Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday Night Netflix

Let's see, the last movie I went to was...

"Netflix facing tougher times as US subscriber growth slows" by Michael Liedtke Associated Press  July 19, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — After years of spectacular success, Netflix is starting to hit some potholes. The Internet video service is wrestling with slowing US subscriber growth and an ambitious international expansion amid stiffening competition, a challenge that came into sharper focus Monday with the release of its second-quarter earnings.

Netflix only added 160,000 US subscribers from April through June, its lowest gain in the period since splitting up its video-streaming and DVD-by-mail services five years ago.

Management blamed the disappointing performance on cancellations by subscribers facing price increases of as much as $2 per month, following the expiration of a two-year rate freeze.

Analysts estimate that more than 20 million subscribers may be hit with a price increase between June and the end of this year.

The fallout from those phased-in price increases has been compounded by intensifying competition that now provide consumers an array of alternative streaming-video options.

‘‘We are growing, but not as fast as we would like or have been,’’ Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a letter accompanying the second-quarter results. ‘‘Disrupting a big market can be bumpy, but the opportunity ahead is as big as ever.’’

Netflix shares will have lost a quarter of their value so far this year. That’s a harsh comedown for a stock that’s been a Wall Street star since bottoming out at roughly $7 on a split-adjusted basis about four years ago.

In a way, Netflix is a victim of its own success. The company is having more trouble finding new households interested in signing up.

Netflix is sustaining significant losses as it ramps up its business in 189 other countries. Among other things, Netflix has to amass a diverse collection of TV shows and films that will appeal to new audiences speaking a variety of different languages and with divergent tastes.

Its international operations lost $69 million in the second quarter. By contrast, Netflix’s US streaming service contributed a profit of $414 million. After factoring in its still highly profitable but steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service and various operating expenses, Netflix earned $41 million in the second quarter, nearly tripled its profit at the same time last year.

Revenue for the period increased 28 percent from last year to $2.1 billion, driven in part by Netflix’s higher prices.

Until recently, Netflix had been capitalizing on its ‘‘first mover’’ advantage — technology parlance for innovators that embrace a new concept ahead of the pack.

That’s all changed now. Netflix’s competitors now include Internet-only offerings from, Hulu, and Google’s YouTube as well as traditional TV networks such as Time Warner Inc.’s HBO and CBS, which now sell online alternatives to their cable and broadcast channels.

At the same time, studios are demanding higher prices for the rights to their shows and films — and increasingly selling the rights to Netflix rivals willing to pay more....


The day of reckoning approaches so you better join now:

"Speeding past Wall Street’s expectations, Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday reported a 28 percent increase in quarterly profit, with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the primary engine. But operating income at Disney’s vast cable television division, which includes ESPN and has been an area of intense scrutiny for investors in recent quarters, fell by 6 percent, largely because of the timing of a half-dozen college football bowl games. For the quarter that ended Jan. 2, the second of Disney’s fiscal year, the entertainment giant reported net income of $2.88 billion, including $27 million worth of severance and termination costs at ESPN."

"‘‘Deadpool’s’’ three-week reign atop the box office ended thanks to new openers ‘‘Zootopia’’ and ‘‘London Has Fallen.’’ The top spot went to Disney’s ‘‘Zootopia,’’ which staged a box office stampede in its first weekend in North American theaters with $73.7 million. In second place, ‘‘London Has Fallen,’’ a sequel to ‘‘Olympus Has Fallen,’’ earned $21.7 million. In its fourth weekend in theaters, ‘‘Deadpool’’ fell to third place with $16.4 million, bringing its domestic total to a staggering $311.2 million. The Tina Fey comedy ‘‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’’ debuted in fourth with an estimated $7.6 million. The film cost a reported $35 million to produce."

"The animated Disney film “Zootopia” featuring the voices of Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin earned $38 million this weekend to take first place once again, according to comScore estimates Sunday. ‘‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant,’’ starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James, opened in second place with an estimated $29.1 million. Sony’s ‘‘Miracles From Heaven’’ took third place with $15 million. The film, starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, has earned $18.6 million since opening Wednesday. Rounding out the top five were ‘‘10 Cloverfield Lane’’ and ‘‘Deadpool’’ with $12.5 million and $8 million, respectively. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to comScore (AP)."

‘‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’’ shrugged off lousy reviews to debut with an estimated $170.1 million in North America, the sixth-best weekend opening of all time. The bid by Warner Bros. to kick-start a DC Comics universe to rival Marvel’s empire fought against skepticism over Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman and a barrage of bad reviews earlier in the week. In second was the Disney Animation hit ‘‘Zootopia,’’ with $23.1 million in its fourth week of domestic release. Universal’s ‘‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,’’ a sequel to the 2002 hit romantic comedy, debuted in third with $18.1 million."

"Word of mouth might be kryptonite for ‘‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,’’ which fell a steep 68 percent in its second weekend in theaters, according to comScore estimates Sunday. The superhero pic earned $52.4 million over the weekend, easily besting modest openers like ‘‘God’s Not Dead 2’’ and ‘‘Meet the Blacks.’’ ‘‘Batman v Superman’’ cost a reported $250 million to produce and about $150 million to market, and has earned an estimated $261.5 million to date. It’s a critical launching point for a series of movies in the DC Comics Universe from Warner Bros. that will include this year’s ‘‘Suicide Squad’’ and next year’s ‘‘Wonder Woman’’ and two ‘‘Justice League’’ movies. Superhero movies tend to be frontloaded with fans, and a near 60 percent fall is not uncommon in weekend two. Disney’s ‘‘Zootopia’’ held on to second place with a robust $20 million. ‘‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’’ took third in its second week with $11.1 million. ‘‘God’s Not Dead 2’’ opened in fourth place with $8.1 million, followed by ‘‘Miracles From Heaven,’’ which took in $7.6 million in its third weekend."

I'm sick of superhero movies, sorry.

"Step aside, Batman and Superman. Melissa McCarthy is ‘‘The Boss’’ at the box office now. The actress’s latest comedy narrowly topped ‘‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’’ at the weekend box office with a $23.5 million debut, according to comScore estimates Sunday. McCarthy’s win wasn’t a total knockout. The Warner Bros. superhero smackdown starring Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight and Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel nabbed $23.4 million in its third weekend. “Batman v Superman’’ has earned an estimated $296.7 million to date. Disney’s ‘‘Zootopia’’ landed in third place with $14.4 million. In its sixth weekend, the animated film has earned a total domestic haul of $296 million. The weekend’s only other newcomer, the action romp ‘‘Hardcore Henry,’’ opened in fifth place with a dismal $5.1 million."

"The Walt Disney Co.’s ‘‘The Jungle Book’’ opened with $103.6 million in North America, making it one of the biggest April debuts at the box office. Jon Favreau’s update of Disney’s 1967 animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s book marks the company’s latest success in turning its classic cartoons into live-action remakes. Disney says the film, which has impressed critics and moviegoers around the globe, also took in an estimated $136.1 million overseas. That includes $20.1 million so far in India, where it’s the third-highest grossing Hollywood release after 10 days. Opening in second place was Ice Cube’s ‘‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’’ with $20.2 million." 

I'm not a fan of those, either.

"‘‘The Jungle Book’’ remained king of the box office in its second weekend in theaters, beating new opener ‘‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’’ by about $40 million, according to estimates Sunday. Disney’s live-action/CG spectacle is an all-audience success story. ‘‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’’ landed in third place with $10.8 million in its second weekend in theaters. ‘‘Zootopia’’ and ‘‘The Boss’’ rounded out the top five with $6.6 million and $6.1 million, respectively. "

‘‘Captain America’’ has found a worthy competitor in a bunch of flightless birds. ‘‘The Angry Birds Movie’’ soared to $39 million in its debut weekend, knocking ‘‘Captain America: Civil War’’ off its first-place perch, while new adult comedies ‘‘Neighbors 2’’ and the ‘‘The Nice Guys’’ struggled to get their footing, according to comScore estimates Sunday. ‘‘The Angry Birds Movie’’ features the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, and Danny McBride and has received mixed reviews from critics in its attempt to create a compelling story out of a fairly simplistic app-based game. ‘‘Captain America: Civil War’’ wasn’t too far behind, earning an additional $33.1 million this weekend for a second-place spot, which brings its domestic total to $347.4 million. ‘‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’’ and ‘‘The Nice Guys’’ both underwhelmed in their debuts. ‘‘Neighbors 2’’ brought in only $21.8 million while ‘‘The Nice Guys’’ grossed $11.3 million." 

Gross out humor isn't getting it done for me, either? 

Any other sections in here?

"The recent slump of sequels at the box office finally ended with ‘‘The Conjuring 2,’’ a horror film follow-up that topped weekend theaters with an estimated $40.4 million. The Warner Bros. film, in which Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play married paranormal investigators, opened nearly on par with its 2013 original. The big-budget video game adaptation ‘‘Warcraft,’’ a co-production between Universal and Legendary, came in second with $24.4 million. The Lionsgate magician caper ‘‘Now You See Me 2,’’ starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, and Woody Harrelson, opened in third place with $23 million domestically. The dip for ‘‘Now You See Me 2’’ was in line with the diminishing results seen from recent sequels. ‘‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’’ (last week’s top film, which slid to fourth this weekend with $14.8 million), ‘‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,’’ “Ride Along 2’’ and ‘‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’’ have all done worse than their preceding films...."

Don't like those, either.

‘Free State of Jones’ is messy, necessary history which might even be part of a new wave of films that look the myths and ongoing untruths of this country’s history dead in the eye. To which we should all say: glory, glory hallelujah."

It dropped like a lead ballon, but there’s some teeth in shark movie ‘The Shallows’ starring Blake Lively.

"The forgetful blue fish of ‘‘Finding Dory’’ is box office gold. The Pixar sequel far surpassed its ocean-sized expectations to take in $136.2 million in North American theaters, making it the highest-grossing animated debut of all time, according to comScore estimates Sunday. The 2007 film ‘‘Shrek the Third’’ was the record-holder with a $121.6 million debut. ‘‘Finding Dory,’’ which features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks and comes 13 years after ‘‘Finding Nemo,’’ is also the second-largest June opening of all time behind ‘‘Jurassic World.’’ The Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson buddy comedy ‘‘Central Intelligence’’ finished in second place over the weekend with $34.5 million. In third was the James Wan horror pic ‘‘The Conjuring 2’’ with $15.6 million."

"‘Finding Dory’ remains No. 1 as ‘Independence Day’ opening lags" by Jake Coyle Associated Press  June 27, 2016

NEW YORK — The tidal wave of ‘‘Finding Dory’’ overwhelmed the sputtering sequel ‘‘Independence Day: Resurgence,’’ as the alien-invasion redux was drowned out by the popular Pixar release in North American theaters.

In its second week, ‘‘Finding Dory’’ easily remained on top with an estimated $73.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. That far surpassed the $41.6 million opening of ‘‘Resurgence,’’ which debuted well off the pace of its 1996 original. The first ‘‘Independence Day’’ opened with $50.2 million, or about $77 million in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Of the week’s other debuts, the Blake Lively shark thriller ‘‘The Shallows’’ rode a wave of good reviews to a better-than-expected $16.7 million for Sony. Matthew McConaughey’s Civil War drama ‘‘Free State of Jones,’’ however, disappointed with just $7.7 million, dealing a blow to the upstart studio STX Entertainment.

No one wants that division driven down our throats by Hollywood.

In a weekend full of ups and downs, the opening of ‘‘Independence Day’’ was the most closely watched debut. Pegged as one of 20th Century Fox’s tentpoles of the season, it had once been expected to be one of the summer’s biggest movies.

A proud popcorn movie, directed, like the first ‘‘Independence Day,’’ by Roland Emmerich, ‘‘Resurgence’’ brought back much of the original cast with the major exception of Will Smith. Without him, the sequel doesn’t appear likely to match the original’s $817.4 million global haul.

Chris Aronson, head of distribution for Fox, acknowledged the result was ‘‘on the lower side of our prognostications.’’ ‘'Resurgence,’’ however, took in $102 million abroad, where it is doing better business.

‘‘We always expected international to carry the baton,’’ Aronson said. 

American don't have money to go to movies anymore.

Fox, perhaps smarting from the critical reaction to its recent release ‘‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’’ took the unusual move of not screening the film for critics before release. Such an approach comes with its own risks, too — even bad reviews can be good publicity — but Aronson maintained the strategy didn’t hurt the film’s release.

The comedy ‘‘Central Intelligence,’’ starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, held strongly in its second week, earning $18.4 million.

Final three-day domestic figures will be released Monday.


Dan Aykroyd gives thumbs-up to new ‘Ghostbusters’

I'm afraid to go see that, and can't we all be like Bennifer?

"It’s been about a year since Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced they were getting divorced after a decade of marriage and three children. But here we are all these months later and they’re still not officially kaput. Maybe they won’t be after all. Us Weekly, citing a source close to Garner, says “things changed” and the couple has put divorce on hold, at least for the moment. “Jen mentioned that the divorce was going through very soon, and then a few weeks ago, things changed,” the source said. “It does not seem to be moving in that direction.” Albeit sleeping in separate bedrooms, Affleck and Garner are still living together....."

I couldn't find a good movie to stream; maybe I'll just see what's on Starz instead. 

"AMC Entertainment, the movie theater chain bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2012, is acquiring rival chain Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion including debt. The acquisition will make the combined entity the largest theater chain in North America and the world, and signals Wanda’s further expansion into entertainment. It comes just two months after Wanda said it would spend $3.5 billion to acquire mid-level studio Legendary Entertainment, the cofinancier of blockbusters like ‘‘Jurassic World’’ and ‘‘The Dark Knight.’’

Good night, folks.


Good morning, folks. 

Did finally make a choice last night:

Star Trek” has become a comfort. It’s one of our oldest futures and one of our better utopias.

I hate to be a stick in the mud, but I like the old show

The reason is the first film by this current generation had them killing off Spock's mother -- against the lore of the show, thereby ruining Journey to Babel, a great episode that touches briefly upon the notion of false flags along with thoughtful drama regarding Spock's temporary command.

"5 years after shuttle, NASA awaits commercial crew capsules" by Marcia Dunn Associated Press  July 20, 2016

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — This unprecedented switch from government to commercial rocket ships promises to usher in a new era, according to Atlantis’s commander, Christopher Ferguson.

Think space tourists, orbiting factories, lunar camps, private Mars labs, and more. 

So the United Federation of Planets was in fact a mercenary outfit. More "history" turned on it's head.

Ever since shuttles Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour were retired to museums, astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets to the space station.

They can call the new show "Chekov in Charge!"

NASA has been relying on SpaceX and Orbital ATK as cargo rockets to keep the station supplied. SpaceX’s latest souped-up Dragon capsule arrived Wednesday.

See: Chasing a Dream

Commercial space stations likely will replace the multination space station, Ferguson noted....

It's beginning to look like Elysium up there!


And now, second star to the right and straight on till morning (another Star Trek film that touched upon the idea of false flags).


"‘Star Trek Beyond’ wins at box office" by Brooks Barnes New York Times News Service  July 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Paramount’s expensive “Star Trek Beyond” managed to take in about $59.6 million at domestic theaters over the weekend, a solid debut for one of Hollywood’s most timeworn franchises. For its part, Warner Bros. found another low-budget horror hit in “Lights Out,” but 20th Century Fox’s fifth “Ice Age” collapsed.

Initial ticket sales for “Star Trek Beyond,” which cost Paramount and its partners roughly $185 million, not including marketing costs, fell 15 percent below the opening-weekend total for its 2013 series predecessor, “Star Trek Into Darkness.” That kind of erosion typically signals franchise fatigue — a troubling sign as Paramount, struggling to turn a profit and partly up for sale, pushes forward.

On the flip side, it can be argued that results for “Star Trek Beyond,” especially during a summer in which multiple big-budget sequels have flopped, reflect a job well done by Paramount. Maintaining moviegoer interest in a 50-year-old entertainment franchise, which was originally designed for television audiences, is not easy. “Star Trek Beyond,” which received strong reviews, attracted an older audience.


Second place at the North American box office went to “The Secret Life of Pets.” Made by Universal’s division Illumination Entertainment, “Pets” took in about $29.3 million, for a three-week total of $260.7 million, according to comScore, which compiles ticketing data.

Like I said, only the kids are left watching.

Tying in third place with an estimated $21.6 million in sales apiece were “Ghostbusters” (Sony), for a two-week domestic total of almost $87 million, and “Lights Out,” which notably cost only $5 million to make.

Their math must be off because I was told a $46 million opening, and once again my theory regarding films is proved right. You get half of the first week (or less) the second week, and half the second week in the third week, and then you're gone. 

Although Fox backed “Ice Age: Collision Course” with an aggressive promotional campaign, that animated sequel managed only $21 million in ticket sales — 55 percent less than “Ice Age: Continental Drift” had during its first three days in 2012.

Americans may be losing interest in the “Ice Age” characters, but the series has long been mostly a play for international sales. “Continental Drift” ultimately took in $877 million worldwide, with 81 percent of that total coming from international theaters. So far, “Collision Course” has taken in more than $179 million overseas....

In not just the movies, either.


Also see:

AMC parent sweetens offer for cinema takeover
Apollo Global to take Outerwall private

"Between the return of Matt Damon as super spy Jason Bourne, the promise of laughing along with a few fed-up ladies in the raunchy comedy ‘‘Bad Moms,’’ and the Internet thriller ‘‘Nerve,’’ all of which had strong debuts, there was something new for everyone in theaters this weekend. “Jason Bourne’’ raked in a healthy $60 million in its opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. It’s the second-highest opening of the series, behind ‘‘The Bourne Ultimatum’s’’ $69.3 million debut in 2007. ‘‘Bad Moms,’’ from the writers of ‘‘The Hangover’’ and starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn, took in $23.4 million in its first days in theaters. ‘‘Bad Moms,’’ which debuted at No. 3, just barely missed second place to ‘‘Star Trek Beyond,’’ which fell 59 percent in its second weekend in theaters with $24 million. The Paramount sequel has earned $105.7 million to date. ‘‘The Secret Life of Pets’’ continues to perform well, taking fourth place with $18.2 million even after four weekends in theaters. In fifth place, the micro-budget thriller ‘‘Lights Out’’ earned $10.8 million. The youthful thriller ‘‘Nerve,’’ starring Dave Franco and Emma Roberts, also did well, taking in $15.1 million since launching on Wednesday. It earned $9 million over the weekend for an eighth-place finish (AP)."