Netflix: 7 Notable New Shows in April, and the Best Reasons to Watch
Never-before-seen creatures circle the globe after an unexpected emergence — and there's also a new "Pacific Rim" show.
Ah, Netflix. The streaming service has reached a near-ubiquitous status in our current culture, finding its way into more than 200 million homes around the world and driving discussion about TV on a weekly basis. By now, it’s not a question of whether or not you have access to Netflix. It’s not even a question of if you’re going to watch Netflix. It’s merely a question of what you’re going to sample on the service this month.
In 2021, the query is growing all the more variable. Acquired staples like “The Office” and “The West Wing” are gone, forcing viewers to replace their perma-loop series, and the pandemic disrupted Netflix’s routine release of many favorite recurring originals. (When will we see “Ozark” Season 4? Not in April!) Netflix itself seems focused on new shows anyway, whether it’s the constant sampling of experimental content (like docuseries that interpret the dictionary or soothing sounds that double as mental health exercises) or the now-regular axe-drop on shows that have hit their third or fourth season.
Zack Snyder bets on new poster to hype Army of the Dead
Zombie movie premieres on Netflix May 21.
Zack Snyder's zombie-heist movie Army of the Dead takes place in Las Vegas — and the just-released poster for the Justice League director's undead film is gambling on the appeal of its Sin City setting.
This is not the first trip to zombie-land for Snyder, whose feature film debut was his 2004 remake of George Romero's horror classic Dawn of the Dead.
"With Dawn, we made a zombie movie but tried to do it all the way with all of those tropes of the genre," Snyder told EW. "That was so fun, so I started to think of what were other genres that story didn't have room for. It's this tone where you have fun with the genre but you don't make fun of the genre — it's a fine line."
The film's cast includes Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro, and Dave Bautista.
"We're running around killing zombies on craps tables," Bautista said. "It's just a ton of fun."
Army of the Dead premieres in select theatres in May and on Netflix, May 21. See the movie's new poster below.
‘Selena The Series’ Part 2: Netflix Sets New Premiere Date, Unveils Teaser
Netflix has set a new premiere date for Selena The Series Part 2. The final installment of the two-part series, starring Christian Serratos as iconic singer Selena Quintanilla, will premiere May 4. It was originally scheduled for May 14. The streamer also unveiled a teaser (above) and key art (below).
Netflix Lost 31% of Market Share in the Last Year as Streaming Rivals Gained Ground | Charts
New competitors like HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock are already eating into Netflix’s lead in the streaming wars
After a year in which streaming became even more important to millions of Americans, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Netflix still dominates the streaming universe in the U.S.
But new data shared by Ampere Analysis with TheWrap shows that while Netflix holds 20% of the U.S. streaming market, its dominance over the rest of the streaming landscape has shrunk from 29% — a drop of nearly one third– as more services enter the market.
Here’s a snapshot of the top streaming services in the U.S. and how their market share stacks up compared to the same time last year:
‘The Lincoln Lawyer’: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine Joins Netflix Legal Drama Series
EXCLUSIVE: The Chi alum Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine has been tapped for a heavily recurring role opposite Manuel Garcia-Rulfo in The Lincoln Lawyer,Netflix’s drama series based on Michael Connelly bestselling novels, from David E. Kelley and A+E Studios.
Written and executive produced by Kelley and showrunner Ted Humphrey, The Lincoln Lawyer revolves around Mickey Haller (Garcia-Rulfo), an iconoclastic idealist, who runs his law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car as he takes on cases big and small across the expansive city of Los Angeles.
Ntare will play Detective Raymond Griggs. A character created specifically for the series, Griggs is an intense and tenacious LAPD Detective investigating the murder of Jerry Vincent, a defense attorney whose cases Mickey Haller (Garcia-Rulfo) has taken over. While Griggs is initially an antagonist to Mickey, the two men eventually develop a wary working relationship as they each try in their own way to get to the bottom of the strange events surro
Christopher Gorham also stars.
The 10-episode first season is based on the second book in The Lincoln Lawyer series, The Brass Verdict. Kelley and Humphrey executive produce alongside Connelly and Ross Fineman.
Ntare was previously a series regular on Showtime’s The Chi and currently stars in IFC Films’ Farewell Amor, for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Durban International Film Festival. The film, directed by Ekwa Msangi, premiered at Sundance last year and is currently streaming. Ntare also is set to direct a documentary on Ugandan studio photographer Kibaate Aloysius Ssalongo, which Steven Soderbergh is executive producing. Ntare also has had recurring roles on Soderbergh’s The Knick and David Simon’s Treme. He’s repped by TalentWorks, Gallant Management and Sloane, Offer, Weber, & Dern.
Netflix has added to its roster of Chinese titles, acquiring upcoming feature fantasy drama Super Me. The streamer has taken exclusive global rights outside mainland China, former Yugoslavia and the Indian region.
From director Zhang Chong, the film originally premiered at Sitges in 2019 and went on to further festival play. It had a China premiere last Friday and officially releases theatrically on April 9. It’s currently ranked third for pre-sales on that day.
Darren Wang, Song Jia and Cao Bingkun star with Wu Gang (Leap, Wolf Warrior 2) also featuring.
Super Me, which is the director’s second film after 2019 drama The Fourth Wall, sees reality, dreams, desires and fantasies combine with a rags-to-riches story. It centers on Sang Yu (Darren Wang), who has has always dreamt of becoming a successful screenwriter. He writes non-stop, as he stresses out to finish a script he’s been paid by his friend, San Ge (Cao Bingkun), to complete. Plagued by nightmares of a demon who wants to kill him, Sang Yu tries to stay awake and becomes an insomniac. One day, he discovers that he possesses a super power — making his dreams a reality, which he uses to his own advantage. As his lifestyle improves, he encounters Qiang Ge (Wu Gang), a ruthless gangster, who uses Sang Yu as a tool to achieve his fortune. Along the way, Sang Yu is able to pursue Hua Er (Song Jia), his crush since childhood, and the love of his life.
This acquisition follows Netflix’s recent pick-ups of Chinese New Year titles New Gods: Nezha Reborn and The Yin Yang Master. A release date has yet to be set.
The pair’s Archewell Productions is making Heart of Invictus, directed by The White Helmets director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara.
Prince Harry has been instrumental in the launch of the Invictus Games, which kicked off in 2014 and was inspired by the Warrior Games attended by a number of injured officers.
It will follow a group of competitors, from around the globe, all service members who have suffered life-changing injuries or illnesses on their road to the Invictus Games The Hague, which will take place in 2022.
It comes six months after The Duke and Duchess of Sussex signed a multi-million-dollar deal with the streaming service.
The multi-episode series will join the competitors as they train, and along the way reveal stories of resilience and hope. The series will also follow the organizers as they work to prepare for the Games, postponed until next Spring, and as they partner with each nation’s team to support their competitors over the coming year.
Harry, the Duke of Sussex will appear on camera and serve as Executive Producer on the series alongside The Invictus Games Foundation, which he is the patron of.
“Since the very first Invictus Games back in 2014, we knew that each competitor would contribute in their own exceptional way to a mosaic of resilience, determination, and resolve. This series will give communities around the world a window into the moving and uplifting stories of these competitors on their path to the Netherlands next year. As Archewell Productions’ first series with Netflix, in partnership with the Invictus Games Foundation, I couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead or prouder of the Invictus community for continuously inspiring global healing, human potential and continued service,” said Prince Harry.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Archewell Productions team are building an ambitious slate that reflects the values and causes they hold dear. From the moment I met them, it’s been clear that the Invictus Games hold a very special place in their hearts, and I couldn’t be happier that their first series for Netflix will showcase that for the world in a way never seen before,” added Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix.
'Knives Out' Sequels: The Whodunit Behind Netflix's $469 Million Power Play
Sources say that Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman and Daniel Craig stand to walk away with upwards of $100 million each.
Just over a year ago, it looked like an open-and-shut case.
In February 2020, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said during a quarterly earnings call that the company was officially moving ahead on a sequel to Knives Out, the surprise box office and critical smash whodunnit starring Daniel Craig and written and directed by Rian Johnson.
But on March 31, in a twist worthy of Agatha Christie, came the reveal that Lionsgate would not be releasing the sequel at all. Instead, two sequels would be made by Netflix, which inked a dagger-driving $469 million deal with Johnson and his producing partner at T-Street, Ram Bergman, both of whom are represented by CAA.
Deal points were noteworthy: The pact gave Johnson immense creative control, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. He doesn’t have to take notes from the streamer. The only contingencies were that Craig must star in the sequels and that each must have at least the budget of the 2019 movie, which was in the $40 million range. Sources say that Johnson, Bergman and Craig stand to walk away with upwards of $100 million each.
The other company that missed out on the sequels was MRC, the Beverly Hills-based production firm that financed the first film. (MRC is also a co-parent of THR through a joint venture with Penske Media titled PMRC.) Sources say that MRC had a one movie deal with Johnson and Bergman, the filmmaker and producer known for critically beloved, modestly-budgeted one-off thrillers Brick and Looper before they made Star Wars: The Last Jedi. An MRC rep said the company was “proud” to have partnered with Johnson and Bergman on the first Knives Out and noted that the duo “have always controlled the rights” to the franchise.
Sources note that Lionsgate had what was considered a solid deal in which the company had first right of negotiation and last rights of refusal, all part of the negotiation safety net with which companies normally shield themselves from losing projects. (Lionsgate and CAA declined to comment.) And Johnson and Bergman were considered big backers of the theatrical experience.
But that was before the pandemic hit, theatrical took a nosedive and backend became nonexistent. In January, with the pandemic in full swing, and a hoped-for summer production start for a sequel, Johnson and Bergman questioned the near-term viability of theatrical releasing. CAA began shopping the deal and streamers like Netflix pounced hard. MRC and Lionsgate, which in normal times may have gotten the project, could not compete. “It became a perfect storm,” says one insider. “This would not have happened a year ago.”
For Netflix, despite the price tag, the deal made sense on several levels. The streamer gets an instant and proven franchise with sequels to a film that grossed $311 million globally. And it cannily weakens a theatrical competitor.
“Yes, it’s overpaying but Netflix is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers,” says one streaming executive familiar with the deal. “It takes a proven theatrical commodity off the board and puts it in their pocket. And it’s another way they re-educate audiences to think of streaming and their company above a studio.”
For others, the deal shows the leverage sought-after talent is enjoying at this moment, thanks to the competition from streamers. “If you’re talent right now, and you want to bet on yourself, it’s a pretty good time.”
Netflix shocked the film world last week when the streaming giant announced it was purchasing the rights to two “Knives Out” sequels from writer-director Rian Johnson in a deal worth a reported $400 million. Now some specifics of the deal are coming into focus in a new story published by The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, Netflix “inked a dagger-driving $469 million deal” to land Johnson and Ram Bergman, his producing partner at T-Street, for “Knives Out 2” and “Knives Out 3.”
THR reports the deal gives Johnson full creative control of the “Knives Out” franchise, adding, “He doesn’t have to take notes from the streamer. The only contingencies were that Craig must star in the sequels and that each must have at least the budget of the 2019 movie, which was in the $40 million range. Sources say that Johnson, Bergman and Craig stand to walk away with upwards of $100 million each.”
Lionsgate was the distributor of the original “Knives Out,” a critical and commercial smash hit with $311 million at the global box office and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in February 2020 that the studio was moving forward with a sequel, which is something Johnson had been touting ever since the “Knives Out” world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019.
“I’ve never really been interested in doing sequels, but this, the idea of doing more of these with Daniel as his character, is not sequels,” Johnson said at the time. “It’s just what Agatha Christie did. It’s just coming up with a whole new mystery, a whole new location, all new cast, whole new mechanics of the appeal of a mystery and everything. It’d be a blast.”
Craig is confirmed for the two “Knives Out” sequels. As advertised by Johnson, none of the cast members who played members of the Thrombey family in the original “Knives Out” are returning for the sequel. This cast included Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell. It remains to be seen whether or not non-Thrombey characters played by Ana de Armas and Lakeith Stanfield will be back.
An Oscar nomination goes a long way when it comes to attracting new streaming viewers, new data from Netflix suggests.
Notoriously guarded when it comes to sharing numbers, the content giant exclusively reveals to Variety that its 16 Oscars hopefuls enjoyed considerable viewership increases in the days following the March 15 announcement of the Academy Award nominations.
The figures below — impacting a variety of originals including “Da 5 Bloods,” “Pieces of a Woman,” and “Mank” — represent an increase in the number of households that chose to watch a given film in the 7 days following the nominations, compared to the 7 days prior. These figures only accounted for first-time viewers of the films (many of these titles have available on Netflix for months, and did not count repeat viewers).
David Fincher’s “Mank,” the leader of the Oscar pack with 10 nominations, saw a 702% increase in new viewers, the streamer said. The documentary short “A Love Song for Latasha,” a dreamlike biographical piece from Sophia Nahli Allison, saw a staggering 1802% increase in new viewers. George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” saw a 45% uptick, while the animated contender “Over The Moon” saw 21% (see the full chat below).
EXCLUSIVE: Eugenio Mastrandrea (La Fuggitiva, The Girl from last century) has been tapped as the male lead opposite Zoe Saldana in Netflix’s limited series From Scratch, based on Tembi Locke’s bestselling memoir. Danielle Deadwyler (Watchmen, The Harder They Fall), Keith David (Greenleaf, Welcome to the Blumhouse), Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show, Z Nation), Judith Scott (Dear White People, Snowfall), Lucia Sardo (Nastro d’Argento, Picciridda), Paride Benassai (Felicia Impastato, La Fuitina Sbagliata) and Roberta Rigano (I Know This Much Is True) also have been cast in the project, from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banner.
Adapted for TV by Locke’s sister, Attica Locke, From Scratch is the story of an African American woman who falls in love with a Sicilian chef (Mastrandrea) while studying abroad in Florence and goes on to build a life with him in Los Angeles, merging two seemingly opposite cultures.
Tembi Locke, whose memoir was selected as Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine May 2019 book pick, wrote about bringing her book to screen and assembling the cast of the series adaptation.
It’s an honor to revisit From Scratch for the screen. In many ways, it feels like a cinematic love letter– and the perfect next step of this story. Long before I wrote the book about my experience with love and loss after the death of my husband, I spent years replaying the memories in my mind. There is no better person to take on this journey than my creative partner, showrunner, and family member – my sister, Attica Locke. She knows the story like no one else. For us, this is life and art colliding to allow the personal to become the universal.
Having Zoe Saldana sign on to From Scratch was quite literally dream casting. We knew casting certain characters would be a challenge, particularly the lead role of Lino, based on my late husband. Attica called me after she first saw one actor’s audition. She had a visceral reaction and told me we should sit on the phone together as I watched. From that phone call we knew. Here was someone we didn’t know but who felt like family. Every member of our cast feels like that.
After more than a year of isolation, separation, and loss, and it is beautiful and even fortuitous to share a story that embraces the richness of nature, food, love, and travel – the things we have all been denied. I hope the series will nourish our souls, inspire creativity, and, of course, remind us of the magical ways food can express love.
There could be no more perfect home for From Scratch than Netflix. Stretching across multiple languages, many cultures, and two continents, our show is about how love and our shared humanity can cross borders. It’s exciting to know that this series, which highlights the universal things that unite us no matter where we are on the planet, will be streamed all over the planet.
Here are more details about the cast and the characters they play:
Mastrandrea’s Lino is a Sicilian chef who grew up translating literature at night, after spending days picking garlic and olives with his father in the fields of Sicily and learning to cook at his mother’s stove. Lino broke 100 years of tradition by leaving the fields of Sicily to become a chef. It’s through the love of his wife that he’s able to fulfill his dream of dreams before the end of his life.
Deadwyler plays Zora, Amy’s (Saldana) older sister and best friend. Although she sometimes resents her baby sister for getting their parents to go along with her rule-breaking she also lovingly cheers her on. With wry humor, she is Amy’s fiercest ally in the family.
David plays Hershel, former civil rights activist, and Amy’s father. Hershel is a plainspoken man who lets his kids make their own decisions but doesn’t ******** them if he thinks they’re about to make a mistake. He raised two headstrong young women. Though happily remarried, his divorce from Amy’s mom is a wound he still carries.
Smith plays Lynn, Amy’s bitingly funny mother full of judgment about almost every aspect of her daughter’s life. Lynn gave Hershel custody of the girls after they divorced and has spent the last decade feeling guilty and regretting this decision.
Scott plays Maxine, Herschel’s wife, and Amy’s stepmother. Maxine practically raised Amy and Zora during their teen years, and her commitment to them is unwavering.
Sardo plays Filomena, Lino’s mother. Filomena is deeply bound by Sicily’s Old World culture but is adept at finding clever ways to work around the patriarchal hierarchy of her country and her marriage.
Benassai plays Giacomo, Lino’s father. This man with a grade school education devoted his life to garlic and olive farming and provided for his family; he is a proud patriarch who disapproves of his son not taking over the family business.
Rigano plays Lino’s sister, Biagia. She feels abandoned by Lino but also proud of his accomplishments by leaving home. She is also hurt and angry with herself for all the ways acquiescing to the patriarchal order cost her joy and a different life she could have had.
Attica Locke, who serves as showrunner, executive produces alongside Tembi Locke, Reese Witherspoon, and Lauren Neustadter for Hello Sunshine, Zoe Saldana for Cinestar, Richard Abate, Jermaine Johnson, and Will Rowbotham for 3 Arts Entertainment
Nzingha Stewart, Guy Louthan, Emily Ferenbach for Hello Sunshine, Cisely Saldana, and Mariel Saldana for Cinestar are producers.
Zoe Saldana and Cinestar Pictures are repped by CAA, LBI and Morris Yorn. David is repped by Artists + Representatives, Silver J Management and Meyer & Downs. Smith is repped by A3 Artists Agency and Mainstay Entertainment.
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