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HomeColumnsEnd of Week Production NotesEnd of Week Production Notes 4/23/21: Nomadland Sweeps Indie Spirits, Oscar's Union...

End of Week Production Notes 4/23/21: Nomadland Sweeps Indie Spirits, Oscar’s Union Station Designs and More News


It’s here, the biggest weekend of the whole year for the movie business. Finally, this Sunday, we finally get the 93rd Annual Academy Awards aka the Oscars!

But first, the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place a couple of days early (in relative terms) this year, as they were handed out in a ceremony on Thursday night, April 22.  Chloé Zhao‘s Nomadland swept all but the acting categories, winning for Best Film, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Cinematography, all those roles filled either by Zhao or her husband, Joshua James Richards. Carey Mulligan won for Best Female Lead for Promising Young WomanRiz Ahmed won for Best Male Lead for Sound of Metal, while his co-star Paul Raci won Best Supporting Male, and Minari‘s Youn Yuh-Jung won for Best Supporting Female. Sound of Metal also won for Best First Feature. Quo Vadis Aida? from Bosnia and Herzegovina won for Best International Film. What’s interesting about the lead categories is that Mulligan and Ahmed won in categories where they were facing two of their Oscar competition, including favorites Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (also nominated for Best Film) and Frances McDormand, the star of Nomadland.

It should be a fun day on Sunday as the Academy and everyone involved tries to pivot to put on a good show during the pandemic with many nominees and presenters being on hand to take part live but many members still having to watch from home like the rest of us. Below the Line will be on hand to talk to some of the winners, so look for that sometime early next week.

Design courtesy Rockwell Group/AMPAS

A few of the trades, including Jazz Tanckay from Varietywere given access to some of David Rockwell‘s designs for redoing Union Station to play a part in the ceremony. The Rockwell Group previously did designs for the Academy Awards ceremony in 2008 and 2009, and you can read some of Rockwell’s thoughts on making Union Station work in the article linked above.

If you haven’t read Below the Line‘s Oscar predictions, you can read them here and here.

Production is getting back in gear with a number of high profile productions beginning this past week, including Warner Bros‘ The Flash directed by Andy Muschietti (It and It Chapter Two) with the studio sharing a new animated logo on its socials.

Martin Scorsese has also started principal photography on his next movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, as per the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, who made a joint announcement with Apple Original Films, as the adaptation of David Grann‘s non-fiction book examines a series of serial murders of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma that became known as the “Reign of Terror.”

Scorsese himself released the statement:

“We are thrilled to finally start production on ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ in Oklahoma. To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. We’re grateful to Apple, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and The Osage Nation, especially all our Osage consultants and cultural advisors, as we prepare for this shoot. We’re excited to start working with our local cast and crew to bring this story to life on screen and immortalize a time in American history that should not be forgotten.”

The ensemble cast for the film includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, William Belleau, Louis Cancelmi, Tatanka Means, Michael Abbott Jr., Pat Healy, Scott Shepherd, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson.

Lastly, the great Stephen Frears‘ next movie, The Lost King, for BBC Films, which reunites him with Steve Coogan (Philomena) and co-starring Oscar-nominee Sally Hawkins, has also begun filming.

Another project that seems to have found new life is Walt Disney Pictures‘ attempt to bring its popular theme park ride, The Haunted Mansion, back to theaters after years of trying to make another movie after the one starring Eddie Murphy in 2003.  Now, it looks like Dear White People director Justin Simien has been attached to direct a new movie being produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich (Aladdin).

Remember, that you can read about development on these projects and more by subscribing to Below the Line‘s Production Listings.

Spider-Man 2 (Sony Pictures)

Earlier in the week, a historic deal was made between Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Studios so that upcoming Sony movies, as well as many from the library, will be able to air on Disney’s various networks and sites, including ABC, Disney+Hulu and others. What this means for movie lovers is that the two recent Spider-Man movies made with Marvel Studios (and presumably the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb ones, too) will be able to appear on the same Disney+ channel with the straight-up Marvel movies, of which many were made since 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers, the first one distributed after Disney bought Marvel. While at first glance, this may not seem to be something of immediate interest to those of you busy making movies and television, it might be a big deal to those who do get royalties and residuals, since it means Sony’s library is going to have a much longer shelf life on a variety of popular platforms. Most of those movies will first appear on Netflix through a previous deal made.

Secret Invasion
Secret Invasion Logo (Disney/Marvel Studios)

As far as casting news from this past week, both Oscar winner Olivia Colman, nominated for a second Oscar for The Father, and Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones have both been cast in Marvel Studios‘ upcoming Secret Invasion series for Disney+, which will follow-up from the events in Captain Marvel and star Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn.

Some weirder casting was the announcement that Vin Diesel, whose last two Fast and Furious movies should be in theaters over the near year or so, will be starring in a movie version of the classic Mattel game Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tabletop game. It is one of a number of Mattel games being adapted into movies, including a Barbie movie, starting Margot Robbie that’s written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, a heist comedy based on the Uno card game, and strangest of all, a Barney movie starring Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya.

Rock 'Em Sock 'Em
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots (Photo courtesy Mattel)

The Diesel movie will be produced by his production company, One Race Films, with Universal Pictures, and Diesel released a statement about the project, “To take the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em game, with Mattel as my partner, and align it with the kind of world-building, franchise-making success we have had with Universal, is truly exciting.”

Boy George
Boy George (Photo: Deadline)

It was also reported by Deadline this week that a biopic about Culture Club frontman/singer Boy George called Karma Chameleon was moving forward with Millenium Media taking over from original studio MGM with plans to start filming this summer in London and Bulgaria. The movie is written and directed by Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock) and casting is underway to find an actor to portray George. Deadline debuted a new and exclusive video of Boy George teasing the casting of 1917 actor Danny Mays playing his father and started a rumor of Keanu Reeves “popping in” taking on an undisclosed (and unconfirmed) role.

Hilary Duff, fresh off her series Younger, will be starring in Hulu‘s new take on the classic CBS show, How I Met Your Father from This is Us co-showrunners and Love, Victor co-creators Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, who serve as writers and executive producers on the news series. Original How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas  will exec. produce with Duff herself also producing. What’s odd is that this isn’t the first time someone has tried to make this “spin-off/sequel” show, since there was another incarnation of this that was to star none other than filmmaker Greta Gerwig.

Only a couple trailers to share this week, the first of these from the latest in the WB horror franchise that began with James Wan‘s The Conjuring, as the studio released the first trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, once again starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life supernatural investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. This horrifying film will be released on June 4 in nationwide theaters and on HBO Max.

Another fun and slightly less scary duo is the pairing of comedians Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish in Sony Pictures and Stage 6 Films‘ new comedy, Here Today, the first movie to be directed by Crystal since Forget Paris in 1995! In the movie co-written by Crystal and comedian Alan Zweibel, Crystal plays a lonely comedy writer and she plays a woman who bids on him in auction as the two become fast friends, and the movie looks really cute and funny. It will be released on May 7.

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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