Get ready to add a slew of films to your most anticipated list because the Sundance Film Festival has come to a close and there are loads of acclaimed projects that secured distribution. In addition to the big winners coming out of Park City, we’ve also got one 2013 release emerging from the Directors Guild Awards as a strong Academy Award frontrunner.
Interested in the details on those stories as well as Gal Gadot’s three-picture Wonder Woman deal, the “Hateful Eight” script leak, Universal’s unusual release plan for “Stretch,” and more? Catch it all in your weekly Movie New Cheat Sheet.
1. Sundance Wrap-Up: That’s a wrap on Sundance 2014. The winners have been crowned, the worthy contenders have been bought and now it’s time to count down until they make their way into theaters outside Park City, Utah. The Miles Teller-starrer, “Whiplash,” made off with the US Dramatic Grand Jury honor as well as the US Dramatic Audience Award. The US Dramatic Directing Award went to “Fishing Without Nets” helmer, Cutter Hodierne, and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented to “The Skelton Twins” scribes, Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson. For those that didn’t make off with awards, distribution is a solid consolation prize. IFC Films picked up the psychological horror film “The Babadook” and the latest from Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, “Cold in July,” while A24 snatched up the horror-comedy “Life After Birth” as well as Jenny Slate’s “Obvious Child.” The Ira Sachs film, “Love is Strange,” went to Sony Pictures Classics, Magnolia Pictures snatched up “Frank” featuring Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Michael Fassbender, and “The One I Love” found a home at RADiUS-TWC. Keep an eye out as this year’s crop of festival gems make their way into theaters and check out the full list of Sundance award winners right here.
2. DGA Winners: Did the Directors Guild of America just reveal our Best Picture and Best Director winners? Considering the DGA award and the Academy Awards usually fall in line, it is likely so now that means “Gravity” could be the frontrunner and steal both titles from “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave.” Of course it isn’t a guarantee considering, just last year, Ben Affleck took the DGA honor but wasn’t even nominated for Best Director, however, I’d like to win my Oscar pool so I can’t help but to stick with the typical correlation and give “Gravity” my vote in both categories. We’ll see if that pans out come March 2nd, but for now, you can catch the full list of DGA winners right here.
3. Gal Gadot Signed to Play Wonder Woman in Three Films: Thanks to the colossal success of the large majority of studio superhero movies, nowadays, it’s a given that when an actor or actress suits up to play a high-flying hero that he or she will sign a multiple picture deal, so it’s no surprise that Gal Gadot did just that. Batman-News.com caught her appearance on “Good Evening with Gai Pines” during which Gadot confirmed she agreed to play Wonder Woman in three films. Now of course signing a contract doesn’t guarantee that those other two films will ever actually be made, but shortly after this news broke, Variety chimed in to insist that that deal will cover “Batman vs. Superman” as well as a Justice League movie and a Wonder Woman standalone film. “Batman vs. Superman” is expected to go into production later this year for its new May 6, 2016 release, so we’ve still got a ways to go before we’ll find out whether or not Warner Bros. will put that long-term deal to use.
4. Garrett Hedlund & Hugh Jackman Locked for Peter Pan: There’s been talk of Hugh Jackman joining Joe Wright’s untitled Peter Pan film for quite some time, but now Warner Bros. has confirmed it; Jackman will step in as the pirate Blackbeard. Greg Silverman, the studio’s president of creative development and worldwide production, stated, “Hugh Jackman always delivers indelible performances that resonate with audiences. We know he will create a Blackbeard who will be a powerful presence in this original Peter Pan adventure.” On top of that, Deadline is also reporting that Warner Bros. just picked up Garrett Hedlund to take the film’s lead role of Hook, beating out Jack Huston and Ezra Miller for the part. The Jason Fuchs script hones in on an orphan who’s taken to Neverland where he leads the natives into battle against the pirates. The film will be shot in 3D and hit theaters on July 17, 2015.
5. No More “Stretch:” This was not a good week for Joe Carnahan and everyone involved in his comedy-thriller, “Stretch.” As reported by THR, Carnahan completed the film with a $5 million budget, but then Universal decided it wasn’t worth dolling out $20 to $40 million to market the thing so passed via producer Jason Blum’s first look deal. From there, Blum shopped it around to other distributors but came up empty-handed and so then the film reverted back to Universal, which officially nixed the planned March 21st release date and instead will pursue “creative” means of releasing the film. It’s tough to pass judgment on the situation when you haven’t seen the final feature, but regardless, Carnahan still put all the necessary time, energy and effort into completing the film, so having it dropped from Universal’s 2014 lineup must hurt and clearly it does because the writer-director took to Twitter to voice his frustration. He tweeted, “I can talk sh*t & argue with that idiotic @THR story but brass tacks, that movie works & you will all be fast fans of it when you see it,” and, “I think it’s as good or better than my best film & say that from the bottom of my heart. This movie will make it to you, trust me.” “Stretch” stars Patrick Wilson as a chauffer tasked with escorting a devious billionaire, landing him in the middle of a number of dangerous situations. Even though the lack of distribution doesn’t bode well for the final product, good old humanity has me believing Carnahan’s tweets and curious to catch what Universal could be missing out on.
6. “The Hateful Eight” Script Leak: Even though it was recently reported that the western “The Hateful Eight” would be Quentin Tarantino’s next project, now, according to Deadline, it’s been shelved due to a script leak. Apparently Tarantino shared the screenplay with a “small circle of actors” and got so upset that someone let it loose that he decided not to make the film next at all and instead plans to publish the script with the potential to revisit the idea of bringing it to the big screen in the next five years. Tarantino noted, “I gave it to one of the producers on ‘Django Unchained,’ Reggie Hudlin, and he let an agent come to his house and read it.” He further explained, “That’s a betrayal, but not crippling because the agent didn’t end up with the script. There is an ugly maliciousness to the rest of it. I gave it to three actors: Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth. The one I know didn’t do this is Tim Roth. One of the others let their agent read it, and that agent has now passed it on to everyone in Hollywood. I don’t know how these f*cking agents work, but I’m not making this next. I’m going to publish it, and that’s it for now. I give it out to six people, and if I can’t trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it. I’ll publish it. I’m done. I’ll move on to the next thing. I’ve got 10 more where that came from.” Tarantino suspects it was Dern’s reps at CAA that are responsible, but Deadline’s contacts at the agency insist they’re not and that it’s possible that Tarantino himself is because if he gave the script out without a watermark, that makes this an “unsolvable breach.”
7. Sacha Baron Cohen May Play the “Alice in Wonderland 2” Villain: With “Alice and Wonderland” vets Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska on board to bring back the Mad Hatter and Alice, director James Bobin is ready to lock in a villain. As reported by Variety, Sacha Baron Cohen is currently in early talks for the “Through the Looking Glass” role, which Bleeding Cool says is named Time. There’s no confirmation from Disney on that detail, but considering the film is said to be a “sequel-meets-prequel” featuring both older and younger versions of the characters, it certainly makes sense. “Through the Looking Glass” is scheduled for a May 27, 2016 debut.
8. Puppy Minion Creator to Direct His First Feature: Honestly, maybe this isn’t the biggest news of the week, but have you seen the Minion mini-movie, “Puppy?” I’d love to go as far to say it’ll change your life, but just in case you aren’t as pet-obsessed as I am, let’s just say it’ll melt your heart. The man behind the “Despicable Me” series, Chris Renaud, will team up with “Puppy” director, Yarrow Cheney, and the duo will bring an untitled pets project to life. As reported by Deadline (via /Film), Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart are already on board to voice the three main characters. C.K. will play the leader of the pack, a terrier who’s threatened when his owner brings home a new pet, Stonestreet’s Duke. Eventually the duo winds up out on the streets in New York City and cross paths with a white bunny named Snowball (Hart) who happens to be the leader of a group of abandoned pets that are now determined to seek revenge on humans for what they’ve done. The gang is set to make their way to the big screen for a February 12, 2016 release.
9. Trailers: “Oculus,” “The Raid 2,” “300: Rise of an Empire:” Mind your eyes because the new “Oculus” trailer unveils the Lasser Glass. In his teens, Tim is convicted of murdering his parents. Years later in his 20s, he’s ready to move on, but his sister is convinced that he wasn’t responsible for the crime. Instead, Kaylie blames the malevolent supernatural force lurking in a mirror from their childhood home, a mirror called the Lasser Glass. The blood continues to flow in the latest trailer for “The Raid 2.” The piece rocks some powerful character development, but ultimately launches into the stunningly vicious displays of combat akin to the ones from the original 2011 release that wowed crowds and earned it a sequel. The action in the new trailer for “300: Rise of an Empire” can’t quite compare, but structurally, it’s a far stronger promotional tool than the earlier iterations. The narrative finally has some room to breathe, character motivations are coming into focus and we get to catch glimpses of a number of visuals well worth a freeze frame.
10. Box Office: Even though “I, Frankenstein” had the weekend all to itself, it didn’t even manage to crack the top five, giving the box office veterans the chance to keep their numbers high. “Ride Along” held relatively strong, dropping 49% making the move from weekend one to two and claiming another $21.2 million to take to the bank. “Lone Survivor” held its position as well, but not by much. A 42.9% drop isn’t bad at all, but “The Nut Job” dropped just 36.6% and the $12.3 million it earned came pretty close to trumping “Lone Survivor’s” $12.6 million weekend five haul. Even though “The Nut Job” is proving to be a strong contender, it isn’t slowing “Frozen” down in the least. “Frozen” dropped a mere 23.2% moving from weekend nine to ten and took another $9 million, bringing its domestic grand total to a whopping $348 million. Even after the lackluster start, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” managed to maintain more than 55% of its opening profits, letting it lock in #5 with an $8.8 million weekend two total. (via Box Office Mojo)