News & Updates
February 16, 2020
The planned April premiere in China for Daniel Craig’s final stint as James Bond in “No Time to Die” has been cancelled and a publicity tour postponed as the country grapples with the coronavirus. That comes as China has shuttered nearly all of its 70,000 theaters in the wake of the virus’ spread, already costing the movie business well over $1 billion.
Citing a studio insider, London’s Sunday Times reported that even if cinemas reopen in time for the film’s premiere, Craig, co-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) would be among those unable to get doctors’ clearance to travel to China.
Coronavirus has infected more than 69,000 people globally, mostly in mainland China. It has killed 1,669, including four outside mainland china, according to CNN.
The economic toll is already being felt by Hollywood. China has the world’s second-largest box office; a strong showing there is crucial for the success of films in the franchise era.
The most recent 007 film, “Spectre” had the strongest Chinese showing of all 24 movies in the series when it grossed $83.51 million in 2015. “Spectre” grossed $880.67 million worldwide. “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing film ever at $2.8 billion, grossed $614.32 million in China, or one fifth of the total.
The current toll on the Chinese box office was well illustrated during last month’s Lunar New Year holiday weekend, where grosses totaled just $2 million, down from $507 million for the same time period the year before, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“No Time to Die” is the 25th film in the franchise, and will be the last one to star Daniel Craig in the role of 007. The franchise has yet to find a successor to Craig, who has been leading the series since 2006’s “Casino Royale,” also going on to appear in “Spectre,” “Skfyall,” and “Quantum of Solace.”
The film is directed by “Beasts of No Nation” filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga, who co-wrote the script with Scott Z. Burns and Waller-Bridge.
Craig, Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, and Lea Seydoux all reprise their previous Bond roles, alongside newcomers Rami Malek, Ana De Armas, Lashana Lynch, David Dencik, Billy Magnussen, and Dali Benssalah.
Source: IndieWire film
February 16, 2020
Looking for funding for your next documentary short or series? ITVS, which produces the PBS series “Independent Lens,” will launch its latest funding initiative February 17 for projects under 30 minutes. Short-Form Open Call (previously known as Digital Open Call) considers projects about any topic, and they can be in development or production.
The initiative seeks projects that spark dialogue and can engage a young and diverse online audience. Topics of particular interest include exploring American identity, arts and humanities, criminal justice, disability, health, and rural life.
For nonfiction series, ITVS will accept applications for projects either in the research and development phase, which will be eligible for up to $25,000 to help creators bring their ideas to pilot. The organization will work with creators to develop stories and determine the length and number of episodes. For series in early-to-mid-production, ITVS will provide production support and funding that varies based on the project.
Shorts are eligible for $40,000 in production license funding, and can be in pre-production or in mid-production.
ITVS funded an early project of “Moonlight” Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, the 2011 narrative short “Remigration.” It was part of the “FutureStates” web series.
Previous short-form projects funded by ITVS include Billy Luther’s “alter-NATIVE” and “alter-NATIVE: Kitchen,” which aired on “Independent Lens” and explored indigenous fashion and cuisine; Maxine Trump’s “Should We Kid Or Not,” a web series centered about deciding to be a parent, including discussions on sterilization, adoption, and teen pregnancy; and Ben Wu and David Usui’s “American Nomads,” a series looking at Americans who live in their vehicles.
“We are passionate about supporting visionary non-fiction filmmakers, whether they are creating feature narratives or shorts and series,” said Royd Chung, ITVS VP of production. “Our new focus with Short-Form Open Call will offer talented creators with a path to aid them in telling short stories about the triumphs and challenges we face in our everyday lives.”
For the first time this year, the organization will accept applications on a rolling basis. Applicants receive decisions within 16 weeks of submission. Applicants cannot be currently enrolled as students, or employed as a producer or director at a broadcast entity or a film studio. Projects must be shorter than standard broadcast or feature length, and not completed.
ITVS will help get selected projects find distribution on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and PBS.org in collaboration with public media parters such as “Independent Lens,” PBS Digital Studios, and WORLD Channel.
A nonprofit funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, ITVS bills itself as “public media’s leading incubator.” Two-thirds of its filmmakers and over half of its staff are people of color. Half its films are by and about women, according to its website. More information about the funding initiative is available at ITVS’ website.
Source: IndieWire film
February 16, 2020
As Neon basked in the afterglow of four Oscar wins including Best Picture for “Parasite,” the movie doubled its gross on its 19th weekend, by far its best showing. Universal’s Oscar-winner “1917” also stayed strong in even more theaters, grossing higher still.
Neon also ruled the roost with another potential crossover film, Valentine’s Day weekend entry “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” Céline Sciamma’s period bodice-ripper, which returned to theaters after a one-week Oscar qualifying multi-city run, showed significant success in most locations, not only core specialized, but also more mainstream theaters.
Otherwise, weekend results continue mixed. Searchlight released marriage story “Downhill” wide to less than enthusiastic response, while Bleecker Street went limited with a modest reaction to their serious romantic drama “Ordinary Love.” This was a weekend to spotlight films about couples, but Valentine’s Day didn’t deliver any significant boost.
The other standout opener was “The Times of Bill Cunningham” (Greenwich), which opened strong in two New York theaters despite the photographer having already been portrayed in another documentary.
Among the non-reporting films is “Corpus Christi” (Film Movement), the International Feature Film nominee from Poland, which had an advance run in Chicago this weekend and debuts in New York on Wednesday.
All grosses below are estimates for the three day weekend. The Presidents Day semi-holiday should add 10% or more to all of these figures.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Neon) – Metacritic: 95; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York 2019
(reopening after December qualifying run)
$440,907 in 22 theaters; PTA: $20,041; Cumulative: $559,510
Neon follows up its huge subtitled success with “Parasite” with the biggest launch for a French film in many years. Sciamma’s romance between two women, which some believed should have been the French Oscar entry, opened in two theaters for a week in December to top-level reviews (December numbers are in the cumulative total). Neon now brings it to six cities for its official opening.
The $20,000 PTA (which includes Thursday as well as some additional earlier shows) are outstanding. The four core New York/Los Angeles theaters — again not the first weekend for two of them — will have a PTA of over $40,000 for the three days. That’s heading for phenomenal territory for a subtitled film.
Remember: before “Parasite” it had been several years since a specialized subtitled film grossed even $5 million domestic. It’s early, but expect this to manage that and more.
What comes next: This opens in further markets this Friday with a steady expansion ahead.
Downhill (Searchlight) – Metacritic: 49; Festivals include: Sundance 2020
$4,671,000 in 2,301 theaters; PTA: $2,030
Though this remake initially opened wide, this specialty film from core supplier Searchlight premiered at Sundance. It’s a remake of Swedish “Force Majeure,” a recent subtitled arthouse success, and its directors previously made “Way Way Back.” Given the film’s two stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, it made sense to open with a 2,301 theater Valentine’s Day break. On paper the marital comedy showed commercial appeal, so going for the greater glory was logical (especially if strong reviews were not in the offing).
“Downhill” also landed a D Cinemascore, confirming that the public was not responsive. It will make the Top Ten, and grossed slightly ahead of pessimistic predictions. Its 26% drop after Friday (which was boosted by previews and Valentine’s Day) is not a disaster, but it’s hard to see this one sticking around much beyond next week.
What comes next: It might creep to as much as $5 million, which is less than such weak festival-launched movies with adult appeal as “Blinded by the Light” and “Late Night.”
The Times of Bill Cunningham (Greenwich) – Metacritic: 68; Festivals include: New York 2018
$44,475 in 2 theaters; PTA: $22,238
This is an extraordinary performance, given that legendary New York Times street life photographer Bill Cunningham was already the subject of a 2011 documentary (“Bill Cunningham: New York”), which grossed over $1.5 million. Following his death, a second non-fiction portrait opened in two New York theaters for the best results for a documentary since last fall, as well as one of the top initial PTAs so far this year. The earlier film also had a strong start (adjusted over $35,000 in a single theater), but this result is equally impressive.
What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with top 50 markets included through March.
Ordinary Love (Bleecker Street) – Metacritic: 72; Festivals include: Toronto 2019
$24,874 in 3 theaters; PTA: $8,291
This yielded decent reviews, especially for Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville as a couple coping with the wife’s breast cancer. But top theater placement led to only a modest initial result. Saturday showed a decent 26% uptick so this might find decent word of mouth ahead.
What comes next: With seven new cities, this will be at 12 theaters to start its expansion this Friday.
Those Who Remained (Menemsha) – Festivals include: Telluride 2019
$11,862 in 2 theaters; PTA: $5,931
Performing well in two South Florida theaters, this Hungarian post-World War II drama was shortlisted for the International Oscar and should land more upbeat reviews.
What comes next: New York and Los Angeles theaters open later on May 8.
I Was at Home, But… (Cinema Guild) – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Berlin, Toronto, New York 2019
$6,115 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,115
German director Angela Schanelec has earned a festival reputation so far, but her profile is growing. Her most recent film, a family drama involving a mysterious disappearance, opened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York to a respectable result.
What comes next: This won’t be a mainstream art title, but is getting some key theaters. These include Los Angeles and Chicago on February 28.
The Lodge (Neon)
$126,000 in 21 theaters (+15); PTA: $6,000; Cumulative: $226,001
Neon is adding more cities to this mainstream though still limited genre release, which is working best with younger audiences, especially at Neon partner Alamo Drafthouse locations.
And Then We Danced (Music Box)
$22,406 in 7 theaters (+5); PTA: $3,201; Cumulative: $42,040
The second-week expansion includes three Los Angeles theaters. The numbers for this Georgian/Swedish production about a sexually repressive dance couple are modest but reasonable for a less-known subtitled new release. They suggest enough interest to lead to a wider break.
Ongoing/Expanding (grosses over $50,000)
1917 (Universal) Week 9
$8,090,000 in 3,084 theaters (-464); Cumulative: $144,400,000
What Best Picture loss? Sure a win would have been a bigger boost, but this fell only 12% nonetheless. Sam Mendes’ popular war film still looks to end up with a very strong domestic take over $170 million.
Parasite (Neon) Week 19; also on Video on Demand
$5,501,000 in 2,001 theaters (+941); Cumulative: $43,188,000
Oscar is not dead. And when social media cranks out video of Director Bong finally returning to Seoul, you know something special is going on. But the grosses show that as well. Despite inexpensive home-viewing alternatives, this had by far the highest post-win weekend of any Best Picture winner since “The King’s Speech” nine years ago. And that was in the pre-streaming era for a film which did three times as much business as “Parasite” so far.
That this is a subtitled film makes this ongoing performance even more exquisite. “Parasite” looks likely to add $15 million or more to its pre-win total and pass $50 million. That would put it ahead of four of the last nine winners, all of which –natch–were in English.
Jojo Rabbit (Searchlight) Week 18
$900,000 in 484 theaters (-612); Cumulative: $31,800,000
The delayed home availability and anticipation of realized Oscar success has added over $11 million to Taika Waititi’s film’s gross.
Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) Week 9
$765,000 in 864 theaters (-469); Cumulative: $34,745,000
Late in its run, this Michael B. Jordan/Jamie Foxx capital punishment true story still maintains a significant national footprint with a decent result since its Christmas platform debut.
The Assistant (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$212,352 in 82 theaters (+57); Cumulative: $484,009
This acclaimed and sensitive film about the insidious damage caused in a #MeToo infected workplace is widening quickly to continued modest interest. It will get a maximized push by Bleecker Street, but doesn’t look like it will expand much beyond specialized locations.
2020 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Magnolia) Week 3
$(est.) 140,000 in 115 theaters (-421); Cumulative: $(est.) 3,093,000
Despite getting one less week to play (because of the truncated Oscar calendar), this annual compilation of shorts will end up with about 90% of the gross of last year’s record setting run.
Uncut Gems (A24) Week 10
$172,094 in 218 theaters (-924); Cumulative: $49,771,000
Interest continues late in the run for A24’s biggest grosser, soon to reach $50 million without the usual 10% boost of Canadian dates (where it was limited due to its Netflix platform there).
Bombshell (Lionsgate) Week 10
$125,000 in 128 theaters (-144); Cumulative: $31,397,000
This Oscar winner should find a healthy afterlife post-theatrical, but figure this to be about the end of the first run for this recreation of the toxic Fox News environment.
The Last Full Measure (Roadside Attractions) Week 4
$89,400 in 121 theaters (-496); Cumulative: $2,766,000
This quest for recognition for a Vietnam hero true story lost most of its theaters but added to its gross which will end up close to $3 million.
Weathering With You (GKids) Week 6
$68,400 in 32 theaters (-76); Cumulative: $7,690,000
The remaining theaters continue to have a decent response for this Japanese animated film.
The Traitor (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$52,623 in 29 theaters (+12); Cumulative: $146,818
Veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio’s Sicilian heroin trade drama is still in early stages of top-city release, with mediocre results. With SPC behind it, expect further extensive play in all cities.
The Song of Names (Sony Pictures Classics) – $38,842 in 51 theaters; Cumulative: $997,163
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) – $18,847 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $4,547,000; also on Video on Demand
Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words (Blue Fox) – $16,196 in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $200,793
Source: IndieWire film
February 16, 2020
[Editor’s note: The following post contains extensive spoilers for “Last Christmas,” including its twist ending.]
Back in August, when Universal released the first trailer for Paul Feig’s rom-com “Last Christmas,” internet sleuths were quick to read between the lines and come to a conclusion much to the filmmakers chagrin: Henry Golding’s holiday knight-in-shining armor to Emilia Clarke’s disillusioned Christmas-store elf is actually a ghost.
The top YouTube comment on Universal’s trailer gives reasons why: Tom (Golding) wears the same exact outfit throughout, while Kate (Clarke) is shown in an array of different clothes. He’s also the only person interacting with Kate in the trailer.
It’s impressive detective work, but not exactly accurate. In the film, Tom is indeed dead and an apparition visible only to Kate. It turns out the biggest spoiler, also pointed out by that same commenter, comes from the George Michael song on which the film is based and accompanies the trailer: “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart” — Tom literally gave Kate his heart as an organ donor.
In a recent interview with Collider, Feig expressed frustration with the choices made by Universal’s marketing team for the trailer and the media for reporting on the pre-release speculation.
“I wasn’t really frustrated that people were trying to guess it. What I was very frustrated with was that the media was just picking up on that and then putting out these theories, some of which were true, but printing them like spoilers, and I just had never seen that happen to another movie before where people, even though they didn’t know if it was that they were just actively trying to spoil something, you know what I mean?” Feig said. “It’s not like when ‘Knives Out’ came out, people were like going, “I bet so and so was the murderer.” So I didn’t quite understand why that was happening to a romantic comedy (laughs), so I found it very frustrating to be perfectly honest.”
i just watched last christmas and i was already expecting that twist but i still cried lol
— sydney @ semi-hiatus (@chrryhearts) February 15, 2020
Feig suspects including the fact of Kate’s illness in the trailer helped people connect the dots. If it was up to him, he said he wouldn’t have revealed that plot point.
But he doesn’t blame the marketing team. Trailer testing revealed that audiences were more responsive to the advertising when they knew Kate was sick; Feig discussed at length in the interview the value he finds in test screenings.
“I’ve had movies where I’ve been like, ‘Don’t give that away.’ Things that I think would drive people to see the movie, I sometimes won’t let into the trailer, and so I’ve got this movie that everything’s protected on, but not enough people go to see it. That’s that weird trade-off you have to do as a commercial filmmaker,” he said. “But it’s frustrating. Your heart sometimes sinks when you start to see how they want to market something, but I’ve been very lucky, because Universal’s great, and when I worked with Lionsgate they were great, Fox was great. I’ve had some really good campaigns. Making the movie is almost easy. The marketing is like the hardest thing in the world to get right because you just have to walk an absolute tightrope.”
The twist was among the parts of the film that divided critics; it has a 50 on Metacritic. Feig said that was one of the things that attracted him to the Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings-penned script.
Source: IndieWire film
February 15, 2020
In the early days of smartphone video, shooting something vertically amounted to sacrilege to many purists who believed only in landscape orientation. Snapchat and TikTok eroded that sentiment enough that the upcoming Quibi platform will let viewers watch mobile-only shows both vertically and horizontally. Now, pioneering filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov is taking it a step further: His upcoming $10 million film “V2. Escape From Hell” is a World War II drama shot with vertical framing and smartphone audiences in mind.
Deadline reports the movie will be the world’s first blockbuster shot in that orientation. Production starts next week on the Russian film, starring Pavel Priluchny as Mikhail Devyatayev, a captured Soviet pilot who leads an escape from a German concentration camp by hijacking an aircraft.
The fact-based film is produced by Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs and Voenfilm in partnership with Russia’s biggest mobile phone operator MTS, which will release the Russian version on its digital platform early next year.
A second English-language version will also be produced. It will will include different scenes and will open with the Luftwaffe bombing raids against London.
In an IndieWire profile of Bekmambetov in 2018, the Russian filmmaker discussed his dissatisfaction with current movies that use traditional production methods — everything, he said, feels derivative.
He’s produced several movies using Screenlife software, which allows filmmakers to create movies where the action takes place on a computer screen. Among them is “Unfriended: Dark Web,” the sequel to the 2014 found-footage horror film whose story unfolds through Skype conversations. The original was produced for $1 million, acquired by Universal, and went on to gross over $16 million. The similarly budgeted sequel grossed $16.4 million for Universal.
Bekmambetov also produced the vertical series “Dead of Night,” which was released on Snapchat in September. It followed a girl trying to escape a zombie apocalypse.
Quibi is banking that audiences are ready to consume Hollywood-produced content in vertical form. When the platform launches April 6, it will be available only on phones and tablets. Each series or movie is produced to natively display in either vertical or horizontal form. Viewers can switch seamlessly back and forth thanks to the company’s Turnstile technology. Some vertical views offer a re-cut or reframed version of what’s shown horizontally; other instances take a page out of Bekmambetov’s Screenlife playbook and offer a view of a character’s smartphone.
Source: IndieWire film
February 14, 2020
Sigma closes the door on a full-frame Foveon X3 sensor. For now.
At Photokina 2018, Sigma announced the development of a Foveon X3 sensor for a full-frame L-mount camera with plans to launch a production model sometime in 2020. This is no longer the case.
In a letter published on its website, Kazuto Yamaki says, “Since the earlier announcements, your excitement with the launch of a “full-frame Foveon” has been a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement for us. Everyone involved in the project has pulled out all the stops to make it a reality.”
The news comes as a result of “careful and rigorous testing” and Sigma now says it will not be able to produce the camera this year. The company is uncertain of the exact timetable of when it can.
February 14, 2020
Headlining our Deals of the Week is the 50% discount on the Rylo 5.8K 360 video camera, on sale now for just $199.
This week in filmmaking deals: Save $50 on the Metabones Speed Booster XL and $100 on the DJI Osmo Action 4K HDR Camera. Also, the SmallHD FOCUS OLED Monitor, which usually retails for $430, is now under $300. The biggest deal we found this week is this whopping 50% discount on the Rylo 5.8K 360 Degree Video Camera. Finally, Adorama is running a special on the Litepanels Astra 6X Bi-Color LED panel with Flashpoint light stand that gives you over $170 in savings.
Metabones Speed Booster XL
Want to give your camera rig a speed boost? One of the most popular ways to do that (with tools) is with the Metabones Speed Booster XL, which will allow you to increase your maximum aperture by a full stop and increase MTF to boost the optical performance potential of your lens. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on one, you can get it for $50 right now.
DJI Osmo Action 4K HDR Camera
February 14, 2020
The smaller, lighter, more flexible version of the popular XEEN primes are now available.
[Editor’s Note: No Film School participated in a sponsored post for Rokinon XEEN. However, all opinions are our own. Rokinon co-produced this video.]
First announced back in September, the full set of XEEN CF primes will be available worldwide at the end of February. The set includes focal length 16, 24, 35, 50 and 85mm. No Film School was able to test pre-production models and we were impressed by the high image quality we were able to get from such small, compact lenses. Check out the video below:
The XEEN CF features an all-new lightweight carbon fiber housing that makes them about 0.5 lbs lighter than the original XEEN lenses. The great thing about carbon fiber is that while it’s lightweight like plastic, it doesn’t bend or give as much. It’s stiff, which is a quality you’d hope to find in a lens.
So, this means that these XEEN CF lenses won’t be affected while focusing with your hands or a powerful focus motor, and they won’t weigh you down the way some heavier metal lenses would.
February 14, 2020
Are you a student who wants to write screenplays? John August has you covered.
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It’s that simple!
If you want the deal and are in high school, have one of your administrators reach out.
Stop reading and hop to it!
February 14, 2020
Adding to its 1.8x anamorphic lens line, Vazen introduces the 28mm T2.2 prime for MFT cameras.
Vazen caught a lot of people’s attention last summer at CES 2019 with a 40mm T2 lens dubbed “the world’s first 1.8x anamorphic MFT prime.” Now, the company is adding a second lens to that line, a 28mm T2.2 1.8 anamorphic prime that retails at $3250.
With an aluminum body, this lens is lighter and more compact than Vazen’s 40mm—in fact, at 1.59 lbs., it ended up being the lightest 1.8x anamorphic lens in the world. And because it’s small and lightweight, it makes traveling with it, shooting on gimbals, or capturing handheld shots less of a chore.
According to Vazen, you can expect sharp images from this lens (even wide open). Its 77mm front filter thread makes using ND filters, diopters, and other accessories easy, and features like independent aperture and focus rings allow more experienced, professional filmmakers to have more control over their final images. It’s also got a 72-degree horizontal field of view and focusing distance of 2.7″.