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Hump Day News Update: Box Office Rebounds, Warner Bros. Discovery Named, and More News


Happy Hump Day, and we have a lot to get through, so let’s get to it.

A scene from A Quiet Place Part II
A scene from A Quiet Place Part II

For once, we’re gonna start with box office, since that was one of the biggest stories of this past weekend. John Krasinski‘s horror sequel, A Quiet Place Part II, which was delayed for over a year due to COVID was finally released by Paramount Pictures over Memorial Day weekend into 3,726 theaters. The long wait and the lack of the movie also being on streaming helped greatly, as it grossed more than $13 million its opening Friday, leading to a three-day total of $47.5 million (~$12,700 per theater) and a four-day holiday gross of $57.1 million. Not only is that the highest-grossing weekend during the pandemic, but A Quiet Place Part II ended up making more than some high-profile movies like Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 grossed in total domestically.

Walt Disney Pictures also released its 101 Dalmations prequel, Cruella, starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson, into 3,892 theaters. That was the widest release since the pandemic began in March 2020, although the movie was also available via streaming for a premium $29.99 price on Disney+. The movie made $21.5 million in its first three days ($5,523 per theater) and $26.5 million for Monday, so that meant the two new movies alone made $83.6 million over the four-day holiday.

Including the money made from returning movies, it was the first time in over a year when the top 10 at the box office grossed more than $100 million, and it was a good sign that theatrical moviegoing may be back. In fact, we have some more good about theatrical later in today’s column.

Since we do like sharing good news about the state of production, it was announced this week that Robert Rodriguez‘s action-thriller Hypnotic, starring Ben Affleck, which was one of the notable productions hurt by COVID when it couldn’t get the proper insurance to start up, as well as had trouble nailing down a location, will actually start production this September. The film has been joined by Brazilian actress, Alice Braga, and it will go back to its original plan to shoot in Rodriguez’s backyard of Austin, Texas with plans by Solstice Studios to release it domestically, having sold international rights.

An even more anticipated production, Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Love and Thunder, the sequel to his Thor: Ragnarok, has wrapped filming in Australia as the film’s star,  Chris Hemsworth, shared a photo with himself and Waititi on his Instagram, stating, “That’s a wrap on Thor Love and Thunder, it’s also national don’t flex day so I thought this super relaxed photo was appropriate. The film is gonna be batshit crazy off the wall funny and might also pull a heart string or two. Lots of love, lots of thunder! Thank you to all the cast and crew who made this another incredible Marvel journey. Buckle in, get ready and see ya in cinemas!!”

Chris Hemsworth
Taika Waititi (L) and Chris Hemsworth (Source: Hemsworth Instagram)

Warner Bros. Discovery

Roughly two weeks after it was announced that AT&T would merge its Warner Media with Discovery, the new streaming giant has a name, and it’s …  (drum roll)… Warner Bros. Discovery. Sorry if that was anti-climactic, but that will be the name of the new venture which presumably will replace HBO Max and Discovery+ eventually. We probably won’t see how the new streaming service is implemented until 2022 at the earliest, but I guess at least it has a name.  That’s something, right?

Time for some casting news with slightly more than usual since we took Monday off for Memorial Day.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift in Cats (Photo: Universal)

Undaunted by the slagging off that most of the cast of Cats got back in 2019, Taylor Swift has joined the extensive cast of David O. Russell‘s new movie, tentatively called Untitled David O. Russell movie for 20th Century Studios. So far, the cast for the movie that recently wrapped production, includes Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts and Alessandro Nivola.

Clueless star Alicia Silverstone is returning to high school, as she is joining the cast of Paramount Players‘ new comedy Senior Year, which stars Rebel Wilson and co-stars Justin Hartley, Angourie Rice, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Mary Holland and Chris ParnellAlex Hardcastle (Parks and Recreation) directs from a script by Brandon Scott Jones with Wilson playing a cheerleader who wakes up from a 20-year coma and returns to high school to regain her status as prom queen. The movie is based on a spec script by Andrew Knauer and Arthur Pielli with Todd Garner, Tim Bourne, Wilson and Chris Bender producing.

Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale (Photo: Screen Gems)

Deadline also reports that actress Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) has been cast in Catherine (TwilightHardwicke‘s next movie, Prisoner’s Daughter, written by Mark Bacci. Hardwicke said of that script, “Mark Bacci’s script is a raw, personal look at a deeply fractured family, similar to my first film Thirteen (with Evan Rachel Wood and Holly Hunter). With Prisoner’s Daughter, I want to fully immerse the viewer in Kate’s character’s intense world as she, her father and her young son try to heal generational family trauma and find a new way forward”

Casey Likes (The Birch) and E’myri Crutchfield (Fargo) will star in the MGM horror film, Dark Harvest, adapting Norman Partridge’s 2007 Bram Stoker Award-winning novel. The movie is being directed by David Slade (Hannibal) from a screenplay by Michael Gilio, and it’s produced by Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl for Matt Tolmach Productions (Venom). The movie already has a release date of September 9, 2022, via MGM’s distribution company, United Artists Releasing with filming to begin commencing in August.

Code 8
Stephen and Robbie Amell in Code 8 (Photo: Vertical Entertainment)

Back in 2019, a pretty cool sci-fi film called Code 8 was released with very little fanfare, but those who missed it are going to have another chance as the film’s original stars, cousins Robbie Amell and Stephen Amell (both popular stars of the CW and DC “Arrowverse”) have signed on to appear in a sequel. Jeff Chan will be returning to direct that sequel from a screenplay co-written with Chris Paré. All four principals are producing with XXY Films handling sales and exec. producing.  The original Code 8 was released in North America in December 2019 after playing a number of genre festivals and getting an internet release worldwide. (It’s available to watch on Netflix.)

Lastly, Jake Lacy and Krysta Rodriguez (Halstonwill headline the TBS pilot, Space, which will also co-star Ally Maki, Caleb Hearon and Rachel PegramSpace is described as a “hilarious, romantic Quantum Leap) with Lacy and Rodriguez playing a “long-term couple on the verge of a break-up who are granted the ability to jump into the bodies of other couples.”

Need we mention our regularly updated Production Listings to keep up with some of the projects mentioned above and more?

There are no new trailers to speak of, but we began today’s column with theatrical, so we’ll end with theatrical. Those who were more than slightly worried or bummed when it was announced in April that the venerable ArcLight Cinemas and the Pacific Theatres, wouldn’t be reopening after closing due to COVID, received some possible good news this week.

Their savior comes from an unlikely place, as AMC Theaters plans to raise $230.5 million for key acquisitions in the movie theater sector — and confirmed talks to acquire venues operated by the now-shuttered ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres, according to The Wrap.

AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron confirmed in a statement, “Given our scale, experience and commitment to innovation and excellence, AMC is being presented with highly attractive theatre acquisition opportunities. We are in discussions, for example, with multiple landlords of superb theatres formerly operated by ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres.”

AMC plans to raise the $230.5 million via a sale of 8.5 million shares to Mudrick Capital Management after raising $100 million in a December deal with Mudrick as part of a “debt offering for needed capital.”

It also looks like the Alamo Drafthouse Theaters, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, may also have recovered, as it has announced that it has emerged from Chapter 11 via a sale to Altamont Capital Partners, funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC and Drafthouse founder Tim League. With Chapter 11 behind them, the Alamo plans to open five new locations in Manhattan, Staten Island, St. Louis and two in Washington D.C. over the next two years after closing down a few underperforming venues when it filed for bankruptcy.

In a statement, Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor said, “We’re so grateful to our incredible partners at Altamont and Fortress, who are completely aligned with our vision for Alamo Drafthouse’s growth.”

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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