It’s the end of another week and with Labor Day on Monday, it’s the ersatz end of summer, at least for the movie season, as Marvel Studios‘ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hopes to give the box office a much-needed boost. (It made $8.8 million in Thursday previews and is looking likely to make $60 million plus over the four-day weekend.)
Meanwhile, the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals are already underway as many of the fall’s big awards contenders have begun airing with Oscar buzz aplenty.
Unfortunately, we begin today’s “End of Week Production Notes” with the sad news that award-winning Greek Composer Mikis Theodorakis, who composed the scores for Zorba the Greek, Serpico, and many more films, has died at the age of 96. Theodorakis was also considered a political activist who was exiled as a revolutionary before becoming internationally famous in 1964 for his score for Zorba. Mr. Theodorakis died in his home on Thursday.
You can read the New York Times obit for the composer here.
There’s been a lot of warranted concern about the Delta variant of COVID, but no studio has completely freaked out and postponed all of its movies… until this week, when Paramount Pictures (who once again, only released two of its planned movies this year) has delayed its entire line-up until 2022.
If you had been looking forward to the long-awaited sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, the long in harried production Mission: Impossible 7, or even the next installment of the MTV stunt/prank show, Jackass Forever, you’ll just have to wait a little longer. All three movies have shifted from their current releases with Jackass moving from Oct. 22 to Feb. 4, 2022, while Top Gun gave up its primo pre-Thanksgiving weekend later this year for a Memorial Day release in 2022. Tom Cruise‘s other Paramount blockbuster, Mission: Impossible 7 then shifts four months later from the summer to Sept. 30, 2022, which seems like an odd choice, since September tends to slow down. Obviously, Paramount doesn’t want Cruise to have to promote both movies weeks apart or have them cannibalize each other’s business. We’ll have to wait and see if any other studio follows suit and delays their movies. Sony has already pushed its Ghostbusters: Afterlife back a week to take Top Gun‘s previous spot.
The comedy, Vacation Friends, starring John Cena and Lil Rel Howery, did so well on streamer Hulu over the weekend that a sequel is already being discussed and developed. Hulu announced that Vacation Friends had the best three-day weekend for an original comedy on the service, so writer-director Clay Tarver is already preparing to bring everyone back together for Honeymoon Friends. Vacation Friends was produced by 20th Century Studios for a theatrical release before being moved to the streamer fairly recent. It certainly seems like 20th Century and subdivision Searchlight Studios are starting to produce more content specifically for Hulu.
Another sequel in development is The Accountant 2 (probably not the name), which filmmaker Gavin O’Connor is developing at Warner Bros. although no talent deals have been made to bring back Ben Affleck or Jon Bernthal, who obviously would need to play key roles in any sequel. The action-thriller opened theatrically in 2016 where it made $155 million worldwide on a reasonable $44 million budget with Affleck playing Christian Wolff, a reclusive math savant. O’Connor has said that Bernthal’s character would play a bigger role in a sequel.
Before we get to some casting, The Nanny star Fran Drescher has been elected as the president of actors union SAG-AFTRA in a contentious national election taking on Matthew Modine. Camryn Mannheim is the union’s new secretary-treasurer after besting Anthony Rapp for that position.
Actor Christopher Abbott has been making waves in the indie world for many years, and according to Deadline, he’ll be joining Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, the follow-up to the duo’s award-winning hit, The Favourite, for Searchlight and Film4. The adaptation of Alasdair Gray‘s novel also stars Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, and Ramy Youssef working from a script adapted by Tony McNamara. Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe are producing for Element Pictures along with Stone and Lanthimos. 2018’s The Favourite received ten Oscar nominations, including Best Pictures, and nominations for Stone, Lanthimos and Gray, but Olivia Colman is the only one who converted her nom into a win for Best Actress.
Alfre Woodard is joining New Line‘s Salem’s Lot adaptation, playing Dr. Cody in the new take on Stephen King‘s 1975 vampire novel. Yes, they’re gender-swapping the role for the new movie as Woodard will join Lewis Pullman, Makenzie Leigh, and Bill Camp fighting said vampires.
Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die) is joining Viola Davis in TriStar Pictures‘ The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard) and also starring Thuso Mbedu. The historical epic that takes place in the Kingdom of Dahomey and follows the true story of Nanisca, the general of an all-female military unit, is based on an original screenplay by Dana Stevens that has a current draft co-written by Prince-Bythewood. The film is produced by Oscar-winning Producer Cathy Schulman and her Welle Entertainment, along with Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions, and Maria Bello of Jack Blue Productions.
Jake Lacy from the HBO hit The White Lotus and Maika Monroe (It Follows) will star in Paramount Players‘ mysterious sci-fi thriller, Significant Other, which is written and will be directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (Villains) with Dan Kagan producing. The film will debut exclusively on Paramount+, and it’s being fast tracked into production, according to Deadline.
Below the Line‘s Production Listings is being updated daily and you can subscribe to them at a new low price and stay on top of all production and shows before cameras start rolling.
In the world of television, the popular FX on Hulu series, Reservation Dogs, has been renewed for a second season ahead of its Sept. 20 Season 1 closer with the second season scheduled to premiere in 2022. The Netflix series Unsolved Mysteries has also been renewed for a third season, while Big Shot has renewed for a second season at Disney+. Apple TV will be ending its series Dickinson, starring Hailee Stanfield (who is joining the Marvel Universe with the upcoming Disney+ series, Hawkeye), with its upcoming third season.
Oscar and Emmy-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man) will direct an Apollo 11 limited series that will be EP’ed by Kevin Costner, and written by showrunner Stephen Kronich (24) with Mike Medavoy (Zodiac) also producing. It will look at one of America’s historic events from a different angle than the famed Ron Howard film, instead looking at the personality conflicts among the flight team, and they’ll find the four leads to play astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Mike Collins and NASA psychiatrist Rachel Katherine Ludwig before taking the project out to market.
All American showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll has signed a major deal with Warner Bros. in order to reboot the classic ABC drama, Life Goes On, through her production company, Rock My Soul Productions, with ex-AGBO exec and former WME agent Lindsay Dunn as her Head of Television. The competitive deal was thought to be in the eight figures, and Okoro Carrool said in a statement, “I am so excited to continue my partnership with Channing Dungey, Brett Paul and the extended WarnerMedia family. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the stories we want to tell together. Our mission at Rock My Soul Productions is to create content that leaves the world a little bit of a better place than how we found it. Warner Bros.’ continued support of this mission means everything to me.”
Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) continues his ongoing relationship with Netflix, and his planned 2022 live action anthology series, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (retitled from Guillermo del Toro Presents 10 After Midnight) has announced an impressive line-up of creative talent for its season with production having started in Toronto with del Toro as creator, EP and Co-Showrunner. Panos Cosmatos (Mandy), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), and Vincenzo Natali (Splice) will write and direct single episodes of the series with other episode directors including Ana Lily Amirpour, Catherine Hardwicke, Guillermo Navarro, David Prior, and Keith Thomas, and writers including Haley Z. Boston, Regina Corrado, David S. Goyer, Lee Patterson, Aaron Stewart-Ahn, and Mika Watkins.
The vast array of actors include Essie Davis (The Babadook), Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), and Hannah Galway (Sex/Life) in Kent’s episode that’s based on an original story by del Toro. Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham (Mythic Quest), Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and Luke Roberts (Ransom), star in the episode written by Goyer (based on a short story by Michael Shea) that’s directed by Prior, director of The Empty Man. Tim Blake Nelson, Elpidia Carrillo (Euphoria), Demetrius Grosse (Fear The Walking Dead), and Sebastian Roché (The Man in the High Castle), star in the episode written by Corrado (Deadwood: The Strain) (also based on a story from del Toro), and that one is directed by del Toro’s long-time DoP Navarro.
Actors confirmed to appear in other episodes include Crispin Glover, Ben Barnes, Peter Weller, Mika Watkins, and David Hewlett (See). The episode written by Haley Z. Boston (Brand New Cherry Flavor) and directed by Amirpour has yet to confirm cast.
Rainn Wilson, best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on NBC’s hit comedy The Office, is joining the AMC noir-thriller series Dark Winds, created and executive produced by Graham Roland, based on Tony Hillerman‘s popular Leaphorn & Chee series with Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon, playing Leaphorn and Chee, two Navajo police officers searching for a suspect in a grisly double murder. Wilson will play Devoted Dan, “a pious missionary who relies on his divine faith to recruit followers to the gates of his used-car lot. He is also a degenerate and practitioner of every biblical sin he decries.” The series EP’ed by George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford, has received a six-episode order with Noah Emmerich and Jessica Matten also in the cast.
Absolutely no stranger to a musical, Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) is joining NBC‘s Annie Live! in the role of Lily St. Regis, which will also reunite her with her Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt co-star, Titus Burgess. The cast also includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr.’s Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger’s Grace, and newcomer Celina Smith in the title role as Annie.
There have been a lot of returning actors for the 18th (and final?) season of ABC‘s Grey’s Anatomy, and the latest actor to return is Kate Walsh, reprising her role as Addison Forbes Montgomery, who will appear in multiple episodes. Walsh took to the Grey’s Insta to share the news with the fans.
Getting into some trailers, Focus Features released the first trailer for Kenneth Branagh‘s Belfast, a very personal film from the Irish filmmaker about his days growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1969. The black-and-white film gives off the impression of this being Branagh’s Roma (i.e. Alfonso Cuaron‘s Oscar-winning semi-autobiograpical black and white film), and as a long time fan of Branagh’s work as a filmmaker and a human being — I’ve interviewed him quite a few times — I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turned out when released on November 12. (The movie just debuted at the Venice Film Festival and is likely to play a number of other festivals over the coming months.)
Also being released on November 12 is the Netflix action-comedy, Red Notice, starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson, and the streamer released the first official teaser for the movie written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence).
Another filmmaker very familiar with action is Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), and his next world-destroying movie Moonfall received its first announcement teaser-trailer from Lionsgate , well in advance of its Feb. 4, 2022 release. The sci-fi thriller stars an incredible ensemble cast that includes Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Eme Ikwuakor, Carolina Bartczak, and Donald Sutherland.
Another reminder note that Monday is Labor Day, so there won’t be an “Over the Weekend,” and I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll do it on Tuesday instead and take Wednesday off from “Hump Day News Update” or just do the latter. We’ll see, so just check back on Tuesday, and if there isn’t a news column, then look for one on Wednesday. Have a great weekend!