Following Vin Diesel’s news that F. Gary Gray is his choice to direct “Fast and Furious 8,” the “Straight Outta Compton” director has made it official. The director tweeted Thursday that he has come on board to helm the next installment of the series, which begins filming next year.
Diesel is back to star along with Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. Jason Statham and Kurt Russell are also expected to return.
Diesel is also producing along with Neal Moritz.
Universal, along with Diesel and Moritz, were focused on the search for their next director after “Furious 7” helmer James Wan decided not to helm the eighth installment. Universal went back to Justin Lin, who had previously helmed four of the installments, but his schedule conflicts with “Star Trek 3” forced him to fall out of the running.
Other helmers who were in talks included “The Signal’s” Will Eubank, “The Guest’s” Adam Wingard and Louis Leterrier. Diesel posted on his Facebook Tuesday night that he had met with Gray and was hopeful the helmer would join the shoot, but no deal was made at the time.
Gray had become one of the hottest helmers in town after successfully bringing the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” to life. The film not only overperformed at the box office (more than $150 million on a $20 million budget), but drew critical acclaim, so much so that it’s drumming up Oscar buzz.
“Straight Outta Compton” may take place more than two decades ago, but its themes of racial tension, poverty and police brutality still speak to moviegoers living in a post-Ferguson world.
The biopic about rap group N.W.A. debuted to a blistering $56.1 million this weekend in 2,757 theaters, surpassing “American Pie 2” to become the biggest-ever August debut for an R-rated movie. It’s the kind of opening usually reserved for so-called tentpole movies that trade in costumed heroes and special effects, not urban violence.
“The movie tapped into something in our culture and that made it more of a must-see,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Its debut nearly doubles “Straight Outta Compton’s” budget of $29 million in a single weekend, meaning the film could be among the most profitable releases of the summer. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre helped produce the film about the early days of gansta rap and were integral to its marketing campaign.
Universal, the studio behind the music biopic, has been having a year for the ages, as a steady stream of hits such as “Jurassic World,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Furious 7” and “Minions” have pushed its grosses to record heights. Legendary Pictures co-financed “Straight Outta Compton.”
“Straight Outta Compton’s” success overshadowed the weekend’s other new release, Warner Bros.’ “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The stylish action-adventure wilted at the megaplexes, bringing in an etiolated $13.5 million from 3,638 theaters. That’s a particularly rough start considering that “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” cost a sizable $75 million to produce.
Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou labeled “Straight Outta Compton” as a “labor of love” that benefited from being dramatically different from the kind of films flooding cinemas in recent months.
“The public was ready for something with a bit more substance that they could identify with,” he said.
The film’s opening weekend crowd was 52% female, 51% under the age of 30, 46% African-American, 23% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic and 4% Asian. It did not play in Imax or 3D, but did score in premium large format locations, where it grossed $5.1 million, representing 9% of the film’s weekend receipts.
In second place, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” continued to get a lift from strong word-of-mouth, picking up $17 million in its third weekend. That brings the fifth film in the spy franchise’s North American haul to $138.1 million.
Fox’s “Fantastic Four” dropped steeply in its second weekend, falling nearly 70% from its debut and mustering a paltry $8 million. The film ranks as one of the biggest comicbook movie flops in history, having earned a meagre $42 million Stateside.
STX Entertainment’s “The Gift” rounded out the top five, earning $6.5 million this weekend and pushing its domestic total to $23.6 million.
Final numbers are still being tallied, but it looks as though “Straight Outta Compton” will bolster ticket sales over the year-ago period when “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were drawing the biggest crowds.
The reviews so far have been great,Dr. Dre has already dropped his well-received companion album, and Variety.compredicts theF. Gary Gray-directed“Straight Outta Compton” is will open to over $40 million on box office receipts this weekend. Made on a $29 million budget, “Compton” is already looking like the sleeper hit of the summer.
According tothegrio.com, directorGray (“Friday”, “Set It Off”, “The Italian Job”) teamed up with remaining members of the historic west coast rap group, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dre and MC Ren, (Eazy-E died in 1995) to tell the ups and downs of their incredible story. The film, named for the title track on N.W.A.’s 1988 debut album, stars Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube), as well as Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), Neil Brown Jr. (DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge (MC Ren).
A large part of the appeal of the film that is reaching beyond the built-in fanbase of N.W.A. is the timeliness of the subject and subject matter in the wake of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and continued revelations and exposés of nationwide police brutality and racism. While “F**k The Police” stirred controversy when initially released, today it can be heard as prescient protest.
When asked how N.W.A. would respond to the social commentary of today, Gray thinks the revolutionary rap group would respond to #BlackLivesMatter similarly to how they reacted to what they were experiencing nearly 30 years ago. “Probably the same way they did back then. They were pretty frustrated. They spoke their mind,” he said. “They were honest about it, and I think they would respond the same way. ‘Hey listen it’s time to change. It’s time for a change.’”
When it comes to hip-hop artists today, Gary, as well as Ice Cube, DJ Yella and O’Shea Jackson Jr., feel fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar is truly influential and follows closely in the big footsteps that N.W.A. created.
“It’s hard to duplicate N.W.A., but I like what Kendrick Lamar is doing,” said Gary. “I like what J. Cole is doing. These guys are conscious, and at least I know Kendrick is from the streets of Compton and stuff like that, so they’re authentic. And I think a lot of that comes from the N.W.A. or at least era.”
Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters this Friday, August 14. Check out the trailer below:
It’s August, and summer is almost over, but I’m always on the hunt for fun entertaining things to do, read, watch and… enjoy! Here’s a few listed below:
August 25th October 27th
Muse by artist Mickalene Thomas
This gorgeous book is at the top of my list. It explores Mickalene’s inspiration of African American female beauty and identity through her photographs. We get lots of inspiring 70’s-themed shots.http://mickalenethomas.com
Serena will compete in the U.S. Open and may just make make tennis history.
IN TELEVISION August 5th
NBC premieres Mr. Robinson starring Craig Robinson as a musician (lead singer and keyboardist of the funk band Nasty Delicious) who takes a job as a high school substitute teacher to pay the bills. Craig is moved to inspire the kids. This sounds like a pretty cool premise promising lots of laughter.http://www.nbc.com/mr-robinson
Michael B. Jordan joins Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell as four young outsiders who acquire superhuman abilities after a trip to an alternative universe. Check out the trailer here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAgnQdiZFsQ
Straight Outta Compton
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. The F. Gary Gray-directed film about the revolutionary rap legends N.W.A. is steadily gaining rave reviews. Click here for the trailer:http://www.straightouttacompton.com/#/
It’s been a minute since Method Man has released a solo effort. He’s done tons of collaborations but this will be the first album he has put out in a decade. This 5th solo effort proves to be worth the wait.
August 22 -23rd
Los Angeles-based annual festival featuring music performances from indie and alternative bands. Frank Ocean, Morrissey and Solange are among the many premiere acts.
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
Finally! The highly-anticipated album is coming out this month.
According to Variety.com, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has made a concrete push for diversity, sending membership invitations to 322 individuals, including a healthy number of people who, if they accept, can help change the organization’s primarily white male demographics.
Among the invitees are “Selma” actor David Oyelowo, “Belle” and “Beyond the Lights” actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw, actor Kevin Hart, “Set It Off” and “Italian Job” director F. Gary Gray, “Best Man” director Malcolm D. Lee, “Amazing Grace” and “Beat Street” director Stan Lathan, “Selma”casting director Aisha Coley, Dreamworks executive Mellody Hobson, and “Frozen” animator Marlon West. The Academy has been reaching out to women, foreign-born artists and people of various races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.
Accusations of Academy bigotry surfaced yet again in January when the list of Oscar nominees included Caucasians in all 20 acting categories, and few women or racial minorities among the other categories. Director Ava DuVernay and actor Oyelowo of “Selma” had seemed like strong contenders, giving many people hopes of breakthroughs. After initial anger at the Academy, activists began to shift their protests to industry hiring practices.
The Academy last year sent 271 invitations, with 276 in 2013. For the years between 2004 and 2012, the average was 133. There is no guarantee that all will join, but it’s rare for people to decline. The Academy board voted on the list Tuesday, after recommendations from its membership committee.
CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs have been pushing to broaden the organization’s makeup. Last year, Boone Isaacs told Variety that the 2014 new-member list “is a continuation of an initiative to bring in new voices. … The membership is becoming more and more a reflection of the world at large.”
Hudson and Boone Isaacs always stress that the outreach does not means a change in standards. Each branch has strict requirements on eligibility based on industry tenure and credits. As of the most recent tally for 2014 voting, the Academy had 6,124 voting members. The “new voices” clearly constitute a tiny fraction of the group. But AMPAS officials are hoping that it can help can make a difference.
And as June 24-July 2 balloting is under way for board members, exactly one-third of the board are women: 17 out of 42. But it could get closer to 50-50 parity with the new crop, which includes a number of racial minorities and women among this year’s board contenders.