This was a pretty exciting week for those who have been following production and how things have slowly geared up and reopened under COVID-19 protocols over the past year, because it certainly seems like production is close to back to where it was before COVID shut it all down last March.
Four major productions, including three anticipated sequels, began this week with some of the filmmakers and studios sharing the exciting news on their social feeds. I personally have met and know three of the filmmakers, all great guys, so it couldn’t happen to nicer people that they’re able to begin work on their next films.
On Monday, we mentioned the start of production for Greg Mottola‘s Confess, Fletch, starring Jon Hamm as the literary character previously played in two films by Chevy Chase. Later that day, Mottola himself took to Twitter to celebrate the start of production with the back of a chair showing the film’s logo.
— greg mottola (@gregmottola) June 28, 2021
James Wan, whose return to horror with September’s Malignant is still being kept under wraps, teased the start of production on his Aquaman sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, on Instagram with a clapper on a very icy set.
Rian Johnson followed suit with a nice pic of a camera set-up in a beautiful, sunny Greek environment for the start of production on his sequel, Knives Out 2, which has been lining quite a rogue’s gallery of actors from many different walks of life. The movie is the first sequel to the 2019 Lionsgate hit, which was picked up by Netflix in a massive deal earlier this year.
Aaaaaaaand WE’RE OFF! Day one of filming on the next Benoit Blanc mystery. Thanks to all the lovely patient people here in Greece for letting us do all this murdering on their peaceful shores. pic.twitter.com/SUFptCpl3G
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) June 28, 2021
We’re not going to post the pictures for legal reasons, but The Daily Mail actually got their hands on some paparazzi photos from the set, showing Kate Hudson in costume, and a masked Daniel Craig.
Finally, Lionsgate announced the start of Chad Stahelski‘s John Wick: Chapter 4 with an on-set picture of a chair from the start of production on the next chapter of that popular Keanu Reeves franchise set to hit theaters in the summer of 2022. It was later reported that actor and martial artist Scott Adkins is in talks to join the latest John Wick movie.
anybody got a pencil sharpener? JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4 is now in production. pic.twitter.com/J4HSCatBIU
— lionsgate (@Lionsgate) June 28, 2021
There are no pictures to share but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said at a Black Widow fan premiere event that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also started production at Atlanta’s Trilith Studios (formerly Pinewood) with Director Ryan Coogler returning behind the camera but with very little other information about another anticipated sequel.
This is all great news for those who have been following the starts and stops of so many productions due to COVID-19, and with vaccinations more prevalent and numbers going down in many regions, it’s a good sign that we’re on the fast track to have productions the way they used to be.
On the other side of things, 20th Century Studios reported this week that its suspense-thriller, No Exit, has just wrapped production in Auckland, New Zealand this week, the movie to be released on direct-to-consumer platforms, Hulu (in the U.S.) and as a Disney+ Star Original (everywhere else), in 2022. Directed by Damien Power (Killing Ground) and starring Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, Dale Dickey, Mila Harris, and Dennis Haysbert, the film is based on a screenplay from Ant-Man and the Wasp writers Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, based on Taylor Adams’ 2017 novel and produced by PGA Award winner Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit)
In the movie, Liu (Mayday) makes her feature film leading role debut as Darby, a young woman en route to a family emergency stranded by a blizzard and forced to find shelter at a highway rest area with a group of strangers. When she stumbles across an abducted girl in a van in the parking lot, it sets her on a terrifying life-or-death struggle to discover who among them is the kidnapper.
General Hospital won a number of Daytime Emmys last week, and then we got the sad news earlier this week that long-time player on the show, Stuart Damon, best known for playing Dr. Alan Quatermain on the show for three decades, passed away at the age of 84. Damon’s family told ABC News 7 that he had been “struggling with renal failure for the last several years.” Damon began on General Hospital in 1977 winning a Daytime Emmy (after seven nominations) in 1999. That same year, he brought the character over to the spin-off series, Port Charles, which he continued for two years.
Dwayne Johnson is reuniting with his Fast and Furious/Hobbs and Shaw writer/producer Chris Morgan for a new Amazon Studios movie called Red One, which Johnson is producing with his Seven Bucks Productions partners Dany and Hiram Garcia. Morgan, who has written seven installments in the “Fast Franchise,” will write the screenplay and produce the four-quadrant holiday action-adventure-comedy, which Amazon won after a competitive bidding war. The film will begin production in 2022 for a holiday 2023 holiday release.
Oscar and Emmy-winning actor Vanessa Kirby (The Crown, Pieces of a Woman) has been added to Florian Zeller‘s The Son, the follow-up to his Oscar-winning film, The Father, according to Variety. Kirby joins Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern in the second adaptation of one of Zeller’s plays by himself and Christopher Hampton after the duo won the Adapted Screenplay Oscar earlier this year.
Sydney Lemmons (Helstrom) has joined the new Blumhouse/Universal adaptation of Stephen King‘s Firestarter, playing Zac Efron‘s wife, and the mother of the title character Charlie, as played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong (The Tomorrow War). Like the previous adaptation starring a young Drew Barrymore, the movie is about a young girl with pyrokinetic powers i.e. she can start fires with her mind.
Ruby Barker from the hit Netflix series Bridgerton is joining the Studiocanal and The Picture Company high-concept horror-thriller Baghead, which will begin filming in Berlin, Germany this fall. She joins Witcher star Freya Allan, who is starring in the film based on the festival favorite short film directed by Alberto Corredor, who also directs the feature. The film revolves around a mysterious figure named Baghead, “a diminutive wrinkled up person who is able to manifest the dead and bring them back to our world for short intervals.”
A couple quick deals, TriStar Pictures have picked up the film rights to Julia Seales’ debut novel, A Most Agreeable Murder, while Jackson Pictures and Stampede Ventures have teamed up to acquire Ken Nolan‘s spec script, The Debriefing, based on the Robert Littell novel, with plans to fast-track the thriller into production next year as the script goes out to potential directors
ZQ Entertainment has picked up the rights to the graphic novel, Black Cotton Star, financing the development of a script by Deric Hughes and Benjamin Raab (Arrow, The Flash, Legacies) for Reginald Hudlin (House Party) to direct and produce with Prime Universe’s Adrian Askarieh, and ZQ’s Ara Keshishian and Petr Jakl. Martin J Barab is exec producer on the project. The graphic novel by writer Yves Sente and artist Steve Cuzor focuses on three African American soldiers in WWII who are dispatched on a suicide mission to retrieve the first ever American flag, stolen by a sadistic Nazi commander.
Jumping over to some TV stuff, HBO Max has renewed Made for Love for a second season, while Amazon has also renewed Good Omens for a second season.
Actor Gabrielle Union is developing The Sisters Are Alright, a reality TV-themed dramedy series, based on the award-winning book of the same name by Tamara Winfrey-Harris, at her I’ll Have Another Productions, along with Katie and Mauricio Mota’s Wise Entertainment. Writer Sonja Perryman, formerly a development exec. at Wise, will adapt the book into a series. It follows the real lives of three childhood best friends whose worlds are turned upside down after they agree to be part of a reality series called Sistas In the City. It hasn’t been confirmed whether Union will actually star in the series.
You can keep tabs on all these projects through Below the Line‘s subscription-only Production Listings.
Digital Cinema Society Founder and friend to Below the Line, Cinematographer James Mathers, wrote a particularly interesting essay called “You Can’t Say That Anymore – The Evolution of Language on Film Sets” about the growing number of outdated terms on film sets that probably should be assessed and changed due to being insensitive or offensive to others on set either due to their race or gender. Some of the potentially insensitive or offensive terms include the likes of “ballbuster” (the term for a 35lb. sandbag), “Ubangi” (a plate used to offset a camera), and even using the terms “Master” and “Slave” to denote something that needs to be copied, which really doesn’t have to be done from a place of servitude. It’s a really smart read that you can check out over at the DCS site.
Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line released the first trailer for The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to the groundbreaking hit HBO series, The Sopranos, starring Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, playing the young Tony Soprano. Written by creator David Chase, the movie is directed by long-time HBO director Alan Taylor (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones), and it will debut both in theaters and on HBO Max starting October 1. The cast includes Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela De Rossi, John Magaro, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga.
Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for its September 17 release, Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the beloved children’s book by Norman Bridwell. Directed by Walt Becker (Old Dogs) from a screenplay by Jay Scherick, David Ronn and Blaise Hemingway (story by Justin Malen and Ellen Rapoport), the movie stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, Russell Wong, and John Cleese, with David Alan Grier voicing Clifford.
Finally, Amazon Prime Video released the first trailer for the action movie, Jolt, starring Kate Beckinsale, which will hit the streamer on July 23. Written by Scott Wascha and directed by Tanya Wexler (Buffaloed), the high-concept action flick also stars Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Bobby Cannavale, Jai Cortney, and Laverne Cox.