered and interest in home entertainment spiking due to quarantine measures taken to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, the sequel to the 2017 box office and home entertainment hit Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, had been speculated as a possible marquee title when WarnerMedia launches the HBO Max streaming service in May.

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But studio executives pushed back on idea considering the film’s reported $200 million production budget and high-profile traction among moviegoers.

“When we greenlit [Wonder Woman 1984] it was with every intention to be viewed on the big screen and are excited to announce that Warner Bros. Pictures will be bringing the film to theaters on Aug. 14th,”  Toby Emmerich,  Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group chairman, said in a statement. “We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then.”

Warner, which has released several theatrical titles early into retail channels, said it was also delaying the theatrical releases of Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights, animated feature Scoob!, and horror movie Malignant from their original box office debuts.

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Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Still Going to Theaters, Not Streaming — For Now

Warner Bros. remains on schedule to release summer tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters June 4. The sequel to 2017 box office and home entertainment blockbuster Wonder Woman again stars Gal Gadot in the title role, along with co-stars Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen. Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are newcomers in the sequel.

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With Warner accelerating home entertainment releases for a number of theatrical titles due to coronavirus fears shuttering theaters worldwide, scuttlebutt suggested the studio would deliver Wonder Woman straight to retail channels and/or WarnerMedia Entertainment’s pending SVOD service, HBO Max.

But that scenario, thus far, seems remote, according to media reports citing people familiar with the situation.

Warner confirmed to several media sources the movie remains earmarked for the traditional 90-day theatrical window. The 2017 movie generated more than $820 million at the global box office.

“We’re looking to release the movie theatrically, that’s our plan,” Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution, told The Wrap.

The movie’s producer, Charles Roven, in a separate interview, said it was “ludicrous” to consider shipping Wonder Woman 1984 straight to over-the-top distribution.

“Everybody recognizes that, as interesting as streaming might be, if you want a huge, global worldwide box office, you’ve got to release it in a movie theater,” Roven said.

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With a reported $200 million production budget, taking the movie directly to SVOD would significantly undermine the title’s return-on-investment. Offering the sequel directly to transactional VOD and packaged media would require significant unit sales that did not materialize for Wonder Woman.

Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield suggests that replacing the gross profit from a $1 billion theatrical release would require upwards of 21 million transactional VOD units sold at $30 each — the price point of the short-lived premium VOD distribution business model.

In addition, bypassing theatrical for a movie like Wonder Woman could permanently undermine the theatrical window — a scenario the National Association of Theatre Owners has no interest exploring.

The trade group said such a move ignores the underlying financial “logic” of studio investment in theatrical titles. To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, NATO said big-budget titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world.

“While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal,” NATO said in a statement.

 

Netflix Gets Universal’s ‘Red Notice,’ Adds Ryan Reynolds to Cast

Netflix has taken over production of action-adventure movie Red Notice, from Universal Pictures.

The film — originally slated for Universal’s 2020 theatrical schedule — stars Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Jumanji: The Next Level) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), with Netflix reportedly adding Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) to the cast.

Dwyane Johnson

Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions is co-producer on the globetrotting action-thriller centered on the pursuit of the most-wanted art thief in the world and is set to begin principal photography in various locations in 2020.

The film is written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence).

“With Red Notice, our goal at Seven Bucks Productions was to break down traditional barriers and create a true global event for the audience,” Johnson said in a statement. “Netflix has illustrated that they are the perfect partners to accomplish this goal.”

With Netflix’s business model mandating streaming access with scant simultaneous theatrical distribution, Johnson & Co. are sacrificing back-end compensation — a growing trend among studios — for instantaneous distribution in more than 190 countries.

“[Netflix’s] original content generates critical acclaim and invites full collaboration on every level of production,” Johnson said. “Their unbridled enthusiasm for Red Notice is equally matched by their commitment to entertaining audiences on an international scale. As the landscape of movies, distribution and audience consumption continues to evolve, our Seven Bucks focus is to continue to find the best platform and partners to thrive in this ever changing environment.”

Netflix is currently in development on John Henry and The Statesman with Johnson attached to star and Seven Bucks Productions, among others, producing.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/26/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $199.89 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some action and rude humor.
Voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Flula Borg.

The original Wreck-In Ralph from 2012 got a lot of mileage from the nostalgia its audience would have for classic video games, as it told the story of video game characters wanting to be more than the parameters of their programming.

In particular, Ralph (voiced John C. Reilly), hated his reputation as a video game villain, but eventually came to accept his role in the game as the other characters realized that they couldn’t exist either without him.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, it’s six years later and Ralph has settled into a content life alongside his new best friend Vanellope from the Sugar Rush racing game, whom he helped save in the first movie, embracing his day job smashing buildings while spending nights hanging out at other games in the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Vanellope, on the other hand, has grown bored with her racing game and longs for new tracks and hidden levels. She gets her opportunity for a new adventure when the steering wheel on her game breaks and, when the arcade owner balks at the cost of replacing it, she and Ralph head to the Internet to see if they can find the means to replace it themselves.

After a quick trip through eBay, the pair find themselves in an online game called Slaughter Race that offers new driving challenges that excite Vanellope. As she contemplates staying there, Ralph worries about losing his best friend and schemes to convince her to return to the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet does for the World Wide Web what the first film did for video games, offering a steady stream of nostalgia, deep-cut references and sharp observational humor.

The film even gives Disney a chance to engage in some self-parody, as Vanellope visits a Disney website and meets all the Disney Princesses, allowing the filmmakers to poke fun at the tropes of a typical Disney film. They instruct Vanellope, who is technically a princess herself according to her Sugar Rush bio, that when the time is right, she’ll learn about her heart’s true desire through a song — leading to an off-kilter take on the traditional Disney musical number (and, taking the gag further, the Blu-ray includes a music video for a bubblegum pop version of the song, which has to do with Vanellope’s desire to play the aforementioned game with “slaughter” in its title).

On the other hand, the various references to mega-successful Disney properties such as the Princesses, Pixar, “Star Wars” and Marvel Comics could be seen as the studio basking a bit in its own dominance at the moment. (Perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t cram in a preview for the pending Disney+ streaming service). But, such meta-humor is the kind of thing the “Ralph” movies are in a unique position to get away with, as it practically comes with the premise (an early reference to Tron is particularly apt, all things considered).

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In all, though, the film delivers with some exciting action sequences that build on the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, and a sentimental story about the evolving nature of friendship.

The making of the film is the subject of the Blu-ray’s 33-minute “How We Broke the Internet” featurette, which is segmented into the development of various story points and characters. A separate 10-minute featurette focuses on the film’s music.

The three-and-a-half-minute “Surfing for Easter Eggs” talks about some of the film’s hidden references, but seems more interested in providing cutesy narration than loading up on interesting information.

A two-minute “Baby Drivers — Slaughter Racing School” featurette is offered as a digital exclusive, available with purchases of the digital edition of the film or through redeeming the digital code included with the Blu-ray.

The disc also includes the two-minute “BuzzTube Cats,” a montage of animated cat videos of the type used to populate background sites in the film.

There are five deleted scenes that total about 19 minutes, most of which are remnants of an earlier draft of the story but which reflect plot elements that did evolve into the final film.

Finally, in addition to the pop version of the Slaughter House song, there’s a trippy music video for the end-credits song “Zero” by Imagine Dragons.

Disney’s ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Comes Home in February

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the animated film Ralph Breaks the Internet digitally Feb. 12, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 26.

The sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph features the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson and Alan Tudyk.

The story involves video game characters Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman) traveling from the arcade to the Internet on a quest for a part to save Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game. The film features several pop culture cameos, including a scene featuring all of the Disney Princesses.

The film has earned more than $190 million at the domestic box office and $435 million worldwide.

The DVD, Blu-ray and digital editions will include the music videos for “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.

The Blu-ray and digital versions will also include deleted scenes, the behind-the-scenes featurette “How We Broke the Internet,” a “Surfing for Easter Eaggs” featurette about hidden references in the movie, the featurette “The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet” and a “BuzzzTube Cats” compilation.

The digital edition, which can also be accessed through the redemption code included with the film’s Blu-ray combo packs, will come with the exclusive featurette “Baby Drivers: Slaughter Racing School,” a look at the film’s artists learning how to drive race cars.

Digital bonus materials will vary by retailer.

Justice League

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 3/13/18;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $229.01 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Diane Lane, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds.

As a movie, Justice League is a perfectly fine, entertaining superhero adventure, in which Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) recruit a handful of superheroes to fight an alien invasion. Except, you just can’t shake the feeling that it could have been so much more.

This was supposed to be the DC Comics version of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, with the greatest superheroes of all time finally coming together on the big screen. But with Marvel’s cinematic universe having such a head start (Black Panther is the 18th MCU film, while Justice League is just the fifth for DC), the DC films creative team took a few creative shortcuts to try to jump-start its mega franchise, mostly by foregoing introductory films for many of the characters and relying on the audience to have built-in knowledge of and nostalgia for who the characters are supposed to be.

In that regard, Justice League is primarily a sequel to 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which introduced Wonder Woman in advance of her own solo film, as well as most of the concepts meant to pay off in Justice League. But when audiences balked at BvS being too long and confusing, the studio allegedly mandated trimming Justice League to a manageable two hours, leaving little room for complex plot dynamics or character development.

So, where the Marvel films have become an intriguing network of interconnected stories and characters that invite and enable audience investment, the DC films have mostly been disposable popcorn entertainment, about as distinct a representation of the characters as any of the direct-to-video animated DC Universe movies, or the multitude of DC-based shows on the CW, which managed to pull off their own mega-crossover shortly after Justice League came out that many fans considered a much better example of how to present a satisfying superhero team-up.

The film itself was vastly overshadowed by rumors of production issues, as director Zack Snyder left the project following a family tragedy, and Avengers director Joss Whedon stepped in to guide re-shoots and post-production. That led to some fans trying to dissect the film to determine who directed what, with most guessing incorrectly. Then, irony of ironies, once the film came out, the fan base that decried Snyder’s vision as having muddled both Man of Steel and BvS suddenly demanded a mythical “Snyder Cut” of Justice League, as if he were suddenly their favorite filmmaker (a dichotomy somewhat echoed by the “Star Wars” fans who hated the unfamiliarity of The Last Jedi after criticizing The Force Awakens for being too familiar).

The Blu-ray offers no hint of whatever behind-the-scenes discord influenced what finally ended up on screen. For what it’s worth, Whedon is never mentioned in the bonus materials, and there’s plenty of footage of Snyder on set and praise from the cast for his direction.

Anyway, the film is fun, flashy and filled with action, though the abundance of CGI makes most of it look like it came from a video game. (I won’t even get into the controversy about Henry Cavill’s moustache grown for Mission: Impossible — Fallout having to be digitally removed because Paramount wouldn’t let him shave it for the JL reshoots.) And there are plenty of moments that comic book fans should enjoy, particularly when it comes to the homages to the classic versions of the characters.

Another highlight is the musical score from Danny Elfman, who mostly abandons the sound from the previous films in favor of something more akin to his traditional filmmusic sensibilities. In this case, that means straight-up re-using his own Batman theme from 1989 and John Williams’ classic Superman theme. Whether it serves the franchise will be open to debate, but it’s certainly helps fuel the nostalgia the film needs for the audience to embrace its version of the characters. (Though for some perspective, there were 21 years between the 1960s Batman show and the 1989 Tim Burton movie where Elfman debuted his theme, and then 25 years between Batman Returns and the theme’s return in Justice League; it’s no surprise some fans might have found it a bit jarring).

On top of all that, Justice League also serves as a decent set-up for the upcoming Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller) movies, and with a little tweaking to the DC formula a team-up sequel with the same characters and some new additions wouldn’t be unwelcome.

With rumors the film was heavily edited from its original intentions, there has been a lot of speculation about what deleted scenes were out there. Notably, the Justice League home video versions do not include an extended cut of the film, as happened with previous DC entries BvS and Suicide Squad. Instead, the Blu-ray includes just two short deleted scenes, running a total of two minutes, tying into the “Return of Superman” subplot.

The rest of the extras consist of about an hour of behind-the-scenes material, segmented into shorter featurettes. Most interesting for fans of the lore will be the “Road to Justice” featurette that traces some of the history of the characters.