Charli d’Amelio at age 16 became the person with the most followers on TikTok by reaching the record of 100 million fans on the short video social network. Her videos, which started out as dances, have been expanded to make her a major Generation Z influencer and billing millions with her relationships with various brands.
The Connecticut-born dancer began uploading videos to TikTok in 2019 and thanks to the popularity of her videos, she has launched makeup lines and even has a drink at Dunkin Donuts called “The Charli.”
However, recently Charli d’Amelio faced controversy because a video on her YouTube account shows her with her entire family with another great influencer James Charles having dinner from a guest chef. Charli made fun of some of the dishes and social networks condemned this attitude and caused him to lose a million followers.
After waking up to the news, Charli filmed an Instagram Live, saying: ‘I don’t even know how to react, mostly because this doesn’t feel real. How do people even react to this? I just genuinely don’t know what to do.’
‘I’m in my bathroom by myself watching edits on Twitter because they’re making me cry. I just genuinely do not know what to do. I’m so confused,’ she continued. ‘Life doesn’t feel real. It’s just so weird to think a little over a year ago, I was in Connecticut doing regular school, doing nothing, and now I’m living in LA.’
Charli later announced that in honor of her milestone, TikTok will be donating $100,000 to the American Dance Movement, an organization that works to improve and increase access to dance education in the U.S. ‘I’ve been dancing my entire life, and I’m so thankful to be able to give back [to] the community that made me the person that I am,’ she said of the donation.
The influencer went on to celebrate the news on Twitter, where she invited her fans to join her on Zoom calls to thank them. ‘IS THIS REAL LIFE RIGHT NOW,’ she tweeted. ‘100 MILLION PEOPLE SUPPORTING ME!! I TRULY CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS REAL.’
Of course, Charli also marked the milestone by posting a number of TikTok videos on Sunday, once again thanking her followers for their support. ‘Thank you guys so so so much, I cannot believe that there is 100 million supporters following me right now,’ she said in one clip. ‘That is insane, oh my goodness.’
‘I feel like this is a dream, kind of waiting to wake up,’ she admitted. Charli, who is a competitive dancer from Norwalk, Connecticut, posted her first TikTok in June 2019. She had a number of videos go viral thanks to her dances featuring choreography, montages, and lip-syncs.
Within a year and a half, she has reached her history-making goal of 100 million TikTok followers, an incredible fete on any platform. Kylie Jenner, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian are a few of the A-list stars who have over 100 million followers on Instagram.
Charli, who is one of TikTok’s highest-earning stars, made $4 million from June 2019 to June 2020, according to Forbes. While she was on track to reach 100 million followers, she was likely surprised it happened after such a disastrous week.
Just last Thursday, the TikTok star broke down on an Instagram Live over the backlash she was facing over her family’s video featuring their personal chef.’Seeing how people reacted to this, like, I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore,’ she sobbed. ‘Like this is messed up stuff that people are saying. Like people telling me to hang myself.’
‘People just blatantly disrespecting the fact that I’m still a human being is not OK at all,’ she continued ‘Like you can hate on me for whatever I’ve done, but the fact that all of this is happening because [of] a misunderstanding. ‘Like I just feel like that’s not OK, and if this is the community that I’m in and the community that I put myself in, I don’t know if I want to do that anymore.’
A tearful Charli then urged her followers to be kind to others on social media. ‘I know that this is gonna be a huge joke to whoever sees it, but like, at the end of the day, just, like, be nice,’ she said……
“Damn, it’s hot out here,” says Tyler Perry, who isn’t making it easy on himself, clad in all black but for the shock of a white mask, as he directs a 12-person crew through a scene for the BET comedy Sistas. Last year, Perry might have avoided shooting in Atlanta’s July sun, but in this coronavirus era, you take any window you can, and “Camp Quarantine” at his Tyler Perry Studios is trying to pioneer post-pandemic entertainment making.
“Get out of the car,” he calls out to an actor in a cop car who walks over to a silver pickup driven by show regular Devale Ellis. Then he feeds Ellis his line—“What’d I do?” No one seems to have seen the script. When you’re looking to get an entire season of primetime television in the can in 11 days—all before the rest of Hollywood has made it out of hiding—corners must be cut.
Away from the shoot, sitting alone on a metal folding chair in the center of a cavernous and empty soundstage, a container of Lysol wipes at his feet, Perry explains his method. “I mostly go on my gut and my instinct. I like to challenge the system and see what I can do differently.”
That’s an especially winning strategy in a system that feels stacked against you. Mostly dismissed by the Hollywood establishment and even some other Black luminaries (Spike Lee once derided Perry’s crass slapstick approach as “coonery buffoonery” before later relenting), Perry has succeeded for two reasons: He has honed a product that too many others viewed as destined for the discount bin. And he made sure to control it all.
The 51-year-old entertainer owns the entirety of his creative output, including more than 1,200 episodes of television, 22 feature films and at least two dozen stage plays, as well as a 330-acre studio lot at the edge of Atlanta’s southern limits. He used that control to leverage a deal with ViacomCBS that pays him $150 million a year for new content and gives him an equity stake in BET+, the streaming service it debuted last September. Forbes estimates Perry has earned more than $1.4 billion in pretax income since 2005, which he used to buy homes in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as well as two planes. Quite a lifestyle for a once-homeless playwright raised in poverty in New Orleans. Today, Forbes estimates his net worth at $1 billion, with a clear path to future membership in The Forbes 400.
Rallying Around Madea
Anatural ham, Perry grew up making his mother laugh with impersonations. He was dealing with more than poverty: He describes an upbringing by an abusive man who he later learned was not his father. He was inspired to write out the stress he was feeling after watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, and spent his 20s touring small theaters around the country performing the plays he wrote, produced and starred in—a crash course in what was to come.
“You got to understand, I had no mentors,” Perry says. “My father doesn’t know anything about business, and my uncles and mother, they know nothing about this. I didn’t go to business school. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned in progress.”
After dropping out of high school, he gained knowledge any way he could. In his early 20s, he worked at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, home to the annual National Association of Television Program Executives conference. The young Perry would use badges left behind in empty rooms to sneak into closed gatherings. One highlight: meeting game-show host Pat Sajak.
He began writing scripts while selling cars and serving as a bill collector. He eventually cobbled together $12,000, which he used to rent space at a community theater in Atlanta to produce a work he had drafted in his spare time.
The play, I Know I’ve Been Changed, was a story of child-abuse survivors. It was hardly an overnight success. At one point it wasn’t generating enough money to enable him to pay his rent, and for three months, he lived out of his car on and off while he tweaked the production, working out the kinks until it started to garner some notice. He designed the set, made the programs and hung the lights; he even sold snacks during intermission.
It took me I don’t know how many days to finally get him convinced that the writer, director, does not do this,” says Arthur Primas, Perry’s promoter for more than two decades.
Perry toured relentlessly, slowly building a strong following among Black Americans, particularly the churchgoing set—older women like his mother, who had their burdens to bear and relished the chance to have someone give them a voice and, even better, a laugh. His iconic character, Madea, a straight-talking grandmother with a bad wig, a large stomach and even larger breasts, delivered her homespun moralism with brutally honest humor, becoming a must-see spectacle on the so-called “Chitlin Circuit,” a loosely defined network of small theaters in Black communities nationwide.
“I was aware of the traveling plays, but I never really took them seriously because . . . I considered myself a person who appreciates theater and Broadway,” Winfrey says. “But I went to see one in Los Angeles, and I was not just moved by it, I was changed by it.”
She invited Perry on her talk show in 2001, when he was in his early 30s. Onscreen they shared the requisite inspirational language of tenacity and renewal, but backstage they mined another seam altogether: money. Winfrey, who by then owned her show and Harpo, the company that produced it, offered Perry a secret, one he was already beginning to learn on his own: the importance of “writing your own checks” and being fully in control.
She became a friend, sounding board and, perhaps most importantly, a catalyst. Even before he made his first film or TV show, Perry hauled in more than $100 million from theater ticket sales, moved $20 million worth of merchandise and collected another $30 million selling videos of the performances.
It was time for him to go to Hollywood.
Retreat To Atlanta
The introduction was made at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, a 1,200-seat Italianate building opened in the 1920s, the dawn of Los Angeles’ ascension as an entertainment capital. In 2001, Perry booked a three-night run of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, an event designed to bring out the kingmakers—producers, executives, lawyers and monied benefactors—who could make him a star. The show sold out, but the seats weren’t filled with power brokers, just locals and some assistants sent to see what all the fuss was about.
“I couldn’t walk down the street without people screaming, ‘Madea, Tyler, Madea!’ ” Perry says, recalling his days on the road. “And then I got to Hollywood, and they had no clue. No clue to what I’d done, who I was or the following I had.”
One of the assistants who had seen the show worked for Chuck Lorre, the acclaimed showrunner high on the success of hits Grace Under Fire, Cybill and Dharma & Greg. After hearing about the play, he decided he’d try to pitch a sitcom built around Perry. The networks wouldn’t bite, though, so Lorre moved on to Two and a Half Men, the Charlie Sheen show that became a breakout hit for CBS.
“There was about a 10-year period where everything went on a deep lull and there was nothing being made for people of color,” Perry says. So he retreated to Atlanta, where he continued working on his stage plays and a film script. But he couldn’t stop thinking about television. A recipe for syndication he remembered from sneaking into those sessions at the broadcasters’ convention stuck with him: 100 episodes, a loyal audience and a willing distributor.
“The ignorance I had about Hollywood was so wonderful, looking back on it,” he says.
He rented a warehouse behind a strip club in south Atlanta and turned it into a soundstage, investing in the tools of the trade he knew little about—lights, booms, mics, set decorations—and began shooting. He focused on scenes of a multigenerational Black family living together in Atlanta, the origins of his first sitcom.
A break came in 2006, when two struggling broadcast networks, UPN and WB, merged to create a new one called CW. The new network needed content, and Perry had it. He went back to Hollywood, this time armed with 10 full episodes of television shot, paid for and ready to air. CW bought it and aired it as House of Payne, which pulled in ratings wildly above expectations. Executives at the much larger TBS network took note. Before Perry had filmed another scene, he landed a guarantee that TBS would air at least 90 new episodes of his show that he would own outright. The network offered $200 million to get him away from CW, pure gold for such cheap productions—“primetime programming on a soap opera budget,” as one top agent calls it—that spent nothing on writers, directors, producers or showrunners. Perry pocketed a huge haul: an estimated $138 million.
“It was so out of the box, such a different paradigm,” says entertainment lawyer Dan Black, who says Perry’s deal is still referenced in negotiations today. “You can get meaningful fees and meaningful back-end, but if you own the content, that’s very, very impressive and not an easy thing to do.”
Though he was clearly drawing huge crowds, the overwhelmingly white Hollywood executive set still didn’t quite get it. Perry’s attempt to rework Diary for film yielded little more than suggestions for rewrites and plot turns that would be more palatable for “mainstream” audiences.
“ ‘Black people who go to church don’t go to the movies,’ ” Perry recalls one executive telling him at the time. “I came from a place where Black people had already embraced me and loved me. I was completely happy there, and still am.”
So he forged opportunity out of others’ ignorance. He made Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer a proposal: He would put up half the money, collect half the profits and keep control of the content. The studio held the right to deduct all marketing costs from his cut, which Perry knew would be minimal, considering his following, as well as another 12.5% in distribution costs. The sweetener: Perry would eventually own it all outright.
“ ‘What do you want [Diary] to do?’ ” Perry recalls asking.
“Well, if it makes us $20 million I’ll be very, very happy,” Feltheimer replied, referring to its lifetime box-office haul.
“I said, ‘OK, great—$20 million the first weekend?’ ”
Diary, which cost $5.5 million to make, grossed $51 million in theaters and has since brought in an additional $150 million in video rentals, on- demand viewing, DVD sales and TV licensing.
While most of Hollywood shrugged off the movie’s success as a fluke, Perry and Lionsgate began pumping out Madea movies—11 of them over 14 years, all made on speedy production schedules and minimal budgets. By the time Perry decided to retire the franchise in 2019, it had grossed more than $670 million at the box office and netted him about $290 million in fees and profits, Forbes estimates.
That’s all now starting to come home, as those Lionsgate titles begin reverting to his control. With the help of financial adviser John Cary at Atlanta’s NextGen Capital, Perry is starting to exploit the films more aggressively overseas, with early success in South Africa, South America and parts of Europe, all while continuing to self-finance hundreds of new TV episodes and at least one new feature film every year.
Revenge On Rebel Soil
Poetically, Tyler Perry Studios, America’s most prolific production venue for entertainment for Black audiences, was once a Confederate military stronghold. Renamed Fort McPherson, the army base was used to house prisoners during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Its historic brick homes and structures have hosted luminaries including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Colin Powell, and its rutted 18-hole golf course, Perry says, once rivaled Augusta. The challenge for Perry, who once lived in a car he parked nearby, is to make it the setting for the denouement of his Horatio Alger narrative.
From the outside, it’s a hard piece of real estate to be excited about, bordered on the north by a long stretch of barbed wire, to the east by a mile-long stretch of train tracks and to the south by the din of State Highway 154. It’s sandwiched between two neighborhoods that have seen better days, with rows of middle-class houses, some spiffed up with bright landscaping, most with faded paint and chipped siding. More than a few are littered with old mattresses left to the elements.
Inside the gates, though, is a paradise no one enjoys more than Perry. During a visit last fall, he zipped around in a Polaris Ranger to the new soundstages he opened and christened with the names of showbiz legends including Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. As he drove, he called out the highlights—a strip mall, a yacht, an empty soundstage, a house fronted by four façades—and then, after rumbling over the abandoned golf course, gestured toward his favorite new purchase: a replica White House.
“I own the lights. I own the sets,” Perry says, before settling into a couch in his office on the top floor of a modern, renovated four-story structure he calls the Dream Building. “So that’s where the difference is. Because I own everything, my returns are higher.”
He paid $30 million for the property in 2015 and has since spent $250 million building a studio operation that’s now more than twice the size of the storied Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California—all of it paid for with the cash he’s brought in churning out movies and television programming for the past 15 years. The acquisition was a masterstroke, giving him a place to build a top-tier movie facility in a state that aggressively courts Hollywood productions, as well as a huge swath of land smack in the middle of one of Atlanta’s red-hot economic Opportunity Zones.
“I love land the way some women love shoes,” says Winfrey, one of the few people to see the property when Perry was considering making an offer. “I said ‘If you don’t take it, I will.’ It was astounding to me. I am officially in awe.”
In truth, it was a deal that perhaps only Perry could have made. He’s been operating out of Atlanta since he released Diary in 2005; in the ensuing 15 years he has produced at least one feature film every year, as well as 13 more television series, nearly all of it filmed in and around the city.
When it came to the fading army base, Atlanta was in need of a development partner who might inspire commercial activity that could help revitalize the otherwise forgotten section of the city’s southern edges. Perry had an in—not only via his rapport with President Obama, who at the time could have nixed any deal for the military land—but through his history of offering jobs to local crews.
His timing couldn’t have been better. In 2008, the Georgia Film Office had piled on tax incentives for production companies, and Perry made his purchase amid the streaming revolution, which triggered an arms race for content that has spurred a boom in demand for soundstages.
Even during the pandemic, he’s keeping it all humming. With Madea retired and an exclusive deal with Winfrey’s OWN network expired, Perry set his sights last year on BET, which has been struggling for direction and has now practically built the BET+ streaming service around him. The network will pay Perry $150 million annually to produce a minimum of 90 episodes of new TV each year until 2025. BET, its streaming service—which hit a million subscribers in August—and other Viacom properties get exclusive rights to air those shows for five years, as well as the reruns of his House of Payne, Meet the Browns and For Better or Worse, plus some of his early stage work, which Cary is beginning to exploit. After that half-decade, the rights to all those BET-funded shows revert to Perry. The first two—The Oval and Sistas—became BET’s two top-rated programs in their first seasons.
The best part? “I don’t have a noncompete,” Perry says, which means still more projects, such as A Fall From Grace, which debuted in January on Netflix to terrible reviews—and 26 million streams in its first week. He also plans to start financing productions from other Black creators whom Hollywood has overlooked.
Fueled by those Georgia tax breaks, meanwhile, others are on hand to soak up extra capacity as well. Perry has rented studio space to major productions including Walt Disney’s Black Panther, the Will Smith sequel Bad Boys for Life and TV’s The Walking Dead. Last year Disney, Warner Bros. and other major studios, as well as new entrants like Netflix, Amazon and Apple, spent a combined $100 billion on original content, according to Frank Patterson, CEO of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, a rival lot 20 miles to the south.
With his studio humming, Perry is taking a page from Disney and Universal for lot development, with plans to build restaurants, shops and an entertainment complex with a theater and a theme park–like experience. Think Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, but with the feel of a down-home Southern kitchen. Perry admits that such a venture will take him outside of his comfort zone in terms of scope, control—and debt, since his business has always been, extraordinarily, a self-financed, all-cash operation. His plans also include housing for trafficked women and LGBTQ youth, and an academy to teach kids who grew up like he did the things he never learned—financial literacy, for one.
The risk, though, is worth it. “I can go outside and take this dirt and put it on my hands and know that there were Confederate soldiers here walking this land, plotting and planning everything they could to keep us Negroes in place,” Perry says. “The very fact that I am here on this land, the very fact that hundreds of people—Black and brown people—come here to make a living, that is effecting change.”
I cover the intersection of Hollywood and money—that’s everything from media moguls to the highest-paid actors to YouTube stars. When my reporting isn’t taking me to Hollywood restaurants and Atlanta’s movie lots, I’m writing about the world’s richest, including billionaires and self-made women entrepreneurs. Prior to Forbes, I wrote about media, food and education for the New York Observer, and about the New York shopping scene for Racked. Follow me on Twitter @MadelinePBerg. Have tips? Send them to me anonymously at forbes.com/tips, and submit sensitive documents anonymously and securely at SafeSource.forbes.com.
s Kanye West’s bizarre presidential campaign has moved from Twitter sideshow to potential spoiler—the billionaire rapper this week released a website and campaign platform as he moves to get on the ballot in pivotal states—those around him increasingly worry about his mental health issues. And specifically whether one consigliere is trying to exploit them. According to multiple sources, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner has been speaking with West regularly since his July 4 tweet declaring that he was running for president.
While Republican operatives rush to try get him on ballots across the country, the New York Times reported earlier today that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, met with West last weekend in Telluride, Colorado. The connection goes much further. West has been telling associates that he and Kushner speak “almost daily.” Forbes spoke with four people who have direct access to either West or Kushner, including two with direct knowledge of their conversations.
One thing that particularly upsets those close to the Yeezy sneaker mogul, who is openly bipolar, is his apparent delusion about his chances of winning: When I pointed out to West last week during an interview that he won’t be on enough ballots to win, and thus seemed intent on running a spoiler campaign designed to hurt presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, he responded, “I’m not going to argue with you.” But a few hours after the story appeared, West responded with a change of heart: “THE GOAL IS TO WIN,” he blared in a tweet that was liked more than 260,000 times.
And that seems to be the message that Kushner has been feeding him: “Jared’s scared and doesn’t want me to run because he knows that I can win,” West has told numerous associates after his conversations with the president’s son-in-law, who also serves as de facto chief of Trump’s reelection campaign. That message, the sources close to West acknowledge, is the exact one that will embolden West to stay in the race. “If you know him for more than 20 minutes, you know that will work,” says one West confidant. Adds another: “He’s just like a kid. The more you tell him he can’t do a thing, the more he’ll do it. . . . he has a tremendous drive to prove people wrong.”
Kushner seems to have an outsize influence over West. Their relationship helped bring West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, to the White House for an instantly famous Oval Office meeting, and they collaborated on ideas for sentencing reform.
He’s mentally ill. When you have people around him who see him as an opportunity, they create a very, very bad scenario.
When I interviewed West on July 7, three days after telling the world he was running, he spent the first hour musing about whether he would actually follow through. The first person he told me he would consult: Kushner. At that time, West also renounced his support for Trump. “I am taking the red hat off, with this interview.” However, he curiously held back on criticizing the president, past a dig about Trump hiding in the bunker during the Lafayette Park protests. “I was just talking to Jared,” he subsequently told me. “It makes it seem like I’m attacking them. Trump’s not attacking me, and I’m not attacking him, even in this. I think it’s really nice to have a civil [competition], where people’s friends go up and play ball, play basketball without someone going to the hospital afterwards, you know?” Biden apparently wasn’t invited to the game: West needed no prompting to go after the former vice president, whom he derided as “not special.”
During that interview, West relayed the details of a previous conversation that he’d had with Kushner. “One time I talked to Jared Kushner, who was saying, ‘We don’t have Black leaders—we just have hustlers.’ Why? Because they killed all the Black leaders.” When we reached out later that day, before publication, to fact-check the article, West petitioned, unsuccessfully, to have the anecdote removed. “I love Jared,” West said. “I was just . . . that’s my boy, you know? That’s really my boy. So I prefer to not drop his name.”
West did not respond today to messages asking for comment, nor did Kushner’s press team at the White House. “We have no knowledge of anything Kanye West is doing or who is doing it for him,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said early this month, a statement that’s clearly untrue. The president himself echoed that message to reporters at the White House: “I like Kanye very much,“ adding, “I have nothing to do with him being on the ballot. I’m not involved.”
The White House gambit, those close to him say, has accelerated West’s mental issues (unquestionably brilliant, he has previously told Forbes that he considers his bipolar condition a “superpower”). “He’s mentally ill,” says a West friend. “When you have people around him who have the best intentions and don’t need anything from him, you can steer him when he’s in that space into a positive place. When you have people around him who see him as an opportunity, they create a very, very bad scenario.”
Some close to West feel that Kushner now falls into that latter camp in ways that flirt with exploitation—concerning, after Kardashian West asked publicly for “compassion and empathy.” One described their understanding of Kushner’s conversations with West as “reverse psychology.” Others prescribe less malicious intent, though that narrative would require a level of naiveté that would rank up there with sitting in a meeting at Trump Tower with Russians who promise to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Jared, why are you meeting with him?” asks one source. “Tell him, ‘Hey, man, I saw you’re running for president—let’s talk when the election’s over.’”
I am the chief content officer of Forbes Media and editor of Forbes Magazine, and believe strongly that entrepreneurial capitalism and market-based thinking can solve the world’s problems. This is my second stint at Forbes — between 1991 and 1997, I was a reporter, a staff writer (five cover stories), associate editor and Washington bureau chief. In between, I caught the start-up bug: I co-founded P.O.V. Magazine (Adweek’s Startup of the Year), and then launched Doubledown Media (Trader Monthly, Dealmaker, Private Air, etc.). As a fattening hobby, I have reviewed restaurants for various magazines since college (and was a National Magazine Award finalist for my wine writing). I used to think chronicling the world’s greatest business minds made me a great entrepreneur, but I now realize my time as an entrepreneur made me an acute business journalist. For the full story, check out my book, just out in paperback, The Zeroes: My Misadventures In the Decade Wall Street Went Insane.
More than a decade into their fame, the Kardashian-Jenners tend to induce eye rolls and sighs among jaded media consumers. But when it comes to their wealth, even critics of reality TV’s first family are intrigued; the Kardashian-Jenner machine—and the cash it generates—has been the subject of articles, podcasts, even books. But no one cares more about the topic than the family itself, which has spent years fighting Forbes for higher spots on our annual wealth and celebrity earnings lists.
So when the youngest of the clan, Kylie Jenner, sold 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty in a deal valued at $1.2 billion this January, it was a watershed moment for the family. One of the greatest celebrity cash-outs of all time, the transaction seemed to confirm what Kylie had been saying all along and what Forbes had declared in March 2019: that Kylie Jenner was, indeed, a billionaire—at least before the coronavirus.
Kylie is a modern-day icon, with an incredible sense of the beauty consumer,” Coty chairman Peter Harf gushed when announcing the acquisition in November.
But in the deal’s fine print, a less flattering truth emerged. Filings released by publicly traded Coty over the past six months lay bare one of the family’s best-kept secrets: Kylie’s business is significantly smaller, and less profitable, than the family has spent years leading the cosmetics industry and media outlets, including Forbes, to believe.
Of course, white lies, omissions and outright fabrications are to be expected from the family that perfected—then monetized—the concept of “famous for being famous.” But, similar to Donald Trump’s decades-long obsession with his net worth, the unusual lengths to which the Jenners have been willing to go—including inviting Forbes into their mansions and CPA’s offices, and even creating tax returns that were likely forged—reveals just how desperate some of the ultra-rich are to look even richer.
“It’s fair to say that everything the Kardashian-Jenner family does is oversized,” says Stephanie Wissink, an equity analyst covering consumer products at Jefferies. “To stay on-brand, it needs to be bigger than it is.”
Based on this new information—plus the impact of Covid-19 on beauty stocks and consumer spending—Forbes now thinks that Kylie Jenner, even after pocketing an estimated $340 million after taxes from the sale, is not a billionaire.
As with other Kardashian ventures,Kylie’s business began as a way to cash in on a minor scandal. The youngest of the family, she spent more than a year denying tabloid speculation that she was using lip filler injections before eventually finally fessing up to it in May 2015. Far from being embarrassed about being caught in a lie, she—and her shrewd mother, Kris—seized it as a marketing opportunity.
With $250,000 of her earnings from modeling, endorsements and Keeping Up With The Kardashians appearances, Kylie launched her first batch of 15,000 lip kits, consisting of a lip liner and matching lipstick, in November 2015. Thanks to clever Instagram marketing, the $29 kits were gone in less than a minute. “Before I even refreshed the page, everything was sold out,” she later told Forbes.
By the end of 2016, Kylie had dozens of new products and a reputation as a skyrocketing new entrant in the cosmetics industry. A few months after her sister Kim Kardashian West scored a Forbes cover in July 2016, Jenner publicists began a campaign to “get a Forbes cover for Kylie.” Revenues were $400 million over the business’ first 18 months, they said, with a personal take-home pay of $250 million for Kylie. Pressed for proof, they opened up their books. During meetings at Kris Jenner’s palatial Hidden Hills, California, estate and the family accountant’s office nearby, Forbes was shown tax returns detailing $307 million in 2016 revenues and personal income of more than $110 million for Kylie that year. It would have been enough to put her at N0. 2 on the Celebrity 100 list, behind only Taylor Swift, the accountant was quick to point out. But the documents, despite looking authentic and bearing Kylie Jenner’s signature, weren’t exactly convincing since the story they told, of e-commerce brand Kylie Cosmetics growing from nothing to $300 million in sales in a single year, was hard to believe.
After speaking with a handful of analysts and industry experts who also found the Jenners’ claims implausible, we settled on a more reasonable estimate for our 2017 Celebrity 100 list: $41 million in overall earnings for Kylie, good for the No. 59 spot. Kris was “so frustrated,” the Jenners’ PR flack shot back. “We’ve done so much.”
Two months later, a story appeared in WWD, a trade publication known as “the bible of fashion,” using the exact numbers the Jenners first tried to give Forbes. “There has been raging speculation about the size of her business, with guesstimates ranging from $50 million up to $300 million,” the story reads. “Well, here’s the bad news for more-established beauty players: Jenner’s surpassed the higher figure with ease. Kylie Cosmetics actually has done $420 million in retail sales—in just 18 months—Kris Jenner revealed. . . . ” It was the first time the Jenners had publicly disclosed the size of the business, the story boasted—“and they provided WWD with documentation.”
That sky-high revenue number—repeated everywhere from People to CNBC and Fortune—took hold. By the summer of 2018, when Forbes set out to calculate Kylie’s net worth for our list of the richest self-made women, the industry’s opinion of Kylie’s business had shifted. Those huge revenues were “totally possible,” said one analyst, adding that she had heard similar numbers herself. Another suggested revenues were around $350 million. The estimates kept climbing. Revenues were $400 million, according to a Piper Jaffray research note in 2018. An Oppenheimer report projected sales would top $700 million by 2020.
The Jenners offered us their own number: 2017 revenues were up 7%, they said, to $330 million. “No other influencer has ever gotten to the volume or had the rabid fans and consistency that Kylie has had for the last two and a half years,” an executive at e-commerce platform Shopify, which manages Kylie’s online store, told Forbes at the time. Based on her rapid success—certified by industry sources, plus those 2016 tax returns—Kylie appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine in July 2018, ranking No. 27 on our listing of the richest self-made women. At age 20, she was worth $900 million, we estimated, and would soon become the youngest self-made billionaire ever.
“Thank you for this article and the recognition,” Kylie Instagrammed. Kim Kardashian West tweeted her congratulations—twice. “I am SO proud,” Kris Jenner wrote, finally pleased.
The next month Kylie celebrated her 21st birthday at West Hollywood nightclub Delilah, in a Barbie-themed blowout complete with a pink ball pit, performances by Travis Scott and Dave Chappelle—and bartenders in black T-shirts with Kylie’s Forbes cover printed on them, her face plastered next to the words “America’s Women Billionaires.” By early the next year, she officially crossed the ten-digit threshold.
Any doubts that Kylie wasn’t a billionaire were seemingly erased in November 2019, when $8.6 billion (revenues) Coty announced it was snapping up 51% of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million, effectively valuing the business at about $1.2 billion. The deal gave the struggling 116-year-old Coty a hip, social media-savvy brand to help turn around its sagging balance sheet. It gave Kylie a major chance at expansion, plus a boatload of cash and apparently clear proof of her billionaire status.
In a call with stock analysts, Coty’s chief financial officer heralded the deal as “a compelling financial equation” that would help “make Coty a modern, growing and profitable beauty player.” The analysts were immediately skeptical. It looked like Coty was paying way too much for a celebrity brand that could prove to be just a fad, one charged. Another asked how Coty could be sure Kylie will remain committed to promoting the business in the years to come.
Then there were Kylie’s financials. Revenues over a 12-month period preceding the deal: $177 million, according to the Coty presentation—far lower than the published estimates at the time. More problematic, Coty said that sales were up 40% from 2018, meaning the business only generated about $125 million that year, nowhere near the $360 million the Jenners had led Forbes to believe. Kylie’s skin care line, which launched in May 2019, did $100 million in revenues in its first month and a half, Kylie’s reps told us. The filings show the line was actually “on track” to finish the year with just $25 million in sales.
“I think everybody was surprised,” says Wissink, the Jefferies analyst, who was on the call. “The negative that came out of that announcement was that the business was a lot smaller than everybody had expected.”
So much smaller, in fact, that there’s virtually no way the numbers the Jenners were peddling in earlier years could be true either. If Kylie Cosmetics did $125 million in sales in 2018, how could it have done $307 million in 2016 (as the company’s supposed tax returns state) or $330 million in 2017?
One explanation: Kylie’s business quietly fell by more than half in a single year. If so, Coty paid up for a “high-growth” brand that is actually a much smaller business than it was just a few years ago. (Coty would not answer any questions about Kylie Cosmetics for this story.) Data from e-commerce firm Rakuten, which tracks a select number of receipts, suggests there was a 62% decline in Kylie’s online sales between 2016 and 2018.
Still, virtually every industry expert polled by Forbes thinks the business couldn’t have collapsed by so much so quickly. “It seems unlikely that much revenue could have evaporated overnight,” says Evercore analyst Omar Saad. “There doesn’t seem to be any evidence the business has cratered,” adds cosmetics veteran Jeffrey Ten, who has led companies like Note Cosmetics, Nyx and Calvin Klein Beauty. “If so, why would Coty buy it?”
More likely: The business was never that big to begin with, and the Jenners have lied about it every year since 2016—including having their accountant draft tax returns with false numbers—to help juice Forbes’ estimates of Kylie’s earnings and net worth. While we can’t prove that those documents were fake (though it’s likely), it’s clear that Kylie’s camp has been lying.
There’s also the issue of profit: Forbes had been estimating that her business, which has little overhead, was notching 44% net margins. But Coty’s filings indicate that Kylie’s profits are likely lower than we figured, since her Ebitda margin—which factors in some, but not all, of her expenses—is only around 25%.
For years, the Jenners insisted that all of those profits went directly to Kylie because she owned the business outright. But Coty’s purchase agreement specifically lists a “KMJ 2018 Irrevocable Trust,” controlled by Kristen M. Jenner, as owning a profit interest in Kylie Cosmetics. Upon the sale, the document says the trust would get a capital, or ownership, interest in the company. The Jenners initially told Forbes that the trust holds money Kylie Jenner earned before she turned 18 and that Kylie is its beneficiary. But the trust appears to have been created well after Kylie turned 18, and the Jenners declined to offer any proof to back up their claims. Given the lack of clarity—and the history of lies—we’re erring on the side of caution and assuming that the trust belongs to Kris Jenner. That means Kylie Jenner owns an estimated 44.1% of Kylie Cosmetics, rather than 49%.
“You have to remember they are in the entertainment business,” says Ten. “Everything in entertainment has to be exaggerated to get attention.”
Taking all this new information into account and factoring in the pandemic, Forbes has recalculated Kylie’s net worth and concluded that she is not a billionaire. A more realistic accounting of her personal fortune puts it at just under $900 million, despite the headlines surrounding the Coty deal that seemed to confirm her billionaire status. More than a third of that is the estimated $340 million in post-tax cash she would have pocketed from selling a majority of her company. The rest is made up of revised earnings based on her business’ smaller size and a more conservative estimate of its profitability, plus the value of her remaining share of Kylie Cosmetics—which is not only smaller than the Jenners led us to believe but is also worth less now than it was when the deal was announced in November, given the economic effects of the coronavirus.
Coty’s share price has fallen more than 60% since the deal was struck, and even better-performing competitors like Ulta Beauty and Estée Lauder are still down single digits. Add that to the fact that Wall Street tends to think Coty paid too much to begin with and there is no way to realistically peg Kylie’s net worth above a billion—despite her massive cash-out.
As usual, we asked the Jenners for input on our numbers. But pressed for answers on the many discrepancies, the typically chatty family did something out of character: They stopped answering our questions.
Additional reporting by Chloe Sorvino and Natalie Robehmed
I cover the most successful entrepreneurs doing the biggest deals on the planet. As deputy wealth editor, I help put together the Forbes 400 and World’s Billionaires lists and oversee Forbes’ coverage of billionaires. My reporting has taken me everywhere from the world’s largest cardboard box factory to Donald Trump’s penthouse. Email me at email@example.com.
I cover the intersection of Hollywood and money—that’s everything from media moguls to the highest-paid actors to YouTube stars. When my reporting isn’t taking me to Hollywood restaurants and Atlanta’s movie lots, I’m writing about the world’s richest, including billionaires and self-made women entrepreneurs. Prior to Forbes, I wrote about media, food and education for the New York Observer, and about the New York shopping scene for Racked. Follow me on Twitter @MadelinePBerg. Have tips? Send them to me anonymously at forbes.com/tips, and submit sensitive documents anonymously and securely at SafeSource.forbes.com.
Elton John has pneumonia, and it’s unclear if he’ll continue what he says is his final world tour.
“I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more,” he said in a tweet. “I’m disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had.”
John, 72, abruptly left the stage during Sunday’s concert in Auckland and returned minutes later for two more songs before saying, “I’ve just completely lost my voice. I can’t sing. I’ve got to go. I’m sorry,” the BBC reports.
Earlier in the set he told the sold-out crowd he’d been diagnosed with walking pneumonia.
He’s scheduled to play two more concerts in Auckland on Feb. 18 and 20, followed by shows in Australia, as part of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour.
John thanked his fans Sunday on Twitter:
I want to thank everyone who attended the #EltonFarewellTour gig in Auckland tonight. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible.
The flamboyant superstar took home his first Oscar in 25 years this year for “Rocketman,” which won for best original song. He won previously for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” in 1995.
The New Zealand Herald reported that John, 72, told his fans earlier that he had walking pneumonia and his voice was shot, but that he didn’t want to miss the show. At one point, after performing “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” John slumped on his stool and required medical attention, the newspaper reported. But John recovered and continued to play. Later, as he he attempted to sing “Daniel,” he realized he had no voice left and was escorted off stage.
The concert was part of John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. The tour lists additional performances in Auckland on Tuesday and Thursday; there’s no word on whether those shows will go on as scheduled.
John had just returned to New Zealand after performing at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. He won an Oscar for best original song for his theme song for the movie “Rocketman.”
팝스타 엘튼 존, 건강 이상으로 뉴질랜드서 공연 중 콘서트 중단 British pop-star Elton John has cut short a concert in New Zealand,… after he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia on Sunday, while on tour. The 72-year-old lost his voice and broke down in tears on stage while he was performing at a stadium in Auckland. He later posted about his illness to his social media,… telling his fans that he was “deeply upset and sorry” for cutting short the concert. While thanking his fans,… he added he was determined to give the best show possible. Elton John is currently on what he says his final world tour,… known as “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.”
“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has one of the most impressive and consistent cross-platform brand of any celebrity alive today. With a net worth of nearly $300 million and $90 million in earnings this year alone, there is obviously a lot to be learned from Johnson’s branding success.
After beginning his career as a wrestler, Johnson has leveraged his movie star status into an impressive Instagram following, branding collaborations with companies from Apple to VOSS water, and a personal brand so comprehensive that he needs his own marketing agency, Seven Bucks Creative, the strategic portion of Johnson’s Seven Bucks production company that helps promote all of his creative projects.
Here are five brilliant ways The Rock has built his brand online.
Johnson wisely uses his existing reach to amplify the new markets he’s seeking to break into. With three blockbuster films being released in 2019 (Jungle Cruise, the Jumanji sequel, and Hobbs and Shaw) on top of an already long and successful film career, he has amassed quite a following. Johnson leverages the stardom from multiple blockbuster films a year and his 153 million Instagram followers to build markets in other areas. But this strategy is not just for movie stars – brand builders everywhere have existing reach, even if it is only hyper local contacts, past career colleagues, or student networks.
2) Aligning his brand with his passions.
Johnson is the king of brand collaborations, but he makes the decisions about which branding expansions to pursue wisely. Shilling for brands that do not align with who he is would feel inauthentic, so he chooses products that he already uses and loves.
VOSS water is one of those product collaborations that feels natural, since Johnson has been drinking it for years, as he mentions on his Instagram announcement. That rings true, since it even comes up in this GQ feature from way back in 2017. Johnson shared on his Twitter, “Owning water always intrigued me – partly because I drink 4 gallons a day. But finding the right partner with shared values, ethics and a corporate culture I admire is what motivated me to make this deal.” He is starring in VOSS’ new brand campaign called “Live Every Drop,” that will feature behind-the-scenes peeks at his lifestyle and will be produced by his creative agency Seven Bucks.
He also recently helped launch the Project Rock Collection with Under Armour, another brand favorite of is that feels like a natural extension of the things he already loves to use and do. These thoughtful branding collaborations make his brand feel authentic and trustworthy.
3) Discipline, discipline, discipline.
Johnson’s worldwide success is impressive, and according to those who know him, not at all a surprise. He works hard, and is so consistent, that his discipline has manifested into dollars. His Seven Bucks Chief Marketing Officer had this to say about his discipline in a Fast Company feature, “It’s meant to speak to how training is a mentality, that the work you put in the gym extends to real life, and that mentality is consistent. That’s part of what makes Dwayne magical—is how he applies that same discipline from the gym into everything, and we wanted to express that in this campaign.”
It’s obvious even to the casual observer how consistently he churns out Instagram content and how hard he works promoting his films, and it seems that discipline is paying off.
4) Expanding to new markets.
While some may make light of the films Johnson puts out or the North American box office takes, his films are extremely popular in Asian market, which has helped expand his brand to new markets. His recent film Skyscraper had lackluster box office receipts in the United States, but took in over $48 million in its Chinese opening weekend and became the top grossing title worldwide that weekend as a result.
Like his predecessors Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford a decade or two ago, Johnson has been able to leverage his films’ popularity in the Asian market to do Chinese and Japanese branding collaborations, where some others might ignore the potential for success there. But Johnson works hard cultivating those markets – he recently visited Beijing and Hong Kong to promote Skyscraper, for example – and that foresight pays off in his brand’s success.
5) Integrating across mediums.
Because Johnson makes his branding collaboration decisions with such care towards keeping the products consistent with his lifestyle, it makes it easy for him to integrating products across mediums. He wears Under Armour in his films, for example, gaining free promotion for his products and deepening his brand’s consistency.
With all of the success that Johnson has had across genres, continents, and decades, there is much to be learned about his online branding strategy. The ease with which he leverages his social media following, the brilliant alignment of his real-life passions and product integration, the discipline he shows in content creation, and the vision with which he seeks out new markets are all strategies even the tiniest brand can learn from.
I’m known as the “Oprah of LinkedIn.” My video channel, #DailyGoldie, won LinkedIn Top Voice (the highest honor on the platform) and was the platform’s longest-running daily show with a global community and millions of views. I’m a top LinkedIn creator, digital strategist and personal branding expert.
I run Warm Robots, a corporate social media strategy agency and help companies tell engaging brand stories and navigate C-level executives toward unique personal brands. Previously, I’ve led social media strategy for tech and entertainment companies such as Legendary Entertainment.
On the side, I’ve represented the U.S. as part of an inaugural delegation through the Mayor of London’s office and often lead workshops and summits around storytelling and personal branding. I am a proud member of the Producer’s Guild of America, New Media Council, a Stanford University graduate and have been regularly featured as a fresh voice in CNN, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company and more.
The intriguing story behind “Seberg” and the reliable talent of its lead actress, Kristen Stewart, promise greatness. But this biopic manages to squander both, reducing the film to a bland period piece with an irritating lack of focus.
Jean Seberg was an American actress best known for her role in a French film, the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard New Wave drama “Breathless.” But by the late 1960s, this film suggests, the bilingual performer was growing bored of acting and was enthralled with the activist politics of the era, particularly the Black Panthers. It made her a target of the FBI, which harassed her relentlessly. Given Stewart’s own move away from commercial Hollywood fare lately (“JT LeRoy,” “Personal Shopper”), it’s easy to see why she’d gravitate to the project.
On a transatlantic flight, Seberg offers to give up her first-class seats for Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, and Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), his cousin. The interaction leads to an affair between Seberg and Jamal, both of whom are married, and to her being surveilled by the FBI and shot at by Jamal’s wife (Zazie Beetz, awfully briefly).
Director Benedict Andrews (“Una”) slogs the film along at a languid pace, cutting between Seberg’s life and the FBI men tasked with following and, ultimately, publicly humiliating the actress as part of the agency’s COINTELPRO program of the ’60s and ’70s, dedicated to disrupting domestic political dissidence.
Vince Vaughn appears periodically as a short-tempered agent (though it’s hard to take him entirely seriously), while Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”), as his partner, is more morally troubled by the agency’s treatment of Seberg — though not enough to stop it.
“Seberg” isn’t helped by its sometimes laughably uninspired screenplay. We’re told at the start that the actress was badly burned playing Joan of Arc in the 1957 Otto Preminger movie “Saint Joan,” which is later unsubtly echoed when someone warns her she’s “playing with fire.”
The government’s treatment of the iconic actress, who died young in an apparent suicide, is ripe for exploration on film — it’s too bad “Seberg,” despite Stewart’s best efforts, doesn’t do its namesake justice.
Famous first as a singer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, age 31, has since evolved into a style icon and makeup entrepreneur—and soon she’ll be the first black woman in charge of a major luxury fashion house. All those efforts add up to a $600 million fortune, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world, ahead of the likes of Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and Beyoncé ($400 million).
Most of that comes not from music but from her partnership with LVMH, the French luxury goods giant run by billionaire Bernard Arnault. Rihanna (pronounced “Ri-ann-ah,” not “Ri-ah-nah,” as she recently clarified) and LVMH co-own the makeup brand Fenty Beauty. It launched in September 2017 at Sephora, another LVMH brand, and online at FentyBeauty.com, quickly becoming a viral success. Fenty Beauty racked up a reported $100 million in sales in its first few weeks, propelled by Rihanna’s fame and 71 million Instagram followers.
The entire personal care industry in America has grown huge in recent years. According to Grand View Research, it could swell to more than $200 billion in sales by 2025, up from closer to $130 billion in 2016. The market saw a record 134 M&A deals last year, including P&G’s $250 million purchase of 10-year-old First Aid Beauty. Perhaps the most telling data point: 11 of the 80 women on Forbes‘ list of the Richest Self-Made Women made their money in beauty or skin care products. Many did what Rihanna did, turn to the low-cost marketing opportunity presented by social media. That works best for existing celebrities, as Kylie Jenner and her Kylie Cosmetics proved out, who can push their new products at their existing followers.
Fenty Beauty has differentiated itself in another way, releasing 40 shades of foundation, far more than the handful of hues sold by other brands. “It challenged the standard convention that you only needed a very defined set of shades to satisfy a market,” says Stephanie Wissink, a research analyst at Jefferies. “Not only did [Fenty Beauty] achieve meaningful sales, but it potentially changed the industry permanently.”
Sales continue to soar. Fenty Beauty generated an estimated $570 million in revenue last year, after only 15 months in business. The entire operation is worth, conservatively, more than $3 billion. Forbes estimates thatLVMH owns an estimated 50% of it, while Rihanna has about 15%, a figure a spokesperson for the artist disputed but wouldn’t clarify further.
The Barbados native, who overcame hardships including an abusive addict father and a well-publicized assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009, also co-owns the Savage X Fenty lingerie line with Los Angeles-based online fashion firm TechStyle Fashion Group and has millions in earnings from her career touring and releasing as a singer, which make up the rest of her fortune.
Her empire continues to grow. In May, LVMH and Rihanna announced Fenty, a new clothing house that will make high-end clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry.
“They extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine,” Rihanna told The New York Times Style Magazine. “Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision.”
The fashion line, which launched online in May, includes sizes up to U.S. 14, embodying the same inclusive ideal of Fenty Beauty. It will exist under the same umbrella as famous brands such as Dior and Givenchy, marking LVMH’s first new house in more than 30 years.
“What Fenty Beauty did to beauty, Fenty lifestyle is going to do to fashion,” says Wissink. “It’s going to raise the bar for what it looks like to build a brand that’s inclusive, game changing, global and iconic.”
At the opening press conference on Monday, Theirry Frémaux, artistic director of the festival, addressed the decision directly and dismissed any criticism. “We’re not giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Alain Delon,” Frémaux said. “We’re giving him the honorary Palme D’Or for his career as an actor.” He continued, “Nowadays it’s difficult to give awards, to honor someone, because the political police immediately appear. Alain Delon is not perfect. I’m not perfect.”
What is always pretty flawless at Cannes, of course, are the legion of celebrities who come to the French Riviera for one of the most important film festivals of the year. The opening night movie—the zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die by beloved Cannes auteur Jim Jarmusch—features one of the most eclectic casts ever to walk the red carpet, including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, and Tom Waits.
Other celebrities who came out for the opening ceremony include director Alejandro González Iñárritu, president of the jury overseeing the main competition; jury member Elle Fanning (who wore a Gucci gown with Chopard diamonds); Julianne Moore (above, in an emerald Dior gown with matching emerald jewels by Chopard); Alessandra Ambrosio (in a diaphanous Ralph & Russo gown with Bouchon jewels and René Caovilla shoes); and Eva Longoria (who wore a custom Alberta Ferretti gown).
In addition to Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, the pre-festival favorite for the Palme d’Or is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, which will have its three stars—Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie—lighting up the red carpet. The supporting cast isn’t too shabby either, including Al Pacino, Lena Dunham, Damian Lewis and the late Luke Perry.
Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film stars DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, an actor trying to transition from television to movies, while Pitt plays his stunt double and best friend. Robbie portrays Dalton’s neighbor, actress Sharon Tate, who was married to director Roman Polanski at the time and was murdered in her home that summer by followers of Charles Manson.
Once Upon a Time will premiere 25 years after Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and despite that omen the movie is by no means a lock for the award. Also in competition is Pain and Glory, starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, and directed by Cannes favorite Pedro Almodóvar. And Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, about an Austrian who refuses to fight for the Third Reich during World War II, is expected to generate lots of buzz on the famed Croisette.
Among the most anticipated films out of competition is the Elton John biopic Rocketman starring Taron Egerton in the title role. Will Egerton’s performance, in which he does his own singing, help blast him off to an Oscar like Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury portrayal in Bohemian Rhapsody? The film hits the yellow brick road on May 16 and will be released on May 31.
But even if the Cannes Film Festival didn’t have Rocketman, the fans (and of course the paparazzi) really come to see the galaxy of stars.
You could say K-pop sensation TWICE is experiencing a flight of “Fancy.” Their label, JYP Entertainment, confirmed to Forbes that the girl group sold over 6 million albums, encompassing both Korea and Japan, since their 2015 debut. Meanwhile, their overall album sales in Korea amount to over 3,750,000.
Forbes doesn’t have exact figures, but it appears that TWICE racked up over 500,000 album sales in less than a month. In late March, the JYP rep had estimated the overall sales figure to be 5.5 million, factoring in both the Korean and Japanese markets.
Since 2015, TWICE has released 16 albums: two studio albums, two compilation albums, four reissues and eight EPs. Four albums are Japanese releases, while 12 are Korean releases.
The girl group recently returned with their eighth EP, Fancy You, on April 22. Lead single “Fancy” marked a stark conceptual shift for the nonet, who built a massive fanbase out of largely cute concepts. But the more mature tone of their latest release still retains the confectionary feel of their previous work. They haven’t ventured completely into girl crush territory — rather, their newest offering matches the Apink model of going bold while staying hyper-feminine. Charli XCX and MNEK co-wrote other songs on the mini album.
Leader Jihyo spoke about the change in concept at a press conference for Fancy You on April 22. “We have only shown bright concepts until now, but we also wanted to show some of our maturity,” she said, according to Soompi’s translation. “However, we also worked to not let go of our overflowing energy.”
According to an unofficial view count, TWICE recently beat their own 24-hour debut record with “Fancy.” The music video reportedly racked up 39.8 million views in one day. However, YouTube hasn’t released the official figure yet. The group’s 2018 single, “Yes or Yes,” previously ranked as the seventh-biggest debut on YouTube with 31.4 million views in 24 hours.
They’ve had runaway success in the second-biggest music industry — and the multinational group includes three Japanese members. Earlier in the year, TWICE became the first K-pop girl group to embark on a dome tour in Japan. Their #DreamDay tour reportedly sold out five dates in one minute, amounting to 210,000 seats.
While K-pop has been blowing up in the West, TWICE has largely sat out U.S. promotions — despite amassing a strong international fanbase. But they’ll head out on a world tour that includes their first headlining dates in the U.S. Their newfound American promotions fit into a larger trend: over 20 K-pop acts have announced headlining tour dates in the States this year. Last month, JYP inked a deal with The Orchard to provide physical distribution worldwide, including the United States and Europe.
Check out the group’s upcoming Twicelights tour dates below.
May 25-26 – Seoul – KSPO Dome
June 15 – Bangkok – Impact Arena
June 29 – Manila – TBA
July 13 – Singapore – TBA
July 17 – Los Angeles – TBA
July 19 – Mexico City – TBA
July 21 – Newark – TBA
July 23 – Chicago – TBA
Aug. 17 – Kuala Lumpur – TBA
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