Black Mirror: a blankie for our times

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

Kidman seduces, Fraser gets lost, a new Karate Kid and a beef.

Let’s go!


BLACK MIRROR IS A BLANKIE FOR OUR TIMES

In an era of technological and geo-political uncertainty, Black Mirror seems more important than ever.

Thankfully, it has just been renewed for a 7th season.

The show’s prescience, since it premiered on the UK’s Channel Four in 2011, has allowed viewers to preview our emerging dystopian-tinged society, even if it terrifies them:

But over a decade before Charlie Brooker, the creator of Black Mirror, saw into the future and wrote the first episode of the series, he was stuck in his personal past, agonizing over failed relationships.

He went so far as to lie on his couch and turn the TV sideways so he wouldn’t have to sit up. He noted:

“[I was like] a woozy sea lion.”

He turned his cynical focus to watching non-stop British reality shows and talent competitions. Out of this was born TVGoHome, an alternate-TV Guide-type blog that he would update with his own made-up ironic TV shows.

The blog gained mass popularity, Booker was ultimately hired by Channel 4 to write the TVGoHome series…

So it seems as if he was just one good idea away from breaking into the industry.

As we navigate collective tumultuous times, TV and film, like Black Mirror, play a vital role in offering a preview of our reality, making impending changes less disconcerting.

From a poem by Bertolt Brecht, circulated by Sundance at the start of the pandemic:

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.

About the dark times.”

Black Mirror continues to sing, providing a thought-provoking and cautionary melody about the complexities of our digital age.

For More:

This 2001 Charlie Booker show, TVGoHome: Daily Mail Island (full episode), was the germ of Black Mirror.

Charlie Brooker Explains… the White Christmas episode of Black Mirror (video).

A Rod Serling Twilight Zone-inspired Black Mirror trailer.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Disney kicks The Bikeriders to the curb. Disney and its subsidiary, 20th Century Fox, own a 20% stake in New Regency, the production company behind The Bikeriders (dir: Jeff Nichols, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hardy).

Following Disney and New Regency’s previous distribution partnership on The Creator, which returned an underwhelming $104M worldwide off a $160M marketing + production budget, Disney has dropped The Bikeriders.

It is currently being shopped to rival studios.

James L. Brooks’ is set to direct his first film in 13 years. His previous work includes:

His new film, Ella McCay is set to star Jamie Lee Curtis, Woody Harrelson and Kumail Nanjiani. Brooks’ production company’s synopsis reads:

An idealistic young politician who juggles familial issues and a challenging work life while preparing to take over the job of her mentor, the state’s longtime incumbent governor.

20th Century Studios has boarded the project. The president, Steve Asbell stated:

“As one of the most empathetic dramatists of our time, James Brooks has set the bar across film and television for decades… and we couldn’t be more proud to support him in his long-awaited return to the director’s chair.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Black Friday streamer deals are upon us:

As always, read the fine print!

Dwayne Johnson has a growing appetite. His production company Seven Bucks Productions, responsible for Rampage (2018), Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) and Black Adam (2022), just made a series of new hires.

Scott Landsman is the new head of TV. He was previously SVP of comedy for Sony Pictures TV and oversaw, among other shows, Apple TV+’s The Afterparty.

Melissa Fried is the new VP of Film Development and Production. She was previously a motion picture lit agent at Verve, where she boosted the careers of, among others, Meg LeFauve, a writer of Inside Out.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Jennifer Coolidge made her TV debut in Seinfeld (clip). Since then, she’s been a tidal wave of energy in White Lotus (Seasons 1 &2). Her new film is the crime drama Riff Raff.

The CAA Finance logline is:

A former criminal’s ordinary life, which is turned upside down when his old family shows up for a long-awaited reunion.

Ed Harris, Pete Davidson and Dustin “Rizzo” Hoffman also star. We’re excited to see Jennifer Coolidge surrounded by such a stellar cast, just not as excited as she was to win an Emmy (video).

Brendan Fraser stars in a “beefed-up” Lost in Translationstyle film. The movie is Rental Family, written & directed by Hikari, the director of Netflix’s Beef.

The summary reads:

A down-and-out actor (Fraser) living in Tokyo is hired as a token American guy for a Japanese rental family company, leading him on an unexpected journey playing roles in other people’s lives.

Fraser appears to be attracting starring roles that resonate with his life. In his Oscar-winning film The Whale, he played a dejected 600lb man who mirrored Fraser’s own post-Mummy 3 journey that saw Fraser befall an onslaught of surgeries, divorce, and depression.

If Fraser is able to bring the same authenticity to this new role, it’ll be one worth watching. Production will begin in Japan in the Spring.

Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio are looking for the next Karate Kid. Well, not really them, but this Sony Pictures marketing team made a great announcement video for the next Karate Kid film. Combining both the original series that kicked off in 1984 and the 2010 Jackie Chan reboot while accelerating off Netflix’s Cobra Kai (2018-2023), this 2024 newcomer is sure to be a juggernaut.

Fun fact: The Karate Kid was re-invigorated by a 2018 YT Red series that spurred the hit Netflix show. Check out the first episode here.


FESTIVALS

The Hamptons Film Screenwriters Lab, celebrating its 24th anniversary in 2024, is a prestigious event that has become a cornerstone for nurturing emerging screenwriting talent. Notable participating screenwriters include:

Notable writing mentors include:

Set to take place from April 5-7, 2024, in East Hampton, NY, this lab provides a unique platform for budding filmmakers from across the globe.

Deadline: January 18th. Submit here.

The STARZ #TakeTheLead TV Writers’ Intensive, a collaboration between STARZ, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), offers a unique opportunity for emerging writers. Focused on cultivating talent and refining spec scripts, the program emphasizes mentorship and professional development, especially for writers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Deadline: December 4th. Apply with a pilot here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Get angry. Get crazy. Destroy some stuff. Beef creator Sonny Lee signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. The partnership, overseen by Netflix’s VP of Drama Series Jinny Howe, spans scripted series and feature films. Howe stated:

“We’re so proud to see how Beef has broken through and brought Sonny Lee’s singular vision to life. It delivered performances of a lifetime from the inimitable Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. That the series went on to capture critical praise is just a dream come true. We’re thrilled to continue on this storytelling journey with Sonny and can’t wait to see what he has in store.”

Beef’s complex revenge relationship saga was a picture-perfect execution of a dual protagonist narrative that felt both well-balanced and emotionally out of control in the best possible way.

We hope the next series of Lee’s stories will be just as thoughtful and exciting!

Babygirl is an A24 erotic thriller by Bodies Bodies Bodies director Halina Reijn. The cast is superb:

A24’s synopsis reads:

A successful CEO (Kidman) begins an illicit affair with her much younger intern (Dickinson).

Produced by David Hinojosa (Past Lives, Carol) and Julia Oh (American Honey, The Witch, Titane), who re-unite as producing partners under their new outfit 2 AM.

This project is so stacked it’s bound to make a splash at film festivals. It is currently in pre-production.

Ava DuVernay is back with an indie film. It’s been five years since her Walt Disney Studios film A Wrinkle in Time (2018). Before that, she directed Selma (2014). Her new film, Origin, is distributed by Neon.

Their logline:

The unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

The trailer is cut and scored in a way that’s reminiscent of Terrence Malick.

Origin was an official selection at the Venice Film Festival, making Ava DuVernay the first black woman to have a film in competition.

According to our sources, the audience’s test scores have been off the charts. The concept feels heavy-handed, but DuVernay is adept at handling grave material with grace.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

The Blue Caftan explores two men’s stifled homosexuality in Morocco. The film hit big at Cannes and the box office.

Not only did it garner an official selection for Un Certain Regard at Cannes, but it is the most popular Morccon film in recent history, making $2.3M to date at the international box office.

The trailer’s stifling atmosphere is punctuated by a few electric glances.

Strand Releasing (Riz Ahmed’s Mogul Mowgli) has scooped up US distribution. Their synopsis reads:

A middle-aged tailor and his wife find their relationship challenged by the arrival of a handsome new apprentice.

It’s excellent to see a film about a taboo topic in that region get internationally recognized. The film is available to rent on YouTube.

Is it time for a British Film Industry strike? Here are the results from the 733 responses to the survey by BECTU (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union):

  • ≈75%, felt safety compromised
  • 96.3%, worked 10+ hr/day
  • 46.4% worked 12+ hr/day
  • 72% feared for they were too fatigued from work to drive home safely

The survey was done in partnership with the Mark Milsome Foundation, created in honor of the B camera operator who worked on Quantum of Solace and died in a tragic accident on the set of Black Earth Rising:

“Mark’s death serves as a poignant reminder of the critical importance of strictly adhering to health and safety guidelines. The Mark Milsome Foundation was established in his memory, and one of the core aspects of our mission is ensuring that no one on a film set dies for the sake of a shot again.”

Whatever happens, we hope more stringent safety protocols can ensure that human safety is never discounted when trying to achieve the perfect shot.

Pitching Paradiso is turning its focus to Brazil’s new generation of diverse filmmaker. The inaugural Pitching Paradiso event, set for Nov. 30 at Ventana Sur, spotlights projects like:

  • The Ocean’s Eyes (Os Olhos do Mar)
    • Director: Déo Cardoso
    • Logline: This Afro-Indigenous family drama explores ageism and generation gaps as a young surfer embarks on a quest for a relic given to her by Orson Welles, allowing her to turn pro while reconciling with her grandfather’s past in Rio.
  • Burning Land (Terra de Fogo)
    • Directors: Enock Carvalho, Matheus Farias
    • Logline: Set at a sugar mill in Brazil’s North-East, where striking workers mysteriously disappear, this drama explores work and social relations, transforming into a thrilling tale of intrigue inside a modern factory.
  • Time Knifed (Tempo à Faca)
    • Directors: Ruy Guerra, Diogo Oliveira
    • Logline: Set in Brazil’s bone-dry Catinga northeast, this film tells a tale of murder and family vendetta, with parallel stories set 18 years apart. It explores destiny, culture, and history in a region known for its harsh landscapes and traditions.

As Brazil’s social fabric evolves, the storytelling torch is being passed to a new generation, bringing fresh perspectives and narratives to the forefront. These projects are not only cinematic but also sociocultural reflections.


ON THIS DAY

1961. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman announce expensive publicity campaign to make Sean Connery (James Bond) a star.


That’s the last newsletter for this week. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate!


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter. Edited by Clarke Scott.

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