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Articles on this Page
- 07/20/18--06:57: _Roseanne Barr screa...
- 07/20/18--07:03: _Marvel's 'Iron Fist...
- 07/20/18--07:44: _Whoopi Goldberg and...
- 07/20/18--08:16: _Hollywood insiders ...
- 07/20/18--08:45: _'Guardians of the G...
- 07/20/18--09:00: _'Equalizer 2' direc...
- 07/20/18--09:50: _The HR exec who hel...
- 07/20/18--10:20: _The manager of the ...
- 07/20/18--12:56: _Director James Gunn...
- 07/20/18--14:08: _People are donating...
- 07/21/18--00:00: _The rise of KSI, th...
- 07/21/18--06:30: _Sling TV's ex-CEO i...
- 07/21/18--07:35: _How movie theaters ...
- 07/21/18--07:45: _'Sacred Games,' Net...
- 07/21/18--08:00: _YouTube is growing ...
- 07/21/18--10:47: _There is only one B...
- 07/21/18--12:52: _We compared Spotify...
- 07/22/18--07:45: _Steven Soderbergh s...
- 07/22/18--08:57: _'Equalizer 2' is th...
- 07/22/18--15:58: _A video game turned...
- Roseanne Barr posted a YouTube video on Thursday addressing the tweet that got her fired from her hit ABC sitcom, "Roseanne," in May.
- In the brief video, Barr screams that she compared former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to an "ape," in the tweet that led to her show's cancellation, because she "thought the b---- was white!"
- The video comes 11 days after Barr took to Twitter to say that she would appear in a televised interview. She later back-tracked and said that she would instead release a video on her personal YouTube page.
- "Iron Fist" season 2 will be released on Netflix on September 7.
- Alice Eve will play the villain Typhoid Mary in the second season.
- The show has also teased another villain on its Twitter.
- Whoopi Goldberg and the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro got into a shouting match over President Donald Trump on "The View" on Thursday, and Pirro later said she got "thrown out of the building."
- Pirro was on the show promoting her new book, but the interview derailed when Pirro pointed at Goldberg and told her she suffered from "Trump derangement syndrome."
- Comcast announced Thursday that it would not pursue assets of 21st Century Fox, including the Fox movie studio, clearing the way for Disney to acquire them.
- It will change the movie business forever.
- Other movie studios are "clear acquisition targets" that could potentially be merged together, like Disney and Fox, says UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television lecturer and former network television/movie studio head Tom Nunan.
- And for the moviegoer, the Disney/Fox deal's "creative and synergistic possibilities are exciting and truly mind boggling," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.
- The "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn came under fire this week for old tweets he described as offensive.
- Conservative personalities uncovered years-old tweets from Gunn.
- Gunn addressed the controversy on Thursday night, tweeting, "I am very, very different than I was a few years ago."
- "The Equalizer 2" marks the first time director Antoine Fuqua and the movie's star, Denzel Washington, have ever made a sequel.
- Fuqua also gave his thoughts about President Trump's remarks following the Parkland school shooting that movie violence is to blame for school shootings.
- And the director addressed the reports that he's in talks to direct a reboot of the Brian De Palma classic, "Scarface."
- At a time when Uber is weathering a new round of HR troubles, and Google is seeing employee revolts, Patty McCord's advice seems more pertinent than ever.
- McCord is Netflix's former chief talent officer — the person who helped hire Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who has become one of Hollywood's most powerful figures.
- She says HR execs have to stop worrying about lavish employee perks, and start thinking more about how they can make a difference to the bottom line — just like every other department.
- Asked about handling the employee revolt at Google, McCord says "I might go: 'okay, quit.'"
- Blockbuster's final two locations in Alaska closed for business earlier in July.
- Prior to the closure, tourists flocked to the Blockbuster stores to take nostalgic photos and take a peek at Russell Crowe's jockstrap, which was donated to the store by HBO and John Oliver.
- Now, people are wondering what will happen to the jockstrap — and Blockbuster's manager tells our new podcast, "Household Name," that he's sick of the question.
- To subscribe to the podcast, click here.
- Disney has fired the director James Gunn from the third "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie because of old offensive tweets of his that recently resurfaced.
- "The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values, and we have severed our business relationship with him," Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement.
- Kylie Jenner, 20, has an estimated net worth of $900 million, according to Forbes.
- A GoFundMe campaign is raising money to help Jenner become the world's youngest billionaire.
- TV industry figures have worried about the rise of so-called skinny bundles — bargain-priced internet-delivered multi-channel pay TV services such as Sling TV.
- Industry experts have fretted that they are unprofitable and unsustainable, because of the high and rising costs of licensing the networks included in their bundles.
- But Roger Lynch, who led the development and launch of Sling TV, said such services can actually be good business — but only if they're designed right.
- 07/21/18--07:35: How movie theaters are ruining your movie
- Netflix's first original series from India, "Sacred Games," is facing legal heat.
- A petition has been filed in Delhi High Court for Netflix to delete any scenes that reference India's former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
- One scene in the show depicts a cop calling Gandhi "fattu," which is translated to "p----" in the subtitles.
- According to Time, Netflix is in the process of replacing the word with "wimp" in the subtitles.
- Another police complaint against the show was filed, but dropped after Rahul Gandhi, son of Rajiv and leader of the Congress party, defended freedom of expression.
- Blockbuster is almost down to a single location in the entire United States: a shop in Bend, Oregon.
- On Thursday, Blockbuster announced that the final two locations in Alaska would close next week.
- The Bend location is beloved by locals and a hot spot for nostalgic tourists eager to see the last Blockbuster in America.
- Steven Soderbergh says he's "too frustrated by the way that system works" to ever make a studio movie again.
- The Oscar winner believe his next movie, about the Panama Papers, will probably end up at Netflix.
- Sony's "The Equalizer 2" won the weekend box office with $35.8 million.
- That's a bigger opening than its 2014 original ($34.1 million).
- Universal's "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" also had a strong opening weekend with $34.3 million.
- 23-year-old Alex Binello is the co-creator and proprietor of "MeepCity," a hit free-to-play game with 15 million monthly active players.
- "MeepCity" is the biggest game on Roblox, a game platform with 64 million users that's especially popular with kids.
- Binello, an entirely self-taught programmer, makes enough from "MeepCity" to support his mother and brother, whom he recently moved from his hometown of Las Vegas to be closer to him in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Now, Binello has brought on his first two employees as he works on a master plan to turn "MeepCity" into a video game empire.
Roseanne Barr posted a YouTube video on Thursday about the tweet that got her ABC sitcom, "Roseanne," canceled in May.
In the brief video, Barr screams "I thought the b---- was white" about former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, whom Barr compared to an "ape" in a tweet that led ABC to cancel her show. ("Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj," Barr tweeted in May, in reference to Jarrett.)
Barr released her new pseudo-interview footage 11 days after she took to Twitter to say that she would appear in a televised interview.
"To my wonderful fans who I treasure and love-who have carried me these past weeks when I was 2 weak 2 carry myself: I will be doing a TV interview this week," she tweeted on July 8. "I'll tell u about it tomorrow!"
The next day, Barr walked back her previous tweet.
"After a lot of thought, I decided that I won't be doing any TV interviews, too stressful & untrustworthy 4 me & my fans," she wrote on Twitter. "I'm going to film it myself & post it on my youtube channel in the next week-the entire explanation of what happened & why! I love you all-sign up & get ready."
In the video released to her personal YouTube page on Thursday, an off-screen voice coaches Barr to conduct the video like "a presidential address," as Barr, smoking a cigarette, protests that she wants to talk about "Valerie Jarrett and Iran," which she says her tweet in May was meant to address. She then wildly screams that she thought Jarrett "was white."
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the video is Barr's second public response to her firing, after she appeared on a podcast episode with the Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for his eponymous podcast last month, in which she cried and expressed "horrible regret" about her tweet.
ABC has since announced that it will produce a new show called "The Conners," starring the whole cast of the "Roseanne" reboot, with the exception of Barr.
Watch the video below:
Netflix and Marvel's "Iron Fist" got the spotlight at a panel during San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, and we now know that the show's second season will drop to the streaming service on September 7.
"Iron Fist" is one of six of Marvel's Netflix shows that are loosely part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. The others include "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," "Luke Cage," "The Defenders," and "The Punisher," of which the second season is currently filming.
Of all of them, though, "Iron Fist" has been the most chastized by critics. The show's first season, which premiered last year, has an 18% Rotten Tomatoes critic score, the lowest of any of the Netflix Marvel shows. But it has found an audience and is one of Netflix's most popular Marvel shows.
The show's release date was revealed in a short video where Danny Rand/Iron Fist (played by Finn Jones) declares that a "war is brewing" and that it's his duty to protect his city, as he takes on a group of thugs in an alley.
During the Comic-Con panel, Marvel Television boss Jeph Loeb announced that actress Alice Eve will be playing the villain Typhoid Mary in the second season. In the comics, Typhoid Mary is a primarily an enemy of Daredevil, and has telekinetic powers.
But there could also be another villain in the second season. The show tweeted a clip on Tuesday that shows Iron Fist's symbol lit up in green light, but it turns red to reveal a different symbol: the symbol of the Steel Serphent, one of Iron Fist's main enemies in the comics. This is less surprising, given that the character already appeared in the first season as Davos, played by Sacha Dhawan.
Iron Fist has so far appeared in the first season of the show, "The Defenders" superhero team-up show, and most recently the second season of "Luke Cage." In the comics, Cage and Fist have a close friendship, and create the "Heroes for Hire," which is basically a company that offers investigative and protection services from those with super powers.
Watch the full Comic-Con trailer below:
Whoopi Goldberg and the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro got into a shouting match over President Donald Trump on "The View" on Thursday, and their heated argument reportedly escalated backstage after the on-air segment ended.
Pirro was on the ABC talk show to promote her new book, "Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy," but the interview derailed when Pirro pointed at Goldberg and told her she suffered from "Trump derangement syndrome."
"Listen, I don't have 'Trump derangement,'" Goldberg said. "Let me tell you what I have: I'm tired of people starting a conversation with 'Mexicans are liars and rapists.'"
She continued: "I'm 62 years old. There have been a lot of people in office that I didn't agree with. But I have never, ever seen anything like this. I've never seen anybody whip up such hate. I've never seen anybody be so dismissive."
"You know what's horrible?" Pirro said later. "When people who shouldn't be here end up murdering the children of American citizens."
"What's horrible is when the president of the United States whips up people to beat the hell out of people," Goldberg shouted over Pirro before ending the segment by ripping up the cards for her questions and telling Pirro, "Say goodbye! Bye! I'm done."
Page Six reported that their argument continued "backstage when the two crossed paths":
"A source told us, 'Jeanine tried telling her she's fought for victims her whole life.' That's when 'Whoopi got in her face and said that they've known each other a long time, but still, "F--- you, get the f--- out of this building." Jeanine looked stunned.'"
Pirro appeared on Fox News' "Hannity" on Thursday night and confirmed Page Six's report, adding that she "got thrown off the set, thrown out of the building."
Watch the segment below:
With the news on Thursday that Comcast is stepping aside in trying to buy assets from 21st Century Fox, including its movie studio, it now seems to be smooth sailing for Disney to move forward and take the pieces off Fox's hands.
Back in December, after months of speculation, Disney announced that it had agreed to acquire the Fox studio and a large portion of its television production for $52.4 billion. Recently, Comcast swooped in with its own offer for the Fox assets (excluding Fox News and Fox Business channels). This led to Disney raising its offer to $71.3 billion. Comcast has now cut bait to put its focus on buying the European broadcast company, Sky.
With Fox under the Disney umbrella, the studio Walt Disney created goes from being the most envious in the movie industry to now becoming an unimaginable Goliath. Not only does it beef up Disney's Marvel Studios with the addition of the likes of the X-Men and Deadpool characters, which are currently Fox's big moneymakers, but it also brings countless options of content for Disney's upcoming streaming service with its pick of everything from family-friendly fare like "The Greatest Showman," to prestige dramas from the Fox Searchlight library, which released last year's best picture Oscar winner, "The Shape of Water."
If you combined the 2018 box office market share for both Disney and Fox, it's close to 50%.
It's another win for Disney CEO Bob Iger, and it will add to a legacy that is becoming one of the most successful Hollywood has ever seen.
"In terms of the history of the Walt Disney Company, there's no question that Bob Iger has really done more for that company than perhaps any other individual — even more than Walt Disney," Tom Nunan, UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television lecturer and former network television/movie studio head, told Business Insider. "If you think about the number of characters and franchises that Iger has brought under the same umbrella. Disney himself built it on the shoulders of a little mouse, and that's spectacular. But it's nothing compared to the acquisition of Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and now the acquisition of Fox. There's just been no comparable experience in the history of Hollywood in terms of a series of success under one individual. It's a tremendous story."
But for a business that's lived on being reactionary, the merging of Disney and Fox has set the stage for an overhaul of Hollywood, in an even more visible way than has already been happening under the surface.
The "big six" — Disney, Fox, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Universal — have never been shy about making major deals with huge conglomerates. Universal is under the Comcast umbrella. Just recently, AT&T bought Time Warner for $85 billion, giving the large wireless carrier the Warner Bros. studio as well as all the binge-worthy content on HBO. But the studios have never swallowed each other until now. And don't be surprised if you see more deals like the Disney/Fox one in the future.
"There's no doubt that the big acquisition targets seem to be Paramount, Sony, and Lionsgate," Nunan said. "All three of those companies for a variety of different reasons are clear acquisition targets in this market. But in a world of Google, Amazon, and Apple any of these 20th Century-created entertainment giants could possibly get picked off by 21st Century technology wizards."
And that's the reality of today's Hollywood. The magic is no longer created on movie studio lots. It hasn't been for some time. The Disney/Fox deal proves that most of the business is spread out to many other entities, leaving the "big six" as dinosaurs only good at doing one thing.
"They really are just blockbuster movie companies and that's a very small list of people who actually know how to make and produce those movies," Nunan said, noting the emergence of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu as major employers in Hollywood. And then there's Lionsgate, Annapurna Pictures (which recently took the domestic franchise rights of James Bond from Sony), and STX Entertainment.
"That's become a smaller part of the overall employment in Hollywood," he said of the big studios. "I don't think we should get our violins out too soon to grieve the loss of that. It's really such a tiny part of the overall food chain that exists in the entertainment industry."
But for moviegoers, Disney bringing in Fox leads to more content than many could have imagined.
It "will essentially combine under one umbrella a very powerful slate of content that will be almost second to none in terms of its creative scope and potential combined revenue market share," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore, told Business Insider. "The key Fox brands — including of course the all-important 'X-Men,' 'Deadpool,' and 'Fantastic Four' franchises — will be brought into the Disney/Marvel fold and the creative and synergistic possibilities are exciting and truly mind boggling."
James Gunn, who directed Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" and its sequel, came under fire this week after several offensive, since-deleted tweets were uncovered.
Gunn is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and frequently calls out Trump and the Republican Party on Twitter. That drew the ire of some conservative personalities, who dug up jokes Gunn tweeted several years ago.
Gunn's personal website also seems to have been taken down amid the controversy.
Gunn's tweets are mostly from 2010 and 2011. In one, Gunn said: "The Expendables was so manly I f---ed the s--- out of the little p---- boy next to me! The boys ARE back in town!"
On Thursday night, Gunn addressed the controversy in a series of tweets, saying, "As I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humor."
He added: "I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it's shocking and trying to get a reaction are over."
1. Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
3. In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
5. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 20, 2018
Antoine Fuqua has pulled off something no other director working with Denzel Washington has done before: getting him to do a sequel.
“The Equalizer 2” (in theaters Friday) marks not just the first-ever sequel done by Fuqua, but also Washington. The two have worked on numerous projects, from “The Magnificent Seven” reboot to Washington’s Oscar-winning performance in “Training Day.” But it’s Sony’s unlikely hit thriller about a man (Washington) with a mysterious past who disrupts his quiet life to rescue a girl that the two felt was fertile ground to continue with a sequel.
Business Insider sat down with Fuqua in April during CinemaCon (in a backstage room with the film’s producer Jason Blumenthal), to talk about the movie, Trump, and if he’s going to direct the much-rumored “Scarface” remake.
Jason Guerrasio: This is the first time you and Denzel have ever done a sequel. What did Sony have to do to talk you guys into doing another?
Fuqua: It was a conversation that we had toward the end of making “Equalizer 1.” We had a lot of fun together just making the movie. All of us: me, Denzel, the producers. And we were talking about it and it's hard to talk about that stuff with Denzel because he just wants to make this one good. The one we're doing. But we were all kind of like, "Hey, if this works let's do it again." It came out and did well, the audience enjoyed it, and the guys went off to write another. And it wasn't that long, three months after the release.
Guerrasio: Wow, three months after it opened?
Fuqua: Yeah. They gave me the script and I read it and it was better than the first script and much more emotional and deeper. And it hit all the things that I think a lot of people wanted to see. When I would be in an airport people would ask, "Are we going to find out more about this or that?" And the script did those things. And when I read it, Denzel read it as well, and he called me and he said, "This is good!" And I was like yeah, and he said, "Let's do it again!" So that's how it worked.
Guerrasio: I would imagine this was not the first time a sequel to a movie you've done has been floated by you. What sequel pitches have you gotten in the past?
Fuqua:“Olympus Has Fallen,” they wanted me to do that, there were rumors about “Training Day" —
Guerrasio: How can you do “Training Day” again?
Fuqua: I think like a prequel. Yeah, it's been a few times. It’s just not exciting to me to do that really because you have already been down that road and it's rare to get someone like Denzel so you have got to make it right. The script has to be very different from the first one, and it has to be a character he wants to play again, but have enough differences that he feels like he's doing something else. He's an actor's actor, so for him, he's not doing the exact same thing. I can't even get the exact same take. So you think he's going to do a movie twice? [Laughs.]
Guerrasio: I’m thinking about your filmography now, you could probably do another “Magnificent Seven.”
Fuqua: Yeah. I would love to do another one. That's not up to me but I would love to do one. With the right actors. Because that's tricky. You have to get all those guys’ schedules on the same page at the exact same time.
Guerrasio: And do audiences still want to see Westerns?
Fuqua: It's tricky. You never know. The audience sometimes will surprise you. It's timing. You think you know and then the next Western comes out and makes a billion dollars.
Guerrasio: The only thing that will make me disappointed is Vincent D’Onofrio will not be in it. Because he was so entertaining in that movie.
Fuqua: We do it as a prequel. You see what happens? You got the opportunity to do a movie with a great actors and then you kill them off, how do you do another one? [Laughs.]
Guerrasio: I don't want you to give anything away about “Equalizer 2,” but in the trailer there's a shot of Denzel telling a guy to do the Vulcan salute from “Star Trek” and then breaking his fingers when the guy shows him the salute.
Fuqua: That's all Denzel.
Guerrasio: He came up with that?
Fuqua: He did that. That's the fun of it. He's not going to say the exact same line every time the exact same way. Someone on that level, you have to have some fun with it.
Guerrasio: Almost all of your movies deal with gun violence. It's a topic that's big again in society because of the Parkland school shooting. But when you hear President Trump say that school shootings are due to the violence kids see in movies, how do you react to that?
Fuqua: I’m not into politics, I'm a father. I'll say that first. I grew up watching movies — Westerns, war movies, gangster movies, comedies. But are movies the reason people are shooting and killing each other? I don't think so. I would hate to think that's true in any way. We've been making movies since, what —
Guerrasio: Over 100 years.
Fuqua: It seems it's something that's been happening more and more recently, so it's hard to blame something like that on movies. When the president says something like that it's sad because I don't think you should put the blame on one thing. It's all of our problem, not just movies.
Guerrasio: What you see in society, does that affect what stories you want to tell going forward?
Fuqua: It does. That's why I wanted to do “Equalizer.” Because “Equalizer” is about justice. You talk about gun violence, yeah, of course, I'm tired of seeing young black men get shot down in the street like animals. I'm tired of seeing anybody get shot down in the street. Especially innocent people. So you can make a movie with a positive use as well. If you put it in the hands of the right people: Air Force, military, Navy, Navy Seals, Marines, and I'm friends with a lot of these guys and I'm friends with a lot of cops, too. Thank God they are there when you need them, strapped. What I'll say is when you make a movie you have to have a reason you want to make it. I wanted to make “Equalizer” because it's about justice and I think that's the thing we all want. When you see young people die it's heartbreaking, but as a director you can only do a movie to say something. You could get involved with politics if you want to, but I'm not a politician.
Guerrasio: I want your take on the inclusion rider that's been a buzz term since Frances McDormand brought it up at the Oscars. As one of the few African-American directors working regularly in Hollywood currently, do you use that? Do you want to use it more?
Fuqua: I don't know.
Jason Blumenthal: It hasn't been an issue with Antoine, to be honest. We know he wants a very diverse and eclectic group of people around him as a filmmaker. He thrives on that. So we run these colorblind sets. And just so you know, the inclusion rider wasn't even a thing when we shot this movie. Denzel has also been big on that with us, too. He's always wanted us to give people a shot. He's never said, "Give the black guy a shot."
Fuqua: Denzel says, "Give the woman a shot."
Blumenthal: It comes from the top down, so if we weren't running an inclusive set and Antoine and Denzel said we better do that it's going to happen because it needs to happen. But it's been happening with our movies for the last five to six years.
Fuqua: We just do it. There's not really a conversation. We do what's right and who's the best person for the job. And we help bring people up along the ranks as well.
Guerrasio: So I know you're working on a Muhammad Ali documentary.
Guerrasio: After that, are you taking on the “Scarface” reboot?
Fuqua: I don't know. We are still finishing up “Equalizer 2.” Editing a little bit, shaping here and there. Not a lot. The music and all the final stuff we have to do. We did a test last week and it scored through the roof. Scored a little higher than the first one. So “Scarface, “I don't know, man. When I get the script.
Guerrasio: That's such a classic film that if it's going to be attempted I assume, if you were to take it on, you would do it completely different than Brian De Palma's.
Fuqua: Very different.
Guerrasio: Like how De Palma's is completely different from the 1932 original movie.
Fuqua: Exactly. You have to. And you have to find the reason to make it, any movie. I have to find my reason to make the movie. So “Scarface” is one of those movies that I've been talking to the writer and different people about it and I know a lot about that world, it's just making sure when I get the script it's the right reason to make “Scarface.” In today's society everyone feels injustice like Tony Montana. Everyone feels like they are the small guy.
Guerrasio: And hustling to make a better life.
Fuqua: The hustle. So the feeling of that is in the air and coming back to “Equalizer” that's what's important about doing that. It's about justice. When I did “Training Day” it was about street justice. So it always comes back to justice, so I have to figure out what “Scarface” is about for me.
Guerrasio: You're doing “Scarface.”
If the events of the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that if company leaders treat human resources as an afterthought, then they risk running into troubles like those of Uber.
Patty McCord — former Netflix chief talent officer, and the co-architect of the streaming video company's famous corporate culture policy — has some thoughts on the proper way to run an HR department.
Had McCord not helped Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings piece together his original management team, we might all still be standing in line to rent movies. Or worse. We might still be forking over late fees.
During her 14 years there, Netflix's management team included Barry McCarthy, now Spotify’s CFO, and Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer and one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. These are some of the people who helped Netflix prevail in home video over the much larger distributor, Blockbuster.
Since departing Netflix in 2012, McCord has become a sort of sage for startup founders and human resources execs, coming in as a consultant. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg turned McCord's famous Netflix culture document into a sacred text for startups when she said it "may well be the most important document ever to come out of the Valley."
In her book, “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” McCord has included a lot of advice that seems more pertinent than ever.
In two recent interviews with Business Insider, McCord speaks frankly about the lack of innovation in Silicon Valley HR departments, and the need to sometimes say 'no' to employees. She also offers some encouragement and advice to startup founders and job seekers.
Job seekers: Don't be passive about the process. Do your due diligence about potential employers.
McCord has interviewed thousands of people for jobs, but she hasn't forgotten what it's like to be the applicant. She says one of her worst career decisions was taking a job at a certain software company, so she could stay closer to her home and children.
"I’m a recruiter so I made them want me," she said. "I spent so much time and energy convincing them that I was the one, that I spent almost no time finding out who they were."
That would cost her. Her new employer put her desk right outside the men's bathroom. They gave her an outdated Wang 286 computer and a rotary phone.
Then came her first meeting with her new boss.
"She said, 'You know, Patty, you have a lot of ideas and we’ve had them all, and they don’t work so it would be really helpful if you’d just stop having them. You know you’re making the other people uncomfortable. You’re too aggressive and you know [HR is] here to make the rules and make sure that everybody follows them.'"
But that disaster would lead her into two important areas that would help shape the rest of her career.
See every job, no matter how unpleasant, as an opportunity to learn.
Though McCord didn't find much job satisfaction at that job, it was there that she learned a lot about computer engineers and how they think. That was good, she said, because she would over the years eventually need to hire scores of them.
"Because it was so awful I had to find solace somewhere," McCord said of her time at the company. "So, I discovered software engineers and I just started hanging out with them all the time."
The experience meant she "discovered my love for technologists and technology." From there, she would follow one of her bosses to a startup that made software tools for other software engineers.
"By that time I had a little geek cred, and I went to Pure Software and that's where I met Reed [Hastings]," who founded Pure, and would go on to become the founder of Netflix.
In interviews, the best thing to be is sincere.
McCord remembers interviewing Ted Sarandos back when Netflix was exclusively a DVD-by-mail business.
Sarandos has become a star at Netflix, rising to the role of chief content officer. Along with Hastings, Sarandos is the architect of Netflix's film-production strategy, which has made the company less dependent on Hollywood, even as its original movies and TV shows become huge hits in their own right. Now, Sarandos hobnobs with the biggest names in film and TV.
But back in 2000, Sarandos was a vice president at a chain of video-rental stores and seemed the unlikeliest of future movie moguls when he interviewed with McCord. But she remembers he had two attributes that stood out from the other candidates.
"So, I had been interviewing people for Ted’s job," McCord recalled. "And they were just nauseating. All they did was name drop. I remember one guy said,: 'Yeah I just came down from the city and I was having lunch with Francis Ford Coppola and yesterday I was out at Lucas Ranch cause George (Lucas) and I are like this.' I looked at him and said 'I slept with Bill Gates.' And he said 'Did you?' And I go, 'No, but you didn’t have lunch with Coppola either. Why are we having this stupid conversation?"
Sarandos took a different tact.
"I finished interviewing Ted and we're standing in the hallway waiting for Reed to get out of a meeting," McCord recalled. "And Ted’s telling me that his son is going to his first dance and I go 'Oh man, are they going to disco? And then Ted starts singing Disco Duck and we’re dancing in the hallways. Reed comes out and says 'Oh, you guys have met.' Ted is sincere and genuine."
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The manager at the last remaining Blockbusters in Alaska is tired of talking about Russell Crowe's jockstrap.
In May, John Oliver and HBO donated a bizarre assortment of Russell Crowe paraphernalia to an Anchorage Blockbuster, one of the two remaining locations of the video-rental chain in the state. Tourists traveled far and wide to see the garb, which included Crowe's jockstrap from the movie "Cinderella Man" — but it ultimately wasn't enough to save the location.
Earlier in July, Blockbuster Alaska announced that the last two stores in the state are closing up shop. But, manager Kevin Daymude has bigger concerns than the jockstrap.
"It kills me to hear everybody more concerned about that jockstrap than the customers that have been faithful to us since the 1990s and the employees that are losing their jobs," Daymude told reporter Emily Russell in an upcoming episode of Business Insider's new podcast, "Household Name." "People just want to know about that stupid jockstrap."
While Daymude said he was "shocked" by the closure, he has been preparing for the death of Blockbuster in Alaska — long a holdout in the chain's extinction — for some time.
"Let's be real, you have Netflix, you have Redbox," he told Russell prior to the announcement of the stores' closures.
"The economy is tough right now," Daymude said. "So, people are still renting — but they aren't renting as much."
Daymude has worked at Blockbuster since 1991, and he saw the Alaska stores transform from a necessary stop for entertainment through the cold winter into a photo shoot for nostalgic tourists. He even started selling t-shirts and shipping them around the world, as Blockbuster fans far and wide have sought out remnants of the video-rental chain.
"People were coming out, taking pictures of Blockbuster, getting back on their tour bus and they go on their merry way," Daymude said.
With the Blockbuster closing, Daymude isn't sure what comes next. He is definitely staying in Alaska, and he might go back to school. And, as for the jockstrap, its future is similarly up in the air, but for now it still remains on display as the Alaska Blockbusters finish selling out their inventory before closing up shop for good.
To hear from Daymude and learn how Blockbuster managed to survive in Alaska for years after the chain went out of business, subscribe to "Household Name", a new podcast from Business Insider premiering July 25. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite app.
The "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise writer-director James Gunn has been fired by Disney after old offensive tweets of his resurfaced this week.
"The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values, and we have severed our business relationship with him," Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn said in a statement to Business Insider.
Gunn was writing the script for the third "Guardians" movie, which was set to begin shooting in the fall with a 2020 release date.
Gunn's offensive tweets, mostly from 2010 and 2011, were brought to light by conservative personalities who opposed Gunn's criticism of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
In one 2010 tweet, Gunn wrote: "The Expendables was so manly I f---ed the s--- out of the little p---- boy next to me! The boys ARE back in town!"
On Thursday night, Gunn addressed the controversy in a series of tweets, saying, "As I've developed as a person, so has my work and my humor."
He said in another tweet: "In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies."
The "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise has been one of the most successful for Disney/Marvel. Last year's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" was the fifth-highest-grossing domestic release of 2017 and earned over $860 million worldwide.
Gunn gave the following statement to Business Insider after publication:
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”
“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”
When Forbes reported this week that Kylie Jenner, the 20-year-old cosmetic mogul from the Kardashian/Jenner family, was just $100 million shy of becoming the world's youngest self-made billionaire, fans of the reality-TV star banded together.
On Twitter, multiple people joked that they intended to help raise the additional $100 million that would make Jenner the world's youngest billionaire.
we need to raise $100 million to give to Kylie Jenner so she’s a full billionaire! let’s fucking go! let’s send a message! no negativity 🙏🙏🙏— DarkSydePhelix (@ByYourLogic) July 11, 2018
"Skipping my child support payments to help this fierce female become an iconic billionaire!" one woman wrote.
Skipping my child support payments to help this fierce female become an iconic billionaire! I believe my daughters would support this if I were allowed contact with them!!!!— Birdy (@palebirdy) July 11, 2018
Now, the joke has been realized. A GoFundMe campaign has been created in Jenner's honor by Josh Ostrovsky, an Instagram celebrity who goes by the nickname "The Fat Jew." So far, $268 has been raised on her behalf.
The campaign description reads: "I don't want to live in a world where Kylie Jenner doesn't have a billion dollars. We must raise 100 million dollars to help her get to a billion, please spread the word, this is extremely important."
While most people are donating about $5, one person gave $100.
This isn't the first time the internet has crowdfunded on the behalf of an extremely wealthy person. A GoFundMe campaign that kicked off in April raised more than $7,000 to purchase a couch for Elon Musk after CBS reported that Musk had been sleeping on the floor of Tesla's factory.
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You're only going to hear more about KSI over the next month.
The 25-year-old British YouTube star is facing off against one of the biggest and most controversial vloggers on the planet: Logan Paul. The two will duke it out at a boxing match at Manchester Arena in August, which has a 21,000 capacity.
YouTube boxing matches are a hot new trend, kickstarted by KSI. Although the British vlogger first made his name playing video games on YouTube, he's pioneered boxing events as a way to whip up famous YouTubers' huge followings. The real-life matches could generate millions of pounds in ticket, merchandise, and streaming sales.
Here's how KSI, real name Olajide "JJ" William Olatunji, went from a suburban London upbringing to becoming one of the biggest YouTube stars in the world.
KSI was born in London, after his parents moved to the UK from Nigeria. "They would work their asses off," he told The Sun in an interview.
He eventually moved with his parents out to the suburbs of Watford and went to a fee-paying school. It would now cost you £20,000 ($26,000) a year to send your child to the "posh" Berkhamsted School.
Despite the expensive education, KSI said he discovered YouTube from the age of about 15 and ended up failing his A-Levels. "Back then, people would be like: 'What are you doing? You're such a weirdo. Why are you making videos online?'" he told the Sun.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Roger Lynch may have jumped ship from Sling TV to Pandora, but he's still bullish on the prospects of internet-delivered pay TV services — at least those like the pioneering one he helped launch.
Sling TV was the first of the so-called "skinny bundles" — the pay-TV replacements delivered over the internet that offer a fraction of the channels of traditional cable bundle but cost considerably less. Although such services have proven popular with consumers, many industry observers have fretted that they're unprofitable and unsustainable.
But skinny bundles offer a better business opportunity that skeptics have suggested, Lynch, who spearheaded the development of Sling TV and was its CEO when it launched, told Business Insider recently.
Because such services are delivered over the internet, they offer a much better advertising opportunity than traditional pay-TV bundles, he said. Getting the rights to offer a collection of different cable channels is pricey, but recent industry-wide price hikes have made those costs easier to bear.
"I think with the price increase and the advertising business that is being developed, yeah, it sure can [be profitable]", said Lynch, who left Sling TV to become CEO of Pandora last year.
That's important, because there's some worry in the industry that consumers are cancelling the traditional pay-TV bundles that are profitable for their providers in favor of skinny bundles that aren't. Last year, the top traditional pay-TV services shed some 3 million subscribers, and they lost another 707,000 in the first quarter, according to Leichtman Research Group. Over the same time period, Sling TV and DirecTV Now gained 1.9 million subscribers.
Lynch says skinny bundles have to actually be skinny
The rise of skinny bundles doesn't have to be a bad thing for the industry — if the skinny bundles actually make money for their providers. But to be profitable, the skinny bundles have to be designed right, Lynch said.
When Sling TV launched, it offered little more than a dozen channels and didn't include any of the broadcast or regional sports networks. That was intentional, Lynch said.
If Sling had included the broadcast channels, Lynch said, it likely would have been forced to take their parent companies' regional sports networks as well — Fox and NBC both operate constellations of them. And that would have been pricey.
Sling bet that it didn't have to do that. Even before Sling TV launched, there had been a rise in the number of so-called cord cutters — people who had either cancelled their traditional cable subscriptions or had never signed up. Many of those people were choosing to watch online video services such as Netflix instead. And many were also rediscovering that they could get the broadcast channels for free, over the air.
Sling figured it could piggyback on those trends, designing its service to fit in between Netflix and over-the-air broadcast, Lynch said. The benefit was that by not including those channels, Sling was able to charge just $20 and still have money left over after paying the licensing rights for the networks it carried.
"When we launched Sling TV ... there were a lot naysayers when we announced it. 'You don't have local channels, and everybody watches locals,'" Lynch said. "My comment to that was , 'That's really the point.'"
The problem with many of the other skinny bundles that have launched since — AT&T's DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue — is they didn't learn that lesson, Lynch said. Instead, they launched with many more channels and generally did include the broadcast networks. That upped their licensing costs and forced them to charge more — but apparently not enough. Lynch estimates that despite charging $10 to $20 more than Sling TV, those services are losing money, because their licensing costs are even higher than what they're charging consumers.
"The people that launched after us sort of recreated the big bundles," he said. "They maybe charged a lower price, but it was basically the big bundle."
But, he continued, "that's not really where the opportunity was."
Have you ever noticed ugly gray bars surrounding a movie screen? How about a dark or blurry picture? It turns out movie theaters aren't doing enough to ensure that their audience is seeing a movie the way it is meant to be seen. Many theaters have little quality control over things like screen masking and projector brightness, and it has begun to hurt the moviegoing experience. We talked with two projection experts to help us understand what is going on inside the booth. Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Which looks better? This, or that? Well, what if I told you that you may have been paying a premium to see the worst version.
You know those black bars you sometimes see on the top, bottom or sides of a movie? They occur because movies are filmed at different frame sizes, or aspect ratios. "Lady Bird", shot in widescreen should appear differently than "Star Wars", which was shot in Cinemascope. A Cinemascope movie on your TV will have black bars on the top and bottom, while a movie theater masks the frame with retractable curtains. These curtains at Night Hawk Cinema in Brooklyn absorb the light and create a frame around the projected image. But take away the curtains and...
Chapin Cutler: When you don't have masking what happens is you've got this gray area of screen which isn't reflecting picture, it's not reflecting the image. It just sort-of sits there and looks ugly. There is a move afoot by some theater circuits, I guess in order to save money, that have decided that, that's a waste of money and they're not gonna do it.
Narrator: That's Chapin Cutler. He's been working in the projection and theater business for over 40 years. The empty screen space can be distracting and takes away from the immersive experience of seeing a movie on the big screen.
Another problem? Projector brightness, which can be affected by the age and cleanliness of the bulb, along with any dirt or smudges that may be on the window of the projection booth. Some "Solo" attendees reported seeing extremely dark almost unviewable projections with a few saying that they had to struggle to see what was on screen.
Chapin Cutler: If the standard that's been established for the amount of light that is supposed to be on the screen isn't there, then not only does the picture look dark but you don't see anything that goes on in the shadows. All of that information disappears.
Narrator: And if there was a 3D showing in the theater before a standard 2D showing a lens meant only for 3D movies may still be on the projector making the image two thirds darker than it should be.
Joe Muto: Showing something like that with a very low light level is gonna take away from it. If that's the experience you walk away with that's going to impede your positive judgment of the film, and that's just gonna ruin it for you.
Narrator: Hurting both the team behind the movie and its viewers, and possibly creating customers who may not come back to that theater for a sub-par experience.
The issues aren't limited to "Solo." The past few years have seen numerous reports of theaters not doing enough to ensure quality screenings. Standard 2D movie tickets average about $9.00 in the U.S. And almost twice that in places like New York City. But is the price of admission worth seeing a movie that is not being shown the way it is meant to? You can get a full 4K movie for 15 bucks. Why bother with what may be a questionable theater presentation if you can get cinema-like quality at home?
The picture may be bigger, and the sound may be better but if you're having a bad theater experience, take note. If a theater has a dark blurry picture or leaves empty areas of the screen unmasked try a different theater. Many are still working hard to bring you the best picture possible.
Netflix wants to be huge in India, but its first Indian original series, "Sacred Games," is facing legal heat.
The show centers on a Sikh cop in the Mumbai police force named Sartaj Singh (played by the Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan), and a mysterious Mumbai criminal, Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). At the start of the series, Gaitonde calls Singh to tell him of an attack on the city set to take place in 25 days. The series has been praised by critics since its release on July 6 and has an 88% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.
But the show has also been the subject of controversy surrounding scenes referencing former Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. (Gandhi's son, Rahul Gandhi, is the current leader of India's Congress political party.) Because the show streams online, it is not censored by India's Censor Board.
In one scene in the show, Siddiqui's character calls Gandhi "fattu," which is translated in subtitles as "p----."
According to Time, Netflix is in the process of replacing the word "p----" with "wimp" in the subtitles after a member of the Congress party’s legal team filed a petition in the Delhi High Court for Netflix to delete any scenes that reference Rajiv Gandhi.
A Congress party member, Rajeev Kumar Sinha, had previously filed a police complaint July 10 against Siddiqui and Netflix for insulting the former Prime Minister and "misrepresenting facts during his regime."
"The use of abusive language is not justified," Sinha told Time. "I don’t think we can go back into history and abuse people this way."
But after Rahul Gandhi released a statement about the show, CNN-News18, an Indian news outlet, reported that Sinha withdrew his complaint about "Sacred Games."
Gandhi tweeted on July 14 "I believe [freedom of expression] is a fundamental democratic right. My father lived and died in the service of India. The views of a character on a fictional web series can never change that."
By the standards of the tech industry, 12-year-old YouTube is middle aged. But lately, it's been growing like a newborn.
The value the streaming video site is delivering to marketers in terms of ad impressions and traffic to their sites is surging. That's paying off in a big way for the Google-owned service; ad spending on YouTube is ballooning.
YouTube is benefitting from having one of the more popular mobile apps, said Andy Taylor, an associate director of research at Merkle, a digital advertising research firm.
"People are increasingly using YouTube as traffic shifts over to mobile devices," he said.
These charts, based on a report on the ad industry Merkle released Friday, illustrate what's going on.
Advertisers are seeing a huge pick up in traffic sent their way from YouTube. In the second quarter, outbound traffic from the streaming video giant nearly quadrupled from the same period last year, growing far faster than from any of the other major social media sites.
But marketers are also seeing a big uptick in the number of ad impressions they're getting on YouTube itself. They more than tripled in the just-completed period from the second quarter last year. That helped push advertising spending on the video site up well more than double that seen in the second quarter last year.
Those are even faster growth rates than seen by Instagram, Facebook's photo-sharing service that's five years younger than YouTube.
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Blockbuster's last stand in the United States is in Bend, Oregon.
On Thursday, Blockbuster announced that the last two stores Alaska would close up shop next week. That will leave just one Blockbuster location in the entire US.
The holdout is in Bend, a city in central Oregon with an estimated population just shy of 100,000. As the last Blockbuster locations across the US have closed — with two other Blockbusters in Oregon closing in recent months — travelers have begun making their way to Bend in a nostalgic pilgrimage to the video-rental chain.
For Blockbuster lovers desperately missing the store, and for video-rental virgins raised on Netflix, here's what it's like to visit the last remaining Blockbuster in the US.
Bend's Blockbuster sign is instantly recognizable and a guaranteed nostalgia trigger for any child of the '90s.
Inside, the store remains the same, though videotapes have been swapped for DVDs.
You can still open a membership and rent movies for a $30 monthly fee.
Source: Bend Bulletin
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
It's not easy choosing a music streaming app these days. The subscription prices are generally the same, there isn't much disparity in the music that's available, and on the surface the services all appear pretty similar.
But there are some important differences that will decide which music app is right for you.
Spotify and Apple Music are currently the two biggest music streaming platforms available. Here are the key differences you need to know about when choosing the music service that's in tune with your rhythm:
Subscriptions: Spotify offers a free version of the app, but Apple Music is subscription-only after the initial, free three-month trial.
Both Spotify and Apple Music offer student plans for $4.99 per month, individual plans for $9.99 per month, and family plans for $14.99 per month — so pricing won't likely play a role in your decision here. The free version of Spotify has limited functionality compared to the paid version, and includes ads.
For the purpose of this article, the paid version of Spotify will be compared with Apple Music.
Apple Music starts off by asking you to select the genres and artists you're interested in.
After you've made your selections, Apple Music starts to recommend playlists and artists that it thinks you will like. Spotify doesn't have this type of feature, but it learns from your listening habits over time. Both apps allow you to 'like' a song, letting them know that you want to hear more like it.
However, Spotify's recommendation system is much stronger.
Spotify simply does a better job of making recommendations than Apple Music. Every Monday you receive a new 'Discover Weekly' playlist — 30 songs picked through an algorithm that are similar to music you've listened to in the past. Spotify also has an entire 'Discover' page that makes recommendations based on artists you listen to frequently.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Steven Soderbergh has spent his career distancing himself from the movie studio system unless there was no other option, and in today's landscape of the majors only wanting to release huge franchise blockbusters, don't expect the Oscar-winning director to have meetings on the lots anytime soon.
Soderbergh recently had a lengthy interview with Filmmaker Magazine to promote the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of his feature debut "sex, lies, and videotape," and when asked what the future held for him in regards to the kinds of movies he wants to make, he didn't hold back.
"It’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which I would literally make a movie for a studio," he said. "I’m too frustrated by the way that system works, both economically and creatively. That’s one of the reasons the Panama Papers project will probably end up at Netflix, because it’s right in that zone of movies that the studios are not interested in, mid-level budget movies for grown-ups."
The project Soderbergh is referring to is his supposed next directing effort, "The Laundromat," which will delve into the largest leak of corporate data in history back in 2015, revealing to the public many legal and illegal ways corporations and powerful people hide their money in offshore accounts.
Soderbergh said he was so convinced no studio would be interested that he didn't even set up meetings.
"We didn’t even take it out," he said. "We went to Netflix first and they seemed inclined to do it. And when we had a meeting, they said, 'So we’re assuming you’re going to want some kind of theatrical release or festivals?' And I said, 'I don’t care. I don’t care if it never shows in a theater and I don’t care if I ever go to a festival again. You do whatever you need to do to get eyeballs on this thing. If that’s the way you want to do it, that’s fine. I’m just telling you, I don’t care.' I have a creative process now that I’m happy with, both in terms of developing projects and then making them and then putting them out. I’m now driven solely by what stories attract me."
Distribution and creative control are two things Soderbergh has battled with his entire career. It's partly why he "retired" from filmmaking briefly and took on painting. But at the same time, he's never been precious about the theatrical experience.
From his 2005 low budget movie "Bubble," which made headlines for being one of the first movies to have a simultaneous release in theaters and cable (which has become the norm now with many indie movies); to his current Fingerprint Releasing company, in which the director oversaw the entire marketing and release of his last two movies "Logan Lucky" and "Unsane" (both released theatrically by Bleecker Street); Soderbergh loves to mess with the established way of doing things.
His comments here just show the latest way he's being a maverick to traditional Hollywood.
Sequels continue to work like gangbusters this summer.
In a surprise outcome, Sony's "The Equalizer 2" took in $35.8 million to win the weekend box office over "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."
The first-ever sequel that Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua made in their careers, the movie surpassed the 2014 original's $34.1 million take. It was an impressive performance for a movie that had a 51% score on Rotten Tomatoes (the original had a 60% score).
But Fuqua did tell Business Insider that the sequel did better in test screenings than the original.
The performance by "Equalizer 2" also proves that sometimes star power can work. In a time when superheroes are more of a box office draw than superstars, Washington playing a vigilante seemed to be a draw.
Also performing better than expected was "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."
The sequel to the 2008 musical based on the hit Broadway show featuring the songs of ABBA took in an estimated $34.3 million.
That's better than the first "Mamma Mia" ($27.7 million), and turned out to be the perfect movie night for audiences who needed a break from the action-heavy offerings already out, like "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp."
Though time will tell if Denzel's "Equalizer" can match up to the other tough guy movies coming up, Universal may have the rare title this summer that could have legs for weeks to come.
With the movie's big female following, the studio foresees "Here We Go Again" being a big girls night out option with guys' movies like "Mission: Impossible - Fallout," "The Meg," and "Mile 22" opening soon.
But both of these movies doing better than expected is just the latest pleasant surprise this year's summer movie season has given Hollywood.
At one point, Alex Binello was working part-time at GameStop to pay the bills while he pursued a career as an independent game developer. Now, he finds himself at the head of one of the largest video game phenomenons you've never heard about.
Under the handle Alexnewtron, Binello is the co-creator and public face of "MeepCity," a free-to-play game with 15 million monthly active players, — 100,000 or more of whom are playing at any given time. Those numbers put "MeepCity" in a league with "Pokémon Go," "Candy Crush Saga," and other popular free-to-play games.
"The game has blown out what I ever imagined it could do," Binello told Business Insider via the phone on Thursday. "I feel like it's a real company now."
If you've never heard of "MeepCity," there's a pretty good chance that you're over 18. It's a role-playing game where players drive cars around, decorate their in-game homes, collect the titular Meep mascots, and even attend high school classes. It's pretty chill, and it's very popular with kids.
Notably, "MeepCity" is one of the biggest things going on in Roblox, a video game platform with 64 million users that's giving its mostly-younger fanbase a path into entrepreneurial opportunity, even turning a select few teens into millionaires. If you want to play "MeepCity," it's only on Roblox.
Unlike "Minecraft," "Fortnite," or other gaming phenoms, Roblox is entirely generated by its users. It boasts 4 million developers, who have collectively created 40 million games on the platform, including "MeepCity." On Friday, Roblox announced that it's on track to pay out $70 million total to those developers this year, up from $30 million in 2017.
The heart of the Robloxian economy are Robux, a premium currency that the company sells to users for real money. If a player chooses to spend their Robux in a game, the game's developer takes a cut. "MeepCity," for instance, charges Robux for premium features like an in-game boom box, or bonus decorations for your virtual home.
Binello declines to go into too much detail about how much he's made from "MeepCity." He does, however, say that he's making enough that he was recently able to relocate his mother and brother from Las Vegas to be closer to him in the San Francisco Bay Area, and to support all three of them fully.
More importantly for the future of "MeepCity," Binello has also hired two of his Roblox friends and collaborators as full-time employees, with a base salary and bonuses tied to the performance of the game. That's in addition to a few contract programmers and artists. Now, it's his ambition to turn "MeepCity" from a smash-hit Roblox game into a genuine media empire.
"I have a long-term vision," says Binello.
Notably, Binello is "definitely self-taught," he says — he joined Roblox in 2007, when he was about 12 years old, and the game was only available for PC.
He started fiddling around with Roblox Studio, the included tools for building virtual objects in the game world, and eventually came up with a simple multiplayer game in the style of Pictionary. It was a reasonably big hit in the early days of the platform, and his Alexnewtron alter ego became a fixture of the Roblox community.
When he graduated high school, he decided that college just wasn't for him. Instead of getting a formal education in programming or computer science, he would continue to try to hone his skills as an independent developer.
"I'm not really a school person," says Binello.
Since then, he says, he's learned a lot, from the basics of game design to building his own servers and matchmaking system to supplement those provided by Roblox.
The "MeepCity" story
At the time, circa 2012 or so, Roblox didn't yet offer the Robux revenue split. In search of a way to make a living from his Roblox skills, Binello decided to try his hand at smartphone games. "Pears to Pairs," a take on the classic family game "Apples to Apples," racked up 50,000 downloads, he says, but failed to develop into a real business.
Luckily for Binello, Roblox came through in 2013 with its new revenue-split model. Binello was drawn back to Roblox, with the idea that his familiarity with the platform would give him a leg up.
"I knew I needed to succeed with the platform," says Binello.
Eventually, he won the attention of Roblox headquarters in Silicon Valley, which invited him to intern at its Silicon Valley campus in the summer of 2015 — providing enough income that he could quit his job at GameStop.
During that internship, Roblox encouraged him to develop new game ideas, and the germ of the idea for "MeepCity" was born, which came to fruition in 2016. It was an instant smash hit — at first Binello had to institute a queuing system to deal with a larger-than-expected crush of players, who found the title without any marketing or ads.
"That showed me the potential of what I was making," says Binello. It's only grown since, going from 10 million monthly active players around the start of 2018 to 15 million today.
Binello praises the "modularity" of "MeepCity" as what kept bringing players in: The game has gotten loads of new content over time, and last year even extended into a new genre with the launch of "MeepCity Racing," a full-fledged go kart racing game within the existing game world, designed to bring in older players.
Indeed, that's how he views the future of "MeepCity."
Now that he's officially gone into the "MeepCity" business by hiring on employees, Binello envisions it expanding into a veritable video game empire. Just like with "MeepCity Racing," he sees his team as bringing the existing game to new audiences by adding new modes and features. Another internship with Roblox, in the summer of 2017, gave him even more ideas for where to take the game, he says, and inspired him to move to the San Francisco area to be closer to HQ.
"MeepCity" can go beyond video games, too, Binello says. Last year, Roblox got into the action figure business by licensing characters from top games on the platform, including "MeepCity." Anyone who bought the MeepCity Fisherman action figure got a unique in-game hat, plus 10,000 coins in "MeepCity" itself.
The promotion was successful, and Binello believes it could be a sign of things to come as he looks to future opportunities, in merchandising and beyond.
"'MeepCity' feels like a brand unto itself," says Binello.