April 26, 2019

Avengers: Endgame's box office domination is inevitable, and it's already shattering records in the U.S.

The Marvel superhero finale, which wraps up 21 movies worth of films, launched with $60 million in its Thursday night U.S. previews, CNN reports. This is the biggest domestic preview gross of all time, surpassing the $57 million that Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned during its first night of showings in 2015. Endgame also soared way past the $39 million that Avengers: Infinity War took in on its Thursday night opening in 2018.

This $60 million figure comes from screenings that began in the U.S. on Thursday evening, and it will be added to Friday's gross for a final opening day total that Deadline writes could be up to $140 million. This would give Endgame the best opening day in the U.S. ever, easily beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens' $119 million.

Endgame is virtually assured of setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend of all time, passing the current record-holder, Avengers: Infinity War, which opened to $257 million. It may gross between $270 million and $300 million, notes The Hollywood Reporter, with Deadline writing that the film hitting $300 million is now "likely." Only six films in history have had an opening weekend gross of more than $200 million.

Thanks to its record-breaking opening in China, Endgame has already grossed more than $300 million worldwide, and it could be looking at a historic $1 billion global debut. Brendan Morrow

4:53 p.m.

White House aides and Trump campaign officials were "freaking out" after being "blindsided" by European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony on Wednesday, which contained allegations of quid pro quo and pointed fingers at the president and other top administration officials, CNN's Jim Acosta reports.

The White House had attempted to get an "early peek" at Sondland's remarks during the jittery hours before the impeachment hearing began, due to the perception that he was a "wild card" witness, The Washington Post reports. Sondland's attorney had refused those attempts.

It became clear during the testimony, though, that Sondland's confirmation that "everyone was in the loop" was bad news for Republicans, who pivoted to attempting to distance Trump from what Democrats say was an attempt to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Hunter Biden, the son of his potential 2020 rival. Trump's campaign specifically zeroed in on Sondland saying that Trump "directly told him he wanted nothing from Ukraine," although Sondland did confirm that the requests of Trump's personal lawyer and fixer Rudy Giuliani "were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit" for the Ukrainian president, and that "Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States."

Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany maintained that "over and over we've heard from Democrats and the media that the next hearing, the next witness, the next testimony would be the bombshell they've been promising, only to have it fizzle out like all the rest. It has happened yet again." But Ken Starr, the lead prosecutor during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, begs to differ: "This obviously has been one of those bombshell days," he told Fox News. Jeva Lange

4:36 p.m.

Al Pacino is widely regarded as one of America's great living actors, but in recent years, that hasn't stopped him from appearing in movies like Gigli, Righteous Kill, and Jack and Jill, which offered audiences two Adam Sandler performances for the price of one.

Why does Pacino sign up for such dreck? In a recent interview with GQ, Pacino admitted he has a "perverse" impulse to appear in bad films just to see if he can make them better. (Alas, they still don't give out an Oscar for Most Acceptable Part of a Piece of Garbage.) Read more at GQ. Scott Meslow

4:34 p.m.

Have you followed Marie Kondo's advice and thrown out everything in your residence that doesn't spark joy? Great! Now it's time to fill your residence back up again — and as long as your shelves are bare, why not buy all that stuff directly from Marie Kondo's online store?

And if you think it's a little hypocritical for the self-styled de-cluttering guru to sell you a bunch of overpriced junk, we're sure a sip from your $98 gem-infused water bottle will clear those bad vibes right up. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Scott Meslow

4:32 p.m.

Cynthia Erivo stars in Harriet, a based-on-a-true-story drama about the life of the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman — but 25 years ago, at least one Hollywood executive had a different star for a Tubman biopic in mind.

Per Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen Howard says that back in 1994, when he was pitching a Tubman-focused movie, one Hollywood executive proposed an unconventional choice for the lead role: Julia Roberts.

When someone in that meeting raised, well, the most obvious objection to Julia Roberts playing Harriet Tubman, the executive replied, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference" — a thesis that would surely have been put to the test by literally anyone who saw the movie. Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

4:16 p.m.

Democrats might want to shield their eyes from the latest poll from Marquette Law School released Wednesday.

President Trump was shown leading all four of the party's top primary contenders — former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — in head-to-head matchups in Wisconsin, which many analysts regard as one of the most important states in the 2020 election. Last month, three of the four, save for Buttigieg (whose deficit increased) had small leads over the president.

Of course, like all polls there's probably not any reason for Democrats to panic, just as there was no reason for Republicans to worry too much about the October survey. With the exception of Buttigieg again, Trump's leads are all either within in or nearly within the poll's margin of error or 4.1 percentage points.

Biden, meanwhile, was leading the Democratic field among Wisconsin voters with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Sanders at 17 percent, Warren at 15 percent, and Buttigieg at 13 percent.

The Marquette Law School poll was conducted between Nov. 13-17. The sample consisted of 801 registered Wisconsin voters who were interviewed over the phone. The margin of error was 4.1 percentage points. Read the full poll here. Tim O'Donnell

4:09 p.m.

A Joker sequel is in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But Deadline says that's "flat false" — at least, for now.

Rumors about a Joker sequel have abounded this week after the blockbuster raked in $1 billion at the box office. But much of that seemed to be wishful thinking from fans, until THR's report on Wednesday seemingly revealed that "Joker director Todd Phillips headed into Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich's office" on Oct. 7, and "proposed an outsized idea — the rights to develop a portfolio of DC characters' origin stories." The report also added that Joaquin Phoenix and Phillips are "likely to reteam" for the antihero flick's sequel.

But Deadline is countering THR's report and citing multiple sources who say "no such October 7 meeting between Phillips and Emmerich occurred, and that Phillips hasn't even considered overseeing other DC character films." There are currently "no deals for a sequel, nor even any negotiations with director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver to craft one," Deadline's sources say.

While the conflicting reporting leaves unclear whether the sequel is "officially" coming soon, most agree that it's probably happening. Just as Phoenix is game for a sequel, Warner Bros. will surely welcome the deal, so "no one is saying a Joker sequel won't happen someday," Deadline carefully notes. Ramisa Rob

3:54 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting a little ahead of himself.

Hours before the fifth Democratic debate was set to begin, Biden's campaign on Wednesday sent out a fundraising email obviously not intended for release until the debate ended. The message hit inboxes roughly eight hours early.

"I'm leaving the fifth Democratic debate now," read the very first sentence of this email, sent long before the debate even started. "I hope I made you proud out there and I hope I made it clear to the world why our campaign is so important." Well, he made clear why sending prepared emails at a time that actually makes sense is so important, at least.

Spoiler alert: expect some more slams on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) from Biden this evening, something supporters were presumably supposed to have already seen before they read, "we need more than plans" in his email

With the White House having accidentally sent talking points to Democrats at least two times in recent months, should Biden defeat President Trump in 2020, the White House tradition of totally incompetent email use may continue for years to come. Brendan Morrow

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