Samba TV: Viewers Covet Fictional Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz Movie Over Real-Life Doc

New data from Samba TV finds that viewers seem more interested in Being the Ricardos than the actual ones.

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem’s fictional portrayal of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the real-life married couple behind the iconic “I Love Lucy” TV series, is more popular among Amazon Prime Viewers than the “Luci & Desi” documentary from actor-comedian Amy Poehler. Both programs are exclusively available on the streamer.

“Lucy & Desi” was seen by 230,000 U.S. households from its premiere on March 4 through March 10, according to Samba TV, which tracks linear and streaming viewership across its addressable footprint of 46 million opted-in devices worldwide. That’s less than a quarter of the households that watched Being the Ricardos, which was seen by 1.1 million U.S. households during its Dec. 21 – 27, 2021 debut.

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The U.S. audience for “Lucy & Desi” skewed wealthy ($200,000+ +16%), female (+9%), older (65-74 +33%), and white (+15%).

The audience was similar to Being the Ricardos, where U.S. households with older viewers over-indexed compared to overall viewership, 55-64 (+14%), 65-74 (+23%), 75-100 (+22%). Households with white viewers also over-indexed (+12%).

“I Love Lucy” ended its national broadcast run 65 years ago.

Dune: Part One

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $107.35 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material.
Stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem.

Efforts to adapt Frank Herbert’s landmark 1965 sci-fi novel Dune have been met with mixed results over the years.

The 1970s saw Alejandro Jodorowsky envision a 10-hour movie version, and when that fell through, producer Dino De Laurentiis grabbed the rights and hired Ridley Scott to give it a go as a follow-up to Alien, though the scope of the project proved too daunting for him as well.

Then David Lynch came on board, choosing to adapt Dune over, among other projects, directing Return of the Jedi. His version finally arrived in 1984 after a troubled production and massive edits to bring his three-hour initial cut to a bit over two hours for the theatrical release, a running time that so crammed Herbert’s story that it was generally panned by critics for being incomprehensible.

The Sci-Fi Channel in the early 2000s had a bit better luck with a pair of miniseries based on Dune and a few of Herbert’s sequels to it, earning ratings success while leaving fans of the books to continue to clamor for a worthy big-screen version.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation seems to have met those aspirations.

Villeneuve’s Dune presents the narrative as a sweeping epic of galactic politics and feuding families, marked by stunning visual splendor and scope.

Covering roughly half of the first book, Dune: Part One, as it is announced on screen, tells the story of a desert world named Arrakis, thousands of years into the future when humanity has colonized the vast expanses of outer space and formed an empire to control it, led by wealthy and influential families. The planet’s sands provide the only known source of the spice Melange, a substance with mind-altering properties that makes celestial navigation possible.

The Emperor has ordered the House Atreides, led by Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) to take over administration of Arrakis from Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Leto’s son, Paul (Timothée Chalamet), begins having visions of living among the Fremen, remnants of the tribes that originally inhabited the planet.

The Fremen are experts at surviving the harsh desert environment and dealing with the giant native sandworms that roam beneath the surface, both depositing the spice and menacing the efforts to extract it. Paul is rumored to be a prophesized messiah to the Fremen.

The Atreides will not have an easy time of it on Arrakis, however, as it quickly becomes apparent that their appointment to govern the planet is a trap by the Emperor and the Harkonnens to diminish their power, if not eliminate them altogether by a full-scale assault on the planet.

Villeneuve places the emphasis on the human and character aspects of the story, rather than the more bizarre sci-fi elements that seemed to fuel Lynch’s version.

At around two-and-a-half-hours, he also takes 20 more minutes than Lynch to tell half the story, allowing it to breathe by not trying to cram the density of the first book into a single movie, as the 1984 version did.

To make sure viewers who didn’t read the book are not left completely baffled, long early stretches of the film are very heavy in exposition, explaining who the families are, the Fremen and the culture of Arrakis. But this is all necessary worldbuilding endemic to any good sci-fi franchise and should continue to pay off with future installments.

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Savvy viewers may have noticed the influence the original novel had on countless burgeoning sci-fi franchises in the years it took to get a movie adaptation off the ground, with “Star Wars” and its desert world of Tatooine being the most notable example. Because of this, some fans might find a lot of similarities between this latest Dune movie and some recent “Star Wars” shows set on Tatooine, such as “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.”

The exposition provided in the film is expanded upon in the Blu-ray bonus materials, with an eight minute featurette about the Royal Houses, and 10-and-a-half-minutes of video encyclopedia entries similar to the ones Paul watches in the film in order to learn about Arrakis.

The Blu-ray also includes nearly an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes as well, with individual videos focused on the usual things like production design, cinematography, costumes and visual effects

Some dig deeper, such as a creating the makeup effects used to create the Baron’s bloated physique. Another looks at the fighting styles used to give the battle scenes a heightened since of verisimilitude. Others show how the visual effects team pulled off the film’s unique vehicles, as well as the giant worm attacks; the longest is an 11-minute examination of the film’s distinctive sound design and Hans Zimmer’s musical score.

Collectively, they demonstrate the precision and craftsmanship that went into constructing the film.

Samba TV: 1.1 Million Amazon Prime Households Stream ‘Being the Ricardos’

Being the Ricardos, the Amazon Studios’ biopic written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, about the relationship between “I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball (played by Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javiar Bardem), generated more than 1.1 million Prime Video households in its first week of release (through Dec. 26), according to new data from Samba TV.

The data firm tracks more than 46 million opted-in televisions globally, including 28 million in the U.S.

With the “I Love Lucy” comedy series originally airing in the 1950s, the Prime Video demo skewed older than normal, with U.S. households aged 55-64 (up 14%), 65-74 (up 23%), 75-100 (up 22%) among the streamers. White households also over-indexed (up 12%) as well.

In international markets, 29,000 U.K. households watched the movies, 3,000 German households, and 6,000 Australian homes watched the film during the same period.

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Being the Ricardos

STREAMING REVIEW: 

Amazon Prime Video;
Drama;
Rated ‘R’ for language.
Stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, Clark Gregg, Christopher Denham, John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin, Ronny Cox.

Leave it to Aaron Sorkin to chronicle the life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz while making “I Love Lucy” from the perspective of the show’s writers.

The entertaining docudrama Being the Ricardos provides a thorough look at the challenges of television production, focusing on a week behind the scenes of the iconic sitcom while Ball tries to save her marriage while dealing with the potential fallout of being accused of being a communist in the 1950s.

Writer-director Sorkin uses a number of narrative tricks at his disposal, beginning with a framing device involving older versions of the show’s three primary writers — Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll — played by John Rubinstein, Linda Lavin and Ronny Cox, respectively as if being interviewed for a documentary (Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat and Jake Lacy play the younger versions).

The trio end up telling the story of how Lucy (Nicole Kidman) met Desi (Javier Bardem), navigated the tricky waters of show business, got married and created an iconic show that changed the course of TV history.

During the week in question, tensions run a bit higher than usual. As Ball wonders if her career is about to end over HUAC, she argues with the writers over jokes in the show and deals with rumors of Desi’s womanizing. Meanwhile, the couple also wants to turn her impending pregnancy into a storyline, much to the chagrin of network executives at CBS, as Desi appeals to the show’s sponsor to force the issue.

It’s a lot to process in two hours, but Sorkin keeps it pithy with his trademark crisp dialogue, and the performances are terrific throughout. One clever conceit involves peering into Ball’s comedy mind as she imagines a scene coming to fruition, allowing Sorkin to re-create moments from the sitcom in black-and-white.

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Unlike with his previous film, The Trial of the Chicago 7, which was dripping in political commentary, Sorkin manages to keep any overt politicization of the subject matter at bay, hinting at the debate between the theories and realities of communism without delving too deeply into the particulars (though in interviews he likens the hysteria to modern cancel culture). He also isn’t so uncouth as to point out how “I Love Lucy” was sponsored by the Philip Morris tobacco company, and both Lucy and Desi would eventually die of illnesses known to be exacerbated by smoking.

The particulars of the story are mostly accurate in the aggregate, though in typical Hollywood fashion Sorkin has changed some details and rearranged the timeline for dramatic effect. For instance, the episode shown being produced, “Fred and Ethel Fight,” was the 22nd episode of the series, not the 37th as stated in the movie. And the communist controversy came about a year later, apparently around episode 68, months after Little Ricky was born. The episode in particular was likely chosen because its topic paralleled Lucy and Desi’s own marital troubles in the film, and provided a nice insight into Lucy’s penchant for physical comedy.

On another note, the casting as Lavin to play the older Pugh is a nice touch, as Pugh and Carroll were among the executive producers of the sitcom “Alice” that starred Lavin.

 

 

Amazon Unveils Trailer for ‘I Love Lucy’ Film ‘Being the Ricardos’

Amazon Studios on Oct. 19 dropped a trailer for Being the Ricardos, a behind-the-scenes look at the famed husband-and-wife team behind the iconic “I Love Lucy” sitcom, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The film, which opens in theaters on Dec. 10 and starts streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 21, stars Nicole Kidman as Ball and Javier Bardem as Arnaz — known on the show as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the film also stars Jake Lacy, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, and Alia Shawkat.

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It follows Ball and Arnaz through a single production week on the set of “I Love Lucy,” as they contend with shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos.

The film was produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch of Escape Artists. Executive producers include Ball and Arnaz’s two children, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz, alongside Stuart Besser, Lauren Lohman, and Escape Artists’ Jenna Block and David Bloomfield.

‘The Day of the Beast,’ Rosie Perez Starrer ‘Perdita Durango’ Among Titles Coming to 4K and Blu-ray Disc March 30 From MVD and Severin

Coming to disc March 30 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films are Perdita Durango (1997), The Day of the Beast (1995), Nosferatu in Venice (1988) and A Scream in the Streets (1973).

Writer-director Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango and The Day of the Beast are restored on 4K Ultra HD (in combo pack with Blu-ray) and Blu-ray Disc for the first time in America.

For his English-language debut with Perdita Durango, de la Iglesia chose novelist Barry Gifford’s prequel to Wild at Heart featuring the titular sociopath priestess. But when the U.S. distributor saw the finished film, they slashed more than 10 minutes of gleefully profane sex and violence and dumped it under the title Dance With the Devil. Severin is now presenting the complete director’s cut starring Oscar nominee Rosie Perez and Academy Award winner Javier Bardem in a violent love story filled with human sacrifices, kidnapping, murder and fetus trafficking with the dogged DEA agent (James Gandolfini) on the trail of it all. Don Stroud (Django Unchained), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Alex Cox (Repo Man) and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins co-star in the film with music by Simon Boswell. Special features include “On the Border,” an interview with de la Iglesia; “Writing Perdita Durango,” an interview with writer Barry Gifford; an appraisal by film scholar Dr. Rebekah McKendry; “Narcosatanicos: Perdita Durango and the Matamoros Cult,” an interview with Abraham Castillo Flores and Cauldron of Blood author Jim Schutze; “Canciones de Amor Maldito: The Music of Perdita Durango,” an interview with composer Simon Boswell; “Shooting Perdita Durango,” an interview with director of photography Flavio Labiano; and trailers.

In between his cult hit debut Accion Mutante and Perdita Durango, de la Iglesia delivered the international horror comedy smash The Day of the Beast, which won six Goya Awards, including Best Director. In the film, when a rogue priest (Álex Angulo of Pan’s Labyrinth) discovers the exact date The Antichrist will be born, he enlists a Death Metal record store clerk (Santiago Segura of Killer Barbys) and a cheesy TV psychic (Armando De Razza) for an urban spree to prevent the Apocalypse by summoning Satan himself. Terele Pávez (800 Bullets) co-stars. Special features include “Heirs of the Beast,” a feature length documentary by Diego López and David Pizarro on the making and cultural impact of the film; “Antichrist Superstar,” an interview with director Alex de la Iglesia; “The Man Who Saved the World,” an interview with actor Armando De Razza; “Beauty and the Beast,” an interview with actress Maria Grazia Cucinotta; “Shooting the Beast,” an interview with director of photography Flavio Martínez Labiano; “Mirindas Asesinas,” a 1990 short film by Alex de la Iglesia; and trailers.

Nosferatu in Venice (1988) and A Scream in the Streets (1973) are coming out on Blu-ray for the first time ever March 30 scanned in 2K from the original negatives.

What was intended to be an unofficial sequel to Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, Nosferatu in Venice instead became one of the most notoriously fascinating productions in EuroCult history. Klaus Kinski stars as the legendary vampire resurrected in modern-day Venice with an insatiable hunger for warm blood and rough sex. Donald Pleasence and Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer co-star in this shocker that features music by Oscar winner Vangelis (Chariots of Fire) and employed five different directors, including Mario Caiano (Nightmare Castle), Luigi Cozzi (Paganini Horror), writer-producer Augusto Caminito and reportedly Kinski himself. Special features include “Creation is Violent,” a new feature-length documentary on Kinski’s Final Years; “Creation is Violent Outtakes: – Nothing Bad Can Happen – Gypsies Should Be Played by Real Gypsies!”; and a trailer.

From producer Harry Novak — whose Box Office International Pictures brought the world such classics as Axe, Mantis in Lace and Wham Bam Thank You, Spaceman — comes A Scream in the Streets, about a pair of L.A.P.D. detectives hunting a transvestite psychopath through a polyester jungle of massage parlor perverts, suburban sex fiends and violence-crazed cops. Directed by Carl Monson (Please Don’t Eat My Mother), the film stars Joshua Bryant (Enter the Devil), Sandy Carey (Drive-in Massacre), Linda York (Chain Gang Women) and Sharon Kelly (aka ’80s adult film superstar Colleen Brennan). Special features include “The Peeper — Two Sexy Shorts Produced From A Scream in the Streets outtakes” and a trailer.

Amazon Greenlights ‘Cortes’ Miniseries

Amazon Studios March 26 announced greenlighting a four-miniseries based on legendary conqueror Hernan Cortes, starring Javier Bardem and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television.

Cortes led a rebellious expedition to the heart of King Montezuma II’s Aztec empire, connecting two civilizations for the first time and changing the course of history.

“Cortes” is created and written by Academy Award-winner Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and based on the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday).

Emmy-winning Zaillian, Emmy-winning Darryl Frank and Emmy-nominated Justin Falvey (“The Americans”) are set to executive produce, along with Bardem.

“Cortes’ epic discoveries shaped the world as we know it today, and … we will bring Prime Video members on an exhilarating journey,” Sharon Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “There are few moments in history that shape an entire culture such as Cortes’ story, and this series will be one filled with drama and adventure.”