Denzel, Elvis, and a ham sandwich

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

Denzel inflicts justice, Elvis passes on Superman and a ham sandwich.

Let’s go!


DENZEL INFLICTS JUSTICE

Antoine Fuqua, director of Training Day, discovered Denzel Washington’s darkness while meeting him at church.

Fuqua’s collaborations with Washington span:

And now a new film with Netflix.

Just like their previous four films, the new movie allows audiences to see into the heart of bent justice.

Speaking of their first collaboration on Training Day, Fuqua recalls:

“We looked at the Bible, and we were aligned. And it said, ‘the wages of sin is death’… I think it allowed Denzel to express that other part of himself, the darker side of himself.”

Fuqua added a darker dimension to the Training Day script, related to his friendship with a string of corrupt cops:

“Sick, that’s a better word. Because even today, I don’t think corruption is a word that lets them off the hook. As sickness is something that sort of happens when you actually believe you’re doing the right thing for the greater good.”

Fuqua is enamored by dark angels dispensing justice. His latest collaboration with Washington is no exception: a currently untitled historical epic centering on the real life of Hannibal, a Carthaginian general who battled Rome during the Second Punic Wars (218-210BC).

Hannibal notably outmaneuvered the Roman empire by leading his army of 70,000 men, 20,000 horses—and 37 elephants over the rugged ice of The Alps in just 16 days.

Fuqua said that he fell back into a familiar rhythm working with Denzel:

“We can walk away and not see each other, work together, for ten years, and it starts to feel the same after the first take. He understands me. Sometimes I can walk up to Denzel about to say something, and Denzel was like, ‘I already know what you want me to do.’”

Fuqua and Washington, a director-actor pair that are adept at delivering stories of sin that are so brutal they allow us to see the light.

For More:

BTS of Training Day: how Fuqua built out the world.

The only time Denzel returns to a role is in The Equalizer. Watch the trailer for the third installment here.

Denzel Washington vs Idris Elba in American Gangster.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Beep Beep! Coyote vs. Acme is back! As we discussed in a previous edition, Warner Bros. Discovery shelved the film (starring John Cena) in order to take a $30 million tax write-off. Now, they’re setting up screenings for potential buyers, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Netflix. Director David Green (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 & the hilarious Vimeo staff pick Ham Sandwich) wrote on social media:

“Along the ride, we were embraced by test audiences who rewarded us with fantastic scores. I am beyond proud of the final product.”

While it was most likely the onslaught of bad press that forced Warner Bros.’s hand, it’s exciting that this film may have a second life (just like Coyote).

Consumers spend more on Netflix on average than other streaming platforms:

  • Netflix: $16.29/user
    • 247M subs
  • Hulu $12.11/user
    • 48.5M subs
  • Warner Bros. Discovery $10.66/user
    • 95.1M/subs
  • Disney+: $7.5/user
    • 150.2M subs

(Apple and Amazon don’t release streaming numbers.)

Netflix’s current dominance may be due to the fact they’ve been around since 2007, two years after YouTube started. In an ever-evolving streaming landscape, Netflix and the other industry streamers have adopted ad-supported tiers to stabalize profit.

In the last 15 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), led by directors like Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, and featuring stars such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson, has redefined franchise success with 32 consecutive blockbusters. This cinematic saga has not only created iconic characters but also amassed over $30 billion in global earnings.

This trend has plummeted to a halt with The Marvels. The box-office numbers revealed a dismal opening weekend when compared to the series’ first installment, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing Marvel film of all time:

Hopefully, this will supercharge Marvel’s executives to prioritize good storytelling. All they have to do is look to their own origin story: Iron Man (2008).


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Nicole Kidman’s AFI Life Achievement Award Ceremony was postponed to 2024. But that won’t stop us from celebrating our favorite Kidman films:

We’ll be bingeing these over the weekend.

Jacob Elordi, e.g., Elvis in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, has captured an old-school form of movie stardom. After sacrificing his dignity to the tween series The Kissing Booth (1-3), he decided he was finished taking sugar-coated roles.

It was recently reported that he passed on a Superman film because he felt the role was too dark. Instead, he’s currently filming Paul Schrader’s final film, playing a young Richard Gere.

Schrader noted:

“With the exception of the height difference, he has a lot of the very same qualities as Richard. I certainly could have made American Gigolo 40 years ago with Elordi. He is a throwback, in a way, to a kind of old-time movie star.”

Andrew Scott wants to stop being typecast as the villain. Although he excelled in Sherlock as Moriarty, beautifully crushing Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlockian genius, his latest role is a breakout. All of Us Strangers (trailer) allows Scott to explore a very personal experience, the process of coming out. The film releases in theaters on Dec 22nd (US) and Jan 26 (UK). The film was an official selection at Telluride, NYFF, and BFI.


FESTIVALS

Deadline’s Sound and Screen Festival featured talks with the sonically sublime composers behind:

All those talks are available for free. Check them out here. Mark Graham, Killers of the Flower Moon composer, opens up about not wanting to disappoint Scorsese by providing him with what the director termed “movie music.”

The Black List and Tubi are collaborating to greenlight five feature scripts for production and distribution. The “To Be Commissioned Initiative” focuses on youthful, diverse narratives, particularly in science fiction, faith-based, romance, and comedy from underrepresented communities. $200 fee waivers are available for eligible writers.

Deadline: March 15, 2024. Submit your script here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

P.T. Anderson’s latest directorial work is a music video for a new Radiohead spinoff band, The Smile. It’s one part student 16mm short, one part expressionistic time-lapse, and one part pure hypnosis. This music video, The Smile – Wall of Eyes, continues the trend of P.T. Anderson filming shorts between his feature projects. Anima (2019), a 15-minute short featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, is rhythmic, transcendent and gravity-defying.

Anderson joins a group of other acclaimed directors who create short films between their feature work:

By the looks of it, these intermediary projects allow the directors to stay fresh and have fun while in the long development marathon to their next masterpiece.

Awkwafina hasn’t stopped making us laugh since her rap album back in 2015. This hilarious 2015 profile from The NY Times captures her befuddled by a rice cooker while juggling multiple media projects (album, book, talk show, studio film). She stated:

“My every birthday wish was, ‘I want to someday be on TV.’”

That wish really came true when she broke into the zeitgeist with Nora from Queens (trailer), a show she wrote, created and starred in. During the interim, she’s acted in:

Her latest project is Quiz Lady (lead, producer). The synopsis reads:

Tightly wound, game-show-obsessed Anne (Awkwafina) must team up with her chaotic sister Jenny (Sandra Oh) to help pay off their mother’s gambling debts. When Anne’s beloved dog is kidnapped, they set off on a cross-country journey to get the money they need. To do so, they must tap into Anne’s skill set by turning her into the game-show champion she was always meant to be.

The trailer is genuinely hilarious. Quiz Lady premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released by 20th Century Studios. It is currently available on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

A visual anthropologist explores a 27-person community living on Mandø, a tiny island nestled in the UNESCO world heritage site The Wadden Sea, in the Danish documentary As the Tide Comes In.

The documentary centers on one islander, a proud farmer by the name of Gregers (pictured above), who faces severe weather conditions and the constant threat of flooding that hobbles his ability to farm.

The director honed in on a visual style that captured the out-of-time and out-of-space elements of the island:

“I planned a lot – where to place the camera, at what time of the day. Every time I would go to the island – which was 15 times over three years – I would drive to places on a location recce to identify the spots, map the place at different times of the year. Visually, I wanted to capture the looming danger, using the landscape but also technology used by humans to understand the forces of nature. Like a ticking clock.”

The film had its world premiere on Monday at IDFA’s international competition. No word yet on distribution.

The UK TV industry sales reached a record-breaking $2.25 billion. Despite economic challenges, especially by U.S. buyers, demand for series like The Ipcress Files, Frozen Planet II, and This England remained high worldwide. 53% of programs were acquired by international streaming and VoD platforms this year, marking an increase from 39% in the previous year.

Last year’s All Quiet on the Western Front was emotionally destabilizing. This German anti-war film picked up four Academy Awards:

  • Best International Feature
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Sound

Listen to a ten-second snippet of the seismic, haunting score.

The director, Edward Berger, has lined up his new film Conclave. The film’s synopsis reads:

Cardinal Lomeli oversees the group of Cardinals responsible for selecting a new Church leader while trying to uncover a secret from the late Pontiff.

Ralph Fiennes will play Cardinal Lomeli. John Lithgow, Stanley Tucci, and Isabella Rossellini will also star. Focus Features has just acquired the film for US distribution. The chairman, Peter Kujawski, stated:

“Edward Berger is a devilishly talented filmmaker who made our collective hearts race by showing us what happens to our better angels in those Machiavellian halls of power. We cannot wait to bring audiences to the edge of their seats.”

In a distribution deal that seems to have come full circle, Berger responded:

“27 years ago, I landed my first job as an intern at the company that later became Focus. Ever since I left and embarked on the long path of making movies I have been wanting to return. To now work with Peter Kujawski and his incredibly dedicated team feels like I have arrived at a home that I‘ve always missed. I am grateful and so cannot wait to share the movie with audiences in the U.S. as well as around the world at the hands of Focus and all our distribution partners.”

No word yet on a release date, but we eagerly await the project.


Happy Tuesday. Enjoy the day!


ON THIS DAY

1976. Network, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch and William Holden, premieres in Los Angeles and New York City. Finch won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film.


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

 

 

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