An absurdly perfect finish to the final Elite Eight game of March Madness — unless you’re a Kentucky fan — provided quite the boost to “60 Minutes” last night. The last-minute tie and subsequent last-second breaking of that tie, which handed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill their fourth trip to the Final Four in the last 10 years, drew a massive crowd on Sunday night in Nielsen’s preliminary fast national numbers. From 7 to 7:30 p.m. (the game lasted a few minutes longer), the UNC-Kentucky game on CBS garnered a 5.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic and an average audience of 20.66 million. “60 Minutes” consequently drew its best numbers since the middle of the NFL season: A 2.7 rating in the demo and 14.89 million viewers, winning the night by a ridiculous margin.

After “60 Minutes,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” pulled in a 1.6 demo rating and 11.27 million viewers. “Madam Secretary” followed with a 1.1 in the demo and 8.46 million viewers. “Elementary” ticked up to a 0.8 in the demo and 5.37 million viewers. Because there was a few minutes of NCAA overrun, CBS’ numbers may adjust some in Nielsen’s final ratings.


TV Ratings: March Madness Dunks on TGIT


NBC’s “Little Big Shots” averaged a 1.7 in the demo and 9.73 million viewers, up slightly from last week. “Chicago Justice” remained at a 1.0 and 5.79 million viewers. “Shades of Blue” also stayed steady with a 0.8 and 4.39 million viewers.

On Fox, two episodes of “Bob’s Burgers” reeled in a 0.8 and 0.9 in the demo, respectively, and audiences of 1.79 million and 1.88 million. “Making History” brought in a 0.7 and 1.59 million. “Family Guy” weighed in with a 1.1 and 2.36 million viewers. “Last Man on Earth” notched a 0.9 and 2.02 million viewers.

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” ticked up slightly to a 0.9 demo rating and 2.95 million viewers. “Time After Time” trundled along to a 0.4 and 1.93 million viewers. “American Crime” dipped to a 0.3 and 1.62 million viewers.

As a reminder, daily ratings fluctuations tend to amount to mere quantum foam, and many of these series will see lifts of 50% or more once viewing within three and seven days is counted. However, most of those gains won’t translate to the ratings guarantees networks make advertisers.


Fandango, the biggest online ticketing business in the U.S., is consolidating its presence in Latin America, unveiling a new brand identity and digital destinations as it expands its exhibition efforts in a fast-growing market.

“We’re beginning an exciting new chapter for Fandango in Latin America,” Paul Yanover, Fandango told Variety. “We’ve experienced tremendous momentum over the past year growing our exhibition footprint, increasing ticketing and building exciting new products that will better serve our customers and partners for years to come.”

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As part of a new global brand strategy to be unveiled Monday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Fandango said its Brazilian subsidiary would be launching a new website and mobile apps for Android and iOS next month. The new products will offer enhanced search and browser capabilities, a streamlined checkout process, and a variety of digital payment options such as PayPal, Visa Checkout and Masterpass., Brazil’s No. 1 online ticketer, was acquired by Fandango in November 2015.

Fandango Latin America ( – the rebranded version of Cinepapaya, which Fandango purchased in December – will also debut new digital services in the four biggest Spanish-speaking markets in Latin America: Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. The services will be available in Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia as well, and will be supported by a consumer marketing campaign.

“We are seeing the same kind of growth in digital commerce that we have seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the U.S,” said Yanover. “Smartphone usage continues to grow in Latin America, as well as consumers’ confidence in online payment vehicles and the convenience they afford.”

Fandango is also looking to build its Latin American business by using experience and expertise gained Stateside. will bow a new promo code service helping brands and studios connect with consumers via movie ticket rewards, promotions and loyalty programs, leveraging know-how acquired from the U.S.-based Fandango Rewards business.

Fandango Latin America will also roll out more exclusive original content for movie discovery, such as a Spanish-language version of Weekend Ticket, a digital-video-movie release guide published by Fandango in the U.S. recently introduced new technologies enabling strategic partners to integrate the company’s showtimes and ticketing directly onto their platforms, to try to promote the interests of consumers, exhibitors and distributors. One example: a social commerce program with Facebook and Universal Pictures, incorporating’s ticketing for “Fifty Shades Darker.”

Yanover said Fandango planned “to collaborate around innovation in Latin America,” citing ticketing integration within not only Facebook but iOS 10, Snapchat and other social media environments.

In 2016, Fandango’s two subsidiaries in Latin America increased ticket sales by 37% across the region, year on year. Fandango Latin America has already “more than doubled” its ticketing business in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, the company said in a statement Monday.

That growth comes in a still-building market for the theatrical movie business in Latin America and vibrant growth in broadband connections and smartphone usage.

Mexico’s total box office grew 10.5% last year in local currency terms to 5.25 billion pesos ($782 million), an all-time record, according to comScore.

Latin America’s overall 2016 box office dropped 18% in dollar terms to $2.8 billion because of the depreciation of several local currencies and the collapse of Venezuela’s market. But Brazil’s total box office surged 5% in dollar terms and 12.8% in local currency terms, according to the MPAA. Brazil has now overtaken Italy and Russia to become one of the world’s top 10 biggest box office markets.

“Although Latin America has relatively low bank card penetration compared to North America and Western Europe, it is a fast-growing smartphone market,” said Ruomeng Wang of IHS Technology. That makes for “lucrative opportunities for mobile money and online payments services.”

Latin America’s smartphone base is expected to rise from 393 million at the end of 2016 to 690 million in 2021, Wang added.

“Even with cultural and language differences, there is a remarkable commonality to movies, the way people see them, and the whole process of movie discovery and decision-making,” Yanover said. “We’re trying to localize a universal experience.”


“Mis-President,” a film that picks at the myth of South Korea’s recently impeached president Park Geun-hye, is a prime example of the independent editorial line being championed by the Jeonju International Film Festival. The film will play in the festival’s Korea Cinemascape section, it was announced today.

“This year’s festival slogan, a haven for cinematic expression, shows filmmakers as defending freedom of expression against all (political) pressure,” said Jeonju mayor Kim Seung-su. “Last year, we learned of the existence of a blacklist. The matter still remains unresolved,” said festival director Lee Chung-jik. “The Jeonju festival has never yielded to political pressures in the past 17 years. […] It’ll be the same this year,” said executive programmer Kim Young-jin.

This year’s edition (April 27 to May 6) includes a new section, Front Line, for innovative films with controversial subjects. Matthew Heineman’s documentary about Islamic State (ISIS), “City of Ghosts” is among the selection.

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Jeonju, Korea’s second largest film festival, will open with Ildiko Enyedi’s Berlinale-winning “On Body and Soul” and close with “Survival Family” by Japan’s Shinobu Yaguchi.

The festival will present special focus sections on 1980s Korean screenwriter Song Gil-han (“Mandara”,) British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, Russian director Aleksey German, and Italian New Cinema.



Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the penultimate episode of season 7 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Something They Need.”

If there’s one place where “The Walking Dead” consistently delivers, it’s raids. Rick and co. are so damn good at running up into other settlements and taking what they want, as much a testament to their apocalyptic skills as the show’s directors. In this case, the credit goes to Michael Slovis, who previously directed the infamous “Thank You” episode and worked as cinematographer on the unimpeachable “Breaking Bad.”

But before we get into the great action of “Something They Need,” let’s take a step back and recap what’s going on in the rest of this crazy world. Sasha, unsurprisingly, has gone and gotten herself captured by the Saviors. Some creep named David visits her cell and immediately starts throwing out rape vibes when she asks for water. It’s an uncomfortable scene, instilling worry that we might have another gratuitous television rape imposed on us. Fortunately, Negan steps in and shuts it down. The show’s resident villain draws the line at rape. And he drives home the point by driving his gigantic knife through David’s neck.

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Now that rape’s off the table, Negan attempts to recruit yet another Alexandrian into embracing the Sanctuary. But not before making sure Rick didn’t put her up to the one-woman assault. Her response is excellent, especially with the irony of Rick’s army recruitment right under Negan’s nose. “Rick? Your bitch? No.”

Negan hands over his gigantic knife and allows her to make a choice. She could use it to attack Negan—not a good idea when he still has Lucille. She could kill herself. She could do nothing. Or she could use it to kill “dead-alive Rapie Davie” and go on to join the Saviors much like Eugene. To strengthen Negan’s pitch, Eugene himself makes a visit and urges her to follow his lead. His cowardice has been exceptional this season, even by his standards, but he explains that he enlisted so that he would never have to see something like his friend Abraham getting his head bashed in again.

Of course, this is flawed logic. We’ve seen Negan do some absolutely brutal things, from maiming to murder, to his own subjects. I’m not sure when exactly Sasha figures this out, but she does. She kills the newly-zombified David and promises to come onboard. Negan is still skeptical and reveals he’s heard rumblings of Rick up to no good (more on this later). He wants her to help out with this little problem.

Sasha may or may not have been making her initial pledge under false pretenses, but we see she’s definitely still down to kill Negan after this little reveal. She shows off some acting chops and convinces Eugene she wants to kill herself so she can’t be forced to kill her friends. She pleads for something to do the job: a knife, a razor, a piece of glass, anything. But she’s let down when Eugene caves in and slides her a suicide pill he concocted in “Hostiles and Calamities.”

As to the birdie in Negan’s ear, it appears to be more of a snake. And that snake is Gregory, the prospect of whose death I’m now looking forward to even more than Negan or anyone else’s. Most of the Hilltop scenes drag on, really slowing down this episode, but we see three important things: Gregory considers literally stabbing Maggie in the back, Gregory has never killed a walker before this episode, and Gregory likely raises his suspicions about Maggie’s friends’ whereabouts with Negan via Simon.

Seriously, screw this guy. I hope Rick guts him like he did Gareth.

The whereabouts of Maggie’s friends aren’t all where we thought either. Daryl and Jesus have joined Rick and the rest of the group in their raid of Oceanside. “Something They Need” opens up foreshadowing doom with some signature not-so-subtle dialogue between Rick and Tara, and Carl and Edith. But the raid ends up going about as perfectly as it can.

Tara makes the first breach and pulls a gun on Natania and Cyndie. She tells them what’s about to go down: the Alexandrians are going to take their guns, but no one has to get hurt. Oceanside can even join in on the war. And if Natania obliges, Tara will give the signal and prevent the whole raid. Natania is not having it though, and she and her granddaughter are able to get the drop on Tara with Cyndie pulling a gun on her. Tara doesn’t hesitate to hand over her gun, which it turns out was not even loaded. The Alexandrians really don’t want to hurt anyone, a welcome change of pace for the series. But it’s too late for Natania to slow things down, and the dynamite goes off as the raid begins.

Despite the explosions, the Alexandrians are still dead set on not hurting anyone. In a ruthlessly efficient and exciting sequence, Michonne uses her sniper rifle to scare off Beatrice and Kathy from securing the armory. And everyone else is able to round up the women of Oceanside, most of whom simply went running into the forest. It all looks said and done until Natania rolls up with a gun to Tara’s head and demands they leave. This isn’t going to happen, whether Tara and Natania die or not, and Cyndie knows it. They try to convince her to enlist in another unsuccessful pitch. So Cyndie has to get her hands dirty and punch out her grandma.


‘The Walking Dead’ Showrunner Promises ‘Epic’ Finale for Season 7


All those explosions didn’t go unnoticed, bringing on a herd of walkers that look like the crew of the Flying Dutchman in “Pirates of the Caribbean.” We’re treated to yet another ruthlessly efficient sequence, as the Alexandrians and even a few Oceanside residents clear the walkers with ease. But this cooperation doesn’t go any further. Natania hides to nurse her wounds and ego as she allows her guns to be taken. Oceanside will not, however, join the fight.

Someone else will, though. Rosita has a little surprise back in Alexandria, and an answer to whose shadow we saw at the end of “The Other Side.” It was Dwight, who’s ready to betray the Saviors in an arc straight out of the comics. His shadow’s similarity to Daryl is also a nice nod to his comic book character’s influence on Daryl, who was never in the comics.

“Something They Need,” written by Corey Reed, is a solid episode as we gear up for the season 7 finale. It felt a little long because of the familiarity of several scenes: the recruitment of Sasha and the recruitment of Oceanside. But it also forced some tough decisions on several characters and utilized the show’s strength in large, cooperative action sequences. Hopefully there’s a lot more where that came from next week. It’s the least we can ask for after another half-season of buildup.


SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not seen the March 26 episode of “Homeland.”

Carrie Mathison learns an important lesson in “The Flag House,” as Season 6 of “Homeland” heads into its final two hours.

Peter Quinn, Dar Adal, and President-elect Elizabeth Keane have flashier moments in the 10th episode of the season, but there are two big Carrie moments that are revealing about this most complicated character, limned to near perfection by Claire Danes.


‘Homeland’ Recap: Plot Contrivances Strain Credibility in Episode 9, ‘Sock Puppets’


For one, we get the extraordinary sight of Carrie Mathison telling the next president of the United States: “I can’t.” With her daughter Franny already a pawn of the larger conspiracy, Carrie can’t risk charging ahead with her plan to go on the record about CIA honcho Dar Adal’s past shortcomings as a way to stop his maniacal campaign against President-elect Keane. This tells us that Carrie took the words of her court-appointed counselor seriously two episodes back when he advised her to realize that her daughter has to come first in her life, at least sometimes. “My priorities shifted,” she tells Keane with grim resolve when the president-elect winds up at her Brooklyn townhouse.

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But at the same time we learn that Carrie hasn’t given up her old CIA-trained reflexes. Toward the end of the episode, Saul finds Carrie’s personal Situation Room, with the familiar mosaic of newspaper clippings, printouts, Post-it notes, photos, and color-coded yarn stretched spread out floor to ceiling in her search for patterns and connections. Mandy Patinkin’s Saul smiles as he marvels at the thought process on display because he realizes that Carrie is still doing the investigative work she was born to do, even if she rebuffed his efforts to rejoin the agency early in the season. And even when he sees the Post-it that asks the ominous question: What About Saul? (Spinoff title!) This is probably an important set-up for Season 7.

“The Flag House,” written by showrunner Alex Gansa and directed by Michael Klick, has great touches throughout. Saul’s nervous walk through the famed diamond dealers row on 47th Street in Midtown is beautifully shot. The showdown between Keane and Adal is tense. Quinn’s return to an area of Queens where at least one diner waitress remembers him as “Johnny” is confounding, in a good way, challenging viewers to figure out the timeline of Quinn’s flashback in the titular safe house. The return of the great Sarita Choudhury as Mira Berenson is a treat.

Some of the dialogue is a little on-the-nose in an effort to reflect the issues of the day, but that doesn’t make the subject matter any less worthy of examination. And 
“Homeland” once again finds its storyline threading through headlines of the moment (Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election, the Trump administration’s ties to Vladimir Putin loyalists, etc.)

“It’s not just about fake news and manipulating public opinion — it’s about stifling dissent,” Max tells Carrie of the real purpose behind the “social media boiler room” that he discovered last week. Dar Adal’s involvement in this scheme “violates about 10 federal laws,” Max declares.

“The Flag House” sets the table for the final confrontations to play out in the finale. But as we get to the end, it feels like this season’s central storyline is wearing a little thin. A new president wants to change the nation’s approach to protecting the nation from terrorism, and to take us off the war footing that has been the rule since 9/11.

Would a high-level CIA manager really go to such lengths to intimidate a president-elect just to ensure the status quo for the intelligence community? Would a right-wing firebrand like Brett O’Keefe be in league with said rogue CIA manager? Adal is painted to be as much of an ideologue as O’Keefe during his face-off with Keane. Hard to believe he could be a career CIA man under these circumstances.

Keane is duly alarmed by what she knows of Adal’s crusade. She’s completely Team Carrie-Saul now. “In the future, in case you’re wondering, this moment — right now — is when I decided to put your ass in jail,” she tells Adal as he drops his warning to her not to “go to war with your own national security establishment.” And that’s even before Adal directs O’Keefe to “weaponize” the unconscionable attack on the valor of her late son in combat. Elizabeth Marvel struts her stuff all across this episode. A lesser actress wouldn’t have been able to pull off her scenes with F. Murray Abraham’s Adal.

“Two hundred and fifty years of movement toward the light in this country. Toward justice. Say what you will, call me naive, but I believe in that light,” Keane tells a smirking Adal.

Here’s where things stand for the key players by the end of “The Flag House.”

Carrie Mathison: She’s grappling with Quinn’s apparent plan to take out Adal’s henchman, the burly guy who killed Astrid, was snooping on Carrie in Brooklyn and likely planted the bomb in Sekou’s delivery van. She’s also about to learn from Saul via Max’s cell phone video that Adal is in bed with O’Keefe. On the plus side, her chances of reuniting with Franny seem to be improving.

Saul Berenson: He appears to reverse his plan to skip the country after some tough love from Mira. He’s ready to fight back with Carrie and that crazy genius brain of hers as his most potent weapon. (We learn that Saul has had an escape plan in place, probably for years, with the orthodox Jewish owners of a New York City diamond shop who produce a tote bag with guns, passports, phones and money for Saul — plus a handful of diamonds for good luck.)

Peter Quinn: The most pressing concern for the show’s most damaged soul is the nasty chest wound that he’s still covering up. Even if there’s no bullet in there, he’s got to get to a doctor. Hopefully Carrie will realize this sooner rather than later as they sit in the dark looking at the burly guy through the scope of Quinn’s automatic rifle.

Dar Adal: He’s poked the flame-throwing bear and now it might flame him back. In Adal’s meeting in the boiler room with O’Keefe he sees Quinn’s picture on a laptop and seems genuinely surprised. Given what we’ve learned about Adal’s seduction of a young Quinn, this might not be pretty.

Elizabeth Keane: She’s overruling the advice of her communications team (sound familiar) and demanding to have a press conference to address the outrageous claims made in O’Keefe’s viral video. This can only be bad.

Max: The IT whiz with the heart of gold is probably heading to some kind of “Clockwork Orange”-esque torture chamber directed by O’Keefe’s Nurse Ratchet after the discovery that he used his phone on the boiler room floor. We also learn he has a last name! Sounded something like “Petrovsky.”


“Kong: Skull Island” enjoyed a massive win over its opening weekend in China. It is poised to overtake second placed “Beauty And The Beast” in just four days.

“Kong” scored $68.5 million according to local data service Ent Group. Overseas distributor, Warner Bros. reported the figure as $72.1 million.

Those numbers were achieved on some 18,000 screens, according to Warner. They delivered more than 115,000 screenings per day, according to Ent Group. They included $6.5 million from 387 IMAX Screens.

The gross was the second largest opening for an international film this year. And it accounted for some 70% of the nationwide weekend total.

Holdover, “Beauty” took a big 71% tumble falling to $12.1 million from $42.8 million in its opening weekend. After 10 days it stands on $73.2 million.

Chinese new release, “Top Funny Man: The Movie” debuted in third place with $6.99 million. But, with declining scores on Saturday and Sunday, it looks set to sink quickly.

“A Dog’s Purpose” took fourth place with$3.68 million in its fourth weekend. That gives it a total of $84.6 million after 24 days.

“Logan” was the only other film that managed $1 million over the weekend. It scored $1.04 million in its fourth weekend, for a cumulative of $105 million.

Minor places – and very minor scores – were taken by: new release “The Summer is Gone with $440,000; holdover animation “McDull: Kung Fu Kindergarten” with $420,000; “Sing” with $270,000 for cumulative of $31.2 million; “The Lego Batman Movie” with $240,000 for a cumulative of $6.10 million; and previews of “Extraordinary Mission” worth $230,000.


Huayi Brothers Media, one of China’s leading film studios, says it will renew and expand its relationship with Hollywood’s STX Entertainment.

The stance was expressed by Huayi co-chief James Wang at the Boao conference in Hainan and was reported by Bloomberg. “We’d like to renew and deepen our cooperation with STX beyond slate financing,” said Wang (aka Wang Zhonglei.)

Huayi has a three year contract to co-produce and co-finance films with Robert Simonds’ STX that runs until this time next year. Wang’s stance comes despite STX patchy record of hits and misses to date, and despite possible difficulties stemming from China’s capital controls. “It’s fortunate that our overseas business plan is not acquisition-driven, nor are we financial investors, so our needs for foreign exchange are not vast,” Wang said.

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He said that the companies will look at ways to expand cooperation in a broader fashion than the companies’ current deal. “STX has a lot of plans in television and multimedia. They also have a lot of new ideas for the Asian market. We have had a lot of contacts in this regard.”


Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” remained on top of the South Korean box office for the second week. The fantasy romance earned $7.81 million from 1.03 million admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $23.3 million from 3.1 million admissions after two weekends. Showing on some 1,255 screens nationwide, “Beauty” accounted for 41% of the total weekend box office.

Local crime actioner, “Prison” opened in second on Thursday. The Showbox release earned $9.31 million over four days, including previews. “Prison” sees a troubled former police inspector sent to jail and become a crucial player in a crime syndicate.

Far behind were two other Thursday newcomers. “Ordinary Person” landed in third. The Opus Pictures release earned $1.82 million. The Korean drama features a detective who is ordered to fabricate evidence about a serial murder case. Fox’s “Hidden Figures” opened in fourth place, earning $1.03 million in four days.

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“Kong: Skull Island” slipped to fifth place with a week-on-week drop of 82% The Warner Bros. release earned $419,000 and extended its total to $12.5 million after three weekends. “Logan” was sixth-placed with $153,000 for a cumulative of $16.41 million after four weeks.


The feud between Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar and Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow looks deadlier than ever in the latest trailer for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

The 60-second look, which dropped on Saturday, gives a little more insight as to why the villainous Salazar holds such a grudge against Sparrow. “Pirates had infected the seas for generation, so I vowed to eliminate them all,” he says. “Jack Sparrow cursed me. I will have my revenge.”

A look at a young Sparrow shows that the feud has a long history. The last trailer for the movie debuted young Sparrow, which was presumably achieved with the help of CGI.

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Meanwhile, the trailer also delves deeper into female lead Kaya Scodelario, who plays Carina Smyth, an important part of saving Sparrow and the rest of the pirates from Salazar. “I’m a woman of science. I choose not to believe in ghosts,” she says in the trailer, even as a phantom army chases Sparrow.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” also stars stars Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, David Wenham, Brenton Thwaites, Golshifteh Farahani, and Kevin McNally. It hits theaters on May 26, 2017.

Watch the trailer for the fifth and final “Pirates of the Caribbean” film below.


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During the 2-day long Writers Guild Festival, held at the Pickford Center, “Guardians of the Galaxy” writer-director James Gunn discussed his voyage into screenwriting, shared advice for aspiring writers and directors, and even shared some intel with fans about his upcoming sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

“Rocket’s character I relate to more than anybody; Rocket is me,” Gunn shared. “He has the anger issues that I have and he has the same inability to accept love that I have.”

In the moderated discussion with KCRW host Elvis Mitchell at the Writers Guild Festival on Saturday, Gunn added that he was completely excited about doing the sequel.

“On the second movie I had a lot more freedom,” Gunn said. “Because the first movie did well and it was great not having to explain the five major characters to the audience in the first half hour, we just go straight into the story.”

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James Gunn Wants ‘Guardians 2’ to Be ‘Greatest Spectacle Film of All Time,’ Doesn’t Care About Marvel vs. DC


The writer also gave some insight about his process when beginning a new project, which he  assured was no small feat. From creating lengthy 70-page treatments to finishing screenplays six months ahead of time to the preparation it takes to ensure that the sequel to a movie doesn’t stand in the shadow of it’s predecessor, Gunn made it clear that he likes to make sure all of his bases are covered.

“This has to be its own thing and you can’t start making this a sh—y Xerox of the first one,” the director mused with his fans.

The discussion also gave one particular fan in the audience a tease for the upcoming film, which is set for a spring 2017 release. The spoiler alert shared was that Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) meets his father (Kurt Russell) within the first 20 minutes, a piece of information that left one particular fan gushing in the audience.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” bows May 5 in theaters nationwide.


Disney’s megahit “Beauty and the Beast” is ruling the world this weekend with $207 million — lifting the live-action remake to a worldwide total of $690 million in less than two weeks.

“Beauty and the Beast” led a robust weekend internationally with $119 million, followed by Warner-Legendary’s “Kong: Skull Island” with $93 million — including $72.1 million in China for “Kong” with 13.9 million admissions from approximately 18,000 screens for a 71% share of the total box office and the second-biggest international opening in China this year after “Resident Evil” grossed a stunning $91 million.

“Kong: Skull Island” has now taken in $258.6 million internationally and $133.5 million in the U.S for an impressive worldwide total of $392 million.


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Box Office: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Dazzles Again, ‘Power Rangers’ Off to Solid Start


“Beauty and the Beast” has taken in $300 million more than “Kong” on a worldwide basis. It has already cracked the top 100 list of all-time worldwide grossers and has surpassed the entire run of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” for the 92nd spot on that list.

Disney noted Sunday that “Beauty and the Beast” is its fourth consecutive release to surpass the $600 million worldwide mark following “Doctor Strange,” “Moana,” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

China is also the top foreign market for “Beauty and the Beast” with $73.1 million, followed by the U.K. with $48.8 million, Mexico at $23.8 million, and Brazil at $23.6 million. “Beauty and the Beast” scored the third-biggest second weekend ever in the U.K. (behind only the James Bond titles “Skyfall” and “Spectre).

Overall, the European region declined by only 38% from “Beauty’s” opening weekend while the Latin American region was down just 42%.

Australia generated $11.1 million including previews in its opening weekend with a 57% market share and France saw an $8.4 million launch, also including previews, with a 45% market share. Belgium opened with $1.7 million including previews with a 70% market share.

“Beauty and the Beast” and “Kong: Skull Island” dominated moviegoing on the international front. The  opening of “Power Rangers” led the rest of the pack with $18.7 million in 63 markets — a relatively moderate launch compared with the $40.5 million debut in the U.S. — followed by Fox’s launch of the animated comedy “The Boss Baby” with $16.3 million in five markets, a week ahead of its domestic opening.

“The Boss Baby” is a DreamWorks Animation production with a precocious baby who is actually a secret agent voiced by Alec Baldwin.

Sony’s sci-fi thriller “Life,” starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhall and Rebecca Ferguson, followed in fifth with $16.1 million in 57 markets.


If you go with your family to see “Smurfs: The Lost Village” (and let’s be honest: most of today’s animated features are more than suitable for adults only, but anyone who would go to this movie without children is seriously starved for entertainment), you’ll get to experience the trailer for “The Emoji Movie,” an upcoming feature from the same studio, Sony Pictures Animation. The trailer is hosted by an emoji named Meh, voiced in the morose observational tones of comedian Steven Wright; in just 30 seconds, he makes not being overly enthusiastic about anything seem the apex of hilarity. I won’t prejudge the film, but it’s a stupendous trailer.

Then we get to the Smurfs movie, which has a hundred characters who are Smurfs, and not one of them is as funny, or wry, or distinctive as Meh. You might describe the Smurfs as blueberry Hobbits crossed with knockoffs of the Seven Dwarfs — or, more precisely, of Dopey, since they mirror his innocent leer of a grin, open-car-door ears, and hat that’s like a folded-over blob of Poppin’ Fresh dough. (I do realize that the Smurfs were created in Belgium in 1958, and that their headwear was meant to evoke the Phrygian cap, which signifies freedom. But they still look like Dopey.) As with the Dwarfs, the Smurfs have names that describe just what they are: in this case, Jokey, Nerdy, Grouchy, Brainy, Clumsy, Nosy, Hefty, Winner, Loser, Painter, Scuba, Paranoid, Therapist (“Sometimes,” says a patient, “I just feel blue!”), and Table-Eater. Unlike the Seven Dwarfs, the Smurfs, even with their Defining Traits, seem to have more or less interchangeable personalities. They’re one-note elfin mascots of cute who are all, in essence, variations on the same product.

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Last November, when “Trolls” came out, a number of critics described it as being sort of like a Smurfs movie. Well, it kind of was — but if so, it was the “Citizen Kane” of Smurf movies, a kaleidoscopic disco fantasia with marvelously individualized troll-doll characters. (I’ve seen it three times and could easily watch it again.) “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” by contrast, is a sweetly benign fantasy for three-to-seven-year-olds, and though one should show no hesitation in calling it innocuous, because it is, I do realize that’s all part of the design. It’s not a rousing animated comedy that parents will cherish along with their kids. It’s more like a colorful and diverting pacifier.

Yet it has one major advantage over its two big-screen predecessors, “The Smurfs” (2011) and “The Smurfs 2” (2013). (There was also a Smurfs cartoon, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute,” back in 1983.) Both those movies placed animated Smurfs in a live-action universe, and both had the painfully shrill, bonk-you-over-the-head tone that can turn actors as gifted as Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria into blaring annoyances. “The Lost Village” ditches all that. It’s a pure digital fantasy, with elegant and tactile animation, so it’s more true to the Smurf spirit, and should perform solidly.

In the Smurf village, that land of colorful mushroom huts, every character is male except for Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato), who has a rounder face than that of the boy Smurfs, and who looks like she stole Nancy Sinatra’s hair. So much for her personality. Smurfette, as fans of the Smurfs franchise know, was created by the evil wizard Gargamel out of a lump of coal, which is one reason that she doesn’t feel quite at home. Gargamel is voiced, by Rainn Wilson, in one of those fluttery aristocratic accents descended from effete Hollywood villains of the ’40s, and he’s animated in a way that sticks true to the original Peyo cartoon: With his lone tooth, bald fringe, and dark robe, he looks like a Trappist monk drawn by Hanna-Barbera.

Gargamel plans to round up all the Smurfs, so that he can pour them into a boiling-cauldron potion that will render him all-powerful. And there you have the plot. The valiant Smurfette frees a trio of Smurfs — Clumsy, Brainy, and Hefty — from Gargamel’s clutches, and once they escape the movie turns into an elongated if rather rudderless chase that takes our heroes (and heroine) through the Forbidden Forest, through white-water rapids (the most visually enticing sequence), and into a garden of fire-breathing dragonflies and flowers that will eat you.

As it turns out, the Smurf village isn’t the Lost Village. That would be Smurfy Grove, an all-girl Smurf enclave presided over by Smurfwillow, voiced by Julia Roberts with an incongruous maternal snap. (She has the kind of personal punch the rest of the movie barely hints at.) There is also a tear-jerking twist that really works, though it’s a bit manipulative to see in a movie aimed at kids this young. Imagine that Bambi’s mother had died, and then come back to life as the star of her own franchise. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is pleasant enough, but there’s not much at stake, because no one stops grinning for long.


Nostalgia and anticipation filled the air at the Dolby Theatre Saturday afternoon at the “Pretty Little Liars” panel for PaleyFest LA. In front of a rowdy crowd, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Tyler Blackburn, and almost all of the show’s stars sat down for a discussion about the Freeform drama’s seven-year history, while also looking forward at the series’ final 10 episodes, which begin airing next month.

The event started with a sneak peek at the first minute of the final season and then proceeded with a moderated conversation with the cast and two producers. The conversation, peppered with impromptu scene-readings by cast members, focused mainly on the long journey they had all taken with the show. The actors, who reunited after finishing shooting in October, shared stories about when they were cast and the friendships that developed on set.

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Benson, who sat near the middle in between Mitchell and Blackburn, revealed stories about the sense of camaraderie that the cast developed. “You can actually see that these girls, and everybody in the cast, actually care about each other on screen as well as off screen,” Benson said. “You can just see it. I think that it’s so cool to be able to feel that and know that it is real and genuine and that’s why it comes across.”

Benson also added funny anecdotes that happened during filming. “Every time I look at Tyler’s face, I start laughing,” said Benson, while stifling laughter. “And then Shay too. We are actually the hardest people to work with to get through a scene because once you start it’s really hard to stop. Especially with us three in one scene.”


10 Things to Know About the Final 10 Episodes of ‘Pretty Little Liars’


While the conversation focused mainly on the past, the sense of excitement for the final 10 episodes was obvious. While the cast took great pains not to spoil any details about the season, which executive producer I. Marlene King described as a “love letter to the fans,” they did share their excitement to bring the show to a satisfying close.

Mitchell talked about her anticipation for the upcoming season. “I’m very excited for the show to air and to see the fans’ reactions. I won’t have to hold in any secrets anymore,” Mitchell said. “The fans can expect to be completely shocked, but happy that all their questions will be answered.”

King shared a similar excitement to see fans react to the final episodes. “I think that when shows end there’s always a group of people who aren’t happy about it, but I think the majority of people will be happy with the ending,” said King. “We all worked so hard on it with the goal of satisfying fans with a proper ending to a show which has meant so much to so many people.”

After the panel discussion, the event was opened up to audience questions. After the panel, much of the cast lingered behind to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.


President Donald Trump has spoken highly of Fox News before, even as he’s criticized other mainstream media outlets. His latest promotion for the network, however, is raising more eyebrows than usual.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted to his 27 million followers a tune-in for Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” writing, “Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.” Just hours later, Pirro opened her show with a blistering segment calling for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to resign.

Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.


Disney’s second weekend of blockbuster “Beauty and the Beast” is dominating moviegoing in North America with $88.3  million at 4,210 locations — capping the best March ever.

Lionsgate’s rebooted “Power Rangers” is launching with a solid $40.5 million this weekend while Sony’s space-thriller “Life” showed only moderate traction with $12.6 million. Warner Bros.’ action-comedy “Chips” opened with a disappointing $7.6 million at 2,464 sites.

The “Beauty and the Beast” weekend is one for the record books as the fourth-largest second weekend of all time, trailing only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at $149 million, “Jurassic World” at $106 million, and “Marvel’s The Avengers” at $103 million.

“Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, declined just 49% from its opening weekend, which was the seventh-best ever. And after just 10 days in North American theaters, “Beauty and the Beast” is already 55th on the all-time domestic list at $317 million. It’s the fourth-largest 10-day domestic total ever.

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“Beauty and the Beast,” along with Fox’s “Logan,” Warner’s “Kong: Skull Island,” and Universal’s “Get Out,” have led a charge over the past month that has given the domestic box office a major boost. According to comScore, March box office has already hit $1 billion for the first time — with five days left in the month.

“March has become a rockstar of a month and in particular 2017 enjoyed a perfect storm of new hits and strong February releases that showed amazing staying power like ‘Get Out’  and ‘The Lego Batman Movie,’ ” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.  “The cumulative allure of an impressive slate of films conjured up a flat out great month in theaters, generating impressive momentum as the industry charges into what promises to be a furious April and a smashing summer movie season that kicks off in May with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2.’ ”

Last year’s March set a record with $948.8 million domestically, led by Disney’s “Zootopia” ($255.9 million for the month) and Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” ($209.1 million).

“Power Rangers,” a re-imagining of the 1990’s television show about five teenage superheroes, outperformed expectations of about $30 million at 3,693 locations. The film earned an A CinemaScore from customers and A+ from the 30% of moviegoers under 18. The audience was 60% male.

The cast features Becky G as the Yellow Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger, and R.J. Cyler as the Blue Ranger. Elizabeth Banks plays the evil alien witch Rita Repulsa.

The movie centers on the origins of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a group of high schoolers given extraterrestrial powers who unite to save the world. Lionsgate and Haim Saban announced plans in 2014 for a live-action movie based on Saban’s “Power Rangers” property as the first film in a franchise; Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer has asserted that it may do as many as seven films. “Power Rangers” carries a $100 million price tag.

The third weekend of Warner-Legendary’s “Kong: Skull Island” was headed for third place with $14.4 million at 3,666 locations, which gives the giant ape a domestic total of $133.5 million in its first 17 days.

Sony-Skydance’s “Life” stars Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, and Jake Gyllenhaal as International Space Station astronauts threatened by an extraterrestrial life form. It’s performing at the lower end of expectations in third place, despite generating mostly positive reviews with a 67% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The fourth weekend of Fox’s “Logan” followed in fourth with $10.1 million at 3,687 sites. “Logan” is 2017’s second highest grosser with $201.5 million in Hugh Jackman’s farewell to the Wolverine character.

Universal-Blumhouse’s fifth weekend of surprise hit “Get Out” finished fifth with $8.7 million at 2,474 locations. The horror-comedy, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, has become enormously profitable, given its $4.5 million budget.

Warner Bros. rolled out action-comedy “Chips,” starring Dax Shepard and Michael Pena, amid muted expectations. The R-rated reboot of the TV series, which starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox, has not gained much critical traction with a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the budget is a relatively modest $25 million.

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