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Ethan Hawke’s ‘The Black Phone’ Shifts to Summer Release

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The Black Phone

Blumhouse’s upcoming horror film starring Ethan Hawke has delayed its release to summer 2022.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 4, “The Black Phone” will now hit theaters on June 24. Directed by Scott Derrickson, “The Black Phone” follows a 13-year-old boy named Finney Shaw who is kidnapped by a killer and taken to a soundproof basement where no one can hear his screams. According to the film’s logline, “When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.”

Hawke stars as the aforementioned killer in what a press release calls “the most terrifying role of his career,” with Mason Thames making his feature debut as Finney. Derrickson, the writer-director behind “Sinister” and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” also produced and co-wrote the film. Based on Joe Hill’s short story from his bestselling book “20th Century Ghosts,” “The Black Phone” is also produced by Jason Blum, C. Robert Cargill and executive produced by Hill, Christopher H. Warner and Ryan Turek.

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When its trailer was first unveiled at CinemaCon in August, Hawke said in a pre-taped clip that he broke his “no bad guys” rule for the film, while Blum touted it as the scariest film he’s ever worked on to date.

“The movie promises pure dread as Thames is tortured by Hawke, fond of donning terrifying masks and taunting him with stories of previous basement tenants and his own childhood,” Donnelly wrote of the trailer. “The supernatural is introduced via the phone calls, where the spirits of fallen children attempt to help Thames escape, leaving clues and life hacks in his physical space. A young neighborhood girl is also burdened with visions of Thames in capture, and attempts to help lead the police to him before it’s too late.”

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‘Gilded Age’ Score Is the Work of Musical Siblings Who Bring Class and Drive to the HBO Series

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The Gilded Age

From the opening frames of HBO’s series “The Gilded Age,” the music of composers Harry Gregson-Williams and Rupert Gregson-Williams gives viewers a sense of the ambition and drive of “new money” in conflict with the “old money” of 1880s New York.

The brothers — Harry based in Los Angeles, Rupert just outside London — generally work on different projects, and most often for features (Harry’s credits include “The Martian” and “The Last Duel,” while Rupert’s include “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman”).

But both are past Emmy nominees (“Electric Dreams” for Harry, “The Crown” for Rupert) and this is their second TV collaboration, after 2019’s Hulu series “Catch-22.” Given the sheer volume of music demanded by “The Gilded Age,” nearly six hours for the 10 episodes, they were happy to reunite professionally.

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“It was good to have two sets of hands on it,” says Harry. “Upwards or 35, sometimes 40 minutes of music [per episode] had to be written, approved, orchestrated and actually played live. It was a big job, and it stretched us.”

Finding the appropriate musical style was an intriguing challenge, says Rupert: “Coming out of the Americana period and into a certain period of New York, we used an orchestra, which was conventional, but then we brought in unconventional sounds that occasionally surprised, and helped to tell the story of old and new money meeting and clashing.”

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Those surprising sonorities included hammered dulcimer, ukelele and a Finnish stringed instrument called the kantele. Producer-director Michael Engler “really enjoyed those colors and encouraged us to use them,” Rupert adds.

The main title theme, released by WaterTower Music, is a dynamic piece set against images of the railroad, stocks and bonds, top-hatted men, grand staircases and sparkling chandeliers, all designed to evoke the elegance of the era.

“We felt it needed sweep and elegance and size and scope,” notes Rupert. It is the theme for the Russells, the railroad tycoon and his social-climbing wife (Morgan Spector, Carrie Coon). “We thought that the main theme should be about the new money.”

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A second major theme represents the van Rhijn family (headed by Christine Baranski), the old-money Manhattan dwellers who resist change and resent the newcomers. “We spent a considerable amount of time, a few weeks, to experiment and throw thematic material around,” says Harry, “to clarify and help tell the story. The characters have layers, and take off in multiple directions, so there’s always hustle-bustle on the screen, and we reflect that, musically.”

Although created and co-written by “Downton Abbey” author Julian Fellowes, the filmmakers weren’t looking for similar music, the brothers said. The orchestra is larger (48 players, compared to 35 for “Downton”) and the generous HBO budget allowed them nine hours of recording for each episode.

The score was truly co-written, the brothers say. One would write thematic material and send it to the other. “We messed with each other’s ideas,” Harry reports. “We shared files with each other, talked about what we liked and what we didn’t think would be useful.”

Harry conducted the Los Angeles ensemble while Rupert monitored the recordings, in real time, from his studio in England. The entire process took about four months, they said.

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As for their unusual billing (“Music by the Gregson-Williams Brothers”), it was an improvement over an earlier version, which “looked like ‘Mr. and Mrs. Gregson-Williams,’ which felt wrong,” Rupert cracks. Harry suggested “the Gregson-Williams Brothers,” which they preferred as “kind of funny and nice.”

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Bradley Cooper Confirms ‘A Star Is Born’ Directorial Follow-Up ‘Maestro’ Starts Filming in May

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Bradley Cooper confirmed during a conversation with Mahershala Ali as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, presented by Amazon Studios, that “Maestro” will finally start filming this May. Netflix’s “Maestro” marks Cooper’s first directorial effort since the blockbuster success of his feature debut, “A Star Is Born.” Cooper also stars in “Maestro” as esteemed Broadway composer Leonard Bernstein, with Carey Mulligan on board to play Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre.

“I wanted to be a conductor since I was a kid,” Cooper told Ali about the new film. “I was obsessed with it, asked Santa Claus for a baton when I was 8. Listening to music, falling in love with it and being able to really know every single moment of a piece, like Tchaikovsky’s ‘Opus 35’ in D major, this violin concerto. I could do it as if I know everything about it without really being able to speak the language, obviously.”

Steven Spielberg was originally attached to direct a Bernstein biographical drama and recruited Cooper to star in it. Cooper was coming off “A Star Is Born” at the time and was more interested in writing and directing movies than taking on an acting role for someone else, even Spielberg.

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“I [told Spielberg], ‘I always felt like I could play a conductor, but may I research the material and see if I can write it and direct it? Would you let me do that?’” Cooper said. “Steven has a lot of interests — he’ll just choose one thing and all of the other things will be on hold. I think he knew he wasn’t going to make that movie for a while. He was kind enough to hand it off to me, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last four and a half years, and we start shooting in May.”

Scott Stuber, the head of global films at Netflix, updated Variety in December on the pre-production of “Maestro,” saying, “We’ve done a lot of work on the makeup. We’ve done a lot of work on the voice. I’m excited to see someone so deeply focused on creating a story that means so much to him. And Carey Mulligan is an incredible actress.”

With filming beginning in May, don’t expect to see “Maestro” in theaters and on Netflix until at least 2023. Watch Cooper and Ali’s full conversation as part of Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” in the video below.

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