Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
The Super Bowl may have had fewer movie trailer spots than in previous years, but the big game still featured some great new movies coming to a big screen near you, including F9, the ninth installment in the irrepressible The Fast & The Furious franchise now slated to arrive May 8th with Vin Diesel once again leading the ensemble cast alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Charlize Theron, John Cena, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, and Helen Mirren; Nobody, an over-the-top violent rampage of a film written by John Wick screenwriter Derek Kolstad set to arrive April 2nd starring Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, and Christopher Lloyd; Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney’s latest animated adventure arriving in theaters on March 5th with Kelly Marie Tran voicing the young hero, Raya, and Awkwafina voicing the bumbling dragon that Raya summons to aid her in her quest; and Old, M. Night Shyamalan’s next thriller expected to hit theaters this summer, centering around a family whose relaxing vacation on a secluded beach goes haywire when they start aging rapidly and watch their lifespan shrink to a single day. (Rolling Stone, Collider, MovieWeb, ScreenRant, Today)
There is an impressive slate of movies hitting the big screen this week, including actress Robin Wright’s wilderness directorial debut, Land; Judas and the Black Messiah, which tells the story of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O’Neal; Music from Sia starring Kate Hudson; the horror thriller Willy’s Wonderland with Nicholas Cage; and The Mauritanian, starring Jodie Foster and based on the true story of Mohamedou Ould Salahi, a terror suspect held for 15 years in Guantanamo Bay without charge. (CBS, The Wrap, Variety, ComingSoon.net, Deadline,)
Marvel’s long-awaited feature Black Widow is still set to be a pure theatrical release, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek on the studio’s FYQ1 earnings call this week. Black Widow is currently scheduled to kick off the summer movie season on May 7. Should the pandemic quell by then, and New York City and Los Angeles reopen movie theaters, the Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh feature will be the first tentpole to re-ignite exhibition. Fingers crossed! (Deadline)
Godzilla Vs. Kong director Adam Wingard has been tapped for the remake of Face/Off. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage starred in the original 1997 action-thriller from John Woo, which centers on two arch enemies exchanging each other’s identities (and faces). Wingard’s previous credits include Death Note, 2016’s Blair Witch, and You’re Next. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Grammy nominated recording artist Wale Folarin, Cedric Sanders, Jackson White, Colin Woodell and Olivia Stambouliah are joining Michael Bay’s Endeavor Content-Universal action thriller Ambulance. The five join the growing cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, A Martinez, Keir O’Donnell and Moses Ingram. The new movie is based off the original Danish film Ambulancen and is in the spirit of such 1990s action pics as Speed and Bad Boys. (Deadline)
The 2021 Oscars will broadcast live from multiple locations, including the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. According to a statement from the Academy, “In this unique year that has asked so much of so many, the Academy is determined to present an Oscars like none other, while prioritizing the public health and safety of all those who will participate. To create the in-person show our global audience wants to see, while adapting to the requirements of the pandemic, the ceremony will broadcast live from multiple locations, including the landmark Dolby Theatre. We look forward to sharing more details soon.” The 93rd annual Academy Awards have been rescheduled for Sunday, April 25, 2021. (Variety)
In other Oscars news, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unwrapped its shortlists for the 2021 Oscars in nine categories, including documentary and international features. Also released were the shortlists for original score, original song, makeup and hairstyling, visual effects, and documentary, live-action and animated short. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Speaking of which, this year’s Oscars have set a new record for the largest number of entries ever in the Best Original Song category, but the 105 eligible songs do not include Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ “(If Only You Could) Save Me,” a 1930s-style big band song from “Mank” that was recently nominated for the second annual Society of Composers and Lyricists Awards. The song is heard briefly coming from a radio in the background of one scene and plays for only about 40 seconds. Academy rules require “a clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition of both lyric and melody,” and the song was judged to not fulfill that requirement. The list of eligible songs tops 100 for the first time since the Academy began announcing the number of contenders in the category. The previous high came in 2016, when 91 songs qualified. (The Wrap)
The South by Southwest Film Festival has rolled out its full programming lineup, with high-profile new documentaries bolstering previously announced features. Among the selection is Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free, featuring a 16mm footage archive of the late singer at work on his 1994 album Wildflowers, largely considered his best. Also on deck is Introducing, Selma Blair, from director by Rachel Fleit. It explores the actor’s life as she navigates her career and treatment for MS. Joining the previously announced opening night film, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, is a doc about singer Charli XCX and her quest to make an album around the globe in 40 days. That title, Alone Together from directors Bradley Bell and Pablo Jones-Soler, will close the festival. Like the recently-wrapped virtual Sundance, SXSW Film will also be a virtual event. (Vareity)
The latest issue of British magazine Empire features a massive celebration of cinemagoing curated by Edgar Wright, with Hollywood icons and readers sharing their most treasured experiences of watching a movie with a packed crowd. Among the contributors to the issue are James Cameron, Daisy Ridley, Spike Lee and Daniel Craig, and Steven Spielberg, who writes about, “Movie-going, as in leaving our homes to go to a theatre, and community, meaning a feeling of fellowship with others who have left their homes and are seated with us. In a movie theatre, you watch movies with the significant others in your life, but also in the company of strangers. That’s the magic we experience when we go out to see a movie or a play or a concert or a comedy act. We don’t know who all these people are sitting around us, but when the experience makes us laugh or cry or cheer or contemplate, and then when the lights come up and we leave our seats, the people with whom we head out into the real world don’t feel like complete strangers anymore. We’ve become a community, alike in heart and spirit, or at any rate alike in having shared for a couple of hours a powerful experience. That brief interval in a theatre doesn’t erase the many things that divide us: race or class or belief or gender or politics. But our country and our world feel less divided, less fractured, after a congregation of strangers have laughed, cried, jumped out their seats together, all at the same time. Art asks us to be aware of the particular and the universal, both at once. And that’s why, of all the things that have the potential to unite us, none is more powerful than the communal experience of the arts.”
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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