Connect with us

Gossips

As Disney’s Bob Iger Exits, The Media Giant Loses Some Magic

Published

on

Bob Iger Variety Cover Story 4 16x9 1

As I mention in my cover interview with Bob Iger in this week’s issue, when you look back at his impressive 15-year run as CEO, it’s funny to think about how many people in the industry and the media — myself included — underestimated him. For the decade that Iger worked under then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, leading up to his run to succeed him in 2005, people frequently used the term “empty suit” when referring to Iger. Of course, we were all proven wrong, and Iger admits that even though the lack of support at the time was excruciating, his strong track record as CEO even wound up surprising him: “I exceeded my own expectations.”

He says that more than anyone else he ever worked with, Eisner taught him about “the power of great storytelling and how important it was.” That said, when Iger took over, he inherited some significant problems, like having to turn around the entertainment company’s declining performance and a general disillusionment with the Disney brand.

Iger’s biggest challenge as CEO, however, would come years later when he was forced to lead Disney through the worst pandemic in modern history. Just weeks after stepping down as CEO in February 2020, with Bob Chapek assuming that role and day-to-day duties, COVID-19 exploded. “I was trying really hard to help Bob manage through what was the biggest crisis the company ever faced,” he tells me in our Q&A. As executive chairman, Iger spent his time heavily focused on keeping Disney’s creative fires burning at a perilous time, which he says in retrospect “will have real benefits for the company and for my successor long term.”

Advertisement

The subject of the book Iger plans to write next will focus on how leaders reacted to the pandemic. “It struck me in managing through a significant crisis that leaders are frequently balancing a set of countervailing dynamics,” he says. He explains that among other factors, those running companies need to be optimistic because people are looking for hope, but at the same time they must be “extremely realistic to call it like it is,” making sure everyone is listening to the messaging and reacting accordingly.

“Then there’s the whole notion of leaders needing to relate to people and portray themselves as human beings, but at the same time needing to be fearless,” says Iger.

Iger certainly fulfilled that role not only during COVID but over the course of his time as CEO.

One rival media figure I recently spoke with perhaps best sums up Iger’s exit, telling me that his “walking off is going to be such a loss for us all.”

Advertisement

Gossips

‘Plaza Catedral,’ ‘Prayers for the Stolen’ Deal With Violence Inflicted Upon Youth in Latin America

Published

on

Prayers for the Stolen Top 10

Mexico’s Tatiana Huezo and Abner Benaim of Panama, whose respective dramas, “Prayers for the Stolen” and “Plaza Catedral,” made the coveted shortlist in the Oscars’ international feature category, have quite a few things in common. Both have mainly worked in documentary filmmaking, although in the case of Benaim, he made a hit comedy in 2009, “Chance,” before focusing on nonfiction films.

Neither are strangers to the Oscar experience. Benaim has represented Panama twice. With its first submission to the Oscars in 2014, an account of the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, “Invasion,” and in 2018 with “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” which gets up close and personal with the actor, multi-Grammy winner and activist who also served as minister of tourism and ran for president of Panama.

“Prayers for the Stolen” is Huezo’s first narrative feature and her second turn at representing Mexico, the first time was with her documentary “Tempestad” in 2017.

Advertisement

Both “Prayers” and “Plaza Catedral” deal with the violence inflicted on the young, which for Benaim hit closer to home when his non-pro teenage lead, Fernando Xavier de Casta, was gunned down a few months before the pic’s release. He dedicates “Plaza Catedral” to him and to the many “children and teenagers who die every day in Latin America, victims of senseless violence.”

A coming-of-age fable, “Prayers for the Stolen” follows three young girls, also played by non-pros, in a remote village where the danger of being abducted by drug cartels is ever-present.

Asked why she thinks her film has resonated with viewers, Huezo muses: “I’d like to believe that it’s because the film draws you into the girls’ tiny universes and also brings home the impact of violence on families’ lives, almost like a punch to the gut. But it also connects through the beauty, tenderness and purity of their innocent lives.”

“Plaza Catedral” revolves around Alicia (played by Ilse Salas) who, having lost her 6-year-old son in a freak accident, remains grief-stricken and withdrawn. She ignores the scrappy street kid played by Xavier de Casta, who demands to be paid for watching her car in the titular Plaza Catedral. One day, she is shocked out of her self-imposed isolation when he shows up at her doorstep, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Samuel Goldywn Films has picked up U.S. rights.

Advertisement

“It’s always a mystery when a film resonates with people,” Benaim says. “But I think ‘Plaza Catedral’ affects people in two waves — first they are moved by the story and the performances and then a second wave of emotion comes over them when they realize that reality has caught up with the story.

“The reality of what happened to Fernando does not allow us the luxury to think that it was just a film.”

Both dramas reflect their documentary filmmaking roots. As Variety critic Jessica Kiang observed: “Benaim brings some of his documentarian sensibility to bear on a story that might otherwise feel a little schematic.”

“I think that having worked so much on documentaries makes me less afraid of the uncertainty and lack of control that is sometimes associated with non-actors — I actually see it the other way around … I enjoy the freshness and unpredictable as welcome surprises,” he says. “One can detect when things feel real and when they don’t — and that alertness for what feels fake is something I keep turned on while making a documentary or fiction film.”

Advertisement

Huezo concurs: “As a documentary filmmaker, you become very astute and empathetic; you develop an instinct for recognizing the real moments of truth, the true emotions in facial expressions, in the glances exchanged and in the movements of the actors.”

Continue Reading

Gossips

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Looks to Reclaim Box Office Crown From ‘Scream’

Published

on

1642869723 Spider Man No Way Home 06

After one weekend outside of the No. 1 slot, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” could be surging ahead to lead the domestic box office once again. The Marvel entry and the slasher sequel “Scream” are locked in a tight battle this weekend, with “No Way Home” projected just ahead of its competition.

Columbia Pictures is projecting a $13.5 million gross for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” over its sixth weekend at the domestic box office, a soft 30% drop from its previous outing. After practically redefining the rules of the pandemic era box office, the mega-hit MCU entry is finally beginning to wind down its theatrical run. The release should expand its domestic cume to $720.4 million through Sunday. “No Way Home” currently stands as the fourth-highest grossing film in the history of the domestic box office. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($936 million) and “Avengers: Endgame” ($858 million) are likely out of reach at this point, though Spidey could claw its way past “Avatar” ($760 million) when all is said and done.

As is typical for most horror entries, “Scream” is hitting a sharp drop-off in its sophomore outing. Paramount and Spyglass Media are projecting an $11.7 million gross for this weekend, after earning $34 million in its Martin Luther King Jr. holiday opening. A 60% drop-off like that is in the neighborhood of sophomore weekends for other recent horror sequels, such as “A Quiet Place Part II” (a 59.5% second weekend drop) and “Halloween Kills” (a 71% second weekend drop). The self-branded “requel” should push its domestic gross past $50 million through Sunday. While “Scream” isn’t retaining a ton of heat at the box office, it’s already well past making returns on its reported $25 million production budget.

Advertisement

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct “Scream,” taking over the series from its founder Wes Craven, who helmed the four first entries before his death in 2015. The film stars series regulars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette as they are once again haunted by a serial killer in a Ghostface mask. The killing spree extends to a group of high school students in the town of Woodsboro, Calif. Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid and Dylan Minnette also star in the slasher.

More to come…

Advertisement
Continue Reading