Fri. Feb 12

Shout! Studios Acquires “How to Deter a Robber”

Shout! Studios announced it has acquired North American rights to “How to Deter a Robber.”

Written and directed by Maria Bissell (“Corridor Four”), the film stars Vanessa Marano (“Saving Zoe”), Benjamin Papac (“The Walking Dead”) and Abbie Cobb (“Mom’s Night Out”).

Produced by Maria Bissell, Joshua Adam Fu, Max Silver, and Stephen Tringali, the film recently premiered at Fantastic Fest to great press and audience enthusiasm. The announcement was made today by Jordan Fields, Shout’s Vice President of Acquisitions, and Pip Ngo, Vice President of Sales and Acquisitions at XYZ Films.

“Maria Bissell brings a dark and highly entertaining sense of humor to the home invasion film, deftly blending tension with caustic comedy. Vanessa Marano and the cast realize that tonal balance to perfection, so we’re confident it will find a broad audience,” stated Jordan Fields, Shout’s Vice President of Acquisitions.

“I’m thrilled that my debut feature has found a home at Shout! Studios,” writer and director Maria Bissell said. “Shout! has always championed genre film and up-and-coming filmmakers, so I knew they’d make the perfect partner for this release.” said writer/director Maria Bissell.

Shout! Studios has secured all North American distribution rights including digital, streaming, video-on-demand, broadcast, theatrical, and all home entertainment packaged media (Blu-ray/DVD). Shout! Studios plan a strategic launch of this movie day-and-date across all major entertainment platforms later this year. XYZ Films will continue international sales at the upcoming European Film Market.

The movie deal was negotiated by Shout’s Jordan Fields and Steve Katz, Vice President of Business Affairs for Shout! Studios, and Pip Ngo for XYZ Films on behalf of the filmmakers.

“Hello Stranger: The Movie” Available to Stream Now on Digital Platforms

The hit romantic comedy, “Hello Stranger: The Movie” is out to stream on digital platforms.

The film follows Xavier (Tony Labrusca) and Mico (JC Alcantara), fondly known to fans as ‘XavMi,’ whose innocent love story begins when they are paired for a college project. Their relationship forms during social distanced video chats as they navigate through the challenges of dating during a pandemic. The film picks up where the original series ends as we find XavMi attending a writing camp with their friends. When new and past love interests bring tension and crazy shenanigans to the camp, their relationship will be shaken to its very core.

The original 8-part digital series premiered in 2020 and was ABS-CBN’s immediate and innovative response to the growing demand for premium content during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The original production was filmed virtually in each actor’s respective homes when the Philippines was under strict lockdown.

“As the largest producer and distributor of Filipino content worldwide, ABS-CBN is committed to pushing the boundaries of representation and inclusive storytelling,” says Jun Del Rosario, ABS-CBN Global Head of North America. “We hope films like this will help contribute to the acceptance of all forms of love in homes around the world.”

It is available to stream now worldwide on KTX.ph, iWant TFC, and TFC IPTV, and in the Philippines on Sky Cable pay-per-view, and Cignal pay-per-view.

The official trailer can be viewed here.

Thurs. Feb 11

Motion Picture Sound Editors to Honor George Miller with Filmmaker Award

George Miller will be honored by the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE)  with its annual Filmmaker Award.

The Australian writer, director and producer  is behind such classics as “Mad Max,” “Mad Max 2: Road Warrior” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

“George Miller redefined the action genre through his Mad Max films, and he has been just as successful in bringing us such wonderfully different films as The Witches of Eastwick, Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe and Happy Feet,” said MPSE President Mark Lanza. “He represents the art of filmmaking at its best. We are proud to present him with MPSE’s highest honor.”

Miller called the award “a lovely thing,” adding, “It’s a big pat on the back. I was originally drawn to film through the visual sense, but I learned to recognize sound, emphatically, as integral to the apprehension of the story. I’ve become an utter convert to cinema sound. That’s why this award is so significant to me.”

Miller won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2007 for “Happy Feet.” He also earned Oscar nominations for “Babe” and “Lorenzo’s Oil.”

The MPSE Filmmaker Award will be handed out at the 68th MPSE Golden Reel Awards, set for April 16th as an international virtual event.

Erik Bernard Announces Casting on “Free Dead or Alive

Actress Edy Ganem (“Devious Maids”), Seth Michaels (“Doom Patrol”) and Patricia Velasquez (“The Mummy,” “The Curse of la Llorona”), have been casted as leads in Erik Bernard’s action thriller “Free Dead or Alive.”

The story follows Eva (Ganem), a beautiful strong-willed young woman, enters a journey to escape her mother’s (Velasquez) arranged marriage to the region’s most dangerous cartel. Her defiance sets off a chain of events that threatens her life. Surviving will require the skills of Dragon (Michaels), a coyote that can protect her during her quest throughout the dangerous world of cross-border cartels who are the law of the lands.

“Every day someone has the courage to risk it all for just an opportunity to have a better life,” said Bernard. The Army veteran turned filmmaker was inspired to make this film to raise awareness of the treacherous path to the border. “I want people to experience the courage of ordinary people taking that dangerous road for a possible chance of success.”

Ganem is best known for her role in the award-nominated Lifetime’s dramedy series “Devious Maids” created by “Desperate Housewives” executive producer Marc Cherry and has starred in various award-winning indie films such as “Created Equal.” Velasquez has been seen in such films as “The Mummy,” “The Mummy Returns,” and “The Curse of the la Llorona”. Michaels will be seen in the upcoming Netflix film “Red Notice” starring opposite Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and has starred on shows like “Doom Patrol” by Greg Berlanti and American Soul from BET.

Additionally, Robert LaSardo (“The Mule”), Robert Avellanet (“La Viuda de Blanco”), Alejandro De Hoyos (Sin Vergüenza), and Al Coronel (“The Last Ship,” “Call of Duty”) have been cast.

A Robotic Mozart Alter is Heading to Hollywood to Join robot sister Erica in AI Movie

The filmmakers behind “b” which cast the first artificially intelligent robotic actress Erica in a major role, have added “Alter” to their cast.

“Alter” is described as a musical genius. Filmmaker  Sam Khoze says, “Alter is the first fully autonomous Musician Robot. He is capable of singing notes that are impossible for a human to mimic. He is also capable of autonomous movements through the “ALIFE ENGINE” created by renowned professor Takashi Ikegami of the University of Tokyo in cooperation with Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of the University of Osaka and Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute.

The ALIFE ENGINE allows “Alter” to track music in order to determine his improvisational skill autonomously and randomly.

“b” is written by Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, along with producers Jean-Luc Van Damme, Tom Struthers, Anoush Sadegh, Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, and Grady Craig.

The production was set to start in the summer of 2021, but due to the pandemic, production has been delayed until it can be completed safely.

Wed. Feb. 10

Ava DuVernay’s ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ And ‘This Is The Life’ Premiere On Netflix

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, ARRAY Releasing has announced that both Ava DuVernay’s Award-Winning Sundance Film Festival Drama “Middle of Nowhere” and First Documentary Film “This is the Life” will make their debut on Netflix Feb. 11.

“Middle of Nowhere” was written, directed and produced by DuVernay, and premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It went on to win the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic Film. DuVernay made history as the first African-American to win the Best Director award. 

“This is the Life” is a feature-length documentary written and directed by DuVernay. The film pays tribute to the alternative hip hop emcees, poets and musicians that launched their LA-born and bred style of music at the Good Life Café in the 1990s. From the café’s location on the corner of Crenshaw Blvd. and Exposition Blvd. in Los Angeles, it expanded across the US and internationally.


Tues. Feb. 9

Amanda Seyfried Honored By Santa Barbara Film Festival

Amanda Seyfried will be honored for her career and her performance in David Fincher’s “Mank” at the 36th Santa Barbara Film Festival. Seyfried, who recently received a supporting actress Golden Globe nomination, will be recognized with the Montecito Award at an April 9 ceremony.

“Amanda gives one of the best performances of 2020 in “Mank,” and makes us do a double take about her whole career. This is a defining moment for her, and a rediscovery for us,” said SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling.

Past recipients of the award include Lupita Nyong’o, Melissa McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan, Isabelle Huppert, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Bill Condon, and Naomi Watts.

The festival takes place March 31 to April 10. The format has not yet been announced.

Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) to go Virtual for 2021

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) announced it will be going virtual. The festival will run from Wednesday, June 2 through Sunday, June 6

“As one of the first film festivals in the world to fully produce a virtual festival in 2020, we were overwhelmed by the support from the film industry and community for LALIFF and more importantly for our filmmakers,” said Edward James Olmos, co-founder of LALIFF. “We are committed to offer a platform to showcase the remarkable and diverse work of Latino voices, despite the current pandemic. We want to ensure that these voices are heard, that we create safe spaces online and in-person, and that our next generation of storytellers are inspired.”


Mon. Feb 8.

Universal Pictures Moves Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Marry Me’ to 2022

Universal Pictures has announced Jennifer Lopez’s “Marry Me” is moving from May 14, 2021 to Feb. 11, 2022.

Lopez stars as musical superstar Kat Valdez and Owen Wilson as Charlie Gilbert, a math teacher—total strangers who agree to marry and then get to know each other. The film is an unlikely romance about two people searching for something real in a world where value is based on likes and followers and will feature original songs by Lopez and Latin music star Maluma.

The film also stars John Bradley (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), Michelle Buteau (Netflix’s “Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia”) and Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Mulan”).

Kat Coiro (“Dead to Me”) will direct the film.  Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Lopez’s producing partner and Benny Medina will both serve as producers on “Marry Me.”

Shout! Factory and Animation Studio LAIKA Announce New Entertainment Distribution Alliance

Shout! Factory, and the Oscar-nominated animation studio LAIKA have announced a new entertainment distribution alliance. The partnership will bring the studio’s first four award-winning films to the home entertainment marketplace in the U.S.

The announcement was made today by Melissa Boag, Shout’s SVP of family entertainment, and David Burke, LAIKA’s chief marketing officer and SVP of operations.

“We’ve been huge fans of LAIKA, Travis Knight, and his extraordinary team. Their legendary ingenuity, independent spirit, and compelling storytelling have inspired us and continue to entertain audiences worldwide,” Boag said in a statement. “We’re incredibly excited about this new opportunity with LAIKA and look forward to presenting these beloved films with enlightening extras and lavish packaging to fans and collectors everywhere.”

“We’re delighted to launch our partnership with Shout! Factory,” said Burke. “Their ability to maximize value for legacy titles by bringing films to entirely new audiences well after their theatrical release cycle is unparalleled in the industry.  We look forward to a long and impactful relationship with these industry leaders.”

The content deal was negotiated by Jordan Fields, VP of acquisitions, and Steven Katz, VP of business affairs for Shout! Factory, and LAIKA’s head of business development Michael Waghalter and Colin Geiger, general counsel and head of business affairs.

‘Minari’ Leads the Seattle Film Critics Society Nominations

Lee Issac Chung’s “Minari” led the Seattle Film Critics Society nominations with eight nods including best picture, best director, best actor (Steven Yeun), best supporting actress (Yuh-jung Youn), best ensemble cast, best original score and best youth performance (Alan Kim). The film also scored a nomination for best film not in an English language.

Behind that, Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” landed six nominations, including best picture, best director, best actress (Frances McDormand), best screenplay, best cinematography and best film editing.

Also receiving six nominations was “First Cow” for best picture, best director (Kelly Reichardt), best screenplay, best cinematography, best costume design and best production design.

David Fincher’s “Mank,” Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” and Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” follow with five nods apiece. “Promising Young Woman” received four nominations.

Winners will be announced on Feb. 15  starting at 9 a.m. PT via the Seattle Film Critics Society’s Twitter handle – @seattlecritics.