Zoe Saldana to Receive “Star of the Year” Award at CinemaCon

Zoe Saldana is a shining star

The 43-year-old Puerto Rican and Dominican American actress will be among the honorees at CinemaCon’s Big Screen Achievement Awards.

Zoë SaldañaSaldana will receive a CinemaCon Star of the Year award as The Adam Project star prepares for the release of a slate of projects that includes a new David O. Russell filmKeyhole Garden, the Avatar franchise and a new Guardians of the Galaxy installment.

The Big Screen Achievement Awards will be held at CinemaCon headquarters at Caesars Palace on April 28 and will be hosted by Entertainment Tonight veteran Kevin Frazier from inside the Colosseum. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on the big-screen achievements of actors and filmmakers.

Other honorees include Robert De NiroBilly Eichner, Abby Ryder Fortson and Glen Powell.

Additional honors are expected to be announced.

“CinemaCon may be the only time during the course of the year where the exhibition community gets to thank the creative world for providing the very best in the world of movies,” said Neuhauser. “Our roster of honorees this year represents an incredible scope of talent and to have one of the most legendary actors in the history of film being honored, that of course being Robert De Niro — well, it really doesn’t get better than that.”

The news comes just days before the big event that sees Hollywood studios and cinema operators gather in Las Vegas for the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

This year, all five major Hollywood studios plus Lionsgate and Neon will be touting their upcoming slates during their time on stage inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

CinemaCon, expected to draw upward of 6,000 guests, runs April 25-28. Partners this year include both the International Cinema Technology Association and National Association of Concessionaires.

Gabriela Revilla Lugo to Pen Mattel’s Live-Action Family Drama “Christmas Balloon”

Gabriela Revilla Lugo is blowing up in Hollywood

The 39-year-old Nicaraguan film director, producer and writer is teaming up with Mattel to develop the live-action family drama Christmas Balloon.

Revilla Lugo will write the script based on a true story.

The film follows a young girl, Dáyami, living in a Mexican border town who tries to send her Christmas list to Santa tied to a balloon. The balloon is found by Randy and Marcella Heiss, a couple in Arizona grieving the loss of their own child, who make it their mission to fulfill the girl’s touching Christmas wishes.

Mattel worked with the couple and donated toys to fulfill Dáyami’s wish towards a brighter future.

“Much like Dáyami’s balloon itself, the journey of this touching story and Mattel’s direct role in fulfilling her real-life wishes made it a must-do for us,” said Kevin McKeon, VP of Mattel Films. “We were immediately struck by this little girl’s spirit and the story’s positive message. We also knew there was no one better to tell her story with passion and sensitivity than Gabriela. We are proud to work with her, along with Vital Pictures, to bring this touching family drama to audiences around the world.”

McKeon and Ivan Sanchez, Creative Executive are overseeing the project for Mattel Films. Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero of Vital Pictures are producing.

“Randy and Marcella’s story exemplifies the holiday spirit and shows the miraculous way small acts of kindness can change lives, bring families together, and inspire entire communities on both sides of the border. We can’t think of better partners than Mattel and Gabriela to bring this wonderful true story to audiences everywhere,” said Lemos on behalf of Vital Pictures.

“I am honored to bring Dáyami’s journey to life in a time when it’s clear we all need to believe in hope and magic,” Revilla Lugo said.

Writer/producer Revilla Lugo is best known for executive producing Hulu/Neon’s Palm Springs and the Netflix movie The Starling, starring Melissa McCarthy.

Neon Acquires Worldwide Rights to Rebeca Huntt’s Debut Film “Beba”

Rebeca Huntt’s acclaimed debut film is going global…

Neon has acquired the worldwide rights to Beba, the debut film by the Afro-Latina artist.

Beba, Rebeca Huntt

Huntt’s 16mm feature film of poetry and interview footage, which recently made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival to rave reviews, will debut in 2022.

Huntt undertakes an unflinching exploration of her own identity in the coming-of-age documentary/cinematic memoir. Reflecting on her childhood and adolescence in New York City as the daughter of a Dominican father and Venezuelan mother, she investigates the historical, societal and generational trauma she’s inherited and ponders how those ancient wounds have shaped her, while simultaneously considering the universal truths that connect us all as humans.

Beba, Rebeca Huntt

Huntt searches for a way to forge her own creative path amid a landscape of intense racial and political unrest as an Afro-Latina artist hungry for knowledge and yearning for connection.

“Poetic, powerful and profound, Beba is a courageous, deeply human self-portrait of an Afro-Latina artist hungry for knowledge and yearning for connection,” Neon said.

Huntt wrote and directed the film, and she produced it with Sofia Geld. Oscar nominee Petra Costa, Alyse Ardell Spiegel, Alessandra Orofino, Joy Bryant and Inuka Bacote-Capiga serve as the film’s executive producers.

Dominga Sotomayor to Write & Direct “Niebla”

Dominga Sotomayor has locked up her next project…

The 36-year-old Chilean filmmaker, one of the directors on Neon’s anthology movie The Year of the Everlasting Storm, will write and direct Niebla for RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira.

Dominga Sotomayor

The film takes place on a cruise ship heading towards a distant nondescript coastline. In the middle of the ocean, the large and eclectic group of international passengers, all seem to be escaping their own realities. Among them Julia, a 35-year-old woman who won the cruise as a raffle prize at work, embarks on what she believes to be a simple vacation and finds herself stuck in a physical and emotional purgatory.

Teixeira and Lourenço Sant’Anna will produce with Alan Terpins executive producing.

The project is planning to shoot next year.

Sotomayor previously directed Too Late to Die, which won Locarno’s Golden Leopard for Best Direction in 2018, making Sotomayor the first woman to win that prize.

Amazon Prime Video Acquires Rights in Several International Territories to “Palm Springs,” Featuring Camila Mendes

Camila Mendesrepeat Wedding Day is going global…

Amazon Prime Video has acquired a swathe of international rights on Palm Springs, featuring the 26-year-old Brazilian American actress and Riverdale star as the bride celebrating her wedding day.

Camila Mendes, Palm Springs

The Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti-starring comedy caused a splash at the Sundance Film Festival this year when Hulu and Neon sealed a record-breaking $17.5M world rights deal.

FilmNation was selling international rights to the film, and several of those key territories have now sold to Amazon, which will launch the film in Australia and New Zealand (November 20), Canada (December 18), Netherlands, France and the UK (all early 2021).

The movie’s North America release was heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, screening primarily at drive-ins before its Hulu launch.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star in the Max Barbakow-directed feature in which Milioti plays a lost and occasionally self-destructive bridesmaid to a younger sister (Mendes) getting hitched in the desert. A moving wedding toast from a fellow guest (Samberg) gets the pair talking, and they seem to be a decent match until a metaphysical event occurs, leaving the two with ample time to ponder the meaning of life and how it should be spent.

MUBI Acquires UK/Ireland Rights to Michel Franco’s Diego Boneta-Starrer “New Order”

Diego Boneta’s latest film is heading across the pond…

Arthouse outfit MUBI has acquired all UK and Ireland rights to Michel Franco’s Venice Film Festival drama New Order, starring the 29-year-old Mexican singer and actor.

Diego Boneta

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize.

Conceived six years ago, Franco’s timely class conflict drama sees a high-society wedding interrupted by the arrival of unwelcome guests as protests rage on the streets.

Parasite distributor Neon recently picked up the North American rights for the Spanish-language film. It will next play at BFI London Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. The movie also played at San Sebastian Film Festival and made its North American debut at Toronto.

Written, produced and directed by Franco, the film features an ensemble cast comprised of Boneta, Naian González Norvind, Darío Yazbek BernalLisa OwenFernando CuautleMónica Del CarmenEligio MeléndezPatricia Bernal, Roberto Medina, Enrique Singer and Gustavo Sánchez Parra. 

Boneta served as an executive producer on the project.

Colombia Selects Alejandro Landes’ “Monos” as Its Pick for the Oscar’s International Feature Film Race

Alejandro Landes is representing Colombia…

The 39-year-old Brazil-born Colombian-Ecuadorian film director’s latest project, the Spanish-language survival thriller Monos, has been selected as Colombia’s selection for the International Feature Film race at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Alejandro Landes

The film centers on a young group of soldiers and rebels training on a remote mountain in Latin America with an American hostage (Julianne Nicholson).

Moisés AriasSofia BuenaventuraDeiby RuedaKaren Quintero and Laura Castrillón star in the film, which Landes co-wrote with Alexis Dos Santos.

Monos

The film won a World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Awardat this year’s Sundance Film Festivalin Park City, Utah. 

The news comes as Neon and co-distributor Participant Media prepare to release the film theatrically in the U.S. on September 13.

Colombia has only seen one film nominated in what was formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film category. That was Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent in 2015, the year Hungary’s Son of Saulwon the Oscar.

J Balvin Earns 10th No. 1 on Billboard Latin Airplay Chart with “Ambiente”

Make that a Perfect 10 for J Balvin

The 33-year-old Colombian urban singer has earned his 10th  No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Airplay chart with “Ambiente,” the fourth single off his latest studio album, Vibras.

J Balvin

The track zooms 10-1 in its 11thweek on the chart dated July 7, and earns the week’s Greatest Gainer honors thanks to a 70 percent increase in audience (to 16.74 million in the week ending July 1), according to Nielsen Music.

The nine-position leap is the biggest jump to No. 1 since March 10, when Wisin’s “Todo Comienza En La Disco,” featuring Yandel and Daddy Yankee, rose 11 ranks (12-1).

“Ambiente,” which was released on April 13, is Balvin’s third No. 1 of the year. It follows “X” with Nicky Jam, which topped the list on the April 28-dated chart, ruling for two weeks, and “Machika” with Neon and Anitta which led for one week on March 24.

“I’m extremely grateful for so many blessings, for seeing how every day we are reinventing ourselves musically,” Balvin tells Billboard. “Thankful as we go surprising the audience with different sounds and “Ambiente” has not been the exception. I am very happy with this 10th  No. 1. Thank you for everything, onwards with the Latin culture.”

For a second week in a row, Balvin has three songs in the top 10 (“Ambiente” at No. 1, “X” with Nicky Jam steady at No. 2, and “I Like It” with Cardi B and Bad Bunny moving 7-10).

Further, for the first time in his career, Balvin holds down the top two at the same time — an achievement only seven other acts have managed in the chart’s 23-year history. Balvin is also just the fifth act to be both Nos. 1 and 2 as a lead artist, and the first since Pitbull in 2011 (Oct. 15, 2011: “Rain Over Me,” featuring Marc Anthony was No. 1, and “Give Me Everything,” featuring Ne-Yo,Afrojack and Nayer was No. 2).

“Ambiente” also lands atop the Latin Rhythm Airplay chart, rising 8-1. It’s Balvin’s 10th No. 1.

Earlier this week, Balvin earned his first-ever No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 alongside Cardi B and Bad Bunny with their hit single “I Like It.”

Red-Band Trailer Released for Bella Thorne’s “Assassination Nation”

Bella Thorne is ready for a spook-tacularSeptember…

The new red-band trailerhas been released for Neon’s Assassination Nation, starring the 20-year-old half-Cuban American actress.

Bella Thorne

The clip comes complete with trigger warnings like “blood,” “sexism,” “toxic masculinity,” “kidnapping,” “murder” and “male gaze,” as if any of those warnings will keep the curious away.

In addition to Thorne, the film, written and directed by Sam Levinson, acquired by NEON with AGBO in a big Sundance Film Festival deal, stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow, with Bill Skarsgård and Joel McHale.

If the trailer’s creepy little kid in a flag mask isn’t enough to give you the willies, here’s the logline: High school senior Lily and her group of friends live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies and chats just like the rest of the world. So, when an anonymous hacker starts posting details from the private lives of everyone in their small town, the result is absolute madness leaving Lily and her friends questioning whether they’ll live through the night.

Take a look at the red-band trailer but be warned of a few more triggers: homophobia, giant frogs, torture, to name a few.

As the narrator says, the film chronicles how her town of Salem “lost its motherf*cking mind.” And she promises, “This is 100 percent a true story.”


Assassination Nationhits theaters September 21.

Red Band Trailer Released for Plaza’s Comedy “Ingrid Goes West”

Aubrey Plaza is moving out West

The first red band teaser trailer has been released for Matt Spicer’s Sundance Film Festival award-winning comedy Ingrid Goes West, starring the 32-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress.

Aubrey Plaza

In the clip, Plaza’s character Ingrid Thorburn is seen obsessing over someone’s wedding pictures on Instagram, before showing up at the reception and pepper spraying the bride because she wasn’t invited.

The film then follows Ingrid who, after the death of her mother and a series of self-inflicted setbacks, escapes a humdrum existence by moving out West to befriend her Instagram obsession and L.A. socialite Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). The two form a rather unlikely bond and the façade begins to crack in both women’s lives — with comically malicious results.

The film co-stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, and Billy Magnussen.

Ingrid Goes West premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where writers Spicer and David Branson Smith won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Neon then snagged the film’s North American rights for around $3 million.

Ingrid Goes West arrives in theaters on August 4.