Apple TV 'Prince of Tides' Remake; Broadway's 'Star is Born'?
Also on Transom: China lets in 'Jurassic World Dominion'
1. Inside Jurassic’s China Release
Jurassic World Dominion is one of Hollywood’s biggest movies this summer. And its potential reach just got all the greater as The Transom has learned that the film will mark the return of Hollywood studio blockbusters to the Chinese market.
China has accepted the third Jurassic World movie, though without any commitment yet of an actual release date. With a movie this size, Universal Pictures would love a simultaneous Dominion open all over the world, but it isn’t entirely up to them, as the Chinese government dictates when movies debut.
In February, box office analyst Jeff Bock said “getting any blockbuster into China right now feels like a big deal.” And it iswhen you look at the numbers, as the two most recent Jurassic entries made 14 percent (2015’s Jurassic World) and 20 percent (2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) of their global gross in the Middle Kingdom ($228m and $261m, respectively). Universal likely won’t need China to push Dominion past the coveted billion-dollar mark, but that kind of money can be the difference between breaking records and barely breaking even — even with the 4 to 1 split China’s exhibitors demand.
As tensions between the U.S. and the P.R.C. ratchet up, China has, of late, blanket rejected Hollywood blockbusters — including Marvel movies Spider-Man: No Way Home, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals — in favor of local product like homegrown mega-hit The Battle at Lake Changjin. Between 2012-2019, China admitted between 45-55 Hollywood movies each year, a number that’s dwindled to a small handful of films. The Hollywood movies that did get in, such as No Time to Die and Dune, didn’t fare terribly well, taking in $64 million and $39 million in China, respectively. And Gal Gadot couldn’t rally audiences, as Death on the Nile fell far short of Murder on the Orient Express and its nearly $35 million haul in China.
Of course, the longer it takes for Jurassic World Dominion to open in China following its U.S. debut, the more likely it is that piracy takes hold and bootlegged copies hit the web. If it doesn’t open on June 10, expect it to open by early July (The Batmanopened in China two weeks after its domestic debut), as anything beyond that could be an issue, especially if Dominion winds up on Peacock 30-45 days later.
2. A Star Is Born... on Broadway?
Maybe it's time to let the old ways die? No, not quite yet.
With a worldwide gross of more than $430 million, A Star Is Born is either the 52nd or 53rd-highest-grossing
Warner Bros. movie of all time (depending on the source), ranking above 1989’s Batman, 2021’s Dune, and 2006’s Superman Returns, to name just a few fanboy-friendly tentpoles. Warner Bros. just announced a sequel to Matt Reeves’ The Batman at CinemaCon, where Dune director Denis Villeneuve assured theater owners that part two is on the horizon. We also know that Ta-Nehisi Coates is turning in his draft of the new Superman movie soon.
It’s easy to make sequels to that stuff, but…A Star Is Born? Given the film’s ending, it would be tough to find a sequel to that 2018 hit starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The studio can’t really reboot it right now, because they just did that. Warners will have to wait another 20 years before the next generation gets its Star is Born. So what is Warner Bros. Discovery supposed to do with this incredibly valuable IP? Just let it sit on a shelf for two decades?
What they can do right now, and what The Transom hears they are trying to do with renewed purpose in the wake of David Zaslav’s arrival, is turn Bradley Cooper’s version of the tragic tale — and its Gaga soundtrack — into a stage musical.
Cooper has been busy prepping his Leonard Bernstein movie Maestro so he hasn’t been able to focus on the idea of a big Broadway musical that would surely feature songs from ASIB’s iconic soundtrack, including “Shallow,” his Oscar-winning duet with Lady Gaga. But WB is willing to move quickly whenever he is ready to engage. Of course, Cooper could wake up tomorrow and squash the project once and for all, but really, why would he do that, do that, do that, do that, do that to me?
The point of this item is that Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, which is the live show, stage-play, and musical production arm of Warner Bros. Discovery, hasn’t forgotten about A Star Is Born and would love to make a stage show a renewed priority now that Broadway is back open for business following two years of pandemic closures. Led by Mark Kaufman, WB’s theater group has mounted Broadway musicals based on Beetlejuice, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Elf, while other successful stage shows based on movies have included Doctor Zhivago and Misery. Oddly enough though, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures was not involved with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, even though the studio is the home of all the Potter movies.
A Star Is Born musical would be music to my eyes and those of millions of New York tourists and Broadway fans, so stay tuned... Reps for Warner Bros. and Cooper had no comment.
3. Apple Seeking a New Prince
Remember the acclaimed 1991 feature The Prince of Tides starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand, which Babs also directed? Well, I hear there’s a series remake in the works at Apple TV+ from writer-director Tate Taylor (The Help) and Sony Television.
Based on the 1986 novel by Pat Conroy, who co-wrote the screenplay with Becky Johnston, The Prince of Tides follows a troubled man (Nolte) who talks to his suicidal sister’s psychiatrist (Streisand) about their traumatic family history and falls in love with her in the process. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and Variety called it “a deeply moving exploration of the tangled emotions of a dysfunctional Southern family.”
The series makes sense for Apple, which has been busy shooting Season 2 of The Mosquito Coast, based on another well-reviewed family drama that Apple TV+ subscribers have maybe heard of but not necessarily seen. Then again, the original Mosquito Coast movie only made $14 million at the domestic box office, while The Prince of Tides was a huge hit, taking in nearly $75 million in North America alone, so expect this show to launch with a higher-profile should it move forward as planned.
Taylor and his producing partner John Norris will executive produce alongside Craig Anderson and Sharon Hall (The Expanse). Apple execs Chris Parnell and Mikaela Brown will oversee the project for the streamer, which is trying to get this one before cameras either this summer or fall, depending on cast availability.
Best known as the writer-director of The Help, Taylor also directed Get on Up, which saw Chadwick Boseman channel James Brown, and his other credits include The Girl on the Train (2016), Ma (2019), Ava (2020), and Breaking News in Yuba County (2021). Repped by CAA, Taylor also directed five episodes of Kim Cattrall’s Fox series Filthy Rich, which also followed a dysfunctional Southern family.
4. Timberlake Has His Wife’s Back
We’re anti-spoiler here at The Ankler and do our best to tread carefully, but this next item strikes us as fair game since it doesn’t spoil the plot in any way.
The Transom binged the entirety of Jessica Biel’s new true-crime series Candy this weekend and lo and behold, we were shockedto discover that her hubby, Justin Timberlake, sneaks onto the screen in a supporting role in episodes 4 and 5. His casting has never before been revealed.
We won’t elaborate on Timberlake’s character or where he fits into the story, but suffice it to say, his appearance came as a pleasant surprise. It might have been more distracting, but the mustachioed Timberlake was nearly unrecognizable.
This news might break the embargo a tad but it’s great publicity for the show, which stars Biel as church-going wife and mother Candy Montgomery, who was accused of murdering her friend Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) with an axe in 1980.
Timothy Simons and Pablo Schreiber co-star as their respective husbands, and yes Timberlake and Biel do share scenes together. Candy was a real family affair in more ways than one — fitting for this series given its themes — as Lynskey’s husband, Jason Ritter, also co-stars opposite Timberlake.
I am 100 percent sure that some TV critic would’ve spoiled Timberlake’s turn in a review, and since it was going to come out before the episode airs next Thursday night, I figured I’d gladly do the honors and risk incurring the wrath of Hulu while operating under the theory that they will secretly be delighted with me.
And since good things come in pairs, another Candy Montgomery series is due to hit HBO Max later this year (and next Emmy cycle) titled Love and Death, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Lily Rabe as the two leads. Because it’s not enough that we’re inundated with true crime shows, now we need different takes on each heinous crime. Where’s Showtime’s Blair of Westtown, already?
Now…Back to CinemaCon
After a weekend breather…here at last are my takeaways on the final two presentations from last week’s CinemaCon.
Paramount may have mounted a brief slate presentation at CinemaCon but it used its three-hour time slot wisely, as the studio finally cleared the much-belated Top Gun: Maverick for takeoff — and it was the movie everyone left Las Vegas talking about.
Reviews are still under embargo, but as I tweeted immediately after the screening, Top Gun: Maverick is a perfect blockbuster led by the GOAT himself, Tom Cruise. Not only did it feature dazzling aerial combat sequences, but I actually cried. It’s thatemotional. And call me crazy, but I humbly predict that it will land a Best Picture nomination next year.
At a post-screening luncheon, co-star Glen Powell said he was sorry to lose the role of Rooster to Miles Teller (“it was a little bit of an ego blow, but Miles smoked it”) but he was thrilled that Cruise, director Joseph Kosinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were able to find him another part, which they beefed up for CinemaCon’s “Star of Tomorrow”.
When he got on set, Powell said that Cruise asked him, ‘what kind of career do you want, Glen?’ And like any rising star who grew up watching Cruise’s movies, he said he wanted to have a career like Tom’s.
‘How do you think I got there?’ replied Cruise.
‘You choose great roles.’
‘No, Glen. I choose great movies, and then I make the roles great.’
As far as its box office prospects, Top Gun: Maverick is not a Marvel movie. It’s not going to open to $200 million. It’s a sequel to a 36-year-old movie that most young people haven’t seen. Which is why Paramount was smart to bring it to CinemaCon and start the word-of-mouth campaign early. Even though Maverick will be flying between Doctor Strange 2 and Jurassic World Dominion, I think it’ll have legs throughout the summer.
Top Gun: Maverick is hardly Cruise’s only Paramount project, as the adrenaline junkie stood atop a flying biplane to introduce the trailer for Mission: Impossible 7, or should I say, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, which was revealed as the title for the next two installments — Part One and Part Two, of course. I won’t give away the big action beats (Cruise runs a lot, natch, and rides a motorcycle) but suffice it to say, Ethan Hunt will be forced to “pick a side” in the latest installment of Hollywood’s best active live-action franchise (all due respect to the MCU).
We also saw the first footage from Damien Chazelle’s period piece Babylon, which examines the turbulent moment in Hollywood when the industry moved from silent films to talkies. “We’ve gotta innovate. We’ve gotta inspire!” Brad Pitt (sporting a huge fake nose at one point) stars alongside Margot Robbie. There’s plenty of glitz and glamour on display, not to mention some gorgeous cinematography from Linus Sandgren.
The studio also showed a little footage from Transformers: Rise of the Beasts starring Anthony Ramos (In the Heights) as well as Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which stars Chris Pine and Bridgerton sensation Rege-Jean Page. The studio is hoping that one will launch a franchise (I remain skeptical), and speaking of Pine-led franchises, no mention was made regarding the future of Star Trek on the big screen, which was a little disappointing, and even concerning to some.
Elsewhere, Paramount is also prepping a new Scream movie, another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, a new Paw Patrol feature and John Krasinski’s imaginary friend movie IF, which pairs him with Ryan Reynolds and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. On the kiddie front, Paramount also has The Tiger’s Apprentice (featuring the voices of Henry Golding, Sandra Oh, and Michelle Yeoh) and Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, which features the well-cast voices of Michael Cera and Samuel L. Jackson, plus a whole lot of fart gags.
One project that wasn’t mentioned as part of Paramount’s presentation is the psychological thriller Apartment 7A, which is currently shooting under the direction of Relic filmmaker Natalie Erika James. Two-time Emmy winner Julia Garner (Ozark) stars alongside two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest, and The Ankler has learned that English actor Jim Sturgess has also joined the cast.
Sturgess recently starred in the Apple series Home Before Dark, and the ICM-repped actor will soon be seen in Katie Holmes’ new movie Alone Together. Apartment 7A hails from producers Krasinski and Allyson Seeger as well as Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, and Michael Bay — the same producing team behind A Quiet Place: Day One.
That’s the title of the third A Quiet Place movie, which will be directed by Pig filmmaker Michael Sarnoski. As the title implies, this new film will be a prequel that will explore the origins of the Creatures.
Some were ready to write Paramount’s obituary last year but the studio is off to a hot start in 2022, having already released four number one movies — Scream ($140 million worldwide), Jackass Forever ($80 million), The Lost City ($128 million) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which posted Paramount’s largest domestic opening weekend in eight years ($72 million), the biggest opening ever for a video game movie, and the highest-grossing opening weekend for a Jim Carrey movie. Top Gun: Maverick is poised to extend the studio’s streak and make it five in a row.
Lionsgate closed out CinemaCon with some solid star power between Keanu Reeves, Robert De Niro, and Rachel McAdams, though the studio will have to soldier through a thin year until John Wick: Chapter 4 arrives on March 24, 2023.
Lionsgate turned to A-list comedian Sebastian Maniscalco to host its presentation, which had its pros and its cons. On the pro side, Maniscalco is very funny. I have all of his albums on my phone. With jokes about lanyards and masks, he didn’t quite make the crowd’s sides hurt like Jo Koy did during Universal’s presentation but he was a fun emcee. The problem is that his style of delivery can make it hard to take a movie seriously. He’s great on the mic talking about his Sicilian family and “loaded” Jewish wife, but on White Bird: A Wonder Story?
While we’re on the topic… I’m not expecting White Bird to do the business that Wonder did ($305 million worldwide). That film captured lightning in a bottle. This one involves another kind of bully…the Nazis. Not quite the relatable schoolyard heavy. This movie just doesn’t look like where young audiences are right now.
On the bright side, I was delighted by the trailer for Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? Based on the Judy Blume novel about the trials and tribulations of puberty, it’s amazing how relatable it was. This was puberty in a nutshell and it’s so well observed. The movie looks cute and charming, and could be very big.
Back to Sebastian, Lionsgate is releasing his new comedy About My Father, which is based on his own experiences with his wealthy in-laws. Maniscalco described his father as a working middle-class immigrant who would buy one box of popcorn for the whole family when they were lucky enough to go to the movies, while his mother would sneak in drinks. “As theater owners, you probably don’t want to hear this.”
Those memories stuck with Maniscalco, who wanted “to make a movie the whole family could enjoy,” and couldn’t get over the fact that De Niro was playing his father. The Oscar winner joined Maniscalco onstage along with Leslie Bibb (who plays his wife) and Kim Cattrall (who plays her mother), and the trailer delivered some pretty good laughs between Maniscalco jet booting in the nude and joking that De Niro’s character looks like “the guy who killed John Wick’s dog.”
This allows for a perfect segue to Lionsgate’s main event — the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4. This time around, we see the Baba Yaga fighting men with axes in the rain and facing an army of archers, and if John Wick with nunchucks doesn’t get your bucks, I don’t know what will.
We also got our first look at footage from Ballerina, an action movie starring Ana de Armas that takes place in the John Wickuniverse. We also caught a quick glimpse at Eli Roth’s Borderlands movie starring Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jack Black. It was hard to get a read on that project, and it took me a second to recognize Blanchett in a bright red wig that reminded me of Milla Jovovich’s look in The Fifth Element.
Never straying far from its horror roots, Lionsgate also unveiled the first trailer for The Devil’s Light, an “exorcism school” movie about a nun (Jacqueline Byers) who wasn’t ordained…she was chosen. See, the demon that killed her mother has returned, because “once you know the Devil, the Devil knows you.”
Finally, even though it actually led Lionsgate’s CinemaCon lineup, it’s time to discuss The Expendables 4, or The Expend4bles. Yes, that is really how the studio decided to stylize the title. Apparently, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is stepping in to “take over this franchise” and co-star alongside Jason Statham, and the two of them are joined by Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Andy Garcia and, of course, Sylvester Stallone. The studio’s sizzle reel boasts that the Expendables franchise has featured 592,000 rounds of ammo, 7,125 dead bodies, and countless gigantic egos, but it was all a warmup for this. All I want to know is, what’s with all the berets? We’re still doing this?
Perhaps the most head-scratching announcement came with Lionsgate’s brag that Jennifer Grey will bring us back to Kellerman’s in a new Dirty Dancing movie. It seemed like the window for that story closed back in 2009 with the tragic death of Patrick Swayze, but I suppose we just can’t resist a good legacy-quel.
Lionsgate saved the biggest, if not the best, for last, as the studio announced that The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will hit theaters on Nov. 17, 2023. Apparently, the world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake. It’s like a giant metaphor for Hollywood! Lionsgate is already in the Squid Game ballpark with this franchise and it could use a Squid Game-sized hit out of this movie, which is giving off big Fantastic Beasts energy from my vantage point. The studio would be wise to learn from some of the mistakes WB made with that franchise, or else some Lionsgate exec will have to volunteer as tribute.
Thanks for reading! Never miss another day of great entertainment news and analysis. Become a paid subscriber to The Ankler.
New on The Ankler
The Glossy assesses the thirsty spectacle of Met Gala’s Fame Crucible happening tonight.
The Entertainment Strategy Guy weighs Amazon’s Judge Judy bet and the verdict is in.
8 Thoughts about Hollywood’s Hell Week: Richard sorts through the wreckage of an industry’s comeuppance.
Pod: The Case for Broadcast TV. Rob Long’s ‘Martini Shot’ podcast is joining The Ankler; here the veteran writer of Cheers talks about Hollywood’s struggle to find the right business model.