Last January, I reported how Bill Abbott stepped down from his presidential and CEO position at Hallmark. Now, another business leader from the Gold Crown company has decided to walk away. On May 17th, Nellie Andreeva, from Deadline, published an article about the departure of Michelle Vicary, who was Hallmark’s executive for programming and production. The article states how Michelle will step down from her position “at the beginning of June”. While no replacements have been announced at this time, Randy Pope and Darren Melameth, the company’s SVPs for Programming, Development, and Content Strategy, will serve “as interim co-heads of the department”. The article does not mention why Michelle decided to leave the company. However, Nellie does write how Wonya Lucas, the current CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, “has led a major restructuring” and made diversity and inclusion “a top priority”.
2021 has, so far, left me wondering if Hallmark has less money than they let on to the public. While everything I’m about to say is pure speculation, I have noticed some things that lead me to believe Hallmark’s entertainment division might not be fiscally strong. Nellie states in the aforementioned article how Lucas’ restructuring of the company has “resulted in some layoffs this year”. Even though the number of layoffs is not mentioned, the news of layoffs is not a good sign for any business. As of mid-to-late May, there have been no announcements for upcoming movies in the Picture Perfect Mysteries series, the Ruby Herring Mysteries series, the Signed, Sealed, Delivered series, and Hallmark Hall of Fame. In fact, there were no new Hallmark Hall of Fame or Signed, Sealed, Delivered films released in 2020. This makes me believe Crown Media Family Networks may be quietly moving away from these series in order to cut costs. In March, it was reported that daytime talk show, Home & Family, would be ending on August 4th. No official reason has been given for the show’s cancellation. Now adding the news of Michelle’s departure, Hallmark appears to be experiencing a rough patch. Everything I said is pure speculation. But I think a tell-tale sign of financial troubles would be if Hallmark created less Christmas movies than they did last year.
What are your thought’s of Michelle’s departure from Hallmark? Do you like the direction the network is currently moving in? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here are the links to the articles I referenced in this post:
As I said in a Word on the Street post last September, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to write about these days. So, when I stumbled across this story on Twitter, I thought it would make a perfect topic for the first Word on the Street article of 2021! According to Aaron Couch from The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is creating a new film titled Wonka. The movie “hails from Paddington director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman”. Aaron also says of the script that “Simon Rich wrote the original draft, with Simon Farnaby and King penning the current draft”. As of January 2021, the film is scheduled for a March 17th, 2023 release. It is also about Willy Wonka’s life before his beloved candy factory came into the picture.
While everyone involved with this project is busy creating their next cinematic project, they are forgetting one major detail. Back in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka’s backstory was revealed. Through a series of flashbacks, the audience learns that Willy created his candy factory in spite of his strict father, who forbade the chocolatier from eating sweets when he was younger. Because of this, it makes Wonka seem like it is using rehashed material and trying to pass it off as new. What would have been more interesting is a movie about Ronald Dahl and how he created one of his most iconic stories.
Back in 2019, I mentioned that Taylor Cole announced a third film in Hallmark’s One Winter series; One Winter Wedding. However, the reality of the project seemed distant at the time. This was because two of the series’ stars, Jack Turner and Taylor Cole, were working on separate film projects. Now, two years after Taylor made the aforementioned announcement, One Winter Wedding is finally going into production! On the website for UBCP/ACTRA (Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the movie will start filming on February 1st and end on February 20th. With this production schedule, I predict One Winter Wedding will either be a Christmas film or a 2022 ‘New Year New Movies’ presentation.
What are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Do you plan on seeing any of the films I mentioned? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here are the links to the articles I referenced in my post:
Originally, I was going to publish my 255 blog follower dedication review. While I still plan on posting this review, I decided to publish a Word on the Street story instead. In one of last month’s Word on the Street articles, I announced two Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series, Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries, were either filming a new chapter or were about to film a new chapter. It looks like these two series are not the only ones to receive a new movie. On Creative B.C., the filming schedule for an upcoming Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 film were posted! ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How To Con A Con’ will start filming on November 6th and end on November 24th. Even though the movie’s synopsis is not known at this time, I hope it is about comic conventions, based on the listed title. Meanwhile, ‘Mystery 101: Movie 6 – Killer Timing’ just started filming on November 2nd and will conclude on November 20th. Like I said about Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries in October, these films in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 series will likely premiere in 2021, based on their filming schedules.
What are your thoughts on this announcement? Are you looking forward to any of these films? Tell me in the comment section!
Even though Hallmark’s Christmas season has arrived, there are two mystery movies listed on Creative B.C. that are either currently in production or will soon be in production! The first one is ‘The Chronicle Mysteries 5 – Helped To Death’, which is filming until November 4th. This is exciting news, especially since all of the movies in this series, led by Alison Sweeney, aired in 2019! The second film is ‘Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent’. It will start filming on October 26th and end on November 13th. I’m happy to see Crossword Mysteries receive another chapter, as I enjoyed the previous film, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver! Based on their production schedules, both movies will likely premiere sometime in 2021.
Have you seen any movie from these series? If so, are you looking forward to the films I mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comment section!
For this month’s Word on the Street story, I was only going to talk about 2019’s ‘The Lion King’ receiving a second film. However, when I heard about Cineworld’s recent decision, I just had to talk about it. Yesterday, on October 4th, Chris Lindahl from IndieWire reported “a temporary suspension” is being placed on the United States and United Kingdom locations of Regal Cinemas. Chris also said this plan would start on October 8th. Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, claimed in an official statement the closure “is not a decision we made lightly”. This closure being temporary is a silver lining. However, I do feel bad for Regal’s employees and patrons.
Others have also talked about this story, including Todd Russell from Movies, Movies, Movies, and Geeky and Kneon from Clownfish TV. Todd’s take on this piece of movie news brings up a good point. In his article, Todd questions Regal’s practices for new releases, asking the question, “if you temporarily ignore the theatrical window and embrace more direct to streaming titles you can show plenty of new movies, so why won’t you try that?” Here’s another question that should be asked; why would Regal decide to re-release Alita: Battle Angel if they had even the slightest concern of their theaters staying open? Until newer blockbuster titles can come back to the big screen, Regal could have shown older films to keep themselves afloat. While this idea has been adopted by other theaters, it seems like it would have been a win-win for Alita’s fans and Regal. According to Clownfish TV’s Kneon, an online campaign created by fans of Alita revolved around their effort to have Alita: Battle Angel re-released. Three days later, on October 3rd, Kneon announced the campaign was successful, with his video featuring a tweet from Regal Cinemas about the news. Regal’s tweet was posted on October 2nd, two days before IndieWire’s ChrisLindahl reported on Cineworld’s decision. Alita: Battle Angel was originally scheduled for an October 30th re-release.
Sources for this piece of movie news:
Clownfish TV’s videos (you can type these titles in the search bar on Youtube): ‘Alita: Battle Angel RE-RELEASED to Theaters? Fans Want #RereleaseAlita to Trend!’, ‘Alita Army VICTORIOUS! Theaters to #ReReleaseAlita Beginning this Month!’, and ‘Regal Cinemas SHUT DOWN! Hollywood Will Take YEARS to Recover!’ (these videos may contain language)
While this isn’t a recent piece of movie news, it’s one I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about. Last week, Rebecca Rubin and Brent Lang from Variety revealed the 2019 remake of Disney’s The Lion King will receive a second film. The two authors said “the new movie will partly focus on the early years of Mufasa”. The screenwriter from the 2019 movie, Jeff Nathanson, will join the team, with Barry Jenkins directing the film. Since we’re on the subject of The Lion King, I’d like to share one of Rafiki’s quotes from the 1994 film; “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or…learn from it”. With this new creative decision, it seems like Disney is running from their past, especially when it features mistakes. Two years ago, the studio released Solo: A Star Wars Story, a movie that revolved around the early years of Han Solo. The film’s overall box office results were $393,151,347, making it one of the lowest grossing films in the franchise’s history. Solo: A Star Wars Story contributed to a problem Disney has had for years; choosing not to tell newer stories in favor of tried-and-true properties. Even though this new chapter of The Lion King is in pre-production, Disney’s choices show they are refusing to follow Simba’s lead by learning from their past.
I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to discuss on 18 Cinema Lane. However, I am thankful when I come across news about Hallmark productions! While I did talk about stories revolving around Hallmark films last month, those projects were Christmas related. In this Word on the Street article, I will address Hallmark films that will premiere outside the Christmas season! With the ‘Fall Harvest’ line-up just around the corner, it’s common for viewers to see trailers rolled out as the weeks go by. My Word on the Street story will focus on the first new trailer for the line-up. Before the Christmas season begins, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries likes to air some new films during the Fall. This Word on the Street story will feature a discussion about two upcoming movies; with one receiving a trailer and the other receiving a synopsis. As I sometimes do, I will share my opinion on these pieces of movie news.
Two new trailers have been released from Hallmark; with one for a ‘Fall Harvest’ film and the other for an upcoming movie from Hallmark’s second network! The first one represents the Hallmark Channel movie Follow Me to Daisy Hills, which currently has a release date of September 19th. In the trailer, there were three scenes that featured good cinematography! These scenes revolved around a river during the autumn season. The acting from the leads, Cindy Busby and Marshall Williams, appeared stiff to me. However, this is not a reflection of their performances in the film, as the movie has not been released yet. I am disappointed that with a project called Follow Me to Daisy Hills, there were no daisies to be found. It makes me wonder why the film’s town is even called ‘Daisy Hills’ at all?
The other trailer is for one of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest titles, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift. This movie is advertised on the main page of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ official website and boasts a release date of September 27th. As I look back on this specific trailer, I noticed how this movie feels like a complete tonal shift from its predecessor. From what I remember, JL Family Ranch was a gritty, modern western that had a certain amount of adrenaline and suspense. According to the trailer, however, the sequel is a heart-felt drama that focuses on family and second chances. Even the color scheme and lighting appear brighter than the first film.
Speaking of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, an official synopsis for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly has been posted on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website! Below is the description for the movie:
“Aurora’s high school reunion turns deadly when a body is found in the hotel pool. Aurora and her Real Murders Club help investigate which classmate was most likely to kill.”
Even though the movie sounds interesting, I am disappointed that the “reunited” part of the film will not have anything to do with Aurora’s ex, Martin. In a Word on the Street story back in February, I wondered if Martin would return to the series, based on the film’s title. A dynamic that hasn’t been featured in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film before could have been found in this project. But I guess there’s always the next film. What I do wonder is if any mentions of Nick and Aurora’s engagement will be found within the script? Will we see any wedding planning in the film? If we do, it would continue the story’s overarching continuity.
What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Are you looking forward to any of the films I talked about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Here are the links if you want to check out each source:
Yes, I know I haven’t written a Word on the Street story since June. This is because I either wasn’t able to find a movie news story that interested me or I didn’t get around to discussing movie news. However, I did find some Hallmark related news that I had to write about. The first story features Hallmark favorite, Jen Lilley. In an article from soaps.com, Amy Mistretta reports how Jen revealed the plot of her new movie, which will likely air during the Christmas season. The article states that the film will revolve around a reporter who goes on a Tiger Cruise with members of the United States Navy. Amy explains that “the Navy puts on the special event once a year where their families can come on the ship for Christmas”. From what I can recall, the only film about Tiger Cruises that is known is the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. However, that film revolved around the events of 9/11. This news about Jen’s movie is interesting because it fills a creative void that hasn’t been revisited in sixteen years. Also, Hallmark can make a good military related film when they put their mind to it.
These next two stories come from the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark! In a tweet that was retweeted by Hotline to Hallmark, Rochelle S. Aytes, the star of the upcoming film, A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn, announced that her movie has wrapped production! While the film’s synopsis is not known at this time, the movie will apparently feature horses, as Rochelle mentions petting a horse in her tweet. Another retweeted tweet from Hotline to Hallmark reveals that Will Kemp will co-star alongside Lacey Chabert in the Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas Waltz! Denise Petski, from Deadline, shares that “Christmas Waltz reunites Kemp and Chabert, who starred in last year’s Valentine-themed Hallmark Channel movie Love, Romance & Chocolate.” As someone who liked the aforementioned Valentine’s film, it’s nice to see actors who had good on-screen chemistry work together again! I’m hoping Will and Lacey’s Christmas project is just as enjoyable to watch as their previous creative endeavor!
Yesterday, on June 9th, Orion Pictures/MGM Studios released an official trailer of the upcoming film, Bill & Ted Face The Music! The studio also released an official poster for the movie! I haven’t seen any of the films in the Bill & Ted series, but I really like what I’ve seen and heard about this third film so far. The poster itself adopts elements that were found in film posters from the past; artistic visuals that come together to create a singular image conveying mystery and intrigue. As for the trailer, I found it hilarious, as it had the kind of random humor that I resonate towards. This marketing campaign makes me want to watch the previous two Bill & Ted films! As of June 2020, the film has an August 21st premiere date. Bill & Ted is not the only Hollywood IP that has received sequel related news. Two weeks ago, Chris Murphy from Vulture reports how Sonic the Hedgehog will get a sequel! According to the article, “Paramount Pictures and Sega Sammy have begun development on a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog”, which means the project is in the pre-production stage. The producers who have signed on to the film are Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara, Hajime Satomi, Haruki Satomi, and Tim Miller. The first film’s director, Jeff Fowler, and screenwriters, Pat Casey and Josh Miller, are coming back for the second movie. While I haven’t seen Sonic the Hedgehog, I think this is great news for Sonic fans and for people who support studios that put their customers first. Even Chris, from Vulture, says “listening to feedback can be incredibly fruitful for everyone involved”. Hopefully, the sequel can be just as successful as its predecessor.
Months after Coronavirus forced businesses all over the world to pause their operations, steps are now being taken to reach a state of normalcy. In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing discusses how “the Quebec provincial government and health officials have given the green light for film and TV production to resume on June 8 amid the coronavirus pandemic”. Before this decision was made, Manitoba had resumed film and television production in their province of Canada. Toward the end of May, Vancouver Island said “the industry can resume shooting by June”. Robert Buffam, from CTV News, writes about the precautionary steps film and television teams will take to work as safely as possible. Ric Nesh, a television show producer, shares “We may reduce, revise, rewrite scenes without the larger crowds. No we may, we will revise scenes.” In the United States, film studios and movie theaters are making attempts to go back to work. A Hollywood Reporter article from June 8th states “anxious theater owners — and Hollywood studios — are being given the go ahead to flip on the lights later this week by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and the Department of Public Health.” June 12th is the selected date when California’s cinemas may start their operations again. Similar to the film and television industry in Canada, safety precautions will be put in place. One example is adopting a 25% capacity limit “or no more than 100 people per auditorium”.
I know this piece of news relates to television. But because it’s about Hallmark going out of their comfort zone, the story became an exception. Earlier last month, Emre Kaya from The Cinema Spot reported how Hallmark Channel is creating a new television show! The article shares that this is the network’s “first high-budget drama series”, which “is a science fiction soap drama series set on a space colony.” Emre’s post doesn’t reveal much information about the project. As of June 2020, Hallmark has not made an official statement about the show. When I first read this story, I was excited at the idea of Hallmark creating a project that is very different from their norm. On several occasions at 18 Cinema Lane, I have talked about how Hallmark should take creative risks and think outside the box. It looks like they’re starting to pay attention to these ideas. Maybe this show could be the beginning of a new era where creativity and originality reign.
In a recent video, Kneon and Geeky Sparkles, from Clownfish TV, reported the news that Kevin Mayer will be stepping down as the CEO of Disney+. While no reason for this decision was provided, it should be noted that Kevin will now be the Chief Executive of the musical app, Tik Tok. He will also be the Chief Operating Officer of the company that owns Tik Tok, ByteDance. To fill his position at Disney, Rebecca Campbell has now been named Chairman of Disney’s Direct-To-Consumer and International, the role that allows her to oversee Disney+. Despite being the former President of Disneyland, she does have experience working with Disney’s streaming service. According to Geeky Sparkles, “she set up Disney+ overseas, she was key in that”. Ken Potrock will now be the President of Disneyland and Kareem Daniel will take Ken’s place as President of Consumer Products. Currently, it’s unknown who will take Kareem’s position as President of Walt Disney Imagineering/Operations/Product Creation/Publishing/Games. Also, Josh D’Amaro is the new Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, the position Bob Chapek left behind when he became Disney’s CEO. Since Josh is giving up his title as President of Walt Disney World in order to take this new position, Jeff Vahle will take his place. Taking Jeff’s place as President of Disney Signature Experiences is now Thomas Mazloum. Through this confusing domino effect, both Kneon and Geeky bring up concerns that I couldn’t agree with more. Kneon thinks these new leadership choices are a bad idea because he sees it as history repeating itself. He brings up how the President of Disney Parks West, Catherine Powell, was let go by Disney last September. Geeky asks, “is any of these changes going to equate to actually, you know, better changes in the parks and better changes, you know, in the Disney company in general or are we just going to get the same old shit, different day”? Kneon responds by saying “Nobody’s in their position long enough to make any kind of a difference”. At this point, it’s difficult to tell how these leadership changes will affect Disney’s outcome. However, I do agree with Kneon’s point. To bring up one example, Bob Chapek has been the CEO for less than six months. But, from my perspective, I find it challenging to think of anything significant he’s done in his new position.
Here are the sources featured in this story:
Type “Disney Plus Boss JUMPS SHIP for TikTok! Disney Leadership PANIC Shuffle?!” into Youtube search bar or visit Clownfish TV’s official Youtube channel (there is some language in this video)
Trevor Donovan, an actor from Hallmark, appeared as a guest on a recent episode of the Deck The Hallmark podcast. While on the episode, he shared two projects that are currently in the works, but are not completed due to the Coronavirus. The first one was described as an “indie film/Hallmark acquisition that will be shooting in Hawaii”. For the second project, Trevor says it will “hopefully be able to parlay that right into a Hallmark movie in Hawaii after that, so two back to back”. None of these projects are confirmed as belonging to Hallmark, as of May 2020. However, it was indicated in the interview that the potential is there. As far as I know, Hallmark has never filmed a movie or had a movie take place in the Aloha State before. This would introduce their audience to a newer landscape than is not usually showcased. While the plot for both projects is currently unknown, I hope one of these is a Christmas film. Hallmark has never created a Christmas movie that takes in Hawaii. Also, it would be nice to hear Trevor sing Mele Kalikimaka.
Here is the link to the Deck the Hallmark podcast:
Before I start this Word on the Street article, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 16th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Movie and Story of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The last award will be posted on the April 17th! Here is the link to the poll:
For a while, there has been a rumor about Sam Raimi directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I choose not to talk about this story because, at the time, it was a rumor that hadn’t been confirmed or denied. Now, the director himself has confirmed his involvement in the upcoming Marvel film! Jim Vejvoda, from IGN, reports that this news was first “confirmed by the project’s original director, Scott Derrickson, in a social media post wishing Raimi well with the film”. But, prior to confirming this news himself, Sam stated “I loved Doctor Strange as a kid, but he was always after Spider-Man and Batman for me, he was probably at number five for me of great comic book characters”. The news seems to spark positive reactions from fans, including Josiah from Geeks + Gamers. In a video titled ‘Sam Raimi will Direct Doctor Strange 2 | Marvel’s Best Decision in a Long Time!’, Josiah says “I think that Sam Raimi is, just, the perfect choice for this because he does have a background in horror. I think that he will be great for this. He does know how to handle that type of genre very well and he’s done comic book movies before as well. So, obviously, he has the experience and the know-how to blend these together”.
Type ‘Sam Raimi will Direct Doctor Strange 2 | Marvel’s Best Decision in a Long Time!’ into Youtube’s search bar or visit the official Geeks + Gamers Youtube channel
In a Word on the Street story two months ago, I talked about how Bob Iger stepped down as Disney’s CEO to become the executive chairman of the company. Despite not being the company’s leader anymore, The New York Times feels Bob will save Disney during the days of the Coronavirus’ presence. On April 12th, Ben Smith reports that “Mr. Iger has effectively returned to running the company”, saying that “Mr. Iger smoothly reasserted control”. While companies around the world are doing whatever they can to survive, Disney’s CEO situation now comes across, in retrospect, like a big reactionary move. Two people that feel similarly are Kneon and Geeky Sparkles from Clownfish TV. In a video titled ‘Disney Fights to LIVE! LAYOFFS in Disney World! Bob Iger in Charge!’, Geeky expresses that The New York Times article says “that they [The New York Times article] did mention he [Bob Iger] is not CEO”, while referencing an article on her blog called Pirates and Princesses. However, both Geeky and Kneon question where Bob Chapek has been during this time, with Kneon saying that “Bob Chapek, sort of, got sidelined”. On this topic, I agree with Kneon and Geeky. Anytime I watched their videos about Disney’s business decisions during the time of the Coronavirus, Bob Iger has been the one to give the official statements, not Bob Chapek. In fact, it makes me wonder what exactly Bob Chapek has done as Disney’s CEO? While The New York Times article focuses on Bob Iger’s perspective about how different Disney will be after the Coronavirus, Geeky speculates if Disney regrets making their CEO decision, saying “I bet Disney wishes, God, they just waited a couple more months to make that announcement, the switch, because now they just look stupid”.
Type ‘Disney Fights to LIVE! LAYOFFS in Disney World! Bob Iger in Charge!’ into Youtube’s search bar or visit the official Clownfish TV Youtube channel (there is some language in this video)
Because of the Coronavirus, Hallmark’s schedule was been thrown off-course. Movies that were originally announced have now moved release dates. One of these films is Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death. When I reported on this movie back in February, the date for this film was set for May 17th. However, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ official website lists that date for the premiere of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries:Heist and Seek. In an episode on the Deck The Hallmark podcast, the film’s director, Ron Oliver, says that the film might premiere in August. Meanwhile, a new movie, titled When it Rains it Pours, has been listed on Hallmark Channel’s website! Here is the synopsis directly from the network’s website:
“After swearing off dating for a full year, Leah quickly learns her new commitment has made her a magnet for men.”
As of April 2020, the film has been given a release date of June 13th. It also stars Cindy Busby and Christopher Russell.