Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
If Hollywood needs any more proof that people can’t wait to get back to the movies, all we need to do is look to China. The Chinese New Year box office achieved yet another milestone Wednesday, beating the previous all-time high set during the comparable 2019 Lunar New Year holiday. China often outdoes itself, but the fact that 2021’s holiday, led by Detective Chinatown 3, came with COVID-19 capacity restrictions makes the performance even more staggering. Commenting on the great news for moviegoing, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond noted, “I think China tells us 100 percent that when people feel comfortable going to the movies — when it’s safe and there are great movies available — they’re coming back. There’s no question in my mind…And by the way, we haven’t only seen this in China. We also saw it in Japan, with Demon Slayer becoming the number one movie in the history of Japan’s box office — and it was also the number-one Japanese movie ever in IMAX. We’ve seen it in Korea. We’ve seen it in Taiwan…We’ve seen in every country where people have had that choice, they go back to the movies in huge numbers.” (Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter)
In theaters this weekend is one of the leading Oscar contenders for Best Picture and already an awards season favorite, Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand as Fern, a fictional former resident of a formerly real place. The movie begins with the end of Empire, Nev., a company town that officially went out of existence in late 2010, after the local gypsum mine and the Sheetrock factory shut down. Fern, a widow, takes to the highway in a white van that she christens with the name Vanguard and customizes with a sleeping alcove, a cooking area and a storage space for the few keepsakes from her previous life. Fern and Vanguard join a rolling, dispersed tribe — a subculture and a literal movement of itinerant Americans and their vehicles, an unsettled nation within the boundaries of the U.S.A. (Variety, The New York Times)
Brilliant, bad and a little bit mad is Disney’s catchy description for that legendary wearer of fur Cruella de Vil in a new trailer that dropped this week for Cruella, the live-action backstory to the villainess first introduced in 1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Starring Emma Stone in the title role and set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, the film follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute. Their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable, and revenge-bent Cruella. The movie is scheduled to hit theaters on May 28, 2021. (Deadline)
On the opposite end of the movie spectrum, the trailer for Mortal Kombat also dropped this week — and no punches were pulled, especially in the extremely graphic red band trailer. Almost three minutes long, the preview features fan-favorite characters from the popular video game franchise that first hit the big screen in the mid-’90s and gives a look into characters’ backstories, including Scorpion and Jax. The cast includes Ludi Lin as Liu Kang, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero, Mehcad Brooks as Jackson “Jax” Briggs and Lewis Tan in a mystery role. The Warner Bros. picture will hit theaters on April 16. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Even superheroes need to mask up, according to a fun new PSA created from a partnership between the Ad Council, the CDC, and WarnerMedia. The Mask Up America PSA features Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Harley Quinn, and many more characters from Warner Bros. films covering up and fighting on as we’ve all had to do during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (EW)
Quavo, one-third of the Atlanta hip-hop trio Migos, will make his feature-film debut alongside Robert DeNiro, John Malkovich and Jack Huston in the forthcoming film Wash Me in the River, which is directed by Randall Emmett (Midnight in the Switchgrass) and is currently filming in Puerto Rico. According to the announcement, Quavo (real name: Quavious Keyate Marshall) will play the role of Coyote, “a ruthless and heartless drug lord.” The second directorial outing by Emmett, the film is an action-thriller in the vein of No Country for Old Men, with an Adam Taylor Barker script focusing on a recovering opioid addict who seeks revenge on the dealer (Coyote) responsible for selling the drugs that resulted in his lover’s death. (Variety)
Daisy Ridley has found her next project. The Star Wars: The Last Jedi star will headline a new film called The Marsh King’s Daughter from Divergent and Limitless director Neil Burger, which is a movie adaptation of author Karen Dionne‘s psychological thriller novel. Ridley, whose other acting credits include Murder on the Orient Express and the upcoming Chaos Walking, will play “Helena, a woman living a seemingly ordinary life, but hiding a dark secret: her father is the infamous ‘Marsh King,’ the man who kept her and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) and Elle Smith wrote the screenplay, and filming is set to begin sometime this summer in Canada. (/Film)
Marwan Kenzari, the Aladdin star who stole scenes in The Old Guard, is in final negotiations to join Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam, New Line’s action-adventure thriller featuring the DC Comics antihero. The feature is heading toward an April start in Atlanta with Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge and Quintessa Swindell on the roll call. Black Adam is the second New Line/DC film following 2019’s critical and commercial hit Shazam! with the two characters, Shazam and Black Adam, being arch rivals in the DC Universe. Plot details for the project are being firmly held in the kingdom of Kahndaq but one thing superhero and film fans are excited about is the big-screen introduction of DC superteam, the Justice Society. Hodge is portraying Hawkman, Centineo is Atom Smasher, while Swindell is Cyclone. Kenzari’s role is being kept secret. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Violence of Action, a crime thriller starring Chris Pine, has landed at STX Films. The studio previously nabbed international rights to the movie and will now distribute in the U.S. as well. Directed by Tarik Saleh, Violence of Action centers on James Harper (Pine), a man who joins a paramilitary organization to support his family after he gets involuntarily discharged from the Marines. He travels to Berlin with his team on a black ops mission to investigate a mysterious threat, but he suddenly finds himself alone and hunted across Europe. As he fights to stay alive long enough to get home, he seeks to uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him. (Variety)
Martin Scorsese shared his thoughts on Federico Fellini and the lost magic of cinema in an essay for Harpers, including an interesting perspective on “content,” and why not all content is created equal. “As recently as fifteen years ago, the term ‘content’ was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form.’ Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should. ‘Content’ became a business term for all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode. It was linked, of course, not to the theatrical experience but to home viewing… On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t.” (Harpers)
For a full schedule of all the new movies coming to a theater near you, check out Box Office Mojo’s Domestic Release Calendar.
You can also level up your movie obsession with the new Noovie Trivia app! Test your movie knowledge with multiple ways to play, including Name That Movie, Shuffle, and Motion Picks. Take on other movie fans in a head-to-head battle or embark on a solo quest to answer as many questions as you can. New challenges are added every day, and the more you play, the more points you earn to unlock more trivia, build your profile, and access exclusive content.