In the entertainment industry news comes out fast and furious, and sometimes the importance and impact of some of those developments gets lost in the shuffle. Here's a look at three of the top entertainment industry stories from the past week that you may have missed and why they are worth a second look.
Expendables spinoff ExpendaBelles gears up
With its eyes on a 2015 release, information on the Expendables spinoff The ExpendaBelles has begun coming out, including news of a plot and director. Millennium Films, which is behind the franchise (distributed by Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF)), has tabbed Robber Luketic to helm the movie, which follows a group of female mercenaries sent in to take out a terrorist who wiped out a team of Navy SEALs. The twist that's making the most news is they'll infiltrate their target's lair by posing as high-class call-girls.
Impact on business
Let's be clear, the Expendables series isn't going to win Oscars. It's pure eye candy brought you to by a who's who of action stars killing everything that gets in their way. Yet it also works and the franchise will release its third installment this year. However Luketic, who directed Legally Blonde and The Ugly Truth, is a strange choice for this type of movie and the industry is already groaning that the leads will essentially be portraying hookers for part of the film.
Like with Expendables, producers will look assemble a female dream team -- reported targets include Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, and Cameron Diaz ... but seriously, imagine making that phone call to their agents. All jokes aside, we may scoff now but should this come together the way Expendables did, we may not be laughing for long. To date The Expendables films have earned a combined $580 million worldwide.
ABC orders Astronaut Wives Club for summer slate
Summer may be the new fall at this rate as ABC (a subsidiary of Disney (NYSE: DIS)) announced this week a direct-to-series pickup for the adaptation of the buzzed about book The Astronaut Wives Club. The network ordered a pilot two weeks ago but has now fast-tracked the drama with an eye on airing it as early as this summer. The book by Lily Koppel is based on the true story of how the women married to space's most well-known explorers coped with their sudden fame.
Impact on business
Programming during the summer is now the thing to do. After CBS (NYSE: CBS) embraced the concept last year (to great success), it's throwing down the gauntlet for other top broadcasters to up their games. ABC isn't a stranger to the summer season though, as for the last few years it's had hits in reality series Wipeout and cop drama Rookie Blue. Last year it added legal procedural Motive and sudster Mistresses to the mix, and as a result built a solid core group of shows.
Astronaut Wives seems like a great counterpart for Mistresses and will continue to help grow ABC's audiences during the slower summer timeframe. The other thing it has going for it is that Gossip Girl producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz are shepherding the project, which may even pull in younger viewers as well.
LeBron James team with Starz for new comedy series
Love him or hate him, LeBron James has crossed over in the same way Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal have to varying extents. Now King James is taking his talents to Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA) for a new comedy series he'll executive produce with friend Maverick Carter. Titled Survivor's Remorse, the show will look at a fictional basketball player who along with his cousin make it out of a tough neighborhood and into the world of the NBA. James' own real-life stories will be incorporated into the series that could air as early this fall.
Impact on business
Starz seemingly abandoned comedies a few years ago, despite the cult success of Party On. This new deal comes as the network is trying to expand its horizons and keep up with HBO and Showtime, which each have a roster of laffers. With the first season being just six episodes, it's easy to take a flier on a project with this much of an upside. Starz also had a big win with the debut of Black Sails the other week. With the much buzzed about Outlander also on deck for 2014, Remorse could go a long way in helping the network gain additional market share.
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