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End of Week Production Notes 11/12/21: MGM Rebooting Road House, Disney+ Day Announcements, and More News


Happy Friday, and if you’re a member of IATSE, happy contract ratification vote day! If you’re one of IATSE’s 60,000 members, you should have already received a ballot via Email, and at least IATSE Pres. Matthew Loeb wants you to vote “Yes.”

Over the past few weeks, we’ve reported about a number of prominent stars walking away from projects due to their refusal to get a vaccine, from Ice Cube, to Emilio Estevez, and Letitia Wright, who was said to have been injured to the point where Marvel Studios‘ highly-anticipated sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverwas shut down until January. In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, who initially reported on the shutdown as well, it now seems like Wright may not even be able to get back into the United States to finish the shoot in Atlanta, since she’s neither vaccinated, nor a U.S. citizen. The latest CDC guidelines implemented on Monday states that any non-citizen entering the country needs to have been vaccinated and show proof of a negative COVID test, though Wright clearly can’t meet one of these requirements until she’s vaccinated.

Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze in Road House (United Artists)

MGM Pictures is developing a reboot of the Patrick Swayze 1989 action movie, Road House, and according to Deadline, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and filmmaker Doug Liman are circling the project as a possible collaboration with Gyllenhaal in talks to star with Liman in talks to direct.  Both of them are currently involved in other projects, Gyllenhaal getting ready to film Guy Ritchie‘s The Interpreter, and Liman prepping an Everest film, although writers are taking meetings to rewrite a prior draft written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. It’s unclear whether this reboot will be a straight remake or a modern take and whether Gyllenhaal would play the same bouncer, Dalton, as was played by Swayze in one of his classic roles. At one point, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey was going to be the lead in this remake, but that plan was (thankfully) shelved.

Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista have already appeared in the Apple series, See, together, and they’re both in Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune (albeit with no scenes together). The duo have been pitching a buddy action comedy around town, to be written by Jonathan Tropper (See), which led to a bidding war between four distributors with MGM nearing the finish line to win the project. The pitch would have the two muscular friends playing brothers in what’s described as a “Lethal Weapon-esque buddy cop comedy,” that’s likely to shoot in Hawaii.

As part of its Disney+ Day celebration, Disney announced that the upcoming Predators prequel, directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), is now titled Prey — its working title was Skulls — and it will get a summer 2022 release…. but only on streamer, Hulu. Written by Patrick Aison (KingdomJack RyanTreadstone), the film is “set in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, following Naru, a skilled female warrior who fiercely protects her tribe against a highly evolved alien predator.” It wrapped production in Calgary on Sept. 12. It was also announced that Robert Zemeckis‘ Pinocchio live-action feature would hit Disney+ in the fall of 2022.

Paramount Pictures is still going through a number of exec changes with CEO Jim Gianopulos departing at the end of this year — the studio’s latest hire is Jenny Tartikoff as EVP of Global Communications — but it has also led to more changes in the studio’s planned release schedule.

The 7th Transformers movie, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which was supposed to be released in the summer of 2022, has now been pushed back a year to June 9, 2023. Due to this move, the planned untitled Star Trek movie, previously scheduled for that date, has now been pushed back to Dec. 22, 2023. This new Star Trek is being written by Josh Friedman (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Cameron Squires (WandaVision).

Places You'll Go
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Random House)

Although Jon M. Chu‘s movie based on the hit Broadway musical, Wicked, has pushed production back a few months, the Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights director continues to line-up new projects. He’ll be entering into animation by directing Warner Bros. Animation‘s adaptation of Dr. Seuss‘s final children’s book, 1990’s Oh the Places You’ll Go!, which J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot producing along with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. This animated feature won’t debut until 2027, so Chu has a good six years to get this into his schedule. Abrams will serve as producer on the film along with Hannah Minghella, Bad Robot’s Head of Motion Pictures, who previously ran Sony Pictures Animation. More on this project and deal over at Deadline.

Ben Stiller continues to capitalize on the success of his Emmy-nominated limited series, Escape at Dannemora, setting up his next project, directing and starring in an adaptation of the 1960s British TV series, The Champions, as a feature film that will co-star Cate Blanchett. The new version of the series is being produced by New Republic Pictures, ITV Studios America, and Blanchett’s Dirty Films. Stiller will also produce via his Red Hour Production. In the original series, “a plane carrying three UN agents crashes in the Himalayas. The agents aboard are rescued by an advanced civilization secretly living in Tibet who grant them enhanced intellectual and physical abilities. When the agents return to the outside world, they use their new superhuman powers to become Champions of Law, Order, and Justice.” This is the latest project through a first look deal, Dirty Films has with New Republic, and Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer of New Republic will produce the project alongside Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and Coco Francini from Dirty Films.

Distributor A24 has greenlit director Isaiah Saxon‘s fantasy epic, The Legend Of Ochi, with Willem DafoeEmily WatsonFinn Wolfhard, and Golden Globe Nominee Helena Zengel (News of the World) signed to star. Produced by Saxon through his Encyclopedia Pictura, along with Traci Carlson and Richard Peete for Neighborhood Watch, and Jonathan Wang of Year of the Rat, it’s about a young girl (Zengel) who runs away from home and learns to communicate with an elusive animal species known as OCHI. AGBO‘s The Russo Brothers, Mike Larocca, and Angela Russo-Otstot are attached as exec. producers, along with Louise Lovegrove and Alex PlapingerDirty Projectors founder Dave Longstreth will provide the film’s original score, and A24 will finance and handle worldwide releasing.

Also, Saturday Night Live writer Julio Torres‘ untitled film, which is also from A24 and is being produced by Emma Stone and Dave McCary‘s Fruit Tree banner, has added some more cast, including Greta Lee (The Morning Show), Laith Nakli (Ramy), Isabella Rossellini, RZASpike Einbinder (Los Espookys), Larry Owens (High Maintenance), James Scully (You), and Greta Titelman (Search Party). Torres is directing from his own screenplay, and he co-stars in the film with Oscar winner, Tilda Swinton.

Antoine Fuqua‘s Apple Original FilmEmancipation, starring Will Smith, has added more cast, including Steven Ogg (Snowpiercer, Westworld), Grant Harvey (Animal Kingdom, The Crossing), Ronnie Gene Blevins (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), Jayson Warner Smith (The Walking Dead, The Birth of a Nation), Jabbar Lewis (The Terminal List), Michael Luwoye (The Gifted, Prodigal Son), and Aaron Moten (Next). Besides Smith, the cast of the feature in production in New Orleans also features Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, Gilbert Owuor, and Mustafa Shakir. The thriller tells the story of Smith’s Peter, “a man who escapes from slavery—relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom.” It’s inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly.

Netflix has cast Henry Zaga and Giulia Be in its Brazilian rom-com, Beyond the Universe, which will start production in São Paulo this month. Written and directed by Diego Freitas, the film which will hit the streamer in 2022 also stars João Miguel, Othon Bastos, Rita Assemany, Leo Bahia, Viviane Araújo, Isabel Fillardis, Adriana Lessa, Denise Del Vecchio, and João Côrtes. Produced by Camisa Listrada with André Carreira and Luciano Reck as exec. producers, the film follows Be’s pianist Nina, “who must overcome the challenges of dealing with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can attack any part of the body – the kidney, in her case. The young woman is surprised by a strong connection with Gabriel (Zaga), one of the doctors on the team who take care of her, and who will help her overcome her insecurities in the struggle to play on stage with a huge orchestra in São Paulo.”

Just a reminder that you can keep tabs on lots of film and television projects by subscribing to our Production Listings.

We’ll kick off today’s television coverage with the announcement of the release date for its Sex and the City spin-off, And Just Like That…, which was accompanied by a teaser, which you can watch below. The series will premiere on HBO Max on December 9, reuniting the characters played by Sarah Jessica ParkerCynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis in the popular original series.


Ruth Wilson will star in the HBO limited series, Mob Queens, as Anna Genovese, the second wife of crime boss Vito Genovese, who broke Cosa Nostra law when she spilled the illegal dealings of her husband in divorce hearings. Based on the Stitcher podcast of the same name, the series is being written and exec. produced by Girls creator Lena Dunham along with award-winning writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic RiverThe WireBoardwalk Empire).

Paramount+ handed out a few series orders this week, including the Fatal Attraction series, starring Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), as well as the crime series, Happy Face, from Robert & Michelle King (Your HonorThe Good Fight). In the former, a reimagining of the ’80s erotic thriller, starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, Caplan will play Close’s character Alex, who becomes obsessed with a lover after a brief affair, and it’s currently seeking a male lead to take on the Douglas role of Dan. The series is written by Alexandra Cunningham (Dirty John) from a story she co-wrote with Kevin J. Hynes.

Happy Face is adapted from the true-crime podcast on IHeartMedia  — this seems to be a thing now — and it will be adapted by Jennifer Cacicio (Your Honor) based on the true story of Melissa Moore, who discovered at age 15 that her father was the prolific serial killer known as Happy Face. The Paramount+ series will depart from Melissa’s true story by having her father contact her to take credit for another victim, which pulls her into investigating her father’s crimes.

As mentioned above, today is officially Disney+ Day, and appropriately, there have been a number of announcements from the Mouse House streamer today.  During an investor call this week, Disney announced that its new Disney+ series, Ms. Marvel, and Star Wars spin-off series, Andor, will hit the streaming service in the last quarter of 2022.

Disney+ is also prepping a new series based on the popular series of fantasy books, The Spiderwick Chronicles, written by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black with Paramount Television Studios producing. the first of the books were previously adapted into a 2008 film from Nickelodeon and Paramount, starring  Freddie Highmore and Mary-Louise Parker with the voices of Martin Short and Seth Rogen. The Disney streamer, who seemingly poached the project from the Viacom streamer, says that the series is a “modern coming-of-age story combined with fantasy adventure,” but nothing else was revealed about the project.

British actor Shazad Latif (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) has been chosen to play Captain Nemo in the Disney series, Nautilus, with Michael Matthews on board to direct.

Disney+ has also announced its first Spanish language original limited series, Balenciaga (working title), created by Lourdes Iglesias and 12-time Goya Award-winners Jose Mari Goenaga, Jon Garaño, and Aitor Arregi. The six-part show will tell the story of a “man who dares to defy his social status as the son of a seamstress and a fisherman. Using his natural talent, constant work and sharp nose for business, he goes on to become one of the most prominent fashion designers of all time.” This continues the streamer’s initiative to produce shows for the streamers outside the U.S., hoping to meet its target of 60 foreign language series by 2024. So far, Disney+ has 21 foreign series in the pipeline, 16 scripted and five non-scripted.

As part of this initiative, D+ has struck a multi-territory deal for Fremantle‘s Italian dystopian drama, Anna, a Sky Original, produced by Wildside and co-produced by ARTE France, Fremantle, the New Life Company, and Kwaï. The six-part series about a ravaged world destroyed by a virus that kills adults but spares children will launch on Disney+ in the UK and Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. In the US, it will be aired on AMC+, and it has been picked up by other broadcasters.

The Dancing Ledge Productions’ drama Wedding Season for D+ has added more cast, including Gavin Drea from Valhalla, who will star opposite Rosa Salazar as her on-again, off-again lover, and others joining the series include Jade Harrison (The Stranger) and Jamie Michie (Game of Thrones). In the series, Salazar plays Katie, a picture-perfect bride who we meet on her wedding day surrounded by the dead bodies of her new husband and every member of his family.

Jennifer Carpenter
Jennifer Carpenter in Dexter (Showtime)

Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter will lead and exec. produce the six-episode drama series, Ballistic, from New Regency and QCode, and it will also star Lihi Kornowski (Losing Alice) and Jonathan Ohye (Bosch). Carpenter will play a secret operative, who, after a mission is compromised, is forced into a psychological game of cat and mouse with her own mind while being hunted down by the very program that created her. The series is created by Spenser Cohen (Moonfall) and Anna Halberg (Distant), who will serve as showrunners and executive producers. It will be directed and EP’d by Jeremy Rush (Wheelman) as the fourth series from New Regency with audio studio QCode with producers Automatik and Oddfellows.

Amazon Studios has boarded ITV‘s Riches drama with Deborah Ayorinde (Them) and Hugh Quarshie (Stephen) joining its cast, as production begins in London. The show comes from How To Get Away With Murder writer Abby Ajayi, and it will premiere on Amazon Prime in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Nordics and Sub-Saharan Africa. The cast also includes Ted Lasso’s Sarah Niles, Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Hermione Norris (Luther), as well as Adeyinka Akinrinade (Top Boy), Ola Orebiyi (Cherry, A Brixton Tale), C.J. Beckford (Sitting in Limbo), Nneka Okoye (Grantchester), and Emmanuel Imani (Cobra). The series deals with the family secrets of self-made millionaire Stephen Richards (played by Quarshie) after he suffers a stroke, and it’s already being compared to HBO’s Emmy-winning hit series, Succession.

Meanwhile, MGM has picked up global distribution for the Nordic Entertainment (NENT) Group psychological thriller series, The Box, created by Adi Hasak (Shades of Blue) and starring Anna Friel. The English-language series stars Friel as Sharon Pici, a Kansas City police officer who is surrounded by headstrong men who are convinced she is losing her mind – when, through no fault of her own, she’s targeted by supernatural powers far greater than herself. As Sharon finally realizes her true strength, she takes her life into her own hands. Directed by Steve Shrill (The Wire), the series also stars Olivia Grant (Stardust), Letitia Hector (Venus vs. Mars), Peter Stormare (American Gods), Alexander Karim (Zero Dark Thirty), Helen Behan (The Virtues), Nina Yndis (Peaky Blinders), and Shaq B. Grant (Lynn + Lucy).

A few new renewals were announced this week, including Nickelodeon reupping Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan for a third season, while TLC has renewed its series I Love A Mama’s Boy, Extreme Sisters, and sMothered.

There were quite a few new trailers for upcoming series returns, but instead, we’re going to share the first trailer for docuseries, VOIR, from filmmaker David Fincher and David Prior, which includes thoughts on cinematic storytelling from Below the Line pals, Drew McWeeney and Sasha StoneIt will debut on Netflix starting Dec. 6.

That’s it for this week. I guess if you have kids and want to take them to the movies, you’ll have Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog as an option, but Kenneth Branagh‘s potential Oscar nominee, Belfast, is also opening domestically today. Might as well get out to the movies after voting, since we’ll all be waiting until Monday for any results.

All photos property of the respective copyright holders.

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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