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Apple TV, Major League Soccer Strike 10-Year Exclusive Deal for New Streaming Service

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By Reuters | Updated: 15 June 2022

Apple TV and Major League Soccer — the US equivalent of the English Premier League — announced a 10-year media rights agreement on Tuesday, worth a reported $2.5 billion (nearly Rs. 19,500 crore). that will see every single MLS game broadcast from the 2023 season onwards.

“Apple is the perfect partner to further accelerate the growth of MLS and deepen the connection between our clubs and their fans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

The new agreement will see MLS games made available on Apple TV via a new MLS streaming service. Season ticket-holders for MLS clubs will be able to access the app for free.

“For the first time in the history of sports, fans will be able to access everything from a major professional sports league in one place,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Services.

“It’s a dream come true for MLS fans, [football] fans, and anyone who loves sports. No fragmentation, no frustration — just the flexibility to sign up for one convenient service that gives you everything MLS, anywhere and anytime you want to watch.”

No figures for the deal were revealed, but Sports Business Journal said the contract was worth $250 million (about Rs. 1,950 crore) per season.

The new deal will also herald a reorganisation of how MLS games are scheduled. Currently games are played on multiple days throughout a given week.

As of next season, games will be played on Saturday nights, with midweek games taking place every Wednesday.

“We’re going to make it easy for people to fall in love with MLS and root for their favourite clubs,” Cue said.

The deal reflects the steady rise of MLS in the United States. Launched in 1996, the league now features 28 teams with a 29th due to join in 2023.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are set to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“MLS is already on a tremendous trajectory as the fastest-growing [football] league in the world,” Cue said.

“We think it’s going to get even bigger as the (2026) World Cup comes to the US, Canada and Mexico.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Announces Season 2 Cast, Currently Filming in the UK

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Sam Hazeldine (Peaky Blinders) will replace Joseph Mawle in the role of Orc leader Adar.
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 2 December 2022

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has roped in seven new recurring cast members for the forthcoming second season, which is currently in production in the UK.

Actors Gabriel Akuwudike, Yasen Atour, Ben Daniels, Amelia Kenworthy, Nia Towle, and Nicholas Woodeson have joined the show along with Sam Hazeldine (Peaky Blinders), who will be replacing Joseph Mawle in the role of Orc leader Adar.

“Since its premiere, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has been bringing audiences together to experience the magic and wonder of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnificent Middle-earth. To date, season one is the top Original series for Amazon Prime Video in every region and has been viewed by over 100 million people worldwide, a truly global hit that speaks to the universal nature of powerful storytelling.

“We welcome these wonderful actors to our ‘fellowship’ and look forward to telling more incredible Second Age stories in season two,” Vernon Sanders, Head of Global Television, Amazon Studios, said in a statement.

The Rings of Power is primarily based on the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, specifically the description of Middle-earth’s Second Age, and includes younger versions of some of the key characters from the original trilogy.

Set thousands of years before the events of Tolkien’s famed book series, the Amazon show follows the forging of the original rings of power during the Second Age that allowed the Dark Lord Sauron to spread evil across Middle-earth.

J.D. Payne has co-created the show with Patrick McKay. Payne also serves as the showrunner.

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Gears of War Netflix Live-Action Movie, Adult Animated Series in the Works

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By ANI | Updated: 8 November 2022

Gears of War, one of the most popular Xbox video game series of all time, is coming to Netflix.

Netflix announced Monday that it will produce a feature film adaptation of the sci-fi shooter game, followed by an adult animated series. The streamer also mentions the “possibility of additional stories to follow.”

Gears of War was released 16 years ago today and to mark the occasion, Netflix has partnered with The Coalition to adapt the @GearsofWar video game saga into a live action feature film, followed by an adult animated series — with the potential for more stories to follow! pic.twitter.com/3zInFSnUu4— Netflix (@netflix) November 7, 2022

The Coalition, a video game developer that took over Gears of War when Microsoft purchased the series’ licence from original creator Epic Games, has collaborated with Netflix on the planned adaptations.

The first Gears of War game was launched exclusively on the Xbox 360 in 2006. It featured a macho team of troops known as Delta Squad as they battled the Locust Horde, a subterranean extra-terrestrial civilisation that decimates humanity.

Marcus Fenix, Dominic ‘Dom’ Santiago, Augustus Cole, and Damon Baird were the core Delta Squad members. They utilised heavy-duty guns, rocket launchers, and lancers — rifles with chainsaws attached — to dispatch the Locust swarms.

Since then, the Gears of War franchise has sold over 40 million copies across five primary entries and various spin-offs, making it one of the most popular Xbox franchises.

The games are credited with redefining the third-person shooter video game genre, including suitable options that allow players to take on the Locust Horde with a friend.

The Netflix announcement coincides with the 16th anniversary of the first Gears of War game.

Several attempts have been made throughout the years to adapt Gears of War for the big screen.

A film adaptation was temporarily lofted by New Line Cinema in 2007 before Scott Stuber, who is currently in charge of Netflix’s original content, joined Epic Games as a producer in 2014.

In 2018, Universal Pictures recruited F. Scott Frazier to write an adaptation, but no further action was taken.

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Supreme Court Rejects Stay on Amazon Prime’s Mirzapur Season 3, Calls Pre-Censorship of Web Series Impermissible

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By ANI |  Updated: 14 October 2022

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked how can there be a pre-screening committee for web series, films or other programmes which are directly released on online platforms.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit observed that it always felt pre-censorship is impermissible.

“How can there be a pre-screening committee for web series? There is particular legislation. Unless you say OTT (over-the-top) is also a part of it… you must say that existing legislation must apply to OTT. Various questions will arise because transmission occurs from other countries”, the bench said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Mirzapur resident Sujeet Kumar Singh for setting up a pre-screening committee for web series, films or other programmes which are directly released on online platforms.

The top court also refused to stay the third season of the popular Mirzapur web series, which is currently under production.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued notices to makers and producers of the web series Mirzapur and Amazon Prime Video on a petition complaining about the portrayal of Mirzapur city in a bad light in the famous OTT series.

The PIL said that in the web series, makers have shown Mirzapur as a city of goons and adulteresses and such display malign the image as the city of Uttar Pradesh. It added that in the fictional series, Mirzapur has been displayed as being full of terror, crime, and other illegal activities.

Stating that the Mirzapur series has tarnished the historical and cultural image of the city, the petition stated that the OTT series is full of nudity, vulgarity, harassment and abusive language.

The petition sought the direction of the government of India to set up a screening committee for web series, films, or other programmes which are directly released on the online platform. “Ministry of I&B to make certificate mandatory from a government authority before releasing any web series, movies or programme,” plea added.

“The government of India should set up rules and regulations for series, movies and other programmes which are released on web platforms and must be censored like other movies before their release in theatres.” it said.

Mirzapur Season 3

  • CastPankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Rasika Dugal, Vijay Verma, Harshita Gaur, Anjum Sharma, Priyanshu Painyuli, Sheeba Chadha, Rajesh Tailang
  • DirectorGurmmeet Singh, Anand Iyer
  • ProductionExcel Media and Entertainment

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Chhello Show at Rs. 95: India’s Oscar Entry to Open in 95 Cinemas for Thursday ‘Last Show’ Previews

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 10 October 2022

Chhello Show, India’s official Oscar entry, is set to release this Friday, October 14 in cinemas across India. As part of a new marketing stunt, Thursday previews for Last Film Show will be held in 95 theatres, with tickets priced at Rs. 95.

The Pan Nalin film will be screened at the ‘last shows’ on Thursday, a day prior to its Friday release. But why 95?

Titled Chhello Show in Gujarati, the coming-of-age drama is India’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards, slated to take place in March 2023.

“There has been immense excitement among fans for our film Last Film Show, and we are all too happy to release it on the Last Show of Thursday,” Nalin said in a prepared statement.

“Also, what better way to celebrate its selection at the 95th Oscars than by releasing it in 95 cinemas at a wonderful price of Rs. 95,” Nalin added.

Inspired by Nalin’s own memories of falling in love with movies as a child in rural Gujarat, Last Film Show is set at the cusp of the digital revolution.

Set in a remote rural village of Saurashtra, the film follows the story of a nine-year-old boy who begins a lifelong love affair with cinema when he bribes his way into a rundown movie palace and spends a summer watching movies from the projection booth.

In a joint statement, producers Siddharth Roy Kapur of Roy Kapur Films and Dheer Momaya of Jugaad Motion Pictures said they are thrilled with the big screen release of Last Film Show.

“With our exhibitors on board, we are releasing the film in the final shows of Thursday across 95 cinemas at a Rs. 95 ticket price. This is our humble way of honouring the love and excitement audiences across India have shown for our film. See you at the movies,” they said.

Last Film Show is produced by Roy Kapur Films, Jugaad Motion Pictures, Monsoon Films, and Chhello Show LLP.

The film is being distributed in the country by Roy Kapur Films in partnership with PVR.

It will be released by Samuel Goldwyn Films in the USA, Orange Studio in France, Shochiku Studios in Japan, and Medusa in Italy.

Chhello Show

  • Release Date 14 October 2022
  • Language Gujarati
  • Genre Drama
  • Duration 1h 50min
  • Cast Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval, Paresh Mehta, Vikas Bata, Rahul Koli, Shoban Makwa, Kishan Parmar, Vijay Mer, Alpesh Tank, Tia Sebastien, Jasmin Joshi
  • Director Pan Nalin
  • Music Cyril Morin
  • Producer Pan Nalin, Dheer Momaya, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Marc Duale
  • Production Chhello Show LLP, Monsoon Films, Jugaad Motion Pictures, Roy Kapur Films

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Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans wins Toronto audience award

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By: Associated Press, Beijing | September 18, 2022

Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama The Fabelmans won the Toronto International Film Festival’s top prize, the People’s Choice Award, solidifying its early status as Academy Awards frontrunner.

Toronto’s audience award was announced Sunday as the largest North American film festival wrapped up its 47th edition and first full-scale gathering in three years. The return of crowds at TIFF brought the world premieres of a number of anticipated crowd pleasers, including the Viola Davis-led The Woman King, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Billy Eichner’s Bros.

Toronto’s audience award, voted on by festival moviegoers, is a much-watched harbinger of the coming awards season. Each of the last ten years, the TIFF winner has gone on to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars — and often won it. Last year, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast triumphed at a much-diminished hybrid Toronto International Film Festival. The year before that, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland took TIFF’s award before winning at the Academy Awards. Other past winners include 12 Years a Slave, La La Land and Green Book.

This year, no film came into the festival more anticipated than The Fabelmans, Spielberg’s memory-infused film about his childhood. In the movie, which Universal Pictures will release Nov. 11, Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents, with newcomer Gabriel LaBelle as teenage Spielberg, Sammy Fabelman. The film scored rave reviews after its premiere.

“This is the most personal film I’ve made and the warm reception from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire ‘Fabelman’ family,’” Spielberg said in a statement read by Cameron Bailey, festival director.

The first runner-up to the prize was Sarah Polley’s Woman Talking, about the female members of a Mennonite colony gathered to discuss years of sexual abuse. The second runner-up went to Johnson’s Glass Onion, the director’s whodunit sequel for Netflix.

Audience in other sections of the festival also vote for People’s Choice awards. The festival’s audience prize for documentary went to “Black Ice,” Hubert Davis’ film about the history of Black hockey players executive produced by LeBron James. The midnight section winner was “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” Eric Appel’s music biopic parody co-written with Yankovic and starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Wow, said Appel in a statement. “I never in a million years thought that our satire of traditional awards films would actually win an award, itself.”

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Shopify offers workers greater say in compensation structure to attract talent

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By: Reuters, September 16, 2022

Sept 16 (Reuters) – Shopify Inc said on Friday it has introduced a new compensation system that allows staff more flexibility in restructuring their awards between cash and equity, as the e-commerce major seeks to attract and retain workers.

As many as 91% of the eligible employees have already enrolled in the new system, Flex Comp, the company said.

“An employee saving to buy a house can choose to take home more in cash. Someone planning for their children’s future can opt for more RSUs or options,” Shopify Chief Human Resources Officer Tia Silas said in an interview.

The share vesting will begin immediately as one-year cliffs on equity have been removed, Silas added.

The company, which offers tools and payment systems for merchants to set up their online stores, last week named investment banker Jeff Hoffmeister as its financial head to help it navigate a challenging environment with several headwinds including high inflation and lower demand.

The Canadian company has said in the past it would cut about a 10th of its workforce and review its operations to slash spending given a challenging environment, with cost-conscious consumers cutting back on online purchases.

Shopify, whose shares were down about 4% in early trading amid a broader decline in stocks, said it has no additional workforce reductions planned.

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