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Can You Name Last Year’s Best Picture Oscar Winner? Chances Are You Can’t

Now that you’re reading this, you now remember what last year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars was, assuming you recognize the image above. But did you remember what it was before you clicked? Odds are you didn’t, as a new survey reveals that only 20% of people were able to correctly identify Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water as last year’s winner. This is just one point among many that reveals that the gap between the Academy Awards and the average citizen may be even wider than we thought.

The 20% of people who could correctly name The Shape of Water is actually one of the better results from a new poll via THR and Morning Consult. The poll asks respondents who they believe won the Best Picture award over the last few years and the numbers only get worse once you move past last year’s awards.

More people think La La Land won Best Picture two years ago, which you could chalk up to confusion following “envelopegate” in which La La Land was originally announced as the winner before it was discovered that the wrong envelope had been opened and Moonlight had actually been awarded the prize.

Most people think The Revenant beat Spotlight for Best Picture. They also think Amy Adams has already won an Oscar, and that Brie Larson has not. For the record, none of that is true.

A lot of this may ultimately be just film trivia, but it reinforces something that the industry largely already knows, that the average person has little to no familiarity with the sorts of films that get nominated, and win, awards like the Oscars. The biggest takeaway I think is that when asked which movie should have won Best Picture in any given year, 50 to 60 percent of respondents had no opinion. People just don’t care.

That lack of interest has been reflected in the television ratings for the awards for the last several years. In the last five years, viewership has dropped by nearly 20 million people.

Numerous things are being tried by both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC, who televises the Oscars, to try and fix these issues. New awards categories, like one dedicated to popular films, have been suggested as a way to get the films that people actually go to see receive more awards recognition. Changes to the telecast itself, including making it happen earlier in the year, are also planned.

Part of the reason that most people don’t remember who won Best Picture is that few people actually see the movies that win. Domestically, The Shape of Water saw the best box office success of the last five winners, with a take of $63 million. Moonlight only brought in $27 million by comparison.

‘Dynasties’ Focuses on the Family Drama of Lions and Penguins

A Bengal tiger in India’s Bandhavgarh National Park in the new BBC series ‘Dynasties.’
A Bengal tiger in India’s Bandhavgarh National Park in the new BBC series ‘Dynasties.’ Photo: BBC America

Like so many of their counterparts working with human characters, wildlife filmmakers are tapping into families to inject their footage with some drama.

“Dynasties,” a five-part television series produced by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and narrated by David Attenborough, follows different animal clans in each episode, showing how lions, chimpanzees, tigers, painted wolves and emperor penguins survive through pivotal changes.

Producers asked behavioral scientists to help identify animal communities facing a turning point, then embedded film crews with those clans to document it. One unit in Kenya spent 420 days filming a lion pride abandoned by adult males and led by a matriarch whose cubs weren’t yet old enough to hunt. A crew in Senegal walked up to 15 miles a day to shadow a troop of chimpanzees, including one with a mangled ear that fought and forged alliances to retain his alpha-male status.

‘Dynasties’ follows groups of penguins and other animals on the brink of change.
‘Dynasties’ follows groups of penguins and other animals on the brink of change. Photo: BBC America

It was a risky strategy to focus on relatively small groups of animals after the success of shows such as “Planet Earth” that take an epic, sweeping approach to depicting nature.

“Dynasties” executive producer Michael Gunton, who also produced “Planet Earth II,” says he wanted to draw on the audience demand for meaty TV dramas. “These are observational documentaries, but ‘casting’ them and finding the right characters that were likely to have these tensions allowed us to sort of exploit that dramatic form.”

At the same time, the filmmakers say they were careful not to anthropomorphize their wildlife stars. Footage is presented in the order it was shot and doesn’t include re-creations or scenes in which one animal stands in for another, Mr. Attenborough says.

“In the past, there had been attempts to make the equivalent of this story, and that would involve all kinds of devices and taking liberties with the footage,” says the 92-year-old narrator, who started making natural-history films in the 1950s.

Thanks to marathon field work and advances such as drone-operated cameras, Mr. Attenborough adds, “the type of shooting now is quite different than the theatrical style that we had done before. This is the reality. This is what happens, and the surprise is that the stories are as thrilling and unexpected and as riveting as they are.”

“Dynasties” premieres Saturday on AMC Networks ’s AMC, BBC America, IFC and Sundance.

Write to John Jurgensen at john.jurgensen@wsj.com

The Insane Amount Of Money Shazam’s Suit Cost To Make

The DC live-action universe has had a fascinating tenure in theaters, full of peaks and valleys. After the box office and critical failure of Justice League, the shard universe is looking up, as James Wan’s underwater adventure Aquaman has broken box office records and become DC’s second critical hit after Wonder Woman. Next up is David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! which should break new ground with its unique tone and protagonist.

Zachary Levi is playing the superhero side of the film’s title character, and will be rocking Shazam’s signature red suit and white cape. Ahead of the film’s first trailer, images from the set were leaked, and critics accused the film of padding Levi’s costume to make him appear more muscular. While that controversy has certainly calmed down, we’ve got a better idea of just how much those costumes set back production. As costume designer Leah Butler recently revealed:

Holy budget, Batman. While Shazam! likely cost Warner Bros. a huge chunk of change to produce, it look like around $10 million alone was designated for the title character’s super suit. Billy Batson and Freddy would be so proud.

The amount of money designated to produce 10 Shazam suits makes the previous controversy around the costume all the more maddening. Because while production had millions of dollars on the line to create the title character’s look, the internet was attacking the costume before the film’s first footage debuted. Ultimately that anger toward the suit has died down, and anticipation for Shazam! has been steadily building since the trailer arrived in July at Comic-Con.

In his same conversation with TotalFilm (via Syfy) Leah Butler discussed the lengthy process that went into creating the Shazam! suits, saying:

Well, that couldn’t have been difficulty. Despite the criticism, a ton of work went into creating Shazam’s costume for his first live-action appearance. Weeks of time, specifically. Furthermore, the suit was being created as actor Zachary Levi was in the midst of a body transformation. As he bulked up, the costume designer had to hope the thing would fit once the suits were crafted.

It should be interesting to see how Shazam’s suit functions onscreen, given the film’s unique tone and setting. David F. Sandberg‘s upcoming blockbuster will focus on the kids of the DCEU, and show how regular folks are living in a superpowered world.

Shazam! will arrive in theaters on April 5, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Someone Called Meghan Markle a ‘Fat Lady,’ and Her Response Was So Good

Meghan Markle stopped by one of her new patronages, the animal charity Mayhew, on Wednesday (January 16) and met some of its staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries. One of them called her a “fat lady”—intended as a compliment, or at least in jest—but the Duchess of Sussex didn’t miss a beat.

“You’re a fat lady,” a woman at Mayhew said to Markle, pointing to her baby bump, according to People magazine. Everyone started laughing—in good nature, of course—including the duchess, who gave a cool-as-a-cucumber response.

“I’ll take it,” Markle said with a grin, before moving on to greet more people at Mayhew.

Watch this moment go down for yourself in the video, below. Start around the 29-second mark.

Obviously, it should go without saying that making comments about people’s bodies is never OK. And, thankfully, we’re moving into a space where the word “fat” is losing its power as an insult. Markle’s exchange with the woman at Mayhew, however, was completely benign, and it’s best not to look too deeply into it. We’re sure if actual body-shaming was happening, the duchess would be the first to shut it down.

Markle told well-wishers earlier this week that she’s due in late April/early May. Kensington Palace confirmed her pregnancy in October. “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019,” the palace tweeted at the time. “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public.”

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Bad Bunny’s Latest ‘Mía’ Performance Was A Celebratory Street Parade In Puerto Rico

As one of 2018’s breakout stars, Bad Bunny closed out the year with two staggering hits: his Cardi B/J Balvin collab “I Like It” and “Mía,” the one he linked up with Drake for. To kick off 2019, he’s keeping things going by heading down to Puerto Rico with none other than Jimmy Fallon to deliver “Mía” on the streets of Old San Juan.

To back up, Fallon brought his Tonight Show crew to Puerto Rico — still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria and a lack of sufficient help from the American government — to film the entire episode, including a segment where he joins Lin-Manuel Miranda in costume as Alexander Hamilton to perform “The Story of Tonight” from Hamilton. Another segment? The street video for “Mía,” anchored by Bad Bunny’s insatiable coolness.

Fallon often invites musical guests to perform their hit songs using classroom instruments (or paper ones), and the results are usually pretty neat. But filming a street-performance music video of a song and incorporating dozens of local folks to help execute it? That’s next-level joy, even for Fallon, a guy who often falls out of his chair laughing at his guests’s remarks.

It’s all Bad Bunny’s doing, as he struts in a yellow ensemble, chewing an apple and leading the pack in front of Fallon, Black Thought, and Questlove. Pretty much everyone in this video is smiling the entire time, and folks wave Puerto Rican flags and sing along before the parade brass marches in. It’s exultant and warm.

Watch the whole wonderful thing above. Find the rest of Fallon’s sojourn to Puerto Rico — including an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, an acoustic José Feliciano and Ozuna performance, and Fallon’s cries of fear while zip-lining — at The Tonight Show‘s YouTube channel.

Looks Like Disney’s Live-Action Pinocchio Might Not Happen After All

Pinocchio was all set to be one of Disney’s next big live-action remakes, but now it looks like the movie may not happen. While it appeared that the film was moving along at a rapid pace, including the very recent news that Tom Hanks was in talks to play Gepetto, it now seems all of that is in doubt. Seamus McGarvey, who was set to be the film’s director of photography recently revealed in an interview that the film’s production is currently dead in the water following the departure of the film’s latest director. According to McGarvey…

For the record, McGarvey appears to be getting his Pinocchios confused. Tom Waits is reportedly attached to the Guillermo del Toro version of the story being made for Netflix, not the Disney version.

While Seamus McGarvey doesn’t go into any detail, he has revealed that Paddington director Paul King, who was supposed to direct the live-action Pinocchio adaptation, has apparently had to step away for personal reasons. As a result, production on the film is now dead while Disney looks for a replacement.

It sounds like Pinocchio might have been looking to begin filming very soon, as Seamus McGarvey’s comment that the film is “canceled” appears to be regarding his job actually getting underway. Later in the interview with Discussing Film, he says the movie might start shooting this summer “if it does at all,” which implies there was a plan to shoot earlier than that which has now been scrapped.

Seamus McGarvey, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer, is assuming that, if and when the film does get back on track he won’t be part of it. Paul King was the one who wanted him, and a new director may very well have a new director of photography they want to bring on board.

Of course, this change in schedule has the potential to change a lot more than the DOP. It’s equally possible that Tom Hanks’ schedule might be impacted by this and that he might not be able to play Geppetto when the film is ready to shoot either.

Paul King is the second director who was on board to make Pinocchio. He followed Sam Mendes who left the project a couple of years ago.

Hopefully, everything is ok with Paul King and his family. The director of the two Paddington films seemed like the perfect choice to helm a project like Disney’s Pinocchio. The studio will likely be hard pressed to find a replacement who fits quite so well.

While Pinocchio has been significantly stalled, the project clearly isn’t quite dead yet. Stat tuned to CinemaBlend as this story develops and we see whether this Pinocchio ever gets turned into a real movie.

John Boyega Is Teasing Insane Visuals From Episode IX Set

Ever since Disney acquired the rights to Lucasfilm, new and exciting Star Wars projects have been produced, helping to expand the galaxy far, far away. While standalone films and upcoming live-action shows have gotten attention from the generations of fans, all eyes are on how the main story will conclude with Episode IX. J.J. Abrams’ still untitled sequel will close the Skywalker Saga forever, so the pressure is on to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the decades-long narrative.

John Boyega’s tenure as Finn should also come to a close, as the former Stormtrooper makes his final stand in the battle against good and evil. Boyega recently posted a vague image from the set, teasing especially ambitious visuals in the movie. Check it out.

Did anyone else just get chills? The Star Wars franchise has always been known for its striking visuals, with CGI and special effects that are groundbreaking for the filmmaking world. But with so many new movies over the past few years, one has to wonder what time of new ground Episode IX will break.

The pressure is certainly on for J.J. Abrams, who returns to the Star Wars franchise to complete the trilogy he began with The Force Awakens. In addition to completing the story of his new characters, Abrams must also end the entire main franchise, and give an appropriate sendoff to favorites like Luke and Leia. He’ll have to go big, which likely includes the new visuals that John Boyega mentioned over on Instagram.

In his post, John Boyega mentions how many moments of shock he’s already had within the Star Wars franchise. The property has always been known for its plot twists, with the most famous obviously being Darth Vader’s parentage of Luke in Empire Strikes Back. But in addition to the new visuals that Episode IX will bring, it appears those stunning sequences will also be full of twists and moments of shock and awe for the audience.

It should be fascinating to see what happens to Finn in Episode IX. The former stormtrooper stumbled into a very important role in the Resistance, helping to inspire Leia’s army and ultimately destroy Starkiller base in The Force Awakens. But The Last Jedi saw him in an existential crisis, not sure if he was truly meant to fight of The First Order. That is, until he was once again inspired thanks to Rose Tico.

There’s also a love triangle in the cards, as Finn obviously has strong feelings for Rey. But he also bonded with Rose in The Last Jedi, with the two sharing a kiss during the Battle on Crait. So aside from the galaxy’s fate, Episode IX will also deal with the characters’ interpersonal drama.

All will be revealed when Episode IX arrives in theaters on December 20th, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies this year.

Meghan Markle Wore a $35 Maternity Dress—and It’s Still Available to Buy

Meghan Markle has shown off an impressive sense of style since becoming the Duchess of Sussex. Even better, that impressive sense of style includes brands her loyal followers can shop for themselves. Sure, Markle often wears custom outfits that suggest she has Givenchy on speed-dial, but she’s also been known to mix in affordable pieces by & Other Stories and Aritzia. Now, she’s added another one of our favorite wallet-friendly brands to her royal wardrobe with a dress that’s less than $35.

On Wednesday, January 16, the Duchess of Sussex visited one of her four royal patronages, Mayhew, in London. She arrived in a monochromatic outfit that included an off-white coat, maternity dress, and pumps. It didn’t take long for onlookers to ID her cozy sweater dress as H&M. The cost? Only $34.99.

The Duchess Of Sussex Visits Mayhew Animal Welfare Charity

PHOTO: Karwai Tang

The Duchess Of Sussex Visits Mayhew Animal Welfare Charity

PHOTO: Karwai Tang

This is the first time Markle has worn a piece from H&M’s in-house maternity line, MAMA. Moms-to-be who want to cop the dress are in luck: It’s still available on H&M’s website. (For now, at least.)

PHOTO: H&M

H&M MAMA Fine-knit Dress $34.99, H&M

Lest you forget that Markle is a Duchess—and that she can spend thousands of dollars on her wardrobe—she rounded out her outfit with some pricier pieces. Specifically, an Emporio Armani coat and Paul Andrew heels.

The Duchess Of Sussex Visits Mayhew

PHOTO: Neil Mockford

This is the second time in a week that the Duchess of Sussex has worn under-$100 finds for her public appearances. Markle chose another fan-favorite brand, Aritzia, for a visit to Birkhead on Monday, January 14. It didn’t take long for shoppers to grab her exact outfit for themselves: Her purple Babaton dress has already sold out.

Royal visit to Birkenhead

PHOTO: Danny Lawson – PA Images

Of course, Meghan Markle’s visit wasn’t just about showing off her excellent maternity style. She stopped by Mayhew, an animal welfare charity, to meet with volunteers and service animals.

Later this evening, Markle and Prince Harry are expected to attend the premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem, which will be held in support of Sentebale. We aren’t expecting to see more H&M at the Royal Albert Hall event—it’s a black-tie affair—but if we know the duchess, she’ll definitely bring more of the Markle sparkle to the formal event. Personally, I’m holding out for another halter dress.

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Prince And Five Other Musical Legends Who Need Their Own Biopics

Bohemian Rhapsody reminded audiences that seeing our favorite musical legends on the big screen can be a captivating experience. Rami Malek’s transformation as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury reminded fans of his position in rock and roll royalty and brought those unfamiliar with the band up to speed on its history.

The Queen biopic is now not only the most-successful music biopic to date, with over $774 million in earnings at the worldwide box office, but it also took home the Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama category. It’s not the only music biopic in the works either.

Coming this May, Elton John will be the subject of a “musical fantasy” film starring Taron Egerton, titled Rocketman too, which will hopefully pique the interest of his fans as Bohemian Rhapsody did. Successful music biopics breed more music biopics and there are a ton of icons whose stories have yet to grace the screen.

So, come along with me through the most legendary contemporary musicians of our time as we imagine what a biopic starring their stardom could look like… because these phenomena deserve a cinematic approach. Let’s go:

Madonna

She’s the certified “queen of pop” and has paved the way for so many female artists of today, will she live to tell the story behind her rise to groundbreaking to mega fame? Madonna‘s career is defined by the colorful, vibrant MTV age of the ’80s music scene.

I’d imagine a musical biopic based on her early days should be just as energetic and fun as her career started as, radiantly strutting the streets of NYC in her trendsetting fashion as she set out to “rule the world,” define ’80s pop and became a sex symbol.

A script called Blonde Ambition is reportedly in the works by Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) assistant to director, Elyse Hollander but Madonna has made it clear that telling her story without her involvement doesn’t have her approval. So, Blonde Ambition may never see the light of day. Still, seeing the pop icon’s beginnings on screen would be a blast. It needs to happen at some point.

David Bowie

He spent his career constantly going through an evolution of distinct characters, such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke. He also explored eclectic realms of music stylings and was all over the map. With the right vision, a biopic about David Bowie could be absolutely epic.

It would also be one that would demand some peculiar artistic take and bend the rules of typical “based on a true story” formatting to reflect the “Space Oddity” of its subject. Some fans have pitched that a different actor should play Bowie in each of his eras. This would give each of his personas time to shine, potentially more as he saw them — as completely different parts of himself.

The glam rocker’s life seems to be begging to be told for the millions of fans who mourned his untimely 2016 death and the many who are intrigued but did not witness his story when he rose to prominence in the ’70s.

Aretha Franklin

We’ve just recently lost the Queen of Soul, so now is the perfect time to turn back the clock and remember just who she was in her heyday. Her most famous song “Respect” wasn’t just her greatest hit, it was an anthem for the civil rights movement of the ’60s. Aretha voiced her activism through song and with a tour alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

While the Civil Rights Movement has been tackled on film many times over, taking the opportunity to highlight it through this iconic vocalist who defined it through art would be important, moving — not to mention music to our ears.

A biopic for Franklin is currently in motion starring Jennifer Hudson and to be written and directed by Liesl Tommy. It’s been in the works for quite a while now, so let’s hope this version is the one that sticks and gets off the ground — especially since Hudson should be a perfect fit for the role.

George Michael

While Bohemian Rhapsody‘s Freddie Mercury opens the conversation of an icon hiding his sexuality and struggle with AIDS at a time when the world wasn’t ready for it, George Michael‘s story could push it forward from his career’s interesting perspective.

George Michael of Wham! came out publicly in 1998, lost a lover to AIDS and wrote an anthem for the LGBT community titled “FREEDOM! ’90.” He embodied a generation of the community in the ’90s when some of the fear and pushback was starting to fade a bit.

He’s a mainstream pop star who started making hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” with his duo and then later moved on to a solo career. His music defines a specific age of pop music in the ’80s (one Madonna was also a part of), but his story would stand out among many of the others who also came from that era.

Amy Winehouse

Long have musicians’ stories been characterized by drug usage and downward spirals associated with fame. While Amy Winehouse‘s struggle may have seemed to be just another one of these stories, it’s rooted in a resilient struggle with a lifetime of mental illness.

In her short 27 years, she dealt with eating disorders, a troubling relationship with her father, drug and alcohol abuse, even depression — and at the same time was able to become a pop icon known for “Back to Black” and “Rehab.”

2015’s critically-acclaimed documentary on the singer Amy highlighted her incredible life; regardless, giving a talented actress a shot to play her and the events of her life could be beautiful, emotional and essential viewing if handled delicately and with love.

Prince

As his name implies, he’s music royalty who deserves a place on the big screen just as one “Killer Queen” Freddie Mercury got his shot at with Rami Malek’s portrayal. He’s an incredible pioneer for a variety of genres including rock, funk and pop — and not to mention how effortless cool he was.

He experimented, dazzled and notably helped give artists their own creative power of their music with his resistance to how things were in the music industry upon arrival. He pushed boundaries, challenged gender norms, all while being exactly himself.

From his film Purple Rain, to his time on MTV’s hottest music video and so on, Prince is groundbreaking and deserves a biopic that is just as he was.

As Bohemian Rhapsody continues to celebrate its massive success and Rocketman‘s doesn’t seem too far away — there are many more musical legends’ stories to be told that could tell some interesting, fun, impactful and musically-packed stories of the greatest hits of their lives.

 

How Much Glass Is Expected To Make Worldwide Opening Weekend

Split was something of a surprise hit when it hit theaters a couple of years ago, grossing nearly $300 million around the world. That success spawned this weekend’s follow-up Glass which is set to take the stage Friday. When it does, it’s expected to perform very well, bringing in somewhere in the neighborhood of $105 million globally over the course of the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Glass was tracking to bring in something north of $70 million a few weeks ago and while Deadline now thinks that number will be closer to $60 million, with the additional global business the movie is still expected to break the $100 million threshold over the long weekend, doing more than a third of what Split did in just a few days.

Since Glass reportedly only cost $20 million to produce. This opening is great news for Blumhouse and Universal, as it makes the film an instant success financially speaking.

Even the lower expectations for Glass domestically are well above the $40 million that Split brought in during its 2017 opening weekend. Part of that increase is certainly due to the fact that these estimates are looking at a four-day spread, taking the Monday holiday into account, but Glass is still tracking well ahead of its predecessor.

This is likely because Split ‘s big twist, that it was taking place in the same world as M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, wasn’t widely known going into opening weekend. Split‘s success came largely from word of mouth, giving the film several weeks of consistent success rather than a massive opening weekend.

The fact that Glass will conclude this story means it is much more likely to see a big opening as fans of the two previous films hit the theater to see how it all ends. Whether or not Glass is able to emulate the box office consistency of Split remains to be seen.

Glass hasn’t seen glowing early reviews but that sort of thing rarely dissuades an audience that’s invested enough in a movie. The passionate fans will show up anyway on opening weekend and make their own decisions as to the film’s quality. Clearly, there was an expectation that the movie would open strong as there are no other major releases set to open this Friday.

While M. Night Shyamalan‘s Unbreakable might not be one of the biggest brands in film, it still has its fans and many have wanted to see a sequel for the 19 years that have passed since it opened. Glass is really the true sequel that people have been waiting for since Split didn’t include Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass and gave Bruce Willis‘ David Dunn only a brief cameo.