Universal to Release Penelope Cruz’s Highly Anticipated Femme Action Feature “The 355”

Penelope Cruz is heading to the 355 a week earlier…

Simon Kinberg’s femme action feature The 355, starring the 47-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actress, will be released a week earlier, on January 7, 2022.

Penelope Cruz

The film was original scheduled to be released over MLK Weekend.

In the film, five women band together to stop a global organization from acquiring a weapon that could thrust the teetering world into total chaos.

The film was bought by Universal for domestic distribution at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2018 for a reported $20M.

The foreign partners, arranged through FilmNation, are hoping for a global launch for what they hope will be another Bourne Identitylike franchise, this one led by an all female lead cast including Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Cruz and Fan Bingbing, with Édgar Ramirez and Sebastian Stan also appearing.

The 355 is directed by Kinberg. He co-wrote the screenplay with Theresa Rebeck.

Alice Braga to Star in Innovative Sci-Fi Film “Share”

Alice Braga is ready to share, and share alike…

The 38-year-old Brazilian actress and producer will star in Share, an innovative sci-fi film from The Traveling Picture Show CompanyWavemaker Creative and award-winning commercial director Ira Rosensweig.

Alice Braga

Braga will star opposite Melvin GreggBradley Whitford and Danielle Campbell in the film.

Scripted by Benjamin Sutor, Rosensweig’s debut feature follows a man who awakens to find himself stripped of all his possessions, and trapped in a bare room. Aided by a primitive computer, he must learn to survive in his new isolated existence where entertainment is the only currency.

While the actors’ roles have not been disclosed, the indie will reportedly be brought to life using “unique and immersive” filmmaking techniques. Given that each character in the story is physically isolated, the shoot (which is currently underway) called for the construction of multiple identical sets with integrated camera systems, teleprompters, and live event technology.

The system designed for the project allows the actors to fully interact both with each other and the computer interface central to the story in real time, while giving the director and crew a precise pre-visualization of the finished product.

Braga recently lent her voice to Oscar-winning Pixar feature, Soul. On the television side, the actress currently stars in USA Network’s drama, Queen of the South

She also recently appeared in the HBO series We Are Who We Are, from Luca Guadagnino.

Up next, she’ll appear opposite Margot Robbie, Idris Elba and Viola Davis in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad.

PBS to Air Sergio Mendes’ Documentary “Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration”

Sergio Mendes is celebrating with friends on the small screen…

PBS will air the documentary Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration, about the 80-year-old acclaimed Brazilian musician.

Sergio Mendes

The film, which will premiere as part of special programming on PBS stations this June, is derived from the feature documentary Sergio Mendes: In The Key Of Joy by filmmaker John Scheinfeld.

Mendes, who exploded onto the scene in the 1960s with his group, Brasil ’66, played a big role in popularizing Brazilian music around the world, and at the same time created his own genre by fusing Brazilian music with American pop.

The three-time Grammy winner has made 35 albums, including Timeless, produced by will.i.am. Hit singles include “Mas Que Nada”, “The Look of Love”, “Scarborough Fair”, “Night and Day”, “Never Gonna Let You Go” and his famous rendition of “Fool on the Hill”.

In 2012, his “Real in Rio” from the animated film Rio was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song.

In Sergio Mendes & Friends: A Celebration, he is joined onscreen by friends and collaborators including Herb Alpert, Common, Lani Hall (lead singer of Brasil ’66), Quincy Jones, John Legend, Gracinha Mendes (Sergio’s lead singer since 1971 and his wife of 46 years), Jerry Moss, Carlos Saldhana and will.i.am.

“I am really looking forward to sharing my life and musical journey through the decades from Brasil ’66 through present day with PBS viewers across the nation,” said Mendes. “I hope viewers will have a joyful and uplifting experience.”

“Sergio’s warmth, humor and appreciation of life through all the senses made me feel a strong connection with him and I want others to feel the same way,” added director Scheinfeld. “His life is an exceptional blend of encounters, spontaneity and serendipity and makes him an irresistible subject for a film.”

The deal was negotiated by WNED PBS and the film’s distributor Brainstorm Media.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Rights to Penelope Cruz-Starrer “Madres Paralelas” from Pedro Almodovar

Penelope Cruz’s latest film is going global…

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all rights in North America, Australia and New Zealand to Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas), starring the 46-year-old Spanish Oscar-winning actress.

Penelope Cruz

It’s the 13th collaboration between the distributor and director/producer Pedro Almodóvar’s production company El Deseo.

Production began in Madrid last month on the film, which reunites the Spanish filmmaker with longtime collaborators Cruz, Julieta Serrano and Rossy de Palma.

Parallel Mothers is a drama that centers on three mothers, portrayed by Cruz, Aitana Sánchez Gijón and Milena Smit.

The film expands Almodóvar’s previous depictions of womanhood by turning his focus on imperfect mothers, in a departure from his prior work exploring mothers and motherhood.

Written by Almodóvar, the film also stars Israel Elejalde.

The film is produced by Agustín Almodóvar and Esther García through El Deseo.

Sony Pictures Classics recently released Almodóvar’s short film The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton, in theaters alongside a digitally restored re-issue of Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It will be available to stream on HBO Max starting on April 30.

Almodóvar won two Oscars for best foreign language film for All About My Mother and original screenplay for his 2002 title Talk to Her (Hable con Ella).

Cruz has starred in several of Almodovar’s films, including All About My Mother, I’m So Excited!, Volver, Broken Embraces, and Pain and Glory.

Rita Moreno Among the “Cast” for This Year’s Academy Awards Show

Rita Moreno has a special date with Oscar…

The producers of this year’s 93rd annual Academy Awards have cast an ensemble of 15 stars to handle all the presenting duties, including the 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

Rita Moreno

Moreno, one of the few artists to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award, is part of a “cast” that includes last year’s Oscar winners Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern.

It’s part of the producers’ pledge to do the entire broadcast as if it were a movie itself.

Last year’s Best Director winner, Bong Joon Ho, who made four trips to the stage for Parasite, is also part of this ensemble, presumably to present Best Director.

Other names announced — in alphabetical order — are Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya.

“In keeping with our awards-show-as-a-movie approach, we’ve assembled a truly stellar cast of stars,” said producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh. “There’s so much wattage here, sunglasses may be required.”

This idea of having a set group of presenters rotating in and out of the show is not new. When producer Gower Champion reimagined the 1969 Oscar show, he created what they called “Friends of Oscar,” with 10 stars exclusively serving as presenters (and no host). The format was then repeated successfully the next year, and has been tweaked occasionally over the decades — including for the innovative 2009 show produced by Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, which used combinations of five past winners each to present the acting awards.

Additional talent joining the April 25 live broadcast on ABC will be announced later.

Roadside Attractions Acquires North American Rights to Rita Moreno’s Documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It”

Rita Moreno is ready to bring her life story to America…

Roadside Attractions has acquired North American distribution rights to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It, about the 89-year-old Latina living legend.

Rita MorenoA release is planned for June 18.

Roadside’s deal excludes the television license to PBSAmerican Masters, which will present the exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere of the doc after it hits theaters.

In addition to Moreno, others featured in the Mariem Pérez Riera-directed doc include George Chakiris, Héctor Elizondo, Gloria Estefan, Tom Fontana, Morgan Freeman, Mitzi Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo.

The film covers Moreno’s 70-year-plus career rise and struggles, from her beginnings in poverty on a Puerto Rican farm to becoming a rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars, Tony Awards) winner.

She’s the first Latina actress to win an Oscar (for her role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story). Despite the win, studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.

“Roadside Attractions, I’m so pleased for your commitment to my story and especially for making it available to a broader audience. Curtain Up!,” Moreno commented.

“Stars like Rita are few and far between, her showbiz story and personal remembrances resonate for a large, diverse audience, and the heights she continues to achieve are a true crowd pleasing uplift after the year we’ve all had,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.

“Rita is an incredible inspiration to so many, hers is a success story for all women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves with courage and bravery against heavy odds,” offered director Pérez Riera. “We are so thrilled to bring Rita to theaters for audiences to spend time with a woman who, when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us.”

“There were only a small group of distributors we hoped would take notice at Sundance. Roadside was at the top of that list,” said film’s producer, ACT III’s Brent Miller and EP Norman Lear. “We think we’re in great hands with Howard and Eric at the helm and couldn’t be more excited for the world to know the Rita we now know and love.”

American Masters Pictures and Act III Productions in association with Artemis Rising and Maramar Films are producers.

Gravitas Ventures Acquires Rights to Paz Vega’s Coming of Age Film “Chasing Wonders”

The wonders of Paz Vega will be heading to U.S. theaters…

Arclight Films’ Chasing Wonders, starring the 45-year-old Spanish actress, has locked North American distribution with Gravitas.

Paz Vega

Directed by Paul Meins, the coming of age film will have a theatrical and on-demand release on June 4. Arclight is handling global sales for the film.

Set in the lush wine country landscapes of Australia and Spain, the heart-warming tale follows 12-year-old Savino, who, encouraged by his maternal grandfather to live a life of hope and possibility, takes off on the adventure of a lifetime to find the magical Emu Plains. His journey leads him to the heart of the human condition – learning to understand our parents’ past but not to be defined by it.

In addition to Vega, the film also stars Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos, Quim Gutierrez, Carmen Maura, Goya Award-winner Antonio de la Torre, Australia’s Jessica Marais, and making his feature film debut, Michael Crisafulli as Savino.

Australian award-winning screenwriter Judy Morris wrote the screenplay, which was shot over a five-year period.

Chasing Wonders made its World Premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival last year and has been selected for the Gold Coast Film Festival, where it will screen on April 18 and 22.

Chasing Wonders is an uplifting story of familial love and loss and a powerful exploration of the path to understanding and acceptance. This heartwarming film with top international stars and spectacular landscapes is exactly what audiences yearn for. We are thrilled to have our longtime trusted partners at Gravitas Ventures bringing the film to North American audiences and are certain that their team will make this beautiful film shine bright,” said Arclight Films Chairman Gary Hamilton.

“With an ensemble that includes veteran screen icons alongside exciting new talent, the filmmakers craft an inspiring coming of age story on a canvas of breathtaking vistas across multiple continents. We look forward to North American audiences taking the journey,” said Tony Piantedosi, VP of Acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures.

Hianlo Films presents Chasing Wonders in association with the South Australian Film Corporation, a Met Film and SLA Films production.

Warner Bros. to Release Eduardo Minett’s “Cry Macho” in October

Eduardo Minett will be shedding tears this fall…

Warner Bros. will open Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, starring the young Mexican actor in his English-language debut, on October 22.

Eduardo Minett,

Eastwood, a multi-Oscar winner will star in and direct the feature based on N. Richard Nash’s novel.

The film will hit theaters and HBO Max day-and-date.

Eastwood stars as a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1978, takes a job from an ex-boss to bring the man’s young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. Crossing rural Mexico on their back way to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman may find his own sense of redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.

Nick Schenk and Nash co-wrote the screenplay.

Eastwood stars with Minett and Dwight Yoakam.

Fernando Meirelles Launching Slate of Environmental Films with UK Production Firm ‘Make Waves’

Fernando Meirelles is shining a spotlight on the environment…

The 65-year-old Brazilian Oscar-nominated film director, producer and screenwriter, best known for hit films The Two PopesThe Constant Gardener and City Of God, is launching a slate of environmental films in association with UK production firm Make Waves.

Fernando Meirelles

Four of the projects on the $20M documentary slate have already attracted talent and funding.

Meirelles himself will direct Soil, a feature-length documentary about the little-known microscopic world beneath our feet, which will reveal the revolutionary solutions that could help avert a planetary food crisis.

The “flagship” film on the slate is Blue Carbon, which will be directed by BAFTA and Emmy-winning filmmaker Nicolas Brown (Serengeti Rules). With 2021 Grammy-nominated DJ Jayda G as its protagonist, the feature will spotlight a movement to grow an ocean forest across the planet to help combat climate change. The film will weave together stories of ocean activists, scientists and frontline communities, and will feature music from Brazilian samba artist Seu Jorge (The Life Aquatic). The film’s development is being funded by HHMI/Tangled Bank Studios (The Serengeti Rules).

The Shackleton Solution will look at what iconic explorer Ernest Shackleton can teach the world about how to save a continent facing a catastrophe. It will draw parallels between Shackleton’s epic Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) and a planet on the cusp of imminent environmental emergency.

Also on the slate is Law Of The Land from filmmaker Coral Brown, which asks the fundamental question: what if nature, like corporations, had the same legal rights as you and me? The feature doc will follow grassroots lawyers and Indigenous communities as they take the battle for the Rights of Nature movement into the courtrooms and onto the streets.

The slate has been co-created by Meirelles, former UN environment diplomat/producer Alexander and Irish author Don Mullan, and BAFTA-winning producer Sarah Macdonald and former Director of BBC World News Sian Kevill, all of whom will serve as EPs on the slate. Two additional films are due to be added to the lineup later in 2021.

Meirelles, a passionate environmentalist, most recently teamed up with Make Waves, Asen and Mullan on green documentary The Great Green Wall, which debuted at the Venice Film Festival two years ago.

“There is nothing more urgent than the climate crisis,” says Meirelles. “Information is what can turn the tide. Our goal is to make films that not only inform, but that enchant and engage. For my grandchildren and the grandchildren of others, that will be the theme of my work until the day I die.”

Former BBC journalist Macdonald heads investigations and documentary specialist Make Waves with former BBC journalist and executive Kevill.

Kid Cudi to Make Musical Guest Debut on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”

Kid Cudi is ready for a Saturday night first…

The 37-year-old half-Mexican American singer/songwriter and actor, whose real name is Scott Mescudi, will make his debut as a musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live next month.

Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi will appear on the April 10 episode, alongside the night’s host, Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman actress Carey Mulligan.

Kid Cudi previously made his one-and-only musical cameo during Kanye West‘s star-studded run through “Ghost Town” from ye when West was the musical guest in 2018.

Kid Cudi’s last album, Man on the Moon III: The Chosen, landed the rapper his fifth top 10 album on the Billboard 200 in December. He tweeted the happy news and emphasized it was a “dream come true” on his Instagram Story.