Beyond the Screen #10: Uncharted, Dog, Star Trek, Oscar Reinvention, Elvis and More

We take a look back at news of note in the world of film.

Uncharted and Dog Overperform at the Box Office

The anemic box office showed some signs of life this 3-day weekend, as both Uncharted and Dog, two crowd-pleasing non-franchise films, came out on top. Globetrotting adventure Uncharted, starring Tom Holland and based on the series of treasure hunt videogames, scored the highest opening of any 2022 release so far, $44 million domestically, and $106.4 million globally, a performance impressive enough to launch “a new hit movie franchise” per Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman.

The film has soundly split audiences and critics, going some way to explain it’s overperforming estimations (originally expected to reach $30 million), though Uncharted has nothing on the surprise hit Dog, co-directed by and starring Channing Tatum. Projections pitted Dog for a $5 million debut, in line with the recent lack of lustre for character-driven/non-IP movies, but it seems Tatum’s reassurances that the dog doesn’t die swayed audiences, since Dog managed to bark up $18.01 million over the 4-day holiday weekend. Elsewhere, Spiderman: No Way Home dropped less than 2% from its previous $7.4 million weekend, while period-set werewolf film The Cursed has mustered a $1.9 million debut.

What’s Coming

Robert Downey Jr. will be reuniting with Shane Black (a pairing that worked magic in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) for a take on Richard Starke’s brutal career criminal “Parker”, the protagonist of some 24 novels.

Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis and Eric Roth are making moves to adapt Richard McGuire’s interactive graphic novel Here, which chronicles the coming and going inhabitants of a single room, over thousands of years. Here fills its pages with panels depicting all different time periods, sort of like a tableau spanning centuries, capturing intimate moments from an argument in 1910, to nursing a baby in 1957, to a prehistoric shark making its rounds, to one page featuring every time glass has been broken, all in the same spot. The project has potential, though the filmmakers are still looking for a studio and streamer to call home.

Brad Bird need look no further than Skydance Animation for his 30-year passion project Ray Gunn, reportedly a neo-noir following the titular last human private detective in a future where humans and aliens mingle (and are apparently equally untrustworthy).

The Star Trek ’09 cast (featuring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Karl Urban) will begin filming for a fourth film in the series “by the end of the year”, per J.J. Abrams, who also made allusions to taking Star Trek into “areas you’ve just never seen before”. This plan to boldly go where no Star Trek project has gone before comes off the heels of several successful Star Trek television revivals, and a market research initiative by Paramount Pictures to determine audience interest in the ’09 cast. It would seem the results were positive, despite Star Trek Beyond’s relative underperformance in 2016, though development has already run into a hiccup. Per representative teams, few if any of the Kelvin-timeline cast members were aware that such a film was in the works, let alone that they would be returning to shoot in the fall. Expect some truly astronomical salary-demands from the crew of the Enterprise, especially now that their names have been touted at a Wall Street Investor-event.

Oscars’ Loose Vaccination Policy, Fan Favorite Poll and Dropping Categories

Following the Academy’s nomination (full list) and host (Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes) announcements last week, you might have figured that news surrounding the upcoming ceremony would simmer down for a bit, but eyeballs have remained firmly affixed to the event (mostly unwanted ones). Their vaccination policy, which requires that all guests (nominated or otherwise) provide proof of vaccination but makes no such demand of performers and presenters, has drawn criticism from some, including former host Seth MacFarlane who voiced his displeasure on Twitter.

All attendees will still have to provide two negative Covid tests to get a seat. The Academy is probably hoping that Twitter users will be more interested in their #OscarsFanFavorite poll, which leaves the winner, to be announced on stage during the show, entirely up to fans voting via the hashtag. Early reports by Deadline claim that the Camila Cabello-led Cinderella is currently in first place, surprising only if you expected the year’s most popular film to lead and have no idea what stan-twitter is capable of.

Another change being made to the telecast in the hopes of pleasing casual viewers that’s ruffled some feathers; 8 categories have been dropped from the Live Broadcast and will instead be awarded an hour before the ceremony. Footage of acceptance speeches will then be spliced into the show to make more room for “audience entertainment and engagement through comedy, musical numbers, film clip packages and movie tributes”. The dropped categories include Short Film (Live Action, Animated and Documentary), Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Original Score, Sound, and Film Editing. Several of these categories are indispensable, and though the Academy may need to “make some decisions about the broadcast that are in the best interest of the future of (their) show and (their) organization”, this rings as a step away from the primary purpose of the Academy Awards; to award film excellence.

Elvis Trailer

Baz Luhrmann, that most gaudy and least inhibited of all directors, and Elvis, the ultimate showman with an infamous lack of restraint of his own, seem a match made in heaven. Would a Luhrmann-directed Elvis musical be any good? Who knows? Would it be entertaining? Of that there can be no doubt. Exhibit A: The first trailer for Baz’s Biopic, in which the King finds his wings, and is lured into showbiz by the ominous Colonel Tom Parker, played by a fat-suited up Tom Hanks. We can gleam the film will probably follow the ‘cradle-to-grave’ approach, as we see a pipsqueak Elvis swept up into the fervor of a congregation’s gospel performance, rendering a concert hall of high-schoolers to jell-o as a young man, and rattling in his American Eagle studded garb, approaching his untimely death.

Austin Butler stars as Elvis, having spent about a year perfecting his vocals, which will go unaltered when playing a younger Presley, and be mixed with the King’s own recordings for the mid-life portion of the film. Luhrmann considers the story a “great canvas to explore America”, and it seems the director will be playing up Elvis’ revolutionary, proto-punk appeal, which changed the course of music history forever.