Filed in: Awards, End of Week Production Notes, Featured, Film, News, Television

End of Week Production Notes 3/5/21: Oscar Noms Open, California Tax Credits Announced and More News

March 5, 2021 08:00 | By

It’s been a busy week with a ton of awards nominations, and it’s looking to be a busier than usual weekend at the movies, as theaters in New York City reopen for the first time in nearly a year with a number of new offerings like Walt Disney Studios‘ animated Raya and the Last DragonLionsgate‘s Chaos WalkingFocus Features‘ Boogie and lots more. Things are also looking better for future releases as Paramount Pictures has moved John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place Part 2, the horror sequel intended to come out in March 2020 that was delayed multiple times — the most recent move to September 2021 — up to May, which means we might actually have a summer movie season this year, unlike last year.

oscarYou know what else opens today? Oscar nominations voting! That’s right. If you’re a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, you’ll have from now until March 10 to turn in your nomination ballots. Having trouble making picks? Below the Line offers a handy-dandy round-up of some of the talented creatives we’ve interviewed to help remind you or maybe check out some of the work you’ve missed. You can see that round-up right here.

The biggest news of the week, at least in terms of production, has to be that the California Film Commission has put up $86.9 million in tax credits for 22 productions (out of 61 applicants) with nearly $14 million of that money going to a film written by Simon Kinberg and directed by Jason Bateman (Ozark) called Here Comes the Flood for Netflix. An Untitled Live Action Movie by Universal is receiving $12.2 million in tax credits while another Universal production called Ashley’s War is getting $10.7 million. The Coen Brothers‘ new version of Scarface, also for Universal, got a portion of the funds, as did Eva Longoria‘s Flaming Hot, and Steven Soderbergh‘s Kimi, starring Zoe Kravitz, being made for HBO Max. This is the latest round in what is a $330-million-a-year program that couldn’t come at a better time with all of the delays and shutdowns in California production in 2020. The program hopes to generate upwards of $642 million in production spending in the state with $430 million of that amount going to below-the-line workers and in-state vendors. Last August, the Russo Brothers Netflix adaptation of The Gray Man received $20 million from the program, although that’s still less than what Paramount Pictures got for its Bumblebee spin-off from The Transformers and what Warner Bros. Pictures got for the upcoming, Space Jam 2, starring Lebron James.

California Film Commission tax credits

California Film Commission tax credits

Remember that you can keep track of all of the projects mentioned above (and below) through our Production Listings, the best place to find work with shows heading from development into production.


Jiminy Cricket

Jiminy Cricket (Walt DIsney Pictures)

Let’s get to some casting, with the biggest news being for Walt Disney’s latest incarnation of Peter Pan, a live-action movie directed by Robert Zemeckis (from a script co-written by Chris Weitz), that’s intended to debut on the Disney+ streamer. It was reported that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be voicing the title character’s conscience Jimminy Cricket, and The Wrap broke the news that Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) would be playing the Blue Fairy, another popular character from the animated classic. Production for the film, which will combine live action with CG characters, will begin next month in the UK. Others have been added to the cast that was previously announced with Tom Hanks as Geppeto, Luke Evans as The Coachman, and Benjamin Evan Ainsorth from Flora and Ulysses as the voice of Pinocchio. Keegan-Michael Key will voice Honest John and Lorraine Bracco will voice a new character called Sofia the Seagull.

Over at Disney’s live action The Little Mermaid, directed by Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns), Deadline reported that the cast has been joined by British actress Jessica Alexander, who starred in the Netflix teen drama Get Even. It’s unknown what role she’ll be playing, but she joins Halle Bailey as Ariel, Melissa McCarthy as her evil aunt Ursula, and Oscar winner Javier Bardem as King Triton. The movie just started filming at Pinewood Studios in January and will also film some scenes in Sardinia, Italy.

The cast of the Eli Roth-directed video game adaptation of Borderlands keeps growing with Ariana Greenblatt, who played the younger version of Zoe Saldana‘s Gamora in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, joining the cast as “Tiny Tina” (presumably a popular character from the game). She’s joining an impressive cast that already includes Kevin HartJack Black and Jamie Lee Curtis.

British actor Hugh Grant has signed on to play the villain in the upcoming Paramount Pictures movie based on Wizards of the Coast‘s popular role-playing game, Dungeons and DragonsSophia Lillis from the recent Warner Bros’ adaptation of Stephen King‘s It has also joined the show that’s directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night).

Lastly, in terms of casting, Director Ridley Scott has found his Josephine to Joaquin Phoenix‘s Napoleon Bonaparte movie, Kitbag, for Apple Studios, also from Deadline. It’s Emmy-winning actress Jodie Comer from Killing Eve, who already appeared in Scott’s recent film, The Last Duel, which wrapped filming at the end of last year. First, Scott has to finish his MGM crime-thriller House of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga and Jared Leto. 


Some quick production news, with the report that two-time Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu has begun production on his latest film under the (presumably) working title of Limbo.

bradpittbulletttrain

Photo: Backgrid

It looks like Brad Pitt (who starred in Iñárritu’s Oscar-nominated Babel) is also back at work as the first set picture from his Sony Pictures action flick Bullet Train, directed by David Leitch (Hobbs and Shaw), has materialized, showing a bloodied Pitt with co-star Joey King. The movie is based on the Japanese novel, Maria Beetle, by Kotaro Isaka and the star-studded cast includes Lady Gaga, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji and Zazie Beetz all confirmed and apparently, Sandra Bullock is also in talks for a role. You can view all those new pictures over at Metro UK, as we can only give you a small taste due to copyright issues. (Incidentally, we’ll have an interview next week with Bullet Train‘s make-up department head Merc Arceneaux, who also did the make-up for Coming 2 America, out now on Amazon Prime Video.)


The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films announced the nominations for its 46th Annual Saturn Awards this week, and while we won’t have the full list of movie, television and other media nominations — you can read that full list here — the Saturn Awards do give out a number of awards for crafts, which you can read below. You may be getting slight deja vu from some of the nominees since they are indeed 2019 films, but the nomination period for this year’s awards extended to 16 months from July 15, 2019 to November 15, 2020.

Best Film Editing:

Maryann Brandon, Stefan Grube
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)
Bob Ducsay
Knives Out (Lionsgate)
Mike Flanagan
Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Jennifer Lame
Tenet (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Fred Raskin
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (Sony Pictures)
Jinmo Yang
Parasite (Neon)

Best Film Production Design:

Rick Carter, Kevin Jenkins
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)
Nathan Crowley
Tenet (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mark Friedberg
Joker (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Barbara Ling
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Patrick Tatopoulos
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Walt Disney Studios)
Ra Vincent
Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight Pictures)

Best Film Composer:

Ludwig Goransson
Tenet (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Nathan Johnson
Knives Out (Lionsgate)
Jaeil Jung
Parasite (Neon)
Thomas Newman
1917 (Universal Pictures)
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Mank (Netflix)
John Williams
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)

Best Film Costume:

Erin Benach
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Bina Daigeler
Mulan (Walt Disney Studios / Disney Plus)
Michael Kaplan
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)
Arianne Phillips
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (Sony Pictures)
Mayes C. Rubeo
Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight Pictures)
Albert Wolsky
Ad Astra (Searchlight Pictures)

Best Film Make-Up:

Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard, Stephen Kelly, Bianca Appice
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Orion Pictures)
Robert Kurtzman, Bernadette Mazur
Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Shane Zander, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr.
It Chapter Two (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Arjen Tuiten, David White
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Walt Disney Studios)
Norman Cabrera, Mike Hill, Mike Elizalde
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (CBS Films / Lionsgate)
Amanda Knight, Neal Scanlan
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)

Best Film Visual / Special Effects:

Scott R. Fisher, Allen Maris
Ad Astra (Searchlight Pictures)
Mark Hawker, Yael Majors, Greg Steele
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation
of One Harley Quinn) (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Kristy Hollidge, Nicholas Brooks
It Chapter Two (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ken Egly,Robert Legato
The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, Dominic Tuohy
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios)
Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley,Scott Fisher, Mike Chambers
Tenet (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Neil Corbould, Eric Barba,Vinod Gundre, Sheldon Stopsack
Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount Pictures)

Best Animated Film Release:

Abominable (Universal Pictures)
The Addams Family (United Artists Releasing)
Frozen II (Walt Disney Studios)
Onward (Walt Disney Studios)
Spies in Disguise (20th Century Pictures)
Trolls: World Tour (Universal Pictures)


A little off the beaten track, but hopefully of interest to any classic movie lovers reading this, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has begun a month-long program during prime time in March showing a series of controversial classics from history, which began last night with 1942’s Gone with the Wind, and will run through the month with other “problematic” films that have been put up to the light of current day standards with some movies being taken off networks or run with intros explaining the context of what might be perceived as racist stereotypes. The great Pete Hammond at Deadline has a great article about the program with quotes from some of the programmers and hosts talking about the decision to include films like Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho and others.


Before we get to the actual trailers, we have a cute production diary from Raya and the Last Dragon‘s lead voice actress and star, Kelly Marie Tranwho ended up having to do a lot of her own voice recording from home due to the pandemic.

This week’s first trailer is our first look at Neil Burger‘s space thriller Voyagers, starring Colin FarrellTye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp, which will be released by Focus Features on April 9, 2021 (but this trailer is actually from across the pond, where it will be released by Universal UK.) 

Last but not least, we have the first trailer for Amazon Prime Video‘s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, and based on Tom Clancy’s popular spy thriller, which will hit the streamer on April 30. It’s directed by Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima, who directed the sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado and the Italian crime-drama series, Gomorrah.