Happy Monday! Welcome back to one of the few industry news columns that gives you ALL the news in just one place for you hard-working individuals on set who just don’t have the time to read 400 posts from all the other trades.
In late August, actress Letitia Wright had an accident-related injury on the set of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, while it was shooting a stunt rig on-location in Boston, but she was released from the hospital a day later. At the time, Marvel Studios said that Wright’s injury wouldn’t impact the film’s shooting schedule.
Apparently, Wright went back to London where she’s been ever since, while production continued to shoot around her character, Shuri, until Wright was able to return. Now, it looks like the production will shut down Thanksgiving weekend to “reconfigure the shoot to get things back on track for an early 2022 restart.” This according to The Hollywood Reporter, since Director Ryan Coogler will have filmed everything he could without having Wright. This confirms the rumors that Wright’s character will have a much larger role in the sequel due to the death of Chadwick Boseman from cancer in 2020.
A spokesperson told THR, “Letitia has been recovering in London since September from injuries sustained on the set of Black Panther 2 and is looking forward to returning to work early 2022. Letitia kindly asks that you keep her in your prayers.”
Marvel had already pushed the movie back from July 8, 2022 until Nov. 11, so maybe there isn’t so much to shoot that the anticipated sequel can’t still make that later date.
Another more mysterious death happened on the production of the untitled fifth Indiana Jones, as 2nd Unit Grip Nic Cupac was found dead in his hotel room in Morocco, although no more details were made about cause of death for the 54-year-old crew member. Cupac has been a long-time crew on Lucasfilm productions, such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Stories, as well as films like Cruella, Assassin’s Creed, and the recent Venom: Let There Be Carnage. A Lucasfilm spokesperson announced Cupac’s death with the statement, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Nic Cupac, an incredibly talented colleague and member of the film community who will be greatly missed.”
Last week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson spoke out about guns on set, saying that his production company, Seven Bucks, would no longer allow functional firearms on its productions and would pay what is needed in post to make that possible. A few days later, Johnson’s Fast and Furious co-star Vin Diesel — who was rumored to have had a feud with Johnson, forcing the latter to leave the franchise — posted a heartfelt Instagram post, saying that he wants Johnson to return to the franchise for Fast X, which he dubbed the franchise finale.
“My little brother Dwayne… the time has come,” Diesel started, “The world awaits the finale of Fast 10. As you know, my children refer to you as Uncle Dwayne in my house. There is not a holiday that goes by that they and you don’t send well wishes… but the time has come. Legacy awaits.”
“Do not leave the franchise idle you have a very important role to play,” he continued. “Hobbs can’t be played by no other. I hope that you rise to the occasion and fulfill your destiny.”
Johnson joined the franchise with Fast Five in 2011, and he remained through the next four films before leaving after Fate of the Furious in 2017. Shortly after the film came out, the feud between Diesel and Johnson came out as the two sniped at each other on social media, and Johnson’s character, FBI Agent Hobbs, went on to his own spin-off with Jason Statham, The Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, in 2019.
Over in the world of television, it was announced that the legendary Dolly Parton would be appearing in the seventh and final season of Netflix’s Grace & Frankie, although very few details (actually, none) were released about who she might play or her relationship to the lead characters, played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The final 12 episodes of the series will air on the streamer in 2022.
Emilio Estevez won’t be returning for the second season of the Disney+ series, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, according to Deadline. Estevez was the lead in all three movies in the Disney franchise that was released in the ’90s, but it’s also rumored that Disney Television Studios‘ ABC Signature decided not to pick up Estevez’s Season 2 option after the actor and his team gave resistance about the show’s COVID Zone A (i.e. actors and the crew that directly interact with them) vaccination requirements. This last part may or may not be fact, but until Estevez or his people release a statement to the contrary, we have to imagine there was a good reason for the actor not to return.
In exec news that affects more than just television, Annapurna has promoted Annapurna Interactive (AI) President Nathan Gary to President of Annapurna, giving him the central leadership role to oversee all divisions of film, TV, theater, and interactive. He joins the executive team alongside founder and CEO Megan Ellison, Chief Content Officer Sue Naegle, and President of Legal and Business Affairs Chris Corabi. Deborah Mars and Nathan Vella will now co-head Annapurna Interactive.
There wasn’t much in terms of movie news over the weekend beyond what we shared above, but most of it involved Sony Pictures, oddly. Pose Writer/Director Janet Mock will rewrite and direct The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, from a previous draft written by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Suzan-Lori Parks. Amy Pascal, Susan Tarr, Elizabeth Banks, and Max Handelman are producing the project with a plot that’s under wraps.
Sony’s TriStar has set a date for Gyna Prince-Bythewood‘s The Woman King, which will be released on Sept. 16, 2022, while the untitled George Foreman biopic from Affirm Films will move that date to March 24, 2023.
Marvel Studios released its third theatrical release of the year with Oscar winner Chloé Zhao‘s Eternals with an ensemble cast led by Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, and many more. The movie took in a decent $9.5 million in Thursday previews that was compiled into the movie’s opening Friday, which came to $30.7 million. Eternals went into the weekend with some of the worst reviews EVER for a Marvel movie, other than maybe The Inhumans TV pilot, which did get a theatrical release. Even so, that opening day was slightly higher than Marvel’s previous release, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which opened with $29.5 million in its first day and has become one of the only movies of 2020 to cross the $200 million mark, so far. Eternals ended up with an estimated $71 million for the three-day weekend, which is not the worst showing for a Marvel movie, and it’s even not bad for the pandemic, where only a few movies have opened with more than that amount, including Shang-Chi and Marvel’s other release, Black Widow. (Incidentally, Shang-Chi will be premiering on Disney+ this Friday along with 12 other Marvel movies in the IMAX Expanded Aspect Ratio that was previously only available in IMAX theaters. Caveat: availability of some titles will vary by market.)
Overseas, Eternals opened in 46 international markets where it took in $90.7 million, which added to its domestic take is a global opening of $161.7 million. It had the biggest pandemic launches in countries like Italy, Brazil, and Hong Kong with Korea having the best showing with $14.4 million. UK was second with $7.1 million, followed by France with $6.7 million and Mexico with $5.7 million. IMAX screens accounted for $6 million in 58 markets on 320 screens, and that’s just overseas.
Back in North America, Warner Bros.’ epic Dune, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, dropped to second place with $7.6 million, down 51% in its third weekend with a total of $84 million domestically. It has grossed $246.5 million overseas that more than makes up for that amount. It’s being reported that the Dune sequel will begin production in the summer of 2022.
No Time to Die, Daniel Craig‘s fifth and final foray as James Bond 007, remained in third place with $6.2 million and $143.1 domestic, while Sony Pictures’ Venom: Let There Be Carnage bumped UP to fourth place with an incredibly small 22% drop. Its $4.5 million weekend take brings its domestic cume to $197 million, which makes it likely to be only the second movie of 2021 to hit $200 million domestic.
20th Century animated film, Ron’s Gone Wrong, and its little sister, Searchlight Studios‘ The French Dispatch from Wes Anderson, also both bumped up for reasons that will soon become obvious. Ron’s Gone Wrong lost 910 theaters but still only lost 4% from Halloween weekend, so it went from eighth place to fifth place with $3.6 million to bring its total to a still-measly $17.6 million. Anderson’s latest added 417 theaters, and that was enough for it to remain even from last week with another $2.6 million for sixth place. (It was in tenth place last weekend.).
The reason for these rare upwards bumps? Universal‘s horror sequel Halloween Kills was one of two movies with huge 73%+ drops this weekend, that one expected since Halloween was last weekend. It dropped from second place to seventh place with $2.3 million and $89.7 million domestically, which doesn’t look it will manage to hit the $100 million mark like its predecessor.
NEON released Pablo Larrain‘s fictionalized biopic Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, into just under 1,000 theaters across the country where it took in $2.1 million or about $2,156 per theater. That’s okay for a prestigious art film, although Stewart is seen as a frontrunner for at least an Oscar nomination for her performance, so expect this one to not go away anytime soon.
The other movie that took a massive plunge this weekend was FUNimation‘s Anime feature, My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission, which opened in fourth place last weekend, but then dropped right out of the Top 10, down 75% to $1.6 million for eleventh place.
It’s been a while since the U.S. has had a release from Bollywood, but Reliance Entertainment released Sooryavanshi into 491 theaters Friday where it grossed $1.3 million, sporting the second best per-theater average of the weekend after Eternals with $2,726 per venue.
Not much in terms of movie trailers since Friday, but there were a few upcoming television series returns that were teased including Netflix teasing Season 4 of its popular series, Stranger Things, on Saturday or what was dubbed “Stranger Things Day.” The latest teaser is dubbed “Welcome to California,” for the other local in the series, which now won’t be premiering until summer 2022.
You may remember that in Below the Line‘s interview with Director David Gordon Green that he said that the reason he didn’t go straight into Halloween Ends, the sequel and finale to his Halloween trilogy, because he was working on Season 2 of his HBO series, The Righteous Gemstones. Sure enough, HBO has released a trailer for the comedy series, which will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 at 10 pm ET/PT. The premiere will be an hour and 25 minutes, but all subsequent episodes will be 30 minutes. It’s the latest collaboration between Green with his Halloween co-writer, Danny McBride, and their frequent collaborator, Jody Hill.
That’s it for now. Back on Wednesday for “Hump Day News Update,” but make sure to check out our weekly columnists and their columns, Mark L. Williams‘ “Strike Alert” on Tuesdays and Neil Turitz‘s “The Accidental Turitz” on Wednesdays… and who knows? Maybe we’ll have a new columnist on Thursday. We’ll see.