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WIRE Buzz: Micronauts off release calendar; Universal & Cinemark strike PVOD deal; more

By Don Kaye & Josh Grossberg
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Paramount Pictures has removed Micronauts from its film release schedule, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Originally slated to arrive on Jun. 4, 2021, the movie has now been shuttled off the calendar completely. Based on the Hasbro toy line of the 1970s, which also spawned a Marvel comic book series, the movie announced a director last year in Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon). But news on the "family-friendly" adventure about a group of "intergalactic explorers" has been pretty much non-existent since then.

Micronauts was at one point also positioned to be part of a Hasbro/Paramount shared movie universe incorporating Transformers, G.I. Joe, and other toy properties, but those plans seem to have fallen by the wayside as well.

In addition to Micronauts, Paramount has also removed the spy thriller Without Remorse from its release schedule, with the film possibly being sold to Amazon Studios. Starring Michael B. Jordan, the movie centers around former Navy SEAL John Kelly and is a spin-off of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan franchise. It was set to come out on Feb. 26, 2021, after being bumped from its initial Oct. 2, 2020 slot.

Universal Pictures (which shares a parent company, Comcast, with SYFY WIRE) and the Cinemark theater chain have reached an agreement to shorten the theatrical release window for new movies so that they can move more quickly to premium video on demand (PVOD).

The deal is the second that Universal has struck, following its landmark agreement earlier in the year with AMC Theatres, the world's largest exhibitor. The deal with AMC gave Universal the option to move new movies to digital on-demand services 17 days after their theatrical release, instead of the typical 75 to 90 days of the pre-COVID era. The studio agreed to share on-demand profits with AMC as well.

According to Variety, the new bargain with Cinemark is somewhat different, and it's understood that the same terms will be made available to AMC. Under the new deal, any movie that earns more than $50 million at the box office must stay on screens for at least 31 days, while all titles performing below that benchmark can stick to the 17-day window and move to digital at Universal's discretion. Theaters can continue to run them as well.

Universal is the only major studio that has struck such an agreement with two of the three biggest exhibitors, with Regal being the holdout. Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley said in a statement, "Universal’s century-long partnership with exhibition is rooted in the theatrical experience, and we are more committed than ever for audiences to experience our movies on the big screen."

Universal has delayed a number of major releases, but currently has several smaller movies playing in theaters, including the horror entries Freaky and Come Play (the latter a Focus Features release), and will release The Croods: A New Age on Nov. 25.

Mason Gooding Booksmart

Mason Gooding is going Electric.

Deadline reports that the Love, Victor star has come aboard Electric Easy, a new podcast series set in a futuristic world that's going to explore issues such as gender identity, body modification, sexuality, race, and the evolution of underground culture.

Touted as a neo-noir thriller with musical elements, each episode will purportedly be told from the point of view of a different character. Electric Easy is being written and directed by Vanya Asher with QCUDE Media financing and distributing.

Gooding plays Creekwood's brash, basketball-loving jock on HULU's Love, Victor, a teen drama series spun off from the 2018 hit movie Love, Simon. The 24-year-old thesp, who's the son of actor Cuba Gooding Jr., first gained notice in the 2019 comedy, Book Smart (shown above), and also appeared in episodes of ABC's The Good Doctor and CBS All Access' Picard.

Gooding is next set to appear in a big screen reboot of the Scream franchise.