An autumn film season (like every part else) within the river | Leisure information

By JAKE COYLE, AP film writer

NEW YORK (AP) – The filmmaker Cary Fukunaga has been waiting for the biggest film of his career, the James Bond film “No Time to Die”, to hit the cinemas for more than a year and a half. It was a strange and surreal wait. Months before the heavily delayed film even hits theaters on October 8, the Billie Eilish movie’s theme song has already won a Grammy.

“I had a dream last night that Sam Mendes was there,” Fukunaga said in a recent interview, referring to the director of the previous two Bond films. “We were on vacation at a frozen lake. He was done with Bond films. And he said, ‘Oh, you finished one. Now you have a break. ‘ Then we started to go water skiing on a frozen lake. “

“It was a strange dream,” says Fukunaga.

Fall movie season – usually a steady rhythm and cozy fall comfort – is a little confusing this year, like many of the past 18 months. Films that are scheduled to start in April 2020, such as “No Time to Die”, summer films that hope for better conditions in the fall, and films that were shot and edited during the pandemic, are on the way.

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What has grown together is a film mish-mash – something much more robust than the cobbled together, mostly virtual fall film season last fall – a season that stretched until the Oscars in April. But the recent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant has added new uncertainty at a time when Hollywood once hoped it would get closer to normal.

“Everything is fluid and everything will stay fluid,” said Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “That is the opposite of before. You used to plant your flag and you didn’t move because of hell or high water. Now it is very important to be very flexible and agile. “

The unpredictability of the conditions is widely shared, but is being felt strongly in studios like Sony, which have largely tuned in to exclusive theatrical releases even during the pandemic. While Disney (with Disney +) and Warner Bros. (with HBO Max) have tried to hedge their bets and increase subscribers to their streaming services with daily releases in 2021, Sony, Universal, Paramount and MGM (home of Bond) are – with different windowing strategies – have mostly stuck to theater-first plans.

In all films coming this fall – including “The Last Duel” (Oct. 15), “Dune” (Oct. 22), “Eternals” (Nov. 5), “House of Gucci” (Oct. 24). Nov.) – Nothing is perhaps as tense as the ever-unfolding drama of old-fashioned, ugly cinema visits. Paramount has left the season citing the Delta-driven surge and is launching “Top Gun: Maverick” for next year. But after some promising box office appearances, many of the fall’s top films and the top Oscar hopefuls are just doubling in relation to each other on the theater and the associated cultural impact.

“We have a lot of inventory. They don’t want to keep pushing all the films, ”says Rothman. “At a certain point you have to go.”

After Delta built trust in cinema over the summer, it lost some of its Hollywood momentum. The National Research Group found that more than 80% of moviegoers felt comfortable going to the movies in July. But that number dropped to 67% last month.

But the last big film of the summer, Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” gave the fall a big boost with an estimated $ 90 million in ticket sales over the four-day Labor Day weekend – one of the best performances of the pandemic . It is noteworthy that it was only played in theaters.

Before all the numbers were known, Rothman and Sony have postponed the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the sequel to his $ 856 million superhero hit, for two weeks to October 1st, Ghostbusters: Afterlife November), Denzel Washington’s “A Journal for Jordan” (December 10th) and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (December 17th).

No other studio is relying as much on cinemas this fall as Sony. The studio lacks a major streaming platform, but has made lucrative deals with Netflix and Disney to stream films after they hit theaters. Discussion of the disappointing results of everyday films like Warner Bros. ‘ “The Suicide Squad” against a theatrical hit like Disney’s “Free Guy” Rothman recently advertised with the statement: “It’s the window, stupid.”

“There is no economic model to – let alone make a profit – balance the profitability of assets even without a universe of windows. It doesn’t exist, ”says Rothman.

This debate – which films will open where and when – will remain unresolved in the months ahead and likely well beyond. Warner Bros. has promised to return to exclusive theatrical releases for 45 days next year. But little this fall – including the movie calendar – is a sure thing.

“I don’t think you can predict what the future of cinema will be until the pandemic is really behind us,” says Rothman. “It is currently in an emergency situation.”

So Hollywood’s summer in limbo will stretch into fall. But more than at any previous point in the pandemic, there are a whole series of films lined up. The Venice and Telluride Film Festivals have seen a wide variety of upcoming films including Jane Campion’s acclaimed Netflix drama “The Power of the Dog” (November 17) starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The Oscar race could also have a great star power. Among the early standouts: Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in “Spencer” (November 5) and Will Smith as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, in “King Richard” (November 19).

In “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” Jessica Chastain transforms into the notorious television evangelist. Searchlight Pictures will release it in theaters on September 17th.

“We like this community experience, especially after a year and a half of starving for it. That doesn’t mean the streaming will stop. It’s here to stay, “says Chastain, who also starred in the HBO miniseries” Scenes from a Marriage. “” In my eyes, I see the industry as just expanding. “

How many films were released during the pandemic is often underestimated. But even with a few top-class departures, the coming season is full. Apple has Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” with Denzel Washington. Amazon has the musical adaptation “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (September 17th). New films from world-class filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro (“Nightmare Alley”, December 3rd), Pedro Almodóvar (“Parallel Mothers”, December 24th), Asghar Farhadi (“A Hero”, January 7th) and Paolo Sorrentino (“The Hand of God”, November 24th)).

There is also a festival of documents including Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s Julia Child portrait “Julia” (November 5); Liz Garbus’ Becoming Cousteau (October 22); Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “The Rescue” (October), on Thai cave rescue 2018; and, fittingly, a portrait of one of the pandemic’s most ubiquitous faces, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, in John Hoffman and Janet Tobias’ “Fauci” (September 10th).

Netflix will release three dozen films by Christmas – including Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut “The Lost Daughter” (December 17); the western “The Harder They Fall” (November 3) with Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba; Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut “Tick, Tick … Boom!”; and Antoine Fuqua’s “The Guilty” (September 24th), a single-shot crime thriller in which Jake Gyllenhaal, a degraded police officer, answers 911 calls.

Just before production began earlier this year, Fuqua came into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. To keep his distance from his cast and crew, he shot the film from a van parked outside the set.

“It’s a strange world we’re in right now, and it’s a strain on all of us,” says Fuqua. “But I try to stay positive. That is why ‘The Guilty’ was born. I think there is a responsibility that we all move forward, not wallow in the situation we are in, and find new ways to do it. “

Hopefully the long delay in a number of films that have been waiting in the wings for more than a year – including Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” (December 10th), Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” (October 22nd) and, yes, “No Time to Die” – will soon be over.

“What I didn’t notice about this film is the satisfaction of everyone else who sees the film and says, ‘I hated it’ or ‘I like it’,” says Fukunaga. “That’s the part you’re waiting for. Some people will like it. Some people won’t like it. But you still want to hear it. Even if you don’t want to hear it, you want to hear it.”

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