‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Movie: Everything We Know So Far About ‘Newark’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The planned prequel film to “The Sopranos” might not be “Star Wars: Episode IX,” but many of the details for this highly-anticipated film have been almost as secretive.

At the very least though, it has a potential working title: “Newark.” This is a project that boasts “The Sopranos” creator David Chase and an already impressive cast.

Originally titled “The Many Saints of Newark,” New Line Cinema is planning to release the film on Sept. 25, 2020. Here’s what else we know:

Also Read: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Gets Fall 2020 Release and Working Title ‘Newark’

Firstly, Chase wrote the film with Lawrence Konner, a staff writer on “The Sopranos” who received the sole writing credit on three individual episodes. They are also producing the film.

Alan Taylor is directing “Newark.” He won an Emmy in 2007 for directing the Season 6 episode “Kennedy and Heidi.” More recently, Taylor has been behind some of the stand-out episodes of “Game of Thrones,” including “Beyond the Wall,” which was nominated for an Emmy in the show’s the seventh season.

As for the cast, Alessandro Nivola is starring alongside Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Ray Liotta, John Magaro, Billy Magnussen and Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late James Gandolfini, who is portraying a young Tony Soprano.

Nivola, known for films such as “American Hustle,” “A Most Violent Year” and “Selma,” will play Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Moltisanti loomed heavily over the arc of “The Sopranos,” but in name only.

Also Read: ‘Sopranos’ Creator David Chase Finally Reveals Shot-by-Shot Breakdown of Series’ End Scene

Dickie was Carmela Soprano’s cousin, a Vietnam veteran and a foot soldier in the Soprano crew. He was killed when Christopher was very young, and we know of his past because Tony would frequently show his protective, paternal instincts for Christopher and shared anecdotes with him about Christopher’s late father.

He was always a “stand up guy,” Tony would say. And the show even devoted an entire episode arc in which Tony helps Chrissy avenge his father’s death. As a way of slowly nudging Chrissy up the family hierarchy, Tony tells Chrissy his father’s killer was a recently retired detective, and he then delivers the presumed killer for Chrissy to interrogate him.

The initial title, “The Many Saints of Newark,” was also fitting as “Moltisanti” literally means “many saints” in Italian.

Also Read: Ray Liotta in Talks to Join ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film ‘The Many Saints of Newark’

The film is set in Newark in the 1960s when around the time of the Newark riots. Dubbed “The Long Hot Summer of 1967,” the Newark riots were one of 159 race riots that swept the country that year. These riots ignited when Newark Police officers arrested and beat an African American taxi driver. It sparked four days of looting, violence and property destruction in which 26 people died and hundreds more were injured.

“The Sopranos” show flashed back to this time the “Down Neck” episode when Tony reflected on a point in his youth when Johnny Boy Soprano and a young Uncle Junior still ran the streets.

Oddly in this flashback, Tony is only a kid, whereas Michael Gandolfini (who plays Christopher Multisanti) is a young adult, so there’s the possibility that the film ends up jumping beyond the 1960s, possibly to when Dickie is killed.

Also Read: ‘SNL’: Baldwin’s Trump Celebrates the Anniversary of the Mueller Investigation with a ‘Sopranos’ Parody (Video)

“The Sopranos” was a groundbreaking show for the ways in which it touched on themes of addiction, depression and race. Many of the mobsters on “The Sopranos” showed their racist sides and spoke fondly of the days prior to the Civil Rights era. Exploring their origins in this period will show how their personalities and prejudices became what they were in the HBO series.

As with any David Chase property, whether it’s “The Sopranos” or his ’60s rock film “Not Fade Away” (which also starred John Magaro), you can bet that “Newark” will be far more than just your average period piece.

The working title “Sopranos” prequel “Newark” opens Sept. 25, 2020.

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‘Aladdin’: Here’s the First Full Look at Will Smith’s Genie (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney unleashed a surprise in the middle of Sunday’s Grammy Awards: a TV spot for its upcoming live-action remake of “Aladdin” with the first full look at Will Smith’s genie.

“You really don’t know who I am?” Smith’s very blue genie tells Mena Massoud’s Aladdin at the end of the one-minute clip in a role first voiced by Robin Williams in the studio’s 1992 animated hit. “Genies, wishes, lamp — none of that ringing a bell?”

The new live-action “Aladdin” stars Massoud as a charming street rat who meets the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and a fast-talking Genie who may be the key to their future.

Also Read: Relax, Everyone – Will Smith Says His ‘Aladdin’ Genie Is ‘Gonna Be Blue’

Guy Ritchie directs from a script by John August and Ritchie.

The film also stars Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, the powerful sorcerer; Navid Negahban as the Sultan concerned with his daughter’s future; Nasim Pedrad as Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s free-spirited best friend and confidante; Billy Magnussen as the handsome and arrogant suitor Prince Anders; and Numan Acar as Hakim, Jafar’s right-hand man and captain of the palace guards.

The film is produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich with Marc Platt and Kevin De La Noy serving as executive producers.

Also Read: ‘Aladdin’ Writer Terry Rossio Apologizes for ‘Insensitive and Ignorant’ Use of N-Word on Twitter

Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and two new songs written by Menken and “La La Land” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

The movie hits theaters May 24.

Watch the new footage below.

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‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal Plays a Haunted Critic in Campy Art-World Horror Show

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sophisticated even as it mocks the pretentiousness and inflated self-importance of those who profit from creative endeavors, Dan Gilroy’s “Velvet Buzzsaw,” which premiered Sunday at Sundance Film on its way to Netflix, is a deliciously vicious satire unafraid to use campy gore to assert its commentary on commodified art.

An animated title sequence crafted to resemble moving oil paintings, perhaps a nod to what’s to come later, gives way to our first encounter with Morf Vandewalt (a fabulously wild Jake Gyllenhaal), a decisively flamboyant art critic whose opinions are weighted in gold. God-like power has been attributed to his reviews: his raves can increase the value of pieces, and he can ravage entire careers when vitriolic.

Simultaneously loathed and revered, Morf has the ear both of prominent art dealer Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo) and Gretchen (Toni Collette), an LA art curator with intentions to dabble in the market herself. Yet, the self-serving, presumably bisexual, expert only trusts Josephina (Zawe Ashton, “Nocturnal Animals”), who’s currently a receptionist at Rhodora’s firm but clearly holds higher aspirations.

Watch Video: Jake Gyllenhaal Plays a Snobby Art Critic in Horror Satire ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ First Trailer

Gilroy’s aptness for piercingly witty dialogue and morbid humor lace every one of the exchanges among these rabid purveyors and tastemakers. Morally repulsive characters also occupied his directorial debut “Nigthcrawler”; what’s changed here is the incorporation of a supernatural element not fond of these greedy antics. Reunited in service of the writer-director’s vision, Gyllenhaal and Russo reinvent themselves. This time out, his character is capable of remorse while hers stays affixed to her interests, even as appalling phenomena threaten her.

Not long into the film, uproar pierces Morf’s privileged bubble when Josephina discovers numerous pieces by an unknown artist named Vetril Dease, who died mysteriously in her apartment building. With Morf’s help, Rhodora and Josephina (now business partners) amplify the reputation of the unknown master whose paintings depict unsettling scenes of violence. Demand is high, and the entire art world apparatus is ready to make a killing.

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But the more that’s unearthed regarding Dease’s past and inspirations, the higher the risk for anyone involved in his art’s commercialization of being punished by an otherworldly entity. Inventively, Gilroy utilizes exaggerated horror tropes to take to task our cynical thoughts about artistic creation. His sharp “Velvet Buzzsaw” is an exquisitely diabolical exposé on the merciless materialistic ambitions that run rampant in cultural fields.

Bearing Gilroy’s signature, the film can also be described as an amalgamation of Ruben ?-stlund’s “The Square,” the “Final Destination” series, and the Hungarian animated feature, “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” about a psychotherapist tormented by several paintings that come to life before his eyes in terrifying ways. Gyllenhaal’s Morf shares Ruben Brandt’s symptoms, since he also sees Dease’s tortured subjects menacingly jump from the canvas.

“Critiquing is limiting and emotionally draining,” says Morf, hoping that Dease will allow him to surpass the barriers of his own perception when analyzing subjective material. Though Morf’s yearning may not be fulfilled, the highly quotable lines he unleashes make of the movie a prime candidate for a cult following.

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In juicy supporting roles, the rest of the cast gets to rejoice in extravagant personas that nourish the over-the-top brilliance of Gilroy’s screenplay. Toni Collette exudes Edna Mode vibes and gets the biggest laughs in outrageously dark fashion. Meanwhile, Billy Magnussen as Bryson, a handyman at Rhodora’s company, cleverly upends typecasting and pigeonholing. Then there is John Malkovich as a depressed veteran artist seeking redemption, and Daveed Diggs as an emerging voice not willing to sell out. Lastly, Natalia Dyer as young employee Coco, who works for literally everyone else in the film at one point or another, is a scene-stealer that connects with audiences in the way Lil Rel Howery did in “Get Out.”

“Velvet Buzzsaw” is as lavishly produced as one would expect a film set in this ravishingly expensive underworld to be. Production designer Jim Bissell (“Surburbicon”) deserves special recognition for the fantastic recreation of spaces, the paintings at the center of the ghost-story plot, and other contraptions like the Sphere, a metal ball with multiple holes for the user to insert his arm and experience a variety of sensations — sometimes painful ones. Bissell presented cinematographer Robert Elswit (another “Nightcrawler” alum) with a colorful domain to capture, and their partnership results in a sublimely shot pastiche of which Morf himself would approve.

Negative reviews eventually haunt Morf into self-destruction, and whether or not this is a cautionary tale for critics, reviewing a film about the act of observing, interpreting, and grading almost feels like winking back at Gilroy for pushing us to do so in the first place.

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‘Sopranos’ Prequel Movie Adds Corey Stoll and Billy Magnussen

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Corey Stoll is in final negotiations and Billy Magnussen has signed on to join the cast of “The Many Saints of Newark,” the highly anticipated “Sopranos” prequel film, according to an individual with knowledge of the project.

The duo joins Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga who were reported on Monday to be joining the cast, though, their character details are being kept under wraps, as well as Alessandro Nivola, who is playing Dickie Moltisanti in the feature film.

It’s unclear what roles Stoll and Magnussen will play in the film. Details for the project are being tightly held, but fans of the series can expect some of the beloved characters to appear in the film.

Also Read: Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga to Join ‘Sopranos’ Prequel ‘The Many Saints of Newark’

“The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the Newark riots in the 1960s, when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats. At the time it was, particularly among the gangsters of each group, especially lethal.

“The Sopranos” series creator David Chase co-wrote the script with Lawrence Konner. Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World,” “Game of Thrones”) is directing the film. Chase and Konner will also produce. Nicole Lambert, on behalf of Chase Films, and Marcus Viscidi are executive producing.

Stoll most recently appeared on the big screen as legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin in Damien Chazelle’s “First Man.” He also starred in an episode of “The Romanoff’s” for Amazon. Stoll, who is repped by UTA, Suskin Management and attorney James S. Adams, will next appear in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series “Ratched.”

Also Read: ‘Sopranos’ Prequel Film From David Chase Picked Up by New Line

Magnussen was last seen in the 2018 comedies “Game Night” and “The Oath.” He will appear next in Netflix’s Sundance flick “Velvet Buzzsaw,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The film follows a series of paintings by an unknown artist and the supernatural force behind them that enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art. Magnussen will also appear in Disney’s live-action Aladdin remake. He is repped by WME, BRS/Gage, Anonymous Content, and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

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‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Adds Corey Stoll & Billy Magnussen

Read on: Deadline.

Count Corey Stoll and Billy Magnussen in for New Line’s Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark. They join Alessandro Nivola, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga.
Except for Nivola playing Dickie Montisanti, most of these roles are being kept secret…

‘The Oath’ Film Review: Ike Barinholtz’s Directorial Debut Spins a Timely, Messy Political Parable

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The year is 2018, and it’s an interesting time to watch dystopian movies. Many films that seemed naive or implausible just a couple of years ago now appear, depending on your politics, to be just one step removed from actual American reality. And it’s creating an uncanny valley effect, where the real world looks so much like a far-fetched sci-fi parable that it’s hard to believe what’s actually happening right in front of our eyes.

Writer-director Ike Barinholtz’s “The Oath” is one of the first films to react to this phenomenon, cataloguing a very near future in which Americans are expected to sign a loyalty oath to the President of the United States, or risk violent retribution from their neighbors, persecution by a new division of Homeland Security, or at least going without a hefty tax credit. It’s a disturbing concept, but if it happened tomorrow, it wouldn’t the biggest surprise ever. (Heck, a lot of people would probably support it.)

“The Oath” stars Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish as Chris and Kai, a married suburban couple raising a young daughter, who promise not to let the political strife tearing apart our nation change them. But that was the beginning of the year, and now the deadline for signing the oath is fast approaching. Citizens have until Black Friday to pledge their allegiance to POTUS, and Chris still hasn’t done it, and he’s judgmental about everyone who has, including his own family, who are all coming to visit.

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The film takes place almost entirely over Thanksgiving weekend, where Chris and Kai are hosting Chris’s siblings and parents, all of whom are more conservative than he is in varying degrees. It’s already a heated holiday, the kind where everyone practically signs an oath anyway, if only to “not talk about politics.” But with America literally just days away from becoming a fascist state, with the government opening fire on peaceful protesters, with angry citizens slashing each other’s tires and yelling “Get out of my country!”, and with voices of dissent getting arrested and disappeared, the whole gathering is destined to be awkward as hell.

And, unfortunately, it’s also going to get violent. When someone calls an anonymous tip line, ratting out Chris’s “un-American” sentiments to the Citizen’s Protection Unit, a new division of Homeland Security, agents Peter (John Cho) and Mason (Billy Magnussen) respond to the call. It’s everything Chris has always feared, and it’s in his house, and the situation escalates quickly. Soon there are people tied to chairs and impossible decisions to make.

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“The Oath” is a story about liberal fears becoming desperate realities. Chris talks a big game about standing up to the government, about not letting fascism rise in “his” America, but although he’s participated in a few protests, he mostly just checks his phone every few minutes for news updates and announces his moral superiority. If the world actually goes to hell, which it does, he’s not really prepared for it. His careless attempts to put principles over pragmatism just make a bad situation worse.

Barinholtz’s film excels at recreating the simmering, day-to-day panic of contemporary American life. “The Oath” treats the constant, depressing news updates we get every day like the radio announcements in a slasher movie, warning hapless teens that a serial killer is on the loose at Make Out Point. Ignore the exposition at your peril, Barinholtz warns, and in the first half of the film, the effect is subtly chilling. Everyone is just going about their business when the whole country heads down a slippery slope, and you desperately want them all to do something about it.

But the closer “The Oath” gets to making a salient point about that state of affairs, the more it frustratingly shies away. Barinholtz’s capable cast makes the most out of a closed-room environment, where tensions flare and bad decisions escalate into life-changing panic. But the film struggles to find a satisfying conclusion to such an interesting set-up, and the disappointing finale Barinholtz settles on has the annoying effect of muting the film’s arguments.

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By the end of “The Oath,” it’s genuinely hard to tell where Barinholtz stands on the issues he raises. Does he want his audience to keep fighting the good fight? Does he want us to set global politics aside and focus on healing the divides within our families? Should we all just go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all this to blow over?

“The Oath” is a film of its time, and that immediacy is both its strength and its downfall. Barinholtz excels at capturing contemporary anxieties and exploring how politics taints personal relationships. The daily struggle between principle and pragmatism is a topic that warrants exploration, and for a while, that’s what “The Oath” offers. In the future, we may point to the first half of this film and tell our kids, “Yup, that’s exactly what it was like.”

But without the context we’ll have in that future, without knowing where all these warning signs are actually taking us, “The Oath” is forced to just take a guess at a finale. Maybe we’ll discover that Barinholtz’s film was prescient in its closing remarks, but today, in the heat of the moment, it feels like the film raises important questions but loses its nerve before it gets to any answers.

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Comedy Series Starring Sharon Horgan and Billy Magnussen in the Works at Amazon

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Amazon has given a script-to-series commitment for a comedy series starring Sharon Horgan and Billy Magnussen.

The series will follow Horgan as a socially awkward and broke single woman who decides to start a self-help company. She recruits a former male gymnast, played by Magnussen, to be the face of her new brand.

Horgan (“Catastrophe”) co-writes the series with John Hamburg and Ian Helfer, with Hamburg directing. The series is produced by Amazon Studios, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, Clelia Mountford’s UK-based Merman and Horgan, who will executive produce with Mountford, Hamburg, Kaplan and Dana Honor for Kapital Entertainment.

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Horgan signed a first-look deal with Amazon in January of this year. She earned an Emmy nomination with co-writer Rob Delaney for the comedy series “Catastrophe” in 2016. She is repped by WME, United Agents and Nelson Davis.

Magnussen will appear in Netflix’s upcoming series “Maniac,” as well as the live-action “Aladdin” adaptation. He is repped by WME, BRS/Gage Talent Agency, Anonymous Content and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern.

Deadline was first to report the news.

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Sharon Horgan Comedy Series In Works At Amazon From John Hamburg, Ian Helfer & Kapital; Billy Magnussen To Co-Star

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Kevin Williamson Returns To Form With ‘Tell Me A Story’, Says “Nothing On TV Like It” – TCA

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‘Game Night’ Film Review: Winning Action-Comedy Passes Go, Collects $200

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

We play games because we can’t always predict who’s going to win, and movies can offer similarly exciting surprises. There are a million reasons why, on paper, “Game Night” might feel like a run-of-the-mill studio comedy, but it’s anything but.

Fast and funny, filled with memorable characters, and able to balance slapstick and violence without spilling too far in either direction, this frenetic R-rated farce is that rare comic gem that lands on all the spaces without ever going to jail.

Viewers would be forgiven for their hesitance to see another movie from the directors of the “Vacation” reboot, but John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, working from a pitch-perfect screenplay by Mark Perez (“Accepted”), have crafted an ensemble comedy that lives up to its high-concept premise while giving a gang of talented actors — including the gifted Jason Bateman, so rarely employed to great effect on the big screen — fun characters and big, outrageous moments.

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On the surface, “Game Night” seems like an amalgam of ideas from other movies, both good (the illusion-vs.-reality of “The Game” and “The Man Who Knew Too Little”) and bad (the frantic suburbanites of “Sex Tape”), but it never feels gimmicky or contrived or dully familiar. It nails the jokes, yes, but on a higher degree of difficulty, it also nails the plot.

Bateman stars as Max, a hyper-competitive game player married to the equally intense Annie (Rachel McAdams). They meet as rival trivia team captains, before courting each other through a montage of Risk and Pictionary nights. Now married, the two are having a tough time conceiving, perhaps because Max feels overshadowed by the one person he can never beat: his slick brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler).

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Investment banker Brooks comes breezing into town (driving the vintage Corvette Stingray that has been Max’s lifelong dream car) and takes over Max and Annie’s weekly game night. He offers the couple and their friends — married high-school sweethearts Kevin (Lamorne Morris, “New Girl”) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury, “Pitch”), lovable dolt Ryan (Billy Magnussen, “Ingrid Goes West”) — the opportunity to compete for the car by solving a fake kidnapping that’s about to happen.

The men who storm Brooks’ house and take him are not, however, from the murder-mystery games company he hired; they’re actual goons dispatched to nab him for a shady deal he brokered. But no one else knows this, so the friends let the kidnapping take place before they start following the clues. By the time the three couples — Ryan has brought along co-worker Sarah (Sharon Horgan, “Catastrophe”), under the impression that all British people are automatically smart — figure out that (dun dun dun) the game is real, they’re immersed in a world of actual guns (and gun wounds), underground fight clubs, smuggled intel, and long-buried secrets involving sex with celebrities.

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Perhaps most vexing to Max and Annie is that they are forced to go to their cop neighbor Gary (Jesse Plemons) for help; Gary’s ex-wife was their game-night friend, but now she’s gone and they’re stuck with this pill who plays terribly, speaks in a creepy monotone, and seems obsessed with his fluffy white dog, who becomes part of one of the film’s many hysterical sight gags.

In a lesser movie, Plemons’ ingeniously off-putting performance would handily steal the show, but in “Game Night,” it’s just one of many great turns; Bateman’s patented slow-burn plays well off McAdams’ upbeat charm (when holding bad guys at gunpoint, she forces them into Child’s Pose), while Magnussen’s inspired idiocy perpetually finds new depths. Horgan, as a newcomer to this circle, gets her fair share of wry put-downs, and the movie even finds an organic excuse for Morris to do his killer Denzel impersonation.

It could have been very easy for the stakes and violence that eventually surface to undo the film’s delightful silliness, but there’s a brilliant balance of the many tonal shifts involved. It certainly helps that this is a movie that feels actually written and not, like so many studio comedies of recent vintage, simply made up as it goes along by a cast of comedians. Perez’s screenplay sets up gags and pays them off all the way through to the very end, and its core of well-established central characters allows us to follow them through some dangerous situations, laughing all the way.

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Tiffany Haddish, John Cho Join Ike Barinholtz’s ‘The Oath’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tiffany Haddish and John Cho have joined “The Oath,” written and directed by Ike Barinholtz, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Carrie Brownstein, Billy Magnussen, Meredith Hagner, Jon Barinholtz, Nora Dunn, and Chris Ellis are also joining the cast of the film that marks Barinholtz’s directorial debut.

QC Entertainment and UTA are co-representing the film for domestic sales. Sean McKittrick, Ray Mansfield, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Andrew Robinson, David Stassen and Barinholtz will produce. Haddish will executive produce.

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Based on Barinholtz’s original screenplay, “The Oath” centers around a man who has to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without ruining his relationship with his family in a politically-divided America.

Barinholtz was recently seen opposite Mindy Kaling in “The Mindy Project” and in Amy Schumer’s “Snatched.” He will also star in the film.

Recent QC films include “Get Out,” which the company produced and financed.

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Haddish most recently starred in “Girls Trip,” a performance that was lauded by critics and fans, and is represented by APA and Principato-Young Entertainment.

Cho is represented by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment. His recent credits include “Star Trek: Beyond,” “Columbus” and “Caller ID: Entity.” He also starred in one episode of “The Exorcist.”

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Disney Slammed for Adding White Character to ‘Aladdin’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney is at the receiving end of criticism this week after it created an entirely new character for its live-action remake of “Aladdin” — and made him white.

Billy Magnussen (“Into the Woods,” “Ingrid Goes West”) has been cast as Prince Anders, who was not featured in the 1992 animated film and is fresh to the “Aladdin” series. A Disney press statement describes him as “a suitor from Skanland and potential husband for Princess Jasmine.”

There were suitors in the animated movie, but they were bit comedic parts, while Magnussen gets prominent billing in Disney press materials for the movie.

There’s now concern on social media about what the move says about Disney’s promise to cast racially-appropriate actors for the movie’s main roles.

Also Read: Will Smith Poses With ‘Aladdin’ Castmates for First Set Photo From Disney Remake

“They did not just rewrite ‘Aladdin’… just to add a white person into it??” one Twitter user asked.


Guys, the wrote a new part into Aladdin just so they could do this https://t.co/tY6SRk3ryZ pic.twitter.com/fzTkNsZokI

— geejayeff (@geejayeff) September 5, 2017

they did not just rewrite Aladdin?? Just to add a white person into it?? Right in front of my salad?? https://t.co/bmoTX8gaT2

— #defendDACA (@VancityReynIds) September 6, 2017

..and currently over on the Disney live-action #Aladdin set pic.twitter.com/GDg3LEinC3

— Kyle Krieger (@KyleKriegerHair) September 6, 2017

Also Read: Nicholas Hoult on Friend Ed Skrein ‘Hellboy’ Exit: ‘I’m Proud of Him’ (Video)

They wrote a new character in for a remake of the cartoon Aladdin…..*looks at new character* pic.twitter.com/0QuGdskP9u

— ????ThaTzuBurr???? (@BaeTzuBurr) September 6, 2017

Hey, @DisneyStudios. Thanks for casting Billy Magnussen in #Aladdin. Finally, white kids will have somebody to relate to in this story!

— Peter Armado (@parmado) September 6, 2017

Some people felt that the move, while not whitewashing, shows that Disney doesn’t trust a cast made up entirely of people of color. Others are looking at other Disney live-action remakes like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella,” which remained close to their source material.

“This is purely a cynical effort by Disney to make ‘Aladdin’ more palatable to white viewers,” wrote another user. “It is needless and insulting to all involved.”

So millions of people have seen the Aladdin cartoon.They couldn’t trust the live action to work enough without creating this?! https://t.co/ZeX9XDLGo2

— #1WonderWoman (@bgirl65) September 6, 2017

THEY WILL BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO INSERT A WHITE CHARACTER OUT OF THIN AIR.#Aladdin #BillyMagnussen https://t.co/hnSmTfOSTb pic.twitter.com/WkzQP12pI5

— Jenny Yang???????????????? (@jennyyangtv) September 6, 2017

This is purely a cynical effort by @Disney to make “Aladdin” more palatable to white viewers. It is needless and insulting to all involved. https://t.co/o5KYxw9ttK

— Charles Clymer????️‍???? (@cmclymer) September 6, 2017

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST gets a shot-for-shot remake. #Aladdin gets a white guy who was never in the film or the cartoon series. ????????????????

— Mala Bhattacharjee (@badnecklace) September 6, 2017

This new character for #aladdin makes me sad to be white, the Aladdin world has no white people sorry but we don’t need to be in everything pic.twitter.com/jaj2JWqn6m

— Ashley ®© ➰ (@Ashleyfangirl) September 6, 2017

Also Read: Meet New Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Stars Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

The move also comes after it was reported that Disney had issues finding its Aladdin and Jasmine after 2,000 actors read for the parts. Internet users were confused by the delay, since according to one, “Aladdin is neither South Asian nor Arab. He is a cartoon hybrid of every racist trope.”

Don’t forget that after “auditioning” thousands of ME actresses they cast a British-Indian actress, who has worked w Disney before. #Aladdin pic.twitter.com/UfiY24linW

— ferdosa @ TIFF (@atomicwick) September 6, 2017

Disney announced Wednesday that casting is complete and production is underway in London. The “Aladdin” remake also stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Merwan Kenzari, who respectively will play the Genie, Aladdin, Jasmine and Jafar.

“Homeland” star David Negahban will play the Sultan, along with Nasim Pedrad and Numan Acar. No release date has been set yet.

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‘Birth of the Dragon’ Review: Young Bruce Lee Remembered in Old-School Kung Fu Flick

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you can put aside the bland white guy named Steve pinging between scenes, stitching the various strands of story together with his white-guy need to learn martial arts badassery and save a beautiful Chinese girl from prostitution, then the otherwise all-Asian-cast, Bruce Lee biography-inspired “Birth of the Dragon” can be kind of fun.

George Nolfi’s period kung fu tale, set in an evocative 1960s San Francisco, is an elaborately fictionalized account of a real fight between the young, pre-legend Lee and a Shaolin master. It was an East-meets-Westernized showdown — seen by few, its details disputed ever since — that has since taken on mythic proportions as a turning point for the charismatic future star in developing a new kind of martial arts to introduce to the world at large.

As alternatingly silly and serious as its mix of wisdom and wallops, and even with that blond bro gumming up the works, “Birth” is nevertheless zippy, B-movie entertainment. It proves that zeroing in on a small but significant part of a famous person’s story, and how it reflects on their life at large, can often make for a sturdier entertainment than the usual long-skim approach to the biopic. As hyperbolized history goes, you could do a lot worse; at the least it’ll kick up enough nostalgia dust that you’ll probably squeeze in a re-watch of “Enter the Dragon” right afterward.

Also Read: Bruce Lee Biopic Trailer Has More Facebook Views Than ‘The Magnificent Seven’

In 1964, Lee (Phillip Ng, “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai”) is making a name for himself in the Bay area as a cocksure sifu (teacher) specializing in a street-fighting version of the wing chun style of up-close combat and looking to break into movies and television with his charm and fists. Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu, “The Painted Veil”), who adhered to a chi-centric, acrobatic northern Shaolin type of kung fu, is introduced in Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson’s screenplay as a visitor to San Francisco looking to live a humble dishwasher’s life as penance: back in China, in what was supposed to be a demonstration match, his pride got the better of him, and Wong nearly killed his opponent.

But Lee is convinced Wong’s real aim is eventually to fight him as a rebuke for Lee’s teaching kung fu to white Americans, supposedly a no-no in China’s traditionalist culture. Unafraid of a confrontation, Lee takes the opportunity at a statewide martial arts championship to brashly challenge Wong. The quiet grandmaster’s real problem with Lee, however, is one of motivation, not tradition: Wong sees in the bullying upstart someone quick with his fists, but lacking soul and self-discovery.


See Birth of the Dragon’s latest POWER MOVE.



Would these were the only elements leading up to the battle — warring philosophical schools of fighting are all any kung fu movie has ever needed — but there’s this white guy from Indiana we must endure. Maybe out of some insecurity about American audience appeal, “Birth” introduces a struggling student of Lee’s named Steve (Billy Magnussen, “Ingrid Goes West”) as a kind of Caucasian bridge between the circling Chinese masters.

Steve’s involvement with Xiulan (Jingjing Qu), an indentured waitress beholden to a triad gangster named Auntie Blossom (Jin Xing, “The Protector”), becomes the pulpy, peril-driven side story that the screenwriters believe is needed to give an already legendary showdown extra narrative punch. Because they’re not just squaring off to see whose technique is stronger; the outcome also determines whether Xiulan earns her freedom.

The character of Steve — like pouring ketchup on Peking duck — wouldn’t be so eyeroll-worthy if it weren’t seemingly at the expense of a fuller depiction of Lee, whom Ng plays with a spikily funny, antagonistic brio. Why so much of this corn-fed composite of Lee’s white trainees, when there was a real Caucasian in Lee’s life then — his wife Linda — who is completely absent from the film? (So absent, in fact, as to be absent from the fight scene, when she was only one of a handful who witnessed it.)

Watch Video: ‘Mortal Kombat’ Is Suspiciously Similar to Bruce Lee Classic ‘Enter the Dragon’

With representation such an ongoing source of activism and concern from people of color in Hollywood, it’s hard not to look at Steve and think that the role (an eager US-born trainee torn between different ideologies and caught up in a dangerous romance with an immigrant) could easily have been made into an Asian-American character.

Elsewhere, “Birth of the Dragon” is an entertaining attempt at old-school kung fu, with Ng’s portrayal of Lee’s ambitious aggression and Xia Yu’s magnetic serenity making for enticing opposites as Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”) builds up to their bout, which itself satisfies as a mini-epic of imposed will and lessons learned, a thrilling case of fists-of-fury versus monk-like strength.

Veteran Hong Kong action maven Cory Yuen, credited as martial arts “designer” here, serves up both some nifty meat-and-potatoes choreography in the big fights and the more light-hearted, stunt-centric restaurant smackdown of Auntie Blossom’s goons that wraps up the gangster storyline.

Lee screeches, kicks, and brings out the famed one-inch punch. Wong twirls spins, and ties his opponents in knots. Steve, dispatched early by the bad guys, is left outside in the alley, and that’s the best closing gift “Birth of the Dragon” could have offered.

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‘Ingrid Goes West’ Review: Aubrey Plaza Stalks Elizabeth Olsen in #Blessed Satire

‘Ingrid Goes West’ Review: Aubrey Plaza Stalks Elizabeth Olsen in #Blessed Satire

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Let’s start by acknowledging the biggest irony regarding Matt Spicer’s social media satire, “Ingrid Goes West”: As soon as you see it, you’re probably going to post/text/tweet to your friends/family/followers, just to let them know how much you liked it.

And how could you not? Spicer and his co-writer, David Branson Smith, know you. They know all of us, with our perpetually typing fingers and updated emojis and Instagrammed avocado toast. (Don’t pretend you hate avocado toast just because it’s over.)

It wouldn’t be fair to say that twentysomething loner Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an everywoman, since her story is, technically, a 21st century update on “Single White Female.” In the film’s introduction, we learn that she’s an emotionally damaged stalker who can’t tell the difference between being befriended and being “friended.”

Watch Video: Aubrey Plaza Stalks Elizabeth Olsen in Trailer for Sundance Hit ‘Ingrid Goes West’

But she’s also suffering, having recently lost her beloved mother. She’s not just isolated, but utterly alone. Every day she sits in her mom’s darkened house, burrowing into an online rabbit hole of beautiful people’s beautiful pictures. Her thumb is constantly moving, scrolling, clicking, liking. There’s a whole world out there, and she’s desperately trying to find a way to join it.

Granted, most people wouldn’t go to the same extremes Ingrid does. When she comes across the enviable Instagram posts of a willowy L.A. photographer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), Ingrid uses her inheritance to impulsively move across the country.

She rents a room in Venice Beach from wannabe screenwriter Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr. of “Straight Outta Compton,” oozing charm) and engineers an “accidental” meet-cute with Taylor. Soon the two of them are BFFs, floating into gallery openings and getting high in Joshua Tree together. For a brief, shining moment, their very existence is a hashtag.

Watch Video: ‘Ingrid Goes West’: Neon Founders Discuss Sundance Bidding War for Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen Instagram Stalker Pic

Any mom with a Facebook account could tell Ingrid that nobody really lives the way they post. But she buys right into the illusion, into all of Taylor’s effusive superlatives and of-the-moment passions. She trades fast food for vegan salads. She wears belted boho maxi dresses instead of sweatpants. And she totally believes Taylor when she off-handedly calls Ingrid her “favorite person ever.” So when a new friend — a hipster designer with lots of social media followers — catches Taylor’s interest, the cold-water shock of reality does not sit well with our deluded heroine.

Plaza deftly keeps us off balance throughout, daring us to relate to Ingrid even as we’re repelled by her. Her rage isn’t spurred by villainy so much as an alienation that feels almost inevitable. But it’s the impeccably cast Olsen who makes the sharpest points, by playing Taylor as a sort of flawlessly-curated hologram. She doesn’t need to actually read Didion or Emerson to post the appropriate pull quotes, and when she enthuses about her leopard-print Clare V. clutch, you can be sure she was paid to do so.

What’s most striking of all, though, is how fully invested she really is. She’s not only selling a faux lifestyle to her fans, but to herself as well. Real problems are pushed out of frame, swiftly replaced with buyable beauty. To quote her quoting everyone else quoting Jimmy Buffett, it’s always five o’clock in Taylor’s life. The worst thing you could ever call her, of course, is what she is to her very core: basic.

Watch Video: O’Shea Jackson Jr. on How His Batman Obsession Landed Him Role in ‘Ingrid Goes West’

We don’t need Taylor’s name or initials to remind us that there are, in fact, real people with millions of real followers enacting the same game of aspirational #SquadGoals right this very minute. But while Spicer’s impressive debut is an undeniably timely film, it also taps into a timeless dilemma.

Because it’s 2017, Taylor is an #Instagoddess. But she might as well be a cheerleader, or a Mean Girl, or a Queen Bee, or any other eternally unattainable embodiment of repressive popularity. Her brother Nicky (an unsettling Billy Magnussen) would be considered a sociopathic monster anywhere else. But between his perfect abs, oversized personality, and the LA setting (plus the impossibly apt fact that Magnussen played Kato Kaelin in “American Crime Story”), he might as well be a reality producer’s dream.

Taylor’s struggling artist husband, the preposterously-named Ezra O’Keefe (Wyatt Russell), is defined primarily by his ostentatious Luddite stance and casual man-bun. So why are these people the epitome of cool? Why is Ingrid so desperate to impress near-strangers who are obscenely entitled and egregiously uninteresting at best?

It’s a good question, and one that most people could probably ask themselves at some point in their lives. Spicer is, of course, pointing out the absurdity of Kardashian Kulture. But really, who wouldn’t be tempted by Taylor’s world, where every blissful, politically-ignorant day is framed by gorgeous desert sunrises and firelit poolside parties?

And how quickly should we rush to judge Ingrid, for wanting to connect with this Pinterest-perfect fantasy? Does she deserve our contempt, or pity, or empathy? Before you decide, count how many seconds it takes to pull out your own phone once the movie ends and the lights come up.

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‘Ingrid Goes West’: Neon Founders Discuss Sundance Bidding War for Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen Instagram Stalker Pic (Video)

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza wore the same black and gold dress to the L.A. premiere of their two-hander “Ingrid Goes West” Thursday night, poking fun at the life-stalking-via-Instagram plot of their dark comedy that won over the Arclight Hollywood crowd with the same “rapturous reception” that it got at Sundance this past January.

Also Read: ‘Ingrid Goes West’ Sundance Review: Aubrey Plaza Is a Social-Media Stalker to Relish

As TheWrap reported from Sundance at the time, “‘Ingrid Goes West’ follows Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) a mentally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Olsen), a social media ‘influencer’ with a seemingly-perfect life in Venice, California. When Ingrid decides to drop everything, and move to the west coast to befriend Taylor in real life, her behavior turns unsettling and increasingly dangerous.”

Neon’s Tim League, actors Billy Magnussen and Aubrey Plaza, director Matt Spicer, actor Elizabeth Olsen, and Neon’s Tom Quinn at the Arclght in Hollywood on July 27, 2017. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Also Read: O’Shea Jackson Jr. on How His Batman Obsession Landed Him Role in ‘Ingrid Goes West’ (Video)

The dark comedy drew consistent laughs from the packed house at the Arclight’s Theatre 10 on Thursday night, with co-stars Pom Klementieff and the standout Billy Magnussen joining the procession of star talent.

O’Shea Jackson Jr. is off shooting a “big Hollywood movies,” per director Matt Spicer, and could not make it.

Before the screening, Neon founders  Tim League and Tom Quinn addressed the audience, beer in hand. They revealed how anxious they were to convince Plaza (who also produced the film), Spicer, and the team from CAA to sell them the U.S. distribution rights.

“We’re having this conversation (after the Friday night screening at Sundance), I’m very nervous, we’re trying to do our best and express our love of this film, ” League said. “We’re realizing that these guys are so damn smart. They know how to market this film.”

League turned to his colleague Quinn and said, “We have to work with these guys.” They rolled out their best offer and the rest is history.

Quinn and League also shouted out strategist Darin Pfeiffer, who produced the L.A. premiere that swamped the Arclight plaza.

For a peek inside the theater, watch the full  introductions above, including Plaza and Olsen vamping in their matching attire.

Also Read: Neon Acquires Sundance Hip Hop Biopic ‘Roxanne Roxanne’

After the screening guests — including Chris Pratt, Darren Criss, RJ Mitte and singer Inas-X — headed over to Avenue for the party. (Pratt got a taste of being hunted himself, fending off a professional autograph hound following him as he walked down Sunset Boulevard.)

Clothing designer Kelly Cole spun the after party, where Svedka and Kim Crawford wines were poured.

Neon releases “Ingrid Goes West” on Aug. 11 in New York and Los Angeles, before platforming to other markets throughout the rest of the summer.

Writer’s Disclaimer: The co-screenwriter, David Branson Smith, and I worked together on an unscripted TV project over 10 years ago.  That has nothing to do with the reason why I think “Ingrid Goes West” is going to be  a breakout movie of the summer. 

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Aubrey Plaza Stalks Elizabeth Olsen in Trailer for Sundance Hit ‘Ingrid Goes West’ (Video)

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Billy Magnussen Joining ‘Game Night’ Opposite Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Billy Magnussen is set to board the New Line/Warner Bros. comedy Game Night which stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. Pic centers around a group of couples who are caught up in a very real game night. They get together regularly to play games, but this particular night turns into a real murder mystery. Magnussen’s deal is in the process of closing.
Magnussen will play Ryan, a friend to Bateman and McAdams’ characters, Max and Annie. He usually dates hot…

‘Ingrid Goes West’ Acquired by Neon at Sundance

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a number of competitive bids Tom Quinn and Tim League’s new distribution banner, Neon, have acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Sundance breakout, “Ingrid Goes West,” following the world premiere on Friday night.

Directed by Matt Spicer and starring Aubrey Plaza (“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” “Parks and Recreation”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”).

Based on a script by Spicer and David Branson Smith, the dark comedy also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff.

Also Read: Power Outage at Sundance Fest Theater, Screenings There Cancelled

“Ingrid Goes West” follows Ingrid Thorburn (Plaza) a mentally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Olsen), a social media “influencer” with a seemingly-perfect life. When Ingrid decides to drop everything, and move to the west coast to befriend Taylor in real life, her behavior turns unsettling and increasingly dangerous.

“Ingrid Goes West” marks Spicer’s feature directorial debut. He recently co-wrote Flower, along with Max Winkler who will also direct. The film is a twisted coming-of-age comedy starring Zoey Deutch, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn and Tim Heidecker, which Spicer will also produce alongside Rough House Pictures and Diablo Entertainment. Along with Winkler, Spicer will write the recently announced Rocketeer sequel for Disney.

Star Thrower Entertainment and 141 Entertainment financed and produced.

Producers include Jared Ian Goldman, Star Thrower Entertainment’s Tim and Trevor White, 141 Entertainment’s Adam and Robert Mirels, and Aubrey Plaza.

Also Read: Buzzy Sundance Doc ‘Step’ Follows High School Squad’s Rise Above Odds (Video)

Mary Solomon, Rick Rickertsen and Allan Mandelbaum executive produced.

CAA represented the US rights and negotiated the deal.

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