Morning Consult Entertainment: Universal, Peacock Said to Team Up on ‘Exorcist’ Reboot in Over $400 Million Deal


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July 27, 2021
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Disney Was Right to Hold ‘Black Widow,’ but Streaming, Delta Variant Present New Challenges for Theaters

“Black Widow” set a pandemic-era record when it opened with $80 million earlier this month, though box office receipts fell steeply in the film’s second week. Box office analysts say that while stagnant consumer comfort levels and the delta variant of the coronavirus are among the challenges facing movie theaters on their path to recovery, one analyst contended that the duration of a film’s run in theaters is one of the important factors in its box office receipts. Read more here: State-Level Comfort Data Shows ‘Black Widow’ Delay Made Sense, but Disney Can’t Rely on That Tactic


Top Stories

  • Universal Pictures and Peacock agreed to reboot the “Exorcist” as a new film trilogy in a deal worth over $400 million, according to three people briefed on the matter. The first film, which will star Ellen Burstyn and Leslie Odom Jr. and will be written and directed by David Gordon Green, is slated for a theatrical release in 2023, with one source saying the sequels could premiere on Peacock. (The New York Times)
  • Simone Biles, one of the biggest stars of the Tokyo Olympics, will not compete in the women’s gymnastics team finals after suffering an injury during a vault and exiting the competition floor with a doctor, leading the women to complete the team competition without her. It is unclear whether Biles will return for the all-around final on Thursday night and later the event finals. (The Associated Press)
  • Always Smiling Productions, one of the producers of the Apple TV+ original “The Morning Show,” sued Chubb National Insurance Company, alleging that the insurer is not paying for pandemic-related production delays, even though the producers have $125 million in cast coverage. Chubb has agreed to pay $1 million, while the production company says it has accrued $44 million in costs. (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company is forming a team to build out a “metaverse” that would allow users to move and communicate in a virtual environment across multiple devices, calling it a “successor to the mobile internet.” The company has previously invested in hardware for virtual reality and purchased VR gaming studios. (Reuters)

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What Else You Need to Know


Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast alive, could be the next marketing GOAT too

Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times 

There’s a reason for the rhinestone goat outlined on Simone Biles’ leotard. At 24, Biles has redefined what’s possible in gymnastics by performing complex skills few in the world can match. 


Naomi Osaka Out Of Tokyo Olympics After Shocking 3rd Round Loss

Nellie Andreeva, Deadline

Tennis champion Naomi Osaka, one of the biggest stars at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, made a surprise early exit, losing to Markéta Vondroušová in the third round.


Britney Spears Moves to Remove Father From Conservatorship

Anne Steele, The Wall Street Journal 

Britney Spears’s new lawyer moved to have her father removed from the helm of her 13-year-old conservatorship, calling the arrangement toxic.


WGA recommends Hollywood writers get vaccinated before gathering

Anousha Sakoui, Los Angeles Times 

Hollywood writers are the latest group of entertainment industry workers being urged to get vaccinated. The Writers Guild of America is recommending its members be vaccinated against COVID-19 before meeting up with colleagues, according to a list of recommendations sent to members Monday seen by The Times.


Crisis PR firm tells Golden Globes group there’s only one way to save the show

Stacy Perman, Los Angeles Times 

As the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s vote on its proposed new bylaws nears, the outcome remains in play. Underscoring the uncertainty, the group’s crisis PR consultant sent a memo to members last week, prodding them to “consider what will happen if you do not pass the bylaws.”


‘Peppa Pig’ Parent Hasbro Sees Film & TV Rebound, Beats Wall Street Q2 Forecasts

Dade Hayes, Deadline 

A strong return of its film and TV business, especially compared with a bleak 2020, helped Hasbro’s second quarter results easily beat Wall Street forecasts.


PGA Awards Announce Show Date, Nomination Timeline and Return to In-Person Ceremony in 2022

Michael Schneider, Variety 

The Producers Guild of America has announced the key dates and timeline for the org’s 2022 Producers Guild of America Awards. Celebrating its 33rd awards ceremony, the PGA Awards will return to an in-person event at the Century Plaza Hotel — newly renovated and reopened as the Fairmont Century Plaza — on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.


WGA Racked Up $4.6 Million In Legal Bills In Historic Victory Over Talent Agencies

David Robb, Deadline 

The WGA racked up more than $4.6 million in legal bills to win its historic victory over the major talent agencies. The nearly two-year-long legal battle, which began in April 2019 and ended in February 2021, will phase out packaging fees by June 2022 and limit a franchised agency and its owners to owning no more than a 20% stake in a production or distribution entity.


What Box Office Recovery? Low Points Are Getting Lower as COVID Anxiety Grows

Jeremy Fuster, The Wrap Pro 

In a normal box office, down periods are common. Some weekends will bring films with little mainstream interest or weak word-of-mouth while theaters simply wait for the next big franchise blockbuster to get business going again.


Venice Film Festival Details COVID Plan, Says It Will Be ‘Less Complicated’ Than Cannes

Nick Vivarelli, Variety 

Venice Film Festival organizers are closely monitoring the possible impact of the spread of the Delta variant, but sounded an upbeat note on Monday with artistic director Alberto Barbera saying he was confident “the situation will be much less complicated than Cannes.”


NBC Olympics Viewership Rises Sunday From Opening Ceremony, Airs To More Than Double The Viewers Of Other Networks Combined

Alexandra Del Rosario, Deadline 

Olympic athletes weren’t the only ones with a strong showing in Sunday as NBC’s coverage of the global sporting event keep its momentum going. NBC’s 2020 Olympics coverage was the highest rated and most-watched program Sunday, per Nielsen Live + Same Day Day fast affiliates.


Fox Will Debut Almost Its Entire Fall Lineup the Week of September 20

Jason Lynch, Adweek

The final broadcast network that hadn’t yet set its fall premiere dates, Fox, has firmed up its plans for the new season. Almost its entire fall lineup, which leans into the strength of its existing franchises, will debut during the first week of the 2021-22 TV season, beginning on Monday, Sept. 20.

Technology and New Media

NBC’s streaming service Peacock slammed over its Olympics coverage

Alexandra Steigrad, New York Post 

The reviews are in, and they’re not very good. Customers who signed up for NBCUniversal’s streaming service to watch the Tokyo Games are raising hell over their viewing experience even as ratings for the 2021 Olympics plummet.


Starz Blocks Disney From Launching ‘Star Plus’ Streaming Service in Brazil

Gene Maddaus, Variety 

Starz has succeeded in blocking Disney from launching a streaming service in Brazil under the name “Star Plus.” A judge in Sao Paolo granted a temporary restraining order on Friday, holding that Disney cannot use the brand name when the service debuts on Aug. 31.


‘Ted Lasso’ Season 2 Premiere Scores Biggest Apple TV+ Launch

Tim Baysinger, The Wrap 

On screen, AFC Richmond has neither won nor lost this season, but “Ted Lasso” scored a big win for its Season 2 debut last Friday. The return of the Emmy-nominated comedy was Apple TV+’s biggest launch in the streaming service’s brief history.


Vice Programs Will Stay on Hulu as Brands Renew Licensing Deal

Manori Ravindran, Variety 

Vice programs will remain on streaming service Hulu in the U.S. after Vice Distribution, the global distribution arm of the youth-skewing media brand, renewed its licensing partnership with the Disney-backed SVOD.


Netflix’s new vp of game development Mike Verdu brings much-needed skillsets

Alexander Lee, Digiday 

It’s no secret that Netflix is interested in gaming and esports. CEO Reed Hastings said as much in 2019, when he cited “Fortnite,” not HBO, as the streaming service’s biggest threat.


AI deepfakes of Anthony Bourdain’s voice are only a taste of what’s coming

Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times 

The most important thing about a documentary deepfaking Anthony Bourdain’s voice isn’t that it happened, but that it happened and almost nobody noticed.


SiriusXM’s new VIP plan covers two cars and lots of concerts

Simon Cohen, Digital Trends 

With streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify increasing their subscriber numbers each year, it’s no wonder that SiriusXM is looking to differentiate itself as much as possible. 


NBC Is Using Commerce Tech for Jill Martin’s New Shop Today Show

Emmy Liederman, Adweek 

As a longtime lifestyle contributor at NBC’s Today show, Jill Martin’s job is to act as a filter between people and products. Throughout her career, consumer trends and commerce technology have faced constant evolution, but Martin has always leaned into a simple thesis: shopping does not have to be complicated.


Activision Blizzard Gender-Bias Suit Shows Videogame Culture Remains a Flashpoint

Sarah E. Needleman, The Wall Street Journal 

A gender-bias lawsuit filed by California regulators against Activision Blizzard Inc. has reignited discussion about videogaming culture and whether the industry’s treatment of women is toxic.


Spotify adds an attention-grabbing ‘What’s New’ feed to addict users to its app

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch 

Spotify is taking a cue from social networks like Facebook, which deliver a constant stream of notifications under a “bell” icon in the mobile app to keep users engaged with the latest content. 


NFTs May Seem Like Frivolous Fads. They Should Be the Future of Music

Samantha Hissong, Rolling Stone 

Earlier this year, when a person with the username “JeffBezosForeskin” paid around $40,000 for Monty Python actor John Cleese’s NFT — a crude iPad sketching of the Brooklyn Bridge complete with disproportionately sized, stick-figure fishies — I lost a bit of whatever faith I had left in humanity.


Pop Smoke’s Second Posthumous Album, ‘Faith,’ Hits No. 1

Joe Coscarelli, The New York Times 

“Faith,” the second album by the Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke to be released since he was shot and killed in February 2020 at the age of 20, tops the Billboard chart this week, just as the previous one did.


UMG Licenses Catalog to Lomotif, Newest App to Take On TikTok

Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard

As the short-form video space heats up, Universal Music Group (UMG) just became the first major music company to globally license its catalog to Lomotif, a TikTok rival app founded in Singapore.

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