And we’re into December, the last month of the year, and one that’s about to get absolutely crazy with awards stuff, whether you’re a film critic, a member of an industry guild, or a member of certain Academy branches that will have early shortlist voting beginning this month.
It’s a slower week in movie theaters, although Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, the concert doc from the Queen Bae, was released into over 2,500 theaters on Thursday night. AMC Theaters Distribution has reported $5.06 million from Thursday previews, which could point to a weekend take of $30 million or more.
Other movies in theaters this weekend include Godzilla Minus One (which made $2.1 million in Weds. and Thurs. previews); John Woo‘s first American action film in decades, Silent Night; Angel Studios‘ The Shift; and the Bollywood film, Animal, although only the first of these might do decent business. Also, Nicolas Cage‘s Dream Scenario, released by A24, will be in over 1,500 theaters this weekend.
Fargo creator Noah Hawley has been making an Aliens series for FX, and two actors who have worked with him before, both on Fargo, have joined the cast: Timothy Olyphant (from Fargo Season 4) and David Rysdahl (now appearing in Season 5). Most details are being kept under wraps, but the rest of the cast includes Sydney Chandler as metahuman Wendy; Alex Lawther as a soldier named CJ; Samuel Blenkin as Boy Kavalier, a CEO; Essie Davis (The Babadook) as Dame Silvia; Adarsh Gourav as Slightly; and Kit Young as Tootles.
You can read some of what Fargo director/DP Dana Gonzales had to say about the project (on which he’s DPing) in Abe Friedtanzer‘s interview.
One movie that’s done quite well theatrically this past month is Eli Roth‘s slasher horror film, Thanksgiving, which has grossed over $30 million globally, holding particularly well in the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving. That’s almost double its production budget, and TriStar Pictures and Roth are already planning a sequel, to be released worldwide in 2025. Roth posted an announcement about the sequel being in development on his Instagram.
Earlier this week, Focus Features announced that it would be releasing Robert Eggers‘ Nosferatu on Christmas Day, 2024 (a Wednesday), which is only an odd decision when you remember that Focus’ parent company, Universal, has already held that date for Jordan Peele‘s fourth untitled movie. There’s a chance that Uni thinks that Peele’s movie may be delayed due to the recent actors strike, which would mean pushing it back to 2025, as well.
On Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the 96th Annual Oscars would begin airing on ABC at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific on Sunday, March 20, 2024, earlier than usual, maybe to make sure they have enough time to give out all categories on-air, which has been an issue in the past? This also allows ABC to air an original episode of the sitcom, Abbott Elementary, which is likely to win a few Emmys next month.
Speaking of awards, there was some controversy this week when the Television Academy decided to remove a number of writing categories from the main Emmys telecast, to be given out presumably at the Creative Arts Emmys, taking place over two nights on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 6 and 7. It didn’t take long for the WGA to step in to lobby the TV Academy to change that decision, which they called “regrettable.” Essentially, the Television Academy decided to punt Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special and Series to the untelevised awards ceremony, where in the past, they would alternate between airing during the live telecast.
The WGA said in a statement, urging its members to voice their complaint, noting: “The Guild has been in touch with the Academy to convey our objection to this decision, and we are strongly advocating to have the category remain in the primetime televised program on January 15, 2024. This doesn’t just impact the people who write on the Emmy-nominated shows for a given year — this decision devalues our profession as a whole. The Emmys are fundamentally about celebrating excellence in television, and by removing these categories from the televised broadcast, the Television Academy is essentially ignoring how writing serves as the foundation for excellence in television.”
Just a few days after the Gotham Awards were doled out, the New York Film Critics Circle became the first critics group to reward its annual picks with Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon winning Best Film and Christopher Nolan receiving Best Director for Oppenheimer. Lily Gladstone from Killers won Best Actress, while German actor Franz Rogowski won Best Actor for Ira Sachs‘ Passages, an independent release from MUBI that might not get enough push to get the actor into other races, other than. maybe the Indie Spirits. Todd Haynes‘ May December also received love from the New York critics, for Samy Burch‘s screenplay and for Supporting Actor, Charles Melton, who also won the Gotham Award on Monday. Da’Vine Joy Randolph began her inevitable run towards Oscar night for her supporting performance in Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers. Except the L.A. Film Critics and other regional groups, including the Critics Choice Association, to announce their own awards and nominations over the coming weeks.
Danielle Brooks, destined to get an Oscar nomination for the upcoming musical, The Color Purple, has been added to the cast of Warner Bros‘ Minecraft movie, as has Sebastien Eugene Hansen. The movie, directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), is slated to start production in New Zealand later this month, and the studio is probably looking for it to be a tentpole on the level of 2014’s The Lego Movie or even this year’s Barbie, considering the popularity of the video game.
Another project announcement from this past week had Oscar nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass adapting T.J. Newman‘s novel, Drowning: The Rescue Of Flight 1421 for Warner Bros, which Greengrass will also produce and direct. The studio won the rights for the movie in a bidding war that included seven-figure offers from Apple, Paramount, with names like Oscar-winning filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón, Steven Spielberg, and Damien Chazelle in the mix. Newman has been brought on as exec. producer after Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group co-heads Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy agreed to pay $1.5 million for the rights and another $1.5 million on Day 1 of production. Newman’s novel centers around a plane that crashes into the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff, the engine exploding, flooding the plane and sinking it to the bottom of the ocean, trapping 12 passengers inside. Going by Greengrass’ past track record, there should be a lot of demand from agents to cast their actors in what could very well be an awards player.
A few other features from the past week to read from Above the Line and our sister site, Below the Line:
We’ll wrap up the week with the first trailer for George Miller‘s action prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the character played by Charlize Theron in the Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as Chris Hemsworth. It will be released on Memorial Day weekend 2024.
That’s it for this week. We’ll be back, probably on Tuesday next week, to report on any news from the weekend.