Apple Announces Titles on Upcoming Film Slate Headed to Theaters, Apple TV+

Apple has unveiled a glimpse at its slate of Apple Original Films set to premiere globally in theaters and on Apple TV+ over the next year.

The 2022 slate features filmmakers and stars including Alfonso Cuaron, Antoine Fuqua, Dakota Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, Octavia Spencer, Bill Murray, Russell Crowe and many more.

Cha Cha Real Smooth, winner of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Audience Award, will premiere globally on Apple TV+ June 17. In the film, writer-director Cooper Raiff also stars as a recent college graduate stuck back at home with his family and working as a party-starter for bar and bat mitzvahs who strikes up a unique friendship with a young mom (Dakota Johnson) and her teenage daughter.

Additional Apple Original Films set to debut this summer include a documentary executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and directed by Reginald Hudlin about the career and life of the late Sidney Poitier; and Luck, a new animated feature from Skydance Animation about the unluckiest girl in the world, starring Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Colin O’Donoghue, John Ratzenberger and Adelynn Spoon, premiering Aug. 5.

This fall comes the premiere of the feature documentary Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong, a look at the master musician’s life and legacy as a founding father of jazz, produced under Apple’s first-look agreement with Imagine Documentaries; Raymond & Ray, which follows half-brothers Raymond and Ray (Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke) who have lived in the shadow of a terrible father; and Peter Farrelly’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever, a new dramedy starring Zac Efron and Russell Crowe based on the true story of John “Chickie” Donohue, who in 1968 left New York to track down and share a few beers with his childhood buddies now in the Army — fighting in Vietnam. The documentary feature The Sound of 007 will also make its global debut this fall, to mark the 60th anniversary of the James Bond film series.

For the holidays comes Spirited, a modern musical rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story “A Christmas Carol” starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer.

Available before the end of 2022 is Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith’s new film Emancipation, which tells the story of a man who escapes from slavery.

Also coming soon is the premiere of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow and more, the film follows the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror.

Matthew Vaughn’s next spy thriller, Argylle, featuring an ensemble cast that includes Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa and Ariana DeBose with John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson, will also soon be added to Apple’s lineup, as will Sharper, a New York City-set suspense-thriller from writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka starring Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, Briana Middleton and John Lithgow, and Tetris, starring Taron Egerton, which follows the extraordinary journey of one of the most iconic computer games in the world.

Also due are Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the French military leader and emperor alongside Vanessa Kirby as Josephine; a pair of complementary documentaries entitled Number One on the Call Sheet, celebrating Black leading women and men in Hollywood; Ghosted, a high concept romantic action adventure film starring Chris Evans and Ana de Armas; Skydance Animation’s Spellbound, which follows a young girl who sets out to break the spell that has divided her kingdom in two; and The Beanie Bubble, inspired by the story behind one of the biggest speculative crazes in American culture in the 1990s and starring Elizabeth Banks, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Snook and Geraldine Viswanathan.

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Apple Original Films is also currently in development on Adam McKay’s Bad Blood, about the rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, with Jennifer Lawrence producing and starring as Holmes; the genre-bending film Bride, produced by and starring Scarlett Johansson; Snow Blind with Jake Gyllenhaal attached to star; a new Sue Mengers biopic starring  Jennifer Lawrence; Dolly, a new feature film written by Vanessa Taylor and Drew Pearce with Florence Pugh attached to star; an adaption of Judy Heumann’s bestselling memoir Being Heumann from Siân Heder; an Audrey Hepburn biopic; and a thriller with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, written and directed by Jon Watts, about two lone fixers who are assigned to the same job.

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Apple has landed overall deals for feature films from studios and production companies including Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions, Adam McKay’s Hyperobject Industries, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, Richard Plepler’s Eden Productions, Siân Heder, Tracy Oliver, A24, Imagine Entertainment, Skydance Animation and Skydance Media.

‘Free Guy’ Hitting Disney+ Feb. 23

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy will be available on the Disney+ streaming service starting Feb. 23.

The adventure-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Taika Waititi was released in theaters Aug. 13 and has grossed more than $330 million worldwide. The film recently won a People’s Choice Award and received a Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Comedy.

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In Free Guy, a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game decides to become the hero of his own story.

Disney+ has also released video of titles headed to the service in 2022.

‘Red Notice’ Is Netflix’s Top-Streamed Movie Ever

The Netflix movie Red Notice has become the streamer’s most-viewed original movie in its history with nearly 278 million hours across its global subscriber footprint. That tops Netflix’s previous record holder Bird Box, the 2018 dystopian drama starring Sandra Bullock.

Red Notice, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, had received middling reviews (35%) on social media platform Rotten Tomatoes. But that didn’t stop subs from streaming 129.1 million hours during the first seven days since the film’s Nov. 12 debut.

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“In just 11 days you’ve officially made RED NOTICE the BIGGEST @Netflix FILM EVER. Shattering all records across the board!!!” Johnson posted on his social media blog.

Red Notice

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Action;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language.
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos.

Netflix’s Red Notice is a glitzy heist movie that mixes action and comedy well enough, but mostly coasts on the charisma of its stars.

Ryan Reynolds plays Booth, who wants to earn the reputation as the world’s greatest thief. Gal Gadot is his rival, The Bishop. Dwayne Johnson plays FBI agent Hartley, who is on the hunt for them and tracks Booth to a scheme to steal a bejeweled egg from thousands of years ago.

The egg is one of a set of three presented to Cleopatra by Mark Antony. An Egyptian billionaire has offered $300 million to anyone who can deliver all three, but only two have been uncovered in modern times; the whereabouts of the third remain a mystery.

Hartley manages to capture Booth and recover the egg, but is himself framed when it is stolen again and sent to prison. Hoping to clear his name, Hartley decides to recover the remaining eggs by teaming with Booth, who may have the only clue as to the location of the missing third one.

But, alas, The Bishop is also after the eggs, and always appears to be one step ahead of them.

The team of Booth and Hartley plays like a buddy comedy mixed with Ocean’s Eleven and the treasure hunting sensibilities of Indiana Jones. The film isn’t exactly trying to hide its inspirations, either. Reynolds even whistles the Indiana Jones theme at one point as the trail leads the plot into an expedition deep in the South American jungle.

The film intermingles plot twists with over-the-top action to create an entertaining if overblown spectacle, though its clear the cast had a lot of fun making it.

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‘Free Guy’ Ascends to No. 1 on Redbox Charts, 4th Week Atop Digital

Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy topped the Redbox On Demand chart for a fourth consecutive week, while also moving into the top spot on Redbox’s disc rental chart for the first time the week ended Nov. 7.

The film, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who learns he is a video game character, had been in the third spot the previous week after becoming available at kiosks a few weeks after its disc has been available for sale.

Universal Pictures’ Stillwater climbed two spots to No. 2 on the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks, and remained No. 4 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions. The film stars Matt Damon as an Oklahoma father looking for evidence to free his daughter from prison in France.

Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2 was No. 3 on both charts, maintaining its position on the digital chart, but dropping two spots on the rental chart, where it was the top title a week earlier.

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Warner’s The Suicide Squad slipped two spots to No. 4 on the disc chart.

Universal Pictures’ Old remained No. 5 on the disc chart and remained No. 2 on the Redbox On Demand chart for a third week.

Rounding out the top five digital titles was Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga, which was the No. 9 disc rental.

The only newcomer among the top 10 disc rentals was No. 7 Paw Patrol: The Movie, from Paramount, the big-screen version of the popular Nickelodeon animated series. It was No. 8 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Nov. 7:

  1. Free Guy — Disney/20th Century
  2. Stillwater — Universal
  3. Don’t Breathe 2 — Sony Pictures
  4. The Suicide Squad — Warner
  5. Old — Universal
  6. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — Paramount
  7. Paw Patrol: The Movie — Paramount
  8. The Protégé — Lionsgate
  9. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  10. The Forever Purge — Universal

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Nov. 7:

  1. Free Guy — Disney/20th Century
  2. Old — Universal
  3. Don’t Breathe 2 — Sony Pictures
  4. Stillwater — Universal
  5. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  6. The Forever Purge — Universal
  7. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — Paramount
  8. Paw Patrol: The Movie — Paramount
  9. The Protégé — Lionsgate
  10. Space Jam: A New Legacy — Warner

 

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‘Joe Bell,’ ‘Free Guy’ Top Redbox Charts

Vertical Entertainment’s Joe Bell topped Redbox’s disc rental chart the week ended Oct. 17, while Disney-owned 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy was the top Redbox On Demand title for the week.

Joe Bell, which earned $1.4 million at the domestic box office, stars Mark Wahlberg as a father who takes a road trip to bond with his gay son, who is being bullied at school. The film wasn’t be released on Blu-ray Disc or DVD until Oct. 19, but was available early at Redbox kiosks. It was No. 8 on the digital list.

Free Guy, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a bank teller who learns he is a video game character, earned $120.8 million at the domestic box office. While the film was released on disc Oct. 12, it isn’t available for rent at Redbox kiosks. It was No. 7 on the digital chart a week earlier.

Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga slipped to No. 2 on both the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital VOD and sellthrough transactions, and the disc rental chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at Redbox’s more than 40,000 red kiosks.

The No. 3 title on the disc rental chart was Warner’s Space Jam: A New Legacy, followed by Universal’s The Forever Purge at No. 4, and Sony Pictures’ Escape Room: Tournament of Champions at No. 5.

On the Redbox On Demand chart, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was No. 3 and The Forever Purge was No. 4. No. 5 was Paramount’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.

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Other newcomers to the disc rental chart include Lionsgate’s Survive the Game, with Bruce Willis, at No. 6, and The Green Knight at No. 9. Also, appearing at No. 7 was the Nicolas Cage starrer Pig from Decal, available at Redbox kiosks several weeks prior to its wide Blu-ray and DVD release.

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, from Disney, fell to No. 8 on the disc rental chart.

Paramount’s animated Paw Patrol: The Movie landed at No. 10 on the digital chart.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Oct. 17:

  1. Joe Bell — Vertical
  2. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  3. Space Jam: A New Legacy — Warner
  4. The Forever Purge — Universal
  5. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  6. Survive the Game — Lionsgate
  7. Pig — Decal
  8. Black Widow — Disney/Marvel
  9. The Green Knight — Lionsgate
  10. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks

 

Top Digital (VOD + Sellthrough), Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Oct. 17:

  1. Free Guy — Disney/20th Century
  2. F9: The Fast Saga — Universal
  3. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — Sony Pictures
  4. The Forever Purge — Universal
  5. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — Paramount
  6. The Addams Family 2 — MGM
  7. Halloween (2018) — Universal
  8. Joe Bell — Vertical
  9. The Boss Baby: Family Business — Universal/DreamWorks
  10. Paw Patrol: The Movie — Paramount

 

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Free Guy

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/12/21;
Disney/20th Century;

Comedy;
Box Office $119.68 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong fantasy violence throughout, language and crude/suggestive references.
Stars Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar.

The initial marketing campaigns for Free Guy suggested it would be another film attempting to present the story from the point of view of characters otherwise not considered alive. In this case, a non-player character (NPC) in a video game, making the film essentially a live-action spin on Wreck-It Ralph.

However, what appears at first to be another derivative story about video games is instead a smartly written, sharply funny sci-fi action comedy.

That isn’t to say the film is wholly original, but it blends recognizable elements from a number of sources in a way that works to give the film its own flavor.

Ryan Reynolds plays Guy, an NPC in a video game called Free City, which is also the name of the city that serves as the game’s primary location where players engage in all sorts of action-adventure missions such as car chases and bank heists. Guy works as a bank teller at the city’s bank that is always being robbed, but he dreams of a life of more than just needless repetition, and notes that the people having all the fun are wearing sunglasses.

So, one day, he confronts a bank robber and steals their glasses, and when he puts them on he discovers a whole new world that exists on top of his own, as he can now access the heads up display of the gamer, allowing him to engage them on their terms.

So, off the bat we get elements of The Lego Movie, with the conformist character’s desire to expand his horizons; The Matrix, with the simulated world where outsiders can manipulate time and space; and They Live, with the sunglasses unveiling the true nature of the world.

Guy then meets Molotovgirl (Jodie Comer), who fits all the parameters of Guy’s ideal woman, so he instantly falls in love with her. She’s a player who seems to be on a different mission than everyone else, and at first believes Guy is a another player like herself, so she gives him tips on how to level-up in the game in order to be able to help her.

In the real world she’s actually a programmer named Millie who once helped design an open world gaming code that was purchased by a larger company but then scrapped, though she believes it was used as the base code for Free City, so she’s trying to infiltrate the game to find proof (shades of Tron).

She and other gamers soon come to realize that Guy is in fact an NPC, which astonishes them, while alarming the owner (Taika Waititi) of the company that makes Free City, who is trying to stop Millie from uncovering the truth about the game.

It turns out there’s an actual story reason why Guy seems to be an NPC come to life, which not only plays into the larger narrative of what Millie is seeking, but also makes the film a legitimate piece of sci-fi with a message about pushing past the constraints that sometimes seem built into existence. But the film also pokes fun at gaming culture, including live-streaming game play.

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The 4K Ultra HD combo pack includes the film on a 4K disc with no extras, and a regular Blu-ray with the film and all the extras, consisting of several behind-the-scenes featurettes, a five-minute gag reel and some deleted scenes.

The featurettes, which run about 45 minutes total, are pretty extensive and showcase how director Shawn Levy and his talented cast crafted them film using some unique visual effects techniques. There’s a 15-minute general making-of, a seven-minute piece on Comer, an eight-minute piece on Waititi, and a 15-minute examination of a key action sequence with Reynolds. There’s also a two-minute video about the visual effects contraption used to record some of the actors’ faces.

There are two minor deleted scenes — one runs about a minute and features Guy musing about the nature of the world, the other is a 30-second action gag — and a four-minute extended sequence.

The disc also includes three of the film’s trailers.

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Unfortunately, the disc doesn’t include any kind of commentary track, which could have been a fun one given the cast involved, especially if Reynolds and Waititi did one in character as their Marvel characters Deadpool and Korg, like they did for a YouTube reaction video to one of the trailers.

Disney’s ‘Free Guy’ Coming to Digital Sept. 28, Disc Oct. 12

Disney/20th Century Studios’ box office hit Free Guy is hitting retail channels next month, including digital sellthrough Sept. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Oct. 12. The action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds has generated almost $59 million at the domestic box office, and $112 million worldwide.

Unlike Jungle Cruise and Black Widow, Disney gave Free Guy an exclusive 45-day theatrical window, beginning Aug. 13.

Reynolds plays a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game decides to become the hero of his own story — one he rewrites himself. Now, in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way, before it’s too late.

Bonus features include deleted and extended scenes: “Guy and Buddy Hit the Beach,” “Hot Nuts Gets Blown,” and “NPC Rally”; a gag reel, and the following featurettes:

  • “Dude vs. Guy” — Reynolds, director Shawn Levy and the creative and stunt teams reveal the innovative process of creating the ultimate showdown between Guy and the wildly amped-up, spray-tanned, frosted-tipped version of himself known as Dude.
  • “Creating Molotovgirl” — Jodie Comer transforms from a brilliant programmer to her fierce movie avatar. Watch as the award-winning action star and filmmakers deconstruct the conceptualization, evolution and execution of bringing Molotovgirl to life.
  • “It’s Taika’s World”Actor Taika Waititi makes the real world just as crazy with the over-the-top character Antwan. See him at work in this entertaining showcase of a genuinely talented and hilarious performer.
  • “Welcome to Free City”Delve into the reality-skewing universe that is Free City, as revealed by director Shawn Levy, the cast, and its inventive creative teams. Find out how they transformed a real metropolis into a virtual playground where anything is possible.

‘Free Guy’ Reigns Supreme Again at Weekend Box Office

Disney/20th Century Studio’s action comedy Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, held off cute animated puppies and Hugh Jackman at the domestic box office, generating an estimated $18.8 million in revenue across more than 4,000 North American screens through Aug. 22. The tally is about 34% less than the movie’s previous weekend opening of $28.4 million. To date, the movie has generated more than $63 million in the U.S., and $112 million worldwide.

The resilient showing masked a weak overall box office that saw less than $60 million in ticket sales — the lowest weekend tally since June 20.

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In the second spot, with almost $13 million in revenue across 3,100 screens ($34.5 million globally), was Paramount Pictures’ Paw Patrol: The Movie, an impressive debut considering the target audience is under the age of 12. The animated feature crushed Warner Bros. Pictures’ Reminiscence, starring Hugh Jackman, with just $2 million in reported revenue across 3,200 screens. The movie, along with Warner’s entire 2021 theatrical slate, is streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers for the first 31 days of release.

How bad did it get for Warner? Reminiscence revenue finished behind a pack of repeat showings, including Disney’s Jungle Cruise with $6.2 million ($92.5 million worldwide); Sony Pictures’ Don’t Breathe 2 with $5 million ($19.6 million); MGM’s Respect ($3.8 million, $15.1 million); The Suicide Squad ($3.4 million, $49.2 million); Lionsgate new release The Protege ($2.9 million) and Searchlight Pictures’ opening weekend bow of The Night House at $2.8 million.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/17/21;
Lionsgate;
Action Comedy;
Box Office $37.74 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content.
Stars
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman.

The sequel to 2017’s The HItman’s Bodyguard, like its predecessor, is an affable actioner that coasts on irreverent humor and a solid cast that appears to be having fun with the proceedings.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard looks in on disgraced personal bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is having nightmares about Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the notorious hitman from the first film he was tasked with protecting against agents of a European despot he was set to testify against.

As a result of those events, Bryce has been refused recertification by the bodyguard licensing agency, and is instructed by a therapist to take a long vacation to put thoughts of violence behind him. His sabbatical to a tropical beach is short-lived, however, when he is recruited by Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, who gets to expand her small role from the first movie) to help rescue her husband from an international cartel.

Extracting him embroils the trio in a larger plot involving a Greek shipping magnate and criminal mastermind (Antonio Banderas) who seeks revenge against the European Union for imposing economic sanctions on Greece.

As pressure on them mounts from the Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) overseeing the operation, Bryce turns to his stepfather (Morgan Freeman) for help, which only gets them into more trouble.

Another subplot involves Sonia and Darius trying to have a baby, but her loyalty is called into question when it turns out she and the tycoon used to be an item.

What the film lacks in subtlety it makes up for with inventive mayhem and bloody action juxtaposed by the odd couple relationship between the Kincaids, who seem to enjoy unleashing casual violence on their enemies, and Bryce, who insists on tackling the mission without killing anyone or even using a gun.

As with the first movie, the breezy attitude of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard makes it a fun diversion, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power after the credits roll.

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The Blu-ray includes a five-minute gag reel and several good bonus featurettes, including the nine-minute “Ryan, Sam, Salma: One F’d Up Family,” the seven-minute “Gone Soft: The New Michael Bryce,” the eight-minute “#stuntlife” and the four-minute “On the Set of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The 4K disc has the same extra content as the regular Blu-ray disc.

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