Welcome back from a shorter weekend where we don’t have nearly as much industry news as in past weekends.
Tomorrow, the Television Academy will announce the nominations for the 73rd Annual Emmy Awards, so that will probably be a big topic of conversation for the coming week, but you can keep on top of all the nominations and our own analysis and thoughts right here at Below the Line.
On Friday, the first image from the Sex and the City spin-off limited series, And Just Like That…, debuted the first image of Cynthia Nixon‘s Miranda, Sarah Jessica Parker‘s Carrie, and Kristin Davis‘ Charlotte casually walking down a New York City street, 11 years after they last appeared in the theatrically-released Sex and the City 2 and 17 years after the hit HBO show went off the air after six seasons.
And Just Like That… is a ten-episode limited series that will air on HBO Max sometime later this year with original executive producer and director of the two movies, Michael Patrick King, involved in writing and exec. producing all ten episodes, as well as directing the pilot.
In what might seem like an odd and unexpected pairing, Robert Redford is teaming with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as executive producers on the AMC crime-drama series, Dark Winds, based on author Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee books, which follow two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest. The production has secured permission to film on tribal lands in New Mexico, which has not been given too many or often, if at all.
Created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), the series stars Zahn McClarnon (Fargo), one of the show’s exec. producers, as well as Kiowa Gordon from The Red Road. Castle Rock‘s Vince Calandra is showrunner and exec. producer, while Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) will direct the pilot and also executive produce. Martin and Redford are joined as EPs by Tina Elmo and Vince Gerardis.
According to THR’s Heat Vision, Intrepid Pictures‘ Trevor Macy and Mike Flanagan, the producers behind the Stephen King adaptation, Doctor Sleep, and the Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, are lining up a new series based on the popular Boom! Studios comic book, Something Is Killing the Children. The Eisner-winning series written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Werther Dell’Edera tells the story of a town plagued by monsters that eat children, who are also the only ones who can see the beasts, until a young woman named Erica Slaughter comes along to fight and kill the monsters.
THR‘s Heat Vision also got the scoop that actor Wilmer Valderamma and his WV Entertainment banner have optioned the graphic novel, Aztlán, to develop through their overall deal with CBS Studios. The epic fantasy written by Eduardo Ancer is based on the Aztec myth of the Five Suns, told from multiple perspectives, as it “follows the royals, warriors, and rogues in the race to gather the Masks of the Elemental Gods and harness their powers for their competing efforts to prevent or provoke the collapse of the current world order.”
The cast of Paramount Players‘ untitled Pet Sematary prequel has added Jack Mulhern (Mare of Easttown) and Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant), as well as Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky) and newcomer Isabella Star LaBlanc. The movie is being produced to stream exclusively on Paramount+.
Meanwhile, Netflix has cancelled its fantasy series, Cursed, after just a single season, and the cast has been released for other opportunities. Based on Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler‘s illustrated novel, the series reimagines the King Arthur legend through the eyes of Katherine Langford‘s character, who would become the Lady of the Lake. The first season was released to the streamer on July 17, 2020.
After the cancellation of her HBO series, Lovecraft Country, creator Mischa Green has signed a first look deal with Apple Studios, another talented creative that the up and coming streamer has “poached” from one of the bigger networks.
Deadline also reports from Cannes that principal photography has begun in Tunisia for Egyptian-British filmmaker Lotfy Nathan‘s drama, Contra, about the Arab Spring anti-government protests that led to change in the region. It will star French-Tunisian actor Adam Bessa, who appeared in recent Netflix action movies, Mosul and Extraction. The film, which will feature local actors and non-actors, centers on the story of “Ali, a young Tunisian who dreams of a better life, making a precarious living selling contraband gas at the local black market. When his father suddenly dies, he’s forced to take charge of his two younger sisters and their impending eviction.”
The film, which will be shot on 35mm film, marks Nathan’s narrative debut, and it will be produced by Julie Viez of Cinenovo (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), along with production partners from Europe and the U.S. These include co-producers Nicole Romano and Tariq Merhab at Anonymous Content (Stillwater), Maurice Fadida at Summertime, Donato Rotunno’s Tarantula (Fire Will Come), Detailfilm’s Fabian Gasmia (Annette), Habib Attia’s Cinetelefilms (The Man Who Sold His Skin), and Benoit Roland’s Wrong Men (Zero F*cks Given), in association with Mac Pac Entertainment and Film Constellation, the latter handling worldwide sales at Cannes
It was quite an interesting weekend at the box office as Marvel Studios released its first theatrical release in almost two years with Black Widow, but it was also concurrently released on the Disney+ streaming service for a $29.99 fee on Friday. The first Marvel movie starring the popular character played by Scarlett Johansson was expected to set a new barometer in how the box office might fare as the pandemic shifts with more theaters open (except for in Toronto where they will not open until this coming Friday). Disney announced on Sunday that Black Widow grossed $215 globally, but $80 million of that came from North American theaters, $78 million came from overseas territories, and then $60 million was credited to the company’s global PVOD initiative.
In over 4,300 North American theaters, Black Widow grossed a whopping $39.5 million on Friday, including $13.2 million from Thursday previews, which seemed to point to a weekend take of $85 million or more. The lower-than-expected estimate on Sunday, rounding down to $80 million, was somewhat shocking, despite that being the biggest theatrical opening for a movie going back to 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That amount was also $10 million more than the opening for Universal Pictures‘ F9, yet that still seems to be on the lower side, and that $60 million in PVOD certainly looks like it cut into Black Widow’s weekend take. The $78 million in international box office seems decent, considering that it doesn’t include profitable territories like China, and even with the PVOD, a $158 million global opening weekend is nothing to scoff at considering that a pandemic is still happening.
Either way, it looks like many of the diehard fans rushed out to see Black Widow in theaters on Thursday and Friday, and then others (like larger families) stayed home to watch on their entertainment centers on Saturday and Sunday. This doesn’t bode well if Disney decides to release the next two Marvel movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September and Chloe Zhao‘s Eternals in November using the same PVOD Disney+ model.
We have a few trailers to share today, including the first teaser trailer announcing the December 17, 2021 debut for the second season of Netflix’s popular The Witcher series.
Just days before unveiling Black Widow, Marvel Studios released the first trailer for its upcoming Disney+ animated series, What If…?, which takes a look at various MCU heroes and storylines, as if they were given a distinctive twist. The series, which will begin streaming on August 11 on the streamer, features the last voice work by the late Chadwick Boseman, recorded before his death last year. Jeffrey Wright joins the MCU as the voice of The Watcher.