A special New Year’s edition of Film Diary!
Happy New Year! I hope you’re enjoying it as best as you can in these troublesome times. What a hectic 12 months it has been with a 1.84 million death toll and Covid infection rates continuing to spike. Nottingham is now in Tier 4, meaning non-essential shops and entertainment venues have to close, but schools and colleges stay open (for now!), although they will be returning after the Christmas break a week late on January 18th.
Still, there is hope on the horizon. Several vaccines are on the roll-out, the UK is out of the E.U and Trump is on his way out of the White House this month. And 2021 has the potential to be a mammoth year for the blockbuster with big-budget leftovers from 2020 lining up to be released. If those pesky cinemas stay open, we could be seeing ‘No Time to Die’, ‘Black Widow’, ‘A Quiet Place: Part II’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ hitting the pictures practically every week. I seriously hope Hollywood can regain its losses made in 2020, certainly with a return to some degree of cinematic normalcy and hope that cinemas survive this pandemic once everyone is safely vaccinated.
Anyway, a new month and new year means new movie news and I thought I’d make a new contribution to my monthly film-related gossip column ‘Film Diary’ specially for the beginning of 2021. I’ve rounded up a selection of the biggest and juiciest news from the last two months of 2020 for your reading pleasure…
Nolan vs. Warner Bros.
Christopher Nolan has hit out at Warner Bros’ decision to simultaneously release their entire 2021 movie slate on HBO Max. This release slate includes ‘Dune’, ‘In the Heights’ and ‘The Matrix 4’ which will all be coming home early to the much-famed streaming service.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Nolan branded the decision as “very, very, very, very messy” and branded HBO Max “the worst streaming service”.
When asked what his feelings were on the matter, he stated “oh, I mean, disbelief. Especially the way in which they did...There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top film-makers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences...And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service - for the fledgling streaming service - without any consultation”.
Nolan’s latest film ‘Tenet’ (2020) was delayed three times due to the pandemic before its release in August. Him and Warner Bros. were determined that the movie get a big screen release. Therefore it’s no wonder that the great film-maker feels a great sense of betrayal in the studio who are now fast-forwarding and skyrocketing the rise of streaming services which are putting cinemas in very real danger of having their work cut out for them.
Nolan has always been a champion of the big screen experience and I do worry that his fallout with Warner Bros. over releasing their 2021 slate on HBO Max might just have cost the studio their best asset. He’s the only “mainstream” film-maker spending millions of dollars on original tentpole movies. Warner Bros. would do well to keep him on board…
Cruise’s Covid Rant
Everyone’s favourite pint-sized scientologist and bankable movie star Tom Cruise exploded into a serious rage on the set of ‘Mission Impossible 7’ (2021).
Speaking at Warner Bros. studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, the 58 year old actor tore into workers for breaking Covid rules on set. “If I see you do it again, you’re f**king gone. And if anyone in this crew does it, that’s it - and you too and you too. And you, don’t you ever f**king do it again!”. This was in response to two of the crew standing less than a metre apart from each other at a computer screen.
Frankly I think Mr. Cruise has every right to be angry at people not following health and safety procedures. He continued “they’re back in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf**kers...That’s it. No apologies. You can tell it to the people that are losing their f**king homes because our industry is shut down”.
‘Mission Impossible 7’ - due for release this November - has already been struck down by Covid-related issues. In October, Cruise held crisis talks with Director Christopher McQuarrie shortly after 12 people on the movie’s set in Italy tested positive for Covid-19.
I certainly enjoyed listening to Tom go off on one. He almost did it as well as when Christian Bale exploded into anger on the set of ‘Terminator: Salvation’ (2009). Hilarious stuff.
No Depp for Grindelwald
Johnny Depp has resigned from the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise. The 57 year old movie star announced his resignation on Instagram; thanking fans for their “support and loyalty” before stating that Warner Bros. had asked for his resignation.
Depp’s decision comes just the same week as he lost his libel case against The Sun who branded him a “wife-beater” in 2018. The trial followed in the wake of a series of domestic abuse allegations made against the actor by his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Frankly, I think Depp has been cast a hard hand by Warner Bros. Sure, if these allegations against him are true, the studio don’t want to be seen backing a perpetrator of domestic violence. But I still think there needs to be a distinct separation between the artist and the person and, removing Depp from the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise, Warner Bros. may have just lost one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars.
I also think it’s wrong that Depp is the only one suffering repercussions for his actions. Let’s remember that he did also allege that Heard tried to severe his finger. If Depp is being removed from upcoming projects due to accusations of domestic violence, Heard surely should be too considering she has allegations against her. If this is the way the studio works and Depp has been removed from ‘Fantastic Beasts’, she should be removed from the upcoming ‘Aquaman 2’ (2022).
Emma out, Margot in
Margot Robbie will replace Emma Stone in the leading role opposite Brad Pitt in Director Damien Chazelle’s latest movie ‘Babylon’ (2021). An R-rated drama set during the transition between Silent Hollywood and the “Talkies” and mixing real people with fictional characters, the film was set to reunite Stone with the director of ‘La La Land’ (2017) which won Stone her first Oscar.
‘Babylon’ is set for a limited awards run in America this Christmas before a wide release on January 7th next year. That is assuming it films on schedule given it’s looking to shoot in LA which is still a Covid hotspot even while productions resume.
Stone cites “scheduling issues” as the reason for her departure although the rumour mill is going into overdrive on two counts. One that she dropped out because she’s pregnant or that she’s about to return to the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise in the role of Gwen Stacy in this year’s ‘Spider-Man 3’. The latter rumour of which makes me very excited!
Either way, her departure from ‘Babylon’ means Margot Robbie will be reuniting with Brad Pitt once again after they starred together in ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ (2019).
A New House of Thrones
A bit of TV news for you now. Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy have officially been cast for the leading roles in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series ‘House of the Dragon’ (2022). They will be joining Paddy Considine who was previously announced as part of the cast.
Former ‘Doctor Who’ Smith will be playing Prince Daemon Targaryen - the younger brother of King Viserys (played by Considine). D’Arcy from ‘Truth Seekers’ (2020) will be portraying Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen - the first-born child of the King, pure Valyrian blood and a dragon rider. Meanwhile Olivia Cooke, who was so likeable and funny recently in ‘Pixie’ (2020), is Alicent Hightower - daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms.
I’m a big Olivia Cooke fan so this is music to the ears to me that she will be starring in this new prequel. I’m less of a fan of Matt Smith whose Eleventh Doctor was more like an eccentric history teacher than a bonkers, tortured Time Lord. I just hope his performance here isn’t like he was in a PSHE video I watched at school where he was officially the worst “chav” ever. “I will shank you, innit!” (in pompous RP pronunciations!).