The performers at Thursday’s Fourth of July show in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — officially known as the Wawa Welcome America Concert on the Parkway — have the privilege of playing in front of a crowd estimated to be as large as 200,000.
But in fact, headliners Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson, the 2019 main attractions, were opening acts for a fireworks extravaganza (soundtracked by the U.S. Army Field Band) that’s the real star of the show.
In the four years now since the celebration hasn’t been in the hands of the Philly hip-hop band the Roots, the July Fourth show’s character has changed and the headliners’ job has been simplified. The task of Trainor and Hudson was simply to deliver an agreeably entertaining and upbeat, family-friendly evening to keep the crowd happy enough as they wait in anticipation for explosions in the sky.
By that measure, they each succeeded capably. (The night showed no interest in repeating the pro-immigration political message presented by last year’s Cuban American headliner, Pitbull, a.k.a Mr. Worldwide.)
Trainor, the 25-year-old Nantucket, Mass., native best known for her 2014 body-positive hit “All About the Bass,” was the de facto headliner, putting on a well-paced and professional set that had girls and boys and moms and dads dancing to lightweight hip-hop-flavored pop and more old-fashioned R&B and doo-wop stylings.
Trainor offered fans a sampling of tracks from an upcoming unreleased album; carried off her duet with John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” well enough without him; and brought out her father, Gary, to dance on “Dance Like Your Daddy.” How wholesome is that?
And if she has any fear of being labeled a one-hit wonder for the success of “All About the Bass,” which she has since failed to duplicate, she didn’t show it. She chose instead to open with the song, winning the crowd over immediately.
The audience responded to old-school R&B and gospel-influenced material from her 10-year solo career, swaying back and forth with miniature American flags in hand on “Spotlight” and joining in call-and-response with the 37-year-old singer on ”Where Ya At.”
And while backed by the Philly POPS BIG band as well as her own musicians and trio of singers — the superb Hudsonettes — she also had some surprises and quiet moments in store.
“My favorite song and my favorite song to sing” turned out to be Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” transformed into more of an over-the-top spiritual than it is in many more introspective covers.
“Gone,” a heartsick song from her 2011 I Remember Me, the first album she recorded after three of her family members were murdered in 2008, was delicately delivered, accompanied by acoustic guitar. And to reach her youngest fans — those who know her only from the 2016 animated children’s movie Sing — she sang two old songs: The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight.”
But of course, Hudson’s set came to a crescendo with “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” the show-stopper from Dreamgirls, which she intro’d by thanking the crowd for “sitting through all that stuff,” since “I know this is what you came for.”
As she displayed her dynamic range, fans were heard to respond with three words she likely hears every time she performs the song: “Sing it, girl!” She followed that with an encore of The Greatest Showman’s “Never Enough,” penned by the hot songwriting team of Justin Paul and Ardmore’s own Benj Pasek.
Before the headlining acts hit the stage and the televised portion of the show began, acts of various genres played at smaller stages up and down the Parkway, ranging from South Jersey rock sister act Nalani & Sarina to the high school dance act Mina’s Power Squad to the U.S. Navy Band Cruisers.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Commands Huge $180M U.S. Opening, $330M Globally
The Marvel Studios sequel hunted down the biggest November launch of all time at the domestic box office. Elsewhere, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar contender ‘The Fabelmans’ opened to strong numbers in New York and Los Angeles.
The superhero sequel opened to a huge $180 million at the domestic box office to hunt down the biggest November opening of all time and the second-biggest launch of 2022 so far behind fellow Marvel Studios’ pic Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4 million). And it easily wrested the weekend crown from DC superhero pic Black Adam, now in its fourth weekend.
Overseas, the Marvel and Disney tentpole debuted to $150 million for a global start of $330 million (that’s as much as DC’s Black Adam earned in its first three weeks). Europe was strong overall, led by the U.K. ($15 million) and followed by France ($13.7 million). Among all markets, Mexico placed third with $12.8 million, followed by South Korea ($8.9 million) and Brazil ($7.1 million). Wakanda Forever also opened scored the highest opening in history In Nigeria, where the film’s African premiere was held.
While Wakanda Forever didn’t match the $202 million domestic debut of Coogler’s Black Panther in 2018, it is still doing formidable business and ranks No. 13 on the all-time list of domestic launches (releases from Disney and Marvel now account for all but one of the 13), according to Comscore. The sequel’s arrival on the marquee couldn’t have been more welcome after a tough fall for theater owners.
Heading into the weekend, Wakanda Forever was tracking to debut in the $175 million range. Until now, the biggest November opening belonged to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($158 million).
Black Panther 2, playing in 4,396 theaters domestically, earned $84 million on Friday alone, one of the biggest opening days of all time and all but tying with fellow Marvel Studios title Avengers: Age of Ultron for No. 9 on the list, not adjusted for inflation. Friday’s haul included $28 million in Thursday evening previews. (Friday was Veteran’s Day.)
Coogler’s film received an A CinemaScore from audiences and strong exits on PostTrak. One difference: the first Black Panther earned a coveted A+. It played to an ethnically diverse audience, led by Black moviegoers (34 percent) and followed by Caucasians (31 percent), Latinos (21 percent) and Asian/Other (14 percent), according to PostTrak. It also played more evenly gender-wise than most superhero films, with females making up 45 percent of the audience.
In 2018, Black Panther was the first Hollywood studio tentpole to feature a predominantly Black cast and transformed into a cultural phenomenon on its way to earning more than $1.34 billion at the worldwide box office.
The sequel endured tragedy when Chadwick Boseman, who played the titular role of T’Challa/Black Panther in the 2018 film, died of colon cancer in August 2020. Wakanda Forever’s cast includes Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba and Martin Freeman, as well as Marvel newcomer Tenoch Huerta as Namor and Dominique Thorne as the hero Riri Williams.
Wakanda Forever opened less than 11 percent behind the 2018 film.
“It’s an outstanding result. The first film represented such a major cultural milestone that its performance would have been challenging to follow even under normal circumstances,” says box office analyst Shawn Robbins. “This performance from a sequel almost five years later speaks to the trust audiences have in Ryan Coogler, Marvel and the entire creative team to continue the story in a respectful way after Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing. It’s an opportunity for everyone to say goodbye to him together as the franchise moves forward with his legacy at the heart of it.”
Among superhero movies released in the pandemic era, Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home opened to $260.1 million in December 2021. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness followed in May with $187.4 million, while Thor: Love and Thunder scored $144.2 million in July. In March 2022, DC and Warner Bros.’ The Batman flew to $134 million in its launch. More recently, DC’s Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson in his first live-action superhero role, opened to a more subdued $67 million domestically.
This weekend’s other high-profile opening is Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical tale and Oscar contender The Fabelmans, which is getting a slow platform release, much as a specialty film does, in order to build word of mouth.
The Universal and Amblin Entertainment movie, opening in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, scored a strong location average of $40,000, one of the best of the year behind Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin. Fabelmans received an A CinemaScore and boasts a 95 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“With The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg has crafted one of his most personal stories yet, an incredible universal coming-of-age story that clearly resonated with audiences this weekend,” said Jim Orr, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Universal Pictures.
Back on the top 10 chart, Black Adam — as expected — took a big hit as Black Panther opened. The Dwayne Johnson pic placed second with $8.6 million for a domestic tally of $151.1 million. Overseas, it cleared the $200 million to finish Sunday with a worldwide total of $352.2 million.
Universal’s romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise continued to hold well, falling only 29 percent to $6.1 million for a domestic cume of $56.5 million and $150 million worldwide.
Sony’s family pic Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile fell just 5 percent to $3.2 million for a muted domestic tally of $40.8 million and $75.6 million worldwide.
Paramount’s blockbuster horror entry Smile rounded out the top five in North America with $2.3 million as it hit $210 million worldwide.
Among Oscar contenders, Banshees placed No. 7 with $1.7 million from 960 locations for a domestic total of $5.6 million.
MGM and UAR’s Till, coming in No. 9, saw its domestic total hit $8 million over the weekend.
Ye Unable to Sell ‘White Lives Matter’ Merch Due to Existing Trademark
Owned by Black radio hosts Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward of Civic Cipher.
They said they hoped that “best-case scenario”, the phrase would drop out of use over the coming months, although they feared it had “staying power”.
The trademark was filed on the day West wore a T-shirt at his surprise Paris Fashion Week show with an image of Pope John Paul II on the front and the phrase written on the back. The garment caused several members of the audience to walk out of the show and sparked widespread criticism around the globe. However, the initial purchaser of the trademark, a listener of the pair’s radio show who wishes to remain anonymous, transferred it to Ja and Ward’s company, Civic Cipher LLC, weeks later.
By purchasing the trademark, they hoped to prevent anyone from potentially profiting off the term, which has been categorised as a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League. The phrase has been used by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The trademark prevents anyone from selling any garments or other items bearing the phrase, meaning West will not be able to release the item shown in Paris.
The incident, and several anti-Semitic comments made by West in interviews in the weeks afterwards, have led to several high-profile brands, including adidas and Balenciaga, cutting ties with the rapper.
Edurk Black Pablo And His Many Industry Hats Are Taking Over
CEO of Awol GCode Promotions Edurk Black Pablo is taking over the scene with his label and as an entrepreneur, rapper, singer, producer, and musician. Based out of Alabama, his label currently has four signed artists and is expanding nationally and internationally.
Pablo’s acclaimed career set off in 1996 as a member of Dayton Family signed to a major deal with Relativity Records. The charting single “F.B.I.” peaked on Billboard 200 at #45. He then went on to collaborate with industry mixers and Hip Hop legends including Master P. ‘Down South Hustlers’ and 36 Mafia’s ‘Chapter II- World Domination’ reigned as 2 Gold albums. Soon after Pablo toured with Insane Clown Posse for a 50-state tour.
“I’ve been to prison, lost everything I had, lost my parents within a week apart, lost my brother, and ongoing life’s struggles forces you to keep pushing on. That’s what I do and intend to continue doing.”
As a solo artist, Pablo released his latest single/video “Tear Me Down” which has been creating a global frenzy. The track featuring T.Rell and Ziggy Zig Zag ranks at #60 on Top Independent Charts and #161 on Top Global Charts. Not giving himself any time to breathe, Pablo is also in the studio with multiplatinum producer Faided Beatz cooking up some new music, set to begin a summer tour with Gucci Mane’s artist Enchanting, and in the works to film The Dayton Family documentary Dope Dayton Ave.” Stay tuned for a heated summer and connect with Edurk Black Pablo below. “Big things are coming. I’m blessed and keep letting God drive the car.”
Connect with Edurk Black Pablo
Facebook: Edurk Black Pablo
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