It’s December… and it’s Wednesday… so here’s the latest news.
On Monday night, the 31st Annual Gotham Awards were handed out by the Gotham Film & Media Institute, and Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s The Lost Daughter scored big, winning Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Gyllenhaal winning the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director award, it being her directorial debut. Also for The Lost Daughter, Olivia Colman won the Gotham for Outstanding Lead Performance, shared with Frankie Faison for The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, a tiny indie released by Gravitas Ventures.
Sian Heder’s CODA received two Gothams with Emilia Jones winning an award for Breakthrough Performer and her co-star, Troy Katsur, winning the Gotham for Outstanding Supporting Performance.
Best Documentary went to Jonas Poher Rasmussen‘s animated doc, Flee, while Best International Feature went to Ryûsuke Hamaguchi‘s Drive My Car.
Netflix’s Squid Game and FX‘s Reservation Dogs won the two Breakthrough Series awards, with Philly D.A. winning for Breakthrough Nonfiction Series.
The Gothams are an interesting awards season anomaly in that they’re invariably the first awards to be presented, but they also tend to veer more towards indie films as well as critical faves — being that many of the jurors are critics. Many Gotham Best Feature went on to get Best Picture nominations awards at the Oscars, and a few — like last year’s Nomadland, Spotlight, Moonlight, and Birdman actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. This doesn’t mean that The Lost Daughter, which Netflix will release in theaters on Dec. 17 and then stream on Dec. 31, is a guaranteed Best Picture nominee or winner, but it certainly helps.
Possibly the more interesting casting of the last couple days was that Nicolas Cage would be portraying none other than Count Dracula in Universal Pictures‘ Renfield, a monster movie based on Dracula’s famous henchman, who will be played by Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite, Mad Max: Fury Road). The movie is directed by Chris McKay (The Tomorrow War) from a screenplay by Ryan Ridley (Rick and Morty), based on an original story outline from Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead). The film is produced by Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment, which includes Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst. McKay’s production partner Samantha Nisenboim is also coming on as exec. producer. Although the plot hasn’t been revealed, it’s believed to take place in the present-day rather than being a period piece ala many previous incarnations of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula story. Cage previously played a vampire in 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss, and other than animation voice work, this will be the Oscar-winning actor’s first big-budget live-action studio movie in over ten years.
Possibly one of the more surprising announcements of the week was that Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh would be reteaming for a third installment in their hit Magic Mike franchise. It will be called Magic Mike’s Last Dance, and Soderbergh will be returning to direct, while his producing partner, Gregory Jacobs, who directed Magic Mike XXL, will produce with Reid Carolyn (who wrote the script as he did on the first two films), Nick Wechsler, and Peter Kiernan. The first two Magic Mike movies grossed almost $300 million worldwide and led to a successful stage spin-off called Magic Mike Live. That, in turn, led to an HBO Max reality show called, Finding Magic Mike.
In a statement, Tatum said, “There are no words for how excited I am to blow the doors off of the world of ‘Magic Mike’ with Steven, Greg, Reid, and the amazing people at HBO Max. The stripperverse will never be the same,” with Soderbergh adding, “As soon as I saw what Channing, Reid, and the ‘Magic Mike’ choreographic team did with the live show, I said we have to make another movie. Mike Lane’s dream of connecting people through dance must be realized!”
(Note: There’s a very good chance that Jeff Sneider will be writing more about one of the above two items in tomorrow’s Above the Line Newsflash column.)
Fresh off his small role in Dune and bigger role in The Suicide Squad, both for Warner Bros. and HBO Max, actor David Dastmalchian is joining Keira Knightley in The Boston Strangler, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film written and directed by Matt Ruskin (Crown Heights) comes from 20th Century Studios, and it also stars Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, and Chris Cooper. It’s based on the famed Boston Strangler murders that took place between 1962 and 1964 and left 11 women dead. Knightley plays Loretta McLaughlin, the reporter who broke the story of the strangler, and along with reporter Jean Cole, challenged the sexism of the era to pursue the story while putting themselves at great personal risk. Dastmalchian is playing an undisclosed but pivotal role. Boston Strangler is produced by Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, Kevin Walsh, and Michael Pruss with LuckyChap Entertainment’s Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara. Sam Roston will oversee for Scott Free, Bronte Payne will oversee for LuckyChap, and Sarah Shepard will oversee for 20th Century.
With the overwhelming success of Ghostbusters: Afterlife at the box office the past two weeks, Sony Pictures has signed an overall production deal with filmmaker Jason Reitman and his writing partner, Gil Kenan. “Jason is the thing you dream about: a world-class, signature storyteller, visionary filmmaker, and dream producing partner,” said Sanford Panitch, President, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. “Jason and Gil as co-writing partners have a remarkable understanding of commercial quality cinema, and we are thrilled about the upcoming pipeline from these guys.”
“We’re excited to have evolved our storytelling partnership into a full-fledged production company and couldn’t be more proud to have a home at Sony Pictures, the studio most committed to the theatrical movie going experience,” Reitman and Kenan said in exchange.
Another success story is Halle Berry‘s directorial debut, Bruised, over at Netflix, and she’s signed a multiple picture deal to star in and produce films for the streamer after Bruised became the #1 movie on the streaming service.
Likewise, actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Trial of the Chicago 7) has launched his production company, House Elevn10, and he too has hitched his wagon to Netflix with a creative partnership. Abdul-Mateen II will next be seen in Warner Bros‘ Matrix Resurrections later this month, but he recently dropped out of George Miller‘s Mad Max: Furiosa prequel, maybe to focus on his new company.
Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal (Trollhunter, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) has signed on to direct Tarot, which has been picked up by eOne in a competitive auction with Fuller Media in talks to produce, as reported by Deadline. Plot details are under wraps for the pitch, written by Jason Pagan and Andrew Deutschman, but it’s a high-concept thriller involving Tarot cards… so a bit like Ouija, maybe? Øvredal will direct the film, as well as exec produce, while Fuller Media’s Brad Fuller and Alex Ginno are in final talks to produce and exec. produce, respectively. Jillian Share, Laurel Thomson, and Cyrus Shaki-Khan are overseeing for eOne.
Peter Landesman (Concussion) is adapting and will direct a movie based on Scout Comics‘ The Recount for Jonathan Kadin‘s KadinCreative and Don Handfield‘s Motor Content. Landesman is co-writing the script with Nick Jones Jr. The fictional political thriller written by U.S. army vet Jonathan Hedrick, was published by Scout Comics last November and is described as being a cross between the political intrigue of House of Cards with the horror of The Purge. In the series, “the U.S. President is assassinated by one of his own security detail, and a Secret Service agent must then protect the Vice President at all costs from a vast, dangerous conspiracy. With nowhere to turn and no one to trust, these two women with completely opposing beliefs are forced to work together to fight back and preserve what’s left of American democracy.”
Landesman said in a statement about the project, “As storytellers, we’re struggling to capture not just this fraught political moment, but what it means, and will mean, for our immediate futures. When I read this graphic piece, it made me yearn for the days when character and integrity had value, and what would happen when you pack that into an imperative to survive, not just to live, but to lead. I want this movie to look like what many of us are feeling.”
Getting to some exec. news, Stephanie Phillips, the former Warner Bros. SVP Global Publicity is replacing the departing Dani Weinstein at Focus Features as the company’s EVP of Publicity after the latter’s five-year run in the role
There’s some exec. remodeling at the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF), as Jeffrey Remedios has been brought on as Board Chair, replacing veteran Jennifer Tory, while another festival vet, Cameron Bailey has just been named as TIFF’s new CEO.
Lucasfilm is casting away at its next Disney+ series, Star Wars: Ahsoka, with Ivanna Sakhno of Pacific Rim: Uprising joining the show as a newly-created character. Rosario Dawson has already been cast as the title character, Ahsoka Tano, after debuting the character on the Emmy-winning The Mandalorian, while Natasha Liu Bordizzo was recently announced to play Sabine Wren. The series which looks to start filming in March is written by Dave Filoni and executive produced by Filoni and Jon Favreau, continuing her story from The Mandalorian. Hayden Christensen is expected to reprise his Anakin Skywalker character from the George Lucas prequel trilogy.
Rupert Grint of Harry Potter and Apple TV+‘s Servant is joining Guillermo del Toro‘s anthology series, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities at Netflix. He will join the cast that includes Essie Davis, Luke Roberts, Andrew Lincoln, F. Murray Abraham, Glynn Turman, Ben Barnes, Elpidia Carrillo, Hannah Galway, Crispin Glover, Demetrius Grosse, David Hewlett, Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roché, and Peter Weller in the series, which will include single episodes written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, Jennifer Kent, and Vincenzo Natali.
There’s been a lot of chatter over the past few years about various Game of Thrones prequel series, and while some have started, then stopped, and House of the Dragon is the only one that went into production and is scheduled to come out on HBO and HBO Max in 2022. Another one is now taking off as Steve Conrad (Patriot) has been hired to write and EP the Dunk & Egg prequel series, which has been in development at the cable/streamer for some time. The series will be based on George R.R. Martin‘s Tales of Dunk & Egg, a series of fantasy novellas that HBO has put into development the past few years on top of a few animated ideas. The Dunk & Egg series would follow the adventures of Dunk (Ser Duncan the Tall) and Egg (the future king Aegon V. Targaryen), some 90 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, according to Deadline. Three novellas in the series have been published so far: The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003), and The Mystery Knight (2010).
Netflix is turning to the UK for some of its new series in development, in particular five new scripted series which will film in the UK in 2022. The first of them is Supacell, a six-part show written and directed by Rapman (aka Andrew Onwubolu), who wrote and directed 2020’s Blue Story, a superhero drama about a group of ordinary people from South London who develop superpowers, all of them Black. Mouktar Mohammed and Henrietta Lee of New Wave are executive producer and associate producer, respectively.
Another series commissioned by Netflix is an adaptation of David Nicholls’ romance novel One Day, previously adapted into a feature film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. This one involves two people, Em and Dex, as they meet up on one particular day year after year, and it’s a Drama Republic production with Universal International Studios and Focus Features.
Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) is writing Eric, a thriller that tracks what happens when a young boy goes missing in ’80s Manhattan, his grief-stricken father, Vincent, a puppeteer on America’s leading kids’ TV show, finding solace through his friendship with Eric, the monster that lives under Edgar’s bed. That one will be produced by Sister in association with Morgan’s Little Chick.
Project #4 is the Ripley Parker-written, The F*ck It Bucket, about a schoolgirl who is released from hospital after a battle with anorexia nervosa, which comes from The Crown producer Left Bank Pictures.
Lastly, Netflix has greenlit End Of The F***ing World creator Charlie Covell’s Kaos, a contemporary spin of Greek myths, also from Sister, a project announced in 2018.
Anne Mensah, Netflix’s VP of UK series said, “Netflix UK is building on success – it’s hard to top the virtuosity and global impact of our existing, award-winning British series – from The Crown, Sex Education and After Life to Top Boy and Fate. Add to this an incredible roster of new shows for our members to view in 2022, from the searing Anatomy of a Scandal, to Rowan Atkinson’s joyous Man vs Bee, all the way to Joe Cornish’s outstanding Lockwood & Co – and more. We have a huge number of shows which have all shot this year under uniquely difficult circumstances but never lost their bold brilliance. To be able to add such a variety of new titles to our slate, knowing there is more to come, is really a testament to the strength and artistic confidence of the British television industry. It’s a very special time to be part of this creative community, to be able to work with such amazingly talented writers, directors and producers, and we are so excited to bring these stories to our members worldwide.”
Incidentally, Netflix also announced this week the release months for a number of anticipated genre series in 2022 with Vikings: Valhalla launching on Feb. 28, 2022, and others, like the animated Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas; the animated Magic: The Gathering; a live-action Resident Evil series, starring Lance Reddick; The Sandman live-action series (based on Neil Gaiman‘s groundbreaking comic series); Stranger Things Season 4; Umbrella Academy Season 3; and The Witcher: Blood Origin all to be expected next year.
In an interview with Deadline, Sons of Anarchy and Mayans M.C. co-creator Kurt Sutter told him that he’s set up his next one-hour drama, The Abandon, set in the Old West at Netflix with no timeline since he’ll be working on his directorial debut, This Beast, also for Netflix, which involves about an 18th Century English village battling with the beast that’s been raving it.
NBC has given a put pilot commitment scooped to the comedy Aunties from The Amber Ruffin Show team of writer Shantira Jackson, star/executive producer Amber Ruffin, and executive producers Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker through their Sethmaker Shoemeyers banner. Loosely based on Jackson’s life, Aunties tells the story of what happens when a young woman goes back home and helps raise the women who raised her with Jackson writing and appearing on the series as a performer. Ruffin will also exec. produce along with Meyers, Shoemaker and development executive Jason Carden.
We’ll wrap things up with some renewals and series ends, as the USA Network and Syfy has renewed its Chucky horror series for a 2nd season. AMC‘s popular Kevin Can F**k Himself is going to come to an end with its second season, while, sadly, Hulu‘s Pen15 will not be getting a third season as originally planned. The hit series created and starring Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle will instead end with the second half of Season 2, something the duo revealed in a New Yorker profile, and unfortunately, part of the reason was due to the pandemic shutdown the series faced last year. Meanwhile, the AMC series starring the Emmy-winning Annie Murphy from Schitt’s Creek was recently renewed for an eight-episode second season, but that will be it for the show.
Just a quick reminder that if you’re looking for work on crew on any of the projects above, you should be subscribing to Production Listings, updated daily with all the new projects listed long before they start hiring crew.
All photos courtesy the respective copyright holders.