The new Melissa McCarthy movie Superintelligence will not hit theaters this Christmas as planned, but will instead debut on HBO Max when the service launches in Spring 2020.
“We used the A.I. from Superintelligence to look at every single platform in the world, and then used its super knowledge and big artificial brain-like thing to determine that HBO Max was the right home for our film,” McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone, said in a joint statement.
In an interview with Deadline timed to the announcement, McCarthy said the idea for the move came from Falcone, and that not only did Warner Bros. not force it on them, but the studio backed the decision and has been nothing but encouraging. While that may be true, it’s a clear sign of things to come as the Streaming Wars intensify, and any Warner Bros. movie that isn’t deemed a surefire moneymaker is a candidate for reassignment to HBO Max. I’d actually be less suspicious of this move if McCarthy and Falcone hadn’t participated in an explanatory interview with Deadline. Thou doth protest too much!
The other dirty little secret behind this announcement is the fact that McCarthy is on a box office losing streak. She may have earned an Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me? but that film made just $8 million at the domestic box office, and it was sandwiched between notable flops like The Happytime Murders and The Kitchen. Granted, all three projects were outside of McCarthy’s comfort zone — even Life of the Party made $65 million worldwide –and Superintelligence is a return to that comfort zone, though it is rated PG, so it skews younger and thus, safer.
McCarthy plays Carol Peters, to whom nothing extraordinary ever happens. But when she starts getting snarky backtalk from her TV, phone and microwave, she thinks she’s being punked. Or losing her mind. In fact, the world’s first superintelligence has selected her for observation, taking over her life…with a bigger, more ominous plan to take over everything. Now Carol is humanity’s last chance before this artificial intelligence-with-an-attitude decides to pull the plug.
Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry and Jean Smart co-star in the film, which features late night host James Corden as the voice of the power-mad A.I. The script was written by Steve Mallory (The Boss), and the film was produced by Falcone, McCarthy and Rob Cowan, who worked with the duo on Tammy. I happened to catch the trailer for Superintelligence at CinemaCon back in April, and it looked pretty disappointing, even with that cast.
“This is the perfect high concept comedy with an artist we all love to work with, and shows the top caliber of talent we’re bringing to HBO Max,” said HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly.
“The pairing of HBO Max with the tremendous talent of Melissa and Ben demonstrates the advantage of collaboration across WarnerMedia, and our ability to work with our creative partners to determine the distribution platform that will deliver the greatest success for their projects,” added Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich.
McCarthy recently wrapped Ted Melfi‘s indie movie The Starling, and she’s currently filming Netflix’s action-comedy Thunder Force with Octavia Spencer. She’s also set to play Ursula in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, which no doubt takes her out of contention for The Batman — a shame, as I think she’d make a pretty good Penguin. On the bright side, at least we’re getting Paul Dano as the Riddler!