Welcome back, and we hope everyone had a great weekend!
We don’t know about you, our readers, but here at Below the Line, we’ll be thankful on Thursday that production has resumed with strict COVID protocols despite the number COVID infections going up and up everywhere in the United States and abroad as things begin shutting down again.
The best news from late last week was that Marvel Studios — the studio that’s helped keep the box office alive for 12 years despite not having any movies in 2020 — is already making plans to start production on Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther 2 in July 2021. This is despite the tragic death of star Chadwick Boseman earlier this year that forced Marvel Studios to cancel the planned the sequel’s planned March start date. The production is scheduled for a six-month shoot in Atlanta, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Angela Bassett are all scheduled to return, and they’ll reportedly be joined by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta (Narcos: Mexico). Although as per usual, the role he’s playing is being kept hush-hush, he will presumably be the film’s antagonist, and one can probably place bets that Wright and Nyong’o might fill in for the absence of Boseman as the title character.
Over the past few months, Deadline has been doing a series called Reopening Hollywood, covering similar territory as Below the Line‘s “Back to Work” series (with better access). It added a few interesting stories including one on Friday that takes an inside look at how one television series has been affected by California’s COVID protocols. There’s another piece on Allen Hughes and how the pandemic lockdown “enriched” his FX documentary series Outlaw, about Tupac and Afeni Shukar. Some more helpful information in there for those still waiting to return to production.
Any worries about how COVID might be affecting development and production seem to be unfounded as Walt Disney Pictures announced progress on two projects based on former Fox (now 20th Century Studios) franchise, both R-rated projects presumably, so not for its Disney+ streamer. Late last week, it was announced that Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) will be directing the next attempt at reviving the Predator franchise with a script being written by Patrick Aison (Jack Ryan, Treadstone). Not only that but 20th Century has hired sisters Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molynex-Loeglin (Bob’s Burgers) to pen a third Deadpool movie for the hugely-successful Ryan Reynolds superhero franchise based on the popular Marvel anti-hero. Reynolds, who had been involved with writing the previous Deadpool 2, was involved with picking the writers for the third movie with hopes that Marvel Studios and head Kevin Feige may be involved with shepherding Marvel’s mutants into its new Disney home.
Lots of casting news and other new project announcements were reported on the later side last week, again bolstering the idea that Hollywood is continuing to develop new projects even as theaters remain shuttered in two of the United States’ major movie capitols. To be fair, some of the projects will be for Netflix, as Tyler Perry, Melanie Lynskey and Ron Perlman will be joining Writer/Director Adam McKay‘s Don’t Look Up for the streamer. They’re joining the impressive cast of Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep, making us think that this might be a future awards contender for the streamer. The eclectic cast also includes pop star Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Matthew Perry from Friends, and Tomer Sisley, and it centers on two scientists (played by Lawrence and DiCaprio) who discover there’s a meteor heading to earth so they go on a media tour to warn the world. McKay is no stranger to the awards circuit from his recent films, The Big Short and Vice, although this premise sounds far more comedic.
Netflix’s popular premier show Stranger Things, has added three regular cast members for Season 4, Jamie Campbell Bower, Eduardo Franco and Joseph Quinn, as well as a number of recurring cast members, including genre legend Robert Englund, best known for playing Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven‘s Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. Englund’s character might not diverge too far from that iconic horror role, as he will be playing play Victor Creel, “a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a gruesome murder in the 1950s.” Other new cast members include Sherman Augustus, Mason Dye, Nikola Djuricko and Tom Wlaschiha. That fourth season has already resumed production, continuing the storyline from Season 3 which has David Harbour‘s character imprisoned in a Russian jail.
Although unconfirmed at this writing, there have been murmurs that actor Joaquin Phoenix might lead Beau is Afraid, the third horror film from auteur Ari Aster (Midsommar, Hereditary), which would be based on Aster’s 2011 short, Beau, which you can watch below. Phoenix also will be producing a Jonah Hill-directed doc on mental health for Netflix.
Universal Pictures clearly were fans of Sony‘s 21 Jump Street and its sequel, 22 Jump Street, as it has hired Channing Tatum, Phil Lord and Chris Miller to develop an unidentified monster movie based on one of its classic Universal Monsters that has led to this year’s hit The Invisible Man, directed by Leigh Whannell. There are a few other unrelated projects in development, including one from Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters). This new project, reported by Deadline‘s Justin Kroll, will be a “modern-day tongue-in-cheek thriller” based on an original idea and treatment by Tatum’s Magic Mike production partner Reid Carolin, who will be among the producers along with Lord and Miller, Tatum and Peter Kiernan. It will be interesting to see if Universal can create a steady run of movies based on monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man and others, after several failed attempts over the past decade.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is giving a rare look into its film archive with its Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive event, which will be available via streaming on Oscars.Org. The footage includes info about:
Director Dorothy Arzner – the first woman to join the Directors Guild of America – boating with her friend Billie Burke
Gilbert Roland’s 16mm home movies in early Kodachrome
A party at the home of Dolores Del Rio and Cedric Gibbons
A road trip with cinematographer James Wong Howe
Director Henry Koster leaving Europe as the Nazis come to power
Behind the scenes with Loretta Young, Celeste Holm and Elsa Lanchester
Nat King Cole at a movie premiere
Ida Lupino directing a female cast led by Rosalind Russell and Hayley Mills in The Trouble with Angels
Plus Constance Bennett, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, William Haines, Gypsy Rose Lee, Satchel Paige and more.
The program is presented by the Academy’s Senior Vice President, Preservation and Foundation Programs Randy Haberkamp, its Film Archive’s Special Collections Curator Lynne Kirste with special guests Bob Koster, Hayley Mills, Musician Michael Mortilla and Writer-Director Gregory Nava.
There isn’t a lot to say about the theatrical box office from the weekend as movie theaters continue to shut down over COVID spikes. Universal and Blumhouse‘s horror-comedy Freaky, starring Vince Vaughn, remained atop the box office with a measly $1.2 million, down 66% from its opening weekend, as 415 theaters in which it was playing were closed. Other returning movies took similar tumbles as they lost theaters, and the only two new wide releases, the Jackie Chan action film Vanguard from Gravitas Centures and the historical drama The Last Vermeer from TriStar Pictures failed to generate much interest with neither bringing in more than $300 per theater.
There will be no End of Week Production Notes this Friday, but we’ll be back next Monday with any important news that took place over the extended holiday weekend.