News & Updates
January 10, 2021
Since no new films opened wide this weekend, the 30 percent drop in post-holiday box office isn’t quite as bad as it looks. However, the news was worse for “Wonder Woman 1984, which grossed $3 million with a 45 percent drop.
The total for the weekend was around $10 million, with 11 films. (Disney’s reissue of “Alien” tied with Focus Features’ “Half Brothers” for #10.) The same weekend last year totaled $132 million. At this writing, 59 percent of all theaters remain closed by COVID-19 regulations. That includes some theaters that reopened this week, mostly in Colorado. According to industry sources, there’s no indications that theaters will close again — but some are considering reduced hours, opening only on weekends, and other cost-saving options.
These new theaters, along with some theaters bringing back earlier films, led to several titles increasing screen counts such as “Fatale” (which debuted on PVOD Friday). The current #3, “News of the World,” will add PVOD this week.
This Friday will see one new release. Open Road, which grossed $14 million recently with “Honest Thief” as a theater-only release, will introduce another Liam Neeson vehicle, “The Marksman,” with a similar strategy. Anticipate that it will lead next weekend. In October, “Honest Thief” opened with $4.1 million.
Warner Bros., which has limited its box-office reporting to weekend and full-week estimates and blocked daily numbers, reported that in Canada “Wonder Woman 1984” earned over $7.2 million in just over two weeks on PVOD. (No HBO Max in Canada.) That’s Canadian dollars; with the exchange rate, it equals about US$5.7 million.
It’s tricky to make too much of this; about five percent of Canadian theaters are open. (Credit to the studio for revealing the figure.) One way to look at it: The U.S. has about nine times the population, so by measure we’d be looking at a $51 million PVOD performance. That’s still far from definitive, especially since PVOD saturation is further developed in America.
One thing is clear: Whatever its viewing might be on HBO Max, the theatrical result is unimpressive. “Wonder Woman 1984” has grossed $32.6 million to date, heading toward $40 million. Worldwide theatrical is at $133 million. (Most European theaters remain closed, though Russia will release this Friday.)
Optimistically speaking, industry sources hope normal stateside releases might return by May. That would call into question “No Time to Die,” currently slated April 2, but that’s a film expected to see up to 75 percent of its gross in foreign territories. American circumstances may not determine its future.
The Top Ten
1. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #1; also streaming
$3,000,000 (-45%) in 2,218 theaters (+67); PTA: $1,353; Cumulative: $32,600,000
2. Croods: A New Age (Universal) Week 7; Last weekend #2; also available on Premium Video on Demand
$1,810,000 (-19%) in 1,818 theaters (+67); PTA: $996; Cumulative: $36,880,000
3. News of the World (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$1,240,000 (-27%) in 1,986 theaters (+58); PTA: $624; Cumulative: $7,100,000
4. Monster Hunter (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$1,100,000 (-13%) in 1,765 theaters (-42); PTA: $623; Cumulative: $7,805,000
5. Fatale (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #5; also available on Premium Video on Demand
$670,000 (-4%) in 1,222 theaters (+39); PTA: $548; Cumulative: $4,011,000
6. Promising Young Woman (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #6
$560,000 (-19%) in 1,448 theaters (+115); PTA: $548; Cumulative: $2,697,000
7. Pinocchio (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #7
$208,770 (-29%) in 821 theaters (+26); PTA: $254; Cumulative: $1,113,000
8. The War With Grandpa (101) Week 14; Last weekend #8; also available on Video on Demand
$147,327 (+17%) in 385 theaters (+80); PTA: $383; Cumulative: $19,002,000
9. Come Play (Focus) Week 11; Last weekend #10; also available on Premium Video on Demand
$95,000 (+60%) in 151 theaters (+41); PTA: $629; Cumulative: $9,679,000
10. (tie) Alien (Disney) REISSUE – Last weekend #9; also streaming
$60,000 (-20%) in 456 theaters (-49); PTA: $132; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 320,200,000
10. (tie) Half Brothers (Focus) Week 6 – Last weekend #12; also available on Premium Video on Demand
$60,000 in 167 theaters (+27); PTA: $359; Cumulative: $2,128,000
Source: IndieWire film
January 10, 2021
Tom Cruise made noise this past December when members of the “Mission: Impossible 7” crew breached COVID-19 safety protocols, leading the actor to go on a tirade that went viral. His co-star Vanessa Kirby, who reprises her role of the White Widow from “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” recently weighed in on the rant originally leaked by The Sun where Cruise said, “We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!”
“I think being safe is the message for everybody, really,” Kirby, whose sister is a director’s assistant on the film, told Extra. Her sibling was one of the first on set in July. “For me, seeing my sister doing it on the ground and every day coming home from work and it all going well, it was all inspiring. The whole industry has been shut down — cinemas, theaters, film sets. Seeing her go and do it and be one of the first ones up gave me hope.”
Kirby personally hasn’t been back to the set yet, but said she’s looking forward to returning, and safely. “I think it starts up next week again or something,” she said. She added that she’s excited to dig into the stunt work made famous by the franchise. “I’m really excited,” she said. “I think with every ‘Mission’… the stunts get riskier and there’s ones on this that have been terrifying… and there’s many more to be filmed… It’s a pleasure for all of us to be back.”
Kirby is currently in the awards conversation for her harrowing turn in “Pieces of a Woman,” which landed on Netflix January 7. But she was also in the news for speaking up about her co-star Shia LaBeouf, who’s been sued for assault and sexual battery by his ex-girlfriend, singer FKA Twigs. “I stand with all survivors of abuse and respect the courage of anyone who speaks their truth. Regarding the recent news, I can’t comment on an ongoing legal case,” her statement read.
Kirby and LaBeouf star in “Pieces of a Woman” as a married couple who lose their newborn child during a turbulent home birth.
Source: IndieWire film
January 10, 2021
Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger shared an impassioned message on Twitter Sunday morning, likening last week’s riots on the Capitol to the rise of the Nazi party circa 1938, and said Trump will go down in history as the worst U.S. president ever. Watch below.
“I grew up in Austria and very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938, and the Nazi equivalent to the Proud Boys. Wednesday was the day of broken glass right here in the United States. The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol,” he said. “They shattered the ideals we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy: They trampled the very principles upon which our country was founded.”
He added, “President Trump is a failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good news is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet…He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. I know where such lies lead.”
Schwartzegger has been calling out the dangers posed by Trump for some time. “It all started with lies, lies, lies and intolerance. Being from Europe I’ve seen firsthand how bad things can spin out of control,” he said. “We need public servants who serve something larger than their own power. We need public servants who will serve higher ideals, the ideals on which this country was founded, and the ideals which other countries look up to… We need reforms, of course, so that this never ever happens again. We need to hold accountable the people that brought us to this unforgivable point. We need to look past ourselves, our partisan disagreements. Put our democracy first. We need to heal together from the trauma of what has just happened. We need to heal, not as Republicans or democrats, but as Americans.”
My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/blOy35LWJ5
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 10, 2021
Source: IndieWire film
January 10, 2021
The long-delayed “The Woman in the Window” will finally see the light of day this year, thanks to Netflix, which scooped the thriller from Disney-owned 20th Century Studios last year. Adapted from the novel by A.J. Finn, whose identity has sparked its own fascination courtesy of The New Yorker’s lurid 2019 profile, “The Woman in the Window” is directed by filmmaker Joe Wright, and it stars Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The screenplay is written by playwright and actor Tracy Letts.
There has been much ado about the exhausting process of reshoots and test screenings endured by the movie, which Wright addressed in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“There were some plot points that people found a bit confusing — I would say possibly too opaque maybe,” he said, adding that reshoots were necessary following test screenings that left audiences perplexed. “So we had to go back and clarify certain points, but I think also we tried to make sure we didn’t oversimplify anything and make things too clear. There’s an enjoyment in not knowing what’s going on, but at the same time, you have to give the audience something to hold on to — you have to lead them through the labyrinth of mystery and fear.”
Adams stars as an agoraphobic, alcoholic child psychologist who may or may not have seen an act of terrifying violence in her neighbor’s apartment. She’s joined by Julianne Moore and Jennifer Jason Leigh as are-they-or-aren’t-they doppelgängers, who taunt Adams’ Anna Fox after she witnesses the crime from behind the blinds of her New York City brownstone. Given the film’s single apartment setting, Wright cited an unusual influence in crafting “The Woman in the Window,” namely French filmmaker Robert Bresson.
“I liked the idea of the kind of minimalist constraints of making a film that is completely set in one house,” he said.
The destabilizing psychological environment of the story, Wright said, is what compelled him to take on the project. “I’m also interested in, and always have been, in the blurring between subjective and objective reality, truth and lies, and the lies we tell ourselves and how we create our own reality,” he said.
Source: IndieWire film
January 9, 2021
The January 6 assault on the Capitol by insurrectionists left many Americans shocked, ashamed, and glued to their TV sets. Errol Morris was one of them. For years, the filmmaker has documented the tragic and dangerous actions of powerful men and the lies they tell the world, most prominently in his Oscar-winning portrait of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. But the violent outbreak on Wednesday echoed a more-recent subject of Morris scrutiny: Steve Bannon.
“He is one of the evil geniuses behind it all,” Morris said in a phone call from his office on January 7. He’s got the proof on film with his 2019 documentary “American Dharma,” which pitted the director against Bannon, Trump’s notorious campaign director-turned-senior advisor, the alt-right hero and former Breitbart News publisher who exploited raging and disenfranchised white conspiracy theorists and cemented the seditious rage at the core of Trump’s base.
Bannon relishes his role. On January 5, anticipating the convening of Congress to formalize the Electoral College results, Bannon offered up his prediction about how the day would go. “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” he said on his podcast, “War Room: Pandemic.” (YouTube removed the podcast channel from its site on January 8, after guest Rudy Giuliani blamed Democrats for the uprising.) Bannon also referred to the obsession over Vice President Mike Pence’s role in the congressional ritual in eerie terms that reflected his admiration for Morris’ work. “It’s the fog of war,” Bannon said.
When “American Dharma” hit the festival circuit, Morris faced constant backlash and accusations that Morris was empowering Bannon months after he lost his influential White House position. Yet anyone who saw “American Dharma” must have thought about its closing moments this week. As he asks Bannon about the motives behind fomenting populist rage, Morris ends his unnerving one-on-one with the filmmaker by setting the set, located in an airplane hanger, on fire. “You want to burn it all down,” Morris says, as Bannon wanders off in a desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape.
Looking back on that scene, Morris was hesitant to gloat. “Do I want to call myself prescient? I don’t know,” he said. But he was still smarting from audiences that resisted “American Dharma,” both at festivals and during its theatrical run.
“It’s like people think America was free from his ideals because he was pushed out of the White House,” Morris said. “That’s a mistake. The ideology continued unabated, and if anything it exacerbated, the desire to destroy, hurt, destabilize.”
In the first year of Trump’s administration, Bannon garnered plenty of attention for many of the xenophobic policies and public remarks that epitomized Trump’s worst tendencies and fired up his base. From the Muslim ban to his appalling comments about guilt on “both sides” of the race riots in Charlottesville, they all have Bannon’s fingerprints. The way Morris sees it, Trump’s presidential campaign allowed Bannon to consolidate the nationalist impulses he galvanized online by turning them into a movement.
“He had this desire to exploit the hatred of the ‘other,’” Morris said. “They kept searching around for a figurehead, and then lo and behold, Trump appears. They found a guy — a really, really stupid guy — who could be bent to their way of thinking, or already thought that way and was eager to please. “
Maria Laura Antonelli/AGF/REX/Shutterstock
Part of the ingenuity in “American Dharma” revolves around Bannon’s love of movies, and the way he talks about his life work in their context. Morris interviewed Trump about that as well, years ago, for an unfinished project that saw the real estate mogul musing on his love for “Citizen Kane.” These days, however, Morris said he had no interest in speaking to the outgoing president — even if the opportunity opened up years down the line, as it did with McNamara and “The Unknown Known” subject Donald Rumsfeld.
“I think he’s crazy,” Morris said of Trump. “Did I know from the minute that this guy was elected that this was a bad scene for America? Yes, of course. He was lying from day one and before that. People were in denial about it.”
Morris’ work tends to have a cosmic dimensio, whether he’s grappling with the laws of physics (“A Brief History of Time”), the elusive justice system (“The Thin Blue Line”), or Holocaust denial (“Mr. Death”). That has allowed him particular foresight when it comes to the gullibility of the masses, and the danger that comes when it’s used for personal gain.
“One of the saddest things about humans is that we’re a credulous lot,” Morris said. “All you have to do is look at the last week to understand what a credulous lot we really are. Rationality? Poof, gone. The ability to convince yourself of anything? For whatever reason? Easy! It was all there, with or without Bannon.”
Morris has no interest in returning to Bannon. “He was important to me because he was at the heart of a movement. He represented a deep problem in America.” Even so, Morris struggled me to make sense out of the Capitol assault. “What are all these people thinking?” he said. “Do you really want another four years of this man? You’re just objecting to the election because you love democracy so much that you want its rules to be adhered to? What’s the whole irrational idea here? You want more of this? It was so great? You can’t get enough?”
Morris hesitated to say whether he would circle back on those questions for a future project. He’s currently trying to set up another narrative-documentary hybrid on par with his Netflix miniseries “Wormwood,” but didn’t rule out future investigations into the nation’s troubled soul.
“I think it’s important to address this stuff,” he said. “Understanding evil is one of the fundamental chores for all of us. I’d like to do something about it because I think that’s important to hold these people accountable — and, in the process, to understand them.”
“American Dharma” is available on VOD.
Source: IndieWire film
January 8, 2021
The COMICA Traxshot adds versatility to on-camera audio.
COMICA has been teasing a new product on its Instagram page since late December, and today has released Traxshot, a supercardioid shotgun mic that can be mounted on a camera, rigged to a cage with a smartphone setup, or connected to a computer to record voiceovers.
The Traxshot features a unique design with two separate audio capsules that can be positioned for different recording environments, adding to the versatility of the microphone.
January 8, 2021
The 24mm F2.8 1.33x anamorphic joins the existing 35mm and 50mm SIRUI lenses.
After successfully launching its new affordable 24mm F2.8 1.33x anamorphic, SIRUI has started shipping the first batch of lenses to customers.
The 24mm F2.8 joins the very popular 35mm F1.8 and 50mm F1.8 anamorphics to create a three-lens set. The trio covers APS-C sized sensors and is available in multiple mounts, though the options vary based on the focal length.
- 24mm: E, MFT, X, EF-M, and Z
- 35mm: MFT (E, EF-M, and Z adapters)
- 50mm: E, MFT, X
As you can see, the 35mm isn’t available in Fujifilm X-mount, nor is the 50mm available in Canon EF-M or Nikon Z.
No Film School reached out to SIRUI to see if the lenses would all be available across the same mounts. Unfortunately, the 35mm won’t become available in X-mount, and the status of the 50mm is uncertain. If you own a Fujifilm X-mount mirrorless, you’ll have to hold out for third-party adapters, but that may not even be possible because of focal flange distance limitations.
January 8, 2021
There are so many questions about writing… and not so many short answers.
One of the things about writing professionally that still throws me off is how many terms there are that people toss around; things like “high concept,” “elevator pitch,” “logline,” “subplot,” etc. Screenwriting is made up of dozens of terms with simple explanations.
And now, those explanations are available to you in video form.
DePaul University’s Cinematic Arts department has created “Sixty Second Screenwriting Lessons.” It’s a video series that provides definitions for those terms and how you can apply them to your own writing.
Check out the playlist from DePaul University, and let’s talk after.
One of the things I love about this concept is just how short the lessons are. In under fifteen minutes, you can really get a crash course on screenwriting and learn a whole lot.
There were some things I had forgotten, like what it means to pitch something “high concept.”
January 8, 2021
You can finally watch Quibi on your TV.
Roku has stepped in and purchased Quibi’s entire library of shows for around $100 million.
Excluded from this deal are daily shows and some ongoing reality content. Roku VP of Programming Rob Holmes told Deadline, “We preserved all of what was in the existing agreements. We’re excited about that. It’s great, high-quality, top talent and high-quality content.”
That means the rights to the shows will continue for seven years, then revert back to creators. Still, if any of these shows get traction, it would not be unusual to see Roku try to produce more of them.
All the shows will be available for free but will come with commercials. They will be housed on the Roku Channel.
“It’s the same availability of content, the same presentation of content,” Holmes told Deadline. “But as we spent a bunch of time with it, it really works, but they’re just TV episodes. I think their premise was, you have 10 minutes, you would watch it. Our view is, this is TV, someone’s going to spend half an hour or an hour or two hours watching it because it’s just that compelling.”
January 8, 2021
When it comes to taking down the big boss, you gotta keep it compelling.
A story is an amalgamation of a lot of different ideas. When looked at as a whole, it’s an entertainment experience. But for writers, they always get broken down into their elements so we know how they work. Storytellers are always dissecting and formulating new ways to attack these elements so we can make our own stories just as compelling as the ones we liked to hear.
One of the hardest things to get right is the final battle.
It’s that moment during the climax where your character has to face off against their biggest fears and their villain. It’s a tense scene where we understand their arc and see what the film or episode has been building to… but it does not always go as planned.
Today I want to cover final battles and grab some tips from Lesson from the Screenplay on how you can make your battles memorable.
How to Write a Final Battle
If you watched the video, you know that they used A Few Good Men as their main example.