Reese Witherspoon + Ashton Kutcher for NETFLIX rom com
NY TIMES subscriber growth slows / Nicholas Hoult to lead UNI DRACULA pic / ROKU sets NBCU's VUDU digital download store deal
Mornin! This is Sean McNulty and here’s the Hollywood + Media news to know on WEDNESDAY Aug 4, 2021.
Where just in case there was any question… Soon-ish to be WARNER DISCO CEO David Zazlav stated on the DISCOVERY earnings call yesterday that 200 Million subscribers ( i.e. the NETFLIX number) is the goal he’s aiming for with HBOMAX / DISCOVERY+ once the merger is complete next Summer and he can officially get started.
Though I guess 200 Million is last year’s NETFLIX number really… and it’ll probably be like 220-221 by the time David gets started. Whatever it takes. (uh click here for if for some reason you’ve never seen “Mr Mom”)
AND: 2 more major music festivals dropped DA BABY from their lineup yesterday - AUSTIN CITY LIMITS and iHEART.
📽 THE SILVER SCREEN
Ashton Kutcher returning to movies, co-starring with Reese Witherspoon in NETFLIX rom-com
Called “Your Place or Mine”, 2 best friends living on opposite coasts exchange houses for a week, causing life changes. Wait wasn’t that“The Holiday”? 🤔 Or am I misunderstanding the plot of that movie… that pretty much everyone I’ve ever dated has yelled at me for never having seen?
"The Devil Wears Prada” writer Aline Brosh McKenna is writing & directing here. Reese/HELLO SUNSHINE producing alongside Jason Bateman’s company.
Kutcher’s last leading film role was the indie “Jobs” about Steve Jobs in 2013, and last studio role was 2011’s “No Strings Attached”. Obviously he already has a relationship with NETFLIX from his 4 seasons of the multi-cam sitcom “The Ranch” which ended last year. /Deadline
UNIVERSAL casts Nicholas Hoult as the lead in Dracula’s henchman movie “Renfield”
While the character is from the original “Dracula” novel, story is said to be placed in present day… but not much else known here.
Chris McKay (“The Tomorrow War”) directing, Robert Kirkman did the outline for the script and is a producer on the film.
ALSO: UNI adds Patricia Clarkson to their Weinstein movie “She Said”. Patricia will play Rebecca Corbett, the NY TIMES editor for the 2 lead TIMES reporters who broke the story, played by Carey Mulligan & Zoe Kazan. /Deadline
NETFLIX sets Kerry Washington to star in “Rockaway”
Based on a memoir of Manhattan journalist Diane Cardwell, who discovers surfing and finds herself moving toward a life of self-discovery in Rockaway Beach.
Nichelle Tramble Spellman (APPLE TV’s “To Tell the Truth”) is writing the script. /THR
AMAZON PRIME gets Billy Eichner movie project to be written by Paul Rudnick (“In and Out”)
Called “Ex-Husbands” - think “War of the Roses” but with the first legally married gay couple in NYC. Prolific TV creative producer Greg Berlanti’s production company producing here. /Deadline
ALSO IN MOVIES
APPLE TV adds Ben Foster to Will Smith Civil War-era slave drama “Emancipation”, based on a true story. Currently shooting with Antoine Fuqua directing. /Variety
Brendan Fraser gets 2 new sweet gigs: a role in Scorcese’s next movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” at APPLE TV+, and one in the next comedy from “Palm Springs” director Max Barbikow called “Brothers” with Peter Dinklage, Josh Brolin and Glenn Close (currently shooting). /Deadline
NY FILM FEST sets Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers” as closing night film on Oct 8. Film is playing VENICE next month, and hits theaters at Christmas from SPC. /THR
LONDON FILM FEST sets NETFLIX western “The Harder They Fall” as opening film on Oct 6. Stars Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield. /Deadline
Duplass Bros producing a docu on skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. Currently in post production, ICM repping sales. /Variety
📺 THE TV SET
Emma Roberts sets her first HULU series as a producer - “Tell Me Lies”
It’s based on a book about an addictive 8 years-long relationship that begins in college. Will star Grace Van Patten (“The Meyerwitz Stories”, HULU’s upcoming “Nine Perfect Strangers”). /THR
ALSO IN TV
SHOWTIME adds Kerry Bische (“Halt and Catch Fire”, “Billions”) to “Super Pumped”, their new business world anthology show co-created by the guys who did “Billions”. Season 1 focuses on UBER (Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing former CEO Travis Kalanick). Kerry is playing UBER employee #4, Austin Geidt who was in charge of growth. /Variety
AMAZON PRIME hires Remy Merriex as Global Creative Director for AMAZON PRIME VIDEO. He previously led creative for FACEBOOK MESSENGER, and was in the agency world before that. He’ll report into PRIME VIDEO CMO Ukonwa Ojo and lead creative for Brand and Originals campaigns. /Variety
💻 THE MEDIA BIZ
NY TIMES subscription revenue grows 16% vs 2020, but only added 77k subscribers to their main digital news product
2Q 2020 was almost 500k adds, 2Q 2019 was 131k adds.
Granted 2020 was during peak covid where covid news was… popular, and 2019 was still in the Trump era, in the general lead up to the election. Still. 77k is low. But they keep increasing the $$ they make from the subscriptions at a 15% clip so that is positive.
Ad revenue was way up vs 2Q 2020 but again… that was the peak covid ad biz crash, so any year to year comparison is kind of moot.
5.3 Million main digital product subscribers (still by far the industry leader): +21% vs one year ago
1.8 Million to other digital products (Cooking, Crosswords etc): +40% vs one year ago
800k print subscribers: down 4% vs one year ago
Total subscriptions to NY TIMES products: 7.9 Million
18% of total subscribers across all products (food, crosswords, main news product etc) are International accounts. /NY Times Earnings Report
Tracking firm SAMBA TV puts US “Jungle Cruise” DISNEY+ rentals at 777k, or $23 Million of revenue
SAMBA does not track mobile views, so figure there were a few more there…
The UK accounted for about 127k rentals, meaning the 2 countries alone accounted for 90% of “Jungle Cruise” DISNEY+ Opening Weekend streaming rentals according to this data (SAMBA data from “Cruella” and “Black Widow” was also similar in their US audience splits). /Deadline
As always, the PREMIERE ACCESS movies are not available to the 34 Million-ish DIS+ India subscribers.
NBCU sets ROKU partnership for its VUDU digital Movie & TV download store
VUDU will now kinda become an iTUNES for ROKU, and power Movie & TV rentals & purchases (including PVOD movies) on the devices. Although I’m not clear if it’ll be the exclusive or perhaps preferred venue to do so on ROKU. ROKU readers: email me if there are other details here to know on this. Also 👋.
NBCU will split some of the 💵 with ROKU but no specifics released. Basically - NBCU / VUDU handles the back-end, transactions and distro deals for the content with studios, and ROKU provides the access to 53+ Million users. So - guess that arduous ROKU / PEACOCK app distribution haggling thing is bygones be bygones. It’s nicer when people get along isn’t it?
VUDU was previously owned by WALMART - NBCU bought it in April, and VUDU has 60 Million registered user accounts, although no indication how many are actively used. It’ll still exist independently as a website and distributed app where anyone can buy / rent Movies & TV shows (essentially an iTunes Store competitor).
NBCU is thus shutting down its previous movie & TV digital download store FANDANGO NOW and folding those accounts into VUDU - If you bought movies or TV shows on FANDANGO NOW, you can now watch them on VUDU. /Deadline
ALSO IN MEDIA
College athletes apparently heading to CAMEO to make quick $$ with the change in NCAA rules allowing them to make 💰 off of their likeness. /Washington Post
HBOMAX finally gets distribution on LG Smart TVs in the US. /Variety
Anime SVOD service CRUNCHYROLL hits 5 Million paying subscribers (costs $10/month in the US). AT&T’s sale of it to SONY is still awaiting final approval. /Deadline
MICROSOFT requiring all employees and any office visitors to be vaxx’d by September. Office return date pushed to October 4. /Deadline
🏦 STOCK NOTES:
DISCOVERY down 4%, Wall Street not impressed by earnings call.
AMC NETWORKS & VIACOM kinda fell in tandem, down about 4 & 6% each, since they’re in the same business (cable biz-dependent media trying to grow in streaming).
ENDEAVOR down about 4.5%, now essentially back to the $24/share price it went public at.
👩💻 NEW TO WATCH:
NETFLIX “Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami” - Docuseries on some infamous 80’s coke dealers, from Miami of all places… 🤯 And yes both the mustache and speedboat action is premo 👌. Watch or Add to your List here
ROKU and FOX CORP (incl TUBI #s) announce earnings late afternoon.
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🎥 TRAILER HOUSE
AMAZON PRIME “Cinderella” trailer. Update of the classic tale from Kay Cannon (“Pitch Perfect” writer), starring Camila Cabello, and apparently featuring a “Rhythm Nation” musical number - so obviously I’m in. Premieres Fri Sept 3.
SHOWTIME “Bitchin” trailer. Appropriately titled docu on Rick James. Premieres Fri Sept 3.
Cinderella and Rick James… now that’s a Friday night 👍👍
🎧 PLAYING ME OFF
New THE LINDA LINDAS - “Oh!”. More fun early 80’s female punk vibes from one of 2021’s favorite new acts. Kinda GoGo’s… kinda Toni Basil, definitely fun.
If you need new tunes:
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