Beyond the Screen #24 – The Woman King, Babylon, The Fabelmans, Star Wars Squadron and Woody Allen’s 50th

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

The Woman King Takes Box Office Crown

The Woman King conquered the weekend box office with a solid $19 million debut. The Viola Davis action-epic came in higher than had been projected, likely a result of the film’s excellent word-of-mouth, including a rare A+ Cinemascore rating, and a boosted female demographic (making up 61% of the weekend’s audience). Barbarian held up staggeringly well for a horror film with a 42% drop to $6.3 million, while Ti West’s micro-budget X prequel Pearl has already recouped most of its investment with a $3.1 million opening, equal to murder-mystery See How They Run’s opening (likely up against a significantly higher budget). A limited 170-theater opening was enough to secure David Bowie documentary experience Moonage Daydream a spot in the top 10 with a $1.2 million gross. The much-talked-about Don’t Worry Darling is the next major release, so we’ll at last be free of its controversy-laden media coverage, before waiting for the splashier performances from franchise blockbusters still to come at the year’s end.

Babylon Trailer Promises… A Lot

For some time now, mum has been the word as far as the big-budget period-set Hollywood epic by Damian Chazelle was concerned, but at last Babylon’s marketing push has begun. Two trailers have been uploaded; one clean, scrubbed of most profanity, nudity, and substance abuse (rendering it essentially useless as a reflection of the product we’re likely to receive), and the much more exciting red band trailer, which, in truly and truthfully behind-the-scenes Hollywood fashion, is downright filthy. Exciting, funny, and betraying spectacle nearly unbecoming of an Oscar hopeful, Babylon’s trailer is clearly on a mission to sell the film to the public. Watch the trailer, in all its excess.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron Removed from Release Slate

The planned Star Wars spinoff, to be directed by Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins, has been shifted off of the release chart altogether, a long awaited move ever since news of a production delay broke in November 2022. Instead, Disney’s theatrical focus for 2024 falls squarely on Marvel, Pixar and Disney animations and remakes.

The Fabelmans Garners Audience Award at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award was bestowed upon Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama The Fabelmans. A statement issued by Spielberg read: “As I said on stage the other night, ‘Above all, I’m glad I brought this film to Toronto!’ This is the most personal film I’ve ever made, and the warm reception from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire Fabelman family. Thank you to Cameron Bailey and the incredible staff at TIFF; thank you to Universal Pictures; and a very special thank you to all the movie fans in Toronto who have made this past weekend one I’ll never forget.” The Fabelsmans has proven itself a clear frontrunner for Best Picture, from its awards attention to its clear draw as a crowd-pleaser (obvious from the moment of its prolonged standing ovation at the festival onward). 2nd place in the People’s Choice competition went to The Woman King, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery came in 3rd. The People’s Choice award for best documentary was awarded to Black Ice by Hubert Davis, which concerns itself with Canadian ice hockey’s history of systemic racism. The Midnight Madness sidebar audience award was snatched up by Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a warmly received comedy biopic of the eponymous musician.

Timothée Chalamet Reveals Who Advised Him Against Hard Drugs and Superhero Movies

Some time ago Chalamet shared a controversial piece of advice given to him by an unnamed film star, sparking speculation as to who precisely felt that the North-star for a successful career is summarized in this mantra: “No hard drugs, and no superhero movies”. Wait no more, we now know the veteran performer dispensing insider advice was Timothée’s Don’t Look Up co-star Leonardo Dicaprio. Like Chalamet, Dicaprio entered the industry at a young age, and has managed a consistent and hugely successful career based largely on his careful selection of choice roles. For the sort of quality, prestige-driven vein of filmmaking Chalamet has made his wheelhouse, steering clear of superhero movies for the time being may well make a great deal of sense.

95th Academy Awards Producers Announced

Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner have been named the executive producers for the upcoming 95th Academy Awards Ceremony. This marks Weiss’ 8th consecutive Oscars. Per Academy president Janet Yang: “We are thrilled to have Glenn and Ricky at the helm. We look forward to working closely with them, our Board of Governors and the Board’s Awards Committee to deliver an exciting and energized show.” Other names working behind the scenes on the next ceremony include: Executive producer of the red carpet show David Chamberlin, red carpet creative consultants Lisa Love and Raúl Àvila, creative director Kenny Gravillis, and production designers Misty Buckley and Alana Billingsley. The Academy is currently weighing the possibility of offering a streaming option for the upcoming broadcast, perhaps in a bid to boost its waning engagement.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance Added to Theatrical Slate

Originally set for a straight-to-streaming release on HBO Max, following Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s renewed focus on theatrical releases, Steven Soderbergh’s return for the third film in the Magic Mike trilogy will now be released in theaters on 10 February 10 next year, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Woody Allen Considers Retirement

Allen revealed plans to step down from directing in a recent interview, capping off an absurdly prolific career spanning seven decades. “My idea, in principle, is not to make more movies and focus on writing.” Allen’s supposed final film will be titled Wasp 22 and will mark his 50th feature, set to shoot in France. A publicist representing Allen went on to clarify: “”Woody Allen never said he was retiring, nor did he say he was writing another novel. He said he was thinking about not making films, as making films that go straight or very quickly to streaming platforms is not so enjoyable for him, as he is a great lover of the cinema experience. Currently, he has no intention of retiring and is very excited to be in Paris shooting his new movie, which will be the 50th.”