It was a relatively quiet weekend for the business other than the annual Cine Gear Expo and, if you’re a Broadway enthusiast, the 2021 Tony Awards took place on Sunday night, which felt a little odd considering that most Broadway shows had just reopened after 18 months of being shuttered.
In case you’re interested, Moulin Rouge! won Best Musical, The Inheritance won Best Play, and the non-musical A Christmas Carol won five awards in technical categories, including Best Original Score for Christopher Nightingale. It also won for Best Scenic Design of a Play and Best Costume Design for a Play, both going to Rob Howell, Best Lighting Design for a Play to Hugh Vanstone, and Best Sound Design for a Play to Simon Baker.
Probably the bigger news of the weekend was the shake-up at Paramount Pictures after CEO and chairman Jim Giannopoulos was pushed out from his position two weeks ago. Few in the industry thought that any of the people Giannopoulos brought over from his time at Fox would stay, and sure enough, new CEO and ViacomCBS President of Kids and Familiy Entertainment, Brian Robbins, has already begun to clean house. First up, he replaced Paramount Motion Picture Group President Emma Watts with Daria Cercek and Mike Ireland, who have been promoted to co-heads of Paramount. Maybe none of this is a surprise considering the last two years Paramount has seen its entire theatrical line-up gutted by the pandemic, forcing the company to sell off some of its biggest planned theatrical releases, like Eddie Murphy‘s Coming 2 America (to Amazon Studios, who just signed Murphy to a three-picture deal) and the Chris Pratt action movie, The Tomorrow War (also to Amazon). So far in 2021, the only significant theatrical releases for Paramount were the delayed A Quiet Place Part II and the family film, Paw Patrol: the Movie. The rest of Paramount’s planned 2021 releases, including Top Gun: Maverick from long-time studio collaborator, Tom Cruise, were moved to 2022. Much of this year, CBSViacom seems to have been more focused on getting its own streamer, Paramount+, up to the standards of other streamers, most of whom got quite a head-start on it.
A bit of casting news from The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, who says that Game of Thrones‘ Pilou Asbæk is joining New Line‘s new adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel, Salem’s Lot, which is currently filming in Boston with It screenwriter, Gary Dauberman, directing from his own adaptation. Lewis Pullman leads a cast that includes Alfre Woodard, Makenzie Leigh, Bill Camp, and Spencer Treat Clark. Pullman plays author Ben Mears, who returns to his childhood home of Jerusalem’s Lot in search of inspiration for his next book, only to discover his hometown is being preyed upon by a vampire, leading him to band together a ragtag group that will fight the evil presence. Asbæk is playing Richard Straker, the vampire’s familiar.
Also from THR, more cast has been announced for James Wan‘s currently-shooting the DC-Warner Bros. sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, in the form of Jani Zhao (Kingdom), Indya Moore (Pose), and Vincent Regan (300). They will be playing Stingray, an original character created for the movie; former Green Lantern villain, Karshon; and Atlan, the ancient ruler of Atlantis, respectively. Raymond Park will also be returning as marine biologist, Dr. Stephen Shin, who is obsessed with finding Atlantis.
In television news, long-time Doctor Who creative Russell T. Davies has returned to the BBC series to be showrunner once again starting in 2023. Davies revived the series in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston in the main role but then departed in 2009 after a number of seasons with David Tennant before Stephen Moffat took over as showrunner from 2010 through 2017. Davies will succeed Chris Chibnall, who previously announced he is stepping down along with the current lead in the role, Jodie Whitaker, who was the first woman to play the title character. She will star in the 13th season of the revived series, which will premiere next year. 2023 will also be the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who, so it’s rather apropos for Davies’ return.
Davies said in a statement, “I’m beyond excited to be back on my favourite show. But we’re time-travelling too fast, there’s a whole series of Jodie Whittaker’s brilliant Doctor for me to enjoy, with my friend and hero Chris Chibnall at the helm – I’m still a viewer for now.”
Also from the UK, Parminder Nagra (E.R., The Blacklist) will star in the ITV four-part crime-drama DI Ray from Line of Duty‘s Maya Sondhi and Jed Mercurio. The series centers around Nagra’s Rachita Ray, a police officer who takes on a case that forces her to confront a lifelong personal conflict between her British identity and her South Asian heritage. According to Deadline, the series will “track a murder investigation whilst exploring the emotive subject of racism in the workplace. It asks difficult questions about what it’s like to be British but feel other, while taking viewers through the murky underworld of Birmingham.”
Netflix has renewed its popular fantasy series, The Witcher, for a third season ahead of the debut of Season 2, announced at the streamer’s fan event, called “Netflix Tudum.” (More on that below.) Season 2 is set to debut on Dec. 17 with Henry Cavill returning in the title role. Netflix will continue to expand its successful franchise with a second untitled anime feature film after this year’s The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf as well as a series more geared towards kids and families. Netflix also has a new prequel series called The Witcher: Blood Origin, set 1,200 years before its parent series.
Netflix also used “Tudum” — it’s a Portugese word since the first of these events took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil in Jan. 2020 — to unveil the premiere dates for the return of many of its popular shows, including The Crown Season 5, which will return this November after sweeping many Emmy categories over the past few weeks. Sex Education has been renewed for a fourth season, while Cobra Kai Season 4 will premiere on Dec. 31, and Emily in Paris Season 2 will also debut by year’s end. Separate from Tudum, Netflix has renewed Sex/Life for a second season after Season 1 was watched by 67 million households, so another hit for the streaming giant.
Another popular fantasy franchise, HBO‘s Game of Thrones, announced more of the cast for its upcoming prequel series, House of the Dragon, including Ryan Corr, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Graham McTavish, Matthew Needham, Bill Patterson, and Gavin Spokes. They’re joining the cast that already includes Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, Emma D’Arcy, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Sonoya Mizuno, and Fabien Frankel. Set 200 years before the events in Game of Thrones, it tells the story of House Targaryen based on George R.R. Martin‘s novel, Fire & Blood.
Marvel Studios‘ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continues to dominate at the box office with a fourth weekend at #1 and another $13.3 million that brought its total domestic cume to $196.5 million, officially making it the highest grossing movie at the domestic box office since COVID struck in early 2020. It’s looking very lightly that Shang-Chi will also become the first movie to gross more than $200 million since movie theaters were shut down
Things aren’t going as well for Universal Pictures‘ Dear Evan Hansen, starring Ben Platt, Amy Adams, and Julianne Moore, the Broadway musical adaptation that opened on Friday in 3,364 theaters but tanked with just $7.4 million over the weekend, $3.3 million of that on Friday with Thursday previews. It still managed to open in second place, because little else seems to be sticking at the box office besides Marvel’s latest and 20th Century‘s Free Guy, neither of which are available on streaming or VOD platforms. Coincidence? I think not.
Free Guy took in $4.1 million in its seventh weekend with $114.1 million grossed since it opened in August. Universal’s horror remake, Candyman, remained in fourth place with $2.5 million (down just 29%) with a running total of $56.8 million.
Clint Eastwood‘s Cry Macho took a steeper plunge in its second weekend, down 52% to fifth place with $2.1 million and $8.3 million.
Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune opened overseas roughly two weeks ago, and it added another $26.3 million in 32 markets this past weekend to bring the movie’s international gross to $76.5 million. Warner Bros. won’t be opening the movie in North America until Oct. 22 but the movie will also be released via streaming on HBO Max on the same time.
Just this morning, MGM Studios and UA Releasing dropped the first trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s upcoming film, Licorice Pizza, although it’s been playing at various L.A. movie houses on 35mm for the past couple weeks. Not much is known about the plot, although it stars Alana Haim (from rock band, Haim), Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, and Benny Safdie, and it will get a limited release on Nov. 26 and then a wide release on Christmas Day. You can watch the first trailer below.
As mentioned above, Netflix held a fan event called “Netflix Tudum” over the weekend, and it included the debut of a lot of footage from some of the streamer’s upcoming films and series. First up is a teaser for Stranger Things Season 4, which will hit the streamer sometime in 2022. It introduces something called the “Creel House,” which will play a part in the season apparently.
Netflix also released an extended clip from its upcoming action-comedy Red Notice, starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, giving a taste of the movie’s plot.
Lastly, there’s a new first look teaser for the fourth and final season of Jason Bateman‘s Emmy-winning series, Ozark, although no premiere date for that has been announced yet.