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HomeIndustry SectorFilmMust Reads 1/9/24: Jacob Elordi is Guillermo del Toro's Frankenstein, White Lotus...

Must Reads 1/9/24: Jacob Elordi is Guillermo del Toro’s Frankenstein, White Lotus S3 Casts Up, David Soul Dies, More Industry News

Since it’s been a whole week since our last installment of “Must Reads,” we’re playing a bit of catch-up, especially following a weekend filled with Creative Arts Emmys and Golden Globes with many more awards and nominations to come.

For instance, tomorrow (Weds, Jan 10), the nominations for the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards will be announced in both film and television categories. A few of the below-the-line guilds and societies, like the Art Directors Guild (ADG), Cinema Audio Society (CAS), and American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), will also announce their nominations for the year this week. (You’ll be able to read those over at our sister site, Below the Line.)

Just as 2024 began, it was announced that the merger between Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse and James Wan‘s Atomic Monster was completed, a year after being announced. It’s a partnership that probably dates back to the first Insidious movie in 2010, a movie that’s led to a hugely profitable horror franchise, and a partnership that’s led to movies like last year’s horror hit, M3GAN. The two companies separately are responsible for $11.6 billion globally since 2004, but they’re both now “under one roof” as Blum stated on X, though it’s unclear if that’s literal or just metaphorically. The new company will benefit from the first look deal Blumhouse had set-up at Universal Pictures with Wan’s similar deal with Warner Bros. having come to an end. (Unclear what that means for possible The Conjuring spin-offs, but there’s already another sequel in the works, presumably still at Warner Bros.)

Unfortunately, this announcement was made just days before the release of Night Swim, which was destroyed by most critics (except me) and the movie pretty much tanked in its first weekend with little chance of recovery, going by the so-so audience reaction.

Staying in the horror realm, some big casting news came out while most people were watching the Golden Globes on Sunday night as Above the Line pal Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 – who beat Deadline with his exclusive before their own “exclusive” – reported that Saltburn and Priscilla star Jacob Elordi has been cast by Guillermo del Toro as his Frankenstein monster in the movie he’s making for Netflix. Previously, Andrew Garfield had been cast in the role, but had to leave due to scheduling issues, so the super-hot Elordi — who will be hosting Saturday Night Live on Jan. 20 — will be joining Oscar Isaac (as Dr. Pretorious), Christoph Waltz, Mia Goth, as well as the newly-announced Felix Kammerer from last year’s Oscar-winning All Quiet on the Western Front, Christian Convery of Netflix’s Sweet Tooth, as well as Lars Mikkelsen and David Bradley. Being based at Netflix, we probably shouldn’t expect a huge theatrical release or any box office being reported, but del Toro has been a regular presence at the Oscars since winning Best Picture and Director for The Shape of Water in 2017. Elordi is an interesting choice since he’s renowned for his rugged good looks, which are likely to be altered heavily with prosthetic make-up.

Julia Garner in Ozark (Netflix)

More casting from the world of monster movies – as well as casting of beautiful people in horror roles – comes the news that Ozark’s Emmy-winning star Julia Garner will be joining Leigh Whannell‘s The Wolf Man for the aforementioned Blumhouse take on the classic Universal Horror monster introduced Lon Chaney Jr. in the lead role in 1941, opposite Claude Rains. (Although there was a much earlier unrelated black and white movie of that title in 1923, directed by Edmund Mortimer, which seems to have long been forgotten.)

Christopher Abbott, currently appearing in Yorgos Lanthimos‘ Golden Globe-winning Poor Things, will play the hirsute semi-protagonist in what will be Whannell’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2020 take on The Invisible Man. That movie was doing quite well in theaters before COVID hit and tragically shut everything down.

Also earlier last week came the news that Jack Black has joined the planned Minecraft movie from Warner Bros, Vertigo, and Legendary Pictures, a take on the super-popular video game from Mojang/Microsoft, that has over 140 million active users after selling 300 million copies. Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) directs the movie that has already cast Emma Myers (Wednesday), Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple), and Sebastien Eugene Hansen.

Apparently, Black gained 150,000 new Instagram followers  since the announcement last week that he was joining Minecraft and that’s following his voice role in last year’s blockbuster hit, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, for which Black’s song “Peaches” has been shortlisted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Speaking of the Academy, they announced yesterday that 321 feature films were in contention for the 96th Academy Awards — nominations will be announced on Jan. 23 — but only 265 features were eligible for Best Picture. If you’re curious why there’s such a discrepancy between those numbers, that’s because not every studio submitted their wares for Best Picture, and some didn’t pass AMPAS’ stringent Academy Representation and Inclusion Standards (RAISE) that required a certain degree of representation and inclusion. Odd omissions for Best Picture include Gareth Edwards‘ The CreatorDumb Money from Sony, and Marvel Studios‘ The Marvels (literally the first Marvel movie directed by a black woman!) Not so odd was the omission was Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which was almost universally panned even before its star Jonathan Majors was arrested for assault and harrassment.

Coincidentally, more cast has been added to Nia DaCosta‘s Hedda, the filmmaker’s follow-up to the aforementioned The Marvels, which has not done well at the box office as the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel. (It hits digital platforms next week on Jan. 16 in case you missed or skipped it.) DaCosta is a reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s 1891 stage play Hedda Gabler, also written by DaCosta, for Amazon MGM‘s Orion Pictures, and the project had already cast DaCosta regular Tessa Thompson playing the main character, Hedda Tesman, as well as Nina Hoss (Tár) and Nicholas Pinnock. This week, the project added Imogen Poots (Outer Range), Tom Bateman (Thirteen Lives), Finbar Lynch (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), Mirren Mack (The Witcher: Blood Origins), Jamael Westman (Hamilton), and Saffron Hocking (Top Boy).

In DaCosta’s version, scheduled to start filming imminently, the character of Hedda Tesman is a “newlywed stifled by societal norms. Frustrated and trapped, she resorts to manipulation and destructive actions. As secrets unravel, the play explores themes of power, gender roles, and the tragic consequences of societal expectations in the late 19th century.” Sounds like a good recovery movie after DaCosta’s Marvel fiasco.

A scene from The White Lotus Season 2 (HBO MAX)

We’ll remain in casting mode for now, as Season 3 of Mike White‘s popular Emmy-winning HBO MAX (formerly limited) series, The White Lotus, has assembled its own cast, which includes the likes of Jason Isaacs (Mass, Archie), Parker PoseyMichelle Monaghan, as well as Leslie Bibb (Iron Man), Dom Hetrakul (Bangkok Dangerous), and Tayme Thapthimthong (Mayhem!). The new additions are joining Natasha Rothwell, who will be returning from Season 2, which aired on HBO and MAX back in April 2023, and received 24 Primetime Emmy nominations, of which it won three this past weekend at the aforementioned Creative Arts Emmys. Season 1 of the (then) limited series won 13 Emmys in 2022. The new season of the travelogue comedy/thriller is said to take place in Thailand, the two Thai actors added possibly being a giveaway there.

It was also announced that Season 5 of Netflix’s Emmy and SAG Award-winning hit series, Stranger Things, has begun production with the streamer sharing a black-and-white picture of the Duffer Brothers with the cast for the new season. (No, we’re not going to name everyone in the picture.) Season 5 will be the final one for Netflix’s long-running flagship sci-fi series, but no streaming date for the season has been announced yet, nor whether it will be split into two parts ala Season 4.

David Soul in 1975 (publicity picture from Starsky and Hutch)

One of the bigger and sadder deaths from the past week comes from the world of television, as it was announced that actor and singer David Soul of the classic ’70s series, Starsky and Hutch, had died at the age of 80 years old. It was reported by Soul’s wife, Helen Snell, who said he died “after a valiant battle for life in the loving company of family,” continuing that, “He shared many extraordinary gifts in the world as actor, singer, storyteller, creative artist and dear friend. His smile, laughter and passion for life will be remembered by the many whose lives he has touched.”

Sould became famous for playing Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in the hit American television series Starsky & Hutch from 1975 to 1979, but he also was the lead in the 1979 television movie based on Stephen King‘s Salem’s Lot, as well as starring in the 1973 film, Magnum Force. Soul also had a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Give Up on Us” in 1976.

Getting into some more awards, it was announced that former Doctor Who and Good Omens actor David Tennant has been set as the host of the 2024 BAFTA Film Awards, which will take place on February 18 at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London. In case you missed them last week, BAFTA announced the longlists of movies in play for this year’s awards.

Past Lives
Teo Yoo and Greta Lee in Past Lives (A24)

While many critics get their annual awards out of the way in December, the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) notoriously waits until early January, giving their members, who — as the very title states — are spread out across the country, more time to watch all the movies. NSFC picked Celine Song‘s excellent Past Lives as its Best Picture with Jonathan Glazer‘s Zone of Interest and Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer following close behind. Glazer won for Best Director, followed by Todd Haynes (for May December) and Nolan. Best Actress went to Sandra Hüller, both for her supporting role in Glazer’s film, but mostly for her lead role in Anatomy of a Fall, which won two Golden Globes this past Sunday. Andrew Scott received the group’s award for Best Actor for One of Us Strangers, while Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Charles Melton received nods for their supporting roles in Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers and May December respectively.

A reminder that if you’re a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, then you’re probably preparing to submit your nominations ballot in a period starting this Thursday, Jan. 11 and running through Tuesday, Jan. 16. Over at Below the Line, they’ve been interviewing many of the creatives and crafts people who should be under consideration for your nominations. So go ahead and swing by there and read some of the interviews.

So far, 2024 has been sadly devoid of new trailers, at least on the film side of things, although Paramount+ has released a trailer for its new drama series, Sexy Beast, based on the 2000 film by Jonathan Glazer (yes, him again), which earned Sir Ben Kingsley one of his four Oscar nominations. The series, set in the London crime world of the 1990s, stars James McArdle, Emun Elliott, Tamsin Greig, Stephen Moyer, and Sarah Greene. It will premiere on the streamer on January 25. (Thanks to our pals at Vital Thrills for bringing it to our attention.)

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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