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WIRE Buzz: DC teams with Spotify for podcasts; future of Matrix and Joker; The Rental trailer

By Josh Weiss
DC Spotify partnership logo

Move over, Justice League, there's a new super-team in town. Today, Warner Bros., DC, and Spotify announced a multi-year partnership to produce original scripted podcasts.

As such, Spotify will get first dibs on any narrative audio projects inspired by the vast DC comic book mythos, as well as the studio's "broader collection of timeless titles," says the release. In addition, all parties will collaborate on the creation of original IPs.

Peter Girardi (EVP of Blue Ribbon Content and of Alternative Programming at Warner Bros. Animation) and Robert Steele (Senior VP of Business Strategy and Operations, Warner Bros. Digital Networks) are overseeing the deal on WB's end of things.

DC Spotify partnership logo

"As we continue to see explosive growth in podcasting around the world, we are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. to build this slate of programming drawn from the worlds of DC and WB," Dawn Ostroff, Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer, Spotify, said in a statement. "We could not be more excited to be working with Robert, Peter and the entire Warner Bros. and DC teams to deliver new exclusive stories to the more than 286 million Spotify users."

"Warner Bros. has been synonymous with compelling and unforgettable storytelling for nearly a century, and we’re continuing to expand that legacy across all types of media platforms for our fans," added Steele and Girardi. "Spotify’s deep engagement with its consumers and commitment to prioritizing their podcast vertical makes them an ideal partner in this endeavor. We’re excited to bring beloved characters and franchises from DC and Warner Bros. into this new world and to use our storytelling prowess to redefine what’s possible in the scripted audio space."

While we're on the subject of Warner Bros. properties, let's take a look at some recent comments made by Village Roadshow CEO Steve Mosko to the Hollywood Reporter. Known for co-producing WB feature films, the company has a stake in the success of movies like The Matrix and Joker.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that a great script comes in and we see a Joker 2," Mosko said of Todd Phillips' DC origin film, which nabbed two Oscars and became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

Phillips, who directed from a script he wrote with Scott Silver, has been adamant about not returning to the world of Arthur Fleck, unless the sequel can reach the thematic heights of its predecessor.

A fourth Matrix project is already underway, but still needs to wrap up its final leg of production in Europe. This was made impossible by the pandemic, which eventually prompted WB to delay the film's release from May 2021 to April 2022. Still, things may not stop at #4.

"My hope would be that this continues for a long, long time," Mosko said. "Four and beyond would be very exciting. Village Roadshow has the ability to opt in to any future Matrix movies, period."

Joker & Matrix

Lana Wachowski, one half of the famous Wachowski siblings, is directing the new installment, which she wrote with Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning to play Neo and Trinity, respectively. They're both headlining an all-star cast made up of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Hollman, Brian J. Smith, Jessica Henwick, Jada Pinkett Smith, Toby Onwumere, Priyanka Chopra, and Jonathan Groff.

"For 20-plus years, this company has financed more than 100 films with Warner Bros. We will continue to do that primarily with sequels, prequels or remakes of movies that we were involved in over those years. Our pivot is from just financing to building our own [homegrown slate] of features and TV, with the focus primarily on streamers," Mosko added, referring to how the health crisis has sped up "what was inevitable, which is more movies going out on streaming platforms and less reliant on the theatrical release."

A relaxing couples' weekend retreat turns into bloody slasher-fest in the first trailer for IFC's The Rental.

Directed by Dave Franco (Now You See Me), the horror-thriller — modeled in the same vein as movies like The Strangers — takes place at a remote rental house by the sea, where a group of friends "come to see each other in a whole new light," according to the synopsis. They should've known things were immediately off when the man they were renting from (played by Halloween 2018's Toby Huss) reveals himself to be a total creep by bringing up voyeuristic fetishes. Oh, and then there's the whole spy-camera-hidden-in-the-shower-head thing. Escaping won't be so easy.

The cast of characters is played by: Alison Brie (the GLOW actress is Franco's real-world wife), Dan Stevens (Legion), Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), and Jeremy Allen White (Shameless).

Watch the trailer now:

Franco co-wrote the project's screenplay with Joe Swanberg.

The Rental will play at select drive-ins and on demand Friday, July 24.

A one-night screening of the film at California's Vineland Drive-In is set for tonight at 8:30 p.m. PST. The event will feature a Q&A with Franco, Brie, Stevens, Vand, and Allen White. Get tickets right here.