Welcome Back and Happy Monday!
Been a while since we’ve done one of these updates due to yours truly being on a semi-vacation, so we’re playing a little bit of catch-up, although there has been some significant movement in the world of film and television production.
Unfortunately, we’re going to start with the bad news, and that is a couple productions that had to temporarily shutdown due to COVID-19. The numbers across the globe have been skyrocketing with places in Europe like Italy showing higher numbers now than in April at what was considered the apex. In fact, the United States hit some of the highest number of new cases over the weekend with 75,000 in a single day. That is not good, especially with some places, like New York City and Los Angeles, not fully open.
Two productions were affected by COVID-19 since our last entry.
Reagan, the Ronald Reagan biopic that was filming in Oklahoma with Dennis Quaid in the title role, shut down production late last week after an “outbreak of coronavirus among crew members.” Director Sean McNamara told Deadline:
“We have had some positive tests from members of our crew, so out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to pause production until we get the go-ahead to return to work from our medical team. The health and safety of our entire team is my greatest concern.”
Oklahoma has had a huge spike in cases with over 1,600, which actually is low compared to other areas.
National Geographic‘s limited series Genius: Aretha, starring Cynthia Erivo as the soul queen, also shut down production last week, according to Deadline, just three weeks after resuming production on October 1 in Atlanta. This was due to a single background actor testing positive for COVID-19, but that was enough for production company Touchstone Television to temporarily pull the plug. The limited series had already filmed 5 1/2 of its 8 episodes when it was shut down due to the pandemic on March 15, and it’s long past missing its originally planned May 25 airing to instead air sometime in 2021.
In better news, Universal Pictures‘ Jurassic World: Dominion has resumed production with its cast after a similar shutdown due to a similar string of positive coronavirus cases on set.
As usual, director Colin Trevorrow happily shared that news with the public via his social media account:
— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) October 23, 2020
Things aren’t looking as rosy for Quibi, the 2-billion Jeffrey Katzenberg venture that launched in April with hopes of redefining how content can be produced and watched specifically on smaller screens like smartphones and tablets. It sounded like a good idea in a world where movie theaters were shut down for months, but Katzenberg and his team probably imagined people watching Quibit episodes while in transit since it offered quick 5-minute bites of everything from news to reality television, sitcoms and dramas. Katzneberg pulled the plug last Wednesday with the streamer going off-air on December 1 with reportedly 250 employees losing their jobs. All that Katzenberg could say when asked by CNBC was:
“All we can do is own it. All of us expected a much better outcome, a much bigger outcome.”
About a month back, we shared some on-set pics of Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg from Sony’s Uncharted, the adaptation of the popular Playstation game that’s been in development seemingly forever. The movie can finally confirm it’s a real thing as the Ruben (Zombieland) Fleischer-directed production shared a photo of Holland as Nathan Drake, the primary protagonist from the video game. Not to be outdone, Wahlberg posted a video on his Instagram to give fans a look at the mustache he seemingly grew to play Victor “Sully” Sullivan (no relation to the pilot “Sully” as played by Tom Hanks in Sully).
In the world of filmmaker attachments, British director Ben Wheatley, whose new thriller Rebecca just debuted on Netflix last week, has signed on to direct the giant shark sequel, The Meg 2, with Jason Statham presumably returning to take on the prehistoric beasts again. Wheatley is preparing to shoot another sequel, Tomb Raider 2, once again starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, soon, and he even shot another indie horror movie over 15 days during the pandemic. Wheatley has built quite a name and reputation for himself, particularly in England with movies like Free Fire, Kill List, Down Terrace and High Rise, so he’s going fully into his choice to take on studio franchise fare with those two sequels.
We like to try to keep an eye on the movie theaters and when film content can get the sort of wide theatrical releases that had become the norm pre-COVID. Although theaters in upstate New York and Long Island finally reopened on Friday, that didn’t do much to help the box office as Liam Neeson‘s Honest Thief remained at #1 with a piddling $2.3 million. 20th Century‘s horror film The Empty Man, which was dumped into 2,027 theaters with literally zero promotion and marketing, flounded in fourth place with less than $1.3 million. All reported box office added up to an estimated $9.4 million compared to the same weekend last year when Disney‘s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil led a box office that grossed 10 times that amount. Even considering the 25% capacity theaters and the two biggest movie markets (NY/LA) still being shuttered, that is very bad and not particularly hopeful for the future of theatrical releases.