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HomeIndustry SectorFilmOver the Weekend 11/20/20: L.A. Production Continues Through Tighter Protocols, Ron Howard...

Over the Weekend 11/20/20: L.A. Production Continues Through Tighter Protocols, Ron Howard Plans Thirteen Lives Shoot and More


Welcome back from the extended Thanksgiving weekend where we hope everyone was able to see their families and remain safe, as COVID-19 levels continued to spike across the entire country including New York. Presumably, many productions took some time off last week, although the worries of production being halted may have caused some to rethink going home instead of staying in place in the various production bubbles that have been created to keep production going and safe.

Last week, FilmLA, the film office of the greater Los Angeles region, along with the local L.A. government, chose to discourage but not outright ban overnight location film shoots, urging filmmakers to remain in “strict compliance” with COVID-19 safety protocols as the state of California tightened overall COVID regulations. California has instituted a curfew from gatherings and non-essential work from 10pm to 5am, although film, television and commercial production had already been labelled “essential.”

In a statement, FilmLA said, “FilmLA is unaware of any plans to revisit or modify the state’s essential worker definitions, but new stay-at-home orders this week remind us that the COVID-19 pandemic’s progress is unpredictable, and new business regulation can affect any industry at the state, county or city level, at any time. With coronavirus case counts surging and many sectors of the economy reeling, FilmLA asks all industry customers to be vigilant to help protect jobs and public health.”

This was in response to the Los Angeles County and City of Los Angeles release saying, “Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles have advised FilmLA that filming will not be restricted to the hours between 5 a.m. / 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., as previously announced. Filmmakers are highly encouraged to stay within those limits, if feasible, and be mindful of community impact while California’s Limited Stay at Home Order is in effect.”

Thirteen Lives
Photo: CNN

Just as Ron Howard‘s adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy hit Netflix last week, the prolific filmmaker is planning for his next movie, Thirteen Lives, which will begin production in Australia in March. The movie is based on the 2018 Thai caves rescue incident in which a boys’ soccer team were trapped underground in the Tham Luang for days with no supplies and lessening oxygen with a group of divers from all over the world coming to rescue them. The Australian government is chipping in $13 Million AUD to use Queensland’s Gold Coast to play Thailand. The film is produced with Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer, P.J. van Sandwijk, Gabrielle Tana and Karen Lunder.

Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Never say Nevers again? Although Joss Whedon has spent close to two years developing his drama The Nevers for HBO with the series set to premiere in the summer of 2021, he has left the project. It would have been Whedon’s first TV series since the ABC Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Nevers was fully cast with Laura Donnelly starring, joined by Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ann Skelly, Ben Chaplin and more. The science fiction drama, which will proceed as planned sans Whedon, is about a gang of Victorian weapon with unusual abilities trying to change the world.

In a statement, HBO said, “We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021.”

Whedon also made the following statement, “This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer.”

Adding, “I am genuinely exhausted, and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade.”

Before blowing up in the world of film by directing Marvel Studios The Avengers and its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Whedon had success on television with popular hits like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and the 2009 Fox drama, Dollhouse.

The Croods: A New Age

Thanksgiving has always been a boon for the box office, and even though things are way down with many theaters in the country remaining closed, Universal and DreamWorks Animation could probably celebrate that the latest animated movie, The Croods: A New Age was able to take in close to $17 million over the five-day weekend with $9.7 million over the three-day weekend. That surpasses the amount made by Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet back in September even with just $4,391 average in 2,221 theaters. No other movie made more than $1 million with Universal’s Freaky coming in second with $770,000 over the three day weekend. At this point, there are a few more soft releases for December but nothing major until Christmas Day where a number of studios are hoping things will be better for movie theaters across the country.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to watch Ryan Murphy‘s adaptation of the Broadway musical, The Prom, which could very well be another crafts Oscar contender for streamer Netflix. It doesn’t hurt that Murphy put together an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep, James Corden, Keegan-Michael Key, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannels, as well as leads Jo Ellen Pellman — a newcomer — and Ariana DeBose, who are likely to become popular stars from their performances in the movie. Last week, Netflix released the first trailer for the movie musical, which you can watch below. The Prom will play in select theaters starting Friday and then be on Netflix starting December 11.

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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