Despite premiering simultaneously by streaming service, “Wonder Woman 1984” managed the best box office debut of the pandemic, opening with $16.7 million over the Christmas weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
That’s only a faint glimmer of typical business during the holiday season, when cinemas are usually packed and box-office receipts are among the best of the year. Last year, “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” exceeded $32 million on Christmas Day alone. According to data firm Comscore, 35% of North American theaters are currently open.
But Warner Bros. nevertheless celebrated the performance of “Wonder Woman 1984,” which landed in 2,150 theaters and bettered the approximately $10 million launch of Warner Bros.′ “Tenet” in North America. (Universal Pictures’ “The Croods: A New Age” opened similarly in late November.) “Wonder Woman 1984” grossed an additional $19.4 million in international markets where it began playing a week earlier. The Patty Jenkins-directed sequel, starring Gal Gadot, has made $85 million globally to date.
“This is a very weak theatrical opening,” said David Gross, who runs the movie consultancy FranchiseRe. “With more than half of North American theaters closed and the pandemic surging, the majority of moviegoers and fans have little choice but to watch the film on television. Early foreign openings have been weak as well.”
Warner Bros. has come under criticism throughout Hollywood on its plans to divert “Wonder Woman 1984” and all of its 2021 titles to HBO Max through a hybrid release plan intended to boost subscribers. “Tenet” director Christopher Nolan called the strategy “a mess.” Earlier this month, AT&T chief executive John Stankey said the service has 12.6 million activated users, up from 8.6 million on Sept. 30.
In 2017, “Wonder Woman” opened with more than $100 million in ticket sales from 4,100 theaters, setting a record for biggest opening by a female filmmaker. It ultimately grossed $822 million worldwide. The sequel, made for about $200 million, had been expected to approach $1 billion in box office before the pandemic but is on course to make about $180 million, according to Gross’s projections.
But WarnerMedia is counting on “Wonder Woman 1984” to matter more to HBO Max, which wobbled in its initial rollout. Reports circulated over the weekend of some users having technical difficulties streaming “Wonder Woman 1984,” particularly when playing the film through Roku. HBO Max went live on Roku in mid-December after months of negotiations.
Warner Bros. nevertheless seized on the returns for “Wonder Woman 1984” as the best as could be expected, given the circumstances. The studio on Sunday announced that it would fast-track a third “Wonder Woman” film, with Jenkins and Gadot returning.
“Wonder Woman 1984 broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we’re seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend,” said Andy Forssell, executive vice president and general manager for WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer operations. “During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn’t an option.”
“Wonder Woman 1984” wasn’t the only big movie that detoured into homes over Christmas. The Walt Disney Co. steered the latest Pixar release, “Soul,” to Disney+. It opened theatrically in some international markets, most notably in China where it earned $5.5 million.
Streaming numbers weren’t provided for “Soul” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” WarnerMedia said nearly half of HBO Max’s subscribers watched “Wonder Woman 1984” on its first day on the streaming platform, though it didn’t say how long constituted a watch.
Universal Pictures also released “News of the World,” a Western starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, only in theaters. The Comcast-owned studio has pursued a different approach during the pandemic, cutting deals with exhibitors to radically shorten the exclusive theatrical window to as little as 17 days, before then moving movies to premium video-on-demand. “News of the World” grossed an estimated $2.4 million domestically
Emerald Fennell’s acclaimed “Promising Young Woman,” starring Carey Mulligan, debuted in 1,300 theaters, making $680,000 for Focus Features.
Eminent actor and internationally renowned dance icon Zinnat Barkatullah was shifted to ICU at a city hospital on Saturday.
Her daughter, renowned actor Bijori Barkatullah confirmed this news via a Facebook post on Saturday evening.
"My mother Zinnat Barkatullah is in ICU ventilation with a critical condition. I ask everyone to pray for my mother. All mighty Allah Rahmanur Rahim have mercy on my mother and heal her pain. The greatest in the world can do any miracle “He is The One Who Heals the sick. All praise is due to Allah the Healer of the world”, Bijori wrote in her Facebook post.
According to various sources, Zinnat has not been tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of this reporting.
Back on August 3, her husband and former BTV producer Md Barkatullah died of COVID-19 and she also fought her battle with coronavirus during that period.
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In her illustrious career, Zinnat Barkatullah served as the director of the Production Department as well as the Dance and Music departments at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) since 2002.
As an accomplished dancer, she is trained in Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri and Folk dance format. Also being a renowned television actor, she has acted in more than 80 dramas for various television channels.
For her contributions to the field of dance and acting, she has received prestigious awards including UNESCO award, Natya Shabha Award, BACHSAS Award and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award, to name a few.
Nearly two years after the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, Sudan is taking steps to rejoin the international community from which it was long shunned. That includes its film industry.
For the first time in its history, Sudan has a submission for the Academy Awards. Produced by a consortium of European and Egyptian companies but with a Sudanese director and cast, “You Will Die at Twenty” will compete in the Best International Feature Film category, reports AP.
The story follows a young man whose death at the age of 20 is prophesied not long after his birth, casting a shadow over his formative years, and parallels the burdens placed on a generation of Sudan’s young people.
Based on a short story by Sudanese novelist Hammour Ziyada, critics say it demonstrates that the country’s cultural scene is reawakening after decades of oppression.
The film was produced amid mass demonstrations against al-Bashir, who was toppled by the military in April 2019 after ruling the country for nearly 30 years.
“It was an adventure,” filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala told The Associated Press. “There were protests in the streets that had grown to a revolution by the beginning of filming.”
Sudan’s uprising erupted in late 2018, and as the number of people in the streets swelled, many of them young, the military stepped in and toppled the Islamist president. Since then, the country has embarked on a fragile transition to democracy, ending years of theocratic rule that limited artists’ freedoms.
The film’s submission was announced in November by the country’s ministry of culture, a month before the second anniversary of the start of the uprising.
It follows a narrative written by Ziyada in the early 2000s that chronicles the life of a child in 1960s in a remote village, located between the Blue and White Nile rivers. The inhabitants are largely guided by ancient Sufi beliefs and traditions, a mystical strain of Islam.
The film starts when a mother, Sakina, takes her newborn boy to a Sufi ceremony at a nearby shrine as a blessing. As a sheikh gives his blessing, a man in traditional clothing performs a meditative dance, suddenly stopping after 20 turns, falling to the ground — a bad omen.
The frightened mother appeals to the Sheikh to give an explanation. But he says, “God’s command is inevitable.” At this point, the crowd understands this is a prophecy predicting the child will die at 20.
Stunned and frustrated, the father leaves his wife and son, named Muzamil, to face their fate alone.
Muzamil grows up under the watchful eye of his overprotective mother, who wears black in anticipation of his early demise. He is haunted by the prophecy — even other children name him “the son of death.”
Despite that, Muzamil proves to be an inquisitive boy full of life. His mother allows him to go to study the Quran. He receives praise for his memorization and recitation of verses. Then comes a turning point.
A cinematographer, Suliman, returns to the village after years working abroad. Muzamil, who is by now working as an assistant to the village shopkeeper, gets to know him through delivering him alcohol, a social taboo.
Suliman, who lives with a prostitute, opens Muzamil’s eyes to the outside world. Through their discussions, he starts to doubt the prophecy that has governed his life so far and torn his family apart.
As he turns 19, Muzamil takes it upon himself to decide what it means to be alive, even as death beckons.
The film has received positive reviews from international critics. It premiered at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival’s parallel section, Venice Days. It won the Lion of the Future for Best First Feature — the first Sudanese film to do so. Since then, it has won at least two dozen awards at film festivals worldwide.
Abu Alala says his team tackled obstacles in making the film, thrown up by the same conservative milieu that it depicts. He blames the environment created by al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989. Under his rule, limited personal freedoms meant art was viewed with suspicion by many.
One major challenge, he said, was that local residents at the initial filming location objected to their presence. The crew was forced to move, but they persevered.
“We believed that it should be done under any circumstances,” Abu Alala said. He says that it was lucky that the film’s production period coincided with the cultural watershed moment of the uprising. The previous government wouldn’t have been a proponent of his work.
The movie has also been met with commendations from inside the region.
“It is a very real and local film that makes the audience feel all of its details whenever and whoever they are,” wrote Egyptian film critic Tarik el-Shenawy.
The film is only the eighth to be made inside Sudan. Abu Alala says that its selection shows Sudan has countless stories that remain untold.
“There wasn’t a film industry existing in Sudan — only individual attempts ... Sudan’s rulers — communists or Islamists — were not interested in cinema. They just were interested in having artists on their sides,” he said.
Now, he hopes that he and other filmmakers will have the freedom to share Sudan’s stories with the world.
Popular actor Abdul Kader passed away at a hospital in the capital on Saturday at the age of 69.
His daughter-in-law Zahida Islam Jamie confirmed the matter to media.
Kader was recently diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer and later tested positive for Covid-19. He was shifted to the ICU of Evercare Hospital in the early hours of Friday after his conditions deteriorated.
The veteran actor returned home from Christian Medical Hospital in India’s Chennai last Sunday and got admitted to Evercare Hospital in the capital where his coronavirus test result came out positive the following day.
Kader went to Chennai on December 8 for treatment as he fell sick and the doctors there diagnosed him with stage IV pancreatic cancer which already spread to different parts of his body.
The doctors in Chennai could not provide him with chemotherapy due to the actor’s extremely weak and critical health condition.
Kader’s family was waiting for further progress of his ailing health so that he can be treated with chemotherapy once his body regains strength, however, things went more critical with him after being positive for COVID-19.
Born in 1951 at the Sonarang village of Tongibari Upazila in Munshiganj, Abdul Kader obtained his Honours and Master’s from the Department of Economics at Dhaka University.
He is best known for playing “Bodi” in Humayun Ahmed’s iconic drama series “Kothao Keu Nei” and “Dulabhai” in Humayun Ahmed’s another popular drama “Nakshatrer Raat.”
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As a comedic actor, Kader had been regularly active in television since the 90s’ and also had been a regular cast as “Mama” on the “Mama-Vagne” segment alongside actor Afzal Sharif on Hanif Sanket’s “Ityadi,” the most popular magazine show in the country.
Kader was also a prominent actor and executive member of drama troupe Theatre.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed profound shock at his death.
Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California has found a new owner in billionaire businessman Ron Burkle.
Burkle views the 2,700-acre property in Los Olivos, near Santa Barbara, as a land banking opportunity, his spokesman said Thursday in an email.
The Wall Street Journal reports the property was sold for $22 million to Burkle, an associate of the late pop star and co-founder of the investment firm Yucaipa Companies.
The asking price of the property was $100 million in 2016 then dropped to $67 million a year later.
In addition to a 12,500 square-foot main residence and a 3,700 square-foot pool house, the property boasts a separate building with a 50-seat movie theater and a dance studio.
Other features on the ranch are a “Disney-style” train station, a fire house and barn.
Burkle’s spokesman said the billionaire had been eyeing Zaca Lake — which adjoins the property — for a new Soho House, a members-only club with locations in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Toronto. Burkle ultimately decided the location was too remote and expensive for a club.
Burkle is the controlling shareholder of Soho House.
After Burkle saw the property from the air, he put in an offer to purchase.