Why ‘Blade Runner’ is more relevant today than it was 35 years ago

Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” opened in June of 1982 starring arguably the biggest actor in the world at the time, Harrison Ford. While it was positioned to be a blockbuster, the film faded after a few weeks with minimal box office gross and mixed reviews.

So why decades later is a film that made only $32 million now a major Hollywood sequel?

Away from its multiple director cuts over the years and visionary production design, what’s kept “Blade Runner” in the cultural zeitgeist — and what makes “Blade Runner 2049” current — are the questions the films explore regarding the fundamental rights of men and machines.

“I think that these questions about what is it okay to build — and even questions of genetic modification — seem to be much more relevant today than they were 35 years ago,” Kate Darling, a researcher at M.I.T.’s media lab who focuses on robotics and ethics, told CNN.

These subjects, along with a 88% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes, have given “Blade Runner 2049” plenty of advance buzz. Industry analysts are projecting a solid $50 million domestic opening for the Warner Bros. film, which stars Ryan Gosling and Ford reprising his role of Rick Deckard. There’s even talk that the film may have a long run during awards season.

Questions regarding humanity’s impact on technology have also become a big theme in popular culture as of late, showcased in Netflix’s “Black Mirror” and HBO’s “Westworld,” a drama series based on the 1973 film.

So while the technological morality explored in the orignal “Blade Runner” may have been slightly ahead of its time, Darling believes that theme is now right on time.

“Is it right to create something that wants to be alive and to treat it like a slave?” Darling said. “I mean, that’s really the main question that [“Blade Runner”] wants viewers to ask themselves because we are moving in a direction where we might be able to do that.”

(CNN, like Warner Bros., is owned by Time Warner.)

Hollywood had its worst summer in 20 years. Can fall save the box office?

The last time Hollywood suffered through a summer season box office this sluggish, the top films were “Men In Black” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Despite strong showings from “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the 2017 summer season — which runs from the first Friday in May through Labor Day weekend — endured the worst box office haul since 1997, when adjusted for inflation.

“In a nutshell: a lack of high-demand animated releases, too many under-cooked or aging franchises, and not enough breakout comedies hurt this summer,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

The domestic box office raked in an estimated $3.83 billion this summer, which was a more than 14% drop from last year, according to comScore. Even when we disregard rising ticket prices, this was Hollywood’s worst summer since 2006 in North America.

A Labor Day weekend with no new releases made matters worse, giving box offices its worst performance since 1998.

But while the news for the crucial summer season is bleak, there’s reason for hope. With big budget blockbusters premiering beyond the summer months over the past few years, Hollywood can still rebound thanks to what is shaping up to be a potentially strong fall.

That comeback could start as early as this weekend with an adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” The Warner Bros. and New Line Cinemas horror film is projected to have a $70 million opening. That would be a record for the month of September by roughly $20 million.

Other films like October’s anticipated “Blade Runner” sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” and November’s two major superhero films, Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” and DC’s “Justice League,” could help right the seemingly sinking ship.

And let’s not forget that the year ends with Disney’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which opens in December. The sequel to 2015’s mega hit, “The Force Awakens,” could have a shot at the biggest opening in film history overtaking its predecessor.

“Undeniably, the final three months of the year have a lot of box office ground to make up for a deficit that is now running at 6.5% behind last year,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “That amps up the pressure even more to reverse the effects of the downward summer spiral.”

‘Magnificent Seven’ cast on how diversity helped make a modern western

— Westerns are one of Hollywood’s most beloved genres — but not one of its most diverse. That isn’t the case with this weekend’s “The Magnificent Seven.”

The film has a wide variety of actors from different races and backgrounds including Asian actor Byung-hun Lee, who’s from South Korea; Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo; and its star, Denzel Washington, who plays bounty hunter Sam Chisolm.

Washington told CNN at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month that the film’s diverse cast speaks to the reality of the setting in the west of the 1800’s.

“That was the reality of what was going on in those days,” Washington said. “The question is why wasn’t that the case for 100 years in the movie business?”

Washington added that having a positive film about outlaws trying to do the right thing could also have an impact on today’s audiences.

“People are afraid. They’re getting boxed in. They’re polarized. It’s this side against that side, so how do they feel safe?” he said. “We were talking about this earlier, ‘oh movies are going to fade away.’ No, people are going to the movies now more than ever because they want to be together.”

Another star in the cast, Chris Pratt, who plays gambler Josh Farraday, said being part of the film allowed him to help make a new mark on an old genre.

“I always wanted to do a western,” Pratt said. “This is a timeless tale that has been told many times but it’s a relevant and new perspective. It’s a diverse cast of characters that’s really reflective of the modern world.”

“Magnificent Seven,” which is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, is expected to have a solid weekend at the box office, with revenue projections of about $30 million. But it could do better than that if it strikes a powerful note with moviegoers conscious of how issues of diversity have been in the news lately.

“There’s this scene where I go to Denzel and [my character] is breaking down and he says, ‘you told me the war is over and the war is not over,'” said Ethan Hawke, who plays Goodnight Robicheaux, a former Confederate soldier. “And as I’m running these lines in my head, driving to set I’m listening on the radio in Louisiana, they were talking about the right to wave the Confederate flag in South Carolina… and I’m thinking, ‘wow, the war really isn’t over.'”

‘Star Wars’ awakens to biggest box office opening ever

— “Star Wars” now rules the box office galaxy.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” became the biggest opening in movie history bringing in an estimated $238 million in the U.S. this weekend.

The film flew past the opening weekend record held by Universal’s “Jurassic World,” which made $208.8 million on the weekend it opened in June.

The Disney film opened in more than 4,100 theaters. It is the seventh in the “Star Wars” saga, and the first film starring beloved characters like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia since 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

Fans of the franchise also came out in record numbers over the weekend to be introduced to new characters like Daisy Ridley’s scavenger Rey, Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren, and John Boyega’s stormtrooper turned good Finn.

“For ‘Star Wars’ fans and Hollywood, this weekend was like the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Kentucky Derby all rolled into one perfectly realized movie event,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “It’s also a great weekend to be a theater owner with an incredible number of satisfied patrons enjoying the majesty of the big screen communal experience.”

The newest tale from a galaxy far, far away was a critical as well as a financial hit.

“The Force Awakens” garnered a solid “A” CinemaScore and a near perfect 95% score on RottenTomatoes.com.

But this may just be the beginning of the film’s box office empire with movie choices in January and February pretty depleted at the cineplex.

“With incredible reviews and an excited hardcore fan base that will want to go back over and over again, ‘Force Awakens’ will have long-term playability well into 2016 where it should earn the lion’s share of its potentially record breaking worldwide revenue,” Dergarabedian said.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Smooth start for Trevor Noah as he takes over ‘The Daily Show’

— A new satirical news era dawned on Monday night as Trevor Noah took over “The Daily Show.” But before getting started, Noah made sure to acknowledge the man he’s replacing: Jon Stewart.

“Thank you Jon… I’m not quite sure what you saw in me, but I’ll work hard every day to find it,” the 31-year-old South African comedian said during his opening remarks. “And I’ll make you not look like the crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid in Africa.”

Noah then spoke directly to “Daily Show” viewers at home, thanking those both “new and old” for joining him as he continues the “war on bull” that Stewart waged.

Noah straddled old and new in his debut, seeking to win over Stewart’s longtime “Daily Show” fans while also trying to appeal to new viewers.

He started to row the boat without rocking the boat, with the possible exception of jokes about Whitney Houston and AIDS that some commentators thought were tasteless.

The first segment critiqued crazed media coverage of Pope Francis’ recent trip to the United States before transitioning to the other big news of the past week: House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation.

“No! Why leave now? I just got here!” Noah said to Boehner. “I learned how to pronounce your name.”

Comedian Kevin Hart was Noah’s guest — and marked the occasion by bringing ties as a gift.

Noah then ended the show the same way that Stewart had for 16 years with a “moment of zen.”

On social networking sites, there were some “mehs” and sighs about Stewart’s absence, but there were also cheers for Noah’s premiere and many admiring comments about his handsome, youthful appearance.

Bill Carter, the CNN analyst who has authored two books about late-night TV, said he thought Noah had a smooth debut. The show’s writers and producers are “easing him in,” Carter tweeted.

He added, “Noah looks at ease, which is large part of making it work.”

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik commented that “the mission of that show was, ‘Trevor Noah can host the ‘Daily Show’ you’re used to and not burn it to the ground,’ and it worked.”

Variety’s Brian Lowry put it this way: “For now, anyway, it doesn’t look like anything here is cause to make that globe suddenly spin off its axis.”

Of course, the team had months to think about how to pull off Monday’s premiere.

Over time Noah will evolve the show and make it more of his own — breaking with some of Stewart’s norms.

Noah was briefly a correspondent on Stewart’s iteration of the show, but he is largely unknown to American audiences. He is replacing a beloved figure, so the pressure is enormous.

Past “Daily Show” correspondents like Larry Wilmore — now the host of “The Nightly Show” at 11:30 p.m. — and new “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert took to Twitter late Monday to wish the new host luck.

“20 min. to the new The Daily Show- Just set up my series recording!” Colbert tweeted.

Comedy Central also received promotional help from its parent company, Viacom, which simulcast the premiere episode on many of the company’s other channels, including MTV and BET.

Noah has said that he’s approaching his debut week as a “miniseries.” On Tuesday’s show he’ll interview Whitney Wolfe, the CEO of a dating app startup; on Wednesday he has Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie; and on Thursday musician Ryan Adams will perform.

Speaking about Adams, Noah told CNNMoney, “I think he’s, in essence, done what we’ve done with ‘The Daily Show, and that is, he’s taking something that people love…. something that’s very successful, and he’s gone, ‘This is my interpretation of it.’ People go, ‘Is it changed? Is it different?’ Yes. ‘But is it a thing we recognize?’ Yes. ‘Can I be a fan of both?’ Yes.”

Noah’s debut Monday night also officially closes a chapter on a summer that saw two of late night television’s legends, Stewart and David Letterman, sign off.

There has been a sweeping period of change. Now, with Colbert taking over the “Late Show,” and Noah taking over “The Daily Show,” the new faces are seated at their respective desks and seeking your laughs.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

‘Empire’ reigns with huge season 2 premiere

— Fox’s “Empire” finally fell, but not by much.

Roughly 16 million viewers tuned in for the season two premiere of the hit Fox show making it the second most watched episode of the series.

This number came in short of the season one finale in March. More than 16.7 million watched the finale.

This means that the “Empire” streak of gaining viewers with each episode, one of the most astounding runs in TV history, has come to an end.

The show had a very healthy audience with viewers aged 18 to 49 years old — the demographic that advertisers love — brought in a rating of 6.5.

This number should grow even larger seeing that the series gets a big boost from those watching on-demand and via DVR services.

Fox’s musical drama starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as hip hop moguls is one of the most popular shows on all of television.

The show, which was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, was a huge surprise hit last season when it premiered to 9.9 million viewers in January.

It became a TV king last season by growing its audience for 10 consecutive weeks.

This is largely due to the show being an incredibly popular hit with African-Americans and with those who both watch live and days later.

“Empire” looks to build on last season by expanding the episode slate from 12 to 18, breaking it into two parts for the fall and spring, and bringing on official sponsors like Pepsi.

The show’s producer, Brian Grazer, told CNN that this season will “be much of the same” when it comes to the characters, but will have more shocking moments and twists.

“It’s a really juicy night time soap opera,” Grazer said. “It’s ‘Dynasty’ in the world of hip hop.”


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ tops weekend box office

— “Straight Outta Compton” went to the top of the charts this weekend with one of the biggest surprises of the summer box office.

The debut of the Universal biopic made an estimated $56.1 million at the U.S. box office — nearly doubling its production budget of $29 million.

The film, which tells the origins of the influential rap group N.W.A. against the backdrop of 1980s Los Angeles, exceeded expectations. It was originally projected to bring in closer to $25 million for its debut.

“Compton” also represents one of the biggest openings in the history of August.

The film was boosted by strong reviews from critics — it currently holds a 88% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes — and audiences who gave it a CinemaScore of A.

“‘Straight Outta Compton’ is for Universal yet another example of a perfectly realized distribution and marketing plan that brought an important story to the big screen,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Not only did audiences clearly love the film, but critics were on board as well.”

The total is even more impressive considering that the film comes at the tail end of the summer season and stars relative unknown actors.

The film also gained a good amount of buzz due to the timing of its release, which comes after a year of heightened tensions between African-Americans and law enforcement.

This theme can be seen throughout the film as N.W.A. takes on the police in many of its landmark songs.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Jurassic World’ ready to roar at the box office

— After evil robots, massive earthquakes, a cappella and the apocalypse, the summer box office is ready to welcome movie-goers to “Jurassic World.”

The Universal film starring Chris Pratt stomps into over 4,200 U.S. theaters (a studio record) on Friday, and is looking to both revitalize a down box office while taking a bite out of it.

Box office analysts are predicting that the film could see a North American opening weekend of $120 million.

This estimate would make “World” the third highest opening of 2015 (behind only “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Furious 7”) and would be the largest June opening ever (over the $116.6 million debut of 2013’s “Man of Steel”).

“World” is the fourth installment in the “Jurassic Park” series about a prehistoric amusement park run amok, but is the first film since 2001’s “Jurassic Park III.”

The series started with the 1993 Steven Spielberg classic, a film considered to be a landmark in visual effects and one of the biggest blockbusters of all time.

When accounting for its original theatrical run and its 2013 3D re-release, “Jurassic Park” has totaled a monstrous $1 billion worldwide.

The franchise has become one of the biggest in Hollywood grossing over $2 billion globally and spawning merchandising, video games and – ironically – even theme park rides.

However, “Jurassic World” is different than its previous sequels in that it has a selling point for audiences that’s possibly bigger than even dinosaurs: nostalgia.

By touting “World” as a direct sequel to the 1993 film and referencing the original movie (right down to the instantly recognizable John Williams score in the trailer) the film looks to grab fans that remember seeing it as kids.

“People who were 8, 9, 10 years old when the first movie came out now have kids of their own who they’re going to want to take to see this movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for Rentrak.

And the film’s big buzz looks to be boosting pre-ticket sales.

According to ticket selling site, Fandango, “World” is currently outselling all of last summer’s hit films at the same point in those film’s sales period on the site.

It also represents more than 90% of Fandango’s weekend ticket sales, according to the site.

Away from its projected roaring U.S. debut, “World” is also opening in 66 international territories this weekend including China, France, the U.K., Germany, and Korea.

This is big seeing that each of the “Jurassic Park” films have performed better internationally than they have in the U.S.

The possibly record setting opening for “Jurassic World” is also big for a summer box office that has been slumping for the past three weeks.

“With the box office being down since Memorial Day, we need some prehistoric help,” Dergarabedian added. “And ‘Jurassic World’ is going to deliver that help.”


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Bill Cosby on sex assault allegations: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’

— Embattled comedian Bill Cosby said in a convoluted interview Friday that the outpouring of sex assault allegations against him is unprecedented.

“I have been in this business for 52 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” the 77-year-old comedian said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “And reality is the situation, and I can’t speak.”

CNN Video

Bill Cosby speaks on sexual assault allegations

After more than 30 women accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, the comedian addressed those allegations for the first time in an interview with ABC News.

GMA correspondent Linsey Davis asked Cosby how he’d respond to young people who would ask if the allegations were true.

“I think that many of them say well you’re a hypocrite, you say one thing, you say the other,” Cosby answered. “My point is okay listen to me carefully, I’m telling you where the road is out. Now, you want to go here or do you want to be concerned about who’s giving you the message?”

Since November many women have accused Cosby of committing sexual assault, a crime which the well-known comedian has denied and has never been officially charged with.

However, the allegations have drastically changed Cosby’s public image.

Projects with NBC and Netflix along with some of Cosby’s tour dates have been scrapped due to the scandal.

Yet, Cosby believes that his life in show business is far from finished.

“I really know about what I’m going to do tomorrow,” Cosby said when asked about his legacy. “I have a ton of ideas to put on television about people and their love for each other.”

Cosby appeared on the morning show to talk about the “Black Belt Community Foundation,” an organization whose goal is to help improve schools near Selma, Alabama.