Happy Monday! It was thankfully a quieter than usual weekend in terms of news to make up for the insanity of last week.
Before we get to the latest production and casting, sad news arrived over the weekend that California’s Pacific Theatres was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you’ve been following this story, earlier this year, Pacific Theatres Exhibition Corporation, which also owns the Arclight Cinemas, decided that Covid put them too far into the red to open its California theaters. The group announced today that they were filing for Chapter 7 in order to liquidate its assets for possible credits, which includes all the projectors, seats, popcorn machines and other equipment from its Arclight and Pacific theaters.
As reported last week, AMC Theaters is in the midst of closing a deal for two Pacific multiplexes, the Grove in Los Angeles and the Americana in Glendale, California. Either way, it’s another sad state for theatrical cinema as only a few movies have done relatively well since movie theaters in New York City and L.A. reopened, and there’s no word whether upcoming movies like Universal‘s F9 and Marvel Studios‘ Black Widow will be able to achieve the box office success to keep the other theater chains going.
Here is the full statement from Pacific:
After a year of the pandemic’s devastating effect, Pacific Theatres Exhibition Corporation announced in April that it would not reopen its ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres locations. Having taken steps to wind down the business, the company today is seeking protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code in order to liquidate its remaining assets for the benefit of its creditors.
We are deeply grateful to our employees, our guests, and the film community for coming together over the past decades to create so many wonderful moviegoing experiences. We are overwhelmed by the extraordinary outpouring of memories. Thank you for sharing these with us.
We will miss you all.
In better distribution news, congrats to our pal James Emanuel Shapiro, who has just been hired by XYZ Films as their Executive VP for distribution as the Canadian company moves into distribution, starting with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead‘s Something in the Dirt, the duo’s follow-up to last year’s Synchronic. Shapiro previously worked at Drafthouse Films and was COO at NEON, both distributors of great genre films over the years, so Shapiro is a smart hire on the part of XYZ. We can’t wait to see what films he brings to the studio now that it’s getting into distribution.
As far as film casting, the Cannes Virtual Market, starting this week, is still where most of the news is rolling in from, including the very recent news that Shailene Woodley would be joining Jack Whitehall in the fast-paced comedy Robots from Borat writer (and frequent Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator) Anthony “Ant” Hines. Rocket Science is handling the international sales at Cannes while CAA Media Finance is arranging financing and co-repping the film’s domestic distribution with Cassian Elwes‘ Elevated, who is producing with Stephen Hamel at Company Films. It’s based on the short story by acclaimed science fiction writer Robert Sheckley, Hines and Christensen penned the screenplay, “which focuses on a womanizer and a gold digger who learn humanity when forced to team up and pursue robot doubles of themselves, who have fallen in love and run away together.” Hamel developed the project under his Company Films banner with plans for production to begin in New Mexico this August.
Christoph Waltz will be returning to the Western genre after receiving his second Oscar for Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, and he’ll be joined by Willem Dafoe as co-stars in the legendary Walter (The Warrior) Hill‘s Western, Dead for a Dollar, debuting in the Cannes virtual market. Myriad Pictures is handling international sales for the film written and directed by Hill which is set in New Mexico Territory, Chihuahua, in 1897. “The story will follow Max Borlund (Waltz), a famed bounty hunter, hired to find and return Rachel Price, the politically progressive wife of Nathan Price, a successful Santa Fe businessman. Max is told she has been kidnapped by an African American army deserter, Elijah Jones, and is being held for ransom in Mexico. When Max goes south of the border he soon runs across his sworn enemy, expatriate American Joe Cribbens (Dafoe), a professional gambler, sometime outlaw, who Max had tracked down and sent to prison years before.” The project is produced by Jeremy Wall, Kirk D’Amico, and Carolyn McMaster with Matt Harris also contributing to the script. It will be the first movie Hill has directed in roughly five years.
Also from Cannes comes word that actor Penelope Wilton from Downton Abbey will be joining Oscar winner Jim Broadbent in Hattie Macdonald‘s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry with plans to start shooting in the UK this September. Kevin Loader, Juliet Dowling and Marilyn Milgrom are producing the film that has already sold to many key international markets. Wilton will play Maureen, the wife who is left bereft and bewildered when Broadbent’s Harold doesn’t come home one day. “Harold is just an ordinary man who has passed through life living on the sidelines until he goes to post a letter one day…and just keeps walking as he embarks on a 450-mile walk across the UK in the simple belief that his journey will save the life of his old friend Queenie who is dying in a hospice.”
From Deadline comes word that Oscar-nominated actress Keira Knightley is in talks to join Searchlight Studios‘ Conception, which will reunite her with Silent Night director Camille Griffin, who will write and direct the film, produced by Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler through their Maven Screen Media banner. The tagline for the film set in the near future deal with “the British government taking authoritarian rule over parenting. It follows a vigorous License Officer (Knightley), who is a firm believer in the controversial system she upholds until an unexpected event imperils her own parental status in the very administration she enforces.” Silent Night is Griffin’s as-yet-unreleased directorial debut, which is scheduled to be released in the UK this December.
Homeland’s Julia Stiles joins the list of actors making their feature film directing debuts with Wish You Were Here, a romantic drama co-written with Renée Carlino based on her novel. Phiphen Pictures produces the film after producing Stiles’ upcoming film, The God Committee, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival this past weekend before its release on July 2. The story centers on Charlotte, “a woman who finds herself in a rut, searching for a spark that seems just out of reach. After she has a whirlwind night of romance and imagining a future with a man named Adam, he ghosts her. When Charlotte finally discovers that Adam is terminally ill, she helps him spend his last days living life to the fullest.”
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg continues to cast up his untitled semi-autobiographical Amblin project based on his childhood by adding Australian actor Sam Rechner. The 19-year-old Rechner, who appears in the Amazon series, The Wilds, with Rachel Griffiths, will play a high school classmate to the young, aspiring filmmaker at the center of the story that’s presumably representing Spielberg. He joins a cast that includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Julia Butters, and Gabriel LaBelle with cameras ready to roll in Los Angeles next month for a possible 2022 release. Spielberg co-wrote the script alongside Tony Kushner, and the two of them are producing with Kristie Macosko Krieger.
Also over at Deadline, it’s being reported Ginna Torres (9-1-1: Lone Star) has joined Gabrielle Union‘s Netflix Romantic Comedy feature, The Perfect Find, which also stars Keith Powers. The movie is written by Leigh Davenport and Numa Perrier, adapted from Tia Williams novel about a “40-year-old woman with everything on the line: Her high-stakes career, ticking biological clock, bank account as she risks it all for an intensely lusty secret romance with the one person who could destroy her comeback.” The movie is also directed by Perrier and produced by Tommy Oliver and Codie Elaine Oliver for Confluential Films, Union for I’ll Have Another, Jeff Morrone, and Glendon Palmer for AGC Studios. Exec. producers are Stuart Ford, Linda McDonough, and Miguel Palos for AGC, Holly Shakoor Fleischer for I’ll Have Another, Mel Jones for Confluential Films; and Davenport.
Progress on all of the projects above can be tracked at Below the Line‘s Production Listings.
Not a ton of TV news today, just a small tidbit about Annie Ilonzeh from Chicago Fire being cast as the lead in the NBC drama pilot, Getaway, from John Davis and John Fox from The Blacklist and Universal TV, a division of Universal Studios Group. Written and executive produced by JJ Bailey (Echo) and Moira Kirland (Madam Secretary), it centers on a destination wedding at an isolated luxury resort that quickly descends into chaos after a group of dangerous criminals takes the island hostage. The small group of guests, led by a fearless female Army vet named Tessa Carrillo (Ilonzeh), will do everything they can to stay alive. Ilonzeh left Chicago Fire after its second season.
There isn’t a ton to say about this weekend’s box office either. Lionsgate opened the action-comedy sequel, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek into 3,331 theaters last weekend and after grossing $5.3 million in its first two days (including advance previews), the poorly-reviewed movie grossed an estimated $11.7 million over the weekend to take first place.
John Krasinski‘s A Quiet Place Part II dropped back down to second place with $9.4 million, down just 22% from its return to #1 last weekend, as it has clocked a domestic gross of $125.3 million since opening over Memorial Day weekend.
Unfortunately, last week’s In the Heights took a massive plunge in its second weekend, dropping from second place all the way down to sixth place with an estimated $4.2 million, down 63.4% in its second weekend. There’s absolutely no way to spin how a movie with hugely positive reviews and word-of-mouth couldn’t maintain its business, but the fact the movie was freely available to watch on HBO Max probably didn’t help matters. (We’ll still have some more features with the talented creatives involved with making the movie over the next few weeks.) For perspective, Sony Pictures‘ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway managed to surpass its gross in their respective second weekends.
Sony Pictures Classics‘ sports drama, 12 Mighty Orphans, expanded nationwide into 1,047 theaters where it took in $870,000 to take eighth place with $1.3 million since its platform release in Texas last week. Focus Features also opened Edgar Wright‘s The Sparks Brothers doc into 534 theaters where it took in an estimated $265,000.
A few other milestones include Universal’s F9 getting close to $300 million overseas with $292 million and a lot of markets still to open and the movie finally opening in North America this Friday, June 25. $200 million was made in China alone. Warner Bros Pictures‘ Godzilla vs. Kong became only the second movie to cross the $100 million mark domestically (after A Quiet Place Part II) since the pandemic shut down movie theaters nationwide.
One of the more intriguing films playing at next month’s Cannes Film Festival is Titane, the second movie from French filmmaker Julie Ducournau, whose first movie Raw received quite a lot of critical acclaim. NEON just released the first trailer for her film, Titane, starring Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon, and though it doesn’t really give the viewer that much more info about the movie, which has yet to announce a U.S. release date, it does include the tagline of: “TITANE: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility.”
Also this morning, Paramount Pictures released the newest trailer for its summer action movie, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, starring Henry Golding from Crazy Rich Asians as the popular member of the G.I. Joe team. It will hit theaters on July 23.