Beyond the Screen #13: Sonic Powers Up, Will Smith Slap Fallout, Lynch Rumours, Cannes Line-up and WarnerMedia Merger

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

Sonic Races to $72 million while Ambulance Crashes

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opened to an impressive $72 million opening weekend in America, featuring the return of an elastic Jim Carrey and classic characters Tails and Knuckles to satisfy fans of the original games, but the film’s real audience is comprised of the movie-starved toddlers of America. Turning Red went straight to streaming in the US, leaving American kids without a wide-release children’s film since January. The sequel opened higher than the first Sonic movie (which went on to become the highest grossing video-game-movie-adaptation of all time), its global total stands at $141 million, having released early in select international markets.

Barring some seriously impressive word of mouth, Ambulance is in bad shape after underperforming in its first weekend. The $8.7 million opening, the worst of Michael Bay’s career, leaves Ambulance behind Morbius (with its massive 74% drop from last weekend) and The Lost City. The film opened in some international territories ahead of its most important domestic market, standing at a total of $31 million, meaning that though Ambulance has one of the lowest Bay budgets it may have trouble reaching profitability regardless. Everything Everywhere All At Once expanded out of limited release into 1250 theaters netting $6 million, a 462% boost from its limited release gross last week. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Secrets of Dumbledore opened in 22 international markets to $58 million, but in the key market of the UK the film made about half of what its predecessor did, which does not bode well for its American release.

Fallout from Will Smith 10-Year Oscars Ban

Following the incident at the most recent Oscars, Will Smith resigned from Academy Membership on April 1st. Despite this, the Academy’s Board of Governors went forward with further disciplinary action, concluding that Smith should be barred from attending the Oscars Telecast or any other such Academy event for 10 years. His Best Actor prize has not been rescinded and Smith is still eligible to be nominated and win honours from the Academy. The actor made a brief response: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.” Reactions from Academy Members are as varying as those of the public, ranging from “harsher than I imagined it would be… Ten years is quite a long time and it’s possible this incident will mostly be forgotten before this term concludes” to “Smith’s Oscar should be revoked and returned” to suppositions that Smith should face criminal charges. Several of Smith’s film projects (Fast and Loose for Netflix and Bad Boys 4 for Sony) have been removed from active development.

Speculation Over Secret Movie Premiering at Cannes

Per Variety, two “well-informed sources” verified that the film, made in secret and kept under wraps to premiere at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, had been directed by David Lynch, with Laura Dern either starring or in a cameo role. Many speculated that the project would be a feature repurposed from material shot for Lynch’s aborted Netflix show Wisteria (a process much like that which Mulholland Drive underwent, starting life as a pilot for an ABC show).

Lynch subsequently denied this outright in a recent interview, stating “That’s a total rumor. So there you are. It is not happening. I don’t have a project. I have nothing at Cannes. It’s unfortunate. It got built up that people thought, ‘Oh, that’d be nice.’ But there is something new, but it’s not mine. I don’t know whose it is. They say there’s something new at Cannes, and they don’t say whose it is, and some people thought it was my film, but it’s not. So we’ll wait and see, and see whose it is.”, followed by an echo of the sentiment during his daily weather report. The official selection has been announced (see below), and Lynch is indeed nowhere to be found.

More Oppenheimer Castings, Brie Larson Joins Fast & Furious 10

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson has followed Jason Momoa in joining the 10th installment in the Fast and Furious franchise. The news was announced via series-lead Vin Diesel’s Instagram page, paired with a lengthy caption (“Yeah yeah yeah… you see this angel over my shoulder cracking me up, you say to your self “that’s Captain Marvel”… What you don’t see however, is the character you will be introduced to in Fast10… This profound soul who will add something you might not have expected but yearned for. Welcome to the FAMILY Brie”).

Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy as the titular father of the atomic bomb, and directed by Christopher Nolan, has added yet more actors to its comically enormous roster. The latest additions include Alex Wolff, best known for Hereditary and Pig, and Christopher Denham of Being the Ricardos, joining Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Dylan Arnold, David Krumholtz, Alden Ehrenreich, David Dastmalchian, Olli Haaskivi, Jason Clarke, James D’Arcy, Michael Angarano, Guy Burnet, Danny Deferrari, Matthias Schweighöfer, Gary Oldman, Harrison Gilbertson, Emma Dumont, Devon Bostic, Josh Zuckerman and Trond Fausa. Per The Hollywood Reporter; “The feature has been shooting in New Mexico for a few weeks now and is still adding actors to the mix.”

Discovery merges with WarnerMedia

The corporate merger has rebranded itself as Warner Bros. Discovery, uniting HBO, Animal Planet, TNT, TLC, Warner Bros. studios and more, with CEO David Zaslav declaring that “(they) are well positioned to become a top-tier streaming competitor”. In keeping with this development, streaming services Discovery + and HBO Max are expected to merge into a single platform soon. Per CNN, the $3 billion in “synergies” expected by the company will likely “entail layoffs”, as many executives have already seen fit to exit the company.

Cannes Lineup Unveiled

The selection includes new films by Cannes regulars (among them social satirist Ruben Östlund, Park Chan-wook, whose work has evaded the top prize but has garnered the Grand Prix and Jury Prize previously, favoured French filmmakers the Dardenne brothers and Claire Denis, 2018 winner Hirokazu Kore-eda and controversial auteur David Cronenberg) plus several first-time features and a small selection of out-of-competition blockbusters (including the premieres of Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis). Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future in particular has gained some traction following reports that the film’s closing 20 minutes are sure to garner walkouts, fainting and boos (the director’s previous effort, 1996’s Crash, about a group of fetishists who stage car-accidents for sexual pleasure, took home a special Jury prize “for originality, for daring and for audacity” despite audience members disrupting its screening with verbal disapproval and walkouts). Read the full list of films screening at the festival (to be held from May 17th to the 28th) below:

Les Amandiers, dir: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
Holy Spider, dir: Ali Abbasi
Crimes Of The Future, dir: David Cronenberg
Stars At Noon, dir: Claire Denis
Frère Et Soeur, dir: Arnaud Desplechin
Tori And Lokita, dirs: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Armageddon Time, dir: James Gray
Close, dir: Lukas Dhont
Broker, dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda
RMN, dir: Cristian Mungiu
Triangle Of Sadness, dir: Ruben Ostlund
Showing Up, dir: Kelly Reichardt
Decision To Leave, dir: Park Chan-wook
Nostalgia, dir: Mario Martone
Tchaikovski’s Wife, dir: Kirill Serebrennikov
Boy From Heaven, dir: Tarik Saleh
Leila’s Brothers, dir: Saeed Roustaee
Eo, dir: Jerzy Skolimowski

Les Pires, dirs: Lisa Akoka, Romane Gueret
Burning Days, dir: Emin Alper
Metronom, dir: Alexandru Belc
All The People I’ll Never Be, dir: Davy Chou
Sick Of Myself, dir: Kristoffer Borgli
Domingo And The Mist, dir: Ariel Escalante Meza
Plan 75, dir: Hayakawa Chie
Beast, dirs: Riley Keough, Gina Gammell
Corsage, dir: Marie Kreutzer
Butterfly Vision, dir: Maksim Nakonechnyi
The Silent Twins, dir: Agnieszka Smocynska
The Stranger, dir: Thomas M Wright
Joyland, dir: Saim Sadiq
Rodeo, dir: Lola Quivoron
Godland, dir: Hlynur Palmason

Nos Frangins, dir: Rachid Bouchareb
Nightfall, dir: Marco Bellocchio
Dodo, dir: Panos H Koutras
Irma Vep (series) , dir: Olivier Assayas

Z (Comme Z) , dir: Michel Hazanavicius (OPENING NIGHT FILM)
Top Gun: Maverick, dir: Joseph Kosinski
Elvis, dir: Baz Luhrmann
Novembre, dir: Cédric Jimenez
Three Thousand Years Of Longing, dir: George Miller
Mascarade, dir: Nicolas Bedos

Hunt, dir: Lee Jung-Jae
Moonage Daydream, dir: Brett Morgen
Fumer Fait Tousser, dir: Quentin Dupieux

All That Breathes, dir: Shaunak Sen
The Natural History Of Destruction, dir: Sergei Loznitsa
Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble In Mind, dir: Ethan Coen