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E3: Add Video Game Companies To CA Tax Incentives? Maybe, Says Mayor

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 1:26pm PDT

E3 logoWelcoming the giant E3 video game conference back to Los Angeles today, Mayor Eric Garcetti said it may make sense to include the booming game industry in production incentives designed to get and keep film and television production in the state. “There’s a collision of content in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti, who has been heavily involved trying to persuade state officials to enhance the CAST 16th From Slavery To Freedom GalaCalifornia incentive program to keep more entertainment production. “The line between video games software and film/TV is blurring. They all have stories, they all use (similar production tools and processes) in the same way. L.A. is poised to take off. But it’s why we need those tax incentives in place.” Gov. Jerry Brown has stayed mum on a proposed expansion of the current $100 million California system, despite aggressive efforts by some other states and countries to lure away film and TV work with substantial tax breaks.

Related: City Of LA Praises Passage Of New Film & TV Tax Credit Bill

Garcetti used a ribbon-cutting ceremony to tout the budding economic recovery in Los Angeles in the year he’s been in office, particularly for creative industries. “This is the most creative spot in the world,” he said. “E3 has long been at that intersection of the creative world. In L.A., a new tech company starts every 40 hours. But long before this new boom, E3 understood. We are on fire and E3 is part of that momentum.” The conference officially opened at noon today and runs through Thursday evening. Already, several of the big game-related companies have held their big pre-show media briefings.

Related: E3: Games Frontrunner Sony To Launch $99 PlayStation TV, More

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Zynga Shares Drop 10% After Vague CEO Talk, Departures

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 1:24pm PDT

Don MattrickShares of online game company Zynga dropped almost 15 percent today before recovering modestly after its CEO was less than enthusiastic, or clear, about the company’s revenues and long-term outlook, and news surfaced of three more executive departures. The company ended the day down 33 cents, or just over 10 percent, at $2.94 a share.

The problematic comments came from Don Mattrick, who joined the company nearly a year ago after heading Microsoft’s XBox unit for six years. He told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch tech conference, ”We’re nowhere near where we should be when we ultimately have executed,” according to a transcript. He said the company is investing in growth, which is hold holding back margins, then he added that “we can do better on margins and EBITDA, no doubt about it.” Mattrick also was vague about the company’s product pipeline, touting only the company’s “great balance sheet” but saying nothing about actual coming titles coming, a bit of a surprise ahead of next week’s big E3 videogame conference, where most companies showcase their titles for the year ahead. Afterward, shares dropped as much as 14.8 percent, to as little as $2.735 at midday, before recovering about a third of the loss. Investors also may have been alarmed by news of three more executive departures, including Travis Boatman, Terence Fung, who headed acquisitions and Steve Chiang, who headed the company’s original blockbuster, the “Ville” franchise that has been … Read More »

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Does Future Of Microsoft’s Xbox One Depend On ‘Titanfall’ Success?

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 4:45pm PDT

Microsoft_Xbox_One_logoTuesday’s debut of the much-anticipated video game Titanfall likely will be a pivotal early moment for Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One, which has struggled to keep up with Sony’s cheaper PlayStation 4 since both launched in November. Almost four months in, Sony has sold 6 million PS4s, compared to 4 million Xbox Ones. With the Xbox One costing $100 more than the PS4, and with few other distinctive titles, Microsoft is hoping a successful Titanfall launch will keep it in the game.

Related: Microsoft’s Xbox One Breaks Sales Record, Moves 1M Units In 24 Hours

TitanfallDistributed by Electronic Arts, Titanfall is a rip-roaring online-only take on standard tropes of science fiction and first-person shooters, from creators of the Call of Duty franchise. It initially will be exclusive to the Xbox One, then also be launched for Windows-based PCs and Microsoft’s older Xbox 360 console. It is not scheduled to be available on Sony consoles, an unusual move by a big third-party publisher such as EA that normally wants to make its games as widely available as possible.

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Video Game Sales Increased In 2013: Is The Slump Over?

By | Tuesday February 11, 2014 @ 1:39pm PST

It probably is following the last year’s long-awaited introduction of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles — video game playerand growing interest in downloaded games — researchers at The NPD Group conclude in a new report on 2013 Games Market Dynamics: U.S. The firm says that total spending on video game content increased 1% to $15.39B. Consumers paid $7.22B for downloaded games, and $1.83B for used and rentals. That more than compensated for the 11% drop, to $6.34B, in sales of new physical video games for consoles and PCs. Hardware sales were up 5% — NPD doesn’t provide a dollar number — resulting in a 2% increase in spending for hardware and software combined. Consumer outlays for hardware and software fell in 2012 and 2011, NPD said. But with Microsoft and Sony offering next-gen devices to follow Nintendo’s Wii U in 2012, it’s “a positive indicator for future market growth as we enter the first full year with all three new consoles on the market,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan says. He’s impressed by research showing that 36% of people 13 and over played downloaded games. Teens and young adults are the biggest market, of course, but “there is no particular point after age 25 where incidence declines significantly.” (Really? Not even among people over 70?) Read More »

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Xbox One’s Hollywood Launch Promotes Games But Not Its Future In Entertainment

By | Friday November 22, 2013 @ 11:29am PST

A week after its biggest competitor’s successful launch, Microsoft rolled out its own next-generation video game console, the Xbox One, in a midnight party in Hollywood amid hundreds of gamers and a fair smattering of rappers, actors, YouTube personalities and other celebrities of varying wattage. The Xbox One is $100 more expensive than Sony’s PS4 at $499, but more technically capable thanks to included motion, face and voice sensors. Sony’s console sold 1 million units on its launch day a week ago. Both companies will be fighting for consumer attention this holiday season, which kicks off officially in one more week.

Related: Retailers Brace For Holiday-Season Price Wars

At last night’s event at the Milk Studios in Hollywood, as electronic dance music star Deadmau5 and other DJs spun on a stage, the company showed off its biggest games — including some 22 titles exclusive to the platform — to fans who played for hours ahead of the machine’s first official sale at 12:01 AM. But all the night’s noise obscured Microsoft’s broader push, which is that the machine can integrate all kinds of entertainment while easing access to them all. One of the machine’s niftiest tricks is a slick and relatively reliable ability to seamlessly switch between, or even simultaneously watch/use/play, a TV show, the Internet and a game with virtually no delays. The device’s sensors can recognize when a person has sat down in front of it, and automatically open up that person’s customized interface on screen. It can even do so for more than one person at a time. Voice and gesture commands work pretty well, though many reviewers have said the gee-whiz tech isn’t reliable enough yet to completely replace using a hand controller to navigate.

When they introduced the console six months ago, Microsoft reps talked up new kinds of interactive programming being created by Microsoft Studios under former CBS honcho Nancy Tellem. But last night only games were on display. They didn’t even demonstrate the offerings for fantasy football as part of their new deal with the NFL.

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‘Call Of Duty: Ghosts’ Tops $1B On First Day, Says Activision Blizzard

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 11:54am PST

One day after the latest installment in the Call Of Duty franchise was released, Activision Blizzard announced today that the first-person shooter video game has surpassed $1 billion in global sell-in sales. Impressive as that may sound, it’s not a record yet, and it hasn’t taken out Grand Theft Auto V either. Unlike last year’s Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, which sold $500M on its first day last November, the $1 billion represents the copies shipped to retailers not actual point-of-purchase sales — Activision Blizzard hasn’t released that figure yet. Previously the fastest-selling video game ever, Back Ops II was thrashed by Grand Theft Auto V when the Take Two Interactive game hit $800 million in sales in one day after its September 17 release. Leaping ahead of the box office of Hollywood blockbusters Man Of Steel and Despicable Me 2, GTA V topped $1 billion in a record making three days whereas it took Black Ops II just over two weeks to get to that number back in fall 2012. The 10thgame in the franchise, the dystopian story of Call Of Duty: Ghosts was put together in part by Oscar-wining scribe Stephen Gaghan, who worked on the multi-level story. Unlike GTA V, which was initially available on just PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Ghosts debuted on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U and Windows PC. The game is also set to … Read More »

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Will ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ Set New Records For Video Game Sales?

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 11:46am PDT

Some analysts say it might based on the over-the-top reviews the long-awaited video game is receiving today in the first few hours following the expiration of the company’s embargo for critics. The first new Grand Theft Auto (GTA) since April 2008 officially goes on sale at midnight, and 37 critics so far have given the Xbox 360 version an average score of 98 on Metacritic. If that holds, then it would be the best-reviewed Xbox 360 game ever, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter notes. He expects 14M copies of the game to be sold by the end of this month — which would translate into sales of as much as $900M — and possibly 24M units over the life of the game. GameStop plans several midnight openings to accommodate the GTA fans. That could mean worldwide sales of 6.5M units, or at least $400M, on Day One says Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia. (Last year Call Of Duty: Black Ops II sold $500M on its first day.) If the analysts are right, then it could be a big deal for Take-Two Interactive, the parent of GTA developer Rockstar Games. Its stock price has appreciated about 60% over the last 12 months, and GTA V will be its biggest game launch. Bulls say that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for the title, which was originally supposed to be released earlier this year. In addition, there are about … Read More »

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Comic-Con: EA, Blur Studio, ‘Deus Ex’ Reps Set For Video Game-To-Film Panel

By | Monday July 1, 2013 @ 4:30pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Comic books may be Hollywood’s hottest current wellspring of source material, but at Comic-Con 2013 a panel of industry experts will discuss what could be the next. “Video Games to Movies: Is The Golden Age Upon Us?” is slotted for Thursday, July 18, at the Hilton Bayfront’s Indigo Ballroom. Panel is set to include some of the folks behind CBS FilmsDeus Ex adaptation and Nu Image’s Kane and Lynch, David Fincher’s Halo short, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, and games powerhouse EA Entertainment, which is underway on a Need For Speed film starring Aaron Paul. Read More »

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A Tale Of Two Movie Tie-In Games: ‘Star Trek’ Flops, ‘Fast & Furious 6′ Tops

The mobile gaming tie-in to Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 launched on the iTunes App Store last week and is #1 among free apps in 45 countries. Created with SF-based studio Kabam, it’s also the #1 overall game in 69 countries, the top racing game in 112 countries, and the #1 action game in 85 countries. Its iPad app version runs comparable if even wider in saturation as the top free app in 81 countries. By contrast, Paramount‘s Star Trek: The Game — tied to the release of Star Trek Into Darkness — stayed in-house and it’s doing lousy since it came out last month. According to VG Chartz, unit sales in its first three weeks are only 140K to date across PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 consoles. It’s also considered a failure because it’s very buggy despite years of development. Critics and users alike gave it poor reviews. So what happened?
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CAA Video Game Co-Head Jumps To UTA

By | Wednesday November 16, 2011 @ 6:26pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that CAA’s top video game agent has just informed the tenpercentery that he’s heading for rival UTA. Ophir Lupu is one of the video game industry’s top agents and co-head of the video game department at Creative Artists Agency. He’ll head UTA’s Video Games practice. Lupu represents leading developers in console gaming as well as in the fast-growing social, casual and mobile gaming sectors.  Lupu was named co-head of CAA’s video game department in May of this year.  He has spent his entire career at CAA, which he joined in 2000 after graduating from George Washington University. At CAA, Lupu represented such industry leaders as Ken Levine (“BioShock”), Patrice Desilets (“Assassin’s Creed”), Warren Spector (Disney’s “Epic Mickey”), Cliff Bleszinski (“Gears of War”), That Game Company (“Flower”), Crytek (“Homefront 2”), Klei Entertainment (“Shank”), Trapdoor, Inc. (“Warp”) and Tomonobu Itagaki’s Valhalla Studios (“Devil’s Third”), among others. Lupu earlier this year orchestrated the acquisition of client Area/Code by Zynga.

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Supreme Court To Review FCC Indecency Policy, Strikes Down California Vidgame Law

By | Monday June 27, 2011 @ 9:19am PDT

The Supreme Court said today that it will take up the FCC’s request to hear arguments about how much authority the agency has to police indecent programming. A lower court had shot down two FCC enforcement actions — that infamous naked buttocks shot on a 2003 episode of ABC’s NYPD Blue, and a pair of f-bombs during two live Billboard Music Awards shows — saying that the regulators’ concept of what’s “indecent” is too vague. The Obama administration has countered that those decisions hurt the agency’s ability to oversee their jurisdiction. Now the high court could weigh in. Meanwhile, as part of a slew of decisions announced today, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that bans the sale of violent video games to minors, calling it a violation of free speech and thereby unconstitutional. The creative industry — the MPAA, Disney and Sony among them – mobilized against the law, which was passed in 2005 but never enacted due to the legal wranglings. ”Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the court’s 7-2 vote from the bench. ”Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed.”

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Weinstein Company Forms TWC Games Unit

By | Friday March 25, 2011 @ 9:48am PDT

NEW YORK, NY (March 25, 2011) — The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today a new initiative in the video game space by launching TWC Games. The TWC Games label will utilize The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films’ strong and recognizable properties, and work with external partners to develop and publish video games for mobile, social, and console platforms. Properties in The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films catalogue include SCREAM, HELLRAISER, HALLOWEEN, SCARY MOVIE, and CHILDREN OF THE CORN, among many others.

TWC CO-CHAIRMAN BOB WEINSTEIN EXPRESSED EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE NEW INITIATIVE. “The video game marketplace is changing at such a rapid rate. With all of the digital platforms, there are so many opportunities to broaden our audience with compelling, high quality, cost-efficient, video game entertainment.”

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Disney Interactive Restructure Costing Jobs

By | Wednesday January 26, 2011 @ 7:49am PST

UPDATE: The Propaganda closure is just part of a quiet reduction in workforce at Disney Interactive. The unit has also cut a number of console jobs at Junction Point Studios in Austin, bringing the total number of jobs nixed to around 200, or 29% of the total Disney Interactive workforce. Disney Interactive co-heads James Pitaro and John Pleasants have indicated that they are moving in the direction of more social media and mobile gaming.

EARLIER: Disney Interactive is shutting down Propaganda Games, the Vancouver studio which most recently worked on the weak-selling and poorly-reviewed title Tron: Evolution. In the fall, John Pleasants and Jimmy Pitaro were made co-heads of Disney Interactive, and the company has since indicated that it would be going more in the direction of social media gaming and mobile titles rather than console games. In October, Propaganda was told that Disney would be nixing the latest Pirates of the Caribbean game, an announcement which led to the loss of dozens of jobs.

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WGA Awards Videogame Writing Nominees

By | Thursday January 6, 2011 @ 10:43am PST

Deadline doesn’t cover the videogame industry, but since it’s the WGA giving out the nominations as part of its guild awards, here goes:

Los Angeles and New York – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in videogame writing during 2010. The winner of this year’s WGA Videogame Writing Award, which recognizes writers as key creative talent in today’s gaming industry, will be presented at the upcoming 2011 Writers Guild Awards to be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.


Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Story by Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May; Lead Script Writer: Jeffrey Yohalem; Script Writers: Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, Matt Turner; Ubisoft

Fallout: New Vegas, Creative Design Lead/Lead Writer: John Gonzalez; Writers: Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Travis Stout; Additional Writing: Tess Treadwell, George Ziets, Jason Bergman, Nick Breckon, Matt Grandstaff, Will Noble, Andrew Scharf; Bethesda Softworks

God of War III, Written by Marianne Krawcyzk; Additional Writing by Stig Asmussen, Ariel Lawrence, William Weissbaum; Sony Computer Entertainment

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Writer: Benjamin McCaw; Story Dialogue Editor: Marianne Krawczyk; Ubisoft

Singularity, Written by Marc Guggenheim, Lindsey Allen, Emily Silver; Additional Story and Writing: Jason Henderson, Adam Foshko, Michael Cassutt; Story and Script Consultant: Adam Foshko; Activision

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Executive Producer-Writer: Haden Blackman; In-Game Script: David Collins, John Stafford, Cameron Suey; Additional Writing: Tid Cooney, Ian Dominguez, Tony Rowe; LucasArts

Established by the Writers Guilds’ Videogame Writers

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David O Russell To Direct Movie Version Of Vidgame ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’

Mike Fleming

David O Russell has signed on with Sony Pictures Entertainment to rewrite and direct a movie based on the PlayStation 3 game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Russell, who last directed Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in The Fighter, takes on a vidgame that follows treasure hunter Nathan Drake. Tom Donnelly and Josh Oppenheimer wrote the first draft. The original game sold 1 million copies within 10 weeks of its release and spawned a sequel that sold 3.8 million units worldwide. Russell reportedly just fell out of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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MPAA Lobbies Supreme Court Against Schwarzenegger’s Ban On Selling Or Renting Violent Video Games To Minors

By | Friday September 17, 2010 @ 9:32am PDT
Mike Fleming

The MPAA is leading the charge on behalf of showbiz guilds against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2005 California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. The lobbying group for Hollywood studios is urging the Supreme Court to uphold a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Schwarzenegger’s law is unconstitutional. The MPAA makes its case here:

WASHINGTON – A broad entertainment industry coalition today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found unconstitutional the 2005 California law restricting the sale and rental to minors of computer and video games deemed to be overly violent.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America, Inc. (DGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (WGAW), Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) joined together to file an amicus brief in the case Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which is scheduled for oral arguments on November 2.

“The history of the motion picture industry serves as a vivid illustration of the threat to First Amendment rights from the impulse to control and censor new forms of media—a threat reflected in the statute at issue before the Court. From the advent of motion pictures, a variety of state and local governments sought to restrict their content for the asserted purpose of

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‘Green Lantern’ Scribe Lights The Way Into Comics For Other Screenwriters

Mike Fleming

Green Lantern co-writer Marc Guggenheim is at Comic-Con today. He’s launching Collider Entertainment, a partnership with Alisa Tager that is designed to create properties that start out as comics and then springboard onto other  media platforms. Guggenheim and Tager have experience in everything from TV to films, video games and comic books. Their company gets off the ground with a deal with Image Comics that begins with two titles.

Guggenheim has written the first title, Utopian, with his screenwriter wife Tara Butters. The first installment of the five-comic series will be published in November. It takes place in a world where superheroes are rendered obsolete when war, famine and crime disappear. One hero investigates the source of the new-found tranquility but his colleagues oppose his efforts to return the world to its normal chaos.

Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, the scripters of Red and Battleship, are generating the second title, and is a few shades darker. The Mission is a supernatural thriller about a man who receives instructions from the angel Gabriel to commit murders. Is he crazy or answering a divine call?

Aside from teaming with Greg Berlanti and Michael Green to write Green Lantern, Guggenheim is currently a consulting producer on the ABC Michael Chiklis series No Ordinary Family and has had a long career writing and producing series. He has earned his fanboy cred writing nearly 100 comics, including Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine, Superman/Batman, Blade and Young X-Men. He even adapted … Read More »

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Electronic Arts Game ‘Mass Effect’ In Film Deal to Legendary Pictures

By | Monday May 24, 2010 @ 5:43pm PDT
Mike Fleming

mass-effect-saren-geth1Legendary Pictures has announced a movie rights deal for Mass Effect, the Electronic Arts/BioWare videogame for Xbox 360 that will be co-financed  and distributed by Warner Bros. Mark Protosevich, who adapted Marvel Entertainment’s Thor, is in talks to write the script. The scifi series takes place in 2183 and follows Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy as he leads a team on a mission to defeat an ancient alien race that invades the galaxy every 50,000 years, wiping out all organic life. Legendary is separately working on an adaptation of World of Warcraft with former Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni produce with Avi and Ari Arad.

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Fox Sights Director For ‘Hitman’ Sequel; Will Timothy Olyphant Return?

By | Monday May 24, 2010 @ 8:56am PDT
Mike Fleming

hitman-intl-poster20th Century Fox has Spanish helmer Daniel Benmayor in the crosshairs to direct Hitman 2. Will original star Timothy Olyphant return? That is unclear at this point, but Benmayor will make his Hollywood debut on the sequel to the film based on the Eidos videogame about a master assassin. Fox is planning a fall production start.

Benmayor, the Barcelona-born NYU grad created a following shooting Spanish commercials for  Sony PlayStation, Renault, Mercedes, Heineken and Samsung. His feature debut come on the Spanish language action film Paintball, in which adrenaline junkies get dropped in a dense forest for a paintball match, and find that someone is using real ammo. Benmayor just wrapped Bruc, about a 19th Century Catalan drummer boy who helps gives Napoleon’s army its first taste of defeat. Studio Canal releases the film in the fall. The director was signed by Verve, which is making the Hitman 2 deal.

The original Hitman grossed $100 million worldwide on a $30 million budget. Adrian Askarieh, Alex Young and Chuck Gordon are producing, and Daniel Alter is exec producer. Daniel Casey has written the most recent draft, which Kyle Ward was originally hired to write. The sequel includes elements from the vidgame Hitman 5. Agent 47, is a beaten man and must build himself back psychologically and physically to reclaim his mantle as world’s most feared assassin.

I’m told there is an option on Olyphant, but it’s unclear if he will shave his head and return … Read More »

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