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Nope - What We Know So Far

As recently as 2015, Jordan Peele was known primarily as a comedian. He spent five years as a cast member on "Mad TV," and followed that up with a sketch comedy show of his own, "Key & Peele," which he co-created and co-starred in with another "Mad TV" alum, Keegan-Michael Key, from 2012 to 2015.

With this in mind, it's surprising to think that Peele is now one of the leading horror filmmakers in the business. His 2017 directorial debut, "Get Out," made a major impact both commercially and critically — not to mention the way it has dominated the cultural conversation. The following year, Peele became the first Black filmmaker to win an Oscar for best original screenplay (via Vanity Fair).

Peele's follow-up film, "Us," which premiered in 2019, wasn't quite the cultural phenomenon that "Get Out" was, but still fared extremely well at the box office (it took home over $255 million worldwide, which is about on par with what "Get Out" made) and currently holds a very high 93% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also, by and large, considered one of the best horror films of 2019.

After months of silence, it looks like we finally have some concrete information on Peele's next film, the long-gestating "Nope." Here's everything we know so far.

When will Nope be released?

Last year, on July 22, 2021, Jordan Peele took to Twitter to release the new poster and title of his upcoming film, revealing that "Nope" would be released exactly one year from his announcement. Now, the film's release date — July 22, 2022 — is fast approaching. Peele remained tight-lipped about the news at the time, including just a cloud emoji with the poster reveal. Production took place in June of 2021, according to the Film & Television Industry Alliance, and star Keke Palmer revealed that shooting took place in Santa Clarita, CA (via Entertainment Weekly).

The poster also specifies that the film will be "only in theaters," which is a bit of change from either the straight-to-streaming trend that arose due to the pandemic, or the more common hybrid release model employed by recent films such as "In the Heights" and "Black Widow," a new distribution strategy that seems likely to remain a viable option well after COVID-19 lockdowns are over and done.

Whether you'd like a streaming option for a new release or not, the chances of "Nope" being worth a trip to the theater is definitely high.

Who is in the cast of Nope?

"Nope" has quite the star-studded cast. To begin with, the three buzzy stars (whose names appear on the poster) are Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun. Kaluuya's breakout role was none other than Peele's "Get Out," for which his stunning performance earned an Oscar nomination for best actor. Since then, he's been appearing in notable films left and right, such as "Black Panther" and "Judas and the Black Messiah," the latter of which earned him his first Oscar win. Meanwhile, Palmer made waves for her supporting role in 2019's "Hustlers," and will soon be seen on screen as the titular character in the upcoming "Alice." And finally, Yeun also received an Oscar nomination for his starring turn in "Minari."

Kaluuya and Palmer play siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood, who own a ranch — in the first trailer, Emerald describes them as "the only Black-owned horse trainers in Hollywood." Yeun plays Ricky "Jupe" Park, who, from the two released trailers, seems to be some sort of rodeo announcer. 

Additionally, the supporting cast includes "Euphoria" breakout Barbie Ferreira, "The OA" cast member Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott ("24: Live Another Day," "Westworld").

What is Nope about?

Up until recently, the plot of "Nope" has been kept very under wraps. Even the first trailer, which was released in February, didn't tell us much besides the fact that ranch owners OJ and Emerald begin noticing alien-like objects in the sky. Further, the eerie first trailer promises a horror-filled moviegoing experience. 

With the second trailer, we finally have a bit more insight into the plot of "Nope." It seems as though OJ and Emerald begin experiencing weird, potentially alien-related encounters after the mysterious death of their father. After OJ tells Emerald that he saw a very large object above the clouds, Emerald asks, "You think whatever killed Pops is out there?" Then, after witnessing the ominous objects in the sky themselves, the siblings decide to try to capture the moments on film in order to be "rich and famous for life," as Emerald puts it, when they provide proof of aliens. 

They even hire a tech team member, Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) from a company called Fry's Electronics to help them out, as well as bringing in a man named Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) who Emerald says is, "the only person in the world who can get it on film." Despite the fact that the second trailer feels a bit more lighthearted than the first, seeing as it's a Jordan Peele film, we can definitely expect horror to be at the center of the story. 

"Nope" premieres on July 22, 2022.

Trailers Seemingly Confirm Aliens

The first official trailer for Jordan Peele's upcoming sci-fi/horror/comedy film "Nope" opens with Eadweard Muybridge's "The Horse in Motion," followed by Jill Haywood's (Keke Palmer) narration about its significance as the first film ever made (and her supposed familial connection to the rider). We then find out that she is filming an advertisement for her and her brother James' (Daniel Kaluuya) Hollywood horse training services.

Afterward, we see quick snippets of strange occurrences happening around the small, rural California area where their horse training stable resides. This includes inflatable waving tube men deflating, ominous shadows enveloping everything, and animals freaking out.

It also seems to confirm early rumors that the film will be about aliens, or at the very least otherworldly creatures in some capacity. Around 1:32-1:35, there is what looks like an alien hand outstretched towards a human child's fist, seemingly a direct reference to "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial." Right afterward, there's a strange-looking creature scurrying in the darkness (though admittedly obscured by shadow and fences) that appears to be chasing one of the main characters.

That's not to mention Kaluuya riding on horseback as a shadow engulfs the scenery like the saucers in "Independence Day," and an abduction scene of Palmer at the very end of the trailer.

Nope Title Meaning

All of Jordan Peele's titles are evocative in one way or another. "Get Out" was very apt, as it described what the main character should do in his situation (and presumably what the audience is yelling at the screen the whole time), while "Us" refers to both the connection between the characters and their antagonistic doppelgangers, as well as "Us" as an abbreviation of the United States (U.S.) and its need for exploitation to function. "Nope," however, might be the most cryptic title so far.

Some fans have speculated, such as Twitter users @Spidernerd616 and @mikewqters, that it might have to do with the acronym "n.o.p.e." which stands for "not on planet Earth", or also "not of planet Earth." If this is true, it would be further confirmation of the rumored plot of the film, which is supposedly about an alien invasion of some sort. This is further corroborated by the trailers potentially revealing slimy alien creatures, and even the poster alluding to what could be a disguised UFO.

Writer-director Jordan Peele himself, however, has a different interpretation, stating in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that: "[t]his film is definitely a ride. The title speaks to the idea of being in tune with what the audience is thinking and feeling in the theater...I know a lot of people who say, when it's a scary movie, they say, 'Nope!' Especially Black audiences, right? We love horror but there's a skepticism."

Viral Twitter Video

Besides the poster and trailer, there's also a viral video for "Nope" that surfaced a while ago on Jordan Peele's official Twitter account. It was made to look like someone recording a real local news broadcast, which reported on a flood of yellow-headed blackbirds in Mexico birds falling out of the sky for some mysterious reason.

Since the film's trailer shows horses getting spooked by some unseen (though likely extraterrestrial) force, it makes sense that this force (whatever it turns out to be) could be affecting other animals — like birds — as well. There is a similar scene in M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" — another alien invasion film — where birds are also killed by an unseen force (in the case of "Signs," it was birds crashing into cloaked spaceships). Not exactly the same, to be fair, but it's in a similarly eerie and mysterious vein, and an ominous portent of things to come.

The reporter in the video ends the broadcast, stating that "experts say the blackbirds may have been trying to escape a predatory bird" ... or, possibly, fleeing from a spacecraft?

Only time will tell for sure.

The Horse in Motion

Eadweard Muybridge's historical "The Horse in Motion" from 1878 gets mentioned at the very beginning of Jordan Peele's "Nope" trailer. It's a two-second, grainy black-and-white clip of a Black jockey riding a galloping horse. Muybridge himself was a famous and influential photographer who was trying to scientifically study the way horses move, as it was difficult to discern with the naked eye at the time. In fact, he would spend a fortune trying to develop the right kind of camera and processing to get the effect he wanted (in turn, creating the first "motion picture," almost by accident).

Unfortunately (though sadly not unsurprisingly) the name of the Black jockey riding the horse in those photographs has been lost to time. This is probably why Peele was able to fictionalize his descendants, played by the aforementioned Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya.

Either way, what does this have to do with the overall story of "Nope?" Especially with the plot seemingly confirmed to be about aliens in some way?

There's no way to say. Maybe the aliens are trying to study humans the way Muybridge was studying horses? Maybe the alien invasion will be a metaphor for the colonization of the West, with the trailer featuring Western iconography running parallel to the creation of "The Horse in Motion" in the 1870s?

We suppose we'll find out soon.

Steph Curry Promo

A TV spot for "Nope" aired during the NBA playoffs last month, which featured basketball all-star Stephen "Steph" Curry of the Golden State Warriors. In the advertisement, we see Curry enter a basketball court that's also in a ... barn? It seems the setting is meant to evoke the rural surroundings of the film itself. From there, Curry attempts to run some drills before the whole place shakes, an ominous shadow engulfs it, and he literally "nopes" out of there before he's attacked or abducted by aliens (or whatever the threat of the film turns out to be).

It's unclear what new information can be gleaned from this TV spot, since it's obviously just a fun ad to air during a highly-viewed televised event. Steph Curry, for instance, is not listed on the IMDb page for "Nope," so it's unlikely to be an actual scene from the film.

However, the images evoked in the ad are similar to that of the official trailer, including the spherical "Independence Day" shape that covers Curry's barn basketball court in shadow, which are more visual allusions (or possible misdirections) to an alien invasion story.