Channel: Movies

'Cruella' stars Emma Stone as the infamous Disney villain — here's how to watch on Disney Plus the same day it debuts in theaters


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Disney's latest live-action film, "Cruella," will offer a fresh take on one of the studio's most infamous animated villains. The film focuses on Cruella de Vil from the "101 Dalmatians" franchise and tells the story of how she became the character audiences have come to know on screen. 

"Cruella," starring Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone, will arrive in theaters and on Disney Plus on May 28 via Premier Access. Premier Access requires subscribers to pay an extra $30 one-time fee in order to watch a movie at home while it's still playing on the big screen.  

The film is set in 1970s London and follows a young woman, Estella (Emma Stone), whose "flair for fashion" earns the attention of Baroness von Hellman, according to the film's official synopsis. But the relationship between the two spurs Estella to "embrace her wicked side" and become the "raucous, fashionable, and revenge-bent" Cruella de Vil.

How to watch 'Cruella' on Disney Plus

"Cruella" will arrive on Disney Plus as a Premier Access title on May 28. Disney Plus subscribers will have to pay a one-time $30 fee to unlock the film on that date.

As long as you remain a Disney Plus member, you'll be able to stream the movie whenever you want. The film is expected to become available to all Disney Plus subscribers, without the extra fee, at a later date. Previous Premier Access windows have lasted three months, but Disney has yet to confirm if that will be the case for "Cruella."

Disney Plus costs $8 a month or $80 a year. You can also bundle Disney Plus with ESPN+ and Hulu Basic for $14 a month, a savings of about $6 a month compared to purchasing the three streaming services on their own.

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You can watch Disney Plus on a number of media players including Chromecast, Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and most smart TVs. You can find a full list of devices that support Disney Plus here.

How to watch other '101 Dalmatians' films and shows

In addition to "Cruella," the "101 Dalmatians" franchise includes the original animated film, an animated direct-to-video sequel, two live-action movies, three made-for-TV films, and two TV series. 

All of the below titles are available to watch with a Disney Plus subscription:

You can also order most of these titles through video-on-demand (VOD) streaming providers such as Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play, and more. 

The '60s animated classic "101 Dalmatians" is available on a number of VOD streaming services. Most platforms will let you rent the film for $4, purchase the film in standard definition (SD) for $15, or purchase the film in high definition (HD) for $20.

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An art lover's dream job: creating replicas of famous works for movies and TV shows. Here's what a day in the life of a fine-art coordinator is like.


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Look at the artwork in Axel's office in "Billions," the canvases that costarred with Timothy Spall in his acclaimed role as the namesake painter in "Mr. Turner," and the party at the Guggenheim museum that Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem attended in the recent miniseries "Mrs. America."

None of these would have been possible without a niche position on TV and film productions: fine-art coordinator, a recognized role among the creative union 829.

It's a curious job that's equal parts curator, set designer, and paralegal.

New York-based Fanny Pereire is arguably the best known stateside, though her fame is below the line. Pereire worked in the art world in various roles after graduation, including in the press department at Christie's auction house and helping to establish Art & Auction magazine.

Having met producer Scott Rudin through mutual friends, she was recruited for the movie "Changing Lanes," a 2002 thriller starring Ben Affleck, as the script required significant art wrangling. Instantly smitten with the job, Fanny swapped magazines for movie sets and has spent the last two decades curating displays and galleries for fictitious collectors. She said she's paid a daily rate for each job she works on.

The process for her begins with the production meeting, where the producer, director, and scenics pour over a script. Art-minded actors might weigh in directly at this stage, as Donald Sutherland did recently, Pereire recalled.

She was hired to curate a collection for his billionaire character on HBO's recent miniseries "The Undoing.""He came in and we both had a shortlist of what artworks his character would have, and I think seven out of 10 were the same," she said. "He really cared and would arrive on set and literally look at them, like, 'These are mine.' He's so knowledgeable." 

Pereire relishes the research stage, as she has with the upcoming Apple TV adaptation of the bestselling book "Pachinko." The show's set in the 1980s between New York and Tokyo. "That's when the wealthy Japanese were buying Impressionists — I know because for me, that was the time I was at Christie's, so I knew exactly," she said.

Much of a fine-art coordinator's time is spent the same way: wrangling permission

The next step in production in any project is paperwork — and lots of it. "The costume designer doesn't have to check with legal to see if they're allowed to use a Gucci belt, but I have to talk to them about everything," Pereire said. "35% of my job is just the legal part."

For name-brand works, Pereire will approach the artist or artist's estate to seek permission. Exhibition posters, she explained, are particularly troublesome because they require double clearance — from the original artist and the museum or institution by which they were produced. Most fine-art coordinators will avoid them as a result unless absolutely necessary.

She admitted that artists might ignore requests, but it's rare to be refused point-blank. In fact, so far, only the estate of abstract expressionist Franz Kline has demurred, its bylaws requiring that his works can only be deployed in educational film or TV.

It doesn't hurt that many movie producers are heavyweight art collectors, too — Scott Rudin is one, and his sister, Beth, is among the most important contemporary collectors in the world.

Creating replicas is always preferable to borrowing originals

Clearance granted, she'll now set about creating a replica — several, usually, to allow for damages. Only occasionally will she risk borrowing an original.

"300 people come in and out of a movie set all the time. Why put something in jeopardy?" she said.

The metal sculptures by Aaron Young she wrangled for the set of "Billions" were an exception: They were intended as a long-term item of set-dressing, and their construction meant they were safe from damage.

That wasn't the case for the $20 million Cy Twombly painting Pereire borrowed for the thriller "Paranoia" in 2013. So why take the risk? "Because our actor requested it," she said. 

Pereire works with scenics on set to produce the replicas, though she treats these faux masterpieces with a charming reverence. "They become my children, and when someone touches them, I think 'Aaargh!'" she said.

Photographs and paintings are straightforward enough thanks to high-resolution printing and some finishing techniques. Sculptures, however, are much harder to make and move, so will be rarer on set as a result. See them in a movie, and it's a sign that art was important to the production — like in the case of 2002's "Changing Lanes," where Affleck plays a wealthy Wall Street lawyer and Pereire placed an Antony Gormley replica. Styrofoam subbed for the original cast metal.

Pop-artist Alex Katz also figured prominently in the same film, in particular a portrait of his son and the man's soon-to-be wife. The intrigued pair asked if they could visit the set, and Perreire readily agreed, noting that if they had problems accessing the set they should call her. The two strolled in without trouble, astonishing her when they walked up to say hello. They apparently looked so familiar to the crew that no one stopped them. "That's because we had the portrait hanging close to craft services when it was drying, so everyone had had lunch 'with' them for the last two weeks," she said.

Movies about artists require even more complex replicas

Art as background is one task. It's an entirely different proposition when art is central to the script. 

Suzie Davis is a British fine-art coordinator who's carved out a niche working on films where the storyline centers on an artist, including Timothy Spall's 2014 "Mr. Turner" and "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain" starring Benedict Cumberbatch and scheduled for release later this year.

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On films like these, there's an additional stage: working with a fine artist to develop replicas of well-known works — Turner's "Fighting Temeraire," for instance.

The artist will be tasked with creating the painting at various stages of completion. Each will be painted in oil on canvas, much like the original, for practical reasons.

"When the time came and we needed to film Tim painting on them, we used acrylic paint, which we could wipe off and let him do it again," Davis said.

That film also featured an exhibition at London's Royal Academy, for which Davis and her team had to produce almost 400 works. She admitted that some were prints in that case — the Yale Museum of British Art is always a great source for shortcuts, Davis said, as it holds a hefty haul of images that are copyright-free. They were varnished to suggest age and framed in plastic rather than wooden frames to reduce costs.

A film set with artwork covering the walls

On the upcoming film about Louis Wain, she said, Cumberbatch proved a passionate artist himself and spent time on set near the props table with the fine artist hired to ape Wain's works. 

"He's a really good artist, and they'd both be drawing together — he wanted to completely inhabit the character and totally understand how he drew," Davis said.

The biggest challenge for that film, Davis added, was permissions and clearance. Wain died destitute and without heirs, and so she couldn't use her usual channels to secure clearance, like Jeva Film, a firm whose specialties include securing such right. Instead, she contacted a collector of the artist's works, gallerist Chris Beetles, and secured permission to use images of works he owned.

The hardest part is destroying the replicas at production's end

Once production wraps, Perreire, Davis, and their colleagues must take back these impressive replicas and, in most cases, destroy them, per legal agreements.

A collection of fake artwork for films

"The day I know I'll have to do it, I have stomach pains in the morning — the first cut is always a little hard," Perreire said. She'll often slash them into pieces and provide proof of destruction via photographs or mail the shards back to the artist.

For images printed on canvas, some artists simply ask them to be returned so they can paint over them with new work. Masterpieces from Alex Katz and company could reveal confusing depths when X-rayed by curators in the future.

In one case, Perreire didn't destroy the paintings she reproduced by portraitist Alice Neel. "We worked with the foundation on them, and some of the paintings we picked the family had never really seen [in person]. They were having a big family reunion, so we gave them all the reproductions because we thought it would be fun for them to have a second life in their offices over the world," she said.

As for Davis, while the finished old masters were junked at the end of shooting "Mr. Turner," she and the art department kept the in-process replicas as souvenirs of a happy shoot. "I think we probably should have thrown them away, but we know where they are," she said. "I've got a half-done 'Fighting Temeraire' somewhere, and it looks great."

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Theater chain AMC rode the latest 'Fast and Furious' movie to its busiest weekend since the pandemic began, with more than 2 million US customers


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AMC Theatres just had its busiest weekend of the pandemic as reduced coronavirus restrictions bring more Americans back to the movies. 

More than 2 million people watched movies at the chain's US locations between last Thursday and last Sunday, according to a press release issued Monday. 

"The big screen is back!" said Adam Aron, CEO & President of AMC Theatres, in the release. "The combination of widespread vaccination and the release once again of blockbuster movies is proving to be the magic formula for the return of moviegoing." 

AMC, which is the world's largest movie theatre operator, also posted its highest attendance in IMAX, Dolby Cinema and Prime since reopening. 

The company credited "F9: The Fast Saga" with attracting much of the weekend's attendance. The latest film in the "Fast and Furious" franchise racked up $70 million in its opening weekend across the US. That's the biggest US opening weekend for any movie since "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in 2019, according to the release.

Globally, "F9" has raked in more than $400 million at the box office. 

More than 500,000 people also visited AMC locations in Europe and the Middle East over the weekend, marking another pandemic record for the chain, according to the release.

The busy weekend is a reassuring sign for the company after it posted huge dropoffs in attendance and revenue in the early months of the pandemic. In the third quarter of 2020, AMC posted a 97% decrease in US ticket sales year-over-year, as well as a pretax loss of $901 million.

The company warned in October that it was in danger of running out of cash by the end of 2020 or early 2021 if viewership didn't bounce back faster, citing a reduced slate of new movie releases. 


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'F9' made more than 'Hobbs and Shaw' in its opening weekend at the North American box office


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The latest "Fast and Furious" movie, "F9," earned $70 million at the North American box office over the weekend, a new pandemic-best opening that topped the previous record holder, "A Quiet Place Part II."

80% of the North American theatrical market is open, according to Comscore.

The ninth installment's debut is also more than the last "Fast" movie's, the spinoff "Hobbs and Shaw" in 2019. That movie earned $60 million domestically in its opening weekend and went on to gross $760 million worldwide. The eighth installment in the main "Fast" saga though, "The Fate of the Furious," earned $98 million domestically in its debut in 2017 and ultimately made more than $1 billion worldwide.

"Tentpole sequels and horror films were already pillars of yearly theatrical revenue before the pandemic, so it logically tracks that they're among the early standouts during this transition back into normal life for many people," said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

"F9" has already grossed $405 million globally. Though the movie has slowed in the franchise's key market China, where it opened last month, it has still grossed $217 million there (more than the $201 million "Hobbs and Shaw" earned in the region, but less than the $393 million "The Fate of the Furious" made). 

It opened with $136 million in China, but fell a whopping 85% in its second weekend there with $20.6 million. The drop is dramatic, but not unprecedented. "The Fate of the Furious" fell 70% in its second weekend in China.

With more international markets still to come, "F9" will likely pass "Godzilla vs. Kong" as this year's highest-grossing Hollywood release so far. The Warner Bros. monster mashup, which debuted in March, grossed $442 million worldwide.

"F9's performance bodes well for other tentpoles coming up with higher ceilings of potential, but we have to be cautious in expectations during this ever-evolving marketplace," Robbins said. 

While "F9's" opening is a positive sign for movie theaters, the industry still has a ways to go to full recovery. The strength of the theatrical market in the near future could be just as much about legs as solid debuts, according to the Exhibitor Relations media analyst Jeff Bock — meaning "F9's" second weekend could be significant.

"The most concerning aspect is the lack of long-play films in the marketplace," Bock said. "The key for the theatrical industry going forward is sustainability. That means either consistent openings or marathon holds."

And the pandemic has fundamentally shifted how studios approach distribution practices.

Universal, the studio behind the "Fast and Furious" movies, has struck deals with some of the biggest theater chains to shorten the theatrical window from the pre-pandemic 75 days to just 17 in most cases, at which point it can release a movie to digital-rental platforms. 

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Renting a movie online is as simple as a few clicks — here's a full breakdown of all the major rental services


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Remember when renting a movie meant going to a store? Times have changed for the movie industry. With video rental chains a relic of the past, online streaming has become the new standard for renting movies to watch at home. 

With multiple services to choose from — including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play, and FandangoNow— it's never been easier to find a film worth renting on a smart TV, media player, or mobile device. These platforms all allow you to browse through a huge catalog of digital films, enabling you to pay for rentals individually rather than as part of a subscription.

To help make your next movie night at home more enjoyable, we've broken down some of the basics of renting streaming films from a variety of services. So, put a bag of popcorn in your microwave and pick up your controller or tablet — there are a lot of great movies out there waiting to be discovered. 

What services can you rent streaming movies from?

Services like Vudu, Google Play Movies, Apple TV, and FandangoNow all offer a comprehensive assortment of movies that you can rent individually without a subscription. Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, actually offers individual rentals in addition to its subscription service for Prime members. 

Once you've created an account with any of the above services and added your payment details, renting a title is as simple as a few clicks. In most cases, you can simply browse through the platform's website or download the service's app. After finding the title you want, you simply click on the movie and complete the instructions to confirm your rental. 

How much do streaming movies cost to rent?

Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, FandangoNow, and Google Play all let you rent movies for as little as $3, though most newer releases top out at $8 depending on the quality you choose. Brand-new movies that are still playing in theaters can cost a bit more, however, with some in-theater titles going for as much as $20 to rent.

How long can you stream movies after you rent them?

You typically get 30 days to start watching a title once you rent it. After you press play, you usually have 48 hours before your rental expires.

Can you buy streaming movies to keep permanently?

In many cases you can choose to buy a digital movie instead of just renting it. This will allow you to stream it whenever you want for as long as you want. Digital movie purchases typically range in price from $5 to $30 depending on how new a film is. 4K Ultra HD versions of movies are sometimes more expensive than high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD) versions.

It should be noted, however, that digital purchases aren't quite as permanent as buying a DVD or Blu-ray. When you make a digital movie purchase, you're essentially buying the license to keep streaming that title from the service you've selected. But, if that service somehow goes out of business or loses the rights to the title you bought, it's possible that you'll lose access to your digital copy.

Can you rent brand-new movies still playing in theaters?

In response to theater closures during the pandemic, studios have allowed people to stream many brand-new movies that would otherwise be exclusive to theaters.

Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, FandangoNow, and Google Play all offer these "in-theater" titles. Disney Plus also releases select in-theater movies via "Premier Access," which requires an extra fee in addition to your regular subscription. Depending on the studio, some titles might only be available to rent, while others are only available to buy.

Prices for in-theater rentals can be as high as $30 per title. This may seem expensive if you're planning to watch "Spiral: From The Book of Saw" on your own, but if you're a parent with kids who would have otherwise spent a small fortune to see "Raya and the Last Dragon" in a theater — this is a steal. Rental prices are also reduced over time — "Raya," for instance, is now just $6 to rent through VOD, or free to stream with a Disney Plus subscription.

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Some notable 'in-theater movies' currently available to rent or own include:

Since the movie selection is about the same no matter which rental service you choose, picking a platform to use really comes down to choosing the app that works best on the devices you own. Below, we've broken down some key details for all of the major digital movie retailers.


Vudu is available on many devices and even includes a selection of free movies with commercials.

Vudu maintains a massive inventory of titles to rent at various price points. The service used to charge more for 4K versions of its titles, but most movies are now priced the same regardless of their video quality.

The Vudu app is readily available on many platforms and recently expanded its support to Amazon Fire TV, which was one of the few devices it was missing from. We also like that its app tends to work well and support most features no matter what platform you use it on.

Vudu also has an edge over some competing services thanks to its "Free With Ads" selection. This collection of titles rotates practically every week, and though there are ads, breaks are rarely lengthy or too intrusive. So, if you're trying to entertain on a budget and don't feel like paying for a rental — this is one of the best options available.

Apple TV

Apple TV ties in seamlessly with the rest of Apple's services.

Apple offers a large selection of movies to rent through its Apple TV app on a variety of connected devices. Though in-app transactions were originally limited to web browsers and mobile devices, you can now rent movies directly from the Apple TV app on most media players and smart TVs. 

The Apple TV app is also a strong performer when it comes to general video and audio quality. The service offers one of the largest 4K rental selections, giving you the best overall AV experience for your dollar.

As a bonus, the Apple TV app is also home to the Apple TV Plus streaming service. You have to pay a subscription fee of $5 a month to unlock Apple TV Plus content, but it's convenient to be able to access TV Plus shows and movies in the same app as your rentals.

On the downside, the Apple TV app is not available on Android mobile devices.


FandangoNow is the only rental service with IMAX Enhanced movies for high-quality streaming on select Sony TVs.

Like all of the digital rental stores on our list, FandandgoNow offers a large selection of movies to choose from. The platform is also available on most connected devices, and was recently added to Apple TV products.

The service has been in the 4K streaming game a long time now and they do an impressive job bringing high quality picture and audio to homes. FandangoNow is also the only rental service currently offering support for the IMAX Enhanced format. This tech offers specially optimized HDR picture and DTS sound on supported Sony TVs.

If you have a Dolby Vision compatible TV or a Dolby Atmos audio setup, however, you'll likely want to opt for Vudu or Apple TV since FandangoNow does not currently support those formats. 

Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video has a huge library of movies you can pay to rent, even if you're not a Prime subscriber.

Amazon Prime Video does a lot of things right, and it provides an impressive list of digital rentals you can buy without a subscription. If you're a Prime member you also gain the added benefit of a massive number of movies and shows as part of your subscription. On top of that — similar to Vudu — Amazon Prime offers a small selection of "Free With Ads" titles sponsored by IMDB.

Prime Video is one of the only digital retailers currently offering support for the HDR10+ format. With that said, the platform's Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support is sorely lacking as there are very few titles that offer those features. 

On that note, my main problem with Prime Video is its lack of clear format and quality labels. 4K HDR viewing options aren't always available and it's not even always clear whether a title is supposed to include those features or not.

Depending on the device you're using, you often have to hunt specifically for the 4K UHD version of a movie or show to see if that option exists.

Google Play Movies/YouTube

Google Play Movies and YouTube are both convenient rental service for Android users.

When it comes to movie selection, Google is basically on par with the other services on our list. That said, Google appears to be in the process of phasing out the Google Play Movies app. As reported by Variety, the service is no longer available on Roku devices or smart TVs from Samsung, LG, and Vizio. Instead, you can rent movies directly through Google's YouTube app on those devices.

YouTube doesn't have the best interface for highlighting Google's selection of movie rentals, but the rental process works about the same as any other service once you've found a movie you'd like to watch.

Google Play Movies is still available as an app on Android devices, however, and I prefer this mobile interface for renting movies. It easily allows me to find what titles I have in my digital library and what titles offer 4K, as well as navigate new rentals and purchase options, shop deals, and browse what new "in-theater" titles are available.

People with disabilities are nearly invisible in TV and film. Industry insiders point to authentic portrayals of disabled characters as models for inclusion.


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Disability was in focus during this year's festival and awards circuits. "CODA," a dramedy about a hearing teenager from a deaf family, was the darling of the Sundance Film Festival. Oscar nominees included films that portrayed disability communities, like "Sound of Metal," the documentary "Crip Camp," and the short film "Feeling Through."

These films, which featured actors with disabilities and avoided some harmful and overrepresented stereotypes, signaled progress to some who have fought for decades for inclusion in TV and film.

"Progress is more and more films being recognized for their positive and authentic portrayals of deaf people or people with disabilities," said Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning actress who starred in "Coda," and identifies as deaf. "That's not to say that we've achieved everything we've aimed for, but the voices of inclusion are being heard."

People with disabilities are still among the most underrepresented groups in Hollywood. 

In 2019, just 2.3% of all speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing US films were depicted with a disability, USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found. By comparison, 12.6% of the US population lives with a disability, according to the 2018 American Community Survey, which excluded people on active military duty and living in certain institutions from the statistic. 

In Hollywood, artists with disabilities face added challenges getting representation, booking gigs, and rising to positions of power, according to 12 people Insider spoke with, including writers, directors, agents, casting directors, and advocates for inclusion in employment.

Even Matlin, a seasoned actress, said she gets turned down for parts because she is deaf. She said she recently lost a recurring role on a TV series because the character wasn't originally written as deaf and the showrunner didn't think she could do it without an interpreter character.

Gail Williamson, a talent agent at KMR who represents actors with disabilities, said she's had to cancel inaccessible auditions for clients, including an audition held on the second floor of a building that wasn't wheelchair accessible.

Yet films like "Crip Camp" and "Coda," as well as shows like "The Politician" that cast actors with disabilities, show productions can be more inclusive, those interviewed told Insider.

Crip Camp

The stakes are high. In 2019, the unemployment rate among people living with a disability was 7.3%, twice as high as those without a disability, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2020, amid the pandemic, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities climbed to 12.6%.

TV and film can help dispel some myths driving those statistics, like the misconception that people with disabilities aren't capable of work. 

"These are ambitious, hardworking people that are just left out of the mix," said David Radcliff, whose writing credits include "Crip Camp,""Waffles and Mochi," and "The Rookie," and who has cerebral palsy. "The more we see disabled people on-screen, working jobs, raising families, living productive lives like we've seen on 'Crip Camp' ... that is beneficial to everybody."

Hollywood is starting to hire more actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities

Some recent momentum in disability inclusion has been around "authentic casting," or casting actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities.

A 2018 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation of 284 streaming and TV shows found 22% of characters with disabilities were portrayed authentically.

Nondisabled actors playing characters with disabilities have historically been shoo-ins for awards. But disability advocates say the experiences of actors with disabilities can create richer performances in those roles. There are also fewer parts written for characters with disabilities, so opening those parts up to performers with disabilities who might be well suited for them has a real impact.

"It's literally about economic stability and making a leap from being a freelance artist to, 'I can support myself and my children that don't exist and my family,'" said Ryan Haddad, who played the devious Andrew Cashman in Ryan Murphy's "The Politician," and who has cerebral palsy.

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There's even more work to be done in opening all roles to talent with disabilities, not just those written for characters with disabilities.

Haddad was drawn to his role in "The Politician" partly because the story arc of the character, who had cerebral palsy, wasn't driven by disability. The casting director Alexa Fogel said she and Murphy were looking first and foremost for someone with the right sense of humor to play Cashman, who was meant to be clever, sneaky, and funny, and the studio backed them.

It shows progress comes from a combination of agents pitching artists with disabilities for auditions, casting directors broadening their databases, writers and creators thinking more inclusively, and productions and studios hiring people with disabilities at every level, from crew members to studio executives.

There is also a fear in profit-motivated Hollywood that actors or creators with disabilities are more difficult or expensive to work with, which often isn't the case. 

"Producers and networks are still scared, and they're missing out on this incredible talent that they could be profiting off," said Marilee Talkington, an actress who has appeared in shows including "See" and identifies as blind. 

While there are unique considerations when working with actors with disabilities, that's true of any production, filmmakers said. 

Doug Roland, the writer-director of "Feeling Through," said he worked with the Helen Keller National Center to cast Robert Tarango, the deaf-blind actor who starred in the film, and make the production accessible while shooting at night. Otherwise the process wasn't drastically different from other films he's made.

"The largest lesson I learned is to stop looking at actors and crew with disabilities as this whole other kind of obstacle to be dealt with," said Roland, who based the story on his own experience with a deaf-blind man. "Look at it as part of the process. … There is so much more gained at every level of the experience."

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'The Boss Baby: Family Business' debuts on Peacock and in theaters on July 2, but you'll need a Peacock Premium plan to stream it


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The Boss Baby is back in a new animated sequel to the 2017 DreamWorks comedy. "The Boss Baby: Family Business" will debut on Peacock Premium and in theaters on July 2. This is the first Universal movie to get a day-and-date release on Peacock and the big screen.

The animated adventure follows brothers Tim (James Marsden) and Ted Templeton (Alec Baldwin) who have entered different stages of their adult lives. When Tim's daughter, Tina (Amy Sedaris), reveals she's an undercover agent for BabyCorp, Tim and Ted transform into babies for one last mission. 

Eva Longoria, Lisa Kudrow, Ariana Greenblatt, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jeff Goldblum all lend their voices to the film. Director Tom McGrath returns to direct the sequel. In addition to feature-length films, the Boss Baby franchise also includes a Netflix animated series called "The Boss Baby: Back in Business."

Where to watch 'The Boss Baby: Family Business' 

"The Boss Baby: Family Business" premieres on July 2 in theaters and on Peacock. While you won't be able to watch the movie with Peacock's free plan, the film is included with a Peacock Premium ($5/month) or Peacock Premium Plus ($10/month) plan. 

The only difference between the two plans is Peacock Premium has commercial interruptions whereas Peacock Premium Plus does not. Both plans are also available with annual payment options. Peacock Premium costs $50 a year, while Peacock Premium Plus costs $100 a year. Xfinity cable and internet subscribers can get Peacock Premium for free with their subscriptions. 

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Aside from "The Boss Baby" sequel, Peacock Premium and Peacock Premium Plus subscribers get access to a huge collection of NBCUniversal shows and movies, including hit comedies like "The Office" and "30 Rock."

To learn more about NBCUniversal's streaming service, check out our full Peacock review and our Peacock guide. For more streaming service recommendations and details, be sure to read our guide to the best streaming services

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'Raya and the Last Dragon' jumped dramatically in viewership after it became available on Disney+ without an extra fee, new data shows


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After an underwhelming start earlier this year, the Disney animated film "Raya and the Last Dragon" jumped in viewership on Disney+ last month.

US viewers spent 1.08 billion minutes watching the movie from June 4 to June 6 — its first weekend as a "free" title on the streaming service — according to the analytics company Nielsen. It was the most watched movie in the US among Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu from May 31 to June 6. (The movie became available to stream at no extra fee for Disney+ subscribers on June 4.)

"Raya" was initially released in March simultaneously in theaters and as a "Premier Access" movie on Disney+, in which subscribers paid an additional $30 to watch. Disney has used the strategy on other movies during the pandemic, including last year's "Mulan" remake and the upcoming Marvel movie, "Black Widow."

When it debuted on Disney+ in March, it was watched for 355 million minutes in its first weekend and 390 million minutes in its first full week on the service as a Premier Access title. It dipped to 203 million minutes in its second full week. The numbers are a stark contrast to the movie's first "free" weekend.

Other data from March also suggested "Raya"underwhelmed as a Premier Access title, at least compared to "Mulan."

"Raya" received 20% fewer purchases on Disney+ in the US over its opening weekend than "Mulan" did during its first weekend, according to the analytics company Antenna, which pulls from a variety of opt-in panels like budgeting apps to track purchase and transaction data.

"Raya" also opened at the box office with a disappointing $8.6 million domestically in March. It ultimately gained some momentum and earned $54 million in North America and $120 million worldwide. 

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'F9' broke a pandemic box-office record, but also shows how the movie-theater industry has permanently changed


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"F9," the ninth installment in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, hit North American theaters over the weekend after a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The delay paid off.

"F9"earned $70 million in its debut weekend, a new pandemic-best opening. It's so far made more than $400 million worldwide, including $217 million from the key market China, with more international markets to come.

Universal, the studio behind the "Fast Saga," was the first studio to push back a major tentpole release last year. Others quickly followed, either delaying movies until this year, or pushing them to digital-rental or streaming platforms (or both).

"'F9' is being rewarded for its commitment to a 'theatrical-first' release that provides the benefits of 'prestige and exclusivity' that only a big screen-centric strategy can create," said Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst.

Universal's decision to delay "F9" and give it an exclusive theatrical release was a show of commitment to movie theaters. The "Fast and Furious" franchise has grown into a global box-office behemoth; the previous two entries in the main saga, "Furious 7" and "The Fate of the Furious," both grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

But "F9," despite its early success, is also the biggest sign yet that the pandemic has permanently altered the US theatrical industry and Hollywood's distribution practices.

Universal has reached agreements with the world's three largest cinema chains — AMC Theatres, Cineworld (which owns Regal), and Cinemark — to drastically shorten the exclusive theatrical window, which was between 75 and 90 days before the pandemic.

Now under the agreements, Universal can choose to release a movie to premium video-on-demand (PVOD) platforms — such as iTunes or Amazon Prime Video — 31 days after the movie debuts in theaters if it opens to $50 million or more domestically, and after 17 days if it opens below $50 million (this also applies to AMC, according to a person familiar with the deal, which had previously been announced as only a 17-day window).

The person estimated that "F9" would hit PVOD after at least 35 days, giving it six weekends exclusively in theaters. New movies have typically been available to rent for $20 during the pandemic.

It will be Universal's first major test of how a new global blockbuster will play on digital-rental services.

 "An exclusive theatrical release creates an even higher level of interest — and thus revenue-generating horsepower — for these blockbusters once they hit the small screen," Dergarabedian said.

But Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations media analyst, argued that a movie "may lose momentum and pop culture relevance" between when it debuts in theaters and when it arrives on PVOD.

But no matter what happens, the long theatrical window seems to be a thing of the past.

Some studios have taken more drastic steps than Universal during the pandemic. Warner Bros. is releasing all of its movies this year simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service HBO Max. Disney has either released movies exclusively to Disney+ (Pixar's "Luca") or simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional $30 fee (the upcoming Marvel movie "Black Widow").

But in the future, distribution strategies for theatrical releases are likely to look more like those of Universal or Paramount, which is releasing some of its biggest movies (such as "A Quiet Place Part II") to its streamer Paramount+ 45 days after they hit theaters. Warner Bros. has struck a deal with Cineworld for a 45-day window beginning in 2022 (though it will still make some movies exclusively for HBO Max). 

"Most films make the bulk of their money in the first 10 days of release," Bock said. 

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'The Tomorrow War' stars Chris Pratt as a family man battling alien invaders — the sci-fi movie is now streaming on Prime Video


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"The Tomorrow War," a new sci-fi action movie starring Chris Pratt, premiered exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on July 2. Prime Video subscribers can watch the movie at no additional cost.

Pratt plays an ex-military family man who is drafted by time travelers to fight a war against aliens 30 years in the future. The movie is directed by Chris McKay, whose previous credits include "The Lego Batman Movie" and "Robot Chicken."

"The Tomorrow War" was originally scheduled to be released in December 2020 by Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media, but the premiere was delayed due to COVID-19, and the global distribution rights were acquired by Amazon Studios.

During a recent interview with Reuters, Pratt requested viewers' undivided attention while streaming the movie at home and recommended putting your phone away to get the full experience. "Give yourself that gift, honestly," Pratt said. "When you're paying the money to go to the theater... you're buying a two-hour escape from your phone and I think you can give yourself that at home if you're a little bit disciplined."

Where to watch 'The Tomorrow War'

"The Tomorrow War" is now available on Amazon Prime Video. The movie won't be screened in theaters, so Prime Video is the only place you can watch it.

A subscription to Amazon Prime costs $119 per year or $13 a month and includes access to Prime Video's entire library of movies and series. If you're only interested in accessing the streaming service and don't need Prime's other perks, a standalone subscription to Prime Video costs $9 a month.

New subscribers can get a 30-day trial, so you can watch "The Tomorrow War" for free if you sign up now. After your trial, your subscription will renew for the regular price unless you cancel.

Amazon Prime Video's entire library of movies and TV shows can be streamed on most smart TVs, computers, smartphones, current Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and Amazon's Fire Stick and Fire tablet devices. You can see a full list of supported devices here.

"The Tomorrow War" is available to stream in up to 4K resolution with HDR on supported TVs and media players.

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What other sci-fi movies and shows can I watch on Prime Video?

In addition to "The Tomorrow War," fans of sci-fi will find numerous movies to watch on Amazon Prime Video for no additional cost, including "Inception,""Galaxy Quest," and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

If you're looking for a new Amazon Original series to binge-watch, the first season of "Upload" is available to stream on Prime Video. This sci-fi show stars Robbie Amell as a computer programmer who is marooned in a digital afterlife and attempts to unravel the mysterious circumstances that brought him there. "Upload" is renewed for a second season.

For more details on Prime Video, check out our full Amazon Prime Video guide.

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The top 5 new movie releases in July, including Marvel's 'Black Widow'


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5. "Old"— in theaters July 23

Description: "This summer, visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan unveils a chilling, mysterious new thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day."

4. "Space Jam: A New Legacy"— in theaters and on HBO Max July 16

Description: "Basketball champion and global icon LeBron James goes on an epic adventure alongside timeless Tune Bugs Bunny with the animated/live-action event "'Space Jam: A New Legacy,' from director Malcolm D. Lee and an innovative filmmaking team including Ryan Coogler and Maverick Carter. This transformational journey is a manic mashup of two worlds that reveals just how far some parents will go to connect with their kids."

3. "Jungle Cruise"— in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access July 30

Description: "Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney's 'Jungle Cruise' is an adventure-filled, rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank's questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila — his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities — possessing the power to change the future of medicine."

2. "The Tomorrow War"— on Amazon Prime Video July 2

Description:"In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 51%

What critics said: "Watching Chris Pratt fight to save the future has a certain appeal, but in the here and now, he can't even save the movie."— CNN

1. "Black Widow' — in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access July 9

Description: "Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83%

What critics said: "I think I can say for the first time in years about a Marvel property that the next chapter can't come soon enough."— Slate

Zack Snyder is starting to build much-needed franchises for Netflix after his falling out with Warner Bros.


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Zack Snyder and Netflix are teaming up again after the success of Snyder's zombie heist movie "Army of the Dead" this year.

Snyder will make a sci-fi fantasy film called "Rebel Moon" for the streaming giant that's inspired by "Star Wars" and the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, known for his classic samurai films like "Seven Samurai."

"My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out," Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter.

Netflix is also building "Army of the Dead" into a franchise, including an anime spinoff series and a prequel film called "Army of Thieves," which debuts this fall. 

Netflix gives Snyder the freedom he craves

Snyder has spoken about about the freedom that Netflix affords him, a contrast to how his relationship with Warner Bros. deteriorated over the direction of his DC superhero movies.

"The partnership is really one of trust,"Snyder told Insider's  Kirsten Acuna in May ahead of the release of "Army of the Dead.""They really were like, 'Look, Zack, we want you to do your thing.'"

That same week, Snyder told the pop-culture website Uproxx that Warner Bros. "tortured" him during the making of "Zack Snyder's Justice League."

"It was cool to do the Snyder Cut of 'Justice League' and that was fun and everything," Snyder said. "But Warner Bros. still tortured me the whole time for whatever reason, they can't help it. I don't know why I'm such a f---ing pain in their a-- because I'm not trying to be, honestly."

Warner Bros. did not immediately return a request for comment.

Snyder's falling out with Warner Bros. came to a head with 2017's "Justice League," which he exited late into production after the death of his daughter. The studio hired "Avengers" director Joss Whedon for significant reshoots over concerns that the movie was too dark, like Snyder's previous DC movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

After the movie flopped critically and financially, fans rallied for Warner Bros. to release the "Snyder Cut," a director's cut of the film with Snyder's vision intact.

That's how "Zack Snyder's Justice League" materialized, a four-hour movie that debuted on HBO Max in March using Snyder's original footage. But Warner Bros. and Snyder have both said the studio isn't interested in any more of Snyder's vision for the DC universe, despite fans clamoring for a sequel to his "Justice League."

justice league zack snyder syndercut

Netflix is in need of hit franchises

Netflix, though, is interested in more Snyder, with "Army of the Dead" spinoffs and "Rebel Moon" in the works.

Netflix said that "Army of the Dead" was watched by 72 million households globally in its first 28 days, putting it in the top 10 of Netflix's most popular original movies (Netflix counts a view if an account watches at least two minutes of a show or movie).

Snyder is supplying the streamer with franchises that could compete with traditional Hollywood studios. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter in September what Netflix could learn from Hollywood, co-CEO Reed Hastings said: "The thing that many studios are able to do is create great franchises."

"We're making great progress on that with 'Stranger Things' and other properties, but compared to 'Harry Potter' and 'Star Wars,' we've got a long way to go," Hastings continued.

The company introduced two teams last year to help with that goal on the TV front: the franchise TV division led by Netflix's VP of international originals Kelly Luegenbiehl and the event/spectacle TV division led by Netflix's head of US and Canada scripted series Peter Friedlander

One of Netflix's biggest investments in spectacle TV, the superhero series "Jupiter's Legacy"from Netflix's comics company Millarworld, was canceled after one season this year (a person with direct knowledge of the production told Insider it cost $130 million to make).

Netflix has had success with other event and franchise programs, including the limited series "The Queen's Gambit" and the fantasy series "The Witcher."

And Snyder's projects have the potential to grow into the kind of universes Netflix is looking for — and that Warner Bros. rejected.

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Sequels like 'F9' and 'A Quiet Place Part II' have jumpstarted the US box office, but experts say there are 2 major hurdles still facing the movie business


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Halfway through 2021, the domestic box office is showing signs of recovery after movie theaters were devastated by the coronavirus pandemic last year. 

"F9," the latest "Fast and Furious" movie, recently debuted with a pandemic-best opening weekend of $70 million, topping "A Quiet Place Part II." 

But the North American box office is still down through July 5 compared to the same time period last year, according to the research firm Comscore: $1.87 billion last year versus $1.18 billion this year. And it's still a very long way from pre-pandemic levels; in 2019, the box office was at $5.9 billion through the first half of the year, thanks largely to "Avengers: Endgame."

Theaters temporarily shut down in mid-March last year, but the early months were powered by hits like "Bad Boys for Life" and late-2019 holdovers like "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." 

80% of North American theaters are now open, according to Comscore. But pandemic-related restrictions, including limited seating, have been in place across the US until recently. 

"We are still playing catch up," said Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst.

Strong openings alone can't save the box office

One of the biggest concerns facing the domestic box office is "the lack of long-play films in the marketplace," according to Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations media analyst. 

"The key for the theatrical industry going forward is sustainability," Bock said. "That means either consistent openings or marathon holds."

"F9" dipped 66% in its second weekend with $24 million, but has crossed $100 million total. The coming weeks will indicate whether its momentum slows as more tentpoles are released, like this weekend's "Black Widow" (which is premiering simultaneously on Disney+ for an additional fee). 

"Black Widow," for its part, is on pace to break"F9's" pandemic-best debut. Advanced ticket sales are outpacing it and pre-pandemic Marvel releases "Doctor Strange" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming," according to the ticket service Fandango. Whether that momentum carries through the rest of the summer remains to be seen.

Post-opening drops at the box office are normal, but they can be a concern for a theatrical industry in need of a turnaround. The box office will need movies with legs as well as strong openings. "A Quiet Place Part II" is the best example yet of a movie that has achieved both, performing at pre-pandemic levels domestically on par with the first movie from 2018.

"Front-loaded performances are the nature of the beast right now with the pent-up demand for the big screen experience," Dergarabedian said.

A Quiet Place Part II

Sequels are (still) carrying the box office

The top-grossing domestic releases of the year so far are familiar: big-budget franchise sequels. Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II," Universal's "F9," and Warner Bros.' "Godzilla vs. Kong" have all cracked $100 million domestically. This weekend's "Black Widow," from Disney, is likely to join them.  

"Tentpole sequels and horror films were already pillars of yearly theatrical revenue before the pandemic, so it logically tracks that they're among the early standouts during this transition back into normal life for many people," said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

He added: "Right now, the main absences felt [at the box office] are those of family-centric and high-profile animated films."

In that regard, Disney debuted its latest Pixar film, "Luca," exclusively on Disney+ last month. Other family-friendly films like Warner Bros.' "Tom and Jerry" and Universal's "Boss Baby" sequel debuted simultaneously on the streaming platforms HBO Max and Peacock, respectively. 

Sony, the major studio without its own streaming component, pushed its biggest titles to the fall. "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" debuts in October, and "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City" in November (all sequels or reboots).

Those, along with other potential hits that were delayed — like three more Marvel Studios  — give Dergarabedian hope that the box office will finish the year strong.

"There is a year's worth of blockbusters packed into the next few months, so we have to hope that the trajectory of the movie-theater recovery that we are now enjoying continues," he said. 

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Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'In the Heights' is now available on HBO Max, but you only have until July 11 to stream it


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Warner Bros. brings Broadway to Hollywood with "In the Heights," a feature-length movie based on the popular Tony Award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film premiered on June 10 in theaters and on HBO Max, but you only have until July 11 to stream it at home.

The movie follows a Washington Heights bodega owner, Usnavi, as he "imagines and sings" about a better life, according to the film's official synopsis. "Hamilton" actor Anthony Ramos stars as Usnavi, while Corey Hawkins ("The Walking Dead"), Melissa Barrera ("Vida"), and Olga Merediz (Broadway's "In The Heights") round out the cast.

"In the Heights'' features music by Miranda and is directed by Jon M. Chu, the filmmaker behind "Crazy Rich Asians." The film received critical acclaim and holds a "96% Fresh" rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Aside from "In the Heights," you can find Miranda's 2020 musical film "Hamilton" on Disney Plus. Disney Plus starts at $8 a month, and you can bundle the service with Hulu Basic and ESPN+ for $14 a month.

Where to watch 'In the Heights'

"In the Heights" debuted in theaters and online via HBO Max's ad-free plan on June 10. The movie's initial run on HBO Max will last through July 11. After that date, the film will be removed from the service while it finishes its run in theaters. It's possible it could be added back to HBO Max later this year.

HBO Max has two plans: a $10 a month ad-supported plan and a $15 a month ad-free plan. You need the $15 a month plan to watch "In the Heights." HBO Max no longer offers a free trial through its website, but new members can get a seven-day trial with the HBO Max add-on for Hulu.

You can watch "In the Heights" on HBO Max through a number of media players including iOS and Android devices, most smart TVs, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, and more. Click here for a full list of HBO Max's supported devices.

The film is available to stream in advanced video and audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, HDR, and 4K. You can check to see if your device supports these formats on HBO Max here.

What else can I watch on HBO Max?

HBO Max is known for its catalog of binge-worthy shows including "The Sopranos,""The Wire,""Curb Your Enthusiasm,""Game of Thrones," and more. 

Upcoming Warner Bros. films set to debut on HBO Max include "Space Jam: A New Legacy" on July 16, and "The Suicide Squad" on July 30.

You can read our full HBO Max review here, and our guide to HBO Max streaming here.

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China's iron grip on Hollywood began in 1998 with a Martin Scorsese movie and a groveling apology from Disney


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It's widely accepted that Hollywood will not produce movies that upset the Chinese Communist Party. The reasons are obvious.

The box office from China's moviegoing market is poised to overtake the US's as the largest in the world. And Hollywood is owned and operated by naturally risk-averse corporations focused on the bottom line.

That the movie industry sometimes produces culturally significant art is mostly an ancillary benefit. What matters for these businesses is constant growth, fueled by blockbusters.

The Chinese government has, over the past two decades, made it clear that it will blacklist actors, filmmakers, and corporations involved with films that depict China unflatteringly. Ask Brad Pitt, who, after starring in 1997's "Seven Years in Tibet," was essentially barred from entering China for almost 20 years.

It's undeniable that "Hollywood"— defined here as the movie and television entertainment industry — has been brought to heel by the CCP. It's led to films being radically edited, sometimes to absurd effect.

But China's more consequential grip on Hollywood is reflected in a form of self-censorship, the preemptive avoidance of producing content that might upset the genocidal dictatorship's propaganda ministers.

Hollywood's institutionalized supplicance to the CCP didn't happen overnight. We can point to the moment when the status quo began, the seminal event when filmmakers' artistic expression was surrendered in an act of corporate cowardice.

It was 1998, when Disney boss Michael Eisner apologized to his "friends" in the Chinese Communist Party. His supposed offense? Disney's release of the 1997 film "Kundun," a meditative biopic of the 14th Dalai Lama, directed by one of the most revered filmmakers of all time, Martin Scorsese.

China's called the shots in Hollywood ever since.

A master filmmaker, Buddhism, and Chairman Mao

Scorsese's name evokes imagery of gangsters, urban decay, and toxic Italian American masculinity. But as a former altar boy who considered joining the priesthood, Scorsese's fascination with religion is evident in much of his filmmaking — especially beyond his gangster classics. He's even made an unofficial trilogy of films about people on a religious quest, which, along with "Kundun," included 1987's "Last Temptation of Christ" and 2016's "Silence."

"Kundun" depicts the Dalai Lama's life from the age of 4, when he was "discovered" by Buddhist monks as the reincarnated leader of Tibetan Buddhism, through his young adulthood as communist China ravaged a helpless Tibet, and up until his journey through the Himalayas to exile in India in 1959.

Although the scenes of violence are brief and muted, the horrors are devastating. Tibetan children are forced by Chinese soldiers to shoot their parents, monks and nuns are made to copulate in the streets, and Chinese jets wantonly bomb Tibetan civilians. These all happen either off screen or over mere seconds of screen time.

It's no surprise the CCP would not appreciate a historically accurate depiction of its devastation of Tibet. But it's the scene depicting the Dalai Lama's last in-person meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong that's both the turning point of the film and the turning point of China's relationship with Hollywood.

After the Dalai Lama expresses hope that communism and Buddhism can coexist, Mao pointedly tells him: "Religion is poison. Like a poison, it weakens the race. Like a drug, it retards the mind of people and society. It is the opiate of the people. Tibet has been poisoned by religion, and your people are poisoned and inferior."

While the film was in production, the Chinese government indicated Disney's business interests in China would suffer if "Kundun" was released. It was a novel threat at the time since the Chinese movie market was still in its infancy.

China had long forbidden Western movies from its cinemas, yet its people had grown bored with decades of boring propaganda films. By the mid-'90s, the CCP cautiously allowed some Hollywood films to screen within its borders, and the response was immediate: The people loved it. 

Eisner — credited with taking the company from a wildly popular family entertainment franchise to the fearsome international conglomerate it is today — initially publicly defended the film. The move "earned Eisner plaudits in Hollywood for standing up for freedom of expression," James B. Stewart writes in "Disney War."

This supposedly brave stance in defiance of the dictatorship wouldn't last long. Hollywood was making inroads with China, and soon made it clear it would not impose a moral compass on the economic relationship between them.

Richard Gere, Martin Scorsese, the Dalai Lama, Melissa Matheson

The mouse that roared sold out

Eisner never wanted to make "Kundun," having found the script boring, and "he couldn't have cared less about striking a blow against Tibetan Buddhist oppression," Stewart writes.

The chief executive of Disney had big dreams of opening theme parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai, but he was stuck with "Kundun" and the cost of its $28 million production budget due to a power struggle with a since ousted executive. Eisner wasn't going to let Scorsese's decidedly noncommercial film jeopardize the company's financial ambitions.

So Eisner hired Henry Kissinger— yes, that Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state accused by critics of committing war crimes — as the company's emissary to China.

Kissinger was tasked with working behind the scenes to assure the Chinese government that Disney wouldn't promote "Kundun" and it would "die a quiet death." (The film bombed at the box office on its release, but still snagged four Academy Award nominations.)

According to a transcript of an April 1998 interview with the UK's Radio Times, Scorsese gently criticized Disney for failing to "push the picture." Clearly understanding the rules of the game, the director speculated that China's "enormous" market was too big a prize to gamble on a small art film.

Eisner, in October 1998, dropped all his earlier pretenses of defending artistic expression when he went to China and groveled before Zhu Rongji, the Chinese premier.

"The bad news is that the film was made; the good news is that nobody watched it,"Eisner reportedly said of "Kundun." Offering a formal apology, Eisner referred to the film as a "mistake," adding: "In the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening."

Kissinger's corporate-dictatorship diplomacy, combined with Eisner's pathetic mea culpa, seemed to do the trick. After spending 1998 in the CCP's doghouse, Disney's animated film "Mulan" was allowed to be screened in China in 1999. 

And though Eisner retired from Disney in 2005, "Kundun" remains effectively buried. You can buy a DVD or Blu-ray of the film on Amazon, but you can't stream it on Disney+. For that matter, you can't watch "Kundun"on any streaming service.

As Eisner hoped, it died a quiet death.

There was no precedent for this, a major Hollywood corporation literally disavowing one of its own films because it offended the CCP. That "Kundun" was made by a legendary director, and that the apology came from the boss of such a formidable entertainment company, demonstrated that Hollywood would accept that the CCP was in charge of drawing the line in the sand.

Ever since, Hollywood has bent over backward to keep from upsetting the Chinese government.

Hollywood loves to get political — but won't touch stories about China's human-rights record

The China of 1998 at least paid lip service to the international community that it was inching toward reforming its totalitarian system. Now, in 2021, China's forcibly sterilizing Uyghur Muslim women and locking up almost a million people in labor and "reeducation" camps. And the world's done next to nothing about it.

The CCP has also audaciously ended Hong Kong's "One Country, Two Systems" experiment in semiautonomous democracy, having done away with basic civil liberties and crushed dissent— including what was once a free press. 

China has grown increasingly brazen with regard to Taiwan, the island democratic republic that the CCP considers a breakaway province.

Compared to these geopolitical crises, China's ascendancy over Hollywood was relatively easy. All it took was a mildly controversial historical drama that upset plans for an East Asian Disneyland. Michael Eisner — a titan of American industry — made it clear in short order that Hollywood knew who its boss was.

A 2020 report by PEN America— titled "Made in America, Censored by Beijing"— illustrates the extent to which Hollywood allows itself to be censored by China. It also demonstrates how chilling this status quo is for artistic expression and political dissent around the world.

The report, based on years of research and interviews with Hollywood professionals and creatives, details how the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party (aka the Central Propaganda Department) enforces the country's laws forbidding films that "endanger national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity."

It means no films about Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, which the CCP considers a threat to national unity. And no films about Taiwan (sovereignty) or the Uyghurs (territorial integrity). And then there are the films that Hollywood companies agreed to edit after the fact, acceding to the Chinese government censors.

The 2012 remake of the campy Cold War film "Red Dawn" saw its Chinese army bad guys digitally altered to become North Korean. China also didn't appreciate 2013's "World War Z," in which a zombie-creating virus originates in China, so the studio cut references to China out of the film.

And yet even with the edits, China refused to allow either "Red Dawn" or "World War Z" to be screened in its theaters. It's why Chinese censorship is a threat to free expression in "free" countries such as the US.

And capitulations to the CCP, like John Cena's apology to China for offhandedly referring to Taiwan as "a country," are pathetic.

China-fearing corporate cowardice isn't limited to Hollywood, as evidenced by the most socially conscious of North American sports leagues, the NBA — and some of its politically outspoken superstars like Lebron James — bending over backward to apologize for ex-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's retweet in support of Hong Kong demonstrators.

But the plain fact that Hollywood — for all its self-congratulatory social-justice posing — will not dare to address the economic superpower's horrendous human-rights record and aggression toward its neighbors. It has essentially become a soft propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party.

"If prominent Hollywood studios or filmmakers fear to push back against such influence, there is less chance that others around the world will dare to do so," the authors of the PEN report wrote.

The authors added that China's corporate censorship "renders filmmakers unable to criticize the decisions of a government that regulates the lives of over 1.4 billion people and that increasingly dominates the global conversation. There are stories about China that deserve to be told, but the space to tell such stories is rapidly diminishing in Hollywood."

Even independent filmmakers working outside the studio system largely have to play by Hollywood's rules if they want their films to be seen, as they are almost entirely beholden to mainstream distributors who also don't want to run afoul of China.

It's why Hollywood's acquiescence to the Chinese bears much more consequence. Storytelling matters, and truly great films have the ability to change the way we think about justice, history, and the world.

Hollywood loves to stick its finger in the eye of American institutions — sometimes producing powerful films that hold corporations, the military, and the government accountable for their sins. The use of art to demand accountability is accepted as a good thing for society.

But for the price of theme parks and box-office tallies, a whole lot of vital stories will never be told.

China is a major player on the world's stage, whose influence economically, culturally, and militarily expands far beyond its own borders. By tacitly granting the CCP veto power over art that makes it uncomfortable, Hollywood sold out its own ideals and demonstrated that American institutions can be bought fairly cheaply. 

Hollywood benefits financially from its relationship with China, but free expression suffers.

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'A Quiet Place Part II,' the sci-fi sequel starring Emily Blunt, is now streaming on Paramount Plus


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"A Quiet Place Part II" debuted in theaters on May 28, and it's now available to stream at home on Paramount Plus.

The movie is the first in a string of Paramount releases that are set to hit the streaming service just 30 to 45 days after they premiere in theaters.  The spine-chilling thriller is also available to buy through video-on-demand (VOD) platforms like Vudu and Prime Video for a one-time fee of $20.

Written and directed by John Krasinski, the sci-fi horror movie features Emily Blunt as a parent attempting to protect her children from deadly aliens who are drawn to noise. Krasinski and Blunt have been married off-screen since 2010, and "A Quiet Place Part II" is their second collaboration as director and star.

Referring to Blunt during an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Krasinski said, "She's the greatest collaborator I've ever worked with."

"A Quiet Place Part II" is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 91% rating after receiving predominantly positive reviews from critics. The original film also received critical acclaim, and currently holds a "96% Fresh" rating.

How to watch 'A Quiet Place 2' on Paramount Plus

You can now watch "A Quiet Place Part II" with a Paramount Plus subscription. Plans for Paramount Plus cost $5/month for the ad-supported option or $10/month for access to on-demand content without ads. The ad-free plan also includes access to live CBS streaming.

The streaming service offers new members a free seven-day trial of either plan. Your subscription will automatically renew at the monthly price unless you cancel your membership before the trial ends. Annual plans are also available, and paying for a year up front can save you around 16%.

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College students are eligible to receive a 25% discount on a monthly subscription to the Paramount Plus ad-supported plan. This offer must be claimed while you are enrolled in college, but the discount is valid even after you graduate, for up to four years.

"A Quiet Place Part II" is available in up to 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio on compatible devices. You can find a full list of supported gear here.

Where to watch 'A Quiet Place 2' without Paramount Plus

If you don't want to sign up for a Paramount Plus subscription, you can instead buy "A Quiet Place Part II" from a VOD platform like Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, FandangoNow, and Google Play Movies. Whether you get the SD, HD, or 4K UHD version, "A Quiet Place: Part II" costs $20.

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Once purchased, you can watch the movie as many times as you like through the service you selected. The thriller will be available to rent starting July 27. The Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray editions of "A Quiet Place Part II" will be released that same day.

What other horror movies are available on Paramount Plus?

In addition to "A Quiet Place Part II,"Paramount Plus subscribers can currently rewatch the first movie in the franchise, "A Quiet Place."

Other notable scary movies available for streaming on Paramount Plus include:

For more details on Paramount Plus, check out our Paramount Plus guide and our roundup of Paramount Plus movies and shows.

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Netflix's 10 biggest original movies of all time, including 'Army of the Dead' and 'Extraction'


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SEE ALSO: Netflix added 8.5 million paid subscribers in Q4, surpassing 200 million for the first time despite slowed growth following a massive pandemic-driven spike

10. "Fatherhood"— 74 million

Description:"A widowed new dad copes with doubts, fears, heartache and dirty diapers as he sets out to raise his daughter on his own. Inspired by a true story."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 66%

What critics said: "The appeal of Fatherhood really boils down to its title, the resilience of the human spirit, and Hart being bold enough — like his alter ego — to think that he can do this. And like Matt, by the time it's over, he's demonstrated that he pretty well can."— CNN

9. (tied) "Army of the Dead"— 75 million

Description:"After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble by venturing into the quarantine zone for the greatest heist ever."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 70%

What critics said: "Snyder understands the tonality of a modern zombie film. Like Dawn of the Dead, it's where his trademark snark shines best."— Polygon

9. (tied) "Project Power" (2020) — 75 million

Description: "An ex-soldier, a teen and a cop collide in New Orleans as they hunt for the source behind a dangerous new pill that grants users temporary superpowers."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 61%

What critics said: "A film built on the thrill of the now, the hyper-modernity on show in hip-hop trappings, tricks lifted from gaming and yes, the availability of the whole thing at the push of a button in the palm of your hand."— Financial Times

7. "Enola Holmes" (2020) — 76 million

Description: "While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

What critics said: "'Enola Homes' is the kind of movie that the preteen set will surely delight in and watch over and over. I know I would have."— Associated Press

6. "The Old Guard" (2020) — 78 million

Description: "Four undying warriors who've secretly protected humanity for centuries become targeted for their mysterious powers just as they discover a new immortal."

Rotten Tomatoes critics score: 80%

What critics said: "The Old Guard asks some existential questions that leave the audience wanting more."— Vox

5. (tie) "Murder Mystery" (2019) — 83 million

Description: "On a long-awaited trip to Europe, a New York City cop and his hairdresser wife scramble to solve a baffling murder aboard a billionaire's yacht."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 44%

What critics said: "Every Adam Sandler comedy abides by a trope as hoary as 'the butler did it.' At some point in the shenanigans, Sandler's schlub has gotta get a chance to prove he's the bravest boy in the world."— Variety

5. (tie) "6 Underground" (2019) — 83 million

Description: "After faking his death, a tech billionaire recruits a team of international operatives for a bold and bloody mission to take down a brutal dictator."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 36%

What critics said: "This is a terrible action movie that utilizes Michael Bay's worst instincts and none of his best."— Newsday

3. "Spenser Confidential" (2020) — 85 million

Description: "Spenser, an ex-cop and ex-con, teams up with aspiring fighter Hawk to uncover a sinister conspiracy tied to the deaths of two Boston police officers."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 37%

What critics said: "An ending that teases the possibility of sequels, with Wahlberg's Spenser tackling more cases of police officers and emergency personnel who have been falsely accused of crimes, should elicit nothing but groans."— AV Club

2. "Bird Box" (2018) — 89 million

Description: "Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a survivor and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 63%

What critics said: "Bird Box's pieces feel forcibly screwed together, a movie marionetted by strings of data code. There's good scenes and smart ideas, but overall, the movie mostly clomps."— Guardian

1. "Extraction" (2020) — 99 million

Description: "A hardened mercenary's mission becomes a soul-searching race to survive when he's sent into Bangladesh to rescue a drug lord's kidnapped son."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 67%

What critics said: "The fight scenes are plastic and glossy. Hargrave mistakes gore for cool and technical prowess for choreography, deploying overlong one-take shots that look like 'Call of Duty' outtakes."— New York Times

New Netflix data shows how much it's using existing IP to build movie franchises — and it will be essential for its video-game strategy


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Netflix wants to give traditional Hollywood studios a run for their money when it comes to franchises.

The streaming giant is looking to build hit franchises and it's increasingly ordering movies based on existing IP. 46% of the original-film commissions Netflix has made this year are remakes, sequels, spin-offs, or adaptations, according to the research firm Ampere Analysis.

Netflix has already implemented this strategy with its original TV shows, evidenced by the (canceled) comic-book series "Jupiter's Legacy," as well as "Shadow and Bone" and "The Witcher," both based on fantasy novels. 

Last year, the company introduced two new TV teams to help with this goal: the events/spectacle team led by the head of US originals Peter Friedlander and the franchise team led by the head of international originals Kelly Luegenbiehl.

Now, Netflix is ramping up the strategy on the movie front, and it has already made some progress.

It's building a universe out of Zack Snyder's zombie film "Army of the Dead," which the company said on Tuesday in its Q2 earnings report was watched (for at least two minutes) by 75 million households in its first month. A prequel film, "Army of Thieves," debuts later this year. 


Netflix also recently bought the rights to two "Knives Out" sequels. The first movie, directed by Rian Johnson and released by Lionsgate in 2019, was a surprise box-office hit, grossing $311 million worldwide off of a $40 million budget. Multiple outlets, including Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, reported that Netflix paid more than $400 million for the rights.

But Netflix still has a long way to go, and its global presence could be essential, according to Ampere Analysis.

"Netflix can now lay claim to true studio status in terms of the global production infrastructure it has established in recent years, but it is still chasing franchise success when it comes to movies," said Alice Thorpe, an Ampere Analysis analyst. "What's clear from its recent commissioning is that the platform is not just relying on sequels to the likes of comic book adaptation 'The Old Guard' to make that happen; building local franchises with crossover appeal in multiple territories is also key to its strategy."

Netflix's franchise movie push comes at a time when other streamers are zeroing in on bankable IP. Amazon has had luck with recent hits like "The Tomorrow War," based on a sci-fi novel, with a sequel in the works. Amazon also recently bought the film studio MGM, which releases the James Bond movies.

Disney and WarnerMedia are leveraging their own franchises — like "Star Wars" and DC — to boost their streaming services, Disney+ and HBO Max. 

Netflix's franchise strategy is also reflected in its plans to offer mobile video games on its service. During the company's earnings call on Tuesday, its operating and product chief, Greg Peters, said that Netflix's IP will be integral to its game offerings. 

"We are in the business of making these amazing worlds, great storylines, and incredible characters, and we know that the fans of those stories want to go deeper," Peters said. "They want to engage further and they actually want to direct a little bit where their energy goes. What's great about interactive is that our universes provide a significant amount of time people can engage and explore."

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Disney+ streaming chief reveals launch strategy, global expansion hurdles, and what he looks for when he's hiring


Disney+ President Michael Paull

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Launched just months before the pandemic struck, Disney+ notched defining hits in 2020 like "The Mandalorian,""Hamilton" and "Soul." 

Content became king amid COVID shutdowns, but driving Disney+'s product development, launch, and aggressive global expansion was Disney+ and ESPN+ President Michael Paull. Paull joined streamer BAMTech as CEO in March 2017, about five months before Disney acquired majority ownership of the company. Over the next six months or so, his team led product development on, built the go-to-market plan for, and collaborated with ESPN to launch ESPN+ in April 2018. 

"We were able to leverage, in my opinion, the best content portfolio from a sports perspective in the industry," Paull said. "And then of course we came up with a pricing proposition that was very attractive [$5/month]." In November 2019, his group repeated the feat with Disney+, which boasts 103.6 million subscribers (a number it took Netflix nearly 10 years to reach).

Now Disney+, like many other streamers, is seeing slowed subscriber growth as Hollywood hotly debates the company's simultaneous release of Marvel's "Black Widow" in theaters and via Disney+ Premier Access (for $30). Paull declined to comment on these fresh challenges, but the executive cheered the service's recent creative laurels: 71 Emmy nominations for the service, with "The Mandalorian" tying Netflix's "The Crown" for most nods. ("WandaVision," which scored 23 nominations, is a favorite with Paull's kids, ages 7 and 9, who also watch "Monsters at Work.")

"It was a validation of all the great work the studio creatives have been doing," said Paull. "It's just amazing, actually, to get to there."

In an interview with Insider, Paull credited Disney's content teams and deep well of IP for this awards milestone as he broke down the thrills of building Disney+, the unique challenges of global expansion, and why he looks for "great athletes" to build out his teams.

Conversation condensed and edited for clarity. 

Looking back, what were the largest hurdles your teams faced in developing and launching both ESPN+ and Disney+?

In the early days of streaming, companies would support only a small number of platforms because they figured out, you know, these are the easier platforms to support and most households have those platforms. We took a different approach: The goal that I gave the team is, I want every TV set in the household to be able to watch Disney+ and ESPN+. So not just the new TV in the living room, but even the older television in the kids' room or in the kitchen, and that's a very lofty goal. 

We also created a strategy to enable Disney+ to work on set-top boxes [such as Comcast in the US and Sky in the UK], and we've been deploying that strategy around the world because we recognize in many parts of the world, that's still the primary box that consumers are using to watch content. 

What has been the biggest surprise to you about how Disney+ has been received?

It probably shouldn't have been a surprise, but the fandom that exists, the emotional connection between Disney fans and Disney+ was really remarkable. Just seeing seeing the responses we're getting when we're dropping a new episode of "Loki": There are people who are waiting up until three in the morning to watch those episodes when we drop it on the East Coast — and not a small number of people — and it just shows massive fandom and massive emotional attachment to our content.

What has been the biggest challenge about global expansion?

When we first architected Disney+ we were thinking about it as a global service. 

In the early days [of streaming], certain companies, when they went global, they just turned their service on, right? And it worked. But they didn't have all the arrangements in place with the CDNs [content delivery networks] and others to make sure the streaming quality was absolutely excellent. They didn't localize the service — whether it was language or currency or local payment mechanisms, or even localizing marketing activities to make sure that they understood the consumer so they could position the product in an appropriate way. 

Where we came in, we were able to do all of those things, but they're hard. Being able to support all of these different currencies and all of these different payment mechanisms and localizing not only the product but all the marketing collateral, subs [subtitles] and dubs [dubbing], for all of the contents and all of these languages. There's an incredible amount of operational work that had to go into making all of that happen.

Do you have thoughts about which IP Disney+ could further explore and develop into film and TV?

We give the creative teams input about what's happening on the service and what's working and what's working better and all of that, but the actual decision-making on how they are going to develop IP, I would defer to our other groups.

We did a very robust presentation at our Investor Day on the incredible amount of content that's coming. What I'd like is for it to get completed and made available and ready for the service — in light of some of the shutdowns and or slowdowns that have happened due to the pandemic — but I'm extremely optimistic about what's coming to the surface in the future. 

How do you hire and organize teams to tackle these challenges? 

We're looking for, first and foremost, great athletes. People that are smart, that are hardworking, that are passionate about what we're doing and will fit within our culture. We've been very focused on creating a culture that really starts and ends the day focused on the consumer and is very focused on scalability. So we need to find people and talent who can come in and understand their North Star is the consumer, and will this scale? 

And then of course, you want them to be hardworking and collaborative, because we're a very big organization across a lot of countries. Collaboration is absolutely key to being able to be successful.

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The 18 best movies on Hulu that you can stream right now


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Though Hulu originally launched as a platform aimed at bringing TV series to streamers, over the years it's built a sizable movie catalog, with an estimated total of around 2,500 films across genres. 

If you don't have Hulu yet, the ad-supported plan is one of the most affordable streaming services on the market at $6 a month, or you can upgrade to the ad-free option — which we think is well worth it— for $12 a month. For those who want even more content, Hulu is available as a bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN+ for $14 a month. 

Each tier gives you access to Hulu's entire movie catalog as well as the platform's entire collection of shows. The Hulu app is available on most smart TVs, streaming devices, smartphones, and web browsers. 

If you're looking for something to watch on Hulu, here are our recommendations for some of the best movies you can stream right now. Our selection features a mix of recent releases and classics across genres, ensuring that all viewing needs are accounted for. All of the movies we've selected are categorized as fresh by critics on the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes

The best drama movies on Hulu

'Nomadland' (2020)

This 2021 Oscar winner for best picture was also one of the top winners at the 2021 Golden Globes. "Nomadland" focuses on a woman searching for work on the road as she encounters other travelers across the country. "Nomadland" is directed by Chloé Zhao and stars Frances McDormand. 

'Parasite' (2019)

Winner of the 2020 Academy Award for best picture, "Parasite" deals heavily with social and economic themes related to class. The dark satire centers on a poor family, the Kims, who are in need of work. When the Kims trick a wealthy family into hiring them all for various jobs, it looks as if their money problems are solved. But complications arise that could reveal the family's con.

"Parasite" comes from director Bong Joon Ho ("Snowpiercer") and is presented on Hulu with its original Korean audio mix. English and Spanish subtitle options are available.

'Babyteeth' (2019)

Director Shannon Murphy's debut film tells the story of Milla, a teenager fighting cancer, who meets Moses, a man in his early 20s who's addicted to drugs. Her parents aren't fond of the relationship between the two but it appears to bring Milla a new outlook on life. The coming-of-age tale is based on the play of the same name.

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The best comedy movies on Hulu

'Sorry to Bother You' (2018)

Cash is finding his job as a telemarketer to be nearly impossible until his coworker lets him in on the secret to success: "white voice." When he excels at the skill, he rises quickly through the ranks only to discover the company he's working for has a freakish dark side. This sci-fi satire takes on race, class, and labor themes in a truly unique way.

'Palm Springs' (2020)

"Palm Springs" is a romantic comedy with a sci-fi spin. The film stars Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as two strangers who get trapped in a time loop. No matter what they do, every morning they wake up at a wedding in Palm Springs living the same day over and over again.

The Hulu Original movie is directed by Max Barbakow, and features a script written by Andy Siara. Jason Guerrasio, entertainment correspondent at Insider, gave the film an A- grade in his full review.

'Booksmart' (2019)

Following in the footsteps of similar coming-of-age teen comedies, "Booksmart" offers ample laughs and heartfelt insights in equal measure. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein star as a pair of high school seniors who suddenly realize they've spent their entire lives focusing on grades without having any fun. Before their graduation, they attempt to make up for lost time with a night of partying they'll never forget.

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The best action movies on Hulu

'Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol' (2011)

This is the fourth film in Paramount's popular "Mission: Impossible" franchise. It features Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he and his team travel around the globe to stop a terrorist from launching a missile strike against the US. The action-packed thriller also stars Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, and Léa Seydoux.

'The Dark Knight' (2008)

Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed blockbuster, "The Dark Knight," helped usher in an era of prestige superhero movies. Heather Leger posthumously won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his memorable portrayal of the Joker. 

'Dredd' (2012)

The original "Judge Dredd" movie from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone flopped with critics, but this hyperviolent reboot directed by Pete Travis received positive reviews. With gore and drug use throughout, the highly stylized sci-fi movie is not for those with a queasy stomach, but it offers a thrilling ride for viewers who crave intense action.

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The best documentaries on Hulu

'The Donut King' (2020)

"The Donut King'' follows the highs and lows of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy's experience running a multi-million dollar pastry business while living in California. The documentary highlights a unique subculture and the potential shortcomings of the American Dream.

'RBG' (2018)

Over the past several years, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a transformation from legal expert and Supreme Court Justice to the Notorious R.B.G. — an unlikely pop culture icon and feminist superstar. This critically acclaimed documentary tracks the groundbreaking, revolutionary career of a political powerhouse and her rise to prominence as the second-ever female Supreme Court Justice.

'Three Identical Strangers' (2018)

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, "Three Identical Strangers" presents a classic instance of "truth is stranger than fiction." This unlikely true story examines the peculiar case of identical triplets who meet each other as young adults after being separated at birth. As the three brothers attempt to piece together how this could have happened, they discover surprising twists and turns that gradually expose a complex mystery.

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The best family movies on Hulu

'Shrek' (2001)

This classic fairy tale about a green ogre — voiced by Mike Myers — is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Full of comedic gags that will make kids and adults laugh, "Shrek" remains a great choice for any family movie night. The all-star cast includes Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and John Lithgow.

'Ice Age' (2002)

With memorable voice acting by Ray Romano and John Leguizamo, "Ice Age" is a lighthearted, prehistoric family movie. Laugh-out-loud moments help to keep kids engaged with the movie's positive message about building community with those you love.

'Missing Link' (2019)

Winner of the 2020 Golden Globe for best animated motion picture, "Missing Link" is a beautiful stop-motion film from the same studio that produced "Coraline" and "Kubo and the Two Strings." The story follows a Sasquatch named Mr. Link who seeks the help of an explorer to find his Yeti relatives. Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis all lend their voices to the cast.

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The best horror movies on Hulu

'Little Monsters' (2019)

In this Hulu Original movie, Lupita Nyong'o plays a school teacher who must protect her kindergarten class during a zombie apocalypse. The film also stars Alexander England as a struggling musician, and Josh Gad as a kids' TV personality. Blending horror and laughs, "Little Monsters" offers a gory twist on romantic comedy sensibilities.

'28 Days Later' (2002)

"28 Days Later" is a tense zombie thriller directed by Danny Boyle. The movie takes place one month after a virus tears through London, turning people into deadly rage-filled killers. A group of misfits, led by Cillian Murphy, band together in an effort to reach safety.

'The Host' (2006)

An earlier film from Bong Joon-ho, the director of "Parasite,""The Host" is a uniquely scary monster movie with multiple action sequences set in the damp, Korean sewers. The absentminded Park Gang-du (Kang-ho Song) must save his youngest daughter who is being held captive by an amphibious monster. This movie is presented in Korean with English subtitles.

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