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Cineworld Theaters to Shut Down Across the U.S. and U.K.

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  • Cineworld will be closing all of its 536 Regal cinemas in the U.S. and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse locations in the U.K. after Thursday, October 8.
  • This follows news that the James Bond flick, “No Time to Die” has been pushed back from November to April 2021, making it the latest of several blockbusters to depart from a fall release.
  • As studios push their films back in hopes of releasing them at a more profitable time, theaters are put in a tricky place because they have nothing new to lure in crowds. Some argue that studios should just release their movies now and take the hit to save theaters. 
  • Others think local governments, namely New York’s, should be more open to reopening theaters so the industry can be saved. 

Cineworld Closes Locations

Cineworld announced early Monday that it will be closing its 536 Regal cinemas in the United States and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse venues across the United Kingdom after Thursday, October 8.

The movie theater giant, which is the second-largest behind AMC, has no reopening date in sight. The decision to suspend operations will impact 40,000 jobs in the U.S. and another 5,500 in the U.K. The company’s stocks dropped over 50% after markets opened on Monday morning. 

“This is not a decision we made lightly,” the company said in a statement. “We did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable re-openings of our cinemas and we are so very grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our cinemas to the new protocols. We cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was.”

“As we have done to date, we will do everything we can to save livelihoods and the Company – this is an extremely delicate and tricky balance.”

The announcement comes as the release date for the latest James Bond picture, “No Time to Die,” was delayed yet again, this time from November to April 2021. It is the latest fall movie to get pushed back, following “Black Widow,” which will now come out in 2021, and “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is currently slated for a Christmas premiere. As more and more blockbusters get pushed back, theaters find themselves lacking the content they need to bring audiences in. 

“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told the Wall Street Journal. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”

It is unclear if AMC will follow suit and close any of its locations as the well of new films runs dry. Its stock also dropped with Cineworld’s, going down about 10% on Monday morning. 

Studios Delay Major Movies

Theaters are banking on studios to release blockbusters in order for them to survive, but studios find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They have two options in front of them. They can release their pictures now to help theaters stay open, but they won’t make the kind of box office revenue that they would hope for out of big-budget movies like James Bond. Their other option is to continue to postpone releases, which means that both studios and theaters take a huge hit right now, but can hopefully see a bigger check in the future. 

Unsurprisingly, for the most part, studios have been choosing the path that could potentially lead to more money. Waiting to release movies is increasingly looking like the better option as Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has underperformed at the domestic box office so far. While it has raked in a decent amount internationally, it’s smaller U.S. haul has scared other studios away from releasing their major projects too soon. 

But because theaters need more movies if they want to survive the pandemic, many believe theaters need to move forward and release new movies anyways. 

“While we can understand the studios’ desire to hold releases until the release environment is perfect, we also believe studios must be willing to take a hit to feed the industry and keep the exhibitor group from completely falling apart,” analyst Eric Wold said in a report. 

New York Restrictions

However, studios are not the only barrier blocking theaters from getting people in their seats. In fact, John Fithian, prescient and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, believes that its local governments that are most in the way because it is their limiting restrictions that are stopping studios from releasing movies. Two of the largest markets in the United States, Los Angeles and New York, are not open yet. Because theaters in other parts of California are already open, and Los Angeles could see reopenings soon, Fithian believes that the fault largely relies on New York, which has no reopening plans on the horizon for its movie theaters. 

“The failure of Gov. Cuomo to allow movie theaters to reopen anywhere in his state was a principal, if not exclusive, cause of the Bond move. If New York remains closed to theater operations, other movies scheduled for 2020 will move as well,” he said in an interview with Variety. “And I just don’t understand it. I know the governor has done a fantastic job combatting the virus. I know he’s got some increases of infections in some limited areas in the state. 

“But restaurants in New York are open, gyms are open, churches are open, indoor dining is being offered,” he added. “Our recommendation, our urgent plea, is for Gov. Cuomo to allow movie theaters to reopen in the portions of the state that aren’t having spikes in the virus.”

Fithian believes that New York’s box office is so critical that movies that have already been pushed to 2021 could actually come back to their 2020 dates if New York decides theaters can open their doors. He also believes this would be a safe decision because epidemiologists who have been asked to study potential links between virus outbreaks and movie theaters have not yet found one. 

Though, for his part, back in August, Cuomo explained that he did not think it would be necessary or practical for the state to start pushing ahead when it comes to movie theaters. 

“On a relative risk scale, a movie theater is less essential and poses a high risk,” he said during a coronavirus briefing. “It is congregant. It is one ventilation system. You are seated there for a long period of time.”

Since the industry has faced so many obstacles because of the pandemic, many are advocating for the government to financially assist theaters so they can stay up and running. At the end of September, major directors like Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, and Ang Lee all signed a letter urging Congress to provide needed support. 

“Absent a solution designed for their circumstances, theaters may not survive the impact of the pandemic,” the letters said. “Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Variety) (Hollywood Reporter)

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D.A.R.E. Accuses HBO’s “Euphoria” of Glorifying Drug Use

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The organization believes the drama series could have “negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.


D.A.R.E. Slams “Euphoria”

HBO’s “Euphoria” has become synonymous with its explicit depictions of teen sex, violence, and addiction. The substance abuse awareness organization D.A.R.E. condemned the series for its lurid content, arguing that it glorifies drug use. 

While drugs can weasel their way into any aspect of the show at a moment’s notice, the primary storyline around addiction follows Rue, a high schooler who often resists the help she needs to recover. Zendaya won an Emmy for portraying the struggling protagonist in 2020. 

D.A.R.E., also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, told TMZ on Wednesday that “Euphoria” is reckless in its handling of such weighted subject matter.  

“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” a representative for the group told the outlet. 

“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the representative continued. 

“Euphoria” Cast and Creator Speak on Heavy Subject Matter

Ahead of the season two premiere, Zendaya warned her followers that much of the content in “Euphoria” is not suitable for all viewers. 

“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable.”

Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” has been open about his own experience with addiction. Now over a decade sober, Levinson struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, much like Zendaya’s Rue. He feels a personal connection to the story, and therefore, a responsibility to honestly represent the tribulations of addiction.

“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking around you,” Levinson said of the show during the ATX Television Festival in 2019, per Deadline.

Levinson noted that he does have to be “mindful of” the risk of glamorizing drug use “just by the sheer nature of it being on screen.” 

“We have to be authentic about it,” he explained. “If we’re pulling our punches and we’re not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact. Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that’s what makes them so destructive.”

Drug Use on Euphoria

Still, D.A.R.E. is far from the first group to express concern over the impact “Euphoria” might have on younger viewers. Before the second season debuted earlier this month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a statement warning of the show’s “imminent threat to the health and well-being of children.”

Before each episode of “Euphoria” airs, HBO flashes a warning to alert viewers of the drug abuse, language, violence, nudity, and sex that will appear in the program. The show might be cavalier in the casual and frequent manner it depicts drug use and other dangerous behavior, but more often than not, characters await the consequences of their actions. 

In the most recent episode of “Euphoria,” Rue’s addiction lands her in a visceral screaming match with her sister. The scene underscores the tragic and harsh reality of substance abuse.

While critics push back against the show for a variety of other reasons, they generally praise Rue’s arc, largely thanks to Zendaya’s gripping performance. 

But D.A.R.E. argued that the show goes a bridge too far and offered to meet with HBO to hash out the issues. 

“We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly,” D.A.R.E.’s representative told TMZ.

HBO has not publicly responded to the criticisms.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Vanity Fair) (Complex)

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Neil Young Asks For His Music to Be Removed From Spotify Over Vaccine Misinformation

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The “Harvest Moon” singer told his representatives that the streaming service “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” 


Neil Young Wants Music His Off Of Spotify

Musician Neil Young wrote an open letter to his management and record label demanding that his music be taken down from Spotify over concerns about vaccine misinformation. 

The “Heart of Gold” singer initially posted the letter on his website, but it has since been removed. According to Rolling Stone, which reported on the document before it was taken down, Young specifically took issue with podcast host Joe Rogan. 

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” 

“The Joe Rogan Experience” is exclusive to Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021. Rogan has regularly received criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation that contradicts public health recommendations, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Rogan previously said that young people should not worry about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He has also regularly cited faulty studies questioning their efficacy and interviewed controversial medical personalities who are known for promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine. 

Young said he is afraid of the ramifications of these kinds of remarks.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the singer wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

Concerns About Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Comments

Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, conf​​rimed the authenticity of the letter to The Daily Beast.

“It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said.  “He’s very upset about this disinformation. We’re trying to figure this out right now.”

Young is far from the first person to express frustrations over the anti-vax views on the audio streaming service platforms. Earlier this month, a group of doctors and other medical professionals wrote a letter to Spotify urging the company to implement a policy to fight disinformation.

“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” the letter said. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience] is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the expert cautioned. 

Spotify has not made a public statement regarding Young’s letter.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Daily Beast) (The Verge)

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Ana de Armas Fans Sue Universal For Removing Actress From “Yesterday” Film

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The fans argue that because there were no scenes with de Armas as promised in the trailer, “consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase.”


Ana de Armas Scenes Cut From “Yesterday”

Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for including the actress in a trailer for the 2019 film “Yesterday” even though she does not appear in the final cut of the picture. 

In a class-action lawsuit filed in California, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza said they each spent $3.99 to watch the film after viewing the accompanying trailer on Amazon. They argue the studio’s “advertising and promotion of the movie Yesterday is false, misleading, and deceptive.”

The Danny Boyle-directed comedy follows a man, played by Himesh Patel, who wakes up in a world where no one knows who The Beatles are but him, so he starts playing their music and claiming it as his own. De Armas appears briefly in the trailer as a character competing with the primary love interest, played by Lily James. Writer Richard Curtis said they had to cut de Armas’ part to strengthen the character arcs.

“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it,” Curtis previously told Cinema Blend. “I mean really radiant. And [that] turned out to be the problem…I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”

For Woulfe and Rosza, the choice to cut de Armas is a dealbreaker. They are seeking $5 million on behalf of all impacted consumers. 

Fans File Lawsuit Against Universal

“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana De Armas by the trailer for Yesterday, but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana De Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit states. 

Patel and James each had credits of their own prior to the release of “Yesterday.” Still, the fans believe that Universal instead used the star power of De Armas, who had recently appeared in “Blade Runner 2049,” to “entice viewership.”

Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film,” the suit continued. 

Just a few months after the release of “Yesterday,” de Armas would go on to receive critical acclaim for her role in “Knives Out.” She has since appeared in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”

Now a much bigger name than in spring of 2019, the lawsuit claims de Armas still appears in trailers on services like Amazon and Google.

“Despite knowing that Ms. De Armas was not in the released version of the movie Yesterday, Defendant has consistently promoted Ms. De Armas as a character starring in the film, by including her scenes in Yesterday’s movie trailers,” the suit states. “Indeed, Defendant continues to promote Ms. De Armas as appearing in the film more than two years after its initial release, in advertisements for movie sales and rentals.”

Universal has not released a statement in response to the lawsuit.

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

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