Culture Representation: The documentary “JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened?” features a nearly all-white group of people (and one Asian) discussing the murder case of JonBenét Ramsey, a Colorado rich girl who was brutally killed on Christmas Day 1996, when she was 6 years old.
Culture Clash: The unsolved case has been controversial because investigators and prosecutors disagree over evidence and who might be the prime suspect or suspects.
Culture Audience: “JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened?” will appeal primarily to people interested in this case or in true crime overall, but the documentary does not reveal any new facts that are helpful to this case.
Because there have already been so many news reports and documentaries about the JonBenét Ramsey case, any new ones that come along almost never have new information that can help make progress in the case. Almost every documentary about the case seems to have an agenda to push only one or two theories of who killed JonBenét Ramsey, the 6-year-old girl who was murdered on Christmas Day 1996 in her millionaire family home in Boulder, Colorado. This highly disputed case remains unsolved because there are conflicting accounts about the crime-scene evidence and numerous theories about who committed the murder.
It’s rare for a JonBenét Ramsey documentary to truly include perspectives of people who have very diverse viewpoints and theories about the case. “JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened?” (directed by Kim Duke) is one of those “agenda” documentaries, because it seems less concerned about interviewing people with a variety of perspectives and more concerned about being a one-sided tribute to Andrew “Lou” Smit, who was a prominent investigator for the Boulder district attorney’s office on the JonBenét Ramsey case. He was also an unpaid private investigator for the case when he stopped working for the Boulder D.A.’s office.
Smit (who died of cancer in 2010, at the age of 75) firmly believed that an unknown intruder or intruders committed the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. The documentary includes interviews with people who say the same thing (including JonBenét’s father John Ramsey), but not any interviews with people who believe in other theories. Furthermore, a copious amount of time in the documentary looks like a fawning biography of Smit instead of a well-rounded investigation that looks at all sides of this contentious murder case.
The documentary pushes a narrative that Smit was a crusading and often-misunderstood investigator who constantly battled over this case with the Boulder Police Department, because the Boulder PD immediately put JonBenét Ramsey’s parents at the top of the list of suspects. The documentary (which uses a lot of the same archival footage that have been in many other JonBenét Ramsey documentaries) includes clips from Smit’s personal diary-type audio tapes that he made during the investigation. However, these audio tapes do not reveal anything new, unless you want to hear some ranting from Smit about how he felt mistreated by the Boulder PD. An epilogue in the documentary mentions that the Boulder PD declined to participate in the film, because the Boulder PD has a policy not to comment on the JonBenét Ramsey case.
It’s repeated several times in the documentary that Smit refused to believe the Ramseys could be guilty because he thought that they seemed like nice people. In his audio tapes, Smit says that people like the Ramseys don’t kill their children, and he had a gut feeling they weren’t guilty. What happened to the crime investigator rule that even if people who appear to be “nice,” it isn’t enough of a reason to decide that they can’t commit a crime? It’s about evidence, not personality. It’s no wonder that Smit got a lot of criticism for not being objective enough in this case.
Smit often accused the Boulder PD of having tunnel vision by not properly looking into other suspects. However, Smit displayed a certain amount of tunnel vision of his own with very biased actions during his investigation, by going out of his way to show the Ramseys that he was on their side. The documentary mentions that during Smit’s investigation while he was working for the Boulder D.A., Smit would park in front of the Ramseys’ house every day to pray for them and even invited John Ramsey to pray with him too. While this praying activity with a possible suspect might be considered noble by some people, it’s actually very unprofessional for a murder investigator to act this way with a witness who’s under suspicion while the investigator is working on the case.
Although there have been very divisive opinions on who committed the murder, these are the indisputable facts, which have been widely reported and are reiterated in the documentary: JonBenét Ramsey was murdered in her home sometime during the night or early-morning hours. Her parents (businessman John Bennett Ramsey and homemaker Patricia “Patsy” Ramsey) and JonBenét’s older brother Burke, who was 9 years old at the time, were also home at the time of the murder. All of them have denied having anything to do with the murder. The Boulder D.A. cleared the Ramseys as suspects in 2008.
On the morning of December 26, 1996, Patsy called 911 to report that JonBenét was kidnapped. At the crime scene was a three-page, handwritten ransom note that was written on Patsy’s notepad and using a pen that was owned by the Ramseys. When the police arrived at the Ramseys’ 11,000-square-foot, three-story house, John and Patsy had already invited several of their friends and neighbors over to the home to comfort them. The Ramseys called some of these visitors over to the house before they called the police. Unfortunately, all of these people in the house inevitably contaminated the crime scene.
Instead of securing the crime scene and telling the visitors to leave, the Boulder police officers let the visitors stay and asked John to search the house again for JonBenét. John found JonBenét’s body in a basement-like area of the house. An autopsy determined that JonBenét had blunt force trauma to her head and had been strangled with a wiry cord that was still tightly wound around her neck. There are disagreements among investigators over whether she had been hit on the head first or had been strangled first. JonBenét had also been sexually violated with one of Patsy’s broken paintbrushes that was found near JonBenét’s body.
Although a former schoolteacher named John Mark Karr (born in 1964) confessed to the murder in 2006 and was arrested for it, it was later proven that Karr gave a false confession, and he was never prosecuted for the murder. He wasn’t even in Colorado when the murder happened, and his DNA did not match the DNA found at the crime scene. Karr is now living as a transgender female named Alexis Valoran Reich.
Whatever people think about the JonBenét Ramsey case, the main theories of who committed the murder identify these four possibilities:
An unknown intruder or intruders
People who believe that the Ramseys were involved think that the Ramseys know more than they’re telling and that the Ramsey family is covering up the truth. (Patsy died of cancer in 2006, at the age of 49.) The severe ligature strangulation of JonBenét indicates that it was done by an adult.
Those who think Burke was the real culprit have a theory that Burke brutally hit JonBenét on the head with an unknown object during an argument, and the blow possibly left her unconscious. According to the theory, John and Patsy found out and perhaps thought JonBenét was dead, and so the parents might have panicked because they were afraid of the scandal that it would cause their prominent family.
The “Ramseys are guilty” theory usually believes that John and/or Patsy then further assaulted JonBenét to establish another cause of death and to make it look like a stranger did it, in order to confuse investigators. A kidnapping was staged to also confuse investigators, according to the “Ramseys are guilty” theory. People who believe this theory think that even if one person in the Ramsey family actually committed the physical crime, the other family members who were home at the time eventually knew about it and helped cover it up.
Most people who think the Ramseys are guilty point to clues that the killer or killers seemed comfortable taking a lot of time to commit the crime without fear of being caught in the act. There was the highly unusual and long ransom note, written on a paper and pen from the Ramsey home. Handwriting analyses ruled out John as the writer of the note, while Patsy could neither be completely identified nor completely ruled out as the writer of the ransom note.
Everyone agrees that the words of the ransom note indicate that it was written by an educated adult. The only fingerprints found on the note were those from Patsy (who said she found the note), investigators and visitors who were in the house. The intruder theory is that the intruder could have worn gloves.
Another big clue, which was not mentioned in this documentary, was that the autopsy of JonBenét found some undigested pineapple in her stomach, indicating that she died shortly after eating the pineapple. A bowl of pineapples was on the kitchen counter when the police arrived at the crime scene, but the Ramseys denied knowing anything about it and said that it was unlikely that JonBenét prepared the pineapple meal herself.
Was it an intruder? And if so, what kind of intruder would feel comfortable enough in the Ramsey home to kidnap a child but stay long enough to feed the child a pineapple meal? And why use Patsy’s notepad in the house to write the ransom note instead of writing the note somewhere else in advance?
The Ramsey family was out attending a party earlier that evening, and the intruder theory is that an intruder could have been hiding in the house for hours and written the ransom note while alone in the house. (The Ramseys did not have all of their doors locked when they were away and when they were at home.) But no one can seem to explain the sequence of events that led to JonBenét eating pineapple in the middle of the night shortly before she died.
Police found that there were no signs of a disturbance in JonBenét’s bedroom on the night of the crime. Investigators have different theories on how JonBenét could have gone from sleeping in her second-floor bedroom, to being murdered, to her body being found by her father in an area of the house that’s below ground level and was known to few people outside of the Ramsey family. John, Patsy and Burke have maintained that they were asleep when the murder happened, and that they didn’t know that something had happened to JonBenét until the next morning.
People who believe the intruder theory think that the intruder used a stun gun to subdue JonBenét, because there were marks resembling a stun gun on the side of JonBenét’s face and on her back. People who believe that John, Patsy and/or Burke were involved think that JonBenét likely went down to the kitchen for her pineapple meal voluntarily, and something happened that caused her violent death. The marks on her face and back also matched a detached section of a toy train track owned by Burke, according several news reports with details of what the police found at the crime scene.
The documentary also mentions that Smit was able to show in video evidence that an intruder could have easily entered and left the side window to the room where JonBenét’s body was found. Smit demonstrated by climbing in and out of the window himself. However, what the documentary didn’t mention is that photographic evidence at the crime scene showed that after JonBenét’s body was found, an open window in that room had undisturbed dust and cobwebs on the window sill. If there was an intruder, the undisturbed dust and cobweb evidence definitely can raise doubts that someone entered or left by that window.
A neighbor reported hearing the sound of a frightened child screaming from the Ramsey house on the night of the murder. The documentary mentions that Smit found that there was a pipe in the room where JonBenét’s body was found that can carry sound from that room to outside of the house, but the sound cannot be heard on the upper floors inside the house. It fits into the theory that John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey couldn’t hear any signs of distress during the murder, if they were asleep in their bedrooms as they claimed.
However, the documentary doesn’t question the other side of this belief: If a kidnapped child was crying out that loudly inside the house while being murdered, how did the killer know that other people in the house wouldn’t be able to hear those noises? Furthermore, several people in the documentary describe JonBenét’s murder as slow and tortuous. And yet, it’s never explained why a kidnapper/intruder would feel comfortable murdering a screaming child in her own home, in a slow and tortuous way, without any fear of being caught by other people in the house. Wouldn’t a scared intruder kill her quickly instead of slowly torturing her?
The documentary mentions the biggest evidence to support the intruder theory: unknown male DNA was found in JonBenét’s underwear and on her longjohns that she was wearing when her body was found. All of the Ramseys’ DNA did not match this unknown DNA. What the documentary didn’t mention is that police have not ruled out that this DNA could have been touch DNA, which is DNA that could have gotten there if a man, such as a store employee or factory worker, had contact with this item of clothing before it was packaged. Because John Ramsey got to JonBenét’s body before the police did, and he carried to body to another location in the house, his DNA was all over critical areas, so it did not prove either way if he killed her or not.
Because this documentary seems to have been made to convince people that the intruder theory is the only correct theory and that Smit should get the most credit for this theory, it’s an echo chamber of people who essentially agree. In addition to John Bennett Ramsey, the documentary has interviews with John Andrew Ramsey (JonBenét’s oldest brother, from John Bennett Ramsey’s first marriage); Smit’s daughter Cindy Marra; Smit’s son Mark Smit; and Smit’s attorney Greg Walta. Also interviewed are investigative journalist/author Paula Woodward, who covered the JonBenét murder case from the beginning; John Anderson, a retired sheriff of Colorado’s El Paso County; and Ramsey Family private investigator John San Agustin, a former El Paso County Sheriff’s Office commander.
The beginning of the documentary lists Smit’s impressive work credentials, including his role in helping solve the 1991 murder of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church of Black Forest, Colorado, as if it’s proof that he could never be wrong. He spent more than 20 years working for the Colorado Springs Police Department, in addition to experience working in a coroner’s office and as an investigator for district attorneys. He later became a private investigator who refused any payment and gifts for working on the Ramsey case. John Bennett Ramsey says in the documentary that Smit even refused his offer to buy ice cream for Smit.
And yet for all this investigator experience, Smit is heard on audio saying about the Ramsey case: “I don’t think this ransom note was written by the parents. Look at all the references to death and dying.” It’s as if Smit believes that “good” parents aren’t capable of talking about their children dying. That’s Smit’s opinion, but this opinion shouldn’t be used as proof of the parents’ guilt or innocence in this case.
In another audio clip, Smit says the Ramseys should be ruled out as suspects for this reason: “There’s no bad character with the Ramseys.” Just because someone doesn’t have an arrest record or seems to have a “nice” personality isn’t proof that someone can’t commit murder. It’s an appallingly bad assumption for a murder investigator to have, because it’s based on opinion and bias, not evidence.
This documentary makes it clear that Smit had it stuck in his head that the Ramseys (who were millionaires at the time) couldn’t possibly be involved in this heinous crime. And there’s nothing wrong with believing in “innocent until proven guilty.” But time and again, in audio tapes played in the documentary, Smit makes telling comments that show a conscious or unconscious bias that appears to be based on the Ramsey’s social class. He says he thinks that the Ramseys are too “nice” or “not the kind of people” to be involved in murdering a child. It’s all really code for “I don’t think people in this income bracket should be considered likely suspects.”
One of the most noticeable flaws in this documentary is that it doesn’t offer anything substantial about what kind of person would commit this crime. If the killer was an intruder, then who else had access and intimate knowledge of the Ramsey’s home and sleeping habits to get away with this crime so easily? None of that is mentioned in the documentary, even though Smit and other investigators surely developed profiles of possible suspects.
The documentary has a brief and vague mention of a large computer database of tips from the public and other information that Smit compiled. But he also complains in his audio diaries that the police didn’t follow up on the majority of this information. Smit acknowledges what has already been widely reported: The Boulder PD was fixated on proving the Ramseys guilty, while Smit was fixated on proving the Ramseys were not guilty. The clashes were inevitable, but they show flaws and narrow-mindedness on both sides.
In 1999, a Boulder grand jury indicted John and Patsy Ramsey on two counts of child abuse related to JonBenét’s murder. However, then-Boulder D.A. Alex Hunter declined to prosecute John and Patsy Ramsey, based on lack of evidence. This secret grand jury decision wasn’t made public until 2013. John Bennett Ramsey, who gives credit to Smit for influencing Hunter to make this decision, comments in the documentary that Smit “saved our lives.”
JonBenét’s father doesn’t say anything in the documentary that he hasn’t already said in other interviews. He comments that when people ask him what he would say to JonBenét, it would be this: “I’m sorry I didn’t protect you. That’s my job as a dad.”
He also defends JonBenét’s participation in beauty pageants, by saying it was JonBenét, not him or his wife Patsy, who insisted on being in these contests. John and Patsy were vilified for allowing JonBenét to dress and act like an adult in these pageants, with critics claiming it was “proof” that they were bad parents. There has been speculation that JonBenét could have become a murder target because of her pageant activities.
We might never know why JonBenét Ramsey was killed and who murdered her. But her father says in the documentary that the “real tragedy” is that Patsy “has been maligned as awful. She was an amazing mother.” He also says that the Ramsey family and their supporters won’t give up until JonBenét’s killer is caught. Sadly, unless there is a confession backed up with proof, this is a murder that’s unlikely to be solved.
Smit’s family members seem to be carrying on his legacy by being interviewed about the case and by making public his audio and video recordings that he made about his investigation. Smit’s daughter Cindy Marra and his granddaughters Lexi Marra and Jessa Van Der Woerd (who have a JonBenét Ramsey podcast) were prominently featured in ABC’s “20/20” episode titled “The List: Who Killed JonBenét?,” which aired on January 15, 2021. This “20/20” news report is very similar to “JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened?” (including interviewing some of the same people), except the “20/20” report had a variety of interviewees and at least made the effort to explore Smit’s suspicions about who could have been the “mystery intruder.” Unfortunately, it all adds up to recycled information that does nothing to make a breakthrough in the case.
Discovery+ premiered “JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened?” on January 4, 2021.
The following content is generally available worldwide, except where otherwise noted. All TV shows listed are for networks and streaming services based in the United States. All movies listed are those released in U.S. cinemas. This schedule is for content and events premiering this week and does not include content that has already been made available.
Monday, January 25 – Sunday, January 31
All times listed are Eastern Time/Pacific Time, unless otherwise noted.
TV One’s third season of “ATL Homicide” premieres on Monday, January 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Monday, January 25
“Cotton Field Confession: Ladeddrick Love” (Episode 301) **Season Premiere** Monday, January 25, 9 p.m., TV One
“Death of Innocence” (Episode 105) Monday, January 25, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery
“Nightmare at NXIVM” (Episode 1402) Monday, January 25, 10 p.m., CNBC
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, movie theaters in some parts in the U.S. are closed until further notice. Some independent movie theaters that are physically closed are showing new movies online, as part of a “virtual cinema” program.
No new true-crime movies premiering in theaters this week.
No new true-crime podcast premieres this week.
Events listed here are not considered endorsements by this website. All ticket buyers with questions or concerns about the event should contact the event promoter or ticket seller directly.
All start times listed are local time, unless otherwise noted.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most in-person events in the U.S. have been cancelled or postponed if the event was expecting at least 50 people in the year 2021. Many events that would normally be in-person are now being held as virtual/online events.
Culture Representation: Taking place in unnamed rural area of Canada, the horror flick “Hunter Hunter” features a predominantly white cast of characters (and one indigenous person) representing the middle-class and working-class.
Culture Clash: A husband, wife and their 12-year-old daughter, who live together in a remote area, have to deal with a suspected killer wolf and encounter some surprises.
Culture Audience: “Hunter Hunter” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in “slow burn” horror films that have unexpected twists.
The horror flick “Hunter Hunter” has a relatively small cast, but the movie is big on gradually building suspense, which culminates in a shocking and very gruesome ending. This is not a movie for people who get easily squeamish at the sight of blood. But if you can tolerate blood-drenched scenes in a movie, then “Hunter Hunter” might make you curious enough to see what’s going to happen in the movie’s much-talked-about ending.
Written and directed by Shawn Linden, “Hunter Hunter” starts off as more of a psychological thriller before it turns into a gorefest. And it takes a long time (the first third of the movie) before any real action takes place. It’s a “slow burn” movie that might trick viewers into thinking that it’s going to be a predictable horror flick. It’s not a typical horror film, but the ending of the movie has such an abrupt switch in tone that it’s a climax that will no doubt confuse or anger some viewers.
“Hunter Hunter” takes place in an unnamed remote, wooded area of Canada, where a family of three people live in a modest wood house and get most of their food from hunting or growing food on their land. (The movie was actually filmed in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Alberta.) Joseph “Joe” Mersault (played by Devon Sawa) and his wife Anne (played by Camille Sullivan) live as quiet recluses with their homeschooled 12-year-old daughter Renee (played by Summer H. Howell), who is a very inquisitive and perceptive child. The family has also has a male dog named Tova.
Although the Mersaults live in a very primitive way (they don’t have electricity or phone service), they aren’t completely cut off from the world. They have a truck, which is the main way that they can make money for their fur trappings or get any needed help. Joe and Anne mostly have contact with the nearest general store, where they drive to get supplies and sell fur or other animal products.
This farming season hasn’t been a good one for the family. The harsh winter weather has yielded a smaller number of crops than usual. And money is tight. When Anne goes to the general store, she doesn’t have enough cash to buy what she needs. She offers to do a trade deal with the store’s manager, but it’s still not enough to get all the items that she wants.
To make matters worse, there are signs that there’s a wolf on the loose that’s been eating the rabbits, racoons and other animals that the family depends on for meat. While out hunting, Joe and Renee find a racoon’s paw in a trap, with the paw showing signs that the rest of the body was chewed off.
When Anne is at the general store, she notices a real-estate flyer on the bulletin board. The flyer is advertising a house for sale in the suburban city of Kearney. Anne takes the flyer. Astute viewers will also notice that the bulletin board also has a missing-person flyer for a brunette woman in her 30s named Lynne Petit.
While the family is having dinner, the topic of the nuisance wolf comes up. Anne and Joe suspect it’s the same elusive wolf that they’ve been trying to catch for a while. (The movie never goes into details of how Anne and Joe have been trying to get the wolf.)
Joe says of the wolf: “Something’s bringing it back. Either it’s food or it’s a female. If I could figure out what it’s attracted to, I could bait it.” Anne says, “It’s attracted to us. I already know. We’re a steady food supply.”
Whatever is attracting the wolf, Joe makes it clear that he wants to be the only one to handle trapping the wolf. He insists that it’s too dangerous for Anne and Renee. However, Renee persistently begs to tag along with her father, until he eventually relents later in the story. Joe teaches Renee how to look for signs of wolves and bears, how to lay animal traps, and how to skin animals. He also instructs Renee that if she ever encounters a wild animal that can kill humans, she should not run but instead she should calmly walk away.
Anne shows Joe the real-estate flyer for the house in Kearney and mentions that it might be a good idea to buy the home. Joe thinks it’s a crazy idea, since they can barely afford to feed themselves. Anne is insistent that they at least think about moving to a more modern home in a more populated area.
Sensing that they’re going to have an argument about this topic, Joe asks Renee to temporarily leave the table so he can Anne can have the rest of their conversation in private. It’s a tense discussion that Joe really doesn’t want to have. But in order to avoid a major argument, he tells Renee that he’ll at least think about moving, and they can discuss it later.
In another scene in the movie, it’s revealed that Joe and Anne use to have a modern life somewhere else, and it was entirely Joe’s idea to move in a remote area, where they could live off of the land. Anne is really starting to regret that decision. She also thinks that Renee should be raised in an environment where Renee can be around other children.
Anne says to Joe: “It feels like the world has left us behind. There isn’t another generation left.” Joe replies, “There is if we make one. Nothing pushes us out of our life. Not even you.” Anne says the only reason why she chose the life they’re living now is because she chose Joe.
This marital friction is later put on the backburner when strange things start happening. While looking to trap the wolf in the woods, Joe makes a horrifying discovery, which won’t be described in this review, but it’s something that most people would immediately report to police. Oddly, Joe does not tell anyone what he found. When he goes home, he pretends that everything is normal.
And then, the family dog Tova goes missing. Renee is very upset and fears that the wolf might have killed the dog. Anne suspects the same thing, which is why she won’t let Renee accompany her when looking for the Tova in the woods. When Anne goes to look for the dog, she makes a discovery that she also keeps a secret.
Later, Joe goes in the woods again to look for the wolf. And he doesn’t come back when he was expected. After waiting several hours and there’s still no sign of Joe, Anne goes out in the woods to look for him. She can’t find him.
A worried Anne then goes to the nearest place of authority to get help: the Municipal Conservation Department, which mostly responds to complaints about wild animals on people’s property and takes care of cleaning up any roadkill. The two employees on duty are named Barthes (played by Gabriel Daniels) and Lucy (played by Lauren Cochrane), who are both in their 30s.
Barthes and Lucy have a wisecracking banter with each other. They like to sarcastically tease each other with mild insults. But underneath the joking, it’s clear that these co-workers respect each other in a platonic way. When Anne shows up to report that Joe has been missing, she’s disappointed and frustrated when Barthes tells her that there’s nothing that this department can do because the Marsaults live on federal land, which is out of the department’s jurisdiction.
This is where there’s a noticeable plot hole in “Hunter Hunter,” because most worried spouses would then find out which authorities would handle this missing-person case and file the missing-person report there. But Anne doesn’t do that. She just goes home and continues to look for Joe in the woods. She might have been reluctant to go to other authorities because Barthes questioned if the Marsault family had a right to live on federal land, and Anne had a defensive reaction to that line of questioning.
One night, Anne hears some noises coming from the woods. She thinks it might be Joe calling for help, so she takes a risk and goes outside to find out who or what is causing these noises. Instead of finding Joe, she finds an unknown man with an injured leg. He’s barely conscious.
Anne doesn’t hesitate to help this stranger. She brings him into her house and treats the bleeding gash on his leg while he’s passed out. When he regains consciousness, it’s revealed that his name is Lou (played by Nick Stahl), and he says he’s a photographer who foolishly got lost in the woods. It seems as if his legs got tangled in some thorny bushes. When Anne asks Lou if he saw anyone fitting her husband’s description, he says no.
Anne tells Lou that she can drive him to the nearest hospital because he needs professional medical care. Anne mentions that she has limited medical supplies and she doesn’t want his wound to get infected. However, Lou is very reluctant to go to the hospital. Renee wonders why Anne is going to all this trouble to help a stranger, and Anne tells her that it’s what good people are supposed to do. But will this act of kindness be a mistake?
“Hunter Hunter” keeps people guessing on whether or not there’s a supernatural element to the story. Viewers won’t get a clear answer until the last third of the film, where most of the horror takes place. Linden’s twist-filled writing and direction make “Hunter Hunter” a true mystery where the clues aren’t obvious, but they make sense in hindsight to viewers who are really paying attention.
The cast members all do good jobs with their performances, but Sullivan is the clear standout. It’s not just because she has the most screen time, but it’s mainly because her Anne character goes through a metamorphosis from being a dutiful wife to taking charge of the household once her husband goes missing. Because of something extreme that happens at the end of the movie, some viewers will have trouble reconciling it with the rest of the story. However, it’s clear that “Hunter Hunter” doesn’t want to offer easy answers on issues relating to morality or death.
IFC Films/IFC Midnight released “Hunter Hunter” in select U.S. cinemas and on digital and VOD on December 18, 2020.
Culture Representation: Taking place in West Hollywood, California, the romantic comedy “Breaking Fast” features cast of Middle Eastern and white characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: A gay Lebanese American man, who is a religious Muslim, is still pining over his ex-boyfriend, when he meets a potential new love (a white American man who isn’t Muslim) during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and abstaining from sexual activity from sunrise to sunset.
Culture Audience: “Breaking Fast” will appeal primarily to people interested in movies about Arab Americans, Muslim religious practices and the LGBTQ community.
In many ways, “Breaking Fast” sticks to a familiar romantic comedy formula of two people meeting, having a courtship where there’s some fear of commitment, and then getting into a big argument that threatens to ruin the relationship of the would-be couple. But in so many other ways, “Breaking Fast” is definitely not a typical romantic comedy. That’s because much of the movie is about what it’s like to be a gay, religious Muslim and how to handle dating someone who’s neither religious nor Muslim. The results are a charming movie that makes up for some exaggerated acting with genuine heartfelt moments that can be relatable to any adult, regardless of religion or sexuality.
Written and directed by Mike Mosallam, “Breaking Fast” (based on his short film of the same name) takes place in West Hollywood, California, which has a large LGBTQ population. However, Lebanon is a big influence on the movie’s main character Mohammed (played by Haaz Sleiman), a hospital doctor in his mid-30s who goes by the nickname Mo. That’s because Mo’s parents and some other relatives are immigrants from Lebanon. Mo was born in the United States, but he often refers to Lebanon as “home,” as do many of his relatives who live in America.
Mo is a well-respected gastroenterologist who happens to be gay. Everyone in his life knows it, and his family members have accepted his sexuality. Mo, who is an only child, is very close to his mother (played by Rula Gardenier), who can be meddling, effusive and domineering. She keeps pestering Mo about wanting to become a grandmother. Mo could be considered a “mama’s boy” because he talks to his mother on the phone every day, sometimes more than once a day.
Mo’s father, nicknamed Baba (played by Serop Ohennisian), has a very different personality from Mo’s Mother: Baba is laid-back and quiet. Also living in the Los Angeles area are Mo’s aunt (played by Lameece Assaq); Mo’s uncle (played by Abdul Alnaif); and Mo’s beloved maternal grandmother nicknamed Tata (played by Fatima Quwaider), whom he seems to adore the most because she never pressures him to change anything about his life. They are a very tight-knit family who spend a lot of time together.
But not everyone in Mo’s life has this type of supportive and loving family. At the beginning of the movie, Mo and his family are at Mo’s house to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, a Muslim tradition where for one month, Muslims who observe this tradition have to fast, avoid thinking impure thoughts, and abstain from sexual activity from sunrise to sunset. Mo’s boyfriend Hassan (played by Patrick Sabongui) is also there, but he’s not in a celebratory mood.
Hassan, whose entire family is in Lebanon, is still “in the closet” about his sexuality to his family. Hassan is extremely worried because a female cousin has found out that Hassan is gay, and she’s threatening to tell Hassan’s homophobic father. The cousin found out about Hassan’s sexuality through Hassan’s secret Facebook account, which he has now deleted. Hassan is terrified of being disowned by his family.
Mo tries to comfort Hassan and advises him to just continue doing what he’s been doing: Telling his family that he’s single and he’s still looking for the right person. But Hassan is so paranoid about his family finding out the truth that he tells Mo that he’s thinking about finding a woman to marry so that his family won’t even suspect that he’s gay. Mo thinks it’s a terrible idea, and the look on his face shows that Mo also thinks it’s insulting to their relationship for Hassan to go to those lengths to live a lie.
Hassan reminds Mo that Mo doesn’t know what it’s like to live in fear of family who will disown other family members who are LGBTQ. Hassan seems pretty sure that he’s going to go through with a fake marriage. As Hassan joins Mo’s family for the Ramadan dinner and acts like nothing is wrong, Mo looks heartbroken and alienated from the boyfriend he thought he knew.
The movie then fast-forwards to a year later. And sure enough, Mo and Hassan have broken up and are no longer in contact with each other. Mo is in an exercise class with his flamboyant gay best friend Sam (played by Amin El Gamal), who is also a Lebanese American, but he’s not religious in the way that Mo is religious.
During this workout session, Sam chastises Mo for not being able to move on from Hassan. Mo is feeling down because he’s found out through social media that Hassan is now married to a woman and expecting a child with her. Sam thinks that Mo is long overdue to start dating again, so Sam insists that Mo go to Sam’s birthday party that night, even though it’s on the first night of Ramadan.
Mo is very reluctant, but he ends up going to the party. Sam has a crush on a guy named John (played by Christopher J. Hanke), who shows up at the party with a friend named Kal (played by Michael Cassidy), whom Mo initially thinks is out of his league because Kal is so good-looking. When John and Kal go over to Mo and Sam and introductions are made, Mo is friendly, but Mo gives the impression that he’s not looking to date anyone. However, it’s clear that there are undercurrents of attraction between Mo and Kal from the way that Kal jokes with Mo and how Mo seems to like it.
Despite this immediate attraction, the first meeting between Mo and Kal does have some awkward moments. Kal is an actor, and Mo blurts out that he doesn’t understand actors. Kal has the type of dry humor where he can say something that seems serious, but he has tell people that he’s really joking if they take it the wrong way. It happens several times between Kal and Mo that night.
Soon after Mo and Kal meet, Sam is ready to play matchmaker with Mo and Kal and speaks some words of encouragement in Arabic to Mo about it while Kal is standing there. To Sam and Mo’s surprise, Kal speaks Arabic too and lets it be known that he could understand everything that Sam was saying to Mo.
Why does Kal know how to speak Arabic? Kal spent part of his childhood in Jordan, where his military father was stationed. Therefore, Kal is also very familiar with Islam and Muslim traditions. Kal is not religious or Muslim, but he has no problem respecting other people’s religious beliefs. During Mo and Kal’s conversation, Kal finds out that Mo strictly observes Ramadan.
After an embarrassing situation where Sam practically harasses Mo to follow Kal into the bathroom (nothing sexual happens), Mo is ready to call it a night. As Mo is leaving, he notices Kal standing outside. Kal invites Mo to walk with him to a nearby grocery store. Kal tries to make an excuse not to go, but Kal persuades him.
It’s during their walk together that romantic sparks start to fly between Mo and Kal. The icebreaker happens when Kal mentions that his full name is Kal-El, because he was named after the birth name of Superman. That’s when Mo and Kal find out that they’re both big fans of Superman and that their favorite “Superman” movie actor is Christopher Reeve. And they both say that their favorite “Superman” movie is the first one from 1978.
During this conversation, Kal and Mo find out that they both do not drink alcohol. They also talk about how Mo’s Muslim faith affects his life. Kal says to Mo: “It must be hard to find a good Muslim guy in this town … I bet most Muslims [reject] you for being gay, and most gays don’t get down with God.” Mo replies, “I was born gay, and I love God. The two can and should be able to co-exist.”
During this leisurely stroll, Kal mentions that he’s going to head to Fubar, a local gay nightclub, to meet up with some people he knows. He asks if Mo wants to join him, but Mo politely declines and says that nightclubbing isn’t his thing. When Mo and Kal arrive at Fubar, they go their separate ways.
The next day, gossipy Sam finds out that Mo and Kal spent some time together after the party. Naturally, Sam wants to hear all the details. Sam is shocked and disappointed to find out that Mo and Kal didn’t kiss, didn’t exchange phone numbers, and didn’t even tell each other that they wanted to see each other again.
But there would be no “Breaking Fast” movie if Mo and Kal didn’t see each other again. That moment comes when Mo is in an elevator at his hospital job, and Kal just happens to step into the elevator. They are pleasantly surprised to see each other. Mo asks what Kal is doing at the hospital, and Kal says he was there to visit a patient and that everything is fine, but he doesn’t go into further details.
Kal teases Mo by asking him why Mo “ditched” him outside Fubar. Kal says that he thought he made it clear to Mo that night that he was only going to be in the bar for a few minutes. He thought Mo would be waiting for him outside, so Kal was disappointed to see Mo was gone. Meanwhile, Mo expresses genuine surprise and says he wasn’t aware of this misunderstanding.
Kal is more assertive and open about his attraction to Mo, so he suggests coming over to Mo’s place to cook an Iftar dinner for them. Iftar is the after-sunset meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan, to break the fasting for the evening. Mo and Kal have a cute meet-up at a grocery store to buy ingredients for the dinner. It’s where Kal shows his knowledge of Arabic food, and he flirtatiously informs Mo that he doesn’t like stems in tabouli, while Mo playfully disagrees.
Although Kal seems like a great guy, Mo is approaching this possible relationship with caution, not just because it’s starting during Ramadan but also because Mo doesn’t want to get his heart broken again. Mo takes a “let’s be friends first” approach to hanging out with Kal, who respects Mo’s wishes to keep their budding romance chaste, for now. Mo is so strict about following Ramadan that he won’t even allow Kal to talk about kissing during the hours that Ramadan must be observed.
One of the funnier scenes in the movie is when Kal shows up early to Mo’s place for their first dinner date. Mo has just gotten out of shower, wearing nothing but a towel. He answers the door, not expecting Kal to be there. They hug, but Mo’s towel accidentally drops. A mortified Mo then asks Kal not to look as the towel is retrieved. Kal thinks the whole situation is hilarious.
Eventually, Mo and Kal have more home dinner dates, where Kal does the cooking. Mo and Kal open up some more about their backgrounds. Kal reveals that he had a troubled, dysfunctional childhood with an alcoholic father whom Kal hints was verbally abusive. Kal’s parents knew that Kal was gay from an early age, and Kal’s beloved mother (who died when Kal was 16) tried to protect Kal in the homophobic military environment where he grew up. Kal is comfortable being openly gay, but he’s not very comfortable talking about painful experiences from his past.
Kal and Mo also tell each other why they chose their respective careers. Kal says that he was inspired to be an actor because when he was a kid, he did skits for his mother, who told Kal that he was the only person who could make her laugh. Despite being in a profession where he gets a lot rejections, Kal says he doesn’t want to do anything else as a career except being an actor. Mo says that he knew he wanted to be a doctor after a terrifying experience as a child, when he was at the movies with his grandmother, who choked on some popcorn and was saved by a doctor who happened to be there.
“Breaking Fast” has some sweet moments during Kal and Mo’s dates. But over time, some of Kal’s and Mo’s differences come to light and could mean trouble for their relationship. Kal is very distant from his family. Mo sees this family estrangement firsthand when he and Kal are on a date, and they happen to run into Kal’s stepmother Judy (played by Veronica Cartwright), who seems to want to have a pleasant conversation with Kal. However, Kal has a hostile reaction to her.
It’s the first time that Kal shows that he’s the easygoing, happy-go-lucky person that he first appeared to be. Some of Kal’s family secrets are eventually revealed. Meanwhile, Mo’s tendency to be rigid and judgmental also causes problems in his relationship with Kal. Mo believes that Hassan’s family problems had a lot to do with why he and Hassan broke up, so Mo is wary of getting romantically involved with another man who has “family baggage.”
Sleiman and Cassidy mostly succeed in their nuanced and layered portrayals of Kal and Mo. who find out whether or not their differences are too big to overcome, or if they can find enough common ground to start a serious romance. Their portrayals are grounded in a lot of realistic emotions, which are complemented by their appealing dialogue.
El Gamal’s Sam character often serves as the film’s often loud and vulgar comic relief, which might get on some viewers’ nerves. Some people might also be turned off by Sam being a very stereotypical effeminate gay character. However, El Gamal brings the type of charisma to the Sam character where—love him or hate him—Sam lights up the screen and it’s hard to take your eyes off of him. Sam isn’t just a clownish character, since he has a big dramatic moment in the film where he expresses why he doesn’t agree with Mo’s devotion to Islam.
“Breaking Fast” falters when some of the actors look like they’re trying too hard to be funny. However, the heart of the story remains Mo and Kal’s relationship, which has a lot of emotional authenticity. The movie, under the earnest directing and writing from Mosallam, doesn’t fall into a trap of absurdist melodrama. Instead, the movie has plenty of moments that are true-to-life but told from a complex cultural perspective that isn’t represented too often in American movies.
Vertical Entertainment released “Breaking Fast” on digital and VOD on January 22, 2021.
Culture Representation: Taking place from 2000 to 2014 in Fairhope, Alabama; New Orleans; and briefly in Pakistan, the dramatic film “Our Friend” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the middle-class and working-class.
Culture Clash: A married couple and their male best friend go through ups and downs in their relationship, especially after the wife gets ovarian cancer and the best friend temporarily moves in the family home to help the spouses take care of their two young daughters.
Culture Audience: “Our Friend” will appeal primarily to people interested in emotionally authentic, dramatic movies about loyal friendships and how cancer affects relationships.
The tearjerker drama “Our Friend,” which is inspired by a true story, departs from the usual formula of a family coping with cancer. When someone in a family has this disease, cancer dramas usually focus on how a spouse, parent or child is dealing with it. Those aspects are definitely in “Our Friend,” but there’s also the unusual component of a male best friend moving into the family household to be a nurturing supporter. Thanks to heartfelt performances from the main cast members, “Our Friend” is a genuine and relatable film, despite being the type of drama where it’s easy to predict exactly how it’s going to end.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite and written by Brad Ingelsby, “Our Friend” is based on a 2015 Esquire magazine essay titled “The Friend,” written by journalist Matt Teague. (“The Friend” was the original title for this movie.) In this deeply personal article, he described the generosity of Dane Faucheux, the longtime best friend of Matt and his wife Nicole Teague. After Nicole was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Dane (who was a bachelor at the time) put his life on hold in New Orleans to temporarily move in with the couple in Fairhope, Alabama, to help them take care of their household and the couple’s two young daughters Molly and Evangeline, nicknamed Evie.
The movie “Our Friend” expands on that essay by jumping back and forth in time to show how the friendship between Matt, Nicole and Dane evolved over 14 years, including the highs, lows and everything in between. The movie’s story spans from the year 2000 (when the three of them met) to the year 2014, when Nicole’s cancer was at its worst. The cinematic version of the story avoids a lot of nauseating details that are in the Esquire essay about bodily functions of a cancer patient. Instead, the movie focuses on showing this intense friendship from the individual perspectives of Matt, Nicole and Dane.
Nicole and Dane met each other while living in New Orleans in their early 20s, when she was one of the stars of a local musical theater production and he was a lighting operator in the crew. Nicole is open-hearted, compassionate and the type of person whom a lot of people feel like could be their best friend. Dane is socially awkward and somewhat introverted but an overall good guy who has some immaturity issues.
In the movie, Nicole was already married to Matt when she met Dane, who didn’t know that Nicole was married when he asked Nicole out on a date. Dane’s courtship mistake is never shown in the movie, but it’s mentioned in conversations. Once Nicole told Dane about her marital status, they were able to overcome this minor embarrassment and became good friends. Dane and Nicole are comfortable enough with each other that talk about their love lives with each other.
Dane is thoughtful and generous (he gives homemade mix CDs to Nicole), and he and Nicole love to talk about music, even when they agree to disagree. She thinks Led Zeppelin is “the greatest band ever,” while he doesn’t really care for Led Zeppelin. The Led Zeppelin reference in the movie is significant because two of Led Zeppelin’s original songs—”Ramble On” and “Going to California”—are used in emotional montage scenes in “Our Friend.”
By making Nicole an actress who loves musical theater, “Our Friend” gives Johnson a chance to showcase her singing skills, which are very good but not outstanding. Johnson sings two songs in the movie: “Hands All Hands Around” (from the musical “Quilters”) and a cover version of the Grateful Dead’s “If I Had the World to Give.” Johnson also did some singing in her 2020 movie “The High Note,” so maybe this is her way of demonstrating that she wants to be a professional singer too.
One day, Dane asks for Nicole’s advice about how to approach a theater co-worker named Charlotte (played by Denée Benton) whom he wants to ask out on a date. Unbeknownst to him, Charlotte isn’t attracted to Dane and has already been dating the theater’s stage manager named Aaron (played by Jake Owen). Minutes after Dane confides in Nicole that he’s going to ask Charlotte on a date, Charlotte tells Nicole in a private conversation that she suspects that Dane has a crush on her but Charlotte isn’t interested in dating Dane. It’s one of many examples in the movie that show how Nicole is a trusted confidante to many people in her life and she knows how to make people feel special.
Of course, Dane eventually finds out that Charlotte and Aaron are dating. Dane mopes about it for a little bit when he sees Charlotte and Aaron showing some heavy public displays of affection at a bar on the night that Nicole introduces Matt to Dane. The first time Matt and Dane meet, it’s at this bar, and Dane makes an apology to Matt for asking Nicole out on a date. Matt tells Dane not to worry about it and says that he has no hard feelings.
While Dane watches Charlotte and Aaron from a distance at the bar, Dane seem to takes their coupling way more personally than he should. He grumbles to Nicole and Matt that Charlotte seems to be rubbing her feelings for Aaron in Dane’s face. It’s a sign (one of many) that one of Dane’s flaws is that he can be emotionally insecure and overly needy.
As the movie skips back and forth in time, it’s eventually shown that Charlotte and Aaron have gotten married and have two children together. Charlotte and Nicole remain very close friends, even after Matt and Nicole move to Fairhope. Matt and Nicole relocated to Fairhope so that Nicole could be close to her parents. The parents of Matt and Nicole parents are never seen in the movie. After Nicole finds out that she has cancer in 2012, Matt tells Dane that Nicole has been afraid to tell her parents about the cancer diagnosis.
By the time that Nicole and Matt are living in Fairhope during her cancer ordeal, it’s shown in the movie that their daughter Molly (played by Isabella Kai) is about 11 or 12 years old, while their daughter Evie played by Violet McGraw) is about 5 or 6 years old. Molly is sometimes moody and quick-tempered, while Evie is generally a happy-go-lucky kid. Molly’s personality is more like Matt’s, while Evie is more like Nicole.
Over the years, it’s apparent that Aaron likes to make snide, condescending comments about Dane to other people whenever Dane isn’t around to defend himself. Aaron always makes digs about Dane working in dead-end jobs (such as a sales clerk at an athletic clothing store) and Dane not seeming to have an career goals or any real direction in life. Dane (who has a goofy sense of humor) has tried to be a stand-up comedian, but these dreams never really go anywhere, mainly because he just isn’t that talented. However, when Dane practices his stand-up routine for Nicole, she politely laughs at his corny jokes, and it makes him feel good.
Dave has financial problems, to the point where he’s sometimes temporarily homeless and has to stay at friends’ places or has to move back home with his parents, and he seems unsure of his purpose in life. B y contrast, Matt’s career as a journalist is flourishing. One of Matt’s first jobs was as a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, where he felt stifled and bored with covering fluffy local news. Matt’s real goal is to be a globetrotting journalist, where he gets to cover what he calls “important” news, such as wars and politics, that can make a big difference in people’s lives.
Matt gets his wish and his career is thriving as a freelancer covering war news for publications such as The New York Times and The Atlantic. But all that traveling has taken a toll on his marriage to Nicole. In 2008, while Matt is on assignment in Pakistan, he and Nicole have an argument on the phone because he took an assignment to go to Libya without discussing it with Nicole first.
Matt doesn’t think that he did anything wrong, because he says that the family needs the money. Nicole, who’s now a homemaker, tells Matt that she feels like she’s a “single parent” and complains to him: “I feel like I married a war correspondent, not a journalist.”
Matt goes home for a few days before he has to go to Libya. And he gets unsolicited advice from Dane to not take the assignment in Libya and stay with the family. This leads to an argument between Matt and Dane where Dane points out Matt’s personality flaws, while Matt insults Dane for having a directionless life with no real career.
Because the movie’s timeline is not in chronological order, viewers have to piece together the ebbs and flows of the friendship between Matt, Nicole and Dane. There are hints that Dane struggles with his mental health, especially in an extended scene taking place in 2010 that shows Dane abruptly packing up and leaving his parents’ house so he can go camping by himself in remote Southwest canyons. Before he leaves, Dane’s older brother Davey (played by Richard Speight Jr.) asks Dane if Dane is having one of his “episodes.”
During this solitary excursion, Dane meets a friendly German camper named Teresa (played by Gwendoline Christie), who’s also traveling by herself. Teresa asks Dane to join her on her hikes. Dane is standoffish at first, but Teresa insists on hanging out with Dane, and he eventually warms up to her a little bit. Teresa senses that Dane is deeply troubled and unhappy with his life, so she shares with him a very personal experience that changes his perspective. It’s one of the better scenes in the movie, proving that not all of the emotional gravitas in “Our Friend” has to do with Nicole’s cancer diagnosis.
However, “Our Friend” is still very much a cancer movie. There’s the heart-wrenching scene showing Matt and Nicole deciding how they are going to break the news to their children that Nicole is going to die from cancer. There’s the predictable scene where Nicole makes a “bucket list” of things she wants to do before she dies, with Matt and Dane frantically trying to make some of the more difficult things on the list (such as being grand marshal of the next Mardi Gras parade) come true for Nicole. And then there are the expected scenes of Nicole having medication-related meltdowns.
The Teague family members also have the misfortune of their beloved pet pug Gracie being diagnosed with cancer around the same time that Nicole gets sick with cancer. While Matt spends time with Nicole in the hospital, Dane has the task of taking Gracie to the veterinarian, who tells Dane that it’s best if the terminally ill dog undergoes euthanasia. Dane, who is not the owner of the dog, is put in the awkward position of having to represent the Teague family when the dog is permanently put to sleep. Dane also has to tell Molly and Evie the bad news about Gracie’s death, because Matt and Nicole are too preoccupied in the hospital.
During all of this cancer drama, Dane gets some pushback and criticism for deciding to move in with Matt and Nicole. At the time of Nicole’s cancer diagnosis, Dane was living in New Orleans and had been dating a baker named Kat (played by Marielle Scott) for about a year. Dane and Kat’s relationship has progressed to the point where Kat has given him spare keys to her home.
At first, Kat was fine with Dane going to visit the Teagues in Fairhope (which is about 160 miles away from New Orleans), as a show of support for the family. But the visits became longer and longer, until Dane eventually moved in with the Teagues. And Kat wasn’t so okay with that decision. Aaron also makes snarky comments to the Teagues’ circle of friends about Dane being a freeloader, until Matt eventually puts Aaron in his place for being such an unrelenting jerk about Dane.
The movie also shows that Matt and Nicole have other challenges in their lives besides her cancer. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, their marriage hit a rough patch due to issues over jealousy and infidelity. And before and during Nicole’s cancer crisis, Molly was feeling resentment toward Matt because of his long absences from home. Molly sometimes lashes out at Matt and makes it clear that she thinks Nicole is a much better parent than Matt is.
The biggest noticeable flaw about “Our Friend” is there seems to be a gender double standard in how the three main characters physically age in the movie. Nicole looks like she’s barely aged throughout the entire movie, even though the story takes place over the course of 14 years. It’s a contrast to how Matt and Dane age over the years, particularly with their hair. In the early years of the friendship, Segel wears a wig to make Dane look younger, while in the later years, he sports his natural receding hairline. Likewise, Affleck’s natural gray hair is seen in the later years of the friendship.
This discrepancy has a lot to do with the fact that in real life, Johnson is 14 years younger than Affleck, and she’s nine years younger than Segel. The real Nicole, Matt and Dane were much closer to each other in age. This movie’s unwillingness to show a woman aging over 14 years and casting a much-younger female co-star as the love interest of the leading male actor are part of bigger age discrimination issues that make it harder for actresses over the age of 35 to be cast as a love interest to someone who’s close to their age.
And when Nicole has cancer, the physical damages from cancer are barely shown. There’s the typical “dark circles under the eyes” look with makeup, as well as mentions of Nicole’s hair falling out because of chemotherapy. (At various times, she wears a headband or a wig.)
But the movie could have used a little more realism in showing the devastating physical toll that cancer can take. More often than not in the cancer scenes, the movie makes Nicole just look like she’s hung over from a wild night of partying, instead of looking like a real cancer patient who’s deep in chemotherapy. It’s not as if Johnson had to lose a scary amount of weight to look like a convincing cancer patient, but more could have been done with makeup and/or visual effects to make it look more realistic that her character was dying of cancer.
However, the filmmakers (including film editor Colin Patton) should get a lot of credit for taking the non-chronological scenes and making everything into a cohesive story that’s easy to understand. “Our Friend” is not the type of movie that can be watched while distracted by something else, because the year that a sequence takes place is shown on the screen to guide viewers. People watching this movie have to pay attention to these milestone year indicators to get the full scope of the story.
“Our Friend” is a well-cast movie where all the actors do convincing portrayals of the emotions expressed in the movie. (Cherry Jones has a small but important role as a hospice nurse named Faith Pruett.) As much as the movie is about Matt and Nicole’s marriage, it’s also very much about the friendship between Matt, Nicole and Dane.
Even though Nicole and Dane were friends before Dane and Matt knew each other, Nicole and Dane’s friendship starts to wane a little bit, the more debilitated with cancer she becomes. There’s a noticeable brotherly bond that develops between Matt and Dane, especially when they have to face the reality of life without Nicole. It doesn’t diminish Nicole’s role in the film, but it realistically shows how relationships can change when people have to prepare for the end of a loved one’s life. “Our Friend” is not an easy film to watch for anyone who hates to think about dying from cancer, but the sadness in the movie is balanced out by the joy of having true love from family and friends.
Roadside Attractions and Gravitas Ventures released “Our Friend” in U.S. cinemas, on January 22, 2021, the same date that Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the movie on digital and VOD.
Concerns about the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) pandemic have led to numerous cancellations or postponements in the entertainment industry. The way things are going in the United States and many other countries, any public gathering of at least 50 people per gathering is probably going to be cancelled or postponed until further notice. Shutdowns are occurring at public places for sports and entertainment.
Here’s a list of what’s been cancelled or postponed so far. This list will be updated as more cancellations and postponements are announced.
NOTE: This list does not include individual TV series, movies, plays or musicals that have shut down production until further notice. (There are too many of them to list.)
The annual Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) in Los Angeles (originally scheduled for February 28, 2021) has been postponed and rescheduled. The Academy Awards (televised in the U.S. on ABC) will now take place on April 25, 2021. (Updated June 15, 2020.)
Academy of Country Music Awards
The annual ACM Awards (originally scheduled for April 5, 2020) and its related ACM Party for a Cause events in have been postponed and rescheduled. The ACM Awards (televised in the U.S. by CBS) will now take place on September 16, 2020, and has moved from Las Vegas to Nashville. ACM Party for a Cause events will occur around this date in Nashville. Keith Urban was announced as host of the 2020 ACM Awards, which will take place in Nashville for the first time in the show’s 55-year history. (Updated April 27, 2020.)
ACE Comic Con Northeast
ACE Comic Con Northeast was scheduled to take place in Boston from March 20 to March 22, 2020, but the event has been cancelled.
Live-events promotion company AEG Presents has cancelled or postponed almost all of its events for 2020. (Updated May 24, 2020)
All Points East
The annual All Points East for alternative rock music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in London) was scheduled for May 22 to May 24 and May 29 to May 31, 2020. Tame Impala, Caribou, Glass Animals and Kelly Lee Owens were among performers. (Updated March 27, 2020)
The annual Japanese animation convention in Los Angeles has been cancelled as an in-person event and will now be a virtual/online event called Anime Expo Light, which will take place on July 3 and July 4, 2020. (Updated April 21, 2020.
Lionsgate has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Antebellum,” starring Janelle Monáe. Originally set for release April 24, 2020, “Antebellum” will now be released on September 18, 2020. In the U.S., “Antebellum” will be released on VOD, while outside the U.S., the movie will be released in theaters that are open for business.(Updated August 6, 2020)
Searchlight Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of the horror movie “Antlers,” originally set for April 17, 2020. The movie stars Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The world-famous Apollo Theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood has cancelled all in-person events until further notice. (Updated April 5, 2020)
The computer corporation is shutting down all Apple retail stores outside of China for two weeks, from March 14 to March 27, 2020. The re-opening date is subject to change. Apple did a similar shutdown of its retail stores in China. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Disney’s sci-fi film “Artemis Fowl” (starring Ferdia Shaw, Judi Dench and Colin Farrell) was set for a theatrical release on May 24, 2020, but will instead forgo a theatrical release and go directly to the Disney+ streaming service on June 12, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
“The Artist’s Wife”
Strand Releasing and Water’s End Productions have postponed and rescheduled the release the dramatic film “The Artist’s Wife,” starring Lena Olin and Bruce Dern. The film was originally scheduled to be released in New York City on April 3, 2020, in Los Angeles on April 10, 2020, and in the San Francisco Bay Area on April 17, 2020. The movie is now set for release in select U.S. theaters and on VOD on September 25, 2020. (Updated August 28, 2020)
The annual Los Angeles networking event for ASCAP songwriters and publishers is now cancelled. ASCAP Experience, formerly known as the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, was scheduled for April 1 to April 3, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
Austin City Limits Festival
The annual music festival in Austin, Texas, has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for October 2 to October 4 and October 9 to October 11, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included Eminem, Fleetwood Mac, Rage Against the Machine, Chris Stapleton, STS9, Twenty One Pilots and Common. (Updated March 26, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this superhero reboot, starring Robert Pattinson. “The Batman” was originally set for June 25, 2021, was postponed to October 1, 2021, and is now scheduled for release on March 4, 2022. (Updated October 6, 2020)
Beale Street Music Festival
The annual music festival in Memphis, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for May 1 to May 3, 2020, the event was then postponed to October 16 to October 18, 2020. Artists who had been scheduled to perform at the 2020 Beale Street Music Festival included the Lumineers, Lil Wayne, Three 6 Mafia, the Avett Brothers and the Smashing Pumpkins. (Updated June 18, 2020)
Beijing International Film Festival
The annual event in China has been postponed. The Beijing International Film Festival was set for April 19 to April 26, 2020.
The Grammy-winning pop star has postponed until further notice the North American concerts for his “Changes” Tour. The tour dates were scheduled to begin in Seattle on May 14, 2020, and end in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 26, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Big Ears Festival
The annual music and film event in Knoxville, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for March 26 to March 29, 2020, the Big Ears Festival’s announced performers this year included Devendra Banhart, Anthony Braxton, Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith. (March 11, 2020)
Billboard Music Awards
The annual award show was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on April 29, 2020, but the ceremony has been postponed and rescheduled for October 14, 2020. NBC has the U.S. telecast of the Billboard Music Awards. Kelly Clarkson has hosted the show since 2018. (Updated August 14, 2020)
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Black Widow,” which was set for May 1, 2020. The movie’s new release date is May 7, 2021. The stars of “Black Widow” include Scarlett Johansson, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour and Florence Pugh. (Updated September 23, 2020)
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this crime drama, starring Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward. “Blue Story” was due in U.S. theaters on March 20, 2020, and will now be released direct-to-video on May 5, 2020. The movie was already released in the United Kingdom in November 2019. (Updated March 12, 2020)
BMI Latin Awards
The annual BMI Latin Music Awards ceremony has been postponed. The show had been scheduled for March 31 in Los Angeles. The rescheduled date is to be announced. (Updated March 10, 2020)
Bon Jovi’s summer 2020 North American tour has been cancelled. The New Jersey rock band’s tour had been scheduled to begin in Tacoma, Washington, on June 10, 2020, and end in New York City on July 28, 2020. (Updated April 20, 2020)
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
The annual festival in Manchester, Tennessee, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled to take place June 11 to June 14, 2020, the event had been rescheduled for September 24 to September 27, 2020. Before the cancellation, the announced lineup included Tame Impala, Tool, Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, Lana Del Rey, The 1975, Run the Jewels and Brittany Howard. (Updated June 25, 2020)
The annual book fan event in New York City has been cancelled. Originally set for May 30 and May 31, 2020, BookCon had been rescheduled to place on July 25 and July 26, 2020. The event has now been completely scrapped for 2020. (Updated April 14, 2020)
The annual rock festival in Boston has been cancelled. Boston Calling had been scheduled for May 22 to May 24, 2020. The festival’s performers this year would have included Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run the Jewels, Jason Isbell and The 1975. (Updated March 31, 2020)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has cancelled its tour of Asia. The trek had scheduled shows in South Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong from February 6 to February 16, 2020.
BottleRock Napa Valley
The annual music and arts festival in Napa, California, has been cancelled. Originally scheduled to take place May 22 to May 24, 2020, the event was rescheduled for October 2 to October 4, 2020, but now has been completely cancelled. Artists announced for the festival included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus, Khalid, Zedd, and Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals. (Updated July 16, 2020)
Bourbon and Beyond Festival
The annual rock music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. The Bourbon and Beyond Festival was scheduled to take place from September 25 to September 27, 2020. The lineup of artists had not been announced. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City
All Broadway and off-Broadway shows in New York City have been cancelled until May 30, 2021, but that date could change, depending on the circumstances. (Updated October 7, 2020)
BST Hyde Park
The annual music festival in London has been cancelled. BST Hyde Park was scheduled for July 4 to July 11, 2020. The artists who were announced as performers included Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam, Post Malone, Rita Ora, Kesha, Zara Larsson, Pixies, James Blake and Little Mix. (Updated April 8, 2020)
The South Korean boy band has cancelled all of its concerts in Seoul for its “Map of the Soul” tour. The cancelled BTS shows were scheduled for April 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
Bushfire Relief Charity Concert
The benefit show to help victims of Australia’s wildfires has been cancelled, after being scheduled to take place in Melbourne on March 13, 2020. Miley Cyrus was the headliner, while other artists announced for the show were Lil Nas X, the Veronicas and DJ Seb Fontaine. (Updated March 10, 2020)
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) in San Francisco has postponed CAAMFest 38 until further notice. The Asian American festival of film, music and food was originally scheduled for May 14 to May 24, 2020. CAAMFest was formerly known as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. (Updated March 19, 2020)
The former Fifth Harmony pop star has postponed her Romance world tour, which was set to begin in Oslo on May 26, 2020 and end in Miami September 26, 2020. A concert that was supposed to take place in Dundee, Scotland, on May 24, 2020, has been completely cancelled. (Updated March 24, 2020)
Canadian Music Week
The annual showcase event in Toronto has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for May 19 to May 23, 2020, Canadian Music Week will now take place September 8 to September 13, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of the horror-movie reboot “Candyman,” starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. “Candyman” was originally scheduled for release on June 12, 2020. The new release date is September 25, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place May 12 to 23, 2020. (Updated May 10, 2020)
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
The annual networking event for creative marketers was set to take place in Cannes, France, from June 22 to June 26, 2020. The event is postponed until further notice. (Updated March 18, 2020)
The annual drama event in Cannes, France, has been postponed and rescheduled. It was originally scheduled to take place March 27 to April 1, 2020, and will now take place October 9 to October 14, 2020.
The Grammy-winning superstar has postponed her March 10, 2020, concert in Honolulu and will reschedule it for sometime in November 2020.
“Charm City Kings”
Sony Pictures Classics has dropped the release of this drama, starring Jahi Di’Allo Winston and Meek Mill. “Charm City Kings” had been scheduled for release in select theaters on April 10, 2020. Instead, the streaming service HBO Max will premiere “Charm City Kings” (under the Warner Max label) on a date to be announced. (Updated May 6, 2020)
The R&B singer has cancelled her Fort Hood USO show in Texas that was scheduled for March 19, 2020.
The annual cinema convention in Barcelona has cancelled. CineEurope was originally set for June 22 to June 25, 2020, and was rescheduled to take place August 3 to August 5, 2020. However, CineEurope was officially nixed after it became obvious that Spain would not be ready to host large-scale events during the rescheduled dates. (Updated May 12, 2020)
CinemaCon, the National Association of Theatre Owners’ annual convention in Las Vegas, has been cancelled. The event was scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 2, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Cirque du Soleil
The international acrobatic dance company has cancelled all of its performances worldwide until further notice, as of March 15, 2020. (Updated March 14, 2020)
The Grammy-winning original “American Idol” winner has postponed until further notice her “Invincible” Las Vegas residency, which had been set to begin on April 1, 2020. In addition, her NBCUniversal-syndicated daytime talk show “The Kelly Clarkson Show” has temporarily shut down production. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Sony Pictures Classics has postponed and rescheduled the release of this buddy comedy, starring Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin. “The Climb” had been scheduled for release in New York City and Los Angeles on March 20, 2020. The movie will, now open in select U.S. theaters on November 13, 2020. (Updated October 21, 2020)
The Country Music Association’s annual fan festival in Nashville has been cancelled. CMA Fest had been scheduled to take place June 4 to June 7, 2020. The lineup of performers had not been announced. Because CMA Fest will not happen this year, there also won’t be an ABC TV special for CMA Fest in 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)
CMT Music Awards
The annual CMT Music Awards in Nashville has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set to take place on June 3, 2020, this award show for country music will now take place on October 14, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
The world’s biggest annual music festival (in terms of ticket sales) has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for April 10 to April 12 and April 17 to April 19, Coachella was rescheduled for October 9 to October 11 and October 16 to October 18, 2020. The Coachella Festival (which takes place in Indio, California) is expected to happen in 2021, but the dates have not yet been announced. Artists who were announced for the 2020 Coachella Festival included Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean, as well as Calvin Harris, Big Sean, Lewis Capaldi, Lana Del Rey, Flume, Lil Nas X, 21 Savage and Charlie XCX. (Updated June 11, 2020)
The annual comic-book/sci-fi/fantasy entertainment fan convention in San Diego (also known as San Diego Comic-Con) has been cancelled for the first time in its 50-year history. Comic-Con International had been set for July 23 to July 26, 2020, with preview night taking place on July 22. Comic-Con International will return to San Diego from July 22 to July 25, 2021, with preview night taking place on July 21. Instead of an in-person event for the 2020 edition of Comic-Con, there will be a virtual online event called Comic-Con@Home, which will take place from July 22 to July 26, 2020. Click here for more details. (Updated July 7, 2020)
The Grateful Dead spinoff group has cancelled its 2020 U.S. tour. Dead and Company had been scheduled to begin the tour in Boulder, Colorado, on July 10, 2020, and conclude the tour in Boston on August 8, 2020. These were the only concerts that the band was going to perform in 2020. (Updated April 21, 2020)
“Death on the Nile”
Disney’s 20th Century Studios has postponed until further notice the release of the Agatha Christie mystery thriller “Death on the Nile,” the sequel to 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” “Death on the Nile” was set for release on October 23, 3030 and then rescheduled for December 18, 2020. The stars of “Death on the Nile” include Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer and Letitia Wright. The movie’s new release date is to be announced. (Updated September 23, 2020)
Greenwich Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of the French horror-comedy film “Deerskin,” starring Jean Dujardin. “Deerskin” was originally set for a U.S. release in select theaters on March 20, 2020. The new U.S. release date (on digital and VOD) is June 26, 2020. “Deerskin” was already released in France in 2019. (Updated March 30, 2020)
“Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy”
Greenwich Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the release of the documentary “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy.” The movie was originally set for release on April 22, 2020. In the U.S., the movie will be released in virtual cinemas on May 22, 2020, on digital/VOD on June 19, 2020, and on DVD on June 23, 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
“Dino Dana: The Movie”
Amazon Prime Video and Fathom Events have postponed and rescheduled the release of this movie spinoff of the “Dino Dana” children’s series. The movie was originally scheduled for a one-day-only release in theaters on March 21, 2020. Amazon Prime Video will now release the movie on September 4, 2020. (Updated July 23, 2020)
Disney has cancelled its launch event for its streaming service Disney+ Europe, which had been scheduled to take place in London on March 24, 2020. In addition, all Disney theme parks—which were supposed to re-open on March 31, 2020—will be closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, Disney’s “Mulan” is the company’s first movie whose release has been postponed and rescheduled due to the coronavirus outbreak. “Mulan” had been originally scheduled for release on March 27, 2020. The new release date is July 24, 2020. The release of Disney’s action-adventure flick “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, has been pushed back nearly a year, from July 24, 2020, to July 20, 2021. The sci-fi film “Artemis Fowl,” starring Ferdia Shaw and Judi Dench,” was set for a theatrical release on May 24, 2020, but will instead forgo a theatrical release and go directly to the Disney+ streaming service.
Disney-owned 20th Century Pictures (formerly known as 20th Century Fox) has postponed and rescheduled the releases of the action flick “Free Guy” (starring Ryan Reynolds”), which moves from July 3, 2020, to December 11, 2020. 20th Century Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of the superhero flick “The New Mutants,” originally set for April 3, 2020.
Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the comedy “The French Dispatch,” Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet. “The French Dispatch” was originally set for release on July 24, 2020, and will now be released on October 16, 2020. Searchlight Pictures has postponed until further notice the horror movie “Antlers” (starring Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons), which was originally set for April 17, 2020.
Disney-owned Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the releases of the superhero movies “Black Widow,” “The Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Doctor Strange 2” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Each of these movies has a separate listing with each new release date. (Updated April 3, 2020)
“Doctor Strange 2”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Doctor Strange 2,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch. “Doctor Strange 2” was originally scheduled for release on May 7, 2021. The new release date is November 5, 2021. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Doha Film Institute’s Qumra Event
The Doha Film Institute’s Qumra event for mentor networking with upcoming talent in the movie industry has been cancelled. The conference was supposed to be from March 20 to March 25 in Doha, Qatar.
Dolly Parton’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has temporarily closed until further notice, as of March 14, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
The annual Download Festival for hard rock/heavy metal has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Derby, England) was scheduled for June 12 to June 14, 2020. Kiss, Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Deftones, Gojira and Korn were among the performers. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The annual music festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been cancelled. Dreamville Festival, which is from hip-hop artist J. Cole, had originally been scheduled for April 4, 2020, and was postponed to August 29, 2020, until the event was shuttered altogether for 2020. The event’s lineup had not been announced. (Updated May 16, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this sci-fi remake, starring Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Rebecca Ferguson. “Dune” was originally set for December 18, 2020, and is now scheduled for release on October 1, 2021. (Updated October 6, 2020)
East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference
Canada’s East Coast Music Association has cancelled the 2020 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference. The event was scheduled to take place in St. John’s from April 29 to May 3, 2020. (Updated March 17, 2020)
The annual film festival founded by the late film critic Roger Ebert was scheduled for April 15 to April 18, 2020, in Champaign, Illinois, but the event is now cancelled. The next Ebertfest will take place in Champaign from April 14 to April 17, 2021. (Updated March 15, 2020)
Edinburgh Art Festival
The annual event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Edinburgh Art Festival had been scheduled for August 7 to August 29, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The annual performing-arts event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Edinburgh Art Festival had been scheduled for August 7 to August 31, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Edinburgh International Film Festival
The United Kingdom’s longest-running film festival has been postponed until further notice. The Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland had been scheduled to take place June 17 to June 28, 2020. The festival’s main programming slate for 2020 has not been announced yet.(Updated April 1, 2020)
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas
Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas has been cancelled. Originally set for May 15 to May 17, 2020, EDC Las Vegas was rescheduled for October 2 to October 4, 2020, and then completely scrapped. The lineup was supposed to include The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, Carl Cox, Alison Wonderland, Martin Garrix, Tiësto, DJ Snake and Major Lazer. EDC Las Vegas is set to return from May 21 to May 23, 2021. (Updated August 2, 2020)
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)
The annual consumer event in Los Angeles for electronic entertainment has been cancelled. Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, had been scheduled to take place from June 9 to June 11, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The annual music and arts festival in Rothbury, Michigan, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for June 25 to June 28, 2020. Artists who were scheduled to perform included Major Lazer, Duke Dumont, the String Cheese Incident and Big Gigantic. (Updated April 21, 2020)
“Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things”
Eagle Rock Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the theatrical release of this Ella Fitzgerald documentary, which was set for a one-night-only release on April 3, 2020. The movie will now be released in virtual cinemas on June 26, 2020. (Updated June 4, 2020)
Emerald City Comic Con
Scheduled to take place March 12 to March 15, 2020, the annual comic-book convention in Seattle has been postponed. The event will be rescheduled for the summer; the exact dates are to be announced. Before the postponement, Emerald City Comic Con experienced several cancelled appearances. DC Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, Penguin Random House, as well as individual speakers and panelists, cancelled their participation this year.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has postponed the Daytime Emmy Awards until further notice. The Daytime Emmy Awards had been scheduled to take place in Pasadena, California from June 12 to June 14, 2020. The show’s host and nominations haven’t been announced yet. The Daytime Emmy ceremonies have not been televised in several years. Instead, the live ceremonies can be seen via webcast. (Updated on March 19, 2020)
The National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences has also postponed the annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards (originally scheduled for April 19, 2020, in Las Vegas) and the Sports Emmy Awards, originally scheduled for April 28, 2020, in New York. The rescheduled dates for the ceremonies are to be announced. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Universal Home Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the release of the dramatic film “Emperor,” starring Dayo Okeniyi, Brad Carter, James Cromwell and Bruce Dern. The movie was set to be released on March 27, 2020, and will now be released on DVD, digital and VOD on August 18, 2020. (Updated July 16, 2020)
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Epicenter festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Concord, North Carolina, from May 1 to May 3, 2020. The lineup of performers included Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deftones, Godsmack, Volbeat, Staind, Papa Roach, David Lee Roth, Gojira, Chevelle, Cypress Hill and Rancid. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival will instead perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. Louder Than Life pass holders will not be charged extra for the fourth day. Ticket/pass holders for the cancelled festival have three options: get a refund, use their purchase for the same festival in 2021, or exchange the purchase for another Danny Wimmer Presents event in 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The annual music and culture festival presented by Essence magazine in New Orleans has been cancelled. The Essence Festival, which was scheduled to include headliners Bruno Mars and Janet Jackson, had been set for July 1 to July 6, 2020. (Updated April 15, 2020)
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Eternals,” starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Brian Tyree Henry and Gemma Chan. “Eternals” was originally scheduled for release on November 6, 2020, then moved to February 12, 2021. The new release date is November 5, 2021. (Updated September 23, 2020)
Eurovision Song Contest
The annual music event was supposed to take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from May 12 and 14, 2020 (for semi-final rounds) and on May 16, 2020 (for the final round), but Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled. It’s the first time in the event’s 64-year history that it has been shut down. (Updated March 18, 2020)
“Fast & Furious 9”
Universal Pictures has postponed the release of this action sequel to April 2021. (The U.S. release will be on April 2, 2021.) “Fast & Furious 9,” starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, was originally scheduled for release on May 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Festival d’été de Québec
The annual music festival Québec Cityhas been cancelled. Festival d’été de Québec was scheduled for July 9 to July 19, 2020. Artists were announced as performers included Imagine Dragons, Jack Johnson, The National, Marshmello, Alanis Morissette, G-Eazy, 5 Seconds of Summer and Halsey. (Updated April 9, 2020)
Film at Lincoln Center
The membership-funded organization Film at Lincoln Center in New York City became one of the first in the U.S. to close its movie theaters, as of March 12, 2020, until further notice. Film at Lincoln Center operates the Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. Film at Lincoln Center has also postponed the New Directors/New Films Festival (which had been scheduled to run from March 25, to April 5, 2020) and the Chaplin Award Gala honoring Spike Lee, which was set for April 27, 2020. The rescheduled dates are to be announced. In addition, Film at Lincoln Center’s membership magazine Film Comment (which has been published since 1962) is going on an indefinite hiatus after the May/June 2020 issue, which will be published in digital form only. (Updated March 28, 2020)
Film Independent Spirit Awards
The annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, (originally scheduled for February 27, 2021) has been postponed and rescheduled. The Film Independent Spirit Awards (televised in the U.S. by IFC) will now take place on April 24, 2021. (Updated June 16, 2020.)
The annual music festival in Dover, Delaware, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place from June 18 to June 21, 2020. Artists who were announced for the event included Rage Against the Machine, Billie Eilish, Halsey, Khalid, Blink-182, Maggie Rogers, Cage the Elephant, Illenium, Diplo and Run the Jewels. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The annual LGBTQ comic-book/sci-fi convention in New York City has been cancelled as an in-person event but has pivoted to being a online virtual event. FlameCon had been scheduled to take place August 15 and August 16, 2020. The virtual FlameCon is set for August 15, 2020. The next FlameCon will take place August 21 and August 22, 2021. (Updated July 24, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed April 2020 U.S. concerts for its Van Tour. Some of the concerts have already been rescheduled for December 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Fox Entertainment has cancelled all development presentations at industry events until further notice. Fox Broadcasting Company’s “WWE Smackdown Live” will not have live audiences until further notice. (Updated March 12, 2020.)
Fox News has cancelled its upfront presentation that was scheduled to take place in New York City on March 24, 2020. In addition, Fox News’ “The Greg Gutfeld Show” will not have live audiences until further notice. (Updated March 12, 2020.)
“The French Dispatch”
Searchlight Pictures has postponed until further notice the comedy “The French Dispatch,” starring Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet. “The French Dispatch” was originally set for release on July 24, 2020 and then postponed to October 16, 2020, before being shelved again. The movie’s new release date is to be announced.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Frozen Dead Guys Days in Nederland, Colorado, was scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 15, 2020, but has been cancelled. The annual event celebrates “frosty merriment featuring live bands and outrageous events—paying homage to Bredo Morstol, frozen in a Tuff Shed,” according to a statement on the event’s website.
Full Frame Documentary Festival
The annual Full Frame Documentary Festival in Durham, North Carolina, has been cancelled. The event had been set for April 2 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
Game Developers Conference
The annual video-game industry conference in San Francisco was scheduled to take place March 16 to Mach 20, 2020, but the event has now been postponed. The new dates for the event are to be announced.
“The Ghost of Peter Sellers”
Film Movement has postponed and rescheduled the release of this documentary, which chronicles the ill-fated production of the Peter Sellers movie “Ghost of the Noonday Sun.” “The Ghost of Peter Sellers” had been scheduled for release in New York City on March 27, 2020. The movie’s VOD release is on June 23, 2020. (Updated May 1, 2020)
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this “Ghostbusters” sequel. “Ghosbusters: Afterlife,” starring original “Ghostbusters” headliners Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, was due out in cinemas on July 10, 2020, and has been rescheduled to open on March 5, 2021. (Updated March 30, 2020)
The world-famous guitar manufacturer has temporarily closed its headquarters in Nashville and its facility in Bozemon, Montana, as of March 20, 2020. The operations will re-open on a date to be announced. (Updated March 20, 2020)
GLAAD Media Awards
The GLAAD Media Awards have been cancelled. The bi-coastal ceremonies for LGBTQ people in entertainment/media had been set for New York City on March 19, 2020, and Beverly Hills, California, on April 16, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The Glastonbury Festival, one of Europe’s largest annual music events, has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Glastonbury, England) was scheduled for June 24 to June 28, 2020. Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Diana Ross were among the headliners. The 2021 edition of the Glastonbury Festival has also been cancelled before any artists were announced for the event. (Updated January 21, 2021)
Global Media Summit
The annual Global Media Summit (GMS) in Carrollton, Texas, has been cancelled. Described by organizers as “a Christian alliance uniting media professionals globally,” the event, which includes the GMS Music Awards, was scheduled to take place from April 22 to April 25, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“Godzilla vs. Kong”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled “Godzilla vs. Kong,” starring Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall. “Godzilla vs. Kong” was originally set to premiere on November 20, 2020, and is now set for release on May 21, 2021. (Updated June 11, 2020)
Google I/O and Google Cloud Next events
Google has cancelled Google I/O. The annual event for Google developers to announce consumer products was scheduled to take place in Mountain View, California, from May 12 to May 14, 2020. Meanwhile, the Google Cloud Next event that was supposed to happen in San Francisco from April 6 to April 8, 2020, will shift from a physical event to a virtual online event, where attendees will be participate through digital resources.
The annual Governors Ball music festival in New York City has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for June 5 to June 7, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included Stevie Nicks, Missy Elliott, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Solange, Miley Cyrus, Flume, Maren Morris, Ellie Goulding, H.E.R., Banks, Of Monsters and Men, Milky Chance, Bleachers and Swae Lee. (Updated March 26, 2020)
The 63rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles has been postponed to March 14, 2021. CBS will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which was originally scheduled to take place on January 31, 2021. (Updated January 4, 2021)
Great Escape Festival
The annual Great Escape Festival for alternative rock has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Brighton and Hove, England) was scheduled for May 13 to May 16, 2020. Balming Tiger, House of Pharaohs and Amber Van Day were among performers. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed all of its concerts in Asia for the band’s Hella Mega Tour. The shows have not been rescheduled yet. The postponed concerts were scheduled to take place from March 8 to March 27, 2020, in Singapore, The Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.
Mongrel Media had planned to release this Canadian lacrosse movie in the U.S. on March 20, 2020, but the movie’s U.S. release has been rescheduled to be on digital and VOD on September 15, 2020. “The Grizzlies,” whose cast includes Ben Schnetzer and Booboo Stewart, was already released in Canada in 2019. (Updated August 28, 2020)
“The High Note”
Focus Features has postponed and rescheduled the release of the comedy film “The High Note” starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson. “The High Note” was originally scheduled for release in theaters on May 8, 2020. The new release will be direct-to-video on May 29, 2020, with a premium rental price. (Updated May 4, 2020)
The History Channel’s annual fan convention in Pasadena, California, has been postponed until further notice. HistoryCon was originally scheduled to take place April 3 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
The annual country music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. Hometown Rising was scheduled to take place on September 12 and September 13, 2020. The lineup of artists had not been announced. (Updated April 24, 2020)
The annual documentary festival in Toronto has been postponed until further notice. The event had been scheduled for April 30 to May 10, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“I Am Not Alone”
Avalanche Entertainment has postponed until further notice the release of this documentary about Armenian activist Nikol Pashinyan. The movie had originally been scheduled for release in New York City on April 10, 2020 and in Los Angeles on April 17, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
“I Know This Much Is True”
HBO has postponed and rescheduled the TV premiere of the limited drama series “I Know This Much Is True,” starring Mark Ruffalo. “I Know This Much is True” was originally set to premiere on April 27, 2020, and will now premiere on May 10, 2020. (Updated March 31, 2020)
iHeartRadio Music Awards
The iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles (originally scheduled for March 29, 2020) has been postponed, and the rescheduled date is to be announced. Fox has the U.S. telecast of the annual award show. (Updated March 14, 2020)
“In the Heights”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this musical movie, starring Anthony Ramos. The “In the Heights” movie, which is based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, was originally scheduled to be released on June 26, 2020. The new release date is June 18, 2021. (Updated on March 24, 2020)
Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
The annual event has been postponed until further notice. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles was originally scheduled for April 1 to April 5, 2020. (Updated March 14, 2020)
Isle of Wight Festival
The annual Isle of Wight Festival for rock and pop music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in Newport, England) was scheduled for June 11 to June 14, 2020. Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, the Chemical Brothers and Duran Duran were among the performers. (Updated March 26, 2020)
Ivors With Apple Music Awards
The annual award show in London has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for May 21, 2020, the ceremony will now take place on September 2, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
The Grammy-and-Oscar-winning superstar has postponed all of his North American concerts that were scheduled to take place from March 25 to May 2, 2020. The shows are going to be rescheduled for 2021, on dates to be announced. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Sibling pop trio the Jonas Brothers have cancelled their Las Vegas residency, which had been scheduled to run April 1 to April 18, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
“Judy & Punch”
Samuel Goldwyn Films has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Judy & Punch,” starring Mia Wasikowska andDamon Herriman. Originally scheduled for release on April 24, 2020, “Judy & Punch” will now be released in select U.S. theaters (if they’re open) and on VOD on June 5, 2020. (Updated April 6, 2020)
Disney has postponed and rescheduled the release of the action-adventure flick “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The movie’s release date moves from July 24, 2020, to July 20, 2021. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Just for Laughs
The annual comedy festival in Montreal has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for July 15 to July 26, 2020, Just for Laughs will now take place from September 29 to October 11, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this drama, starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, father to tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. “King Richard” was originally set for November 25, 2020, but will now be released on November 19, 2021. (Updated April 20, 2020)
Dark Star Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this Swedish horror film. “Koko-Di Koko-Da” (starring Peter Belli, Leif Edlund and Ylva Gallon) had been scheduled for release in New York City on March 27, 2020, with more U.S. cities to follow in subsequent weeks. The movie is now scheduled for a U.S. release in virtual cinemas on November 6, 2020, and on digital and VOD on December 8, 2020. (Updated September 30, 2020)
The Grammy-and-Oscar-winning pop star has postponed until further notice the release of her album “Chromatica,” which was originally due out on April 10, 2020. In addition, Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas shows that were set for April 30 to May 11, 2020, have been postponed. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The Grammy-winning pop star has postponed the Asian leg of her “Head Above Water” world tour. The concerts (which were to take place from April 23 to May 24, 2020) were scheduled for China, Japan, The Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The rescheduled dates are to be announced.
“The Library That Dolly Built”
Abramorama has postponed and rescheduled the release of this Dolly Parton documentary, which was originally scheduled to be released in U.S. cinemas for one night only on April 2, 2020. The one-night-only release will now take place on September 21, 2020. (Updated March 30, 2020)
Life Is Beautiful
The annual music and arts festival in Las Vegas has been cancelled. Life Is Beautiful had been scheduled for September 18 to September 20, 2020. The event’s lineup had not been announced. (Updated April 21, 2020)
Live Nation, the world’s largest live-events promotion company, has cancelled or postponed almost all of its events for 2020. (Updated May 24, 2020)
Locarno Film Festival
The annual event in Switzerland has been cancelled. The Locarno Film Festival had been scheduled for August 5 to August 15, 2020. Instead, the festival will launch Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films, an online program to promote independent films. (Updated April 29, 2020)
The annual music festival in Chicago has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for July 30 to August 2, 2020. The 2020 Lollapalooza lineup had not been announced. (Updated June 9, 2020)
London Book Fair
The annual London Book Fair has been cancelled. The event was scheduled for March 10 to March 12, 2020.
Louder Than Life
The annual heavy-metal festival in Louisville, Kentucky, has been cancelled. Louder Than Life was scheduled to take place between September 18 and September 20, 2020. Metallica had been announced as the headliner. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Paramount Pictures has dumped the release of this comedy, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. The movie was supposed to have its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, which was also cancelled. “The Lovebirds” was due in U.S. theaters on April 3, 2020, but will now be released on Netflix on May 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual Lovebox Festival for electronica dance music has been cancelled. The festival (which takes place in London) was scheduled for June 12 to June 14, 2020. Fatboy Slim, DJ Harvey and Annie Mac were among the performers. (Updated March 27, 2020)
Made in America Festival
The annual music festival in Philadelphia has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for September 5 and September 6, 2020. The 2020 Made in America Festival lineup had not been announced. (Updated July 1, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed until further notice this thriller, starring Annabelle Wallis. “Malignant” was originally scheduled to be released on August 14, 2020. (Updated on March 24, 2020)
Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
The annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival in California has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for May 20 to May 24, 2020. (Updated March 26, 2020)
“The Many Saints of Newark”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this prequel to “The Sopranos,” starring Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Vera Farmiga. “The Many Saints of Newark” was originally set for September 25, 2020, but will now be released on March 12, 2021. (Updated April 20, 2020)
“The Matrix 4”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the fourth “Matrix” movie, whose official title is to be announced. The sci-fi sequel was originally due out on May 21, 2021, and is now set for release on April 1, 2022. (Updated June 11, 2020)
Melbourne International Film Festival
The annual Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for August 6 to August 23, 2020. (Updated April 7, 2020)
Method Fest Independent Film Festival
The annual festival for independent film actors has been postponed and rescheduled. It had been originally scheduled to take place in Beverly Hills, California, from March 20 to March 26, 2020. The new dates for the event are May 29 to June 4, 2020. (Updated March 18, 2020)
The Metropolitan Opera in New York City has cancelled all performances until December 31, 2020. (Updated June 2, 2020)
Miami Film Festival
The annual event began on March 6, 2020, and was scheduled to end on March 15, 2020, but was abruptly cancelled on March 12, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual music-industry conference in Cannes, Frances, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for June 2 to June 5, 2020. MIDEM officials have announced that some of the previously announced keynote speakers will still deliver their speeches, but will do so online. Previously announced keynote speakers include singer/songwriter Akon, SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor, the Raine Group partner Fred Davis, and Downtown Music Holdings CEO Justin Kalifowitz. (Updated March 30, 2020)
“Minions: The Rise of Gru”
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” had originally been due out in late June 2020 (in some countries) and on July 8, 2020 in the United States. The movie, includes voice actor Steve Carell, is now set to be released on July 2, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
The annual documentary industry event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 28 and March 29, 2020.
The annual producer/buyer event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 28 and March 29, 2020.
The annual TV industry event in Cannes, France, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place March 30 to April 3, 2020.
The annual event in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that focuses on mobster movies and related entertainment has been postponed and rescheduled. The inaugural Mob Movie Awards will still be part of the event, which has moved from April 18 and April 19, 2020 to August 22 and August 23, 2020. In addition, SopranosCon Part II will be incorporated into MobMovieCon this year. (Updated March 13, 2020.)
Montclair Film Festival
The annual festival in Montclair, New Jersey, has been postponed until further notice. The Montclair Film Festival had been originally scheduled to take place from March 20 to March 26, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Montreaux Jazz Festival
The annual Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland has been cancelled, for the first time in the event’s 53-year history. The festival had been scheduled for July 3 to 18, 2020. Artists (Updated April 17, 2020)
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this vampire flick, based on the Marvel Comics character. “Morbius,” starring Jared Leto as the title character, was originally due in cinemas on July 31, 2020, was rescheduled to open on March 19, 2021, and has now been delayed to open on October 8, 2021. (Updated January 11, 2021)
In March 2020, movie theaters were shut down in several countries, with each country having various policies on when they would re-open. Drive-in theaters are remaining open. In the United States, each individual state is deciding when movies theaters can re-open. Most U.S. theaters re-opened in August 2020. If there are any indoor movie theaters in the U.S. that are open, most have pledged to not book theater rooms at more than 50% capacity. But given the huge dropoff in moviegoing since the coronavirus outbreak was classified as a pandemic, attendance at movie theaters was reaching well below 50% anyway. Cineworld (which owns Regal Cinemas in the U.S., and Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas in the U.K.) announced that it’s once again shutting down all locations until further notice, as of October 8, 2020. (Updated October 5, 2020)
Disney has postponed and rescheduled the release of its live-action remake of “Mulan,” starring Liu Yifei as the title character. The movie was originally scheduled to be released on March 27, 2020, was postponed to July 24, 2020, and will now be released on September 4, 2020. In the U.S., “Mulan” will be available to Disney+ subscribers for an additional $29.99 until December 3, 2020. As of December 4, 2020, there will be no extra charge for Disney+ subscribers to watch the movie. “Mulan” will be released in theaters in countries outside the U.S. where theaters are open for business. Premieres for the movie were already held in Los Angeles on March 9, 2020, and in London on March 12, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
The Music Business Association’s annual Music Biz conference in Nashville has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally scheduled for May 11 to May 14, 2020, the event is now set for August 16 to August 19, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
STX Films has dumped the comedy “I Spy,” which was supposed to be released in U.S. theaters on April 17, 2020. The movie’s U.S. release will now be on Amazon Prime Video on June 26, 2020. “My Spy,” starring Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman, was already released in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands. (Updated June 11, 2020)
NAACP Image Awards
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards in Pasadena, California, has been postponed. The ceremony was originally set for February 20, 2021, and has been rescheduled for Match 27, 2021. BET will have the U.S. telecast of the ceremony. (Updated January 20, 2021)
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas has been cancelled. The annual convention had been scheduled to take place from April 19 to April 22, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
National Symphony Orchestra
The U.S. ensemble has cancelled its tour of China and Japan. The National Symphony Orchestra concerts were scheduled for March 6 to March 17, 2020.
Netflix Is a Joke Fest
Netflix has postponed until further notice its inaugural comedy festival in Los Angeles. Netflix Is a Joke Fest had been set for April 27 to May 3, 2020. Announced stand-up comedy performers included Dave Chappelle, Ali Wong, Marlon Wayans, Amy Schumer, Pete Davidson, Taylor Tomlinson, Iliza Shlesinger, Deon Cole and Ken Jeong. (Updated March 17, 2020)
New York Comic Con
The annual sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fan convention in New York City has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place October 8 to October 11, 2020. For people who want to experience something related to the event that weekend, New York Comic Con has teamed up with sister event MCM Comic Con in London to bring New York Comic Con’s Metaverse, a new online portal, which will be available October 8 to October 11, 2020 at YouTube.com/NYCC and FindtheMetaverse.com.(Updated April 21, 2020)
“The New Mutants”
20th Century Pictures (formerly known as 20th Century Fox) has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero flick “The New Mutants,” originally set for April 3, 2020. The new release date in theaters is August 28, 2020. The movie’s ensemble cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton. (Updated August 12, 2020)
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The annual music and arts event has been cancelled in 2020 and postponed and rescheduled in 2021. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival had been scheduled for April 23 to May 3, 2020. The performers would have included The Who, Dead & Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, Lionel Richie and Lizzo. The 2021 edition of the event was originally set for April 22 to May 1, 2021, and has been rescheduled for October 8 to October 17, 2021. (Updated January 20, 2021)
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
The annual award show in Los Angeles has been postponed and rescheduled as a virtual ceremony. The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards had been set for March 22, 2020 but the virtual ceremony will take place on May 2, 2020. Chance the Rapper had been announced as the ceremony’s host, but the virtual ceremony will be hosted by Victoria Justice. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Even if there are cities that allow gatherings of less than 50 people per gathering, several cities are still mandating the closure of all nightclubs and bars in the cities until further notice. In the United States, New York City and Los Angeles were among the first big cities that have ordered these closures. (Updated March 15, 2020)
Film Movement has postponed the U.S. release of this Chinese drama, starring Ke-Xi Wu as the title character. Originally scheduled for a U.S. release on March 20, 2020, the new U.S. release date for “Nina Wu” is to be announced. (Updated March 13, 2020.)
“No Time to Die”
The release of this James Bond 007 movie, starring Daniel Craig, has been postponed and rescheduled. MGM Pictures’ “No Time to Die” had been scheduled to be released in the U.K. and other territories on April 2, 2020. The movie was postponed to November 2020 and then rescheduled for April 2, 2021. The movie’s release date was then changed again and is now set for October 8, 2021. (Updated January 21, 2021)
The annual award show in London for West End stage shows has been cancelled. The Olivier Awards had been scheduled for April 5, 2020. The winners will be announced in another way, most likely online. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Orange Warsaw Festival
The annual music and arts festival in Poland has been cancelled. The Orange Warsaw Festival had been scheduled for June 5 and June 6, 2020. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The annual Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco has been cancelled. The festival was scheduled for August 7 to August 9, 2020. The festival will return on August 6 to August 8, 2021, with most of the same artists who were scheduled for the 2020 Outside Lands event. Artists on the 2021 Outside Lands bill include Tame Impala, Lizzo, The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator, The 1975, J Balvin, Kehlani, Vampire Weekend, Young Thug and Zhu. (Updated June 24, 2020)
PaleyFest in Los Angeles has been postponed until further notice. The event, which showcases TV programs and TV stars, had been scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 21, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed the North American leg of its “Gigaton” tour. The tour dates consisted of U.S. and Canadian concerts that were scheduled to begin on March 18 in Toronto and run through April 19 in Oakland, California. There’s no word yet on when these Pearl Jam shows will be rescheduled.In addition, Pearl Jam has cancelled the “Gigaton Listening Experience,” which was supposed to take place March 25, 2020, as a one-night-only listening event at numerous Dolby movie theaters worldwide for the band’s “Gigaton” album. (Updated March 17, 2020)
PEN America Literary Gala
The annual PEN America Literary Gala has been postponed and rescheduled. The event was originally set for May 19, 2020, and will now take place on September 15, 2020. (Updated March 20, 2020)
“The Personal History of David Copperfield”
20th Century Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of the drama “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” originally set for May 8, 2020. The new U.S. release date is August 28, 2020. The movie, which was already released in the United Kingdom in January 2020, stars Dev Patel. (Updated August 11, 2020)
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this live-action/animated sequel. “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” was originally due in cinemas on April 3, 2020, was postponed to August 7, 2020, then January 14, 2021, and will now be released on April 2, 2021. The cast of “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” includes Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo as live actors and Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki as voice actors. (Updated October 22, 2020)
Pilmgrimage Music and Cultural Festival
The annual music festival in Franklin, Tennessee, has been cancelled. The event had been set to take place September 26 and September 27, 2020. (Updated May 19, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of the music-choir drama “Praise This,” which was originally scheduled for release on September 25, 2020. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Primavera Sound Festival
The annual music festival in Barcelona has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for June 4 to June 7, 2020, the festival will now take place August 26 to August 30, 2020. The artists announced for the event include Massive Attack, Disclosure, Kacey Musgraves, the Strokes, Lana Del Rey, Beck, Bikini Kill, Iggy Pop, Bauhaus, Bad Bunny, Jesus and Mary Chain and Tyler, the Creator.
The annual film and TV awards event has been cancelled. Premios Platino had been scheduled to take place in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from May 1 to May 3, 2020.
“A Quiet Place Part II”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this horror sequel, starring Emily Blunt, which was originally scheduled to be released from March 18 to March 20, 2020, depending on the territory. (The U.S. release was supposed to on March 20.) The movie was then postponed to September 4, 2020. The movie’s new release date is now April 23, 2021. “A Quiet Place Part II” already had its world premiere in New York City on March 8, 2020. (Updated October 22, 2020)
Juno Films has postponed and rescheduled the release of the drama “Radium Girls,” which is about a group of young female labor activists in the 1920s. The movie, which stars Joey King and Abby Quinn, was originally scheduled for release on April 3, 2020. The new release date is October 23, 2020. (Updated September 22, 2020)
Rage Against the Machine
The Grammy-winning rock band has postponed until further notice the first two months of its Public Service Announcement reunion tour that was set begin March 26, 2020 in El Paso, Texas, and continue to May 23, 2020, in Boston. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Record Store Day
Record Store Day, which takes place at various retail music stores around the world, has been postponed and rescheduled. Originally set for April 4, 2020, Record Store Day is now set for June 20, 2020. (Updated March 13, 2020)
Red Sea Film Festival
The inaugural event (which was scheduled to take place March 12 to March 21, 2020 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) has now been postponed until further notice. Oscar-winning filmmakers Oliver Stone and Spike Lee had been announced to attend the event. Stone was selected as a jury member, while Lee was supposed to present a special screening of his 1992 film “Malcolm X.”
FilmRise has postponed and rescheduled the theatrical release of director Sasha Joseph Neulinger’s autobiographical documentary about abuse that he experienced as a child. “Rewind” had been set to be released in New York City on March 27, 2020, and in Los Angeles on April 3, 2020. The movie will now be released on digital and VOD on May 8, 2020. “Rewind” will also be shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens” on May 11, 2020. (Updated April 16, 2020)
Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Ride and Concert
The Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Ride and Concert (which was planned for May 17, 2020) has been postponed until further notice. The annual event benefiting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund is comprised of a motorcycle ride originating at Harley-Davidson of Glendale, California, followed by an afternoon of live music at Los Encinos Park in Encino, California. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was supposed to take place on May 2 in Cleveland, was postponed to November 7, 2020, but has now been cancelled. The performers who were to be inducted in the live ceremony were Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, Notorious B.I.G. and T. Rex. Instead of a live telecast of the show, HBO will televise a pre-recorded special to honor the inductees. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland temporarily closed for a few months, as of March 14, 2020, but it has now re-opened. (Updated July 8, 2020)
Rolling Loud Festival
The Rolling Loud festival in Miami has been postponed and rescheduled with the same lineup. The festival was originally set for May 8 to May 10, 2020, and will now take place February 12 to 14, 2021. The artists who are scheduled to perform include Post Malone, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Megan Thee Stallion, Swae Lee, Juicy J, A$AP Ferg, Tyga, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, T-Pain, YG, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty and Young M.A. (Updated April 1, 2020)
The Rolling Stones have postponed until further notice the 2020 North American leg of their “No Filter” tour. The 15 concerts were scheduled to begin May 8 in San Diego and end July 9 in Atlanta. (Updated March 18, 2020)
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The annual event in Scotland has been cancelled. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo had been scheduled for August 7 to August 29, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Lionsgate has dropped the release of the horror film “Run,” originally set for release in theaters May 8, 2020. Hulu will now release “Run” on November 20, 2020. The movie stars Sarah Paulson. (Updated September 22, 2020)
RuPaul’s DragCon LA
This annual Los Angeles event celebrating the culture of drag queens has been cancelled. RuPaul’s DragCon LA had been scheduled to take place May 1 to May 3, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
The annual event has been cancelled. Originally set to take place from April 29 to May 3, 2020, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival was rescheduled for November 11 to November 15, 2020. However, the festival has now been cancelled for 2020, and is set to from May 5 to May 9, 2021. (June 3, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures will release directly to home video this animated film, based on the “Scooby-Doo” TV series. “Scoob!” was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on May 15, 2020. The release date is still the same, but it will now be on digital and VOD. The movie’s voice cast includes Frank Welker, Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Amanda Seyfried and Zac Efron. (Updated on April 21, 2020)
Screen Actors Guild Awards
The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles has been rescheduled to April 4, 2021. The original date for the show (which will be televised in the U.S. on TNT and TBS) was March 14, 2021, but had to move when the 2021 Grammy Awards was postponed to this date. (Updated on January 13, 2021)
“The Secret: Dare to Dream”
Roadside Attractions has postponed and rescheduled the release of this dramatic film, starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas. “The Secret: Dare to Dream” was due in U.S. theaters on April 17, 2020, and is now set for release on digital and PVOD (premium video on demand) on July 31, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
The annual TV festival in Lille, France, has been cancelled. Series Mania was supposed to take place from March 20 to March 28, 2020. (Updated March 11, 2020)
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” starring Simu Liu and Tony Leung. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was originally scheduled to be released on February 12, 2021, and will now be released on May 7, 2021. (Updated April 3, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel. “Sing 2,” which includes voice actors Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey, was originally set to open July 2, 2021, and will now be released on December 22, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
“Slay the Dragon”
This critically acclaimed documentary about gerrymandering in U.S. politics had been scheduled for a limited U.S. theatrical release on March 13, 2020. Magnolia Pictures will now release “Slay the Dragon” on VOD and on other digital platforms on April 3, 2020. (Updated March 10, 2020)
“Sometimes Always Never”
Blue Fox Entertainment has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this British thriller, starring Bill Nighy and Sam Riley. “Sometimes Always Never” had been rescheduled for a U.S. theatrical release on April 15, 2020, after being postponed from March 6, 2020. The movie will now be released in virtual cinemas on June 12, 2020, and on VOD on July 10, 2020. The movie was already released in 2019 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary. (Updated June 1, 2020)
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City has been postponed and rescheduled for 2021, and the show will award the previously announced honorees. Originally set for June 11, 2020, the ceremony will now take place on June 10, 2021. The previously announced honorees are Mariah Carey; Eurythmics co-founders Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart; the Isley Brothers members Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and Chris Jasper; Steve Miller; the Neptunes founders Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo; Rick Nowels; and William “Mickey” Stevenson. Paul Williams will receive the Johnny Mercer Award. Universal Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jody Gerson will receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award. (Updated March 31, 2020)
Sonic Temple Arts + Music Festival
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Sonic Temple Arts + Music Festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Columbus, Ohio, from May 15 to May 17, 2020. The lineup of performers included Metallica, Slipknot, Deftones, Bring Me the Horizon, Evanescence, and Staind. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival were going to perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. However, the 2020 edition of Louder Than Life has now also been cancelled. (Updated April 24, 2020)
Disney’s Pixar Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated film, which is the first Pixar movie to have an African American character in the lead role. The voice cast of “Soul” includes Jamie Foxx, Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Questlove and Graham Norton. “Soul” was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on November 19, 2020, and will now be released on December 25, 2020. “Soul” will be available to Disney+ subscribers in countries where Disney+ is available, while the movie will be released in theaters in countries where Disney+ is not available. (Updated October 9, 2020.)
South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals
The 2020 edition of SXSW has been cancelled for the first time in the event’s 34-year history. The event was scheduled to take place from March 13 to 22 in Austin, Texas. A public health state of emergency has also been declared in the city of Austin. SXSW includes festivals for music, film and live comedy, as well as conferences for technology, education and gaming. Days before the cancellation, several companies pulled of out participating in the event this year, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Lionsgate, Starz, TikTok, Twitter, Vevo and WarnerMedia. The SXSW Film Festival announced that it will still give awards this year in the jury-voted categories. The films in competition are being made available online to jurors. Winners will be announced online and not at an awards ceremony. Click here for the full story of the SXSW event cancellation. On April 2, it was announced that the 2020 SXSW Film Festival has partnered with Amazon Prime Video to make select films from the cancelled festival available for free on Amazon Prime Video for a limited time. Click here for more details. (Updated April 2, 2020)
Lionsgate has postponed until further notice the release of the horror movie “Spiral,” originally set for May 15, 2020. The movie, which is a reboot of the “Saw” franchise, stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. (Updated March 17, 2020)
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this animated sequel, starring voice actor Tom Kenney, which was originally scheduled to be released May 22, 2020. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run”was then pushed back to July 17 and then July 31, 2020. The movie’s new U.S. release date will be sometime in early 2021, where it will be released on premium VOD (PVOD). After being released on PVOD, the movie will be available on CBS All Access, which is changing its name to Paramount+ in 2021. (Updated July 8, 2020)
Stagecoach Music Festival
The annual country music festival has been cancelled. Originally scheduled for April 24 to April 26, 2020, Stagecoach (which takes place in Indio, California) was rescheduled for October 23 to October 25, 2020, but now the event will not take place in 2020. Artists who had been announced to perform included headliners Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, as well as Brett Young, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Dan + Shay, Alan Jackson, Jon Pardi and Bryan Adams. (Updated June 11, 2020)
The former One Direction star has postponed and rescheduled the U.K. and continental European dates of his Love on Tour. The shows were originally scheduled to begin April 15, 2020 in Birmingham, England, and end June 3, 2020, in Moscow. The concerts will now take place in 2021, beginning February 12 in Bologna, Italy, and end March 30 in Moscow. (Updated March 25, 2020)
The Grammy-winning superstar has postponed all of her tour dates for the remainder of 2020. The rescheduled dates for the concerts are to be announced. Unlike other artists’ tour dates that have been postponed, refunds will be available for Swift’s postponed tour dates. (Updated April 17, 2020)
The annual music festival in Milwaukee has been postponed and rescheduled. The event was originally set for June 24 to July 5 to the weekends of September 3 to September 5, September 10 to September 12, and September 17 to September 19, 2020. Performers include Justin Bieber, Guns N’Roses, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, Khalid, Halsey, Sam Hunt and Jessie Reyez. (Updated March 23, 2020)
Sun Valley Film Festival
The annual festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled to take place from March 18 to March 22, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Sydney Film Festival
The annual film festival in Australia had been scheduled for June 3 to June 14, 2020, but the event has been cancelled. The Sydney Film Festival plans to return in 2021. (Updated March 17, 2020)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The annual event in Telluride, Colorado, has been cancelled. The Telluride Film Festival had been scheduled for September 3 to September 7, 2020. (Updated July 14, 2020)
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the thriller “Tenet,” starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. “Tenet” was originally set to premiere on July 17, 2020, was postponed to July 31, 2020, and then August 12, 2020. Theatrical release dates for the movie will now vary by country. The new U.S. release date for “Tenet” is September 3, 2020. In Canada, the movie will be released on August 26, 2020. (Updated August 2, 2020)
“The Third Day”
HBO has postponed the TV premiere of the limited drama series “The Third Day,” starring Jude Law and Naomie Harris. “The Third Day” was originally set to premiere on May 11, 2020, and will now premiere on September 14, 2020. (Updated July 22, 2020)
“Thor: Love and Thunder”
Disney’s Marvel Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the superhero movie “Thor: Love and Thunder,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. “Thor: Love and Thunder” was originally scheduled for release on November 5, 2021. The new release date is February 8, 2022. (Updated April 3, 2020)
“Tom & Jerry”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the animated film “Tom & Jerry,” starring the voices of Chloë Grace Moretz Michael Peña Ken Jeong and Rob Delaney. The film was originally due out on December 23, 2020, and is now set for release on March 5, 2021. (Updated June 11, 2020)
The annual electronic-music festival Tomorrowland in Alpe d’Huez, France, has been cancelled. The event had been scheduled for March 14 to March 21, 2020.
Paramount Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of this sci-fi/fantasy film, starring Chris Pratt, which was originally scheduled to be released December 25, 2020. (Updated April 2, 2020)
The Tony Awards, an annual ceremony in New York City for Broadway shows, has been postponed until further notice. The ceremony had originally been scheduled for June 7, 2020. The show will be webcast, not televised, on a date to be announced. (Updated October 8, 2020)
“Top Gun: Maverick”
Paramount Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of this action sequel, starring Tom Cruise, which was originally scheduled to be released June 24, 2020. The movie’s release date was changed to December 23, 2020. The movie’s new release date is July 2, 2021. (Updated October 2, 2020)
Toronto Comic Arts Festival
The annual comic-book convention has been cancelled. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival had been scheduled for May 8 to May 10, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
Treefort Music Fest
The annual festival in Boise, Idaho, for emerging talent has been postponed. Treefort Music Fest had originally been scheduled to take place from March 25 to 29, 2020, and will now take place from September 23 to September 27, 2020. (Updated March 12, 2020)
Tribeca Film Festival
The Tribeca Film Festival in New York City has been turned into a semi-open virtual event, with industry people and the media being able to access certain films online from April 15 to May 15, 2020. The annual event had been scheduled for to be open to the public from April 15 to April 26, 2020. Winners of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival’s jury awards were announced on April 29, 2020. (Updated April 29, 2020)
IFC Films has postponed the U.S. release of this French drama, starring Catherine Denueve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. Originally scheduled for a U.S. release on March 20, 2020, the new U.S. release date for “The Truth” is on July 3, 2020. The movie was already released in France and in Japan in 2019. (Updated June 20, 2020.)
TV Network Upfront Presentations
TV networks’ annual upfront presentations for advertisers take place in New York City, mostly in April and May. In 2020, all of these events have now been cancelled or switched to being online presentations only. (Updated March 15, 2020)
TV Shows With Live Audiences
Almost all nationally televised series that are known to have live audiences have announced that they will continue without live audiences or they are temporarily shutting down production. These include talk shows, game shows, talent shows and variety shows. Some of these shows have already taped episodes with audiences, before bans on large gatherings went into effect. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Ultra Music Festival
The annual electronica-dance music event in Miami has been cancelled and will return in 2021. Ultra Music Festival had been scheduled to take place March 20 to March 22, 2020. Performers at the 2020 Ultra Music Festival would have included David Guetta, DJ Snake, Major Lazer, Above & Beyond, Afrojack and Martin Garrix.
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this video-game-based movie. “Uncharted,” starring Tom Holland and Bryan Cranston, was due out in cinemas on March 5, 2021, and has been rescheduled to open on October 8, 2021. (Updated March 30, 2020)
Universal Studios Hollywood will be closed until further notice, as of March 14, 2020. Universal Studios in Florida closed on March 16, 2020 and re-opened on June 5, 2020. (Updated April 1, 2020)
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the release of the sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” starring Tom Hardy. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was originally scheduled to be released on October 2, 2020, and will now be released on June 25, 2021. (Updated April 21, 2020)
VidCon, the annual networking event for video-based media influencers, has postponed all of its conferences. The flagship VidCon in Anaheim, California, was supposed to take place from June 17 to June 20, 2020, but the event will be rescheduled on dates to be announced. The inaugural VidCon Mexico in Mexico City was scheduled for April 30 to May 3, 2020, and has been rescheduled for September 17 to September 20, 2020. The inaugural VidCon Abu Dhabi was scheduled for March 25 to March 28, 2020, and has been rescheduled for December 16 to December 19, 2020. (Updated March 23, 2020)
The annual star-studded music concert, hosted by Los Angeles pop radio station KIIS-FM, has been cancelled. The show was set for June 5, 2020, in Carson, California. The 2020 Wango Tango lineup included headliner Harry Styles. (Updated March 24, 2020)
The annual award show in New York City honoring World Wide Web content and creators has been postponed until further notice and will be changed from an in-person event to an online event. The original date for this year’s Webby Awards was May 11, 2020. (Updated March 19, 2020)
Welcome to Rockville
Concert promoter Danny Wimmer Presents has cancelled the annual Welcome to Rockville festival, which was scheduled to take in place in Daytona Beach, Florida, from May 8 to May 10, 2020. The lineup of performers included Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Godsmack, Deftones,Social Distortion, The Offspring, Staind, Lamb of God, Rancid. Many of the artists who were scheduled to perform at the festival were going to perform at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky (another Danny Wimmer Presents event), which has expanded to four days (September 17 to September 20, 2020), with Metallica headlining on September 17. However, the 2020 edition of Louder Than Life has now also been cancelled. (Updated April 24, 2020)
“West Side Story”
Disney’s 20th Century Studios has postponed and rescheduled the release of the musical remake of “West Side Story,” which was set for December 18, 2020. The movie’s new release date is December 10, 2021. The stars of “West Side Story” include Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and Rita Moreno. (Updated September 23, 2020)
The annual convention in Los Angeles celebrating the work of writer/director Joss Whedon (who’s best known for the first two “Avengers” movies and the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series) has been postponed, rescheduled and turned into an online-only event. WhedonCon was originally scheduled for June 5 to June 7, 2020, then postponed to October 30 to November 1, 2020. The event will now be online only on October 24, 2020. (Updated August 19, 2020)
Universal Pictures has postponed until further notice the release of this movie adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical. “Wicked,” starring Katie Rose Clark and Jessica Vosk, had originally been set for release on December 22, 2021. (Updated April 1, 2020)
Winter Music Conference
The annual convention in Miami for electronica-dance music was scheduled to take place March 16 to March 19, 2020, but has been postponed and will be rescheduled on dates to be announced.
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled the horror/fantasy film “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer. “The Witches” was originally set to be released in theaters on October 9, 2020, and will now go directly to streaming on HBO Max on October 22, 2020. (Updated October 2, 2020)
“The Wolf House”
Independent movie distributor KimStim has postponed and rescheduled the U.S. release of this Chilean animated film, which tells the story of Colonia Dignidad, a German émigré-run colony in post-WWII Chile that was revealed to have been used to imprison, torture and murder dissidents during the Pinochet regime. “The Wolf House” is now set for release in virtual cinemas on May 15, 2020. The movie was originally scheduled for release in New York City on March 20, 2020, and in Los Angeles on March 27, 2020. (Updated May 1, 2020.)
The annual World of Music and Dance (WOMAD) Festival in Wiltshire, England, has been cancelled. The festival (founded by Peter Gabriel) was scheduled for July 23 to July 26, 2020. Artists on the festival bill included the Flaming Lips, Angélique Kidjo, Kate Tempest and Fatoumata Diawara. (Updated June 8, 2020)
“The Woman in the Window”
20th Century Pictures has sold the thriller “The Woman in the Window” to Netflix. Originally set for release in theaters on April 18, 2020, “The Woman in the Window” (which stars Amy Adams) will have a release date to be announced. (Updated November 3, 2020)
The annual comic-book/sci-fi/fantasy entertainment fan convention in Anaheim, California, has been cancelled. WonderCon had been set for April 10 to April 12, 2020.The event will return on March 26 to March 28, 2021. (Updated April 17, 2020)
“Wonder Woman 1984”
Warner Bros. Pictures has postponed and rescheduled this superhero sequel, starring Gal Gadot. “Wonder Woman 1984” was originally set for June 5, 2020, then rescheduled for August 14, 2020, and then October 2, 2020. The movie’s current theatrical release dates are December 16, 2020, in countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, and on December 25, 2020 in the U.S. and Canada. “Wonder Woman 1984” will also be available on HBO Max at no additional charge to subscribers on December 25, 2020. (Updated November 18, 2020)
The London edition of YouTube on Stage, an event to showcase YouTube talent, was cancelled just hours before the event was supposed to happen on March 11, 2020. In addition, YouTube has switched its annual Brandcast marketing presentation (set for April 30, 2020) to be an online event instead of an in-person event. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Culture Representation: Taking place in Helsinki, Finland, and Boise, Idaho, the darkly comedic horror film “Bloody Hell” has a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans and Asians) representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: An American ex-con, who spent eight years in prison for manslaughter, vacations in Helsinki, Finland, where he is kidnapped by a murderous family.
Culture Audience: “Bloody Hell” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in horror movies that have dark humor, but the comedy falls flat in this gruesome and predictable film.
It’s not easy to mix offbeat humor with horror. And that’s why there are very few horror comedies that can truly be considered classics. “Bloody Hell” tries very hard to be an eccentric-minded horror movie, but the comedy is weak and the horror is just gory but not very scary at all. Directed by Alister Grierson, “Bloody Hell” fares better visually than it does with the movie’s mediocre acting and the movie’s screenplay (written by Robert Benjamin), which has a lot of terrible dialogue and hollow characters.
The central character in “Bloody Hell” is Rex Coen (played by Ben O’Toole), an American in his early 30s who lives in Boise, Idaho. Throughout this 93-minute movie, there is absolutely nothing revealed about Rex’s background before this one pivotal moment in his life: One day, Rex goes into a bank called the Sawtooth County Credit Union, with the intention of flirting with a bank teller named Madeleine “Maddy” Augustine (played by Ashlee Lollback), whom he’s apparently had a crush on for quite some time.
What starts out as a fairly uneventful bank visit descends into mayhem when four masked and armed robbers with shotguns burst into the bank and take everyone hostage. The bank customers are ordered to stay on the ground, while the employees are ordered to get the cash that the robbers want. The four robbers (played by Ryan Tarran, Scott George, Daniel Weaver and Brad McMurray) are each wearing a terrifying mask: a demon, a werewolf, a lizard and a gorilla.
Just by chance, one of the women who’s crouched near Rex happens to have her purse open, and he sees that she has a pistol inside her purse. The expression on Rex’s face tells viewers that if the purse was closer, he would make a move and take the gun and try to be a hero and save everyone. And what do you know: When the robbers order the customers to throw their wallets and purses at them, this woman’s purse flies through the air and happens to land right in Rex’s lap.
He ends up taking the gun and has a shootout with the armed robbers, even though he’s outnumbered and outgunned. Rex corners one of the robbers in a room and shoots him, but a stray bullet accidentally kills a woman named Angela Reynolds (played by Oakley Kwon), who had been hiding in a nearby closet. Rex ends up being convicted of manslaughter for her death.
Throughout the movie, there are flashbacks to this bank robbery and Rex’s trial. Giving this information in bits and pieces doesn’t serve the story very well because it still doesn’t reveal much information about Rex. At Rex’s trial, the overzealous prosecutor (played by Charles Allen) shouts when he declares of Rex’s reckless actions during the bank robbery: “This wasn’t self-defense! This was madness!”
Rex is sentenced to eight years in prison. And when he gets out of prison, he’s surprised when he goes into a grocery store to see that his prison release is on the cover of a tabloid magazine. He’s also recognized by strangers every time he goes out in public. People, including paparazzi, want to take his picture. Some people treat him like a folk hero, while other people treat him like a repulsive criminal.
One of the worst things about “Bloody Hell” is that Rex hallucinates having an alter ego, which is supposed to represents his conscience. Therefore, there are many scenes in the movie where he has conversations with an avatar that looks exactly like Rex. The idea itself isn’t bad, but the dialogue is mostly drab and witless.
“Bloody Hell” also repeats an annoying gimmick of Rex having fantasies of things happening, but it’s presented as ‘”real” in the movie until it’s revealed that it was all in Rex’s imagination. For example, in a scene that takes place shortly after Rex gets out of prison, he’s eating at a diner by himself while some paparazzi are inside the diner taking photos of him. In frustration, Rex gets up and overturns the table. But it’s quickly shown that this angry outburst was all in his head.
Rex meets up with a bartender friend named Pete (played by Joshua Brennan), who has held some of Rex’s possessions for safekeeping while Rex was in prison. One of the items that Pete has is Rex’s passport. Having Rex meet up with a friend would be an opportunity for the filmmakers to give more insight into the type of life that Rex had before the bank robbery. But it’s a missed opportunity because it’s a very bland and boring scene that reveals almost nothing about Rex except that he wants his passport.
Rex seems unaware of how divisive his notoriety is with the public, until Pete tells him that it’s because the public doesn’t seem to know the whole story of what happened during the bank robbery. Pete says to Rex, “In some versions of the story, you’re the Dark Knight. In others, you’re the Joker.”
Rex needs his passport because he’s decided to take a getaway vacation to Helsinki, Finland. Why? Because when he was in prison, he had a world map in his prison cell, and when he threw spitballs at the map, the spitballs kept landing on Finland. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.
While in the airport waiting area to go to Finland, Rex notices a middle-aged man and woman who are seated together behind Rex and are staring at him. He doesn’t think much of it, because it’s not unusual for people to stare at him or approach him when he’s in public. But suddenly, another man whom Rex has never seen before sits down next to Rex and warns Rex that the man and the woman are out to get Rex.
Rex assumes this is just another crazy person who’s approached him, so he also doesn’t take this warning seriously. But sure enough, when he arrives in Helsinki, his rideshare driver suddenly puts on a gas mask, fills the car with an unidentified gas, making Rex pass out. The poorly written movie never explains how this kidnapping was coordinated so perfectly.
Rex wakes up in a dungeon-like room, with his hands tied above him. And to his horror, he sees that his right leg has been amputated at the knee. And that’s when he finds out that he’s been captured by a sadistic Finnish family whose thrill is hunting humans, killing them, and eating them. The middle-aged man and woman who were staring at Rex at the airport are the family’s unnamed married patriarch (played by Matthew Sunderland) and matriarch (played by Caroline Craig), who oversee these horrendous murders.
This husband and wife have five children. The four oldest children are in their 20s: identical twin sons Gael and Gideon (played by Travis Jeffrey); son Pati (played by Caleb Enoka); and daughter Ali (played by Meg Fraser). The couple’s youngest child Olli (played by David Hill) is about 6 or 7 years old.
The parents and their adult sons are the ones who are the most involved in the killings. Ali refuses to kill anyone, so she’s kept in a cage. She’s only let out of the cage to do household chores and to help take care of Olli. Ali has to read Olli bedtime stories where he’s taught that it’s fun to hunt Americans and kill them.
A flashback in the beginning of the movie shows that Ali tried to run away from home when she was a teenager (played by Jessi Robertson), but the twins and her father caught her in the woods and took her back home. As for Pati, he’s supposedly so fearsome that the family only brings him out when they’re ready to scare their victims the most.
During Rex’s capture, Ali is kept in a cage in the same room. Ali tells Rex: “I like you. My family is insane, but you can’t kill them.” It’s very easy to see where the movie is going to from there, given Rex’s tendency to want to be a hero in an “against all odds” situation.
The problem with “Bloody Hell” is that even if the filmmakers wanted to have a very predictable ending, they could’ve made the movie more interesting to watch along the way, but they didn’t bother to do much to make this movie fully engaging. The conversations in this movie have no real spark or innovation. The personalities of these characters are almost non-existent. Rex is written as someone who’s supposed to be a wise-cracking, adventuresome type, but he comes across as tedious with a dumb sense of humor.
As for the action and horror scenes, they’re not very impressive and are extremely derivative of better-made horror flicks about people who are kidnapped and tortured, such as 2004’s “Saw.” Unfortunately, “Bloody Hell” does not have any real terror or surprises that a movie like “Saw” was able to convey. The visual effects in Bloody Hell” that show the “look-alike characters” (Rex and his alter ego; the same actor playing twins) are adequately done. But the horror in the movie is extremely formulaic and shows no imagination.
“Bloody Hell” has the very overused, unoriginal and outdated horror trope of a “damsel in distress” (Ali), whose only purpose in the movie is to be a pretty girl who’s not very smart and who needs a brave man to rescue her and be her obvious love interest. Today’s horror movie audiences have become bored with these stereotypes, as evidenced by the horror movies that make the most money these days. And if a comedic horror movie is geared toward an adult audience, based on all the bloody violence in it, that movie better have humor that adults can appreciate, not the childish and dull comedy that makes “Bloody Hell” a bloody bore.
The Horror Collective released “Bloody Hell” in select U.S. cinemas and drive-in theaters and on digital and VOD on January 14, 2021. The movie’s release date on Blu-ray and DVD was January 19, 2021.
Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City, the comedic film “The Forty-Year-Old Version” features a racially diverse cast (African American, white, Latino and Asian) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: A struggling African American playwright decides to reinvent herself as a rapper a few months before her 40th birthday, and she has to come to terms with her definition of “success” versus “selling out,” as she deals with racism and sexism.
Culture Audience: “The Forty-Year-Old Version” will appeal primarily to people interested in stories of self-identity from an African American perspective.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” is a comedic film that skillfully shows a mid-life crisis that has never before been portrayed on screen: Just a few months before she turns 40 years old, a struggling New York City playwright, who’s looking for a new way to express her creativity, decides that she wants to become a rapper. It’s a career move that’s risky and outside her comfort zone not only because hip-hop isn’t generally welcoming of female rappers but it’s a music genre that also has incredibly difficult barriers for beginner rappers who are over the age of 30. Radha Blank makes a captivating feature-film debut as the star, writer, director and one of the producers of “The Forty-Year-Old Version,” a semi-autobiographical movie that strikes the right balance of showing uncomfortable truths with whimsically raw comedy.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” is entirely in black and white, which gives the movie a somewhat timeless look. This creative choice might also draw comparisons to filmmaker Spike Lee’s 1986 feature-film debut “She’s Gotta Have It,” which was also entirely in black and white. Both movies are comedies with an independent-minded woman as the main character. And although the overall tone is comedic, both movies also have underlying serious social commentary about how relationships are affected by gender roles and race.
In “The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Blank portrays a playwright named Radha, who is about to turn 40 in a few months, and she feels like her life is imploding. She’s grieving over the death of her beloved widowed mother. Radha is also having financial problems and is trying not to get depressed that she hasn’t lived up to her expected potential.
Years ago, Radha received a “30 Under 30” prize by an influential theater organization, to signify that she was considered a promising playwright under the age of 30. And now, all these years later, Radha can’t even get a workshop of her latest play. To pay her bills, Radha teaches an after-school class on dramatic writing at a local high school. But even in that job, she’s not appreciated, because some of the teenage students in her small class (which has eight students) don’t really want to be in her class and show little to no interest in theater.
Radha’s latest play that she’s hoping to get produced is called “Harlem Ave,” which is set in New York City’s predominantly black neighborhood of Harlem. She describes the play as being about “a young man who inherited a grocery store from his parents and struggles to keep the business afloat with an activist wife.” Radha wants the play to be reflective of the real Harlem, by having a predominantly black cast.
In the hopes of getting “Harlem Ave” in regional theater, Radha meets with a pretentious acquaintance named Forrest Umoja Petry (played by Andre Ward), who owns the local OUmoja Theatre, an off-Broadway venue whose specialty is African American stage productions. Forrest, who founded the theater in 1988, doesn’t really take Radha that seriously. Instead of discussing the play with Radha, he makes her meditate with him in his office that he likes to fill with burning incense.
Radha’s best friend Archie (played by Peter Kim), an openly gay Korean American, is an aspiring theater producer. It’s later revealed in the movie that Radha and Archie have been best friends since high school. They were each other’s prom dates back then, when Archie was still closeted to most people and afraid to tell his family about his sexuality. Archie is staunchly loyal to Radha, but he disagrees with her “I’ll never sell out” mindset when it comes to getting her plays financed. Radha wants to be a success, but only on her terms.
Archie excitedly tells Radha that he’s scored an invitation to a black-tie party that will be attended by a powerful, Tony-winning producer named J. Whitman (played by Reed Birney), who could be a likely investor in “Harlem Ave.” Archie wants Radha to be his “plus one” at the party, which Archie thinks will be the perfect opportunity for Radha to pitch her play to Whitman. Radha is very reluctant to go to this party and tells Archie: “J. Whitman only does black ‘poverty porn’ plays. I’d rather do a workshop with Forrest and his stinky-ass ancestors than suck up to J. Whitman!”
But after some pleading from Archie, Radha eventually agrees to go to the party. The soiree is upscale and filled with a lot of well-to-do “theater patron” types, who are usually over the age of 60. It’s the type of party where Archie and Radha stand out because they’re relatively young by comparison, and they’re two of the few non-white people at the party.
Sure enough, Radha gets a chance to talk to Whitman, so she tells him about “Harlem Ave.” Whitman says he would be interested in investing, but he thinks the play should be about “gentrification.” It’s really code for saying, “There needs to be white people as main characters in the play, in order to sell it to a predominantly white audience.”
Radha thinks it’s demeaning for Whitman to suggest that she change her play in this way, but she doesn’t say it out loud to Whitman. Instead, she politely tells him that she doesn’t want to change to focus of her play. She’s ready to end the conversation, but a tone-deaf Whitman adds insult to injury and tells Radha: “I still need a writer for my Harriet Tubman musical.”
This racial condescension enrages Radha, who then lunges at Whitman and begins strangling him. It’s played for laughs in the movie, but the scene demonstrates how infuriating people like Whitman can be, because they think of themselves as “open-minded liberals” but they believe in the same racist stereotypes as close-minded conservatives. Radha is unapologetic for her outburst, but Archie is horrified. Archie tells Radha that he wants to smooth things over with Whitman, but Radha tells Archie not to bother.
Publicly, Radha is defiant. Privately, she’s wracked with self-doubt. In her small and dumpy apartment where she lives alone, she cries in despair and wails: “I just want to be an artist! Mommy, tell me what to do!”
Just then, Radha hears rap music playing nearby. She has a silent “a-ha” moment and suddenly feels inspired to write rap lyrics. The next day, Radha tells Archie that she’s going to try something new with her life: She wants to make a rap mixtape and see where it’ll take her in a possible career as a rapper.
Archie is incredulous and thinks Radha shouldn’t give up her career in theater. But Radha has already made up her mind. Whitman has decided to forgive Radha for physically attacking him, but he tells Archie that he should be a theater producer and that Archie shouldn’t be wasting his time with Radha, whom Whitman calls a “washed-up writer.”
Radha hears about a home recording studio in Brooklyn that works with aspiring rappers, so she goes there to see if she can find a producer who can make the music for her lyrics. When she goes to the cramped, smoke-filled apartment, she’s the only female in a roomful of guys in their 20s. A sullen-looking 26-year-old, who goes by the name D (played by Oswin Benjamin), is the producer/engineer operating the recording equipment. He barely acknowledges Radha in this first meeting.
The entire meeting is awkward because it’s obvious that these guys don’t take Radha seriously. When one of them asks Radha what her rap name is, she’s taken aback and makes up a name on the spot: RadhaMUSPrime. It’s a play on words of the “Transformers” robot hero character Optimus Prime.
Radha has the money to pay for a recording session. D seems reluctant to work with her though, because it’s obvious that he thinks she’s a joke. That is, until Radha starts rapping her song “Poverty Porn,” a scathing rebuke of greedy people who make money in entertainment by exploiting African American poverty. When D sees her perform and hears the lyrics, he shows signs of being impressed with Radha’s talent.
“Poverty Porn” is told from the point of view of the exploiter who would rather make entertainment showing African Americans as poor and down-trodden instead of showing the reality that most African Americans are not poor but are middle-class. The lyrics of the chorus include: “You regular blacks are just such a yawn. Yo, if I want to get on, better make me some poverty porn.”
Radha’s experience with Whitman is the obvious inspiration for “Poverty Porn,” but the lyrics suggest that Radha has had a lifetime of these racist experiences in trying to be a successful playwright. Later in the story, Whitman lets it be known that he still wants to be the lead producer of “Harlem Ave,” but only if Radha makes the changes that he wants. The offer comes when Radha is at a low point in her confidence and financial stability, so she has to make a choice on whether or not she will “sell out” and do the play with Whitman in charge.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” also has a subplot about two of Radha’s students who clash with each other almost every time that they’re in class together: a tough-talking butch lesbian named Rosa (played by Haskiri Velazquez) and a foul-mouthed diva named Elaine (played by Imani Lewis), who is sought-after by many of the boys in the school. Rosa has a crush on Radha and doesn’t try to hide it. For example, Rosa makes gushing comments about Radha such as, “She’s like Queen Latifah and Judge Judy rolled into one!”
Meanwhile, Elaine is often disrespectful to Radha and acts like being in Radha’s class is a waste of time. One day, Elaine insults Radha by calling her a failed playwright. Rosa jumps to Radha’s defense and gets in a brawl with Elaine. Rosa and Elaine are both punished by the school, but the two teens still act like enemies when they’re together in the classroom. Much later, Radha sees something in the school hallway which explains why Elaine is acting the way that she does.
As Radha spends more time with D to write and record her rap songs, she and D become closer, even though their personalities are almost polar opposites. Radha is talkative and high-strung. D is quiet and laid-back. There’s also their age difference and the fact that they have very different social circles.
Even though Radha is trying to be a rapper, she comes from the intellectual theater world, while D has more of a “street life” background. Both Radha and D have a strong sense of identity as African Americans, but their respective upbringings and educations have taken them on different paths. Their relationship is a situation where hip-hop really did bring them together.
Much of the absurdist comic relief in the story comes from recurring appearances of neighbors as a sort of “Greek chorus” who make funny and sometimes rude remarks separately to the camera, as if they’re speaking to or about Radha. These outspoken neighbors are an elderly African American woman (played by Jackie Adam), who’s called Snazzy in the film’s credits; a young Dominican woman (played by Cristina Gonzalez); an elderly Korean vendor (played Charles Ryu); and two of Radha’s students named Waldo (played by Antonio Ortiz) and Kamal (played by T.J. Atoms). When they’re asked what they think of Radha turning 40, the young woman replies, “When a single woman turns 40, she’s like fruit in the ground for the bugs to eat.”
There’s also a scene-stealing homeless man named Lamont (named Jacob Ming-Trent), who hangs out near Radha’s apartment building and lets her know that he watches all the comings and goings that happen to and from her home. During a pivotal conversation that Radha has on the street when she asks someone for help with her career, Lamont who’s watching nearby shouts: “Give the bitch a chance! Her desperation is making me nauseous! Although technically, you’ve got to eat something to throw up.”
Because “The Forty-Year-Old Version” is a low-budget film, it’s fairly obvious that many of the cast members are not professional actors. Some of the cast members deliver their lines better than those whose acting is a little rough around the edges. But that’s part of the movie’s charm, since it looks like many of the people in the movie are really playing versions of themselves and aren’t doing a slick acting job. Of the main cast members, Blank and Kim fare the best in scenes that show the genuine and sometimes volatile friendship between Radha and Archie.
One of the best things about “The Forty-Year-Old” version is how it authentically reveals layers to the story without making it too cluttered. Viewers will get poignant glimpses into Radha’s family life and how her mother’s death affected her. Radha’s brother Ravi (played by Blank’s real-life brother Ravi Blank) wants her to help him decide what to do with their mother’s possessions, but Radha has been avoiding his phone calls. When the siblings eventually meet up, they have a heart-to-heart conversation that’s a standout scene in the movie.
It’s revealed in the story that Radha and Ravi’s parents were both artists but had to take day jobs to support the family. The siblings’ mother was a painter who worked as a teacher, while their father was a jazz drummer who worked as a plumber. Radha is single with no children, so she doesn’t have the family financial obligations that her parents had. However, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” shows that one of her underlying fears is not being able to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional and respected artist.
At an age when most people are settled down and secure in their careers, Radha is restless and insecure in her chosen profession. What makes this story stand out is how she takes a bold risk to “blow it all up” to start over in hip-hop, which is a male-dominated and often-misogynistic industry. It’s a risk that most women in the same circumstances would never take. But “The Forty-Year-Old Version” accurately shows what happens when artists follow their instincts, despite any massive obstacles and naysayers in their way.
Thanks to her tour-de-force work in front of and behind the camera, Blank makes “The Forty-Year-Old Version” a truly unique gem of a film that feels very personal yet relatable to anyone who knows what it’s like to be underestimated or discriminated against simply because of race, gender or other physical characteristics. There are plenty of examples of subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination in the film.
However, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” isn’t too heavy-handed about showing this bigotry, and Radha isn’t wallowing in a self-pity party. She just gets on with what she has to do. But there are also moments when Radha has to decide if she should listen to “rational” advice or follow what’s in her heart.
And any decision to go against the grain and listen to her inner voice requires her to be extremely vulnerable when it would be much easier to go along with what she’s pressured to do by other people. There’s a telling moment in the movie where Radha, who usually wears a do-rag that completely covers her hair, decides to take off this headpiece, and it’s symbolic of her shedding a self-protective shell and showing her true self.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” is also an incisive commentary on artistic integrity and how it’s often at odds with financial offers that artists can get. At some point, artists who expect to be paid for their work must ask themselves: “Is this monetary offer in line with my values? If it isn’t, is it worth compromising my integrity for what I would be paid? And how much control of my work do I want to give to other people?”
The music of “The 40-Year-Old Version” is a mixture of mostly hip-hop and jazz, which perfectly exemplify the two artistic worlds that Radha inhabits in the story: the rough, street-oriented world of rap and the more refined, traditional world of theater. In addition to “Poverty Porn,” original songs with Blank’s lyrics include “This Is 40,” “F.Y.O.V.,” “Mamma May I,” “”Pound Da Poundcakes” and “WMWBWB,” which stands for “White Man With a Black Woman’s Butt,” a reference to a scene in a movie when Radha sees a white man with a very round and large bottom.
Other songs that are part of “The Forty-Year-Old Version” soundtrack include Queen Latifah’s “Wrath of My Madness,” Babs Bunny’s “I Want In,” Nai Br.XX’s “Adventure Time,” Quincy Jones’ “Love and Peace” and several tunes from jazz artist Courtney Bryan. Radha says in the movie that her song “F.Y.OV.” can stand for things other than “Forty-Year-Old Version,” such as “Find Your Own Voice,” “Find Your Own Vision” or “Fill Your Own Void.” They are all perfect descriptions of the movie’s overall impactful message.
Netflix premiered “The Forty-Year-Old Version” on October 9, 2020.
Directed by Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera
Culture Representation: Taking place in primarily in New York City, the documentary “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” interviews a predominantly white group of people (with a few Latinos and African Americans), who are current and former drag queens or LGBTQ book authors/historians, about the New York City drag scene in the 1950s and 1960s.
Culture Clash: Dressing in drag and being a member of the LGBTQ community often had to be kept underground, since people were arrested or faced other punishment if they weren’t heterosexual.
Culture Audience: “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in drag queen culture or LGBTQ history from the mid-20th century.
Drag queens have become a very visible part of mainstream pop culture, due in large part to the Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and other TV shows about drag queens. But there used to be a time in the U.S. when dressing as a drag queen in public was illegal and could put people in danger of being physically harmed. During the 1950s to 1960s, television became fixtures in American households, but the idea of a TV show about drag queens would be considered too offensive or scandalous at the time. What was going through the minds of gay/queer men who were New York City drag queens in their prime during this era?
The documentary “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” takes an insightful look at this underreported part of LGBTQ history, by including numerous interviews with the drag queens of this era, as well as authors of books that researched this culture. During this era, LGBTQ people could be legally fired from jobs, assaulted or worse, just because of their sexuality. When closeted LGBTQ people wrote love letters or other letters declaring their sexuality, it was very common for the letter writers to ask the recipients to burn the letters, out of fear that the letters could get into the wrong hands. This fear of homophobic persecution is the sobering inspiration for the documentary’s title.
Directed by Michael Seligman and Jennifer Tiexiera, “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” features a charismatic cast of current and former drag queens who were mostly in their 80s and 90s when this documentary was filmed. Some of the people who are interviewed started out as drag queens in their youth and then decided to live as transgender women. And they all have tales to tell that are fascinating as well as harrowing.
The interviewees include:
Michael Alonga (Drag name: Daphne), a former drag queen who had a lover of 18 years named Aaron who died of AIDS in 1986
Henry Arango (Drag name: Adrian), a Cuban immigrant whose drag name was inspired by his mother Adriana
James Bidgood (Drag name: Terry Howe), a drag queen and costume designer
Robert Bouvard (Drag name: Robbie Ross), a former Air Force member who’s originally from Wichita, Kansas
Claude Diaz (Drag name: Claudia), who was arrested in 1958, at age 23, for stealing Metropolitan Opera wigs valued at $3,000 at the time
Lennie (no last name) (Drag names: Dee Dee LaRue, Dayzee Dee), a former drag ball promoter who came to New York City from a rural Pennsylvania town, after leaving home at 18 to join the military
Terry Noel (Drag name: Terry), who got transsexual surgery arranged by Anna Genovese, the sister of mob boss Vito Genovese
George Roth (Drag name: Rita George), who was named Miss Fire lsland in 1969, and who impersonated a woman in public for the first time when he put on his mother’s orange taffeta dress and went grocery shopping
Joseph Touchette (Drag name: Tish), who says that the description “drag queen” was derogatory back then and the preferred description was “female impersonator”
Also interviewed are “Gay New York” author George Chauncey, “Vintage Drag” author Thomasine Bartlett and “Mother Camp” author Esther Newton. Drag historian Joe E. Jeffreys comments on the importance of finding letters written by LGBTQ people from eras when it was illegal to be a non-heterosexual: “Photographs tell us one thing. Words tell another.”
And because there was such a fear of these letters being found, they were often destroyed. Robert Corber, a professor in American institutions and values at Trinity College, has this to say in the documentary about the huge void in LGBTQ historical papers that chronicle what it was like to be queer in the U.S. during these bygone eras: “We don’t have archives of letters, archives of diaries. What we do have are archives of arrest records.”
“P.S. Burn This Letter Please” mentions one of the main inspirations for the documentary: In 2014, a box containing hundreds of letters was discovered in a Los Angeles storage unit. The letters dated back to the 1950s and were addressed to a young man named Reno Martin, who would later become known as Hollywood agent Ed Limato. When Martin left his hometown to pursue a career in radio, his closest gay/queer friends wrote the letters to stay connected to him.
The friends, many of whom became drag queens in New York City, trusted Martin with their most intimate stories. He became their confidant, and the letters they wrote to him have now become important written documents for drag queen history since most of these types of letters were destroyed out of fear.
Alonga, who was one of the friends who wrote to Martin, comments on the importance of camaraderie in the underground New York City drag queen scene: “We felt like sisters … Well, sisters that were really brothers to the public.” Arango, who has an unapologetically flamboyant personality, shows off his collection of vintage dolls in the documentary and quips later in the movie: “I could never act butch. It would give me a rash.”
Where did these drag queens hang out in New York City? The two nightclubs mentioned the most in the documentary are Club 82 and Cork Club. Club 82 had more of a heterosexual crowd, who often went there to see female impersonators. According to the documentary, Club 82 also attracted a lot of celebrities, including John F. Kennedy Jr. (before he became U.S. president), Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. Club 82’s general manager Pete Petillo was married to Anna Genovese, mob boss Vito Genovese’s sister who arranged for Noel’s transsexual surgery.
Cork Club was more underground than Club 82 and catered more to a LGBTQ crowd. One of the Cork Club regulars was a Dominican drag queen named Josephine Baker (real name: Roberto Perez), who dressed like the real Josephine Baker. Drag queen Josephine was a very close friend of Diaz, who describes Josephine in the documentary as “wild,” “gorgeous” and a “kleptomaniac.”
In fact, the two were partners in crime when they were busted for stealing those Met Opera wigs. (Perez tragically died of AIDS in 1988, at the age of 53.) Diaz also mentions that he and Perez were also very close friends with a drag queen named Billie.
Although there are certainly happy memories shared in the documentary, there are also tales of heartbreak, trauma and health problems. Because drag queens are often the targets of bigotry and ridicule, it can take a toll on their self-esteem. Noel says of the way he felt during most of his life: “I didn’t feel worthy of anything.”
Many of the drag queens say that they went through struggles with finances and mental health. Some turned to prostitution to support themselves. Diaz says he was put in a psychiatric institution at age 16, and he later became a sex worker. He says that he made more money as a prostitute when he was dressed in drag.
The documentary mentions that this clique of drag queens had a “trick room,” a description they used for a rented New York City hotel room where they kept their drag queen clothes. It was a safe storage space for those who couldn’t risk keeping the clothes in their own homes, for fear of homophobic retaliation.
Bouvard remembers that when he was in the military in New Orleans, he discovered gay bars. When he dressed in drag, he often fooled the military guys, who would escort him on dates, as if he were a cisgender woman. Bouvard mentions that if the men who escorted him knew the truth, he would have been killed. Later in the documentary, Bouvard opens up about his health problems, including being HIV-positive and having an amputated leg because of a blood clot.
Although all of the current and former drag queens who are interviewed in “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” are white or Hispanic, the documentary gives a brief acknowledgement of African Americans in New York City drag culture. Phil Black, an African American drag queen, is mentioned as an influential scenester during the 1950s and 1960s, because he founded the racially integrated Phil Black Ball for drag queens. Unfortunately, Asians and Native Americans are not mentioned at all in the documentary. Viewers are left to speculate why there wasn’t enough information for these racial groups included in the film.
Harlem historian Michael Henry Adams explains in the movie that much of that erasure has to do with white men being the ones who usually get to write American history: “The best thing about history is to be able to go to the past and discover yourself. The great difficulty for we who are marginalized, be we women or black or gay, as you look at what is purported to be history, we’re invisible. We don’t exist.”
The filmmakers could have done a better job at exploring the underreported racial diversity in the New York City drag scene of the 1950s and 1960s. “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” also could have used more revelations about the era’s drag beauty contests and drag costume balls that were and still are big parts of drag culture. Roth comments on these events: “We didn’t realize we were doing it for the next generations.”
The current and former drag queens in the documentary came of age before Pride parades existed, but they say that they became enthusiastic supporters once these parades began to happen in the 1970s. (The documentary shows Arango, in very skimpy drag gear, attending the New York City Drag March during Gay Pride Weekend in 2017.) These parades were a turning point for LGBTQ people and their allies to openly express themselves in an even more public way than previously done.
Despite some flaws, “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” is best enjoyed as a compilation of anecdotes and personal stories, rather than a comprehensive historical account of New York City drag queen life in the 1950s and 1960s. “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” would make an excellent companion piece with director Peter Howard’s 2019 documentary film “The Lavender Scare,” which goes more in-depth about why letter-burning was a big part of the LGBTQ community before the gay-rights movement happened.
Discovery+ premiered “P.S. Burn This Letter Please” on January 4, 2021.