There must have been something in the air this past week as almost every studio and streamer seemed to have news about new projects in development, actor and filmmaker attachments or just general announcements. Part of it might have been the European Film Market (EFM) taking place in (virtual) Berlin next week, but it might also be because New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finally announced that New York City movie theaters would reopen on March 5 with 25% capacity. California Governor Gavin Newsom also seemed to be optimistic about L.A. movie theaters being reopened by April. Maybe this bit of optimism and hope led to the slew of industry news this week?
Even so, our lead story is actually about the newest streaming service, Paramount+, launching next week on March 4 for $4.99 a month with ads and $9.99 a month without ads. It’s actually a massive rebranding of the CBS All Access streamer with a lot more shows and projects being added from the entire Viacom family, plus the monthly rate with ads is $1 a month cheaper than CBS All Access, although that model won’t include local CBS channels.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is launching the service on March 4 (after opening in Canadian theaters last summer), but even more exciting news is that beyond the library of existing Viacom content from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks that will debut on the network ala Netflix and Disney+, a slew of new content being developed means there will be a LOT more work for production/crew over the next few years.
Viacom held a huge launch event on Wednesday to announce some of those new projects, which included a Yellowstone spin-off tentatively called 6666; a Love Story series based on the award-winning film that’s produced by Gossip Girl EPs Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage; a new scripted Criminal Minds series; a new series based on Flashdance directed and exec. produced by Angela Robinson (True Blood) and Lynda Obst; a dramatic series based on the hit X-Box game Halo; an all-new animated Rugrats series; new movies in the Paranormal Activity and Pet Sematary franchise; and much, much more.
You’ll be able to keep track of development and production on all those new series and more over at our Production Listings.
The new streamer also promises to be the home for all new Paramount Pictures films shortly after their release in theaters (somewhere between 30 and 45 days after theatrical release, depending on their deal), which includes upcoming films like A Quiet Place Part 2 and Mission: Impossible 7. On top of that, all MGM Pictures films will end up on the streamer following their theatrical release and a short run on EPIX, as per previous deals.
366 films are eligible for this year’s Oscars, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the full list of feature films that are eligible in all the feature film categories. You can view that entire list here, and just for fun, you can go through the list and see how many of those movies you’ve seen… or even heard of.
While we normally might not share below-the-line related content from competing sites like Indiewire, they posted an impressive survey that would be of interest to the camera people reading this, listing 32 awards contenders movies and the cameras and lenses that were used by their cinematographers and camera departments. Some really intriguing gems can be found in the list here.
Okay, let’s get to some of the development and casting news beginning with the report that filmmaker David Fincher will be reteaming with Netflix for his next film, the crime drama The Killer, with Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) in talks to star. It’s part of Fincher’s four-year deal with Netflix that began with the historic drama, Mank, that’s received numerous awards nominations in recent weeks. The script is being written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, Fight Club), adapted from the graphic novel by Alexis “Matz” Nolent and Luc Jacamon, with Ceán Chaffin serving as producer.
Staying on Netflix, it was also reported that actress Mila Kunis would star in the Netflix thriller Luckiest Girl Alive, adapted from the 2015 New York Times bestseller by Jessica Knoll, who is adapting her own book to screenplay and will act as an executive producer on the film. The thriller is directed by Mike Barker (The Handmaid’s Tale) and in it, Kunis will play Ania FaNell, a New York magazine editor whose life gets messy when a crime documentary forces her to revisit her past. The book has been translated into 38 languages and sold millions of copies.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson will continue his run with wife and muse Milla Jovovich following their recent movie based on the video game, Monster Hunter. Their next project will be In the Lost Lands, based on a story by George R.R. Martin, best known for the series of novels that were adapted into HBO’s hit show, Game of Thrones. Jovovich will be joined by Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy, in the movie about a queen who hires a powerful sorceress (Jovovich) to find her love along with her guide, a drifter played by Bautista. Anderson and Jovovich found quite a bit of success with their series of films based on the Resident Evil games, and their latest only suffered due to the lack of movie theaters open in North America when it was released over the holidays.
Charm City Kings director Angel Manuel Soto has been hired to direct a Blue Beetle movie for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, working from a screenplay written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala, Luca Guadagnino‘s Scarface remake). The film, exec. produced by Zev Foreman, hopes to start production in the fall, and it would be the first feature film based on a LatinX superhero, since the movie will be based on the most-recent version of the character introduced in 2006, whose alter ego is a Mexican-American teenager named Jaime Reyes.
Although there is a DC Universe character named “Stargirl,” who even had her own television series, actor Judy Greer (Halloween) has actually joined the sequel to the Disney+ movie Stargirl that will once again be directed by Julia Hart (I’m Your Woman) who will write the screenplay with husband/producer, Jordan Horowitz.
At a press event earlier this week, Marvel Studios‘ President Kevin Feige also announced that the Loki series for Disney+ starring Tom Hiddleston will be hitting the streamer on June 11, which means that there will be consistent content from Marvel Studios over the course of the next six months following the huge success of its Wandavision series. That series will wrap up next Friday before the streamer kicks off its The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on March 12.
It was also reported this past week that Focus Features has picked up the Edgar Wright documentary, The Sparks Brothers, about the Los Angeles art band that has been making music for almost 50 years. The movie received rave reviews when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and it will join Wright’s upcoming film, Last Night in Soho, at Focus.
Another project announced out of EFM (via Deadline) earlier this week is the John Slattery-directed black comedy Maggie Moore(s), which will reteam the actor with his Mad Men co-star, Jon Hamm, who has been attached to the project along with Tina Fey, who previously cast Hamm in a recurring role on her NBC sitcom, 30 Rock.
As far as production news, AMC Networks has reported that the final season of its Emmy-worthy series, Better Call Saul, will begin filming in New Mexico starting in March with plans to release that last season in 2022. The series was one of the shows that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have three teaser trailers to share this week, the first one being for Zach Snyder‘s Netflix movie, Army of the Dead, about a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas and starring Dave Bautista. That will hit the streamer on May 21.
Next up is the teaser-trailer for Disney-Pixar’s upcoming 2021 animated release, Luca, set for release this summer, which features the voice of Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!) as two young friends who happen to be sea monsters. Disney has that set for a theatrical release on June 18 but that probably depends on whether movie theaters allow more capacity by the summer.
Lastly, we have the teaser trailer for Barry (Moonlight) Jenkins‘ The Underground Railroad television series for Amazon Prime Video, which will debut on May 14.