From Blue Valentine to Toys “R” Us

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

Derek Cianfrance’s hamburglar, Paramount’s first offer, Anthony Perkins’ long legs, and sweet dreams.

Let’s go!


FROM BLUE VALENTINE TO TOYS “R” US

The McDonald’s heist film is turning into a subgenre.

HBO’s McMillions (2020) is a fantastically bizarre docu-series about a single man, “Uncle Jerry,” who scammed the entire McDonald’s Monopoly game from 1989 to 2001 by stealing all the tickets and handing them out to his confidants.

So much for our childhood.

Logorama (2009), the Academy Award-winning short film, is an animated movie populated entirely by logos. Ronald McDonald plays a sadistic robber. The film’s interrogation of capitalism is diabolical and delightful.

Now, it is Derek Cianfrance’s turn.

His depiction of love in Blue Valentine (2010) is poetic and transcendent and perhaps the best love story of the 21st century. His prowess has been extended to two other projects: the explosive and meditative generational trauma heist film The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and the wild Mark Ruffalo twin characters HBO series I Know This Much is True (2020).

If you’re looking for something melancholic but sublimely acted, check it out.

It has been reported that Cianfrance’s next feature film is about a real-life Hamburgler, Jeffrey Manchester.

Manchester’s MO was to drill a hole through the roof of McDonald’s and lock the employees in the freezer while grabbing the cash. It was reported he did this 40-60 times.

After being sentenced to jail for 45 years, he escaped and hid out in a Toys “R” Us and even struck up a romance with a local woman, bringing her children toys that he’d stolen.

With Cianfrance’s touch, this story of a McDonald’s robber could be supersized into a noble romantic who challenges the capitalist system.

For More:

A maniacal Ronald McDonald, a horny Pringles guy, and an NSFW Jolly Green Giant. The Logorama full short film is inspired.

A million-dollar ticket in a zip-lock sandwich bag. The McMillions trailer is all sorts of goofy.

“If you ride like thunder, you’ll crash like lightning.” The Place Beyond the Pines trailer. With Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

From Kickstarter to Paramount. Sam Hargrave’s debut was Extraction (2020, trailer), which, along with the sequel Extraction 2 (2023, trailer), held the top two spots on Netflix in 90 countries for two weeks. Both are adrenaline-junkie action films with a dash of heart. Now Hargrave, whose career originated performing stunts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), will direct Kill Them All for Paramount. The film is being described as a reverse Die Hard.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A hard-drinking former cop wants his job back. The world’s greatest assassin wants revenge. They can get both if they fight their way to the top floor of a skyscraper of crime – and if they can Kill Them All.

The project was originally a graphic novel launched on Kickstarter. Watch the campy but charming campaign video here.

Guy Ritchie’s next film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, will be released on April 19th. Ritchie’s fast-paced, hyper-stylized violence is best realized in:

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is the true story about the birth of black ops during WW2. The newly released trailer brings the usual Ritchie suave and brutal stylization starring Henry Cavill.

Ritchie’s originals have never broken over $110 M. This may be the first.

Sundance Sales: A few more deals have squeaked in over the last day:

Here’s the synopsis:

When 93-year-old Thelma Post gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her.

Magnolia’s CEOs, Eamonn Bowles and Dori Begley, remarked:

“Brilliantly marrying Magnolia’s love of action, revenge, and grandmothers, Thelma is totally unique yet universally irresistible.”

High-speed first-look image.

Here’s the synopsis:

Four young girls prepare for a special Daddy Daughter Dance with their incarcerated fathers as part of a unique fatherhood program in a Washington, D.C., jail.

Filmed over eight years, the project received rave reviews.

A good old-fashioned bidding war for Paramount Global has begun. Byron Allen’s $30 billion offer for Paramount Global, which includes debt and equity, has grabbed the industry’s attention. Allen Media Group, best known for owning The Weather Channel, plans to sell the Paramount film studio, real estate, and intellectual property while keeping control of networks Paramount+ and tightening up the ship. There’s also buzz about David Ellison (Skydance CEO) acquiring Shari Redstone’s stake in National Amusements, which controls stakes in Paramount. We’re awaiting Paramount Global’s response to Allen’s offer and Ellison’s moves.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Sean Penn’s Cannes film finds home. Asphalt City (originally Black Flies) was an official selection at Cannes in 2023.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A young paramedic (Tye Sheridan) makes his way through his first year on the job in New York City.

Sean Penn plays the veteran paramedic, a man who’s seen the worst. Watch him test Tye Sheridan in this exclusive clip.

The film is supposed to be horrifyingly dark– even more so than Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead (1999).

The director is Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, whose most recent film, A Prayer Before Dawn (A24, 2017), is a brutal bare-knuckled boxing film. Filmed in an actual Thai prison, it offers only the shallowest hopes of the character’s redemption through violence (trailer).

Vertical Entertainment (Fast Charlie) and Roadside have just acquired Asphalt City for co-release.

Terrence Howard is a powerhouse. He’s acted in:

Howard was just cast as a 1970s gangster in the upcoming Peacock series Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist, starring Kevin Hart and Samuel L. Jackson.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The infamous story of how an armed robbery during the night of Muhammad Ali’s historic 1970 comeback fight changed not only one man’s life but an entire city’s destiny.

The series follows the heavyweight fight and criminal underground heist that introduced the world to the city dubbed “the Black Mecca,” and the cop and the hustler at the center of it all.

The entire gang was found guilty of conspiracy in 1976 for a $200M narcotics ring.

Howard plays a gangster in the inner circle.

The show was ordered back in December. No release date has been set.


FESTIVALS

TIFF x Universal x Jordan Peele’s MonkeyPaw. Have teamed up to find the next great horror director. They will award six filmmakers $50,000 each to direct a short horror film, which will then be adapted into a feature and shopped to studios.

Peele stated:

“A good monster story comes from a perspective that’s very personal and very vulnerable. It’s a story that is so deeply personal that you think no one else can relate to it. That’s exactly the purpose of ‘No Drama’ – to challenge filmmakers to turn their deepest fears into fun, thrilling stories that need to be told.”

The submission requirements are fairly intense. But all the winning filmmakers will have their careers fast-tracked.

Deadline is Feb 29. Submit here.

Audrey Rosenberg won The Black List and MGM’s first look scriptwriting initiative. Their script Wild Animals is much lauded:

  • 2022 Black List x Women in Film writers’ residency
  • 2023 Sundance Screenwriters Lab
  • 2023 Sundance Directors Lab

Here’s the official synopsis:

After a fatal mistake makes her a pariah of her devout and insular 19th-century community, Frances becomes consumed with hunting down a mythic beast at the cost of her family’s reputation and safety.

Rosenberg will receive a Guild minimum open script deal with Amazon MGM Studios.

Check out their site here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

The terrifying marketing of Longlegs. Directed by Oz Perkins (son of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins). Neon is doing a great job hyping the Nicolas Cage film:

And four posters:

Here’s the official synopsis:

FBI Agent Lee Harker is assigned to an unsolved serial killer case that takes unexpected turns, revealing evidence of the occult. Harker discovers a personal connection to the killer and must stop him before he strikes again.

Perkins’ previous feature was the eerie and atmospheric feature, Gretel & Hansel (2020).

Longlegs looks to be his strongest and most terrifying to date.

The full trailer drops on Friday.

Aziz Ansari’s first feature. The comedian is best known for Parks and Rec, where he played Tom Haverford, best friend to Jean Ralphio and the owner of Snake Juice, rent a Swag, and any other scheme that could keep him away from his monotonous government job (highlight clips). His follow-up Master of None, which he wrote, created, stars, and served as a director (11 episodes), is a beautiful and awkward examination of the early adulthood of a struggling actor who just wants to eat a good bowl of pasta (trailer). His directing of the entire third season, which is more drama than comedy, is masterful.

His feature directorial debut is Good Fortune, starring Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogen, and now Keke Palmer (Nope).

The official synopsis is being kept under wraps as the project is currently in production.

Sweet Dreams are made of these. Ena Sendijarević, the Dutch filmmaker of Sweet Dreams, an official selection at TIFF and Netherlands official Academy Awards submission, just signed with Black Bear. Her film looks to be a standard period piece until a tiger enters the mix and triggers deranged laughter, broken mirrors, and implied bestiality. The trailer has a splash of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s and Yorgos Lanthimos’ styles. Apparently, one scene was filmed inside the mouth of a tiger. Director interview here.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Alejandro Amenábar won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film two decades ago. The Sea Inside (2004) was his transcendent picture of a paraplegic, played by Javier Bardem, who yearns for death (trailer). It’s sweeping and beautiful. Most recently, he directed While at War (trailer, 2019), which was an official selection at TIFF and centered on an aging academic, keeping his temple of intelligence free from the tyranny of the Spanish Civil War.

Amenábar is now directing a Miguel de Cervantes (writer: Don Quixote) origin story, The Captive. The film centers on 28-year-old Cervantes, a wounded soldier who gets captured by the Ottomans.

Amenábar said:

“In this film, as I have done in my previous ones, I will play with contrasts: between the dark reality Miguel de Cervantes was living and the power of fabulation, between the epic escape attempts and the miseries of captivity, and between the cruelty of his captors and the paradise of the hammam and the joy in the streets of Algiers.”

He continued:

“Miguel de Cervantes experienced all of it, and that is precisely what conditioned the humanism and complexity of his work. It is known that he was already writing at the time, and one of his narratives in Don Quixote, called precisely The Captive, contains numerous autobiographical references. Miguel de Cervantes left a great story untold: his own. It’s time we heard it.”

The film, budgeted at $15M, will begin shooting in April.


ON THIS DAY

2010. 26th Sundance Film Festival: Winter’s Bone, directed by Debra Granik, wins Grand Jury Prize Dramatic.


See you tomorrow!


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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