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ZDF Studios Boards Charlene McKenna Thriller ‘Clean Sweep,’ Set for Sundance Now and RTE (EXCLUSIVE)

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Adding to its growing roster of overseas drama titles, Germany’s ZDF Studios has snagged international distribution rights to “Clean Sweep,” a six-part Irish thriller which is set to premiere on Sundance Now and Irish public broadcaster RTÉ.

“Clean Sweep” stars Charlene McKenna, Captain Swing in “Peaky Blinders,” in a crime drama told from the point-of-view of the killer who is also, unusually, a self-sacrificing mother and wife. Filming is now underway.

McKenna, whose credits take in “Bloodlands” and “Vienna Blood,” plays Shelly Mohan, a woman living a quiet life in Western Ireland as a housewife and mother of three who kills her former partner in crime when he threatens to expose her dark past.

With her unsuspecting husband (Barry Ward, “Jimmy’s Hall,” “Blood Cells”), a Garda detective, hunting for the murderer, Shelly has to contend with the pressures of a tightening noose as well as continuing to care for an ailing son, her unfaithful husband and all the usual burdens of motherhood, the synopsis runs.

ZDF Studios, Sundance Now and RTE described “Clean Sweep,” which is inspired by true events, as a “compelling and relentless story of mothering and the price paid for long-buried sins.”

Ireland’s ShinAwiL, producer of many of the country’s primetime entertainment franchises, such as “Dancing with the Stars Ireland,” produces with Canada’s Incendo, a respected producer-international distributor which co-produced milestone French series “Versailles.”

“Clean Sweep” is created by Gary Tieche, a writer on “Preacher,” created by Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan for AMC, as well as on Amazon series spin-off “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Tieche has written the series with Francesca Harris. Ronan Burke (“Harry Wild,” “Find Me in Paris”) is directing.

“‘Clean Sweep’ is a binge-worthy addition to our growing slate of English language productions,” said Yi Qiao, director drama, ZDF Studios. “Irish content has significantly gained in importance in the international market so we are proud to partner on this production, a thriller full of twists and turns that will captivate audiences worldwide.”

Clean Sweep
Credit: Deirdre Brennan

“When we first read Gary’s script we knew this was a story for a global audience, a classic “why done it?” that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats,” recalled Larry Bass, ShinAwiL CEO and executive producer.

He added: “ShinAwiL is delighted to partner with Incendo and ZDF Studios in delivering this exciting modern thriller. From the time RTÉ first boarded ‘Clean Sweep,’ we have been looking to find the best distributor to take this story to the world. We look forward to working with ZDF Studios on making this a global success.”

“‘Clean Sweep’ radiates elevated, smart writing, brought to life by an incredible cast led by Charlene McKenna. This gripping drama is sure to have audiences on the edge of their seats. We’re thankful to Element 8 Entertainment for bringing us into the fold, and elated to debut the series on Sundance Now,” said Shannon Cooper, VP, programming, Sundance Now.

For Dermot Horan, director of acquisitions and co-productions for RTÉ, “‘Clean Sweep’ is a compelling thriller with a rich backdrop of strong Irish characters and the unique Irish landscape. RTÉ believes it will attract a very large audience on RTÉ One and on the RTÉ Player, but that the story will be equally attractive to an international audience.”

Executive producers include Patty Lenahan Ishimoto, Bass, Aaron Farrell, Mary Callery, Jin Ishimoto, Harvey Myman and Tieche at ShinAwiL; Cooper for Sundance Now; and Graham Ludlow, Jean-Philippe Normandeau and Shari Segal for Incendo.

In a hugely competitive drama series market, “‘Clean Sweep,’  shows ZDF Studios, like other big European players, broadening ever more its compass, reaching out to key players in the English-speaking world and beyond, including established broadcast players, to access titles of broad audience impact.

ZDF Studios drama highlights include not only ecological thriller “The Swarm,” executive produced by “Game of Thrones” Frank Doelger and co-distributed with Beta Film, but also Magellan epic “Boundless,” from Spanish public broadcaster RTVE.

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Charlene McKenna and Barry Ward



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‘Violent Night’ Review: David Harbour Stars in Your Basic, Everyday Heist Meets Bloody Action Santa Meets ‘Home Alone’ Christmas Thriller

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The now-ancient joke about the kind of pitches that movie executives respond to (“It’s ‘Avengers 2’…meets ‘Glass Onion’!”) is really about what the audience responds to. We’re the ones who like our special-sauce tacos stuffed inside a bacon burger topped with a bun made of pizza. And “Violent Night” is a movie that takes the oversize appetite of the audience very seriously. The title might lead you to expect a holiday horror film, with Santa as a mad slasher ­— but, you know, we’ve been there, eaten that. In “Violent Night,” David Harbour, that jovially quirky actor from “Stranger Things” and the 2019 “Hellboy” reboot, does in fact play a dissolute Santa who cruises through Christmas on a bender of holiday cookies and random alcohol, peeing and puking off the side of his sleigh — but in movies like “Bad Santa,” we’ve tasted that fast-food combo, too.

To wake up the jaded taste buds of today’s holiday movie audience, you need a piece of entertainment that’s truly going to combine flavors. So consider this: a comedy about a filthy-rich family whose members can’t stand each other but gather anyway, on Christmas Eve, at the Greenwich, Conn., mansion of their misanthropic matriarch, Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D’Angelo), for a little forced holiday cheer. Before the festivities have begun, they’re set upon by a ruthless team of home invaders led by a psycho who calls himself Scrooge (John Leguizamo). He sets the tone with a hearty “Bah humbug, motherfucker!,” and the foul-mouthed Yuletide spirits escalate from there.

Scrooge, who’s been casing the joint for months, knows that there’s $300 million hidden in the vault below, and he has arranged it so that everyone — catering staff, security agents — is secretly working for him. What he wasn’t counting on is Santa Claus, who’s making his yearly Christmas pitstop. Santa is a bit of a Scrooge himself: a drunk and a curmudgeon who can’t get over what consumerist zombies today’s kids have become. But he’s also got special powers. Do I mean his ability to glide, with a twinkling twitch of his nose, up and down chimneys? Or the golden digital scrolls he unfurls with a list of what each kid has done that’s naughty or nice? Certainly all that.

Mostly, though, this Santa is a weapon-welding badass. He’s many centuries old and started off, in vintage Kris Kringle fashion, as some sort of earthy Scandinavian Viking warrior. Now he’s like a member of the Expendables, dispatching enemies with old-school brutality. When he grabs a sledgehammer, he becomes a death-wish version of Thor. But since “Violent Night” is a Christmas movie, it’s all in good fun! Especially when Trudy (Leah Brady), the 7-year-old daughter of Jason (Alex Hassell), the only honorable member of the Lightstone clan, goes “Home Alone” medieval on the asses of the home invaders. Ladders are booby-trapped so throats get pierced with nails; heads are scalped; the pain gets brought. As someone in a film like this might put it: That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Or maybe I should just say: Have yourself a bloody little gonzo action Christmas.  

Over the last week, everyone in entertainment media, including me, has churned out hand-wringing articles about how the acclaimed awards films are all fizzling at the box office. One after another, “Tár,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “She Said,” “Triangle of Sadness,” and “Till” are all crawling their way to a gross of maybe $10 million. (“The Fabelmans,” with a more high-profile pedigree, will probably crawl its way to $20 million.) We know that this is the age of Marvel, so “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the triumphant counterexample. But even in 2022, people don’t just go to Marvel movies. One of the things that’s defeated adult moviegoing is the insatiable hunger for unabashed junk food like “Violent Night.” The movie has no comic-book hook; it’s a trash-compactor genre buffet that smashes together a dozen things you’ve seen before. But that’s the hook. “Violent Night” is amusing in a few spots, wearying in more than a few others, but to complain about it in the way that I’m doing is to come off as churlish. It’s a movie that feeds the beast.

David Harbour gives off of a ping of likability, and that makes him the right actor to play a down-in-the-dumps, vengeance-is-mine Santa who is really, beneath his bloody mottled gray curls, the Christmas mensch we want him to be. John Leguizamo, as always, refuses to phone anything in; as Scrooge the sociopath who hates Christmas, he makes every obscenity pop. Beverly D’Angelo, Edi Patterson, and Cam Gigandet play the rest of the Lightstone clan as walking high-camp horrors, and Alexis Louder, as Jason’s estranged wife, lends a lone note of stubborn sanity to the proceedings. “Violent Night,” with its action-thriller soundtrack built around themes from classic Christmas songs, is a movie that makes you think: What’s next, “Massacre on 34th St.”? Christmas movies, like all Hollywood pulp, build on one another, and maybe this is just one more age-of-nothing-sacred holiday mish-mash, but “Violent Night,” depending on how it performs, could open the door to a new kind of down-and-dirty Christmas/action hybrid. Just imagine hearing lines like “God bless us — every one, motherfucker!” The possibilities are endless.



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Super Mario Bros. Movie Posters Show New Looks For Nintendo Characters

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Illumination unveils more Super Mario Bros. Movie posters showing off the new looks for the beloved Nintendo characters for the animated adventure.


Hot off the premiere of a new trailer for the animated movie, a new set of The Super Mario Bros. Movie posters have been released to showcase the colorful cast of Nintendo characters. The video game publisher has partnered with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment to give their most iconic video character new life on the big screen after the critical and box office disappointment of the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. The new animated take on Mario features an impressive cast including Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jack Black.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

To coincide with the new trailer, Universal Pictures also released a series of The Super Mario Bros. Movie posters. The key arts highlight the main characters including Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Toad, and Bowser. Each character is given a unique location that will be showcased in the film and highlights the level of accuracy the filmmakers took to make the characters match their video game counterparts. Check out the posters below:


Super Mario Bros.’ Character Designs Are A Good Sign

Super Mario Bros Movie Rainbow Road

Ever since it was announced that Chris Pratt would be voicing Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the film has faced an uphill battle in trying to win fans over. The first teaser for the movie even held off on Mario, with the character getting only a minimal amount of dialogue. While audiences may still have a hard time getting used to his voice for the character, the faithfulness of the character designs showcased in the posters are likely to ease some concerns about the film.

The character designs for The Super Mario Bros. Movie capture the essence of the characters, with only some minor tweaks made to the faces to make them more expressive for an animated picture. It does not appear that The Super Mario Bros. Movie will suffer the same hiccup that Sonic the Hedgehog faced when audiences reacted so poorly to the title character’s design in the original teaser that the character had to be reworked and the film delayed. The creative team behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie has clearly gone to great lengths to maintain a level of visual accuracy to the video games.

As audiences head out to the theaters this holiday season for films like Avatar: The Way of Water, it is likely they will not only see the new The Super Mario Bros. Movie trailer, but also the character posters at various theaters across the country. The posters are colorful enough to catch the eyes of long-time fans, casual moviegoers who may recognize Mario, and young child audiences who are new to the character. Nintendo and Universal are hoping this pays off for a big box office intake as Nintendo is looking to develop more films while the Mario-themed land also set to open at Universal Studios Hollywood just ahead of the film’s release.

Source: Universal Pictures

Key Release Date

  • Mario Bros Film Poster

    The Super Mario Bros Film

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Oscars 2023 Will Include All 23 Categories Presented Live on Air (EXCLUSIVE)

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All 23 categories will be aired during the Oscars 2023 telecast.

Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced the news exclusively to Variety Tuesday morning. “I can confirm that all categories will be included in the live telecast,” he said.

The news comes after eight different Oscar categories — original score, makeup and hairstyling, documentary short, film editing, production design, animated short, live action short and sound — were cut from the main telecast at the 2022 Academy Awards, leading to much outrage across the film industry.

“We are committed to having a show that celebrates the artisans, the arts and sciences and the collaborative nature of moviemaking. This is very much what the mission of the Academy is, and I am very hopeful that we can do a show that celebrates all components of moviemaking in an entertaining and engaging way,” Kramer said.

Since his appointment in June, Kramer said he’s had many conversations about restoring the missing categories: “We are thrilled to be in a position to execute that.”

Jimmy Kimmel will return for the third time to host the Oscars. Kramer said he was excited to have the late-night host back. “I love having someone hosting the show who knows live television. I think that’s so critical,” he said.

When asked about what else audiences can expect from the telecast, Kramer said, “All I will say right now is that our anniversary, the 95th Oscars, is extremely important to us. I think it sets a really interesting rhythm for our 100th. You see this in the museum, I think we are able to celebrate our legacy while bringing the Academy into the future and the show will reflect that.”

Executive producers and showrunners Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner of White Cherry Entertainment will produce the Oscars, and Weiss returns, for the eighth consecutive year, as the show’s director. The 95th Academy Awards will take place on March 12, 2023, live from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. The ceremony will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide



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