Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
Moviegoing kicked off again in the UK and France this week, and so far, signs are very positive. Advance sales are strong and exhibitors in both countries are encouraged by the early results. In the UK, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is the runaway leader, and there’s clear appetite for new titles and the big screen experience with Oscar winner Nomadland also doing healthy business along with Warner Bros’ Godzilla Vs Kong, despite the fact they have each been available in homes. Horror is also making a splash with Lionsgate’s Spiral: From The Book Of Saw and Sony’s The Unholy rounding out the Top 5. In France, Demon Slayer just opened yesterday and was the first choice for Parisians in the best reopening day for cinemas in Europe. French exhibitors said that overall numbers from Wednesday were comparable with the similar day in 2019 — that’s despite capacity being limited to 35% and a 9PM curfew across the country. (Deadline, Variety)
After more than a year of benching its biggest spectacles, Hollywood is ready to dazzle again. The Associated Press declared that the blockbuster is back — from F9 and In the Heights to The Suicide Squad and Black Widow, there will be a steady stream of blockbusters populating multiplexes across the country this summer for the first time since March 2020. For streaming-weary audiences, the promise of air conditioning, popcorn, soda fountains, 60-foot screens, state-of-the-art sound, and the shared experience will be a welcome respite from their living rooms and virtual watch parties. As veteran film writer Peter Bart put it, “Perhaps it’s time to surrender both our masks and our inertia and venture forth again. Popcorn smells better than inertia.” And according to the latest industry research, movie fans are more than ready to get back to the big screen! (AP, Deadline, MediaPost)
Speaking of F9, aka Fast & Furious 9, it looks like it’s going to be huge! The film is zooming towards its UK box office opening, with Universal moving it forward to June 24 from its previous July 8 date, which aligns with the movie’s U.S. bow on June 25. The studio is taking a nimble approach to the film’s release, rolling it out in territories in accordance with local Covid measures. To date, it has already been released to big numbers in Korea, with the best opening day ever for the Fast & Furious franchise in the market, as well as the top opening of all films in Korea since the pandemic began. The movie opens in China at midnight tonight and pre-sales in are near Hollywood record levels — the only other Hollywood releases to secure more than 100 RMB in pre-sales were The Fate of the Furious and the most recent Avengers films. (Deadline, Box Office)
The Big Screen Is Back event in Los Angeles united every major studio to celebrate the return of the movies, with filmmakers, studio executives and talent including J.J. Abrams and Arnold Schwarzenegger taking part in Wednesday’s event at AMC Century City with a collective message: seeing a movie on the big screen can’t be replicated. The presentation was a continuation of The Big Screen Is Back initiative, which kicked off at the end of the Academy Awards preshow with a PSA starring Matthew McConaughey. In another sign that things are beginning to return to normal, Disney’s Cruella became the first major studio pic to hold an in-theater premiere on Wednesday night, while Paramount hosted a number of media screenings for Quiet Place Part II. Both event films open over Memorial Day. (The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, Deadline)
A Quiet Place II is finally almost here, and the great reviews are speaking for themselves. The sequel to the 2018 smash hit A Quiet Place, A Quiet Place Part II will finally be released to audiences on May 28 with John Krasinski directing once more. Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe return to their roles, and rounding out the cast are Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. The silence of a darkened theater invariably is the best place to experience this aural horror movie, and the layered sound design, fittingly, is a thing of beauty, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Not that there was any doubt, but Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson proved she was the perfect casting choice to play Aretha Franklin in Respect in a new trailer for the film out this week. The trailer opens on Aretha as a young girl singing with her mother — played by the incomparable Audra McDonald — at the piano. Imparting some motherly wisdom, Aretha is told that singing should always be something she wants to do, not something others want for her. “What’s most important is that you are treated with dignity and respect,” her mother says, foreshadowing what’s to come. We then see a montage of a young Aretha, as those around her begin to discover her killer pipes, before Hudson appears as adult Aretha. At this point in her career, she’s had four albums without a hit single and is feeling discouraged. But superstardom is just around the corner. The trailer gives an exceptionally abridged version of how the iconic song Respect was born, showing it come together in Aretha’s living room and later, performed onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans. Respect is slated to hit theaters on Aug. 21. (The Wrap)
Gold House, the creator of #GoldOpen, has partnered with The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) to present #LatinxGoldOpen, a social movement dedicated to ensuring the opening weekend success of Latino driven films across the country. The opening weekend is the most critical time window for film projects to guarantee their vitality, and #LatinxGoldOpen aims to increase awareness of premieres through an extensive network of influencers and bring together audiences to guarantee success of these films through theater buyouts and increased individual and bulk ticket purchases, starting with In the Heights, based on the stage musical by the same name by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Variety)
On the eve of her 75th birthday, Cher tweeted out the news that a biopic about her life is in the works at Universal, with Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth set to write the script. The biopic will be produced by Cher alongside Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, the duo behind the Mamma Mia! film franchise. Cher appeared in 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Roth is a two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter who got his first statuette for writing 1995’s Forest Gump and his second for 2018’s A Star is Born. Roth most recently wrote Killers of the Flower Moon, which is currently in production and being directed by Martin Scorsese. Roth also co-wrote Dune, which will be released on Oct. 1. In 1988, Cher won an Academy Award for her role in the romantic comedy Moonstruck. She was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1984 for her turn in the Mike Nichols drama Silkwood. As a singer, Cher was the first artist to notch a No. 1 single on a Billboard chart in each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. (The Wrap)
Mel Gibson and Elisha Cuthbert will help Josh Duhamel pull off the perfect crime in Bandit, based on author Robert Knuckle’s best-selling novel and journalist Ed Arnold’s interviews with Gilbert Galvan Jr, who went by the name Robert Whiteman when he was dubbed the Flying Bandit for successfully pulling off 63 bank and jewelry heists during a notorious crime spree. Bandit follows the career criminal (Duhamel) after he escapes from a U.S. prison and crosses the border into Canada, where he assumes a new identity. After falling in love and getting married, he claims to take a job as a traveling security consultant, but his daring crimes continue. After he turns to lifetime gangster Tommy (Gibson) for an investment, his career becomes more complicated and he gets embroiled in the biggest heist in Canadian history, one that puts him at the center of a cross-country manhunt. (Variety)
The summer movie season will finally get some gas in its tank next weekend with the release of Cruella and A Quiet Place Part II, but this weekend there are a couple of new limited release movies worth checking out on the big screen. IFC is releasing Australia’s Eric Bana led thriller The Dry in the U.S. after it received rave reviews and broke box office records in its home country, and Bleeker Street’s feel-good family movie Dream Horse, which premiered at Sundance in 2020, also hits the big screen this weekend. (Box Office Mojo, Screen Rant, The New York Times)
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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