From Harry Potter to Breaking Bad

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry and in honor of Halloween, we look at:

Harry Potter director dresses up Pain Hustlers, Cranston’s poker faceJack the Ripperand how to make gravy.

Let’s go!


FROM WIZARDRY TO REALISM

David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter films and three installments of Fantastic Beasts, understands how to charm audiences.

His latest, Pain Hustlers, explores the gritty underworld of the opioid epidemic.

The film spotlights two pharmaceutical reps (Emily Blunt and Chris Evans) peddling pain medications. Yates remarked:

“I think if you’re going to bring an audience into a film, you really want to entertain them and beguile them to get the message across.”

This approach, blending humor with severity, is a gamble, especially given the epidemic’s profound impact globally. There’s the potential for the message to be lost in glossing over it with humor.

However, Yates’ intimate understanding of sales and profits from his seven-picture studio experience might have provided a nuanced lens through which he found humor in the narrative.

This shift towards humanistic filmmaking seems like a natural regression for Yates:

“That was exciting and intriguing to me coming from a national health system basis in the UK. And I was looking for a drama, I guess, having spent a long time doing various wizard films. I wanted a drama based in the real world, a social issue-based drama that was part of the national conversation.”

Collaborating with producer Lawrence Grey (The LaundromatLights Out), Yates emphasized how he did away with extravagant visual effects and anchored the project in realism:

“It was really invigorating to be outside, real locations, on the road doing three locations a day.”

In fact, Yates’ early work, a BAFTA and Emmy-Award-winning TV series (State of PlayThe Girl in the Cafe), was focused on social issues and on-location shooting.

Pain Hustlers marks a return to his origins, but despite the spotty reviews, his return to social issues signifies a broader trend in cinema, where big-budget filmmakers choose to tackle pressing societal issues.

It suggests that audiences are excited by content that not only entertains but also educates and provokes thought—even if it is a hard pill to swallow.

For more:

Pain Hustlers trailer.

Waiting for Another Fantastic Beasts film? David Yates says the series may be “parked” due to the underwhelming box-office performance of the latest installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

State of Play put Yates on Warner Brother’s radar as a possible Harry Potter director. Check out the trailer.

Netflix’s other project on the opioid epidemic is Painkiller, starring Matthew Broderick.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo finds new life at Amazon as a TV series. Veena Sud (The Killing) is the showrunner. Given her penchant for dark and enigmatic crime stories, we think it’s a great fit!

This marks the third adaptation of the material from the iconic book series.

We know it’s fanciful to imagine Rooney Mara reprising her role as primal hacker Lisbeth Salander, but now that Daniel Craig is done with Bond, maybe he’ll consider revisiting his role as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist.

NBC’s Peacock loses money, gains subscribers:

  • $565 million loss, summer ‘23
  • 4 million subscribers gain Q3

Peacock’s addition of an ad-supported tier for $5.99/month is the likely culprit.

As new streaming platforms crowd the content landscape, there’s a ceiling to consumer spending on entertainment. Originating as traditional broadcast TV, NBC’s core audience is likely more accustomed to viewing shows with commercials.

Hasbro loses 3.5B selling eOne to Lionsgate. The deal is poised to close by the end of the year.

Lionsgate is acquiring the assets for approximately $500 million, including a content library of nearly 6,500 titles, active productions for non-Hasbro-owned intellectual properties like ​Yellowjackets, the ​Naked and Afraid franchises, and the eOne unscripted business.

We’re hoping that Mattel’s $1.4B global success with Barbie lit a fire under Hasbro to adapt more of their properties beyond Dungeons and Dragons, which netted $200 million.

SAG-AFTRA members don’t want to cave.

In an open letter to their leadership, they stated:

“We have not come all this way to cave now. We have not gone without work, without pay, and walked picket lines for months just to give up on everything we’ve been fighting for. We cannot and will not accept a contract that fails to address the vital and existential problems that we all need fixed.”

Over 3600 members have signed. We’re holding out hope for a great deal!

The plug has been pulled on the Metropolis adaptationSam Esmail (Leave the World BehindMr. Robot) worked his heart out for seven years to write, direct, and executive produce a TV series based on Fritz Lang’s powerful and prescient sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis (1927).

The project was scrapped due to delays in production drafts caused by the WGA writer’s strike. We think Sam would have done an excellent job with this.

Hopefully, it’ll get reincarnated before AI takes over.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Ben Foster finds himself trapped in a perilous money-making scheme in Finestkind. He is torn between his father’s (Tommy Lee Jones) expectations for the family shipping business and a ruthless Boston gang offering solutions.

Admittedly, the trailer looks scattered between three different character storylines (including Jenny Ortega’s). And the editing tilts Foster’s performance into caricature. But his sullen yet unhinged portrayal of a bank robber in Hell or High Water cemented him as a performer we want to watch.

The film premiered at TIFF and will be released exclusively on Paramount + on December 15th.

Bryan Cranston is hosting a celebrity poker tournament, “Lights! Camera! Ante Up!” on November 12 in Los Angeles to benefit the Entertainment Community Fund and support film and TV workers affected by the strike.

It’s wonderful to see him and other event attendees like Jon Hamm, Andy Garcia, and Jason Alexander lend a hand to struggling actors.

Annette Bening chairs the board. The Fund has already distributed over $9.9 million to over 4,600 film and television workers.

No doubt, Cranston, we’ll rake in the most money. We’ve heard he’s in the empire business.

Mia Wasikowska plays an insidious school teacher at an elite private school who ensares students in a scheme to stop them from eating. The film Club Zero is hypnotic. The trailer teeters on the brink of a psychological thriller.

Mia’s performances often get under-appreciated. She’s devilishly fun to watch in Piercing and The Double. We’ll be rewatching those until Club Zero has a release date. Luckily, it just got US distribution. If you caught it at Cannes this year, drop us a line.

Kiefer Sutherland narrates a John Lennon true crime documentary. While it feels like an odd pairing, Sutherland has been releasing music steadily since 2016 (take a listen).

We love the idea of his VO weaving us through the docu-series, which promises exclusive interviews and unseen crime photos, offering fresh insights into John Lennon’s life, murder, and the investigation and conviction of his confessed killer, Mark David Chapman.

Apple TV is releasing. No release date has been set.


FESTIVALS

Bram Stoker would be overjoyed. Sundance released a list of eight vampire-themed film recommendations for Halloween:

The prolific Film4 is being honored with the “Outstanding Contribution to UK Film” award at the 2023 Big Screen Awards. UK-based readers will be familiar with their work as the feature-film division of the UK’s public service broadcaster Channel 4.

The company is a significant player in the UK film industry, with a history of developing, producing, and investing in iconic British films like:

Congrats on the win!

It is the final week to apply for the 2024 Rotterdam Fellowship.

The application can be found here.

The 2024 Fellowship runs from January 27 to February 1, in-person. Open to U.S. producers with up to two feature-length credits.

The Gotham annually chooses two producers for the Rotterdam Lab. The fellowship offers panels detailing project financing and completion and speed dating sessions where chosen producers consult industry experts about their works.

Previous winners include Adele Romanski (Moonlight) and one of our readers… you know who you are 🙂

Deadline is November 2nd.


TECH SECTION

“No Fakes” in Hollywood. The U.S. Senate’s pending “Nurture Originals, Foster Art and Keep Entertainment Safe” (NO FAKES) aims to safeguard individuals from unauthorized AI-created digital replicas of their likenesses and voices.

Sponsored by Senators Blackburn, Coons, Klobuchar, and Tillis, the act extends rights for 70 years posthumously.

It defines a “digital replica” as a near-indistinguishable AI-generated representation.

While artists can license their digital likeness, it aims to penalize individuals, companies, or platforms for unauthorized usage with hefty fines and legal action.

For More:

Former US presidential candidate Ralph Nadar (and SAG-AFTRA member) has penned an open letter to SAG president Fran Drescher warning her about the perils of AI.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

“We are sneaking him from Hell.”

The ember-singed visuals in the Deus Irae trailer are extreme, even for Halloween. The film was just acquired for North American sales by XYZ Films (BlackBerry). It is the debut feature of Argentine filmmaker Pedro Cristiani. In his own words:

“A trio of excommunicated priests hunt the possessed down to exorcize them under their own terms: with Bibles, fire and shotgun.”

Yeah. Let’s go!

Nic Pizzolatto is sitting on a shelved Western starring Michael Fassbender. The True Detective creator shared:

“I wrote two episodes of a Western I created just because I wanted to have fun, and everything I was seeing on TV, I hated… I ended up making this really classicist western that was very romantic and funny and [had] good action.”

Word is the project is in the works with MGM. We loved Fassbender as a cowboy in Slow West (Sundance 2015 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic). Nic Pizzolatto’s angelic touch could lead to another breakout sensation.

Indie distributor Utopia has been quietly releasing some of the most unique micro-budget indies of the last few years:

The latest, Drift, centers on Jacqueline, a Liberian refugee (oscar-winner Cynthia Erivo, Harriet), and her transformative connection with a compassionate tour guide on a Greek island (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development).

Utopia unveiled the gripping trailer. The film is slated for a New York premiere on February 9, followed by a nationwide release.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Oscar-winning brothers take a stab at Jack the Ripper. The series El Dentista is set in America (but shot in Mexico) and features a transplanted version of the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.

The plot follows Nolasco Black’s pursuit of Jack the Ripper with the help of the secretive Flammarion society and a brilliant chemist named Sofia.

It’s produced by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín and their production company, Fabula (JackieSpencer). I’ve admired this Chilean powerhouse ever since filming a BTS video for one of their features in 2014.

Australian actor Hugo Weaving (The Matrixstars in How to Make Gravy. The film is an adaptation of Paul Kelly’s 1996 Australian mega-hit pop song of the same name. The song depicts the tragic tale of Joe, a downtrodden inmate who pens a thoughtful letter home as his family prepares to celebrate their first Christmas without him.

The producers noted:

“It’s a testament to Paul’s songwriting that the world and characters within the song are so vivid, and we are proud to have the honor of bringing it to life. It’s a uniquely Australian story, made for film lovers and music fans alike.”

Warner Bros International Television Production Australia is producing the film, and will be distributed internationally by Fifth Season.

Rounding out our Halloween selection is Vietnamese distributor Skyline Media, a sales agent operating in Vietnam. They successfully secured multi-territory agreements for two projects, The Soul Reape and Vietnamese Horror Story. More thoughts on these projects when they drop trailers!

Happy Friday!


ON THIS DAY

1955. Rebel Without a Cause, directed by Nicholas Ray, starring James Dean and Natalie Wood, is released.



Today’s edition was written by: Gabriel Miller and Clarke Scott.

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