Joker Movie Described As A “Cinematic Achievement On A High Level”

One of 2019’s most anticipated movies is Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. The movie opens widely in October, but it’s premiering at the Venice Film Festival this month and the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Cameron Bailey, the co-head and artistic director for the Toronto festival, has seen Joker and he was blown away.

Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Bailey said the movie is “terrific” and it is deserving of screening on the festival’s biggest stage. He said the story, which strays from the comic book source material, is “really original,” while the cinematography was spoken highly of as well.

“First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular,” Bailey said. “It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.”

“But it has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then,” he added. “It’s gritty in its look. It has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition.”

Phoenix , a three-time Oscar nominee, plays Arthur Fleck / The Joker in the upcoming film. The movie also stars Robert de Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy.

Director Todd Phillips, who previously directed The Hangover and Old School comedies, said in an interview that the new Joker movie doesn’t follow “anything” from the comic books.

“We didn’t follow anything from the comic books, which people are gonna be mad about,” Phillips, said. “We just wrote our own version of where a guy like Joker might come from. That’s what was interesting to me. We’re not even doing Joker, but the story of becoming Joker. It’s about this man.”

Dev Receives Thousands Of “Hateful, Threatening” Messages Over Epic Exclusivity Deal

The indie developers behind the farming and creature-collecting game Ooblets recently announced an exclusivity deal with Epic to launch the title as a timed exclusive for the Epic Games Store. Developer Glumberland’s two developers–Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasse–received an enormous amount of “hateful, threatening” messages over the deal.

Writing on Patreon (via GI.biz), the developers spoke about the awful messages they have received after announcing their partnership with Epic.

“We really misjudged how angry so many people would be. This whole thing has just devastated us. We’ve been getting thousands if not tens of thousands of hateful, threatening messages across every possible platform nonstop. It’s especially hurtful since we’ve had such a positive, supportive relationship with our audience throughout development.”

The statement goes on: “I have been crying nonstop for the last two days and feeling like the world has collapsed around me. I couldn’t have guessed the scale of what it would feel like to be the target of an internet hate mob. I already had a lot of empathy for other targets of previous hate mobs, which is why we wanted to address that sort of thinking in our announcement, but I had no idea it was this bad.”

In a post on its own website, Epic said the news surrounding Ooblets “highlighted a disturbing trend which is growing and undermining healthy public discourse, and that’s the coordinated and deliberate creation and promotion of false information, including fake screenshots, videos, and technical analysis, accompanied by harassment of partners, promotion of hateful themes, and intimidation of those with opposing views.”

The company said it is pursuing exclusives so aggressively because it believes, in the end, it will lead to a “healthier and more competitive multi-store world for the future.”

The Epic Games Store pays developers an 88% cut of revenue, with Epic taking 12% as the store owner. This is far friendlier than the current average industry split on stores like Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation where the developer/publisher gets 70 percent and the store-owner keeps 30.

Epic said it remains “fully committed” to its plans for the Epic Games Store even amidst “these challenges” as it relates to controversy about exclusives.

“Many thanks to all of you that continue to promote and advocate for healthy, truthful discussion about the games business and stand up to all manners of abuse,” Epic said.

Ooblets was originally going to be published by Double Fine. However, after Microsoft acquired Double Fine, Glumberland announced that it would self-publish, before later confirming a deal with Epic to help fund the game in exchange for releasing it on the Epic Games Store.

In a blog post, Glumberland stated that signing with Epic was a “big decision” the studio didn’t take lightly. “[Epic] offered us a minimum guarantee on sales that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,” Glumberland wrote. “That takes a huge burden of uncertainty off of us because now we know that no matter what, the game won’t fail.”

The financial security, according to Glumberland, gives the studio peace of mind, allowing the small team to “focus on making the game without worrying about keeping the lights on [and] afford more help and resources to start ramping up production and doing some cooler things.”

The studio anticipated blowback about the partnership with Epic, and asked its fans to “look at the things going on and ask if there might be anything just a tad more worthwhile to be upset about” like human rights abuses and climate change.

One of the next major Epic Games Store exclusives is Borderlands 3. The game launches in September and will remain exclusive to the store until April 2020. The PS4 and Xbox One versions will release normally.

NBA 2K19’s Microtransactions Are Incredibly Popular, Despite Controversy

Upon release in September 2018, NBA 2K19 was heralded by critics and fans alike as an excellent professional basketball sim with a microtransaction problem. Despite the controversy surrounding the game’s microtransactions, NBA 2K19 is the biggest sports game success in 2K’s history.

During an earnings call today, 2K owner Take-Two said NBA 2K19 has now shipped 12 million copies; that makes it 2K’s most successful sports game in the company’s history.

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Not only did the game ship a record-breaking number of copies, but NBA 2K19’s microtransactions are proving to be incredibly popular. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said NBA 2K19’s “recurrent consumer spending” revenue, which includes microtransactions, was up 140 percent during the quarter ended June 30.

Zelnick said NBA 2K19 is seeing “extraordinary growth in average games played and daily active users.”

NBA 2K19’s microtransactions come in the form of Virtual Currency (VC) that 2K sells in various allotments and corresponding price points from $2 USD to $100 USD. Players can spend the VC to upgrade their custom-created character and buy card packs to fill out their fantasy team.

GameSpot’s review stated that “microtransactions loom over everything” in NBA 2K19. Numerous other reviews from critics and fans alike expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the way in which NBA 2K19 employs its microtransaction system.

Beyond microtransactions, 2K added seemingly unskippable pre-game ads to NBA 2K19 in another move that rubbed some fans the wrong way.

Despite all of the controversy surrounding NBA 2K19, the franchise is praised every year for its impressively faithful representation of the NBA experience with excellent controls and presentation and numerous modes to play.

In the earnings call, Take-Two boss Karl Slatoff said people enjoy the NBA 2K series because it is an “industry-leading” simulation game; players also enjoy the “lifestyle” elements of creating a character and progressing through the career mode, he said.

Zelnick, meanwhile, spoke about the evolution of how players connect with and experience 2K’s NBA games over the years. People are spending more time with NBA 2K games these days, and that in turn creates an opportunity for 2K to encourage players to spend more over time.

“I think six or seven years ago, basketball was a three-month experience. And now it’s a nine- or 10-month experience and we think it’s going to grow to be a full, one-year experience,” he said.

Slatoff added that the 2K League, which is an eSports organization dedicated to the NBA 2K series, has helped promote the NBA 2K video games and draw in new players. Additionally, the game’s mixture of modes and features has gone a long way to attracting and retaining players, he said.

“If they’re more engaged with the game, they’re going to spend more money ultimately,” Slatoff said. “There’s a lot of dry powder there. We’re still in the early beginnings of learning how to do this the best way.”

NBA 2K19’s recurrent consumer spending growth rate of 140% is far ahead of Take-Two’s overall growth rate for recurrent consumer spending. Total recurrent consumer spending revenue–comprising virtual currency, add-on content, and in-game purchases–jumped 31% during the latest quarter and made up 58% ($313.5 million) of Take-Two’s total GAAP net revenue for the period ($540.5 million).

NBA 2K19 was the single-largest contributor to Take-Two’s GAAP net revenue during the quarter; it performed even better than GTA Online and Red Dead Online, according to the company.

Take-Two also measures what it calls “net bookings,” which is the “net amount of products and services sold digitally or sold-in physically during the period, and includes licensing fees, merchandise, in-game advertising, strategy guides and publisher incentives.”

Net bookings from recurrent consumer spending for the three-month period ended June 30 jumped by 55% and made up 67% ($282.9 million) of Take-Two’s overall net bookings ($422.2 million. GTA Online was the biggest contributor to net bookings for the quarter, followed by the GTA V base game, and then NBA 2K19. In terms of digitally delivered net bookings, however, NBA 2K19 was No. 1

NBA 2K19 series producer Rob Jones told TrustedReviews that microtransactions are an “unfortunate reality of modern gaming.”

“Every game, at some point, in some way has currency and they’re trying to get additional revenue from each player that plays the game. You know, the question has to be when does it feel like it’s a straight money grab versus when does it feel like it’s value added, right?”

NBA 2K20 launches on September 20, and given how immensely popular microtransactions have been in NBA 2K19, you can expect them to return in some capacity in the new game. Overall, Take-Two has said it wants to put microtransaction opportunities in every game it makes.

It’s not just the NBA 2K series that is criticized for its use of microtransactions. EA’s stable of sports games, including Madden NFL, FIFA, and NHL, all feature controversial “Ultimate Team” modes that allow players to spend real money to build out fantasy teams. As with the NBA 2K series, Ultimate Team is big business for EA, which makes hundreds of millions annually from it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Hits New Sales Milestone, As More Online Content Promised

Rockstar’s open-world western Red Dead Redemption 2 has now shipped 25 million copies. Parent company Take-Two Interactive announced the new shipment figure during an earnings report.

The new shipment figure of 25 million counts copies shipped through June 30, and it’s up from the 24 million figure announced in May (copies shipped through April 31, 2019) and 23 million announced in February 2019 (copies shipped through December 31, 2018).

Red Dead Redemption 2 shipped 17 million copies right at launch back in October 2018.

All of these figures are for copies shipped to retailers and not necessarily sold through to consumers. However, sold-in stock is generally a good indication of how many copies a title has sold through to people.

Red Dead Redemption 2 also makes money from Red Dead Online’s microtransactions. During an earnings call, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said he is excited by the “continuing momentum” of Red Dead Online, though he did not share any specific numbers for player spending. Whatever the case, Zelnick said he expects Rockstar Online–comprising Red Dead Online and GTA Online–to set a new revenue record during the current fiscal year.

For both Red Dead Online and GTA Online, Zelnick teased that players can expect “much more” content to come in the future. Both games are regularly updated with all manner of new content, including multiplayer modes, items, and more. GTA Online recently introduced the Diamond Casino update, and this helped GTA Online enjoy its biggest day and biggest week ever.

Also in the report, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto V has now shipped more than 110 million copies, adding that it has been in the Top 10 sales charts in the US for five of the past six months in terms of combined physical and digital sales, according to NPD data.

The company also shared new sales updates and insights for its other popular franchises:

  • NBA 2K19 has now shipped nearly 12 million units; it’s already the 2K’s highest-selling sports game ever.
  • Civilization VI has now shipped more than 5.5 million copies; it is the fastest-selling entry in the Civilization series.
  • The Borderlands franchise has shipped 48 million copies; Borderlands 2 alone has shipped 22 million copies.
  • The post-launch DLC plan for Borderlands 3 will be announced and detailed at upcoming events such as Gamescom and PAX West.

Tekken 7 Reveals New DLC Characters, While Metal Gear’s Snake Is Teased At Event

Tonight during the Tekken World Tour 2019 Evo event, Bandai Namco announced new details about Tekken 7’s ongoing post-launch support. A brand-new character, Leroy Smith, is coming to the fighting game through its Season Pass 3. The character Zafina, who was first introduced in Tekken 6, is also in Season Pass 3.

Two more DLC characters, as well as a new game feature and a new stage will be added to Tekken 7 through the Season Pass 3 as well in between September 2019 and Spring 2020. However, no further details were shared during the presentation.

Bandai Namco did, however, share some light story details about Leroy:

“50 years ago, a young boy was caught up in a large-scale gang conflict in New York, losing his family and home,” reads a line from his description. “Missing for decades, he has finally returned to New York, now as a seasoned master of martial arts–and he’s out for revenge.”

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As for the mysterious upcoming DLC characters, one of them could be Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series. A brief teaser shown to those in attendance (see below) contained what might be a reference to the classic game character. The codec screen appeared, and it contained a line attributed to Snake: “That was some good ass Tekken.”

Commentators on the livestream referenced this tease and strongly suggested that they knew what it was about but wouldn’t share more details. Snake is already featured in Nintendo’s Smash Bros. fighting game series, most recently appearing in Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Tekken 6 Season Pass 3 launches in September for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Tekken 7, which was originally released on console and PC in 2017 (following its debut in Japanese arcades two years prior), has sold more than 4 million copies.

GameSpot’s Tekken 7 review scored the game an 8/10. “Tekken fans will find their next favorite game–one that’s the product of decade’s worth of refinement,” reviewer Peter Brown said. “And while some of this depth will be lost or out of reach for newcomers, there’s enough fun to be had outside of hardcore competition to keep players from all walks of gaming thoroughly entertained.”

Halo Infinite’s Xbox One Version Won’t Be “Second-Class,” Halo Boss Says

Halo Infinite is releasing in Holiday 2020 as a launch title for Microsoft’s new and more powerful next-generation console, Project Scarlett, as well as the standard Xbox One in addition to PC.

Halo boss Frank O’Connor spoke about this distributed release in an interview with YouTuber Blackmist523. O’Connor said the Halo development team worked alongside the hardware developers behind Scarlett to allow for the game to look and perform “amazingly” on the next-generation system.

That being said, O’Connor said people playing on the standard Xbox One (and presumably the Xbox One X) will still have a good experience. “The Xbox One is not going to be a second-class citizen. We’re building it so it plays and looks fantastic on Xbox One,” O’Connor said.

Halo Infinite is also launching for PC, on the same day it comes to consoles. That’s a big change for the series, as Microsoft never released the mainline instalments after Halo 2 on PC (though they are coming to PC now through The Master Chief Collection). The PC version of Halo Infinite might end up being the best version of Halo Infinite–provided your rig is beefy enough, O’Connor said.

Here are his full thoughts on the matter:

“Obviously the special citizen [for Halo Infinite] will be Scarlett, and we’ve worked with that hardware team to make sure the game shows up amazingly on it, and work with them to make sure that we know how to make sure the game look amazing on it, but it will be for Xbox One and it will look incredible. And it will also be for PC for the first time, day and date so that’s exciting for us too.

“That’s changed the way we develop and the way we think about things, but we are always shooting for the best possible hardware target. This time it’s going to be up to you to decide–is it going to be Scarlett or PC; it kind of depends on your PC at that point. But the Xbox One is not going to be a second-class citizen. We’re building it so it plays and looks fantastic on Xbox One, and then everything else is plus-plus-plus, but we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves that we’re thinking about. “

Given the increased horsepower of Project Scarlett, and O’Connor’s statement that developer 343 Industries is developing toward the “best possible hardware target,” it remains to be seen if the standard Xbox One version will be limited in any capacities. Presumably the better hardware with Project Scarlett will allow the game on that platform to look and run better, but any other differences between the versions are unknown for now.

Also in the interview, O’Connor spoke briefly and at a high level about Halo Infinite’s story and how it is connected to the events of Halo 5: Guardians but also aims to be approachable to newcomers. O’Connor also talked about how while the E3 2019 Halo Infinite trailer did not show any new gameplay, it did introduce players to some of what to expect about how the game will look and feel at the start.

While Halo Infinite isn’t scheduled to release until Holiday 2020, a beta for the game will be held prior to release.

Hobbs & Shaw Has Massive Box Office Opening; See The Weekend’s Top 10 Movies Here

The latest weekend box office numbers are in, and the Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, opened to a massive number.

The action film took in $60.8 million during its US/Canada opening this weekend, which made it far and away the biggest movie of the weekend, according to box office numbers from Entertainment Weekly. Hobbs & Shaw made a further $120 million from its overseas opening to bring its global haul to $180 million after just one weekend. As it happens, $180 million is also the estimated production budget of Hobbs & Shaw.

At $60.8 million in North America, Hobbs & Shaw performed substantially lower than almost every other movie in the series, but that is to be expected given it is a spinoff. You can see the domestic opening-weekend figures for every Fast & Furious movie posted below via Box Office Mojo.

Hobbs & Shaw is directed by Deadpool 2 director David Leitch. The movie also features Idris Elba as the villain, alongside Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, and Eddie Marsan.

The entire Fast & Furious franchise has now made more than $5 billion in box office receipts worldwide since it premiered all the way back in 2009. Hobbs & Shaw is the ninth instalment.

GameSpot’s review of Hobbs & Shaw called it “wildly fun, but very dumb.”

Elsewhere, Disney’s The Lion King finished No. 2 with $38.2 million to push its domestic haul to $430.9 million. The movie has now made $764.9 million from international markets to push its global haul to $1.195 billion. Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, meanwhile, added $20 million this weekend in the US and Canada to push its total haul to $78.8 million; the movie opens later in August in other parts of the world.

August 2-4 Domestic Box Office

via Entertainment Weekly

  1. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — $60.8 million
  2. The Lion King — $38.2 million
  3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — $20 million
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home — $7.8 million
  5. Toy Story 4 — $7.2 million
  6. Yesterday — $2.4 million
  7. The Farewell — $2.4 million
  8. Crawl — $2.2 million
  9. Aladdin — $2 million
  10. Annabelle Comes Home — $875,000

Fast & Furious Franchise Opening-Weekend Box Office (Domestic Only)

  1. Furious 7 (2015) — $147.2 million
  2. The Fate of the Furious (2016) — $98.8 million
  3. Fast & Furious 6 (2013) — $97.4 million
  4. Fast Five (2011) — $86.2 million
  5. Fast & Furious (2009) — $70.95 million
  6. Hobbs & Shaw (2019) — $60.8 million
  7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) — $50.4 million
  8. The Fast and the Furious (2001) — $40 million
  9. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) — $23.9 million