The Weekly Report
All news contained herein corresponds to the world of film. The Weekly Report will seek to cover general film news that has emerged over the last seven days.
- Lionsgate forced into franchise rethink after Allegiant reception
- In the wake of less-than-positive reviews and a pretty dismal box office down 44% from Insurgent’s $52million opening, Allegiant apparently has distributor Lionsgate rethinking the next instalment of the YA franchise, Ascendant (via Variety). Currently scheduled for release against a Tom Cruise-led reboot of The Mummy as well as World War Z 2, it could be that Ascendant is the most lifeless thing on the plate come next June. Allegiant’s commercial failings come at a bad time for Lionsgate, which is struggling to deal with the end of its previous YA barnstormer, The Hunger Games, and the failure of its latest potential franchise, Gods of Egypt, which mustered a domestic opening of just over $14million. The likelihood is that Lionsgate will strip Ascendant’s budget back just a little; maybe they’ll replace Jeff Daniels with Bill Pullman or something.
- SAG-AFTRA installs new president
- With the untimely death of Ken Howard this week (see In Memoriam for further details), Gabrielle Carteris has become the acting president of the prominent SAG-AFTRA union. Carteris, known for roles in long-running hill-based television series like King of the Hill and Beverley Hills, 90210 had been executive vice president since 2013 and will serve as president until SAG-AFTRA’s next meeting, believed by The Hollywood Reporter to be penciled in for early April. Howard’s tenure was not due to conclude until October 2017, and his death comes at a time when SAG-AFTRA is beginning negotiations over its commercial contracts. Whether Carteris will carry on in the mould of the pragmatic, conciliatory Howard remains to be seen.
- Disney threatens Georgia boycott if discrimination bill passes
- After non-cinema related (and thus not important) pronouncements from the likes of the NFL and AMC, Walt Disney Studios has announced that it too is considering a halt to using Georgia as a site for film production if a controversial piece of legislation passes; House Bill 757 would permit faith-based organisations and individuals to refuse service to couples (whether gay or straight) in accordance with their religious beliefs. Disney, which shot Captain America: Civil War in the state and has recently started production on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 just outside the state capital Atlanta, has accordingly stated that “we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law” (via Deadline). Governor Nathan Deal has previously hinted at support for such “religious liberty” bills but is yet to indicate what his judgement might be in this case.
Dealing with those projects in production, this is where to come to find out what has been greenlit, what major casting decisions have been announced, what century we can expect Avatar 2 in, and any other related film news.
- Paul McCartney joins Pirates of the Caribbean 5
- Whenever news of reshoots surface, it’s usually a signal that something may be amiss – prove us wrong Star Trek Beyond, prove us wrong. However, with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, that signal flare was launched pretty much along with its title. Thus, Deadline’s report that the fifth instalment in the “popular” piratical franchise is heading back to sea in order to shoot “an extra big set-piece” isn’t particularly surprising. What is surprising is that Paul McCartney has been added to the cast, and much of the scene revolves around his character. Pirates has form for casting elderly musicians; Keith Richards jumped onboard for On Stranger Tides, while Christmas All Around crooner Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) played Davy Jones in Dead Man’s Chest. Nothing is known about Macca’s role except that Ringo would almost certainly have done it better.
- Indiana Jones 5 scores itself a writer
- To all those worried that the new Indiana Jones project might turn out to be a bit of a dud, conjuring visions of crystal skulls, anti-nuclear fridges and meerkat after meerkat after meerkat, fear not! In addition to the solid gold involvement of messrs Spielberg and Ford, Indy 5 has itself a writer: David Koepp, of Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Sku-oh. Yeah. The Hollywood Reporter writes that Koepp’s relatively unsurprising involvement is confirmed and we all have over three years to gradually inhale in apprehension before Ford’s (77 year old!) non-crystal skull bears that legendary hat and we can say things like “that franchise belongs in a museum”. It’ll be great.
- Taylor Kitsch to write, direct, star in a film
- Determined not to follow in the footsteps of all those discarded Josh Hartnetts, Alex Pettyfers and (hopefully) Hayden Christensens, Taylor Kitsch is just going to write his own darned film, alright? Deadline reports that the star of John Carter, Battleship and Lone Survivor will write, direct and star in a film about “three best friends from Detroit who change the course of their lives by intercepting a drug run.” The project, titled Pieces, will shoot this summer in Texas and counts Kitsch’s regular collaborator, Peter Berg (Battleship, Friday Night Lights), as producer.
- Assassin’s Creed being eyed for a sequel, ditto Splinter Cell
- Although we’re yet to spy the elusive assassin – which is probably a ringing endorsement for the fella – Assassin’s Creed, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, is already being eyed for a sequel by producer New Regency, as is the upcoming Tom Hardy vehicle, Splinter Cell. Daphne Yang, CEO of Catchplay – the Taiwanese co-financier of both films – admitted as much on Tuesday, saying that both “would make ideal sequels” (via Variety). Both projects are adaptations of fairly ubiquitous Ubisoft properties – a new instalment of Creed set for 2017 – and given the resounding, unremitting success of all previous video game-to-film releases thus far, it seems a sure bet that Yang won’t be regretting her words any time soon. Champagne all round!
In Memory Of…
- Ken Howard
- Ken Howard, the Emmy and Tony Award winner who rose to prominence as president of the Screen Actors Guild and later the unified SAG-AFTRA union, has died at the age of 71. Standing at six and a half feet, Howard turned down a number of basketball scholarships to focus on academia and, later, his passion for theatre. Soon he was acting on stage and screen – winning a Tony Award in 1970 for Child’s Play – with roles in long running series like Dynasty and Bonanza, as well as the role that brought him the most fame – coach Ken Reeves in the CBS series The White Shadow. Later, Howard also played significant roles in films such as The Net, In Her Shoes, Michael Clayton and, most recently, Joy, while his television credits peaked with an Emmy win for his performance in HBO’s Grey Gardens in 2009. In the same year, Howard was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild by its 160 000 member and his ensuing leadership was one of pragmatism and moderation, his enduring legacy the merger of SAG and AFTRA, of which he was elected president in 2013 and re-elected in 2015. Gabrielle Sarteris, now acting president of SAG-AFTRA, paid tribute to Howard as “an inspirational leader… we will be forever in his debt”. He is survived by his wife, Linda Fetters, a former stuntwoman.
Trailers of the Week
Because one Batman is never enough to keep you cretins happy, Warner Bros. have timed the release of their new, definitive take on the man in black (and yellow) perfectly. Showcasing all new abilities like successfully microwaving a Lobster in just two minutes and beatboxing like a pro, it’s the teaser for The LEGO Batman Movie.
Also out this week: the trailer for Ricky Gervais’s adaptation of the 2009 French hit, Envoyés très spéciaux. The trailer neatly sums up the plot in a couple of breezy bits of exposition (“I think we’re so much better off here in New York than Ecuador” / “Everyone’s looking for us, which means we have to go to Ecuador! For real!”) but while Bana may be more conventionally attractive than Gervais’s usual comedy partner, it remains to be seen whether Gervais has got his groove back.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to come back next week for your weekly film news with One Room With a View.