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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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“Among Us” Developers Scramble to Fight Off Pro-Trump Hacks

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  • The video game “Among Us” has been struggling to fight off a hacker that spent the weekend blacking out lobbies, spamming chat boxes with pro-Trump messages, and causing other game disruptions.
  • InnerSloth, the developers behind the game, implemented anti-hacks to try and regain control, but some bugs and other issues persist.
  • The alleged hacker, who has since been doxed online, told Eurogamer they were trying to gain publicity for Trump and themselves since they design and sell in-game cheats. However, they also told Kotaku they were just curious to see what would happen and found the hack funny.
  • The disruptions began about two days after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez playing the game in front of more than 435,000 Twitch viewers in an effort to encourage youth voting.

Hacker Target’s ‘Among Us’

Developers of the game “Among Us” are actively working to combat a hacker that has flooded the app with pro-Donald Trump messages since Thursday.

The multiplayer murder mystery game has grown in popularity this year thanks to support from Twitch streamers and users who found it particularly good to play during this age of social distancing.

Just last Tuesday, the game received extra attention when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) hosted her first Twitch stream playing it with huge gamers like Pokimane, Valkyrae, Jacksepticeye, and others. The stream was part of a larger effort to encourage voting and ended up bringing in over 435,000 concurrent viewers.

However, by Thursday, users began reporting that the game was facing hacks. Players complained about their lobbies turning completely black, meanwhile, some were disconnected from games altogether.

Others reported spammed chat sections that told users to subscribe to Eris Loris on YouTube otherwise the hacker would “kill your device.”

The hacker also shared Twitter links, Discord links, and other pro-Trump messages, even writing “Hacked by Russians.” in some spam messages.

InnerSloth Rushes to Fight Back

Eventually, “Among Us” developer InnerSloth released a statement about the problem on Twitter.

We’re are super duper aware of the current hacking issue and we’re looking into it,” it said. “We will be pushing out an emergency server update so people who are in game will get kicked from games. Please play private games or with people that you trust!!! Bare with us!! 😰”

One of the developers later said he was rolling out server updates, but warned that players would be impacted for an unknown amount of time.

That’s likely what actually happened since complaints continued throughout the weekend. By Saturday evening, the developer said he had rolled out “wave 2” of anti-hacks, but noted that there are some bugs and issues he’s already aware of.

If you try to play the game right now, you’ll be hit with a warning message about the problems as the game undergoes emergency maintenance.

In it, the developers reminded players that they were stopping plans for Among Us 2 as they focused on Among Us 1, which we know has exploded in popularity recently. 

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Hacker Speaks Out

Many felt the hack was done in an effort to bring support for President Trump in front of the same audience that Ocasio-Cortez reached.

However, as far as the motive, all we know is that both Eurogamer and Kotaku claimed they made contact with the hacker, who has since been doxxed and threatened online.

They told Eurogamer they design and sell in-game cheats and consider this “a publicity stunt,” claiming to have affected 1.5 million matches. 

They also said “I’m a college student and I support Trump,” adding that they hoped this generated publicity for the president as well.  

But when speaking to Kotaku, they made it sound more like a trolling effort, saying, “I was curious to see what would happen, and personally I found it funny.”

“The anger and hatred is the part that makes it funny. If you care about a game and are willing to go and spam dislike some random dude on the internet because you cant play it for 3 minutes, it’s stupid.”

For now, it’s unclear if all the problems are close to being completely resolved, but this has put a harsh spotlight on InnerSloth’s small team. 

See what others are saying: (NME) (PC Gamer) (The Verge)

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“Borat” Sequel Reportedly Catches Rudy Giuliani in Compromising Situation, But Giuliani Says It’s “Doctored”

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  • President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was caught in a compromising situation after stills from a mock-interview in Sacha Baron Cohen‘s upcoming “Borat” sequel showed Giuliani laying down with his hands in his pants in front of a fake reporter.
  • That fake reporter, Maria Bakalova, was in character as Borat’s 15-year-old daughter. In real life, Bakalova is 24.
  • It has been reported that Giuliani did not know this context until just before he left the scene. Giuliani has also denied that he engaged in any appropriate sexual activity, saying he was tucking his shirt after having his mic removed. 

Alleged Details About the Rudy Giuliani Interview in “Borat”

Drinking, agreeing to eat a bat, and sticking his hand in his pants — that’s all part of a strange fake interview between Rudy Giuliani and Borat” actress Maria Bakalova.

The interview was filmed against Giuliani’s knowledge for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which will be released on Amazon Prime Friday. In it, Giuliani can be seen entering a hotel suite with Bakalova, who is in character as Borat’s 15-year-old daughter.

The film, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat, includes other notable pranks, such as one that involves crashing the Conservative Political Action Conference to catch Vice President Mike Pence off guard; however, that might not come as much of a surprise to many considering how Cohen is known to have pulled similar antics in the past.

During the interview with Giuliani, Bakalova — who is 24-years-old in real-life — poses as a reporter for a conservative news show. 

Near the beginning of the interview, hidden cameras reportedly capture Giuliani taking off a mask he was wearing. Throughout the interview, reports also indicate that he coughs and repeatedly touches Bakalova.

At one point, Bakalova, in character, says she’s nervous. Giuliani grabs her hands and reportedly tells her, “You’re going to do great.”

Bakalova’s character then brings up the coronavirus pandemic, asking what needs to be done so a similar pandemic doesn’t happen in the future. Giuliani reportedly responds by shifting blame to China, alleging (without evidence) that the country  “manufactured” the virus and deliberately spread it around the world.

“I don’t think anyone was eating bats,” he reportedly said. 

Bakalova’s character then responded, “If you eat a bat with me, I would.”

“OK, I’ll eat a bat with you,” Giuliani said. 

Because the footage of the interview has yet to be released publicly, it is unclear whether Giuliani is possibly joking. 

From there, the interview continues.  According to INSIDER, in one shot, the two sip what appears to be scotch.

After a subsequent interruption from a disguised Borat, Bakalova asks if they can move the interview into the bedroom. Giuliani agrees, reportedly telling her at one point, “You can give me your phone number and your address,” before appearing to tap her on the small of her back a few times.

Giuliani proceeds to sit on a bed, and Bakalova’s character appears to remove his mic.

The film then cuts to Giuliani laying on the bed, where he can be seen putting his hand in his pants. 

At that point, Cohen — still playing Borat — jumps into the room in pink lingerie and tells Giuliani that “Bakalova” is 15-years-old before pleading for Giuliani to take him instead of her. 

Giuliani then reportedly tells him, “I don’t want you,” and leaves the suite. 

Giuliani Denies Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior 

With the release of the stills, Giuliani’s moment on the bed has drawn widespread condemnation and scrutiny. Many online have asked why Giuliani seemed to be putting his hands down his pants when he was in the same room as a person he could have believed was 15. 

However, according to NBC News, in the context of the film, Giuliani had no reason to believe that Bakalova was 15 — at least not until Cohen jumped in and shouted it at the end. 

By Wednesday afternoon, Giuliani attempted to dispel the rumors that he possibly engaged in some sort of inappropriate sexual situation with a minor.

“The Borat video is a complete fabrication,” he said in a Twitter thread. “I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise, he is a stone-cold liar.”

Giuliani then referred back to a Hollywood Reporter article from July 8 that confirmed he’d called the police after being pranked on camera by Cohen. 

In fact, it does seem to be the case that this interview was recorded in July because around the same time, Giuliani told PageSix, “This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. 

“It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive.”

In his Twitter thread, Giuliani went on to call the release of the images a deflection against the recent leak involving Hunter Biden’s supposed emails.  

“This is an effort to blunt my relentless exposure of the criminality and depravity of Joe Biden and his entire family,” Giuliani said. “We are preparing much bigger dumps off of the hard drive from hell, of which Joe Biden will be unable to defend or hide from. I have the receipts.”

Along with Giuliani, a number of other conservatives have jumped to his defense, with many also accusing Amazon, Twitter, and the news media of deflecting against the Hunter Biden story.

Celebs Question Giuliani’s Motives During Interview

Nonetheless, many — including a number of celebrities — have continued to question Giuliani’s motives with Bakalova during the fake interview. 

“So you normally drink with reporters, follow them to the bedroom and then lie on the bed and let her take off your mic for you?” singer Demi Lovato said. “I guess I’ve been doin my interviews all wrong…”

On “The Late Show,” host Stephen Colbert said, “I watched the footage. Why did you go into a bedroom at the suggestion of a young woman to have cocktails to take off a mic? I take off a mic every night. Never once have I reclined on a kingsize bed and then launched a fact-finding mission to my own groin.”

See what others are saying: (INSIDER) (The New York Times) (The Guardian)

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Marvel Stars Slammed for Defending Chris Pratt But Not Women or Actors of Color

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  • Twitter users have dubbed actor Chris Pratt their least favorite Chris in Hollywood, with many doing so because they believe he supports President Donald Trump or is at least a conservative.
  • Some critics said that he attends an anti-LGBTQ church, follows right-wing figures on social media, and did not join his Marvel castmates in a fundraiser for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, among other controversies.
  • However, Pratt has never explicitly shown support for Trump and has previously said he doesn’t feel represented by either of the major political parties.
  • Marvel figures like Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Zoe Saldana, and James Gunn each expressed support for Pratt online. That then prompted backlash from fans who asked why similar support was not shown to women and people of color like Brie Larson, Zendaya, Anthony Mackie, and others who faced sexist or racist harassment online after joining the MCU.

Internet Picks Their Least Favorite Chris in Hollywood

Members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are facing backlash for how quickly they jumped to defend actor Chris Pratt after internet users dubbed him Hollywood’s worst Chris.

Pratt’s name has trended on Twitter several times since Saturday when one user asked people to pick a famous Chris to get rid of and many selected him.

While some admittedly just don’t like his acting, many actually chose him because they believe he’s a supporter of President Donald Trump.

Is He Actually a Trump Supporter?

However, his political views are not exactly clear, though many believe that he is at the very least a conservative. 

Several people pointed out that he was notably not on the list of Avengers stars who hosted a virtual fundraiser to support Joe Biden. That event featured the likes of Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, and Zoe Saldana.

Other people said Pratt supports an anti-LGBTQ church.

That claim actually picked up last year when actress Ellen Page famously accused Hillsong Church in Los Angeles of being anti-LGBTQ. 

The backlash later prompted Pratt to call the claim “absolutely untrue” and say that his church “opens their doors to absolutely everyone.” 

“My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or group of people,” he added.

Some also looked at who he follows on social media, suggesting it proves he has right-wing views.

Then there was that whole controversy surrounding a shirt he wore last year featuring the Gadsen flag, which has a coiled snake and the text “Don’t Tread On Me.”

That flag was created by American general Christopher Gadsden during the Revolutionary war but it has developed more political connotations in recent years. 

According to Dictionary.com: “In the 2000s, the phrase became associated with a variety of libertarian, conservative, gun-rights, or far-right political groups as way to express their beliefs.”

Others pointed to a recent controversy he had when instead of urging people to vote in the upcoming election, he posted a joke about voting for “Onward” to win at the People’s Choice Awards. Many interpreted this as him mocking celebrities who are using their platforms to promoting voting. Others said he was downplaying the seriousness of the election.

However, on the other side of this, CNN reported that he donated money to Democrat and former President Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2012.

On top of that, others looked to his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger-Pratt, daughter of the former Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

She has notably shown support for Biden, but it’s unclear if her husband shares the same views. 

Still, he is also on record saying he doesn’t support either political party.

In 2017, he told Men’s Fitness, “I don’t feel represented by either side.”

“I really feel there’s common ground out there that’s missed because we focus on the things that separate us.”

Basically, there’s really not enough evidence to say that Pratt is a Trump supporter, but he hasn’t come out to confirm or deny it either way.

Avengers Assemble to Defend Pratt

Even so, the internet eventually turned their dislike for Pratt into somewhat of a meme.

Many are making jokes at his expense and generally referring to him as the worst Chris.

All of this backlash eventually prompted a number of his Marvel costars to come out and defend him. 

Mark Ruffalo, for instance, said Prat is “as solid a man there is.”

“I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. He is just not overtly political as a rule. This is a distraction. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. We are so close now.”

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said Pratt, “is the best dude in the world. I’ve spent hours & hours sharing my deepest truths with this man, as he has with me. Please stop assuming what he believes, politically or in any other way, because he’s a Christian.”

Zoe Saldana followed up with a Tupac quote, “No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it.

You got this @prattprattpratt,” she added. “Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth!”

Even Robert Downey Jr. shared a photo with Pratt on Instagram.

“What a world,” he wrote in the post caption. “The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt… A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude… AND he just married iznto a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value.”

If you take issue with Chris, I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of #character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness… @prattprattpratt I #gotyerbackbackback”

Internet Users Accuse MCU Stars of Hypocrisy

Of course, many on the internet took issue with that swift display of support, especially since some women and actors of color in the MCU were met with silence from many of their costars when they faced bullying or harassment online.

For instance, some noted that Brie Larson faced a ton of harassment last year when she advocated for diversity in Hollywood. 

She was regularly hit with a ton of sexist remarks at the time and “Captain Marvel” was flooded with negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before the film was even released. 

Others said stars like Anthony Mackie, Tessa Thompson, Zendaya, and more actors of color have endured bullying, racist remarks, and even death threats without the same quick support Pratt received. 

Pratt has not comments on any of the backlash as of Wednesday afternoon.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Fox News) (CNN)

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