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Will Ferrell’s invitation

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Ferrell vs. Witherspoon, Apple takes Everest, from Fleabag to Tomb Raider, Spider-Cage, Neon’s quintuple, and a buoy.

Let’s go!


WILL FERRELL’S INVITATION

Amazon and Disney Upfronts. Both gave presentations laying out their upcoming programming to advertisers.

This was Amazon’s first upfront, as they just launched ads for Prime Video at the end of January.

Alan Moss, VP of Global Advertising Sales Amazon Ads, stated:

“We’ve created the largest ad-supported premium streaming service in the world. We’ve connected the dots across our universe.”

Here’s a breakdown of Amazon’s upcoming projects:

  • You’re Cordially Invited
    • Synopsis: Will Ferrell and Reese Witherspoon star in a rom-com centering on a double-booked wedding.
    • Features the typically blissful Ferrell debauchery + a hilariously tough Witherspoon as his foil
    • Trailer
    • Release date: Jan 30, 2025
  • Elle
    • Legally Blonde prequel series
    • Synopsis: Elle Woods in high school as we learn about the life experiences that shaped her into the iconic young woman we came to know and love in the first Legally Blonde film
    • Production Company: Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine
  • Spiderman Noir
    • Starring Nicolas Cage
    • (Details in Actor’s Spotlight)
  • Tomb Raider series
    • (Details in Actor’s Spotlight)
  • Sequels/Renewals
    • Mr. & Mrs. Smith Season 2
    • The Boys Season 5
    • Roadhouse 2
    • Ring of Power Season 2
      • Doubling down on the most expensive series ever made
      • Trailer

Disney Upfront.

Disney is expected to make a pivot with its Disney+ shows, in particular the Marvel series rollout plan, with some shows being changed to movies, rewritten or canceled entirely.

Here is a breakdown with release dates:

  • Agatha All Along
    • Spin off of Wandavision
    • Starring its witchy antagonist Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn)
    • Release date: Sept 18, 2024

Aside from many name changes, the character of Agatha has always been something Marvel fans took away liking from the series, that and the catchy theme song.

  • Daredevil: Born Again
    • The often-requested spiritual S4 of the original Netflix Daredevil series but now on Disney+ starring Charlie Cox
    • Release date: March 2025
  • Ironheart
    • A show about the only other person to create a flying suit of armor, not named Tony Stark
    • Release date: sometime in 2025

The character of Ironheart (Riri Williams) was introduced in Black Panther 2, this series will continue her story and give a bit more background on Ironheart.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Apple takes Everest. In the first major sale of the Cannes Market, Apple Original Films has taken the rights to Tenzing, starring Tom Hiddleston and Willem Dafoe will play the first mountaineers to summit Everest.

Here’s the synopsis:

Tibetan-born Tenzing Norgay, alongside New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary (Hiddleston), both outsiders on a British Expedition, defied insurmountable odds to achieve what was once thought impossible, reaching the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.

No release date has been set.

Comcast bundles Peacock, Netflix, and Apple. Comcast is the nation’s largest cable provider and parent company of Universal Pictures, NBC and Peacock. Their new bundle, StreamSaver will be made available for broadband customers at the end of the month.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery streaming bundle: ​

  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • Max

These bundles are largely motivated by declining revenue and decreasing subscriber bases. The trickle-down value to consumers is paying less for vaster amounts of content.

Lionsgate Studios further cleaves itself from Starz and launches on Nasdaq. At the end of last year, Lionsgate Studios spun off as a separately traded “pure-content” entity with Screaming Eagle Equity Partners, which allowed for a few advantages:

  • $4.6 bn price tag on Lionsgate Studios
  • $350 M cash raised from the deal
  • $175 M committed from private equity
  • Split from Starz

Jon Feltheimer CEO of Lionsgate stated:

“This transaction reaffirms our longstanding belief in the value of premium content by enabling us to launch Lionsgate Studios as one of the world’s leading standalone, pure play, publicly-traded content companies.”

The Lionsgate Studios deal is expected to be finalized soon.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Big announcement for all the Lara Croft fans. Fleabag alum Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s video game adaptation, Tomb Raider, is officially picked up by Amazon.

Despite being a longtime fan of the popular British video game, she has no plans of starring in the adventure series, but will EP and write every episode.

Waller-Bridge stated:

“If I could tell my teenage self this was happening I think she’d explode. Tomb Raider has been a huge part of my life and I feel incredibly privileged to be bringing it to television with such passionate collaborators.”

Waller-Bridge has receiving three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Lead Actress, and Outstanding Comedy series, for her creation, the fourth wall breaking, Fleabag (best moments).

She wrote and produced the critically acclaimed thriller Killing Eve, which earned her several nominations over its four-season run.

Clearly having a passion for adventure stories, she most recently starred opposite Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) as Helena Shaw the titular character’s goddaughter (clip).

Little is known of Amazon Video’s new Tomb Raider series but a worldwide search for Lara Croft is expected to start immediately and production will start later this year.

Tim Roth will play Henry Kissinger as a sex symbol. Roth will star in the upcoming satire Kissinger Takes Paris.

Official synopsis:

In 1968, Henry Kissinger – a politically washed-up professor – stumbles into Paris at the height of its student protests and dawn of the sexual revolution. There, he crashed the Paris Peace Talks and changed the course of modern history.

The director, Jeff Stanzler, stated:

“As a young boy I marveled at Dr. Kissinger on TV, who looked much more like me than Robert Redford, while he was dating a different world-famous actress or model each month — he had no rival.”

This will be a wild movie, especially if you contrast this with Roth’s anti-sex symbol in the chilling Resurrection (2022).

“Wherever I go the wind follows, and the wind smells like rain.” Nicolas Cage was excellent as Spider Noir in the equally excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2016), and it looks like Sony agrees, debuting the character as the lead of a live-action Amazon series.

Spider-Man Noir is an alternate dimension version of Peter Parker that grew up in a gritty black and white hard-boiled version of New York. The character was introduced in a mini-comic series Spiderman Noir #1, in 2009, but he became even more beloved in Spiderverse where Cage voiced his brooding monologues to great comedic effect (link).

Nicolas Cage is always an incredible force of nature to watch, and this series will be a great vehicle for him to ham it up a bit and play up the Double IndemnityMaltese FalconBig Sleep of it all.

Tidbits:

Cage, Stephen Dorf (True Detective), and Heather Graham will be starring in The Gunslingers, launching at the Cannes Market.

Pierce Brosnan will play the legendary Irish boxing trainer Brendan Ingle, best known for training Naseem Hamed from childhood to multiple featherweight championships.

First look photo of an aged Brosnan.

He will also play a legendary werewolf hunter in Wolfland (dir: his son, Sean Brosnan).

Kaitlin Olson has high potential. The long-time Always Sunny actress will star in ABC’s High Potential as a hyper-intelligent mom who gets contracted by a struggling detective department to solve crimes (trailer). It is a major transformation from her prickly, decrepit, blood-sucking Always Sunny character, Dee. Still, she has a ton of attitude.


FESTIVALS (CANNES DAY 1)

Cannes kicked off today. The opening film was Quentin Dupieux’s The Second Act. In a hilarious scene a father, played by Vincent Lindon (Titane), drives his daughter (Léa Seydoux). They engage in a boiler-plate conversation when suddenly Lindon stops the car and refuses to take part in the scene.

Lindon states:

“You’ll carry on as if nothing was wrong, as if everything was fine and dandy? Mankind is nearly done, and you want to play my daughter in an indie movie?”

This split focus will be at the heart of this year’s festival, with the specter of a worker’s strike, bombshell #metoo announcements, and war protests.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Cannes Palme d’Or winning director Julia Ducournau’s (Titane) 3rd feature, Alpha, was just acquired by Neon.

This is exciting, as Titane (2021) was a cinematic shocker. Indicative of Cronerberg’s Crash (1996), it tracks a child who has a traumatic car accident and becomes intimate with automotives as they escape to form an incestuous child-father bond.

There’s a body-horror brutality that’s hard to watch and hard to look away.

Alpha already has its leads set:

  • ​Golshifteh Farahani​
    • Co-stars w/ Adam Driver in Paterson (2016)
  • ​Tahar Rahim​
    • A Prophet (2009)

Neon has acquired the last four Palme d’Or winners:

  • Parasite (2019)
  • Titane (2021)
  • Triangle of Sadness (2022)
  • Anatomy of a Fall (2023)

This year, Neon has Sean Baker’s Anora competing for the Palme d’Or.

Andrea Arnold’s cinema is raw and biting. Her latest project, Bird, an official selection at Cannes, was just acquired by Mubi for UK and Ireland.

Synopsis:

The film follows a 12-year-old who lives with her brother and single dad in a squat in North Kent. As she approaches puberty, she seeks attention and adventure elsewhere.

Barry Keoghan (Saltburn) stars.

Arnold’s Wasp, her 2003 short film that won the Academy Award, is a roller coaster ride of intensity. Her feature debut Fish Tank (2009) is a kinetic, aggressive, coming-of-age story (trailer) co-starring Michael Fassbender. It took the Jury Prize at Cannes. While her first films stifled her characters in constricting environments, her most recent film, American Honey (2016), set them free. It is perhaps the best road movie of the 2010s. It also took the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes (trailer).

Didi​ drops trailer. The film won the Sundance Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic and was acquired by Focus Features.

Here’s the official synopsis: ​

A 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy discovers skating, flirting, and the true essence of maternal love beyond his family’s teachings.

The director, Sean Wang, stated: ​

“Underneath the joy and chaos of adolescence is a complicated and turbulent, but ultimately tender relationship story between this boy and his immigrant mom as they struggle to understand each other despite their cultural and generational differences.”

Didi​ will be in the theaters on July 26th.

Tidbit:

Bleecker Street has acquired the Kristen Stewart Sundance film Love Me. The film lives up to its synopsis:

Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love.

It’s wonderfully charming and absurd.​


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

When the Light Breaks, the opening film of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, is a poignant meditation on grief. The film opens with Una cheating with a man who is desperately in love with her, promising to break up with his girlfriend the next day… but that day never comes.

Una, faced with the death of her lover, is unable to express her loss.

Director Rúnar Rúnarsson broke down the film’s single-day timeline:

“We go from sunset to sunset — and focus on these first moments. If you experience something life-changing, regardless of your age, you feel … everything at once. It’s a rollercoaster ride. The same things that make you cry, make you laugh. At the same time, or five seconds later.”

He continued:

“For me, that’s life. We don’t laugh all the time, even on the happiest day, and we don’t cry all the time either. There is beauty in the mundane and there is humor in grief.”

The trailer is a beautiful showcase of this dichotomy.


ON THIS DAY

1960. L’Avventura, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, starring Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti premieres at Cannes.


See you tomorrow.


Written by Gabriel Miller, Spencer Carter, and Madelyn Menapace.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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