2024…

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Paramount in 2024, AI and the Industry, Jason Statham’s honey, and Scooby-Doo.

(Today’s edition will be abridged due to the low volume of end-of-year industry news)

Let’s go!


THE INDUSTRY 2024

2024 will be a year of dual disruptions in the industry.

On one hand, bundles and mergers and acquisitions will reshape how we consume content. On the other hand, AI will redefine our pre- and post-production processes.

Shari Redstone, owner of National Amusements, the parent company of Paramount (82% stake), Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon, and CBS, is likely to sell.

Whether the buyer is Warner Bros. Discovery or Skydance Media (Mission: Impossible 4, 7, Top Gun: Maverick, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts), the sale faces major regulatory and investor hurdles.

If an acquisition goes through, it will align with the recent trend of major media conglomerates expanding their portfolios:

  • Disney buys Hulu
  • Lionsgate acquires eOne

These sales, largely motivated by declining revenue and decreasing subscriber bases, will trickle down to consumers in the form of increasing bundle options, as seen this past year:

  • Verizon combined Netflix and Max
  • Disney bundled Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
  • Paramount+ and Showtime streaming services merged
  • Apple TV+ and Paramount+ explored a bundle, but it did not materialize

More seismically, in 2024, AI will carve a new landscape for each stage of filmmaking, enhancing existing tools and replacing entry-level jobs.

Development/Pre-Production projections:

  • AI script analysis
  • AI-generated trailers as pitch materials
  • Location scouting algorithms based on script keywords
  • AI budget optimization

Post-Production:

  • Consolidation of VFX teams through automated tools
  • AI rough cuts
  • Auto-sound design

Teams for both pre and post-production are likely to shrink as these tools get more advanced. Production offices will likely shed jobs involving scheduling meetings, writing reports, or inputting data.

Delaying the mass adoption of these AI tools are guardrails from the political sector, the new SAG/AFTRA and WGA contract regulations, as well as a series of lawsuits, notably The NY Times suing Open AI (creator of Chat GPT) for billions of dollars.

While these steps may slow the integration of these tools into the industry, their development, fueled by a $10 bn investment from Microsoft into Chat GPT, solidifies their eventual meshing with the creative process.

It’s going to be a hell of a 2024.

For More:

Todd Phillips shared new Joker: Folie à Deux stills. Releasing Oct 2024.

What’s coming to Prime in 2024? Fallout, a Mr. and Mrs. Smith series, and Road House (dir: Doug Liman, starring: Jake Gyllenhaal). Watch the epic Prime 2024 compilation trailer.

The brilliantly composed opening shot for the Dune 2 trailer makes it a standout. Releasing March 1.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Jason Statham hates phishing scams. The trailer for his new film begins as many action films do: an isolated man devoted to a singular hobby (in this movie, beekeeping) is drawn back to his former life as a deadly operative when he witnesses an act of violence.

What makes these films iconic or dull is largely based on two factors:

  1. The degree to which we align with the protagonist’s hatred of the villain
  2. The amount of character backstory before the action starts

The first installment of John Wick (2014) ranks particularly high in both categories as it’s a full thirty minutes before Keanu Reeves’ first kill, and audiences sympathize with his reason for vengeance: the murder of his dog, a gift from his deceased wife.

In The Beekeeper, Statham’s neighbor falls victim to a phishing scam, and when he goes to burn down the call center (trailer), he uncovers a global conspiracy.

It may have been more interesting if a phishing scam harmed someone related to Statham.

But nevertheless, ever since Statham burst onto the scene in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), it’s been delightful to watch him on screen (NSFW clip).

The Beekeeper is distributed by MGM/Miramax and will be available in theaters in the US and UK on January 12th.

Colman Domingo “owns his power.” That quote is attributed to Netflix’s Rustin (official selection of Telluride and TIFF). Domingo plays the lead, a gay civil rights activist and organizer for Martin Luther King. The trailer showcases his vivacious intelligence and contagious confidence. But back in 2014, Domingo was lying on the floor of an Equinox after his agent told him Boardwalk Empire passed on him for a bartender role, not because they didn’t love his audition but because his skin color wasn’t historically accurate to the period.

Domingo was on the verge of quitting the business but instead decided to upskill, taking jobs writing and then starring in his own plays and TV hosting. He explained:

“I know for sure when I’m leading a film like Rustin or being a part of Color Purple, I can actually be a greater contributor and collaborator because I have all these skills. Maybe that’s the thing I’ve learned in my long and winding career: Nothing anyone can give me is better than something I can make myself.”

It’s that steadfast determination that propelled him to win leading roles.


TECH SECTION

AI was used to create Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Tron. To be clear, this film never existed. Nor was it ever developed. Unlike Jodorowsky’s Dune, which was developed for three years but thwarted by studios when they learned his grand vision would be 20 hours long. The film would have starred Dalí, Orson Wells, and Dennis Hopper, as detailed in this documentary (trailer).

Using an AI text-to-image service, Midjourney, an electrifyingly cinematic set of stills was created for Jodoroswky’s Tron, which recalls his earlier work El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973):

For more stills and a breakdown of the process steps used to create the images as well as Jodorowsky’s philosophy on creativity, check out this article written by the director of the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014).

Creating the storm in Nyad. VFX Supervisor Jake Braver (Birdman, John Wick) released a VFX breakdown of Nyad. The film utilized intricate water simulations and transformed tank footage into realistic ocean scenes, with a focus on authenticity and enhancing Annette Bening’s performance as Diana Nyad.

Watch the breakdown here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

From Minari to Twisters. Lee Isaac Chung directed Minari (2020), a poignant exploration of displacement. The film, produced by A24 and Plan B, swept Sundance, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. Chung just wrapped Twisters, the sequel to Twister (1996). The original film, EP’d by Steven Spielberg, written by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and directed by Jan de Bont (Speed), is a torrential terrifying thriller complete with wild practical effects and heart-pounding sequences, like a drive-in movie screening of The Shining getting torn to shreds (clip). All this is sustained by some surprisingly nuanced performances by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, who play storm chasers.

Chung’s exploration of emotionally cataclysmic displacement in Minari may map well into the new Twisters film.

Nicolas Winding Refn loves Scooby-Doo. The Drive and Only God Forgives director said:

“I loved them and I always loved Scooby Doo, Shaggy, and all those characters. I think they’re terrific. What I like about the old versions is that they had that romanticism.”

Refn is now co-creating an animated children’s series adapted from Enid Blyton’s famous British book series The Famous Five, which served as the inspiration for Scooby Doo.

Maybe Gosling will be Shaggy.


ON THIS DAY

1972. Aguirre, the Wrath of God, written and directed by Werner Herzog, starring Klaus Kinski premieres.


That’s all for the year! Thank you to all our readers.

We’ll be taking a short break and will return later next week.


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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