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  • Jonathan Majors Guilty and Fired From Marvel: Will 'Magazine Dreams' Go the Route of Nate Parker's 'American Skin'?

Jonathan Majors Guilty and Fired From Marvel: Will 'Magazine Dreams' Go the Route of Nate Parker's 'American Skin'?

Plus, my thoughts on the 'He Went That Way' trailer and why Warner Bros. should remake 'Wait Until Dark.'

So much for a quiet Monday before the holidays, huh, folks?

Before we get into the Jonathan Majors of it all, allow me to tip my cap to Timothée Chalamet, who put enough chocolate in studio pockolates this weekend to confirm the long-held suspicion that he is, in fact, a movie star — just in case there was any lingering doubt.

While I may not have personally found Wonka to be Chalamet-zing — I’m not a big musical guy, sue me! — I’ll admit that if I was a child, I probably would’ve eaten it up, especially if I had never seen Gene Wilder’s darker, dare I say richer, take on the amazing chocolatier. The film may not have hit the $40 million mark that I predicted but it got as close as possible, and in today’s marketplace, that’s pretty good, especially compared to its “early tracking,” which was quickly corrected.

For proof, here’s a screenshot of my inbox revealing both my reading habits and the fact that Wonka went from opening to $20-23 million according to early tracking, to $35-40 million three weeks later — a figure that proved to be accurate.

I’ve been a Chalamet fan since the early days of Homeland, Interstellar, and Miss Stevens, and it’s been remarkable to watch his rise. And rather than flee to CAA or WME, he has stayed loyal to his reps at UTA throughout his ascent to Hollywood’s A-list (his former agent, Brian Swardstrom, is now his manager). With Wonka, Team Chalamet has earned a hard-fought victory lap — one that should continue next year with Dune: Part Two.

In tonight’s newsletter, you’ll read about Jonathan Majors, Kevin Feige, Nate Parker, and Dennis Rodman, plus Jacob Elordi and Zachary Quinto’s new serial killer thriller He Went That Way, and Remake This! returns with the 1967 classic Wait Until Dark. Read on for more…

Marvel and Real-Life Villain Jonathan Majors May Be Down & Out, But He’ll Be Back Again… Someday

From Sundance to today’s verdict, it has been quite the year for Jonathan Majors…

I bet Jonathan Majors is wishing he had the Infinite Hourglass right about now. That would be the powerful artifact that’s believed to be the source of Kang the Conqueror’s ability to control time itself, allowing him to manipulate the timestream on a massive scale and alter events to suit his desires.

I’m sure he’d use it to go back in time to that day in March when he assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, in the backseat of a private vehicle in New York City. That is now a legal fact after Monday’s verdict found Majors guilty on two misdemeanor counts of harassment and assault, as well as not guilty on two additional charges — intentional assault in the third degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree.

Majors will be sentenced by Judge Michael Gaffey on Feb. 6, and even though Majors faces up to a year in jail, I believe he will only receive six to 12 months of probation and likely a court-mandated anger management course. That is based on my own recent experience navigating the justice system after being assaulted on July 3. In that case, my assailant’s “admission to sufficient fact” earned him six months probation. That was in exchange for me dropping a felony charge. As far as I know, Majors’ case, while more high-profile than my own, never included any felony charges. Keep all of that in mind — and the fact that New York and Massachusetts have different laws — when making your unseemly “predictions” regarding Majors’ fate.

I’d rather leave the legal analysis to the legal experts — like Matt Belloni, whose own take I look forward to reading — but for now, I’d rather talk about the projects.

For a while now, despite Marvel’s defeating silence, it has been clear that the company had certain plans in place in the event that Majors was found guilty. I previously said as much on The Hot Mic podcast that I co-host with John Rocha. I said that the next Avengers movie would not be called The Kang Dynasty and that it sounded like Marvel was searching for one writer — who ended up being Michael Waldron — and one director to effectively tackle a two-part Secret Wars movie that would serve as the conclusion of the Avengers Saga.

There was simply no way that Marvel could continue with Majors — regardless of the verdict — and once he was found guilty, I’m not surprised how quickly the trades changed their tune and began referencing The Kang Dynasty as Avengers 5. It doesn’t matter what they end up calling it — Secret Wars is basically shaping up to be “a giant five-hour movie with a year-long intermission,” according to one source.

It is the motion picture event that the entire MCU has been leading up to before shifting its focus to the X-Men franchise that Disney landed when it acquired 20th Century Fox. Marvel’s Kevin Feige simply couldn’t afford to let Majors’ cloud rain on his parade, and as soon as the “guilty” verdict was official, plans were put in motion to publicly sever ties with the actor, sparing everyone the ongoing charade of whether he would or wouldn’t be back as Kang.

The Other Movies, Including Magazine Dreams

As for the other movies, I can all but assure you that Majors will be bounced like a basketball from Lionsgate’s 48 Hours in Vegas, which hails from producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Majors may consider that one a relief, if not an outright “mercy killing,” as Rodman has been charged with domestic violence and accused of sexual assault — not a role that Majors would want to play if he has any hope of winning back his fanbase.

My sourcing on Spike Lee’s Da Understudy isn’t as strong, and if there’s anybody with the clout to stand by Majors and expect their movie to still get made, it’s probably Spike Lee, but given the political climate we’re in, I don’t see that one happening — at least not with Majors. Lee may have to make some tough choices on that project, but I highly doubt that Amazon Studios — led by powerful women such as Jennifer Salke, Sue Kroll, and Courtenay Valenti — would allow that. Maybe 10 years from now, but it certainly won’t be Majors’ comeback vehicle in 2-3 years (most likely).

And about that “10 years from now” comment… that’s the important thing to keep in mind here. I don’t believe this is The End of Jonathan Majors. Not by a long shot. And you know why? Because at the end of the day, money talks. You know it and I know it. Here’s an example… and it’s a different one under the circumstances, I’ll grant you that, but it’s the closest comp I’ve got.

Hanging in limbo right now is the fate of Magazine Dreams, a good-but-flawed film from a young Black director — Elijah Bynum — featuring a scary-intense performance from Majors, who, at one point in the film, gets very aggressive with a woman, as his character, a bodybuilder, is dealing with ‘roid rage.

So right off the bat, this is not Jonathan Majors as a WWII hero in Devotion, or Jonathan Majors as the villain you strangely root for in Creed III. His character in Magazine Dreams, Killian Maddox, is not a good guy — he’s practically Travis Bickle with muscles.

Now, Searchlight bought Magazine Dreams at Sundance. It wasn’t a $20 million sale like Fair Play, as the film was always seen as a tougher commercial sell, but it featured a blistering turn from Majors that would likely have been in the Oscar conversation this year.

I will tell you something right now — there isn’t a chance in hell that Magazine Dreams is going to be released in theaters by the Walt Disney Company or any of its labels. Could it go to Hulu? Theoretically… but I highly, highly doubt it. Disney has plans to merge Disney+ and Hulu into a single app, and without the sheen of prestige that comes with being an awards contender — even a failed one — I can’t for the life of me understand why they would want to have it on their site… especially if they could off-load it.

And they can.

This isn’t going to become the next I Love You, Daddy, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was later shelved by indie distributor The Orchard following sexual misconduct allegations against director Louis C.K. that he later admitted to.

Instead, look at Nate Parker’s American Skin, which marked the director’s follow-up to Birth of a Nation. It was deemed a hot potato after Parker’s scandal — which included a rape allegation — and all the major studios passed on the project, which was, itself, controversial, as its storyline finds a police station held hostage.

American Skin was snapped up by VOD distributor Vertical Entertainment, which on Feb. 5, 2021, announced that it grossed $4 million on the film — a then-record for the company. Despite a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 35 percent, the film spent two weeks in the top 10 of FandangoNow, Google Play, and Spectrum’s PVOD charts. And that may be the risk of acquiring a film like Magazine Dreams — critics will have their knives out, and that’s if they’re allowed to review it at all. I say that because I was personally discouraged from covering American Skin during my time at Collider.

Of course, it’s not about reviews, it’s about money, and Magazine Dreams could be the kind of curiosity that benefits from all this controversy and actually manages to turn a profit.

The rise and fall of Jonathan Majors is no doubt staggering. But he will rise again. Whether he deserves a second chance will be entirely up to him. He plans to appeal the verdict, which likely won’t help his case in the court of public opinion.

It’ll be fascinating to see how long it takes for him to dip his toes back in the Hollywood water, but I think he stands a better chance than most, seeing as how his problems aren’t of the sexual nature, which seems to be the line for most people. After all, nobody is turning off the NFL despite numerous headlines regarding the same rampant problem of domestic violence.

Guys. It’s not hard. You don’t raise your hand to a woman. Ever. Read it again. Say it aloud. Memorize it. It’s not worth it.

Jonathan Majors had the world at his fingertips. Now, it’s a finger that has taken the world from him. But you know what? It’s enough, and he deserves everything that’s coming for him. Whether he wants to take the necessary steps to address the root cause of his problems is up to him. Regardless of his fate in Hollywood, that’s a “dream” worth fighting for…

Remake This!: Why Warner Bros. Shouldn’t Wait to Take Another Stab at the Classic Wait Until Dark

Who could even hold a candle to Audrey Hepburn these days?

Welcome to the second installment of Remake This! in which I make the case for Hollywood to remake old movies. But I’m not talking about the same movies that get remade over and over again, I swear! I’m going to tell you about some hidden gems you may or may not love as much as I do, and why they would work in today’s marketplace.

First, a confession. I don’t love a lot of “old” movies. Many of the so-called “classics” are actually kind of slow and boring. I know, blasphemy, right? But there are a handful of old movies I adore, for whatever reason, and one of those is Terence Young’s 1967 adaptation of Frederick Knott’s stage play Wait Until Dark.

The story follows Suzy Hendrix, a blind woman who becomes the target of three conmen (led by the chameleonic Harry Roat Jr.) who are after a heroin-stuffed doll that has been hidden in her Greenwich Village apartment.

The hit stage play starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall, and the successful film adaptation starred Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. As a teenager in Boston, I saw a performance of Wait Until Dark that starred Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino, who lit a pair of stage matches toward the end of the play when the theater was pitch black. I grabbed the matches off the stage that night and a decade later, when I had the chance to interview Tarantino for Grindhouse, I showed him those charred stage matches and blew his mind.

For more than a decade, I have dreamt of a modern update of Wait Until Dark. It would require a better writer than I, as there are cell phones to contend with nowadays that might complicate the story, which could also stand to be opened up a bit rather than confined to a single New York apartment.

10 years ago, my idea had been to cast Natalie Portman as Suzy and George Clooney as Roat. Sure, it’s a little easy/lazy to slide Portman into Hepburn’s role, and she’s maybe not the draw that she used to be, but I could easily see her playing a vulnerable but strong blind woman. As for Clooney, he may no longer be right for the role, which he has likely aged out of, but someone like Adam Driver could be great as Roat. Maybe you pair him with Margot Robbie, or perhaps his Marriage Story co-star Scarlett Johansson? The devious Barry Keoghan, now starring in Saltburn, could be a good fit for Roat as well…

Wait Until Dark is a relatively cheap movie that would require no visual effects. Warner Bros. would just have to pay for two great actors and a modern take on an old script. It totally fits the model of what studios should be trying to make these days — modestly budgeted star-driven movies with strong concepts that can be sold with an easy marketing hook.

Sure, someone like Aaron Sorkin would crush this, but if you’re looking to go with a young, up-and-coming talent, I’d give this to Chloe Domont, hot off of Fair Play, unless she wants to write another original. I feel like she’d be able to explore the gender dynamics in play here, and also find something to say with a blind protagonist and how society treats those with disabilities.

I realize that the whole point of a remake is to capitalize on a title that people are familiar with, so it has a built-in audience, and that movies like Plain Clothes (the subject of my first Remake This! piece) and Wait Until Dark aren’t really what studios are looking for when they hire an exec to mine their libraries, but I believe studios need to recalibrate the kinds of movies they’re making post-strike, and this remake would be as good as any, as there’s always an audience for clever thrillers featuring real movie stars.

Trailer Time: Jacob Elordi Isn’t Monkeying Around With Zachary Quinto in Thriller He Went That Way

I mentioned Vertical Entertainment above, and the serial killer thriller He Went That Way is one of their upcoming movies.

Directed by Jeff Darling — which is what my mother used to call me — the film stars Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) as a celebrity animal trainer who picks up a hitchhiker (Jacob Elordi, Euphoria), only to discover that his new passenger is a young, cunning serial killer.

I love serial killer movies, and Elordi looks especially good as a homicidal drifter, but I must admit that what intrigues me most about this trailer is, yes, the monkey in the middle of it. To what horrors must it bear witness? Will something happen to the monkey? Will it somehow save the day? It’s certainly a new wrinkle for this kind of film!

Patrick J. Adams (Suits) co-stars in the indie, which Vertical will release on Jan. 5. I’m looking forward to this one, at least as far as early January movies go.

That’ll do it for me, folks! Have a great week!

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