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Streaming Sites May See Boosts as Theaters Close, but New Projects Could Suffer

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  • Universal is taking four of its in-theater pictures and putting them on video on demand. The Hunt, Emma, and The Invisible Man will be available Friday, and Trolls World Tour will be available on April 10, the same day it hits theaters.
  • The box office saw a two-decade low over the weekend as people stay home because of the coronavirus. Big chains like AMC and Regal have also announced temporary nationwide closures.
  • While theaters are taking the hit right now, streaming could see a 60% boost, according to data tracking firm Neilson.
  • But, in the long-term, more remains uncertain as productions are shutting down and financial losses overall for Hollywood are predicted to be incredibly high.

Studios Pick VOD as Theaters Close

As major movie theater chains temporarily shut down nationwide, streaming and video on demand services have the opportunity to see a big boost from quarantine binge-watching. 

On Tuesday, AMC and Regal announced they would be temporarily closing their locations as movie theaters see empty seats during the coronavirus pandemic. This comes just a day after Universal opted to take some of its current releases, The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma, and put them on video on demand by the end of the week. 

“Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters.,” Universal said in a statement. The pictures will be available on Friday for a $19.99 48-hour rental. Trolls World Tour will also get to VOD treatment on April 10, the same day it is set to hit big screens. 

Audiences Respond

Trolls Star Anna Kendrick praised the move online, saying she was “happy we can spread the joy while everyone stays safe.”

Many others were also excited that these selections would be made available at home. 

Some, on the other hand, were surprised by the price tag.

Universal is not alone in this strategy. Warner Brothers also announced plans to make Birds of Prey available on VOD early as well. Disney+ decided to release family hits like Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the platform sooner than scheduled. Fans are also calling for Onward, Disney-Pixar’s current release, to hit streaming or VOD early so viewers can get the chance to see it. 

Box Office Lows

These choices come as Hollywood has been shaken up by the coronavirus outbreak. It started with big pictures like Mulan and No Time to Die getting delayed, but was quickly followed by a blow to the box office. Last weekend was the worst in two decades, with the box office raking in only roughly $55 million. 

Usually, just one movie could probably pull that kind of cash in on its own. For comparison, in mid-March of last year, the highest grossing movie was Captain Marvel, and it made almost $68 million during one weekend. The top five highest grossing movies in mid-March made $113.8 million in one weekend. But theater closures and the practice of social distancing now make those kinds of numbers unattainable. 

Streaming Boost

While all of this means doomsday for theaters and the box office, it does give the upper hand to streaming. According to information from Nielsen, a data measurement firm, staying at home can lead to a 60% increase in media consumption, a figure that directly translates to streaming and television. 

Nielsen also says that people who work from home consume, on average, three more hours of television than someone in-office. So, with more employees being told to work remotely, this could create more TV consumption. 

Disney+ alone has a lot to gain from this situation, as reports indicate that half of the home in the United States with children under the age of 10 have already subscribed to the service. Not only is this number expected to go up because of quarantines, but the amount children will be consuming because they are home from school is likely to increase as well.

Industry’s Future in Limbo

In the long run, the outbreak could lead to bad news for most facets of the industry. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, and other TV and film giants like HBO, Disney and more have halted the productions of their upcoming content. This leaves uncertainty for their slates of new programming and could lead to further delays. 

The full impact of this right now is unknown, but according to Wired, Hollywood is on track to lose $20 billion. This number is likely to get even higher the longer this lasts.  

See what others are saying: (Wired) (Variety) (Deadline)

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Halle Berry Apologizes for Considering a Transgender Role in an Upcoming Film

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  • In an Instagram live interview Friday, Halle Berry mentioned that she was considering taking the role of a transgender man, while repeatedly misgendering him by using “she/her” pronouns. 
  • Some responded with anger, but many asked her to reconsider and educate herself on trans issues. 
  • People specifically asked her to watch Netflix’s “Disclosure,” a documentary that explores trans representation in Hollywood and the real-world implications trans depictions have on the trans community. 
  • Halle apologized Monday, promising to promote better representation both on and offscreen. Her apology was welcomed by fans, GLAAD, and “Disclosure,” which thanked her for listening and learning. 

Berry Considers Taking Transgender Role 

After a weekend of backlash, education, and conversations about transgender representation, actor Halle Berry announced Monday that she is no longer considering plans to play a transgender character.

The backlash against Berry first appeared Friday after she took part in an Instagram live interview with hairstylist Christin Brown. In that stream, Berry talked about possibly cutting her hair short again for a potential new film project, saying, “I’m thinking of playing a character where the woman is a trans character, so my hair is gonna have to be – she’s a woman that transitioned into a man, so my hair is going to be really shaved.” 

“I want to experience that world, I want to understand that world. I want to understand that character. I want to deep dive in that in the way I did ‘Bruised,’ Berry continued.

“This world, who this woman was is so interesting to me, and that will probably be my next acting role.”

“It’s really important to me to tell stories, and that’s a woman, that’s a female story actually– it changes to a man, but I want to understand the why and how of that,” she added.

Internet Asks Berry to Reconsider 

When people caught wind of this interview, people took issue with her remarks and the idea that a cisgender woman would be taking on such a role.

This isn’t exactly a new point of debate. For instance, Scarlett Johansson came under similar scrutiny in the past when she initially accepting the role of a transgender man for the film “Rub & Tug,” which she later walked away from after backlash. 

However, in Berry’s case, people were also upset by her lack of knowledge about the transgender community, noting that she repeatedly misgendered the character by using “she/her pronouns.”   

Still, while some people responded with anger, a lot of people took the approach of asking her to educate herself on trans issues and reconsider taking that role. Many actually asked her to watch Netflix’s new documentary “Disclosure,” which is executive produced by Laverne Cox. That film takes an in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people to help understand the real-world implications they have on the trans community. 

On Monday, the official Twitter account for the documentary even shared a clip from the project, writing, “Today is a good day to remind people that casting trans actors in trans roles is more than about opportunity.”

Then it directly addressed Berry in another post, asking her to watch the film “to understand how cis actors like yourself acting in trans roles has major cultural consequences offscreen.”

Others continued sharing similar messages, including the film’s director Sam Feder, who added, “Often people don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s ok!” 

Halley Berry Responds 

By Monday evening, Berry responded with a statement posted to her social media pages apologizing for her remarks and adding, “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

She explained that she was grateful for the guidance and critical conversations that have taken place over the last few days, adding. “I will continue to listen, educate and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.” 

Berry Thanked for Listening

Berry’s statement was received very well, with a lot of people thanking her for being willing to engage in dialogue with others and responding with a statement so quickly. 

Similar sentiments came from the documentary’s account, which thanked her for listening and learning. 

GLAAD also tweeted at Berry, saying it was pleased that she had listened to the concerns of transgender people, adding, “Other powerful people should do the same.” 

Still, Berry has faced some criticism from those angry with her for apologizing, as some believe there should more flexibility in Hollywood about who can play what roles. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro for instance called her statement “performative wokeness.” 

But that is a point the film’s Twitter account hit on Monday when it first addressed Berry’s initial comments. At the time, the account tweeted, “In preemptive response to the critique that all artists should be able to play any role.@Lavernecox “I think if all things were equal, then [yes]. But all things are not equal.”

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (Insider) (Vanity Fair

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Harvey Weinstein Reaches Tentative $19 Million Settlement in New York

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  • Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has reached a tentative $19 million settlement in New York that creates a compensation fund for his alleged victims. 
  • This comes after he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape charges. He is also awaiting trial for more sex crime charges in Los Angeles. 
  • While New York Attorney General Letitia James and several plaintiffs celebrated the settlement as a win for victims, not everyone is happy with it. 
  • Two attorneys representing six of Weinstein’s accusers think it does not go far enough because Weinstein is not required to accept responsibility or pay up himself.

Settlement Reached

A nearly $19 million tentative settlement has been reached between disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein and several of his accusers, according to New York’s Attorney General.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s office released a statement announcing the settlement, which will create an $18.87 million compensation fund for Weinstein’s victims if it is approved by bankruptcy and district courts. The release did not state specifically how many women would be accessing this fund, but reports indicate it will be split between dozens of women. Weinstein, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape charges in March, had been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women.

The settlement stems from two lawsuits. The first was a 2017 class-action suit brought forward on behalf of women who claim Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them. The second was filed in 2018 and alleges that Weinstein maintained a hostile work environment at the Weinstein Company. That lawsuit also claims that his brother, Robert Weinstein, aided in creating the degrading workplace. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the funding will break down into two different tiers. Women will be able to submit a form describing their experience with Weinstein and its effects. Tier 1 claimants will get between $7,500 and $150,000, while Tier 2 claimants will receive between $7,500 and $750,000. The settlement will also release women from their non-disclosure agreements with the Weinstein Company.

“For more than two years, my office has fought tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for the women whose lives were upended by Harvey Weinstein,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “This agreement is a win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer.”

Plaintiffs Respond

As part of their two-year investigation, the Attorney General’s office has interviewed Weinstein Company employees, executives, and survivors of misconduct and assault at the hands of Weinstein. The lawsuits leading up to this settlement allege that he persistently sexually harassed and berated female employees. It also claims that some female employees were required to perform work while Weinstein was partially or fully naked and that he demanded or forced them to engage in unwanted sexual acts while he dangled the promise of career advancement. According to the suits, Robert Weinstein aided and abetted these actions by choosing to not investigate complaints into this behavior. 

“Harvey Weinstein left a trail of trauma that was crushing for many women. We had aspirations for careers in a business we truly loved, and Weinstein took that dream from us and much more,” said Louisette Geiss, who accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct in 2017. “I knew that I wasn’t alone, and by linking arms with survivors, we were able to fight for meaningful change in this groundbreaking case.”

Guess was one of the plaintiffs involved in this case. Caitlin Dulany, another plaintiff who also accused Weinstein of harassment, released her own statement following the news of the settlement as well. 

“Harvey avoided accountability for decades, and it was a powerful moment for us to band together and demand justice,” Delany said. “Knowing that we will help so many women who are long overdue for relief gives me hope that this settlement will continue to empower others to speak.”

Backlash Against Settlement

However, not everyone involved with this case was applauding the tentative settlement. Attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represents six of Weinstein’s accusers, called it a “total sellout.”

“We are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels,” they said in a statement, obtained and published in full by the Hollywood Reporter. “While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons.”

Wigdor and Mintzer listed numerous critiques of the settlement, including the fact that Weinstein is still accepting no responsibility for his actions, as well as the fact that he is not required to pay the settlement himself. The attorneys also claim that it puts up a roadblock for women who did not join the settlement because they will not be able to access a big chunk of money protected by insurance companies in the fund. They plan on objecting it in court. 

Throughout the onslaught of accusations against him, Weinstein has maintained his innocence. According to his lawyer, he plans on attempting to appeal criminal convictions against him, and defending himself in civil lawsuits. He is also facing multiple sex crime charges in Los Angeles County, where he plans on defending himself as well. 

It is unclear when his Los Angeles trial will begin because coronavirus has held up many aspects of court proceedings. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Lili Reinhart Apologizes for Using Topless Photo to Demand Justice for Breonna Taylor

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  • After backlash, Lili Reinhart deleted a topless Instagram photo she posted with the caption, “Now that my sideboob has gotten your attention, Breonna Taylor’s murderers have not been arrested. Demand justice.”
  • Fans felt her post played into the trend of memeing or using Taylor’s name for a punchline, which many say disrespects and trivializes her story. 
  • Reinhart apologized, saying she never meant to come off as insensitive and is trying to learn and do better. 
  • While some responded with name-calling, others called it an opportunity to educate, noting that Reinhart has been amplifying Black voices and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram. 

Reinhart Posts Topless Photo 

“Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart apologized Monday for the photo she chose to use when demanding justice for Breonna Taylor on Instagram.

Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed by Louisville police on March 13. The night of her death, Taylor and her boyfriend were in bed when officers with a no-knock warrant began to force their way into their apartment. When her boyfriend fired his gun at who he believed were intruders, officers returned fired, striking Taylor at least eight times. 

In recent weeks, her name has been used as a rallying cry during Black Lives Matter protests, along with the names of other Black individuals who were unjustly killed by authorities like George Floyd, Eric Garner, and others. 

With Taylor’s case, in particular, people have continuously called for the officers involved to face charges. It seems like Reinhart tried to join in on those calls when she posted a photo of herself topless with the caption, “Now that my sideboob has gotten your attention, Breonna Taylor’s murderers have not been arrested. Demand justice.”

@lilireinhart

Photo Prompts Outrage for Memeing Taylor’s Name 

However, fans were quick to slam the actress for the post. “This is sick, why do she use Breonna Taylor’s name as an excuse to post her sexy pic? weird and gross,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another said, “The only thing that post did is get a bunch of people to talk about lili reinhart’s boobs. it was a thirst trap with a BLM caption. what are the odds that someone looks at a pic of lili’s boobs and says yas lemme demand justice!”

After likely seeing similar responses in the comments, Reinhart quickly deleted the caption but left the photo up. Doing so further caused people to question her intentions, with some saying this proved she was using Taylor’s name for a “quirky caption.”

Still, fans came to her defense, saying they didn’t see and issue with the post and that she was just trying to support the movement. 

Some noted that it’s very common online for people to post something that lures people in, only to redirect their focus towards real issues. 

However, in recent weeks, people have become increasingly worried that the Black Lives Matter movement is being treated as a trend for likes on social media. With Breonna Taylor’s case specifically, many have been especially frustrated that her name and phrases like “arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor” have become a meme or a punchline. 

Some use the phrase, or a variation of it, in tweets, while others edit the message into images.

This subject is actually something that has been a point of debate for a while now. For instance, musical artist Lil Nas X faced similar backlash in June when he posted a meme about arresting the officers in her case. 

That tweet began with, “yeah, i’m gay.” Then it continued, 

“g- arrest,

a- Breonna Taylor’s

y- murderers.”

Image
@LilNasX

After seeing some negative responses, he deleted the post and tweeted, “i want u guys to know if i make a meme out of something it doesn’t mean i don’t care about it, my following usually reacts the most when humour is involved. it’s my most efficient way of bringing awarness to anything. i do understand the backlash tho, and i’m learning.”

Like in Reinhart’s case, some felt his intentions were good and that this approach grabs people’s attention. However, the majority of people think these memes trivialize Taylor’s death and are asking that people respect her name and her story.

Reinhart Apologizes 

In response to all this frustration, Reinhart deleted the photo and took to Twitter on Monday to apologize. 

“I’ve always tried to use my platform for good. And speak up about things that are important to me,” she wrote.  “I also can admit when I make a mistake and I made a mistake with my caption. It was never my intent to insult anyone and I’m truly sorry to those that were offended.”

She then referenced some of her IGTV posts of conversations with Black entrepreneurs, writers, and activists.

@lilireinhart’s IGTV posts

“I’ve tried very hard to be honest on my IGTV lives that I’m still learning and trying to be better,” she wrote. “But I understand that my caption came off as tone deaf. I truly had good intentions and did not think it through that it could come off as insensitive.”

For the most part, fans seem glad that she admitted her mistake. While some people responded with name-calling, most argued that isn’t helpful, especially against someone who uses her platform to amplify Black voices and speak about the movement. 

Many are hoping that Reinhart’s case serves as a lesson to anyone who might be using Taylor’s name in a similar way on social media, and are using this as an opportunity to educate others. 

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (NBC News) (Nylon

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