Will The Handmaid’s Tale season 5 be the last?
August 6, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
The fourth season of The Handmaid's Tale concluded earlier this year, but as Hulu had already renewed the dystopian series for a fifth season, we knew that the story of June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) wasn't over. Given the way the story of The Handmaid's Tale has progressed, some fans feel that the upcoming fifth season will be a natural endpoint, but the creative team is apparently still in the process of deciding whether it really will be the end.
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Jordan Helman, Head of Scripted Originals for Hulu, told Deadline that while "the success of The Handmaid's Tale remains paramount for us," they also want to "close out that show in creative fashion that feels organic, so we are in constant communication, literally right now, talking with Bruce [Miller], Lizzie [Moss] and Warren [Littlefield], about what the best way to end The Handmaid's Tale is. We haven't landed on an answer… I imagine we're going to be able to answer that question in the coming months." The fifth season is in the process of being broken right now, so once the creative team knows where they want to take the story, we'll likely hear something more official about the ending. Even when The Handmaid's Tale does come to an end, it won't be the last we see of that world. Hulu acquired the rights to Margaret Atwood's sequel novel The Testaments in 2019, and Helman said that they're in the process of figuring out the best way to use that story, be it in the main series or in a spin-off.
The conversation around The Testaments is tied to conversations around The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood’s work has become an incredibly important brand signifier for us at Hulu and so what we want to do is to ensure that we introduce the world of The Testaments in a way that feels organic to the work that has already been done on the platform. The two questions are tied. The birth of The Testaments on Hulu and the eventual end of The Handmaid’s Tale are related, we’re figuring out that as we speak.
The Testaments takes place years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, but isn't told from the perspective of June, but rather those of "three other women connected to Gilead: a young woman raised in the oppressive society; a Canadian teen who learns she was actually born there; and Aunt Lydia, a major villain in both the original novel and the show." Given how successful The Handmaid's Tale has become for Hulu, it's only natural that they should want to continue the series, but Jordan Helman has the "utmost confidence" that the creative team will know when the time comes to bring it to a close, "whether that's one season, two seasons or more."
Overlook: HBO Max passes on The Shining spin-off
August 4, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
HBO Max will not be opening its doors for Overlook, the offshoot series based on Stephen King’s THE SHINING. The project, which hails from J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions, is currently being shopped by Warner Bros. Television, with Netflix being a likely suitor.
Written by Dustin Thomason and Scott Brown, Overlook features iconic characters from The Shining and will explore the untold, terrifying stories of the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction. Word has it that execs from HBO Max were hip to the idea but felt it wasn’t the right fit for them at this time. Overlook was announced as a series order, though it’s not the only project coming to HBO Max from Bad Robot. The studio is currently developing Demimonde on HBO and Duster and Subject to Change at HBO Max. Bad Robot also sold Fledgling to HBO in a recent deal.
Bad Robot is also developing shows revolving around DC’s Justice League Dark, including Madame X and Constantine. Neither has been officially announced, but sources say that both are in development.
Where do you think Overlook will end up finding a home? Is Netflix really the right venue for this intriguing spin-off? How many tales of terror do the ghosts that reside in the Overlook Hotel have to tell? We’ll find out once the show lands at another streamer and cameras begin to roll.
Battle of the Planets movie to be penned by F9 screenwriter Daniel Casey
July 22, 2021 by: Kevin Fraser
It was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that Joe and Anthony Russo were developing a big-screen adaptation of Battle of the Planets, one of the most successful anime series in the United States during the 1970s. We haven't heard all that much about the project in the meantime, but it seems that the film now has a writer: Daniel Casey, who penned the most recent installment of the Fast & Furious franchise.
Known as Gatchaman in Japan, Battle of the Planets followed "five young orphans who are trained from a young age to form an elite, intergalactic team known as G-Force, swearing to protect Earth and its allies from otherworldly invading forces." Daniel Casey will be working with Joe and Anthony Russo as well as Tatsunoko Productions, the studio behind the original anime series, in order to "explore and expand" the Battle of the Planets universe. In a statement, Joe and Anthony Russo said:
We are thrilled to be working with a collaborator of Dan’s caliber on this beloved property. His passion, attention to detail, and thirst for innovation will no doubt delight fans of the IP while making a thoughtful introduction for newcomers. He is pioneer at heart and the perfect partner as we set out to lay the foundation of a universe which will engage audiences on a meaningful level and across the media landscape.
Daniel Casey added, "I’ve been a fan of Joe and Anthony going all the way back to Welcome to Collinwood and I’m so grateful they’ve entrusted me with this epic and cinematic story." Judging by what the Russo Brothers and Daniel Casey have said, it's clear that they have big plans for developing Battle of the Planets into a full-fledged cinematic universe. No director is attached at this point, but when the Battle of the Planets movie was originally announced, Joe and Anthony Russo didn't rule out directing the project themselves.
The Rosie Project: Henry Cavill to star in romance film
July 14, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
After battling super spies, nightmare monsters, and apocalyptic villains, Henry Cavill is set to face his biggest challenge yet: The game of love.
It's been confirmed that Henry Cavill will star in The Rosie Project, an upcoming film directed and written by Steve Falk. In the film, an unlucky-in-love university professor creates an elaborate questionnaire to find a wife and meets an unconventional woman who doesn’t match any of his “requirements”, but might be the perfect woman for him.
Obviously, this is a change of pace for Cavill, who spends a great deal of his silver screen time punching bad guys or solving mysteries while looking suave as can be. With any luck and some careful planning, The Rosie Project will give the former Man of Steel a solid platform to showcase his swoon-ability.
Cavill recently wrapped filming for the second season of Netflix's The Witcher. He's also set to play the lead in Lionsgate's Highlander and recently signed on to star in Matthew Vaughn's next spy project Argylle. In other words, everything looks to be coming up Milhouse for Cavill at the moment, and you won't hear any complaints from me on that front. You do you, Mr. Muscles.
The Craving: Real-world addiction series being fast-tracked at Netflix
June 30, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Netflix is putting a new thriller drama series on the fast track called The Craving. It hails from director Adam Robitel (Escape Room) and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension writer Gavin Heffernan. Set to explore the real-world horrors of addiction, The Craving will be executive produced by the duo alongside Darren Aronofsky and Elizabeth Gesas of Protozoa Pictures. The story revolves around a female sheriff in a Colorado ski town besieged by an unprecedented new threat.
Robitel and Heffernan have already written the pilot and plan to set up a writers’ room to flesh out the first season. Robitel will direct the pilot and is game for filming other episodes as well. Robitel just finished shooting ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS for Sony. In the sequel to Robitel’s 2019 horror film, six people unwittingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive. Joining forces with two of the original survivors, they soon discover they’ve all played the game before.
More recently, Robitel wrapped filming for Insidious: The Dark Realm, which is now in post-production. As the fifth installment of the Insidious horror film series, The Dark Realm depicts what happens when a demonic entity attempts to unleash chaos into the world of the living.
With addiction remaining an ever-present threat, it should be interesting to see how Robitel and Heffernan approach this hot-button subject matter.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.
Unfrosted: Jerry Seinfeld to write and direct Pop Tart biopic
June 23, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
What's the deal with Pop Tarts? They don't pop, and they aren't tart. (Cue musical interlude)
After distancing himself from sitcoms, Jerry Seinfeld will star in, direct, and produce Unfrosted, a film comedy he co-wrote with Spike Feresten and Barry Marder that is inspired by a joke he told on the stand-up stage about Pop Tarts. This unique biopic will be served up at Netflix, where Seinfeld has an existing and pleasant relationship with the streamer. With the green light already burning hot like an illuminated toaster coil, production is set to begin next spring.
Seinfeld has a real cushy setup over at Netflix. In 2017, the comedian struck up a deal that brought his interview series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee to the streamer, alongside two stand-up specials, Jerry Before Seinfeld, and 23 Hours to Kill. Later this year, the ground-breaking sitcom Seinfeld will come to Netflix, where it will live for a total of five years.
“Stuck at home watching endless sad faces on TV I thought this would be a good time to make something based on pure silliness,” Seinfeld commented. “So we took my Pop Tart stand-up bit from my last Netflix special and exploded it into a giant, crazy comedy movie.”
Wow! It must be nice to stumble upon a lucrative Netflix deal thanks to a bit about a delicious toaster pastry. Who can blame them, though? Pop Tarts are amazing, even when they're unfrosted. That's right, I said it. I prefer my Pop Tarts unfrosted. Anybody else? If I had to go with a frosted Pop Tart, I think I'd choose Raspberry. How about you? What's your preferred Pop Tart flavor? Are you interested in Seinfeld's latest Netflix project? Sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you think.
Solar Opposites gets a Season 4 renewal at Hulu
June 22, 2021 by: Steve Seigh
Set your phasers to "fun" (sorry, not sorry) because Hulu has renewed Solar Opposites for a fourth season!
Season 4 of Solar Opposites will consist of 12 episodes. The order for more alien-related hijinks comes before the show airs its third season, which is set for a 2022 debut. According to Hulu, Solar Opposites was the streamer's most-watched Hulu Original comedy title.
Co-created by Justin Roiland (co-creator of Ricky and Morty) and Mike McMahan (former head writer of Rick and Morty), Solar Opposites centers around a team of four aliens who have escaped their exploding homeworld, only to crash land into a move-in ready home in suburban America. They are evenly split on whether Earth is awful or awesome. Korvo (Justin Roiland) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) only see the pollution, crass consumerism, and human frailty, while Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Jesse (Mary Mack) love humans and all their TV, junk food, and fun stuff. Their mission: protect the Pupa, a living supercomputer that will one day evolve into its true form, consume them and terraform the Earth.
Well, how do you like that? Solar Opposites sounds like it's going to have a long life on Hulu. How do you think this show stacks up against Rick and Morty? Do the two even compare? Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you think.
In The Heights: Samba TV reports film had a slow start on HBO Max
June 17, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
It looks like HBO Max isn’t to blame for IN THE HEIGHTS underperforming at the box office, at least according to Samba TV. The company reports that 693,000 U.S. households watched the Lin-Manuel Miranda movie musical adaptation in their live+3 day window.
The viewership total trails in comparison to other Warner Bros. movies that hit HBO Max and theaters simultaneously. Mortal Kombat did 3.8 million households in 3 days, Godzilla Vs. Kong pulled in 3.6 million households in 3 days, Wonder Woman 1984 did 2.6 million households in 3 days while The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It scared up 1.6 million households in 3 days. All of those films also had better opening weekends at the box office as In The Heights debuted to a soft $11.5 million while all of those films cleared $20 million during their weekends.
Samba TV measures those who tuned in for at least five minutes in 3 million households that have terrestrial smart TVs. They do not include mobile viewers, but they are the best measurement in the market since streamers stay quiet on their numbers. Warner Bros. President of domestic theatrical distribution Jeff Goldstein told the “Associated Press” that whenever these Warner Bros. movies hit at the box office, they often equally translate as well in viewers on HBO Max. He also stated that when they don’t, they hit low levels on HBO Max. According to him, they’re very comparable.
While 40% of Latin audiences showed up for the film over the weekend, it’s also interesting that it didn’t over-index in Hispanic theaters in Southern California or Texas like the third Conjuring film did. That would’ve helped a lot in those markets in terms of the film’s box office and it is an indicator that the film simply didn’t expand beyond the hardcore fanbase of the musical.
Samba TV also observes that In The Heights’ HBO Max audience skewed pretty affluent ($100K and above). The film also over-indexed on the service in San Francisco at 107% and was followed by NYC at 72%, where the subject of the film takes place.
Are YOU surprised In The Heights had a slow start on HBO Max?
Tyler Perry is bringing Madea out of retirement for a new Netflix movie
June 9, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling
I guess you can’t keep Madea down forever. After previously retiring the character, it has been announced that Tyler Perry is bringing Madea back once again for a new comedy movie for Netflix.
According to “Deadline“, Perry signed a deal with Netflix to bring Madea back one more time, allegedly, for a new sequel called A Madea Homecoming. The new film will serve as the 12th installment of the Madea movie series which was to have originally ended with 2019’s A Madea Family Funeral. The latest sequel is expected to release on Netflix in 2022 and it will be shot at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.
We were first introduced to Madea back in 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. When A Madea Family Funeral was released in 2019, Perry seemed to make it clear that he was done playing the part. At the time Perry said, “I don’t want to be her age playing her, so it was time to shut it down and move. I’ve got some other things I want to do, and in this next 50, I’m going to do something different.”
I’m guessing that a very healthy paycheck from Netflix likely changed his mind. It has to be hard to say goodbye to a brand that has generated so much money. Across all of the Madea films, they have grossed $670 million to make, and since they cost virtually nothing to produce, “Forbes” estimates that they have netted Perry about $290 million in fees and profit to date. Would you say goodbye to that windfall? Highly unlikely.
Are YOU all in for Madea’s return? A Madea Homecoming is planned for a 2022 release on Netflix.
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.
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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?