During Thursday's latest Nintendo Direct event, acclaimed video game designer Miyamoto Shigeru announced that the company's upcoming feature length animation project — in conjunction with American film studio, Illumination — now has a firm North American theatrical release date of December 21st, 2022.
"Here we go!"
Chris Pratt as Mario Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach Charlie Day as Luigi Jack Black as Bowser Keegan-Michael Key as Toad Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek Sebastian Maniscalco as Spike Cameos from Charles Martinet pic.twitter.com/Yio2pql1Jy
While release dates for Europe, Japan, and other markets have yet to be revealed, Miyamoto did share the studio's key character casting decisions. Chris Pratt will voice Mario. "He's so cool," Miyamoto commented. Anya Taylor-Joy, star of Netflix's hit series Queen's Gambit will portray Princess Peach while It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day will voice Luigi. Jack Black will of course be the voice behind series villain, Bowser, while Keegan Michael-Key has been cast as Toad. And, for some reason, Seth Rogan will be in this too as Donkey Kong? The company is also bringing back long-time voice actor Charles Martinet — who has portrayed Mario and the rest of his cohort in a number of games to date — to fill in on various cameos throughout the film.
The following contains spoilers for episode three of 'Star Wars: Visions' and episode seven of 'What If...?'
Back in the days when DVD was king, I remember there was a trend of making animated tie-ins for live-action franchises. There were direct-to-video features for Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing and, the most famous project of them all, The Animatrix. Nearly 20 years later, streaming reigns supreme and services like Disney+ seem to be returning to the idea, but bigger and grander with shows like Marvel’s What If…? and Star Wars: Visions.
Visions, premiering this week, is probably the more ambitious of the two, enlisting talent from various Japanese anime studios to create short films about different aspects of the Star Wars universe. The list includes juggernauts like Trigger (Kill la Kill, Promare) Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Haikyu!!) and Science SARU (Devilman Crybaby, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!). Unlike The Animatrix, Lucasfilm was content to mostly hand over the reins to these studios, creating shorts that differ in tone, style and, most notably, continuity.
Robot Jedi? Sith twins? Intergalactic rock band whose members include a Hutt and a former Jedi padawan? It’s an intriguing array of concepts, but as a long-time Star Wars fan I couldn’t tell you how they fit into the timeline. If they fit in, at all. Visions is more about taking some base concepts — the Force, the Jedi, the Sith — and playing around with them in each studio’s unique style. It reminds me the most of Batman: Gotham Knight from 2008, a collection of shorts also by various anime studios, including Production I.G. The one thing that DC Entertainment has always had going for it is the variety of TV and movie adaptations it’s had going on independently of each other, where audiences just understood that these weren’t meant to be connected in any way.
However, even for DC things have been changing in that regard, especially after last year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. For years now, the TV “Berlanti-verse” has been flirting with continuity, not just in how The Flash was a spinoff of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow was a spinoff of both, but even having the Flash and Supergirl meet up even though they were on different networks and in different universes.
“Crisis” upped the ante by merging these separate worlds in the end, while also confirming almost every other DC-based TV show as part of the bigger multiverse. It was great for fans who obsessively watch every comic book program they can, but less so for people who would rather keep their viewing limited and compartmentalized.
On the other side, Marvel didn’t have the same deep catalog as DC did, with its live-action MCU franchise only taking off 13 years ago. Marvel Studios was perfectly happy to wipe the slate clean of everything that had come before, from the 1989 Punisher film to 2007’s Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage. Since then everything live-action has tied into the universe somehow, including Netflix shows like Daredevil, Hulu shows like Runaways and the Freeform show Cloak & Dagger. This was great for someone committed to the franchise, but could be daunting to casual viewers.
It also presented some creative constraints. Everything Marvel now had to fit in with the larger MCU somehow, so once a character appeared another movie or show couldn’t present its own take on the same person (alas, poor Inhumans). They couldn’t have world-shaking events outside of, say, the Avengers films — at least, not without making some kind of excuse why Captain America or Thor couldn’t just come charging in. Everything had to be carefully planned out as the universe expanded and connected internally.
That’s partly why the show What If…? exists. Sure, it’s based on a pre-existing comic series, but what both show and comic do is allow creators free rein with the characters and events of the Marvel Universe, experimenting to see what would happen if you change one or two things. Though this week’s is hardly a “slight” difference.
The point of divergence here is that Odin doesn’t adopt Loki as his son, leaving Thor to become an arrogant, spoiled child who prefers to party rather than take his duties as the would-be king of Asgard seriously. How is he still worthy of Mjolnir? We have no idea and the episode isn’t interested in telling us. Instead we’re shown how Thor likes to take the Warriors Three on long benders across the galaxy, with his next destination being the “backwater” of Earth. And everyone’s invited — Drax, Rocket, Howard the Duck, the Grandmaster and even Loki and the other ice giants who somehow, are friends with Thor anyway in this reality. When you consider why and how these characters got involved in the “main” timeline in the first place, it really doesn’t add up.
You could just try to enjoy it at face value, as just a silly story with no larger bearing on continuity. However, the point has been made repeatedly that this show is technically, in continuity, and not just in the sense that the Marvel Universe consists of many realities and everything is valid somewhere. While other comics and shows can be given an official universe “number” like 616 or 1,999,999 and just written off as a huge divergence from what we know, the concept of What If…? is that it shows us incremental changes from the MCU in particular. But the divergences shown in this week’s episode are far more than incremental, with an offbeat, cartoonish tone to match. It’s the least What If-like What If…? installment so far.
Unfortunately, like most of the episodes so far, it still ends on a downbeat, one that’s sort of rushed in and not explained. I can’t even imagine how we ended up with a Vision-Ultron hybrid in possession of the Infinity Stones and, unless this episode gets a sequel, it doesn’t really matter. The ending is just a non sequitur to affirm, as every episode does, that the regular MCU sequence of events is the “correct one.” It’s tacked on, and makes what was already a messy adventure even worse.
This is where the strength of Star Wars: Visions lies. There’s no attempt to tie the episodes to each other or the larger Star Wars universe. It lets each installment stand on its own as an homage to the larger “ideas” of Star Wars, while also showcasing the idiosyncrasies of each studio. The third episode, “The Twins,” is a great example of this in action. There’s a lightsaber fight on the hull of a Star Destroyer! No one is wearing environmental suits! They’re yelling at each other despite a lack of air! People’s clothes explode off their bodies! It doesn’t make a damn lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to, because it’s not meant to be more than a bit of fun.
Apple offered a brief glimpse of the Tom Hanks-led Finch at its recent iPhone 13 launch event, and now you can watch the first full trailer for the upcoming sci-fi film. The clip sets the stage for the story that follows. A solar flare knocked out most of the technology on Earth and left much of the US a desolate wasteland. Hanks’ character, the titular Finch, survives in an underground shelter with his only companion, a dog named Goodyear, until he builds a new Android companion. The three of them eventually leave their home when it becomes threatened by the sandstorms that dominate the world of the movie.
Like Greyhound, Apple acquired Finch for Apple TV+ when the film got lost in pandemic-related delays. It’s only one part of a strong fall lineup that is surprisingly heavy on sci-fi stories. Before Finch comes out on November 5th, genre fans can look forward to the company’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundationnovels on September 24th and then Invasion, which stars Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill, on October 22nd.
Netflix has locked down several high-profile creators to TV and movie deals over the last few years, including , , and Game of Thrones duo . The latest talent to join Netflix's stable is Dan Levy, the star and co-creator of Schitt's Creek who won four Emmys for the hit Canadian sitcom last year.
Levy's first Netflix project is a romantic comedy movie that he'll write, produce, direct and star in, according to Variety. He can't work on any shows for Netflix until his TV deal with Disney studio ABC Signature expires next summer.
Netflix played an important role in Levy's rise to stardom after it started streaming Schitt's Creek in 2017. “Netflix offered Schitt’s Creek a second home at just the right time and opened the doors to a whole new audience for us,” Levy said in a statement. “Watching the show thrive there has only enhanced my excitement about continuing to tell specific, meaningful stories with them in both TV and feature film.”
Levy has some other projects in the works elsewhere, including through his ABC deal. Hulu ordered a pilot last month for an animated comedy called Standing By from Levy and fellow Schitt’s Creek writer Ally Pankiw.
Sony’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Twisted Metal has found its leading man. and star Anthony Mackie will play the role of series protagonist John Doe. Deadline was the first to report on the casting. “We’re thrilled to have Anthony Mackie on board. His ability to blend comedy, action and drama is perfect for the Twisted world we’re creating,” Asad Qizilbash, the head of Sony’s PlayStation Productions unit, told the outlet.
News that Sony was of the Twisted Metalfranchise first came out at the end of February. The company is billing the project as an action comedy, with Deadpool and Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick set to produce the series. Cobra Kai scribe Michael Jonathan Smith is also on board to write and produce.
Twisted Metal is just one of the properties Sony is in the process of adapting for television and film. At the end of March, the company announced it was making a movie. Its series at HBO also recently found its Joel and Ellie in Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.
After earlier in the year, , the service that allows you to keep your digital film collection in one place, is now available on Xbox consoles. Starting today, you can download the app on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Movies Anywhere works with most digital storefronts, including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu and of course the Microsoft Store.
The Xbox version of Movies Anywhere includes support for the platform’s feature, which means you can take part in online watch parties with up to nine other people and talk in a shared chat room. is also supported. If you’ve already accepted a rental invitation sent to you by a friend or family member, you can watch the movie on your Xbox. Moreover, once you connect your Microsoft Store account to Movies Anywhere, you can watch the content you purchase there on any other device that supports the platform.
Don't expect to stream Disney's next movies at home the moment they're available. The Vergereports Disney has revealed that all its remaining 2021 movies will debut in theaters first, including the animated robot comedy Ron's Gone Wrong (October 22nd), the Marvel blockbuster Eternals (November 5th) and a new adaptation of West Side Story (December 10th).
Outside of the animated musical Encanto (November 24th), which has a 30-day window, all of the movies will have a "minimum" 45-day theatrical run before they're available elsewhere. Disney didn't say when you might expect on-demand versions of these titles, whether on Disney+ or rival services.
This is partly a reaction to the relatively strong theater-only releases of summer extravaganzas like Free Guy and Shang-Chi. While COVID-19 still hurt box office numbers (Shang-Chi's $75.5 million US opening paled in comparison to multiple Disney 2019 releases), the revenue may have been enough to justify returning to pre-pandemic distribution.
There's also the matter of placating key factions. Disney said it has a way to pay talent fairly for hybrid theater-and-digital relases, but it wouldn't be surprising if Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow lawsuit plays a role in considering Disney+ launches. The company might not want to risk further trouble with actors and others whose income depends on theatrical performance. And then there's the theaters themselves. When chains like AMC vowed to pull Universal movies even when many locations were closed, Disney might not be willing to provoke a similar confrontation as theaters resume business.
This and Warner Bros.' 2022 return to theaters supports the expectations of many cynics — that studios only saw day-one streaming access as a temporary necessity that would disappear the moment it was reasonably safe to watch on big screens. That's not completely shocking when the movie industry's business model still revolves around theaters, but any fundamental shifts in strategy might not happen for a long, long time.
You no longer have to settle for watching tiny, random clips of the next Matrix movie. Warner Bros. has finally shared the first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections, the long-anticipated fourth movie in the sci-fi action series. As you'd expect, the preview marks the return of Keanu Reeves as Neo, who initially appears unaware of who he really is — he's even taking blue pills and visiting a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris). As you'd expect, though, he begins to question reality and finds the truth underneath, including a reunion with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).
You'll also see Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a Morpheus-like figure, and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones) enticing Neo to rediscover the Matrix. The title will also see Jada Pinkett Smith and Lambert Wilson reprise their respective roles as Niobe and the Merovingian, while Jonathan Groff (Hamilton), Christina Ricci and Daniel Bernhardt are also poised to make appearances.
The movie premieres theatrically on December 22nd. It will also be available to stream on HBO Max for a month if you subscribe to the ad-free tier — the last movie to have that option before Warner Bros. switches back to a theater-first strategy in 2022.
The fifth episode of Marvel’s alternate universe anthology program on Disney+ is a star-studded affair, bringing back Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan and Mark Ruffalo to voice their characters surviving in a world overtaken by the undead. (No Tom Holland, though.) This adventure’s point of divergence takes place during the events of Ant-Man and the Wasp, leading up to the events of Infinity War. It’s the biggest What If...? yet, in both cast and concept, and it also sheds a light on some characters still waiting for their day in the spotlight.
Janet Van Dyne contracts the zombie plague in the Quantum Realm and, when rescued, ends up spreading it to her husband and Scott Lang and things escalate from there. Even the Avengers end up infected, leaving the task of saving the world to characters who weren’t officially part of the team, like Wasp, Winter Soldier and Spider-Man. They’re joined by supporting characters like Sharon Carter, Okoye, Kurt and Happy Hogan. Bruce Banner is there too, but without the help of the Hulk. Just like in Infinity War, he refuses to emerge, leaving Bruce mostly defenseless.
The episode also gives us a darker take on the Vision and Scarlet Witch, one that has a lot more meaning if you’ve watched all of WandaVision. There’s also a nod to The Falcon and Winter Soldier, when zombie Sam Wilson gets cut in half. Bucky finds himself unfeeling about the whole thing, likely because this version of the characters haven’t had time to bond the way their live-action counterparts have.
Without Captain America and Iron Man to take the reins, the role of leader falls to, well, no one, really, with this motley group of heroes and side-characters operating as a collective. It seems to work for the team for the most part, though they ignore Peter Parker’s advice not to split up with disastrous results.
In fact, Peter is the star of the show here, despite his actor being unavailable to voice him. Just as he was in Infinity War, the kid is a solid team player who more than pulls his weight in combat. But this is also the first time we get to see other heroes interact with him on a more personal level. He isn’t just Tony Stark’s mascot here, instead the team ends up looking to him for moral support, the way they might have once admired Steve Rogers. It’s a nice glimpse of what Peter can be free of Iron Man’s shadow, a thread that will be more fully explored in this December’s No Way Home.
In the teaser for the upcoming Eternals film, one of the characters, Sprite, asks who will lead the Avengers now. Though the answer is unlikely to come out of that particular movie, this most recent What If…? suggests a few intriguing possibilities. While Peter forms the heart of the team here, a lot of the thinking falls to Bruce Banner. He’s a character that’s gone underused in the MCU thus far, thanks to Universal holding the film rights. A lot of his development has had to happen off-screen, but starting with 2018’s Thor: Ragnarok and continuing with the upcoming She-Hulk show, he’s gently getting nudged to the forefront of the Avengers. With Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow dead and Thor off in space, he’s the natural choice to take the reins as one of two OG team members left (and if you’ve seen Shang-Chi, it seems he may already have).
Ultimately, like all What If…? episodes this installment doesn’t actually matter to the grander MCU, though its open-ended nature raises the possibility of a sequel — and given how many Marvel Zombies comics are out there, it’s almost guaranteed we’ll see this reality on Disney+ again. But for fans who don’t care for this week’s horror elements the story is still a valuable tease for how a post-blip, second generation Avengers roster could function.
Netflix promised a big movie every week in 2021, and it's clearly determined to end the year with its most ostentatious movie yet. The streaming service has posted a teaser trailer for Don't Look Up, a satire where "star-studded cast" is an understatement. The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as a grad student and professor who try desperately to warn the public of a life-ending comet in an era where 24-hour news and social media lead to gnat-like attention spans. Those two are just the start of the headliners, though — seemingly everyone involved is a big name.
Meryl Streep is the President and counts Jonah Hill as her son, while Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry host a relentlessly optimistic morning show. The flick also features Ron Perlman, Mark Rylance, Dune's Timothée Chalamet and even two pop stars (Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi), among others. The Big Short's Adam McKay directed and wrote the title.
Don't Look Up reaches Netflix on December 24th, but it's arriving in "select" theaters on December 10th. The company is clearly hoping for more Oscars glory given that timing. Not that Netflix will need critical praise. The film-a-week strategy has revolved around enticing viewers with star power, even in "dead" months like January — any statuettes from late-2021 releases are just a bonus.