Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
NYC movie fans got back to the big screen in a big way this past weekend, and weekend box office surged 525%, making the NY DMA easily the No. 1 market in the country over the weekend, followed by Salt Lake City, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Houston, Orlando, Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis and Montreal. NYC theaters had been shuttered for 50 1/2 weeks due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and people were thrilled to get back to theaters, making comments like, “I realize [the movie] is online, but this is a much better experience,” and “My TV just isn’t big enough!,” with some even admitting they were just there for the popcorn. Even actor Liam Neeson headed to his local AMC theater on the Upper West Side to personally welcome fans back, saying, “This is one for the diary. I think going to the cinema is a bit of a sacred experience. I’ve felt that way since I was a kid.” (Deadline, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter)
Movie theaters in Los Angeles have been cleared to reopen early next week, which is great news for the number one box office market in the U.S. The reopening of L.A. on the heels New York City is a big step toward the recovery of the theater business. California and New York together account for 21.5% of the total U.S. box office receipts each year, according to data from ComScore. Having the top markets open again is an essential step to big films returning to theatrical release, and studios are showing more confidence that theaters will be ready to go for early summer blockbusters like Black Widow, Peter Rabbit 2, and F9. (The Wrap, CNBC)
There are other great signs that the film industry is starting to reawaken as well. Film permits for movie, TV and commercial shoots in Los Angeles County were up 43% in February. Variety even has a list of everything that’s reopening following COVID-induced closures, including movie theaters, legit theaters, theme parks, arenas, and concert venues. (Yahoo, Variety)
Hope can emerge from heartache. That’s the message that inspires Long Weekend, a romantic drama-comedy writer-director Steve Basilone hitting theaters this weekend. The story follows Bart, a writer struggling to find purpose after his mother dies and his fiancée leaves him. His outlook starts to change after a chance meeting with an endearing, but enigmatic woman named Vienna, who arrives in Los Angeles with no driver’s license, uses only cash and remains vague about her back story. The twists and turns intensify as Bart, played by Finn Wittrock, and Vienna, portrayed by Zoe Chao, start to fall in love. (Daily News)
Disney CEO Bob Chapek debunked speculation that Black Widow, the upcoming Marvel superhero adventure starring Scarlett Johansson, may debut on the Disney+ streaming service. “We are still intending it to be a theatrical release,” Chapek said recently during Disney’s quarterly earnings call, which is great news for movie fans. Black Widow is currently scheduled to open theatrically on May 7, which would make it the first blockbuster of 2021. (Variety)
Awards season is in full swing, and nominations for the 2021 EE British Academy Film Awards announced by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). This year’s BAFTA Film Awards ceremony was set to take place February 14, but the organization pushed the awards to April 11 after the Academy announced it was delaying the Oscars telecast to the end of April. The BAFTAs were the first major awards ceremony to push back its 2021 ceremony date following the Oscars delay. Nomadland and Rocks dominate the list with seven nominations each. (IndieWire)
All of Hollywood will be setting their alarm on Monday, as Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas are set to announce nominations for the 93rd annual Academy Awards, kicking off the event at 5:19 a.m. PT (8:19 a.m. ET) in a global livestream on Oscar.com, Oscars.org and the Academy’s digital platforms. (Deadline)
In other Academy news, when you’re ready to travel again, a new Oscar-history packed museum will be waiting for film lovers in Los Angeles. Actress Laura Dern narrated a virtual tour of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures this week, unveiling what she called “the world’s premiere museum dedicated to the arts and sciences of movies.” Opening to the public Sept. 30, the nearly complete 300,000 square-foot Academy Museum campus features two buildings designed by architect Renzo Piano. Exhibit highlights include the sole surviving full-scale model of Bruce, the mechanical shark used by director Steven Spielberg to make 1975’s Jaws, costumes ranging from The Dude’s robe to Okoye’s warrior outfit, and even an important look at less proud moments in the histories of the Academy and the film industry. (/Film, USA Today)
With Mission: Impossible 7 on the way later this year, director Christopher McQuarrie announced some big additions to the cast, including Princess Bride star Cary Elwes and Game of Thrones alum Indira Varma. In a series of cryptic Instagram posts, McQuarrie posted pictures of Varma, Elwes, Mark Gatiss, Charles Parnell, and Rob Delaney. The pictures were accompanied with the phrase “Welcome to The Community” and the hashtags #MI7 and #MI8. Could this quintet of stars be a new shadowy organization that Ethan Hunt and his IMF compatriots will have to confront, and could they be a threat that will take more than one Mission: Impossible film to bring down? Paramount confirmed the cast additions but declined further comment. Mission: Impossible 7 is currently set for release on November 19, with Mission: Impossible 8 coming in November 2022. (The Wrap)
It’s official – Michael B. Jordan will make his directorial debut with Creed III for MGM. The actor will not only return to reprise his role as the embattled boxer for the third installment of the rebooted Rocky series, but will also produce on top of directing. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad are expected to reprise their roles for the new movie that is being written by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin based on an outline by Ryan Coogler. The movie will debut on Nov. 23, 2022. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Kiersey Clemons will star opposite Ezra Miller in Warner Bros.’ DC movie The Flash. The actress will reprise her role as Iris West, the romantic interest of Barry Allen, aka The Flash. Clemons portrayed the intrepid reporter West in Justice League, but her role was cut by director Zack Snyder back in 2017 before he turned the film over to Joss Whedon. Snyder added her character back in recently for his upcoming cut, which debuts on HBO Max on March 18. Michael Keaton — who is no stranger to the DC universe, having starred as the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman movies — will reprise the character for the film, which will begin shooting in London in April. The Flash, which is DC’s latest stand-alone film, joining Wonder Woman and Aquaman, is scheduled to open Nov. 4, 2022. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Toni Collette will make a feature directorial debut with an adaptation of Lily King’s Writers and Lovers. Topic Studios, which recently released the Jodie Foster-starrer The Mauritanian, is behind the project that is based on the New York Times bestseller. It follows Casey Peabody, an underemployed, aspiring novelist in 1990’s Boston whose world is rocked by a recent love affair and her mother’s sudden death. Her life becomes more complicated as she then falls for two very different men at the same time. (The Hollywood Reporter)
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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