- 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)
Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.
Pressure on Beckham
Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.
Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death.
Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine.
In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.
“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.”
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.”
Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”
Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.
“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.
Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit.
Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event.
Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)
Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider
The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships.
The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.
Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article.
Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”
“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued.
Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends.
While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.
“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note.
Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”
An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”
“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news.
For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”
Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.”
He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.”
“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.”
He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)
Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and More Sign Letter in Support of Restricting Rap Lyrics as Evidence
The letter claims the use of this evidence is a “racially targeted practice” that “punishes already marginalized communities and their stories.”
“Protect Black Art”
Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and a slew of other major artists signed an open letter on Tuesday calling for politicians to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court.
The letter, titled “Art on Trial: Protect Black Art,” argues that “more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry.”
It follows statements from other advocates who claim that police and prosecutors are eager to interpret rap literally instead of treating it as a creative form of expression. By doing so, critics say they ignore the storytelling techniques, figurative language, and hyperbole that are often used in the genre, and weaponize those lyrics against their creators.
Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that aims to limit the use of rap lyrics in court by requiring prosecutors to prove lyrics meet certain criteria and do not display a racial bias before submitting them. State legislators in New York are also weighing a bill with similar goals, and on the federal level, a bill titled the “RAP Act” was introduced in Congress over the summer.
Tuesday’s letter urged state and federal politicians to pass these bills and others like it. It also encouraged prosecutors to drop the practice voluntarily.
Jack Harlow, Future, DJ Khaled, Camilla Cabello, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Normani, Travis Scott, and Christina Aguilera were among the slew of other stars who signed the letter. Record labels like Warner, Universal, and Def Jam joined the list, as did platforms like Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, and YouTube Music.
Rap in Court
According to Warner Music Group, experts have found over 500 cases where rap was used as evidence, and that is likely an undercount as several kinds of cases and proceedings were excluded from that figure. On the other hand, those experts found only four instances since the 1950s where non-rap lyrics were used as evidence, and three of those cases were tossed while the other was overturned after conviction.
The letter used Young Thug and members of the Young Stoner Life label, who are currently facing dozens of charges, including ones that accuse the label of being a criminal gang, as an example of this issue.
“The allegations rely heavily on the artists’ lyrics, which prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy,’” the letter said. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘I get all type of cash, I’m a general,’ are a confession of criminal intent.”
The letter claims that using an artist’s words against them in this manner is “un-American” and “simply wrong.”
“Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph,” it continues.
Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Music Group, released a statement arguing that the freedom for musicians to form characters and narratives is “essential to the creative process and the role of art in society.”
“The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution,” Greenwald added.