Netflix Announces a Series of Features, Including Lin-Manual Miranda’s Directorial Debut

Netflix June 19 announced several features for its upcoming slate, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut.

Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist and actor Miranda (Hamilton) will direct Imagine Entertainment’s film adaptation of Tick, Tick … Boom!, to which Netflix has acquired worldwide rights. Tony Award winner Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen, Fosse/Verdon) will adapt the screenplay based on the original stage show by the late Rent (Pulitzer Prize winner for drama in 1996) creator Jonathan Larson.

Set in 1990, Tick, Tick…Boom! tells the story of Jon, an aspiring theater composer who is waiting tables in New York City while writing Superbia — which he hopes will be the next great American musical and finally give him his big break. Jon is also feeling pressure from his girlfriend Susan, who is tired of continuing to put her life on hold for Jon’s career aspirations. Meanwhile, his best friend and roommate Michael, has given up on his creative aspirations for a high-paying advertising job on Madison Avenue and is about to move out. As Jon approaches his 30th birthday, he is overcome with anxiety — wondering if his dream is worth the cost.

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Netflix also announced the live action family movie The Main Event, set to premier on the service in 2020. It’s based on an original screenplay by Larry Postel, directed by Jay Karas and produced by WWE Studios’ Richard Lowell. WWE Studios is WWE’s multi-platform content division that develops and produces scripted and non-scripted series, documentaries and feature films.

The film follows an 11-year-old aspiring wrestler who, after discovering a magical mask, enters a competition to become the next WWE superstar. It stars Seth Carr (Black Panther), Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood, “Everybody Hates Chris”), Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”) and Ken Marino (The Other Two, Black Monday, Bad Milo), alongside WWE superstars Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Sheamus, among others.

Netflix will adapt August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom into a feature film starring  Academy Award winner Viola Davis (Widows, Fences), Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up, Black Panther), Emmy Award winner Glynn Turman (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Tony and Olivier Award Nominee Colman Domingo (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Michael Potts (Show Me a HeroTrue Detective). Academy Award winner Denzel Washington (who starred with Davis in the feature adaptation of Wilson’s Fences), Academy Award Nominee Todd Black and Dany Wolf will produce.

The story follows Ma Rainey, the “Queen of the Blues.” While making a record in a studio in Chicago, 1927, tensions boil between her, her white agent and producer, and bandmates.

Finally, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (Five Feet Apart and The Curse of La Llorona) are adapting the horror-fantasy children’s book Nightbooks by J.A. White for Netflix. The story follows Alex, a boy obsessed with scary stories, who is trapped by a witch in her modern, magical New York City apartment. His original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping him safe as he desperately tries to find a way out of the twisted place.

‘Aquaman’ Makes Another Splash on FandangoNow Chart

Aquaman emerged at No. 1 on FandangoNow’s chart of top movies for digital rental and purchase for another week.

FandangoNow is movie site Fandango’s transactional VOD service.

Warner’s DC Comics superhero feature held off the studio’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which levitated to No. 2 (from No. 8) on the chart for the week ended March 17. “Harry Potter” writer J.K. Rowling’s followup to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earned $160 million in theaters, while the swimming superhero vehicle earned $334 million at the box office.

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Warner also took the third spot on the FandangoNow chart with the Oscar-launded A Star Is Born, which earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song and eight nominations. The music drama starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga slipped just one spot from No. 2 the previous week.

Best Picture Academy Award winner Green Book landed at No. 4, rising from No. 10 the previous week. The film also picked up Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali.

Newly arriving on the chart were Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which took the fifth spot, and Universal’s Mortal Engines, which came in at No. 10. Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, earned $171 million at the box office, while Mortal Engines, a post-apocalyptic actioner backed by Peter Jackson, made just $16 million theatrically.

The top films to purchase and/or rent on FandangoNow for the week ended March 17 were:

  1. Aquaman — Warner
  2. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — Warner
  3. A Star is Born(2018) — Warner
  4. Green Book— Universal
  5. Mary Poppins Returns — Disney
  6. Instant Family — Paramount
  7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  8. Creed II — Warner
  9. Ralph Breaks the Internet — Disney
  10. Mortal Engines— Universal

Mary Poppins Returns

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/19/19;
Disney;
Musical;
Box Office $171.69 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘
PG’ for some mild thematic elements and brief action.
Stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, David Warner, Jim Norton, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke.

There’s a lyric at the beginning of the original 1964 Mary Poppins in which Dick Van Dyke sings “what’s to happen all happened before.” It’s a line that hints at the mysterious nature of the magical nanny but seems a bit curious in the context at the beginning of a story in which we as an audience have yet to witness any of Mary Poppins’ adventures.

Rather, that prophetically tinged turn of phrase would seem to have more meaning when applied to this new installment, which bears fruit for the notion that Mary Poppins’ adventures are somehow cyclical.

The sequel that has been 54 years in the making has been carefully crafted for each story beat to resonate with an equivalent scene from the first film. Indeed, such echoes of the original are even reflected in the musical score, which always seems to play a few nostalgic notes when appropriate.

In the new story based on author P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins novels, the nanny returns some two decades later when the now grown Banks children, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) find themselves in a bit of a financial crisis. Michael’s life is in disarray a year after the tragic death of his wife, and the financial toll exacted by her loss have put their famous house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in danger of being seized by the bank. As Michael seems ready to given in to cynicism and despair, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) reappears to ostensibly take care of Michael’s three children while infusing a new sense of joy and imagination into everyone’s day.

Mary Poppins Returns is an effective follow-up to the original classic, capturing its spirit of whimsy with a slate of catchy tunes, even if its story could use some fine-tuning at points. While every sequence more or less serves a central premise of approaching life with a variety of perspectives, some moments seem less relevant to the primary narrative than others. Colin Firth’s bank executive, for example, seems to want the house just for the sake of typical movie villain greed, where the plot could have given him a more personal stake in the Banks family story by, say, establishing he had a grudge against their father, George, who was a senior partner at the bank.

Likewise, the film’s most eccentric musical number, “Turning Turtle,” seems to exist only to provide an outlet for interesting ideas from the books the filmmakers wanted to use couldn’t infuse elsewhere in the story, resulting in a superfluous guest appearance by Meryl Streep. ‘

Much more effective is a practically perfect appearance by the iconic Angela Lansbury as the magical balloon lady, whose perfectly “Nowhere to Go but Up” number is the most memorable of film while most effectively reminding young and old alike to never lose sight of their childlike sense of wonder.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray are mostly focused on the creation of the various musical numbers, from the 23-minute “The Practically Perfect Making of Mary Poppins Returns” to the 18-minute “Seeing Things From a Different Point of View: The Musical Numbers of Mary Poppins Returns.” And the five-and-a-half-minute “Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns” delves into the now 93-year-old actor’s cameo in the new film.

The disc also includes a deleted song sequence that was replaced by another piece early enough so that the version presented here is a scratch track set to animated storyboards. The total sequence, called “The Anthropomorphic Zoo,” runs about five minutes.

There are also two true deleted scenes that run about a minute each that are extensions of musical sequences that are in the final film, as well as a two-minute blooper reel.

The disc also offers the movie in a sing-along mode that shows the lyrics during the various song sequences (as opposed to closed captioning showing all the dialogue).

The digital edition, which can be accessed using the Movies Anywhere redemption code included with the Blu-ray combo pack, offers an informative commentary with director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.

Movies Anywhere also has two more vignettes, each running more than a minute. “Different Worlds: Creating Mary Poppins Returns is a shorter clip from the longer making-of featurette about the making of an animated sequence. And “What Is Your Favorite Disney Musical?” is a promotional video in which the title question is asked to various cast members.

Finally, the digital version on Vudu offers a three-minute featurette about the cameo of actress Karen Dotrice, who played young Jane in the original film.

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ to Home Video in March

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release Mary Poppins Returns digitally March 12, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 19.

The long-awaited sequel to Disney’s 1964 classic, Mary Poppins Returns stars Emily Blunt as the practically perfect nanny, who returns to Cherry Tree Lane to help the troubled now-adult Banks children.

The cast also includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke.

The film earned $170.6 million at the domestic box office and received Oscar nominations for Best Original Song for “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.

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Blu-ray and UHD BD extras include deleted scenes, including the song “The Anthropomorphic Zoo”; the multi-part behind-the-scenes featurette “The Practically Perfect Making of Mary Poppins Returns”; “Seeing Things From a Different Point of View: The Musical Numbers of Mary Poppins Returns,” a look at several of the film’s musical scenes; “Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns”; “Practically Perfect Bloopers”; and a sing-along mode.

The digital version, available separately or with a redemption code included with the Blu-ray combo packs, will have an exclusive audio commentary by director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.