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Franchise fatigue continues with ‘Men in Black: International’ and ‘Shaft’ disappoint at box office

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Franchise fatigue continues with 'Men in Black: International' and 'Shaft' disappoint at box office

Brand familiarity isn’t everything when it comes to attracting audiences to the multiplex, and Hollywood is learning that lesson the hard way this summer with a slew of underperforming sequels and reboots. That so-called franchise fatigue came to a head this weekend with the releases of “Men in Black: International” and “Shaft.”

The writing may have been on the wall after neither an X-Men movie (“Dark Phoenix”) nor a Godzilla movie (“Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) could get moviegoers enthusiastic enough to turn out. But this weekend, down over 50 percent from last year, is the worst yet.

“This was a rough weekend,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “We’ve had some big franchises that are not resonating with audiences or critics.”

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And there’s a common denominator between all the recent disappointments: Poor reviews. All four have been certified “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Men in Black: International” took the No. 1 spot in North America, but it’s a dubious distinction for the Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth-led reboot, which isn’t exactly the franchise-revitalizer it hoped to be. Sony Pictures on Sunday estimates the F. Gary Gray-directed film earned only $28.5 million over the weekend against a reported $110 million production budget. The three previous “Men in Black” films all opened to over $50 million not accounting for inflation.

However, international audiences are helping the bottom line with the film earning $73.7 million from 36 markets, bringing its global total to $102.2 million.

The weekend’s other big new release, “Shaft,” which introduces another generation to the franchise, couldn’t even manage to carve out a place in the top five, which instead was populated mostly by holdovers.

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“The Secret Life of Pets 2” got the No. 2 spot in its second weekend with $23.8 million. Disney’s “Aladdin,” now in weekend four, took third with $16.7 million. “Dark Phoenix” placed fourth with $9 million and “Rocketman” coasted to fifth with $8.8 million.

“Shaft,” a Warner Bros. release, placed sixth on the charts, with a disappointing $8.3 million.

Directed by Tim Story, “Shaft” features Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role from almost 20 years ago and Jessie T. Usher as his son. It was made for around $30 million.

Although critics did not praise the film, audiences who turned out (54 percent of whom were women) were more enthusiastic, giving the film an A CinemaScore.

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Even some originals had a tough time this weekend. Amazon Studios expanded its Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson comedy “Late Night,” which it acquired the North American rights to for a Sundance record of $13 million, to 2,220 theaters where it earned $5.1 million.

“The real bright spots have been the smaller indies,” Dergarabedian said. “We think of summer as blockbuster season, but it’s turned into indie film season.”

Jim Jarmusch’s star-studded zombie comedy “The Dead Don’t Die” mostly survived its mixed reviews and opened to $2.35 million from 613 locations.

Documentaries like “Echo in the Canyon” and “Pavarotti” have been making a modest mark in limited release, and the acclaimed drama “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” expanded to 36 locations and earned $361,120. It expands further next weekend.

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But the marketplace is hurting and it’s not a problem with the weekend, which last year saw “Incredibles 2” open to over $182 million, but with the major movies themselves.

The disappointments have come, mostly, from “movies that just don’t deliver,” according to Dergarabedian.

But it’s too simplistic to fault all franchises and next weekend the marketplace will be singing a different tune when “Toy Story 4” opens.

“‘Toy Story 4’ is going to erase the memory of this very tough weekend,” Dergarabedian said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

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1. “Men in Black: International,” $28.5 million ($73.7 million international).

2. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $23.8 million.

3. “Aladdin,” $16.7 million.

4. “Dark Phoenix,” $9 million.

5. “Rocketman,” $8.8 million.

6. “Shaft,” $8.3 million.

7. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $8.1 million.

8. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” $6.1 million.

9. “Late Night,” $5.1 million.

10. “Ma,” $3.6 million.

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

After 18 years, Frank Lyford trusted his gut and left the Heaven’s Gate cult — along with the woman he loved.

The former follower recalled his terrifying ordeal in the upcoming episode of “People Magazine Investigates: Cults,” which is airing on Investigation Discovery (ID) on June 17.

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The show, which recently kicked off its second season, explores how ordinary people “who, lured by promises of eternal life, get caught up in a terrifying web of abuse, deception and manipulation.” It features reporters who’ve covered these harrowing cases, as well as former members.

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven's Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven’s Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Past subjects have included the Jonestown Massacre, Nation of Yahweh, Children of God and the Tony Alamo Ministries, among others.

“It was this deep, gut-felt misgiving of remaining in the group, remaining in the cult,” said the now-65-year-old in the documentary, as reported by People magazine Friday. “I couldn’t express it at the time and I didn’t know what my life would look like — what it’d be like adjusting to life outside of the group — I just knew I couldn’t remain in the cult anymore.”

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History.com reported the cult was led by Marshall Applewhite, a former music professor who was recruited by one of his nurses, Bonnie Lu Nettles, after surviving a near-death experience in 1972. The pair then persuaded a group of 20 people from Oregon to abandon their possessions and move to Colorado where they promised an extraterrestrial spacecraft would take them to the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven's Gate.

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven’s Gate.

The outlet shared that both Nettles and Applewhite insisted human bodies were “merely containers” that could be disregarded for a higher physical existence. Membership diminished after the spacecraft never arrived and Nettles died in 1985. The group resurfaced in the ‘90s as Applewhite started recruiting new members. After the 1995 discovery of the comet Hale-Bopp, members believed that an alien spacecraft was on its way to earth.

Lyford and Erika Ernst had been dating for two years when the couple came across Applewhite and Nettles during a 1975 Oregon camping trip. They soon sold their belongings. Lyford defected in 1993.

Lyford soon found himself in his parents’ Canadian home. And two days later, he received a call from “the love of my life.”

According to People, Ernst pleaded Lyford to return and he asked her to leave. The 40-year-old never did.

Erika Ernst — ID

Ernst, along with 37 other followers, died by suicide over three days in 1997. Their bodies were discovered inside a Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. compound after someone called police with an anonymous tip. The deceased ranged from ages 26 to 72. People magazine previously reported the members left video diaries explaining their reasons for the mass suicide.

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History.com reported that the mass suicide occurred around the same time Hale-Bopp reached its closest distance to Earth. Applewhite, who was among the dead, convinced the group they needed to “free their mortal souls in order to board a spaceship that was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet” heading towards a distant planet called “The Next Level.”

The bodies were found dressed in black suits with matching Nike sneakers and plastic bags over their heads. All had willfully ingested apple sauce laced with barbiturates, which was also washed down with vodka. Each had their IDs in their pockets.

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

“I knew it was the same group I was a part of, so it was a very emotional time for me, from the standpoint of feeling the loss of all my friends who I had been with for 18 years,” admitted Lyford.

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Lyford said he wished he’d pushed Ernst harder to leave.

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

“If I were back on that call with her right now, I would be more emphatic about her leaving,” he explained. “We all have a connection to the divine within us, we all have that radio transmitter built in — we don’t need anyone to translate that for us. That was the big mistake that we all made, in my mind – it was believing we needed someone else to tell us what our best path should be.”

“People Magazine Investigates: Cults” airs June 17 at 9 p.m. on ID.

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from ‘distant star’

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CNN's Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from 'distant star'

(Reuters) – CNN anchor Anderson Cooper remembered his mother, designer and society grand dame Gloria Vanderbilt, as a woman who endured a string of heartbreaks but still remained deeply in love with love.

Actress Gloria Vanderbilt speaks at a panel for the HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid” during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“I always felt it was my job to protect her. She was the strongest person I ever met but she wasn’t tough,” Cooper said in a seven-minute video youtu.be/cfbRneB9wcA obituary on CNN.

“I always thought of her as visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who had come from a distant star that had burned out long ago.”

Vanderbilt, who died on Monday at age 95, had been famous her entire life, starting with a legal battle in which her aunt took custody from her mother when “Little Gloria” was a child. She would go on to endure four marriages, three divorces, the death of a husband and the suicide of a son.

Cooper’s obituary featured clips of young Gloria and told how she grew up in France, unaware that she was heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune. Portions also were taken from an HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.”

When Cooper questioned why she first married a 32-year-old Hollywood figure, Vanderbilt told him, “Sweetheart, I was only 17.”

His mother “trusted too freely, too completely” but always pressed on, Cooper said, and always believed that the next true love was just around the corner.

“She was always in love – in love with men or with friends or books and art, in love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great-greatchildren,” Cooper said. “Love is what she believed in more than anything.”

Cooper said his mother learned earlier this month that she had advanced and spreading stomach cancer. Her response was to cite a 1950 hit song by Peggy Lee with the lyrics “show me the way to get out of this world because that’s where everything is.”

The CNN report included a video Cooper shot in a hospital after the diagnosis as he and his mother broke into laughing fits over a joke. Cooper said that was when he realized they had the same giggle. He said he still giggles every time he watches that video.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in ‘Murder Mystery’

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in 'Murder Mystery'

Jennifer Aniston had one rule for her kissing scenes in Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” with co-star Adam Sandler.

“I did have him learn to oil the beard up a little bit,” the actress said in a joint interview this week. “Conditioned.”

Sandler said kissing his longtime friend on camera wasn’t all that awkward, except when his wife Jackie and children were on set and encouraging him a little too much.

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“The only awkward part is hearing my wife on the side going, ’Harder! Harder! Kiss her harder! Deeper!” he joked. “They (Jackie and the kids) watched the kissing. They love it. They love Aniston, and they want her to have good things and they say, ‘Give her something nice.’”

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the "Murder Mystery" photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the “Murder Mystery” photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

“That was awkward,” Aniston agreed.

“Murder Mystery” follows a longtime married couple who get framed for murder while they’re unlikely guests on a billionaire’s yacht in Europe. The movie premiered on Netflix on Friday.

Fox News caught up with the stars last week and asked them who they would pin a murder on if given the chance.

Sandler, 52, was quick to answer: Rob Schneider.

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“It would be fun to hurt him. It would be fun to see him behind bars. And I would visit him every 10-15 years and say, ‘I’m sorry I did this to you,’” Sandler told us.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix's "Murder Mystery" at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.
(Getty)

“Oh yeah, you’d have to have some fun with Rob,” Aniston, 50, said.

When asked what Schneider ever did to deserve the blame in the hypothetical whodunit, Sandler simply said, “Nothing! That’s the beauty of this joke.”

Schneider wasted no time responding to Sandler’s admission, issuing a warning to his former “Saturday Night Live” co-star in a comment to Fox News on Friday.

ROB SCHNEIDER HITS BACK AT ADAM SANDLER, SAYS ‘IT WOULD BE FUN’ TO PIN HIM FOR MURDER: ‘I KNOW HIS SECRETS’

“I know all of Adam’s secrets for 30 years and that’s why he’d like nothing more than [to] lock me away for a crime he’d like to commit: taking away Kevin James’ Happy Meal!” Schneider teased.

Fox News’ Julius Young and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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