December 3, 2020

Warner Bros. just dropped a bombshell announcement that could potentially change the way we watch movies forever.

The studio on Thursday revealed plans to debut every film it has scheduled for 2021 on HBO Max in the United States on the same day that it arrives in movie theaters. The list of movies Warner Bros. has scheduled for next year includes Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Dune, and The Matrix 4.

Other films set for 2021 that would fall under this plan include Mortal Kombat, Tom and Jerry, The Many Saints of Newark, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, and Space Jam: A New Legacy, among others. Warner Bros. previously made the decision to debut Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters and HBO Max at the same time this Christmas, and it's now fully committing to this strategy at least until 2022. The movies will be available to watch on HBO Max for one month, after which they'll still be in theaters.

Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff described this as a "unique one-year plan" that was called for because "most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021." She added, "We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions."

In September, Warner Bros. released Tenet as the first major tentpole film back in U.S. theaters after they reopened. It played exclusively in theaters, but the film disappointed at the U.S. box office, leading major studios to largely delay their movies into next year. It remains to be seen whether other big studios like Disney could follow Warner's model — and if theaters can actually survive an entire year not being able to exclusively show films.

Indeed, as the news broke, Variety's Brent Lang speculated this may be "the day the theaters died," while The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg wrote, "The moviegoing experience will never be the same." Brendan Morrow

November 27, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reportedly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in secret just months before WikiLeaks published a trove of emails that Russia stole from the Democratic National Committee.

A Tuesday report from The Guardian cites a "well-placed source" who says Manafort met with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London sometime around March 2016, the month he joined President Trump's campaign team. The two reportedly also met in 2013 and 2015. The Guardian reports that a document written by Ecuador's Senain intelligence agency lists Paul Manafort as a well-known guest at the embassy, where Assange resides, although his name is spelled incorrectly as "Paul Manaford." Manafort said any suggestion he was involved in the DNC hack is "100 percent false."

While it's unclear what Manafort and Assange may have discussed, this report will likely be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as he continues to investigate possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russians who hacked the DNC and released emails through WikiLeaks. Mueller on Monday said Manafort repeatedly lied to the FBI, violating his plea deal after agreeing to cooperate with the probe. Manafort did not respond to The Guardian's questions about his visits. Brendan Morrow

September 21, 2018

A new bombshell report from The New York Times further fuels the narrative that even senior Trump administration officials feel the president is unfit for office.

The Times reported Friday that in 2017, not long into his tenure in the Trump administration, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed in meetings the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to declare President Trump unfit to serve and remove him from office. Further, he reportedly told Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe that he might be able to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on his side in this effort. Earlier this month, a senior administration official said in an anonymous Times op-ed that there had been discussions within the White House of invoking the 25th Amendment.

Additionally, the Times reports that Rosenstein proposed he wear a wire to secretly record Trump, as documentation of a White House in disarray. Officials say this plan did not end up moving forward, and an unnamed Justice Department spokeswoman told the Times that Rosenstein made the suggestion "sarcastically." Rosenstein has already denied the report, telling the Times that their story is "inaccurate and factually incorrect" and that "there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

This report will no doubt raise Trump's ire, sparking speculation that the story was leaked with the express purpose of ousting Rosenstein, as Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein observed. Already, the president's son — who has said that the "failing New York Times" lives in an "alternate universe" — has weighed in on the story, suggesting that he is not at all surprised that "these guys would do anything in their power to undermine" his father. Read the full report at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

October 17, 2017

The FBI had already uncovered evidence of bribery and kickbacks in the United States that benefited the Russian nuclear industry prior to a controversial 2010 uranium deal between the Obama administration and Moscow, The Hill reported Tuesday, citing FBI and court documents.

The 2010 Uranium One deal involved the Hillary Clinton-headed State Department and Committee on Foreign Investment's approval of the partial sale of a Toronto-based uranium mining company to Russia's atomic energy corporation, Rosatom. It is unclear if the FBI or Justice Department told members of the committee about their findings before the members unanimously approved the partial sale.

Lawmakers, at least, were kept in the dark. Former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said: "Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them." Rogers added, "The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking."

Documents indicate that the FBI was already aware that the head of Rosatom's U.S. arm, Vadim Mikerin, was involved in extortion. Additionally, Russian nuclear officials reportedly "routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow," The Hill writes based on "eyewitness" accounts and documents.

The implications are long-lasting. As The Hill adds:

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired earlier this year. [The Hill]

Read the full report at The Hill. Jeva Lange

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