The biggest film news story in a long time broke this week, as Disney completed its acquisition of Fox. The deal had been rumoured for weeks, but it has now been formally announced. Elsewhere, awards season began to shift into top gear with the release of the nominations for both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, with no clear frontrunner in sight.
Here’s your round-up of this week’s movie news…
Disney snaps up Fox assets in mega deal
Disney has continued its market dominance of the movie industry by purchasing the entire library of 20th/21st Century Fox in a gargantuan $66bn deal. The Mouse House now owns an enormous number of assets, including the X-Men and the rights to the original Star Wars film, as well as a massive TV division and indie distributor Fox Searchlight. In their predictably fluffy and slightly smug statement to the media, jubilant Disney bosses said the acquisition would allow the company to “combine some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises”.
This is both an intriguing and concerning state of affairs, as I wrote earlier this week in an article over at Flickering Myth. On the one hand, the acquisition paves the way for Wolverine and friends to cross over with the MCU and for the original, theatrical Star Wars trilogy to be released in its entirety. However, it also sparks concern for the strong work done by Fox Searchlight and for a general lack of competition in the film industry. It remains to be seen how this will pan out.
Awards season hots up with Globe/SAG noms
The major players of awards season started to emerge this week, with the nominations for both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. It was Guillermo del Toro‘s fantasy romance The Shape of Water that led the way with the HFPA, scoring seven Globes nominations. Journalism tale The Post and acidic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri both netted six noms, with the likes of The Disaster Artist and Get Out playing well in the ‘Musical or Comedy’ categories. Over at the SAG Awards, it was again Martin McDonagh‘s Southern drama Three Billboards that prevailed, with the highly-fancied likes of Call Me By Your Name and The Florida Project snubbed from the main ensemble category.
The interesting thing about this year’s awards season is the lack of any clear frontrunner. The Shape of Water prevailed in the Globes nominations list, but was mostly left out at the SAGs. Three Billboards, though, has been ignored at many ceremonies en route to the Globes and SAGs, though it performed well in both of these lists. Elsewhere, top prizes have been won by movies like Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird, as well as Get Out. At this point, it’s anyone’s race, and that’s very interesting.
J-Law signs up for Guadagnino true crime tale
Jennifer Lawrence and Luca Guadagnino are set to join forces for Burial Rites, which is an adaptation of a true crime book. The story follows Lawrence as Agnes Magnusdottir, who was the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland in 1830, having murdered two men and set fire to their home. Variety reported Guadagnino has signed on to direct Lawrence in the movie and the star will also produce the project, which sounds like it could be a recipe for awards success.
Lawrence has had a difficult few years, with many of her recent projects proving considerably more divisive than her earlier work. Passengers attracted major criticism and mother! split critics almost cleanly in half. She will be hoping that working with the highly acclaimed Guadagnino – director of awards favourite Call Me By Your Name – will be the shot in the arm that catapults her back into prestige picture contention.
Ready Player One trailer shoots for nostalgia
It has been a few months since the first teaser for Ready Player One arrived at Comic-Con, calling director Steven Spielberg a “cinematic game-changer”. We now have a full trailer for the film that fleshes out more of the story, adapted from Ernest Cline’s popular novel. Tye Sheridan is the young man searching the virtual world of the Oasis for an Easter egg left behind by the game’s deceased creator (Mark Rylance). The person who finds the egg gains control of the Oasis which is, by then, the most valuable resource on the planet.
This trailer is more or less a confirmation of many people’s fears about Ready Player One. It’s packed with nostalgic references in a similar way to the often frustrating book and seems to have little to recommend it, other than some genuinely impressive visual style. Hopefully the gravitas of Rylance and the reliable presence of Olivia Cooke as Art3mis will be enough to rescue the movie from self-indulgent reference hell. Ready Player One will arrive in the UK in March 2018.
Woody Harrelson in frame for Venom role
Sony is currently hard at work on the first solo movie outing for Venom. The film seems likely to kick-start a new Spideyverse over at Sony, which may or may not involve the webslinger himself. Variety reported this week that Woody Harrelson is circling an unidentified role in the movie, which has been described as being a henchman of sorts. Ruben Fleischer is directing the film, with enormous comic book fan Tom Hardy in place as the titular antihero.
Harrelson seems like a solid pick for a henchman role in the Venom film. We know very little about the movie’s plot, so it’s not clear where his character will fit in, but he’s very good in villainous parts and has the physicality required to play someone employed as muscle. Venom is due for UK release in October 2018.
Rising star Steven Caple Jr is Creed 2 director
Sylvester Stallone has stepped aside from the Creed 2 director’s chair. Variety has reported that Stallone will be replaced by up and coming filmmaker Steven Caple Jr, who previously made Sundance indie The Land. The director of the first Creed film, Ryan Coogler, is expected to come on as executive producer, with Michael B Jordan returning to play the lead role of Adonis Creed.
Stallone as director seemed like a solid move for the Creed sequel, so it’s interesting that the studio has stepped away in favour of taking on a risk on a mostly unknown name. Either way, there’s a strong cast in place for Creed 2 and all of the groundwork for the seemingly immortal Rocky franchise to continue well into the future. Shooting on Creed 2 is expected to start in Philadelphia in March 2018.
God’s Own Country reigns supreme at BIFAs
The bright lights of awards season shone on the British independent film industry this week, with many defying the snowy conditions to attend the British Independent Film Awards. It was Francis Lee‘s Yorkshire-set gay romance God’s Own Country that scooped top prize at the BIFAs, with its star Josh O’Connor winning the Best Actor award. Other big winners included Lady Macbeth, which won Best Actress for Florence Pugh, and The Death of Stalin, which left with four prizes.
It was great to see God’s Own Country recognised for its tender and complex story of love and the various other movies given prizes were equally deserving. British indie cinema is seldom given the respect it deserves when awards season comes around, so it falls to the BIFAs to fill that gap with a real celebration of what makes our movie industry great.
What is your take on the Disney acquisition of Fox? Which film do you currently think is the frontrunner to win Best Picture at the Oscars? Will Jennifer Lawrence shine in Burial Rites? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.