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Art World’s Newest Star Makes $3 Million Paintings. Is the Crash Next?

Njideka Akunyili Crosby has felt naively exploited at times.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby has felt naively exploited at times. Photo: Photo and illustration: Maxine Helfman for The Wall Street Journal

“Congratulations!”

Njideka Akunyili Crosby was painting in her high-raftered studio in Los Angeles in early 2017, when she got the text from a friend. Just a few years earlier, she had been selling works for $3,000 apiece. Now, one of her paintings had just sold at Christie’s in London for $3 million, more than six times its estimate.

It has been a jet-propelled rise to the top of the contemporary art world for Ms. Akunyili Crosby—a far cry from the small town in eastern Nigeria where she grew up. The artist, 35 years old, has since won a MacArthur “genius” grant. New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and London’s Tate Modern have come calling. At least 20 public museums are on a waiting list for works she hasn’t painted yet.

Yet when that text arrived it made Ms. Akunyili Crosby uneasy. She’d seen what happened to others caught up in the market frenzy.

Collectors in the booming contemporary art world, the engine of the global art market, are voracious for fresh stars. They have started to throng around the handful of “it” artists who emerge in any given season. That drives prices sky high and often sets them up for a crash.

Four years ago, collectors were clamoring for abstracts by Parker Ito, another young artist. Over a matter of months, his auction prices tripled, to roughly $94,000. Then sellers angling to profit from the attention flooded his market, and demand dropped off the following year. Today, Mr. Ito’s auction prices rarely top $5,000. Mr. Ito declined to comment.

Buyers speculated on Sterling Ruby’s spray-painted abstracts, paying as much as $1.7 million four years ago for pieces like “SP51.” Last year, works from the same series were auctioned for roughly a third as much. Mr. Ruby declined to comment.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, one of the young stars of the contemporary art world, talks about her influences at her studio in Los Angeles. Video/Photo: Alex Hotz/The Wall Street Journal

And then there are artists who have all but disappeared from rotation in major auction catalogs after enjoying a few seasons of ubiquity.

“A lot of people in the art business get young artists and just wreck them—they ruin them,” said Randall Exon, a studio art professor at Swarthmore College who taught Ms. Akunyili Crosby.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s dealer at London’s Victoria Miro Gallery, Glenn Scott Wright, said he’s not worried about her longevity and told her this pump-and-dump initiation is “the nature of the beast now.”

Last year, global auction sales totaled roughly $28.5 billion, up 27% from the year before. Contemporary art—created by those born after 1910—accounted for about 46% of fine-art auction sales last year, according to Clare McAndrew of research firm Arts Economics.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she’s grateful for her success, but wishes someone had taught her how to navigate the attention. She’s felt naively exploited at times. She’s skittish about showing in New York galleries after getting entangled in a legal dispute with one. Auctions are particularly nerve-racking. If bidders push up prices too quickly, her gallery may not be able to persuade new buyers to pay similarly high amounts. That can gut an artist’s price levels permanently.

She is getting savvier, learning ways to steer her works to buyers who might not resell them quickly for profits. But the ultimate control over her work and her career remains elusive.

“My friends tell me I should just be happy my works are selling, and I am,” she said. The marketplace is now her tightrope. “It’s scary how vulnerable I still feel.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Akunyili Crosby wallpapered the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles with images that examine her notions of home, in ‘Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village).’
Earlier this year, Ms. Akunyili Crosby wallpapered the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles with images that examine her notions of home, in ‘Obodo (Country/City/Town/Ancestral Village).’ Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
From Home to Harlem

Njideka Akunyili (in-jee-DECK-uh ack-un-YEE-lee) Crosby grew up far from the frenzied art market, in Enugu, Nigeria, where she and her five siblings spoke Igbo interchangeably with English.

Her father, J.C. Akunyili, was a doctor at a local university hospital; her mother, Dora, was a pharmacology professor who went on to oversee Nigeria’s food and drug agency. Money was tight for luxuries such as toys, so the children usually made their own. Ms. Akunyili Crosby once made a doll for her sister by attaching a ping-pong ball to a matchbox.

In 1997, her mother applied for and won America’s green-card lottery, offered to 50,000 people a year selected at random. Ms. Akunyili and her husband stayed in Nigeria, but with the green card they were able to send their children to the U.S. to study.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby first attended a community college in Philadelphia, then was admitted to Swarthmore College. She intended to become a doctor, like her father. On a lark, she took an art class and fell in love with drawing and painting. She also met her husband, Justin, in college.

‘When the Going Is Smooth and Good’ (2017) shows the artist dancing with her husband, Justin Crosby, also an artist.
‘When the Going Is Smooth and Good’ (2017) shows the artist dancing with her husband, Justin Crosby, also an artist. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

After graduating in 2004 with a degree in biology and studio art, she moved home for six months and realized the Nigeria she knew as a girl—a culture that prized tea and tins of corned beef over local fare because of its colonial connections—was rapidly changing. The stylish young women she saw were wearing traditional Nigerian fabrics and going to Nollywood films made by and starring Nigerians. “It was so exciting to see people reclaiming their traditions and transforming them,” she said.

She decided she had to paint contemporary Nigeria, and the disconnect she felt living so far away. Back in the U.S., she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before eventually ending up in the prestigious master of fine arts program at Yale. She initially struggled—a friend and former classmate, Christian Flynn, recalls students staring perplexed at one of her nude-couple paintings—but she kept experimenting.

The fall of her second year, she hit upon the style she is known for today: lush scenes of herself and her family members dressed fashionably and hanging out in homes in cities like Lagos, New Haven, Conn., or Los Angeles. Her interiors are embedded with objects like teapots, plastic dolls and potted plants that touch on her feelings about intimacy, migration and juggling old traditions with new. She often tops her compositions with transfer-printed photographs of Nigerian politicians or pop-culture stars, creating a silk-screen effect.

“Her work is the strongest painting I’ve seen in a long time,” said artist Charles Gaines. “When black people paint, we assume they’re dealing with race or politics, and that’s a postcolonial problem that was unanswered until Njideka,” he added. “She’s painting her ordinary.”

A portrait of Ms. Akunyili Crosby with layered images, made in collaboration with the artist.
A portrait of Ms. Akunyili Crosby with layered images, made in collaboration with the artist. Photo: Photo and illustration: Maxine Helfman for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Akunyili Crosby arrived just as the market was poised to propel her, spurred by museums and collectors who have started to champion black artists from Africa as well as from the U.S.

It didn’t take long for her works to catch the attention of a handful of dealers and collectors who regularly make the rounds of top art schools every spring to scout potential talent.

One of the regular scouts was Jack Tilton, who ran an eponymous gallery in New York and who died last year. His wife, Connie Rogers Tilton, said he was immediately intrigued.

Mr. Tilton offered to pay $5,000 for “I Refuse to Be Invisible,” a painting of Ms. Akunyili Crosby dancing with her husband, in which she stares out confidently at the viewer. She accepted. The sum would pay several months’ rent.

Another New York dealer, Jessica Fredericks, offered to include three of Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s paintings in a group show at her gallery, Fredericks & Freiser. Ms. Fredericks asked to buy one of the works, and said she would try to sell the others to collectors, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said. At the opening, the artist later told friends, Ms. Fredericks handed her a check for the sale of all three works for $8,000 each, minus a 10% collector’s discount.

The next game-changer was winning a prized yearlong residency at the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York in 2011-12. Thelma Golden, the museum’s longtime director, has a reputation for finding and nurturing art stars. Ms. Akunyili Crosby painted a dozen works that year—her most productive to date.

The Studio Museum of Harlem bought this 2012 view of the artist and her husband, ‘Nwantinti,’ at the end of her residency at the museum.
The Studio Museum of Harlem bought this 2012 view of the artist and her husband, ‘Nwantinti,’ at the end of her residency at the museum. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Making Her Market

As her residency was winding down, Mr. Tilton, who was acting as one of her unofficial dealers by this point, offered her a solo booth at one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs, Art Basel in Switzerland. For decades, tens of thousands of collectors have descended for a week each June to see works from 300 galleries from around the world.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby gave him a group of works she’d painted during her residency. Mr. Tilton told her that Don and Mera Rubell, major Miami collectors known for championing young artists, had expressed interest in buying a work, she said, and she agreed the connection to their public collection could boost her profile. She suggested Mr. Tilton give them a first chance to buy “5 Umezebi St, New Haven, Enugu,” which showed off her signature style.

Mr. Tilton told her he would try, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said. Instead he sold the work to one of his longtime clients, Craig Robins, a Miami real-estate developer who started tracking the artist when she was in Harlem. Mr. Robins said he was unaware of Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s request.

The Rubells said they stopped by Mr. Tilton’s booth but were told they were too late, she said. Ms. Akunyili Crosby started wondering if galleries were looking out for her interests.

“It’s first come, first served, and we were absolutely looking out for her,” Ms. Rogers Tilton said.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby decided to start an archive with detailed ownership records. That way, she could keep track of her paintings in case other galleries or curators ever asked to show them. She asked Mr. Tilton and the other gallery in New York, Fredericks & Freiser, for the names of people to whom they had sold her early works.

She didn’t know that dealers often closely guard identities and afterlives of the pieces they sell, even keeping artists in the dark. Some worry artists may start selling directly to their collectors, cutting out dealers as middlemen. Other galleries might poach their collectors as well. Some artists don’t care, but when they do, disputes can arise. This is what happened with Ms. Akunyili Crosby and Fredericks & Freiser.

Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she isn’t allowed to discuss the details of the legal dispute she raised with the gallery in 2012 because she later reached a confidential settlement. She referred questions about the dispute to her lawyer, Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento.

According to other dealers and friends she discussed the matter with at the time, including her Yale classmate Mr. Flynn, Ms. Akunyili Crosby started sending emails to the gallery asking for the names of the people who had bought her works from the show just after graduation.

At first, these people say, the gallery told her it sold two of the pieces to collectors, in addition to the one painting the gallery bought. After she pressed for more specifics, the gallery said the buyers were actually one person. Moreover, this buyer had changed his mind and sent the paintings back, friends said.

A detail of ‘As We See You: Dreams of Jand’ (2017).
A detail of ‘As We See You: Dreams of Jand’ (2017). Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal
A detail of ‘Home: As You See Me’ (2017). Ms. Akunyili Crosby layers pop-culture figures such as James Bond and Michael Jackson onto her scenes of life in Nigeria and abroad.
A detail of ‘Home: As You See Me’ (2017). Ms. Akunyili Crosby layers pop-culture figures such as James Bond and Michael Jackson onto her scenes of life in Nigeria and abroad. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal

Ms. Akunyili Crosby told friends she hired Mr. Sarmiento, who sent the gallery a letter seeking the whereabouts of the works. She told them she worried the gallery hadn’t sold the works and instead was holding them to potentially resell for a higher price later. This stockpiling move is relatively common among galleries, and it isn’t frowned upon so long as the artist is aware of the arrangement.

James Greenberg, a lawyer for the gallery, said the gallery couldn’t discuss the matter and confirmed that “an agreement was reached privately.” Mr. Sarmiento also confirmed a settlement was signed but declined to discuss the dispute further.

As part of the 2013 settlement, Ms. Akunyili Crosby’s friends said the artist was allowed to buy one of her works back for around $20,000, or 150% more than the original price. She bought “Nyado: The Thing Around her Neck.”

Around this time, Christie’s expert Vivian Brodie said she and her colleagues started getting inquiries from collectors. Did the auction houses have any work by the artist coming up for bid?

Ms. Akunyili Crosby at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where a ‘Counterparts’ show of her work opened last fall. It reopens Dec. 1 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Ms. Akunyili Crosby at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where a ‘Counterparts’ show of her work opened last fall. It reopens Dec. 1 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal
Auction Fever

In early September 2016, David Galperin and three other experts at Sotheby’s auction house huddled around a computer in their New York office to look at an image emailed to them by a potential consignor. The 5-foot-tall work on offer, “Drown,” showed a naked couple in bed, the woman’s coffee-colored limbs wrapped around a pale man.

In today’s contemporary art market, frustrated collectors who can’t wrangle a work by a coveted artist from their galleries often turn to auction houses for help. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips can promise vast sums to sellers to entice them to part with pieces by hot-right-now artists. In this arena, auction houses no longer serve as disinterested brokers; they’re market makers.

Mr. Galperin and his team agreed to try out Ms. Akunyili Crosby for Sotheby’s high-stakes November sales in New York. “Drown,” which had a low estimate of $200,000, sold for $1 million.

Mr. Galperin said that price “got the ricochet started” and soon “works were coming out of the woodworks,” supplied by people who had collected her pieces early on. The following spring, six more works surfaced in major sales.

In March 2017, a 2013 portrait of her eldest sister titled “The Beautyful Ones” sold in London at Christie’s for $3 million—prompting the congratulatory text from her friend. The seller was a Belgian diamond jeweler, Charles Berkovic, who had bought it three years earlier for around $20,000.

After the sale, Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she asked Mr. Tilton to contact his buyers of her paintings to ask if they would be willing to hold on to her works for the time being—or at least resell pieces privately, rather than at auction. She wanted to make sure her prices didn’t climb to levels she couldn’t sustain after the fever invariably cooled off.

‘Mama, Mummy and Mamma’ (2014).
‘Mama, Mummy and Mamma’ (2014). Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Roughly a month later, Mr. Tilton, who was battling cancer, called to tell Ms. Akunyili Crosby that his gallery had consigned her seminal early work, “I Refuse to Be Invisible,” to Christie’s marquee May sales, she said. Christie’s estimated it could resell the work for between $1.5 million and $2 million.

“Can you back out of the deal? Is it too late?” she said she asked him. Auction houses aren’t obligated to tell anyone the names of its winning bidders. A contract had already been signed, he told her.

He died on May 7, nearly two weeks before the sale. His wife said the sale was a way to get his affairs in order.

The work attracted bids from at least four American collectors. The winner, who remains anonymous, paid $2.6 million.

The following night at Sotheby’s, Miami collector Eric Feder auctioned off another work by Ms. Akunyili Crosby, “Thread,” that he had bought for around $30,000 in 2011. The painting sold for $1 million.

Minutes later in the same sale, Theo Danjuma, the son of a Nigerian ex-general, sold the artist’s “Harmattan Haze” for $1.2 million after paying roughly $32,000 for it less than two years before.

Back in Los Angeles, Ms. Akunyili Crosby was flattered that people bid on her work, but she couldn’t shake the fear that she had lost control over her prices. Her new London gallery, Victoria Miro, promised to hold off on selling any works to private collectors and sell only to museums.

Since then, another six pieces have filtered into auctions, but most have been minor, early works. She managed to convince at least one Los Angeles collecting couple to resell another portrait in her “Beautyful Ones” series through her gallery instead of putting it up for auction.

She continues to funnel new paintings like “Dwell: Aso Ebi” to museums such as the Baltimore Museum of Art. The museum, which recently gave her a solo show, didn’t divulge the price it paid. Ms. Akunyili Crosby said she tries to sell pieces to museums for prices in the low six figures.

The Baltimore Museum of Art bought ‘Dwell: Aso Ebi’ (2017), which layers her wedding portrait and that of her parents. The teapot nods to the artist’s grandmother.
The Baltimore Museum of Art bought ‘Dwell: Aso Ebi’ (2017), which layers her wedding portrait and that of her parents. The teapot nods to the artist’s grandmother. Photo: Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

She’s also created murals in Los Angeles and in Brixton, England, that can’t be auctioned because they are temporary pieces.

In a recent twist, she donated one of her paintings to the Studio Museum of Harlem to resell in a benefit auction. Sotheby’s estimated her 2017 botanical piece, “Bush Babies,” would sell for up to $800,000 on May 18. It sold for $3.4 million, a record for the artist.

Related reading

Write to Kelly Crow at kelly.crow@wsj.com

Appeared in the September 22, 2018, print edition as ‘Star Painter’s New Task: Holding On.’

This Meteorologist Had a Powerful Response to a Complaint That Her Natural Hair Wasn’t ‘Normal’

It’s 2018 and for some reason people are still taking it upon themselves to tell women of color how to wear their hair. The latest case? WBBJ TV meteorologist and multimedia journalist Corallys Ortiz was criticized by a viewer for wearing her hair natural on air. As first reported by The Jackson Sun, a viewer called in and requested that Ortiz wear her hair “more normal,” followed by an alleged racial slur. As frustrating and downright unacceptable as this situation was, Ortiz rose above the comments and took the time to write a powerful response on her Facebook page.

Along with her Facebook post, Ortiz recorded a video where she played back the voicemail from the woman. “Please don’t wear your hair like that anymore. It just doesn’t look good at all. Please don’t. Change it back to something more normal,” the caller says, followed by what sounds like inaudible slurs.

“When I heard her say I should wear my hair ‘normal’, I just rolled my eyes. But what I didn’t expect was to hear a racial slur at the end of the message,” the meteorologist, who is based in Jackson, Tennessee, tells Glamour. “In this decade we are still being criticized for the hair that naturally grows out of our head. That’s how conditioned this society has been to white beauty standards. The viewer actually had called a total of three times [to complain]. It really bothered her that much.”

Ortiz is of Caribbean descent and explained why she decided to wear her hair natural on air that day. “These past few days I’ve been giving my hair a bit of a break from this heat and humidity and not having to straighten it so often,” she wrote on Facebook. “This is only my second round wearing it [natural] the 10 months I’ve been in Tennessee.”

The comment is especially loaded because, for years, natural hair has been deemed as “unprofessional” and has a big impact on how women of color are viewed in the workplace. There’s been extra pressure placed on us to conform to more “palatable” ideals.

“What many people may not know is that being in the TV industry there is a ‘standard’ in which people are made to have their hair worn,” Ortiz wrote on Facebook. “The issue with this is that it always targets and pressures women of color to present their hair in ways that are unnatural just for the sake of having their hair look ‘professional.’ For years on end women of color have always been told their hair wasn’t professional or ‘neat’ enough for the workplace, and for years women of color would have to adhere to ‘white beauty standards’ in order to get ahead. Slowly but surely over the years, those standards have been changing in this field and we see more and more women of color being able to present themselves with their natural hair on TV.”

That’s why, criticism be damned, Ortiz says she’s going to continue to wear her hair natural on air. “I wear my hair straight 90 percent of the time, so when I wear it curly how does that even impact the way I do my job? It doesn’t,” she says. “Also, I think representation matters. I’ve had viewers tell me they appreciate me being myself because they see how their daughters, who have the same hair type as me, feel more confident. That’s so important.”

As Ortiz mentioned, she joins a growing number of on-air reporters who have recently made the decision to wear their hair natural. “I wear my hair in several ways on air, but I feel the freest when it’s in a natural style,” says Kimberly Shine, a TV reporter and anchor from Indiana. “Until recently, I’d always been scared or discouraged from any other style than straight.”

For so many women of color, wearing their natural hair on air means so much more than a hairstyle, it’s setting the precedent and paving the way for other journalists in the making. “In this business, wearing natural styles forces diversity—and conversation,” says Shine. “But more than that, it shows black youth and black aspiring journalists that ‘we’ matter. Representation is extremely important. Of course, everyone’s hair is different, but it can still be professional. Our hair is unique and nothing we should be afraid of showcasing.”

Even still, Shine says it’s not just commenters committing these microaggressions. Managers, too, have long been part of the problem: “I was once told I couldn’t wear a braided/rod-curl style on air. That was years ago, and I was younger then, so I did what I was told.” Since then, she says she’s grown more confident in herself and the work she does—thanks partially, in fact, to social media. “It was a big help,” Shine says. “I started following some journalism ladies who wear their hair natural on air, and that encouraged me even more.”

These days, Shine says it’s mostly getting better in the newsroom. Management, coworkers, and viewers have all been supportive of her—but that isn’t the case everywhere. “Unfortunately, it sometimes all depends on the TV market where you work,” she says. “I feel like you have more leniency in smaller cities, than in the larger ones. But regardless, no one can deny good work. If your work is strong, it’s all about finding a natural hairstyle that compliments you.”

And thankfully, on a larger scale, women like CNN commentator Angela Rye are using their positions at national news outlets to champion both natural hair and protective styles. “I thought wearing my hair on CNN in cornrows wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t think twice about it,” Rye shared in the October issue of Glamour. “But a number of black women responded, saying, ‘Oh my God, thank you so much for doing this. Now I know I can do this in a professional setting.’ A lot of people are just starting to accept that how black women wear their hair is a form of self-expression.”

Doing so shouldn’t have to be “brave,” and yet, as Senait Gebregiorgis, multimedia journalist and fill-in anchor at Fox Illinois News, points out, that’s exactly what it’s taken for women of color to get to this point. “I can write a novel sharing my journey and what it took for me to have the courage to wear my hair the way it is on television. I remember thinking why try to look or be like everyone else when I can be myself?” she tells Glamour. “As reporters, our duties include being a watchdog; telling the stories viewers care about and serving our community. But oftentimes we forget one of the best ways to accomplish that is to be relatable and represent who we serve; whether that’s keeping your name [instead of a stage name] or wearing the hair god blessed you with.”

The freedom that comes with it allows these women to do their job uninhibited by the pressures of societal beauty ideals. “The day I decided to ditch my flatiron, I felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” says Amina Smith, an on-air host at Stadium Sports Network. “I could just be myself on-air, not what the industry wanted me to be.”

At the end of the day, Gebregiorgis says it best: “My hair is a part of my identity. So what do you do with what you were given? You rock it.”

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More Evidence A Nintendo 64 Classic May Be On The Horizon

For the last couple of years gamers have been talking incessantly about an N64 Classic Edition. Why not? I mean, we have the NES Classic Edition, and the highly successful follow-up the SNES Classic Edition, and now we’re getting the PlayStation Classic this December. Would it really be out of the norm to want an N64 Classic Edition? Well, all of the clamor and the chatter to rekindle some love for some of the most iconic video games in the history of gaming could be coming to a head in a tangible way. Rumors and discussion about the N64 Classic Edition is no longer just rumors and discussion, because there has now been some element of evidence surfacing which indicate that a Nintendo 64 Classic may be on the horizon.

According to Business Insider, Nintendo recently made a European trademark filing for a “Classic Edition.” If you follow through to the EUTM file information regarding the trademark, you’ll see that Nintendo input the application back in July of 2017, and the examination was completed on February 17th, 2018. The filing was published that very same month and the opposition period ended in May of this year. After all the filing and paperwork was completed, the trademark for the “Classic Edition” was registered on August 30th, 2018. The expiry isn’t until 2027.

If you scuffle down the filing, you’ll see that there’s a big ‘ole graphical representation for the filing, which includes the undeniable outline of a Nintendo 64 analog controller. The three prongs extend from the bottom, with the start button in the center of the pad, just above the iconic analog stick resting in the middle prong. The ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons are off to the right of the analog, along with the four C-direction buttons on the far right of the controller, which is typically where the four face buttons are located.

Most notable, however, is that the trademark was filed by Nintendo of Japan. Some of you might remember that a few months ago Nintendo of Japan also filed a trademark in Japan for a “Classic Edition.”

Business Insider notes that the significance of this particular trademark filing is that it’s actually identical to the other trademark filings Nintendo made for the NES Classic Edition and the SNES Classic Edition. The article even shows the original trademark images, which — sure enough — feature a top-down look at an NES controller in black and white.

The thing is, when reached for comment, Nintendo said they had nothing to announce on the topic at this time.

While some people might assume the N64 Classic Edition would be announced to compete with the PlayStation Classic Edition, the trademark filing gives Nintendo a good decade to make good on the proposition. It doesn’t mean that we have to see an N64 retro console released right now, it just means that if Nintendo wanted to release one right now, it most certainly could.

Of course, this gives gamers, media outlets and YouTubers plenty of time to come up with top 10, top 20, or top 30 lists to put together the ideal line-up for what they would like to see featured in the retro mini-console‘s pre-loaded software stash, assuming that it’s actually coming. If it is coming, what games would you like to see bundled into the N64 Classic Edition?

Henry Cavill’s 7 Best Superman Moments So Far

Flying For The First Time

There’s no denying that Man of Steel is a darker adaptation of the Superman mythos, but in the midst of Clark’s conflicts, both external and internal, is a moment of pure joy. It wouldn’t be a Superman movie without seeing the central character fly, something Henry Cavill’s iteration didn’t know he was capable of until he activated the Kryptonian scout ship and met the Jor-El AI, who informed him of his origins. Upon putting on the uniform displaying the El crest, Clark went outside and tried flying for the first time. It was hard going at first, but after calming himself and remembering his “father’s” words, Clark finally stuck the launch and swiftly traveled across the world. He’d already proven himself a hero, but reaching these new heights (figuratively and literally) arguably marked his first proper step towards becoming Superman.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Reveals Some Of The Post-Release Free Content

For a lot of games it’s almost unheard of for a AAA title to release without a DLC roadmap. In fact, some might call it corporate blasphemy to have a major $100 million dollar project out in the wild without any sort of post-launch plans or monetization efforts. It’s a rarity, like a unicorn. Of course, for every other major project that releases there are lots of content packs and expansions planned long after the release of the game, which is exactly what Activision and Treyarch have setup for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It was recently announced exactly what sort of post-launch content gamers can expect for the first-person shooter game, and not all of it is paid DLC. In fact, some of the content you can expect to receive will actually be free.

Over on the PlayStation Blog it was revealed by Activision’s editorial manager, Kevin Kelly, that post-launch content for Black Ops 4 will release first on the PlayStation 4 and that some of the new content will be free.

Gamers will get their first taste of content with the return of the Nuketown map starting in November, following the release of Black Ops 4 on October 12th. So, just one month after release the first downloadable map for the game will be made available. And, yes, Nuketown will be free for PlayStation 4 owners first.

According to the list of free content, Nuketown will be depicted with an “all-new take,” so don’t expect it to be the exact same map that you’ve played across many of the previous Call of Duty games.

Following the release of Nuketown, the game will receive all new specialist characters starting in December. If we’re going by the usual roll-out of content, this likely means that we can expect the Xbox One and PC versions of Black Ops 4 to receive the free Nuketown update starting in December, and then the new specialists will likely be available in January.

Treyarch also has plans on evolving the Blackout mode. According to the description, Blackout will receive “regular map updates” as well as new expansions and modes. Expect Treyarch to put in some time and effort with Black Ops 4’s mode much in the same way that Epic Games fosters and evolves the Battle Royale mode in Fortnite.

Last, but not least, are events. The events within the game will be free for everyone to enjoy. This includes seasonal, weekly, and time-limited events that may include certain modes on certain maps. The post doesn’t explain exactly what sort of specialty events we can expect from the game, but, given that Activision and Treyarch are intent on fostering the growth of the community long after release, be sure to stay on the lookout for all sorts of crazy content to appear with the seasonal and weekly events.

All of this comes on the heels of a strong beta test that took place for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, where a lot of fans and content creators gave Treyarch tons of positive feedback for doing right by the brand. You can look for the first-person shooter to launch in full next month on the PS4, PC, and Xbox One, starting October 12th.

Kingsman 3 Is Definitely Happening

When it comes to spy movies, you’ve got your gritty Bourne franchise, the action extravaganzas of Mission: Impossible and the sexy Bond films. Then you have the Kingsman franchise, which is something else entirely. Based on the comics by Mark Millar, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman films are crowd pleasers that are crazy, stylish, funny and action-packed and now it looks like we have more of h to look forward to. Following the second film in the franchise, last year’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, it is looking like Kingsman 3 is definitely happening.

According to Exhibitor Relations, Fox’s Untitled Kingsman Movie, which is presumably Kingsman 3, is set for release just over a year from now, on November 8, 2019. On top of that, writer-director Matthew Vaughn is set to return to pen the screenplay and direct the film, thus completing the trilogy. There isn’t an official plot description yet, but we know that Matthew Vaughn was planning Kingsman 3 while working on the second film. The director has spoken in the past about the third film in the franchise taking the characters on a journey to a place we’ve never seen them before, and it would presumably conclude the Harry Hart-Eggsy relationship.

The first two Kingsman films released in February and September, respectively, but now it seems Fox plans to wade into the slightly more dangerous waters of November. If Kingsman 3 sticks to this release date it would be opening a week after Wonder Woman 1984 and would also be facing off with the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which also opens on November 8. It’s also worth noting that fellow spy flick Bond 25 was originally set to come out on this date, though that has since been moved to February 14, 2020.

Despite the fact that Kingsman: The Golden Circle didn’t perform nearly as well critically as its predecessor, Kingsman: The Secret Service, it’s unsurprising that the franchise is getting a third film. The Golden Circle made around 22% less than the first film domestically, but made up for it internationally, and both films passed the $410 million mark worldwide. And although the second film has a bit more of a lukewarm reception among fans, I think we all want to see more of Eggsy and Harry Hart and this creative and fun world, so this Kingsman 3 news is welcome. With Matthew Vaughn returning, hopefully he can bring this trilogy to a satisfying end.

The news of Kingsman 3 definitely happening is great news for fans of the franchise, but it may just be the tip of the iceberg for stories set in this world. News came out earlier this year that Mathew Vaughn was setting up a new studio with the intent to tell more Kingsman stories. In addition to completing the main trilogy, there is also a plan to release a prequel that would follow the organization in the early 1900s, as well as a Statesman spinoff. On top of that, a limited run TV series is also planned. So clearly there is plenty of well-dressed action on the way.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest news on Kingsman 3, and if you want to get a head start planning out your moviegoing next year, check out our 2019 release schedule.

New Amsterdam Review: Ryan Eggold’s New NBC Medical Drama Is Poignant And Emotional

New Amsterdam is a medical drama that is firing on all cylinders. You name it, NBC’s new series checks off all the boxes. Created by David Schulner, the show encompasses everything viewers have come to expect from the genre. It also manages to avoid cliché, embracing itself for what it is as an emotional drama without sacrificing the gritty and searing truth it is portraying.

“How can I help?” is one of the persevering mantras spoken by Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold). On his first day as the medical director of the series’ titular hospital, Dr. Goodwin wastes no time tearing up the red tape keeping patients from the best care possible. Set in a hospital inspired by America’s oldest public facility, Max is faced with one real problem after another, only to respond with a magical “done.” It is a splendid fantasy the series leans into without feeling false.

In an arresting sequence, Max addresses a room of the hospital’s staff by declaring his intentions to shake up the status quo. In this scene, the series zeros in on some terse dialogue that gives life to an atmosphere that is awkward and authentic. It is an early lesson in what makes the series tick, and it is brutally frank without losing any heart.

Viewers are introduced to the hospital’s main doctors throughout the episode. There is the captivating Dr. Hana Sharpe (Freema Agyeman), whose frequent television appearances are helping her stay out of the hospital. There is the driven Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) and cheery Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery), whose romantic future takes various turns. The keen Dr. Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher) and enthusiastic Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) help flesh out the staff.

All of them are well-drawn with more in-depth characterizations than you sometimes see in the genre. New Amsterdam makes sure that its leads are never lost in the chaos. They are all richly textured, and in the span of two episodes, it is easy to feel you have an indelible sense of who they are.

The mystery New Amsterdam offers to viewers is peeling back the layers of what has forged them into the people we are now meeting. While the series wades into heavy emotional terrain throughout its first two episodes, it never feels like it is forcing viewers to feel. Those emotions unfold in an organic way that is earnestly heartfelt.

Tears are easy to come by without leaving you overwrought. That’s because New Amsterdam teems with an unvarnished sentimentality, which naturally makes it impossible to avoid becoming teary-eyed. Backed by a score that complements rather than induces what unfolds on-screen, the series makes smart choices.

There is wonderful interaction between the characters, and as the story weaves in and out of its various narratives, they all feel interconnected. It is a synchronicity that usually takes an entire season to develop.

Ryan Eggold shoulders the series with a terrific display of his wide range as the confident Max. Be it exuding pathos or offering an upbeat grin, Eggold displays the same charisma he did on The Blacklist. He was a standout on the crime drama, and here he works equally well with New Amsterdam seizing on his skills fantastically.

The cast that accompanies him is remarkably robust. In a marvel of casting, New Amsterdam has assembled an ensemble with no weak spots. There is Freema Agyeman’s electrifying performance as Dr. Hana Sharpe. Jacko Simms’ contemplative turn as Dr. Floyd Reynolds, Janet Montgomery’s buoyant take on Dr. Lauren Bloom, Anupam Kher’s weighty performance as Dr. Vijay Kapoor, and Tyler Labine’s tender turn as Dr. Iggy Frome.

Fast-moving, sensitive, and provocative, New Amsterdam addresses the medical system and its broken state. There is still more to explore as the series has yet to discuss the exorbitant cost of certain medications, among other issues facing patients. Still, this is a television show that, while having Max ushering in all this change, acknowledges he may not be able to keep it going. So, there is honesty here.

It will be interesting to watch and see how and if that plot is probed further as the season progresses. There is a feel-good fantasy element to the show, and given that it embraces that aspect, it makes sense to remain a bit idealistic at first. The future of New Amsterdam is highly intriguing to contemplate. The pilot ends on a shocking note it builds to throughout the hour, which opens an unexpected door. How it will step through it is anyone’s guess.

New Amsterdam premieres Tuesday, September 25 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the Season 3 premiere of This Is Us. Both are among a slew of series making their returns and premieres this fall on NBC and other networks.

The 12 Greatest Big Bang Theory Guest Stars, Ranked

CBS’ The Big Bang Theory will be heading into its final season when it hits the air this fall, and, as could be expected of a very popular show that’s been on the air for eleven seasons, there have been many, many guest stars during the show’s run. Since Season 12 will be our last go-round with Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Amy and the rest of the gang, we figured now would be a grand time to pay tribute to the best of the best when it comes to guest starring appearances on The Big Bang Theory, knowing, of course, that this final season is sure to have some surprises up its sleeve with regards to guest performances. Here for you now, we’ll go through our favorite guest stars who have popped up on the show, and rank them by sheer awesomeness and utilization in the plot.

America’s Got Talent Winner Shin Lim Shared His Most Memorable Moments From The Season

The latest champion of America’s Got Talent is none other than card magician Shin Lim, who blew minds and confounded viewers all season with his sleight-of-hand tricks. The final batch of contestants was comprised of some very different acts, and it was difficult to predict who would make it to the top five and who would be cut early. It finally came down to Shin Lim and dance troupe Zurcaroh, and Shin Lim ultimately won the top prize of $1 million and a Las Vegas stage show. Lim spoke with CinemaBlend after winning America’s Got Talent, and he had this to say about the most memorable moments from his big night:

When Tyra Banks finally announced Shin Lim as the winner after almost a full two hours of the results show, Zurcaroh didn’t wallow in disappointment while Lim celebrated. No, the dancers of Zurcaroh swept Lim off his feet and guaranteed that winning felt like heaven on stage. Coming in second was still a massive accomplishment for the group, and their immediate reaction to lift Lim made the moment feel all the more heartwarming.

In a fun twist, Shin Lim also revealed in our chat that he’s a fan of Zurcaroh. When voting opened up in the last stages of competition, Lim didn’t just vote for himself. He also used some of his votes for Zurcaroh, as well as the sibling band We Three, who made it almost all the way to the finals.

For fans, the most memorable part of Shin Lim’s run may have been his mind-blowing final act that saw him up the ante on both spectacle and showmanship. After criticism from judge Simon Cowell that his previous performances were lacking in showmanship, Lim went above and beyond for the finale performance that had to convince voters to support him as the Season 13 champion. Lim revealed that the finale act was actually quite risky for some big reasons, and he also shared that it was his favorite performance. Here’s how he put it:

Unlike previous performances in rounds of America’s Got Talent competition, the finale act was one that Shin Lim hadn’t performed over and over again. In fact, the only people who had experienced the act prior to when Lim hit the stage and showed off his sleight-of-hand skills on live television were the folks who were helping him get it ready. Given that Shin Lim was the winner of America’s Got Talent, it’s safe to say that Simon Cowell’s advice to Lim that he should work on his showmanship resulted in an act that clinched a huge prize for him.

America’s Got Talent may be done for Season 13, but that doesn’t mean the end of your opportunities to see Shin Lim in action. He’ll headline the America’s Got Talent Live stage show in Las Vegas at the Paris Theater, with performances from November 2-4. The show will also feature performances from Lin’s competitors, including comedians Vicki Barbolak and Samuel J. Comroe, violinist extraordinaire Brian King Joseph, gravity-defying acrobat pair Duo Transcend, and young powerhouse singer Courtney Hadwin. Auditions for the next season of AGT are currently underway, and interested acts can register at www.AGTAuditions.com.

New Venom Clip Shows Eddie Brock Confronting The Movie’s Villain

As the fall season approaches, so does a slimy symbiotic alien, as Venom will soon make its solo debut in early October. While the initial reaction of seeing Venom onscreen without Spider-Man to take him down seemed a bit of a stretch, a lot of superhero fans are getting excited to see the horrifying creature hit theaters. Before it does, the studio released a short clip giving a taste of the relationship between journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and genius billionaire Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Take a look:

The exclusive Venom clip from IGN has Eddie conducting an interview with Carlton that starts lightly as he discusses his passion for space exploration. However, when he gets into some allegations toward the Life Foundation regarding deadly pharmaceutical tests, Carlton and his team are no longer willing to be welcoming. The clip ends with Eddie being shoved away from Carlton as he asks him if he’s being threatened, and Carlton responds with an unassuming “Have a nice life!”

In Venom, this relationship is central to the film, as Eddie Brock has been obsessed with taking down Carlton Drake for quite some time. Per the clip, Eddie seems to be having a hard time cracking the story, as Carlton is untouchable. His investigation starts to tarnish his personal and professional life, leading him to go off the books, discover and subsequently merge with the Venom symbiote. While traditionally Venom would be considered a villain in a Spider-Man film, Riz Ahmed’s character will be even more villainous as a corrupt scientist likely willing to do anything to make discoveries.

As revealed at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer, Carlton Drake will portray another symbiotic villain: Riot, first seen on the printed page in the comic Venom: Lethal Protector. While fans were hoping and theorizing that Riz Ahmed would turn out to be Carnage, director Ruben Fleischer debunked this possibility with this announcement. With Woody Harrelson a part of the cast with an unknown role, fans have turned their Carnage theories over to him (including us). Since Fleisher teased that more villains could appear in the film, it’s still unclear that Riz Ahmed’s character will be the true main villain.

Although Venom has a PG-13 rating, the film is expected to be highly violent, with head-chomps and all. The upcoming film is certainly treading into new waters for the movie genre, as there is usually a clear-cut protagonist and antagonist. Still, with the clip setting up Eddie Brock and Carlton Drake as opposers, you can be sure their eventual clash is going to be crazy. Early tracking has the film expected to do well at the box office with an expected domestic opening of $55 to $85 million. Venom comes to theaters on October 5.