Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
“The world has a way of changing. But there’s one thing that always stays the same.” F9, the ninth movie in the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise, kicks off the summer blockbuster season in what is expected to be the highest pandemic movie opening to date. It got off to a quick start on Thursday by grossing $7.1 million from 3,100 screens in preview showings, and opens wide in 4,179 North American theaters this weekend, which is the largest theater count since the pandemic shutdown began. It has already beaten the opening performance of the 2019 Fast spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, which in its Thursday debut in pre-pandemic times made $5.8 million before ultimately opening to $60 million. The film has also already made an impressive $292 million internationally, including $203.8 million in China alone. F9 sees Vin Diesel return as Dominic Toretto as he reunites his gang to take on his most personal foe yet: his long-lost forsaken brother Jakob, as played by John Cena newly joining the franchise. Longtime cast members Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang are all back on board along with Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Michael Rooker and Charlize Theron. While F9 might be the craziest movie in the franchise thus far, it’s certainly not the end of the series, and the latest Fast & Furious has a bonus scene right smack in the middle of the credits for fans looking for hints about future plots. Fast & Furious 10 and 11 are coming to bring the Fast Saga to an epic conclusion in the next few years. (CNBC, Noovie.com, The Wrap, Digital Spy)
Questlove’s Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) will tease the specialty box office this weekend with the brilliantly reviewed Sundance Grand Jury and Audience award-winner opening in special engagements in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles to tee up a wide release on some 600 screens July 2. The film from Searchlight Pictures about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which features never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and others, will strike a chord at the El Capitan Theater in LA and the Magic Johnson AMC Harlem. The amazing footage from the festival in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park), held the same year as Woodstock, was stored in a basement and all but forgotten for 50 years. (Deadline)
Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings is back in the news with a new action-filled trailer release this week. The film delves into a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and centers on Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the heir to a martial arts legacy and son of the villainous Wenwu (Tony Leung). The project is breaking ground with Marvel Studios’ first Asian lead, and other stars include Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng. Shang-Chi will be the first Marvel Studios film to debut exclusively in theaters in more than two years, and comes amid Marvel’s busiest year ever — the studio also has Black Widow (July 9), Eternals (November 5), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17) due out in theaters in 2021. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is slated for Sept. 3. (The Hollywood Reporter)
The official trailer for the latest installment in the Halloween franchise, Halloween Kills, is on the loose. In 2018, David Gordon Green’s Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, earned more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman. Now, the seemingly unkillable Michael Myers has returned and will be back in theaters after a year’s delay, starting on October 15. “I’m coming for you Michael,” vows Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, as she inspires her family, other survivors, and all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. Will they finally be successful? Well, all we can say is that Halloween Kills will be followed by Halloween Ends, which will arrive in 2022. (Deadline)
It’s a face-off between Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King in The Harder They Fall, and if the western’s first trailer is any indication, audiences need to get ready for a dirty, dusty and dangerous ride. The action-packed Netflix film will debut in select theaters this fall, and is directed by Jeymes Samuel, who co-wrote the script with Boaz Yakin, and is produced by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, James Lassiter, Lawrence Bender and Samuel. According to the movie’s official description, the plot follows a tale of revenge that “has never been served colder.” When outlaw Nat Love (Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Elba) is being released from prison, he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge. Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary (Beetz), his right- and left-hand men — hot-tempered Bill Pickett (Gathegi) and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (Cyler) — and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith (King) and Cherokee Bill (Stanfield), and they are not a group that knows how to lose. (Variety)
Damien Chazelle has fleshed out the cast of his Old Hollywood period drama Babylon with an impressive group that includes Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, Phoebe Tonkin and Tobey Maguire. They all join a cast that’s led by Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Diego Calva. The film is set to go into production next week. La La Land director Chazelle wrote the script and is directing the film at Paramount, which is described as an ensemble film set in late 1920s Hollywood. No character details for any of the new cast or the previously announced cast have been revealed, and it’s unclear whether any or all of them are playing fictional characters or historical figures. Also among the Babylon cast are Max Minghella, Lukas Haas, Flea, Rory Scovel, Samara Weaving, Eric Roberts, P.J. Byrne and Damon Gupton. Paramount currently has Babylon set for a limited release on Christmas Day 2022 before it goes wide on Jan. 6, 2023. (The Wrap)
Alexander Skarsgård will star in Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool, a sci-fi thriller about a vacation that takes a twist. Infinity Pool comes on the heels of Skarsgård’s star turn in Godzilla vs. Kong, one of the few box office success stories of the pandemic era. In the new film, characters James and Em are young, rich, in love, and on vacation. Their all-inclusive resort boasts island tours and gleaming beaches. But outside of the hotel gates waits something much more dangerous and seductive, beyond the edge of paradise. Given director Cronenberg’s out-there oeuvre, that “something” probably doesn’t involve lost travelers checks or a failure to apply sufficient sunscreen. (Variety)
Sam Neill, Christoph Waltz and Patrick Gibson will head the cast of The Portable Door, a fantasy adventure film adapted from the series of novels by Patrick Holt. The film is now shooting in Queensland, Australia, and the story sees two lowly, put-upon interns at a mysterious London firm, J.W. Wells & Co., become steadily aware that their employers are anything but conventional. The charismatic villains who run the company are disrupting the world of magic by bringing modern corporate strategy to ancient magical practices. (Variety)
Polly Pocket is headed to a much larger venue. The miniature brand that grew to prominence in the ’90s is being developed as a live-action feature film, with Lena Dunham set to write and direct and Lily Collins attached to star as the titular toy, as well as produce. The story will follow a young girl and a pocket-sized woman who form a friendship. Mattel and MGM are currently developing other projects together based on the View-Master and American Girl Doll brands. Mattel’s recent projects include a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie with Vin Diesel set to star, and live-action adaptations of their other game and toy IP, including Barbie, Barney and Hot Wheels. Polly Pocket has previously been adapted into an animated television series. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Harrison Ford injured his shoulder while rehearsing a fight scene in Indiana Jones 5, which began production earlier this month in Pinewood and other U.K. locations. But fear not, Indy fans — director James Mangold will continue to shoot, and the filming schedule will be reconfigured as needed around Ford while he recovers in the coming weeks. Mangold took over the directing reins from Steven Spielberg, who still is serving as producer along with Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Simon Emanuel. John Williams, who has worked on every score in the 40-year-old franchise including its iconic theme, is also returning as composer. Ford stars alongside Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Boyd Holbrook, Shaunette Renée Wilson and Thomas Kretschmann. The actor, known for doing many of his own fantastic stunts in blockbuster franchises over the years, has a long history of on-set injuries, but always comes back stronger than ever. Disney has set the Lucasfilm action thriller for a July 29, 2022 release date. (Deadline, Distractify)
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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