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HomeIndustry SectorFilmOver the Weekend 9/20/21: DGA Gets New President, Branagh's Belfast Takes TIFF...

Over the Weekend 9/20/21: DGA Gets New President, Branagh’s Belfast Takes TIFF People Choice, and More News


Welcome back from the weekend where the Primetime Emmys were the big talk of Sunday night as Netflix did particularly well with its drama, The Crown, and limited series, The Queen’s Gambit. Although the latter also did particularly well at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, it was held back to just winning two more last night, with HBO‘s Mare of Easttown winning in many of the categories where they faced off. Apple TV+‘s comedy hit, Ted Lasso, also fared well, and in general, streamers (including HBO Max) did better than any network shows with the exception of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Saturday Night Live.

You can see the full results of the night here.

Lesli Linka Glater
Lesli Linka Glatter (courtesy DGA)

Also, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) elected a new President, as Lesli Linka Glatter became only the second woman to hold that position, succeeding Thomas Schlamme. She was also the group’s first female Vice President, having been on the National Board since 2003.

In a statement, Glatter said, “I am honored to have been chosen by my peers to serve as president, and am committed to continuing our Guild’s great legacy of protecting the economic and creative rights of our members—always with our eye on the future. And there is nothing that makes me more hopeful about our future than looking around at this formidable, profoundly creative and incredibly diverse Board representing the future of this industry. I am blown away by their generosity of spirit and dedication to serving their fellow members, even as they juggle such demanding and successful careers. In these times of great technological and cultural change, we stand ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead. And just as we have throughout our 85-year history, together we will prevail.”

As well as Glatter, the following were elected: Mary Rae Thewlis was re-elected National Vice President; Paris Barclay, a past-DGA president, was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Also elected were First Vice-President Betty Thomas; Second Vice-President Ron Howard; Third Vice-President Barry Jenkins; Fourth Vice-President Seith Mann; Fifth Vice-President Ava DuVernay; Sixth Vice-President Lily Olszewski; and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Joyce Thomas.

With Fran Drescher elected president of SAG earlier this month, and Meredith Stiehm expected to be elected as President of the WGA West on Tuesday, it will be the first time the three guilds had women Presidents at the same time.

A scene from Belfast (Focus Features)

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) ended over the weekend and the winners of the coveted TIFF’s People Choice Award were announced in a ceremony on Saturday night. Kenneth Branagh‘s autobiographical drama, Belfast, which will be released by Focus Features later this year, won the top honor with Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson‘s Scarborough receiving first runner-up, and Jane Campion‘s The Power of the Dog awarded second runner-up. The documentary, The Rescue, from Oscar-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo) won the audience award for documentary, while Julie Ducarnau‘s Titane won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award after winning the coveted Palme Dör at the Cannes Film Festival back in July. The TIFF People’s Choice Award has frequently been a precursor for movies that would go on to receive Oscars in the Best Picture category with many past winners like Slumdog MillionaireSilver Linings Playbook, La La LandJojo Rabbit, last year’s Nomadland, and others paving their way for Oscar gold by receiving attention from TIFF audiences.

Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (Amazon Studios)

Howard Shore, who won three Oscars for Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings trilogy — two for scoring and one for original song — is in talks to score the Amazon Studios Middle Earth-set prequel series, according to Deadline. While neither Peter Jackson nor any of the cast of the blockbuster Oscar-winning trilogy of films, Shore would play a big part in offering cohesion between the projects. Principal photography on Season 1 has wrapped with it reportedly being the most expensive television series of all time at a cost of a reported $465 million. The first season is currently in post in New Zealand with production to start on Season 2 in the UK in Jan. 2022.

Speaking of post, Matt Reeves has been working hard at finishing up his Warner BrosPictures release, The Batman, which is scheduled for release on March 4, 2022. Sure enough, Reeves shared a picture from the editing suite where he’s working on that with his editing team of William Hoy and Tyler Nelson.

Robert Durst
Robert Durst in The Jinx (HBO)

Although Robert Durst being found guilty of murdering his friend Susan Berman in 2000 might not seem like entertainment or industry news, but most people became aware of Durst’s crimes from a series of documentaries including HBO‘s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst from filmmaker Andrew Jarecki, which won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2015. Five years earlier, Jarecki made a narrative film that was loosely based on the Durst case called All Good Things, starring  Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. Both of Jarecki’s films were even used as evidence in the trial of Durst.

Cry Macho
Clint Eastwood in Cry Macho (Warner Bros.)

At the box office, Marvel Studios‘ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings remained at #1 with $21.7 million, down just 38% in its third weekend with a domestic total of $176.9 million.  It has already passed F9‘s $173 million grossed earlier in the summer, and it’s creeping up on Marvel’s last theatrical release, Black Widow, which has grossed $183.4 million in 11 weeks. Since Shang-Chi is yet to be made available on Disney+ or via VOD, it looks likely to become the highest-grossing movie of 2021 by next week.

Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood returned to theaters with his dramatic thriller, Cry Macho, which opened with $4.5 million in 3,967, but also was available on HBO Max, which basically kept it from even being the #2 movie of the weekend. That honor went to Ryan Reynolds‘ Free Guy (like Shang-Chi, a Disney release), which made $5.2 million this weekend (down a mere 7%) to take second place, having grossed nearly $109 million since opening in August.

Joe Carnahan‘s latest action thriller, Copshop, starring Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo, was released by Open Road Films in just over 3,000 theaters, but it ended up making $2.3 million to take sixth place.

Searchlight Studios opened the drama, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, into 45o theaters following its World Premiere at TIFF. It took in $675,000, which was enough to creep into the bottom of the Top 10 over the weekend. By comparison, Justin Chon‘s Blue Bayou, co-starring Alicia Vikander, only made $315,000 in 477 theaters.

Overseas, Denis Villeneuve‘s anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune, opened in 24 markets, well ahead of its Oct. 22 North American release, and it grossed $36.8 million, which is 4% ahead of Tenet, which opened much earlier during the pandemic, but also 52% ahead of Villeneuve’s last film, Blade Runner 2049 and 58% ahead of Shang-Chi‘s overseas debut. Shang-Chi has also been faring well overseas with another $20.3 million from 43 international markets to bring its international gross to $143.7 million with $320.6 million grossed globally.

We actually have a few loose ends, stories I neglected to run on Friday but still worthy of sharing for anyone who missed them.

Idris Elba
Idris Elba in Luther (BBC)

First of all, we missed the story that actor Idris Elba was returning to play Luther for a Netflix movie, being made in association with the BBC, and The Hollywood Reporter got the story that Elba will be joined by Andy Serkis and Cynthia Erivo in the movie which will be in lieu of a sixth season. Creator Neil Cross, who wrote the series’ five seasons wrote the screenplay, which will be directed by Jamie Payne (of The Alienist and Outlander), who helmed the four episodes of the fifth season.  Production is set to begin filming in November.

2nd gen filmmaker Bryce Dallas Howard has signed up to direct a reboot of Flight of the Navigator, the 1986 film directed by Randal Kleiser, with the new movie planned to premiere exclusively on Disney+.  Howard will also produce the movie along with Justin Springer and her Nine Muses partner, John SwartzColin Trevorrow, who directed Howard in Jurassic World and next year’s Jurassic World: Dominion) was once set to reboot the project for Disney with his writing partner, Derek Connolly, in 2009, and Lionsgate and the Henson Company also announced a planned reboot in 2017. The original sci-fi adventure film followed 12-year-old David Freeman (Joey Cramer), who goes unconscious after falling down in the woods, only to get abducted by an alien spaceship that transports him from 1978 to 1986. David spends the film trying to reunite with his family, but gets entangled with the police and NASA along the way.

Another remake in the works is of The Bodyguard, the Kevin CostnerWhitney Houston romantic drama from 1992, which grossed $400 million worldwide. Variety reports that Tony-nominated playwright Matthew López (The Inheritance) has been hired to reimagine the film for Warner Bros.

The Hollywood Reporter also got the scoop on a new independent political thriller from The Exchange called The Independent, that will team Brian Cox from HBO’s Succession and Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen and Slim). Emmy-nominated director Amy Rice is helming the film from the Black List script from Evan Parter.  Set in the final weeks of the most consequential presidential election in history, The Independent follows an idealistic young journalist (Turner-Smith) who teams up with her idol (Cox) to uncover a conspiracy that places the fate of the election, and the country, in their hands. It’s being produced by Ryan Cunningham of Anonymous Content (The Revenant, Spotlight, Winter’s Bone) and Emmy-winning producers Sam Bisbee of Park Pictures (Truffle Hunters, Hearts Beat Loud, Infinitely Polar Bear) and Thea Dunlap (The Sentence, The Hero, Farewell Amor) along with The Exchange’s Caddy Vanasirikul. Exec. producers are Lance Acord and Jackie Kelman Bisbee of Park Pictures, and Brian O’Shea and Nat McCormick of The Exchange, who are financing the film.

Michael Chiklis
Michael Chiklis in The Shield (FX)

Filmmaker Rod Lurie (The ContenderThe Outpost) has lined up his next movie, the football drama The Senior, which will team him with Michael Chiklis of The Shield. Working from a screenplay by Bob Eisele (The Great Debaters), the production will begin in Texas this fall. In the movie, Chiklis will play Mike Flynt, a real person who 37 years ago, was kicked off his college football team for an altercation with another teammate. Now at 59, Mike continues to carry that burden. But when he learns he still has a year of eligibility, he decides to go back to school to get his degree and try out for the team to redeem his past. As he puts on the pads one more time, Mike slowly starts to earn the respect of his much younger teammates, ultimately leading him on a journey to address his masculinity and resolve his generational trauma put upon by his father, while also addressing his strained relationship with his son. The film is being financed by Wayfarer Studios (Disney+’s Clouds) with co-founders Justin Baldoni and Steve Sarowitz producing. The project was developed and will be produced by Select Films’ Mark Ciardi, in association with Ten Acre Films’ exec. producers Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams. Wayfarer’s President of Production Andrew Calof will oversee and produce alongside co-COO Manu Gargi.

Baldoni shared the statement, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Mike Flynt’s incredible true story to the big screen. He is the Rudy of the boomer generation and has proven that it’s never too late to chase one’s dreams. I’ve been a fan of Michael Chiklis for years and he is perfect for this role; he’s devoted immense time to study and train to embody Flynt. Michael’s determination and drive paired with Flynt’s real-life journey and Rod Lurie’s masterful direction will bring this much needed and extremely timely story to the screen.”

Megan Fox and Tyson Ritter will star in an update of Bonnie & Clyde called (get this) Johnny & Clyde. Directed by Tom DeNucci (Vault), the film is currently in production in Rhode Island with Fox playing crime boss Alana who runs a casino and Ritter playing her head of security who are being targeted by the two title serial killers. The title actors have yet to be cast but will join the production next month. The film is being produced by Chad A. Verdi’s Verdi Productions (Bleed For This).

Lastly, Brooklyn stand-up comedian Sabrina Wu, who is a writer on Disney+’s reboot series, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D., will play one of the four leads in the Lionsgate and Point Grey still-untitled Adele Lim-directed R-rated comedy feature. It follows four Asian-American friends who travel through Asia looking for one of their birth mothers with the other three friends played by Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, and Stephanie Hsu. The script is written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Nora From Queens) with Nora From Queens co-creator Teresa Hsiao from a story by the duo with Lim. All three are also producing with Point Grey’s Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, and Josh Fagen with Meredith Wieck and Chisom Ude overseeing for the studio.

A quick reminder that Below the Line‘s Production Listings are now available at a new low price for those who want to keep up with when and where projects are filming in order to quickly find your next job.

There should be a “Hump Day News Update” on Wednesday and an “End of Week Production Notes” on Friday, although I’ll be travelling to L.A. to attend Cine Gear Expo, so those columns may be a little delayed or look a little different.

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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