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HomeAwardsOver the Weekend 4/19/21: Ryan Coogler Speaks Out on Georgia, Another Busy...

Over the Weekend 4/19/21: Ryan Coogler Speaks Out on Georgia, Another Busy Awards Weekend and More News


There wasn’t a ton of news over the weekend, but there were a ton of awards, as five groups gave out their annual awards, including three in the post-production realm.

Friday night saw the Motion Picture Sound Editors giving out their 68th Golden Reel Awards, at the same time as the Annie Awards for animation were being handed out. While Pixar‘s Soul swept most of the animated features over the character, it had a tougher fight against Apple TV+‘s Wolfwalkers, as the two of them went back and forth all night at the Annies. Saturday brought the American Cinema Editors’  71st Annual ACE Eddies and the Cinema Audio Society’s 57th CAS Awards where The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Sound of Metal took the main film categories, respectively. Last but not least, Sunday saw the American Society of Cinematographers35th ASC Awards where Mank Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt received the ASC  for Feature Film.

Click on those links above if you missed any of the shows and want to see the full list of winners, especially if you’re an Academy member who now has just one day left to turn in your ballots.

Ryan Cooger (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Ryan Cooger (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

There has been a lot of talk about the situation in Georgia in regards to the new prohibitive voting laws, and Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, who has been prepping to shoot Black Panther 2 in Atlanta over the past few months, has spoken out on his decision to continue filming there in an open letter published by Deadline.

Although Coogler clearly isn’t happy about the SB202 law passed in the state last month and how it might affect local African-Americans crew working on his set, he has chosen to get more active in politics in order to pass national laws to help against such segregation-driven measures by the state of Georgia, rather than boycotting the state outright by moving the Marvel Studios production.

Coogler wrote:

The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy. As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot. I say this as I return to Georgia, a state that holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Atlanta for eight months while filming my last movie. I have long looked forward to returning. But, when I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state’s voters, I was profoundly disappointed.

While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia. Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state.

He went on to discuss and advocate for two critical national reforms going through the U.S. Congress currently with the HR1 “For the People Act” having already been passed by the U.S House, as he urges the Senate to pass the corresponding “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

In his statement, Coogler continues:

Our film is staying in Georgia. Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy.

George Miller
George Miller (Photo: MPSE)

In production news even further South, it was announced this morning via press conference that George Miller‘s Mad Max: Fury Road spin-off/prequel,  Furiosa, has begun filming in New South Wales, Australia with Anya Taylor-Joy, playing the title character first played by Charlize Theron in Miller’s Oscar-winning movie, and Chris Hemsworth, who must have recently wrapped on Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder, co-starring Natalie Portman.

At the same time, Miller is wrapping up post on his romance drama, Three Thousand Years of Longing, which he mentioned while accepting the aforementioned MPSE Filmmaker Award on Friday. Furiosa is expected to be the biggest film ever made in Australia with New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying that it will bring $350 million AUD to the local economy and create 850 jobs. Great news for Australian crew!

More production news, it looks like HBO‘s acclaimed The Flight Attendant and the new TBS show, Chad, will be taking advantage of the California tax credit to shoot their second seasons in the state.

oscarSpeaking of the Oscars, more plans were announced on Friday for the show taking place this Sunday, April 25, produced by Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh. Or in this case, the producers announced two specials that will precede and follow the regular Oscar broadcast at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.

The show will be proceeded by a 90-minute special called Oscars: Into the Spotlighthat will include performances of all five Oscar-nominated songs by Celeste with co-writer Daniel PerbertonH.E.R.Leslie Odom JrLaura Pausini and Diane Warren, with a recorded performance of the song “Húsavik” from Eurovision Song Contest, which will be shot in the actual town of Húsavik in Iceland.  (The other songs will be performed from the Dolby Family Terrace at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. The special will be hosted by Ariana DeBose from Hamilton and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), beginning at 6:30pm Eastern/3:30 Pacific.

Then AFTER the actual Academy Awards ceremony is completed, at whatever ungodly hour that is for East Coasters, there will be an Oscar celebration called Oscars: After Dark, hosted by actor Colman Domingo (Selma) and Andrew Rannels (The Prom). The two shows are produced by Collins, Sher and Soderbergh and exec. produced by Michael Antinoro and David Chamberlin. Former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell will be conducting interviews with the winners during this show.

Friday also saw the sad news that British stage and screen actress Helen McCrory had passed away at the young age of 52 from complications from cancer, and was announced via social media by husband Damian Lewis  (Homefront). McRory may be best known by audiences for her role in Peaky Blinders, but she also played Narcissa Malfoy in two of the Harry Potter movies, and she was best known for her stunning work on the London stage.

As per usual, the New York Times wrote a terrific obit for the actress.

If you want some more recent completely unrelated news from England, how about the announcement this morning that Focus Features would be releasing the sequel, Downton Abbey 2, in time for Christmas on December 22, 2021?

Late last week, Motion Impossible released a video of its AGITO robotic dolly and how it was used with the ARRI SRH-360 by Greg Robbins and Chris Fanning for their RDM virtual production, giving you a decent look at two relatively new technologies working together.

Just when you thought we were all done with critics’ awards for the season, GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics — of which we have a few members at Below the Line — announced the winners of its Dorian Awards. Nomadland won Best Film with Chloé Zhao winning Best Director and the film receiving Most Visually Striking Film. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was honored with the Dorian for Best LGBTQ Films. Filmmaker Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca) was given the group’s Trailblazer Award for “creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity”, accepting it in an interview segment with Variety‘s wonderful Senior Artisan Editor, Jazz Tangcay.

Lucy LIu
Lucy Liu (Photo: “Genevieve”)

One bit of casting news that we somehow missed on Friday was the fact that actress Lucy Liu will be joining the cast of Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema‘s Shazam! Fury of the Gods as the film’s primary villain, Kalypso, the second daughter of Atlas and sister to Helen Mirren‘s Hespera.  This adds to the previous announcement of West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler, who will be playing an undisclosed role in the superhero sequel.

Deadline confirmed the casting for indie film, Paint, being directed by Brit McAdams from her own screenplay that was listed on The Black List in 2010. The film stars Owen Wilson as Carl Nagle, who hosted Vermont’s #1 painting show for 27 years with his distinctive delivery, and co-stars  Michaela WatkinsWendi McLendon-Covey, Ciara Renée, Lusia Strus, and Stephen Root.  The movie is currently filming in upstate New York with Sam Maydew of Silver Lining Entertainment producing.

Remember that you can keep tabs on projects like these by subscribing to Below the Line‘s Production Listings, which offers daily updates on television and film projects in development and production. Don’t be the last person to know about a movie being made in your area until after it’s already crewed up.

In the Earth
In the Earth (NEON)

There isn’t a ton to say about the weekend box office either, as the only semi-wide release was Ben Wheatley‘s eco-thriller, In the Earth, which only opened in 547 theaters and made just over $500,000, roughly $925 per theater, which put it at #7 in the box office top 10. Due to the lack of other new wide releases, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures‘ Godzilla vs. Kong remained atop the box office with an estimated $7.7 million in domestic theaters and a total domestic gross of $80.5 million. Bob Odenkirk‘s action-thriller, Nobody, remained in second place with $2.5 million for the weekend and $19 million total in North America. It’s hard to tell if the box office is rebounding necessarily, because there seem to be more anomalies like Godzilla vs. Kong and Tom and Jerry than any consistent stream of regular business for any other movies.

A nice Monday morning surprise in honor of the birthday of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu, who is playing the title character in the first Marvel Studios movie featuring an Asian superhero as the lead. The studio released the first teaser-trailer for the movie which will be released on September 3 after being delayed a few weeks back. Check out that martial arts action!

The 74th annual Cannes Film Festival takes place virtually in some form beginning on July 7, and the opening night movie is one a lot of people are excited about, the debut of Annette, the first film from French auteur Leos Carax since his acclaimed film Holy Motors in 2012. It stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, and it’s written by Russel and Ron Mael, better known as the eclectic rock group, Sparks, who also wrote original songs for the musical.  As luck would have it, an international teaser trailer was released over the weekend, and it’s gonna be a good summer for the band, as Edgar Wright‘s doc, The Sparks Brothers, will be released by Focus Features on June 18. Amazon Studios will be releasing Carax’s movie sometime later this year.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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