Motion-picture: Donald Glover enters a galaxy far, far away; Hidden Figures visible this awards season
Going against the tide in 2016, this week brought two major successes at the box office – even if you probably haven’t heard of at least one of them yet. There’s also two major awards contenders entering the race next week, and it’s pretty likely you haven’t heard of at least one of them, either. Meanwhile, Donald Glover better not get comfortable down in Atlanta, and we’re (finally) getting our first studio film with a full Asian cast. For these stories and more, read on:
Box Office: Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween snuck up on Jack Reacher this weekend. The Madea anthology continuation scared up $27.6 million in its opening weekend, barely outpacing Tom Cruise’s action sequel Jack Reacher: Never Look Back. That’s pleasant news for Madea’s $20 million budget, especially compared to Jack’s $60 million. The film is directed by and stars Tyler Perry, infamous for his previous Madea outings. This installment finds Madea fighting off ghosts and other paranormal creatures, as well as box office competition.
Even better news this week comes from Moonlight. The coming of age drama film opened limited in just four theaters this weekend – and scored the biggest per-theater average of 2016. It drew in $414,740, meaning each location took in an average $103,685. The story follows a shy black gay kid growing up in the city at various stages in his life. The coolest part? Aside from its near-unanimous acclaim, the film has no major box office draws – Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage) might be the most recognizable name here, and he’s a long ways off from being considered a draw. In a year rife with box office bombs, it’s refreshing to see a small movie start its inevitable awards circuit run with such gusto.
Action: Between Atlanta and a galaxy far, far away, Donald Glover has a big commute ahead of him. The Atlanta star has finally been confirmed to play a young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo prequel, opposite Alden Ehrenreich’s Han. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) say the film will follow Lando in “his formative years” as a petty criminal. Between this, Atlanta, his role in the upcoming Spider-Man re-reboot, and an upcoming album, it’s safe to say Glover will be busy for a while.
Letitia Wright is ready to play. The Ready Player One newcomer will also star in Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Marvel superhero movie Black Panther. She joins a promising cast of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira in what will be the first all-colored cast for a superhero movie. Her film career will kick off with two big tentpole films in 2018; before Panther, she will star in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, a big budget action/sci-fi.
Speaking of newcomers to tentpole action films, Karan Brar has joined that league. The actor, most notable for his role in the Disney channel’s sitcom Jessie, has joined the cast for the upcoming robot vs. kaiju sequel, Pacific Rim: Maelstorm. The young actor joins the cast of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny and Adria Arjona. The original film, which came out in 2013, saw humans taking control of massive robot suits in order to fight off a league of monsters attacking Earth. The sequel will release in 2018.
Creed star Michael B. Jordan launched his own production company and signed a multiyear deal with Skydance Media for film and television projects. The deal’s first project will come into play with the upcoming television drama Apollo Park, about a young Detroit-based basketball player who is quickly rising to professional fame. Wynn Wygal will serve as the vice president at his production company, Outlier Productions. This is a huge step forward for Jordan’s career, as he adds executive producer to his resume.
Drama: Hidden Figures might be a visible force this Oscars season. The movie, originally scheduled for a January 6 bow, bumped up its debut to limited release on Christmas day, qualifying the film in this year’s batch of Oscar hopefuls. The biographical drama stars Taraji P. Hensen, Viola Davis and Janelle Monae as mathematicians working at NASA to help launch astronaut John Glenn into space. Directed by Theodore Melfi, it will keep its wide release on January 6.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is ready to time travel. The actress will star in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time, a remake of the classic tale about children time traveling through various worlds to find their missing father (who will be played by Chris Pine). Mbatha-Raw is joining a star-studded cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid and Reese Witherspoon. Her previous acting creds include Doctor Who, Beyond the Lights and the titular role in Belle.
Idris Elba’s 100 Streets, which was filmed and released in London only, has finally been picked up for US release. Samuel Goldwyn Films bought the movie for a January 13 release date next year. Directed by Jim O’Hanlon and written by Leon Butler, the film follows multiple storylines all within a radius of 100 streets of London, including a former rugby star (Elba), a drug dealer, a photographer, and more. The extensive cast also includes Franz Drameh, Gemma Aberton, and Tom Cullen.
Comedy: Kevin Kwan’s hit 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians is getting a movie adaptation – and it will feature the first Hollywood studio movie to have an entirely Asian cast. Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2, Step Up 2 and 3) will direct the film, which will be penned by Adele Lim and Pete Chiarelli. The book follows a Chinese-American economics professor who discovers her boyfriend is the heir to a massive fortune, changing their lives, in a novel The New York Times called “a dizzily shopaholic comedy.” Filming will begin in Singapore in spring 2017.