New York, Dec 22 (AP/UNB) —The dominant online video streamer started 2018 with almost 118 million subscribers, went on to win its first feature-film Oscar, briefly surpassed Disney as the most valuable U.S. media company, lured the likes of superstar show runners Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris and Ryan Murphy — not to mention Barack and Michelle Obama — and is expected to end the year with 146 million subscribers and a likely best picture Oscar nominee in "Roma."
In a sign of how influential the giant streamer has become, it also got what every celebrity gets — a gentle mocking on "Saturday Night Live." The sketch comedy show's season-ending episode this month aired a fake ad highlighting Netflix's enormous effort to produce as much content as possible.
"Our goal is the endless scroll. By the time you reach the bottom of our menu, there's new shows at the top," explained the voice over.
For a dominating 12 months, Netflix has been named The Associated Press Entertainer of the Year, voted by members of the news cooperative.
"There's been so much amazing entertainment this year, and we're proud of the part we've played and humbled by this recognition from the AP," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said Thursday after being told of the honor.
"We are thrilled to be working with the best creators who have helped us to entertain the world with shows, films and specials from Hollywood, Mumbai, Madrid, Seoul, Berlin and everywhere in between."
Netflix topped other candidates including Donald Glover, Ariana Grande, Bradley Cooper and Michelle Obama, among others. Previous AP Entertainer of the Year winners have included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adele, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey and Betty White.
Though Netflix doesn't release ratings, 2018 was a year when it seemed to really flex its digital muscles, showing off its deep reservoir of titles, from original unscripted shows to those produced in other countries, to even becoming a home for shows canceled elsewhere.
The company that once concentrated on sending DVDs through the mail in little red envelopes scored its first feature-film Oscar in March, with a best documentary trophy going to "Icarus," Bryan Fogel's investigation into doping in sports. (Netflix won its first ever Oscar last year with the short doc "The White Helmets.")
Netflix movies, specials and shows were all over popular culture this year, including "The Kissing Booth," ''Nanette," ''To All the Boys I've Loved Before," ''The Kominsky Method," ''The Haunting of Hill House," ''GLOW," ''Lost in Space," ''The Great British Baking Show," ''Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" and "Queer Eye." ''House of Cards" — Netflix's first original series — debuted just six years ago.
It has backed such Oscar bait as "Roma" and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and TV fans await more episodes from "Stranger Things," ''The Crown" ''Orange Is The New Black" and "Ozark." The company has even seen the phrase "Netflix and chill" part of the mainstream vocabulary.
In May, Netflix's market capitalization — or the total value of its stock — shot higher than the capitalization for mighty Disney, previously the most valuable media company in the world. The Champagne-popping moment didn't last very long but it was a sign of how a maverick company could disrupt the order.
Netflix then knocked HBO off its longtime perch — 18 years — as the most nominated Emmy Award platform, eventually earning 112 nods. The streaming behemoth would go on to tie the premium cable network with 23 wins at the Emmy Awards. Netflix also dominated the television categories at the Screen Actors Guild Awards with 15 total nods, nearly double any other network.
Top filmmaking talent like Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Michael Bay are working for Netflix, and the streaming giant convinced Charlie Brooker to bring his "Black Mirror" to its platform. It hired Channing Dungey from ABC Entertainment and Kira Goldberg from 21st Century Fox. It has promised to spend more than $8 billion on content this year alone.
In 2019, Netflix will likely face stiffer challenges from the likes of Amazon, Hulu, Apple, WarnerMedia and Disney, as well as needing to handle its long-term debt. But Netflix is looking for more subscribers in India and South America and the company's market value is over $100 billion.
"At Netflix, we're always working to give our members great choice and a better entertainment experience, and we're excited about what's in store for 2019," Sarandos said.
Dhaka, Dec 21 (UNB) - Outlandish in more ways than it can possibly orchestrate without going into frequent tailspins, Aanand L Rai's Zero, a superstar vehicle with wildly wobbly wheels, is a monumental mess. The film possesses a certain scale for sure, the visual effects create the desired illusions and an energetic Shah Rukh Khan lends the vertically challenged male lead a degree of charm and chutzpah but it is let down by a hopelessly muddled screenplay, reports the NDtv.
The unlikely Meerut-to-Mars voyage of the protagonist, Bauua Singh, is undermined by a slew of whimsicalities that defy logic and an uneven tone that borders on the gratuitously facetious. The heavy-handed humour that it generates hinges on the character's lack of inches. Not funny at all. If that isn't sickening enough, the film brings in a woman grappling with limited motor skills for the purpose of mirth and emotional manipulation despite this individual being a person who has discovered water on the surface of the red planet.
Zero is also purported to be a romantic drama about a dwarf seeking his place in the sun and employing means fair and foul to get there but at no point does the often unlikeable man's tribulations strike a genuine chord. Take SRK out of Zero and it would be just big-budget twaddle masquerading as a movie with a difference.
The garrulous hero, a man not averse to conflicting impulses by way of a defence mechanism against the constant ridicule he faces on account of his short height, makes up for his perceived inadequacies with an unending torrent of words. He has an avid listener in his best pal Guddu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), a man of severely weak eyesight who carries a large torch in order to 'see' things.
Bauua takes on far too many avatars to be convincing. His 'superhuman' qualities do not bestow on him either bionic strength or the zeal of a crime-busting crusader. Instead, they turn the dwarf into a lover, a fanboy, a runaway bridegroom, a dancing champ, a guinea pig for a scientific experiment and an accidental spaceman who stands in for a chimp that plays truant. The character, endowed with the magical ability to literally pluck stars off the sky, is constantly on the move but the film he is supposed to power never reaches the point of propulsion.
Zero opens in Meerut - in the first sequence, the set makes the Uttar Pradesh town look like the Wild, Wild West - where Bauua has repeated run-ins with his exasperated father (Tigmanshu Dhulia) while his mother (Sheeba Chaddha) has a hard time shielding him. The 38-year-old matriculate's repeated attempts through a matchmaker (Brijendra Kala) to find a bride for himself also yields no results. He is at his tether's end.
Bauua's life changes when he chances upon the wheelchair-bound Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a brilliant half-Pathan, half-Punjabi space scientist whose ambition is to see India in the forefront of the global mission to send a manned spacecraft to Mars. For him, it is love at first sight - he mistakenly presumes that the amiable Aafia is his equal because she is the first girl he can look her in the eye. For her, his antics are mere temporary diversions. She is only on a brief visit to the land of her birth from the space centre where she works in the US.
Bauua first humours Aafia by dancing Shashi Kapoor-style to Humko Tumpe Pyaar Aaya (a robust Kalyanji-Anandji composition from Jab Jab Phool Khile, about a humble Kashmir boatman who falls for a rich tourist). Then he gets a full-on love ditty staged in a hotel corridor complete with Holi colours and rain machine-induced showers.
Before the first half draws to a close, Bauua's obsession with a troubled, a hard-drinking movie actress Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) leads him astray. A day before his wedding to Aafia, an inebriated Babita, coming off a painful breakup, kisses Bauua smack on his lips for all of three seconds. He turns his back on Aafia and scoots.
Post-intermission, Zero flies too high and too helter-skelter to make any real sense at all - you watch with steadily declining interest solely because a superstar is at the heart of the effort. If nothing else, Zero is Bollywood's first film that does not wind up with a desperate race-against-time reunion in a railway station or an airport but on the launchpad of a spacecraft headed for outer space.
If only the film hadn't been so utterly spaced out and the physical disabilities and shortcomings of the two principal characters been treated less cavalierly, Zero might have added up to something more than it eventually does. It yields no percentage because of its unacceptable, insensitive central premise that defines a four feet-something man and a cerebral palsy-afflicted woman primarily in the light of what they lack. Their drawbacks drive the drama but the constant harping on what they aren't at the expense of what they could be can only leave is cringing.
For Bollywood fans, Zero offers a parade of luminaries - Sridevi, Karisma Kapoor, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Juhi Chawla, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt in a party scene, in which the hero seeks to demonstrate the unique talent for doing a rapid-fire countdown and sending stars streaking across the night sky and Salman Khan along with choreographers Ganesh Acharya and Remo D'Souza in a passage that has Bauua win a dance competition without breaking a sweat.
Of course, in this latter sequence, we do not see any of the other contestants. Understandable: giving the dance stage to extras would amount to waste of precious footage in a 164-minute film designed for a Bollywood megastar exploring new pastures. After all the film also has to account for Abhay Deol and R Madhavan in walk-on parts.
Shah Rukh cannot be faulted. He gives his hundred per cent to liven up Zero, but for a film running on empty that is only a zero-sum game. Anushka contorts her face and angles her lips to deliver her lines - Full marks to her for effort. Katrina, who inevitably makes her entry with an item number, tries her best to convey the angst of a public figure whose life is a series of mishaps.
Zero, riding on SRK's back, reaches for the stars. But its astral ambitions are thwarted by a lack of imagination and genuine understanding of the minds of people struggling to ward off undeserved ridicule and earn rightful recognition. But whoever expects such niceties from a movie that rarely rises above the level of unalloyed bilge?
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Abhay Deol, R Madhavan, Sheeba Chaddha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Director: Aanand L Rai
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)
New York, Dec 21 (AP/UNB) — The movie theater was dead, they said. After ticket sales slumped in 2017 , due largely to the worst summer season in more than a decade, pundits far and wide predicted the hastening demise of moviegoing, an inevitable casualty to the rise of streaming.
This year, the movies flipped the script.
This weekend, as "Aquaman," ''Bumblebee" and "Mary Poppins Returns" arrive in theaters, ticket sales will reach a new record for the year, passing the previous 2016 high of $11.4 billion. Driven in part by zeitgeist-grabbing cultural events like "Black Panther," ''Crazy Rich Asians" and even documentaries like "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" the box office is expected to end up around $11.8 billion for the year. The overall domestic gross is up nearly 9 percent from last year; ticket sales are up about 6 percent.
And it's not just in North America. Propelled by Chinese moviegoers, global ticket sales should, for the second time ever, exceed $40 billion. Saudi Arabia declared itself open for business to Hollywood, after more than 35 years without theaters. In the United Kingdom, cinemas are headed to their best year since 1971.
"This year serves to confirm that the movie theater business is strong and growing in the long term, even though it can be cyclical in the short term," said John Fithian, president of the National Organization of Theater Owners, the trade organization known as NATO. "Last summer of 2017, when there just weren't very many movies coming out that had any traction, we confronted the inevitable story about the impending death of the movie theater business. And we said back then: It's all about short-term product supply."
"We knew that once the movies came back, we would be fine," said Fithian.
Even in a year where "Star Wars" flopped, the hits have indeed returned, even if they've come from some predictable places. All of the year's top 10 movies were either sequels, reboots or based on a comic book. Even this year's Oscar front runner, "A Star Is Born" ($376.6 million worldwide and counting for Warner Bros.), is a remake. The top three films of the year — "Black Panther," ''Avengers: Infinity War," ''Incredibles 2" — all come from market-leader Disney, which is also in the process of gobbling up 20th Century Fox.
But there were some less likely hits, too. Mid-budgeted films like "Bohemian Rhapsody," ''Halloween," ''Creed II" and the year's best-selling original movie, "A Quiet Place," had a significant role in driving the record box office. For the first time ever, four documentaries — "RBG," ''Free Solo," ''Three Identical Strangers," ''Won't You Be My Neighbor" — each cleared $10 million. Surprise successes — a franchise-birthing "Spider-Man" spinoff ("Venom"), a well-reviewed "Transformers" movie ("Bumblebee") — outnumbered the disappointments ("Skyscraper," ''Robin Hood").
Above all, the movies were often in the center of the cultural conversation, never more so than with the history-making "Black Panther," which became the third-highest grossing domestic release ever ($700.1 million) not accounting for inflation.
Hollywood executives say the year has demonstrated that 2017 was an aberration.
"When the experts out there were talking about the end of theatrical moviegoing, I just didn't buy that to begin with," said Jim Orr, distribution chief for Universal Pictures, which had hits in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," ''The Grinch" and "Halloween." ''It was just some scheduling moves that happened along with some movies that just underperformed. People want to go out. They want the social experience. They want to be in theaters. And we proved that exponentially this year."
The box-office rebound came in a year during which Netflix launched its most ambitious original movie slate, premiering some 70 new films. Though Netflix this fall relented to a degree by playing three of its films ("Roma," ''The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and "Bird Box") exclusively in theaters before premiering on its streaming service, Netflix and exhibitors remain at odds over the benefits of the traditional theatrical window.
Yet there is a growing sense that Netflix may not be public enemy No. 1 for movie theaters, after all. In 2018, Netflix has gained millions of subscribers, just as movie theaters have surged. Co-existence is possible. Last month, a NATO survey found that 33 percent of moviegoers who see nine or more movies a year also spend 15 hours per week on streaming platforms.
"We have maintained for years that streaming in the home is not taking away from the moviegoing experience," said Fithian. "If anything, streaming in the home is damaging other forms of home entertainment. Cable television, for example. DVD sales, for example."
Streaming will only be more omnipresent in 2019, when Disney and Warner Bros. are set to debut their own Netflix-like services. But both studios remain resolutely devoted to exhibition and in releasing some of their biggest releases in traditional slow periods on the calendar. The year's biggest movie, "Black Panther," opened in February. Three of Warner Bros.' top performers — "The Meg," ''Crazy Rich Asians" and "The Nun" — benefited from the typically quiet dog-days of summer.
"There were some really good movies that were spread out through the year," said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution chief. "That's the real takeaway: Make good movies, people will come."
But disruption is still at the door. Subscription services remade the moviegoing experience, led by the swift rise and fall of MoviePass, which took credit for the box-office revival before its inexpensive pricing structure proved unsustainable. MoviePass ran out of cash, repeatedly revamped its business model and descended into chaos, lawsuits and even a fraud investigation.
The box office still chugged along (Fithian calls MoviePass' impact "overblown") and other subscription services (notably one by AMC , the world's largest chain) entered the fray.
Other threats to the movie theater loom. When Disney's acquisition of Fox is made official, there will be one less major studio in Hollywood. Further consolidation is expected, something Fithian grants "poses a challenge" for exhibitors that depend on a steady supply of movies. But he pointed to others that have picked up the slack: STX, Annapurna, A24, Bleecker St., Amazon and Apple, which last month partnered with A24 for a slate of films.
Whether 2019 will continue the box-office trend or see a repeat of last year will come down, as it always does, to the movies. Analysts are bullish, predicting another record-setting year thanks to a Disney-heavy lineup including sure-fire blockbusters "Avengers: Endgame," ''Captain Marvel," ''Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: Episode IX."
"On paper, that year is going to make this year look like small potatoes," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.
Of course, similar predictions were made for 2017, too. That's the problem with movie scripts. They can always be rewritten.
Los Angeles, Dec 20 (AP/UNB) — Jennifer Lopez learned a long time ago that in the entertainment business you can't just sit around waiting for opportunities, you have to make them for yourself. It's the simple reason "Second Act," her first film in three years and her long-awaited return to the glossy, modern-day fairy tale, exists.
"I'm quite particular," Lopez said on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles. "I've been offered a couple of movies over the past couple of years but unless it's the right thing and I get the right types of opportunities, I'd rather create them. That's mine and Elaine's mantra. We don't force things, but we don't wait around either ... If no one is giving us the stories that we want to tell, then we'll create them ourselves."
Elaine is Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Lopez's longtime friend and producing partner who've worked together on projects like "The Boy Next Door" and "Shades of Blue." ''Second Act," which hits theaters nationwide Friday, was her idea. She thought that Lopez would be the right woman to play the 40-year-old big box store worker with business savvy but no degree who gets a chance to prove herself to Madison Avenue's elite. A little bit "Working Girl," a little bit "It's A Wonderful Life," it was right up Lopez's alley.
"We're stuck on these movies because we know, we grew up on them and we know. They're necessary. People need inspiration. They need to believe in a fairy tale," Lopez said. "I think that is the evolution of the romantic comedy. It's not so much about falling in love with Prince Charming, it's about falling in love with yourself and your life and realizing that you have to be the love of your life."
Lopez, 49, said she even cried describing the story in a pitch meeting to STXfilms Chairman Adam Fogelson ("Our great champion," she said), who agreed on the spot to make the movie.
"(He) believes in these types of movies and believes in women producers," she said.
They signed on a director, Peter Segal ("50 First Dates"), carved out some time in Lopez's busy schedule ("I literally think she's the busiest person on the planet earth," Segal laughed) and got to filming in New York City, which proved to be its own kind of challenge.
"It was crazy shooting in New York with her," Segal said. "I remember one scene we're in Central Park, going down the mall, the promenade with her, you know the same one of 'Kramer vs Kramer' and 'When Harry Met Sally' and there are all the vendors who are selling caricatures, and their sketches are like Michael Jackson and Barack Obama and Jennifer Lopez! It's like, 'Hey can we turn those around?' She's everywhere."
Then there were the ever present looky-loos and paparazzi, some of whom they had to digitally erase from shots in post-production.
It's just part of doing business with Lopez, an industry unto herself. She knows she is tough to pin down, but always makes sure to give her all when she's there.
"Everyone who gets in business with me has to bear with me a little bit because I do so much and I always want to be great when I'm in front of you," she said. "Once you get in the rhythm of that, you're like, ok she's going to show up. It may take her a minute for me to get her but when I get her, she's going to be 100."
She hopes that people find inspiration and hope in "Second Act." One person who already found himself quite emotional about the film is Lopez's boyfriend Alex Rodriguez, who related to being self-conscious about not having a college degree.
"He didn't get to go to college because he went into the big leagues at 18-years-old and he always missed that," Lopez said. "When he saw it he was like 'I felt inadequate because of that.' He's one of the greatest baseball players of all time who has made some of the biggest contracts, but it's not about that, you can feel inadequate being measured up to others because of their privilege and intelligence."
Lopez herself only attended one year of college, but for her, that was a choice that was necessary to jump-start her performing career. Still, she remembers feeling self-conscious and not worthy of some of her successes early on, like becoming the first Latin actress to get $1 million for a role ("Selena").
"I probably didn't realize how important it was. I was so young at the time. And there was a lot of to-do made about that," Lopez said. "Back then you were kind of ashamed like maybe I didn't deserve this. You come from a culture where you don't ask for anything. But now I realize that it was important because our community needed that boost to say, 'Yes we are just as valuable as any other actor playing leading role in Hollywood in a big film.'"
Lopez doesn't like the word "reinvention" — it implies that you have to be something different than you are — but rather she prefers "evolution." And she believes change is happening in the entertainment film industry because women are forcing it to.
"It takes time for us to believe in ourselves. I didn't believe it back then and it happened to me," she added. "Now I'm at a point in my life where I think yes, I do have worth and value and I should be compensated in this way or that way and I do deserve to have a good life and I do deserve to have love... We all are our own activists, we all are our own change, we all are our own vessel to have the life that we deserve but we have to believe that we deserve it."
Dhaka, Dec 18 (UNB) – A docudrama based on the life of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be screened at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) on Thursday.
“’Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale’, is not only a docudrama but also a historical document,” said Md Abdus Sabur, president of IEB, and the science and technology affairs secretary of Awami League.
IEB’s Computer Science Division will arrange screening around 7pm at the auditorium, the institution said in a press release. “Viewers will be able to learn many things about the life of our prime minister,” Sabur said.
Radwan Mujib Siddiq and Nasrul Hamid Bipu of Centre for Research and Information produced the 70-minute docudrama.
Piplu Khan of Apple Box Films is its director and Debojyoti Mishra is the music director. Edited by Navnita Sen, the cinematography of the movie was done by Sadik Ahmed.
The docudrama focuses on the life of Sheikh Hasina, not the prime minister, before and after August 15, 1975.
“There’s nothing fictional here … it focuses on the incidents that took place in her (Sheikh Hasina’s) life,” Piplu said.