I can’t tell if this was a quick week or a slow week. Tuesday felt like Wednesday, but now it’s Friday. Let’s jump into a new edition of Popculturology.
Two major movies are hitting theaters this weekend. After years of delays, The Flash finally opens while Pixar will try to recapture its critical and box office magic with Elemental. I’m not going to be seeing either of these films in theaters. I’m really not interested in rewarding Warner Bros.’ continued embrace of Ezra Miller with my money (and pretty much every cameo and credit scene has already shown up online). As for Elemental, it looks like a retread of what the studio has already done. A bit of Inside Out, a touch of Soul, a dash of Zootopia borrowed from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Tracking for The Flash and Elemental isn’t great. Between that and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s continued box office strength, I wouldn’t be surprised if Across the Spider-Verse not only jumps back over Transformers: Rise of the Beasts but beats Elemental in the process.
What’s up with orcas these days? Trashing ships, working together, hanging out in unprecedentedly large groups? Look, I’ll be honest with you: I’m on Team Orca. Whatever they’re up to, they probably have their reasons.
Speaking of the ocean, Popculturology will be taking a few vacations of its own. After the Friday, June 23 edition hits your inboxes in two weeks, I’m going to take a break until the Friday, July 7 edition.
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- Feature Presentation: Disney shuffles calendar
- The News: Warner Bros. wants Nolan back, Mangold talks Star Wars
- Trailer Watch: What We Do in the Shadows, Elio
- What to Watch: The Righteous Gemstones
- Odds and Ends: Bill Hader and Seth Meyers chat
Disney shuffles calendar
Disney shook up its entire upcoming release calendar this week. Marvel Studios, Star Wars, Avatar — new release dates for everyone!
Why the massive shakeup?
The studios’ unwillingness to strike a deal with the WGA has kept the writers’ strike going, meaning certain projects never got past the scripting phase while other projects have had to halt filming. (Just wait until the actors go on strike too.) Upon his return to Disney, former and current CEO Bob Iger expressed a desire to have more time between Marvel Cinematic Universe projects. And films like Avatar just need more time than budgeted to complete the expansive special effects work.
Let’s dig into all the changes.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Deadpool 3: From Nov. 8, 2024, to May 3, 2024
- Captain America: Brave New World: From May 3, 2024, to July 26, 2024
- Thunderbolts: From July 26, 2024, to Dec. 20, 2024
- Blade: From Sept. 6, 2024, to Feb. 14, 2025
- Fantastic Four: From Feb. 14, 2025, to May 2, 2025
- Avengers: Kang Dynasty: From May 2, 2025, to May 1, 2026
- Avengers: Secret Wars: From May 1, 2026, to May 7, 2027
The MCU has the bulk of the calendar changes, with seven movies shifting around. Deadpool 3 now kicks off 2024 for the megafranchise, getting moved up from a November release date to a May tentpole date.
Fantastic Four also gets a May release date, taking over the May 2025 slot from Avengers: Kang Dynasty. The next two Avengers movies bump back from 2025 and 2026 to 2026 and 2027. Not only does this give Marvel Studios more time to seed the MCU with storylines and characters that can come into play with the upcoming Avengers films, it gives the studio an extra year to figure out what to do with Jonathan Majors and his continued casting as Kang.
- Untitled Star Wars movie: From Dec. 19, 2025, to May 22, 2026
- Untitled Star Wars movie: Dec. 18, 2026
- Untitled Star Wars movie: Dec. 17, 2027
While we knew that Lucasfilm was working on three Star Wars movies, the big surprise in this shuffle was that two of them are now in 2026. The last time the studio released Star Wars movies this close to each other were with Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December 2017 and Solo in May 2018.
The studio has for years blamed the condensed window between the two films for Solo’s box office failure, but Lucasfilm refused to do any promotion for Solo until a trailer was released in February 2018 just three months before Solo hit theaters. (The Last Jedi got its first trailer in April 2017, eight months before it was released.)
- Avatar 3: From Dec. 20, 2024 to Dec. 19, 2025
- Avatar 4: From Dec. 18, 2026 to Dec. 21, 2029
- Avatar 5: From Dec. 22, 2028 to Dec. 19, 2031
It’s not an Avatar sequel if it’s not delayed over and over and over again.
“Each Avatar film is an exciting but epic undertaking that takes time to bring to the quality level we as filmmakers strive for and audiences have come to expect,” producer Jon Landau said on Twitter. “The team is hard at work and can’t wait to bring audiences back to Pandora in December 2025.”
If these release dates hold, Avatar 5 will come out 22 years after the original Avatar hit theaters. Seven movies directed by James Cameron were released from 1982 to 1997.
- Untitled Alien movie: Aug. 16, 2024
- The Moana remake: June 27, 2025
Evil Dead director Fede Álvarez helms the untitled Alien sequel, which was originally slated for Hulu but now appears to be headed to theaters. It’s now confirmed that Dwayne Johnson’s Moana remake/fallback plan after Black Adam flopped will release less than a decade before the original film was released. There should be a law against that.
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Warner Bros. wants Nolan back
For pretty much Christopher Nolan’s entire career, he was a Warner Bros. guy. Every film of his since 2002’s Insomnia was either distributed or produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Over almost two decades, Nolan delivered critical and box office hits for the studio: Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk.
That changed after Tenet was released in 2020. Unhappy with Warner Bros.’ move to release the studio’s entire film slate for that year on HBO Max (because, you know, there was a deadly pandemic and no vaccine yet), Nolan jumped to Universal Pictures for the upcoming Oppenheimer.
“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter in 2020.
“We’re hoping to get Nolan back,” De Luca says. “I think there’s a world.” Both executives concede that Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley is a force to be reckoned with, as she secured Oppenheimer after his public breakup with Warners. De Luca and Abdy remain hopeful. Two sources familiar with Nolan say that the director received a seven-figure royalty check from Warner Bros. within the past eight months. The payment was tied to his 2020 film Tenet, which the studio released. A source says De Luca, Abdy and [David Zaslav] all agreed he was owed the bonus in good faith. No strings were attached, according to insiders, but the studio was partly motivated to repair that fractured relationship. In a sign that the healing has begun, Nolan has done post-production work on Oppenheimer on the Warners lot. (A rep for Nolan did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.)
Someone pitched the idea on Thursday that Warner Bros. should push back Greta Gerwig’s Barbie a week to allow Nolan’s Oppenheimer to open without competition in hopes of getting in Nolan’s good graces. Sure, Warner Bros. wants to get back in the Nolan business, but setting fire to the studio’s relationship with Gerwig to make that happen would surely scare away every other director.
‘The Ten Commandments of the Force’
Star Wars is allegedly returning to theaters, with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny director James Mangold being behind the camera for one of the three Star Wars movies on Lucasfilm’s calendar. We learned during the recent Star Wars Celebration convention that Mangold’s film will tackle the early days of the Jedi. In a recent interview with io9, the director revealed a bit more of his thinking behind the film.
“So when I mentioned to [Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy] the idea that I had about going backward — really far backward — I was surprised that it excited her and the other wonderful people she works with at Lucasfilm,” he told io9. “For me, it’s about, I want to be part of the saga, but I also don’t want to be holding so much lore in the air that you can hardly tell a story. And what I really wanted to do, what I told her, was just can we make a kind of the Ten Commandments of the Force, you know? A kind of origin story of how the Force came to be known, understood, wielded and harnessed.”
It’s promising to hear Mangold mention “how the Force came to be known” instead of talking about a movie that showed the creation of the Force. I love the work Star Wars: The Clone Wars did when it came to the Force, adding elements like Mortis, the Father, the Son, the Daughter and the Force priestesses while even tying Midichlorians into the more mystical side of the Force. I have no interest in a movie explaining how all these beings came into existence or how the Force was created.
Mangold going back to the beginning of civilization’s interactions with the Force, though, has potential. It also presumably lets Star Wars fall back on a Jedi vs. Sith conflict. Twins who each had their own idea on how the Force should be welded who wind up coming into conflict with each other, right?
New Bluey episodes for America!
Spoiler: Every episode of Bluey that’s been released in Australia is available on TikTok. You just have to watch them on a tiny phone screen, and odds are whoever posted them cut part off part of the show’s intro.
If you’ve been waiting to watch them on a real TV, ten Bluey episodes that have yet to be released in America are coming to Disney+ on July 12. I’ve seen all of them thanks to Caitlin having TikTok, and there are some real gems in this batch. “Puppets”! “Granny Mobile”! “Onesies” …
- Sarah Polley in talks to direct a live-action Bambi. The reward for directing a Best Picture nominee? You get to helm one of Disney’s remakes with dead-eyed animals!
- Andy Muschietti confirmed as next Batman director. “We saw The Flash even before taking the reins at DC Studios, and knew we were in the hands of not only a visionary director but a massive DC fan,” James Gunn and Peter Safran said of the Flash director, who will now helm The Brave and the Bold.
- *Clears throat.* Aw geez, Rick. Adult Swim President Michael Ouweleen told Premiére (via Uproxx) that they’re in the process of recasting Justin Roiland’s Rick and Morty roles, saying, “the idea is that we feel that they are the same characters.”
- Wanna buy some vowels from Ryan Seacrest? With Pat Sajak stepping down as Wheel of Fortune host, Seacrest’s name has popped into the mix for who next host the show.
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What We Do in the Shadows
YES. There are few better and more creative shows than What We Do in the Shadows. The show is making a big jump in its fifth season, with (SPOILERS!) Guillermo finally becoming a vampire. It doesn’t look like he’s going to have an easy time, though …
What We Do in the Shadows Season 5 premieres on FX on July 13.
I haven’t read the graphic novel that Nimona is based on, but I love this trailer. This is exactly the kind of creative jump that would be great to see Disney make — which makes it even wilder that the studio dropped the project after acquiring it through the 20th Century Fox purchase.
If you’re trying to place the voices in this trailer, the two main characters are voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed.
Nimona premieres on Netflix on June 30.
I don’t know if I’m getting more jaded as I get older or if the cliff has actually dropped off for Pixar, but nothing about this teaser trailer for Elio shows me that the studio still has the spark that brought us classics like Toy Story or Wall-E or Up.
Elio opens on March 1, 2024.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
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The Righteous Gemstones
I’m not going to tell you to spend your money on The Flash this weekend. I will tell you to watch The Righteous Gemstones — the true successor to Succession — when it returns for its third season. The show has an absolutely packed cast: John Goodman, Danny McBride, Adam Levine, Edi Patterson, Walton Goggins and more.
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‘And when my seven-year-old talks about Barry, I’m, like, who’s letting you watch it?’
I love watching Saturday Night Live castmembers from this era talk about their time on the show. Bill Hader and Seth Meyers were key players in the show’s early 2000s success, and it’s fun to see them continue to play off each other in 2023.
If a former SNL castmember ever takes over for Lorne Michaels, it’ll be Meyers. He’s the hub for this era’s cast.
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