|FILM FESTIVALPALM SPRINGSJUST MERCYJAMIE FOXXFILM FESTFOX|
Everything is delayed, canceled, or on hold at the moment due to the coronavirus COVID-19, which means that film festivals are having to make some tough choices. Cannes is postponed. SXSW was canceled, but they recently announced they would try to put together an online film festival with Amazon Prime Video. TIFF has yet to make a decision one way or another, but festival runners Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey mentioned last week that they were considering a potential digital festival. Digital film festivals are a distinct possibility in several locations, but there’s one fest that has flat-out refused to go digital: the Venice Film Festival.
With the coronavirus continuing to upend film festivals across the globe, some are wondering if virtual, online film festivals might be the solution for the time being. And while some fests – SXSW, TIFF – are open to this idea, the Venice Film Festival isn’t having it. Speaking with Variety, a Venice spokesperson said: “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event,” adding that “there is obviously the possibility that we use technology for some initiatives, [but] it’s too early for this to be decided.”
The Venice Film Festival is supposed to run in September, and as of now, everyone involved with the fest is still operating under the assumption that the festival is still on. Organizers have put out a call for “projects for its Final Cut in Venice co-production workshop dedicated to supporting works from the Middle East and Africa, currently scheduled to be held during the fest.”
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera was quoted as saying he and his team “are working just the same as in past years” and that they “cannot provide specifics about the future.” The only thing they can confirm is that no matter what happens, the festival will not go digital. While some are more than happy to accept the idea of a digital festival – no travel fees! – not everyone is okay with the idea. For one thing, if a film without distribution were to debut digitally and then immediately be pirated, it would hurt its chances at eventual purchase. Plus, many filmmakers and producers long for that festival buzz that can only be achieved by screening titles for a live audience.
But we remain in uncharted territory for the moment, and it’s unclear just when the coronavirus situation will end. As of now, Italy remains in strict lockdown, and if that continues into the fall, there’s very little chance the Venice Film Festival will go off as planned....
UCP is developing dark comedy series The Resort from Andy Siara, writer of Sundance breakout Palm Springs, and Sam Esmail’s Esmail Corp, which is under a deal with UCP, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios. Anonymous Content is producing. The series will be shopped to premium and streaming platforms.
The Resort explores love and the weird things we do in the name of it, encased in an elaborate true-crime conspiracy, with each season set in a unique picturesque vacation destination. The first season takes place at an all-inclusive resort along the Mayan Riviera, when a married couple on the brink of divorce inadvertently becomes embroiled in one of the Yucatan's most bizarre, unsolved mysteries that, somehow, is part metaphysical detective story, part Indiana Jones-esque adventure, part coming-of-age romance.
The Siara-written Palm Springs, which stars Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, is one of the buzziest titles coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. As Deadline reported, sources familiar with the heated multi-bidder auction said the pic sold to Hulu/Neon for close to $22 million, far and away the biggest Sundance deal of all time.
Siara is currently a co-producer on UCP/EsmailCorp's limited series Angelyne for Peacock, NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming service, with Emmy Rossum starring in the title role and Lucy Tcherniak directing.
UCP's relationship with Esmail began with the award-winning drama Mr. Robot which wrapped its fourth and final season on USA Network in January. Esmail currently executive produces three series for UCP: USA’s new anthology series Briarpatch, Amazon's Homecoming and Angelyne.
Previously, Siara was a staff writer on Lodge 49. He started his career touring the country with his indie rock band The Henry Clay People before getting an MFA in screenwriting from AFI in 2015. Siara is repped by LBI Entertainment and Morris Yorn.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was made available for digital purchase earlier than planned last weekend, and Birds of Prey and The Gentlemen recently followed suit with an early digital purchase available for each movie starting next week. Now Warner Bros. Pictures is adding the dramatic true story Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, to the growing roster of early home video releases.
Warner Bros. Pictures announced the Just Mercy digital release yesterday, so it’s available to buy right now. However, if you’re waiting to rent the movie digital on VOD, it will be available starting on March 24.
Just Mercy was an awards hopeful released in theaters towards the end of 2019 after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier in the fall, though it didn’t get many nominations when all was said and done. However, with a critical score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is officially Certified Fresh, and it has an impressive audience score of 99%.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who just started shooting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for Marvel Studios before voluntarily shutting down the production to be tested for coronavirus, the film is based on Bryan Stevenson’s best-selling memoir of the same name.
Here’s the official synopsis and trailer for Just Mercy:
“Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson Michael B. Jordan and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley Brie Larson. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian Jamie Foxx, who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.Source: Slashfilm.com
Jamie Foxx has worn many hats throughout his run in show business. Though he’s best known for his Oscar-winning acting career, Foxx has also dabbled in stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, sitcoms and even became a chart-topping R&B/hip hop singer. Just a couple years ago, he threw on another hat as the director of the forthcoming sports comedy All-Star Weekend starring himself and The Soloist co-star Robert Downey Jr. Now he’s getting back in the director’s chair again, but this time, it will be for a film in the increasingly popular faith-based drama genre.
Deadline has word on Jamie Foxx directing When We Pray, a new faith-based drama from producers Cinema Libre Studio and Hong Kong-based Fight to Fame Films. The film will follow two brothers who are pastors at different churches in the same community. One of the brothers turns his church into one of those modern mega churches that utilizes modern technology, ATMs, and other assorted tools. Meanwhile, the other brother takes a more humble approach. But of course, the low tech church falls into decline and needs financial help.
Surely there’s some animosity between the brothers based on how each of them chooses to worship. Lessons will likely have to be learned in order to make peace with each other and God. That’s just speculation on my part, but these faith-based drams are typically on the nose, so it’s not too hard to figure out what they’re trying to do. After all, a lot of the mega churches out there with big bands, multimedia services, and an impersonal touch have been mocked by smaller religious communities for a long time now, so it only makes sense that there would be a movie made to remind everyone of a lesson about how it doesn’t matter how you pray. I’ll eat a Bible if that’s not the takeaway here.
Philippe Diaz, founder and Chairman of Cinema Libre Studio, who helped organized the deal, said in a statement:
“It’s a great honor to work with such a talented and passionate man as Jamie Foxx and I’m pleased to have our new, Fight to Fame partners onboard which will give Jamie the total freedom to make this film which is close to his heart, thus launching this new unique collaboration.”
Carrie Wang, Chairman of Fight to Fame, added:
“Jamie Foxx is a Hollywood superstar–but audiences around the world love him as well. Our strong relationships in China and other Asian countries will ensure that “When We Pray” will be enthusiastically received by Asian moviegoers.”
At least they’re not being shy about raking in that sweet, sweet Asian box office haul.
These faith-based films have been pulling in bigger name talent in recent years. It’s not surprising when you consider the fact that the producers behind them are some of the few that...