Motion-picture: Tyler Perry scares up two more movies; Lin Manuel Miranda returns with Moana

Though it was overthrown by Doctor Strange this week, Boo! A Madea Halloween scared its way to the top of the box office for two straight weeks, and scored Tyler Perry two more films with Lionsgate in the process. Speaking of Doctor Strange, people aren’t happy with its alleged whitewashing. Elsewhere, Lin Manuel Miranda is once again flexing his song writing muscles, Amma Asante is filming her next project, and a director is running as fast as he can away from The Flash. For these stories and more, read on:

Box office: Serving up a huge surprise, Boo! A Madea Halloween lead the domestic box office for two weeks in a row. Overpowering star power juggernauts like Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck and Tom Hanks, Tyler Perry’s iconic drag character drew $16.7 million in its second weekend, outperforming Hanks’ thriller Inferno. At the end of its first three weeks in theaters, the picture has earned $64.9 million domestically. Madea performed so well, Lionsgate announced two more Tyler Perry films are in the pipeline, one of which will continue the Madea franchise. 

Action: Though Marvel’s new movie Doctor Strange may have had a successful weekend at the box office, it was not universally praised. The film’s opening in Manhattan this week was protested by a group of Tibetans and supporters of Tibet in response to the portrayal of the Ancient One, a Tibetan character in the comic book source material. The character is portrayed by actress Tilda Swinton, who is white. In a statement in October, director Scott Derrickson denied accusations of whitewashing, saying the character in the comics is “a very old American stereotype of what Eastern characters and people are like,” saying he did not wish to portray such stereotypes. “They’re doing worse than just whitewashing,” said Urgyen Badheytsang, campaign director for Students for a Free Tibet. “They’re making people dumber by placing this white woman in a monastery in Nepal.” 

A few weeks before the release of its much-anticipated Moana, Disney is proving how far it’ll go. Singer Alessia Cara released a music video for her new song “How Far I’ll Go” for the film. The song was penned by Lin Manuel-Miranda, the Hamilton creator and star, as one of seven songs he wrote for the film. The animation, due out November 23, features Disney’s first Polynesian princess. It stars newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as the titular princess and Dwayne Johnson as Maui, her father.

Rick Famuyiwa is speeding away from The Flash. The director of Dope was signed on to the DC film universe property starring Ezra Miller until he walked off the project due to creative differences last week. “I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor, and heart. While it’s disappointing that we couldn’t come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity,” Famuyiwa said. He’s the second director to leave the project, after Seth Grahame-Smith, who also penned the script. It is unknown if the film’s March 2018 release date will be impacted by the search for a new director.

Samuel L. Jackson is in talks to join big budget sci-fi action Inversion, directed by Peter Segal. He would join Warcraft star Travis Fimmel and The Third Way of Love actress Liu Yifei in the cast. Jackson would play a Homeland Security investigator who believes the other two are responsible for the inversion of gravity, and chases them across the world to stop them. The $130 million production will be produced by Philip Lee, Michael Nozik and Markus Barmettler.


Drama: Filming has officially begun on Amma Asante’s next project, titled Where Hands Touch. The film, set in 1944 Berlin, stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, As You Are) and George Mackay (Pride). The movie follows a German teenager (Stenberg) as she begins a friendship with a young follower of Hitler (Mackay). Written and directed by Asante, filming began in Belgium November 1 and will be produced by Tantrum Films/Pinewood Pictures Productions. Asante’s next film, A United Kingdom, will premier domestically February 17.

Coincidentally, February 17 was the original release date for the upcoming Idris Elba-starrer The Dark Tower, which has been pushed back to a 2017 summer release. Based on the Stephen King fantasy series of the same name, the movie will now premier July 28. The book series follows a lone gunslinger’s quest through a dying fantasy world. Its release was postponed to give the post-production team more time to work on the visual effects of the film, as well as to better promote it.

Kathryn Bigelow’s untitled Detroit riots drama is expanding its cast. Ephraim Sykes, Laz Alonso, Nathan Davis Jr., and Leon Thomas III are just some of the names in the upcoming crime drama, now in production. Bigelow is again working with screenwriter Mark Boal, who wrote The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Set during the 1967 Detroit riots, the film will explore systematic racism in an urban setting. The real riots lasted five days and resulted in 43 deaths, one of the most violent riots in American history.

Comedy: Mindy Kaling is transitioning to the late night talk show circuit. No, she won’t be getting her own talk show (though how fun would that be?) but instead she’s starring in a movie she wrote about the talk show world. Paul Feig is in talks to direct the film, after he’s lead many successful female-fueled comedies like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Kaling will appear on screen in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, and will also appear in the all-female Oceans 11 re-up, Oceans 8.  

Awards/festivals: OJ: Made in America and The 13th both won big at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards this year. Directed by Ezra Edelman, the doc won the Best Documentary (Theatrical Release) award, and also took home awards for Best Director for Theatrical Release, Best Sports Documentary, and Best Limited Documentary Series. Ava DuVernay’s The 13th was released on Netflix earlier last month and focus on racial influence in the American justice system. Mirroring Edelman, DuVernay’s doc took home prizes for Best Documentary and Best Director in the TV/Streaming category, as well as Best Political Documentary.