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Amazon-MGM Deal Looms; Universal Goes Day-And-Date With 'Boss Baby' Sequel; Upfront Surprises; 'Wonka' Origin Story

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May 25, 2021 What's news: An Amazon-MGM deal looms, Universal bringing Boss Baby sequel to Peacock i

[View on web]( [New reader? Subscribe]( May 25, 2021 What's news: An Amazon-MGM deal looms, Universal bringing Boss Baby sequel to Peacock in day-and-date push, Disney's CEO explains windowing strategy, upfront surprises, a Wonka reimagining, CW upfront pickups. Plus: Robert Pattinson inks Warner Bros. deal, Lee Daniels inks 20th TV deal, and THR's Women In Entertainment special on Lifetime. --Alex Weprin From Seattle With Love ►Amazon-MGM deal looms: Another fabled movie studio is poised to announce new ownership, with Amazon now in advanced negotiations to buy MGM in a deal valued at around $9 billion. The deal, if completed, would follow last week's announcement of a merger between WarnerMedia (parent of Warner Bros.) and Discovery Inc. --If a deal closes, Amazon would have access to MGM’s massive library — comprising over 4,000 titles and 17,000 hours of television — for its Prime Video streaming service. The century-old feature library includes the Rocky and Hobbit franchises; television titles include Fargo and The Handmaid’s Tale along with unscripted offerings Survivor and Shark Tank. Amazon would also control what is seen as the industry’s most lucrative yet-to-be tapped brand: James Bond. --It has long been rumored that the tech giant was a top suitor for the studio, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. (Apple had also been seen as a potential buyer, and sources tell THR that NBCUniversal was also in the mix.) MGM’s top shareholder is Anchorage Capital, run by former Goldman Sachs exec Kevin Ulrich, who leads the studio’s board of directors and is said to be spearheading the deal. In December 2020, it was reported that MGM had enlisted Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC to advise on a sale. [The story](. Universal, Peacock Join Same-Day Fray ►Peacock is getting into the same-day windowing business. In a first, a Universal Pictures movie – The Boss Baby: Family Business — will debut simultaneously in theaters and on sister streaming service Peacock Premium. The animated film will now be made available to audiences on July 2, in time for Fourth of July fireworks. It was previously set to hit the big screen on Sept. 17, followed by a debut on premium VOD sometime in October. --The news was revealed in a joint statement from Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Peacock, and follows similar moves made by Disney and WarnerMedia to grow Disney+ and HBO+ subscribers, respectively, while the box office attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The family film will be made available to Peacock Premium customers at no extra charge. [The story](. +Speaking of Peacock: The streaming service is developing a drama set in an alternate near-future. The NBCUniversal-backed streamer has landed rights to Red Queen, the New York Times best-selling book from author Victoria Aveyard, with Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman attached to exec produce. [More](. +And while we're talking about theatrical windows: Disney CEO Bob Chapek says they are “celebrating flexibility” as the company sees how the world recovers from the novel coronavirus pandemic. “We didn’t want to delay Black Widow again but we couldn’t put all our eggs in the theatrical distribution basket,” Chapek said, noting that the company “needed to prime the pump” and help movie theaters by giving them blockbuster films, even if those films were also going to be streaming at the same time. --So why commit to release Shang Chi and Free Guy in theaters? “That is later in the summer when we hope — we hope, we’re not sure — that the theatrical marketplace will recover more fully, and that type of distribution makes sense,” Chapek said. “At some point, you have to step off the dock and onto the boat … we’ll see how it goes.” [The story](. In other film news... ►Timothée Chalamet has claimed his golden ticket. After on-and-off again negotiations, the actor has signed to star in Wonka, a big-screen reimagining of Roald Dahl’s classic children book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, being made by Warner Bros. Paul King, the director of the Paddington movies, will be sitting in the director’s chair when cameras roll in September. David Heyman is producing the feature, which will be a musical. [The story](. +Filmmaker Adam Wingard continues to soar with yet another film project in the works. Wingard, hot off of Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong, has signed on to direct Universal’s Hardcore, a film based on the comic from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri. [More](. Upfront Surprises ►Rebel, Clarice and more of the biggest surprises from the broadcast networks. From NBC's must-wait-and-see comedy lineup to Powerpuff's near miss, THR's Lesley Goldberg rounds up the decisions that raised our eyebrows. [The story](. +One last upfront: The CW has given the green light to two scripted series to join its 2021-22 slate: a spinoff of its drama All American and Naomi, based on a DC Comics title. A remake of The 4400 and competition series Legends of the Hidden Temple, which previously received series orders, will also join the broadcaster’s lineup next season. In something of a surprise, The CW’s live-action Powerpuff Girls project didn’t receive a series order but will be reworked for a new pilot to be shot off cycle. The show’s cast and creators remain attached to the project. [The story](. +Joseph Gordon-Levitt is getting Super Pumped at Showtime. The actor and producer will play former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in Super Pumped, an anthology drama from Billions creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien and Beth Schacter (Quantico, Netflix’s Soundtrack). Showtime has ordered the project to series. [More](. +HBO is sticking with A Black Lady Sketch Show for a third season. WarnerMedia’s premium cable outlet has picked up the series, created by and starring Robin Thede, for a third run. The renewal comes a few days ahead of the show’s second season finale on Friday. [More](. Two notable development deals... +Warner Bros. is going all in with Robert Pattinson, the star of its upcoming relaunched Batman movie franchise. Pattinson has signed an overall first-look production deal that encompasses the whole spectrum of Warner divisions, including Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Television, and HBO Max. [More](. +Lee Daniels is continuing his relationship with 20th Television. The Empire co-creator has renewed his overall deal with the Disney-backed studio, closing a new pact that extends his seven-year relationship with the former Fox asset. The news arrives as Daniels and his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner will return to broadcast television in the 2021-22 season with The Wonder Years update at ABC and the long-gestating Our Kind of People at Fox. [More](. ►The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment event, now entering its second decade, looked a little different without its typical in-person Los Angeles celebration. This year it brought the star power to an hourlong Lifetime special on May 24. --Women in Entertainment: The Next Generation, a Voices Magnified Special, tied to THR’s[annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 list,]( was hosted by Padma Lakshmi and saw at-home celebrity appearances from Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, Jurnee Smollett, Gillian Anderson, Emma Corrin, Lana Condor, Anitta and Anna Kendrick, as well as a performance from Girls5eva star Sara Bareilles. --“It’s so important to see women of color, women of all kinds, represented in very powerful positions for you to be to dream about yourself pursuing those same positions,” said Smollett during the event, while Anderson added, “When we see a woman as a strong moral compass or who has a lot of compassion or who has a good work ethic, when we see women out there who represent those characteristics that we would like to aspire to it kind of helps to guide us in that direction.” For Kendrick, that mentor was her mother, who “was the breadwinner in our family and I think that affected me in a really wonderful way.” [The story](. ►Small Axe and I May Destroy You were the big winners at the 2021 BAFTA TV Craft awards, celebrating the best creativity behind the camera, on Monday night. --In a virtual event broadcast on the British Academy’s social channels, Steve McQueen’s hit anthology series claimed the most awards of the night with five — costume design, scripted casting, make up and hair design, production design and photography and lighting. Meanwhile, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You landed three wins, including two of the biggest prizes, with Coel claiming writer: drama, Coel and Sam Miller winning directing: fiction and for editing: fiction. [The winners](. ►TV review: Daniel Fienberg reviews Apple TV+'s Lisey's Story, writing that "sometimes Stephen King has to be protected from Stephen King. Lisey’s Story is indeed overflowing with ideas — sometimes grandiose, sometimes goofy — that play better on the page than the screen." [The review](. In other news... --The American Society of Cinematographers [has re-elected]( Stephen Lighthill as its president. He will serve a second, one-year term. --Fox News [has tapped]( contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy as the new co-host for morning show Fox & Friends Weekend. --Kinema, a social cinema platform, [officially announced]( its launch on Tuesday and said it has closed a $2 million seed funding round with money from big-name investors, such as James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems. --Naveen Chopra, executive vp and CFO of ViacomCBS, says the [studio is not]( fazed by AT&T’s entertainment arm unveiling a major deal to merge with Discovery Inc. for global reach. --Animated short Migrants, the story of a polar bear and her cub driven into exile due to global warming, [won the best of show award]( for computer graphics confab Siggraph’s Electronic Theater. As a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards, the short is eligible for best animated short consideration during the upcoming Oscar season. What else we're reading... --"This streaming service is for cord-cutters in middle America" [[L.A. Times]( --"Scrounging for hits, Hollywood goes back to the video game well" [[N.Y. Times]( --"Can cable news win over young viewers? At MSNBC, a 40-year-old new president is going to try" [[Washington Post]( --"From FBI to The Wonder Years, TV networks bet on more franchises, reboots" [[WSJ]( Today's birthdays: Ian McKellen, 82, Paul Weller, 63, Octavia Spencer, 51, Cillian Murphy, 45, Mike Myers, 58. This email was sent to {EMAIL} by Penske Media Corporation. Please add email@email.hollywoodreporter.com to your address book to ensure delivery to your inbox. Visit the [Preferences Center]( to update your profile and customize what email alerts and newsletters you receive. Copyright © 2021 The Hollywood Reporter, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved. 11175 Santa Monica Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90025 [View in Browser]( | [Privacy Policy]( | [Your Privacy Rights]( | [Ad Choices]( | [Terms of Use]( | [Unsubscribe](

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