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HomeColumnsEnd of Week Production NotesEnd of Week Production Notes 2/19/21: Change in MI:8 Plans, NCIS: New...

End of Week Production Notes 2/19/21: Change in MI:8 Plans, NCIS: New Orleans Ends, and More News


Another week has flown by as if it never happened — sadly, a lot of the country was covered in snow with no electricity this week, but at least we’ve landed a probe on Mars to see if maybe life would be warmer there. We’re heading into a weekend with the only wide release being Chloé Zhao‘s excellent Nomadland, which will expand to about 1,200 theaters but also be available to watch on Hulu if you’re looking for something to watch.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Let’s start with production this week, as Paramount Pictures has changed its tune in terms of filming Tom Cruise‘s Mission: Impossible 7 and back-to-back. Instead, Cruise will take off a few months to start doing international press for his upcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, and once that’s done, he and filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie proceed with the eighth (and presumably final?) installment of the long-running film franchise. Maybe Paramount isn’t taking any chances of losing its star with all of the daring stunts he does on those movies before promoting the long-awaited Top Gun movie that’s been delayed for more than a year due to COVID. Mission: Impossible 7 was one of the first shows to get back into production after the COVID shut-down, although it was not without a number of hiccups, including an unfortunate blow-up the star had with crew who weren’t social distancing.

It looks like Olivia Wilde has finished production on her thriller, Don’t Worry Darling, but after posting a photo to her Instagram with her co-star Florence Pugh, which turned out to be a spoiler for the movie (oops), she posted a new photo celebrating the wrap with her legendary Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, ASC.

NCIS: New Orleans

It looks like the seventh season of CBS‘ NCIS: New Orleans will be the long-running spin-off show’s last, announced earlier this week, with the series finale, the show’s 155th episode, airing on May 16. NCIS: New Orleans star and executive producer Scott Bakula said in a statement, “Sad to end our love affair with this phenomenal city but so grateful for all the friends we made along the way. I will miss the music. Big thank you to CBS for seven years.” It’s one of two CBS series that were coming to an end as the network also announced that the sitcom Mom would end with its current eighth season.

Also, actor/rapper/comic Donald Glover has stepped away from his long-standing deal with FX (who aired Glover’s award-winning Atlanta series) to sign a very lucrative deal with Amazon Studios. One of Glover’s first projects for Amazon will team him with former First Daughter Malia Obama, who will be part of the writing staff. Donald’s brother Stephen has also signed a deal, this coming just days after it was reported that Glover will reteam with Fleabag creator/star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the two of them creating, starring in and exec. production an update for the Brad PittAngelina Jolie feature Mr and Mrs. Smith. The two previously worked together on Lucasfilm‘s Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Courtesy Simon & Schuster

Netflix announced it would be making an animated musical feature based on Lupita Nyong’o‘s best-selling young reader’s book Sulwe, which featured illustrations by Vashti Harrison and was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  

The logline for the book and adaptation is: Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone she knows. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright. One night, Sulwe is visited by a shooting star sent by the Night, and embarks on a magical journey where she learns the eye-opening story of the sisters Night and Day. Sulwe is a story about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o as a child

The Oscar-winning Nyong’o released a statement with the announcement: “The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart. Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love. Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy, and an invitation for all who feel different and unseen to recognize their innate beauty and value. I am thrilled that the book is being adapted into an animated musical that we hope inspires children all around the world to celebrate their uniqueness.”

Another exciting announcement from the streamer was that filmmaker Tim Burton would be involved with The Addams Family spin-off series, Wednesday, being produced by Netflix with MGM/UA. Shockingly, it will be Burton’s television directorial debut, since he will be directing the pilot and exec. producing along with Al Gough and Miles Millar, who came up with the original pitch and will act as showrunners.

The appropriate tagline is: “Adolescence is an awful time for everyone. We’re growing hair in weird places, getting taller, breaking out, and all we want is for people to like us. She is the ultimate lone wolf. She marches to her own beat… and it’s likely a funeral dirge.”

Lots of casting news this week as many more projects move forward in development:

Marwen Kenzari, who played the villain in Disney’s 2019 Aladdin remake and also starred in Netflix‘s The Old Guard, is in talks to join Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Warner Bros’ superhero movie, Black Adam, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But it seems official enough that Johnson would give his co-star a shout-out on socials. The movie will start production in Atlanta beginning in April with co-stars Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge and Quintessa Swindell.

Keke Palmer has been cast to star in Jordan Peele‘s third untitled feature film, joining the previously announced Daniel Kaluuya (reuniting with the filmmaker after Get Out scored the actor an Oscar nomination) and John TravoltaJesse Plemons was also supposed to star but ran into a scheduling conflict. Even though the movie might have reunited Plemons with the star of Judas and the Black Messiah, they actually only have one scene together in Shaka King’s film.

Regé-Jean Page, the super-hot star of Netflix’s Bridgerton series, who will be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend, has been cast in Paramount Picture‘s Dungeons and Dragons movie, this one also reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Page will have a leading role in the film alongside Chris PineMichelle Rodriguez and Justice Smith in the film directed by Game Night‘s Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who also worked on the script previously written by Michael Gilio. Some will remember that there already was a (not very good) Dungeons and Dragons movie in 2000, but this one will be the first one made in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast and produced by Jeremy Latcham (Iron ManMarvel’s Avengers).

Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Deadline reports that Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley has found her next role, starring in the thriller The Marsh King’s Daughter, which will be directed by Neil Burger (Divergent). The film is based on the novel by Karen Dionne that was adapted for the screen by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) and Elle Smith. Ridley will play Helena, “a woman living a seemingly ordinary life, but hiding a dark secret: her father is the infamous ‘Marsh King,’ the man who kept her and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. After a lifetime of trying to escape her past, Helena is forced to face her demons when her father unexpectedly escapes from prison.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that Apple and Skydance Animation would be forming a partnership to release the latter’s upcoming animated feature, Luck, and it was announced shortly after that actress Jane Fonda would be joining the project, voicing the role of The Dragon, an “exuberant CEO of Good Luck and undisputed luckiest ancient being in all the land. The Dragon is elegant, stylish and as persuasive as she is powerful. The only thing better than good luck is more good luck, so when bad luck starts to spin out of control, she must face her fears or risk losing good luck forever.” The project is directed by Peggy Holmes (Secret of the Wings) from a script by Cars’ Kiel Murray.

Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) has joined the cast of George Clooney‘s next movie, The Tender Bar, co-starring with Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan, which he’s helming for Amazon Studios, who released Clooney’s Catch-22 mini-series.

Although J-Lo‘s action comedy Shotgun Wedding lost its original leading man and then promptly found a new one, the cast will be joined by rocker Lenny Kravitz, comic Cheech MarinD’arcy CardenSelena TanDesmin Borges and Alex Mallar have all joined the movie with production slated to start this month.

Broken Lizard alum Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers) will be directing the comedy Easter Sunday for Amblin Partners with comedian Jo Koy starring.

Lastly, New Line Pictures‘ planned remake of the Korean blockbuster Train to Busan, being produced by James Wan, may have found its director  in Timo Tjahjanto, the Indonesian horror and action filmmaker, best known for Headshot and other films, as well as providing segments for the anthologies, The ABCS of Death and V/H/S 2. Tjahjanton has written and directed three of his own films as well as making three other films as one half of “The Mo Brothers” with Kimo Stamboel.

Do we need to remind everyone that one can keep track of all of the above projects in development mentioned above via Below the Line‘s Production Listings?

It was an interesting week for trailers a we got our very first look at Emma Stone as Cruella in Walt Disney Studios’ planned summer release, as well as the first look at Warner Bros‘ new Mortal Kombat movie, which is planned for release in April. You can watch both of those below, although the Mortal Kombat  trailer is restricted (Red Band!) so you’ll have to click through and watch on YouTube.

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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