Brad Pitt goes micro budget

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

Brad Pitt goes small, Ryan Reynolds and Channing Tatum’s diamonds, Michelle Williams’ prognosis, and a Malaysian tiger.

Let’s go!


BRAD PITT GOES MIRCO BUDGET

Brad Pitt’s Plan B, just opened up a micro budget division.

That’s a lightyear from where they started in 2001 when Pitt formed the company with his then-wife, Jennifer Aniston, and manger Brad Grey (who went on to become the CEO of Paramount). Their first ventures were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and The Departed (2006).

Pitt could have continued to pursue studio franchises and big-budget films as he did with acting, such as Paramount’s World War Z, but as a producer, his company zeroed in on indies:

Pitt stated:

“There’s such an investment of time and thought, I wanted to find stories that were more personal to me and that I believed I could add something to that was unique.”

Pitt has staffed his company with ultra-perceptive development executives that have a sharp eye for material. His producing partner, Dede Gardner discovered Moonlight by encouraging the director, Barry Jenkins (who at that point hadn’t directed a feature in eight years) to send her his latest screenplay after running into him at a panel.

Continuing the trend is Plan B’s new hire for their micro budget division: Caddy Vanasirikul. She was formerly the head of Acquisitions & Production for The Exchange, where she picked up a number of ultra low-budget indies from festivals like Monica (Venice) and We the Animals (Sundance).

First on Plan B’s micr0 budget slate is Fernando Eimbcke’s Olm. The director’s previous films (Duck Season, Lake Tahoe, Club Sandwich) have won awards at Cannes, Berlin and Toronto.

Despite modest box office returns, Plan B continues to focus on commercially cheap yet creatively rich projects, reflecting Pitt’s personal interest and commitment to unique storytelling.

For More:

“Brad Pitt. Without him this film would just not have been made.” Director Steve McQueen throws Brad some love during the 12 Years a Slave best picture win.

Brad Pitt’s next big budget acting role. An F1 film directed by Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick).

“Hi, my name is Brad Pitt and I’m a survivor.” Brad Pitt rags on David Fincher only to get really nervous before presenting him with the César awards.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

A Ryan Reynolds and Channing Tatum bidding war has begun. Streamers and Hollywood studios have been vying for the rights to produce and distribute the new film by the Nee brothers (The Lost City, 2022).

The film’s synopsis reads:

A down-on-his-luck former Los Angeles detective-turned-private investigator who, after being shaken down by a vicious crime lord, must track down his estranged brother who is responsible for interfering with a diamond heist.

Here are the current bids for Reynolds and Tatum’s combined talent fees:

  • 20M: Warner Bros.
  • $50M: Netflix
  • $50M: Amazon
  • $175M: Anonymous
    • For the full film

No word yet on the winner, but it’s clear that streamers can front enormous costs to outbid legacy studios.

Let the bundles begin! Apple and Paramount are in talks to bundle their streaming services. Three facts have led to this potential collaboration:

Netflix and Max have already hopped on the trend, Verizon is set to bundle their services. Disney has started offering Disney+, Hulu and ESPN as a bundle and Discovery Warner Bros. said they’d be open to working with Max.

Let’s hope that these bundles are a win-win and benefit the consumers by reducing costs, giving them access to more content while reducing the churn rate for streamers.

eOne is axing roughly 10% of its workforce ahead of the Lionsgate merger. By the end of the month, the Lionsgate acquisition of eOne for $500M will be complete. Hasbro, which bought the media company in 2019 for $4B had originally planned to use eOne to expand their game IP, like Lincoln Logs and Nerf, into film and TV series. But this didn’t happen because of stagnating development timelines and the SAG-AFTRA strikes.

eOne previously cut 20% of their workforce in June.

Hopefully, Lionsgate will re-steer eOne to continue creating strong scripted and unscripted content like Yellowjackets, The Rookie, and Naked and Afraid.

Fallout trailer drops. In last Friday’s edition, we discussed the upcoming Amazon series Fallout. Here’s the trailer. It’s a great blend of humor, sci-fi and action. Plus, they even poke fun at Amazon.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Will Smith does a deep dive into I Am Legend. At the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, Will Smith discussed (video) how he’s able to star in I Am Legend 2. It has less to do with the current wane in his popularity due to his infamous Oscars “slap moment.” And more with the fact that his character dies at the end of the first film.

Smith explains:

“You have to be a real I Am Legend buff, but in the first one, in the theatrical version, my character died. Everybody’s like, well, wait a minute, how are you going to make a part 2? But on the DVD, there was an alternate version of the ending of the movie where my character lived. So we’re going with the mythology of the DVD version where my character lived.”

A script has been completed and Michael B. Jordan is also set to star.

After an immense cultural backlash, it remains to be seen if Will Smith will reclaim his position as a top Hollywood star. With I Am Legend being one of Smith’s top grossing films, it makes sense for him to revisit that world. Plus, The Last of Us, has re-validated the public’s interest in this strain of story.

Michelle Williams returns to FX. Williams has carved a career by playing the exuberant girlfriend and heartbroken wife. She burst into the public zeitgeist with her performance in Blue Valentine (clip) – an electric and tragic romance with Ryan Gosling – and then crossed into Manchester by the Sea (clip) in the pained interactions with her ex-husband Casey Affleck. Her 2019 show Fosse/Verdon (trailer) explored a similar dynamic with famous director and dance choreographer Bob Fosse.

Now she’s back with a new show that begins with her leaving her husband of 15 years after a terminal diagnosis with breast cancer. What follows is an odyssey exploring her womanhood in the face of death. This stark independence is something Michelle Williams has chanelled since her youth:

“I actually grew up in a very non-traditional way. I left formal schooling at 15. I started working as a child as an emancipated minor. My way into film was askew. I sort of learnt on the ground. I think people can relate to that. My training was listening, watching people on the subway, cinema was my teacher.”

We can’t wait to see an untethered Michelle Williams reach new heights.

The production, which was halted during the WGA and SAG/AFTRA strike, is said to be resuming in the spring.


FESTIVALS

Craig Mazin, creator of The Last of Us discussed what keeps him centered during the creative process at Variety’s A Night in the Writers Room:

“On our show, I just kept asking myself, why did I love this? And I would always go back to what is it that I loved and what’s helpful is sometimes you can also say, oh, actually this part I liked, but it wasn’t where the love was. This is where the love is. And then you get into the details, you get into those little things that make your heart sing and reminded you why you were there in the first place. If you know what’s important to you, then you can help tell the audience what should be important to them.”

It’s an important mantra from one of the most thoughtful creators in TV. Watch the full talk here.

Big Apple Film Festival’s Packaging Your Film virtual event, with producer Ryan Cunningham (Broad City,The Last O.G.) Her talk focuses on guiding aspiring writers and producers in developing and packaging their films for production. The session includes strategies for organizing a complete package, finding interested producers and networks, and preparing effective pitch decks. Additional activities include a Q&A, networking sessions, and post-event resources like session recordings and access to a private LinkedIn networking group.

Scheduled for Thursday, Dec 7th at 11am EST. Purchase tickets here ($24).

This link may re-direct you to another part of their website.

Read the Killers of the Flower Moon script. The much re-written screenplay that artfully camouflages the villain is now available. Read it here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

The Killer wears Sketchers. Cate Adams served as the costume designer on Fincher’s latest film and was in charge of realizing the look for Michael Fassbender. The opening sequence in the script describes him as a German tourist that no one wants to interact with (e.g. bucket hat, sketchers).

To do this, Fincher and Adams imagined themselves as killers and decided he would wear “lazy clothes.”

Cate Adams explained:

“Because he’s so calculated, he’s going to walk into a store, he’s going to know his size, he’s going to pick it up, he’s going to buy it, and he’s going to put it on… We scoured all of North America for a bucket hat… [and] we just really dove into buying every pair of Skechers that we possibly could.”

Adams previously collaborated with Fincher as an assistant customer designer on Mindhunter.

It’s interesting to see Fincher’s costuming evolve of the years from the more outlandish looks of Brad Pitt in Fight Club to the more pedestrian in The Killer.

From Crash cam op to Fargo TV series director. Dana Gonzales has leveled up over the years:

As post-production concluded on Fargo Season 5, which premiered on Nov 21st on Hulu, Gonzales discussed his transition to directing:

“I know people are weary of working for a past cinematographer, thinking they’re going to get in their rice bowl. I don’t….Directing is different. The visuals will always be important to me just because I’m a visualist, but, suddenly you’re like, I’ve got to get this done because I need this or we’re not going to have the story.”

For Gonzales, the transition from DP to director on Fargo was fluid as he’d already shot 21 episodes before becoming a director in S4. It’s exciting to see talented DP’s take the director’s chair.

Drawing inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s seminal novel Orlando: A Biography, acclaimed academic and filmmaker Paul B. Preciado has masterfully created Orlando: My Political Biography. This documentary premiered at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival and garnered four awards and was an official selection at TIFF and Telluride. The trailer spins a rich tapestry combining personal essay, historical dissection, and a potent social manifesto.

Preciado, accentuates Woolf’s protagonist Orlando, embodiment of gender fluidity by featuring over twenty trans and non-binary actors in Orlando’s role, blending their personal journeys of identity and transformation with Woolf’s narrative.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Malaysian adolescent tiger metamorphosis film captures international distribution. Tiger Stripes, which won the Grand Prize in Critics’ Week at Cannes, is a searing depiction of the harsh transition from childhood to puberty as seen through the eyes of the pupils at a Malaysian girl’s school where ridicule is the norm. The antagonization of one girl who gets her period early leads her to, from what it looks like in the trailer, begin forming into a tiger. There’s a Black Swan mythological quality here. It’s not quite body-horror like Cronenberg’s The Fly but it captures the humanism of the transformation.

Dark Star Pictures has captured distribution in the US. Modern Films in UK/Ireland. No word yet on release date but the film is currently being censored in Malaysia.

Oscar-nominated Syrian director dreams big. Waad Al-Kateab, directed For Sama, a self-portrait of her life as a young mother through the five years of war in Aleppo, Syria. Her new project, We Dare to Dream, tells the inspiring and devastating story of the members of the refugee Olympics team. The trailer is a confluence of multiple refugee narratives using their experiences as fuel for training for the Tokyo Olympics. The project, which was an official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, is EP’d by Angelina Jolie. It has just been picked up for distribution by Peackock and is currently available.

Saudi cinema resurgence? After the 35-year ban of commercial movie theaters, cinema is now allowed in Saudi Arabia. What has followed is a flood of investment from the government, luring production companies for co-partnerships, and stars like Johnny Depp, Michelle Wiliams, and Will Smith with lucrative $1M deals to their film festival.

What’s also emerged is a new world of independent film.

The Saudi Arabian mini media content studio Telfaz11’s first film, Sattar, topped the countries’ box-office, beating out Barbie.

Mandoob is their latest film. An indie thriller that centers around a delivery guy:

In the heart of Riyadh, where desperation and opportunity collide, Mabdoob brings forth the gripping tale of Fahad Algadaani, a mentally fragile man racing against time to save his ailing father.

The film was an official selection at TIFF. Trailer here.

Let’s hope that artistic expression can flourish more easily in the region.


ON THIS DAY

1949. Jeff Bridges was born.


Happy Monday.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

 

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