It’s August. The news is slow. Go watch ‘What We Do in the Shadows.’
This show is never not funny. PLUS: Trailers for ‘Vacation Friends 2’ and ‘Solar Opposites,’ ‘Barbie’ sequel non-news, and The Rock won’t let go of ‘Black Adam.’
Welcome to a quiet edition of Popculturology. We’re a third of the way through August, and it’s another slow period of summer news.
The WGA strike passed the 100-day mark this week, and there’s still no sign that the studios will agree to the fair deals that the writers and actors are looking for during their historic dual strike.
The news that Sony had pushed back a bunch of its films slipped through my notes for last Friday’s edition of the newsletter. The studio shuffled its release calendar in the midst of the work stoppages, sending Kraven the Hunter from Oct. 6 to Aug. 30, 2024, and the untitled Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel from Dec. 20 to March 29, 2024.
The most important film shifted by Sony was Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. The sequel was scheduled for release on March 29, 2024, but now doesn’t have a release date. Honestly, not a shocker. The cast and crew had long been hinting that there was still a ton of work to be done and hitting that March release date wasn’t a priority if it meant sacrificing quality.
Before heading into the rest of this edition of Popculturology, I leave you with the immortal words of Nandor the Relentless from last week’s episode of What We Do in the Shadows:
“Oh, shitty shit, I fucked it.”
(You all should be watching What We Do in the Shadows, a show that continues to get more creative with each new season.)
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The News: The Rock won’t let Black Adam go, Barbie sequel plans
Trailer Watch: Vacation Friends 2, Solar Opposites, I Am Groot
What to Watch: Harley Quinn
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The Rock won’t let the Black Adam thing go
Sometimes you gotta take the loss. If you’re Dwayne Johnson and that loss was the critical and box office failure of Black Adam, that’s hard to do.
Here at Popculturology, I’ve spent way too much time and energy chronically how Johnson’s attempt to control the DC superhero movies basically tanked whatever chances the cinematic universe had left at succeeding while also dragging poor Henry Cavill into the muck in the process.
‘A pawn in Dwayne’s failed attempt to control a piece of DC‘: How Henry Cavill, The Rock and James Gunn collided
It’s been awhile since Johnson tried to spin away Black Adam’s failure, but he was at it again during a recent appearance on Kevin Hart’s Hart to Heart interview series.
“Black Adam got caught in a vortex of new leadership,” Johnson told Hart (via Variety). “It was so many changes in leadership. Anytime you have a company, a publicly traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who, creatively and fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with.”
So it wasn’t that it was just a clunker of a movie and people didn’t want to pay to see it?
“That will always be one of the biggest mysteries,” Johnson continued. “You have the biggest opening of your career. Sure, no China, which could’ve been maybe 100 or 200 million more dollars. You have a superhero and you want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill, which the world went crazy. And we created a diverse superhero portfolio, where we have just men and women of color in Black Adam.”
Look, kudos to Johnson for what was a diverse cast, but Black Adam was a disaster. So was bringing Cavill aboard and pretending that the world was eagerly awaiting a cinematic brawl between Superman and … his non-nemesis Black Adam. Maybe you should’ve started smaller and cameoed in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the movie featuring Black Adam’s actual nemesis.
‘You are taking away the wrong lesson’
Even before Barbie became a $1 billion worldwide box office hit, there was the question of if — and when — we could expect a sequel. Warner Bros. and Mattel (both separately and together) have plans for a bunch of other toy-based movies, but don’t expect a Barbie sequel anytime soon.
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