Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!
The only thing stronger than family? The box office debut of F9, the latest entry in Universal’s Fast & Furious saga. After many delays over the course of a year and a half, F9 opened to a mighty $70 million from 4,179 North American venues. That’s by far the biggest start for a movie at the U.S. box office, not just since the onset of COVID-19, but since 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. F9 grossed in one day what some movies have made in a weekend during the pandemic, and it was achieved on a pure theatrical window — so far the movies that have opened to big numbers this summer ($50 million+) are those respecting the theatrical window, like F9 and A Quiet Place Part II. In fact, the top four movies this past weekend were those strictly available in theaters. As Vin Diesel said. “It feels good to say, ‘Cinema is back!’” (Variety, Deadline)
For the first time in a while, moviegoers will have a pick of more than one high-profile film to watch in theaters this weekend! Ahead of the July 4 holiday, there are several major movies releasing nationwide, including Universal’s animated adventure The Boss Baby: Family Business and the studio’s chilling sequel The Forever Purge, as well as A24’s satirical Twitter-inspired comedy Zola. After raising the bar on what a movie can open to during the pandemic with F9, Universal will have the top three movies in theaters, which will mark the first time since February 11-13, 2005, that a single studio has owned the top three spots at the domestic weekend box office. (Variety, Deadline)
Speaking of which, the highly anticipated sequel to The Boss Baby is finally here, and like its predecessor, it’s a hilarious family film filled to the brim with corny jokes and physical comedy. The Boss Baby: Family Business is still about Tim and Ted Templeton, who are all grown up now, but there’s a new boss baby in town – Tim’s daughter, Tina. It isn’t long before the brothers are reverted back to babies and on a new mission from BabyCorp to take down the villainous Dr. Armstrong. The first Boss Baby, also directed by Tom McGrath and voiced by Alec Baldwin —who returns as the corporate cutie in part 2 — opened to $50.2 million over March 31-April 2, 2017 and went on to make $175 million domestic, released via 20th Century Fox. All in, worldwide, Boss Baby made $528 million and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film. (PopSugar, Deadline, Noovie.com)
Also this weekend, one of the most successful horror franchises of the last decade will break all of its own rules with The Forever Purge, the fifth and apparently final film in the Purge franchise that launched in 2013 and showed us a terrifying world where all crime is legal for one night a year. Like its predecessors, The Forever Purge features screenwriter and series creator James DeMonaco going all out to show us yet another aspect of a world where Americans can be as brutal as they want every Purge Night. Unlike those previous films, though, this installment promises to reveal what happens when an underground group decides that the rules of the Purge universe no longer apply to them, and that they can purge as long as they want. The Forever Purge is only in theaters, starting July 2. (SYFY Wire)
Zola star Taylour Paige worked as a stripper for a month to prepare for the role in A24’s hotly anticipated new film, also in theaters this weekend. “I didn’t want to look like an actor trying to dance… I wanted to look like this person in the given circumstances,” the actress said. Based on an infamous 2015 Twitter thread by former stripper A’Ziah “Zola” Wells, the film follows Detroit waitress Zola and a customer named Stefani who instantly bond over pole dancing. Within 24 hours of meeting, Stefani invites Zola on a road trip where the goal is to make as much money as possible at Florida strip clubs. What seems like a glamorous trip full of harmless “hoeism” quickly transforms into a 48-hour journey involving a nameless pimp, an idiot boyfriend, Tampa gangsters and other wild adventures along the way. (The Wrap)
“Today, we celebrate our Independence Day.” Twenty-five years ago, those words electrified audiences, who braved long lines and sold-out crowds to see the most anticipated movie of 1996. Independence Day, which opened over the July Fourth weekend, turned Will Smith into a global star, birthed one of the most famous speeches in cinema history, and changed movie marketing with an explosive Super Bowl ad remembered decades later. Independence Day went on to earn a massive $817.4 million globally, making it the second-highest-grossing film ever at that time. The key players — including Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, Randy Quaid and Margaret Colin — reminisced with The Hollywood Reporter about how it all happened, including a look back at the battle to cast Will Smith, concerns over that famous ad, and a last-minute reshoot to save the ending of the movie that reinvented the summer blockbuster. Bill Pullman also just reprised his famous presidential speech for a new vaccine spot with Budweiser, called Go Fourth, America, but instead of rallying troops to fight off alien invaders, Pullman’s president calls on the world to support vaccination efforts to defeat COVID-19. (The Hollywood Reporter)
It may sound hard to believe, but Cate Shortland originally turned down directing Black Widow, thinking, “There’s no way I can do this movie, and I’m not sure why they’re asking me. It’s crazy, the whole endeavor.” The reason Marvel was asking, it turns out, is because star Scarlett Johansson wanted them to, and was a big fan of her work! So, Scarlett Johansson called her on Zoom to convince her that she was the right person to direct what would become no ordinary Marvel movie. It is the MCU’s first movie in which the title hero is just a regular person — no super strength, magic hammers, powerful super-suits, vast fortunes or cosmic parentage: just an ex-Russian spy and assassin armed with her wits, guile, and physical prowess. So as hard as it was for Shortland to imagine herself at the helm of a superhero movie, the creative opportunities offered by Black Widow ultimately proved too tantalizing for her to let pass by. “I really fell in love with action, and just the art of the choreography,” she says. “Just making people fly through the air and smash into things. It’s pretty great.” The early reviews are in, and fans and critics alike also think it’s pretty great! Black Widow hits theaters on July 9. (Variety, CNET)
Elizabeth Banks’ upcoming movie Cocaine Bear has added several A-list cast members. Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, O’Shea Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Alden Ehrenreich have joined the film about a real-life 175-pound bear who died of an apparent cocaine overdose. According to a 1985 New York Times article, the bear was found dead among 40 opened containers with traces of cocaine, apparently dropped from a plane by a convicted drug smuggler because he was carrying too heavy a load while parachuting. Production is set to begin on August 23 in Ireland. (Variety)
If you wondered just how closely the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark would tie in to the series, the first trailer for the film shows how a teen named Anthony has “got what it takes” to become Tony Soprano. It opens with a teacher calling Tony’s mother (Vera Farmiga) into her office and explaining that based on an exam, her son has a high IQ, even though he has a D+ average. “The results tell us, he’s a leader,” the teacher says. The film then shows how Anthony — as played by the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini, and with quite the resemblance — was slowly molded into the mob boss we all know. The story centers heavily on Tony’s relationship with his uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a figure whom fans of the series will recognize as a huge influence on Tony, even though we never saw him in the flesh. The film shows how Dickie will ultimately steer Tony to the underworld, despite his best intentions. The Many Saints of Newark will be released in theaters in the U.S. on October 1. (The Wrap)
Nicolas Cage‘s upcoming action-comedy satire The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in which he plays a version of himself, will hit theaters April 22, 2022. Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio and Lily Sheen also star in the movie, alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Tiffany Haddish. Directed by Tom Gormican, the film stars Cage as a fictionalized version of himself. In this instance, the character is unfulfilled creatively and facing financial ruin. Consequently, the actor must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan, but things take a wildly unexpected turn when the actor is recruited by a CIA and forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved onscreen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the seminal award-winning actor must take on the role of a lifetime: Nic Cage. (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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