Friday, Oct. 9

Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami’ Slated

The virtual AFI Fest has added Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” as a Centerpiece Drive-in screening to this year’s festival line-up on Oct. 19 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The film takes place in 1964 with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown examining the civil rights movement. The awards contender stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr.

“Regina King’s directorial debut is a knock-out,” said Michael Lumpkin, director of AFI Festivals. “And AFI is proud to celebrate her boundless talents in a setting larger than life.”

Lionsgate Pushes ‘Fatale,’ ‘Voyagers’ to 2021

Lionsgate has pushed its Hilary Swank thriller “Fatale” from Oct. 30 to the first quarter of next year and its Colin Farrell-Lily Rose Depp sci-fi movie “Voyagers” from Nov. 25 to next year as well.

The postponements come in the wake of widespread concerns about moviegoers’ willingness to return to theaters amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Regal Cinemas has closed nearly all of its U.S. locations as a result.

A few major studio releases are still on the 2020 schedule, including  Universal/Dreamworks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age,” due out on Nov. 25, and Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984,” due on Christmas.

CNN Films Unveils Documentary Grants

Points North Institute and CNN Films today have announced five recipients of the new American Stories Documentary Fund, an initiative replacing the five-year-old Camden/TFI Filmmaker Retreat.

Each filmmaking will receive a $10,000 grant, and will work with additional funders, distributors, and creative partners via film industry meetings during the 16th Camden International Film Festival, taking place through Oct. 12.

The grantees are Jon Sesrie-Goff’s “After Sherman,” an exploration of coastal South Carolina and the shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church; Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee’s “Aftershock,” centered on the U.S. maternal-mortality crisis; Isabel Castro’s “Mija,” the story of a Chicana woman discovering what it means to succeed in the United States; Heidi Burkey’s “Salt Sisters,” centered on team of women building a seaweed farm; and Jalena Keane-Lee’s “Standing Above the Clouds,” a story of the movement to prevent the construction of an 18-story telescope on the last pristine section of Mauna Kea.

Thursday, Oct. 8

‘Leap of Faith’ Set for November Release

Shudder, AMC Networks’ streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, has bought the Alexandre O. Philippe documentary “Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist.”

“Leap of Faith” will be released exclusively on the streaming platform on Nov. 19 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The film, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival and was an official selection of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, will also stream this weekend as part of the Nightstream Film Festival.

The film explores the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. “The Exorcist” grossed more than $440 million at the worldwide box office and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning for William Peter Blatty’s adapted script. The deal was negotiated by ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers and Shudder’s Emily Gotto.

Theater Owners Renew Call for Bailout

The National Association of Theatre Owners has urged Congress to pass bailout legislation, warning that If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66% of theater jobs will be lost.

NATO said its #SaveYourCinema campaign has spurred more than 100,000 moviegoers to send more than 300,000 letters to Congress in support of aid to movie theaters. With time running short for cinemas, the industry is renewing its appeal to moviegoers to call on Congress and help the campaign reach a goal of half a million letters.

“The stark reality is that many movie theaters will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help,” said Esther Baruh, director of government relations for NATO. “This is as urgent as it gets. The exhibition industry thrived before this pandemic and it will thrive again, but theaters and their employees need a bridge to get them to that point.”

Leslie Manville Starring in ‘Mrs. Harris’

Entertainment One has launched production in Budapest on the drama “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” starring Oscar nominees Leslie Manville and Isabelle Huppert.

The film, based on Paul Gallico’s novella, will be directed by Anthony Fabian from a screenplay adapted by Carroll Cartwright, Anthony Fabian, and Keith Thompson with additional writing by Olivia Hetreed. eOne will finance and distribute the film with Cofiloisirs providing the credit facility. Xavier Marchand and Anthony Fabian will produce the feature, with Daniel Kresmery and Jonathan Halperyn of Hungary based Hero Squared co-producing, and Philippe Carcassonne and Manville will executive produce.

The film will also shoot in London and Paris. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” tells the story of a widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London who falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and embarks on an adventure to Paris.

Wednesday, Oct. 7

WWE’s John Hennigan Cast in ‘Speed of Time’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Following the release of William J. Stribling’s action short film, “The Speed of Time,” WWE Champion John Hennigan has signed on to star in and produce the feature length film version, Variety has learned exclusively.

Stribling will direct from a script to be written by the short’s original writers, Russ Nickel and Stribling. Brent Madison (“Stellar People”) and Nickel will also produce.

Hennigan will portray future cop Johnny Killfire who must go back in time and team up with his former self (Sean Marquette) in order to stop the TimeBorgs from getting their hands on an app that could break the space-time continuum by delivering pizzas into the past…before they were even ordered.

Isabella Rossellini Starring in ‘Arrivederci’

Isabella Rossellini and Jeanie Drynan will star in the drama “Arrivederci” with Antony Bowman directing from his own script and set in Greece and the harsh Australian outback.

Drynan will play a farmer’s wife who loses her husband to cancer and refuses to consider her family’s plan to move her into a local retirement home. Following a lifelong desire to go to Greece, she heads off on her “last adventure” and meets an Italian opera diva (Rossellini) who will change her life forever.

“Arrivederci” will be produced by Michael Robertson and Neal Kingston through their Thrills & Spills banner with production services in Greece by Argonauts Productions SA. Rick Selvage will serve as executive produce. Production is targeted to begin in Australia in the first quarter of 2021 and in Greece in the spring of 2021.

‘Canyon Del Muerto’ Slated for October Shoot

A Visionary Film, First Line Films and The Vladar Company have tapped Coerte Voorhees to direct Canyon Del Muerto, based on the true story of archaeologist Ann Axtell Morris.

Abigail Lawrie will star alongside Tom Felton, Val Kilmer, Elias Koteas, Ewen Bremner, Bronson Webb and Hanako Footman. The project is slated to start production on Oct. 26 in Albuquerque, N.M., with special Covid-19 measures and protocols in place in archaeological and cultural heritage sites throughout North America and Mexico, including Canyon De Chelly and Mayapan, in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, National Park Service and the Government of Yucatan.

Axtell Morris was America’s first female archaeologist who was a co-discoverer of North America’s first civilization. The screenplay is based on her novels “Digging in Yucatan” and “Digging in the Southwest,” optioned and adapted by Voorhees.

Tuesday, Oct. 6

AFM Planning Virtual 5-Day Event

The American Film Market has registered more than 300 exhibitors and 1,000 accredited buyers for its virtual market, set to take place Nov. 9-13.

The market, hosted by the Independent Film and Television Alliance, announced in July that it would not hold a physical sales market, following in the footsteps of the Cannes Virtual Market in June. It’s also moved the market back a week to avoid a conflict with Election Day.

The United States has the biggest exhibitor presence with 132 companies followed by Russia (26), the United Kingdom (22), France (14) and Germany (12). The AFM’s online conference and educational programming will include a record 80 plus live sessions and over 200 speakers. As previously announced, all accredited buyers will receive complimentary credentials to AFM 2020 Online until Oct. 23.

‘Chicago 10’ Documentary Re-Released 

Participant, River Road Entertainment and Giant Pictures are re-releasing Brett Morgen’s feature documentary “Chicago 10”  via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and FandangoNow.

The film explores the build-up to and unraveling of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, told through a mix of original animation and archival footage. Animated segments are voiced by Hank Azaria, Mark Ruffalo, Jeffrey Wright, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber and Nick Nolte.

Netflix will start streaming Aaron Sorkin’s drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7” on Oct. 16. Both films explore the group of protesters who were charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Gravitas Buys Documentary ‘Higher Love’

Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide rights to the award-winning documentary film “Higher Love” and plans a Nov. 3 digital release, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Higher Love” centers on a blue-collar father trying to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the dangerous streets of Camden, N.J. It is directed by Hasan Oswald, executive produced by Stephen Nemeth and produced by Oswald, Alexander Spiess and Derek Rubin.

The film has screened at more than 15 film festivals and won Slamdance’s Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize in January. Here’s the trailer:


Monday, Oct. 5

Filipina Music Drama ‘Yellow Rose’ Backed by Gold House

Cultural movement Gold House is supporting the Filipina music drama “Yellow Rose” through its #GoldOpen campaign, which backed “Parasite,” “The Farewell,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Just Mercy.”

The Sony release, which opens Oct. 9, centers on an undocumented Filipina teen from a small Texas town who fights to pursue her dreams as a country music performer while having to decide between staying with her family or leaving the only home she has known.

The film, directed by Diana Paragas in her narrative feature debut, stars Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga. Events include a live Twitter watch party on Oct. 8 and a streamed Q&A on Oct. 9 with the “Yellow Rose” cast and Paragas director moderated by Jazz Tangcay of Variety. The campaign also includes efforts to celebrate Filipino American history and Filipino storytellers through Cinema Sala and the Filipino American Historical Society.

Latino Media Fest Nominees Unveiled 

The National Association of Latino Independent Producers has unveiled its nominees for its Virtual Latino Media Fest Awards.

Best Latinx Film nominees are “Mucho Mucho Amor,” “The Garden Left Behind” and “Blast Beat.” Nominees for best Latinx Filmmaker are Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming”); Janicza Bravo (“Zola”); Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch (“Mucho Mucho Amor”); Flavio Alves (“The Garden Left Behind”); Angel Manuel Soto (“Charm City Kings”); Esteban Arango (“Blast Beat”); and Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Good Joe Bell”).

Best Latinx TV Show nominations went to “Pose,” “Gentefied” and “Vida.” The awards will also include a category for Excellence in Entertainment Journalism. Winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony on Oct.16.

Fangoria, Fantastic Fest Team on Blumhouse Watch Party

Fantastic Fest and Fangoria have unveiled a watch party for “Welcome to the Blumhouse” a series of thrillers produced by Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Television with an eye towards original genre storytelling from a diverse set of casts and filmmakers.

The showings will include post-screening Q&As with each filmmaker. The Prime Video watch parties will kick off with “The Lie” on Oct. 10, “Black Box” on Oct. 11, “Nocturne on Oct. 17 and “Evil Eye” on Oct. 18.

“From the beginning, Fantastic Fest was conceived to be a launchpad for emerging, diverse, genre filmmaking talent,” says Shelli Taylor, Alamo Drafthouse CEO. “We are extremely proud and excited to be partnering with Amazon to celebrate this bold new lineup of amazing filmmakers this October.”