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EXCLUSIVE: Disney has rehired and furloughed crew working on its UK production The Little Mermaid and will utilize the government's Job Retention Scheme, meaning they will receive 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 $3,100 per month.
In email correspondence seen by Deadline, executive producer Jeff Silver and unit production manager Russell Allen notified production staff yesterday that it will rescind previous termination notices that were handed out on March 20 when it originally shut down the shoot until April 3; crew will still be paid in full until that date. The furlough will last until at least the end of May, unless shooting resumes before then or the production does not move forward as originally planned.
The move follows the UK government's confirmation earlier this week that staff who were laid off after February 28 will be eligible for state-backed furlough if they are rehired by their previous employers.
The Little Mermaid, a live-action and CGI remake of the classic Disney movie, is being directed by Rob Marshall and has cast including Halle Bailey, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy.
Disney confirmed today’s news to Deadline. It is not immediately clear if crew on any further UK projects from the studio are being furloughed. Marvel pic Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is in pre-production ahead of a June shoot here but was previously understood to still be progressing towards that date.
Yesterday, Disney announced substantial pay cuts to high-level staff as it looks to weather the crisis, including chairman Bob Iger who will forego his salary and CEO Bob Chapek who will take a 50% cut. The studio has said it will continue to pay theme park staff until April 18 while the venues remain closed.
UK union Bectu also contacted its members today to notify them about Disney’s decision and to applaud the studio. The union said it has now written to nearly 300 film and TV production companies urging them to furlough PAYE freelancers.
Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Bectu welcomes Disney's decision to furlough crew until the end of May when the government has said the JRS will run until. Disney is taking its responsibilities as an employer seriously and this is model behaviour that the rest of the industry should be looking to follow.”
“We are calling on all production companies to do the same where they can and if cash flow is a problem to consider using the government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme. There are many PAYE freelancers out there who have been waiting weeks for government help and one of their only options is to be furloughed. Employers must explore this option where possible to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that many are experiencing at the moment. Bectu...
The Office and Jack Ryan star John Krasinski recently started passing some of his time in self-quarantine by hosting a web series called Some Good News. Recorded from the home office of the A Quiet Place director/star, the series highlights some uplifting stories from around the web to help drown out the hellish nightmare of news from our government and the coronavirus pandemic that is claiming lives everyday.
The first episode of Some Good News brought the wonderful surprise of The Office star Steve Carell appearing on the show for a chat, just in time for the NBC workplace comedy’s 15th anniversary. But an even more impressive reunion comes in this week’s second episode as John Krasinski assembled the entire original cast of the Broadway music Hamilton and had them perform a musical number on the video conference service Zoom, all for a little girl who missed the show due to coronavirus cancellations.Virtual Hamilton Reunion on John Krasinski’s Some Good News
The episode delivers some good news hey, that’s the title of the show! about the healthcare professionals across the world who are risking their lives to help save patients diagnosed with coronavirus, not to mention the various companies and manufacturers who are churning out ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment to help. But the episode shifts gears with a special treat for a little girl.
Through the grapevine, John Krasinski heard that a young girl missed out on her chance to see the stage production of Hamilton for the first time. He also found out she was a fan of Mary Poppins Returns, and since he just so happens to be married to the sequel’s Mary Poppins herself, Emily Blunt, he was able to arrange a cute online meeting for them. But that was just the beginning of the surprise.
Suddenly, the Zoom meeting between Krasinski, Blunt and the little girl was interrupted by Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who proceeded to bring in the entire original cast of Hamilton for a virtual musical number. Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Ramos, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, and many more are all there. Despite being done across Zoom, the sound quality is outstanding, and it’s so cool to see each of the cast members in their respective homes for this Hamilton reunion. It’s an absolute delight and it will have you wanting to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack all over again.
This may not be as thrilling as seeing Hamilton on stage, but it’ll hold us over until the theaters re-open and the musical gets brought to movie theaters next year, and we’ll take what we can get during these dark times. We can’t wait to see what John Krasinski has up his sleeve for next week.
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.' 'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...
In 1955, Oscar-winning actor Charles Laughton, who appeared in films like Witness for the Prosecution, Mutiny on the Bounty, and Spartacus, stepped behind the camera as a director for the first and only time. The result was The Night of the Hunter, a dark, moody thriller starring Robert Mitchum as a serial killer, and a movie that is beloved by cinephiles and has influenced generations of filmmakers and storytellers. It’s a stone-cold classic: not just one of the best films ever directed by an actor, but a movie that many including the revered film magazine Cahiers du cinéma consider to be one of the best films ever made, period.
So while it’s not exactly surprising to learn that Universal is developing a remake, the news does arrive with the same exhausted sense of, “But…why?” that always accompanies stories like this.The Night of the Hunter Remake
Variety broke the news about the remake, which is described as “a contemporary version of the original thriller, rather than a period piece.” Screenwriter Matthew Orton is developing the movie for Universal Pictures. Orton only has one produced credit to his name thus far: he wrote a 2018 spy thriller called Operation Finale which I have not seen but it looks pretty good. Peter Gethers Lay the Favorite and Amy Pascal Spider-Man: Homecoming, Little Women will serve as producers. Still, knowing how great this movie is makes news about a remake tough to swallow. There are thousands of middling movies with solid premises from the golden era of studio filmmaking – why mess with a classic?
The 1955 film, which is based on a novel by author David Grubb, follows a sociopathic preacher who travels the country marrying women for their money, murdering them, and then moving on to the next town. During a stint in jail, the preacher learns that his cell mate has $10,000 stashed somewhere; after the cell mate dies and the preacher gets out, he goes looking for the money, conning the cell mate’s widow into a relationship and trying to coax the location of the cash out of her two young children.
Mitchum’s preacher becomes increasingly unhinged as his patience wears thin, and his menacing performance scared the hell out of an entire generation of moviegoers, and many people have called The Night of the Hunter one of the scariest films they’ve ever seen. Here’s the very old-fashioned trailer with an introduction by Gremlins filmmaker Joe Dante explaining how it scarred him as a child, followed by a spoiler-heavy video in which Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro talks about how much the film means to him because of the way it blends horror and beauty on screen: