Cameron Diaz is back

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

Cameron Diaz’s Back in Action, Netflix’s flytrap, Ed Harris’ brand of evil and lingerie.

Let’s go!


CAMERON DIAZ IS BACK

Cameron Diaz hasn’t acted in a decade.

But next year, she will star in Netflix’s Back In Action with co-star Jamie Foxx. The film centers on the splashy return of a retiree.

Diaz first burst onto the scene as the electric yet sensitive love interest in the Jim Carrey classic The Mask (iconic entrance scene). Diaz’s character, which could easily have fallen victim to overly simplified 90s typecasting, is surprisingly layered.

But it was her neurotic, frumpy performance as Lotte in Being John Malkovich (1999) that demonstrated immense range.

Sharon Waxman, the author of Rebels on the Backlot, explained how director Spike Jonze helped her realize this transformation:

“Jonze finally asked Diaz not to be Diaz. He kept asking her to subtract elements of her personality; not to pucker her lips, not to perch on her hips—things she leaned on to emphasize her sexuality. ‘We started pushing the character,’ said Jonze. And Diaz was willing. Jonze found that he could see a common thread between Lotte and Diaz. ‘What Cameron is that Lotte is is this very caring person that’s very open with herself emotionally. She’s not driven by her neuroses as much as she’s driven by wanting to make sure everyone’s happy.’”

Diaz’s transformation for the role was so profound (still) that she often went unrecognized by the production team and even the studio chief.

But after fifteen years of taking on a range of projects, from Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) to Bad Teacher (2011) to Annie (2014), she quit acting.

Speaking with Kevin Hart in 2021, she explained the decision:

“When you do something at a really high level for a long period of time, when you’re the person that’s sort of delivering on this one thing, everything around, all parts of you that isn’t that, has to sort of be handed off to other people. Just, the management of me as a human being… Cameron Diaz is a machine. But for my personal, spiritual self, I was realizing that one part of me that functioned at a high level wasn’t enough.”

After a decade-long hiatus, Cameron Diaz, presumably centered, returns to the big screen. And we’re lucky to have her back.

She flourishes through reinvention.

For More:

First-look image of Diaz and Foxx in Netflix’s Back in Action (2024).

Cameron Diaz and Jim Carrey tear up the dance floor in The Mask (1994).

Diaz is nearly unrecognizable in the Being John Malkovich trailer. Blink, and you’ll miss her.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Netflix’s flytrap is content licensing. While Ted Sarandos has publicly stated that he doesn’t intend to license Netflix’s vast content library to other streamers, he’s quite keen on licensing other networks’ shows. Over the summer, Suits (2011-2019) made a giant splash, racking up 599 million hours of viewing worldwide on Netflix across all nine seasons.

Netflix has also recently licensed:

Analysis of Netflix’s recent data dump showed that 45% of all viewing hours were licensed content (the other 55% was original). It proves Netflix’s power is their market-dominating free cash flow that enables them to license any content that they’re not producing to retain subscribers and grow, putting more blue sky distance between them and their competitors.

The 2024 global box office will take a major hit. That’s according to a forecast by Gower St., an analytics company. The actor’s and writer’s strike delayed the release of tentpole films like Marvel’s Blade, James Cameron’s Avatar 3, and Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, which have all been pushed to 2025.

Here are the yearly global box-office numbers:

  • $42.3 bn (2019)
  • $11.8 bn (2020)
  • $21.3 bn (2021)
  • $25.9 bn (2022)
  • $33.4 bn (2023, forecast)
  • $31.5 bn (2024, forecast)

For a clearer visualization, check out this graph.

That estimated $2 bn hit in 2024 will stifle hopes of getting close to pre-pandemic levels.

Gower Street CEO Dimitrios Mitsinikos remarked:

“Based on productions currently on our radar, we expect 2025 to be a very good year at the global box office and hopefully a positive trend-setter for the second half of this decade.”

Let’s hope.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Ed Harris is an evil man. He’s made a career playing men who are the masters of their own terrariums meant to ensnare the weaker for his gain:

In the upcoming A24 film Love Lies Bleeding, Harris fuels the poetic chaos of Kristen Stewart’s romance revenge saga. He plays Stewart’s dad, a menacing balding hippie who runs a gun range. The FBI wants him in connection with some murders. The trailer is a bit hard to follow, but there are some effervescent moments of romance between Kristen Stewart and Katy M. O’Brian, who plays a body-builder.

The film will premiere in January at Sundance and be released theatrically in March.

Noémie Merlant played Cate Blanchett’s assistant in Tar. Watching her endure Blanchett’s brutal and brilliant calculatedness, subsiding in her presence, is the empathy center of much of the film (consolement clip).

In Tar we are Merlant.

In Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Winner, Best Screenplay Cannes), Merlant’s often stoic performance is a canvas of hidden desire (painting scene).

She’s wrapping up production on her latest project, Emmanuelle, the director (Audrey Diwan), explains:

“I can say a few things: this movie is based on a quest for pleasure, and a lost pleasure. I try to tell the movie through Emmanuelle’s sensations… I had a very strong relationship with Noémie Merlant who is in virtually every frame of the movie. I wanted her to think about her quest and not to think about the camera, for her to exist and not to show.”

See the very NSFW first-look image here.

The film also stars Naomi Watts and could see a festival premiere at Cannes or Venice next year.

Nicole Kidman retreats into the depths of sorrow in Expats. Here is Amazon Studio’s official synopsis of the series:

Set against the complex tapestry of Hong Kong residents, Expats depicts a multifaceted group of women after a single encounter sets off a chain of life-altering events that leaves everyone navigating the intricate balance between blame and accountability.

The trailer is melancholy and lively – a mix of Kidman’s desire for escapism first manifested in her move to Hong Kong and second in her desire to leave herself. To punish herself. But self-acceptance fuels her ability to live.

There’s no one better than Kidman at displaying both sides of this coin, as evidenced in:

Expats will be available on Prime on January 26th.

A teaser trailer for Adam Sandler’s upcoming film Spaceman just dropped. It’s just two shots long.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Read the Priscilla screenplay. Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla combines the director’s penchant for meticulous research, her innate sensitivity to human dynamics, and her personal connection to her characters.

Priscilla tells the tale of a young Priscilla Presley, who falls for Elvis and grapples with her identity in the shadow of “The King.” A24 released the film, which has been critically praised.

Read the script here. The first page is fantastic.


TECH SECTION

From Rodrigo Prieto’s imaginative toy-box cinematography in Barbie to the multi-cam verisimilitude in Zone of Interest, this year’s DP roundtable interview featured cinematographers most likely to be Oscar nominees:

Prieto discussed Barbie:

“We wanted it to feel like they’re inside a box and to photograph it the way it feels when you open a box as a kid. You see the toy is presented to you, and it’s full of light, it’s innocent, and it’s front.”

And Killers of the Flower Moon:

“There’s a scene where there’s a fire. William Hale [Robert De Niro] is burning the land around his house to collect insurance money. I wouldn’t call it an accident, but we had all these fire pipes hidden under the ground and creating the fire effect for the wide shot. But the second layer of fire created this weird distortion that was unexpected. It was so much that you couldn’t see an image practically, so I asked Trevor Loomis, the focus puller, to pull focus to the distortion itself, and that’s where the image suddenly came to life. And you see these very strange, surreal figures that are shimmering.”

He also discussed his in-depth research into historical color palettes.

Full roundtable interview here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Julio Torres’ A24 surrealist comedy Problemista is an original twist on the American dream. The trailer starts off like Where the Wild Things Are (2009), settles into an NYC grit invoking Raising Victor Vargas (2002), and then moves firmly into Being John Malkovich (1999) territory.

Torres, a writer for SNL (check out his Wells for Boys skit), wrote, directed and stared in this coming-of-age story. The film, which co-stars Tilda Swinton, premiered at SXSW in 2023.

The release date was pushed due to the actor’s strike—no word yet on the current release date.

Ava DuVernay is back with an indie film, as mentioned in a previous edition. It’s been five years since her Walt Disney Studio feature film A Wrinkle in Time (2018). Before that, she directed Selma (2014). Her new film, Origins, is distributed by Neon. They just released a new trailer that presents a more concrete sketch of the character’s journey to discover the origins of racism.

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

The concept feels heavy-handed, but DuVernay is adept at handling grave material with grace.

Luc Besson has always done his best work far from the American Studio system and nestled within France’s legendary Gaumont studio (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element). He’s gone completely indie with his new film Dogman (trailer). Casting Cannes 2021’s best actor, Caleb Landry Jones (Nitram, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), as a boy who has suffered abuse at the hands of his cruel master, his father, commits to exacting revenge through cross-dressing, shotguns, and his love of dogs.

US release has just been set for March 22nd, 2024.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Do not go gentle into that good night. The Norwegian film Arctic Convoy centers on a WW2 captain’s near-suicide mission where he steers his stranded ship, enduring heavy fire by German bombers and submarines, towards arctic icebergs. It’s an intense trailer. And there seems to be something about the way it’s captured that makes it appear as if the shooting conditions may be as hellish as what the characters on screen endured. Magnolia Pictures (Shoplifters, The Square, The Handmaiden) has just acquired the film for US distribution. Releasing 2024.

A Malaysian lingerie shop. What happens when a female proprietor opens up a lingerie store in the middle of a pastoral Malaysian village? The film La Luna (2023), which will close the International Film Festival Rotterdam, answers this question with a light-heartedness (trailer). It seems like the cheerier version of the devastating Sundance-winner Hive (2021). That film revolved around a Kosovo woman opening the first female-owned business in the neighborhood, an ajvar shop, and encountering the rage of the male community (trailer).

An art-house horror from Spain. It always seems like a good idea to return to the isolated lighthouse where your deceased mother’s uncompleted paintings lie in wait until her ghost turns up. There’s a version of Faro- Restless Waters, Shivering Lights that could be ultra formulaic like most American studio horrors. But instead, the gothic starkness and poetic imagery, including one that finds the lead standing in a labyrinth, make it stand out (trailer).

Releasing in Spain on January 26th. No word yet on US/UK distribution.


ON THIS DAY

2002. Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz was released.


We’re off tomorrow. See you Friday.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

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