‘Creed’ Opens Dialogue on Diversity in Boxing Films; Becomes Holiday Weekend Hit

Though “The Hunger Games” latest franchise topped box office numbers with $51.6 million in its second weekend in theaters, “Creed,” which cost $35 million to make, earned $42.6 million over five days. It’s the 10th biggest Thanksgiving debut of all time. The critically acclaimed Ryan Coogler-directed film stars Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), who plays the son of iconic Rocky character—and one of few black leads in the film franchise, Apollo Creed—Adonis Johnson. Polls indicate that the audience for the film has been largely male and over age 25, according to reports.

[Related: 5 Movies to Watch This Thanksgiving Weekend]

“This is a movie that played broadly everywhere,” Jeffrey Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., told NBC News. “You expect it to do well in the big markets and even the medium-size markets, but the small markets were just fantastic.”

The film features Sylvester Stallone’s seventh appearance as Rocky Balboa, but this time he left the boxing to Jordan, serving as his trainer in a sequel that revived the story of Balboa for today’s generation. Jordan, according to reports, welcomed the possibility of another sequel, Creed 2, even before writer-director Ryan Coogler’s new chapter in the Rocky Balboa boxing saga opened to mostly rave reviews.

“A character so rich as this, and the world he’s in, I want to see what happens to him next and what he does,” Jordan said in a recent interview. “Especially the way it ends off, it’s pretty cool. I think with success and time and circumstances, it would be exciting to come back and work with (co-stars) Sly (Stallone) and Tessa (Thompson) again.” The film also featured Phylicia Rashad as Apollo Creed’s widow who takes in Johnson from a juvenile detention home, and breakout star Thompson (“Dear White People”) co-stars as the romantic lead.

Casting a lead black actor in the Rocky franchise has been seen as a welcome refresher for today’s audience, especially with the recent nationwide attention on the treatment and disenfranchisement of young black men.

One reviewer even called the film “silently revolutionary” in its shift to Creed’s legacy versus that of Balboa. “Its groundbreaking feature isn’t that complex: Coogler simply presents us with a genuine rarity, a black boxing hero on the big screen,” writes Ashley Clark for The Guardian. She continues:

“Granted, Hollywood has given us prestige documentaries like classic When We Were Kings (1996), about the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman; and biopics of black boxers in the form of Norman Jewison’s moving The Hurricane (1999), about the wrongfully imprisoned Rubin Carter, and Michael Mann’s stately, if slightly stodgy Ali (2001). But even though black boxers dominated the sport for a significant chunk of the 20th century—black fighters held an almost total stranglehold on the heavyweight title, with a handful of exceptions, from Joe Louis in the 1930s to the Klitschko era of the last decade—the statistics have not been reflected in cinematic representation.”

On social, the film continued to gain support of both the casting of Jordan as well as Coogler’s prowess in reinventing the story without losing its core:


Google and Microsoft Step Up Effort To Ease App Delivery

While both business users and consumers love using apps to access a wide range of tasks and information, the path of developing and distributing apps can be further streamlined. Two tech giants are smoothing the path by making apps easier to develop and deploy.

5 Ways to Bring Some Holiday Cheer to the Office

Photo of a pile of gift-wrapped boxes

(Source: ChristmasToyDrive.com)

Want to add a bit of cheer to your office around the holidays? You don’t need to craft an elaborate scheme to accomplish this. All you need are a few good ideas that can be easily executed to get the ball rolling.

Here are a few to choose from:

1. Holiday Potluck. Everyone loves the pomp and circumstance of a holiday feast with lots of variety. It’s a great activity that everyone can indulge in and after all, the more, the merrier. Pick a day with low activity, so that everyone can relax and enjoy the festivities. Create a list early on with the kinds of dishes you want represented and have people sign up for what they’d like to bring. Add a few colorful decorations, music, and of course, don’t forget to assign a clean-up committee.

2. Bake-Off. Got a few bakers chomping at the bit to share their wares? Take this opportunity to introduce a healthy, festive competition among colleagues who’d love to show off their culinary skills. It’s a fun and delicious activity that allows the whole office to get involved and can result in a few cool prizes for top winners.

3. Festive Decorating Contest. If creatives abound in your office, consider hosting a decorating contest that encourages colleagues to decorate their own individual office space. It will definitely get the office looking “holiday spiffy in a jiffy” and encourage colleagues to put their best decorative foot forward. Feel free to offer prizes here, too.

4. Food Drive. The holidays are a great time to consider others, especially since so many families are in need. Why not collect non-perishable items that can be dropped off at local shelters or food banks and can be distributed by entities equipped to distribute en masse? You can begin collection efforts early and drop off weekly or assign a single deadline and drop off all items at once, depending on the size of your office. Alternatively, think about adopting a few families and collecting a larger selection of items that will amount to full meals. Everyone can feel good about collective giving and contributing to the greater good.

5.  Targeted Toy Drive. Want to bring incredible joy to a child’s heart? The gifts that   you give children during holiday drives are often the only ones they will receive. There are several ways to approach this effort, often with the most effective way being to donate specific gifts to children that have been identified in advance. A tracking mechanism (such as a paper tree), can be used to identify each need and make sure that every child has been taken care of. If any gifts remain outstanding, colleagues can collaborate to capture the unmet need.

Not sure which one to choose? Don’t fret—there’s still time. Whatever you select, you’ll be well on your way to spreading joy and cheer in your office this holiday season.

Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @WSRapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.

A Break for California Franchise Owners? New Law Gives Them More Control

Assembly Bill 525

Franchises allow individuals to go into business knowing they have the backing of the franchisor. This has its advantages and disadvantages. Those positives ad negatives were recently highlighted in California as Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the strongest franchisee protection rules in the U.S.

One of the benefits of owning a franchise is that it comes with a lot of support from the franchisor. The downside is that, depending on the company, this support comes with some strict rules that franchisees have been claiming greatly favor the franchisor.

The new law, Assembly Bill No. 525 or AB525, gives new rights and protection to franchisees. The law passed with a large majority in the Assembly (56-12) and by 37 to 0 in the Senate. And it also received support from industry players after long negotiations.

Sometimes informally called the “Franchise Bill of Rights,” the new legislation has some revisions regarding the responsibilities of franchisors and franchisees, as specified in the California Franchise Relations Act (CFRA). The main points apply to the termination of a franchise agreement, compensation to the franchisee when an agreement is terminated or renewed, and the sale and transfer of the franchise by the franchisee.

Some of the finer points of the law are:

Franchisors can no longer terminate a franchise before the expiration of its term except for good cause. It is important to note the language. More specifically “good cause” has been a point of contention, and many see this as a gateway for litigation between franchisees and franchisors.  But the law goes on to specify and limit good cause to the failure of the franchisee to substantially comply with the lawful requirements imposed upon the franchisee by the franchise agreement.

When a franchise is terminated or not renewed lawfully, the franchisor must purchase all inventory, supplies, equipment, fixtures and furnishings that were purchased under the terms of the franchise agreement.  This purchase is to be made at the value of the price that was paid by the franchisee minus depreciation.

Franchisors cannot prevent a franchisee from selling or transferring the franchise whether it is in part, total or a controlling or non-controlling interest, if the person is qualified under the standards for the approval of new or renewing franchisees.

This law is supposed to curb the power franchisors exercise over franchisees. Earlier this year the law’s author, California’s Assembly Majority Leader Chris Holden stated in an official release, “Franchise corporations should not be able to use their dominance to rob franchisees of their livelihood. They should not be able to destroy someone’s future by hiding behind an unjust contract and weak state laws.”

The International Franchise Association was against the  legislation for obvious reasons, but in the end Gov. Brown did sign a bill into law after such overwhelming support by the legislature.

California Gov. Jerry Brown Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “A Break for California Franchise Owners? New Law Gives Them More Control” was first published on Small Business Trends