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June 16, 2019

Box Office: ‘Men in Black: International’ and ‘Shaft’ Belly Flop

Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” can’t come soon enough to buoy the floundering summer box office.  This weekend’s openings are pathetic. Franchise reboot “Men in Black: International” (Sony) and the second remake of “Shaft” (Warner Bros.) together grossed under $37 million. Two summers ago, when “War for the Planet of the Apes” opened to “only” $56 million, it was considered low enough to threaten the future of that series.

Both of this weekend’s sequels were directed by proven veterans with domestic totals approaching $1 billion: F. Gary Gray (“The Fate of the Furious” and “Straight Outta Compton”) and Tim Story (“Fantastic Four” and “Ride Along”), who will doubtless return to making popular movies.

As a sign of the times, “Men in Black” still managed to place #1, while “Shaft” crept into sixth place. Studio greenlighters consider franchise entries to be the major reason theater doors stay open, but they keep failing to draw stateside moviegoers. Though the weekend showed the best Saturday jump in recent weeks, the totals will come in around $130 million. That’s less than half of the same weekend last year (which boasted the “Incredibles 2” opening). And so, halfway through the summer, the year-to-date lag has slipped back to around $500 million, over 7%.

With an optimistic Sony estimate of a mere 7% Sunday drop of $28.5 million (counting on a Father’s Day boost), this reboot of the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones trilogy opened to less than half of the (adjusted) initial gross of the third iteration, itself the lowest of the series. Whatever the final number, it’s a terrible return for a top name franchise led by two Marvel stars and and a proven director.

On the foreign side, the rest of the world added another $74 million, with only a handful of countries yet to open. While “X-Men” sequel “Dark Phoenix” (Disney) looks to lose perhaps $100 million, there’s enough international potential bounty to push the combined “Men in Black” total to $300 million. And a much lower budget (around $100 million) helps to mitigate this dismal showing.

On the positive side, we have likely seen the last of the summer’s big-budget sequel disasters. “Toy Story 4,” “The Lion King” (Disney), “Spider-Man: Far from Home” (Sony), and “Hobbs & Shaw” (Universal) combined likely cost their studios around $1 billion to make, but each one has a shot at reaching that level in worldwide receipts. The studios are looking to this quartet of mighty juggernauts to save the summer.

“Shaft”

The first “Shaft” was 48 years ago. The second in 2000 grossed an adjusted $117 million, the late John Singleton’s third biggest hit. It shares with “Men in Black: International” a conscious effort to adjust the formula from its predecessors.

In this case, it meant turning Richard Roundtree’s iconic character Shaft into the grandfather of a multi-generational story including his son (Samuel L. Jackson) and grandson (Jessie Usher). Tim Story was brought in to combine comedy and action in this urban film.

“Shaft” earned an A Cinemascore–an unusual disparity with weak gross and poor reviews on the one hand and clear positive audience reaction on the other. Even with a lower-end budget (in the $30-35 million range), and with Netflix owning foreign rights (international streaming starts on June 28), this is going to need a strong hold in order to get into profit.

"Dark Phoenix"

“Dark Phoenix”

Disney/Fox

Holdovers

But franchise titles that open weak tend to fall hard. “Dark Phoenix” is one of the worst, down 73% in its second weekend. $9 million added gets it to about $52 million: the movie will be lucky to reach $65 million. That number is barely above the (adjusted) lowest openings for the past “X-Men” series films. Worldwide “Dark Phoenix” is tracking over $200 million, but it won’t get to $300 million. That’s $100 million less than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (Warner Bros.) will reach worldwide. Stateside it dropped 47%, and will crawl to a little over $100 million. Scary.

"The Secret Life of Pets 2"

“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

Universal/YouTube

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Universal) came in second, down 49% from its opening. That’s slightly less than the first “Pets,” but that first film grossed more than twice as much. “Pets 2” will make money, but hardly at the level of its predecessor or other Illumination Animation titles like the “Despicable Me” entries. And that’s a worry. Steep fall-offs like this make one wonder how this keeps going as a big series. And “Pets 2” faces “Toy Story 4” this weekend.

Other films in their third or later weeks had a wide range of drops. By far the best hold came from “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (Liongate), an entry in a still-robust series. It fell only 18%, and now could get to $165-170 million. It already has grossed above the first two combined domestically.

Will Smith is the Genie and Mena Massoud is Aladdin in Disney’s live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.

“Aladdin”

Daniel Smith

Also holding well were “Aladdin” (Disney), holding at #3, off 32%. It could hit $330 million domestic, close to $1 billion worldwide. The total results (as well as its budget) will be much lower for “Rocketman” (Paramount). But in its third weekend it did better than “Godzilla” (which opened the same date) and looks to hang around long enough to top $85 million. Japan is the main territory yet to open (China hasn’t been announced).

Making it into the Top Ten (#9) is Amazon’s well-reviewed “Late Night.” Its $5.1 million gross in over 2,200 theaters comes in slightly below the similarly positioned “Booksmart” (United Artists). Nuance as to what this means can be seen in our specialized report.

The Top Ten

1. Men in Black: International (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 38; Est. budget: $100 million

$28,500,000 in 4,224 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,747Cumulative: $28,500,000

2. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$ (-49%) in 4,564 theaters (+3); PTA: $5,215; Cumulative: $92,044,000

3. Aladdin (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$ (-32%) in 3,556 theaters (-249; PTA: $4,700; Cumulative: $263446,000

4. Dark Phoenix (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$9,005,000 (-73%) in 3,721 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,420; Cumulative: $51,767,000

5. Rocket Man (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$8,800,000 (-36%) in 3,021 theaters (-589); PTA: $2,913; Cumulative: $66,143,000

6. Shaft (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 41; Est. budget: $30 million

$8,315,000 in 2,952 theaters; PTA: $2,817; Cumulative: $8,315,000

7. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$8,105,000 (-47%) in 3,207 theaters (-901); PTA: $2,527; Cumulative: $93,688,000

8. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Lionsgate) Week 5; Last weekend #7

$6,100,000 (-18%) in 2,033 theaters (-743); PTA: $3,000; Cumulative: $148,627,000

9. Late Night (Amazon) Week 2; Last weekend #17

$5,137,000 (+1,986%) in 2,281 theaters (+2,214); PTA: $2,314; Cumulative: $5,450,000

10. Ma (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$3,610,000 (-54%) in 1,794 theaters (-1,022); PTA: $2,012; Cumulative: $40,350,000

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Source: IndieWire film

June 16, 2019

‘Toy Story 4’ Breaking Pixar Tradition, Will Not Feature New Short Film

When Pixar fans line up to check out the lauded animation house’s latest offering this week at the multiplex, they’ll have to enjoy the experience without a classic dose of pre-show magic. Slate reports that Josh Cooley’s “Toy Story 4” will hit theaters without a preceding short film, a break in a tradition that has stretched back 23 years.

Funnily enough, the first “Toy Story” — Pixar’s first feature film, released in November of 1995 — did not feature a short film as its opening act, though John Lasseter’s “Tin Toy” (first made in 1988) was later attached to the film in home video release. Starting with “A Bug’s Life,” however, each Pixar feature released in theaters has kicked off with a new Pixar short.

There have been some major highlights, too, including Oscar winners like “Geri’s Game,” “Piper,” “For the Birds,” and “Bao,” which picked up the Best Animated Short Film statuette just last year. But for just as many winners (literal and otherwise), Pixar has rolled out some big disappointments, like the critically maligned “Lava” (paired with “Inside Out”) and “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” which led off “Coco” with a gobsmacking 21-minute runtime.

Fortunately, Pixar isn’t getting out of the shorts business, and is continuing to foster new talent in other ways, including its SparkShorts program, which earlier this year debuted the absolutely wonderful (and hugely tear-jerking) “Kitbull” short.

As charming as the Pixar shorts have (mostly) been — including the still-perfect “Presto,” which lost out on Oscar glory “La Maison en Petits Cubes” — they’ve also been a way for the animation studio to show off new technology and new talents, a mission that does not seem to be abating any time soon.

And, as it applies to the next in-theater experience for Pixar fans, not to worry, as the full feature presentation promises to deliver plenty of Pixar promises on its own.

In his review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that the film helps end the “Toy Story” franchise in beautiful, if unexpected fashion. He wrote, “The tear-jerking final moments seem to come out of nowhere, but where the ending of ‘Toy Story 3’ simply deferred to the cycle of life, this finale ties a much stronger bow around the franchise by cutting to its core instead of just circling back to the start.”

Disney will release “Toy Story 4” in theaters on Friday, June 21.

Source: IndieWire film

June 16, 2019

‘The Dead Don’t Die’ Shows Life; ‘Late Night’ Resembles ‘Booksmart’

The specialty box office is following two paths. High-profile narrative festival premieres such as “The Dead Don’t Die” (Focus), “Late Night” (Amazon) and “Booksmart” (United Artists) play wide quickly. And documentaries like “Pavarotti” (CBS), “Echo in the Canyon” (Greenwich), and “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon) catch a wave and ride success as they widen.

The old-fashioned arthouse platform release is a challenge but it can work: A24’s acclaimed Sundance debut “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is showing rare strength among more limited specialized narrative titles. It remains a sign that careful handling of a critically praised film can still find an audience.

How to assess “Late Night” and “Booksmart”? Amazon’s second weekend expansion — similar to the “Booksmart” opening– yielded a disappointing result a little below the latter title. But it’s too early to predict how audiences are reacting as it propels ahead.

No question, the specialized film nabbing the most attention this week (Metascore: 86) was Martin Scorsese’s “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story,” which debuted on Netflix on June 12 along with limited (and unreported) theatrical play.

“Rolling Thunder Revue”

Opening

The Dead Don’t Die (Focus) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Cannes 2019

$2,350,000 in 613 theaters; PTA: $3,827

Jim Jarmusch’s Cannes opening night zombie comedy starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver is another film which skipped platforming and went straight to national play. The results are decent, especially compared to “Late Night” and “Booksmart.” The gross, in a little more than a quarter of those playing “Late Night” this week, is a little less than half of that film, with strong results head to head at key theaters like the Arclight Hollywood (where it was #1 for Friday and Saturday). Jarmusch has rarely been a wide-release success; only Bill Murray-starrer “Broken Flowers” (in adjusted grosses) boasted higher weekend grosses. “The Dead Don’t Die,” however, met a mixed Cannes response. But the comedy –and its top-flight-stars — pulled audiences anyway.

What comes next: Word of mouth will determine how much life this will have as it holds the same number of theaters next week.

Being Frank (The Film Arcade) – Metacritic: 34; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2018

$15,409 in 3 theaters; PTA: $5,136

This film about a man who simultaneously raised two separate families drew top support from Landmark Theatres in New York and Los Angeles more than a year after its South by Southwest debut. The results with execrable reviews show the benefit of its venues. Whether that translates into future positive results remains to be seen.

What comes next: The initial small expansion starts this Friday.

Roadside Attractions

American Woman (Roadside Attractions) – Metacritic: 65; Festivals include: Toronto 2018

$102,825 in 117 theaters; PTA: $878

Sienna Miller stars as a working class Pennsylvania woman forced to raise a grandson when her teenage daughter disappears. After a Toronto premiere, this opened nationally at top theaters to virtually no response. Credible films with good but not great reviews and lacking top tier marquee draws have a tough path to find audience interest.

What comes next: This has been scheduled for wider release, but it will be tough to get it.

5B (Verizon/RYOT)- Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Doc Stories 2018, Cannes 2019

$40,000 in 127 theaters; PTA: $318

This documentary, about a San Francisco hospital and its reaction to the early years of AIDS, was co-directed by Paul Haggis, his first non-fiction film. Backed by Verizon, among others, the film scored a national release after a special showing in Cannes and some decent reviews but minimal audience interest.

What comes next: This should find more reaction on non-theatrical platforms.

Hampstead (IFC) – Metacritic: 52; also available on Video on Demand

$24,144 in 12 theaters; PTA: $2,012

Initially released in Europe some time ago, this romantic comedy features Diane Keaton as a London widow who meets a hermit (Brendan Gleeson) to form an unlikely alliance. Opening in both theaters and home venues should boost interest in the film online. For parallel play, these are adequate numbers, with more theaters likely.

What comes next: Though VOD will be its major play, the stars and story should give this some more theatrical life.

Our Time by Carlos Reygadas

“Our Time”

Monument Releasing

Our Time (Monument) – Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2018

$3,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,000

Carlos Reygada is one of the top independent Mexican auteurs, who commands regular showings at top festivals. Earlier acclaimed films like “Japon” and “Battle in Heaven” did not deliver much theatrical response. His latest, a three-hour drama about a poet and his wife and their life on a farm, was a New York Times critics’ pick. (Not all reviews have been as favorable.) This opened at Landmark’s Quad in New York to three shows a day and modest response.

What comes next: This will move onto the Royal in Los Angeles and other prime cities on June 28.

Paris Is Burning (Janus) (reissue)

$11,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $11,000

This marks a strong revival in New York for the documentary that in 1991 introduced voguing to a wider audience, and, with an adjusted gross of $8 million, was a breakout hit for both Miramax and non-fiction film.

What comes next: This will hit top theaters in many markets upcoming, including Los Angeles and the Bay area on July 5.

“Late Night”

Week Two

Late Night (Amazon)

$5,135,000 in 2,220 theaters (+2,216); PTA: $2,314; Cumulative: $5,449,000

This huge Sundance buy (around $13 million) in its second weekend went nearly as wide as “Booksmart” in its first week. The PTA, in a week after a strong initial four-theater New York/Los Angeles platform (which many said would have been better for “Booksmart”), was a little less but comparable. However, the Saturday number went up whereas the earlier film lagged slightly on its second full day. How word of mouth propels this ahead — with next weekend critical — will determine whether this will end up ahead of the $21-23 million likely final theatrical result for “Booksmart.” This ended up ranked ninth overall on a very weak June weekend.

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

A24

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24)

$361,120 in 36 theaters (+29); PTA: $10,031; Cumulative: $713,286

Excellent second weekend expansion for this story of urban gentrification and its human impact. This had a PTA above A24’s “Gloria Bell” in the same number of theaters early in its run. Expect a considerably wider release and a rare positive result for a non-documentary specialized arthouse release.

Pavarotti (CBS)

$200,000 in 48 theaters (+29); PTA: $4,168; Cumulative: $429,000

New theaters added for Ron Howard’s documentary about the opera legend kept the response decent. This looks to hold interest for fans of the performer, with signs that further expansion could push this much higher.

Framing John DeLorean (IFC); also available on Video on Demand

$23,527 in 10 theaters (+9); PTA: $2,353; Cumulative: $32,633

This hybrid documentary/dramatic portrayal of the life of the innovative car designer added theaters while playing on VOD to a passable day-and-date performance.

Papi Chulo (Blue Fox)

$7,215 in 12 theaters (+10); PTA: $601; Cumulative: $17,763

This Toronto premiered dramedy about an LA gay man still pining for his ex who befriends a man he hired for housework expanded its second weekend to minor response.

Booksmart

“Booksmart”

United Artists Releasing

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Booksmart (United Artists) Week 4

$859,214 in 577 theaters (-557); Cumulative: $19,747,000

Though it lost about half its theaters, this well-reviewed smart teen comedy increased its per theater average this weekend. That gives it hope for sustaining a run at fewer but sufficient theaters to keep pushing its gross higher. It’s a tough market, but this should gross about the same if not more than it would have with an initial platform release.

Echo in the Canyon (Greenwich) Week 4

$197,200 in 68 theaters (+25); Cumulative: $795,488

As it expands, this documentary on the LA music scene and some of its key players nearly 50 years ago continues to find interest. This looks to have potential for considerably more interest.

The Biggest Little Farm (Neon) Week 6

$194,000 in 176 theaters (-109); Cumulative: $2,934,000

Who knew biodiverse agriculture would be so popular? This sleeper documentary could end up at $3.5 million or higher.

All Is True (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6

$87,184 in 190 theaters (-138); Cumulative: $968,513

Kenneth Branagh actually plays Shakespeare in his latest film, which will just pass the $1 mark. That’s low for one of his films, particularly with a top-name cast.

The Souvenir (A24) Week 5

$60,000 in 83 theaters (-62); Cumulative: $845,580

A24 has pushed Joanna Hogg’s first film to get a significant domestic release to most big cities. But this acclaimed story of a young film student and her uneasy relationship with a slightly older man hasn’t pulled audiences.

Also noted:

The Tomorrow Man (Bleecker Street) – $30,353 in 78 theaters; Cumulative: $335,210

Non-Fiction (IFC) – $28,478 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $618,904

The White Crow (Sony Pictures Classics) – $26,960 in 34 theaters; Cumulative: $1,718,000

The Spy Behind the Mask (PBS) – $26,015 in 25 theaters; Cumulative: $127,056

Halston (1091) – $18,428 in 30 theaters; Cumulative: $97,331

Amazing Grace (Neon) – $13,316 in 27 theaters; Cumulative: $4,351,000

Apollo 11 (Neon) – $11,295 in 5 theaters; Cumumalative: $8,811,000

Red Joan (IFC) – $10,581 in 16 theaters; Cumulative: $1,567,000

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Source: IndieWire film

June 16, 2019

‘Joker’: Todd Phillips Confirms Gritty Joaquin Phoenix-Starring Batman Spinoff Will Be Rated R

Since its inception, there’s been little question that Todd Phillips’ much-anticipated Batman villain spinoff “Joker” would be a superhero story of the dark and gritty variety, but the filmmaker has now confirmed that the Joaquin Phoenix-starring film will be rated R. In a new Instagram post, Phillips shared a fresh look at Phoenix in character, noting that he and his star are putting “finishing touches” on the fall release.

In the comments, a curious fan asked Phillips about the MPAA rating for the film, to which Phillips replied, “it will be Rated R. I’ve been asked this a lot. Just assumed people knew.”

The film will join a number of recent other R-rated superhero films, including both “Deadpool” features and “Watchmen.” While the film is not a part of the official DC Extended Universe, it does hail from the DCEU’s home studio Warner Bros., which has mostly offered superhero films in the PG-13 rating range (even the darker of the series’ entries like “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”).

“Joker” is set in 1981 and stars Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a stand-up comedian whose failed attempts to become famous force him into the criminal underworld of Gotham City. The supporting cast includes Robert De Niro as a talk show host who factors into Arthur’s psychological downfall and “Atlanta” and “Deadpool” favorite Zazie Beetz as a single mother who is Arthur’s love interest. Frances Conroy, Bill Camp, and Marc Maron co-star.

The film has been described as hewing to the tone of Martin Scorsese’s 1970s gangster movies, including “Mean Streets.” Phoenix has described the movie as feeling more like a low-budget indie than a giant comic book movie, while Marc Maron recently shared “Joker” is the “character study of a mentally ill person.”

You can see Phillips’ Instagram below, in which he’s active in the comments when it comes to answering questions from excited fans.

View this post on Instagram

Finishing touches.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on Jun 16, 2019 at 9:50am PDT

Warner Bros. will release “Joker” in theaters nationwide October 4. Watch the first official trailer below.

Source: IndieWire film

June 16, 2019

‘Bond 25’ Official Photo Shows Injured Daniel Craig Preparing to Return to Spy Thriller

Looks like James Bond is nearly ready to get back into the spy action. In a newly posted photo on James Bond’s official Twitter page, franchise star Daniel Craig is pictured working out, even as his injured left ankle continues to heal up in a walking cast. The caption, however, does hint that Craig is nearly ready to get back to shooting the Cary Fukunaga-directed Bond 25 soon, adding that he’s “prepping for shooting next week.”

For a production that’s been waylaid by two different accidents in less than a month, it’s finally a piece of good news. In May, Craig suffered an injury on the set of the film that led to the announcement that he would be undergoing minor ankle surgery, though production on the film continued as Craig underwent said surgery and underwent two additional weeks of rehabilitation.

Craig’s accident was only the first to hit the production. Earlier this month, a crew member sustained a minor injury during the filming of a controlled explosion scene, and the incident caused damage to the 007 stage at England’s famed Pinewood Studios.

The still-untitled feature is expected to be Craig’s final outing as James Bond after playing the leading role in “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall,” and “Spectre.”

The film features the return of franchise players Naomi Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear, and Lea Seydoux. Rami Malek has joined the series as the Bond 25 villain alongside fellow newcomers Billy Magnussen, Ana De Armas, and “Captain Marvel” breakout Lashana Lynch.

Cary Fukunaga is directing, making Bond his first project since helming the Netflix series “Maniac.” Oscar-winning cinematographer Linus Sandgren (“La La Land”) will go large-format with 65mm Panavision and IMAX 65mm (to shoot the action sequences) for the first time in franchise history.

The official Bond 25 synopsis reads: “James Bond has left active service when his friend Felix Leiter enlists his help in the search for a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that they were abducted, Bond must confront a danger the likes of which the world has never seen.”

MGM will open Bond 25 in theaters nationwide April 8, 2020. Check out the latest look at Craig below.

Source: IndieWire film

June 12, 2019

How to maximize your story engagement?

Source: Visual Storytelling

June 10, 2019

Why Backstage Stories Make Your Message Work Harder?

Source: Visual Storytelling

June 9, 2019

‘Candyman’ Producer on Toxic Fandom Concerns and Many “High-Concept Iterations”

Jordan Peele is producing what he calls a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror classic “Candyman” through his Monkeypaw Productions. Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods”) is set to direct. Details on plot have been kept mostly under wraps. But during a panel on Saturday’s Produced By Conference titled “The New Age of Producing Horror,” Monkeypay Creative Director Ian Cooper dropped a few notes on the project, notably concerns they have on balancing expectations of diehard fans of the original while offering a fresh take.

“What we’re doing with Candyman and how Jordan is crafting it on the page is going to be very exciting and rewarding to audiences that haven’t seen the original film as well as people who’ve seen the original film,” Cooper said. “In a broad sense of the word, this film will stand alone if you’ve never heard of a film called Candyman and will dovetail in a pretty complicated and interesting way to the original.”

Cooper was especially anxious about the unhealthy possessiveness and entitlement that are trademarks of what has come to be known as “toxic fandom,”  a fan culture that typically develops in internet echo chambers. “We talk a lot about fans and the idea of appeasing fans and when you do that, and how do you do that, and when do you not do that,” Cooper said. “I think my issue with fandom is that it’s really problematic. It’s probably the most problematic thing facing the genre.”

Cooper didn’t detail how exactly he and Peele will navigate this problem with regards to their “Candyman” film, except to say their version will be “mischievous in how we address the relationship to the first film, but also be very satisfying.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Propaganda/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5875377e)Tony ToddCandyman 2 - Farewell To The Flesh - 1995Director: Bill CondonPropaganda FilmsUSAScene StillHorror

Tony Todd in “Candyman 2 – Farewell To The Flesh” (1995)

Propagand/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Additionally, Cooper revealed that this is a project that Peele has been wanting to make for “many years,” and that has gone through several high-concept iterations in that time period. Again, he was mum on specifics.

Most recently, the star of the original film franchise, Tony Todd, said he’d been approached by the producers to appear in the new “Candyman,” but Cooper would not confirm or deny. “Tony Todd is just no comment, full stop,” he said.

And while it is official that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is starring in the film, his role remains a mystery, despite rumors that he will indeed replace Todd in the part. Director DaCosta set the record straight that in March 25, 2019, when she said: “Well, it’s been slightly misreported. I can’t say what’s happening in the film because we want it to be a surprise, but he’s not replacing Tony Todd. That’s been reported, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know what to say about this. This is not right.’ However he is still in the film, but no word as of yet what role he is playing.”

The film is set for theatrical release on June 12, 2020.

Source: IndieWire film

June 9, 2019

Sundance Hits ‘Late Night’ and ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ Score at Specialty Box Office

The weekend brings upbeat news on the specialized front– and not just from documentaries. Two Sundance narrative titles, “Late Night” (Amazon) and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (A24) made strong platform starts. We’ll see if this translates into wider success.

Two documentaries also found audiences: “Pavarotti” (CBS) and “This One’s for the Ladies” (Neon). Ron Howard’s profile of the opera tenor started off decently in multiple cities, while the latter entry took the unusual route of launching with a single run in Harlem. Holdover documentaries “The Biggest Little Farm” (Neon) and “Echo in the Canyon” (Greenwich) are both showing unexpected interest.

Among narrative holdovers, specialty wide release “Booksmart” (Annapurna) managed to place in the Top Ten for the weekend.

Opening

Late Night (Amazon) – Cinemascore: 72; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$249,654 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $62,414

The best platform opener of the year comes at a critical time for the lagging specialized world. This $13 million acquisition (from 30  West) out of Sundance arrives as questions lurk about what it takes to find an audience. This popular festival comedy about a cranky talk show host (Emma Thompson) who turns to her only woman writer (Mindy Kalin) to help save her career should be sure-fire success. Stars Thompson and Kalin give the movie commercial heft above other films such as the wide-release “Booksmart,” which earned slightly better critical response.

The original 1,500 wide theater release set for last Friday shifted following the disappointing opening weekend of the Annapurna release. Amazon  mounted an extensive series of smart promo screenings along with weekend shows in key theaters boosted by the usual Q & A sessions. The results are encouraging.

These numbers are not at the level of a high-end awards season release– or even the similar June Amazon release “The Big Sick” two years ago (PTA $84,000). But for today’s market, this is an encouraging showing. Unlike “Booksmart,” this movie had star cred and older audience appeal. Amazon has passed the first hurdle.

What comes next: 1,500 theaters are set for Friday.

"The Last Black Man in San Francisco"

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

A24

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (A24) – Cinemascore: 84; Festivals include: Sundance 2019

$230,744 in 7 theaters; PTA: $32,963

Joe Talbot’s debut film was among the most acclaimed out of Sundance 2019 (including two jury prizes), followed by year-topping opening reviews. This movie is yet another product of the Bay Area’s prolific independent scene, many of which deal with long-time minority communities coping with gentrification and the vast wealth present in the region. “Last Black Man” opened in San Francisco as well as the usual New York and Los Angeles dates. This initial response is excellent, well ahead of other strongly reviewed dramas that have come along this year. A24 has enjoyed success with similar efforts such as “Moonlight.” But the specialty market is more challenging now, so this start is terrific news.

What comes next: Friday starts a gradual expansion, with more to come.

Pavarotti (CBS) – Cinemascore: 67; Festivals include: Seattle 2019

$142,500 in 19 theaters; PTA: $7,500

Ron Howard had a successful music documentary a few years back with “Eight Days a Week” ($3 million). Here he delves into opera with the legendary singer who dominated that world in the last decades of the 20th century. Opening in multiple cities after a Fathom Event pre-launch (grosses not reported), “Pavarotti” opened in more than a dozen cities to uneven results. The strongest by far was New York’s Paris Theater (close to $40,000). The Fathom dates likely decreased some results and also cost the film dates at prime Landmark theaters. Like Peter Jackson documentary phenomenon “They Shall Not Grow Old,” films that play at major chains as Fathom Events (the top chains own Fathom and claim clearance) won’t play the indie sector.

What comes next: This will expand week by week ahead, starting this Friday.

“This One’s for the Ladies”

This One’s for the Ladies (Neon) – Cinemascore: 48; Festivals include: South by Southwest 2018

$16,001 in 1 theaters; PTA: $16,001

A rare NC-17 documentary (because it delivers what patrons of male strip club shows get to see), this opened exclusively in Harlem at the Magic Johnson Theater to a terrific initial response. This strong number will build interest from theaters that don’t normally play documentaries or NC-17 films. Though its initial date shows interest from African-American audiences, Neon’s smart June roll-out will benefit from Pride month tie-ins as well.

What comes next: Los Angeles opens this Friday, with further dates starting the week after.

Framing John Delorean (IFC) – Metacritic: 69; Festivals include: Tribeca 2019; also on Video on Demand

$9,106 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,106

John Delorean comes from the same era of early Donald Trump, with some of the same attitude and hustle. His car-building business met a different fate, but his name remains famous. This blend of documentary footage and dramatic recreations opened exclusively to a decent result in New York while also debuting on iTunes and other venues.

What comes next: This will have mostly home play.

Week Two

The Fall of the American Empire (Sony Pictures Classics)

$14,128 in 14 theaters (+5); PTA: $1,009; Cumulative: $2,759,066

Adding a handful of top cities and prime theaters, Denys Arcand’s Quebecois film (the most recent in a series launched by Oscar-winner “The Decline of the American Empire”) is finding little interest. (The total gross comes mostly from earlier Canadian dates.)

“Booksmart”

Annapurna Pictures / UAR

Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)

Booksmart (United Artists) Week 3

$1,577,000 in 1,134 theaters (-1,384); Cumulative: $17,815,000

As Olivia Wilde’s well-reviewed high-school senior comedy shed its weaker locations, it remains in the Top Ten. The per-theater average actually went up slightly. Though this will fall short of (somewhat unreasonable) expectations, it should still pass the specialty-hit $20 million mark.

The Biggest Little Farm (Neon) Week 5

$347,000 in 285 theaters (+10); Cumulative: $2,453,000

At about the same number of screens, this documentary about biodiverse agriculture continues to hold well with the potential for adding considerably more to its already strong total.

All Is True (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5

$237,587 in 328 theaters (+247); Cumulative: $752,634

Kenneth Branagh’s rendering of Shakespeare & Company during the height of the playwright’s fame is at its widest point yet, with minimal response.

Echo in the Canyon (Greenwich) Week 3

$205,337 in 43 theaters (+29); Cumulative: $501,081

This documentary about the roots and lives of L.A. rockers decades ago is finding national interest beyond its initial home-town opening. This looks like it has plenty of chance to push significantly higher.

The Souvenir (A24) Week 4

$169,500 in 145 theaters (+71); Cumulative: $696,190

The year’s best-reviewed release so far (despite strong support from A24) is only garnering modest interest from arthouse attendees.

The Tomorrow Man (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$144,437 in 211 theaters (+193); Cumulative: $219,327

Without a lot of current options for the usually reliable senior crowd, the pairing of Blythe Danner and John Lithgow might seem like a default marquee draw. But its national expansion (likely its widest, in its third week) failed to draw more than a minimal audience.

Non-Fiction (IFC) Week 6

$71,364 in 83 theaters (-1); Cumulative: $565,382

This Olivier Assayas/Juliette Binoche prime French offering is struggling to reach numbers equal to its pedigree.

The White Crow (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$52,404 in 69 theaters (-143); Cumulative: $1,658,000

The Rudolf Nureyev biopic is on its last legs with a better total than most recent non-documentary specialized releases, even if it’s not grossing as much as it would have in past years.

Also noted:

Amazing Grace (Neon) – $39,605 in 59 theaters; Cumulative: $4,302,000

The Spy Behind Home Plate (Ciesla) – $38,080 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $84,091

Red Joan (IFC) – $23,621 in 32 theaters; Cumulative: $1,548,000

Halston (1091) – $19,191 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $62,530

Meeting Gorbachev (1091) – $14,653 in 19 theaters; Cumulative: $213,807

Apollo 11 (Neon) – $11,960 in theaters; Cumulative: $8,780,000

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Source: IndieWire film

June 9, 2019

Michael B. Jordan Says He’s Offered Projects on “Every” Black Historical Figure

Actor Michael B. Jordan has become more powerful in Hollywood than he’s ever been, after star turns in critical and commercial successes like “Creed” and “Black Panther.” Both directed by pal Ryan Coogler, theirs is a relationship that began with the critically-acclaimed drama “Fruitvale Station,” a fictionalized account of the true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III who was fatally shot on New Year’s Day 2009 by a transit officer. And since playing Grant, Jordan said, to his exasperation, that he’s been inundated with biopics on other black public figures.

Speaking Saturday at the 2019 Produced By conference, where he was speaking as part of a panel titled “Content With a Conscience: Social Impact Entertainment Across All Platforms,” Jordan said that just about every script that tells a story centered on “every historical black figure has come across my desk.”

And while he’s certainly not complaining about the opportunities, he realizes the limitations that come with these specific roles, adding, “As much as I would love to play all of them, I can’t.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Forest Whitaker'S Significant Prods./Og Project/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5881301f)Michael B. JordanFruitvale Station - 2013Director: Ryan CooglerForest Whitaker'S Significant Productions/Og Project/USAScene StillDrama

Ariana Neal and Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station”

Forest Whitaker's Significant Prods./Og Project/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

The “Creed II” actor was responding to a question asked by moderator and founding partner of the Producers Guild of America Social Entertainment Impact Task Force, Kia Kiso. Via his Outlier Society production company, Jordan said he intends to produce content that is both socially-conscious and entertaining, and Kiso asked how he and his team plan to successfully meld the two seemingly disparate worlds.

“We try to balance that as much as you can, to run a company where it’s not its entire identity but, at the same time, it’s an important silo and something that we care about,” Jordan said.

Alana Mayo, president of development and production at Outlier Society, who was also on the panel, added to Jordan’s thoughts on being driven to produce thought-provoking, impactful work for a mass audience. “We struggle with the happy, mindless entertainment that doesn’t feel like it has some sort of substance to it,” she said. “And sometimes we just want to hit an issue that I think the both of us will continue to make content about, until we feel like we start to see the impact and the change in the real world.”

Neither Jordan nor Mayo dished out details on any of their upcoming projects, nor did Jordan talk specifics in terms of the biopic scripts that he’s being flushed with, or if he’s going to take  any of the roles being offered.l

The Produced By panel also included contributions from Bonnie Abaunza, founder of Abaunza Group; writer, director and producer Scott Z. Burns; and CEO of ShivHans Pictures, Shivani Rawat.

Jordan’s Outlier Society, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, was one of the first production companies to announce that it would adopt inclusion riders, contract addendums that require studios to hire diverse cast and/or crew on any particular project.

During the panel, Jordan said the move was “natural” for him, “long before the word inclusion became a thing,” he said.

Source: IndieWire film