Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
Movies may be shifting again in the latest wave of COVID-19 delays, but this time, by delaying tentpoles rather than sending major titles to streaming platforms, much of Hollywood is betting that audiences will be comfortable going back to cinemas after the vaccine rolls out. Throughout the pandemic, the vast majority of big-budget event pics have seen their releases repeatedly pushed back amid ongoing theater closures in major markets and other locales, versus being sold off to a streamer or sent to an in-house streaming service. That’s because a $200 million movie capable of earning $1 billion at the global box office cannot achieve its full financial potential without a robust theatrical release, which triggers lucrative ancillary streams, merchandising and sequels. (The Hollywood Reporter)
2021 is starting off strong with some great movie releases! On the big screen this week is Harry Macqueen’s quiet but powerful road trip drama Supernova, starring Stanley Tucci as Tusker, a writer living with an accelerated form of dementia on an RV trip through rural England with his longtime partner, Sam (Colin Firth). Also opening in select theaters this weekend is the crime drama The Little Things, with a killer cast including Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto. John Lee Hancock’s script took nearly 30 years to go from page to screen, and he decided to keep it in its 1990 setting — before the advent of sleuthing aids like computerized fingerprint databases, DNA and even cell phones. (AV Club, Deadline)
The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today, with a full schedule of events. As a virtual affair, this year’s Sundance is a back-to-basics event, one where a plethora of smaller-scale films without distribution will vie both for awards and acquisition. Theatrical buyers say they’re eager to explore the lineup, especially as Sundance marks the first festival since the coronavirus vaccine campaign has begun and buyers are hopeful that theatrical exhibition could return in earnest later this year. Buzzworthy titles that could hit big include Questlove’s Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Coda, Eight For Silver, Judas and the Black Messiah, and On the Count of Three. Patton Oswalt will be hosting the 2021 SFF Awards Night on February 2. (IndieWire, Deadline)
Awards season is underway! This week has already brought a flurry of awards announcements so far, including the AFI’s top 10 films, the Spirit Awards nominations, the National Board of Review Awards winners and the USC Scripter Awards nominations. What influence might these nods have on the Oscars race? Only time, and still more awards to come, will tell! (The Hollywood Reporter)
The Cannes Film Festival has confirmed a new set of dates for this year’s event, which has again been postponed due to the pandemic – Tuesday, July 6, to Saturday, July 17. It is expected to take place after Cannes Lions, the advertising and marketing trade show, which is still on track to run June 21-25. While 2020 Cannes Film Festival did unveil an Official Selection, the festival itself was canceled due to the health crisis. Spike Lee, who was named jury president for Cannes in January 2020 but was never able to serve due to the fest’s cancellation, is still expected to lead the 2021 jury. (Variety)
When Disney first released a teaser for Raya and the Last Dragon, they did so without actually showing the dragon. Well, now maybe we have an idea as to why, because the mythical dragon voiced by Awkwafina that’s meant to save humanity is not all that she’s hyped up to be. “I’m going to be real with you. I’m not like…the ‘best’ dragon,” Awkwafina’s character says in the new trailer. “Have you ever done like a group project but there’s like that one kid who didn’t pitch in as much but still ended up with the same grade?” The movie is debuting in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional fee on March 5. (The Wrap)
Kevin Hart is joining Cate Blanchett in the cast of Borderlands, a movie adaptation of the popular video game. Hart will play Roland, a skilled ex-soldier-turned-mercenary, in the Lionsgate film. Eli Roth, whose resume includes The House With a Clock in its Walls and the Bruce Willis-led action thriller Death Wish, is directing. Though plot details have been kept under wraps, Borderlands is based on the role-playing shooter game that launched in 2009. The game, which has spawned several sequels, takes place on the planet of Pandora. Craig Mazin, who created the acclaimed HBO miniseries Chernobyl, wrote the latest draft of the screenplay. (Variety)
Dennis Quaid is set to star in a film at MGM and LightWorkers called On a Wing and a Prayer that’s based on the true story of a passenger who successfully landed a plane after the pilot died mid-flight. In the film, Quaid will play Doug White, who in 2009 was flying on a private King Air plane when the pilot suddenly died, forcing White to communicate with air traffic controllers and find a way to safely land the plane and rescue his family that was aboard. On a Wing and a Prayer is a faith-based family film that will see Quaid reuniting with director Sean McNamara, who previously worked with the actor on Soul Surfer. McNamara is also directing Quaid in the upcoming Ronald Reagan biopic Reagan. (The Wrap)
Trevor Noah is staying in the Viacom family for his next creative endeavor, an untitled feature film with Paramount Animation. The untitled project is based on an original idea from Noah. The plot is under wraps but is said to be timely, poignant and comedic. Jonathan Groff (Black-ish) and Jon Pollack (Modern Family) are set to write the script. Noah will produce via his Day Zero Productions, with his president of production Haroon Saleem. Norman Aladjem, Derek Van Pelt and Sanaz Yamin will also serve as producers via Mainstay Entertainment. (Variety)
Robert Rodriguez is re-imagining the Spy Kids franchise of family films, teaming with Skydance Media, which optioned the rights to the trilogy of films, and Spyglass Media Group, which owns the franchise. Rodriguez will write and direct the new film, and like the original series, the new Spy Kids movie will focus on a multi-cultural family of international spies. The original film from 2001 was a critical and box office success, grossing $147.9 million worldwide and starred Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino alongside its young stars, Alexa PenaVega and Daryl Sabara. The franchise became so popular, it spawned three more sequels, all of them directed by Rodriguez. The films grossed over $550 million at the worldwide box office. (The Wrap)
In a weird story that will no doubt make a great movie someday, shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings, the largest movie theater chain in the U.S., skyrocketed in just two days after getting pulled into the wild Wall Street drama sparked by the Reddit clan of WallStreetBets, which previously sent retailer GameStop into the price stratosphere. This “caddys vs. the country club members” investment spectacle is driven by everyday retail investors vs. established traders, and the GameStop event, and now AMC pump, is an extreme outlier example of the growing power of the Robinhood crowd. AMC had announced earlier in the week that it had secured enough financing to remain open and operational deep into 2021 to make it through the pandemic temporaty theater closures. (EW, NBC, CNBC)
For a full schedule of all the new movies coming to a theater near you, check out Box Office Mojo’s Domestic Release Calendar.
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