And on to the next week of film-y news!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Post-poning the fight” story, Speaking about the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong, WB executive Toby Emmerich assured folks (via Deadline) that Godzilla vs. Kong “will deliver for fans in the way they were looking for” in the latest ‘Godzilla.’ But that confidence doesn’t mean that WB is in a rush to bring the film to theaters. And as he added, it appears the studio is willing to pump the brakes on post-production a bit, and make sure that Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t arrive in sparsely populated theaters in 2020.
“It might come out later in the year, so we can deliver an A+ movie,” said Emmerich.
Though not an official delay announcement, there’s no denying the intention of that comment. WB has heard the complaints and is willing to re-evaluate the work already done on Godzilla vs. Kong to ensure that the sequel is the best of the Monsterverse, so far, even if that means pushing the release date.
So, basically, the perceived ‘poor box office” of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is causing Warner Bros. to push Godzilla vs. Kong a few months so they can do reshoots. All that tells me is that the suits over at Warner Bros. are nervous and have had second thoughts about their film. That doesn’t bode well.
The 2020 film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Eiza Gonzalez, and Brian Tyree Henry, and is expected to not only continue the story of ‘King of the Monsters’ but also incorporate King Kong, who was rebooted in the popular Kong: Skull Island. Returning to the cast are folks like Millie Bobby Brown, Zhang Ziyi, and Kyle Chandler from this year’s film. Godzilla vs. Kong also sees the universe’s fourth director (in four films), Adam Wingard, take over from Michael Dougherty at the helm.
The interesting thing about Emmerich’s comment, other than the fact that he’s basically in so many words admitting a partial defeat with ‘King of the Monsters,’ is the implication about what would cause a delay with Godzilla vs. Kong. You see, filming of the latest film is already wrapped, and production was seemingly on pace to easily be ready by March. But what is likely is that additional photography will be ordered and some significant changes will be made, which would necessitate the delay.
Aw, well. Nothing we can do about it now. Let’s just hope the second-guessing results in a better film.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Sequel surprise” story, One of the big questions on the minds of Coen brothers fans is when John Turturro’s Going Places will be released in theaters. The film is a sequel to the brothers’ 1998 classic The Big Lebowski that focuses on Turturro’s breakout character, Jesus Quintana. Going Places was filmed back in 2016 but has yet to make its debut. Turturro recently teased to The Independent that editing the film took longer than expected but he’s now happy with a cut of the movie after making some tweaks.
“It’s a bit of a racy movie,” Turturro teased about Going Places. “It shows how stupid men are. That’s what the movie is kinda about – the women are the stronger, more together characters. I had to tweak it a little bit but now I feel really good about it. It’s basically an exploration of Jesus getting out of jail. It’s a comedy but a very human comedy.”
Turturro revealed in summer 2017 that Going Places kicked off with Jesus getting out of jail after being framed as a pedophile. Turturro wrote the film as a riff on Bertrand Blier’s sexually-charged 1974 French movie of the same name. New characters are played by Audrey Tautou and Bobby Cannavale.
An official synopsis for Going Places released in October 2016 said the film is about “a trio of misfits whose irreverent, sexually charged dynamic evolves into a surprising love story as their spontaneous and flippant attitude towards the past or future backfires time and again, even as they inadvertently perform good deeds.
Turturro told The Independent he made the sequel with the full support of Joel and Ethan Coen. “They’re my friends, close friends, and were supportive when I said I wanna explore this character more,” he said. “They said, you gotta do it cause we’re not doing it! If I have something to show, I show it to them if they’re around.”
The writer-director-actor said Going Places will be “much more sexual” than The Big Lebowski, which is one reason Turturro might’ve taken so long to finish it since the subject matter appears a bit more controversial. No release plans for Going Places have been announced, but at this point a fall film festival debut seems likely.
IN THIS WEEK’S “That ‘troubled’ X-men shoot” story, With X-men: Dark Phoenix having a lack-luster box office showing, there is plenty of talk as to why.
According to ThePlaylist.net, they attempted to break down the whys: Was it franchise fatigue? A bad film? A troubled production? Terrible marketing? All of the above? Apparently, the report says that’s all true, but there’s much more than that to add to the stew of awfulness that birthed Dark Phoenix.
Deadline states that Fox failed to manage the headlines about the film, after reports of extended reshoots, altered endings, and untrue reasons for delays became commonplace for Dark Phoenix. All those reports created a bad buzz, when in fact, most of the reports were blown out of proportion.
The fabled reshoots for Dark Phoenix seem to have been solely based on audience test screenings, where the major complaint was that the original ending of the film didn’t feature the entire X-Men regrouping for battle, instead focusing on Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Xavier. The test audiences wanted to see the team fight together, and thus, reshoots were called for, with Kinberg changing the location of the third act (a train) and forced the X-Men to combine forces one last time.
And all those reports about the reshoots being expansive? Well, not so much. Apparently, the reshoots for Dark Phoenix were actually far less than X-Men: Apocalypse, Days of Future Past, and First Class. But the studio was never able to change the narrative about the reshoots being a result of a troubled production. In fact, it would appear that DoFP and Apocalypse had far more troubled productions, with director Bryan Singer apparently leaving the set (unexpectedly) and forcing Kinberg to act as director during multiple instances on both films.
The delays were also a sticking point for fans, leading many to believe that there was a lot more drama than we were led to believe. According to Deadline, the truth is the final delay, from February 14 to June 6 was the result of Fox deciding to move ‘Alita’ from December to February. Fox wanted to make sure that James Cameron’s epic had enough room to breathe and instead, moved Dark Phoenix to June. Director Simon Kinberg and the rest of the folks behind-the-scenes of the film were unhappy with this because their ‘X-Men’ film was never intended to be a summer blockbuster, but instead a smaller-scale entry.
So, there seems to have been a variety of issues with Dark Phoenix. It’s as if it was doomed to fail long before it came out in theaters. I didn’t think it was bad, but I think franchise fatigue hit me. I’m fine taking a five or so year break from X-men.
IN THIS WEEK”S “Replacement” story, Leo DiCaprio was attached to play the the defense attorney in The Ballad of Richard Jewell, and today brings word that recent Oscar winner Sam Rockwell will be stepping into that juicy role for director Clint Eastwood.
The Ballad of Richard Jewell follows the heroic security guard who discovered a suspicious backpack at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and quickly evacuated the area, only to see his life turned upside down when he was implicated as a possible suspect in the subsequent Olympic Park bombing. The “fake news” had real consequences, as the media turned him into an instant social pariah, though he maintained his innocence throughout the 88-day ordeal.
Jonah Hill was originally going to play Jewell back when Ezra Edelman (OJ: Made in America) was attached to direct, and DiCaprio was to have played his defense attorney. Eventually, both actors decided to simply produce, and Eastwood has yet to cast the part of Jewell.
Eastwood is directing from a script by Billy Ray, based on a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner. Eastwood is also producing through his Malpaso production banner along with Jessica Meier, Kevin Misher, Tim Moore and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran. Ballad was originally set up at Fox, but after the studio was acquired by Disney this spring, all parties thought it best to allow the project to migrate to Eastwood’s longtime home at Warner Bros.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Netflix gets Clancy” story, Netflix has picked up Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ film adaption of the Tom Clancy video game The Division. The movie is set to star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain and it will be directed by Hobbs And Shaw and Deadpool 2 helmer David Leitch.
There’s a lot of great talent attached to this project so there’s a good chance that it’s going to turn out to be a badass action movie. They have been “persistent in making sure that it matches the tone of the video game.”
The story for The Division is set in the wake of a devastating pandemic that sweeps through New York City, basic services fail one by one, and without access to food or water, the city quickly descends into chaos.
Gyllenhaal will play an agent working with the Strategic Homeland Division tasked with helping to rebuild the Division’s operations in Manhattan, investigating the nature of the outbreak, and combating criminal activity in its wake.
No word yet on who Chastain will be playing yet.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Bo Street” story, Bo Burnham is on his way to Sesame Street.
The Eighth Grade director is set to contribute songs to a Warner Bros. live-action adaptation of the popular children’s show, which will hit theaters Jan. 15, 2021. Portlandia director and co-creator Jonathan Krisel is helming the musical, co-financed by Warner Bros. and MGM.
Also attached to the film is star Anne Hathaway and producers Shawn Levy and Michael Aguilar. Additionally, Mike Rosolio and Chris Galletta have written drafts for the pic with Jesse Ehrman shepherding the project for Warner Bros. Sesame Workshop, which holds the rights to the show, will also be involved in the development of the movie.
The story follows the Sesame Street characters after they are mysteriously expelled from their own neighborhood, forcing them to collaborate with history show host Sally Hawthorne to prove that Sesame Street actually exists. The educational series first premiered in 1969 with a combination of live-action puppetry and animation. “Sesame Street” is also home to the Jim Henson creations Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Elmo.
The TV series is produced by Sesame Workshop, known as the Children’s Television Workshop until 2000, and was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Song to film” story, Robert Kirkman’s Oblivion Song is already getting the big screen treatment. Universal Pictures announced on Tuesday that the studio, along with Skybound Entertainment, will develop a sci-fi drama based on the comic book series.
Oblivion Song, written and created by The Walking Dead creator Kirkman with art by Lorenzo De Felici, began its run in March of last year.
Here’s Universal’s description: Oblivion Song takes place a decade after 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government has made every attempt to recover them, but after many years they give up. But Nathan Cole won’t. Cole makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those lost, alone and afraid, living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe he is actually looking for something else? Why can’t he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?
The comic book series is published by Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics. Annalisa Leoni is the colorist, Rus Wooton is the letterer, and Sean Mackiewicz is the editor.
Sean O’Keefe will write the script for Oblivion Song. O’Keefe’s latest project was Wonderland, which stars Mark Wahlberg with Peter Berg directing. The film recently wrapped filming. O’Keefe sold the first script based on Robert E. Parker’s best selling Spenser book series in a deal with Netflix.
Skybound’s film team, including Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst, will produce the film, and Universal’s executive vice president of production Jon Mone and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Maauu-RICE” story, Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is set to become the first of the much-loved author’s books to be adapted as an animated movie. The Discworld novel, the 28th in the series and the first for children, has been optioned by Germany-based Ulysses Filmproduktion, which will make the film alongside Ireland’s Cantilever Media. U.S. writer Terry Rossio, whose extensive credits include Shrek, Aladdin, and Pirates of the Caribbean, has written the screenplay.
Carter Goodrich, who worked on Ratatouille and Brave, is on board for character design. Toby Genkel (“Ooops! Noah Is Gone…”) is attached to direct the €15 million ($17 million) movie.
Pratchett’s book, published by Doubleday in 2001, is a reworking of the classic tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It follows Maurice, a streetwise cat, who has the perfect money-making scam. He finds a dumb-looking kid who plays a pipe and has his very own horde of rats, who are strangely literate. When Maurice and the rodents reach the stricken town of Bad Blintz, they discover that something very bad is waiting in the cellars.
Cantilever Media CEO Andrew Baker, who produced Netflix’s Robozuna, told Variety that the project has been in development for several years after Ulysses optioned the book. The team is now looking to raise the last part of the financing and, with a script and character designs in hand, is ready to go into production at the end of the year. The plan is for the comedy-action-adventure movie to be ready for release in early 2022.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Where no Trek has gone before” story, Speaking to Empire Magazine (via TrekMovie), Tarantino was asked about the current status of the film, which seems to still be in development, even though the original “Star Trek 4” idea has been shelved.
“There’s a script that exists for it now, I need to weigh in on it, but haven’t been able to do that yet,” said Tarantino.
Obviously, the director is a bit tied up with his ‘Once Upon a Time’ project, which he may or may not still be editing before its July release. The Star Trek script is said to be written by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant, Overlord), who was brought on after Tarantino pitched the idea for the film to ‘Trek’ producer J.J. Abrams. Apparently, Abrams and Tarantino were so enthused about the idea, they commissioned the script, with Tarantino saying he’s about to give notes.
The filmmaker was then asked if, true to his normal film output, the new Star Trek project would be rated R.
He replied, “Oh yeah! It’s an R-rated movie. If I do it, it’ll be R-rated.”
This fact about the film seems to be the one thing that excites, or disturbs, just about everyone interested in the project. Anyone who has seen a Quentin Tarantino film knows that the director is not one to pull punches, especially when it comes to violence and language. Is the world ready for a Star Trek film with F-bombs and tons of blood? Maybe we’ll find out.
Of course, nothing that Tarantino says gives away plot details or gives us any idea whether or not this Star Trek film will actually get made. But at least we now know that there IS a script, AND it ‘s R rated.
Now, we have to wonder if they would recast everyone, or if Chris Pine would be willing to return for a Tarantino Trek.
IN THIS WEEK’S ” Bringing back Bugs” story, ANNECY, France — One of the most highly-anticipated presentations at this year’s Annecy Intl. Animation Festival was the world premiere of a slate of new “Looney Tunes Cartoons” shorts. To celebrate the occasion, and include fans from around the world that couldn’t make it to French festival, Warner Bros. Animation has shared an exclusive 90 second short with Variety.
As classic as they come, “Dynamite Dance” is an explosive thrill ride featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, dressed in his traditional brown hunting suit and hat, in a cartoonishly-violent, non-verbal and classically orchestrated back and forth.
Set to Amilcare Ponchielli’s classic “Dance of the Hours,” Elmer fails time and again to get his hands on bugs, instead ending up with hands, mouth and ears full of the iconic red sticks of Acme dynamite.
The short was one of more than a dozen which screened this week at Annecy, two on opening night – “Mummy Dummy” and “Wet Cement” – the rest at Wednesday’s presentation.
Browngardt, “Looney Tunes Cartoons” supervising director Alex Kirwan and Warner Bros. vice president of series Audrey Diehl led the hour-and-a-half laugh fest, taking intermediate breaks from the cartoons to give a behind the scenes look at artwork, animatics, a storyboard pitching session and a live orchestra recording of some of the franchise’s most iconic music.
“We are approaching each short as its own film, and not as an episode in a series,” explained Peter Browngardt, executive producer of the rebooted cartoons in an interview with Variety before the festival. “Our mantra on the shorts is story, comedy and reverence for the classic Looney Tunes of the ‘30s and ‘40s and the way they used a more cartoonist driven animation.”
The individual nature of each short has put a heavy workload on Kirwan’s shoulders, as he is the man in charge of the show’s design team. What it means, is that each short has a new set of backgrounds. Porky and Daffy never show up in the same house, Bugs in the same rabbit hole or Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner in the same desert.
“We’re not making it easy on ourselves; let me put it that way,” he joked. “It’s a lot more work, but with something like the Looney Tunes, something that’s part of the culture of the world, there is a responsibility there.”
“We are a group of cartoonists together in a room and we draw funny gag drawings and come up with wild scenarios,” Browngardt said, explaining that they don’t use screenplays or screenwriters. Each shorts start as a series of sketches and gags that have made the artists laugh.
“I feel like that is what made the classic Looney Tunes so fantastic,” he went on. “It wasn’t screen writers; they were thinking completely visual all the time. I feel like the best cartoon animation comes from that process.”
~ Ok, this is cool. I feel like they are getting the spirit of these new shorts. I hope they are worthy and entertaining of the original Toons.
According to Browngardt, of the 200+ shorts that will be produced in this batch of cartoons, 20-30 are already completely finished, with close to 150 others in various stages of production from storyboards and on. In the end, the studio will have created more than 1000 minutes of new Looney Tunes content.
At the moment, a finalized distribution plan has not been announced, but the Warner Bros. Animation team hasn’t ruled out anything. It seems likely then that Looney Tunes Cartoons could end up on traditional broadcast networks, digital platforms or perhaps accompanying feature films in the theater.
I’m hoping for the latter, in addition to whatever other outlet they choose. I’d love to see a Looney Toon short before a Warner Bros. movie in the theater.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Queen Grant” story, Fresh off his Oscar nomination for his work in Can You Ever Forgive Me, Richard E. Grant is set to star as a legendary drag queen in the film adaptation of the popular British stage musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Catastrophe star Sharon Hogan and “Happy Valley” star Sarah Lancashire also join newcomer Max Harwood, who plays the young lead Jamie, in the film.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the stage production inspired by the true story of Jamie Campbell, a 16-year-old boy who became a drag queen. The musical is originally inspired by a BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, and it explores how Jamie overcomes prejudice and the bullies at his school to become a drag sensation.
Grant stars as a former drag queen and Jamie’s mentor named Hugo, also known as Loco Channelle. Hogan will play Jamie’s teacher Miss Hedge, and Lancashire plays his mother Margaret. Shobna Gulati, from the original stage cast, will reprise her role of Ray.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a co-production of New Regency, Film4 and Warp Films. They’ve reunited the original stage production team, including director Jonathan Butterell, writer Tom MacRae, composer Dan Gillespie Sells and choreographer Kate Prince. Filming will begin in Sheffield, England, on June 24.
The film is directed by Jonathan Butterell and written by Tom MacRae, with music by Dan Gillespie Sells.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Rappin’ with Bill and Ted” story, Bill & Ted Face the Music has added Grammy Award winning rapper Kid Cudi to the cast. The news comes after sequel star Alex Winter shared some storyboard art on social media, giving fans their first real look at the highly anticipated sequel. Production is expected to begin this month, presumably after Keanu Reeves, who appears to have cloned himself to be everywhere, finishes promoting Toy Story 4. The actor has been receiving rave reviews for his performance as Duke Caboom in the highly praised Pixar sequel.
A lot of the story details surrounding Bill & Ted 3 are under wraps currently. The same can be said for the role played by Kid Cudi in the sequel, which is currently unknown.
In addition to Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, Bill & Ted 3 also sees the return of William Sadler as the Grim Reaper. Sadler starred in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and is very excited to be back on board for the sequel, which Co-writer Ed Solomon describes as “A Christmas Carol with Bill and Ted.” In the sequel, the heroic duo are met by someone from the future who informs them they have to “save life as we know it and bring harmony to the universe” through the power of their music.
That’s also the premise for the first two. Bill & Ted 3 is slated to hit theaters on August 21st, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Tennis King” story, Back in March, it was revealed that Smith would play Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, in the film King Richard. The film will tell the story of the Williams family, which is led by the iron-willed patriarch that wouldn’t rest until his daughters were the best tennis players in the world. If you’re a fan of sports, you know that Richard Williams is one of the most interesting figures in tennis over the last decade, with the father often telling the story of writing a 78-page plan when his kids were young about how he would raise them to be tennis pros.
The film will be directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men).
Warner Bros. has high hopes for King Richard, as the studio has dated the film for a November 25, 2020 release
IN THIS WEEK’S “Cooper’s Nightmare?” story, Bradley Cooper is in early talks to star in Guillermo del Toro and Fox Searchlight’s adaptation of Nightmare Alley.
Sources say Cooper recently received an offer and while it’s currently unclear if a deal will close, sources indicate both sides have engaged in talks. Cooper would take the place of Leonardo DiCaprio, who ended up passing on the project after a deal could not be reached.
Del Toro will direct the pic and co-wrote the script with Kim Morgan. Nightmare Alley is being produced and financed by del Toro and J. Miles Dale with TSG Entertainment, with Fox Searchlight acquiring worldwide distribution rights to the film.
While Fox made a “Nightmare Alley” movie in 1947, this film will be based moreso on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The 1947 movie starred Tyrone Power as an ambitious young con-man who teams up with a female psychiatrist who is even more corrupt than he is. At first, they enjoy success fleecing people with their mentalist act, but then she turns the tables on him, out-manipulating the manipulator.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ruining your childhood” story, SyFy has a film coming out that will definitely make you go “Hmmm”.
Syfy is taking destroying childhoods to a new level with… The Banana Splits Movie. The furry costumed animals of the ’60s live-action Hanna-Barbera series are coming back with a vengeance — literally. No longer happy-go-lucky children’s performers, the furry foursome Fleegle the Beagle, Bingo the Gorilla, Drooper the Lion, and Snorky the Elephant are now homicidal monsters ready to wreak havoc.
Here is the synopsis for The Banana Splits Movie:
The beloved children’s show is back… with a vengeance, a horrible, bloody vengeance. Starring Dani Kind, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, and Romeo Carere. Coming to Blu-Ray/DVD this Summer and premiering on SYFY later this year.
So, this is weird. I mean, I watched the Banana Splits as a kid and I was never scared of them. However, I can see why it might be a bit creepy to have these costumer characters now being used to kill people and threaten children. It’s kind of funny. You can see a trailer online for this movie, and I admit to being curious.
Aaaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Shenanigans, or fight I’d pay to see?” story, Pop star Justin Bieber challenged “Mission Impossible” veteran Tom Cruise to “fight in the octagon” on Sunday, and honestly, we just want to know why.
“Tom if you dont [sic] take this fight your [sic] scared and you will never live it down,” Bieber tweeted, before tagging UFC president Dana White.
“Who is willing to put on the fight? @danawhite ?” the 25-year-old Canadian tweeted.
It’s not immediately clear why the Biebs would want to challenge Cruise, a 56-year-old actor with admittedly a lot more action-movie experience, to a fight in a UFC octagon.
Reps for Bieber and Cruise did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Cruise has not yet acknowledged Bieber’s request, but that hasn’t stopped the internet from chiming in, with Conner McGregor stirring the pot.
“If Tom Cruise is man enough to accept this challenge, McGregor Sports and Entertainment will host the bout. Does Cruise have the sprouts to fight, like he does in the movies? Stay tuned to find out!”
But MMA professional fighter Bobby Nash pointed out the uneven nature of Bieber’s request.
“You’re calling out a 56 year old man lol,” Nash tweeted.
Others felt that Bieber is the one who should really be on the defensive.
“Tom Cruise was an all state wrestler in high school and has been training for over thirty years… You can’t eat a burrito correctly… Sit down Biebs,” amateur MMA fighter Tony Posnanski tweeted.
It’s too soon to tell how this will all go down, but one thing is for sure — if Cruise accepts the fight, it’s going to be one for the ages. Or a huge publicity stunt. Could be entertaining either way, though.