Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters today. (Yes, it’s technically out tomorrow, but we all pretend that the countless Thursday screenings are part of Friday.) The reviews for Wakanda Forever appear to be positive. I’m not reading them in order to avoid spoilers, but the film seems to have scored well on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes. From what I’ve heard, director Ryan Coogler managed to honor Chadwick Boseman’s legacy while moving the franchise forward and adding long-awaited characters like Namor.
When Black Panther hit theaters in February 2018, it blew away already high expectations, opening with $202 million at the domestic box office, becoming just the fifth film at that time to crack the $200 million debut mark.
Since then, we’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War ($257.7 million), Avengers: Endgame ($357.1 million) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($260.1 million) join the $200M+ club.
With these major tentpole films returning to pre-pandemic levels (No Way Home went wild as the Omicron variant did too last winter), can Wakanda Forever become the ninth film to open domestically with at least $200 million?
When you’re dealing with numbers this high, it’s not a question of whether Wakanda Forever will be a massive hit. It will be. (This isn’t Black Adam touting global opening weekend numbers while we usually talk about domestic opening-weekend numbers.)
At this level, you start looking at how many times theaters can play a movie per day, whether word of mouth is bringing more viewers in, if people are going back a second or third time over the weekend. For Wakanda Forever to hit that $200 million mark, it’s going to need all these factors working in its favor.
Indiana Jones series in the works
The fifth Indiana Jones movie (yes, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does count as the fourth Indy movie) has yet to hit theaters, but Disney is already looking to future for the franchise. Variety reported on Tuesday that Disney and Lucasfilm are exploring an Indiana Jones series for Disney+. No clues yet whether that series will be a prequel, sequel or some other kind of spinoff.
It’s hard to say whether or not an Indy series is a good idea without knowing where the upcoming film takes the character. I can’t see Harrison Ford returning for a series, but Lucasfilm has pretty steadfastly resisted recasting Indy. (Remember the Chris Pratt-as-Indy photoshops from a few years ago?) Ford is still very much in the franchise game, recently signing on as “Thunderbolt” Ross in the MCU. Disney too has been hesitant to recast Star Wars characters, turning characters like Luke Skywalker into deepfakes.
Shawn Levy directing a Star Wars film?
I have a rule when it comes to any new Star Wars project that’s reported on: I need to see a release date, a full cast and a trailer before I believe it’s real. I can’t keep track any more of the Star Wars movies and shows that were reported — or even officially announced! — only to never happen or go missing. The movies from the Game of Thrones dudes, Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron movie, whatever’s going on with Taika Waititi’s movie, Kevin Feige’s project … show me something real or it doesn’t exist. (I will forever hold out hope for Rian Johnson’s trilogy, though.)
This rule applies to the report that Stranger Things executive producer and Deadpool 3 director Shawn Levy is directing a Star Wars film. Deadline goes on to say that Levy needs to finish Stranger Things and direct that Deadpool movie before he gets around to working on his Star Wars project.
Like I said, show me proof this film is heading to theaters and I’ll take it seriously.
Daniel Kaluuya joins Across the Spider-Verse cast
There are few films I’m anticipating more than the upcoming sequels to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The original film was groundbreaking both in terms of the Spider-Man story it told and the style of animation the team created. (It’s a crime that it made only $190.2 million at the domestic box office.)
I haven’t read any of the Spider-Punk comics (and I still need to read the original Spider-Verse comics that inspired the movies), so my knowledge of the character really doesn’t go beyond the suit you could unlock in the Spider-Man PS4 game.
Keanu Reeves is back for Ballerina
Ana de Armas was one of the best parts of No Time to Die, the final James Bond film of the Daniel Craig era. While it doesn’t look like MGM will capitalize on De Armas’ popularity, the John Wick franchise is, making her the star of Ballerina, an upcoming spinoff.
De Armas will be joined in Ballerina by John Wick himself. Collider reported on Tuesday that Keanu Reeves will have a role in the spinoff. No word yet if it’s a major role or just a cameo. Still a nice way for Reeves to support the growing franchise.
‘It's not like adding Hugh Jackman to a movie like this is a hard sell’
While it was a shocker when Ryan Reynolds announced that Hugh Jackman was returning as Wolverine for the third Deadpool movie, it turns out that was something Reynolds had been working on for years.
In a chat with Collider, Reynolds said he brought up the idea of having Deadpool and Wolverine in a movie together to Feige shortly after Disney completed its purchase of 20th Century Fox, adding rights to the X-Men characters to Marvel Studios.
“And then Hugh just happened to call at that perfect moment and express that he'd be interested in coming back and doing this one more time. And the contents of that conversation, I'll let Hugh, because I know it's only inevitable that you and Hugh are going to speak at some point soon, I'm sure. I'll let Hugh answer that on his own. But he expressed interest in coming back, and then it was my job to take that to Kevin Feige one more time and sell it.”
Deadpool is one of the most interesting pieces left on the table when it comes to how Marvel Studios will integrate the library of characters it gained when Disney bought Fox. While the Fantastic Four and X-Men are expected to be rebuilt from scratch in the MCU, Deadpool appears to very much be the same Deadpool we saw in two movies that existed in the Fox X-Men universe. Tossing Jackman’s Wolverine into the mix makes things even more interesting. Is he the Wolverine in the MCU? Is he just a variant that pops up in Deadpool 3?
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
I want Johnson to make a million Knives Out movies. Just keep bringing together amazing groups of actors and letting them have a blast. I’m thrilled that the writer/director cashed in on Netflix deal, but I wish Glass Onion and the future sequels were getting proper theatrical releases. (Which I’ll absolutely see, since having a 10-month-old daughter and a dog with two torn ACLs is in no way a hindrance to going to the movies …)
Rick and Morty
I really enjoyed the first part of Rick and Morty’s sixth season. The show has carefully balanced its “adventure of the week” and “give us canon!” sides, even using one episode to wave away a lingering bit of storyline from its Season 5 finale.
I can’t remember when we watched the first season of Inside Job (like many shows watched during the pandemic era, it happened somewhere between March 2020 and last week). I really enjoyed Inside Job’s voice cast and animation. Lizzy Caplan is always great, and the rest of the cast — Christian Slater, Clark Duke, Tisha Campbell, Andrew Daly, John DiMaggio, Bobby Lee and Brett Gelman — are also fun.
(I started to write a joke about the Denzel Washington/Clive Owen/Jodie Foster movie, but then remember that was Inside Man, not Inside Job, as I was typing …)
That may seem hyperbolic, but this show is doing something that no other major franchise show — House of the Dragon, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power — has done. It somehow balances being part of a massive franchise with decades of history and canon with being subversive and thought-provoking episode to episode. I have no idea of Tony Gilroy and his team have made Andor this spectacular piece of pop culture, but they’ve done something special here.
I don’t want to get into spoilers here (I’m happy to talk spoilers through the Substack chat or over Twitter DMs), but “One Way Out,” the most recent episode of Andor, turned both Andy Serkis’ Kino Loy and Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael into Emmy-worthy performances. Serkis isn’t just the godfather of motion-capture performances — he an Actor, and his role as Kino once again proves that.
And then there’s Skarsgård’s Luthen. Man, what a monologue. “I share my dreams with ghosts”? House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, like the rest of the Andor writers, are having a field day making Star Wars characters say things that are so many levels above any previous dialogue in the franchise, it’s hard to believe we’re in the same world. (Yes, I’m looking at you again, “somehow, Palpatine returned.”)
There’s only two episodes left in the season. I don’t worry about whether the show can stick the landing with its season finale, since that’s not even something that matters at this point. Andor has already won.
(I finally listened to the parts of the Andor soundtrack that have been released today, and Nicholas Britell’s work is also on another level. He needs to be in the Emmy conversation, like several members of the cast and Andor itself.)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Nope, not new episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Just binge-watching it again. We’ve enjoyed watching the Always Sunny Podcast and watching random clips when YouTube recommends them. We did an Always Sunny rewatch when our daughter was born and we needed something to watch during naps or bottles or just being awake at 4 a.m. This show’s rewatch value is apparently high enough to embark on another binge less than a year later.
- How Andor designers took Star Wars back to the Analog Era (John Jurgensen, The Wall Street Journal)
- The problem with canon (Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire)
- Farewell to Westworld, which destroyed itself with three big mistakes (DaRen Franich, Entertainment Weekly)
Dave Chappelle hosts SNL
I’m shocked but not shocked that Saturday Night Live is bringing Dave Chappelle back to host again. I’d like to believe that his repeated transphobic comments would have made him toxic for SNL (especially in a season with the show’s first nonbinary castmember!) but when you’ve reached a certain level of fame, there aren’t consequences for your actions.