Welcome back Studio Coffee folks! It was a weekend dominated by the big dogs of the entertainment biz, largely due to TCA announcements. Before we get to those, we’ll make a quick stop at the rumor mill to talk about Taikia Waititi’s potential for an extended Star Wars stay. Then, let’s talk about Syfy expanding its adult animation block, Netflix’s Studio Ghibli acquisition and finally, the meatiest of the bunch: Apple TV+ announced a new series fromthe creator of Bob’s Burgers, two series renewals and a queer-focused docuseries.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get right into it!
Taika Waititi may be continuing his time in the Star Wars universe
The Beat’s fav director, Taika Waititi, may be expanding his Star Wars resume. The Hollywood Reporter had the exclusive reveal of the super ambiguous (but also super exciting) theory. Waititi recently accrued six Oscar nods with Jojo Rabbit and also directed a pair of The Mandalorian episodes (both top tier). Sources say it was that latter experience that led to some shoulder rubbing with series creator/writer/EP Jon Favreau – and it’s that presumption that’s brought these rumors about.
That theory’s strengthened considering that Mandalorian appears to be the litmus test for potential new Star Wars talent. Deborah Chow, for example, got her start on the D+ show and her credit can be found now on Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan movie. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that The Mandalorian has doubled a testing ground all along.
Given that we’re in the rumor stage, we’ve no clue about what Waititi may direct. At this point, he’s already got a full docket with Next Goal Wins, Thor: Love and Thunder and the live-action Akira movie. You can bet we’ll keep an ear to the ground on this headline, but for now, let’s check on some other Disney news.
Disney begins erasing Fox from its branding
- Just about a year after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney has begun rebranding its new properties by scrubbing out the word ‘Fox.’ 20th Century Fox will become 20th Century Studios, Fox Searchlight will Pictures will be known as Searchlight Pictures, and so on. It sounds more scandalous than it is but, in context, it does make sense. The reason being; Disney does not own the Fox broadcast network or Fox News. Even though the mouse’s ethics aren’t anything to commend, you can’t blame Disney for wanting to remove the association.
Syfy expands its animation block with three new series
Syfy announced this weekend that its expanding its lineup with three new original animated series for TGZG. The quietly launched hour and a half animation block focuses on adult animation and, fittingly, finds Futurama reruns at its core with a handful of other indie titles. With this recent acquisition, Syfy hopes to continue growing that space into something unique.
It begins with Magical Girl Friendship Squad; an anime comedy ordered for six 15 minute episodes. As the title suggests, it’s a girl-centric story following two women whose destinies to save the universe are complicated by the reality of affording rent. It’s created by Kelsey Stephanides, with executive producers James Belfer, Adam Belfer, and Max Benator. With a title evoking Sailor Moon vibes and a grown up premise, this one might be a hit.
Also on the docket are two 15 minute pilots: Wild Life, which follows a group of animal pals post-apocalypse and Devil May Care, which features the Devil and his social media coordinator. These, along with Magica Girll Friendship Squad, will test the waters with viewers beginning this summer, in hopes of getting full series greenlights.
Netflix nabs Studio Ghibli rights outside of North America and Japan
Netflix announced early this week that its acquired the rights to Studio Ghibli films everywhere except North America and Japan. As you may remember, the slate of Hayao Miyazaki-lead animated movies is already headed for HBO Max in the States and distributor GKIDS has begun selling digital versions across several different platforms, so the regional distinction is important.
Higher-ups at Netflix and at Ghibli are happy to increase this library’s accessibility. The partnership is already acting on that sentiment. Along with the launch, Netflix is also planning to add 28 languages of subtitles, as well as 20 in dub.
If you’re too impatient for either of those routes, don’t worry; the Netflix rollout begins soon. On February 1, Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Only Yesterday (1991), Porco Rosso (1992), Ocean Waves (1993) and Tales from Earthsea (2006) will all be available, followed by a March 1 release of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Princess Mononoke (1997), My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), Spirited Away (2001), The Cat Returns (2002), Arrietty (2010) and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013) and finally, April 1 brings Pom Poko (1994), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), The Wind Rises (2013) and When Marnie Was There (2014).
Netflix also nabbed the rights to a Walter Mercado documentary
- Prior to its premiere at Sundance Film Festival, Mucho Mucho Amor has been acquired by Netflix. The documentary feature follows Walter Mercado, the gender non-conforming astrologer who disappeared in 2007. Spoiler alert, the directors (Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch) track Mercado down and talk to him about the legacy he’s left. The ‘Flix plans to release the doc this summer.
Apple TV+ announces a new animated series and passes out a handful of second season renewals
Apple TV+ shows its continued confidence in its streaming service with the announcement of Central Park, an animated series from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, and two more second season renewals: one for Home Before Dark and another for Mythinc Quest: Raven’s Banquet. The news comes as part of this weekend’s TCA event.
Central Park has got to be the most exciting out of the bunch. Josh Gad and Nora Smith are both on board to EP and write with Bouchard and the cast itself includes Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci. Apple is pulling no punches on a crew that not only reunites two Hamilton cast members, but also recruits Bell hot off of her tenure on The Good Place. Look for it to air on Apple TV+ this summer.
Meanwhile, Home Before Dark gets its season two go-ahead months before its April 3 release. The drama follows the true story of 11-year-old detective Hilde Lysiak across ten episodes. Mythic Quest, on the other hand, arrives much sooner, on February 7. The comedy series is the next step for It’s Always Sunny regulars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day and follows a group of developers as they work on the titular video game.
Okay, one last Apple TV+ announcement
Apple TV+ may not have Star Wars, but with Visible: Out On Television, at least it acknowledges that the queer community exists. This docuseries is exactly what the title describes, with narration from Janet Mock, Margaret Cho, Asia Kate Dillon, Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Waithe on board to narrate five hour-long episodes. Visible comes out February 14.
In the run-up to Picard’s release later this week, CBS dropped one final trailer and, let me just say, it’s pretty hype. Patrick Stewart narrates, there’s another shot of the dog and he says “I don’t want the game to end,” ominously. What’s not to love? Catch me tuning in for this one when it airs on Thursday.
That’s a wrap for this weekend’s entertainment headlines. I’ve gotta go reconsider my streaming priorities, so we’ll see you back here on Friday!