Scotland Votes To Remain In The UK: Political Changes Loom, Effect On Film & TV Biz Uncertain

There are 31 of 32 districts reporting on the Scottish vote for independence. A phenomenal 86% voter turnout is estimated, and the result saw 1.6M voters in favor of separating from the United Kingdom — curiously Glasgow was pro, Edninburgh was con. But the vote is split at 45% Yes and 55% No, a far closer result than was expected when the referendum was initially floated. In the run-up to the vote, I ran down the potential effects of a Yes. While the fate of the BBC, indie financing and the lucrative film and TV tax breaks that emanate from the centralized London government were the subject of much hand-wringing, most of the worry looks moot at this point. UK Prime Minister David Camercon is nevertheless expected to make certain concessions to his northern constituents with certain powers extended. There are tax issues involved, but it is too early to tell how this directly affects the entertainment biz. Here are a couple of reactions from interested parties:

My YES friends, let’s turn our passion towards ensuring the Devo Max promises the Westminster establishment have made to us are delivered

— Alan Cumming (@Alancumming) September 19, 2014

Exit polls sound very ominous for YES. Now everybody on both sides must ensure Cameron and Milliband keep heir promises and not weasel out.

— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) September 18, 2014


‘Red Band Society’ Bus Ads Pulled Over Offensive Language Referring To Octavia Spencer

red band society octavia spencerHere’s the latest flap involving marketing for a new TV show that has offended some L.A. citizens. Metro Los Angeles today yanked ads for Fox’s Red Band Society from its buses today after activists complained about offensive language. The ad features the cast of the hospital drama with mini-captions like “Coma Boy” and “The Player.” But the one that rankled folks was next to the photo of Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, labeling her “Scary Bitch.” So they’ve been pulled despite being on the buses for months — and one day after the series premiered. Metro LA tweeted about its decision today:

Metro Board Exec Comte getting earful from community over allowing ‘Red Band Society” ad on buses. Metro officials say ad is being pulled.

— Metro Los Angeles (@metrolosangeles) September 18, 2014

It later tweeted that its board chairman, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other board members are sorry that the ads went up and that “ad policy needs to be tightened to prevent ads with offensive language from being used in the future.”

Fox also apologized. “We were notified this morning of the concern around the ads and immediately offered to remove the language,” a network spokeswoman said. “Metro Los Angeles ultimately decided to take down the ads, and we respect that decision. We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers.”

strain-billboard-fxThe hubbub reminds of another ad campaign that rubbed City of Angels denizens the wrong way earlier this summer. Back in July, FX agreed to take down some LA-area billboards for its new horror series The Strain that featured a worm protruding from the eyeball of an obvious distressed person. Seems some Angelenos, and their small children, found the image a mite offputting. “It may have been too far out there for some people, but I personally liked it,” that series’ showrunner Calrton Cuse told reporters in July.


Hot Trailer: Christoph Waltz & Amy Adams In Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’

Here’s the first trailer for Tim Burton’s biopic about the couple whose paintings became one of the first mass-marketed art sensations in the 1950s and early ’60s. Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz and five-time nominee Amy Adams star as Walter and Margaret Keane, whose paintings of large-eyed children were hawked in gas stations and just about every five-and-dime store. He got all the fame, but she was the real artist of the family. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski wrote Big Eyes, which also stars Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Terrence Stamp and Danny Huston. The Weinstein Company is positioning for an awards-season run with a Christmas Day opening.


Nick Cave, Terry Gilliam, Kevin Smith Films Among 14 Specialty Debuts

Films from notables Nick Cave, Kevin Smith and Terry Gilliam, and another featuring Downton Abbey vet Dan Stevens are helping fill this weekend’s box office, despite studio blockbuster debuts for The Maze Runner and This Is Where I Leave You.

In all, 14 specialty films are debuting this weekend, at the front edge of awards season and the time of year when “serious” films hit the screens left and right. We have The Guest, with Stevens; The Zero Theorem by Gilliam; Smith’s Tusk; Tracks, the latest from the producers of The King’s Speech; and Cave’s doc 20,000 Days On Earth. 

And, like a TV informercial, there’s more: the doc Pump, boundary-jumper Stop The Pounding Heart; and Swim Little Fish Swim. Just to fill out the marquees, we also have Tribeca-winning doc Keep On Keepin’ On; Flamenco, Flamenco; Hector And The Search For Happiness;  Iceman; Hollidaysburg; and Not Cool. 

The Guest

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

Cast: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Tabatha Shaun, Chase Williamson

Distributor: Picturehouse

The Guest Dan StevensDownton Abbey fans will get to see Dan Stevens in a decidedly different role in The Guest. The genre-bending thriller centers on a soldier who introduces himself to a dead soldier’s family, claiming to be his friend. They welcome him just as a series of accidental deaths take place.

“I loved the reaction at the first screening at Sundance,” said Picturehouse chief Bob Berney. “It’s a mash-up of genres. The challenge here is to let people in on the film to a small degree in advance.”

The film’s multifaceted characte is both a “challenge” and an “opportunity,” Berney said. While there is violence, the film also has funny aspects throughout, which Berney hopes will help lure a cross-section of audiences.

“As word of mouth has been building, people have heard just enough that it’s super-entertaining even though it does have some violence,” Berney said. “Our digital and social-media campaigns have given just a hint of this and luckily our reviews have backed that up.”

Stevens has actively promoted the film, perhaps surprising younger audiences with his British accent. Berney said The Guest will have an “aggressive platform release.”

The title actually opened Wednesday in 9 markets in 21 theaters, which Picturehouse hopes will fuel more word of mouth going into the weekend.

The Zero Theorem

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writer: Pat Rushin

Cast: Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges Mélanie Thierry, Tilda Swinton, Matt Damon, Gwendoline Christie, Rupert Friend, Lily Cole

Distributor: Amplify

Zero TheoremThis is Amplify’s second release (after God Help The Girl on Sept. 5). With Terry Gilliam and a very high-profil cast to boot, it’s the much higher-profile bow.

“This was one of the first films we had picked up as Amplify,” said EVP of Theatrical Distribution and Marketing Dylan Marchetti.  “We all saw the film in our previous roles. We partnered on the release with Well Go USA. We’re doing a lot of the theatrical and some digital while they will do [more] digital and home entertainment.”

The fantasy/sci-fi film centers on a computer hacker whose goal is to discover the reason for human existence, but his work is constantly interrupted by management. This time they find a teenager who becomes a lusty love interest to distract him.

“Terry Gilliam films are event films and this is no different,” said Marchetti. “It may be a slightly lower-budget film, (though) it’s been a fixture on iTunes’ top lists” for a month and has done “very well.” Overseas, it has grossed more than $500K.

“We thought the international materials were a bit off so we re-did them,” said Marchetti. “The trailer has had 9 million views. We’re promoting iTunes and other digital while also promoting its theatrical release so it’s a multi-step process for the rollout and we need to respect each part of that process.”

Gilliam’s previous feature The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus debuted in December 2009, grossing nearly $7.7 million theatrically.

Amplify will take The Zero Theorem to about 60 theaters this weekend including IFC Center and Nighthawk in New York as well as the Sunset  Cinemas and other suburban theaters in Los Angeles as well as Alamo Drafthouse locations, AFI Theaters in Washington, D.C. and others. Gilliam is participating in an Apple Store talk in New York and appearing on Charlie Rose and the Tonight Show.

“Will be at theater at IFC Center this weekend for Q&As. We want to contextualize the film,” said Marchetti. “We’ve worked a lot with many theaters showing the film with about 20 of them doing mini Gilliam retrospectives, which we hope will spur further interest. If results are there we’ll keep it going. For now we’re adding 15 theaters the following week.”


Director: John Curran

Writers: Marion Nelson, Robyn Davidson (book)

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Lily Pearl, Philip Dodd, Fiona Press, Rainer Bock

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Tracks movie Mia WasikowskaTracks producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman’s last time around with TWC was hugely successful for all involved: The King’s Speech brought them Best Picture Oscars (along with Gareth Unwin) in 2011.

Tracks is also opening through TWC after a lengthy festival run that began at 2013’s Venice/Telluride/Toronto gauntlet before hitting criss-crossing the U.S. and abroad to maximize word of mouth. The bio-adventure follows a young woman who goes on a 1,700-mile journey across Western Australia with four camels and a dog.

“Harvey (Weinstein) saw it last year and flipped,” said TWC president of theatrical Erik Lomis. “It’s a great story about how a woman finds herself and does it on her own.”

Similar to TWC’s The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, which opened last week, Lomis expects this weekend’s audiences to skew toward women. The company is looking for “strong reviews” to lure the art house crowd and the “older sophisticated audience.”

Director John Curran’s previous feature Stone opened in 2010, and grossed over $1.8 million. His 2006  release The Painted Veil grossed just over $8 million. TWC will open at Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika theaters in New York and the LA Royal and Arclight theaters in L.A. this weekend.

Keep On Keepin’ On

Director-writer: Alan Hicks

Writer: Davis Coombe

Cast: Clark Terry, Justin Kauflin, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Herbie Hancock, Phylis Kauflin, Frank Kauflin

Distributor: RADiUS-TWC

Keep On Keepin' OnThe folks at RADiUS first caught doc Keep On Keepin’ On at the Tribeca Film Festival  last April. The moving non-fiction film follows jazz great Clark Terry over several years,chronicling his mentorship of 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite international competition.

“[There's this] young wunderkind pianist and he forms one of the most unlikely of friendships,” said RADiUS co-president Tom Quinn.

The company hit Oscar, box office and VOD gold last year with another music doc, Twenty Feet From Stardom, which grossed nearly $5 million at the box office and $1.3 million on demand. Now, Radius is striking up another music doc.

“It’s a huge crowd pleaser that [potentially] appeals to a very similar audience as Twenty Feet From Stardom,” said Quinn. “It’s gripping — probably more gripping — than Twenty Feet. It features the heavyweights of jazz.”

That includes multi-hyphenate Quincy Jones, who fell in love with the project and story, coming on board as a producer to help finish the five-year project.

RADiUS will open Keep On Keepin’ On at the Landmark and the Arclight in Los Angeles this weekend and will follow with New York.

“We’re going Off-Broadway before the bright lights of NYC,” joked Quinn. “We’re trying to build momentum to build word of mouth.”

After Tribeca, where Keep On took the Best New Documentary Director prize, the film screened in Seattle, winning the “Golden Space Needle Award” and then in Telluride.

“That never happens for a film that played festivals already in this country,” said Quinn. Telluride famously bows (somewhat unofficially) new work along with curated classics. Now that it’s hitting the distribution circuit, Keep On will have a traditional window, rolling out slowly. Said Quinn: “We’re going to take it as far as we can and ‘eventize’ every place we can.”

20,000 Days On Earth

Directors-writers: Iain Forstyth, Jane Pollard

Writer: Nick Cave

Subjects: Nick Cave, Susie Bick, Warren Ellis, Darian Leader, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue, Arthur Cave, Earl Cave

Distributor: Drafthouse Films

Image (12) 20000-days-on-earth__140126051909-275x154.jpg for post 671058Drafthouse Films picked up doc 20,000 Days On Earth out of Sundance in January. The film centers on writer and musician Nick Cave and, as the title suggests, it marks his 20,000th day on earth (that lands at around 54).

“Our mission at Drafthouse Films is pretty simple: Share the movies we love with as many people as possible,” said Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League. “We saw it, we loved it, we bought it. We want people to trust our curation at Drafthouse Films, and this is a film that I think everyone should see.”

The obvious audience for 20,000 Days On Earth is Nick Cave fans, though Drafthouse hopes to go beyond that base of alternative music lovers. In the lead-up to this weekend’s release, the company has recruited “top-tier music outlets” and reached out to the art community (filmmakers Pollard and Forsyth are big names in the art world) to spread the word.

“The film is being exceptionally well reviewed, including Critics Pick in the New York Times, which will also add interest for our art-house crowd,” said League. “We’ve also planned several events which, like the film, deliver something special for Nick Cave fans but also appeal to a larger audience, especially to the art-house audience, which would largely be interested in the exploration of the artistic spirit and creative journey of an artist.”

Those events include a summer preview series timed to Cave’s summer concert tour with his band   The Bad Seeds, as well as “eventized” screenings in LA and NYC paired with what League said are “rare solo piano performances by Nick Cave.” Given the strength of his fan base, those events sold out in minutes.

“To celebrate our opening weekend in New York we have partnered with Film Forum and Vice Media’s Noisey to host an additional one-night-only encore screening and solo piano performance this Saturday at the Town Hall venue in Manhattan,” added Sumyi Khong Antonson, VP Marketing & Distribution. “Nick also will be joined by the directors, Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth, for a post-screening conversation with the audience and for fans across the country.”

20,000 Days On Earth opened exclusively at Film Forum in New York Wednesday and will roll out to the top-tier markets next Friday. It will expand to another dozen markets Oct. 3 and will be in 40-plus markets by the end of next month.


Directors: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell

Writer: Johnny O’Hara

Subjects: Adhemar Altieri, Dr. Greg Anderson, Edwin Black, David Blume, John Brackett, Todd Brashaw

Distributor: Submarine Deluxe

Pump documentary posterPump comes from Submarine Deluxe, the distribution label of New York sales outfit Submarine, which is spearheaded by Josh and Dan Braun.

The doc focuses on America’s oil addiction, chronicling its “corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today.” The film also gives its view on how to end U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.

Submarine Deluxe has released several cause-related docs, including Chasing Ice and GMO OMG. 

“We have a history of success with this kind of documentary,” said Dan Braun. Chasing Ice grossed $1.3 million domestically, while GMO OMG had a $47,558 cume. “This is the first movie that breaks down for the audience what they can do to make us oil independent and lower the price of fuel: that is, to demand alternatives. And it shows you what individuals can do now to start the dialogue and take action.”

Submarine Deluxe has undertaken a “thorough grassroots campaign to hit a crosssection of targets,” and plans a second campaign for its iTunes release. Target audiences include car enthusiasts, environmentalists and veterans.

“We had screenings at the ALT Car expo, LA Yoga Fest, GreenFest and IBT1,” added Braun. “We are staging an outdoor event in Times Square this Thursday before opening day with a live demonstration by engineer John ‘Labjack’ Brackett — who is in the film — to show how you can convert your car to flex fuel merely with a software upgrade to your car’s computer.”

Additionally, there is paid media on NPR, a “robust print campaign” focusing on news, politics and entertainment sections and ads in automobile publications.

“We will also be taking out ads in glossies such as Car and Driver and other auto-enthusiast monthlies, primarily promoting our transactional window,” said Braun.

Pump did not debut at a U.S. festival but is hitting some foreign events, including  the Zurich Film Festival and the Rio International Film Festival.

Pump is opening at AMC 42 and Cinema Village in New York and the Laemmle Royal in L.A. It will add locations in Salt Lake City, Boston, Santa Fe, Seattle, Houston and other cities in its second week, reaching 20 markets by its third frame.

“We will be doing an exclusive iTunes window 30 – 45 days after opening,” said Dan Braun. “Educational and non-theatrical will be very important to the film and will start 90 days after [its initial] theatrical release but we will be having strategic screenings at universities across the country to get the message out.”

Stop The Pounding Heart

Director-writer: Roberto Minervini

Writer: Diego Romero

Cast/Subjects: Sara Carlson, Colby Trichell, Tim Carlson, LeeAnne Carlson, Katarina Carlson, Christin Carlson, Grace Carlson

Distributor: Big World Pictures

Stop the Pounding HeartItalian-born filmmaker Robert Minervini completed his ‘Texas trilogy’ of films with Stop The Pounding Heart, a narrative/documentary hybrid that tells the story of a rural Christian fundamentalist family in rural Texas.

The doc/drama unfolds through the eyes of Sara, a home-schooled girl who lives on the family goat farm along with 11 siblings. The values she’s grown up with, however, are challenged after she meets Colby, an amateur bull rider.

“I always work with people I’m comfortable with and have established a relationship with,” said Minervini. “So with the Carlsons — I met them years ago at a farmer’s market. I worked with them on a scene in The Passage and only then did I become familiar with their beliefs and passions.”

The Passage (2011) and Low Tide (2012) comprise the trilogy’s other parts. Pounding Heart unfolds alongside Sara Carlson’s life. During filming, Minervini would regularly meet with the young woman as he decided on how to progress the story and plan production. The shoot took place over 54 days.

“Almost every morning Sara and I would have a breakfast meeting to talk about how to proceed,” said Minervini. “Feedback was vital to the film. And maybe in a way, [the family] co-directed the story.”

The director designed production to be minimally invasive in terms of equipment and crew and gave himself ample time despite limited resources.

“I knew the challenges before even starting. My shoots are made so they’re not so difficult,” he said. “They were not ambitiously planned. The technical and the aesthetics of the film were influenced by our limitations.”

Stop The Pounding Heart won the Donatello Award (Italy’s Oscar equivalent) for Best Documentary after screening in Cannes and New Directors/New Films. It will open exclusively at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York with Minervini present for post-screening Q&As at select showings Friday and Saturday.

Swim Little Fish Swim

Directors-writers: Ruben Amar, Lola Bessis

Writers: Brian Paccione, Kate Kirtz

Cast: Lola Bessis, Dustin Guy Defa, Brooke Bloom, Anne Consigny, Olivia Costello

Distributor: Under the Milky Way

Swim Little Fish Swim posterFilmmakers Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis worked on a series of short films in Israel and New York the past three years before developing the feature that would become Swim Little Fish Swim.

The resulting project is a dreamlike journey from childhood to adulthood, depicting three intertwined characters at turning points in their lives.

Swim focuses on the domestic life of Leeward (Defa) and Mary (Bloom), a young married couple at a crossroads. When 19-year-old French artist Lilas enters their lives trying to escape the shadow of her famous painter mother, she upends the couple’s fragile relationship.

“We focused on the actors and worked with them over two months,” said Amar.

Bessis said she and Amar worked with the cast in developing the script, tying its development to their real-life personalities.

“We did a lot of improv, and the scenes were written but the characters weren’t so defined,” said Amar. “We wanted the characters to be inspired by their own personalities.”

Amar and Bessis produced the feature, using savings and help from family and friends to finance the shoot, done mostly in their New York apartment. The shoot itself was interrupted by Hurricane Irene, which threw the production schedule into disarray. Because some actors had other obligations, Amar and Bessis had to re-group on a tightened schedule.

“We had insurance for everything except a ‘natural cause,’” said Bessis.”We had to postpone the shoot for some days and some of the actors weren’t available after that. So we had to shoot in two days what we had planned to do in a week.”

Post-production took some time, but they finally received a grant to finish the project.

Swim was unfinished when they submitted it to SXSW but it was accepted, premiering last year. Swim’s French release earlier this summer  played in up to 100 theaters, grossing more than $500K. It have launched in Brazil, grossing $150K in three weeks. The U.S. release will open theatrically at Cinema Village in New York  followed by the Arena Cinema in L.A. next week. Other markets to come including Chicago, Seattle and others.


‘Godzilla 2′ Brings Back Writer Max Borenstein

Sep 18, 2014 by Brian Gallagher

Legendary Pictures has closed a deal with Godzilla screenwriter Max Borenstein to write the script for Godzilla 2.

The studio revealed at Comic-Con 2014 this summer that the sequel will feature iconic Toho monsters Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah. While these monsters have been confirmed, no further details about the story were given. Warner Bros. announced last month that the sequel will be released in June 2018, which gives director Gareth Edwards enough time to make his Star Wars Spin-Off, which many believe is being targeted for a 2016 release, before coming back to the Godzilla franchise.

It remains to be seen if any of the Godzilla cast members will be back for the follow-up. The original starred Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe.

Max Borenstein is also writing another big-budget tentpole for Legendary Pictures, Skull Island, which recented added star Tom Hiddleston and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Godzilla 2 comes to theaters June 8th, 2018. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards.

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Study Deems Broadcast Networks Mostly Mediocre When It Comes To Latino Inclusion

Like a progressive public school from the ’70s, the National Latino Media Council this year dropped A-F grades it has been giving broadcast networks for Latino inclusion efforts in front of and behind the camera, opting instead for a grading scale of Good, Mediocre or Bad. Today’s report rated the diversity performances of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in the 2013-14 TV season in primetime (the CW is not included). The four networks were graded based on employment of Latino actors, writers, producers, directors and entertainment executives; program development; procurement; and commitment to diversity and “transparency.”

ABC was deemed Mediocre, though it had the most Latino scripted actors, and led the pack in terms of Latino writers and producers. That’s because ABC didn’t do so well with Latino directors and when it came to unscripted talent. NLMC was most seriously displeased about the casting of Juan Pablo Galavis on The Bachelor; the group said he “ended up perpetuating stereotypes with his sexist and homophobic remarks.”

CBS also was Mediocre, lagging in nearly every category, including onscreen talent in scripted and unscripted roles. The organization said CBS “shows promise” when it comes to Latino writers, producers, and directors, but progress remains slow. CBS gets points for having “a Latina entertainment executive” at the helm: Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler.

Fox also was Mediocre, signaling a trend, because it “shows little improvement in hiring Latino writers, producers and directors.” The network has, however, “made great strides in augmenting the amount of Latino actors” as well as “improving portrayals,” NLMC said. The organization also seemed pleased just to have Fox data this year; the group says Fox declined to provide data the past two years, though the network says that’s not the case.

NBC wins the gold star, with a pack-leading Mediocre/Good grade, because it “showed great improvement with Latino actors in scripted roles and cast members in unscripted roles.” NBC also went to the head of the class because of  its number of Latino writers and producers has increased slightly, though the network had fewer Latino directors. NBC got points for its “commitment to diversity in the programs it supports and for Latino execs it employed at its cable networks —  and because NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke keynoted NLMC member organization National Hispanic Media Coalition’s MediaCon.

“It is clear there is a lot of room for improvement across the board,” NLMC chair Esteban Torres said.


‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Howard the Duck Concept Art

Sep 18, 2014 by B. Alan Orange

One of the biggest surprises in Guardians of the Galaxy is the appearance of iconic Marvel character Howard the Duck (voiced by Seth Green). He shows up as part of the Collector’s museum menagerie in the post-credits scene…Without pants! This was a big deal for fans, because back in the 70s, he was legally required to wear a full suit as to not be confused with Disney’s Donald Duck. Both mallards now reside at the Mouse House, so that no longer seems to be an issue.

New concept art from Ryan Meinerding shows Howard wearing a full suit. But the look didn’t change too drastically from the finished film. Check him out.

Guardians of the Galaxy Howard the Duck Art

Ryan Meinerding is a longtime conceptual artist for Marvel. He is also a Visual Development Supervisor, with this being just one of his smaller contributions to the world of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy was released August 1st, 2014 and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan. The film is directed by James Gunn.

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Jada Pinkett Smith Eyes ‘Magic Mike 2′

Sep 18, 2014 by Brian Gallagher

The cast of Warner Bros.’ sequel Magic Mike XXL keeps growing and growing, with Jada Pinkett Smith now in talks to star, just hours after we reported that Andie MacDowell has signed on.

If her deal is finalized, Jada Pinkett Smith will play a strip club owner in this follow-up to 2012′s Magic Mike, a role that was originally crafted for a male actor. Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer and Joe Manganiello are reprising their roles from the original film, which earned $167.2 million worldwide from just a $7 million production budget. We reported yesterday that recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey will not be back for the sequel.

Gregory Jacobs, who has regularly collaborated with Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh, is directing the sequel from a script co-written by Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin. The story follows a group of dancers on road trip to a male stripper convention. Steven Soderbergh is serving as director of photography, editor and camera operator on the follow-up, with production scheduled to begin later this month.

Ironically, Jada Pinkett Smith plays a much different type of nightclub owner on the upcoming Fox series Gotham, taking on the villainous role of Fish Mooney.

Magic Mike XXL comes to theaters July 3rd, 2015 and stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett Smith. The film is directed by Gregory Jacobs.

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