Rating Action: Moody’s assigns B3 CFR to Herschend Entertainment and B3 rating to new Term Loan; outlook stable
New York, August 10, 2020 — Moody’s Investors Service, (“Moody’s”) assigned Herschend Entertainment Company, LLC (Herschend) a B3 corporate family rating (CFR), a B3-PD Probability of Default (PDR), and a B3 rating to the proposed $465 million term loan B due 2025. The outlook is stable.
Net proceeds of the proposed $465 million term loan B will be used to refinance outstanding debt and add cash to Herschend’s balance sheet. Pro forma for the transaction leverage is 4.1x as of Q1 2020 with approximately $151 million of cash on the balance sheet. However, the company will not have access to a revolving credit facility.
The debt will be issued by three different co-borrowers with Herschend Entertainment Company, LLC as the lead borrower, in conjunction with Herschend Adventure Holdings, LLC, and Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. The parent company will not be a guarantor to the credit agreement.
Herschend’s entertainment-based assets will be materially impacted in the near term by the coronavirus outbreak which will lead to higher leverage and negative free cash flow in 2020, but the B3 CFR reflects the projected impact on the company. Moody’s expects that Herschend will have adequate liquidity to manage through 2021 even if the pandemic continues to disrupt normal operations. In addition, Moody’s expects that leverage levels will be below 6x with interest coverage above 3x by the end of 2021.
…. Corporate Family Rating, Assigned B3
…. Probability of Default Rating, Assigned B3-PD
The B3 CFR reflects the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Herschend’s portfolio of assets including amusement and waterparks as well as other entertainment offerings, which Moody’s projects will lead to substantially higher leverage and weigh on liquidity for as long as operations continue to be constrained by the pandemic. Moody’s projects Herschend will have more than enough liquidity to manage through 2021 even if normal operation of the parks are disrupted or perform well below historical levels for a prolonged period of time. Herschend has concentrated exposure to Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia, which elevates risks to performance, although the Harlem Globetrotters, the Pink Jeep, and aquarium businesses offer a degree of diversification. Attendance levels at parks and other attractions are projected to remain well below normal levels due to the need to maintain social distancing, additional safety pre-cautions due to the pandemic, and consumer reluctance to engage in group activities in the near term.
Herschend competes for discretionary consumer spending from an increasingly wide variety of other leisure and entertainment activities as well as cyclical discretionary consumer spending. The parks are seasonal and sensitive to weather conditions, changes in fuel prices, terrorism, public health issues (such as the coronavirus) as well as other disruptions outside of the company’s control. Pro forma debt to EBITDA leverage is 4.1x as of Q1 2020 (including Moody’s standard adjustments) and is expected to increase substantially as parks perform below previous levels in the near term before improving to below 6x by the end of 2021.
Herschend benefits from its three amusement parks including Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and Wild Adventures, in addition to water parks, aquariums, adventure tours, dinner shows, lodging, and the Harlem Globetrotters. While Moody’s expects all of its businesses to be significantly impacted in the near term by the pandemic, the different businesses reduce risks relative to companies with less diversified entertainment offerings. Herschend’s attractions are also largely located in warmer climates or indoors which slightly reduces seasonality and offers a longer operating season. Recent expenditures on park expansions will likely support performance after the impact of COVID-19 subsides and lessen the need for capital expenditures in the near future. Herschend’s ownership of significant amounts of land provide the opportunity for future expansion or are a potential source of liquidity.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak, deteriorating global economic outlook, low oil prices, and high asset price volatility have created an unprecedented credit shock across a range of sectors and regions. Moody’s regards the coronavirus outbreak as a social risk under our ESG framework, given the substantial implications for public health and safety. The credit profile reflects the impact on Herschend of the deterioration in credit quality the pandemic has triggered, given the company’s exposure to consumer entertainment. This has left the company vulnerable to shifts in market demand and sentiment in these unprecedented operating conditions.
A governance impact that Moody’s considers is the expectation of a relatively moderate financial policy focused on debt reduction over time. Moody’s expects minimal distributions in the near term, but as performance improves, there may be additional distributions to the parent company to support modest amounts of family owned debt at the parent company or distributions to equity holders. Herschend is a private company owned by members of the Herschend family.
The stable outlook includes Moody’s expectation of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak which will limit Herschend’s ability to operate its amusement parks and parts of its other entertainment offerings on a normal operating basis. The uncertainty over the depth and duration of the pandemic and the impact on the economy will continue to pressure the company’s liquidity position and lead to materially higher leverage levels in 2020. A weak economic environment and the need for consumers to maintain social distancing will continue to hamper performance until the pandemic subsides, but Moody’s expects leverage to decline and that Herschend will have good interest coverage by the end of 2021.
Moody’s expects Herschend to maintain adequate liquidity in the near term supported by approximately $151 million of cash, but the company will not have access to a revolving credit facility at closing. Moody’s expects liquidity will deteriorate during the rest of 2020 from negative free cash flow, but remain adequate through 2021 even if the parks and other attractions are unable to operate as planned for an extended period. Herschend spent additional capex in 2019 to expand one of the amusement parks and offer new rides and attractions, but Moody’s projects the company will be focused on managing liquidity and will reduce capex spending materially in the near term. The recent capital expenditures at the parks, reduce the need for spending in the near term and will support attendance after the impact of the pandemic abates. The parks and other entertainment assets are divisible and could be sold individually, but all of the company’s assets are pledged to the credit facility (except for joint ventures such as Dollywood) and asset sales trigger 100% mandatory repayment if proceeds are not reinvested within 12 months. The term loan is expected to be covenant lite.
As proposed, the new credit facility is expected to provide flexibility that if utilized could negatively impact creditors including: (i) the proposed terms provide Herschend the ability to issue incremental first lien debt equal to the greater of $75 million and 50% of Consolidated EBITDA (as defined by the credit agreement), plus a $25 million Incremental Revolving Facility. The credit agreement also allows an unlimited amount of additional secured debt if the First Lien Net Leverage Ratio (including a $50 million cap on cash netting) would not exceed 3.4x pro forma for an acquisition, (ii) the potential for subsidiary guarantees to be released if subsidiaries cease to be wholly-owned. Transfers of assets to unrestricted subsidiaries are permitted as long as there is not an event of default and the Borrowers are able to incur at least $1 of additional debt under the Total Net Leverage Ratio test.
FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS
A ratings upgrade is unlikely as long as the coronavirus outbreak limits the ability to operate Herschend parks and other attractions as normal. An upgrade could occur if the parks were operated as scheduled without an ongoing impact from the pandemic and Moody’s expected leverage to be sustained under 5.5x with positive revenue and EBITDA growth as well as an adequate liquidity profile with free cash flow as a percentage of debt in the mid single percentages.
The ratings could be downgraded due to ongoing cash usage or poor operating performance that led to an elevated risk of default. Leverage sustained above 7.5x, or an EBITDA minus capex to interest ratio below 1x could also lead to a downgrade.
Herschend Entertainment Company, LLC (the lead borrower), and co-borrowers Herschend Adventure Holdings, LLC, and Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. operate a portfolio of consumer entertainment attraction including three amusement parks, three waterparks, two aquariums, adventure tours (including Pink Jeep), dinner shows, lodging, and the Harlem Globetrotters. Herschend is a privately owned company by members of the Herschend family. Herschend’s revenue was over $500 million as of LTM Q1 2020.
The principal methodology used in these ratings was Business and Consumer Service Industry published in October 2016 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1037985. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
For further specification of Moody’s key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody’s Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.
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13 Horror Movies Perfect for Halloween Coming Out This Fall
Many people out there might be sad to see Summer come to an end and the weather drop as Fall sets in. For others, however, it is a different story. Horror fans around the world tend to rejoice as we enter the Halloween season and what is typically the busiest time of year for horror movie releases and 2021 looks to be no different. From new additions to classic franchises to insanely unique and quirky new offerings, put out your Jack-o’-lanterns, grab your candy and check out the 13 best horror movies set to be released this Fall.
Horror movies are coming out in October 2021
Bad Candy – September 2021
Bad Candy is written and directed by Scott B. Hansen and Desiree Connell and stars cult favourites Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame and Corey Taylor from the masked heavy metal band Slipknot. As an anthology based film, the movie will tell a number of separate spooky stories based on a Halloween theme in the vein of 2007’s holiday favourite Trick ‘r Treat directed by Michael Dougherty. Bad Candy follows local Halloween stories based on both myths and lessons learned in the community of New Salem. With its annual Psychotronic FM Halloween show, re-enactment radio DJs Chilly Billy (Taylor) and Paul (Galligan) weave the tales of the supernatural of years gone by, and if the trailer is anything to go by, this is certainly not a movie for the faint of heart. In the Corey Taylor narrated trailer, which lasts just under two minutes, our senses are bombarded with an assortment of evil imagery including zombies, blood splattered walls, an evil clown and some sort of horned demon creature that looks to be straight from the deepest depths of hell.
- Bad Candy
- Release date: September 10
- Format: September 10 (VOD), September 28 2021 (Blu-Ray)
Addams Family 2 – October 1, 2021
Following the, somewhat surprising, success of 2019’s Addams Family animated reboot, it was quickly announced that a follow up would be going into development. This time, it looks like they’re going with something a little different. We’re going to be following the whole family on a road trip around the United States. Morticia and Gomez have become distraught that their children are growing up, skipping family dinners and slipping away from them, so they organise the trip in an attempt to bring the family together for one last family vacation. While not the scariest entry on this list, expect lots of pitch black comedy and supernatural hijinks a plenty in this star studded affair featuring the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, Javon Walton, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, and Bill Hader.
There’s Someone Inside Your House – October 6, 2021
Netflix have certainly upped the chill factor this year with their horror release slate. There’s Someone Inside Your House might not be among the most talked about Netflix releases this year but it certainly seems to be one of the most horrifying. Based on the 2017 Stephanie Perkins novel of the same name, the film follows Makani Young, who has moved from Hawaii to a remote town in Nebraska to live with her grandmother and finish high school. If that’s not stressful enough, students at said high school are, one by one, being stalked and gruesomely murdered. To top it off, the killer is committing these murders whilst wearing ultra realistic masks of the victims. It definitely sounds like a must watch for all the ‘die’ hard slasher fans out there.
Muppets Haunted Mansion – October 8, 2021
Okay, so this isn’t technically a movie, it’s more of a special but I couldn’t leave it off the list because… well, it’s the Muppets! Earlier this year, Disney announced that ‘The Great Gonzo – world famous daredevil artiste’ who ‘has done it all, seen it all, and survived it all’ will be taking on the greatest challenge of his life this Halloween night by spending one very daring night in the most grim grinning place on Earth …The Haunted Mansion. Inspired by the iconic Disney Haunted Mansion theme park attractions, expect a whole plethora of puppet paranoia from all of your favorite muppets as well as a slew of celebrity cameos and three new original songs, ‘Rest In Peace’, ‘Life Hereafter’ and ‘Tie The Knot Tango’.
Lamb – October 8, 2021
This little Icelandic flick looks as if it’s definitely going to sit on the more left field side of the horror spectrum. Being distributed in the US by A24, a company that has never shied away from unique and offbeat horrors, the movie is about a couple who, upon coming across an abandoned baby on their farm, decide to take it home and raise it as their own. The twist? The baby appears to be some sort of mutant human-lamb hybrid creature. Other than that, not much else is known about the plot but it’s sure to be one hell of a ride. This supernatural horror stars Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason and marks the feature-length directorial debut of Valdimar Jóhannsson, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Sjón.
- Release date: October 8, 2021
- Format: In theaters
Halloween Kills – October 15, 2021
What better way to kick this list off than with the latest sequel to the granddaddy of all Halloween horrors. Halloween Kills is a direct sequel to 2018’s box office hit Halloween which itself was a direct sequel to the 1978 classic of the same name. Jamie Lee Curtis will once again be back reprising her role, playing the totally badass protagonist Laurie Strode facing off against notorious masked mad man Michael Myers, one the world’s most iconic villains. Director/co-writer David Gordon Green will again be helming the project which precedes next year’s Halloween Ends, which is reportedly the final installment in this trilogy. Halloween Kills is expected to will pick up immediately after the previous movie left off with Laurie, her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson.
- Halloween Kills
- Release date: October 15, 2021
- Format: In theaters, streaming on Peacock the same day.
Antlers – October 29, 2021
Partly due to the many Covid related delays it has gone through and partly due to the nail-biting trailers that have been released so far, the Guillmero del Toro produced Antlers is definitely one of most anticipated horrors of the year. Guilmero de Toro is never one to stick to the beaten path and judging by what we know so far, Antlers promises something absolutely deranged. Based on the short story ‘The Quiet Boy’ written by Nick Antosca, it follows a school teacher and her police officer brother in a small Oregon town where they become convinced one of her students is harboring a man eating supernatural creature. The film stars Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, and Amy Madigan and is directed by Scott Cooper (Black Mass (2015) and Hostiles (2017).
- Release date: October 29, 2021
- Format: In theaters
Last Night In Soho – October 29, 2021
Renowned director Edgar Wright is known to have flirted with horror genre frequently throughout his career, most notably with the terrifyingly funny Cornetto trilogy (made up of Shaun Of The Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013)). Last Night in Soho, however, marks Wright’s first foray into pure horror. The time-bending thriller stars Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise Turner, a young woman with a passion for fashion design. Somehow Eloise finds herself inhabiting the body of an iconic club performer named Sadie and is now living back in 1966 London. While as Sadie, she pursues a romantic relationship with a man named Jack, played by Matt Smith. She soon realizes, however, that Sadie’s life in the Swinging Sixties is not as glamorous as it appears to be and both past and present begin to fall apart with horrifying consequences.
Shepherd – November 5, 2021
Shot in ‘one of the most beautiful, remote and less filmed parts of Britain’, there seems to be a certain mystique surrounding the Russel Owens directed Shepherds. The plot centers on a man who, dealing with the grief following the mysterious death of his wife, takes a job as a shepherd in the remote UK countryside. While out there, he encounters a malevolent supernatural force. Soon his rural retreat becomes a heart pounding race to save his sanity and his life. Owens has been quoted as saying that the movie “allows its audience to decide for themselves the motivations behind (and the fate of) its protagonist by not giving its true foundations away,” only adding to the mystique. Bring on November.
- Release date: November 5, 2021
- Format: In theaters
Ghostbusters Afterlife – November 11, 2021
After the mixed reactions and poor box office performance of the 2015 Ghostbusters reboot, fans of the series have been clamoring for some sort of redemption and it looks like that might be arriving this fall in the shape of the highly anticipated Ghostbusters Afterlife. The film certainly ticks a lot of boxes; it is a sequel to the original films set thirty years after and is directed by Jason Reitman – son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. It even sees Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts reprising their roles from the original films, joining newcomers Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Paul Rudd. The plot is reported to revolve around a supernatural phenomena somehow connected to those seen in the original movie. This time round, though, it’s up to the original ghostbuster’s grandkids, along with their family and friends, to solve the mystery of their grandfather’s relocation and use the Ghostbusters’ equipment and, become their successors.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City – November 24, 2021
After an impressive six movie run starring Milla Jovovich, starting from 2002’s Resident Evil and finishing with 2016’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Sony Pictures have now rebooted the video game come horror movie sensation. The zombie survival flick stars Robbie Amell, Kaya Scodelario, Tom Hopper and Neal McDonough and has been directed by Johannes Roberts. The film is reportedly set in the abandoned wasteland of Racoon City. A group of survivors seeking the dark truths and secrets surrounding the town and the ‘Umbrella Corporation’ will have to make it through the night without being eliminated by an unspeakable evil that has been unleashed from below the surface.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – TBA, 2021
The new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie is going to be a reboot in the same vein as the 2018 Halloween movie in that it will be rebooted in the form of a direct sequel to original 70’s classic, whilst ignoring the numerous sequels, spin-offs and reboots that have come in between. The movie will be directed by David Blue Garcia from a screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin from a story that Don’t Breathe’s Fede Álvarez was involved in. While the exact date has yet to be announced, we do know that it is set to come out this year and fans of the original will be glad to hear that, like the first, it will be R-rated and the monstrous Leatherface will be definitely be rearing his (or his victims’?) ugly head once again.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Release date: TBA, 2021
- Format: Streaming on Netflix
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn – TBA, 2021
The Jeepers Creepers franchise has become somewhat of a cult sensation amongst horror fans, so it’s hardly surprising that it is amongst the horror franchises making a return this year. Currently in post-production, Jeepers Creepers: Reborn is set to be the beginning of a new trilogy for the franchise and follows a woman named Laine and her boyfriend as they attend a creepy horror attraction event. Laine begins to experience disturbing visions associated with the town’s troubled past and the notorious ‘Creeper’. Naturally, we expect the horror event to descend into blood soaked carnage. Exact information regarding the film’s release is still scarce but we know that it should be released by Screen Media Films later this year.
‘Bachelor in Paradise’ returns with new hosts, ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ gather on Hulu, Hugh Jackman has a ‘Reminiscence’ machine and the best in pop culture the week of Aug. 16, 2021
The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. Here are our picks for Aug. 16-22, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)
WATCH IT: Bachelor in Paradise returns with some familiar faces — and new hosts
It’s been two years since our favorite castoffs looked for love in Mexico, but after a pandemic-filled hiatus, BIP is back. ABC is flipping the Bachelor in Paradise format on its head after the departure of the franchise’s longtime host, Chris Harrison, with the introduction of a rotating schedule of hosts including Lance Bass, Tituss Burgess, Lil Jon and David Spade for the upcoming season. The Aug. 16 premiere will also mark the show’s postpandemic debut and feature castmates from various seasons past who continue to look for love. Season 7 features a lot of men from Katie Thurston and Clare Crawley-Tayshia Adams’s seasons of The Bachelorette, while many of the women previously competed for Matt James’s and Peter Weber’s hearts. There are some old fan-favorites (Becca Kufrin! Grocery Store Joe!) returning, too. And similar to seasons past, the show will have no shortage of drama, including a disruption from producers who are seen announcing, “It’s no longer safe for you guys to stay in Paradise,” in the show’s trailer. — Kerry Justich and Taryn Ryder
Bachelor in Paradise premieres Monday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
WATCH IT: The Smartest Kids in the World puts the U.S. school system under the microscope
Even before the coronavirus pandemic changed the face of American education, students were already facing immense challenges within the current system. Journalist Amanda Ripley addressed some of those challenges in her 2014 book, The Smartest Kids in the World, which serves as the launching point for Tracy Droz Tragos’s absorbing new documentary of the same name. Filmed before the pandemic and premiering Aug. 19 on the Discovery+ streaming service, the film profiles four high school students who travel overseas to countries like Finland and South Korea to find the kind of educational opportunities that are missing at home. This exclusive clip from the film profiles 16-year-old Sadie, who finds herself adrift and alone in her public high school in Maine. During the course of the film, she spends a year abroad in Switzerland, and discovers there’s a better way for her to go to school. — Ethan Alter
The Smartest Kids in the World premieres Aug. 19 on Discovery+.
WATCH IT: Nick Broomfield revisits Biggie and Tupac murders with Last Man Standing
In 2002, British provocateur Nick Broomfield released Biggie and Tupac, an unsettling, eye-opening deep dive into the murders of the revered hip-hop icons. Nearly 20 years later, Broomfield is back with what equates to a documentary sequel, Last Man Standing. The impetus? With Death Row Records chief Suge Knight — who’s long been whispered to be connected to Biggie’s death but never implicated — now behind bars for a long time, a lot more people are willing to talk about Knight’s alleged role in it all. Broomfield shifts the focus to Knight for Part 2, and it’s another whopper of a doc. Check out an exclusive clip from the film above. — Kevin Polowy
Last Man Standing opens in theaters and on-demand Aug. 20.
WATCH IT: You’ll feel the heat of the California wildfires in Lucy Walker’s documentary, Bring Your Own Brigade
Released in the midst of California’s wildfire season, Bring Your Own Brigade chronicles how the nation’s most populous state got to this increasingly perilous present moment — and what can be done to address it. Director Lucy Walker speaks with the survivors of the deadly 2018 fires that devastated multiple California communities, as well as the men and women who are combating the flames on the ground or in the lab. The film also features searing on-the-ground footage of the wildfires swallowing up homes and forests, forcing residents to flee for their lives. In this exclusive clip, some of Walker’s subjects explain why climate change alone isn’t responsible for why California’s fires have gotten more destructive in recent years, and why that doesn’t make them “climate change deniers.” — E.A.
STREAM IT: Henry Golding draws crazy rich praise as Snake Eyes hits digital
G.I. Joe fans have been waiting for a Snake Eyes spin-off for years, and they finally got their wish with the July actioner released in theaters. While reviews for the film were mixed, there was one element almost everyone agreed was golden: Crazy Rich Asians breakout Henry Golding as the eponymous lone fighter recruited into the secretive Arashikage Clan. Check out an exclusive clip above of Golding breaking down his costume as Snake Eyes hits digital this week. — K.P.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins premieres on digital and on-demand Aug. 17.
WATCH IT: Get to know crusading Congresswoman Barbara Lee in the documentary Speaking Truth to Power
For 22 years and 12 terms, Congresswoman Barbara Lee has served California’s 13th district in the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently the highest-ranking Black woman in Congress. Abby Ginzberg’s new film, Speaking Truth to Power, puts Lee’s public service career in the spotlight, illustrating how she was inspired by leading Black political figures like Shirley Chisholm to enter the political realm. Lee made her mark early in her tenure when she gave an emotional speech explaining why she was voting against the authorization of military force following the 9/11 attacks — the only congressional representative to do so. As she recounts in the film, that choice earned her praise, as well as death threats. This exclusive clip features political commentator Van Jones and Sen. Cory Booker sharing their thoughts about why Lee’s voice in Congress matters more than ever. — E.A.
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power premieres Aug. 20 in theaters and on VOD services, including Prime Video.
WATCH IT: The surrealistic animated thriller, Cryptozoo, is like X-Men meets Jurassic Park
After its award-winning premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Dash Shaw’s wildly inventive, fantastically surreal and definitely R-rated carton feature, Cryptozoo, is finally available to the general public. Destined to be a future midnight movie favorite, the hand-drawn film combines X-Men, Jurassic Park and The Last Unicorn into a wild ride. Lake Bell heads up an all-star vocal cast as Lauren, a dedicated seeker of “cryptids” — mythical and magical creatures that society at large either ignores or exploits. Although she hopes to keep these beings safe at the titular refuge, the outside world has other, more violent plans. This exclusive clip from the film shows off Shaw’s beautifully stylized animation, and the “human vs. cryptid” action that could give Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs a run for their money. —E.A.
Cryptozoo premieres Aug. 20 in theaters and on most VOD services; visit Fandango for showtime and ticket information.
WATCH IT: The mother-daughter drama, Confetti, provides an emotional immigrant story
Following the critical and commercial success of last year’s Oscar-winning Minari, Hollywood’s door is open for more films about the Asian American immigrant experience. Enter Confetti, which stars Cloud Atlas star Zhu Zhu as Chen Lan, a young mother who brings her dyslexic daughter Meimei (Harmonie He) to New York City in search of a school that can help her. Moving in with a wheelchair-using author named Helen (Amy Irving), the two find themselves caught between underfunded, overpopulated public schools and private institutions that come with a huge price tag. Meanwhile, Chen Lan fights to hide her own learning disabilities at the expense of her mental and emotional health. This exclusive clip finds Chen Lan and Helen escorting Meimei to the neighborhood school, where they immediately realize that getting the help she needs will be a bigger challenge than expected. — E.A.
Confetti premieres Aug. 20 in theaters; visit Fandango for showtime and ticket information
STREAM IT: Hulu’s star-studded Nine Perfect Strangers puts mystery into healing
Can’t get enough of HBO’s The White Lotus? Hulu’s got you covered. The similarly sharp and entertaining comedic drama Nine Perfect Strangers follows that many privileged if tortured or broken souls to a ritzy health and wellness retreat where they face off against Nicole Kidman’s enigmatic Russian guru. Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Bobby Cannavale, Samara Weaving, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans and Tiffany Boone help round out a stellar cast. – K.P.
Nine Perfect Strangers premieres Aug. 18 on Hulu.
HEAR IT: Yo! The Smithsonian raps
America’s most popular musical genre finally gets the Smithsonian package treatment it deserves, as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings team up for the nine-disc, 129-track, four-decade-spanning boxed set Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap. The ambitious project, part of the Smithsonian African American Legacy Series, ranges from the influential work of early innovators like the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa to current superstar MCs like Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Drake, and it comes with a 300-page coffee table book. To quote Boogie Down Productions, you must learn and pick up this box. – Lyndsey Parker
Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap is available Friday, Aug. 20 to purchase on Amazon.
WATCH IT: Kevin Bacon is the cherry on top of Ben & Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones
Ice cream lovers will want to indulge in their favorite pint of Ben and Jerry’s — or at least their current fave — during the four episodes of this new Food Network show, which features six ice cream makers from all over the country competing to create an original flavor for the delightfully hippie brand. (You know, your future favorite!) On each installment, the contestants will work at the brand’s ice cream lab in Waterbury, Vt., to “capture the essence of a celebrity or pop culture icon in a new and innovative ice cream flavor,” with the directions coming from the celebrity themselves. First up is ubiquitous actor Kevin Bacon, who challenges the chefs to craft a flavor with, yes, “6 degrees of ingredients.” Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and two of Food Network’s own stars, pastry chef Duff Goldman and baker Buddy Valastro, will serve as celeb inspirations on later episodes. — Raechal Shewfelt
Ben & Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones premieres Monday, Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. on Food Network; it’s available to stream on Discovery the same day.
HEAR IT: Lorde shines brighter than ever
After a more than four-year hiatus, Ella Yelich-O’Connor is finally back with her third album, Solar Power. Although the album does reunite her with frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, the New Zealand singer-songwriter seems to have abandoned the goth-pop moodiness of her previous efforts — Pure Heroine and the Antonoff-produced Album of the Year Grammy nominee Melodrama— for feel-good beachy vibes, judging by the winsome “Stoned at the Nail Salon,” the sunshine-soaked title track and that famously internet-breaking album art. — L.P.
Solar Powerby Lorde is available Friday, Aug. 20 to download/stream on Apple Music.
BUY IT: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth celebrates 35th anniversary with 4K release
If you were a ’70s or ’80s baby, chances are your childhood included being enchanted by Labyrinth, the Jim Henson-directed, George Lucas-produced fantasy classic starring a young Jennifer Connelly, rock god David Bowie, and a colorful ensemble of puppet creations. The film now gets a 4K UHD upgrade in honor of its 35th anniversary, with an exciting cache of new special features including over 25 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes and screen tests for teen heroine Sarah that include Molly Ringwald and Growing Pains star Tracey Gold. — K.P.
Labyrinth releases on 4K UHD Aug. 17. Buy it on Amazon.
HEAR IT: You just can’t shake Debbie Gibson’s love
Before Taylor Swift or Billie Eilish, there was Debbie Gibson — who still holds the Guinness World Record as the youngest female artist to ever write produce and perform a Billboard No. 1 single (a feat she accomplished in 1987, at age 17). Now she’s back with her 10th album, The Body Remembers, her first studio release with original songs since 2001. But there’s one flashback track, a duet remake of her 1989 hit ballad “Lost in Your Eyes,” which features her peer Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block. Electric youth springs eternal! — L.P.
The Body Remembers by Debbie Gibson is available Friday, Aug. 20 to download/stream on Apple Music.
WATCH IT: Hugh Jackman has a memory machine in sci-fi thriller Reminiscence
Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy makes her feature film directorial debut with this clever blend of throwback film noir and futuristic sci-fi set in a post-apocalyptic Miami submerged in water. Hugh Jackman stars as a veteran of a seismic global war who now oversees a machine allowing weary residents to escape the darkness of their modern-day life by reliving happy memories — that is until his world is turned upside down by the arrival of Rebecca Ferguson’s femme fatale. Come for Jackman getting his Philip Marlowe on, stay for Joy’s striking visuals. — K.P.
Reminiscence opens Aug. 20 in theaters and on HBO Max. Get tickets on Fandango.
HEAR IT: Wanda Jackson throws one last party
The 83-years-young original queen of rockabilly announced her retirement in 2019, but she’s not quite done yet. Her final (and 32nd!) studio album, Encore, features fellow badasses like Elle King, Angaleena Presley, Candi Carpenter, Lori McKenna, and — as both a duet partner and producer — even the almighty Joan Jett. Jett’s imprint label, Blackheart Records, is also co-releasing Encore with Big Machine Records. The album is a fitting last hurrah for a legend like Jackson, whose trailblazing career began in 1954 when she was only 16 years old. — L.P.
Encore by Wanda Jackson is available Friday, Aug. 20 to download/stream on Apple Music.
—Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee
Suicide Squad, Vivo, and 8 new movies you can now watch on Netflix and at home
This weekend the standalone follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad — The Suicide Squad — releases in theaters. If you don’t feel like going on to see it, you’re in luck; the film is also available to stream on HBO Max, along with a ton of our great films on video on demand. We’ve got Michael Sarnoski’s Pig starring Nicolas Cage, the animated musical comedy Vivo starring Lin-Manuel Miranda on Netflix, the Val Kilmer Documentary Val on Amazon Prime Video, along with several other new releases.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch on video on demand and streaming this weekend.
The Suicide Squad
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad features returning stars Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), Viola Davis (Widows), and Jai Courtney (Terminator Genisys) joined by series newcomers Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), John Cena (F9: the Fast Saga), David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), and a whole bunch of others. Set an indeterminate amount of time after the previous movie, the new Suicide Squad finds itself dispatched to the South American island of Corto Maltese on a covert mission to ensure national security to shave a few years off their prison sentences. A giant starfish may say otherwise. From our review,
Comparing The Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit hard to avoid, especially since Gunn has such a well-defined sensibility that has now been applied to make unlikely crowd-pleasers across two mega-franchises at competing studios. Mostly, as above, the comparison is favorable — but other times it isn’t. The Suicide Squad is at its best when it’s doing things that Marvel Studios will not: R-rated action comedy, setpieces that prioritize performers over computer effects, and a story that isn’t afraid to gesture at real-world geopolitical conflict. It’s at its weakest when it embraces a Marvel-style ending, filing away its rough edges to deliver a sentimental finish that leaves the status quo more or less intact for potential future projects.
Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
Nicolas Cage (Mandy) stars in Michael Sarnoski’s revenge drama Pig as Rob, a former chef-turned-reclusive truffle forager living deep in the forests of Oregon with his prize hog. When Rob is assaulted and his pig is stolen, he’ll have to embark on tense journey back to his past stomping grounds in order to retrieve. Though the casting of Cage alone and the premise alone may lead one to suspect that this is just the latest in a long string of John Wick riffs, the film turns out to be anything but. Based on our pals at Vulture’s review, Pig is a tense, soulful, drama following a man as he parses through the regrets of his past and cuts anyone standing in his way down to the bone with nothing save a word.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Hamilton producer Lin-Manuel Miranda stars in Sony Pictures Animation’s comedy Vivo as a lovable, music-obsessed kinkajou who forms a bond with the elderly Andrés. When tragedy befalls the duo, Vivo embarks on a quest to deliver a message to Andrés’ former partner Marta Sandoval; a love letter written to her in the form of a song. Features gorgeous settings and several new songs written by Miranda himself, Vivo looks like it’ll be a sincere feel-good time. From our review:
Miranda’s songwriting skills are still stellar, but the best part of Vivo happens when the music and animation work in tandem to elevate the story, playing with the visual style to highlight the music, so it all meshes together in a beautiful symphony. Andrés sings about his memories with Marta, and the movie shifts into a retro concert-poster style, with bright blocks of color and soft edges. When Gabi sings an anthem to being unapologetically weird, it becomes a neon techscape. These moments are transcendent, a testament to both the strength of the music and the creativity of the animation production design.
John and the Hole
Where to watch: In select theaters and available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video; $6.99 on Apple, Vudu
Based on a short story by Birdman screenwriter Nicolás Giacobone, Pascual Sisto’s American psychological thriller John and the Hole stars Charlie Shotwell as a 13-year-old who traps his family in a mysterious hole buried near his home. The film co-stars Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) as John’s parents Brad and Anna, as well as Taissa Farmiga (The Final Girls) as John’s older sister Laurie. From our review,
John and the Hole doesn’t hit like Lanthimos’ surrealist larks or Lynne Ramsay’s portrait of a school killer, We Need to Talk About Kevin, but it does ask provocative questions about modern children and their modern parents. (I guess what I’m saying is that it’s the good version of Modern Family.) Risks emerge as society becomes more attuned to the complexity of young people, and respects them as more adult than previous generations. Kids are still kids, and not every young person is on the same developmental track. Money, privilege, and personal philosophy all challenge the evolving norms. Why would a kid push their parents into a hole? Why wouldn’t they? Few movies ask the question, to be honest.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
Featuring behind-the-scenes footage spanning Val Kilmer’s entire life shot by the actor himself, Leo Scott and Ting Poo’s documentary Val centers on the daily life of the actor through the trials and triumphs of his professional career, his personal life, his struggles with cancer, and his dedication to the craft of acting and storytelling. Val looks like it’ll shape up to be an exceptional and unique documentary of one of the most iconic screen presences of the late 20th century.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
F9: The Fast Saga
Where to watch: In theaters and available to rent for $19.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
F is for family that does stuff together! In F9: The Fast Saga, the (supposedly) penultimate chapter in the long-running Fast and Furious franchise, that “stuff” involves Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his ride-or-die crew of civilian stunt drivers turned clandestine super-spies being pitted in a race (pun intended) against time to stop a devastating super-weapon from falling into the wrong hands. Things get even more complicated when Dom’s estranged brother Jakob (John Cena) shows up to throw a wrench in the works, pitting the two Toretto siblings in a deadly battle of wills as they hash out their baggage. Oh yeah, Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) go to space in this one. From our review,
F9 counteracts any character development by devoting a grating amount of time to meta-commentary on its own ridiculousness. On this lap of the franchise, Roman confronts the existential nature of the family’s inability to be harmed. How do they never get shot? How do they survive every car crash? Have they been chosen? If these were the incoherent mutterings of a man in constant action, it might be the perfect seriousness-deflating banter to cap any given action set-piece. But there are entire dialogue-driven scenes unpacking the possible supernatural forces at work in the Fast franchise. If the asides are setup for the series’ eventual crossover with Diesel’s Last Witch Hunter universe (c’mon, it’s good!), then the film isn’t taking the magical element seriously enough. If it’s just comic relief, it’s padding that falls flat — but not as flat as the five-minute gag about which Star Wars character Charlize Theron’s villain Cipher would be, the moment F9 goes full cringe.
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on Disney Plus Premier
Choo choo, all aboard the Jungle Cruise! The latest effort in Disney’s ongoing effort to spin every one of its notable theme-park rides into a sustainable theatrical franchise, Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank “Skipper” Wolff, a riverboat captain hired to transport Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) into the heart of the exotic jungle in search of the Tree of Life. It’s not exactly Fitzcarraldo or The Lost City of Z, but it does have zombie snake-men and CG-animated leopards, plus Jesse Plemons as a German aristocrat in a submarine. From our review,
Jungle Cruise is beholden not just to the antiquated tropes of archaeological adventure movies, but also the ride’s own problematic legacy. To their credit, the filmmakers do their best to subvert that legacy. The choice to have the coveted treasure be part of the natural world, instead of the ruins of an ancient civilization already helps. But the best adaptation is that the indigenous people of the jungle are civilized, and they’re Frank’s buddies — they only attack the tourists because they have an agreement where he pays them to scare the travelers for extra thrills. The leader of the tribe — the infamous Trader Sam, originally an outdated park character — is a woman in the movie. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and is more of an Easter Egg than a woman of color with a story of her own, but at least the filmmakers are acknowledging the ride’s past and considering how to modernize their thinking.
Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video; $6.99 on Apple, Vudu
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An action-packed crime-thriller remake of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist that reimagines the rosy-cheeked orphan with a heart of gold as a wayward teenage graffiti artist with a gift for parkour. No? Well, that’s what Martin Owen’s Twist is, in a nutshell. Rafferty Law (Repo Men) stars as Oliver Twist opposite Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) as his criminal mentor Fagin, with Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) rounding out the principal cast as Twist’s nemesis Sikes. Admittedly, this whole premise sounds odd and seems more than likely to fall flat, but at least it’s unique.
Enemies of the State
Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video; $6.99 on Apple, Vudu
Matt DeHart, an Air National Guard veteran turned whistleblower, working with the online hacktivist group Anonymous, fled to Canada in 2013, alleging that he had inadvertently stumbled across information so sensitive that the FBI wanted him detained … or worse. The FBI paints a different story, alleging that DeHart was an online child predator and that he sought asylum to evade the consequences. Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary Enemies of the State delves into the labyrinthine drama implicating DeHart and his family, poring through reams of legal documents and interviewing agents and suspects connected to the case in order to unravel the truth and its possible implications.
Ride the Eagle
Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Vudu
Jake Johnson (New Girl, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse) stars in Trent O’Donnell’s Ride the Eagle as Leif, a pot-smoking conga-band drummer who leaves his life in the city to move out to a picturesque cabin in Northern California bequeathed to him by his estranged mother Honey (Susan Sarandon). Before he can actually move in, however, he’ll have to complete a to-do list left behind by his mom as a part of his conditional inheritance. So it’s like the 12 labors of Hercules, only instead of a quest to become a god, it’s about transferring real estate and growing into an emotionally mature, self-sufficient adult. Also, it’s a comedy!
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