Guillermo del Toro’s True Detective

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

True Detective Season 4, David Cronenberg goes personal, Lena Waithe at Sundance and atomic monsters.

Let’s go!


GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S INFLUENCE ON TRUE DETECTIVE

The new season of True Detective is directed by Guillermo del Toro’s protege, Issa López.

HBO is set to premiere the 4th season in ten days.

​The 4th season is stained with iconography reminiscent of the 1st season, including spiral symbols, dangling dream catchers, and contorted corpses. Set in Alaska but filmed in Iceland, the frozen landscape is a conduit by which Jodie Foster and Kali Reis confront, “the darkness they carry in themselves.”

Foster, channeling a less skittish version of her Oscar-winning performance as Clarice Starling, investigates the bizarre murders of eight men who operate an Arctic Research Station. One image from the trailer (still) is an ice cave emblazoned with flashlights. In True Detective, all cavernous spaces, it seems, lead to madness and salvation.

Nic Pizzolatto, the series creator, has been bumped to a purely non-creative role as Executive Producer for this 4th season. In his place is Issa Lopéz, who wrote and directed the full season. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, you’re in good company, as we’d never come across her work.

López is a relative newcomer to the American Film and TV scene but is a culturally significant filmmaker in Mexico. Hailed by Guillermo del Toro as “an important talent,” he gushed about her latest feature, Tigers Are Not Afraid, at the Toronto Film Festival in 2019.

López’s movie plays in the same sandbox as Pan’s Labyrinth—delivering equal doses of fairy tale and heartbreaking realism.

In taking on this new role, López has leveled up from the 36-day 1.3M dollar film Tigers Are Not Afraid to a 90+ day $64.8 million production for the 4th season of True Detective.

It’s a huge win for auteur-driven television, and our hope is that she captures the essence of what was so spellbinding in the first season.

For More:

True Detective Season 4 trailer. A high-intensity puzzle pairing Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as antagonistic partners.

Director Isa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid trailer. As gritty as it is fantastical. A very dark fairy tale.

“I think we got started on the wrong foot there.” Nine minutes of Matthew McConaughey’s best moments in True Detective Season 1.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Universal beat out Disney at the 2023 box office. It’s the first time that a superhero movie hasn’t captured one of the top three spots for highest-grossing films at the box office since 2011.

Here’s a break-down of the studios’ 2023 domestic gross:

  • $1.93 bn – Universal
  • $1.9 bn – Disney
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($359 M)
    • The Little Mermaid ($298 M)
    • Bust: The Marvels ($84.5 M) and Wish ($61M)
  • $1.4 bn – Warner Bros.
    • Barbie ($636 M, highest-grossing film ever for the studio)
    • Wonka ($149 M, as of Jan 1)
    • With their superhero films also flopping (The Flash, $108 M), their hopes are that Joker: Folie à Deux will bring back audiences
  • $982 M – Sony
    • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($381.3 M)
    • Bust: Dumb Money ($13.9 M)
  • $842 M – Paramount
    • Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning ($172 M)
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem ($118.6M)
  • $586 M – Lionsgate
    • John Wick: Chapter 4 ($187.1M)
    • Bust: Expend4bles ($16.7 M)

The total domestic revenue hit a post-pandemic high of $9 bn.

There were also a few innovative approaches this year like AMC Theaters bypassing Hollywood norms by directly releasing Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and Beyonce’s Renaissance. The biggest indie success was Angel Studios’ Sound of Freedom, a crowd-funded faith-based thriller that broke into the U.S. top 10, driven by its novel “Pay It Forward” ticket system.

Marvel Studios’ Echo looks primally violent. The barbaric Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) leads a child (Alaqua Cox) down a ruthless path of violence in the trailer. There seems to be a lingering sense of generational trauma built into the storyline through the Cox character’s Native American heritage. It seems as though Amazon’s highly-rated The Boys (nominated for 8 Emmys and spun off into The Boys Presents: Diabolical and Gen V) sparked a demand for ultra-realistic and ultra-violent superhero TV shows that allow for more character depth to fill the gap of recent studio superhero film’s disappointing outcomes.

Echo will be released on January 10, 2024, simultaneously on Disney+ and Hulu.

Looks like there’s potential for Daredevil to make an appearance.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Tom Wilkinson was a screen legend. He passed away last Saturday at age 75. His Michael Clayton opening monologue is one of the most beautifully bizarre mad-man rants ever committed to screen (clip).

Here’s the transcription of his near-death monologue:

“–We’re standing in the middle of the street — the lights changes — there’s this wall of traffic — serious traffic speeding towards us, my – I – I freeze – I can’t move I’m suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation, I’m covered with some sort of film — it’s just in my hair, my face — it’s like a glaze, like a coating and first I thought, “Oh my god, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic, embryonic fluid – I’m drenched in afterbirth – I’ve breached the chrysalis — I’ve been reborn.”’

In addition to this Oscar-nominated performance, he played the crooked Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins (2005, clip), the bashful and brilliant founder of the memory erasure clinic in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, clip), and the cynical steelworker turned striptease dancer in The Full Monty (1997, trailer).

Wilkinson was also nominated for the Academy Award for the lead role in Todd Fields’ first film In the Bedroom (2001). Wilkinson received an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Benjamin Franklin in the HBO miniseries John Adams.

He will be missed.

Tom Hollander’s bumbling, awkward marriage proposal to Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice (2005, clip) is legendary. Since then, he’s played a barrage of conniving characters in various projects:

  • In the Loop (2009)
  • About Time (2013)
  • The White Lotus Season 2 (2021)

And in what looks to be his most impressive transformation to date, he co-stars as Truman Capote in Gus Van Sant’s new series Feud: Capote Vs—the Swans (trailer). Capote was previously played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote (2005), for which Hoffman won the Oscar.

This new series, as detailed in last week’s edition, focuses on the women surrounding Capote, played by an incredible cast (Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Molly Ringwald, Diane Lane and Kathy Bates).

Hollander’s methodical precision and sharp wit should help elevate this series.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Read the American Fiction screenplay. Written and directed by Cord Jefferson, this film centers on Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), a cynical novelist capitalizing on racial stereotypes through his writing. The script won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

The screenplay lands a joke in the first scene. Read it here.

The judges for Sundance 2024 have been announced:

For a full list of judges, check out the list here.

Single film tickets for the festival (both in person and virtual) can be purchased here beginning on January 11 at 10 a.m. MT.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

David Cronenberg is the king of body horror cinema. His psychological portraiture of degradation burns into your cerebrum:

Recently, he came back to form with Crimes of the Future, which premiered at Cannes in 2022.

His latest is The Shrouds. Here’s the official synopsis:

Karsh, an innovative businessman and grieving widower, builds a device to connect with the dead inside a burial shroud.

Cronenberg has stated that the film is inspired by the passing of his wife, Carolyn Cronenberg, who worked as his frequent collaborator.

The Shrouds will star Vincent Cassel, Diane Kruger, and Guy Pearce.

Check out two first-look images here.

Jason Blum’s Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster have officially merged. This union brings together two major forces in the horror genre, combining their impressive portfolios: Get Out, The Purge and Paranormal Activity (Blumhouse), and The Conjuring and The Nun (Atomic Monster).

The combined box office earnings of their films exceed $8.5 billion, making them a monstrous entity in the horror film industry. Blumhouse will increase its credibility in the marketplace, while Atomic Monster will have access to Blumhouse’s first-look deal with Universal.

Plans include branching out into unscripted TV, podcasts and gaming.

Check out their new combined horror film sizzle here. But only if you’re looking for a scare.

Eimi Imanishi is adapting her TIFF short film, Battalion to My Beat (2016), into a feature. The short centers on a refugee camp runaway re-imagining herself as Joan of Arc (watch the full short here).

Imanishi has racked up an impressive list of institutional support:

  • 2018 Sundance Directing and Screenwriting Fellow
  • 2018 Film Independent Directing Fellow
  • 2019 Time Warner Fellow

She described her adaptation, Doha – The Rising Sun:

“The film’s story is very close to my heart and has its roots in Barcelona, Spain… The film is a compilation of the stories that I gathered over two decades — some inquisitively, some accidentally, some fearfully under censorship.”

The film shoots in Algeria in the spring.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Bong Joon Ho has directed some of the most visionary sci-fi films in recent years. Snowpiercer (2013) took audiences into a failed dystopia where the class system is re-imagined onto an ever-moving train that houses earth’s final inhabitants. Okja (2017) focused on genetically engineered super pigs.

While there are plenty of excellent lists for upcoming 2024 films, Bong’s Mickey 17 is our top international pick.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Robert Pattinson is an “expendable” – a disposable crew member on a space mission, selected for dangerous tasks because he can be renewed if his body dies, with his memories largely intact. With one regeneration, though, things go very wrong.

Watch the annoyingly cryptic teaser trailer. The film will be released on March 29th.

From Saving Face to Star Wars. In 2012 Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy clinched the Oscar for her short documentary Saving Face (2012), which centered on Pakistani women scarred by acid attacks. She won a second Oscar for her short documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015), which showcased the heavy price paid by women in Pakistan for falling in love.

It was recently announced that she will be directing the upcoming Star Wars film, Star Wars: New Jedi Order, starring Daisy Ridley:

“I’ve spent my life meeting real life heroes, who have overcome the most oppressive empires and battled impossible odds and that to me is the heart of Star Wars… which is why I was attracted to the promise of a new Jedi Order.”

If you want to check out her recent big-budget work, she directed two episodes of Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel (2022), which can be found on Disney+.


READER SPOTLIGHT

James Pratt is an actor, writer and director who played the lovable Michael Chase in Malibu Crush, a cult comedy in the same tone as Dumb and Dumber.

The film revolves around two hopeless best friends from Los Angeles who pretend to be highly decorated film school students in order to proclaim their love for an ex-girlfriend living in Sydney, Australia.

Check out the trailer here.

Pratt has also served as a consulting producer on Gate to Heaven, starring Richard Sammel (Casino Royale and Inglorious Bastards).

That film just announced an exclusive release on the SBS network after its US cinema release.

If you’d like to be featured in our “readers spotlight,” click here for more information.


ON THIS DAY

1973 Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers), American film director and artist, born in Bolinas, California.


Happy New Year! See you tomorrow.


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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