We’re halfway through October, and as we march toward Halloween and the spookiest time of the year, movie and industry news is marching right along as well. This week finds us with a really promising update to Fede Álvarez’s Alien sequel, a new Hayao Miyazaki movie update, Matthew Vaughn dishing some tea from the time he almost directed X-Men: The Last Stand, and more.
As always, Atom Insider brings you a few hand-picked stories we think you’ll like. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Ridley Scott Says Fede Alvarez’s Alien: Romulus Movie Is “F***ing Great”
Ridley Scott is known for being tough when it comes to praise for directors who direct sequels to his movies, at best incredibly indifferent to the follow-ups to his work without his involvement. So it bodes incredibly well for Fede Álvarez’s upcoming Alien sequel, Alien: Romulus that Scott had high praise for the movie, which is being set up at Hulu. During the DGA Latino Summit 2023, Álvarez spoke to fellow Latino filmmaker Guillermo del Toro about how much it meant to him that Ridley Scott saw the movie before anyone and gave it his blessing. Knowing Scott’s tough reputation, Álvarez thought there was no way he’d get high marks from the veteran director. Turns out, he might be one of the few filmmakers to direct a sequel to a Ridley Scott original that earned his praise.
“I wanted to be in front of him and see him in the eye. I didn’t want to get an email where it says ‘Ridley says…’” explained Álvarez. “And then he walks into the room and he did say, ‘Fede, what can I say? It’s f***ing great,’” he said. “For me, it was like… My family knows it was one of the best moments of my life to have a master like him, whom I admired so much, to even watch a movie I made, but particularly something like this… and talk to me for an hour about what he liked about it. One of the best compliments he said was, ‘The dialogue is great. Are you the writer?’ Yes!”
So there you go. Alien: Romulus, at least according to the great Ridley Scott, is “f***ing great.”
The Taylor Swift Concert Movie Was Even Bigger Than We Thought It Would Be
We knew Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, would be big, but even with those expectations, it was big. The opening weekend of the concert movie netted a whopping $123.5 million, a haul that rivals the opening weekends of comic book movies and franchise sequels. Broken down, that’s $92.8 million from the domestic box office and another $30.7 million from 94 international territories in 4,527 venues, and it’s fair to wonder how much bigger it might have been had there been a proper international marketing campaign and push. Still, $123+ million is a great opening for any movie, let alone a concert movie.
It will be really interesting in its own right, and perhaps a test of a potential future marketing strategy with special events, if Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour were to see strong numbers in its second weekend. Taylor Swift’s concert movie is taking the unique approach of only being in theaters Thursday-Sunday, rather than through the whole week, though it’s scheduled to run for 13 weeks. A solid performance in its second weekend would show that that part-time release strategy can still be viable, as well as show that special event films can have repeat returnees at the box office. If anyone can blaze a new trail regarding how concert movies are treated and released, it’s T-Swift. Such is the power of Taylor Swift and the Swifties that support her.
The English Voice Cast For Hayao Miyzaki’s The Boy And The Heron Welcomes Back Christian Bale
Hayao Miyazaki is beloved the world over for his gentle, richly detailed anime movies, and his Studio Ghibli is one of the few anime studios whose English-dubbed movies are as beloved as the original Japanese-language versions. Now, one of the biggest names from one of Miyazaki’s best-loved movies, Japanese or English, is returning once again. Christian Bale, who voiced the titular character in the English dub of Howl’s Moving Castle, is returning for Miyazaki’s newest film, The Boy and the Heron. Bale isn’t the only big name in the cast, though, which has some notable stars. Bale will voice Shoichi Maki, Dave Bautista as The Parakeet King, Gemma Chan as Natsuko, Willem Dafoe as Noble Pelican, Karen Fukuhara as Lady Himi, Mark Hamill as Granduncle, Robert Pattinson as The Gray Heron, Florence Pugh as Kiriko, and Luca Padovan as Mahito Maki. Mamoudou Athie, Tony Revolori, and Dan Stevens have all been tapped to voice the Parakeets.
Miyazaki’s new movie, which had its international premiere on opening night of the 48th Toronto International Film Festival, follows a 12-year-old boy named Mahito. When Mahito’s beloved mother dies, the young boy struggles to settle down and fit into a new town. However, when a talking heron informs Mahito that his mother is still alive, the boy sets out to find her. He soon finds himself searching for her in an abandoned tower that leads to another world, and perhaps the thing Mahito wants most. The film is set to be released by regular U.S. anime distributor GKIDS on December 8 nationwide in both the Japanese and English versions.
Encanto May Become Its Own Franchise Teases Disney Producer
With a shortened theatrical release smack in the middle of the Covid pandemic that arrived with little marketing, it was clear Disney did not know what it had in Encanto. However, the studio certainly knows now – once Encanto hit streaming on Disney+, it blew up to become a genuine cultural phenomenon in a way Disney hasn’t enjoyed with its animated offerings since the 2013 release of Frozen a decade ago. Just like that franchise, Disney is now eyeballing making Encanto its own multimedia franchise and expanding upon the success of the first movie and the story of the Madrigal family. Though a sequel surprisingly hasn’t been greenlit yet, producer Yvett Merino has teased that the studio has plans for the world of Encanto. Speaking to The Direct, she explained
“[W]e’re working closely with our friends in publishing and consumer products to make sure—there’s always different ideas and needs and wants for, for it to stay alive out there. But I don’t have anything official to say, but I love the ‘Encanto’ world and can’t wait to see it expand across the company…
I think we will continue to work on what that actually means. But we are so blown away by the reaction and how Encanto kind of connected with so many people. We continue to look at different ways that we can keep the world alive. I know they teased a little bit of destination D23 about something Encanto coming, possibly to one of the parks. And we love that…”
Those are some pretty vague statements, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Disney has been floundering lately with a few of its franchises, and the company has previously indicated it wants to dial back content output to focus on quality and what audiences really want. Taking its time with Encanto isn’t a bad idea – the worst thing would be to rush ahead with a project just to get the Encanto branding on it and ruin the magic of the first movie, alienating the very audiences the studio hoped to gain. Regardless of how long it takes, it’s impossible to believe that Disney isn’t already working on ways to take advantage of Encanto‘s enormous success and turn it into its own franchise, á la Frozen.
Matthew Vaughn Reveals He Quit X-Men: The Last Stand After Studio Revealed Scheme To Trick Halle Berry Into Joining
Prior to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the X-Men franchise has had a bumpy history. One of the low points was when director Matthew Vaughn walked away from directing X-Men: The Last Stand, which, at that time, would have been the biggest movie of his career. As he revealed at this year’s New York Comic Con, the director himself made his own stand when he decided to walk away for a reason that isn’t exactly surprising, but still shocking.
“One of the main reasons I quit X-Men 3, and this is a true story. Hollywood is really political and odd. I went to an executive’s office and I saw an X3 script. It was a lot fatter. I asked, ‘What is this draft?’ They were like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ So I grabbed it, and opened the first page, and it said, ‘Africa. Kids dying from no water, and Storm creates a thunderstorm to save all these children.’ I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is the Halle Berry script because she hasn’t signed on yet. This is what she wants it to be. And once she signs on, we’ll throw it in the bin.’ I thought, if you’re going to do that to an Oscar-winning actress who plays Storm, I quit. I thought I’m mincemeat.”
And with that, he quit rather than be complicit in the scheme to trick Halle Berry into joining the movie. Berry ultimately did end up joining the film, which went on to be directed by the now-disgraced Brett Ratner. Considering Vaughn’s revelations, it’s fair to wonder, considering Ratner’s less-than-stellar reputation, if he agreed to go ahead with Fox’s script switch. Either way, X-Men: The Last Stand is largely regarded as one of the weakest entries in the franchise, if not the worst. In the end, Vaughn came out on top. He went on to direct the Neil Gaiman adaptation Stardust, and later returned to the world of the X-Men with the very next movie, the well-received X-Men: First Class, which served as a reboot of the franchise. Now that the mutants are back under Marvel’s care, the studio could do worse than look to Vaughn as a potential director for its MCU X-Men movie currently in development.
Trailers & Clips of the Week
And now, your trailers and clips of the week.
The Boys in the Boat – Official Trailer
We’re always down for a heartwarming true historical sports story.
Ferrari – Official Trailer
Adam Driver is racking up an impressive list of playing Italian historical figures.
Napoleon – Official Trailer #2
Ridley Scott rides once again.
Wonka – Trailer #2
It’s not clear that Timothée Chalamet will capture Gene Wilder’s charm, but the movie certainly does embrace the whimsy.
American Fiction – Official Trailer
Jeffrey Wright might quietly be one of our greatest actors working today.