Hollywood Playbook: Thursday's Top 5 News Items

Box Office: Under-Performing 'Transformers 4' Should be Freaking Hollywood Out

My reviews of the dreadful "Tammy," the pro-Catholic "Deliver Us From Evil," and a much better than expected "Transformers: Age of Extinction" just posted.  I'm late with "Transformers" due to a family emergency that lasted a couple of weeks, but otherwise back on track.

According to THR, Melissa McCarthy's "Tammy" under-performed Wednesday with a $6.2 million debut. Worse still, what looked like a no-brainer released during a clear field for R-rated comedies got the kiss of death from CinemaScore: a measly C+.

In the top spot is Michael Bay's "Transformers: Age of Extinction," a holdover from last week enjoying little to no new competition. A solid $7.7 million Wednesday puts the fourquel at $128.6 million in North America. The overseas take is already $285 million for a worldwide total of $412 million.

My guess is that after production and advertising costs, "Transformers 4" will have to nudge $700 million before Paramount can start printing money.

Thus far, the sci-fi epic is pacing ahead of all its summer completion. The bad news is that it's only a little ahead of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which topped out at $225 million. Moreover, after 6 days, "Extinction" sits at $128 million; its predecessor, "Dark of the Moon," had already reached $180 million by day 6.

Last week it was unthinkable a new "Transformers" entry would fail to hit $300 million domestic. Now that looks more likely than not. Overseas grosses will ultimately save Paramount, but something truly bizarre is happening to the domestic box office.

If "Transformers" under-performs (and it really already is), will Hollywood retain its sunny, what-me-worry optimism about 2015?

Isn't "Transformers" every bit the no-brainer hit the new Superman and Avengers are supposed to be?


'Seinfeld' Turns 25

On July 5, 1989, a pretty awful sitcom named "The Seinfeld Chronicles" debuted on NBC. Thank heaven the network stuck with it for a number of low-rated seasons because the adventures of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer would eventually become my favorite sitcom after "Married with Children." Of course, it would also became a pop culture icon, a ratings smash, and a massive money-maker for everyone involved.

George Costanza was my favorite character.

My favorite line was when someone asked Elaine why she hated "The English Patient." Like the questioner was insane, she replied, "Because it sucked!"

For a show that was supposed to be about nothing, those half-hours had more plot than most two hour films.


Streaming: Look at All You Can Get For One-Third the Price of Cable

Deadline's published the results of a study that compares the film and television content of three streaming providers: Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The findings are nowhere near as fascinating as the fact that for less than $30  a month -- a third the cost of standard cable TV bill -- you can subscribe to all three services and find yourself buried in more television than you could ever watch:

Amazon “caught up significantly” to Netflix in TV, Olson says — although both trail Hulu, which is owned by the major broadcast networks. Hulu Plus had 51% of the available hit TV shows in June, an increase from 44% a year ago. Yet while Netflix had 32%, down 1 percentage point, Amazon increased to 12% from 7%. (Redbox had zero both years.)

The story’s different for movies. Netflix had 12% of the available hits this year, down from 14%. But Amazon dropped to 6% from 12%.  Redbox Instant also lost ground, falling to 7% from 10%. Hulu just had 1%, up from zero.

Two other points:

1. I don't care about hit movies because movies stink today; especially when compared to the quality of dramatic television.

2. I don't care all that much about hit television, either. One of the pleasures of Netflix and Amazon is going off the beaten path to discover television you never would have seen otherwise.

The study, I'm assuming, defines hit television as the standard police procedurals, courtroom dramas, and sex-drenched sitcoms you see on broadcast television that still earn higher ratings than cable dramas. My exhaustion with those is why I stopped watching TV in the mid-90's. So no loss there.


Criminal Indictments Issued in Sarah Jones Death

Filmmakers Randall Miller (director), Jody Savin (producer married to Miller), and Jay Sedrish (executive producer, production manager)  were indicted by a Wayne County, Georgia, grand jury Thursday for involuntary manslaughter in the February death of 27 year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones.

The company producing the Gregg Allman biopic "Midnighter Rider" was shooting on train tracks when a freight t rain struck a prop (a metal-framed hospital bed) lying on the tracks. The flying debris killed Jones and  injured another crewmember.

If found guilty, those charged could face 8 to 10 years in prison.

Via Nikki Finke:

The suit further claims that "…Midnight Rider defendants falsely informed, or gave the impression to the cast and crew, including Sarah, that they had received permission to conduct filming on the railroad tracks. As a result, Sarah and other members of the cast and crew believed that they had permission to be on the railroad tracks on Feb. 20." The suit says the defendants "selected an unreasonably dangerous site for the filming location, failed to secure approval for filming from CSX, concealed their lack of approval from CSX from the cast and crew, failed to secure and patrol the filming location, failed to station safety personnel at the filming location, failed to station ‘look-out’ individuals to watch for an approaching train, failed to hold a safety meeting prior to filming, failed to have an on-site medic present for the filming, failed to secure the presence of a CSX representative for the filming, failed to warn of the danger presented by the filming location and otherwise failed to take measures to protect the safety of the Midnight Rider cast and crew."

If true, who in their right mind would risk such a thing?


Watch: 20th Century-Fox Releases 3 Shorts to Fill 10-Year 'Apes' Gap

There is a span of 10 years between 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and next week's highly anticipated "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." To help fill in the decade-long story gap and better explain what happened during that time, 20th Century-Fox  has released three short films.

You won't see any CGI'd apes. The shorts focus on the humans and the ravages of the Simian Flu that wipes out 90% of humanity:

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Quick Hits:

Pirates 5, Bad Boys 3, National Treasure 3

Batman Cola!

The Year of the Self-Loathing Summer Movie

Bryan Singer Files Motion to Dismiss Sex Abuse Case

Trailer for Nicole Kidman's Next Flop



Send tips, requests to jnolte@breitbart.com

Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC              


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