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HomeIndustry SectorFilmHump Day News Update: Amazon Offically Buys MGM, Blumhouse Firestarter Starts, and...

Hump Day News Update: Amazon Offically Buys MGM, Blumhouse Firestarter Starts, and More News


AmazonMGMIt’s official! Amazon has bought MGM Pictures for a whopping $8.45 million, which means that the streaming studio that released Coming 2 America and Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse — both Paramount Pictures productions — now owns the rights to one of the biggest film and television libraries that goes back nearly 100 years. This isn’t the first time that MGM had been up for sale or sold, and much of this game of corporate hot potato over the past decade-plus might come down to the studio’s 2009 filing for bankruptcy due to being $3.7 billion in debt.

Over the past 15 years, the company’s savior has been the James Bond franchise produced by EON Productions, and the last four movies were released and distributed by Sony Pictures. Since the most recent Bond movie, Spectre, in 2015, MGM has mainly been teaming with the like of Warner Bros. Pictures for the Rocky spin-offs, Creed and Creed 2, both starring Michael B. Jordan, but has mainly been a part of United Artists Releasing, an entity that’s only been around under that banner since 2019.

One presumes that this deal was mainly made for the library but MGM does have movies in the works, including the latest Bond movie, No Time to Die, which was meant to be released in April 2020, but was delayed due to COVID and was eventually rescheduled to October of this year. Presumably, that will be released under any previous deal, because it will take time to finalize Amazon’s purchase. Jordan is also developing a Creed 3 to direct himself, which might be a good fit at Amazon, considering their release of Jordan’s Without Remorse. Some of MGM’s Oscar hopefuls in the works at MGM, include the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, RespectRidley Scott‘s House of Gucci, the musical Cyrano, and a new Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Although this may or may not be seen as something positive for the production of more movies and series based on the MGM properties — that depends on how you feel about some of the previous remakes and versions of those properties in the past — it certainly means that a lot of MGM’s movies, including the James Bond series, should eventually find their streaming home on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, as well as the thousands of other MGM movies.

(BTL columnist Neil Turitz has suggested that he might write about this deal in next week’s “The Accidental Turitz,” so look out for that next Wednesday.)

Earlier this week, Producer Jason Blum shared a scene from the set of Blumhouse Pictures‘ new adaptation of Stephen King‘s Firestarter on the company’s social media, showing off a bit of the film’s pyrotechnics and stunt work from the first day of the shoot. The last adaptation of King’s novel was in 1984 when a very young Drew Barrymore played the titular “Firestarter” Charlie McGee.

A few new project announcements from the past few days…

Adam Wingard
Adam Wingard (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Fresh off his global hit, Godzilla vs. Kong Director Adam Wingard has signed on to direct the sci-fi/action thriller, Hardcore, for Universal Pictures, based on the Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) creation with artist Mark Silvestri that was published by Skybound and Image Comics.

Mulan and Whale Rider director Niki Caro is reteaming with her North Country star, Charlize Theron, and Netflix to develop and produce a movie based on the New York Times article, “The Fight For Gender Equality In One of the Most Dangerous Sports on Earth,” written by Daniel Duane and four of the top female surfers — Bianca Valenti, Andrea Moller, Paige Alms, and Keala Kennelly — who were fighting for their right to compete in big wave contests. The screenplay for this movie about the four women is being written by Becky Johnston.

From Deadline comes the news that Amanda Segel, the co-EP on Helstrom and Person of Interest has been tapped to write one of the Game of Thrones spin-offs, currently titled 10,000 Ships. The series follows the journey of warrior queen, Princess Nymeria, and the surviving members of the Rhoynars, which took place 1,000 years before the events in George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. It’s one of a number of spin-off projects being developed by HBO based on Martin’s source material, although the first to see the light will be next year’s House of the Dragon, which is already in production.

Happy Death Day star Jessica Rothe and Yellowstone‘s Kelsey Asbille have been set to star in the New Regency thriller series Gaslight, based on the QCode podcast of the same name being adapted by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (Dreamland). New Regency is independently financing the project that will begin production this June in Kamloops, British Columbia, and will co-star Marc Rissmann and Will Dalton. Rothe plays Danny, a young woman who went missing at the end of her senior year, leaving everyone devastated, including her best friend Becca (Asbille). The series takes place years later when Becca is married with a baby son and Danny suddenly reappears.

Productivity Media and Darius Films have set up the cast for the action film, The Retirement Plan, with Nicolas Cage leading the cast that includes Ron PerlmanAshley GreeneJackie Earle HaleyJoel David MooreGrace ByersErnie HudsonRick FoxLynn Whitfield, and 11-year-old newcomer, Thalia Campbell. The film is written and will be directed by Tim J. Brown, who directed Productivity’s Buckley’s Chance, starring Bill Nighy, and the Lukas Haas horror-thriller, The Cradle.  The tagline is: “When Ashley (Ashley Greene) and her young daughter Sarah (Thalia Campbell) get caught up in a criminal enterprise that puts their lives at risk, she turns to the only person who can help – her estranged father Matt (Nicolas Cage), currently living the life of a retired beach bum in the Cayman Islands. Their reunion is fleeting as they are soon tracked down on the island by crime boss Donnie (Jackie Earle Haley) and his lieutenant Bobo (Ron Perlman). As Ashley, Sarah and Matt become entangled in an increasingly dangerous web, Ashley quickly learns her father had a secret past that she knew nothing about and that there is more to her father than meets the eye.” Productivity CEO William G. Santor and Darius President Nicholas Tabarrok are producing along with Jason Jallet and Doug Murray with worldwide sales rights repped by Joker Films and Radiant Films International.

Actor and stand-up comedian Ronny Chieng (Crazy Rich Asians) has joined the Blumhouse and Atomic Monster thriller, M3Gan, from filmmaker Gerard Johnstone. Based on a script written by Akela Cooper from a story by James Wan, the movie stars Allison Williams (Get Out) as Gemma, a roboticist at a toy company who uses artificial intelligence to develop the life-like doll M3GAN, which she uses to bond with her orphaned niece.  Considering that James Wan is involved — he’s producing the movie with his Insidious producer, Jason Blum — you can presume that this particular creepy doll probably isn’t up to any good.

It was also announced this week that HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show has been renewed for a third season just ahead of  Friday’s Season 2 finale.

Keep track of these projects and a lot more by subscribing to our Production Listings.

For you Cinematographers and Camera Department crew, DoP Alicia Robbins has shared a great video to her CineGal YouTube Channel, showing how she mixes hard and soft light for her work as Cinematographer on the hit ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy.

Because the summer box office is here, we’re starting to get a slew of new trailers coming to theaters, and one of the more anticipated movies of later this year is Filmmaker Edgar Wright‘s follow-up to 2017’s Baby Driver, the period horror film, Last Night in SohoFocus Features released the very first trailer just yesterday, and the movie starring Anya Taylor-JoyThomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), Matt Smith, and the late, great Diana Rigg will hit American theaters on October 22, just in time for Halloween!

Another trailer that just dropped today is the first look at Sony Pictures’ horror sequel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which follows Taylor Russell‘s character, who survived the first movie, as she goes back to get revenge and is joined by other survivors in (as the title suggests) a “tournament of champions. Once again directed by Adam Robitel, the movie will be released on July 16.

A trailer that you probably won’t be seeing in theaters* is the one for Chris Pratt‘s upcoming sci-fi war epic, The Tomorrow War, because it will premiere globally on Amazon Prime Video on July 2, rather than in theaters. The movie is directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie), and co-stars Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, and more. (*This is another movie produced by Paramount Pictures that was sold off to Amazon, so maybe they’ll do something nice like put the trailer in front of A Quiet Place Part II this weekend? Probably not.)

Lastly, an international trailer was released for the female-led spy action-thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, which will debut on Netflix on July 14, but will get a theatrical release in other countries (including Canada). The action movie, directed by Israeli filmmaker Navot Papushado, stars Karen Gillan from Guardians of the Galaxy, Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, Carla Gugino, Angella BassettChloe Coleman and Paul Giamatti.

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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