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Box Office: ‘The Batman’ Rules Again, Crosses $300 Million in North America

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Robert Pattinson’s gritty superhero adventure “The Batman” is the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row.

That feat is not surprising because March has been relatively light in terms of new releases. But even though there hasn’t been much competition, “The Batman” has managed impressive week-to-week holds. The movie collected $36.8 million from 4,302 theaters between Friday and Sunday, a 45% decline from last weekend.

Those ticket sales push “The Batman” past $300 million in North America, making the comic book adaptation only the second pandemic-era movie to cross that benchmark.

Two new movies opened nationwide, but Funimation’s manga adaptation “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” and A24’s slasher thriller “X” did not pose a threat to “The Batman.”

In second place on domestic box office charts, the PG-13 “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” scored an impressive $17.6 million from 2,340 locations in its debut. Anime films have been increasingly popular in North America, and Funimation, which recently rebranded as Crunchyroll and is mostly owned by Sony Pictures, has been at the forefront. Last spring, the film company opened “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” to $21.2 million, a huge result at a time when cinemas were operating at reduced capacity.

“This is a terrific opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Reviews are exceptional for this and for all of Funimation/Crunchyroll movies. They have not missed.”

“X” landed in fourth place with $4.2 million from 2,865 venues, a quieter start given the loud praise after its South by Southwest premiere.

However, Gross points out, “Horror is not expensive to make — clever cinematography, editing and sound design go a very long way. ‘X’ should recover its costs and make a few dollars after all ancillary money is counted.”

Ti West wrote and directed “X,” which follows actors making an adult film in rural Texas. But once their reclusive hosts, an elderly couple, catches the guests in the act, and things get messy.

Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman promises that “X” will “earn your fear.” He calls the movie “a deliberate, loving, and meticulous homage that isn’t simply trying to cash in on the legacy of the greatest horror film of the last half century.”

Tom Holland’s video game adaptation “Uncharted,” now in its fifth weekend of release, pulled ahead of “X” on box office charts to secure third place. The Sony Pictures action-adventure scored $8 million from 3,700 theaters, taking “Uncharted” to $125.8 million at the domestic box office.

Channing Tatum’s canine adventure “Dog” took the No. 5 spot, pushing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” out of the top five for the first time in 14 weeks.

“Dog” lapped up $4 million from 3,307 locations, bringing the film’s North American total to $54 million. It’s a great result for MGM’s road-trip buddy comedy, which cost only $15 million to make. And it’s encouraging evidence that studios can still make non-superhero movies that turn a profit — as long as budgets don’t get out of hand.

And “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — even after three and a half months on the big screen — was no slouch, pulling in $3.2 million from 2,585 screens. After this weekend, the comic book epic has generated $797.56 million at the domestic box office. It’s only a stones throw from becoming the third movie in history to cross $800 million in North America following “Avengers: Endgame” ($858 million) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($936 million).

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Doug Ford's election media strategy revealed | CTV News – CTV News Toronto

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Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has limited his media exposure throughout the first two weeks of the provincial election campaign – choosing scrums selectively, restricting public appearances and rejecting media interviews.

Political analysts call this the “front-runner” strategy and say it started long before the writ was drawn.

“It’s been a strategy they’ve implemented for, I want to say, a better part of a year and a half now,” Muhammad Ali, a senior consultant with Crestview Strategy, told CTV News Toronto.

“There was a point when Doug Ford was doing daily press conferences and all of a sudden, he just stopped doing those and they became really spaced out.”

At that point, cabinet ministers like Health Minister Christine Elliott became the go-to “bearers of bad news” when it came to pandemic restrictions. According to Ali, this kept the PC leader from being overexposed and saying things off-the-cuff that may be controversial.

“This is an attempt by his team to control how much exposure he gets and to make sure that it minimizes how much he potentially could rock the boat, because at this point, they’re polling so strongly, the only way that they could really collapse, ultimately, is if Doug Ford started saying things that put off voters.”

“And so far it’s working.

Cristine de Clercy, an associate professor in political science at Western University, called this the “front runner strategy.”

“As the premier and someone who has quite a significant level of name recognition among voters and is a front runner, according to the polls, Mr. Ford has much less incentive to seek interaction with the media,” de Clercy told CTV News Toronto.

Already, Ontarians have had four years to get to know Ford, which de Clercy says dilutes the leader’s incentive to open himself up to potential embarrassment, miscommunication or criticism.

“In fact, some strategists argue that if you’re a leader that’s in a so-called front runner position where it seems you’re doing well, and your party is likely to be elected, then actually, you want to minimize contact with the press.”

De Clercy said that’s because interacting with the media is a two-sided coin. On one hand, it’s an opportunity for a leader to get their message and name out to the public, but on the other, there is a risk of facing public criticism.

In essence, there is more upside for first time provincial leaders, like Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, to pack their days with media-friendly events.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement during a campaign stop at the Finishing Trades Institute of Ontario, in North York, Ont., on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

This “cost-benefit” analysis, de Clercy explains, means Ford is more willing to engage with the press when he feels he can control the message. Monday night’s debate exemplified this.

Despite disappearing after the first leader’s debate in North Bay, Ford walked out to greet reporters for a scrum after the second election debate in Toronto.

“One way I would interpret that is that he was pleased with his performance, he thought he did well, and he did a good job in presenting his party’s views, and so, he was a little bit more receptive to engaging with the press than if he thought he had done poorly or been treated unfairly in the debate,” she said.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER LEADERS?

At Monday’s debate, Del Duca stayed the course with his campaign strategy–to tell “his story” and help voters get to know him better.

In most of his responses, Del Duca tended to make reference to various family members. His election advertisements read the same way, with his wife, children and dogs making a prominent appearance, and in some cases taking up the majority of the timeslot.

This approach is how some politicians “humanize” themselves, Ali said.

“People, when they see the leader of a party, they think of them as sort of like a robot or something. They don’t see them as relatable,” he said.

In an effort to distinguish himself from the Kathleen Wynne government, whose party lost the majority of their seats in 2018, Del Duca has cast the new roster of liberals as being members of the “new” Ontario Liberal Party, with “some success,” Ali said.

Instead of indulging in familial narratives, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has enjoyed a decade’s worth of public exposure in her current position, took a more combative route at the second debate, directing much of her energy towards criticism.

“The strategy of being very critical and sort of feisty in her exchanges with Mr. Del Duca and Mr. Ford clearly reflected that her party is in many ridings, probably as we speak, locked in a very close race with either the Liberals or the PCs,” de Clercy said.

For the Greens, de Clercy says their platform is crafted strategically to reach certain groups of people who are interested in health care, education and community investment in infrastructure, all while pursuing these goals within a comprehensive environmental framework.

Ali, for his part, said he felt like Schreiner was the real winner of Monday night’s debate.

“He came across as the most articulate communicator,” he said.

AN UNSPOKEN PARTNERSHIP

Right before the writ was drawn, Ford shared a podium with Prime Minister–and Liberal–Justin Trudeau to announce an investment in electric vehicle manufacturing, the last of a series of joint events in the province.

At the time, Del Duca argued that Ford was using this as a campaigning opportunity, a claim both the PC leader and prime minister denied.

Since then, Ford has not said anything about the federal government during his campaign stops, insisting at Monday’s debate that he is a team player who will work with whoever is in power in Ottawa.

“What they had long learned from polling was that Doug Ford polls better when he’s doing an announcement with the federal government and he’s working in tandem with him,” Ali said. “And so they’ve intentionally not really made any criticisms, points of contention against the federal government.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, shakes hands with Ontario Premier Doug Ford after reaching and agreement in $10-a-day child-care program deal in Brampton, Ont., on Monday, March 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Meanwhile, Del Duca has yet to hold an event with the prime minister. Ali warns that Trudeau may be trying to stay out of the provincial election, with the understanding that he will also have to work with whoever is elected premier.

“It doesn’t benefit (Trudeau) and he needs to work with Doug Ford to deliver a lot of sort of the bigger platform pieces,” Ali said.

Meanwhile, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has spent time in the GTA during the campaign period and even attended a rally with Horwath.

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Over half of young people see racist content online about immigrants, poll suggests

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OTTAWA — Over half of Canadians under age 35 come across racist or prejudiced remarks about immigrants on the internet, a new survey suggests.

Forty-two per cent of all respondents to the online survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they saw or heard racist content about immigrants in cyberspace.

Almost half aged 18 to 34 said they encountered racist remarks about Black people online, and the same proportion heard such remarks about Indigenous people.

About two in five in the same age group said they ran into this type of content about Asian Canadians.

The case of a white gunman accused of massacring 10 Black people in a racist attack at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket last weekend has highlighted the role of social media to promote hatred.

The online survey of 1,697 Canadians during the week of April 25 cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, said the indication that younger people are more likely to see this sort of content is unsurprising.

“A lot more young people are exposed to these things because they’re much more active and engaged on social media,” he said.

About 10 per cent of respondents said they often see racist remarks online about different racial groups.

“I don’t think you could argue that one out of 10 is not that high, because it actually represents a substantial number of people who are seeing this type of diatribe on a daily basis in social media,” Jedwab said.

Non-white respondents were more likely than their white counterparts to say they encountered racist remarks online.

About three in five non-white respondents said they came across racist remarks about immigrants, compared to about two in five white respondents.

Jedwab said this degree of exposure to racist content should be cause for concern in light of the recent shooting in Buffalo.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.

Regular exposure to racist and hateful content online can make people desensitized, potentially allowing a fringe phenomenon to become mainstream, Jedwab said.

When asked what they do upon coming across this type of content, young people said they do nothing “because there’s too much of it, and they don’t know where to begin to deal with it,” he added.

The federal government has proposed a law to clamp down on hate speech and abuse by blocking certain websites and forcing platforms to swiftly remove content.

Critics have said this approach could curtail the rights of marginalized groups by having their posts misconstrued as harmful.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press

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5 Takeaways From Capitals' Post-Season Media Availability – The Hockey Writers

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For the Washington Capitals, 2021-22 is over and the post-mortem has already begun. The club from D.C. crashed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last week, falling in Game 6 to the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers.

However, the season, which hinged on the team’s shaky goaltending, perhaps shouldn’t have ended in the first round. Washington blew leads in each of the final three contests of the series, leaving a dark cloud of “what if?” hanging over the squad this offseason.

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While there’s no shame in losing to Andrew Brunette’s electric Panthers, defeat in Round 1 reopens a nasty can of worms: has the window to win shut on the Capitals – and, if so, what should happen next?

On Sunday (May 15), general manager (GM) Brian MacLellan, head coach Peter Laviolette, and a string of key players sat down with reporters to discuss exactly that. Here are five takeaways from the Capitals’ post-season media availability:

MacLellan: Capitals Will ‘Explore Changes’ to Roster

Following the Capitals’ latest playoff exit, plenty of unresolved questions about MacLellan’s roster hang in the air at Capital One Arena. His stars aren’t getting any younger, there are issues to address in the crease, and the club’s progression has stalled since hoisting Lord Stanley back in 2018.

“We’ve lost in the first round [for] the last four years: we’re going to explore changes,” MacLellan told reporters. “I don’t think anything is off the table. We’re going to talk to different teams and monitor the trade market. We have to identify free agents.”

Handily, MacLellan has cap space to weaponize this offseason. The 63-year-old will have at least $6.5 million to play with once Justin Shultz and Michal Kempny shuffle towards unrestricted free agency.

Also of note: Washington’s GM was relatively wishy-washy when it came to discussing the future of Laviolette, whose three-year contract expires next summer.

“I think we’re going to keep that between management and the coaching staff,” MacLellan said coyly. “I thought [Laviolette] did a good job, he managed a difficult situation with the number of injuries we had to our forwards.”

In the immediate future, though, MacLellan’s biggest headscratcher occupies the blue paint, not the bench.

Washington’s Goaltending Options: Stick or Twist?

By now, you probably don’t need me to recount the story of Washington’s flimsy netminding double-act: it was a major source of contention throughout the regular season and bubbled over in the playoffs.

“We’ve got to make a decision on what to do and [how to] fit it under the cap,” MacLellan said of his situation in goal.

Quizzed on whether he’d like to acquire an experienced netminder to replace Vitek Vanecek and/or Ilya Samsonov, both restricted free agents this summer, he added: “We’re going to explore it. I don’t know if it’s a deep market, we’ll talk to other teams and evaluate.”

Ultimately, MacLellan has three debates to settle ahead of the draft:

  • Should he extend Vanecek, who is slightly more consistent, or Samsonov, who is younger and has a higher ceiling?
  • Assuming he’ll trade the surplus netminder, what assets will he seek in return?
  • Will he complete his tandem (probably with an out-and-out starter) via trade or free agency?

Settling the Capitals’ goalie controversy is priority No. 1 for MacLellan this offseason. He can’t afford another “pretty good but not great” campaign from his puck-stoppers. Change is coming.

Tom Wilson’s ‘Significant’ Knee Injury

If not for Tom Wilson’s injury in Game 1, would the Capitals have seen off the Panthers in the first round? We’ll never know, but it’s one of the “what ifs?” that will sting supporters of the D.C. franchise until the puck drops for 2022-23.

Despite suffering a concussion earlier in the campaign, the Canadian enjoyed a career year in 2021-22. He registered 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) in 78 regular-season appearances, and later added a playoff goal to his tally as well.

“I was trying to get back and trying everything I could,” Wilson said of his injury. “Every person you walk by was like, ‘When are you back? We need you back.’ That was tough: I wanted to be out there. So, you feel like you let people down and that sucks.”

Tom Wilson Washington Capitals
Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 28-year-old, who opted not to disclose specific details about his “significant” knee injury, added: “It’s going to be a grind for me [because] I’ve got to start my recovery. It’s always nice to have goals and a clear mindset of what you need to do as an athlete. We’re getting with the doctors and we’ll go from there.”

There is, however, some positive news for Capitals fans: Wilson’s injury shouldn’t keep him out next season, per MacLellan.

Nicklas Backstrom’s Long-Term Fitness

As reported by THW’s Ted Starkey, Nicklas Backstrom’s health is a major source of concern for the Capitals this offseason. The 34-year-old told reporters that his hip will “never be 100 percent again,” adding that he has decisions to make regarding his future.

Related: Capitals’ Offseason May Be Altered by Backstrom’s Decision on Future

“Obviously we’ll see what’s going to happen,” Backstrom said. “We have some decisions to make. Those decisions aren’t finalized yet, so we’ll take it day by day.

“The best thing I want to do is play hockey, and that’s my life Obviously, I want to be back. I want to be back to normal, not worrying about this. We’ll see what’s going to happen. Nothing is finalized yet.”

When asked if the Swede could be facing a career-ending injury, MacLellan kept his cards close to his chest.

Nicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“I think he’s going to explore all options here,” he explained. “He wants it to be better. He wants to be more physically comfortable when he plays, so he’s going to explore it.”

Backstrom registered 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 47 regular-season outings in 2021-22, taking maintenance days throughout the year to rest the hip he underwent surgery on in 2015.

Alex Ovechkin offered the most optimism about Backstrom’s future of those speaking at Washington’s post-season media availability: “He’s a tough man, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be better next year. He’s a leader and I hope he’s going to be better.”

Ovechkin’s comments aside, the situation is relatively bleak. Backstrom has three years left on his $9.2 million contract: it isn’t unreasonable to be concerned about how his health will impact Washington moving forward.

Carl Hagelin’s Eyesight Update

Since taking a stick blade to the eye in practice on March 1, Carl Hagelin has stayed away from reporters. He broke his silence on Sunday, acknowledging that his future was unclear.

“It’s not going to be 100 percent,” the 33-year-old said of his eyesight. “We’ll see where it ends up, but the rupture of the choroid is the main issue.”

Hagelin has returned to the ice since undergoing two operations on his eye and has relied on former teammate Marc Staal, who suffered a similar injury in 2013, for inspiration.

Washington Capitals Carl Hagelin
Carl Hagelin, Washington Capitals (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

“Every time, after I talk to him, it’s been great for the mental aspect of it,” he explained. “It’s always put me in a good mood; it’s always been positive. He said it, ‘it’s all about patience.’ It takes time, and at the end of the day you’ve got that one good eye that’s going to carry you.”

While there isn’t a firm timeline for Hagelin’s return, he plans on playing next season. For now, though, it’s a waiting game to scrutinize as his recovery unfolds.

Capitals Approach Offseason of Major Significance

In the aftermath of a bumpy season, Washington’s head office will now turn its attention to the future. This year’s NHL Entry Draft is important for the Capitals: they must find value in the later rounds while hitting on their early picks to bolster their prospect pool.

MacLellan also has a narrow needle to thread in free agency. Sourcing adequate support for his ageing core will shape the Capitals’ fortunes in 2021-22: he can’t afford to overpay for fringe talent.

Ultimately, though, Washington is another year closer to the end of the Ovechkin Era – which creates new pressure and anxiety for the organization to shoulder. Is the Cup window shutting or is it already closed? We’ll find out next season.

Image: Luke James

Luke is an award-winning sports journalist from London, England. In addition to his work on the Washington Capitals beat for THW, he covers the Elite Ice Hockey League for British Ice Hockey and world soccer for numerous publications, including on Substack. To stay up to date with his content, follow @LukeJames_32 on Twitter.

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