Before we get to the latest news bites, things are going slowly but surely on the contract negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP although the group of studio CEOS that have been coined the “Gang of Four” – Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, and WBD’s David Zaslav – are no longer involved in the day-to-day negotiations, allowing SAG-AFTRA negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP President Carol Lombardi to continue hashing out details for a new three-year contract.
Thursday was another day off to review issues with AI, as SAG-AFTRA released a statement to its members, saying: “The Negotiating Committee was on standby today awaiting a response from the AMPTP on both the AI counter we presented yesterday, and the comprehensive counter proposal we passed across the table five days ago. Our team looks forward to continuing bargaining with the companies tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher released an impassioned video message on her Instagram account, saying, “I don’t need to emulate a male energy to lead. I can lead with wisdom & empathy. I can lead and i can be me! #sagaftra“
Disney offered a first look photo at the Marc Webb-directed Snow White, starring Rachel Zegler, while at the same time announcing that the live action remake of a Disney classic will be delayed a full year to March 21, 2025, from its previously-planned March, 2024 date. It’s more than a little ironic, since Zegler’s upcoming The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes received a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement to allow Zegler to do some television appearances to promote the November Lionsgate release.
Disney also delayed Pixar Animation‘s next animated feature, Elio, from its own March 1, 2024 release date back over a year as well, to June 13, 2025. Who knows whether these delays are due to the strike and both movies needing more work once the actors strike comes to an end.
Damien Leone had an indie horror hit in 2022 with the ultra-gory, Terrifier 2, which was just re-released into theaters this past week, at which time, it was also announced that the follow-up, Terrifier 3, which will have a Christmas theme, will be released on Oct. 25, 2024. David Howard Thornton and Lauren LaVera will reprise their roles as Art the Clown and Sienna with filming to get underway in January, 2024.
While the American Film Market (AFM) takes place in L.A., the upfronts are taking place in New York, even without the ability to have the actors on-hand to flog the networks’ wares. HBO / MAX was one of the networks to show off its upcoming slate, while also announcing that its spin-off series, Dune: Prophecy and The Penguin, starring Colin Farrell, would not be seen until the fall of 2024.
Paramount+ announced that Taylor Sheridan‘s latest Yellowstone prequel spin-off series, 1944, following 1883 and 1923, the latter starring Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford, which will get a second season. It also announced 2024, a contemporary series that will follow the end of Yellowstone, which will end its run with Season 5 Part 2, which has been delayed until next year, while the various strikes delayed production on the show. Even so, Paramount+ reported that it hit 63 million subscribers, adding 2.7 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2023, more than likely helped by Sheridan’s contributions. (Incidentally, check out Abe Friedtanzer‘s review of Sheridan’s newest limited series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves, which will air on the streamer starting Sunday.)
Paramount also announced this past week that it will be having an on-site promo event called “A Mountain of Entertainment,” set up in Las Vegas to coincide with Super Bowl LVIII, which will air on affiliated network CBS in January. The “Paramount Mountain” interactive fan experience is being constructed on top of the Mirage volcano on the Las Vegas Strip, and it will show off various company brands from CBS, CBS Sports, Paramount+, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Pluto TV and Paramount Home Entertainment between Feb. 8 and 11.
In other television news, fans of the FOX series, Prison Break, should be thrilled that the fan favorite series will be making a comeback with Hulu developing a new version that will be written and exec. produced by Mayans M.C.co-creator, exec. producer and showrunner Elgin James under his Sierra Drive banner, though its deal with 20th Television. The new series will be set in the world of Prison Break, though otherwise, details are being kept under wraps, though it’s not likely to involve Wentworth Miller‘s Michael Scofield or Dominic Purcell‘s Lincoln Burrows from the original series. The planned series will also be exec. produced by Prison Break creator/executive producer Paul Scheuring and the original series’ executive producers Dawn Olmstead, Marty Adelstein, and Neal Moritz.
More projects and casting news has come out of AFM, including a report that Yellowstone star Kelly Reilly and Oscar nominee David Stathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) are in final negotiations to join Samuel L. Jackson and Boyd Hollbrook in Last Meals, a new film to be directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (Fences). Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy) and Joshua Boone (A Jazzman’s Blues) are also set to join the drama, which will begin filming in Atlanta later this mount under a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement.
In the film, Jackson plays a disgraced former White House chief named Walter, “who finds himself 30 years later cooking last meals for death row inmates, forming an unlikely bond with Reed, a prisoner on a hunger strike whose innocence Walter begins to believe in. With the help of Hannah (Reilly), the trio take on a politically motivated prison head (Strathairn), while bringing dignity and hope to their fellow inmates (Rossi among others). Boone will play young Walter.”
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm star Maria Bakalova has joined Egor Abramenko‘s God’s Country, replacing Melissa Barrera (Scream), who had to step away due to scheduling issues. Produced by Matt Reeves‘ 6th & Idaho and ZQ Entertainments with Maraboyina Capital and Castel Films, the movie will go into production in Romania in March under its own SAG-AFTRA interim agreement. In the film, Bakalova will play a “young woman who travels to Kentucky to meet her fiancé, subsequently uncovering something sinister beyond comprehension, as her American dream curdles into a nightmare of biblical proportions.”
In exec news, Paul Roeder has been promoted to EVP Communications, Disney Entertainment – Studios, International & DTC. Roeder has been at Disney for 22 years, previously as SVP, Communications at Disney Entertainment Studios. At the same time, Alannah Hall-Smith, the company’s SVP Communications and Public Affairs at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, has also been promoted to EVP.
We’ll leave you with two new trailers, the first being the full trailer for David Leitch‘s movie, The Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. That will be released on March 1, 2024.
Lastly, 20th Century Studios released the very first, quite short teaser trailer for 2024’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, continuing that franchise on Memorial Day weekend next year with Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) at the helm.
Deadline contributed reporting to this installment.