HBO Max Orders ‘Real Magic Mike’ Competition Series

HBO Max has ordered “The Real Magic Mike” (working title), an unscripted competition series set to debut on the streamer later this year.

From the producers behind the “Magic Mike” franchise and live shows, the series will transform 10 men into real-life Magic Mikes in a competition. They will bare their souls and more as they evolve their bodies, learn to perform routines, and develop a new level of self-confidence. “As they strip off their clothes, they will rid themselves of emotional baggage and regain their mojo but only one will be the Real Magic Mike,” according to an HBO Max press release.

The winner will get a cash prize and an opportunity to perform on the Magic Mike Live stage in Las Vegas.

A nationwide casting search is currently underway.

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From Eureka Productions and Warner Bros. Unscripted Television in association with Warner Horizon, the series’ executive producers include Channing Tatum (star of the 2012 movie Magic Mike), Steven Soderbergh, Reid Carolin, Peter Kiernan, Gregory Jacobs, Nick Wechsler, Vincent Marini, Alycia Rossiter, Cassie Lambert Scalettar, Chris Culvenor, Paul Franklin, Wes Dening and David Tibballs alongside co-executive producer Kevin Boyer.

“From box office hits to sold-out live shows, Magic Mike has proven to be a pop culture juggernaut that continues to delight people across the globe,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement. “We’re excited to work with Channing, Steven and the team behind Magic Mike Live to continue this successful franchise that celebrates self-confidence and sexiness both inside and out.”

“‘Magic Mike’ is one of Warner Bros.’ most iconic franchises,” Mike Darnell, president of Warner Bros. Unscripted Television, said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to be working with Channing, Steven and HBO Max on an all-new vision of this amazing and legendary brand. We’re looking forward to giving fans a front row seat as we search the country for undiscovered talent.”

Research: HBO Max Subs More Likely to Pay for Additional Services

HBO Max subscribers in the United States are far more likely than Disney+ or Netflix subscribers to pay for additional video services, according to Interpret Insights’ New Media Measure.

While 27% of HBO Max subscribers pay for four to five other video services, only 12% of Netflix subscribers and 17% of Disney+ subscribers do the same, suggesting that HBO Max “is seen as highly complementary to other options in the market,” according to Interpret.

While HBO Max has benefited from Warner Bros. movies debuting on the service at the same time they hit theaters, that is poised to change next year as an (albeit shorter) theatrical window returns, according to Interpret.

“The big challenge as HBO Max enters 2022 will be securing exclusive content to maintain this momentum,” Interpret wrote.

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TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

HBO Max Orders Female Erotica Comedy Series ‘MINX’ From Lionsgate

HBO Max April 5 announced it has ordered 10 episodes of the half-hour comedy “MINX.” Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the series centers on an earnest young feminist (Ophelia Lovibond), who joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson) to create the first erotic magazine for women. The series is from showrunner Ellen Rapoport, Feigco Entertainment and Lionsgate Television.

Ophelia Lovibond

Other cast members include Jake Johnson (“New Girl,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”), who was previously announced as a guest star. Other series regulars include Idara Victor (“Shameless,” “Turn”), Jessica Lowe (“Wrecked,” “Tacoma PD,” “Blended”), Lennon Parham (“Bless this Mess,” “Playing House,” HBO’s “Veep”), Michael Angarano (Emmy-nominated for “This Is Us,” “I’m Dying Up Here,” “The Knick”) and Oscar Montoya (“Reno 911,” “Bless the Harts,” host of “Spanish Aquí Presents” podcast).

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Rapoport executive produces the series alongside Paul Feig (“Freaks and Geeks”) and Dan Magnante for Feigco Entertainment. Rachel Lee Goldenberg directed and executive produced the pilot. Lionsgate Television is the studio. Feigco and Lionsgate Television previously partnered with HBO Max on “Love Life,” which was renewed for a second season. Lionsgate is also producing “Santa Inc.” and “Julia” for Max.

Jake Johnson

“We are so excited about this series, which is fun, feminist and wholly unique,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement.

Rapoport thanked Feigco, Lionsgate and Max for seeing the potential in this story from the first time “I showed up in their offices with stacks of ’70s porn magazines.”

Feig said he and the production company fell in love with Rapoport’s trunkful of male nudie magazines and her “amazing vision for this funny and liberating” TV series.

“The second we heard it and knew we needed a bold network partner to let us bring it to the screen as honestly as possible … we couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in business with HBO Max,” Feig said.

 

HBO Max Launching ‘Game of Thrones’ 10th Anniversary Streaming Event

To mark the 10th anniversary of the premiere of “Game of Thrones,” HBO has launched “The Iron Anniversary,” a month-long event to commemorate the series and build excitement for the next iteration of the franchise, “House of the Dragon,” slated to begin production this year.

A custom spotlight page on HBO Max with personalized curations, a binge-watching marathon, special-edition products, and more, will launch throughout the month.

The HBO series “Game of Thrones” was one of the largest events in television history, with 45 million viewers in the United States, distribution in 207 territories around the world, and a successful run at retail on packaged and digital media.

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HBO Max includes a “Game of Thrones” Spotlight Page, an in app experience offering everything from a broad introduction to the world and characters for newbies, to  spoiler-laden curations featuring “easter eggs” for hardcore fans. The page includes more than 150 videos of behind-the-scenes extras, cast interviews, clips and trailers — many of which have never been available on the streaming platform before.

Beginning April 10, HBO will launch the “Game of Thrones” MaraThrone with all episodes of season one airing, starting at 10 a.m. ET, and will challenge fans to continue to binge watch all 73 episodes of the series on Max while raising money for select global charities.

For two weeks, “Game of Thrones” cast members will rally streamers to contribute to one of 10 charities: Women for Women International, World Central Kitchen, Conservation International, International Rescue Committee (IRC), UNICEF, FilmAid International, SameYou, Royal Mencap Society, National Urban League and The Trevor Project.

A selection of superfans and influencers will receive a custom MaraThrone kit with fun essentials to aid in their marathon viewing experiences, while six unique marathon “routes” will offer a little direction to fans who want to experience the series in a whole new way. Viewers may choose from episode collections focused on the entire series, follow the Mother of Dragons through her most fiery moments, journey with Arya to Braavos and beyond, binge the best battles, watch the Army of the Dead come to life, or relive the series’ biggest spoiler episodes.

Later in the month, HBO will surprise three couples who were married in Westeros-themed ceremonies with special anniversary gifts of their own: “Thrones”-branded barrels of wine, custom chalices, and elaborate cakes designed in partnership with local bakeries to represent the “Game of Thrones” houses of Targaryen, Stark and Lannister.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and its licensing partners have teamed up to create a variety of special-edition products kicking off the Iron Anniversary that include:

  • a one-of-a-kind Imperial egg by Fabergé, inspired by Daenerys Targaryen, and co-designed by series Emmy Award-winning costume designer Michele Clapton that includes a miniature crown designed by Clapton, which represents the crown Daenerys would have worn had she taken the Iron Throne;
  • a range of beers inspired by the series from Mikkeller, the Danish craft beer company, including the first beer in the assortment called “Iron Anniversary IPA”;
  • a new iron-textured limited-edition assortment of  “Game of Thrones” Pop! vinyl collectibles and new action figures based on Arya Stark, Khal Drogo, and many more from Funko and available for pre-order now at retailers everywhere;
  • the Game of Thrones: Complete Collection available to own on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray, DVD and through select digital retailers, as well as available to stream on HBO Max.

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Largest-Ever HBO Max Streaming Audience

Movie monsters Godzilla and King Kong continue to lead a path of destruction across Hollywood and the theatrical world. After pandemic-era box office highs through Easter Sunday, Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs. Kong also slayed on streaming.

The film is available in the United States on HBO Max in 4K UHD with HDR-10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos on supported devices for 31 days from its theatrical release date. Through the end of 2020, HBO and HBO Max had a combined 41 million subscribers in the United States.

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“The HBO Max audience has spoken very clearly and loudly: They love this film and are watching it more than once,” Andy Forssell, EVP and GM of WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer, said in a statement. “Comparing audience metrics in the first four days since its release, Godzilla vs. Kong had a larger viewing audience than any other film or show on HBO Max since launch.”

WarnerMedia has not officially released streaming data for Godzilla vs. Kong.

The movie, along with every other Warner theatrical release starting with Wonder Woman 1984, is available concurrently for no additional charge on Max. Previous releases such as Zach Snyder’s Justice League, The Little Things and Tom & Jerry generated 1.8 million, 1.4 million and 1.2 million opening weekend Max household viewers, respectively, according to Samba TV.

Wonder Woman 1984 tracked 3 million Max households across its Christmas opening weekend through the end of 2020, according to Samba TV, which tracks streaming habits among more than 19 million connected televisions. Notably, it was Disney/Pixar’s streaming of animated Soul on Christmas that generated the largest opening streaming weekend, at more than 3.2 million Disney+ households.

Wonder Woman 1984

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $46.1 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
$35.99 3D BD Warner Archive;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbues her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

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The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show (which, fittingly, is teased in the Blu-ray bonus materials).

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

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Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise.

It’s especially hard to reconcile the plot of WW84 with the 2017 Justice League team-up movie, particularly the theatrical cut. It fits in a bit more with Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut, but not by much. (One can only imagine what a teenage Bruce Wayne would have wished for.)

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings, mostly because it’s easy enough with Blu-ray and digital copies to just go to the few good scenes. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of a third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 played in theaters and streamed on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it was available exclusively in theaters until hitting PVOD a month before its traditional home video run.

The Blu-ray edition of Warner’s latest “Wonder Woman” adventure includes more than 90 minutes of bonus materials, consisting of a number of detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes and a few fun extras for the fans.

The best is the aforementioned 1970s tie-in, presenting footage from WW84 in the style of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series, complete with the original theme song and animated transitions — and it’s also the first time we get to see Gadot do the classic “Wonder Woman spin.”

Among the other amusing extras are a six-and-a-half-minute gag reel and the raw minute-and-a-half footage from Max Lord’s in-movie “Black Gold” infomercial.

A couple more focus on the teaming of Gadot and Wiig: There’s a five-minute video about them starring together, which leads to a minute-long clip of the pair goofing around on set in the form of a “Saturday Night Live”-style video sketch (no doubt Wiig’s comedy background contributed to this one).

The primary making-of documentary runs 36 minutes and gives a good overview of the production. Tying into this are two “Scene Study” featurettes: a five-minute video focused on the opening mall rescue scene and six-minutes exploring the Middle East truck chase. The most notable aspect to these videos is how dedicated the crew was to re-creating the 1980s — building out several levels of a vintage mall with fully stocked stores, and using old-school practical stunt-work with a minimal reliance on CGI.

The rest of the footage deals with the making of the scenes at the amazonian island. There’s a 21-minute “Meet the Amazons” virtual panel from DC Fandome featuring discussions with director Patty Jenkins and a number of the women and stunt performers who played Amazonian warriors participating in the elaborate games sequences that open the film. Rounding out the presentation is an 11-minute profile of actress Lilly Aspell, who reprises her role as the pre-teen Diana from the 2017 film. The featurette includes some cute audition footage of the enthusiastic Aspell from 2015, showing off how well she makes for a younger version of Gadot.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 28, 2020.

HBO Max Orders Post-Pandemic Drama Series ‘Station Eleven’ — Based on Award-Winning Novel

HBO Max has greenlighted the limited series drama “Station Eleven,” a 10-episode post-apocalyptic saga about survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.

Lori Petty

Based on the international best-seller by Emily St. John Mandel, which was both a National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, “Station Eleven” stars Daniel Zovatto (“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”) as the enigmatic leader of a mysterious cult of young people and Lori Petty (A League of Their Own, “Orange Is the New Black”) as the leader of a group of traveling Shakespeare performers.

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Other cast members include Andy McQueen (“Books of Blood,” “The Coroner”) David Cross (“Mr. Show,” “Arrested Development”), Enrico Colantoni (“Veronica Mars,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), and Julian Obradors (“7th & Union,” “Mayans M.C.”).

The series will be produced by Paramount Television Studios for HBO Max.

 

NBCUniversal Reportedly Considering Distributing All Movies Through Peacock After Normal Theatrical, Transactional Runs; Netflix Grabs ‘Knives Out’ Sequel

Taking a page out of the Disney over-the-top video playbook, NBCUniversal is reportedly considering diverting all future Universal Pictures releases to proprietary SVOD platform Peacock — rather than Netflix and HBO Max —  after their theatrical and transactional home entertainment runs.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reports Universal’s existing distribution deals with HBO for movies such as Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom nine months after their box office debut, and with Netflix for Illumination titles (i.e. Despicable Me, Sing), both expire at the end of this year. This would give the studio and NBCUniversal the option to channel original movies exclusively to Peacock.

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In the build-up to the launch of its own SVOD service, Disney in 2017 began holding back movies previously earmarked for Netflix distribution. Five years prior, Disney and Netflix inked a landmark agreement affording the SVOD platform exclusive access to original Disney movies — an agreement many observers say contributed to Netflix’s burgeoning appeal.

While nothing has been decided, forgoing third-party distribution could see Universal passing up hundreds of millions of dollars in annual licensing revenue for a SVOD subsidiary with 33 million account sign-ups (not subscriptions) since launching last summer.

Universal also has deals in place with exhibitors AMC Theatres and Regal that enable it to distribute movies to premium VOD as early as 17 days after their theatrical debuts, depending on box office.

At the same time, Netflix has aggressively sought to produce its own movies, including about 60 titles annually. The streamer led all studios with Oscar nominations. And HBO Max has exclusive access to Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical releases for the first 31 days.

Separately, Netflix reportedly secured sequel rights to Knives Out, the 2019 critically acclaimed ensemble murder mystery distributed by Lionsgate in a one-picture deal with Media Rights Capital, the production company behind Netflix’s “House of Cards” and “Ozark.” The $400 million to $450 million deal would be the most Netflix has ever paid to license a movie. Knives Out generated $331.3 million worldwide theatrically on a budget of $40 million.

Knives Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

HBO Max Orders True Crime Docuseries ‘The Staircase’ Starring Academy Award-Winner Colin Firth

HBO Max March 31 announced an order for “The Staircase,” an eight-episode limited series starring Oscar winner Colin Firth as American novelist Michael Peterson. The Max Original is a co-production between HBO Max and Annapurna Television.

Adapting the true crime docuseries format and various books and reports on the case, the series explores of the life of Michael Peterson, an American novelist, his sprawling North Carolina family, and the suspicious death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson. Director Antonio Campos will head six of the eight episodes.

“It is a thrill to collaborate with Antonio Campos, Maggie Cohn and Annapurna Television for the exploration of this true-life story that’s rife with dramatic revelations,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement. “With the enormously talented Colin Firth at the center of this adaptation, the story will continue to captivate audiences with every bizarre twist and turn.”

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Campos, whose credits include Afterschool (2008), Simon Killer (2012), Christine (2016) and The Devil All the Time (2020), said the project has been in his sights since 2008.

“It’s been a long and winding road, but well worth the wait to be able to find partners like HBO Max, Annapurna, co-showrunner Maggie Cohn and the incredible Colin Firth to dramatize such a complex true-life story,” Campos said.