Two quick new items via Deadline, both of which happen to concern Oscar-nominated foreign-film makers who are now going to direct films with a biblical element.
Halloween started early at the box office this week thanks to an urban comedy and a scary movie, while a Tom Cruise sequel had a modestly successful opening.
One of the more persistent controversies over the past two years has concerned films that are set in ancient Egypt but have no actual Egyptians in any of the lead roles.
The new version of Ben-Hur has found its Esther.
Deadline reports that the part, which was going to be played by Gal Gadot until her Wonder Woman commitments got in the way, will now be played by Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-British actress who currently co-stars on the TV series Homeland.
Deadline reports that other actresses who were up for the part included: Sofia Boutella, who is Algerian; Moran Atias, who is Israeli; and Natalia Warner, about whose background I currently know nothing.
Boniadi made the news a few years ago when Vanity Fair reported that she briefly dated Tom Cruise between November 2004 and January 2005, after the Church of Scientology conducted some sort of “wife-auditioning process” for him. She no longer belongs to the Church.
Box-office update: Robots ride dinosaurs, some films do better than the buzz would suggest, and Noah leaves North American theatres (while enjoying its third week in Japan)
The big story this week is that Transformers: Age of Extinction supposedly became the first film of the year to gross over $100 million in a single weekend (in North America, that is) — but that figure was quickly disputed by rival studios, who said the film actually came in just a tiny bit beneath that amount. Whatever. It was still pretty huge.
Box-office update: Edge of Tomorrow “wins” or “loses” the week depending on how you look at it, and more
Depending on how you look at it, Edge of Tomorrow either “won” or “lost” at the box office this past weekend.
That’s right, you can actually argue that Edge of Tomorrow “won”. Most reports have focused on the fact that the $28.8 million that the film opened to in North America last weekend fell well behind the $48 million that the low-budget romance The Fault in Our Stars opened to, and it even fell a bit behind the $34.3 million that Maleficent earned in its second week. But Edge of Tomorrow actually won the weekend overseas and thus worldwide.