Discovery+ to Begin Streaming Evgeny Afineevsky’s Pope Francis Documentary “Francesco” in March

Pope Francis is making a new Discovery.

Discovery+ has acquired Evgeny Afineevsky’s documentary Francesco, an exploration of the 84-year-old leader of the Catholic Church’s ministry and moral leadership in a time of surging right-wing populist movements, a worldwide refugee crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pope Francis

Discovery+ will begin streaming Francesco globally on Sunday, March 28, the start of Holy Week, which leads up to Easter on April 4.

“It is an honor to host the global premiere of Francesco on Discovery+, spotlighting an intimate look at one of the world’s most beloved and influential leaders, Pope Francis,” said Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, in a statement. “We are thrilled to work with a powerful storyteller like Evgeny on this important project, which is emblematic of our ability to expand our documentary programming aperture on Discovery+ to serve subscribers around the world with a diverse and growing slate of originals.”

Afineevsky earned an Oscar nomination for his 2015 documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.

For Francesco, he spent three years traveling the world to highlight some of the issues Pope Francis has made it his mission to address, including the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, the Syrian civil war, global warming and interfaith dialogue. The director spent one-on-one time not only with the pontiff but with his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI.

“I am tremendously honored that Pope Francis allowed me to witness and create this inspirational monument dedicated to the most pressing issues facing humanity today,” Afineevsky said. “His commitment to people around the world will lead us out of this difficult historical moment and into a brighter future. He is a beacon of light in this world for many and strives every day to enlighten people on how to build a bridge to a better tomorrow. It is extremely exciting to partner with discovery+ to bring his story to people around the world on the same day.”

Francesco premiered at the Rome Film Festival last October, where it made worldwide headlines for a moment in the film in which the pontiff appeared to endorse civil unions for gay people, a break from Vatican policy. The documentary also delves into the pope’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the Catholic Church’s moral authority.

“I wanted to give a voice to the victims of sexual abuse,” Afineevsky told Deadline last fall, noting that Pope Francis’s response to the scandal evolved over time, from defender of some prelates accused of misconduct to becoming a supporter of victims. “I wanted to show how the [pope] can [make] mistakes. How the person can investigate them, admit the mistakes. And take not only responsibility, but immediately take actions.”

Francesco was produced by Afineevsky-Tolmor Production with the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

MGM Moves Release Date of “No Time to Die,” Starring Ana de Armas, to Easter 2021

Ana de Armas’ big Bond moment will have to wait…

MGM’s latest James Bond film No Time to Die, starring the 32-year-old Cuban-Spanish actress, is officially moving to April 2, Easter weekend, and vacating its November 20 release date.

Ana de Armas, No Time to Die

This puts the Bond film starring Daniel Craig on the same weekend with Universal Pictures’ F9

“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today announced the release of No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until 2 April in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience. We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing No Time To Die next year,” said the studio in a statement.

MGM was the first studio to foresee how the coronavirus pandemic was going to stall exhibition, and jumped No Time to Die from its Easter weekend release date of April 10-12 to the Thanksgiving frame.

No Time to Die stands to make $1 billion worldwide, so the studio has pushed back the release date several times now in hopes of having it come out in an optimum, vibrant global marketplace.

de Armas will be making her debut in the film, portraying the character of Paloma, a CIA agent assisting Bond.

Ana de Armas’ Bond Debut Delayed as “No Time to Die” Release Moved to November Due to Coronavirus

Ana de Armas’ big Bonddebut will have to wait…

With the coronavirus affecting the box office, MGMEon and Universal are postponing the next James Bondmovie, No Time to Die from its UK and international release date of April 2 and its U.S. Easter weekend global day-and-date of April 10.

Ana de Armas, No Time to Die

The 25th 007movie will now open on November 25, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilsonand Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of No Time to Diewill be postponed until November 2020. The film will be released in the U.K. on November 12, 2020 with worldwide release dates to follow, including the U.S. launch on November 25, 2020,” said a statement given exclusively to Deadline by the three studios.

The decision to move the film to November is purely an economic decision, and not one based on growing fears over the coronavirus. 

Bond is a day-and-date worldwide release, and with the franchise back in the hands of MGM fully post Sony’s distribution of the last four Daniel Craigmovies, along with Universal, all parties involved need to have all foreign territories working at their maximum in order for the latest Bond to be a continued box office success. For a tentpole of this size and scope, that kind of decrease in business would have a significant and detrimental impact on the film’s ultimate global take.

All together, the last four Craig 007 movies – SpectreSkyfallQuantum of Solaceand Casino Royale— have grossed $3.2B in the overall near $7B franchise, with Skyfallbeing the highest grossing film of all-time in the 58-year-old series at a whopping $1.1B. Failing at the box office is not an option for Bond, and for the studios to stick to their original release plan would be a disservice to their partners in exhibition.

No Time to Die features Craig in his fifth and final outing as the fictional MI6 agent. It’s directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga from a screenplay by Neal PurvisRobert Wade, Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Léa SeydouxBen WhishawNaomie HarrisRory KinnearJeffrey WrightChristoph Waltz and Ralph Fiennes reprise their roles from previous films, with de Armas, who portrays Paloma, a CIA agent assisting Bond, joining the cast. Other new additions include Rami MalekLashana LynchDali BenssalahDavid Dencik and Billy Magnussen.

Maxwell Leads Congregation in Song at Cornerstone Baptist Church on Easter Sunday

Maxwell is celebrating Easter in big way…

The 43-year-old half-Puerto Rican R&B crooner surprised members of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Bed-Stuy, New York with an extra special Easter celebration on Sunday.

Maxwell

Maxwell, a Brooklyn native, lead the congregation with a passionate performance of Andraé Crouch’s “Let the Church Say Amen.”

In a video posted to Maxwell’s Twitter account, the singer, who was raised a devout Christian, can be heard preaching, “No matter where we go, whatever songs we write, it always comes back to God.”