It’s another Monday, and sadly, we have to once again start off with some sadder news with some significant deaths in our industry.
Over the weekend, New Orleans-based author Anne Rice died at the age of 80, announced by her author son Christopher Rice on the Interview with a Vampire writer’s public Facebook page. The cause of death was reported as complications from having a stroke.
Rice’s Interview with a Vampire was released in 1976, launching the 12-volume The Vampire Chronicles, which found even more popularity when Interview was adapted into a hit 1994 film, written by Rice, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and a very young Kirsten Dunst. The 2002 “sequel,” Queen of the Damned, was not received as well, as Rice herself distanced herself from the critically-panned adaptation. Christ The Lord.
Rice’s son Christopher said on Facebook:
“Dearest People of Page. This is Anne’s son Christopher and it breaks my heart to bring you this sad news. Earlier tonight, Anne passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke. She left us almost nineteen years to the day my father, her husband Stan, died. The immensity of our family’s grief cannot be overstated. As my mother, her support for me was unconditional — she taught me to embrace my dreams, reject conformity and challenge the dark voices of fear and self-doubt. As a writer, she taught me to defy genre boundaries and surrender to my obsessive passions. In her final hours, I sat beside her hospital bed in awe of her accomplishments and her courage, awash in memories of a life that took us from the fog laced hills of the San Francisco Bay Area to the magical streets of New Orleans to the twinkling vistas of Southern California. As she kissed Anne goodbye, her younger sister Karen said, “What a ride you took us on, kid.” I think we can all agree. Let us take comfort in the shared hope that Anne is now experiencing firsthand the glorious answers to many great spiritual and cosmic questions, the quest for which defined her life and career. Throughout much of her final years, your contributions to this page brought her much joy, along with a profound sense of friendship and community. Anne will be interred in our family’s mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans in a private ceremony. Next year, a celebration of her life will take place in New Orleans. This event will be open to the public and will invite the participation of her friends, readers and fans who brought her such joy and inspiration throughout her life.”
Possibly, the saddest aspect of Rice’s sudden death is that she will not be alive to see the coming Anne Rice Resurgence as AMC continues to develop adaptations of Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches and The Vampire Chronicles, which will presumably go into production soon.
Another significant death of a brilliant creative was that of Grammy-winner Mike Nesmith, best known as the ’60s “boy band” The Monkees but a skilled songwriter and producer, who died of natural causes at the age of 78 in his Carmel Valley, California home. It was announced by his family via Rolling Stone, the statement saying, “With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes. We ask that you respect our privacy at this time and we thank you for the love and light that all of you have shown him and us.”
Besides his musical accomplishments, which were vast, Nesmith also got into film production, notably producing movies like the 1984 comedy, Repo Man (one of this writer’s favorite ’80s movies), and Tapeheads in 1988.
Nesmith’s Monkees colleague, the last surviving member of the group, Micky Dolenz, made a statement about the death of his friend:
I’ve lost a dear friend and partner.
I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best – singing, laughing, and doing shtick.
I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick.
Rest in peace, Nez.
Also, Vicente Fernández, the Grammy-winning musician and film star, died at the age of 81. Fernandez had a five-decade career in ranchera music, nicknamed “El Charro de Huentitan” and being known for songs like “Volver, Volver,” “Por Tu Maldito Amor,” and “El Rey.” He also appeared in dozens of Spanish language films between 1969 until 1991, acting in many films but also credited as producer or assistant producer in many of them. Besides having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Fernández was named “Person of the Year” by the Latin Recording Academy in 2002, having recorded 50 albums and sold over 50 million records and won three Grammys out of 13 nominations.
On Monday morning, the beleaguered Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced the nominations for their 79th Annual Golden Globes, and it seemed like Kenneth Branagh‘s Belfast, Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story, and Jane Campion‘s The Power of the Dog fared the best with nominations in many categories from the non-industry group. Although the group had lost its primetime network partner to air the ceremony, it certainly looks like the Golden Globes are still going forward.
Nominated in the drama film category were Belfast, CODA, Dune, King Richard, and The Power of the Dog. The Globes’ comedy/musical film nominees were Cyrano, Don’t Look Up, Licorice Pizza, Tick Tick… Boom!, and West Side Story.
On the drama side, Mahershala Ali (Swan Song), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (Power of the Dog), Will Smith (King Richard), and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) received acting nominations, while Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Lady Gaga (House of Gucci), and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) also received nominations for acting.
Since the Golden Globes offer lead acting categories for Comedy/Musical as well, that means that ten more actors receive nominations than they might at the Oscars in March. Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for Don’t Look Up, as well as Peter Dinklage (Cyrano), Andrew Garfield (Tick Tick…Boom!), Cooper Hoffman (Licorice Pizza), and Anthony Ramos for In the Heights. On the actress side for Comedy/Musical were Marion Cotillard (Annette), Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), Jennifer Lawrence (Don’t Look Up), Emma Stone (Cruella), and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story).
The Supporting Actress nominees were Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Kirsten Dunst (Power of the Dog), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), and Ruth Negga (Passing), while Supporting Actor nominations went to Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Jamie Dornan (Belfast), Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Troy Kotsur (Coda), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).
The directors nominated for Golden Globes were Belfast helmer Kenneth Branagh, Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), and Dune‘s Denis Villeneuve. Licorice Pizza, Belfast, The Power of the Dog, Don’t Look Up, and Being the Ricardos received nominations in the screenplay category.
The Golden Globes have only a single below-the-line category (sort of) with Alexandre Desplat being nominated for his score for The French Dispatch, Germaine Franco for Encanto — oddly, we have interviews with both those composers on Below the Line this very week — Johnny Greenwood (The Power of the Dog), Alberto Iglesias (Parallel Mothers), and Hans Zimmer for Dune.
The strongest offerings seem to be Belfast and The Power of the Dog on the drama side, and West Side Story and Licorice Pizza on comedy/musical side, and we’ll have to see which of the four movies get a leg-up once the Golden Globes are announced in January, shortly before Oscar nominations are voted upon.
The group also announced television nominations, and you can see those and all the other film categories here.
Also, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced its nominations for feature documentary, seven, in fact: Ascencion, The First Wave, The Rescue, Flee, In the Same Breath, Simple as Water, Writing with Fire, and Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) with producer eligibility for the films still being worked out.
Although Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story fared well at the Globes with nominations, it didn’t fare so well at the box office, as Disney opened the 20th Century Studios feature into 2,820 theaters on Friday after a series of Thursday night previews. West Side Story, which stars Ansel Elgort, Golden Globe nominees Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, and Rita Moreno, took in $800,000 from the Thursday previews, which was added to its Friday take for a first-day gross of $4.1 million. Still, the movie ended up making only an estimated $10.5 million for the weekend, which was less than Warner Bros‘ Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, In the Heights, opened with in June, and that had the easy scapegoat in the decision to release the movie on HBO Max concurrently. Fortunately, the Spielberg musical has the Golden Globes nominations behind it and the holiday break ahead to help boost it to something resembling its critical and awards success, so far.
West Side Story didn’t fare much better overseas (similar to In the Heights, actually), as it took in just $4.4 million overseas in 37 markets, including major markets like the UK and France, where it made $1.7m and $1.1m, respectively.
Back in North America, another Disney musical, the animated Encanto, dropped to second place with a solid $9.4 million (down just 23%) and almost giving West Side Story competition for the top spot. It has grossed $71.3 million so far, since opening over Thanksgiving weekend, and it, too, should get a boost from the upcoming holidays, while also facing Universal and Illumination Studios‘ animated sequel, Sing 2.
Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Afterlife continued to hold strong with $7.1 million in its fourth week to take third place with $112 million grossed so far.
Ridley Scott‘s House of Gucci dropped to fourth place with $4 million and $41 million grossed domestically.
Marvel Studios‘ Eternals has grossed $161.3 million so far, putting it ahead of the James Bond movie, No Time to Die, domestically, meaning that superhero movies hold four of the top 5 places for the domestic grosses of the year. F9: The Fast Saga is the only non-superhero movie to make it into that list with $173 million. We’ll have to see how much more Eternals makes, but most expect this Friday’s Spider-Man: No Way Home to quickly replace Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as the top grosser of the year in North America.
The only other new wide release was STXfilms‘ National Champions, with an ensemble cast that included Stephan James and J.K. Simmons. Although it was released into 1,197 theaters, it didn’t even crack the top 10, opening in 13th place with just $300,000 or about $250 per venue.
A24 also opened Sean (The Florida Project) Baker‘s comedy Red Rocket, starring Simon Rex, into 6 theaters in New York and L.A. where it took in $96,600, roughly $16,000 per venue, showing the continued boom of independent film in movie theaters.
Returning to the awards track, the 34th Annual European Film Awards were handed out on Saturday in a hybrid ceremony from Berlin, overseen by the European Film Academy.
Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida?, which was nominated for Best International Feature at the Oscars earlier this year, was the big winner, taking home the awards for European Film and European Director, while its star, Jasna Đuričić, received the prize for European Actress. Anthony Hopkins, who won the Oscar for Lead Actor at the Oscars earlier this year, received the corresponding European Actor award for his performance in The Father, which also won the prize for European Screenplay for writers Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton.
More importantly, the European Film Academy is one of the groups that honors below-the-line crafts talent with its Cinematography award going to Crystel Fournier for Great Freedom, Mukharam Kabulova receiving the Editing prize for Unclenching The Fists, and Marton Agh‘s Production Design honored for Natural Light. The Costume Design prize went to Michael O’Connor for Ammonite, while Titane‘s make-up and hair team of Flore Masson, Olivier Alfonso, and Antoine Mancini also receiving a prize for their work.
Nils Petter Molvaer and Peter Brotz-Mann received the Original Score prize for Great Freedom, while Gisle Tveito and Gustaf Berger received the award for European Sound for The Innocents. Lastly, the European Visual Effects prize went to Peter Hjorth and Fredrik Nord for the Icelandic thriller, Lamb.
More film critics groups gave away their annual awards over the weekend, including the Boston Society of Film Critics and my own group, the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO). Boston was pretty high on the Japanese film, Drive My Car, which is likely to be nominated in the International Feature category at the Oscars, picking it as their Best Picture (mirroring the New York Film Critics Circle two weeks ago) but also picking its star Hidetoshi Nishijima for Best Actor. The film’s director, Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, also received the Best Director prize from the group. Rocker Alana Haim received her first honor for her performance in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Licorice Pizza from Boston, while Jessie Buckley and Troy Kotsur received the supporting prizes for The Lost Daughter and CODA, respectively. The group only hands out two below-the-line awards, for Cinematography, which went to Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog, and for Editing, which went to Affonso Gonçalves and Adam Kurnitz for cutting Todd Haynes’ rock doc, The Velvet Underground.
Now onto my group, the New York Film Critics Online, who gave out the majority of its prizes to two movies, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, selected for Best Film and Director, as well as Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-Mcphee receiving the prizes in the Lead and Supporting Actor categories. Campion’s adapted screenplay was also honored as was Ari Wegner once again for her cinematography. Rebecca Hall received the award for Debut Director for her Netflix film, Passing, which also received both prizes for Lead and Supporting Actress, going to Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, respectively.
Today, the Critics Choice Association, another group of which I’m a member, will announce its annual nominations, and we’ll probably share those tomorrow or in Wednesday’s “Hump Day News Update.”
We’ve written quite a bit about Hackman Capital Partners‘ acquisitions of prominent soundstages in New York (including, most recently, Kaufman Astoria Studios) and the UK over the past year. In a rare interview, Deadline spoke with the company’s founder and CEO David Hackman about the company’s plans for the 16 (soon to be 19) studios they have bought. Hackman told them, “In every market where we open, demand has exceeded the supply. At some point that will come into balance.” You can read that full interview over at Deadline.
We’ve also written quite a bit about the problems suffered by the Brian Epstein biopic, Midas Man, about the Beatles manager, after the departure of its director, Jonas Akerlund. While it has a new director in Sara Sugarman and new cast has been announced, the production still won’t be restarting until January, rather than the original plans to restart last month.
Also, over in the UK, the British Film Institute (BFI) released a report saying that it has spent 1 billion pounds (about $1.3 billion) on UK TV and film studios, either pledged or delivered, between 2017 and 2020, showing that the production sector in the UK has been recovering after being halted by the pandemic, and may actually be in a boom period. BFI CEO Ben Roberts told press that things are pointing to “early signs of the sector bouncing back very strongly” this year.
The Institute’s 324-page Screen Business report found that £785.4M ($1BN) was announced for studio projects that had received planning permission by the end of last year, with a further £131.6M ($174M) spent on building or expanding studios from 2017 to 2019. This includes two new studios that launched in North and West London in the past week and RD Studios and Troubador Brent Cross set to open in 2022. Screen Business also noted growth in cities like Belfast, Ireland’s Harbour Studios and Edinburgh, Scotland’s First Stage Studios with new facilities opening in Northern England cities Leeds and Liverpool, as well. Most of the spending in UK production seems to be learning towards high-end television such as the Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon with things like Amazon Studios‘ Lord of the Rings series moving to the UK with its second season, filming in 2022.
Just as we were going “to press,” two trailers were released that might be of interest. The first is the trailer for Warner Bros‘ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third chapter in the Harry Potter prequel series, which stars Jude Law as Professor Albus Dumbeldore and introduces Mads Mikkelsen into the role of the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (previously played by Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp). Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, and Katherine Waterston also return for the fantasy sequel that will be released on April 15, 2022.
Also, Apple TV+ released the first trailer for the third and final season* of M. Night Shyamalan‘s series, Servant, which will return on Jan. 21, 2022. (*UPDATE: Literally a day after this was posted, Apple decided to renew the series for a fourth season!)
That’s it for now. Back on Wednesday with our “Hump Day News Update.”