#FIRSTLOOK: CHLOE ZHAO’S “NOMADLAND” TO PREMIERE AT TIFF ’20
Chinese-born and L.A.-based Filmmaker Chloé Zhao won accolades with 2017’s The Rider and since then has signed-on to direct Marvel’s The Eternals. Coming next is her Film, NOMADLAND starring and produced by Frances McDormand which will be doing the Festival rounds at at the New York, Venice and Toronto International Film Festival. The latter two will premiere on September 11, 2020. Telluride also will be hosting a special Drive-In Screening in lieu of their Festival being cancelled this year.
NOMADLAND marks the first project between Zhao and Searchlight and the fifth between McDormand and Searchlight. McDormand won an Oscar for her performance in Martin McDonagh’s film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which Searchlight released globally in 2017. Zhao adapted NOMADLAND from journalist Jessica Bruder’s 2017 non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century following McDormand and producer Peter Spears’ acquisition of the literary adaptation rights shortly after publication. The film follows Fern (McDormand), a woman who, after the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The film features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.
Searchlight Pictures release NOMADLAND this Fall.
(Photo credit: Searchlight Pictures)
#FIRSTLOOK: DISNEY UNVEIL UPCOMING LINEUP AT D23
Disney held their annual D23 Expo in Anaheim, California today and several announcements were made and unveiled including some exciting casting additions to Marvel’s The Eternals. The Cast of FROZEN 2 even did a performance!
Check-out some of the highlights!
President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams showcased the riveting conclusion to the Skywalker saga. Kennedy and Abrams revved up the audience, introducing nine stars from the film—many of whom marked this as their first D23 Expo appearance: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams, plus special appearances from R2-D2, BB-8 and the new droid D-O. A brand-new poster was revealed—and gifted to the entire audience. And all were given a look back at the incredible legacy of Star Wars storytelling and treated to a sneak peek of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens in theatres on Dec. 19, 2019.
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, kicked off his presentation with a surprise visit from “Black Panther” director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. Together, they revealed that “Black Panther 2” (working title) will hit theatres on May 6, 2022.
Feige segued to next year’s “The Eternals,” inviting cast members from the much-anticipated film to the stage: Richard Madden, who portrays the all-powerful Ikaris; Kumail Nanjiani, who plays cosmic-powered Kingo; Lauren Ridloff, who portrays the super-fast Makkari, the first deaf hero in the MCU; Brian Tyree Henry, who plays the intelligent inventor Phastos; Salma Hayek, who plays the wise and spiritual leader Ajak; Lia McHugh, who portrays the eternally young, old-soul Sprite; Don Lee, who plays the powerful Gilgamesh; and Angelina Jolie, who stars as the fierce warrior Thena. Feige revealed concept art images of each character, and announced three new cast members and their characters: Gemma Chan, who plays humankind-loving Sersi; Kit Harington, who was cast as non-Eternal Dane Whitman, and Barry Keoghan, who portrays aloof loner Druig, and was on hand for the event. Directed by Chloé Zhao, who helmed the critically acclaimed Sundance film “The Rider,” “The Eternals” opens in theatres on Nov. 6, 2020.
Feige concluded with “Black Widow,” the Cate Shortland-directed first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hits theatres on May 1, 2020. Feige shared a pre-recorded greeting featuring stars Scarlett Johansson, who reprises her role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; David Harbour, who was cast as Alexei the Red Guardian; and Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena. The audience was also treated to an exclusive look at the upcoming film.
DISNEY LIVE ACTION
Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, took the audience through upcoming releases for the studio, including next summer’s “Jungle Cruise,” a rousing adventure inspired by the classic theme-park attraction. Star Dwayne Johnson, who plays riverboat captain Frank Wolff, entered Hall D23 aboard an original Jungle Cruise boat, introducing a “trailer” that showed off his character—so much so, that co-star Emily Blunt, who portrays Dr. Lily Houghton, arrived via classic car to share with fans her own “trailer,” offering a different perspective—Bailey laughingly informed Johnson and Blunt that neither trailer was official. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” hits theatres on July 24, 2020.
Bailey welcomed Angelina Jolie back to the stage to present exclusive footage and details about Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the exciting follow-up to the hit 2014 film. Maleficent, portrayed by Jolie, and her goddaughter Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and new dark forces at play. Aurora’s imminent marriage to Prince Phillip is cause for celebration—however, Prince Phillip’s mother, Queen Ingrith, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, challenges Maleficent’s role as Aurora’s mother figure. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Connal, one of the leaders of the dark fey who becomes Maleficent’s ally. Ejiofor, Pfeiffer and Fanning were all welcomed to the stage by an enthusiastic audience. Directed by Joachim Rønning, who co-helmed 2017’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” arrives in theatres on Oct. 17, 2019.
Bailey next introduced acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro, director of “Mulan,” the upcoming live-action reimagining of the 1998 classic animated film. Caro expressed to fans her passion for the project, sharing several minutes of footage from the epic adventure inspired by one of China’s fiercest warriors. In Disney’s “Mulan,” which opens in theatres on March 27, 2020, the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders. So, the eldest daughter of an honored but ailing warrior masquerades as a man, transforming into a heroic warrior to ultimately earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.
Next up, Bailey shared details about “Cruella,” an all-new feature film starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Stone, who plays the iconic “Cruella,” sent D23 Expo fans a greeting from the London-based set with help from a spotted, four-legged co-star. Fans also got a glimpse of an image of Stone in full costume with Cruella’s signature black-and-white hair. Director Craig Gillespie, who helmed “I, Tonya” and “The Finest Hours,” brings “Cruella” to the big screen on May 28, 2021, with a fresh, 1970s, punk-rock approach.
PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS
Pixar Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter guided the audience through Pixar’s upcoming film slate of originals. Docter began with next summer’s release, “Soul,” which he directs. The film journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and “The You Seminar,” the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities. Producer Dana Murray, co-director/writer Kemp Powers and writer Mike Jones joined Docter on stage, and together they set up the film for the audience and shared a sneak peek. The team revealed members of the voice cast who joined them on stage, including Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx. Foxx lends his voice to Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz. Fey plays 22, a soul-in-training who has an unexpected encounter with Joe when he accidentally finds his way to the “You Seminar.” Together, the two are going to find a way to get Joe back to Earth, making him think again about what it truly means to have soul. Filmmakers also revealed that globally renowned musician Jon Batiste will be writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar®-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”), from Nine Inch Nails, will compose an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds. Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” opens in theatres on June 19, 2020.
Docter next introduced director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae, who shared details and more than ten minutes of exclusive footage from Pixar’s upcoming feature film “Onward.” The movie, which opens in theatres on March 6, 2020, stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. Set in a modern fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” is inspired by Scanlon’s personal experiences with his brother. Holland, Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus—who voices Mom in the movie—joined the filmmakers on stage—much to the delight of the audience, who all received an exclusive “Onward” poster.
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee presented an overview of the studio’s next two features, beginning with the Thanksgiving 2020 fantasy-action-adventure, “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Directors Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (“Big Hero 6,” “Frozen”), producer Osnat Shurer (“Moana”) and writer Adele Lim (“Crazy Rich Asians”) joined Lee on stage to set up the film, which introduces Raya, a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world. The D23 Expo crowd was the first to get a look at the new film, viewing an exclusive three-minute piece. They also met two newly announced members of the voice cast: Awkwafina lends her voice to Sisu, the Last Dragon, who was left on Earth in case dark forces return to the world, and Cassie Steele voices the lead character, Raya. Exploring themes of community and hope, and inspired by the beautiful and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia, the fantasy-action-adventure “Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in theatres on Nov. 25, 2020.
Lee, who directs “Frozen 2” with Chris Buck, and wrote the screenplay, invited Buck to join her on stage as the Oscar®-winning duo revealed new details about the upcoming film, which opens in theatres on Nov. 21. Lee and Buck introduced two new “Frozen 2” cast members: Sterling K. Brown, who voices Lieutenant Destin Mattias, and Evan Rachel Wood, who voices Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa’s mother. The crowd—who received an exclusive D23 Expo “Frozen 2” poster—saw never-before-seen footage of the new characters, including a scene that featured Wood as Iduna singing to young Elsa and Anna. The song, “All Is Found,” is one of seven all-new original songs by Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The audience also saw a sequence from the movie that showcased Elsa’s yearning for answers about the past, culminating in another song, “Into the Unknown.” And a climactic performance of the song “Some Things Never Change” by Menzel, Bell, Groff and Gad brought the audience to its feet, capping off the studio presentation in extraordinary style.
(Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada)
#FIRSTLOOK: 2019 SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Some exciting stuff coming out of Comic-Con this weekend in San Diego! A Series of announcements have been made as to the next set of Films to come out in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of them features our v. own Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) in the titual role of Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings!
Feige kicked off with an overview of the feature film “The Eternals,” an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feige introduced the director, Chloé Zhao, followed by stars from the film, including, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh and Angelina Jolie as Thena.
“The Eternals” will make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in theatres on November 6, 2020.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER
Feige brought news on the Disney+ original series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” which pairs up two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most popular heroes—Sam Wilson aka The Falcon and Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier—in a series of action-filled adventures as they fight together against evil after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”
Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) came on stage to greet the fans, and it was revealed that Daniel Brühl will return as the villain, Baron Zemo.
“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” is set to debut on Disney+ in the fall of 2020.
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
Feige spoke about the feature film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and detailed how the legend has been hinted at in the MCU films since the first “Iron Man.”
In an unanticipated surprise for all, Kevin Feige then announced the confirmed casting of Simu Liu in the title role of Shang-Chi and both the actor and the director, Destin Daniel Cretton, came on stage to greet the audience. Kevin also shared with the audience the casting of Awkwafina in a yet-to-be-disclosed role. Then, Kevin revealed to the Hall H audience that the real Mandarin will be played by celebrated Chinese actor Tony Leung.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be in theatres on February 12, 2021.
Next, Feige offered the latest on “WandaVision,” a Disney+ original series where Paul Bettany reprises the role of Vision and Elizabeth Olsen returns to her role of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch.
Bettany and Olsen were joined on stage by MCU newcomer Teyonah Parris, and Feige announced that Parris will be playing the grown-up version of Monica Rambeau, who was introduced to audiences in “Captain Marvel.”
“WandaVision” premieres on Disney+ in the spring of 2021.
Feige offered news on “Loki,” a Marvel Studios original series streaming on Disney+ in the spring of 2021. Tom Hiddleston—back in his role of the mercurial Loki, the god of mischief and everyone’s favorite villain—received a huge welcome from fans when Feige brought him out on stage.
Then to the delight of the audience, Hiddleston answered the biggest question from “Avengers: Endgame”: “Where did Loki go when he took the Space Stone?”
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS
Feige introduced the second film in the “Doctor Strange” franchise, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and called the director, Scott Derrickson, and star Benedict Cumberbatch to the stage to a rousing welcome.
In a surprise twist, Feige brought out Elizabeth Olsen, who also stars in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and they talked about how “WandaVision”—the Disney+ series that Olsen will star in as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch—connects directly to the feature-film storyline.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” hits theatres on May 7, 2021.
Feige offered new information on “What If…?,” the first animated series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “What If…?” is being created exclusively for Disney+ and features stories that present alternate realities in the Marvel universe.
Feige mentioned that many actors from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe will reprise their roles as voice talent in the series. He then surprised the audience by bringing Jeffrey Wright to the stage and introducing him as the voice of the popular character The Watcher in the new series.
“What If…?” joins the Disney+ lineup in the summer of 2021.
Jeremy Renner came on stage and revealed the previously undisclosed title of the Hawkeye Disney+ original series. He joined Kevin Feige to give exciting news about “Hawkeye,” including details about Kate Bishop, a character well-known in Marvel comics, who will be an integral part of the series.
“Hawkeye” launches on Disney+ in the fall of 2021.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
Feige talked about the next Thor film, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which will be the fourth feature film in the “Thor” franchise. It was revealed that Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, will become the Mighty Thor, the goddess of Thunder.
Director Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman all came on stage for the presentation, eliciting a wild response from the Hall H audience who are looking forward to the film’s November 5, 2021 debut in theatres.
Feige officially announced the feature film “Black Widow,” which is slated for a May 1, 2020 release in theatres, making it the first film of Phase Four to hit the big screen.
Feige surprised the audience with the first footage from “Black Widow,” which is currently in production. The film is directed by Cate Shortland who was on hand to greet the Hall H audience along with Scarlett Johansson, reprising her role of Natasha Romanoff, as well as newcomers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe David Harbour as Alexei aka The Red Guardian, Florence Pugh as Yelena, O-T Fagbenle as Mason and Rachel Weisz as Melina.
Following the “Black Widow” presentation, Feige had another big surprise up his sleeve for the enthusiastic Hall H crowd. He was joined on stage by actor Mahershala Ali and then announced the new Marvel Studios feature film “Blade” that Ali will star in.
(Photo/video credit: Walt Disney Studios Canada)