Categoria: MONDO

Amazon Said To Make $9 Billion Offer For MGM

Amazon is weeks into negotiations on a deal to acquire MGM for about $9 billion, industry sources tell Variety.

Chatter that Amazon (and other tech giants) have been sniffing around MGM has circulated for some time. But sources indicated that Amazon’s interest in acquiring the studio has taken on a new tenor beyond the usual rumor mill. The deal is said to be being orchestrated by Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, directly with MGM board chairman Kevin Ulrich, whose Anchorage Capital is a major MGM shareholder.

Reps for Amazon and MGM declined to comment.

MGM had already effectively nailed up a “for sale” sign: Variety confirmed in December that the company was looking for a buyer.

News of Amazon’s talks with MGM began to swirl this weekend. The Information reported Monday that Amazon was in talks about a potential deal for MGM, which could run between $7 billion and $10 billion. Industry sources said MGM reps have been whispering to prospective buyers for month about a price tag of $9 billion while others see it as worth about $5 billion.

In a sign Amazon has upped its focus on entertainment, last week the company announced that it had tapped Jeff Blackburn, a former high-ranking executive who recently exited the ecommerce giant, to return to Amazon in a new role overseeing a consolidated global media and entertainment group.

Amazon currently has more than 200 million Prime members worldwide, and Jeff Bezos recently told investors that 175 million of those streamed Prime Video content in the past year. The company clearly wants to turn Prime Video into an even bigger habit for its customers worldwide — and a quick way to do that would be to stir MGM’s extensive library of titles into the mix.

MGM claims to own one of the world’s “deepest libraries” of premium film and TV content.

Its 4,000 film titles include the James Bond, Hobbit, Rocky/Creed, RoboCop and Pink Panther franchises, as well as movies like “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Magnificent Seven” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” The MGM TV library includes approximately 17,000 episodes of programming, including “Stargate SG-1,” “Stargate Atlantis,” “Stargate Universe,” “Vikings,” “Fargo,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Get Shorty,” “Condor,” “Fame,” “American Gladiators,” “Teen Wolf” and “In the Heat of the Night.” Unscripted shows in its portfolio include “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Shark Tank,” “”The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “The Hills.”

For Amazon, media is a relatively small piece of its gargantuan empire but represents a fast-growing business segment. In 2020, the company spent $11 billion on TV shows, movies and music for Prime services — up 40% from the year prior.

For the first three months of 2021, MGM Holdings reported revenue of $403.3 million (up 27% year over year) and net income of $29.3 million (versus a net loss of $12.1 million the year prior).

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After ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ Won An Oscar, Period Poverty Is Still A Problem In The U.S. (Guest Column)

In 2019, when I took the stage with director Rayka Zehtabchi to accept the Academy Award for documentary short subject for “Period. End of Sentence,” I held the Oscar high and declared “a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.” Nearly 26.9 million viewers in 225 countries heard the rallying cry for menstrual justice. As dizzying as that number is, it represents only a small fraction of the 800 million people on earth who are menstruating at any given time.

Until we have policies that recognize that menstrual health is a biological process fundamental to our physical, emotional, and economic well-being, gender equity can never be achieved.

Set in India, “Period. End of Sentence.” chronicles how attitudes toward menstruation change when women run a pad-manufacturing enterprise in their village. As the executive director of the Pad Project (the non-profit behind the Netflix doc), I am proud the film sparked a worldwide conversation about the taboo topic of menstruation. I am also fearful that too many people believe that period poverty is something that only happens “out there” in low-income countries. In fact, the U.S. lags behind many low-income countries when it comes to addressing period poverty.

Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual products, to clean and safe toilets, to hand-washing facilities and waste disposal, and to education about reproductive biology. The non-profit Period Equity reports that “many in the U.S. are forced to make a terrible choice between buying food or menstrual products.” A 2019 study in St. Louis found that two-thirds of respondents had not been able to afford products at least once in the last year, and 21% faced this issue monthly. The organization I Support The Girls reports a 35% increase in requests for products since the start of the pandemic. The morning after the Oscars, I woke to an email from a Californian teen telling me she stuffed her underwear with “old socks” because she couldn’t afford pads.

Studies show one in four teenagers in the U.S. miss class due to the lack of access to menstrual products at school, and one in five has struggled to afford products. Currently, only seven states require high schools to provide free products to students: California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia. A Good Morning America report states that 1 in 10 U.S. college students experience period poverty, with “Black and Latina women [experiencing] the highest levels of period poverty in the last year along with immigrant and first-generation students.”

The taxation of menstrual products compounds the challenge of access and affordability. Menstruators in the U.S. spend approximately $6,360 over the course of their reproductive lives on period products. A substantial amount of this expense is in taxes. In addition to sales tax, menstrual products may be subject to a luxury tax levied on items deemed “unnecessary.” Missouri taxes tampons but not bingo supplies. Wisconsin taxes tampons but not gun club memberships. And so on. Thirty of 50 states make tampons subject to sales tax. The taxation of the estimated 61 million Americans who use period products enforces gender discrimination. States reap an estimated annual profit of $130 million from periods.

When it comes to policies that allow for — rather than punish — people who have periods, other countries outpace the U.S. In 2018, India exempted pads of the Goods and Services Tax. Similarly, Kenya, Mauritania, South Africa, Tanzania, and most recently, Namibia, did away with the Value Added Tax on sanitary products. Last year, Scotland was the first nation to make period products free for “anyone who needs them.” This year, Ireland’s supermarket chain Lidl will offer free period products in its stores across the country, and New Zealand passed an initiative that requires all schools to offer free products to students. The Kenyan government has distributed free pads in schools since 2011.

If you are among the 20% of American women who suffer from debilitating periods, you cannot expect period leave in the workplace. Japan, however, has had period leave for more than 70 years. In 2019, the Swedish government granted funds to the non-profit Mensen to create period-friendly workplaces, and in 2020, the Indian food service Zomato allowed employees up to ten days of period leave per year. Countries that mandate some amount of menstrual leave include China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Zambia. Just last month, South Korea, a country that has offered paid period leave since 1953, opened a store dedicated to fighting the “long-held stigma around periods.” The Period Shop, which opened near Daebang Station in Seoul, boasts a window display of Diva Cups that are as colorful as confections.

I cannot imagine passing such a storefront on the streets of Los Angeles. For all our bravado, Americans are still squeamish about blood. Period blood, that is. A quick scan of Oscar winners for Best Picture turns up such battle-bloodied victors as “Platoon,” “Braveheart” and “Gladiator,” to name only a few. But when “Period. End of Sentence.” won the Oscar, it marked the first time the coveted gold was bestowed upon a film about blood let in the name of life, rather than death. Yet, save for a fleeting image of a stained rag discarded in a field, there is not a drop of blood shown throughout the 26-minute documentary. That would have been, as one venerated member of the Director’s Branch of The Academy put it in the Hollywood Reporter: “Too icky.”

Melissa Berton is executive director of the Pad Project. She wrote the forward for the new book “Period. End of Sentence,” written by Anita Diamant, looking at issues surrounding menstruation around the globe.

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Women In Animation Launches Global Toon Talent Database

Women in Animation has launched WIA Talent Database, currently featuring more than 5,000 women, trans and non-binary candidates in the animation industry looking for work in the booming global toon biz. It’s another big step for the WIA in its 50/50 by 2025 goal. 

The WIA Talent Database is designed to be an ever-growing resource for studios seeking to balance the diversity of their productions. 

 “While studios around the world have heard our call for balance and pledged to champion diversity, the reality is that most animation hires are influenced by word of mouth and proximity to the hiring parties. Increasing the visibility and accessibility of women will make it harder to deny our existence. In other words, the statement, ‘I’d love to hire women, but I don’t know where to find them’ will no longer be acceptable,” notes WIA president Marge Dean. 

Under the leadership of Dean and combined focus of database creator Liz Luu, website developer Mickey Kyle and database manager Kate Menz, the WIA Talent Database was conceived and built to pool talent that covers the full range of roles on animated productions in an easily searchable collection of candidates to be considered for hiring by the international animation industry.

The WIA Database allows potential employers to filter searches based on a number of animation-specific factors including series vs. feature experience, years of work in a particular role, CG pipeline knowledge and more. The system also boasts a unique gallery view, which can be used to compare candidate art styles side by side, “recreating the simultaneous portfolio review experience that best matches candidates with a production’s visual development goals,” says Luu. 

To access the database, visit the WIA website at womeninanimation.org or reach out to the WIA Talent Database team directly by emailing database@womeninanimation.org. 

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Scores For ‘Soul,’ ‘Lovecraft Country,’ ‘Last Of Us II,’ ‘A Life On Our Planet’ Win ASCAP Composers’ Choice Awards

The ASCAP Screen Music Awards kicked off a four-day virtual celebration Monday morning with the naming of winners in the peer-voted ASCAP Composers’ Choice Awards, with the score for Pixar’s “Soul” managing to notch yet another triumph as its sweep continues virtually unabated.

The number of categories for the performing rights organization’s still fairly new division of awards voted by fellow songwriters and composers was expanded in this round, with documentary score and television theme of the year being added for 2021.

In the film score of the year category, the “Soul” music proved that it has some life — or afterlife — left in it yet after recently triumphing at the Oscars. The award went to Trent Reznor and Jon Batiste, two of the composing trio behind the music. (The third partner, Atticus Ross, did not win because he’s not an ASCAP signatory, although his mantle probably isn’t hurting for sitting this one out.)

A television score of the year award replaces the former TV composer of the year category, with the award more clearly going for a single piece of work. It went to R&B legend Raphael Saadiq for his work on the socially resonant horror drama “Lovecraft Country.”

American dystopian horror moved into the near-future instead of near-past for “The Last of Us Part II,” which landed Gustavo Santaolalla an award for videogame score of the year.

Television theme of the year went to legendary neo-classsical composer Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan for their music for the Emmy-nominated sci-fi series “Tales from the Loop.”

For documentary score of the year, the winner was Steven Price, for his work on “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.”

With traditional in-person proceedings still being on hold this year due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the rollout of winners came on ASCAP’s social media. The PRO’s Instagram accounts (@ASCAP and @ASCAPScreen) feature acceptance speeches from Batiste, Price, Glass, Leonard-Morgan and Santaolalla. Three of the winners, Batiste, Leonard-Morgan and Santaolalla, also contributed special performances.

Awards are also being given out in the more traditional, non-voted categories that have long been a mainstay of the ASCAP Screen Music Awards, reflecting data for the most-performed music of the year.

David Vanacore won Most Performed Themes and Underscore for multiple shows, including “Survivor” and “Biggest Loser.”

The top winner for scoring for a cable television series was Bear McCreary for “The Walking Dead.”

The main theme for “NCIS” won Matthew Hawkins, Maurice “m.O” Jackson and Neil Martin the award for Top Network Television Series.

Among feature films, Rupert Gregson-Williams received the Top Box Office Film honor for “The Eight Hundred.”

A full list of 2021 ASCAP Screen Music Awards winners, along with speeches, performances and other presentations, is available at http://www.ascap.com/screenawards21.

Other content can be found under the hashtag #ASCAPAwards on the org’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as on Instagram at @ASCAP and @ASCAPScreen.

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AT&T Chief John Stankey, WarnerMedia Head Jason Kilar Address Discovery Merger In Staff Memo

In the wake of a mega-deal with Discovery that seems primed to shake up the media landscape, AT&T chief John Stankey and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar urged employees to stay focused on their jobs while they wait for the pact to close.

“During this period, our direction and mission remain the same,” Stankey wrote in a staff-wide memo obtained by Variety. “The market and product strategies underway across WarnerMedia are consistent with a merged, post-close company. So during the review period, we will support and commit to delivering on WarnerMedia’s full aspirations and capabilities with regards to the existing strategy and business plans. There will be no waiting on direction, hitting the pause button, or resting on our market position in the coming months – only continued forward drive and progress.”

For his part, Kilar also argued that staff needs to stay focused while the companies try to obtain regulatory approval for the merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia. The deal comes as HBO Max is continuing to work to add subscribers and to stake out a place for itself in the crowded streaming space.

“I want to stress how important I believe it is in this moment for us to continue to keep our focus and to live up to our potential as a team,” Kilar wrote. “As I shared last month in the context of our first quarter’s results, there is so much wind in our sails. This kind of momentum is hard earned but easily lost.”

The deal will leave Discovery CEO David Zaslav in charge of the combined company. On a press conference, Zaslav had complimentary things to say about Kilar and top WarnerMedia executives such as CNN head Jeff Zucker and Warner Bros. chief Toby Emmerich. However, some of these executives could lose out in the merger.

Shedding the media business gives AT&T greater financial flexibility as it works to expand its 5G network. The telecom will receive $43 billion in a combination of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of debt. It will also have a 71% ownership stake in the new venture. Merging with Discovery will give the new enterprise approximately $20 billion in combined spending firepower when it comes to producing new shows and movies.

“It is becoming clear that WarnerMedia has effectively demonstrated its right to lead in the future media landscape,” Stankey wrote. “However, we are now in a world where relevance and future success will be tied to greater scale and growth globally. To be one of the best global media companies requires not only broad and deep creative assets, but an investor base and access to capital to make it happen. The decision to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery is rooted in this conclusion.”

AT&T announced its purchase of Time Warner in 2016 and had to wait until 2018 for the deal to close. It’s been a disruptive period, one that’s seen the launch of HBO Max, as well as a global pandemic that’s upended the film business. That’s to say nothing of the layoffs that accompany these kinds of mergers.

“I will admit that I am personally disappointed and sad that I will not have the opportunity to continue this journey with you, but I am incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of the combined WarnerMedia and Discovery,” Stankey wrote. “I intend to retain every share of stock I receive in the new entity and enjoy the fruits of your continued success. I see nothing but a bright future as the collective capabilities of the combined companies are unleashed!”

Here are the full memos:

To My WarnerMedia Coworkers,

A few minutes ago, we announced our intent to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, with the new company post-close being led by David Zaslav. Even though there has been recent press speculation on our future, I suspect today’s news is a bit surprising — which is why I’d like to share how we arrived at this decision.

First, this opportunity is afforded and necessitated by the success of a challenging and hard-fought evolution underway at WarnerMedia. And it’s a credit to your hard work. Since 2018, we have embraced how customers are experiencing entertainment and media and have worked to shape new business models.

It is becoming clear that WarnerMedia has effectively demonstrated its right to lead in the future media landscape. However, we are now in a world where relevance and future success will be tied to greater scale and growth globally. To be one of the best global media companies requires not only broad and deep creative assets, but an investor base and access to capital to make it happen. The decision to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery is rooted in this conclusion. WarnerMedia’s continued evolution to direct relationships with customers will be accelerated, enhanced and secured by this decision. I am confident this will be an important milestone as we look back with pride and satisfaction that our efforts, brands and intellectual property were central to creating a flourishing and growing global media platform.

The complementary nature of this combination of companies is critical. It allows for two important things. In our core linear business, a combined offering of programming will stretch across the most powerful advertising demographics and will strengthen the combined company’s value proposition in fast evolving markets. Further, the programming line-up broadens our audience and will deliver more value to our distribution partners. In our direct-to-consumer efforts, we add an important and popular content genre, coupled with the strengthening of our upcoming effort to scale internationally.

While overlap in our creative and content capabilities is virtually non-existent, there will be opportunity to redirect investment away from duplicative back-office, support and administrative functions into our growth strategies. This reality is a necessary part of our journey to reposition the company. Answers on how that will play out won’t be immediate, but you can observe from the Scripps/Discovery integration that a deliberate and balanced approach to capitalizing on the combined strengths of the two companies is David’s track record and overall objective.

Second, having shared why I feel this is the right move for the market and the sustainability of WarnerMedia’s success, let me make a few comments about another important stakeholder — our owners. Your efforts since 2018 have set WarnerMedia on a solid path to creating significant value for our shareholders. You see this reflected in the transaction’s economic terms. This opportunity for WarnerMedia to ascend into the position of a leading global media company would not be possible had it not been for the combined capabilities of Time Warner and AT&T. This journey started based on management’s conviction and willingness to invest to reposition WarnerMedia for direct customer relationships.

Those of you close to this know that the unique combination of AT&T’s distribution expertise, broader trading relationships and competitive market position, coupled with WarnerMedia’s remarkable brands and content were both necessary to establish HBO Max, which is on its way to creating substantial future value. I have said many times how proud I am of what this team has accomplished under challenging circumstances and timeframes. The adversity and obstacles you conquered over the past few years are understood by few. Now it’s time to take the next step in WarnerMedia’s evolution to be a global media leader — not just for the next year, but for the next decade and beyond. That’s what this transaction does. It gives this company every tool needed to achieve its full potential.

Any time a change like this occurs, there is speculation about alternatives. While I won’t detail our careful deliberations across a broad consideration set, I can tell you that we made a choice that I firmly believe is the absolute best choice. The success and momentum of WarnerMedia allows us to author our position in a fast-evolving industry landscape.

The Discovery team is a capable, creative and wonderfully successful group that has enjoyed remarkable success. Importantly, that success has come in segments and content genres highly complementary to WarnerMedia’s capabilities. David and his management team share the same conviction on driving the evolution of the business model as we do. He has tremendous respect for the people and achievements of our company and believes the talent and skills of both companies are instrumental to future market success.

A final note on the pending period before final approval. We believe the complementary, pro-innovation and pro-competitive aspects of this transaction will drive a straight-forward review by the governing regulatory bodies. During this period, our direction and mission remain the same. The market and product strategies underway across WarnerMedia are consistent with a merged, post-close company. So during the review period, we will support and commit to delivering on WarnerMedia’s full aspirations and capabilities with regards to the existing strategy and business plans. There will be no waiting on direction, hitting the pause button, or resting on our market position in the coming months – only continued forward drive and progress.

I will admit that I am personally disappointed and sad that I will not have the opportunity to continue this journey with you, but I am incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of the combined WarnerMedia and Discovery. I intend to retain every share of stock I receive in the new entity and enjoy the fruits of your continued success. I see nothing but a bright future as the collective capabilities of the combined companies are unleashed!

We will keep you updated as our planning for the transaction’s completion progresses. Pascal will join me tomorrow in a video session to answer your questions and further discuss the transaction. David will also be addressing the broader audience in the coming days. I look forward to our continued discussion.

John

__________

Team –

By now you likely have read a fair bit about the news of WarnerMedia and Discovery reaching a definitive agreement to combine. Between the recent company-wide email and tomorrow’s Town Hall, John Stankey and Pascal Desroches have done and will continue to do a very strong job of sharing the details and context of the transaction with the entire team.

The purpose of this email is two-fold.

First and most importantly, I want to say thank you to every one of you. The pride, passion and affection I have for this team – for each of you – and this company are impossible to communicate. I don’t take any days on the WarnerMedia team for granted, it is an honor to get to serve our customers and to get to serve you in this role. Whether I am heading onto the lot in Burbank or into the lobby at Hudson Yards (or elsewhere), I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. I am so thankful for all that you do and for every precious day I get to be on this team in this role.

Secondly, I want to stress how important I believe it is in this moment for us to continue to keep our focus and to live up to our potential as a team. As I shared last month in the context of our first quarter’s results, there is so much wind in our sails. This kind of momentum is hard earned but easily lost. I’m thankful that today’s momentous news comes during a stretch where our focus happens to be particularly intense: we’re going to host our Upfront this Wednesday, we’re going to drop the Friends Reunion next Thursday, the ensuing week brings the launch of an ad supported HBO Max, In The Heights premieres the following week, and at the end of June HBO Max will be going live in 39 additional countries. That is a pretty good six-week stretch and there is so much more to come on the heels of it (21 additional launches across Europe, DC FanDome, our strongest stretch of motion picture releases since the pandemic started, vital work over at CNN, and much more). This is a defining moment for us. And I recognize that it will take all we’ve got to keep collective focus on the mission. We can do it 🙂

On this day and on all days…thank you so much to the best team out there.

Jason

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Sharon Liggins Joins Endeavor Content As Senior Vice President Of Communications

Veteran PR executive Sharon Liggins has joined Endeavor Content as senior vice president of communications.

Liggins most recently served as vice president of publicity for Ava Duvernay’s narrative change collective ARRAY. In her new role with Endeavor Content, Liggins will oversee the strategic direction of communications activities across the studio’s many divisions, including film and television production, sales, and distribution, and joins the senior leadership team led by co-presidents Graham Taylor and Chris Rice.

“Sharon has an impeccable track record of sustained excellence across many platforms and genres of content,” Taylor and Rice said announcing Liggins’ appointment. “Her record as a creative campaign strategist and strategic advisor uniquely suit her to the next chapter in our continued growth, and we are excited by the exceptional knowledge and passion that she brings to the team at Endeavor Content.”

Liggins will be based in Los Angeles and the appointment is effective immediately.

During her tenure as ARRAY’s vice president of publicity, Liggins oversaw communications across the company’s public programming and social impact initiatives, independent film distribution platform, as well as personal publicity and appearances for DuVernay. Liggins also managed all publicity for series and films under the ARRAY Filmworks banner, collaborating with Warner Bros. TV, Netflix, NBC, HBO Max, OWN and the CW.

Prior to her time at ARRAY, Liggins worked as an independent consultant, working on projects including the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace,” Stanley Nelson’s HBCU documentary “Tell Them We are Rising” and television producer Lemuel Plummer’s Zeus Network. Liggins also worked as a consultant for POP TV, WGN America, the Urban Movie Channel and The Broad museum, among others.

She also served as Universal Cable Productions’ head of communications, overseeing publicity for NBCUniversal’s top-tier series including “Suits,” “Psych,” “Covert Affairs” and “Warehouse 13.” Liggins was also ABC Studios’ executive director of communications, overseeing corporate comms and publicity for “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “Criminal Minds” and “Ghost Whisperer.” Earlier in her career, Liggins worked at Hallmark Channel, CAA, PBS, and the independent PR firm DVG Communications.

Liggins is also a former two-term PR peer group governor for the Television Academy and co-chaired the organization’s diversity committee.

Endeavor Content’s recent slate of projects includes Apple TV plus’ “See” and “Truth Be Told” (with Kate Hudson joining star Octavia Spencer for its second season), as well as Hulu’s “Normal People,” the upcoming “Conversations with Friends” (starring Alison Oliver, Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn, and Jemima Kirke) and “Nine Perfect Strangers” (with an ensemble led by Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Regina Hall).

On the film side, the company is currently developing the George Gershwin-inspired musical drama “Fascinating Rhythm” from Martin Scorsese and John Carney.  The company also recently announced a first-look producing deal with Stephanie Allain, and another with Layne Eskridge’s POV Entertainment.

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Australia’s ‘Kid Snow, ‘Petrol’ And ‘Memoirs Of A Snail’ To Shoot After Receiving Funding

Federal funding body Screen Australia confirmed its backing for a trio of Australian film projects that will now move forward into production. Director Robert Connolly (“The Dry”) is behind two of them as producer.

The funding decisions ensure that a steady stream of local films move into production, alongside the large volume of international films and TV series that are currently in Australia, taking advantage of generous incentives and good coronavirus control conditions.

Set in 1970’s Western Australia, “Kid Snow” is a drama about a washed-up Irish boxer who is offered a rematch against a man he fought 10 years ago, on a night that changed his life forever. He is faced with a chance to redeem himself when he meets a single mother and is forced to contemplate a future beyond boxing.

The film is directed by Paul Goldman (“Suburban Mayhem”) and written by John Brumpton (“Life”), Phillip Gwynne (“Australian Rules”), Shane Danielsen (“The Guests”) and Stephen Cleary (script editor on “Sweet Country”). The producers are Lizzette Atkins (“Looking For Grace”), Megan Wynn (“The Childhood of A Leader”) and Bruno Charlesworth (“Ladies In Black”).

With state funding confirmed by Screenwest, Lotterywest and the Western Australian Screen Fund through the State Government of Western Australia’s Royalties for Regions, production will start later this year in historic mining town Kalgoorlie. “Kid Snow” will be distributed by Madman and France-based sales agent Elle Driver.

Connolly’s Arenamedia is producing “Petrol” mystery drama, a second feature by Alena Lodkina about an idealistic student who befriends a performance artist. As the two women move in together and their lives become more entwined, they set off on a surreal journey of awakening, haunted by dreams, fantasies and ghosts Distribution in Australia is by Cinemaplus and public broadcaster SBS. International rights are represented by Maze Film Sales.

Arenamedia is also behind stop-motion animated feature film “Memoir of a Snail.” It is directed by “Mary and “Max” creator Adam Elliot, whose previous “Harvie Krumpet” won an Oscar for best animated short in 2003. This film tells the bittersweet story of a woman who is a lonely hoarder of ornamental snails. Her life is plagued with misfortune and loss until she befriends an elderly eccentric woman who teaches her many life lessons and gives her the courage to let go of the things that clutter her home and her mind.

“Snail” is produced by Liz Kearney (Connolly’s “Paper Planes”) and Elliot, and executive produced by Connolly. Local distribution is by Madman and France’s Charades is managing international sales.

Screen Australia also confirmed funding for two TV projects going into their second seasons. They are “Bump,” an original drama about teen pregnancy for Stan, produced by and starring Claudia Karvan; and kidnap drama “The Secrets She Keeps,” for Network 10, BBC1 and Sundance Now, set two years after the first season.

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‘Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins’: Henry Golding Suits Up In First Trailer

The first trailer for “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” debuted Sunday night during the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Starring Henry Golding and Samara Weaving, the “G.I. Joe” spinoff is set for a theatrical release on July 23.

Golding plays the titular character, a ninja commando who wields a deadly katana blade, wears all-black, hides his face behind a mask and doesn’t speak. Though don’t worry — the film, which explores the origins of the mysterious Snake Eyes, allows Golding to talk.

Weaving plays Scarlett, an original member of the “G.I. Joe” team with whom Snake Eyes has a special relationship.

“I wanted to see something different, and I wanted it to look different, to feel different,” Golding said. “To be able to launch a franchise like that, it was just too good to be true — and especially with a character like Snake Eyes about whom a lot of people don’t know too much. They know him as this insane operator that completes missions and is an absolute weapon, but who’s the guy behind the mask and what’s his story?”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told Entertainment Weekly that “Snake Eyes” will answer some key questions about the character, based on the Hasbro toy of the same name. Fans will learn Snake Eyes’ real name, who he is and where he came from.

From Paramount, Skydance and AllSpark, “Snake Eyes” is directed by Robert Schwentke, written by Evan Spiliotopoulos. The film is executive produced by Jeff G. Waxman and produced by Bonaventura, Brian Goldner, Stephen Davis, David Ellison, Josh Feldman, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger.

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‘Spiral’ Tops Korean Box Office On Thinly-Sliced Weekend

“Spiral: From The Book of Saw” carved out the top spot at the South Korean box office over the weekend. But it was a thin slice of a painfully quiet weekend.

Korea’s aggregate nationwide box office was just $2.60 million, almost unchanged from last week and within a whisker of being the smallest weekend total in three months. While international titles are now returning to the releasing calendar, audiences continue to stay away in what used to be the world’s fourth largest theatrical market.

“Spiral,” a newly-released horror franchise sequel earned $551,000 for a 21% share of the market, ahead of “The Courier” in second place and last week’s winner “The Croods: A New Age” in third. The Courier” dropped only 19% in its third weekend, scoring $316,000 for a cumulative of $2.31 since its debut in April 28, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s Kobis tracking service. “The Croods” dropped 30% from its first weekend to a second weekend score of $264,000. Its cumulative is $1.62 million.

“Spiral” earned its top spot having played on 688 screens, giving a per screen average of just $800 over the three days of the weekend. Its five-day cumulative is $780,000.

Japanese animation film “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train” held on in fourth place with a $254,000 weekend haul that advanced its cumulative to $17.7 million. The film, released on Jan. 27, now has the distinction of being only the second title this year to sell more than two million tickets in Korea.

Minor places went to new release Korean films “My Lovely Angel” which earned $141,000 in five days for ninth position over the weekend, and “In The Name of The Son,” which earned $117,000 in five days and arrived in tenth spot.

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Danny Trejo Believes He Would Be In Prison Or Dead If He Didn’t Get Sober

Danny Trejo was honored by Los Angeles drug and alcohol treatment center CRI-Help Friday night during its 50th anniversary drive-in celebration at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

The “Desperado” actor, who has been sober for nearly 53 years, was presented with the inaugural Vanguard Award for his work and advocacy of the recovery community by his filmmaker son, Gilbert Trejo.  “Everything from Aug. 23, 1968 to now is just like a dream,” Danny told Variety, referring to his sobriety date. “I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’ve got nothing to fix.”

He has been involved with CRI-Help since it first opened. “You get to see moms who should never be near a kid become soccer moms and drive a minivan,” the actor said. “You see dads who you’d think would still be in prison coaching little league baseball teams. CRI-Help is really one of God’s tools.”

Driving to Arcadia on a Friday might? Yes, if it means talking to @officialDannyT ahead of him being honored by @CriHelpInc for his more than 50 years of service to the recovery community. pic.twitter.com/ibJdVeeANi

— Marc Malkin (@marcmalkin) May 15, 2021

Trejo’s children, Gilbert and Danielle, both got help at CRI-Help when they were struggling with addiction. Gilbert has nearly seven years clean while his sister has almost eight years. “My kids are my greatest accomplishment,” Danny said. “I just adore them. But I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t get sober. If I didn’t get clean and sober, there’s no doubt that I’d still be in prison or dead. It’s that simple because that’s the train I was on. The only thing that stopped it was the program.”

Also honored during the event were CRI-Help’s Jack Bernstein and Marlene Nadel. The evening included dinner from Trejo’s Tacos as well as a screening of the Brett Harvey-directed documentary “Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo.”

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