What to Stream this Week: Beyoncé, Steve Martin, J-Hope, Mike Birbiglia, Bill Nighy and 'Madu'

Beyoncé pictured during her Glastonbury headline set, June 26, 2011. (Getty Images)
Beyoncé pictured during her Glastonbury headline set, June 26, 2011. (Getty Images)
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What to Stream this Week: Beyoncé, Steve Martin, J-Hope, Mike Birbiglia, Bill Nighy and 'Madu'

Beyoncé pictured during her Glastonbury headline set, June 26, 2011. (Getty Images)
Beyoncé pictured during her Glastonbury headline set, June 26, 2011. (Getty Images)

Beyoncé's country album and a documentary about a Nigerian boy who dreams of being a professional ballet dancer are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you.
Also among the streaming offerings worth your time as selected by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists: Bill Nighy plays an English soccer manager taking a team to the Homeless World Cup in “The Beautiful Game,” a two-part documentary about comedy master Steve Martin and Netflix offers “Testament: The Story of Moses,” just in time for Easter.
NEW MOVIES TO STREAM — Bill Nighy leads a charming crowd-pleaser on Netflix, “The Beautiful Game,” in which he plays an English soccer (sorry, football) manager taking a team to the Homeless World Cup in Rome. Michael Ward co-stars as an especially talented player, Vinny, who reluctantly joins the team. New to housing insecurity, he feels above his teammates and the circus of the games at first. The story, written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and directed by Thea Sharrock is loosely inspired by the real thing (Cottrell-Boyce worked with the Homeless World Cup Foundation to develop the characters) but at heart is very much a movie, tidy and feel-good in the vein of “Ted Lasso” – perhaps what “Next Goal Wins” wanted to be. It starts streaming on Friday, March 29.
— Oscar-winning documentarian Morgan Neville dives into the life of a personal idol, Steve Martin, in “STEVE! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces,” coming to Apple TV+ on Friday, March 29. Neville (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor”) essentially created two different movies, one about Martin’s beginnings and one about the present. Martin has told his story many times, but the Neville movies offer unprecedented access to him reflecting on successes, failures and finding happiness. He assures viewers that they can be watched in any order. And yes, there will be banjos.
— This week is all about affirmation and inspiration in streaming movies, apparently, and Disney+ has its own submission with “Madu." It’s about a 12-year-old Nigerian boy who leaves home to study ballet at a prestigious school in England for seven years. If this sounds vaguely familiar it’s likely because at age 11, Anthony Madu went viral online with a 44-second video of him dancing shoeless in the mud and rain in Lagos. It got the attention of the national media and the likes of Cynthia Erivo and Viola Davis and put him on the path you see in the film. “Madu” begins streaming on Friday, March 29.
— AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr
NEW MUSIC TO STREAM — This ain’t a country album, it’s a Beyoncé album. At least, that phrase was briefly projected onto the exterior of some of New York City’s most famous museums, the Guggenheim, Whitney, New Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design, in the week leading up to her highly anticipated new album, “Act ll: Cowboy Carter.” The album was first announced last month, after a Verizon commercial starring Beyoncé aired during the Super Bowl ended with the superstar saying, “They ready, drop the new music.” A cryptic Instagram tease later, and Bey surprise release two singles, the country stomp “Texas Hold ’Em,” and the soulful slow burn “16 Carriages.” It’s not new territory for Beyoncé, as anyone who remembers the track “Daddy Lessons” from her 2016 studio album “Lemonade” will remember, but it has opened up new territory. A few weeks ago, the superstar singer became the first Black woman to top Billboard’s country music chart. The album drops Friday, March 29.
— Also on Bey Day (or however the culture has decided to describe the unofficial holiday), Sheryl Crow will release “Evolution,” her 12th studio album and first in half a decade. After 2019’s “Threads” was released, Crow said she would not release another full-length. Time changes things, as any artist will let you know, and it’s a great thing. One listen of her cover of Peter Gabriel’s 1992 track “Digging in the Dirt,” recorded with Gabriel, guarantees it.
— Bid farewell to Sum 41, the playful pop-punk band from Canada known for their raucous hits “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip.” The band’s final album, “Heaven :x: Hell,” releases Friday, March 29. They’re going out with an explosion – their enthusiastic rock never missing a beat — but it is an end to an era, nonetheless. Was lead single “Landmines” written in 2023 or 2001? Who knows – palm-muted power chords hit just as hard now as they did then.
— With members of the K-pop group BTS currently participating in South Korea’s mandatory military service, it’s hard not to miss them. But there is a balm: an Amazon Prime docuseries about member J-Hope titled “Hope on the Street.” The show follows J-Hope’s story — can’t miss viewing for the superfans in your life.
— AP Music Writer Maria Sherman
NEW SHOWS TO STREAM — This one’s for the comedy nerds. Peacock debuts “Good One: A Show About Jokes,” based on a popular Vulture podcast, on Tuesday. The documentary follows Mike Birbiglia, known for his personal comedy, as he mines his life for new material. “Good One” also features Seth Meyers, Hasan Minhaj and Atsuko Okatsuka.
— In time for Easter Sunday, Netflix offers a new docudrama in the faith-based genre with “Testament: The Story of Moses.” It follows the Biblical story of Moses and his journey from Egyptian prince to being given the Ten Commandments by God. He also went from an outcast to a liberator. Charles Dance narrates and Avi Azulay plays Moses, and the three-parts also features interviews with religion experts. “Testament” premieres Wednesday.
— BritBox offers the second season of the British prison drama “Time.” If you missed season one, it’s OK, because “Time” is an anthology series. Season two stars Jodie Whittaker of “Doctor Who” and “Broadchurch” along with Bella Ramsey from “The Last of Us.” Whittaker, Ramsey and Tamara Lawrence play three women who meet on their first day in prison. “Time” premieres Wednesday.
— A new limited drama series on “Hulu” called “We Were the Lucky Ones” follows the members of the Kurc family, who get separated during World War II after the Nazi’s invaded Poland. It’s based on a book by Georgia Hunter who discovered her own Jewish ancestry and that her grandfather was actually a Holocaust survivor while writing a report for school. The series stars Logan Lerman as her grandfather Addy and Joey King as his sister. The family’s love, resilience and survival is one of hope and optimism. “We Were the Lucky Ones” debuts Thursday.
— Prime Video introduces “The Baxters” on Thursday. The Christian-based series stars Roma Downey and Ted McGinley as John and Elizabeth Baxter, who have five adult children. The family’s faith is tested when one of the Baxter daughters learns her husband has had an affair. It’s based on a book series by Christian author Karen Kingsbury. Cassidy Gifford (daughter Frank Gifford and Kathy Lee Gifford) also plays one of the Baxter daughters.
— Beloved for playing Gus Fring on “Breaking Bad” and "Better Call Saul,” Giancarlo Esposito executive produces and stars in his own series called “Parish” for AMC. Esposito plays Gracian “Gray” Parish, who is drawn back into the crime world after a family tragedy. “Parish” is a passion project for Esposito, who worked to get it developed for eight years. Skeet Ulrich co-stars and Bradley Whitford has a recurring role. “Parish” is based on a BBC One show called “The Driver” and debuts Sunday, March 31 on AMC and AMC+.
— Alicia Rancilio
— Louise Harland stars in the Disney+ series “Renegade Nell” as Nellie Jackson, an 18th century swashbuckling cockney who outwits and survives robbers and barons, and even beats a murder charge. She’s assisted by a protective sprite played by “Ted Lasso's” Nick Mohammed. The eight-episode drama premieres Friday, March 29.
— Hilary Fox
NEW VIDEO GAMES TO PLAY — “South Park” has been around for so long that Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny should be old enough to have kids of their own. Fortunately, the boys are still stuck in elementary school purgatory, so they’re just the right age to go nuts for THQ Nordic’s South Park: Snow Day! The town has been shut down by a massive blizzard, so the gang is free to get outside and create all sorts of mayhem. Your character is the “New Kid,” and you can play solo or join forces with up to three friends in battles that go way beyond a neighborhood snowball fight. Break open the Cheesy Poofs on Tuesday on PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC.
— Annapurna Interactive’s Open Roads begins with teenager Tess Devine and her mother, Opal, discovering a stash of old letters that hint at dark secrets — and maybe a hidden treasure. So the two of them hit the road in their station wagon on a mission to visit some long neglected family properties. It might not be the best idea for a mother-daughter road trip, since Opal might revive some memories she’s spent years trying to forget. Open Roads comes from some of the creators of the much-admired 2013 mystery Gone Home, and features the voices of Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever. The drive begins Thursday on PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC.



Show Goes on for Paramount with ‘Gladiator II,’ New Damien Chazelle Movie and More

 Chris Aronson, right, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount Pictures, arrives via chariot to the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2024, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (AP)
Chris Aronson, right, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount Pictures, arrives via chariot to the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2024, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (AP)
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Show Goes on for Paramount with ‘Gladiator II,’ New Damien Chazelle Movie and More

 Chris Aronson, right, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount Pictures, arrives via chariot to the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2024, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (AP)
Chris Aronson, right, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount Pictures, arrives via chariot to the Paramount Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2024, Thursday, April 11, 2024, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (AP)

With reports and rumors swirling about possible mergers and bids to acquire Paramount, the film studio put its best foot forward for theater owners at CinemaCon on Thursday.

The historic studio announced a new film with Oscar-winning “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, a “G.I. Joe/Transformers” crossover and that Glen Powell will star in Edgar Wight’s “Running Man” reboot.

Paramount CEO and President Brian Robbins also teased some more that are in development, including a Bee Gees film from Ridley Scott, a new comedy from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, a “Star Trek” origin story, a new “Scary Movie” and an R-rated live action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin” as well as an animated “Mutant Mayhem” sequel.

They also brought out stars like Chris Hemsworth and Lupita Nyong’o to talk about their upcoming films, with video messages from Scott, Denzel Washington and Paul Mescal, who helped introduce new footage from “Gladiator II.”

Washington promised, “Emotion, action and spectacle unlike anything else you’re going to see in theaters this year.”

Paramount had a positive start to 2024 with successful releases like “Mean Girls” and “Bob Marley: One Love,” and some major films to come this year including “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 28), the animated “Transformers One” (Sept. 13), a “Smile” sequel (Oct. 18) and the “Gladiator” sequel (Nov. 22). They will also re-release Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” in September for its 10th anniversary, and, in 2025, “Mission: Impossible 8.” But hovering over it all are the reports of the company’s sale.

The private-equity firm Apollo Global reportedly offered $11 billion to acquire the studio, which has filmed entertainment, television and streaming components like Paramount+. There have also been reports of a possible merger with Skydance, David Ellison’s media company that has helped produce such Paramount releases as “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning.”

Without directly addressing them, Paramount leaned into the chatter with Robbins joking that the studio’s distribution head Chris Aronson has started a Kickstarter to throw his hat into the ring.

While the tone at CinemaCon, a weeklong gathering of theater owners, exhibitors and all the various companies involved in movie theater operations and experiences, is usually overwhelmingly positive, Aronson took a more sober approach.

After entering the presentation in a Roman chariot holding a shield emblazoned with the Paramount logo, he noted that the industry has lost a fair amount of frequent moviegoers and must work to get them back with capital improvements to theaters and other innovations.

The domestic box office has improved year after year since the pandemic, but is still about $2 billion shy of where the business was pre-pandemic.

“Our industry is at a turning point,” Aronson said. “It’s quite clear that moviegoers still love going to the movies, but we as an industry must do better.”


Cannes Sets Lineup with Lanthimos, Coppola and Trump Film ‘The Apprentice’

The logo of Cannes film festival before the press conference to present the 77th Cannes Film Festival Official Selection at the UGC Normandie hall in Paris, France, 11 April 2024.  (EPA)
The logo of Cannes film festival before the press conference to present the 77th Cannes Film Festival Official Selection at the UGC Normandie hall in Paris, France, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
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Cannes Sets Lineup with Lanthimos, Coppola and Trump Film ‘The Apprentice’

The logo of Cannes film festival before the press conference to present the 77th Cannes Film Festival Official Selection at the UGC Normandie hall in Paris, France, 11 April 2024.  (EPA)
The logo of Cannes film festival before the press conference to present the 77th Cannes Film Festival Official Selection at the UGC Normandie hall in Paris, France, 11 April 2024. (EPA)

New films from Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrea Arnold and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as a portrait of 1980s Donald Trump, will compete for the Palme d’Or at the 77th Cannes Film Festival next month, organizers announced Thursday.

Thierry Frémaux, Cannes’s artistic director who announced the selections in a news conference in Paris with festival president Iris Knobloch, said this year’s lineup was plucked from 2,000 submissions. Though Frémaux noted he went into the process concerned about the effect of last year’s strikes on American films, the lineup is typically full of top international filmmakers as well as a few hotly anticipated blockbusters.

Among the 19 films selected for competition is Lanthimos’ “Kinds of Kindness,” the Greek director’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning “Poor Things.” Its cast includes two stars of “Poor Things”: Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe.

Paolo Sorrentino, the Italian filmmaker of “The Great Beauty,” returns to Cannes with “Parthenhope,” a Naples-set drama co-starring Gary Oldman. Arnold, the British director of “American Honey” and “Fish Tank,” also returns to Cannes with “Bird,” starring Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski.

Sure to draw attention will be Ali Abbasi’s “The Apprentice,” a film about the former president’s early business career. In it, Sebastian Stan stars as Trump, Jeremy Strong plays Roy Cohn and Maria Bakalova co-stars as Ivana Trump. The Iranian director Abbasi was previously in competition at Cannes with 2022’s “Holy Spider.”

Numerous other big-name filmmakers are also returning to Cannes, which runs May 14-25. Among them: David Cronenberg (“The Shrouds,” with Vincent Cassel and Diane Kruger); Paul Schrader (“Oh, Canada,” with Richard Gere and Uma Thurman) and the lauded Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke (“Caught By the Tides”). Also in competition are Sean Baker (“Anora”), whose “Red Rocket” and “The Florida Project” also premiered at Cannes; and the French filmmaker Jacques Audiard (“Emilia Perez”), who won the Palme in 2015 for “Dheepan.”

As previously reported, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis” will premiere in competition in Cannes. The 85-year-old director’s self-financed, long-gestating epic will debut 50 years after his “The Conversation” won the Palme d’Or.

This year’s Cannes follows a banner 2023 edition that featured the premieres of three films that went on to win best-picture nominations at the Academy Awards: Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”; Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest”; and Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall.”

“Anatomy of a Fall” was only the third film directed by a woman to win the Palme. This year, there are four female filmmakers in competition. Frémaux said he may add further selections in the coming weeks.

Cannes had already lined up a few notable world premieres playing out of competition including George Miller’s “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” and Kevin Costner’s “Horizon, An American Saga.” George Lucas is set to receive an honorary Palme d’Or at the closing ceremony. The festival will kick off May 14 with the French comedy “The Second Act,” starring Léa Seydoux and Vincent Lindon.

Greta Gerwig, coming off the success of “Barbie,” is heading the jury that will decide the Palme d’Or.

One new addition this year: The festival is launching a competitive immersive section featuring works of virtual and augmented reality.


New Amy Winehouse Movie Set to Open in UK

Even before its release director Sam Taylor-Johnson's movie has attracted backlash. BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP
Even before its release director Sam Taylor-Johnson's movie has attracted backlash. BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP
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New Amy Winehouse Movie Set to Open in UK

Even before its release director Sam Taylor-Johnson's movie has attracted backlash. BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP
Even before its release director Sam Taylor-Johnson's movie has attracted backlash. BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP

A biopic of troubled British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse tracking her meteoric rise and very public downfall opens in UK cinemas on Friday amid a swirl of controversy.
Even before its release, "Back to Black" has attracted backlash with criticism ranging from the casting to concerns it could exploit Winehouse's story.
"Given the vulture-like efficiency with which her life was picked over, it's near-impossible to think of a sincere reason to make a movie about Winehouse -– at least not one that isn't motivated by greed," wrote music editor Roisin O'Connor in The Independent.
Winehouse, who died from alcohol poisoning aged just 27 in 2011, was a distinctive figure with her beehive hairdo, heavy black eye makeup, multiple tattoos and smoky voice, said AFP.
She shot to international fame with her Grammy Award-winning 2006 album "Back to Black" which included the track "Rehab", charting her battle with addiction.
Director Sam Taylor-Johnson's biopic is the second big-screen telling of Winehouse's story, coming nearly a decade after Asif Kapadia's 2015 documentary "Amy".
That film won an Oscar but was publicly condemned by her family, in particular Winehouse's father who claimed it tried to portray him as "money-grabbing" and "attention-seeking".
Quest for 'truth'
After the film became the second-highest grossing documentary at the British box office, Mitch Winehouse said it dwelled too much on the negative and not enough on his daughter's fun-loving side.
He hinted the family could collaborate with another filmmaker in future to correct the record.
Mitch Winehouse and his former wife Janis attended this week's premiere in London but Taylor-Johnson said the family had not contributed to her film.
"It was important to meet with them out of respect," she told Empire.
"But they didn't have any involvement in terms of... like they couldn't change things. They couldn't dictate how I was to shoot," she said.
The filmmaker, whose 2009 feature "Nowhere Boy" dramatised John Lennon's early years, said she had been after "the truth" of Winehouse's life.
"What I wanted as much as possible was the truth of Amy, and Amy's relationship was that she loved her dad, whether we think he did right or wrong," she said.
Eddie Marsan, who plays Mitch Winehouse, said he tried to avoid a "comfortable narrative" that there was "someone to blame" in some way for Winehouse's death, such as her father or her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.
'Burden of guilt'
To research the role, he said, he approached a friend who worked with both Amy and her father in the music industry who told him Mitch had been a "loving father but he was in an impossible situation".
"He had a daughter who was an addict, she was the most famous woman in the world, she was hounded by the paparazzi, she had unlimited resources and money. Every drug dealer in London wanted to give her drugs," the friend told him.
"Back to Black" also depicts Winehouse's turbulent relationship with Fielder-Civil who has been blamed for introducing her to heroin and who inspired the album.
He said in 2018 he would "always carry a burden of guilt" over his role in her decline.
Marisa Abela who portrays the tragic singer said it would have been a mistake to "judge a character and a character's decisions".
"If other people who watch the film decide she shouldn't have loved a certain person, or shouldn't have trusted someone, that's fine.
"The only villains in our story are addiction and the relentless paparazzi. I'm not telling people how to feel about it," she said.
'Wayward genius'
Reviews have been mixed but some have pointed out that it is still likely to be a box office success due to Winehouse's enduring star power.
Describing a recent crop of music biopics as "far worse" than earlier efforts, Zach Schonfeld noted in the Guardian that "these movies remain profitable".
The Times's Ed Potton said the film felt "a bit lightweight".
He praised Abela's willingness to perform her own vocals but said the result was only as good as "you could reasonably hope".
Peter Hoskin in the Daily Mail said the film failed to capture the "wayward genius of the original artist".
"If they try to make you watch this movie, say: no, no, no," he wrote.
"Much better to put on Back to Black, the album, or the song, and remember what really made Amy a star," he added.


Reigning Hollywood Studio Universal Brings 'Wicked' to Movie Summit

Chairman of NBC Universal Studio Group Donna Langley introduced a crop of new titles. VALERIE MACON / AFP
Chairman of NBC Universal Studio Group Donna Langley introduced a crop of new titles. VALERIE MACON / AFP
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Reigning Hollywood Studio Universal Brings 'Wicked' to Movie Summit

Chairman of NBC Universal Studio Group Donna Langley introduced a crop of new titles. VALERIE MACON / AFP
Chairman of NBC Universal Studio Group Donna Langley introduced a crop of new titles. VALERIE MACON / AFP

Universal Pictures was crowned Hollywood's top studio last year, dethroning Disney at the box office for the first time in nearly a decade with a string of mega-hits like "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and the Oscar-winning "Oppenheimer."
So as movie executives gathered at this week's CinemaCon summit in the face of gloomy industry forecasts and a shortage of upcoming major releases, at least one company had plenty to celebrate in Las Vegas, AFP said.
"There's not much more you could ask for than being number one at the box office, and winning the Academy Award for best picture," said chairman Donna Langley during Universal's presentation on Wednesday.
"It would have been easy enough to just sort of drop the mic after that one, right? But it's not enough for us," she said, before introducing a crop of new titles, including "Wicked."
Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo and Jeff Goldblum were brought on stage to promote the starry movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. The first of two films hits theaters in November.
For many big-screen owners, Universal -- thanks to a diverse mix of original movies that does not rely on the struggling superhero genre, and some smart viral marketing campaigns -- offers a potential roadmap to recovery.
They are pinning hopes on "Wicked," and animated films like "Despicable Me 4" and "The Wild Robot," to bring much-needed customers back at a tough moment for the industry.
Overall box office receipts had been slowly recovering each year since the pandemic, but are expected to shrink in 2024.
That is largely due to Hollywood strikes that shuttered film productions for months last year, leaving major gaps in release calendars.
'Fresh'
But while rivals like Disney, Warner and Paramount have struggled for various reasons, these are heady times for Universal.
Just 12 months ago, Langley brought director Christopher Nolan onto the same Las Vegas stage, to introduce for the first time his movie "Oppenheimer."
In an expensive gamble, Universal had lured Nolan from his traditional home at Warner, promising to give his movie about the atomic bomb lavish backing.
"Oppenheimer" grossed nearly $1 billion. Nolan appeared via video on Wednesday to thank theater owners for their role.
Speaking with AFP, Universal's international distribution president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg said it has become clear the industry "can't rely on the films that have traditionally been exceptionally strong in the last 20 years."
Unlike competitors, Universal does not have any of the major superhero franchises that until recently dominated multiplexes.
That had been a stick to beat Universal with in years past. But as rivals' movies like "Madame Web" and "The Marvels" have flopped, a sense that audiences are tired of near-identical superhero fare has grown.
"All these sequels and franchises coming into the marketplace have done very well for a very long time. But we're in a place today where... the audience really wants to know, 'what's different about this?'" said Kwan Vandenberg.
'Barbenheimer'
Social media has become an increasingly key tool for movie studios.
Universal -- along with Warner -- benefited from capturing last summer's viral "Barbenheimer" phenomenon.
Because these trends are typically organic in origin, it is "an incredibly hard thing to do," said Kwan Vandenberg.
But Universal has been more successful than most, with recent examples including a TikTok dance craze for horror film "M3GAN."
A year earlier, the "Gentleminions" trend involved teenagers dressing in suits for trips to watch the new "Minions" film.
In October, a viral trend of stealing posters and promotional cut-outs from theaters for "Five Nights At Freddy's" broke out.
While the trend was extremely frustrating for theater owners, it generated priceless publicity for the Universal movie.
"When we launched the first trailer of 'M3GAN' and we saw how viral the TikTok dance became, we started to lean into events all over the world featuring that," said Kwan Vandenberg.
"It's not something we're necessarily creating. But we are helping to support the awareness and the excitement around it."


Protesters in Eurovision Host City Call for Boycott of Israel

People hold banners at a demonstration in connection with the municipal board's consideration of a citizens' proposal by the initiative 'No Eurovision in Malmo with Israel's participation' to stop Israel's participation in Eurovision, outside the City Hall in Malmo, Sweden, April 10, 2024. (Johan NilssonTT News Agency/via Reuters)
People hold banners at a demonstration in connection with the municipal board's consideration of a citizens' proposal by the initiative 'No Eurovision in Malmo with Israel's participation' to stop Israel's participation in Eurovision, outside the City Hall in Malmo, Sweden, April 10, 2024. (Johan NilssonTT News Agency/via Reuters)
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Protesters in Eurovision Host City Call for Boycott of Israel

People hold banners at a demonstration in connection with the municipal board's consideration of a citizens' proposal by the initiative 'No Eurovision in Malmo with Israel's participation' to stop Israel's participation in Eurovision, outside the City Hall in Malmo, Sweden, April 10, 2024. (Johan NilssonTT News Agency/via Reuters)
People hold banners at a demonstration in connection with the municipal board's consideration of a citizens' proposal by the initiative 'No Eurovision in Malmo with Israel's participation' to stop Israel's participation in Eurovision, outside the City Hall in Malmo, Sweden, April 10, 2024. (Johan NilssonTT News Agency/via Reuters)

Protesters waving Palestinian flags and banners on Wednesday called for a boycott of Israel at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmo that will host the event next month.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes Eurovision, bills the song contest as a non-political event.

But the global political backdrop often weighs on the contest, which this year takes place amid protests and boycotts over the devastating Israeli military campaign in Gaza, triggered by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, affecting cultural events across Europe.

"I think there is no way that Israel should be able to participate in Eurovision and it's complete double standards that they let them participate when they kicked Russia out," said Malmo resident Mats Rehle, 43, who works in a bookshop.

Protesters outside Malmo city held a banner calling for the boycott of Israel above the Eurovision logo, while another banner featured red stains to look like blood and a pair of scissors cutting the chord to a microphone displaying an Israeli flag.

The EBU in 2022 banned Russia from Eurovision after several European public broadcasters called for the country to be expelled following its invasion of Ukraine.

The union has said it suspended the Russian broadcasters over "persistent breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service values."

The organizers' decision to include Israeli broadcaster KAN has sparked protests from artists and ministers, but the EBU said in January that Eurovision was not a contest between governments and that KAN met all competition rules.

The union has so far resisted calls for Israel to be excluded from Eurovision, and on Wednesday urged people to refrain from online abuse directed at some participating artists.

"We have all been affected by the images, stories, and the unquestionable pain suffered by those in Israel and in Gaza," the EBU said in a statement.

"However... we wish to address the concerns and discussions surrounding this situation, especially the targeted social media campaigns against some of our participating artists," it added.


George Lucas to Receive Honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival

George Lucas arrives at the premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" at El Capitan Theatre on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP)
George Lucas arrives at the premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" at El Capitan Theatre on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP)
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George Lucas to Receive Honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival

George Lucas arrives at the premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" at El Capitan Theatre on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP)
George Lucas arrives at the premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" at El Capitan Theatre on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP)

George Lucas will receive an honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival next month, festival organizers announced Tuesday.

Lucas will be honored at the closing ceremony to the 77th French film festival on May 25. He joins a short list of those to receive honorary Palmes. Last year, Harrison Ford, a regular leading man for Lucas in “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” was awarded one. Other recent recipients include Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, Forest Whitaker and Jodie Foster.

“The Festival de Cannes has always held a special place in my heart,” Lucas said in a statement. “I was surprised and elated when my first film, ‘THX-1138,’ was selected to be shown in a new program for first time directors called the Directors’ Fortnight. Since then, I have returned to the festival on many occasions in a variety of capacities as a writer, director and producer. I am truly honored by this special recognition which means a great deal to me.”

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25. The closing ceremony, during which the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, will be awarded to one of the films in competition, will be broadcast in France on France Télévisions and streamed on Brut.


Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles-Themed Las Vegas Show Will End after 18-Year Run

A file photo of Beatles member John Lennon is projected on the screen during the preview of "Love", a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Jun 27, 2006. (AP)
A file photo of Beatles member John Lennon is projected on the screen during the preview of "Love", a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Jun 27, 2006. (AP)
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Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles-Themed Las Vegas Show Will End after 18-Year Run

A file photo of Beatles member John Lennon is projected on the screen during the preview of "Love", a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Jun 27, 2006. (AP)
A file photo of Beatles member John Lennon is projected on the screen during the preview of "Love", a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Jun 27, 2006. (AP)

The final curtain will come down this summer on Cirque du Soleil's long-running show "The Beatles Love," a cultural icon on the Las Vegas Strip that brought band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr back together for public appearances throughout its 18-year run.

Cirque announced on Tuesday that the show housed at the Mirage will end on July 7, part of the iconic hotel-casino's major renovation plan to rebrand itself into the Hard Rock Las Vegas.

Stéphane Lefebvre, CEO of the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said in a statement that more than 11.5 million people have seen the show — an energetic portrayal of the Fab Four's history and music with aerial stunts and whimsical dance numbers on a colorful, 360-degree stage.

"We are grateful to the creators, cast, crew and all involved in bringing this show to life," Lefebvre said, "and we know The Beatles LOVE will live on long after the final bow."

In a separate statement, Joe Lupo, president of the Mirage, thanked the Cirque performers and crew members working behind the scenes "who played a part in entertaining guests and bridged generations" for nearly two decades.

The production premiered in the summer of 2006, with red carpet appearances by both McCartney and Starr, as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, wife of the late Beatle George Harrison. They reunited a year later to celebrate the show's first anniversary.

According to Cirque, the show was born out of the friendship between its founder Guy Laliberté and Harrison, the Beatles' lead guitarist who died in 2001. John Lennon was killed in 1980.

The show is set to a specialized soundtrack that earned Cirque two Grammy Awards in 2008, a first for the entertainment company. Cirque said the Beatles’ original producer, George Martin, and his son produced and mixed the 26-song soundscape, pulling from 130 songs from the Beatles’ powerhouse music catalog and archives.

The current cast includes 11 original members from the show's inception, according to Cirque. More than 11,000 costume pieces are worn on show night, including 250 pairs of shoes and 225 wigs. Audiences throughout the show’s run, Cirque said, have been showered with 13.5 tons of confetti during the final act, which closes with the Beatles' 1967 hit "All You Need is Love."

"Beatles Love" is one of six Cirque productions on the Las Vegas Strip. Tickets for the final shows in July will go on sale in the coming weeks.


Warner Bros. Teases ‘Joker’ Sequel, ‘Beetlejuice 2’ and More at CinemaCon

 US director, producer and writer Todd Phillips poses during a Warner Bros Pictures photo opp as he arrives to promote “Joker: Folie a Deux” during CinemaCon 2024 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 9, 2024. (AFP)
US director, producer and writer Todd Phillips poses during a Warner Bros Pictures photo opp as he arrives to promote “Joker: Folie a Deux” during CinemaCon 2024 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 9, 2024. (AFP)
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Warner Bros. Teases ‘Joker’ Sequel, ‘Beetlejuice 2’ and More at CinemaCon

 US director, producer and writer Todd Phillips poses during a Warner Bros Pictures photo opp as he arrives to promote “Joker: Folie a Deux” during CinemaCon 2024 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 9, 2024. (AFP)
US director, producer and writer Todd Phillips poses during a Warner Bros Pictures photo opp as he arrives to promote “Joker: Folie a Deux” during CinemaCon 2024 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 9, 2024. (AFP)

Warner Bros. isn’t resting on its “Barbie” laurels: The 100-year studio has its sights on a record-breaking 2024 as well, with a release slate that includes a new Mad Max film, “Furiosa,” Kevin Costner’s two-part Western epic, “Horizon: An American Saga,” the “Beetlejuice” sequel, and “Joker: Folie à Deux,” which brings Lady Gaga to Gotham City.

The studio was first up Tuesday night to dazzle theater owners who are gathered this week in Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon convention and trade show. They came armed with stars, including the likes of Kevin Costner, Michael Keaton, Robert Pattinson, Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, as well as footage and trailers to show.

“Joker” director Todd Phillips showed the audience a trailer for “Joker: Folie à Deux,” out Oct. 4, which brings Joaquin Phoenix back as the violent and mentally ill Arthur Fleck and introduces Gaga’s Harley Quinn. Phillips thanked the exhibitors in the room for helping the first movie become such a big success.

Addressing rumors that the sequel is a musical, Phillips said that he hasn't referred to it as such.

“It’s a movie where music is an essential element,” Phillips said. “To me that doesn’t veer very far from the first film.”

Before its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month and theatrical release on May 24, “Furiosa” director George Miller stars Taylor-Joy and Hemsworth, spoke a bit about the prequel and showed some explosive new footage.

“We just finished last week,” said the 79-year-old filmmaker, whose first Mad Max film came out 45 years ago.

This new film is focused on a young Furiosa, who was played by Charlize Theron in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the 2015 blockbuster that made over $300 million at the box office and won four Oscars.

“This is the story of one woman’s relentless commitment to impossible hope,” Taylor-Joy said. “We see her go through everything.”

Hemsworth plays a warlord named “Dementus.”

The audience was especially excited to hear from Kevin Costner, who will be back in theaters this summer with a two-part Western, “Horizon: An American Saga,” which he directed, co-wrote and stars in. Set during the Civil War, Costner wanted to look at the idea of the promise of America.

“It was the promise that if you could come west, if you could survive it, you could make a home at the expense of a lot of things,” Costner said. “To me, that’s drama.”

The film is getting an unconventional release, with “Part 1” hitting theaters on June 28 followed by “Part 2” on Aug. 16. The ensemble includes Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Danny Huston and “Stranger Things” breakout Jamie Campbell Bower.

“A lot of people like plot movies,” Costner said. “I have a tendency to like journey movies.”

“Horizon: An American Saga” will premiere at Cannes next month as well.

Tim Burton was also on hand to hype “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice,” the sequel to his 1988 hit, which brings back Keaton, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara to reprise their roles, and introduces new characters played by Jenna Ortega, Monica Bellucci, Willem Dafoe and Justin Theroux. It opens in theaters on Sept. 5.

Burton said he always related to Lydia Deetz and wanted to know what happened to the Deetz women over the years and was happy that Ryder, O’Hara and Keaton were on board too.

“It was like a weird family reunion,” Burton said.

Keaton said they had discussed the possibility many times over the years and they finally got it right. “It’s good. It’s really, really good,” Keaton said. “In fact, it’s great.”

Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho showed a trailer for his new film, “Mickey 17,” starring Robert Pattinson, which will be in theaters in Jan. 2025.

“It’s about a simple man who ultimately ends up saving the world,” the “Parasite” director said through a translator. “It’s a very strange type of hero’s journey.”

Pattinson called the story unusual, funny and bizarre. “I was told, you’re going to love the script, but the part is impossible,” he said.

Warner Bros. is also at work rebooting its DC superhero universe, under the supervision of Peter Safran and James Gunn, who is currently filming the new “Superman” in Atlanta for a summer 2025 release. Before that, the studio is releasing a documentary about the first cinematic Superman, Christopher Reeve, which they acquired out of Sundance. “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story” will be in theaters in September.

Three years after the studio’s former leaders made the decision to release all of their films day-and-date in theaters and on its streaming service, Warner Bros. has reestablished itself as a vital part of the movie theater ecosystem.

In December, they made the unconventional move to release three major films in short order: “Wonka,” “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and “The Color Purple.” It was done in agreement with theater owners who said that they needed more films. Those movies, domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein said, cumulatively made over $1 billion globally, and the studio was responsible for approximately 50% of the box office at Christmas.

This year has gotten off to a strong start too, propelled by “Wonka” and leading into “Dune: Part Two” (both have made over $600 million globally) and “Godzilla x Kong” which has surpassed $300 million at the box office.

“Storytelling is our business,” Goldstein said. “We are committed to making big, crowd-pleasing, event movies.”


Kevin Costner’s Western Epic ‘Horizon, an American Saga’ Will Premiere at Cannes 

Kevin Costner arrives at the 81st Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7, 2024, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP)
Kevin Costner arrives at the 81st Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7, 2024, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP)
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Kevin Costner’s Western Epic ‘Horizon, an American Saga’ Will Premiere at Cannes 

Kevin Costner arrives at the 81st Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7, 2024, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP)
Kevin Costner arrives at the 81st Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7, 2024, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP)

Kevin Costner’s multi-episode epic “Horizon, An American Saga” will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month, festival organizers announced Monday.

The first chapter of “Horizon” will debut at the French film festival on May 19, giving the world its first glimpse of Costner’s ambitious Western epic. The first two parts of “Horizon” are set to open in quick succession this summer, with Warner Bros. releasing chapter one in theaters June 28 and the second installment on Aug. 16.

“It’s been 20 years since I’ve had the pleasure of being on the Croisette,” Costner said in a statement. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to return and I’m proud to say that this time has come.”

“The French have always supported films and believed deeply in filmmaking,” added Costner. “Just as I believe deeply in my film.”

“Horizon,” which will screen out of competition at Cannes, is directed by Costner and stars him, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington and Jena Malone.

The 77th Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25. George Miller’s “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” also from Warner Bros., was recently announced as another high-profile premiere at Cannes. The full lineup will be announced Thursday.


‘Mad Max’ Director Readies for Fifth Installment in ‘Addictive’ Series 

Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
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‘Mad Max’ Director Readies for Fifth Installment in ‘Addictive’ Series 

Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)
Australian director George Miller speaks as he receives CinemaCon International Filmmaker of the Year Award at International Day Programming during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace on April 8, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

Australian director George Miller described his "Mad Max" series as "addictive" on Monday as he prepares to premiere the fifth film set in its high-octane, post-apocalyptic world with the highly anticipated "Furiosa."

"Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," out late May, is an origin story for the tough female warrior first played by Charlize Theron in 2015's Oscar-winning blockbuster "Mad Max: Fury Road."

The younger Furiosa will be portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, best known to wider audiences from the hit Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit."

The movie will receive a glitzy world premiere at the Cannes film festival early next month, but Miller shared a few early details about the prequel at the CinemaCon movie theater convention in Las Vegas on Monday.

Miller said the idea stemmed from the intense preparations that went into "Fury Road," for which he sketched out detailed childhoods and journeys for each character in order to help actors and crew navigate the world.

"We had to understand everything about what we see on the screen -- not only the backstory of every character, but every prop, every vehicle, every gesture," said Miller.

When "Fury Road" was a hit, grossing $380 million and winning six Oscars, Miller realized that the movie's backstory was "a rich story to tell" in its own right.

In the new plot, young Furiosa has been kidnapped from her home, and gets caught up in a battle between Immortan Joe -- the villain of "Fury Road" -- and his rival Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth, of "Thor" fame.

It is the latest twist in a long road for a franchise that began with 1979's "Mad Max" starring a young, leather-clad Mel Gibson, who does battle with vicious biker gangs.

Miller was working as a medical doctor in his native Australia at the time, and the young cinephile was deeply affected by the many road accident victims he encountered in the hospital.

With an ultra-low budget, Miller could not afford to shoot in major cities, and was forced to improvise a deserted, post-societal collapse landscape.

"That was a really lucky thing, but because accidentally, the film -- which otherwise would have been present-day, naturalistic -- turned out to be more allegorical, unwittingly," recalled Miller, now 79.

"And that's sort of what led to 'Mad Max,' and that's why we're still doing them. Because they're very addictive."

'Uniquely familiar'

The initial movie grossed $100 million. Its global success led to "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" in 1981 and "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" in 1985.

The fast-paced, violent films drew on a visual language that audiences around the world could follow without needing much in the way of subtitles or dubbing.

"In Japan, 'Mad Max' was regarded as some sort of samurai. The French called it a 'Western on wheels.' In Scandinavia, he was a Viking," said Miller.

A fourth installment was a long time coming, as Miller tried his hand at wildly diverse films, including family movies like "Babe" and "Happy Feet."

"Fury Road" eventually arrived in 2015. The character of Max, now played by Tom Hardy, was relegated to second fiddle by Theron's tough-as-nails Furiosa.

With strong feminist themes, jaw-dropping effects and meticulously choreographed action sequences, it premiered at the prestigious Cannes festival and went on to earn 10 Oscar nominations, including for best picture and best director.

"Furiosa," Miller told the CinemaCon audience, "is different."

"You don't want a film to be a repetition of what you've just done... it has to be 'uniquely familiar,' as I like to say."