Last Week’s Episode: Don’t Throw Away Your Shot (Please)

Last Week's Episode

Well, it’s basically been a year into the pandemonium and this is still our lives, so I guess here’s some entertainment news for our continued lockdown existence. That being said, I do have hope with the vaccine rollout. If you’re eligible to do so, please go get your vaccine(s)!

Industry Developments

Warner Bros.’s new animated film, Tom and Jerry, performed well over its opening weekend despite the ongoing pandemic, drawing $13.7 million at the box office domestically. With only half of all theaters open, it seems that family friendly films are doing the best; Warner Bros. confirmed that private theaters rented by families were what drove ticket sales. While I’m still skeptical of loosening pandemic restrictions and reopening indoor venues before the majority of the population is vaccinated, the numbers are an encouraging sign for the movie theater industry, which has had a tough year surviving closures. [Variety]

Case in point: The much-loved Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, started in Texas and known for its attention to the moviegoing experience, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of an asset purchase agreement with Altamont Capital Partners, a former investor in the company, and Fortress Investment Group. The agreement also stipulated the closure of some of the company’s underperforming locations, including one in downtown Austin and another in New Braunfels, Texas. A statement from CEO Shelli Taylor indicates that the company is hopeful, however, that as vaccinations increase, the business can also get back on track. [CBS Austin]

While we’re waiting for vaccine numbers to go up, however, Universal Pictures is making the more responsible move and postponing more theater releases to later in the year and 2022. Likely driven more by estimations of ticket sales than benevolence, the studio has opted to shift the premiere of F9 to June 25 and Minions: The Rise of Gru to July 1, 2022. [Variety]

Also, the Golden Globes were last Sunday but apparently almost no one watched the bicoastal, “hybrid” show. Most of the in-person presenters and attendees were dressed-up as expected, but fashions varied among those who opted to attend virtually. Notable wins included Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah, John Boyega in Small Axe, Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, and several wins for Nomadland, The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown, Schitt’s Creek, and Soul. [Entertainment Weekly]

Depressing But Important

Relatedly, former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) Meher Tatna has admitted that the voting body of the Golden Globes has had no Black members since at least 2002, when Tatna joined the organization. The 87-member group is currently facing criticism for a lack of diversity among its membership, which Tatna has attributed to difficulty finding Black international journalists writing for foreign outlets but critics have connected to strict and opaque membership eligibility requirements. [Variety]

After the New York Times Presents documentary Framing Britney Spears dropped on Hulu a few weeks ago, there has been new awareness of conservatorship exploitation, as well as some reflection over the damage wrought by the misogynistic treatment of Spears and other girls in the spotlight by the media, as well as the public’s eager participation. Mara Wilson, known best for playing the titular Matilda, spoke out in an op-ed contextualizing her own experiences with these media narratives as a child actor, writing frankly about how it all affected her as she was growing up. [New York Times]

Superman and Lois has been renewed for a second season amid allegations from writer Nadria Tucker, who implied that the CW show did not extend her contract as retaliation for pushing back on racist and sexist storylines. Tucker also alluded to an offensive conversation regarding Blackness with executive producer Geoff Johns, which Justice League actor Ray Fisher affirmed as similar to an experience he also had with Johns. [HuffPost]

After actor Charisma Carpenter spoke out on Twitter about creator Joss Whedon’s abusive conduct on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, many of her former colleagues on both shows, as well as those who worked with Whedon on other series, made statements corroborating or adding to the allegation of a toxic and abusive work environment fostered by the showrunner. Variety interviewed 11 anonymous individuals, who provided more information confirming those accounts, and published the findings last week. [Variety]

As viewers are consuming more anime through its accessibility via streaming services, profits are skyrocketing in the industry. However, the animators at the bottom of the business structure are not seeing the same increase to their wages, which have stagnated for decades due to a hierarchy of “production committees” that finance production and studios that keep costs low by mostly contracting freelancers. These unfair labor practices were covered in an article last week for the [New York Times].

Bill Nye wants us to Consider the Following: Disney has been classifying older shows available on its streaming platforms as “home video” for years, based on contracts from the VCR era that stipulate that the company keeps 80% of revenue, leaving only 20% to be distributed among all other stakeholders, including hosts/actors. Nye launched a lawsuit challenging this in 2017, but an LA judge ruled last month that the studio could continue the practice per Nye’s 1993 contract. The “Science Guy” is looking to appeal this decision since there are very big differences between streaming and home video, and the former did not exist when he signed his contract. [Variety]

New Stuff

Disney has released images of all the main characters from its reboot of The Proud Family. They all look pretty much the same to me, though the art style is slightly different (flatter?), except for LaCienega (I’m just finding this out, but apparently they really did name her after the street; Boulevardez is her last name).

Nickelodeon has announced the establishment of Avatar Studios, a division of the company that will be dedicated to expanding the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will oversee projects under this umbrella as co-chief creative officers, and the studio has promised them the resources to produce their vision. Let’s hope they’re able to be explicit about queer characters and relationships this time around, and that the creative teams/voice talent for this world based on Asian and Inuit cultures are staffed by people with those lived experiences. [Variety]

Ariana Greenblatt, who played a young Gamora in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, has joined the cast of the highly-anticipated film adaptation of the Borderlands video game. She will play explosives expert Tiny Tina opposite Cate Blanchett as superpowered Lilith, Kevin Hart as thief Roland, Jamie Lee Curtis as archeologist Dr. Tannis, and Jack Black as robot Claptrap. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Indira Varma, best known for playing Ellaria Sand on Game of Thrones (with too-short stints on Torchwood and Bones), has been cast opposite Ewan McGregor in Disney+ and Lucasfilm’s new Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Can’t wait to see what she does under the direction of Deborah Chow. [/Film]

Superheroes, Superheroes, Get Your Superheroes!!

Amazon Prime is releasing the first three episodes of its new animated series, Invincible, by the end of this month and it looks really good. Based on the comic of the same name by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Cory Walker, the show stars Steven Yeun as biracial Asian American son-of-a-superhero Mark Grayson as he develops powers of his own and joins a superheroic team. The cast is also stacked with the voice talents of Sandra Oh, J.K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, Mahershala Ali, Mark Hamill, and Zazie Beetz, among others. [/Film]

This promo image of Damaris Lewis as Blackfire/Komand’r convinced me to start watching DC Universe’s Titans, currently filming its third season.

A new iteration of Superman is being developed at DC Films and Warner Bros. Pictures. Ta-Nehisi Coates has confirmed that he’s writing the character for a feature film that will be produced by Hannah Minghella under J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot company, though no director has been chosen as of yet.  [Shadow and Act]

The same studio has picked Angel Manuel Soto as the director for its Blue Beetle film, which will feature comics character Jaime Reyes as the titular Blue Beetle. This will be the first superhero movie starring a Latine character, and the screenplay is from Mexican writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. [TheWrap]

If you’re not tired of superhero content, Netflix has released promo images for Jupiter’s Legacy, which is based on Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s comics of the same name about a family of superheroes, ahead of the show’s premiere on May 7. [io9]


Rebecca Y. Lee

Rebecca Y. Lee

Lapsed poet, SoCal gal pal, equal opportunity foodie. Tweets @aquariuschicken.