Kiefer Sutherland to star in spy drama series for Paramount+
May 11, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It seems that Kiefer Sutherland is looking to return to the realm of espionage as he's slated to star in and executive produce a spy drama for the Paramount+ streaming service. The as-yet-untitled series will be written, directed, and produced by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Jungle Cruise), and will be Sutherland's latest leading TV role since Quibi's The Fugitive.
The eight-episodes series will find Kiefer Sutherland starring as James Weir, a private espionage operative who "finds himself in the midst of a battle over the preservation of democracy in a world at odds with misinformation, behavioral manipulation, the surveillance state and the interests that control these extraordinary powers." In a statement, Sutherland said, "I’ve been an admirer of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra’s unique body of work for some time, and I’m thrilled to be working on this exciting new project with them and Paramount+. Reuniting with David Nevins makes it all the more special. I can’t wait to see you all with this show in 2022." In her own statement, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming Julie McNamara said:
Kiefer Sutherland and powerful, heart-pounding dramas go hand in hand. We’re thrilled to have him and master storytellers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra at the helm, taking us on a very personal ride to uncover the truth. We look forward to introducing the Paramount+ audience to the service’s newest addition as we continue to expand our slate of original tentpole series.
RELATED: Stillwater trailer: Matt Damon finds that secrets run deep
John Requa and Glenn Ficarra added, "From the moment we conceived this paranoid thriller, we immediately thought of Kiefer. We’re thrilled to partner with him, Paramount+, Charlie and Suzan to bring this show to life." Here's my random Kiefer Sutherland confession: I've never watched 24. Take that as you will.
The Oscars: Academy Awards telecast hits all-time low in the ratings
April 27, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
I think we all saw this coming given the fact that award shows have been seeing steady declines in recent years but it still has to come as a blow to ABC and The Academy that Sunday night's 93rd Academy Awards crashed to an all-time viewership low.
The ceremony was watched by 9.85 million viewers and it hit a pretty dismal 1.9 in the coveted 19-49 demo. The is an all-time low for The Oscars by a huge margin and it marks the first time the telecast has fallen below 10 million viewers. This year's airing of the ceremony saw a 58% drop in terms of audience from what was the previous low set by the 2020 Oscars on February 9 last year. In terms of the 18-49 demo, the ceremony came crashing down by 64.2% compared to the previous year.
This year The Oscars were also available online on Hulu+Live, ABC.com, YouTubeTV, the ABC app, and a handful of other options. I'm sure some viewers caught the show via these various platforms and ABC will likely look at that data soon to see if it gives the telecast a significant boost. ABC and The Academy had to be aware that the ratings would take a hit. Between the pandemic, shuttered movie theaters during 2020, declining ratings for award shows in general, and Oscar nominees that lacked a lot of big-name recognition for casual moviegoers, the telecast had A LOT working against it. I asked many of my friends if they saw the films nominated for Best Picture and, despite them being available for home viewing long before the ceremony, the movies just weren't on their radar. This is has been a problem for The Oscars during a normal year when smaller films earn Oscar praise but don't have a tone of eyeballs on them so it's no surprise that the pandemic-influenced 2020 release slate would mostly be ignored by casual movie watchers as well.
What will ABC and The Academy do now? I will say they did the best they could considering what was working against them but there needs to be a serious discussion about the value of shows like this moving forward. Perhaps they should go streaming rather than being aired on network TV because the audience for them is becoming more niche as the years go on. A lot of people don't want to see a bunch of celebrities heaping praise on each other, especially after a year when many people have lost so much. I'm not saying The Oscars should go away. The best of the best should be acknowledged for putting in great work but how they're delivered to the masses definitely needs to be reconsidered. Declines like this will continue to happen if ABC and The Academy don't make drastic changes to the format and telecast moving forward.
Did YOU watch The Oscars on Sunday? Are YOU surprised viewership hit an all-time low?
NCIS: Los Angeles renewed & NCIS: Hawaii spinoff ordered to series
April 23, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
The NCIS franchise just keeps trucking; although NCIS: New Orleans will soon be wrapping up its seven-season run, the flagship series was recently renewed for a 19th season (with Mark Harmon returning), and CBS announced today that they have renewed NCIS: Los Angeles for a 13th season and have also given a straight-to-series order to NCIS: Hawaii, a new spin-off which will be the first installment in the franchise with a female lead.
Set in the Aloha State, NCIS: Hawaii will follow "the first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor and her team as they balance duty to family and country, investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security and the mysteries of the island itself." Unlike how NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans were introduced as backdoor pilots in the flagship series, our first glimpse at NCIS: Hawaii will arrive with its first episode. Larry Teng, who has directed multiple episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, is slated to direct and executive produce the pilot, and the production is currently on the search for the lead. NCIS: Los Angeles stars Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J and follows "the exploits of the Los Angeles–based Office of Special Projects (OSP), an elite division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that specializes in undercover assignments."
Muscle: Vin Diesel and F. Gary Gray reteam for action flick
April 23, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines because F. Gary Gray and Vin Diesel are re-teaming in the new action-comedy Muscle. With plans to shoot later this year, Muscle has Reginald Hudlin and Byron Phillips producing at the side of Diesel and Samantha Vincent for One Race Films. In addition to being the film’s director, Gray will also executive produce.
The logline and concept for Muscle are being kept under wraps, but we do know that Scott Taylor and Wesley Jermaine Johnson wrote the original script. That script is now being re-drafted by John Swetnam and Malcolm Spellman.
“There are few directors who can match Gary’s skill with character, comedy, and big action, which is why he is one of the most accomplished and in-demand directors working today,” said Adam Fogelson, chairman, STXfilms Motion Picture Group. “Over the years, Vin and I have worked together on a number of hit movies and it’s a thrill to reteam Vin and Gary after their billion-dollar success on THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. This will become one of the most eagerly anticipated films on our slate.”
While the tidbits about this project don’t give us much to get hyped about at the moment, the idea of Diesel and Gray working together again is very cool. The duo worked together on 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, which grossed $1.2 billion in worldwide receipts. That’s an absurd amount of money, which means that studio expectations will be quite high for this new project. I’m intrigued by the thought of Diesel getting to use his comedic chops for Gray’s new film, and hope that the action is up just as outrageous as Diesel’s Fast & Furious franchise.
Saw TV series rumored to be in the works
April 23, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Would you like to play a game? No, I’m not talking about Chess, Checkers, or Monopoly. I’m talking about the game of Saw. You know, the kind where your death is inevitable unless you can solve an almost impossible riddle to survive an elaborate deathtrap? Sounds like fun, right? Well, you might soon get your chance. A new rumor coming out of Deadline suggests that Lionsgate TV is in early talks on a TV series adaptation of the book of Saw.
Whispers of there being a Saw TV series in the works comes from an interview with Lionsgate TV’s Kevin Beggs, in which he talks about the indie studio’s expansion. The studio has been strategizing about its journey into broadcast entertainment for quite some time. After all, if you’ve got several projects that would be better served as TV presentations, why not take the leap?
During the interview, Beggs talks about him approaching Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer about a 360 strategy for the company. The concept revolves around establishing a group that is comprised of motion picture, television, and location-based entertainment, which includes Broadway, podcasting, all of those extensions, and Starz.
“And it’s only creative people because creative people are always leaning in to figure out how to say yes,” Beggs told Deadline. “There will be business obstacles, I’m sure, later, but in that room it’s just green fields and blue skies and what if. That has led to a lot of really great collaborations. We’ve just wrapped up Dear White People which was a really good experience, Blindspotting is coming up, American Psycho is in development. We’re always exploring what we can do in television with something like the Saw franchise, so that’s a conversation.”
While Beggs didn’t go into much detail about ideas for a Saw TV series, it’s believed that one is coming from Mark Burg and Oren Koules’ Twisted Television. The show would explore one of the longest-running horror franchises in history and introduce new characters to the lore.
This is just a rumor for now, but it sounds like one that could come to pass if Lionsgate has its way. Would you be game for a Saw television series? Let us know in the comments section below.
American Gladiators: Documentary for 30 for 30 in the works
April 12, 2021 by: Chris Bumbray
You might have to be a child of the eighties to remember or appreciate American Gladiators. A TV competition-based show, it featured “gladiators” with names like Malibu and Lace facing off against regular folks in a series of outlandish physical challenges like Tug of War, Jousting, and more. Everything about it was big, including the Gladiators themselves who all had big hair, big muscles, big tans, big everything! It was a fun, “only in the eighties” kind of thing that was much-loved by kids when I was growing up.
Yet, the story behind American Gladiators has never really been told, until now at least, with Deadline reporting that ESPN’s 30 for 30 is going to be doing a documentary on it in their 2021/2022 season. Of course, 30 for 30 is legendary at this point, with them behind some of the most acclaimed docs of all time, including O.J.: Made in America, Lance, The U, The Two Escobars, and more.
Ben Berman, who directed The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, is at the helm with Vice Studios producing. I’m sure it’s gonna be a wild episode. It goes without saying, of course, that 30 for 30 is amazing. Even if you don’t like sports (I’m not a sports fan at all) these docs are fascinating and worth binging on.
Empire of Light: Olivia Colman circling Sam Mendes’ next film
April 6, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Skyfall and 1917 director Sam Mendes has announced his next feature for Searchlight Pictures called Empire of Light. Mendes is set to direct the project with Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Crown) in final negotiations to star. This will be the duo’s first film together. Empire of Light also finds Mendes reteaming with cinematographer Roger Deakins, who handily won an Oscar for his work on 1917.
In addition to directing the film, Mendes also wrote the script, which revolves around a love story set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s. Mendes will also produce alongside Pippa Harris for Neal Street Productions. Mendes’ last film, 1917, earned 10 Oscar nominations and was a box office burner with $384 million worth of tickets sold worldwide.
As for Colman, she’s appeared in one smash-hit after another with projects like The Favourite, The Crown, Les Misérables, and Fleabag under her belt. After winning her first Oscar for her performance as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, she’s earned numerous nominations for the most recent season of The Crown. Soon, Colman can be heard voicing Pal for the animated feature The Mitchell’s vs. The Machines. Due to release on April 30, 2021, the film revolves around a quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip that lands them in the middle of a robot apocalypse.
The Staircase: Colin Firth to star in HBO Max documentary adaptation
March 31, 2021 by: Chris Bumbray
As far as true crime documentaries go, The Staircase is often help up as one of the classics of the genre. The documentary, which tells the stranger-than-fiction story of Michael Peterson, an American novelist accused of murder his wife, began life as a French TV documentary miniseries by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade for Canal +. Netflix eventually ordered additional episodes and took over distribution of the entire series, and the saga became a cultural phenomenon. An adaptation has been in the mix for sometime. Originally, Harrison Ford was set to make his streaming TV debut as Peterson, but now Ford is out and Colin Firth is in for what Deadline is calling a limited series remake.
Scheduled to air on HBO Max, Firth will star in this eight-episode drama for director Antonio Campos (Christine, Simon Killer, Afterschool). As per the Deadline report:
Antonio Campos said: “This has been a project I have been working on in one way or another since 2008. It’s been a long and winding road, but well worth the wait to be able to find partners like HBO Max, Annapurna, co-showrunner Maggie Cohn and the incredible Colin Firth to dramatize such a complex true-life story.”
Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max, added: “It is a thrill to collaborate with Antonio Campos, Maggie Cohn and Annapurna Television for the exploration of this true-life story that’s rife with dramatic revelations. With the enormously talented Colin Firth at the center of this adaptation, the story of The Staircase will continue to captivate audiences with every bizarre twist and turn.”
Comic-Con 2021 returns to in-person on Thanksgiving Weekend?!
March 28, 2021 by: Mike Catalano
Comic-Con fans will have something to be very thankful for come this year’s Turkey Day! It appears that the geekfest convention will be back as an in-person event on November 26, 2021. And yes, that date is the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday! Confab hasn’t been in-person at the San Diego Convention Center since 2019 (pre-Covid), deciding to go all virtual for last year.
The announcement on Comic-Con’s website promises to feature “all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year. Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022.”
So it’s about the fans and about the money. Makes sense. I’m glad the movie industry is inching its way closer back to normal. Not too sure about the Thanksgiving weekend date, but at least most people will be off of work. To say the least, it should be very interesting to see how the Comic-Con folks pull this off. What do you guys think of this new date? Let us know in the comments below!
The Witcher: Blood Origin: Laurence O’Fuarain to lead prequel series
March 26, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Sharpen your swords and be sure to study your bestiary because Irish actor Laurence O’Fuarain has landed the lead role in Netflix's The Witcher: Blood Origin.
O’Fuarain, who you'll recognize from series like Vikings and Game of Thrones, will step into the role of Fjall. Born into a clan of warriors sworn to protect a King, Fjall carries a deep scar within, the death of a loved one who fell in battle trying to save him. A scar that won’t let him settle, or make peace with himself or the world around him. In his quest for redemption, Fjall will find himself fighting beside the most unlikely of allies as he carves a path of vengeance across a continent in turmoil.
O’Fuarain joins Jodie Turner-Smith in the prequel series based on the novels behind the popular videogame franchise. Turner-Smith plays Éile, an elite warrior blessed with the voice of a goddess, who has left her clan and position as Queen’s guardian to follow her heart as a nomadic musician.
The Witcher: Blood Origin takes place 1,200 years before The Witcher, which chronicles the adventures of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill). The new series tells of the creation of the prototype Witcher, and the events that lead to the pivotal ‘conjunction of the spheres’ when the worlds of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one.
The Witcher: Blood Origin will consist of six parts with Declan de Barra acting as showrunner. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich will executive produce with Andrzej Sapkowski acting as a creative consultant. Jason Brown and Sean Daniel from Hivemind, and Tomek Baginski and Jarek Sawko from Platige Films will also serve as executive producers.
Netflix appears to be making good on their promise of going all-in on The Witcher franchise. Seeing as the first season of Henry Cavill's The Witcher was a major hit with fans as well as newcomers, it makes total sense to expand the world and tell new stories. I'm completely on board with this initiative as I love high fantasy action dramas. Especially ones that are filled with monsters and mayhem. Bring it on!
Zack Snyder’s Justice League second to Wonder Woman 1984 in HBO Max homes
March 24, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
According to Samba TV, Zack Snyder’s Justice League pulled in 1.8 million HBO Max households in its first five minutes on the streamer over its premiere weekend. The figure puts it second behind Wonder Woman 1984 which drew 2.2 million U.S. households during the weekend of December 25-27. Samba TV is a service that polls terrestrial smart TVs so that is really only a piece of the data to indicate how well the film did over the weekend.
According to “Deadline“, their insiders indicate that Zack Snyder’s Justice League did massive numbers over the weekend on the streamer but the figures still have it coming in behind Wonder Woman 1984. Many will speculate why this happened but it may just come down to the fact that Wonder Woman 1984 was a brand new franchise film coming out when we really needed one during the pandemic and the Snyder Cut is more of a niche fan film. Casual moviegoers may not have truly known what it was all about but the increased positive feedback may bring in the uninitiated to view the film on the platform.
Samba TV also discovered that Zack Snyder’s Justice League topped the first-weekend premiere of The Falcon and the Winder Soldier on Disney+. They have it clocking it at 1.7 million households which is still an impressive figure but it just adds more to the issue of the transparency with streaming figures. Disney+ declared this week that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was the most viewed weekend premiere ever on the streamer. Samba TV’s figures do support that but we won’t ever get the full story with these figures until the numbers are officially released by the various platforms.
Do YOU think HBO Max will release a more clear figure of how well Zack Snyder’s Justice League did on the streamer?
Walt Disney Company allowing employees to return to offices starting July 4
March 19, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Do you smell that? That’s the smell of Ronto Wraps and normalcy, my friends. Well, phased normalcy. Allow me to explain.
According to Deadline, chances are that Disney’s stateside employees can start returning to their offices after July 4. Hold up! Like, indoors? With people working alongside each another and breathing the same air? It’s like Thursday, what a concept! News that Disney employees will soon be permitted to escape the confines of their homes and begin their daily commutes anew comes not long after Warner Bros. employees were notified of a possible September return to the norm.
Well, how do you like that? Is that a light at the end of a very long tunnel that I see? Is the future so bright we’ll have to wear shades? Well, maybe not yet, but we’re getting there. The fact that Disney is considering inviting employees back to their respective offices should be taken as a good sign. It means the United States is finally turning a corner and winning the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. While I imagine that some folks will be anxious about making the journey back to the workplace, I’m sure that others are excited to leave their remote workplace behind.
Plus, who doesn’t miss Free Bagel Fridays and actual water cooler chat sessions? You know that Brenda from Sales and Chad from Marketing has some juicy stories they can’t wait to share. Make sure your body is ready. Seriously. Don’t go back to the office unless your body is ready.
Study shows industry loses $10B a year undervaluing Black-led projects
March 12, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
An interesting new study from McKinsey & Company shows that Hollywood loses out on $10 billion in profit a year by choosing to undervalue Black-led projects across film and TV. More and more members of the entertainment industry have consistently rallied for greater inclusivity in Hollywood and the narrative from most studios and networks is that Black-led projects are completely financially viable in the long run. This study seems to indicate otherwise.
The study is the first of the company’s to offer an integrated look into the film and TV industry and what they discovered, according to “Deadline”, is that Hollywood could earn an extra $10 billion annually by addressing and dismantling the structural racism that pervades its overall environment. The company gathered its data by analyzing more than 2,000 films, as well as from interviewing professional writers, actors, directors, and producers. For the purpose of the study, the company also partnered with the BlackLight Collective which is a coalition of Black artists and executives in the media business. The research showed that Black-led projects receive much less funding than their white counterparts despite the fact that evidence proves that they tend to outperform other projects in terms of recouping their original investments.
In terms of positions of creative control, the study revealed that less than 6% of writers, directors, and producers of Hollywood films are Black and that 87% of television executives and 92% of film executives are white. The study also referenced a term called the “Black tax” in regards to finances and that refers to ways in which Black talent must pay out of pocket to ensure their projects see the light of day. Additionally, rising Black actors and actresses receive fewer opportunities when it comes to leading roles. On average, Black performers land about six starring roles while their white colleagues obtain nine.
I remember when former Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed in his book, “The Ride of a Lifetime”, that a Marvel executive was against making BLACK PANTHER because they thought movies led by Black actors didn’t perform well internationally. Iger wrote, “We had a chance to make a great movie and to showcase an underappreciated segment of America, and those goals were not mutually exclusive.” Iger and Marvel producer Kevin Feige fought to get Black Panther made and Iger personally called Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter and told him to tell his team to stop putting up roadblocks to prevent the film from happening. The end result was a film that grossed $1.3 billion while also becoming a bit of a cultural movement because it truly was something that was unprecedented. That being said, even with a movie like Black Panther earning that much money, there is still some pushback from studios and networks in terms of back Black-led projects.
This isn’t a problem that just ends with a project like Black Panther. Hollywood executives still fall back on the excuses of their bottom line despite the fact that audiences show time and time again, not only with their words but with their wallets, that inclusive storytelling is something that they really want. That’s not to say that every film or TV project needs to be Black-led. Often is the case that some say Hollywood is just throwing Black-led projects a bone just to appease the masses and that’s not the solution either. There needs to be a more organic way that these projects are developed. There needs to be more diversity at the top and more inclusivity within the talent. That’s where more change can happen and I know that this is only one study but I think it has been proven on several occasions that Black-led projects can turn a profit that the studio is looking for. It’s time to stop looking at this success as a pleasant surprise and more like an expected result.
Universal shifts F9 release a month and pushes Minions sequel to 2022
March 4, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Universal is pumping the brakes on the release date for F9 yet again. A new report indicates that F9 will move from May 28 to June 25. Meanwhile, Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru will be delayed all the way to July 1, 2022.
Evidence suggests that F9 is switching gears because of concerns related to major overseas markets. In other words, if F9 can’t go big, it’s got to stay home. Well, at least for a little while. While it’s true that theaters in places like NYC are reopening (at a limited capacity) on Friday, Los Angeles cinemas remain shuttered until vaccinations across the city are in better supply. Should overseas markets start to see a reduction in cases of Covid-19, there’s a chance that F9 could hit the theatrical pavement before tearing up domestic screens.
Let’s not make any bones about it, okay? Universal is desperate to get F9 out the door at this point in the pandemic. That said, F9’s new date comes with a bit of a challenge for the studio. That is to say that Focus Features’ Blue Bayou releases on June 25, alongside Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. While some are likely to dismiss the power of Sony’s symbiote sequel, I’ll remind you that the Tom Hardy original grossed $855 million at the worldwide box office during its theatrical run.
Let’s not forget about Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which is its own beast. You and I both know that kids love those pill-shaped troublemakers and are likely to be upset that the film is being delayed to next year. The Gru/Minions movies combined through four titles have grossed over $3.7 billion at the global box office. That’s a lot of money, and the latest film stands to add much more to that total and then some. At the end of the day, it’s all about ending this pandemic and getting things back on track. Let’s get those vaccinations going!
Timothee Chalamet in talks to reunite with Luca Guadagnino for Bones & All
January 28, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
Timothee Chalamet's star has been rising considerably in recent years, largely thanks to his Oscar-nominated performance in Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name, and Deadline has reported that the actor is in talks to reunite with the director for a new project.
The outlet reports that Timothee Chalamet (Dune) and Taylor Russel (Lost in Space) are in talks to star in Bones & All, a horror-love story that will be directed by Luca Guadagnino from a script by David Kajganich (Suspiria). Other than those skant details, not much is known about Bones & All, but Deadline states that there are multiple parties interested to acquiring the project. Chalamet and Guadagnino have apparently been looking for another project to do together ever since Call Me By Your Name, but this seems to be the first that hasn't fallen victim to scheduling difficulties. THR added that Bones & All is likely based on the novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis, which follows a young woman on a "cross-country trip as she searches for the father she's never met in an attempt to understand why she has the urge to kill and eat the people that love her." Sounds like fun.
Speaking of Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino has also been discussing a sequel for several years, saying that he would love to make a "cycle of films about these characters" and that he thinks their "experience of life is ripe for many, many adventures." It remains to be seen whether the sequel will ever happen, but Guadagnino has previously teased that the next chapter will take place "right after the fall of Berlin wall and that great shift that was the end of Russia, of the USSR, sorry. And we'll see people leaving home and going in the world. That's what I can say for now."
Spy Kids reboot from Robert Rodriguez will set sights on new generation
January 26, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Grab your cleverly disguised gadgets and get ready to infiltrate some fun because rumor has it that Skydance Media is mounting a relaunch of Robert Rodriguez’s SPY KIDS franchise. According to Deadline, Skydance Media optioned the rights to the family-friendly adventure series, with Spyglass Media Group and Rodriguez in the mix. Rodriguez will return to write and direct the next film which is said to revolve around the activities of a multicultural family.
This next bit can be a bit confusing, so please bear with me. Spyglass is the current owner of the Spy Kids franchise, but it wasn’t long ago when Skydance began nosing around the property in the interest of bolstering their slate of upcoming content. When the next chapter of the franchise kicks off, Skydance will act as the lead studio and oversee development and production while Spyglass’ Gary Barber and Peter Oillataguerre will act as executive producers. Okay, so it wasn’t that hard to follow. I just have a habit of confusing Spyglass and Skydance from time to time.
RELATED: The UnPopular Opinion: Spy Kids
When it launched in 2001, Spy Kids managed to bank $112 million in domestic box office receipts, which in turn sent a signal to the studio that the franchise had teeth. Thus, three sequels were eventually released that collectively netted more than $550 million at the worldwide box office.
Considering the impressive amount of success the Spy Kids franchise has found throughout its history, it should come as no surprise that Rodriguez and company are looking to slap a new coat of paint on a proven property. When you stop to think about how marketable superheroes have become in recent times, I see no reason why pint-sized spies can’t become the next big thing. I wish all involved with this project the best of luck and am genuinely looking forward to seeing how it pans out.
AFI Awards 2020 include The Queen’s Gambit, Mank & more
January 25, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
The American Film Institute has announced the winners of the AFI Awards for 2020, thereby revealing the top ten films and TV shows “deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.” Oh, how fancy!
Speaking of fancy, Netflix was a big winner this year, occupying four of the ten slots with Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, David Fincher’s MANK, and George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Amazon managed to snag two awards with prizes for Regina King’s One Night in Miami and Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal, both of which were feature directorial debuts for both King and Marder.
With regard to television, Netflix was once again Master of the Domain with Bridgerton, The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit, and Unorthodox all going home with a win. Other shows that managed to make the cut include AMC’s Better Call Saul, HBO Max’s Lovecraft Country, Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian, and Apple TV Plus’ Ted Lasso, just to name a few.
RELATED: David Fincher’s Mank (Review)
You can check out the complete list of winners for both categories below:
AFI Movies of the Year
“Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
“Judas and the Black Messiah” (HBO Max/Warner Bros.)
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
“One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
“Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
AFI TV Shows of the Year
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime)
“Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)
“Mrs. America” (Hulu)
“The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)
Do you agree with AFI’s list? What films or television series do you think are missing? Let us know your picks in the comments section below.
Netflix CEO says Disney+ doesn’t have a Bridgerton-level hit
January 21, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Talk about a backhanded compliment. Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings admits to being impressed by Disney+'s first year in the streaming wars but he also believes they won't have hit on the level of their most recent success, Bridgerton, anytime soon.
During Netflix's quarterly earnings interview, via "Deadline", Hastings had nothing but praise for the growth that Disney+ has shown in its first year. However, in the same breath, Hastings said no matter how impressed he was, he doesn't believe that they have a Bridgerton-level hit and they won't in the near future:
It’s super-impressive what Disney has done. It’s incredible execution for an incumbent to pivot … so that’s great. And it shows that members are interested and willing to pay more for more content because they’re hungry for great stories. And Disney does have some great stories. It gets us fired up about increasing our membership, increasing our content budget and it’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show by show, movie by movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation — maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see, a long way to go just to catch them — and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating…I don’t think you’re going to see [a Bridgerton] on Disney anytime soon.
Bridgerton premiered on the streamer over the Christmas holiday and it quickly became a huge hit for Netflix. The show, which follows the eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family as they look for love and happiness in London high society, is on course to become Netflix's fifth-biggest original series launch with 63 million households projected to watch across its first 28 days. The biggest show on Disney+ is their Star Wars series The Mandalorian, which wrapped up its second season right before Bridgerton aired. There is no doubt that The Mandalorian has been very successful for Disney+ but the streamer hasn't touted numbers on the level of Bridgerton for the series.
Hastings does admit that Disney+ has them beat when it comes to family animation but they seem game to do what they can to catch up to Disney on that front as well. In fact, Hastings wants Netflix to compete with Disney+ in multiple arenas, even original content. During Disney's Investor Day, the platform announced a slew of new content for 2021 and years beyond that so Netlfix will definitely have some competition. To Netflix's credit, along with their original shows, the streamer committed to releasing a new film on the platform every week this year so they definitely came to play as well.
During the quarterly earnings interview, it was also revealed that Netflix now has more than 200 million subscribers globally, with 8.5 million subscribers added in the fourth quarter of 2020. At the beginning of December, Disney+ announced that they passed 86 million subscribers, up from the 73 million subscribers they reported in November. We should know about their growing numbers when they have their quarterly interview soon. As for right now, it's clear that Netflix is still king but it looks like Disney+ is their closest competition while HBO Max, Hulu, and many others are just waiting to be invited to the party.
Do YOU agree with the Netflix CEO? Do YOU think Disney+ won't have a Bridgerton-level hit in the near future?
Phil Spector, Music Producer and Convicted Murderer, Dies at 81
January 17, 2021 by: Mike Catalano
You know how last year when a well-known public figure passed away and there was a big outcry about how “2020 really sucks!”? Well, I don’t think 2021 is going to get much shade thrown its way after this one: music producer Phil Spector has just died. He was 81. He was also convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson at his home.
Call me crazy, but I don’t feel much like celebrating this guy. Yeah, he made a “Wall of Sound” recording process that helped a bunch of famous singers. All I see stamped to his name is a woman killer who was sentenced to 19 years to life in a California state prison. Sorry for the opinionated article, but it’s a slow Sunday and men who kill women get zero respect from me. Spector died in jail because of Covid-19 complications. Thanks 2021!
Anya Taylor-Joy, Robert De Niro & more join David O. Russell’s latest film
January 14, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
David O. Russell typically puts together an impressive ensemble for his movies, and it's looking as though his latest film will be no exception — in fact, it might be the director's most star-studded cast to date.
While we still don't know much about what David O. Russell has in store for us with his new film, Deadline has reported that Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit), Mike Myers (Bohemian Rhapsody), Timothy Olyphant (The Mandalorian), Michael Shannon (Knives Out), Chris Rock (Fargo), Andrea Riseborough (Possessor), Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow), and Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark) has joined a cast that already includes Christian Bale (Thor: Love & Thunder), Margot Robbie (The Suicide Squad), John David Washington (Tenet), Rami Malek (No Time to Die), and Zoe Saldana (Avatar 2). Damn, Russell, save some stars for the rest of Hollywood. Production on the film is currently underway in California based on an original idea from Russell. This will mark the director's first film since Joy back in 2015, which starred Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, a self-made millionaire who created her own business empire.
The Office surged on Netflix before ending its run on the streamer
January 8, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
Fans of The Office began mourning the loss of the series on Netflix when it was announced that it would be leaving the streamer on December 31, 2020, to head to the Peacock streaming service. The hit workplace comedy has been one of the most popular titles on Netflix so I'm pretty sure they were mourning that loss as well but at least they got the most of it before the show made its exit. It has been announced that The Office saw a surge in views throughout the month of December as fans got their last binge in before it left the platform.
Nielsen, which reported the latest U.S. streaming numbers, shows that The Office gained serious momentum in its final days on Netflix. The show finished No.1 for the period of December 7 10 the 13, with more than 1.2 billion minutes of streaming. This marked the seventh No.1 finish for the show since Nielsen initiated the streaming chart last summer.
The news that The Office would be joining Peacock's library in 2021 broke some time ago but Netflix made the official announcement with their reveal of the comings and goings on the service for the month of December. NBCUniversal acquired the rights for the next five years by paying Producers Universal Television $100 million per year. This means that beginning on January 1, 2021, Peacock would be the only streaming service to contain all nine seasons of the series domestically. NBC previously licensed The Office's exclusive streaming rights to Netflix but with the launch of their own service, it became clear that The Office would depart Netflix and head to Peacock.
It will be interesting to see if The Office causes Peacock to see a major boom once the first week numbers come in from its arrival on the service. NBC's streaming service recently reported 22 million subscribers combined between their various free and paid tiers. . Working in their favor is that people can watch The Office for free on Peacock so that will be even more incentive to check it out. The streaming service also offers extended versions of The Office episodes, something that was not done on Netflix.
Have YOU made the move to Peacock to follow The Office?
Timothy Chalamet on SNL seemingly supports Legendary versus HBO Max
December 13, 2020 by: Mike Catalano
Mr. Timothy Chalamet seemingly sent a not so subtle message in support of Legendary Pictures at the close of his Saturday Night Live hosting gig: he wore a hoodie!!! I know, that may not seem so crazy, however it should be known that it was a branded Legendary Pictures hoodie and Chalamet is starring in the company’s DUNE remake with Denis Villeneuve directing. Also, HBO Max recently announced that Dune and a few of Legendary’s other big budget movies would be going directly to its streaming service.
That decision completely blindsided Legendary as well the film’s director, Denis Villeneuve, leading to the studio issuing a call to arms challenging HBO Max. I could see why they’d be pissed, but also understand what the world is facing and the need to adapt in order to survive. Anyways, Chalamet seems to have been throwing a light jab at the Max with his choice in wardrobe. What do you guys think about all of this? Please comment below!
Eminem Makes SNL Cameo on Pete Davidson “Stan” Parody
December 6, 2020 by: Mike Catalano
The Real Slim Shady was spotted last night on Saturday Night Live. In a digital short music video that put a hilarious holiday spin on his song “Stan”, Eminem made a little guest appearance towards the end. You guys remember Stan? It was about one of Em’s fans that went a little nutty and featured the singer Dido belting out the chorus of her song “Thank You”. The video’s pretty damn funny and is waiting just up top for your viewing pleasure!
And yes, that is host, Jason Bateman, as Santa Claus. As usual the dude does a nice job mining for straight-laced laughs. He seems to never age too, like Paul Rudd. Did you enjoy the parody, title Stu? Let us know below!
Big Sky: David E. Kelley drama is ABC’s biggest series debut in two years
December 3, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
During a time when network TV is looking for any kind of hit, ABC has truly scored with the David E. Kelley drama, Big Sky. Bolstered by strong reviews, a growing social media presence, and an ending of its first episode that had EVERYONE talking, Big Sky has proven to be a significant win for the network.
Big Sky hit new delayed high marks for its series premiere after already posting a strong Live+3 ratings lifts. After seven days of viewing on linear and digital platforms, with most of the digital consumption coming from Hulu, the viewership for the Big Sky premiere grew to 10.8 million viewers, with its adults 18-49 rating rising to a 2.50. That makes Big Sky the network’s most-watched and highest-rated (in 18-49) series debut since The Rookie in October 2018.
To showcase the strength of the series' digital presence, in linear playback only, the series premiere scored 4.55 million viewers and its lift due to delayed viewing gives it the largest playback increase for any show on any network in total viewers in nearly eight months, since the March 30, 2020, telecast of ABC’s The Good Doctor. News for network TV was looking very dire during the pandemic, at least for scripted programming. While reality and competition shows are still holding up well, series like Fox's Filthy Rich and Next, premiered to low ratings, never recovered, and were ultimately canceled. They also didn't gain much traction in delayed viewing which has become a key factor in saving shows that may not perform on the level during live airings. Big Sky is clearly a show that is captivating viewers by bringing some cable TV sensibilities to network TV. In more bragging rights for the show, Big Sky stood as the strongest drama debut telecast in total viewers (8.7 million) and adults 18-49 (1.5) in L+7 linear ratings since Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star on January 19, 2020.
Big Sky is a procedural drama from David E. Kelley that is based on the 2013 novel "The Highway" by C. J. Box. The show follows private detectives Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) who join forces with Cody's estranged wife, ex-cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped on a remote highway in Montana. When they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they much race against the clock to stop a killer before another woman is taken.
If you haven't started watching Big Sky, do yourself a favor and get hooked. I had pretty much given up on network television for scripted programming but the series is solidly addicting with strong performances and top-notch writing.
The Witcher: Netflix series halts production after positive Covid-19 tests
November 9, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
The Netflix series The Witcher has halted production after four crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The show had already seen a lengthy hiatus in filming due to the global pandemic.
Four different crew members tested positive for the virus on Saturday which means the entire set was compromised. Netflix executed an isolated round of testing for everyone involved in the show's production shortly after the results came back. As of this writing, no one in the lead cast has been infected and they are all being isolated until further notice. It isn't known at this time when filming will resume.
The Witcher had just moved from on-location shoots this past week and the show's star, Henry Cavill, confirmed that production was moving into Arborfield Studios in London, England. This isn't the first time that the show has to halt production during its season two filming schedule. Back in March, actor Kristofer Hivju, who plays Nivellen, had a COVID-19 test that came back positive. The series took the next six months off and production didn't resume until mid-August. Everyone working on the show at the time had to abide by the U.K.'s new COVID-19 protocols in order for shooting to get underway. Due to this latest halt in production, the show will at least see a seven-month delay and that throws the season two release date into the question. Season two of The Witcher had been set to return in 2021 but it could get pushed all the way to 2022 at this rate. Netflix did not make it known how many episodes had finished filming before this latest stop in production.
News of The Witcher pausing its production schedule due to COVID-19 comes shortly after it was announced that The CW halted filming on their reboot of Charmed after one crew member tested positive for Coronavirus. Cases of the virus continued to surge over the weekend and it's becoming increasingly clear that other productions could be forced to temporarily cease production over the next couple of weeks if things continue to escalate. Complicating matters is that we are now headed into the holiday season which means crews may not be called back to work until after the new year.
Do YOU think The Witcher or other shows will see delays due to COVID-19?
Night Books: Krysten Ritter to star in Brightburn director’s new film
October 13, 2020 by: Steve Seigh
Fans of J.A. White’s horror-fantasy children’s book Night Books, this one’s for you! It’s been announced that Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones, Breaking Bad), Winslow Fegley (LARRY), and Lidya Jewett (Good Girls, HIDDEN FIGURES) will star in the Netflix film adaptation with David Yarovesky (BRIGHTBURN) set to direct.
Based on the novel of the same name by J.A. White, the story follows Alex (Fegley), a boy obsessed with scary stories, who is imprisoned by an evil young witch (Ritter) in her contemporary New York City apartment. He meets Yasmin (Jewett), who is also trapped there, and learns he must tell a new scary story every night in order to stay alive. (via Deadline)
As a way to up the project’s horror factor, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert will produce through Ghost House Pictures, alongside Mason Novick and Michelle Knudsen for MXN Entertainment. Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis will adapt the script.
RELATED: Review: Brightburn
Yarovesky made his feature directorial debut in 2014 with THE HIVE, a mind-bending Sci-fi thriller that tells the tale of a young man suffering from amnesia who must dig deep into the far reaches of his mind to remember who he is and save the love of his life before a virus that has infected him takes over. Yarovesky then unleashed BRIGHTBURN in 2019, a dark superhero drama that played much like an anti-Superman spectacle. In the film, a child from another world crash-lands on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he becomes something far more sinister. BRIGHTBURN might have only earned $32.8 million at the worldwide box office, but it garnered enough praise from superhero fans to make Yarovesky a trusted name among filmmakers capable of bringing fantastical features to screen. I’ll be curious to see his approach to Night Books, as fantasy films are almost always my jam. Bring it on.
AMC Theatres could run out of cash by the end of the year
October 13, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
AMC Theatres is back in the danger zone after shuttering its doors back in March and gradually reopening since the end of July. The global pandemic has taken a toll on exhibitors nationwide and AMC is no exception. Coming on the heels of Regal Cinemas deciding to temporarily close its U.S. locations due to a lack of new content from studios to show moviegoers willing to go to the movies, AMC Theatres is now saying they're having a cash problem and they could be fresh out by end of the year or early 2021 if moviegoers don't return to cinemas in greater numbers.
The world's largest exhibitor noted that attendance at the 494 of its 598 U.S. locations that it has opened in recent weeks is down approximately 85%. Attendance is limited in reopened states due to social distancing restrictions and huge markets such as Los Angeles and New York have yet to give the go-ahead to reopen theaters in their area. The theater chain is also suffering from a lack of blockbusters hitting the big screen thanks to studios shifting them to later dates in 2021. Their argument is that it isn't feasible to debut a major release when movie theaters are closed in major cities. AMC had this to say in a recent financial report:
"Given the reduced movie slate for the fourth quarter, in the absence of significant increases in attendance from current levels or incremental sources of liquidity, at the existing cash burn rate, the Company anticipates that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 202. Thereafter, to meet its obligations as they become due, the Company will require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels. The required amounts of additional liquidity are expected to be material."
AMC is said to be exploring several options, having already heavily leveraged and recently renegotiated its debt to improve its balance sheet. The options include packing an additional debt or exploring equity financing; renegotiating lease payments with landlords; selling theaters or other assets; and exploring joint-venture opportunities. The chain is currently burning more cash than it is making to keep theaters open and operational and they noted that it is difficult to predict how much money it will need to raise:
"There can be no assurance that the assumptions used to estimate our liquidity requirements and future cash burn will be correct, or that we will be able to achieve more normalized levels of attendance described above, which are materially higher than our current attendance levels, and our ability to be predictive is uncertain due to the unknown magnitude and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic."
This turn of events is even more troubling for the moviegoing experience which seems to by dying a slow death due to the pandemic. I really hope these places can turn things around because I do not want to see movie theaters go under by any means.
What do YOU think will happen with AMC Theatres in the future?
Monster Hunter movie starring Milla Jovovich attacks December 2020 release
October 6, 2020 by: Gaius Bolling
MONSTER HUNTER, starring Milla Jovovich and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, has been moved around on the release calendar a few times but it looks like the film has found a permanent new date and it plans on closing out a truly weird time for the 2020 box office.
Originally slated for release on April 23, 2021, MONSTER HUNTER has now moved up to December 30, 2020. This was a release date occupied by ESCAPE ROOM 2 but that film will be moved to a still to be determined date in 2021. Back in July, Sony Pictures pushed MONSTER HUNTER from its domestic Labor Day weekend date of September 4, 2020, to April 23, 2021. The teaser released by Sony over the weekend was the first indication of a release date change when the preview stated the film was coming “only to theaters” in December. The teaser didn’t give a specific date but now we know that MONSTER HUNTER plans on entering the marketplace right as 2020 is set to come to a close. Apparently, the release date change was already in the works before the James Bond movie NO TIME TO DIE decided to make moves last week to April of next year. The filmmakers saw an opportunity in December 2020 given the slim competition as most of the 2020 release schedule became vacant due to the global pandemic.
MONSTER HUNTER becomes the latest collaboration between husband and wife duo, Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich. Following their run with the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, MONSTER HUNTER finds them bringing to life the Capcom game of the same name. According to the logline, “When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers.”
Do YOU think MONSTER HUNTER will perform better on its new date?
The Batman, Shazam 2, The Flash delayed. The Matrix 4 moved up!
October 5, 2020 by: Chris Bumbray
In the wake of DUNE leaving its Christmas 2020 release date in favor of October 2021 comes more release date shuffles from WB, and the news (via Deadline) isn’t good. With DUNE now occupying it’s original October 1st, 2021 date, THE BATMAN is now moving to March 4th, 2022, while SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS is heading to June 2nd, 2023. Ouch!
Meanwhile, BLACK ADAM is temporarily dateless, as the new big holiday 2021 release is going to be, in an unexpected twist, THE MATRIX 4, which has been moved up to December 22nd, 2021. And that’s not all folks. Andy Muschietti‘s highly anticipated THE FLASH, which is supposed to officially kick-off the DC multiverse, is also being shuffled, moving back eight months to June 3rd, 2022.
So why all the release date moves? Here’s the thing – studios have to stake out release dates years in advance. COVID-19 threw everything out of whack, especially now with it seeming like virtually the entire slate of 2020 tentpoles are being delayed to 2021. In a way, it’s as is 2020 never happened as far as movies go, but the problem is all of the release date swaps have created a serious log jam of titles, so most big 2021 movies will now open in 2022. C’est la vie, but hey, at least the movies are still being made, right?
See you all at the movies in 2021. It’s gonna be EPIC.
No final season for GLOW as Netflix has cancelled the series
October 5, 2020 by: Kevin Fraser
Unfortunately, it seems as though The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling won't be returning to our lives. The Netflix series followed Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an out-of-work struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles who finds one last chance for stardom when she enters the glitter and spandex world of women's wrestling. Netflix had renewed the series for a fourth and final season, but Deadline has now reported that the streaming giant has reversed its decision due to the COVID-19 shutdown. In a statement, series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch
COVID has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show. Netflix has decided not to finish filming the final season of GLOW. We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women and tell their stories. And wrestle. And now that’s gone. There’s a lot of sh*tty things happening in the world that are much bigger than this right now. But it still sucks that we don’t get to see these 15 women in a frame together again.
"We’ll miss our cast of weirdo clowns and our heroic crew. It was the best job," Flahive and Mensch said, adding "Register to vote. And please vote." Production on the fourth and final season of GLOW had been underway for several weeks when it was forced to shut down earlier this year due to COVID-19, and despite efforts to get things up and running again, they just couldn't find a way to do it while also adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. The series is also rather expensive to produce, and Netflix estimated that the earliest the series could return to screens would be in 2022, close to three years after the last season was released. Combined with the sizable delay and increased costs, Netflix reportedly didn't think that a big enough audience would still be there to justify the cost. In their own statement, a Netflix spokesperson said, "We’ve made the difficult decision not to do a fourth season of GLOW due to COVID, which makes shooting this physically intimate show with its large ensemble cast especially challenging. We are so grateful to creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, Jenji Kohan and all the writers, cast and crew for sharing this story about the incredible women of GLOW with us and the world."
Are you sad to see GLOW come to an end prematurely?