SMILE
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 09/30/2022
Running Time: 115
Rated: R
Cast: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Rob Morgan, Caitlin Stasey and Kal Penn.
Crew: Director: Parker Finn. Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner. Executive Producer: Robert Salerno. Screenwriter: Parker Finn. Cinematographer: Charlie Sarroff.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

I'll admit, the new horror movie "Smile" took me by surprise and got me good a few times with its effective jump scares. After seeing it now, I will probably be leery when anyone smiles at me. When you see it, you'll understand why.

"Smile" is a clever thriller from first time director/screenwriter Parker Finn. He adapted the movie from his 2020 short film "Laura Hasn't Slept."

Like most horror fans, not knowing how everything will play out, is what makes these movies so fun. While "Smile" was more creepy than scary for me, it's still quite an eerie and suspenseful ride.

Sosie Bacon (TV's "Mare of Eastown"), who is the daughter of actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, turns in a chilling performance. She plays Rose Cotter, an overworked psych ward doctor in desperate need of a vacation.

Over the years, Rose has dealt with many patients with all kinds of mental issues. Yet, when she is asked to evaluate a new one named Laura Weaver (Caitlin Stasey, TV's "Bridge and Tunnel"), her life suddenly changes and becomes a living hell.

Rose tries to talk with Laura to find out what is causing her to be so frightened and withdrawn, but Laura goes crazy and winds up slitting her throat right in front of her.

Rose can't shake that tragic event. It haunts her. So much so, that it begins to affect her work. Her boss, Dr. Morgan Desai (Kal Penn, TV's "Belated") insists she take time off to clear her head.

When she is away from the job, Rose is tormented by nightmares and hallucinations. Rose can't shake that weird smile either that she saw on Laura's face before she killed herself.

The more she tries to explain to her Fiancé Trevor (a terrific Jessie T. Usher, TV's "The Boys" and "Tales of the Walking Dead") about what she's experiencing, the more concerned he becomes about her mental stability and begins to question their relationship.

Even her ex-boyfriend, Joel ("Roost") who is a police officer and investigating Laura's death, is initially skeptical of Rose's account of things.

Rose's sister and husband Greg (Nick Arapoglou (TV's "Queens") don't want anything to do with Rose now either since she gives their young son, a "surprise" gift at his birthday party. It traumatized the poor kid.

Rose remembers Laura, who was a graduate student, telling her that her professor killed himself in front of her. Now Rose believes that there is an evil spirit/presence stalking her that is manifesting itself and latching onto others with this sinister smile.

Is there something to this? Is Rose simply losing her mind?

She's not even sure she can trust her psychiatrist Dr. Madeline Northcutt (Robin Weigert, TV's "American Horror Stories") anymore.

A brief talk with a prisoner (the always reliable Rob Morgan, TV's "Stranger Things") may provide Rose with some useful information to help make sense of this horrific nightmare.

"Smile" is an ambitious and worthy entry into the horror film genre. It also proves that director/screenwriter Parker Finn was indeed ready for his close-up.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Look At This Trailer For "SMILE"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image...
 

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The Woman King


OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

<b> BRIAN'S SONG</b> Title: BRIAN'S SONG
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 73
Production Company: Screen Gems/Sony
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: In honor of legendary actor James Caan who died July 6 at age 82, N2Entertainment.net is re-running part of its Old School Video Pick review of "Brian's Song" which Caan starred in as Chicago Bears football great Brian Piccolo.

By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs, Editor-In-Chief

"Brian's Song" tells the remarkable story of the friendship between Piccolo and Gayle...
NEW ON DVD

Minions: The Rise Of Gru Title: Minions: The Rise Of Gru
Year Released: 2022
Running Time: 87
Production Company: Universal Pictures/Home Entertainment
Director: Kyle Balda
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"SPECIAL BLU-RAY, 4K, DIGITAL AND DVD OF MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU AVAILABLE AUG. 30 AND SEPT. 6

The biggest global animated franchise in history adds an all-new laugh-out-loud gru-vy movie is Illumination’s "Minions: The Rise Of Gru."

It’s available to own with over 60 minutes of despicably entertaining bonus features on Digital Aug. 30 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 6, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Now with even more frolic and fun from the world’s most irresistible Minions, fans get a chance to learn the comedy-filled origin story of how Gru and the Minions became the world’s most villainous team! Jam-packed with exclusive bonus content, this Collector’s Edition includes two all-new mini movies, hilarious outtakes, a how-to draw (& animate) lesson with co-director Brad Ableson and tons of activities the whole family can enjoy.

Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru is just a 12-year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. When the infamous supervillain group, the Vicious 6, ousts their leader, Gru attempts to join their ranks but soon finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to learn martial arts to help save him, and Gru discovers that even bad guys need a little help from their friends. Packed with the franchise’s signature subversive humor, "Minions: The Rise Of Gru" features more thrilling action than any "Despicable Me" film ever before.

The film is written and directed by Kyle Balda ("Minions," "Despicable Me 3," "The Lorax"), co-directed by Brad Ableson (“Minions Holiday Special”) and Jonathan del Val ("The Secret Life of Pets 2"), and co-written by Matthew Fogel ("The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part") and Brian Lynch ("Minions, The Secret Life of Pets"), starring Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Taraji P. Henson, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin. The original score was created by Heitor Pereira.

With the purchase of "Minions Rise of Gru" on disc or digital, fans are eligible to earn points towards digital movies via the Universal All-Access Rewards program. Members can redeem their points for digital movies, swag and more! For registration and details please visit www.MyUniversalRewards.com.

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K UHD, BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL:

"Post Modern Minions" (Mini Movie)-- Experience one Minion’s rise and fall as an artistic genius when he sneaks into a 1970’s post-modern art gallery with a fellow Minion and unintentionally creates an explosive new art form that is declared by a snooty art critic as the greatest art he’s ever seen. When the critic moves onto the next new artist, our Minion tries everything to get back in the spotlight, which accidentally leads to his next unexpected career.

"Minions And Monsters" (Mini Movie) -- Follow a newbie Minion as he joins three more experienced Minions in playing a 1970’s fantasy role-playing game. After struggling to gain the skills needed to master the game, the newbie unexpectedly rises to the occasion and saves the day, earning him the magical crown and the appreciation of his buddies.

Gru-vy Animation-- Join Steve Carell and the directors as they take us through the animation process. From Concept Art, through Storyboards and on to the Final Film, with every Gru-vy step in between explained in fun and fascinating detail.

The '70s- Fashion, Food & Funk-- A behind the scenes look at the 1970’s through the lens of "Minions: The Rise of Gru." From fashion to music, cultural phenomenon and back – the cast and filmmakers are bringing the 1970’s to a whole new generation.

Minion Martial Arts-- In this 1970s inspired martial arts movie throwback, we hear from the film’s directors about their inspiration, how they created authenticity in animation, the role the many martial artists in the cast played to bring it to life and how you teach a Minion to fight.

How To Draw (& Animate) With Brad Ableson-- Co-director Brad Ableson shows us how to draw all of our favorite characters.

Lair Flair: Make Your Own Minion Hideout-- The Minions aren’t the only ones who can build a secret lair — now you can, too. (And yours doesn’t have to be built under Gru’s bed).

Super Style Shop-- The Minion uniform of overalls and goggles is timeless. Simple yet functional. But sometimes Minions have a casual day out and can abandon their work attire for something more fashionable. Here’s how you can create fresh new fashion for your Minions.
(Recommended).

<b> The Black Phone</B> Title: The Black Phone
Year Released: 2022
Running Time: 103
Production Company: Universal/Blumhouse
Director: Scott Derrickson
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"THE BLACK PHONE"

Without a doubt, the horror film "The Black Phone" will rank high on my Top 20 Movies List for 2022. The film, which stars a wickedly entertaining Ethan Hawke is directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson who collaborated with Hawke on 2012's "Sinister."

"The Black Phone" is based on the 2004 short story by Stephen King's son, Joe Hill and is set during the 1970s in a suburban, Colorado town. Hawke plays against type as an evil, masked child serial killer known as "The Grabber."

Although "The Black Phone" pays homage to classic horror films like "It" and "Halloween," there is a refreshing and distinctive vibe to it that is far from predictable and every bit of eerie.

"The Grabber" (Hawke) is on the prowl for young boys. He drives a black van with the logo “Abracadabra” on it and goes to schools and parks, hoping to lure his next victim with his magic tricks. This lunatic dresses in garish clothing and carries around black balloons and some kind of spray that makes kids unconscious after he grabs and tosses them inside the van.

Meanwhile, Finney Shaw (Mason Thames, "Evel") and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw, "The Mitchells vs. The Machines" and "A Christmas Wish"), are good, smart kids. Not only do they have to fear "The Grabber," but also their abusive and alcoholic father Terrence (Jeremy Davies, TV's "The Rookie" and "FBI"). Their dad hasn't been the same since their mother died. Now, he finds more comfort in drinking. He is easily agitated by most everything Finney and Gwen do around the house and often yells at them for no good reason. He's quick to use his belt too.

Gwen has a special gift. Not only can she sound off a slew of profanities with the best adult, but she also has these very realistic and vivid dreams that often come true. It's too bad Finney isn't as brave as she is because he's constantly bullied at school.

When Finney's baseball friend Bruce (Tristan Pravong, "Forever and a Day") is the first to go missing, Gwen has a bad feeling. It gets worse as more neighborhood boys disappear including Robin (newcomer, Miguel Cazarez Mora) a karate kid who rescued Finney from getting a beat down and who became his best friend.

Then while walking home, Finney runs into "The Grabber.” He asks Finney if he wants to see a magic trick. Finney starts talking to the guy. No Finney. Don't talk to strangers. Run. Within seconds, “The Grabber” covers him in balloons and throws him in the van.

When Finney awakes, he is in a dark basement with a locked door and barred window. A black dial-up wall phone that is not connected, somehow rings and soon Finney is talking with the "ghosts" of the previous victims. Although they weren't successful, they offer various tips for Finney on how to escape from "The Grabber."

However, all of Finney's attempts at escaping—and he mightily tries nearly everything--initially fail. He’s convinced he’ll never get away even as two of the city's top detectives, Miller (Troy Rudeseal, "Halloween Kills") and Wright (E. Roger Mitchell, "A Jazzman's Blues") are working around the clock to find “The Grabber.” Fortunately, they get a big asset from Gwen who has had a vivid dream that may lead directly to the house where Finney is.

Nearly every minute of this movie is suspenseful. The last 40 minutes are particularly exciting, and the jump-scares are well earned including a head-splitting scene involving a humorous James Ransome ("It Chapter Two") who plays Max, the brother of "The Grabber."

Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw will get my "Critics Choice Awards" vote for best young actors because they are excellent. However, it is Hawke's ghastly performance that will make you never want to talk to strangers.
(Highly Recommended).

Meat Me Halfway Title: Meat Me Halfway
Year Released: 2021
Running Time: 80
Production Company: Reducetarian Productions
Director: Brian Kateman
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"MEAT ME HALFWAY"

“Meat Me Halfway” is a new eye-opening documentary directed and written by Brian Kateman, founder and leader of the Reducetarian Organization. Kateman’s movement takes a guided and practical approach to addressing the harmful effects that eating meat has on people and the planet.

In case you are wondering what "Reducetarianism" is, well, it’s a concept that Kateman--a former vegetarian--crafted that encourages people to not avoid meat entirely, but simply reduce their consumption of it. Kateman believes this a more realistic approach rather than brow-beating people into becoming a strict vegetarian or vegan.

It’s a smaller step, but nevertheless he says is an effective one since people would still be helping to save the environment from increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as well as safeguard their health.

However, as Kateman, who is based in New York City discovers during his investigative journey—which leads him to a pig slaughterhouse in Los Angeles and a “ethically raised/slaughter” animal farm in Georgia and several points in between--there are strong and varying viewpoints from meat lovers and vegetarians/vegans.

Kateman is often ridiculed--even by his own skeptical parents--and other meat-eaters for his stance of “eating less meat.” He also angers animal rights activists who believe his position is counterproductive to theirs.

“Meat Me Halfway” features several notable scholars, scientists, doctors, and writers sharing their views on climate change and the cost of eating healthy. Michele Simon who is the founder of the Plant Based Foods Association notes that “taste,” “price” and “convenience” are the three most powerful drivers of food choices. She states that marketing and the environment people live in shapes their everyday food choices.

That’s a big reason why Olympia Auset started SUPRMARKT, the first organic produce pop-up in South Los Angeles to provide fresh and healthy vegetables and fruits to her community. The lack of major grocery stores in black and brown communities is alarming and that needs to change adds Eric Adams, Borough President of Brooklyn New York. Auset and Adams maintain it's important to make healthy food accessible and affordable to everyone.

“Meat Me Halfway” lays it all out there but doesn’t take a stand in the end. Instead, the viewer is left to chew on all the information, draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. It is a highly informative and well-done documentary.
(Highly Recommended).

"Meat Me Halfway" is available July 20 on VOD and streaming platforms.
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
Prior to his movie and television career, James Caan made his Broadway debut alongside Peter Fonda and Darren McGavin in which 1961 Broadway play?
“Hair”
Blood, Sweat and Stanley"
"Chicago"
“The Best Man"
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
CCA SOFEE By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

THE CRITICS CHOICE ASSOCIATION WOMEN’S COMMITTEE LAUNCHES (SOFEE)

The Critics Choice Association Women’s Committee is proud to announce the launch of a new initiative to recognize female-forward film and TV programming: The Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. Called the "SOFEE," the Seal recognizes outstanding new films and television series that illuminate the female experience and perspective through authentically told female-driven stories.

The CCA is pleased to announce that the first recipients of the SOFEE are:

Feature: "The Woman King" (Sony Pictures)

Scripted Series: "A League of Their Own" (Prime Video)

Docuseries: "Gutsy" (Apple TV+)

These first SOFEE recipients are standouts for their empowering depictions of women overcoming the societal limitations put upon them because of their gender.

"The Woman King" - with a predominantly female cast, along with a female writer, director, and cinematographer - is one of the most thrilling and powerful movies of the year. Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of a group of female warriors in Africa whose fierce and formidable reputation was strengthened by their bonds of sisterhood.

"A League of Their Own"-- is exceptional in how it contrasts the societal struggles of white women and women of color in the 1940s. The series uses comedy to reflect on the adversity women encountered playing a traditionally male sport, and highlights the danger queer women faced if their sexuality was discovered. "Gutsy"-- offers community through an engaging examination of the challenges women in the world face today, with advice from inspirational women who are breaking barriers.

All three of these recipients earned a perfect score in the numerical formula that is used to determine if new titles, nominated by Women’s Committee members, are eligible for a SOFEE. Qualifying projects will have a prominent female character arc, give female characters at least equal screen time to male characters, have female leaders behind the scenes, and pass elements highlighted in the Bechdel test.

To be considered, new film and television releases must possess an artistic and storytelling value and exceptionality, and score at least 7 out of a possible 10 points in the SOFEE rubric, which can be found at CriticsChoice.com. There are no limits or quotas governing the number of SOFEE seals the CCA may grant.

"The last five years have seen a dramatic shift where women are being given significantly more opportunity to create large-scale entertainment,” said Tara McNamara, Chair of the CCA Women’s Committee. "The result is that half of the population is seeing truer representation on the screen. As the most influential critics organization, we believe it’s the role of the CCA to recognize studios and filmmakers making positive female-forward entertainment with an easy-to-spot seal graphic -- perfect for a movie poster or TV ad. Our hope is that those who care about how women are depicted on screen and utilized behind the scenes will look for the SOFEE graphic to help inform their media consumption decisions.

Members involved in the conception of the Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment include: Tara McNamara (Chair), Hillary Atkin, Lauren Bradshaw, TJ Callahan, Marah Eakin, Natasha Gargiulo, Toni Gonzales, Teri Hart, Susan Kamyab, Jennifer Merin, Louisa Moore, Gayl Murphy, Mary Murphy, Patricia Puentes, Christina Radish, Amanda Salas, Rachel Smith, Sammi Turano, Lynn Venhaus, and Elizabeth Weitzman, as well as CCA board member Paulette Cohn.

ABOUT THE CRITICS CHOICE ASSOCIATION (CCA)

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 580 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from the Critics Choice Association publicity.

OTHER "REEL MOVIE" NEWS:

YELLOW VEIL PICTURES ACQUIRES DOCUMENTARY "KING ON SCREEN" FOCUSING ON STEPHEN KING'S ADAPTED WORK FOR CINEMA AND TV

Yellow Veil Pictures have acquired world sales rights to Daphné Baiwir’s feature documentary "King On Screen." The documentary, approved by Stephen King, will premiere at Fantastic Fest" Sept. 22 - 29 in Austin, Texas, with more festivals to be announced throughout the fall.

In 1976, Brian de Palma directed "Carrie," the first novel and adaptation of Stephen King’s work. Since then, more than 50 directors have adapted the master of horror’s books, in more than 80 films and series, making him now the most adapted author still alive in the world.

"King On Screen" features an inside look with the majority of directors who have adapted Stephen King’s work for screen, showcasing the unique relationship as they reimagine his work for film. "King on Screen," which interviews the lion’s share of the filmmakers who have adapted his work to screen, includes: Frank Darabont, Mick Garris, Mike Flanagan, Greg Nicotero and more.

Directed by Daphné Baiwir ("The Rebellious Olivia de Havilland" ), "King On Screen" is an intimate look at the unique relationship between Stephen King’s vast body of work and the directors famous for reimagining it for the screen.

The documentary is produced by Sebastien Cruz for Les Films de la Plage, Jean-Yves Roubin for Frakas Productions and Zoe Salmon for Mr Salmon Films, with the participation of OCS.

Hugues Barbier, Co-Founder from YVP said: “King On Screen" gives a great insight in the mind of the filmmakers adapting King’s work, and Daphné did an incredible job capturing the essence of the process. We are really excited to bring Daphné’s vision to Fantastic Fest and its crowd of film connoisseurs.”

Filmmaker Daphné Baiwir said: “I’m so glad we managed to gather such stellar names for "King On Screen" who gave such insight into King’s work and its journey to the big screen. With illustrious directors and the celebrated actors who collaborated with us to recreate some of the iconic look and situations of King's adaptations as an introduction to the documentary including Jeffrey DeMunn, James Caan, Tim Curry, Amy Irving, Dee Wallace and Carel Struycken, the experience was unbelievable.”

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from Yellow Veil Pictures.


FANNIE By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

LIVE-ACTION SHORT ‘FANNIE’ GENERATES PRE-OSCAR BUZZ AS IT ‘WOWS’ FESTIVAL AUDIENCES

"The most powerful film of the year is a live-action short -- Fannie!"- Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV

Oscar-nominated actress Aunjanue Ellis brings to life civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer in a riveting live-action short, "Fannie." Directed by award-winning filmmaker Christine Swanson, (TV's "All American: Homecoming" and "The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel"), the film examines the acclaimed freedom fighter's gripping account of the brutality Black Americans faced along the journey to full equality and voting rights.

Ellis, nominated last year for "Best Supporting Actress" for her performance in “King Richard,” is the sole performer in this unflinching cinematic dramatization of one of the most important figures of the civil rights movement.

“Is this America?"- Fannie Lou Hamer.

These three words were part of sharecropper-turned-change maker Fannie Lou Hamer's impassioned plea to defend the right to vote for every citizen regardless of race, creed, or color. It was a simple question with a complex challenge to the credentials committee for the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Speaking on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Hamer detailed the scare tactics and the violence Black Americans faced in their long and storied quest to vote. She recounted her own brushes with brutality at the hands of the police when she was beaten so badly that her vision was impaired, and her kidneys were severely damaged.

Her gripping testimony was not just a call for the inclusion of Black delegates in the Democratic Party; it was also a prophetic warning that unless the nation extended equal treatment to Black Americans, the fight for voting rights, human rights, and civil rights would persist for years to come.

The nine-minute short, presented by multi-media platform chromatic black in association with Faith Filmworks, is powered by a community of 10,000 Black artists/activists, technologists, community organizers, and journalists. chromatic black builds cultural power through the disruption of the master narrative through good storytelling. Through its signature project, the Ida B. Wells Fund, chromatic black aims to support innovative, brilliant, and creative new voices in a way that the existing system does not.

"Fannie" received the most honors at this year’s BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta, earning recognition for the Reel South Award and Aunjanue Ellis for Best Actress.

"Fannie" will run theatrically at the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center Shorts By the Sea film series in Santa Monica, California, on Sept. 23-29. The movie will also screen at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Morehouse College Human Rights Festival on September 24, 2022.

"Fannie" is produced by Christine Swanson and Aunjanue Ellis. The film is executive produced by Angela Harmon, Abeni Bloodworth, Emil Pinnock, and Stephanie Frederic.


viola davis By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

VIOLA DAVIS STARS AS HEAD GAMEMAKER VOLUMNIA GAUL IN “THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES”

Lionsgate Films has cast Academy Award winner Viola Davis as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul in the studio’s highly anticipated feature film "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes," the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ No.1 New York Times bestseller.

Nathan Kahane, president, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group announced that Davis will star in the film opposite Tom Blyth, who will play the young Coriolanus Snow, and Rachel Zegler, as tribute Lucy Gray Baird.

Moviegoers will return to "The Hunger Games," the landmark film franchise that has earned over $3 billion globally, as "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" debuts in theaters worldwide on November 17, 2023.

Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.

Kahane said, “The Hunger Games films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul. Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story.”

Director Francis Lawrence added, “Dr. Gaul is as cruel as she is creative and as fearsome as she is formidable. Snow’s savvy as a political operator develops in no small part due to his experiences with her as the games’ most commanding figure.”

Lawrence, previously directed the franchise’s "Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One" and "Mockingjay Part Two." It will be shepherded by franchise producer Nina Jacobson and her producing partner Brad Simpson, along with Francis Lawrence. Suzanne Collins and Tim Palen will serve as executive producers.

Jacobson said, “From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become. We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role.”

The latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie ("Macbeth" starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and "Assassin’s Creed"). Lesslie builds on the work of writers Suzanne Collins and Michael Arndt (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Little Miss Sunshine" as well as serving as one of the writers of "Catching Fire"). The screenplay is based on Collins’ bestselling novel. Meredith Wieck and Scott O’Brien are overseeing on behalf of the studio.

ABOUT VIOLA DAVIS:

Viola Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress, producer, and New York Times Best-Selling Author. She is the first black actress to win two Tony Awards (“Fences” and “King Hedley II”), an Oscar ("Fences") and an Emmy (“How to Get Away with Murder”). Davis will next be seen starring in "The Woman King" (Opens Sept. 16) which she also produced.

In 2012, Davis and her husband Julius Tennon founded their production company, JuVee Productions, with its focus being on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives. Davis is represented by CAA, Lasher Group, and Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark.

ABOUT LIONSGATE:

Lionsgate encompasses world-class motion picture and television studio operations aligned with the STARZ premium global subscription platform to bring a unique and varied portfolio of entertainment to consumers around the world. The Company’s film, television, subscription and location-based entertainment businesses are backed by a 17,000-title library and a valuable collection of iconic film and television franchises. A digital age company driven by its entrepreneurial culture and commitment to innovation, the Lionsgate brand is synonymous with bold, original, relatable entertainment for audiences worldwide.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from Lionsgate publicity.