Batten down the hatches, because today is gonna be a big-time hump day full of industry news!
First some good news for those in L.A. reading this who were disappointed to hear a few months back about the closing of a number of Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters, rather than reopening after all movie theaters in the county were closed down due to the Covid pandemic. It looks like AMC is nearing a deal to take over the Pacific’s Grove and American theaters in Los Angeles and Glendale, respectively, something spotted by eagle-eyed filmmaker Ben-David Grabinski (Happily) and then confirmed (without credit) by Deadline. AMC boss Adam Aron had previously stated that the corporation was “kicking the tires” on some of the Arclight’s L.A. locations.
My AMC app has “AMC The Grove” and “AMC The Americana” listed under local theaters????
— BenDavid Grabinski™ (@bdgrabinski) June 15, 2021
A few quick movie hits beginning with the news that Julia Butters — who managed to steal a scene from no less than Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood — has been cast by filmmaker Steven Spielberg in his currently untitled semi-autobiographical film for Amblin loosely based on his childhood growing up in Arizona. Butters will play the younger sister of Gabriel Labelle‘s young filmmaker, presumably representing Spielberg, with Michelle Williams playing his mother, Paul Dano playing a version of his version, and Seth Rogen as his uncle. Spielberg co-wrote the script with Tony Kushner, and the two of them are producing with Kristie Macosko Krieger.
Some exciting news is that both Gina Rodriguez and Zoe Kravitz will be making their directorial debuts soon.
Rodriguez will direct and star in an Untitled Ryan Garcia Pic from Endeavor Content, a feature film about a fictional character based on Garcia’s experiences as a Mexican-American boxer. Rodriguez is also producing and co-writing the screenplay with actor/playwright Bernardo Cubria, and Garcia also starring.
In a statement, Rodriguez says, “I grew up in a boxing family and loved watching sports dramas with my dad. The philosophies of fighting – working hard, staying focused, being honest, fighting fair but to win – has stayed with me,” said Rodriguez. “On behalf of myself and my production company I Can and I Will, I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Ryan Garcia on this film. He is not only an outstanding athlete and champion, but a true advocate of normalizing and furthering conversations on mental health. His bravery has inspired me, and I am honored to have his trust to direct this film and guide his first foray into the arts. In One Community, Endeavor Content and WME, I have found empowering partners who are driven to tell stories that bring love, tolerance and healing to the world. I am humbled by their support, in addition to that of my incredibly talented friend and fellow artist Bernardo Cubria who will be leading us in creating a script that celebrates both the sport and our community. We cannot wait to share this story with audiences worldwide.”
Kravitz will be directing a movie with the “yeah, that’s never getting past the TV censors” title of Pussy Island, a thriller that she co-wrote with E.T. Feigenbaum that has already cast Channing Tatum in its lead role. The movie is produced by Bruce Cohen, Kravitz, Tiffany Persons and Tatum’s Free Association with FilmNation handling international rights and CAA Media Finance repping domestic rights out of the Cannes Virtual Market next week.
The tagline is: “Frida is a young, clever, Los Angeles cocktail waitress who has her eyes set on the prize: philanthropist and tech mogul Slater King (Tatum). When she skillfully maneuvers her way into King’s inner circle and ultimately an intimate gathering on his private island, she is ready for a journey of a lifetime. Despite the epic setting, beautiful people, ever-flowing champagne and late-night dance parties, Frida can sense that there’s more to this island than meets the eye. Something she can’t quite put her finger on. Something terrifying.”
On the TV side of things, we begin with a few new projects including the latest Netflix limited series by Ryan Murphy called The Watcher, which will star Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, who also star together in the upcoming Once Upon a Time in Staten Island. It’s the latest project from frequent Murphy collaborator Ian Brennan (Glee), reports Deadline, and exec. producing the series with Murphy and Brennan are Eric Newman (Narcos), Bryan Unkeless, along with Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) with filming starting in the fall, presumably with Joost and Schulman directing. (Although you’ll notice below that they also have another movie in the works.) According to the Deadline story, the series is based on the infamous “Watcher” house in New Jersey with Watts and Cannavale playing a couple who are terrorized by letters from a stalker named “The Watcher” after moving into their dream home.
Next new project of note is a reboot of the 1980 Richard Gere drama American Gigolo, which Showtime has ordered to series with Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) starring in the lead title role, as well as producing. This present-day remake comes from Ray Donovan‘s David Hollander, Paramount TV Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Television with Bernthal playing Julian Kaye and co-starring Gretchen Mol as his one true love, Michelle. Hollander writes and directs this long-in-development project, and will be the showrunner and exec. producer. The cast for the series also includes Rosie O’Donnell, Lizzie Brocheré, Gabriel LaBelle (him again!) as a younger version of Bernthal’s character, and Leland Orser. Wayne Brady will also guest-star as Julian’s best friend and mentor, Lorenzo.
Another ’80s reboot in development is the planned Perfect Strangers reboot for HBO Max from A Black Lady Sketch show creator, Robin Thede, who will star with London Hughes. The planned half-hour multi-camera comedy has been given a script development deal by the streamer.
George Lopez is teaming up, or rather, feuding, with his real-life daughter, Mayan Lopez, for the NBC working-class family multi-camera comedy series, Lopez vs. Lopez, which has received a put pilot commitment from the network. The show is written by Co-Exec. Producer Debby Wolfe, supervised by The Conners Showrunner/Exec. Producer, Bruce Helford, who previously created George Lopez with the comedian.
Apple TV has announced that its charter series, The Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, will be making its return with Season 2 to debut on September 17 with ER and The Good Wife vet Julianna Margulies joining the cast.
Freeform has renewed its popular hit series Cruel Summer for a second season, although it’s unclear whether it will involve the same cast or have an all-new cast and be treated like an anthology ala Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.
On the bad side of television news, it’s being reported that Netflix has cancelled the popular sci-fi series, Manifest, with its third season, making it the latest high-profile cancellation for the streamer, who seems to be seeing less reasons to make some of the costlier series with the added cost of Covid on production.
Apparently, the second season of the CBS show Clarice may not be transitioning to Paramount+ after all, as negotiations have reached a stalemate between the show’s creators, MGM, and the ViacomCBS streaming network. The situation seems to be stumping industry pros, because without Paramount+ on board, the second season of the series based on the Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs may come to an end, putting hundreds of people out of work. It’s also a bit of a head-scratcher since the show’s producer, Alex Kurtzman, continues to work with Paramount+ on their Star Trek franchise. The fact that MGM was recently bought by Amazon may also be contributing to the stalled talks on renewing the series for Viacom.
Speaking of American Horror Story, it’s being reported that actor Neal McDonough (Captain America: The First Avenger) will be joining the cast of the tenth season, presumably with much of the cast from Murphy’s other seasons of the series returning in different roles.
Also, Megan Boone will be leaving the hit NBC series, The Blacklist, after eight seasons on the show.
That’s enough television, back to the movies…
Some of this week’s high-profile movie news, includes Kristen Wiig to star in the MGM/Plan B adaptation of Chandler (Whisper Network) Baker‘s upcoming novel The Husbands, which the New York Times bestseller will be adapting for the screen herself, as well as exec. producing. According to Deadline, the tagline for the book/movie is “The Husbands follows an overworked mother who, while house-hunting in a nice suburban neighborhood, meets a group of high-powered women with enviably supportive husbands. When she agrees to take on a legal case involving the untimely death of one resident’s husband, she risks exposing not only the secrets at the heart of her own marriage, but the true secret to having it all, one worth killing for.”
Jennifer Lopez, who recently signed a first-look deal with Netflix, has been tapped to star in the sci-fi thriller Atlas, directed by Brad Peyton (Rampage) from a script written by Aron Eli Coleite based on the original script by Leo Sardarian. Lopez will play the title character, Atlas, “a woman fighting for humanity in a future where an AI soldier has determined the only way to end war is to end humanity. To outthink this rogue AI, Atlas must work with the one thing she fears most — another AI.” Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell are producing for Safehouse Pictures with Peyton and Jeff Fierson for ASAP Entertainment, as well as Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina. Courtney Baxter is exec. producing with Matt Schwartz as a co-producer.
Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out 2 for Netflix continues to cast up with the latest addition being Jessica Henwick from Netflix’s Iron Fist, who also booked a role in the upcoming The Matrix sequel. Johnson is writing and directing for a cast that includes Daniel Craig (the only returnee so far), Dave Bautista, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline and Edward Norton.
A bit of casting missed on Monday was that Michael Peña (Crash, Ant-Man) is joining Owen Wilson in the Paramount Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer high-concept family action movie, Secret Headquarters, which has already been slated for a release on August 12, 2022, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The movie is also directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Project Power) with Walker Scobell, Momona Tamada, Keith L. Williams, Abby James Witherspoon and Kezii Curtis co-starring. The movie about a kid who discovers the secret headquarters of the world’s most powerful superhero below his home is based on an original screenplay by Christopher Yost (The Mandalorian) with Joost, Schulman and Josh Koenigsberg writing the current draft.
Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit, the upcoming Obi-Wan series) will play Whitney Houston’s long-time assistant and creative director Robyn Crawford in the Sony/Tristar Pictures Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten is writing the script while Stella Meghie (The Photograph) is directing.
Just a week shy of his thriller The Ice Road debuting on Netflix, Liam Neeson‘s next thriller, with the on-the-nose title of Retribution, has added more cast, including Matthew Modine, Embeth Davidtz, and Arian Moayed.
Who would think that we’d have not one but two bits of auteur casting news today?
First up, Rachel Weisz ad Colin Farrell, who co-starred in Yorgos Lanthimos‘ The Lobster, will reteam for Todd Solondz’s next movie, Love Child, based on his own script, the movie to be produced by Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and David Hinojosa and his 2AM. The tagline for the movie is, “In a dark and hilarious twist on the classical Oedipal story, Love Child follows a precocious kid who schemes to rid himself of his brutish dad so he can have his mom all to himself. Things go awry when a handsome stranger appears.” (I’m taking a wild guess that Farrell is playing the latter.)
Kelly Reichardt, who has received critical raves for almost every movie she’s ever made, including 2020’s First Cow, has put together the cast for her next A24 film, Showing Up, with Hong Chau, André Benjamin, Judd Hirsch, John Magaro and more joining the already cast Michelle Williams, who has starred in a number of Reichardt’s previous indie films. Others joining the film co-written by Reichardt with long-time collaborator, Jon Raymond, include Heather Lawless, Amanda Plummer, Larry Fessenden and James Le Gros. Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, and Vincent Savino are producing the film about an artist on the verge of a career-changing exhibition.
Lastly, Emily Watson and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Oz, Lost) will be starting in the WWII period drama, Late in Summer, which is also hitting the Cannes Market next week. Novelist Talitha Stevenson will be making her directorial debut from her own script with production slated to start this fall. The tagline: “Set in rural Cornwall, the romantic drama will chart a brief encounter between a lonely farmer’s wife and a Black American GI that leads to first love in middle life and an impossible choice.” Debbie Gray of Genesius is producing along with Timothy Spall acting as exec. producer.
Need we mention once again that you can keep track of all the projects above and more on our daily-updated Production Listings?
Still a little dry as far as trailers, although we just got a new trailer from Searchlight Studios for Ahmir “QuestLove” Thompson‘s directorial debut doc, Summer of Soul (… or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which got such critical acclaim and a few awards out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It will debut in theaters and on Hulu, starting July 2. It has great footage and info about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place in Mount Morris Park in Harlem but got very little coverage compared to Woodstock.
Also, Netfilx debuted the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro‘s animated feature, Trollhungers: Rise of the Titans, based on his popular Netflix animated series, which will hit the streamer on July 21.
And last but not least, we got the final trailer for the sci-fi action thriller The Tomorrow War, starring Chris Platt, which will hit Amazon Prime Video on July 2, and you can look for my interview with Director Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) sometime around then.