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HomeIndustry SectorFilmHump Day News Update 10/20/21: Dawn Hudson Exits Academy, Marvel Movie Moves,...

Hump Day News Update 10/20/21: Dawn Hudson Exits Academy, Marvel Movie Moves, Castle Rock Returns, and More News


Happy Hump Day!

Hopefully, you’ve already read Mark London Williams‘ Strike Alert column, because it’s some great reading while we wait until IATSE goes to its membership to vote on whether to ratify. Not everyone is convinced it’s the best contract, but according to a missive from ADG Local 800 to its members on Tuesday night (via Deadline), members will receive full details of the new Basic Agreement this weekend.  In fact, Local 800 will be doing so during its ADG Fall Membership Meeting, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 23.  Some are saying that it might take weeks to ratify this contract, but go back and read Mark’s latest column, because you’ll see that there’s been quite a bit of dissent about the details revealed so far.

Let’s move on to some non-IATSE news while we wait, shall we?

Dawn Hudson
Dawn Hudson (Photo: AMPAS)

It was reported this week that Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) CEO Dawn Hudson would be stepping down from that role at the end of her current term. The search for a new CEO will begin shortly, and Hudson said in a statement, “After more than ten years and the incredibly successful opening of our new museum, I’ve decided, when this term concludes, it will be time for me to explore other opportunities and adventures as this can hardly be topped. We’ve achieved so much together that’s been most important to me — our ongoing commitment to representation and inclusion; adapting the Academy into a digitally sophisticated global institution; and creating the world’s premier movie museum that will be the destination of film fans for decades. The Board of Governors and I are mutually committed to a seamless transition to new leadership. I’m excited for what the future holds, for both the Academy and for me.”

While the Critics Choice Association (of which I’m a member) may continue to butt heads with the Hollywood Foreign Press in regards to their clashing ceremony dates, the CCA also released the nominations for its 6th Annual Critics Choice Documentary Awards. It’s a good list, and if you’re a fan of the doc genre, you’ll want to check out some of the docs on the list, in which MTV Documentary Films‘ Ascencion and Searchlight‘s Summer of Soul led the way with the most nominations.

The 12 films nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category were:

Ascension (MTV Documentary Films)
Attica (Showtime)
Becoming Cousteau (Picturehouse/National Geographic Documentary Films)
The Crime of the Century (HBO Documentary Films)
A Crime on the Bayou (Augusta Films/Shout! Studios)
Flee (Neon)
Introducing, Selma Blair (Discovery+)
The Lost Leonardo (Sony Pictures Classics)
My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon Studios)
Procession (Netflix)
The Rescue (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)

The Rescue‘s directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy ChinLiz Garbus (Becoming Cousteau), Jessica Kingdom (Ascencion), and Attica‘s Stanley Nelson and Traci A Curry were all nominated in the Best Director category from the above list, joined by Edgar Wright for The Sparks Brothers, which received nominations for Best Music Documentary and Wright for First Documentary Feature.

Doctor Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange (Marvel/Disney)

In a surprising move on Monday, Marvel Studios shifted almost all their 2022 and 2023 releases back by everything from a few weeks to five months. The first move was only by five or six weeks, as Sam Raimi‘s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, was moved from March 25, 2022, to May 6, 2022, basically making it the prestigious Summer 2022 kick-off movie. That position is one Marvel has claimed for a number of years, but that also meant bumping Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Love and Thunder back two months to July 8, the post 4th of July slot which Marvel has also claimed in recent years. In turn, Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is moved out of the summer and back four months to Nov. 11, 2022, and that knocks Nia DaCosta‘s The Marvels (the sequel to Brie Larson‘s Captain Marvel) back three months to Feb. 17, 2023. This is where it gets interesting, because James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3  is sticking with its Summer 2023 launch date, so that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which is thought to be an important part of Phase 4, moves back over five months to July 28, 2023.

In fact, later on Monday, Marvel Pres. Kevin Feige was interviewed by Variety on the red carpet of Marvel’s upcoming Eternals movie about the moves, and he said they were due to “production shifts and changes, and because we have so many slots, we can just shift slots.” Which they did.

Speaking of that Eternals premiere, it was reported that four of the film’s female stars — Angelina JolieSalma HayekLauren Ridloff, and Gemma Chan  had to withdraw from a planned appearance at Elle Magazine‘s “2021 Women in Hollywood” and shift to a virtual appearance out of an abundance of caution after it was learned they had potential exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. (Just in case anyone out there thinks that we’re completely done with this pandemic. We’re not.)  Although none of the actresses tested positive, Disney is being careful, releasing the statement, “Earlier today we were made aware of a possible exposure to COVID-19, and while all of our talent have tested negative, out of an abundance of caution, we are pivoting to virtual appearances rather than in-person events.”

Less surprising was Lucasfilm‘s decision to shift James Mangold‘s untitled 5th Indiana Jones movie from July 29, 2022 back almost a full year to June 30, 2023, giving it essentially a 4th of July release. Harrison Ford‘s recent injuries probably contributed to the movie, but it also got it off being released the same day as Warner Bros‘ Black Adam movie, starring Dwayne Johnson.

“But Ed,” I hear you asking within your own head, “What do these theatrical moves have to do with me?” I’m glad you asked. If you’re one of the crew working on these movies either in production or post, you’ll now have a little more time to deal with COVID protocols or (as exemplified by the changes in the IATSE Basic Agreement) not have to work as long hours to finish these extravagant blockbusters, but also, it just gives more space in the release calendars for other non-Marvel movies.

Also, somewhat related to that important Basic Agreement is Netflix announcing that it sailed past its Q3 earnings forecasts while announcing some of the viewership for key series and films. It also exceeded its expectations for subscribers by passing 213 million subscribers globally. If you figure on subscribers paying an average $10 a month for a subscription, that comes out to 2.1 billion in money coming into the streamer a month, and that’s roughly 25 billion a year. Netflix also stated that it would switch to reporting the hours its series and films are watched vs. just the number of views, which could be anything from an accidental click on “Play” to someone actually bingeing a series from beginning to end. In that sense, Bridgerton Season 1 topped the list of series with (you might want to sit down for this number) 625 million hours watched, while Bird Box continues to be one of the streamer’s biggest hits with 282 million hours watched. In other words, people have had a lot of time on their hands thanks to the pandemic, and IATSE’s hardworking members should be compensated for all that money being made by streamers.

CastleRockLogoRob Reiner‘s Castle Rock film production banner is returning! It was announced earlier today that Reiner’s feature division is returning with a $175 million film fund to develop, produce, and finance quality movies for global audiences. Reiner himself will continue on as Castle Rock CEO with Michele Reiner and Matthew George serving as Co-Presidents. Castle Rock’s film fund is backed by equity investors and top-tier entertainment banks with David Oliver of CIT Bank, N.A acting as administrative agent, structuring the senior debt facility with Daisy Stall of California Bank &Trust. Castle Rock will have a first-look deal at Warner Bros. on theatrical content, which has long been its home, in addition to their existing deal with Castle Rock television productions.

There are more exec. shake-ups at Paramount Pictures as Courtney D. Armstrong joins as President of Business Affairs and Administration, while Stephen Plum and Jay Galston are exiting. This was all to be expected with the exit of Jim Giannopoulos at the end of the year. The new administration is putting its own people in places of power.

Let’s get to some movie casting, and there isn’t that much today, thankfully.

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise (Disney)

On the other hand, just days after Cillian Murphy was confirmed to star in Christopher Nolan‘s next film, Oppenheimer for Universal PicturesDeadline has broke the news that Emily Blunt may also be in talks to appear in Nolan’s film. She is reported to play the wife of Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer in the film that’s dated for July 21, 2023.

The ensemble of Casey AffleckZooey DeschanelNoah JupeWalton GogginsJack Dylan Grazer, Beau Bridges, and Chris Messina are joining Dreamin Wild, the next film from Director Bill Pohlad (Love & Mercy), which has begun production in Spokane, Washington. The film tells the true story of instrumental and vocal duo Donnie and Joe Emerson and their family, as the album Donnie self-recorded as a teenager with brother Joe in 1979 receives critical acclaim when it’s discovered decades later. Affleck and Jupe play the adult and teenage versions of Donnie, respectively, while Goggins and Grazer are the adult and younger versions of Joe. Deschanel plays Donnie’s wife Nancy, Bridges plays the boy’s father Don Sr, while Messina is Light in the Attic Records exec. Matt Sullivan.

Deadline reports that George C. Wolfe‘s Rustin, the director’s follow-up to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Netflix and the Obamas’ Higher Ground imprint, has added more cast, including Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Michael Potts (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Bill Irwin (Lady in the Water), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Gus Halper (Fear the Walking Dead), Johnny Ramey (Poz Roz), Carra Patterson (Turner & Hooch), and Adrienne Warren (The Woman King). They join the already-announced cast of Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman (also from Ma Rainey), and Audra McDonald. Written by Wolfe with Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black (Milk), it tells the story of charismatic, gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Domingo), who overcame an onslaught of obstacles, and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 March on Washington.

Ameen will play Martin Luther King Jr., while Patterson plays his wife, Coretta Scott King. Pounder will play civil rights leader, politician, educator, and writer, Dr. Anna Hedgeman, with Potts as labor organizer and civil rights activist Cleveland Robinson. Irwin plays clergyman and politician activist A.J. Muste, along with Warren as Claudia Taylor, Halper as Tom and Ramey as Elias. Oscar-winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty) is producing along with Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis, while higher Ground’s Mark R. Wright and Alex G. Scott are exec producing.

Also from Deadline, the newly-launched Luminosity Entertainment has set-up their first movie, the comedy Back on the Strip, which will star Wesley Snipes and Tiffany Haddish. Luminosity is the new company from Elie Samaha, Missy Valdez, Geno Taylor, and Daniel Diamond, which will finance, produce and distribute the film, which will be the theatrical directorial debut by Chris Spencer, creator and EP of The Real Husbands of Hollywood and EP and scribe of Grown-ish. The movie follows Merlin, a young man played by Spence Moore II, “who moves to Las Vegas to pursue his dream of becoming a magician after losing the woman of his dreams. When a costume malfunction reveals his physical “gifts,” he is recruited to become the frontman of an infamous male revue group. The comedy chronicles a series of escapades as Merlin tries to achieve magician success, pursuing his dream girl and finding family in the process.” Besides distributing this film and others in the United States, Luminosity will also handle international sales

Actors Avan Jogia and Ajani Russell have been cast in the title roles for the Verdi Productions crime feature, Johnny & Clyde, joining Megan Fox and Tyson Ritter in the spin on Bonnie and Clyde that’s currently in production which follows two serial killers madly in love and on a crime spree, who decide to rob a casino run by crime boss Alana (Fox) and her head of security (Ritter). Also in the cast of the film written by Tom DeNucci (Vault) and Nick Principe and directed by DeNucci, are Vanessa Angel, Bai Ling, Robert LaSardo, Armen Garo, and more.

Also, Lucas Bravo from Emily in Paris is joining the Julia RobertsGeorge Clooney rom-com Ticket to Paradise for Universal Pictures, which also stars Kaitlyn Dever from Book Smart. The film, directed by Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and co-written with Daniel Pipski, is about a couple of exes who find themselves on a shared mission to stop their lovestruck daughter from making the same mistake they once made.

If you didn’t know, rocker Rob Zombie wrote and is directing a movie based on the classic ’60s sitcom, The Munsters, for Peacock, and as a special pre-Halloween treat, he shared the first picture of Jeff Daniel Phillips as Herman Munster, Sheri Moon Zombie as Lily Munster, and Dan Roebuck as Grandpa Munster.  Earlier, Zombie released a behind-the-scenes sketch of Lily Munster’s costume, which you can see below that. (Thanks to Jazz Tangcay at Variety for bringing these to our attention!)

John Wick
Ian McShane as Winston Scott in John Wick (Lionsgate)

Probably the biggest TV casting news of the week and another sign of “film actors” turning to television for work and more interesting roles was the report that Oscar-winner Mel Gibson would be starring in The Continental, the Lionsgate Television three-night special event series for STARZ that acts as a prequel to Keanu Reeves‘ John Wick movies.  He will be playing a character named “Cormac.”

One day later, The Flight Attendant‘s Colin Woodell was announced as the lead in The Continental, playing Winston Scott, the younger version of the Ian McShane character from the movies.  Shortly after Gibson and Woodell’s announcement, five more actors were cast, including Hubert Point-Du-Jour, Jessica Allain, Mishel PradaNhung Kate, and Ben Robson. According to the tagline, The Continental will “explore the origin behind the hotel-for-assassins, which increasingly has become the centerpiece of the John Wick universe. This will be accomplished through the eyes and actions of a young Winston Scott (Woodell), who is dragged into the Hell-scape of a 1975 New York City to face a past he thought he’d left behind. Winston charts a deadly course through New York’s mysterious underworld in a harrowing attempt to seize the iconic hotel, which serves as the meeting point for the world’s most dangerous criminals.”

Executive producers Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward from Wayne are writing the event series and serve as showrunners. Thunder Road PicturesBasil Iwanyk and Erica Lee serve as exec. producers along with original John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, original writer Derek Kolstad, as well as Shawn Simmons, Paul Wernick, and Rhett Reese.

Scott Z. Burns’ (Contagion) climate change anthology series, Extrapolations, for Apple Studios has added an impressive cast that includes multiple Oscar winner Meryl StreepSienna Miller, both Kit Harington and Gemma Chan from Marvel’s Eternals movie, Tahar Rahim, Matthew Rhys, Daveed Diggs, David Schwimmer, and Adarsh Gourav as leads. Currently in production, the series “tells stories of how the upcoming changes to the planet will affect love, faith, work and family on a personal and human scale. Told over a season of eight interconnected episodes, each story in the scripted series will track the worldwide battle for our mutual survival spanning the 21st century.” The series comes from Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res with Burns writing, directing and exec. producing, along with Ellenberg, Greg Jacobs, Dorothy Fortenberry, and Lindsey Springer as exec producers.

The great Betty Gilpin from GLOW is set to headline and exec. product a new Blood Sugar series being developed by HBO and Annapurna.  Written by Duke Merriman (Monos) and Preston Thompson (Kids In Love), Gilpin will star as Margot Schultz, whose proposed food business is laughed off stage by the Shark Tank “sharks,” setting in motion “one of the funniest, bloodiest and wildest rises to fame and fortune this country has ever seen.” Gangs of London‘s Claire Wilson is the showrunner with Lucy (AngelyneTcherniak directing with the two EP’ing with Gilpin, Merriman and Thompson as well as Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle, Ali Krug, and Patrick Chu for Annapurna. Also serving as EPs are Bryan Unkeless and Scott Morgan for Clubhouse Pictures.

ABC  has given a pilot order to Ajay Sahgal‘s single-camera comedy, The Son in Law, which The Carmichael Show creative is writing and exec. producing for 20th Television. The comedy is also exec. produced by Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar who are responsible for shows like ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and Disney+’s Doogie Kealoha, M.D. with Kasdan’s The Detective Agency producing. The Son In Law is about “a salt-of-the-earth man finds himself seeking the approval of his new fiancée’s sophisticated parents, even as he is a difficult-to-impress father-in-law to his daughter’s longtime boyfriend.”

Harry Potter and Gravity Producer David Heyman‘s recently-launched Heyday Television, which is part of NBCUniversal International Studios, has optioned the rights to four novels from award-winning Spanish noir author, Dolores Redondo, essentially The North Face of the Heart and its Baztan Trilogy prequel of The Invisible GuardianThe Legacy of the Bones, and Offering to the Storm. The latter trilogy has already been adapted into a Spanish-language trilogy for Netflix by Fernando González MolinaNorth Face follows Spanish detective Amala Salazar, as she helps the FBI track an extraordinary serial killer down in New Orleans on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. She joins a high-profile team led by FBI agent Aloisius Dupree, whose own complicated past is entwined with the communities struggling to defend their homes as the floodwaters rise.

The fourth season renewal of Amazon‘s Jack Ryan series was recently reported, and it looks like Aussie actor Abbie Cornish will be returning as Cathy Mueller for that next season.

A couple of movies that are likely to be in the awards conversations this year debuted their first trailers, beginning with Aaron Sorkin‘s Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, beloved television icons of the ’50s and ’60s. The biopic is written and directed by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind last year’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, as well as the Oscar-winning writer of the biopics, The Social Network and Steve JobsAmazon Studios will release the movie in theaters on Dec. 10 before it debuts on Amazon Prime Video two weeks later on Dec. 21.

Another movie that has received a lot of praise on the fall film festival circuit is Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s directorial debut, The Lost Daughter, based on Elena Ferrante‘s novel, which will be released in theaters by Netflix on Dec. 17 and on the streaming service  Dec. 31 i.e. prime Oscar season. Starring Oscar winner Olivia ColmanDakota JohnsonEd HarrisPeter SarsgaardDagmara Dominczyk, and Paul Mescal. The tagline for the film is: “Alone on a seaside vacation, Leda (Colman) becomes consumed with a young mother and daughter as she watches them on the beach. Unnerved by their compelling relationship, (and their raucous and menacing extended family), Leda is overwhelmed by her own memories of the terror, confusion and intensity of early motherhood. An impulsive act shocks Leda into the strange and ominous world of her own mind, where she is forced to face the unconventional choices she made as a young mother and their consequences.”

Lastly, a movie I’m dying to see, because from what I hear, it’s a serious Best Picture contender, and that’s Kenneth Branagh‘s semi-autobiographical, Belfast, which also received raves on the festival circuit. Focus Features released the second trailer for the black and white movie this morning.

That’s it for today. Back on Friday for End of Week Production Notes.

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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