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WIRE Buzz: Sony mining Playstation IP; John Malkovich in pandemic thriller; and The Witcher S2 script page

By Josh Weiss
John Malkovich

After starring in Bird Box, veteran actor John Malkovich is diving back into the post-apocalypse with The Survivalist, a pandemic-themed thriller, which recently wrapped up production, according to Deadline. Directed and produced by Jon Keeyes (Red 48), the film takes place a year after a deadly virus has caused the fall of civilization.

Malkovich plays a dangerous gang leader hunting a young immune woman, who is protected by a former FBI agent (portrayed by Mission: Impossible III's Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Said gang leader is an unhinged psychopath who believes that the woman can be used to save the world. In other words, it's right up Malkovich's alley.

Yale Levine and Jordan Beckerman produced the movie under their Yale Productions company, while Matthew Rogers penned the screenplay.

“We’re thrilled and honored to be working with screen legends John Malkovich and Jonathan Rhys Meyers on The Survivalist, an exhilarating, timely and action-packed feature film with stellar performances,” Levine and Beckerman said in a statement to Deadline.

John Malkovich & Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Other producers include: Micheal J. Rothstein, Roman Kopelevich, Richard Switzer, Ian Niles, Michael Barnett, Rob Dubar, Peter Anske, Lee Broda, Joel Michaely, Gregory Ruden, Michael and Jackie Palkovicz, and Bill Green. At this time, The Survivalist is without a distributor.

Like Songbird, the project is meant to be a reflection of our current times when a novel pathogen continues to disrupt everyday society.

Netflix has been kind enough to reveal a script page from the upcoming second season of The Witcher, but you may want to read it with the lights on. Featuring some haunting voiceover from Henry Cavill's Geralt of Rivia, the scene features an unseen monster that massacres a traveling merchant named Colin Coppercloth and his wife. Only their daughter is left as a witness to the graphic carnage, which will be brought to life by some truly grotesque sound design of breaking bones and tearing flesh.

"This page from The Witcher Season 2 script shows the next season isn't holding back," Netflix wrote on Twitter.

Per a recent report, Cavill took a break from filming after sustaining a leg-based injury in the middle of a stunt. It was just the latest setback following a number of production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming, which paused in March, restarted in August before stalling again in November after several crew members tested positive for the virus.

Season 2 is expected to premiere sometime in 2021. In addition to the new season, Netflix is also working on an anime film (Nightmare of the Wolf) and a limited prequel series (Blood Origin). The official logo for Nightmare of the Wolf was unveiled earlier this week.

Recently appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Alley," Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra revealed that the studio is heavily mining PlayStation titles for 10 upcoming projects: three movies and seven TV shows. "We have a program within the company called One Sony ... You’ll be seeing a lot more integration of Sony companies together," he said (via MediaPost). It's unclear if one of those three films is the Uncharted adaptation starring Tom Holland and Mark Mark Wahlberg, though it stands to reason.

Vinciquerra also rejected the notion of emulating Warner Bros.' controversial distribution strategy for 2021, which involves the simultaneous release of major tentpoles (like Denis Villeneuve's Dune and James Gunn's The Suicide Squad) in theaters and on HBO Max.

Sony Pictures logo

"I don't think we'll be in the day-and-date release business," he said. "I think the economic model for very big budget movies require the windows that are in the flow now and will continue with that. I think every film released will have an individual negotiation with the exhibitors, but look, we think a 30-day window is probably the best. It'll allow us to advertise our marketing over the two windows, theatrical and home entertainment. So we think that's the way to go."

The CEO closed out by voicing his optimism that the theatrical industry will be back on its feet by spring/summer of 2021 when the COVID-19 vaccine is more widely available to the general public. "For 18 months, there is gonna be a blockbuster movie, not just from us, but from every studio in the theaters," he added, referring to all the delayed projects from this year. "It's gonna be a great, great attraction for consumers ... Once public optimism begins to take hold, we think theaters will be back."

Some of Sony's biggest releases for 2021 include Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Morbius.