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How the Creed franchise makes a statement – and a ton of money – in modern Hollywood



Michael B. Jordan stars in “Creed III.”
Warner Bros.

LOS ANGELES — It’s an underdog story for the 21st century.

The Creed series is a Hollywood miracle in many ways. It’s a lucrative spinoff of the beloved, decades-old Rocky series, but it has its own modern style and sensibility.

And, while paying homage to the star and the stories that gave it a foundation, it has flipped the script on an enduring white working-class mythos by highlighting Black talent on both sides of the camera.

Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Creed III,” due in theaters March 3, also sees its lead actor take the helm as director, a move also made by Sylvester Stallone in 1979 with the release of “Rocky II.” The film will be Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut.

“Michael B. Jordan has worked on some amazing television series and films and I’ve always said that the best film school is being on set,” said Shawn Edwards, a film critic who sits on the board of the Critics Choice Association and co-founded the African American Film Critics Association. “I think it was only a matter of time before [he] jumped behind the camera.”

Jordan’s road to the director’s chair was paved by Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the first Creed film, as well as Steven Caple Jr., who directed the second. Coogler, who hadn’t yet released his debut film “Fruitvale Station,” which also starred Jordan, approached Stallone about a Creed spinoff.

Several years later, he finally won him over. Stallone co-starred in the first two movies and co-wrote the “Creed II” screenplay. Stallone was not involved with the third Creed film and declined CNBC’s request for comment.

The first film, 2015’s “Creed,” followed Adonis, the son of Rocky’s longtime rival and later friend, Apollo Creed. The story examined the life of an orphaned boy living in the shadow of a boxing legend and dealing with his own underdog story as he sought to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the ring.

“Creed” echoed much of the narrative cues of the original Rocky movies, which focused on a so-called “ham-and-egger” from Philly’s white working-class mean streets who becomes a heavyweight contender and, eventually, world champion.

But the new franchise also addressed issues regarding the Black experience and Black masculinity.

“It’s refreshing to see this focus, not on our traditional ways of thinking about Black representation in terms of the past and historical struggles against discrimination and oppression,” said Brandy Monk-Payton, a professor at Fordham University who specializes in Black media representation. “I think they’re embedded in the way in which [the film’s characters] move about the world … but at the same time, it’s not the centerpiece of the story. The focus of the story is this everyman who winds up going through a struggle and triumph.”

Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors star in Warner Bros.’ “Creed III.”
Warner Bros.

That kind of story can only be told when Black artists are part of the production process and possess leadership roles within studios, industry insiders and experts say.

Sheldon Epps, one of the preeminent Black directors across television and theater, said it is only in the last decade or so that he saw a change in the diversity of Hollywood.

“I’ve been around long enough that in certain situations, I’ve been one of the few, or one of the only, Black directors or Black leaders of an arts institution,” he said. “In certain years, the only one on some of the television shows that I’ve done, like ‘Friends’ and ‘Frasier.’ And that was sadly true for many, many years.”

Epps said that slowly changed as more Black directors were hired to helm hourlong dramatic television shows, including Paris Barclay (“Cold Case,” “The West Wing”) and Eric Laneuville (“Lost”). He also pointed to Black auteurs such as Ava DuVernay as people who have risen to positions of power and used that position to uplift others. DuVernay’s series “Queen Sugar” had a policy that only female directors would be hired to work on the show.

“Participation by more artists of color in the process of creating the stories, not just making them, but the writing of them, is essential, because it it broadens the canvas,” Epps said. “Instead of getting a narrow view of Black people, or Latino people or Asian people, because the stories are being written from inside of those worlds we’re getting a much, much broader view of all of the varied communities of our nation.”

Jonathan Majors and Michael B. Jordan star in Warner Bros. “Creed III.”
Warner Bros.

And stories about Black protagonists sell tickets.

“The Woman King” snared nearly $100 million worldwide during its run in theaters last year, and Coogler’s two “Black Panther” films, under the Marvel banner, together generated more than $2 billion at the global box office.

Both “Creed” and “Creed II” generated more than $100 million at the domestic box office, according to data from Comscore. And the third film is expected to generate between $25 million and $35 million during its opening weekend.

“It’s broadened the audience,” said Rolando Rodriguez, chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners. “There’s a specific additional energy that’s brought out within the Hispanic and African American community.”

Rodriguez posits that while Black people make up 13% of the population, Black moviegoers will represent around 20% to 22% of total ticket sales for “Creed III.” Similarly, the Hispanic community equates to around 19% of the population, but represents 25% to 28% of movie tickets sold.

“That really helps the overall movie, because it’s not taking away from other audiences,” he said, noting that other demographic groups will still turn up for the film, so it’s not a replacement of those audiences.

“I get excited about it because it’s nice to see some of these diverse movies where these young men and women can actually see themselves on the screen being represented as leading actors and actresses,” Rodriguez added. “That you can be somebody that can become, hopefully, a CEO or a movie star, producer or director … I think it sends a very important social message.”

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From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author



Juan Reyes

In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.

A Journey Born out of Necessity

Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.

A Multifaceted Entrepreneur

Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.

Authorship and Beyond 

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.

From Cartel to Evangelist

Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing

Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.

Empowering Others

Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.

The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico

Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.


Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.

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Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation



Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.

Randy Shropshire | CNBC

Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.

During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer

“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”

He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”

Disney's power play: DeSantis' board stripped of power until 2053

Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.

“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”

Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York. 

Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.

The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.

The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”

He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.

Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.

The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.

DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.

The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”

Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.

The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say



World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment is in advanced talks to be sold to Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, the parent company of UFC, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.

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Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.

Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.

The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.

The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.

McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.

When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.

Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.

WWE CEO Nick Khan says he remains optimistic about plans to introduce betting

WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.

UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.

WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.

White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.

Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.

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