15 Unnecessary Sequels That Are Better Than You Think | Sidnaz Blog

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Val Lewton was a producer who, in a sense, made a bargain unheard of in the history of Hollywood ego, trading prestige for freedom. He took a job as head of the horror department at RKO, and was given only three restrictions: The movies had to be cheap, relatively short, and the studio would provide titles (so, for example, we have a revisionist take on Jane Eyre and scathing critique of colonialism titled…I Walked with a Zombie). Other than that, he had free rein. The apex of this period was 1942’s Cat People, a stylish psychosexual noir directed by Jacques Tourneur that was much more about repressed trauma and existential dread than monsters…but there were enough horror movie trappings to make it a hit.

The 1944 follow-up is a direct sequel, focusing on two of the original’s main characters and their daughter, but in tone, it’s wildly divergent. A ghost story of sorts, the young girl is haunted, literally, by her parents’ past, but the threat is more emotional than physical. It’s a wonderful, and wonderfully humane, treatment of deeply damaged characters, all of whom are worthy of empathy (living or dead). Director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Haunting, etc., etc., etc.) and company also build some stunning set-pieces, making the most of the film’s barely existent budget. I can only imagine the reaction of 1944 audiences who paid to see a horror movie about curses and cat people only to get a dark but big-hearted, fantasy. Surely the greatest trick Val Lewton ever played.

Where to stream: Digital rental

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Pinterest Shares Fall as U.S. Monthly Average Users Decline | Sidnaz Blog

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Pinterest reported Thursday second-quarter net income of $69.4 million, compared with a loss of $100.7 million a year earlier.



Photo:

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News

Shares of

Pinterest Inc.


PINS -6.01%

fell more than 14% in after-hours trading, as the online sharing platform said its monthly average users in the U.S. contracted during the quarter, a trend that accelerated this month.

The company reported 91 million monthly average users in the U.S. in the quarter, down 5% from a year earlier. Pinterest said that “engagement headwinds” continued this month, with monthly average users down 7% as of July 27. Globally, monthly average users increased 9% in the quarter.

“Our second quarter results reflect both the strength of our business and the recent shift in consumer behavior we’ve seen as people spend less time at home,” Chief Executive

Ben Silbermann

said in prepared remarks.

Pinterest saw its user growth soar during the pandemic, as shut-in consumers turned to the website for masks and other products. The company has said the pandemic may have pulled forward some user growth.

The company also reported Thursday second-quarter net income of $69.4 million, compared with a loss of $100.7 million a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings were 25 cents a share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting adjusted earnings 13 cents a share.

Revenue totaled $613.2 million, compared with $272.5 million a year earlier. Analysts expected $562 million in revenue.

Pinterest shares closed Thursday at $72.04 apiece, down 6%. So far this year, the stock is up 9.32%.

Write to Robert Barba at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Netflix May Find No Business Like Show Business | Sidnaz Blog

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Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in a scene from ’The Queen’s Gambit.’



Photo:

/Associated Press

It is as good a time as any for

Netflix

to test a new story line. Even a lucky turn in videogames won’t free the streaming giant from the need to keep playing Hollywood’s game, though.

Netflix used its second-quarter report Tuesday afternoon to confirm previously reported plans to enter the videogame business. No timing was given, though the company said the offerings would be included in its current subscription plans at no additional cost. The company isn’t backing away from its work on movies and TV shows, but said in its letter to shareholders “since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.”

That news comes as Netflix remains mired in somewhat of a post-pandemic slump. It added 1.5 million net new paying subscribers in the second quarter, which was a bit better than it had forecast but still its lowest level of growth in nearly a decade. It also projected 3.5 million net adds for the third quarter—about 29% less than what Wall Street was hoping for. That would bring the total number of new subscribers to about nine million for the first nine months of 2021. Netflix added more than 28 million paying subscribers in the same period last year.

A foray into games might make sense for a company with an intimate knowledge of the viewing habits of a user base that now numbers over 209 million. It is also a tough business to crack—even the mobile gaming market that Netflix says it expects to target initially. There are many participants, but most of the money is still made by long-established properties. Games like “Candy Crush” and “Clash of Clans” remain in the top-five grossing charts even after nearly a decade on the market.

Netflix will need to keep battling it out for video streaming eyeballs. The company expects its pace of new releases to pick up in the second half of this year; analysts from Wedbush count 42 original shows and movies expected for the third quarter alone. But the company still has its own track record to compete with: Last fall included popular shows such as “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Crown” and “Bridgerton.” Netflix shares are down nearly 2% this year, lagging behind many internet and entertainment peers. Streaming investors hyper-focused on subscriber growth aren’t playing games.

Write to Dan Gallagher at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the July 21, 2021, print edition.

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Ackman SPAC Decides Against Buying 10% Stake in Universal Music | Sidnaz Blog

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Universal Music’s headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., earlier this year.



Photo:

Bing Guan/Bloomberg News

Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd.


PSTH -1.81%

, a blank-check company led by hedge-fund manager

William Ackman,

said it won’t proceed with its proposed acquisition of a 10% stake in Universal Music Group and will assign its share-purchase deal to

Pershing Square Holdings Ltd.

Vivendi

SE—Universal’s majority owner—said it approved Pershing Square Tontine’s request to assign its rights and obligations under a June 20 agreement to investment funds with significant economic interests or management positions held by Mr. Ackman.

The French media company said the equity interest eventually acquired in Universal Music will now be between 5% and 10%. If it falls below 10%, Vivendi said it would still sell the additional interest to other investors before the planned spinoff of Universal Music into an Amsterdam-listed company in September.

On June 20, Pershing Square Tontine agreed to buy 10% of the ordinary shares of Universal Music in a deal valuing the world’s largest music company—home to stars including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Queen and the Beatles—at about $40 billion.

Pershing Square Tontine said its decision to withdraw from the deal was prompted by issues raised by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said its board didn’t believe the deal could have been completed given the SEC’s position.

The blank-check company said its board concluded that assigning its Universal Music stock-purchase deal to Pershing Square was in the best interest of shareholders. Pershing Square Tontine said Pershing Square intends to be a long-term Universal Music shareholder.

Pershing Square Tontine said it would seek a new transaction, which will be structured as a conventional special purpose acquisition company merger. The company said it has 18 months remaining to close a deal.

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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18 Movies That Are Basically ‘IP Orgies’ | Sidnaz Blog

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Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel is set in a dystopian 2045 and follows Wade Wyatt, whose obsession with a global virtual reality game is primed to pay off when he learns of an Easter egg that will grant its finder the keys to the entire kingdom. Finding the necessary clues requires a deep knowledge of games and movies, and Wade is well-prepared. It’s sort of a wish-fulfillment scenario in which all that otherwise useless knowledge will finally pay off. Likewise, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation includes dozens, if not hundreds, of pop culture callbacks: references to Back to the Future, The Iron Giant, Gundam, The Shining, Jurassic Park, Batman, etc. So many, in fact, that the movie could likely never have gotten made without Spielberg-level pull in getting all of the rights’ clearances. In the world of the OASIS, four-quadrant multi-billion-dollar global franchises are, apparently, niche concerns, and only the nerdiest of nerds would ever be able to identify.

Where to stream: HBO Max, Hulu, Sling TV

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Virgin Galactic, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs: What to | Sidnaz Blog

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Here’s what we’re watching ahead of the opening bell on Tuesday.

  • U.S. stock futures wavered, suggesting indexes would hover close to their record levels as investors awaited inflation data and earnings from the nation’s biggest banks.
  • Futures tied to the S&P 500 were relatively flat after the broad index climbed to its 39th record closing levels of the year. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures weakened 0.1%, while Nasdaq-100 futures were up 0.3%.
What’s Coming Up
Market Moves to Watch

JPMorgan Chase kicked off earnings season for big banks on Tuesday.



Photo:

Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg News

  • Conagra Brands


    CAG -0.53%

    declined 3.2% after reporting a fall in sales and cutting its expectations for profit next year, saying that it expects increased inflation to hit its bottom line.

  • PepsiCo


    PEP 0.02%

    shares added some fizz, rising 1.5% premarket after the food-and-beverage giant reported earnings and lifted its full-year guidance.

  • Tesla


    TSLA 4.38%

    edged up 1% in premarket trading, rising for the fourth consecutive day. CEO Elon Musk was in court on Monday to defend the purchase of SolarCity. He also said he doesn’t enjoy leading the automaker.

  • Boeing retreated 2.3%. The planemaker is facing production issues for the 787 Dreamliner, likely further delaying deliveries of the popular wide-body jets.
  • Some U.S.-listed Chinese companies are recouping recent losses, with search engine

    Baidu


    BIDU -0.53%

    adding 2.2%, e-commerce company

    JD.com


    JD -0.53%

    rising 1.5% and video-sharing firm

    Bilibili


    BILI 0.22%

    up 3.2%. Beijing said last week that it is probing tech companies’ data practices, prompting a tumble. But some of those worries may have eased after China’s top market watchdog approved

    Tencent’s


    TCEHY -3.36%

    plan to privatize search-engine affiliate

    Sogou.

  • Swedish telecom

    Ericsson

    ‘s U.S.-listed shares are up 3.5% ahead of the bell. Rating agency Moody’s issued a review of the company’s rating.

  • Meme stock

    AMC Entertainment

    slid 3.8% premarket. It has lost nearly 25% of its value this month so far.

Market Facts
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all hit record closes on Monday—and in the S&P 500’s case, it was the 39th record close this year, beating the Dow’s 27 records and the Nasdaq’s 24. The broad index is ahead of the others in terms of gains this year too, with a nearly 17% rise.
  • European stocks have also been on the rise, with both the Stoxx Europe 600 and Germany’s DAX index notching record highs on Monday.
  • On this day in 1852, Wells, Fargo opened for business in San Francisco and Sacramento. It was founded by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo to convert gold dust into cash for miners, transport and safeguard letters, gold nuggets and other valuable byproducts of the California Gold Rush.
Chart of the Day
  • Global coffee prices are climbing and threatening to drive up costs at the breakfast table as the world’s biggest coffee producer, Brazil, faces one of its worst droughts in almost a century.
Must Reads Since You Went to Bed

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Should You Skip Jelly and Embrace Sandwiches With Peanut | Sidnaz Blog

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I have been a peanut butter and pickle sandwich truther for about a decade now. I don’t know where I initially read or heard about the depression-era sensation, but I know that it was love at first bite. In fact, the very first article I was ever paid to write (for the now defunct xoJane), was an elaborate peanut butter and pickle taste test with a wide variety of pickles.

It would be unfair to say that I owe my entire career to the combination, but it certainly set the tone for my future oeuvre, for better or worse. As such, I am always down to try “out there” peanut butter sandwiches. People from the United States have a tendency to think of peanut butter as a sweet ingredient, best baked into cookies or paired with with jelly or chocolate, but that’s a mistake. (Think Pad Thai, peanut stew, and a whole bunch of other fine dishes from Asian and African cuisines.)

To test the limits of the peanut butter sandwich, and hopefully find a new favorite, Joel and I began our flavor excursion with the classic PB & pickle (to ease Joel into this genre of sandwich). We then progressed to PB & lettuce and PB & kimchi. Making this video was a journey across textural peaks and valleys, with bold flavor combinations that surprised us both. (Well, mostly Joel. I wasn’t that surprised because I’ve been “into this kind of stuff” for a while now.)

I encourage you to taste along with us, and I encourage you to let these sandwiches inspire you to create your own unique and interesting peanut butter delicacies. (If you need even more inspiration, I’ve got more suggestions here.)

 

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24 of the Best Comic Book Adaptations That Aren’t Marvel or | Sidnaz Blog

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Another movie based on a European import, Dredd comes from the British comics anthology 2001 AD, the character having been created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Pat Mills. It’s, of course, the second go at bringing the character to the big screen and, while the Sylvester Stallone version has its proponents, this is the one that gets it right. It’s a dark, dystopian, and very effective action thriller in the style of The Raid, and yet somehow made no money and was seen by no one.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Hulu, Sling TV

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Burberry’s CEO Exit Points to Talent War, Not Takeovers | Sidnaz Blog

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Monday brought disappointment for designer label

Burberry,


BURBY -8.29%

and for deal makers in the world of European luxury goods. A top-level poaching incident may strike two of the most commonly cited listed takeover targets off the industry shopping list for a while.

Burberry said Chief Executive

Marco Gobbetti

will leave in December to join Italian shoemaker

Salvatore Ferragamo.


SFER -1.61%

He has been in the job less than five years and is stepping down while the British brand’s turnaround is still only half complete. During Mr. Gobbetti’s tenure, Burberry’s shares have returned 9% annually, lagging bigger brands such as Hermès and Prada.

Burberry’s board, which only heard about Mr. Gobbetti’s plans over the weekend, must now hunt for a new boss as well as reassure investors that lead designer

Riccardo Tisci

won’t follow him out the door. The company’s shares fell 8% in morning trading in London.

Burberry Chief Executive Marco Gobbetti will leave in December to join Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo.



Photo:

Dave Benett/Getty Images for Burberry

Both Salvatore Ferragamo and Burberry have long been considered takeover targets, although the former is family-controlled. Some shareholders are betting that the pandemic will compel weaker brands to sell up to one of the large, cash-rich European luxury houses, such as Gucci-owner Kering. The hiring of one of the top CEOs in the business suggests that the Ferragamo family is serious about turning the brand around by themselves. The company’s shares fell 2% despite the positive hire.

The timing is bad for Burberry, which is most famous for its checked trench coats. Several years into a makeover, the brand was beginning to show signs of improvement. Sales fell 10% over the pandemic-struck 12 months through March, but the label has been selling more items at full price—a sign that its image is improving among shoppers. Now, investors must wait for a new boss to be found and see whether he or she changes direction.

The uncertainty will likely weigh on Burberry’s share price, in theory making it a more appealing takeover target. But the stock still trades at 24 times projected earnings and would be a mouthful. Add a 30% takeover premium to the value of its equity and Burberry comes with an £11 billion price tag, or $15.3 billion at current exchange rates—a risky bet considering its still-unsettled outlook. An opportunistic buyer could have picked it up for a lot less last year.

Meanwhile, Salvatore Ferragamo’s move to hire Mr. Gobbetti suggests that the pandemic has caused a rethink among some independent luxury brands. To attract a boss of Mr. Gobbetti’s caliber, the controlling family would have had to give him assurances that they wouldn’t meddle with his strategy. Underperforming names now recognize that they need to change to compete against giants such as

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton,

the world’s biggest luxury company, whose hand has been strengthened by the crisis.

Investors may still hope that Salvatore Ferragamo will be polished up and sold in a few years’ time at a higher valuation. For now, though, the tougher outlook for smaller luxury brands points to a fight for the best executives rather than major deals.

Write to Carol Ryan at [email protected]

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Netflix Bets on Even Stranger Things | Sidnaz Blog

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A scene from the Netflix show ‘Sexy Beasts.’



Photo:

Netflix

Netflix


NFLX 1.04%

and romance have long been a match made in heaven, but now the streaming giant is taking things to another level.

Perhaps emboldened by the success of recent shows like “The Circle” and “Love Is Blind,” Netflix is now doubling down on dystopian reality dating. According to the trailer, released this week, the new concept will feature “real life singles,” sporting “elaborate makeup and prosthetics” and putting blind date chemistry to the test.

After reporting disappointing subscriber numbers for the first quarter, Netflix needs new alluring content. Analysts expect the streaming giant to add about 15 million subscribers in the second half of the year, nearly three times the number it is forecasting for the first half.

As if dating weren’t already hard enough, contestants on “Sexy Beasts” are expected to find love while looking like a panda or a mouse. The trailer features a suave alien in a bowling alley chatting to his date, an apparent cross between a dolphin and a platypus, stating that “personality, for me, is everything.” Others—especially a beaver who candidly describes his favorite physical feature—are at least honest.

If nothing else, viewers will be in it for catfights.

Write to Laura Forman at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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