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HomeIndustry SectorFilmMust Reads 11/17/23: First Look at The First Omen, Netflix Cancellations, New...

Must Reads 11/17/23: First Look at The First Omen, Netflix Cancellations, New Television Academy Chairman & Officers, and More News

It’s Friday, and there are a ton of new movies hitting theaters from the Lionsgate prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, to Eli Roth‘s slasher ThanksgivingDreamWorks Animation‘s Trolls Band Together, and Taika Waititi‘s Next Goal Wins. (Click on each title to read Above the Line‘s reviews.)

And that’s not all, because the new Monarch: Legacy of Monsters series hits Apple TV+, the Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain movie hits Peacock, and the Scott Pilgrim Takes Off animated series, featuring the entire voice cast from Edgar Wright‘s 2010 movie, hits Netflix. In other words, there’s a lot of stuff to watch this weekend… but there’s still some news to read before we get there.

For instance, 20th Century Studios announced the release date for its psychological thriller prequel, The First Omen, starring Nell Tiger Free from Servant, and directed by Arkasha Stevenson, which precludes the classic horror franchise that began with the 1976 movie, The Omen, directed by the late Richard Donner. 20th Century announced that the movie will be released into theaters on April 5, 2024. The studio also released the tagline and full cast, which includes Tawfeek Barhom (Mary Magdalene), Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Ralph Ineson (The Northman), and Bill Nighy (Living).

The official tagline is:

“When a young American woman is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church, she encounters a darkness that causes her to question her own faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.”


Shari Smiley

News hit just in the last 24 hours that literary agent and manager Shari Smiley died on Tuesday at the age of 53, although the cause of death is not yet known. Smiley spent 18 years at CAA, leaving in 2011 to start her own company, The Smiley Group and eventually Smiley Management. Some of the book rights she sold to turn into her films during her career include Wild, Gone Girl, The Devil Wears Prada, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Artemis Fowl series, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and the TV series Sharp Objects.

Cris Abrego was just elected by the Board of Governors of the Television Academy to succeed Frank Scherma  as the new chairman of the group that hands out the Emmys each year, although this year’s Emmys have been delayed until January, 2024. At the same time, the Academy announced its new officers and governors for the 2024-2025 term, the board electing: Sharon Lieblein, Vice Chair; Rickey Minor, 2nd Vice Chair; Allison Binder, Secretary; and Ann Leslie Uzdavinis, Treasurer. TV Academy President Maury McIntyre has also renewed his contract as CEO through 2026, while Chief Financial Officer Heather Cochran has been named Chief Operating Officer, extending her contract through 2025, along with Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Media & Brand Management Susan Spencer.


Freddy Carter, Amita Suman in Shadow and Bone (Netflix, photo by Timea Saghy)

Unfortunately, the strikes have continued effects on the industry with streamer Netflix cancelling five of its series, including Shadow and BoneGlamorousAgent ElvisFarzar, and Captain Fall. Of the five, Shadow and Bone was probably the most popular, but there were other factors in the cancellations beyond the delays caused by the writers and actors strikes.

Meanwhile, Rami Malek‘s terrorism thriller, Amateur, is the first studio project to resume filming in London next month (December) after shutting down production during the strikes. Production for the 20th Century Studios film, co-starring Rachel Brosnahan and Laurence Fishburne, was put on hiatus in July.

Noah (Fargo) Hawley‘s Alien series for FX will also resume filming in January or February 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand, after shutting down in August due to the strikes just a few weeks after beginning filming at Bangkok’s The Studio Park. Hawley told Deadline at the premiere for the fifth season of Fargo — look for some interviews from that very soon: “We’re getting back into production as quickly as possible. We’re shooting in Bangkok, a half a world away; shooting again in the New Year. I got some footage. Some of the first hour was shot before we had to shutdown. It’s stuff to play with and edit.”


Some casting news:

Dominic CooperTamsin GreigEddie Marsan, Vinette Robinson (Boiling Point), Celine Buckens (Showtrial), Nicholas Pinnock (Top Boy, For Life), and Gina McKee (Bodyguard) have joined Anne-Marie Duff for Season 2 of Channel 4 and Britbox‘s international drama series, Suspect. Duff plays Dr Susannah Newman, who is trying to track a confessed serial killer before he kills again, with Cooper playing a new client who under hypnosis makes that confession with his intentions to killer another young woman, forcing Dr. Newman to stop him. Suspect comes from Eagle Eye Drama (Professor TBefore We Die), and it’s written by Joy Wilkinson (Lockwood & Co, The Watch) and David Allison (The Couple Next Door, Marcella).


We end today’s “Must Reads” with two teaser trailers one for an upcoming sequel to an Oscar-winning animated film, the other a prequel series to another popular movie. First, we have the very first teaser for Pixar Animation‘s Inside Out 2, which will hit theaters in June 2024:

We also have the teaser trailer for the Peacock original prequel series to Seth McFarlane‘s Ted, which will debut on the streamer on Jan. 11, 2024.

Deadline provided some reporting for this installment.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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