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Film News in Brief: Gerard Butler Sci-fi Thriller ‘Greenland’ Delayed Again in U.S.

(L-R) Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd
Courtesy of STXfilms

FRIDAY, JULY 24

Gerard Butler Thriller ‘Greenland’ Moves Back Six Weeks

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, STX is moving Gerard Butler’s sci-fi thriller “Greenland” from Aug. 14 to Sept. 25 in the U.S.

The film will open overseas first in territories including Belgium (July 29), France (Aug. 5) and Scandinavia (Aug 12). Studios have mostly vacated summer release dates in North America due to the health crisis making it uncertain when movie theaters will reopen.

Butler stars with Morena Baccarin as an estranged couple making a perilous journey with their young son amid a global apocalypse brought on by a deadly comet. “Greenland” was originally scheduled to open on June 12 and has been delayed three times.

Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering Support Sexual Assault Charities

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have donated $25,000 to be split among charities on behalf of the women who participated in their Russell Simmons documentary “On The Record.”

The campaign is in partnership with Black Women’s Blue Print, Equality Now, and RAINN. The filmmakers, through their production company’s @JaneDoeFilms, have announced a Twitter challenge in which they will match $1 for every retweet their initial tweet gets over the course of next week up to 25,000.

The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, centers on allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against the hip hop mogul.

Montclair Film Festival Rescheduled for October

Organizers of the Montclair Film Festival have rescheduled the ninth edition for Oct. 16 through Oct. 25.

The New Jersey event was originally scheduled to take place May 1-10 before being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, the festival will feature a program of drive-in screenings, virtual screenings, special events, and conversations.

The full program, schedule, and venues will be announced on Oct. 2, with tickets on sale to Montclair Film Members on Oct. 5, and public tickets available Oct. 8.

THURSDAY, JULY 23

Solstice Studios Delays Russell Crowe Thriller ‘Unhinged

Solstice Studios delayed its Russell Crowe thriller “Unhinged” until an unspecified date in August, moving off the previous July 31 release date.

Solstice said Thursday it would open the film two weeks before any major studio release opened. Disney also announced Thursday it had postponed indefinitely the release of its live-action “Mulan,” which had been set for Aug. 21.

Solstice had originally planned to open “Unhinged” on July 1, but the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for most North American movie locations to reopen, forcing studios to delay their titles. “Unhinged” centers on a woman who becomes entangled in a terrifying act of road rage when she beeps her horn at the wrong driver.

Final WGA West Board candidates set for election

The Writers Guild of America West has announced 16 candidates are vying for eight open seats on the WGA West’s board of directors.

Seven incumbents are seeking reelection: Patti Carr, Ashley Gable, Betsy Thomas, David Slack, former WGA West President Patric M. Verrone, Travis Donnelly and Deric A. Hughes. Other candidates are Adam Starks, John Lopez, Rob Forman, Scott Rosenbaum, Andrew Ti, Katherine Beattie, Daniel Kunka, Leland Jay Anderson and Eric Haywood.

Previously announced announced candidates Carlos Foglia and J. David Shanks withdrew. Ballots will go out Aug. 31 and must be returned by Sept. 21.

American Black Film Festival Unveils Lineup

The American Black Film Festival has set its lineup for the 2020 virtual edition, which runs Aug. 21 to Aug. 30 with more than 90 films selected.

The festival’s narrative features include films starring Big Boy, Chris Brown, Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Chalk, Frankie Faison, Vivica A. Fox, Marla Gibbs, Macy Gray, Jackie Earle Haley, Dwight Henry, Haley Joel Osment, Anika Noni Rose, and Brian “Birdman” Williams.

The festival will include a spotlight screening of the documentary film, “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn.” The film explores the 1989 murder of Hawkins and is the winning project of the inaugural Feature Documentary Initiative created by the festival and the production company, Lightbox.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 22

Edgar Wright Directing Ghost Comedy ‘Stage 13’

Amblin Partners has closed a deal with Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”) to develop, direct and executive produce the comedy “Stage 13,” to be written by novelist and screenwriter Simon Rich.

“Stage 13” will center on the ghost of a silent film era actress who has haunted the titular soundstage of a backlot for decades. After a struggling director meets the ghost, they find an unexpected kinship and team up.

Rich will produce with Tim Bevan and Nira Park, who co-founded Complete Fiction with Wright and have produced his projects from early in his film and television career. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

‘The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion’ Documentary Launches

Netflix has teamed with MCM, Tribeca Studios and Cortés Films to launch the documentary, “The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion,” which traces the evolution of hip hop and fashion.

The film is directed by Farah X and Lisa Cortés. “The Remix” premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and highlights the contributions of Misa Hylton and April Walker in a male-dominated industry.

“The Remix” has won awards at Urbanworld Film Festival, Napa Valley Film Festival, Doc’n Roll Film Festival, and Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival.

MGM Pushes Aretha Franklin Biopic Back Three Weeks

MGM has moved the release date of Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” from Christmas Day to Jan. 15 at the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

“Respect,” titled after Franklin’s 1967 hit, stars Jennifer Hudson, who won a supporting actress Oscar for “Dreamgirls.” The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back the deadline for film releases to qualify for the 2021 Academy Awards until the end of Feburary.

Franklin won 17 Grammys, starting with “Respect” in 1968 and “Chain of Fools” in 1969. The film, directed by Liesl Tommy, also stars Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington and Tituss Burgess as Rev. Dr. James Cleveland. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

TUESDAY, JULY 21

Walt Dohrn Signs First-Look Deal

DreamWorks Animation has signed Walt Dohrn, director of “Trolls World Tour,” to a multi-year first-look deal.

Dohrn was also the co-director of “Trolls,” which grossed nearly $350 million in worldwide box office. The deal gives Dohrn a first look at animated projects at the studio.

The pact, announced Tuesday, also covers executive producing, directing and supervisory duties. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

SAG-AFTRA Unveils Anti-Hate PSA

SAG-AFTRA has released a “Wash the Hate” public service announcement to support efforts to stop discrimination against Asian Americans.

The video was released Tuesday and inspired by the spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sixteen union members, including Ken Jeong and Lucy Liu, participated in the video:

J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Hires Executive

J.J. Abrams Bad Robot has hired veteran executive Grace Del Val as the head of business affairs.

Del Val most recently worked at Alcon Entertainment. She’s also worked for A&E Studios and Sony Pictures.

She will report to Brian Weinstein, president and chief officer, who made the announcement.

MONDAY, JULY 20

Sony Classics Dates ‘The Climb’ for October

Sony Pictures Classics will release Michael Covino’s comedy “The Climb” in New York and Los Angeles theaters on Oct. 9 — six months after its original date.

Written by Covino and Kyle Marvin, “The Climb” premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Sony Classics bought the film and slated it for a March 20 release before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covino produced, directed and starred with Marvin. The duo portray best friends who share a close bond until Covino’s character sleeps with Marvin’s fiancée. Covino was the winner of the Un Certain Regard – Jury Coup de Coeur prize at Cannes.

Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital Unveils Virtual Production Service 

Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital is collaborating with Streamliner and Avalon Studios for a virtual production service with LED stage capabilities.

“Adding LED stage capabilities to Wellington’s Avalon Studios adds yet another compelling reason for productions to consider shooting in New Zealand,” said Weta Digital Executive Producer David Conley. “LED stages are the latest technique to take advantage of game engine technology to provide virtual production workflows that can greatly expand what is possible on set.”

Conley said that the new service will enable filmmakers and producers to shoot final VFX imagery at the same time as principal photography.

Audrey Flack Documentary Bought By Film Movement

Film Movement has bought North American rights to the documentary “Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The film, directed by Deborah Shaffer and co-directed by Rachel Reichman, will be released via Virtual Cinema in the third quarter followed by release on all home entertainment and digital platforms. The film follows her work at the age of 88 and reveals her long-term struggles as the mother of a child with autism.

“Her personal story of struggle and triumph, her unabashed feminism, her uncanny ability to talk about art, and most importantly her absolute dedication to her life as an artist, were all an inspiration to me as I contemplate the future of my own filmmaking career,” Shaffer said.