DIFF Weekly Bulletin — The Week of 9/11/21

A brief recap of the biggest news of the film industry in the week of September 11, 2021

By: The DIFF Editorial Team

Shang-Chi shatters records, expectations at box office

No spoilers, I haven’t seen it yet either—but Marvel’s newest gem, starring fan favorite Simu Liu, is definite good news for the franchise after its parent company’s recent controversy with Scarlett Johansson. Grossing a global $162 million this last week, Shang-Chi is on pace to nearly double its projected earnings at the box office. The action-studded kung-fu picture is chasing Black Widow’s record for most lucrative pandemic-era film; it’s also already dethroned 14-year champion Halloween (2007) as most successful film released over Labor Day weekend. While Hollywood relies yet again on their go-to Asian cast, Awkwafina, audiences will also recognize familiar faces like Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Rosalind Chao. The film is being celebrated for its depiction of culture, its humanly fresh storytelling, unpretentious humor, and of course its action. It seems there is nothing to be missed about the film—see you at the theater! —Marina

Mixed Reception of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune? 

Dune premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept 3rd, and since then there seems to be widely different perspectives from reviewers. On the one hand, the film was praised for its grand scope and all encompassing visuals. Yet some reviews, like this one recently published in IndieWire, tell a different story. They tell a story of Denis Villeneuve crumbling under the weight of Dune, and delivering a spectacle which seems to lack the type of poetry some audience members seemed to have expected. Regardless of these perspectives, I’ve been waiting to see Dune since I read the book in preparation for its release last year. I hope it’s well worth the wait, but I fear that nothing could live up to the massive hype the movie has built. —Gabriel

He’s All That: Addison Rae the Actress?

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s new take on 1999’s She’s All That, it’s beyond time you indulged. Is it filled with poor acting? Perhaps. Is the plot a little lackluster? Definitely. But is it entertaining? Of course. The film is exactly what you’d expect: gauche and out-of-touch Los Angeles high-schoolers get into scraps centered on cheating scandals and fame. Still, Rae’s performance as an angsty teenager landed her a multi-film contract with Netflix, paving the way to even more film débuts. Many online have criticized the film for any of a wide variety of reasons, but commercially He’s All that (2021) seems to have been a success. According to Buzzfeed, the movie has claimed the number one spot in 78 countries since its August release. While we’ll have to wait to see if Rae becomes a truly well-known actress, she seems to be on the way up. —Colby

Telluride Film Festival 2021

The 48th Telluride Film Festival concluded this year on Monday, September 6th, after its first time back in nearly two years. Guest curated by Barry Jenkins, this four-day festival saw the screening of over 50 titles, and the appearance of countless filmmakers and actors including Kenneth Branagh, Peter Dinklage, and Benedict Cumberbatch. As one of the major stops for Academy Award contenders, Telluride often provides insight on films to watch as they near their wide release dates. This year, several standout titles included: The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion), King Richard (Reinaldo Marcus Greene), Belfast (Kenneth Branagh), The Velvet Underground (Todd Haynes), Procession (Robert Greene), C’mon, C’mon (Mike Mills), and Spencer (Pablo Larraín). Another film that both entertained and intrigued critics was Cyrano, Joe Wright’s musical adaptation of a 19th century play. Starring Peter Dinklage, this film promises elaborate costuming (of course—it’s Joe Wright) and an extreme amount of personality when it comes to theaters this Christmas. —Cate

Eternals to Have Theatrical Only Release Following Success of Shang-Chi

Thanks to the financial success of Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Disney has announced that the rest of its 2021 slate, including the Chloe Zhao-directed “Eternals,” will remain theatrical only. The news came amidst a continuing debate about the impact that the day and date release strategy, where a film opens in theaters and on streaming simultaneously, has on the box office. For example, many believed that being available on streaming hurt the box office potentials of high-profile movies like Black Widow (2021), The Suicide Squad (2021), and In The Heights (2021).

Unlike the films above, Shang-Chi  has a 45-day theatrical exclusive window, meaning that it will release in theaters first, then move to streaming services 45 days later. Back in August, Disney CEO Bob Chapek described the film’s release model as an “interesting experiment.” Regardless of the implications of that comment, the theatrical exclusive model shows signs of success. Columbia Pictures, who moved Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) up to October 1st following Shang-Chi’s promising results, seem to agree with Disney’s strategy. However, nothing is set in stone as the industry anticipates Shang-Chi’s second-weekend results. For now, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we get to enjoy “Eternals” on the big screen this November, as promised. —Harry

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