TIME Pakistan

A Pakistani Terrorist Got a Bollywood Film Banned for Showing Him in a Bad Light

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa religious party, addresses the Harmain Sharifain Conference in support of the Saudi Arabian government in Peshawar
Fayaz Aziz—Reuters Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa religious party, addresses the Harmain Sharifain Conference in support of the Saudi Arabian government in Peshawar April 19, 2015.

The film will "poison the minds" of his fellow Pakistanis, Hafiz Saeed insists

An Indian movie set to be released next week was banned in Pakistan on Thursday at the behest of wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who filed a plea in court saying the film contains “filthy propaganda” against him and his organization.

The order to ban the film was issued by a judge at the Lahore High Court, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Saeed is the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa — the political wing of militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both organizations are blacklisted by the U.S., which has a $10 million bounty on Saeed. The U.N. declared Lashkar-e-Taiba a terrorist group in 2005.

The movie, titled Phantom, features Bollywood superstars Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif and is set in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that Saeed is said to have been the driving force behind. The attacks killed more than 150 people.

“There is a direct threat to the life of the petitioner and his associates emanating from the content of the trailer of the film,” Saeed’s lawyer said in an Aug. 8 petition. “It is obvious that dialogues coming out of the lips of the different Indian actors and actresses will poison the minds of Pakistani public and will portray Hafiz Saeed as terrorist even though JuD has not been declared as a proscribed organization,” he added.

The ban comes at a tense time for the adversarial South Asian neighbors, with an upcoming meeting between the Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisers clouded by Pakistan’s invitation to three separatist leaders from the long-disputed border region of Kashmir.

Indian films seen as anti-Pakistan have been banned in the past, but pirated versions are often easily available on DVD.

Read next: YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Music

Dee Barnes: Women Are ‘Casualties’ of Straight Outta Compton‘s ‘Revisionist History’

Dee Barnes Straight Outta Compton
Paul Archuleta—FilmMagic/Getty Rapper Dee Barnes arrives at the Luxury Book Launch of "Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey" and the exhibit premiere at The GRAMMY Museum on Feb. 8, 2011, in Los Angeles.

The N.W.A. biopic omits Dr. Dre's alleged violence against women

Dee Barnes, the former TV personality who said she was assaulted by N.W.A. rapper Dr. Dre in 1991, addressed on Tuesday the “revisionist history” of the hip hop group’s newly released biopic, Straight Outta Compton.

In an essay for Gawker, Barnes rejects director F. Gary Gray’s argument that the film omitted Dre’s history of violence against women — “f— horrible mistakes,” Dre admitted in an interview with Rolling Stone — in order to avoid clouding the rap group’s narrative with “a lot of side stories.”

Barnes, who agreed to watch the biopic and write a reflection, drew a careful line between sensitivity and responsibility of depicting N.W.A.’s and Dre’s alleged misogyny:

That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up …

But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, “Uhhh, what happened?” Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.

Barnes also criticizes fellow N.W.A. member Ice Cube for categorizing women as “upstanding ladies” or “despicable females,” and Dre for not “owning up” about two other women whom he allegedly assaulted during the 1990s:

Dre, who executive produced the movie along with his former groupmate Ice Cube, should have owned up to the time he punched his labelmate Tairrie B twice at a Grammys party in 1990. He should have owned up to the black eyes and scars he gave to his collaborator Michel’le. And he should have owned up to what he did to me. That’s reality. That’s reality rap.

Read the full piece at Gawker.

TIME movies

This Supercut of Movie Villains Will Make You Feel Extra Evil Today

So many bad guys

From The Shining to Schindler’s List, Misery to Man of Steel, Rocky IV to Home Alone 2, this new supercut from CLS Videos features a comprehensive compendium of cinematic bad guys. There are the villains that look like the rest of us — Patrick Bateman, Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter — and those that look like something else — Bane, The Terminator, Ronan the Accuser. Animated enemies are in the mix. There’s Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda, Syndrome from The Incredibles, and, of course, The Lion King‘s Scar, who can never be forgiven for what he did to Mufasa.

Check out the Tumblr for the full list of evil doers in the supercut, then cook up some fava beans and pour yourself a glass of a nice Chianti and watch the power of the dark side.

 

TIME movies

Watch the First Trailer for Michael Bay’s Benghazi Movie

The film depicts the U.S. diplomatic compound attack in Libya that killed a U.S. Ambassador and additional American personnel

The first trailer for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is out, offering a glimpse of Michael Bay’s latest directorial undertaking.

The red band trailer features plenty of Bay’s hallmark explosions and actions scenes, though with a decidedly more serious tone in its depiction of the 2012 attacks in Libya.

The movie is adapted from the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, by Mitchell Zukoff. The acclaimed nonfiction book, released last fall, details the assault on a U.S. diplomatic compound. The attacks killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, two CIA contractors, and and approximately 100 attackers.

13 Hours — which stars John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, and Pablo Schreiber — is due in theaters Jan. 15, 2016.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME

27 Kids’ Books That Became Major Movies

From Harry Potter to Paper Towns

The young adult book-to-movie adaptation trend is anything but new. As John Green’s Paper Towns hits theaters Friday, check out some of the best books that went from page to screen.

  • Harry Potter

    harry potter
    Warner Bros.

    The seven Harry Potter books were adapted into eight movies, kicking off the trend of splitting a series’ final book into two films. The final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, raked in more than $1.3 billion worldwide.

  • The Fault in Our Stars

    A Fault In Our Stars
    James Bridges—20th Century Fox

    John Green’s first book to head to theaters captured audiences with the love story of Augustus and Hazel, two terminally ill teenagers who taught readers and viewers that a short life can still be a good life.

  • Paper Towns

    paper-towns
    20th Century Fox

    Green’s second book to be adapted, by the same screenwriters who took Fault to the movies, follows Quentin as he tries to track down Margo Roth Spiegelman, his elusive crush who goes missing after the two spend a night together pranking their high school classmates.

  • The Spectacular Now

    the-spectacular-now
    Andrew Lauren Productions

    Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, a 2008 National Book Award Finalist, earned Sundance buzz in 2013 thanks to Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller’s on-screen chemistry and the film’s realistic portrayal of teenage tragedy.

  • The Book Thief

    the book thief
    Jules Heath—20th Century Fox

    Markus Zusak’s 2005 novel of the same name told the story of Liesel Meminger, who witnesses the horrors of the Nazis and learns to read from the Jewish man her foster parents are hiding in their basement.

  • The Hunger Games

    hunger games mockingjay part 2
    Color Force

    Suzanne Collins’ trilogy hit bookshelves in 2008 and catapulted to box office success in 2012 when Jennifer Lawrence took on the role of Katniss Everdeen, who fights against a totalitarian government in a dystopian society.

  • If I Stay

    if i stay
    Doane Gregory—Warner Bros.

    Chloe Grace Moretz starred as Mia in the 2014 adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2010 novel about a 17-year-old girl who watches herself in a coma after her family is in a fatal car accident.

  • Holes

    holes
    Walt Disney Pictures

    Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay for the movie based on his 1998 novel about a young boy named Stanley Yelnats who attends a juvenile detention camp with a secret history.

  • Matilda

    matilda
    Francois Duhamel—Tristar Pictures Inc.

    Roald Dahl’s 1988 book hit theaters eight years after publication, starring Mara Wilson, Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito, who also directed and narrated the movie.

  • The Outsiders

    the-outsiders
    Warner Bros.

    S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel about Ponyboy Curtis and the gangs of his hometown was published went the author was just 18 years old. The 1983 adaptation starred Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise and Patrick Swayze.

  • The Giver

    the giver
    David Bloomer—The Weinstein Company

    Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel is an early example of young adult fiction tackling dystopian themes. Despite being optioned for the screen in 1995, it took five screenplays and nearly 20 years before the 2014 film, starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Taylor Swift, finally hit theaters.

  • Little Women

    Little-Women
    Columbia Pictures

    Louisa May Alcott’s novel, published in two parts in the 1860s, follows four sisters from childhood to adulthood. It’s been adapted six times total, twice as silent versions. The most recent, out in 1994, starred Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale and Claire Danes.

  • The Hobbit

    the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies
    New Line Cinema

    J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy novel was adapted as a trilogy, starting in 2012 with An Unexpected Journey. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson concluded Bilbo Baggins’ saga with The Desolation of Smaug in 2013 and The Battle of the Five Armies in 2014.

  • The Lord of the Rings

    Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King
    Pierre Vinet—Wingnut Films

    Tolkien’s three-part follow up to The Hobbit was adapted in 2001, 2002 and 2003, with the final film, The Return of the King, winning all of its 11 Academy Award nominations, including Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

  • The Wizard of Oz

    the wizard of oz
    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 and became wildly popular thanks to the 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. Though it lost out to Gone with the Wind for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it did win Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.”

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    ALICE IN WONDERLAND
    Walt Disney Pictures

    The 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll has graced the silver screen more than 10 times, most recently in 2010 when director Tim Burton retold Alice’s story as a 19-year-old who returns to the fantasy land from her childhood to dethrone the Red Queen, played by Helena Bonham Carter.

  • Harriet the Spy

    harriet the spy
    Nickelodeon Movies

    Michelle Trachtenberg starred in the 1996 film adaptation of Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 novel about an 11-year-old girl whose notebook is stolen by classmates, revealing every honest thought she has about her peers.

  • The Princess Bride

    the-princess-bride
    20th Century Fox

    The 1972 fantasy novel is often forgotten as a book, thanks in part to the eminently quotable 1987 cult classic starring Robin Wright and Mandy Patinkin.

  • Ender’s Game

    enders-game
    Chartoff Productions

    Orson Scott Card served as a producer for the 2013 film based on his 1986 sci-fi book about the gifted Ender Wiggin, a child being trained to fight an alien species.

  • Hugo

    hugo
    Jaap Buitendijk—GK Films

    Martin Scorsese adapted Brian Selznick’s 2007 illustrated novel into the 2011 Academy Award-winning film Hugo, which starred Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law and Richard Griffiths.

  • Divergent

    DIVERGENT
    Jaap Buitendijk—Summit Entertainment

    Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy was first published in 2011 and then adapted into an ongoing four-part film series in 2014. Shailene Woodley stars as heroine Tris Prior, who, like other protagonists in similar dystopian novels, fights against an oppressive government.

  • Twilight

    twilight
    Summit Entertainment

    Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-romance saga was adapted into a series of five films starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, grossing more than $3 billion worldwide.

  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

    the-sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants
    Warner Bros.

    Ann Brashares’ series about an ordinary pair of pants that magically fits four very different girls was adapted into two films starring Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn. The movies also inspired real-life friendships between the actresses, which they’ve documented on social media.

  • The Princess Diaries

    the-princess-diaries
    Walt Disney Pictures

    Meg Cabot’s 2000 novel was adapted into a movie in 2001 that was produced by Whitney Houston. The film, which starred Julie Andrews and a young Anne Hathaway, even spawned a sequel.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower
    Summit Entertainment

    Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the 2012 film version of his 1990 book that follows Charlie through his turbulent freshman year of high school. The film starred Emma Watson in one of her first post-Harry Potter leading roles.

TIME Media

How Paramount Might Change the Way You Watch Movies Forever

inside-movie-theater-cinema
Getty Images

Paramount is bringing some films to your home quicker than ever before

Early July, Paramount changed things. The change won’t be immediate, nor is it guaranteed that it’ll catch on at all in this particular iteration. But they made a move that, while seemingly just a smart way of dipping a toe into the waters of alternative distribution for non-guaranteed studio projects, is also going to draw a lot of attention. If it doesn’t work, somebody else will find a way to make it happen. If it does, they have the unique opportunity of being at the vanguard of the next wave of modern film distribution and consumption. Whether that’s a good thing or not probably depends on the extent to which you, too, cringed, internally or otherwise, at the word “consumption” being used to describe the viewing of a film.

And for the melodrama of that last paragraph, Paramount’s new gambit completely warrants it. On July 8th, the studio announced that they had reached a deal with AMC Theatres and Canada’s Cineplex Inc. to release the upcoming films Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse on VOD/on-demand home rental services only 50 or so days after their theatrical releases, ensuring that people can continue to text during movies with impunity.

They’re a good pair of initial test subjects: Paranormal Activity has seen diminished returns over its three sequels and one spin-off, and The Ghost Dimension will be hitting theaters nearly two years to the day after its originally announced release date in October 2013. As for Scout’s Guide, it was bumped to the fall from March of this year, after also being renamed from the more succinct Scouts vs. Zombies.

Again, they’re both excellent guinea pigs. Even setting aside the dramatic depreciation that even the most successful genre movies typically experience from week to week, there’s the matter of the threshold for an acceptable box office return being far lower for either film than it would be if, say, Paramount decided to launch this experiment with the next Transformers. (This, at least, would allow that film to shamelessly beam advertisements into your home around a loosely assembled movie with even greater ease.) While other heavy-hitting distributors like Regal and Cinemark weigh the merits of this new model, it’s hard to fault AMC for getting in on the game. After all, times are tough for theaters, no matter how many times people race back out to see Jurassic World orInside Out yet again.

Digression time, and briefly, but 2014’s box office hit a 20-year low. Any number of reasons have been cited for this: the exhaustive parade of mega budget sequels and franchise properties, the decline of the theatrical experience in the smartphone age, the quality of modern movies, the overpriced theaters themselves. Since each of those bullet points arguably deserves its own series of lengthy essays, let’s just focus on that last bit — the theaters. Everybody has their own story (and if you want to leave a comment to this effect, please do), but since CoS is a Chicago-rooted publication, let’s talk numbers in Chicago as they currently stand.

On average, a movie ticket to a local AMC or Regal theatre is $7-13 dollars, depending on the time of day. Concessions, the real cash cow for any big-time theater giving most of the ticket income right back to the studios, will run you $6-8 for a popcorn, $4-6 for a drink, and that’s to say nothing of candy or the bars more and more theaters are installing of late. (More on that later.) So, already the trip is running you an estimable average of at least $20 for yourself. Want that screening in 3D? Add another three or four dollars. Make it another few more if you want it on an “IMAX” screen, most of which are just the “super screens” of yore re-branded and up-charged into oblivion. So, now you’re getting into the $25-30 range. That doesn’t even include parking and assumes it’s just you. Have a family of four? Suddenly you’re spending over $100 for the privilege of watching little, yellow corn men holler nonsense or something to that effect. And broken down that way, it’s not particularly hard to understand why people aren’t going to the movies.

Attendance is always huge for big summer spectacles (unless your film happens to be named Terminator Genisys, anyway), but it’s low-budget fare like Paranormal Activity that stands to benefit most from Paramount’s bold new model. In this way, for at least a while, going to see a film in a theater can be an opening-weekend event for those desirous of such a thing, and for the people who don’t care, or would rather just watch a new movie at home, now they only have to wait a month or so. And theaters have been struggling of late; Disney recently fought with theatrical distributors over Age of Ultron in an attempt to micro-regulate theaters’ abilities to offer discounts, so as to boost overall profits as much as possible. The recent monetary struggles of studio films in their theatrical phase has led to everybody getting chippy on every side, attempting to retain their part of an old structure as the whole thing starts to crumble, and therefore it’s unsurprising that, as one anonymous exec told The Wall Street Journal, Paramount’s gambit is “the edge of the sword.” Sooner or later, somebody was going to at least try it.

It does, however, cast an even longer shadow over the big question nobody really seems to want to answer: How badly do people want, and perhaps more importantly need, to see their movies in a theater? For years, the model has been shifting as streaming services have offered at least the early steps along a new path, one that sends films straight to the consumer and eradicates the middle men, at the cost of sacrificing the communal experience of the theater. Theaters all over the U.S. have been trotting out any number of new devices to attempt to combat this, from the aforementioned “IMAX” theaters to Dolby’s new Atmos sound system to electronic Barcaloungers in screening rooms to bars and restaurants in the theaters themselves. That last bit seems to be the most telling in examining audience preferences and theaters’ attempts to kowtow to them: to rouse themselves from the home, people have to be able to do an entire evening out in one shot. By letting people cut out the trip to the bar or to the restaurant across the parking lot, you cut out the chance that people could call it an early night and head home. Some may call that efficiency and savvy. Others, desperation.

The other massive change suggested by Paramount’s new distribution model, one that seems to have gone relatively unheralded in talk of it, is what this would do for the reputation of the straight-to-home film. Ever since the advent of the VHS in the ‘80s, there’s been a clear line between movies that come out in theaters and movies that don’t. Movies that come out in theaters are events worth lining up for; movies that go straight to home video usually star Dolph Lundgren. In recent years, this has changed, with VOD services allowing filmgoers both casual and serious to choose which films they’ll leave the house for and which are rented. There’s now the movie you go to the theater to see on opening weekend, the one you see after a few weeks when it’s less crowded, the movie you wait to Redbox, and the movie you wait to hopefully order right from your TV. In certain respects, it’s no different than the scenarios offered by the VHS or DVD, but now the timing is changing. Don’t feel like rousing yourself from your comfortable couch in the dead of winter to see a documentary across town? There’s a decent chance it’s already sitting right on your TV.

What’s going to change that reputation isn’t the distribution model, per se, but how it’s used. In a post-Netflix world, the best filmmakers aren’t necessarily working exclusively toward a big theatrical release any longer. Earlier this year Spike Lee released Da Sweet Blood of Jesus exclusively on Vimeo, nearly a month before its limited arthouse rollout.Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser debuted this past week on Crackle, Sony’s VOD service. Adam Sandler, perhaps that first example’s most distinct polar opposite, has signed a multi-film deal with Netflix for his upcoming releases, and the Duplass brothers recently followed suit. For filmmakers either looking for a more lucrative model in a tumultuous, focus group-centric time for studios, or even those like the Duplasses (Duplassi?) who simply prefer to play in a smaller, more controllable sandbox, streaming services like Netflix are already offering a way out of the crowded studio landscape.

To a certain extent, this is a great thing. Independent filmmaking has become its own lucrative beast in the time of the “Sundance hit” being the gold standard, and so even with studios like Fox Searchlight and Focus (at least the Focus of the early aughts, if not the one at present), the ostensible goal is still to manufacture a low-budget smash hit. Independent filmmaking in its rawest sense has largely moved online, because there, the sort of person who’d chase out to their local independent theater can find whatever they want. It’s also eradicated so many of the hurdles that used to accompany a cinephile’s early years if they didn’t live in a major urban center. (Often I lament that I didn’t become obsessed with film in high school when so many would have been at my eager fingertips. But it would’ve come at the expense of learning things like basic human interaction, so that’s probably just as well.) In so many words, streaming services have made it a lot easier for people to fall in love with the cinema, and that’s usually the point. Right?

But every frontier eventually sees a conqueror, and Paramount might be that. Much of the impetus for so many independent films’ recent reliance on VOD is the relative impossibility of getting them into major theaters. Because of chains like AMC and Regal and Cineplex Inc., the same chains hashing out this momentous decision with Paramount, so many American films released in a single calendar year won’t be seen by more than a few thousand people. VOD has offered a way for the dedicated cinephile to escape the exhaustion of going to a 20-screen theater where only a half dozen movies are playing, as they are at every other similar theater in the area at the same time, probably.

For Paramount or any major studio to move into that space, then, is to continue the problem that’s been plaguing theaters for decades now: How does everybody get a place at the table when the latecomers are taking up so much space? The answer, in its numerous iterations so far at least, is that they don’t. The heavy hitters will dominate the conversation, and the rest will clamor for whatever remains. This isn’t to say that no studio should; setting aside the crushing inevitability of it all, there’s also something to be said for the possibilities of studios taking chances on less-proven properties with a lower ceiling for success in place. But wherever there’s a takeover, there’s always a casualty.

If anything, that casualty may well be the theater, long before it’d be the micro-budget movie. And there’s something truly sad about that, about the idea that we could be watching the end of an institution in its dominant time, about how the movie theater might one day be a niche activity on par with the drive-in that some people enjoy, but from which many have moved on. Lest you assume this to be melodrama, ask anybody in your life who isn’t a dedicated film buff how many movies they’ve seen in a theater in the past one, two, five years. In the likely event that number is low, ask them why they stopped going, and you’ll hear all about the prices, the disrespectful patrons, the 20 minutes of trailers, et al.

So many disparate forces have conspired to make the theatrical experience as difficult as possible that we’re all trying to find a new way to watch movies. Selfishly, we can’t help but hope against hope that the old way isn’t beyond saving. The new way, whatever it ends up looking like in its most crystallized form, is all but guaranteed to look a lot more solitary.

This article originally appeared on Consequence of Sound

TIME film

Amy Schumer Talks Writing Trainwreck and Working With Pro Athletes

'It was difficult but also liberating to write a script that personal'

Amy Schumer’s debut film Trainwreck comes out this Friday and is loosely inspired by the comedian-turned-actress’ life before fame and fortune.

In the video above, Schumer talks about what it was like working with director Judd Apatow. Schumer praises Apatow for guiding her through her first movie without stamping it as a “Judd Apatow” film.

“It was a lot of stuff I was learning at the time, that I didn’t know about myself” Schumer said of writing the script.

The comedy also features a few professional athletes, including basketball players LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire, and professional wrestler John Cena. Schumer and co-star Bill Hader describe the athletes as effortlessly funny actors. “It wasn’t fair,” they joked.

 

TIME Amazon

This Is How Much Sales Rose For Amazon On Prime Day

The company said sales surpassed Black Friday

Despite the negative reaction on social media to Amazon’s offerings during the first-ever Prime Day Wednesday to celebrate the retailer’s 20th anniversary, sales apparently soared.

In fact, sales were up 80% in the U.S. and 40% in Europe, according to ChannelAdvisor and CNN Money.

Amazon even boasted that sales yesterday surpassed last year’s Black Friday, although it’s unclear exactly what figure Jeff Bezos’ company scored. It did, however, discuss the number of a few items sold throughout the day: “Prime members have bought tens of thousands of Fire TV Sticks, 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets, 28,000 Rubbermaid sets, and 4,000 Echos in 15 minutes. The Kate Spade purse was gone in less than a minute. The 1.2K of $999 TVs sold out in less than 10 minutes,” the company said in a statement.

However, Amazon earned a fair amount of criticism for its “Lightning Deals” and the products it chose to discount, CNN reported: “We have years of experience with these types of events and we stagger the deals to make sure the fun will last through tonight,” the company shot back in a statement.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced the upcoming release of its first-ever original film, which will be directed by Spike Lee.

TIME Amazon

Amazon Is Working With Spike Lee For its First Original Movie

2013 Summer TCA Tour - Day 2
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Director Spike Lee.

Cast includes Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, and Samuel L. Jackson

Amazon announced Wednesday that it’ll be creating its first-ever original film.

It will be Spike Lee’s next major movie and has been dubbed Chi-Raq. According to Amazon’s press release, the film features an all-star cast, including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, and Samuel L. Jackson.

“Chi-Raq will shed light on the serious, but often overlooked issue of violence in inner cityChicago,” Amazon said.

“Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time,” said Ted Hope, who heads up Amazon’s motion picture production, in a statement. “It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker with whom to launch our studio.”

“I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important,” said Spike Lee in a statement. “Please don’t be fooled by the title of Chi-Raq, this new Spike Lee joint will be something very special. We have assembled a stellar cast.”

Amazon first announced it’d be creating original films in January. The e-commerce giant said at the time that is has plans to produce 12 films a year.

The announcement coincides with Amazon’s first Prime Day in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

TIME movies

Why There Are No Female Minions

Minions creator Pierre Coffin explains why none of his creatures are female

There’s a reason all the heroes in the new Despicable Me spin-off are male.

Minions, which is on track to earn $100 million in its opening weekend, stars a female villain and an all-male cast of yellow, pill-shaped heroes.

It’s unusual for a movie to rely so heavily on a cast of males, but Minions creator Pierre Coffin says it’s thanks to their general cloddishness.

“Seeing how dumb and stupid they often are, I just couldn’t imagine Minions being girls,” Coffin told TheWrap.

The creatures can’t reproduce or divide themselves, Coffin has said — and maybe that’s a good thing.

[TheWrap]

Read next: This Is How Minions Took Over the World

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