Warner Bros. unveils the first trailers for ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Shazam’

Today at Comic-Con, Warner Bros . gave fans a peek at the first DC Comics films post-Justice League. Warner Bros. and DC had a bumpy 2017. There was the astonishing critical and commercial success of Wonder Woman, followed by the box office disappointment of Justice League — leading to an executive shakeup and a general rethinking of its movie strategy. Will Aquaman, which stars Jason Momoa as the titular superhero and is due out on December 21, turn things around? Director James Wan told the Comic-Con audience that his goal is to create a movie that “plays more like a science-fiction fantasy film than a traditional super hero movie.” Wan (who’s best-known for horror titles like Saw and The Conjuring but also directed Furious 7) previously said there’s been a long wait for the trailer because he wanted to ensure the visual effects were ready —
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James Gunn fired from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ after offensive tweets resurface

Disney fired director James Gunn from the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the company confirmed at Comic-Con this week. The move came after highly offensive joke tweets dating from between 2008 and 2011 resurfaced. The tweets, which have since been deleted, make light of topics ranging from molestation and rape to pedophilia.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.

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Wilson is like Longreads for podcasts

Meet Wilson, a new iPhone app that plans to change the way you discover and listen to podcasts. The company describes the app as a podcast magazine. It has the same vibe as Longreads, the curated selection of longform articles. With its minimalistic design and opinionated typography, Wilson looks like no other podcasting app. On an iPhone X, the black background looks perfectly black thanks to the OLED display. It feels like an intimate experience. Every week, the team selects a handful of podcast episodes all tied together by the same topic. Those topics can be the Supreme Court, the LGBTQ community, loneliness, dads, the World Cup… Each issue has a cover art and a short description. And the team also tells you why each specific podcast episode is interesting. In other words, Wilson isn’t just an audio experience. You can listen to episodes in the app or
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Disney’s streaming service is resurrecting ‘The Clone Wars’

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series that ran on Cartoon Network for five seasons, is coming back. Created by George Lucas and overseen by Dave Filoni, the show depicted the adventures of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as new characters like Ahsoka Tano, during the titular Clone Wars. Fans praised its ability to showcase a wide range of stories, characters and even genres. The Clone Wars was cancelled after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, with a final batch of episodes known as “The Lost Missions” airing on Netflix. Characters and story elements were subsequently incorporated into the animated series Star Wars Rebels — and even into the latest film, Solo. Today at San Diego Comic-Con, Lucasfilm held a panel celebrating the show’s 10-year anniversary, where Filoni announced that The Clone Wars will return for 12 more episodes, which will air on Disney’s upcoming streaming service. He also released
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Comcast drops its pursuit of Fox, making way for Disney acquisition

Comcast announced this morning that it’s halting its efforts to acquire the film and television assets of 21st Century Fox. Disney made a deal to acquire those assets last year, but after a district court judge approved the merger of AT&T and Time Warner (despite the antitrust-related objections of President Trump’s Department of Justice), Comcast announced another, higher bid. That, in turn, prompted Disney to make an even higher offer of $71.3 billion (split between cash and stock). With Comcast dropping out, it seems like this bid will go through — if it can get regulatory approval. Comcast says that instead of continuing to pursue a Fox acquisition, it’s focusing on its offer to acquire British satellite broadcaster Sky. Another possible factor: The DOJ says it’s appealing the court’s approval of the AT&T-Time Warner merger. “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the
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Sinemia drops prices for its movie ticket subscriptions, which now start a $3.99 per month

MoviePass competitor Sinemia is lowering prices on the already low-cost movie ticket subscription plans that it introduced earlier this year. Its monthly prices are being cut by $1 across-the-board. The cheapest plan now costs $3.99 per month, which gets you one standard movie ticket for that month. The priciest one, which covers three tickets (and includes 3D, 4D and IMAX screens), now costs $13.99 per month. Sinemia says it’s also offering discounts on its family plans, and on plans in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. You might think that this summer promotion (which ends on September 3) seems timed to take advantage of the negative publicity around MoviePass’ new “peak pricing” for popular movies, and Sinemia’s press release doesn’t exactly deny it — the release literally begins: “At a time when MoviePass is running surge pricing …” Sinemia subscribers also benefit from being able to
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And now, here’s a ‘Trumpy Cat’ augmented reality app from George Takei

Anyone who follows George Takei on Twitter can tell you that Star Trek‘s original Sulu is not a fan of President Donald Trump. But he’s found a new way to express that criticism — not just in tweets, interviews and op-eds, but also in an augmented reality app called House of Cats. The app was built in partnership with Montreal-based development company BMAD, and it allows users to interact animated animal characters like Trumpy Cat, Meowlania, Vladdy Putin and Lil’ Rocket Pug. They can add their own voice recordings, superimpose the animals on real environments and take photos with them — Takei suggested including Trumpy Cat in photos of real-world protests. When I asked where the idea came from, Takei had a simple explanation : “The Internet loves the combination of politics and cats.” While the app looks pretty silly, Takei made the by-now-commonplace observation that satire is having
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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Nanette’ takes aim at straight white men and comedy clichés

This is the first time we’ve done an in-depth review of a comedy special on the Original Content podcast, but Nanette (which Netflix released last month) isn’t a typical stand-up show. Hannah Gadsby starts off with some light, funny jokes about growing up as a lesbian in Tasmania, where being homosexual was illegal until 1997. But she soon veers away from joke-telling — in fact, Gadsby declares that she’s quitting comedy and starts analyzing the structure and content of some old jokes, asking difficult questions about who we’re laughing at and why. Nanette can’t be boiled down to a one simple message, but perhaps the overriding theme is the need for stories with uncomfortable truths — versus jokes, with their tension-releasing punchlines. It’s led to articles declaring Gadsby to be the future of stand-up and wondering whether comedy is “broken.” On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Brian
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This fan-made Uncharted movie starring Nathan Fillion proves video game movies don’t have to be awful

It’s not exactly a controversial statement: movies based on video games are, generally, bad. See: Assassins Creed. Or that weird mess that was Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Or that Super Mario movie where Bowser (renamed “President Koopa” for some reason) was basically just a dude with bad hair for half the movie. Turns out, as this live action fan film based on Naughty Dog’s Uncharted suggests, they can be done right. This fan-made short is about as unofficial as can be, as noted by a disclaimer that pops up on screen right off the bat. And yet… it does a better job of capturing the feel of its source material than pretty much any game-based movie before it. And it stars Nathan Fillion! Captain friggin’ Reynolds himself! Fans have been saying for ages that Nathan Fillion would make for one helluva Nathan Drake, and it seems like the hive mind really
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Netflix experiments with promoting its shows on the login screen

Netflix is testing a new way to promote its original shows – right on the login screen. A company spokesperson confirmed the streaming service is currently experimenting with a different login screen experience which replaces the black background behind users’ names and profile thumbnails with full-screen photos promoting a Netflix Original series or special, like “BoJack Horseman,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Dark,” “My Next Guest…”, “13 Reasons Why,” and several others. We first noticed the change on a TV connected to a Roku media player and on a Fire TV, but Netflix says the test is running “for TV,” which means those on other TV platforms may see the promoted shows as well. (Our Roku TV, however, had the same black background on the login screen, we should note.) The promoted shows aren’t necessarily those Netflix thinks you’d like – it’s just a rotating selection of popular originals.
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The final season of ‘Unreal’ debuts on Hulu

Unreal, the critically acclaimed series that takes viewers behind the scenes of fictional reality TV show Everlasting, has moved to Hulu . Today’s announcement confirms earlier reports that Hulu was negotiating with A+E Studios to get first dibs on Unreal‘s fourth and final season. The show’s first three seasons aired on Lifetime, with the third season recently wrapping up just a few months ago, in April. Now all eight episodes of Season 4 are live on Hulu — a departure from the streaming service’s standard approach of releasing just one or two episodes of its original shows each week. Unreal once again stars Shiri Appleby as Rachel and Constance Zimmer as Quinn, producers who return to Everlasting for an “All Stars” season that brings back old contestants. While Unreal’s cable audience has been declining steadily, Hulu says its viewers have embraced the show — it’s not releasing
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There’s now just one Blockbuster remaining in the US

And then there was one. With the impending closures of Blockbuster locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, just one single store will remain in the country, Anchorage Daily News reported yesterday. The two locations in Alaska will officially close their respective doors on July 16, leaving just one location in Bend, Ore. “…it is sad to say goodbye to our dedicated customers,” Blockbuster Alaska General Manager Kevin Daymude said in a Facebook post announcing the closures. “Both [the district manager] and I have been with the company since 1991 and have had great memories throughout our career. Thank you for sticking by us throughout all these years. I can’t tell you how much it means to us.” Following the initial closures on the 16th, the locations will reopen on the 17th through the end of August for an inventory sale. But, as for the “Cinderella Man” memorabilia John Oliver
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Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison is dead

Harlan Ellison, the 84-year-old author of some of science fiction’s best-known stories, has died. His death was announced on Twitter by Christine Valada. In addition to short fiction, Ellison also wrote for the movies and TV, most notably penning “The City on the Edge of Forever” — he was vocally unhappy with how his script was rewritten, but the filmed version is still generally considered the finest episode of any Star Trek series. Ellison also made his mark as an editor, thanks to his 1967 anthology “Dangerous Visions” — while the stories’ sex and violence, as well as their stylistic experimentation, may no longer seem groundbreaking, “Dangerous Visions” remains the definitive collection of New Wave science fiction. He was also a teacher, most notably championing the work of “Kindred” author Octavia Butler after meeting her at the Clarion Workshop. And he experimented with other media as well, for example working
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Apple could bundle TV, music and news in a single subscription

According to a report from The Information, Apple could choose to bundle all its media offerings into a single subscription. While Apple’s main media subscription product is currently Apple Music, it’s no secret that the company is investing in other areas. In particular, Apple has bought the distribution rights of many TV shows. But nobody knows how Apple plans to sell those TV shows. For instance, you could imagine paying a monthly fee to access Apple’s content in the TV app on your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. In addition to that, Apple acquired Texture back in March. Texture lets you download and read dozens of magazines with a single subscription. The company has partnered with Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc. to access their catalog of magazines Texture is still available, but it’s clear that Apple has bigger plans. In addition to
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DC Entertainment opens sign ups for its streaming and digital comics service

DC Entertainment is sharing more information today about DC Universe, a subscription service built around DC superheroes. The biggest draw remains the previously announced slate of original shows, starting with “Titans,” a series that brings the Teen Titans (a team led by Dick Grayson/Robin) to live action. There also will be live action “Doom Patrol” and “Swamp Thing” shows, as well as an animated “Harley Quinn” and the third season of “Young Justice: Outsiders.” The streaming library won’t be limited to new shows. It also will include the four Christopher Reeve-starring Superman films (the first “Superman” remains the greatest superhero movie ever made; fight me if you think otherwise), a selection of DC animated movies and older TV series like the classic “Wonder Woman” and the first two seasons of “Batman: The Animated Series.” Still, a devoted DC fan could probably tear through all of that
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The Sonos Beam is the soundbar evolved

Sonos has always gone its own way. The speaker manufacturer dedicated itself to network-connected speakers before there were home networks and they sold a tablet-like remote control before there were tablets. Their surround sound systems install quickly and run seamlessly. You can buy a few speakers, tap a few buttons, and have 5.1 sound in less time than it takes to pull a traditional home audio system out of its shipping box. This latest model is an update to the Playbase – a lumpen soundbar designed to sit directly underneath TVs not attached to the wall – and the Playbar, a traditionally-styled soundbar that preceded the Beam. Both products had all of the Sonos highlights – great sound, amazing interfaces, and easy setup – but the Base had too much surface area for more elegant installations and the Bar was too long while still sporting an aesthetic that harkened
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Mike Judge to join us at Disrupt SF 2018

Silicon Valley, for better and oftentimes worse, provides an uncanny valley view of the ups and downs of IRL Silicon Valley. The HBO series has shown what it’s like to deal with an incumbent who steals an idea or IP, the humiliation of saving the day, only to be fired as CEO by your VC, or the fear and exhilaration of competing on the Startup Battlefield stage — a familiar spot for those who have been to Disrupt. TechCrunch is helping create another Silicon Valley meta moment. Silicon Valley co-creator Mike Judge will join us on stage at TC Disrupt SF. Interestingly, Judge joined a team from HBO at Disrupt well before Silicon Valley ever aired, doing research for the then-forthcoming series. And, of course, Season 1 ended with the Startup Battlefield stage. The cycle continued in 2016, when Judge came on stage to discuss what it’s like to
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Google Cloud will launch its Los Angeles region in July

It’s no secret that Google has long planned to open a cloud region in Los Angeles. The company has long said that a second region on the U.S. West Coast was in the works, after all. What we didn’t know for sure was when this new region would go live. But as Google announced today, the new Los Angeles cloud region will go live in July, making it the company’s fifth region in the U.S. During an event in Los Angeles today, Google specifically positioned this region as the ideal region for the media and entertainment industry in the area. “The LA region will provide our media and entertainment customers with fast, scalable compute resources, so visual effects and animation studios can spend less time waiting on renders, and more time bringing their creative visions to life,” Google notes in its announcement today. But beyond this
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John Oliver is erased from Chinese internet following segment on China

HBO’s Last Week Tonight has led to some drastic measures in China. After an episode aired on June 17th, the Chinese government is now trying to erase all signs of John Oliver on the internet. The show had a 20-minute segment on Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. In particular, Oliver mentioned Xi’s abolition of term limit and even compared him to Mao Zedong. Oliver also mentioned torture of political opponents, the infamous experiment to leverage WeChat data to give you a score and determine if you’re a good citizen, Tiananmen Square protests, Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s recent death and, yes, online censorship. It’s a bit ironic that Oliver’s show itself is now censored in China as a result of this episode. It proves Oliver’s point that China still has a long way to go when it comes to human rights and freedom of the press. Oliver also
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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Set It Up’ hits the rom-com sweet spot

In the new Netflix film “Set It Up,” two personal assistants (played by Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) come up with an unusual plan to keep their tyrannical bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) busy: Make them fall in love with each other. As decreed by the unbreakable laws of romantic comedy, it’s not just the bosses who find themselves attracted to each other, but their assistants as well. And in the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Jon Shieber to talk about the film. If you’re looking for a wildly original or unpredictable story, “Set It Up” probably isn’t the movie for you. But if you’re looking for a sweet, funny and of course romantic distraction from the ongoing horror show of the real world, you could do a lot worse. This also leads to a broader discussion of what we’re looking for in
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