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Legendary Entertainment May Challenge Warner Bros. Over HBO Max Releases

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  • Legendary Entertainment may legally challenge Warner Brothers’ choice to release its 2021 films to HBO Max and theaters simultaneously, according to Deadline.
  • Among the films set to follow this model are “Dune” and “Godzilla Vs. Kong,” which Legendary financed over half of. The company was allegedly given no notice that Warner would be putting those films on streaming before the news went public.
  • Critics of the Warner Bros.’ release strategy say it will hurt theaters, which are already suffering because of the pandemic, and argue that it will not be profitable for the studio in the long term.
  • WarnerMedia CEO says he does “absolutely believe in the theatrical marketplace,” but the company currently “focused on getting through this pandemic like any business is.”

Warner Bros. Stuns Industry

Just days after Warner Bros. announced it would be releasing its 2021 films to theaters and HBO Max simultaneously, Legendary Entertainment is poised to legally challenge that decision.

Warner Bros. 2021 release calendar includes big pictures like “Dune” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Legendary Entertainment paid for 75% of the former film’s $165 million budget, and covered a similar amount for the latter. Because of this, the production company “either has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros as soon as today,” per a Monday report from Deadline

Deadline also reported that Legendary was ready to hand “Godzilla vs. Kong” to Netflix for $250 million before that deal was blocked by Warner Bros.

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr, who broke the news in a column for the outlet believe that Legendary has the right to bring this forward, especially since “Dune” – directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya– was set to be the first film in a major adaptation series. 

“Will the long-term viability of the franchises be tarnished by starting out as an HBO Max offering?” they asked in the column before noting that Hollywood in general is not happy with Warner Bros. because of its 2021 release model.

Legendary was allegedly given no advance warning of the big shakeup before the news went public. Others in the industry were similarly caught off guard. Vulture quoted executives who messaged each other about the news, saying things like “This is ridiculous that they wouldn’t even make one phone call,” and “They didn’t even try to reach out. And they just assume that we would go along with this.”

On top of this move impacting the wider entertainment industry, it also will likely impact quite a few paychecks. According to Vulture, Gal Gadot was set to see $10 million for “Wonder Woman 1984” which will have a dual release on Christmas day.

However, the cash depends on a back-end component that would only kick in when the movie earned a certain dollar amount at the box office. With this release model, it is far less likely the sequel will rake in that amount, and Gadot is far from the only person with a clause of this nature in her contract, meaning a lot of people will not be getting their anticipated paydays. Warner Bros, might have to buy out every deal like this, which is an expensive endeavor. 

Financial Implications

Overall, experts are questioning if this HBO Max model is financially stable. Vulture estimates that this decision would have to give the streamer a 15-20 million subscriber boost to make sense. In normal times, many of the movies getting simultaneously released could have made a ton at the box office, and it’s not easy to make that kind of money from streaming films.

While it also is not easy to make that kind of money in the theaters during a pandemic, a vaccine is just around the corner, meaning theatergoing is on track to resume at some point in the near future. 

One high-up but unnamed executive told Variety that WarnerMedia has “parted with easily $2 billion in assets, gift-wrapped for HBO Max, that will see absolutely no return.”

AMC President Adam Aron also said that prioritizing streaming could lead to a profit loss. 

“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” he said in a statement. 

“As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense,” he added in defense of his company, which is a theater-going giant. “We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”

His reaction was more optimistic than others in the industry. Many think this is the beginning of the end of moviegoing as we know it. One executive told Variety that “movie theaters will just be Halloween stores now.”

“If Disney follows this template in any capacity, movie theaters are done,” another told the outlet. 

The timing of this announcement is devastating and theaters probably feel like they are being kicked while they are already down. AMC lost $900 million in its third quarter because of the pandemic. Cineworld cut 45,000 employees. 

Warner Responds

Warner Media CEO Jason Kilar maintains that this 2021 strategy is just about the pandemic, not about hurting theaters for the sake of streaming.

“We’re here for the long term, in terms of theatrical exhibition and obviously in investing heavily in motion pictures,” he said in an interview with Deadline.

“I absolutely believe in the theatrical marketplace,” Kilar added. “I say that with conviction because I know fans care about it….Our focus, candidly, is on the here and now. We’re focused on getting through this pandemic like any business is, and we’re putting a lot of brain cells against what the right thing is to do to serve fans and to serve partners and to serve ourselves.”

According to Kilar, data shows that consumer behavior will be impacted by the pandemic through much of 2021, which “has absolutely shaped this decision.” He also defended the economic impacts, saying that while this is a big change, it does allow the company to pull from two revenue sources at once, all while doing what they think is best for fans, talent, and exhibitors.

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

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Britney Spears’ Attorney Files Petition To Oust Father as Conservator

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Spears’ new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, said there are “serious questions” regarding “potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest [and] conservatorship abuse.”


Mathew Rosengart Petitions Court To Remove Jamie Spears

Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, filed a petition Monday to remove the singer’s father, Jamie Spears, as her financial conservator. 

Jamie Spears has served as his daughter’s financial conservator for 13 years. In the filing, Rosengart said the elder Spears “profited handsomely” from the position. He asked that Jamie be replaced with a Certified Public Accountant named Jason Rubin, who Rosengart described as “objectively intelligent” and “highly qualified” for the job. 

The petition is 120 pages long and contained scathing remarks about Jamie. Britney has made it clear she wants him removed from the conservatorship, which she wants to be terminated entirely. During a statement in June, she called the situation “abusive” and specifically condemned her father. 

“He loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it,” she said.

Rosengart has promised to be a stronger advocate for Britney than her previous lawyer, Samuel Ingham, was. He seems to be following through on his word by challenging Jamie’s status as a conservator just weeks after being appointed Britney’s attorney. 

“Serious questions abound concerning Mr. Spears’s potential misconduct, including conflicts of interest, conservatorship abuse and the evident dissipation of Ms. Spears’s fortune,” he wrote. 

The petition claims that Jamie made at least $2.1 million from Britney’s residency in Las Vegas, snagging a 1.5% cut of gross revenues and merchandise. It also claims that he paid himself $16,000 a month from Britney’s estate, which is $2,000 more than he gave Britney. On top of that, Jamie reportedly took another $2,000 for business purposes. 

Rosengart wrote that while it might be common for a manager or agent to make this kind of money, someone in Jamie’s position should not be. 

“He is a conservator, and, as a conservator, his role is to be burdened by, rather than benefit from, the conservatorship.”

Britney’s Mother Speaks Out

Both Britney’s personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, and her mother, Lynne Spears, gave statements in the filings echoing the need for Jamie to be removed from his role. Montgomery emphasized that his departure was necessary for the singer’s welfare.

“It would be best for Ms. Spears’ well-being and mental health that her father stop acting as her conservator,’ she wrote. 

Lynne did not hold back on criticizing Jamie, saying Britney’s relationship with her father has “dwindled to nothing but fear and hatred” because of the control he exerts over her. She also claimed that he relied on Britney’s house staff, medical aides, and security team to “inform on and report back to him each and every detail of every action” in his daughter’s life.

“Such scrutiny is exhausting and terrifying, like living in custody,” she said. 

This petition does not terminate the conservatorship fully, but Rosengart said that could be something the court has to examine one day further down the line. 

“There might well come a time when the court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety and whether — in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy and certain fundamental liberties — Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages or other legal action against him,” Rosengart wrote.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC News) (New York Times)

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Simone Biles Withdraws, Naomi Osaka Ousted in Rough Day at Olympics. Both Cite Heavy Pressure To Perform

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Biles pulled out of the women’s gymnastics team final due to a medical issue while Osaka lost in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.


Team USA Takes Silver in Women’s Gymnastics

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles shocked the world Tuesday after pulling out of the women’s gymnastics team finals at the Tokyo Games due to a medical issue.

She left the competition area with a medical examiner after faltering during her vault performance, which was pretty out of character for Biles, who is the most decorated gymnast of all time. However, she later told NBC’s Today that her withdrawal was not due to a physical injury.

“Physically, I feel good, I’m in shape,” she explained. “Emotionally, that kind of varies on the time and moment. Coming here to the Olympics and being the head star isn’t an easy feat, so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’ll see.”

Biles said she isn’t sure whether she will compete Thursday in the individual all-around competition and is just going to “take it day by day.”

The gymnastics star later talked about not wanting to cost her team a medal or injure herself by performing her dangerous stunts in the wrong headspace.

“It’s just it’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it,” she said, according to The New York Times.


Biles has previously been pretty open about all the pressure she’s been feeling amid the Games, writing in an Instagram post on Sunday, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me, but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The Olympics is no joke.”


Russia went on to take gold at the competition while the U.S. took silver, ending more than a decade of American domination in the event. Still, it’s worth noting that Russia’s margin of victory proved no single mistake by the U.S. was to blame for their second-place finish.

According to The Times, it wasn’t just Jordan Chiles’ fall on floor or Biles’ weak vault. “It was a combination of those two mistakes plus Biles’s absence on the other apparatuses plus truly standout performances from Russia on three out of four events.”

Holding that same sentiment, many fans are defending Biles against anyone suggesting she was solely responsible for the team’s missed shot at first place, noting that the country’s strategy to win can’t just be based on expecting her to generate huge margins for them.

Tennis Star Speaks Out After Olympic Loss

Day four of the Games proved to be similarly rough on tennis star Naomi Osaka, who will leave Tokyo without a medal after losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the third round of the women’s singles tennis tournament.

Osaka, who represented Japan at the Games, faced high expectations to do well as she is the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s face of the Games.

“I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” she said.

“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”

She later added, “I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure, so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”

Osaka has been open about her mental health struggles before, with her citing, among other things, the way speaking with reporters after matches create self-doubt, so one can only imagine what she was feeling with all of the eyes on her at such a huge international event. 

Despite the surprising performances from Biles and Osaka, people all over the world are continuing to praise them for being trailblazers in their sports and for being so candid when it comes to topics like mental health. 

See what others are saying: (ESPN)(Axios)(CNN)

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Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”

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The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.


Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund

Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country. 

The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States. 

“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”

The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S.  It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.

“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”

The Fight to End Cash Bail

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”

Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.

“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”

A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning. 

The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (NBC News) (A.V. Club)

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