Merry Christmas, and welcome to this week’s holiday edition of Back Lot 605’s Coming Soon column! This week brings us what’s arguably the biggest movies to debut directly to streaming services this year… plus, some additional year-end awards contenders, and much more! Here’s what’s coming soon for the week of December 25th, 2020:
Featured Title: Wonder Woman 1984
If you had told me at the beginning of 2020 that a major comic book tentpole movie would debut straight to a streaming service by year’s end – and that said movie would *not* be The New Mutants – I would’ve said you’re insane! Well, folks… here we are, as the sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman is going to be HBO Max’s Christmas present to America. This comes after a series of theatrical release delays that pushed it from June to August, then to October, and finally Christmas Day.
However, WW84 will also still be playing in well over 2,000 theaters nationwide on Christmas Day as well. This will officially kick off the headline-grabbing and controversial plan by Warner Bros. to premiere all their theatrical releases through the end of 2021 simultaneously on HBO Max, in order to entice people to subscribe to their fledgling streaming service. Will it work? Who the heck knows! But I do know one thing: the Internet’s going to be spoiling everything by the time you wake up on Christmas morning. So be forewarned! 🙂
As the title implies, this sequel is making a major time jump from the 2017 film’s World War I setting all the way to the 1980s! Why? Who knows… other than the need to milk 1980s nostalgia to its fullest, I guess! There, Gal Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will face off against two new foes: Kristen Wiig as The Cheetah, and the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal, as businessman Max Lord. In addition, Chris Pine is back in action as Steve Trevor… which is odd, given that Pine, y’know, died in the last movie. I’m curious to see how they explain that one!
Patty Jenkins is also returning for this sequel, as director and co-writer. However, she will be leaving the DC fold after this, to start work on her next movie, Christmas 2023’s Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. (Premiering Friday, December 25th on HBO Max and in theaters nationwide, including the Century Stadium 14 and XD, Century East, and West Mall 7 in Sioux Falls.)
Opening in Theaters
News of the World
While Warners is opting for their dual release strategy, Universal is sticking to their late 2020 release plan. They are opening two new movies in theaters on Christmas Day, which will then debut on premium VOD approximately three weeks later, on January 15th. First up is Universal’s big Oscar play for 2020: a reunion of Tom Hanks with his Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass. (You may also know Greengrass from all 3 of Matt Damon’s Bourne sequels, or from the 2006 9/11 drama United 93.)
This time, though, Greengrass and Hanks are making a Western! (Gasp!) Hanks plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (yes, that’s his character name!), a Civil War veteran who’s become a traveling news-teller, reading the latest stories to paying audiences around the country. He’s asked to transport a 10-year-old girl, who was taken from her family and raised by a Native American tribe, and return her to her biological parents… even though she doesn’t want to return. Elizabeth Marvel, Ray McKinnon, and Mare Winningham also star. (Opening Friday, December 25th in theaters nationwide, including the Century Stadium 14 and XD, Century East, and West Mall 7 in Sioux Falls.)
Promising Young Woman
Universal’s other theatrical offering this weekend, via their Focus Features branch, is this dark comedy/revenge thriller that shocked Sundance audiences at the beginning of the year. It was supposed to come out in April, but COVID delays have pushed it to an unexpected Christmas release. Carey Mulligan stars as a med-school dropout who hunts down sexual predators in bars and clubs, fueled by a tragic incident from years ago. The stacked supporting cast includes Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Alison Brie, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Sam Richardson, Adam Brody, Molly Shannon, Alfred Molina, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Bo Burnham. It is also the feature film writing/directing debut of British TV up-and-comer Emerald Fennell (“Killing Eve”, “The Crown”). (Opening Friday, December 25th in theaters nationwide, including the Century Stadium 14 and XD, Century East, and West Mall 7 in Sioux Falls.)
New to Streaming and VOD
Disney+ is making its boldest streaming play yet, as they will be debuting the latest Pixar movie straight to Disney+ on Christmas Day. This comes after its theatrical release was cancelled twice this year: first in June, and then in November. In addition, unlike the Premier Access $30 experiments for Mulan and March’s Raya and the Last Dragon, this movie will be included as part of your Disney+ subscription, with no additional cost to you… which, again, is pretty bold for a Pixar tentpole movie!
This, the second Pixar movie of 2020 (following Onward), comes from writer/director Pete Docter, who’s previously helmed Monsters Inc., Up, and most recently, 2015’s incredible Inside Out! Jamie Foxx stars as a middle school teacher who aspires to become a great jazz musician. However, he accidentally falls down an open manhole… and his soul ends up having an out-of-body experience in “The Great Before”, led by another lost soul named 22 (voiced by Tina Fey).
Other voices in this movie include Questlove, Angela Bassett, and Daveed Diggs. Also of note: This is the second Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score of the month, following Mank. In addition, Jon Batiste (who’s best known as Stephen Colbert’s bandleader) contributes several jazz compositions to the soundtrack. (Premieres Friday, December 25th on Disney+.)
We Can Be Heroes
Between Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul, you’d think that Netflix would have a big movie of their own to pull in audiences on Christmas Day! Well, this is as close as they’ll get: the new family flick from Robert Rodriguez… which is also a superhero flick, in its own way! When a superhero team called The Heroics (including Christian Slater, Boyd Holbrook, and – once again this weekend – Pedro Pascal!) is kidnapped, their kids team up to save the world! This movie garnered some chatter when it was first announced, as it is set in the same universe as Rodriguez’s 2005 flick The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl. However, while Taylor Dooley is reprising her role of Lavagirl, Taylor Lautner has sadly not returned. (Sorry, Team Jacob!) This movie also stars Priyanka Chopra, Sung Kang, and Christopher McDonald. (Premieres Friday, December 25th on Netflix.)
The Midnight Sky
Netflix’s other offering this week is the George Clooney movie The Midnight Sky, also starring Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo. We covered this movie a couple of weeks ago when it opened in our local Cinemark theaters, so we won’t rehash that discussion here. But here’s a reminder that it will actually be available to stream on Netflix this week! (Premieres Wednesday, December 23rd on Netflix.)
Finally, here’s Amazon’s entry into the Christmas streaming race: a romance set in 1957 New York. Tessa Thompson plays a record store employee (Tessa Thompson) who falls in love with a jazz saxophonist (Nnamdi Asomugha), even though she’s already engaged to someone else. The movie also stars Lance Reddick and Eva Longoria, and is directed by Eugene Ashe (2012’s Homecoming). (Premieres Wednesday, December 23rd on Amazon Prime Video.)
Returning to Theaters
The final Fathom Events retro screening of the year is this 25th anniversary presentation of the 1995 comedy that propelled Alicia Silverstone to superstardom! The movie also stars a super-young Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash, Wallace Shawn, and Dan Hedaya. (Playing Sunday, December 27th and Tuesday, December 29th in selected theaters nationwide, including the Century Stadium 14 & XD and Century East in Sioux Falls.)
Showing at the State!
This weekend, the State Theatre is bringing in a trio of all-time classics… starting with this 1976 Best Picture winner and crowd-pleasing hit, which originally played at the State for 14 weeks in 1977. It’s the movie that singlehandedly made Sylvester Stallone a star… and it created a film franchise that lives on to this day! Plus, we have to shout out that Rocky landed in the #2 spot of our Arnold/Sly summer countdown… so check that episode out if you haven’t yet! (Showing Friday, December 25th, Saturday, December 26th and Sunday, December 27th at the State Theatre.)
Next up, the State is bringing in their first Disney movie since their reopening! Yes, this is the beloved 1964 musical starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke! If nothing else, seeing this in a theater will help wash out the taste of the total rehash that was Mary Poppins Returns… 🙂 (Showing Friday, December 25th, Saturday, December 26th and Sunday, December 27th at the State Theatre.)
Some Like It Hot
Finally, the State will be showing the beloved 1959 Billy Wilder comedy, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe! This was voted as the #1 movie on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years, 100 Laughs” list of the 100 greatest American comedy movies. So, if you’ve never seen this before, you owe yourself to check this out! (Showing Saturday, December 26th and Sunday, December 27th at the State Theatre.)
New This Week to Blu-ray and 4K
- The War with Grandpa (2020)
- The Craft: Legacy (2020)
- Kajillionaire (2020) (DVD only)
- Jiu Jitsu (2020) (DVD only)
- Akira (1988) (new to 4K Blu-ray!)
Older Movies New to Streaming
- Rango (2011) (premieres Monday, December 28th)
- Soldiers of Fortune (2012) (premieres Friday, December 25th)
- American Animals (2018) (premieres Sunday, December 27th)
- Hope Gap (2020) (premieres Monday, December 28th)
- Our Idiot Brother (2011) (premieres Monday, December 28th)
- Soldiers of Fortune (2012) (premieres Friday, December 25th)
- The House Sitter (2016) (premieres Sunday, December 27th)
- Hope Gap (2020) (premieres Monday, December 28th)
- No new movies on Shudder this week. Sorry!
- Max Keeble’s Big Move (2002) (premieres Friday, December 25th)
- Independence Day: Extended Version (1996) (premieres Saturday, December 26th)
The Criterion Channel:
- Thursday, December 24th: La flor (2018)
- Friday, December 25th: Double Feature: And to All a Good Fright – Cronos (1993), Black Christmas (1974)
- Saturday, December 26th: Saturday Matinee – City Lights (1931)
- Sunday, December 27th: Cary Grant Comedies – I’m No Angel (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938), My Favorite Wife (1940), The Talk of the Town (1942), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Indiscreet (1958), Operation Petticoat (1959), The Grass is Greener (1960), That Touch of Mink (1962), Father Goose (1964)
- Monday, December 28th: Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)
- Tuesday, December 29th: Short + Feature: Altitude Adjustment – Snow Canon (2011), Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
- Wednesday, December 30th: Films by Camille Billops and James Hatch – Suzanne, Suzanne (1982), Older Women and Love (1987), Finding Christa (1991), The KKK Boutique Ain’t Just Rednecks (1994), Take Your Bags (1998), A String of Pearls (2002)
The Shameless Plugs
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