How Jason Bourne changed cinema

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

Filling Bourne’s shoes, a new Nosferatu, Nicholas Hoult as Lex, and a pine tree.

Let’s go!


HOW JASON BOURNE CHANGED CINEMA

Jason Bourne is back.

It’s still early days, the script has not been written, and Matt Damon has not been attached, but there is a salivating possibility that director Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front) will direct and oversee development for a new Bourne film.

Berger’s keen eye for the humanistic antiwar epic could revitalize the film series by returning it to its post-9/11 cinema roots.

Bourne Identity (2002) director Doug Liman initially conceived of the project in 1995. At that point, he had directed:

Liman, who went on to direct Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Edge of Tomorrow, had spent four years on an IP odyssey to secure the Bourne film rights, even going so far as to crash CEO engagement parties, knock on Sylvester Stallone’s door, and beg Warner Bros to buy out the option.

Finally, in 1999, the series author, Robert Ludlum, agreed to a meeting. Liman remembered:

“I’m at 12,500 feet above the Teton mountains, rather in the mountains — flying through a valley whose walls rise another thousand feet above me, and I’m not trained to fly in them…. I am a newly minted pilot with a license but five weeks old… on the way to Glacier National Park and the summer home of Robert Ludlum.”

After his audacious entrance, he secured the film rights and received a greenlight from Universal:

“Those idiots just greenlight a 50 million dollar experimental film.”

The 2002 single-protagonist saga was a cultural refresh from the slow decline of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films and the groovy Austin Powers spy films (yeah, baby! YEAH!).

It touched the nerve of a post-911 society that, like Bourne, was shell-shocked by horror. His vulnerability, combined with remorse for his past actions, set him apart from traditional action heroes and spurred a new era of entertainment in Hollywood that tore the superficial layer off of action films by demanding more character depth.

The reinvigoration of the Bond series with Daniel Craig was a direct result.

As a new director takes the helm of the series, it is our hope that they can mine the cultural conditions of the moment to give us the action hero we deserve.

For More:

Watch how the original marketing for The Bourne Identity paints the movie like another generic spy film (trailer).

“I don’t usually fight in movies.” Matt Damon tries his hand in an action movie in this BTS video from The Bourne Identity (2002).

Doug Liman’s next action film is a re-imagining of the classic TV series The Saint. The original series (trailer) starred James Bond’s Roger Moore.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Game of Thrones on discount. Max will offer a 70% off Black Friday deal for their ad-supported tier. The total cost is $2.99/month (originally $9.99). Despite a recent 700,000 subscriber dip, partly due to the Discovery+ merger and dwindling ad revenue, the company is fighting to maintain its competitive position in the streaming market. Winter is coming.

The power of Tyler Perry, as told in this Amazon MGM Studios documentary about his life, is that he:

“Paid attention to an audience that people ignored.”

In the inspiring trailer for Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, he reveals the painful experiences that shaped his movies: homelessness and an abusive father. The documentary is available on Prime now.

The mysterious case of the disappearing content. A recent audit revealed that in the past year, two streamers have been removing vast swaths of their content:

  • Paramount+
    • 2,302 → 830 movies
  • Max
    • 2,558 → 2,168 movies
  • Prime
    • 14,670 → 10,285 movies
    • (2021-2022)

(Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ all saw increases this year.)

High-profile projects series like Westworld, Vinyl, and The Time Traveler’s Wife have been pulled for purely economic reasons. The cost of actor residuals and music licensing rights can often outweigh what a project is able to generate on a platform. Instead, tax write-downs on shelved content or selling the film/series to another platform (e.g., Westworld is now on the Roku Channel) is often seen as the most profitable route.

This is the film business, but de-platforming hurts the teams that made the projects.

Goodfellas actress Suzzanne Shepherd passed away at 89. She played in a number of iconic projects:

  • Uncle Buck (1989)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • The Sopranos (2000-2007)

Her wide-eyed demeanor served her strong characterizations in both comedy and drama. She will be missed.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Mark Rylance brought a gravitas to the BBC historical drama Wolf Hall (2015, trailer). After an eight-year interim, the series is back, with Rylance returning as the lead. BBC’s synopsis for Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light reads:

Follows Cromwell’s (Rylance) life during the last four years, completing his transformation from a self-made man to the most powerful and feared person of his era.

Production is set to begin shortly. In the meantime, amongst the great projects that pepper Rylance’s IMDB, is his recent portrayal of a magnificent grifter in Bones and All (initiation sequence clip). Although Chalamet’s performance is excellent, Rylance stole the show.

Bill Skarsgård is back in full make-up for Nosferatu. Known for donning terrifying clown make-up while portraying Pennywise in the IT films (photo), the actor has very big clown shoes to fill.

Previous incarnations of Nosferatu have been portrayed by:

  • Max Schreck
  • Klaus Kinski

Director of the latest Nosferatu, Rob Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) discussed Skarsgård’s performance:

“I’ll say that Bill has so transformed, I’m fearful that he might not get the credit that he deserves because he’s just… he’s not there. He felt like Honoring who had come before him. It’s all very subtle. But I think the main thing is that he’s even more a folk vampire. In my opinion, he looks like a dead Transylvanian nobleman.”

Nosferatu will be released next year by Focus Features.

Nicholas Hoult plays another iconic villain, Lex Luthor. Superman’s nemesis was previously played by Jesse Eisenberg, Kevin Spacey, and Gene Hackman–clips linked. Just announced, Hoult has not released a statement, but he must be thrilled. If Nicholas can learn one thing from Eisenberg’s portrayal, it should be to avoid the use of Jolly Ranchers.


FESTIVALS

Anna Hintzen, formerly of Studiocanal, joins the British Film Institute as Senior Production Executive at the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund. Her role includes overseeing all production aspects of BFI-backed projects, from budgeting and scheduling to creative and practical support. Her extensive experience, includes the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black, and Wicked Little Letters, starring Olivia Colman, will significantly benefit the BFI’s slate, nurturing talent, diverse storytelling, and UK-wide focus.

TV Writing: From Outline to First Draft of Your Pilot. This Sundance Collab course guides you from an outline to a complete draft of your TV pilot script. It offers foundational knowledge in storytelling, character development, dialogue, pacing, and script rewriting. The course includes video lectures, assignments, discussion boards, personalized feedback, and group office hours with Sundance Advisor Angela Lemanna, who wrote The Punisher (2017–2019). The course is ideal for creators with a pilot outline; it’s self-paced over 10 weeks, offering a comprehensive approach to TV writing and an opportunity for personalized mentorship and creator interaction, culminating in a polished pilot script ready for pitching.

The course runs from Feb 5 – April 14. Apply here. Deadline Feb 1. The early bird gets the pilot!


TECH SECTION

It’s been a whirlwind week for OpenAI. Sam Altman, the founder and CEO, was ousted. The president and co-founder Greg Brockman quit, and the OpenAI board took control. Now, more than 500 OpenAI employees are calling for the board to resign or they will quit.

OpenAI, the company behind Chat GPT, has seen a seismic integration into society. In part, their meteoric rise in authentic language processing was a core issue for the Hollywood writer strike.

Many feared it would replace the jobs of writers and writers’ assistants.

Now, with Open AI unrestrained by Altman, who took it upon himself to meet with world leaders to discuss the seriousness of his company–without sounding alarmist. Now, the Open AI board (49% owned by Microsoft) is untethered to do whatever they please with the technology.

There are rumors that Altman may return, but nothing as of yet has been confirmed.

Despite the post-strike safeguards in place to protect writers, the exponential acceleration of Chat GPT’s improvement could eradicate some writer’s job functions, even in the short term.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

A.V. Rockwell, the Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic winning director behind the piercing A Thousand and One, offers her insight to directors on the set of their first feature:

“I think a lot of people are just questioning, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ It might be the first time we’ve directed something that’s feature-length, but it’s not, in most cases, the first time that person has ever directed. That can be a thing where people don’t fully know if they can trust your direction because they’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve never done it at this level.’ But if everything someone’s done so far has made them a capable director, you have to trust that’s what got them there to even be in conversation with you.”

In an interview, Rockwell discusses how she struggled to see herself as a writer–it’s a good case for writing your own work as you begin your career.

A Thousand and One is out on Prime now (97% on Rotten Tomatoes). Watch the trailer here.

Coup de Chance (Stroke of Luck), Woody Allen’s first foreign language film, has supposedly secured American distribution. The film was an official selection at the 2023 Venice Film Festival. The synopsis reads:

Fanny and Jean have everything of the ideal couple: fulfilled in their professional life, they live in a magnificent apartment in the beautiful districts of Paris and seem to be in love as on the first day. But when Fanny crosses, by chance, Alain, a former high school friend, she is immediately capsized.

This is Woody’s 50th film and has no release date as of yet. For those interested, here is the trailer.

Double Palm d’Or winning filmmaker Billie August takes on The Count of Monte Cristo. His Cannes-winning films are:

  • Pelle the Conqueror (1987)
    • Academy Award, Best Foreign Film
    • Star: Max von Sydow
    • Trailer
  • The Best Intentions (1992)

The TV series is an English-language adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel. Jeremy Irons is set to co-star.

The synopsis from Variety reads:

Edmond is a 19-year-old sailor who is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned without trial in the Château d’If, a grim island fortress off Marseille. After many years of captivity, he finally escapes and, under the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo, plans to take revenge on those who have wrongly accused him with the help of Abbé Faria (Irons).

Billie August explained that he was drawn to the material:

“[It’s] all about relationships, the complexities of human beings, and in that sense, it’s very modern and timeless.”

The TV series is currently in production. August previously collaborated with Jeremy Irons in Night Train to Lisbon (2013).


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

France’s apocalyptic thriller Survive claws out a multi-country distribution deal at AFM. The production company behind the movie, WTFilms (Revenge), has managed to secure distribution from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Ukraine, and many others.

Their synopsis reads:

Julia and her loving husband celebrate her son’s birthday on their boat in the middle of the ocean. When a violent storm nearly capsizes them, the family awakes in a desert land. Earth has undergone a tragic polarity reversal, draining water from the oceans. After her husband’s death, Julia must save her children in a world where hungry creatures from the abyss hunt for fresh flesh!

No trailer or release date has been set, but we’ll be on the lookout. This one sounds wild.

Gato Grande, a Mexican and American bi-cultural production company owned by Amazon MGM studios, is adapting a NY Times bestseller novel into a film. The company aims to make impactful projects for the Latin American market. The House in the Pines is their latest.

Amazon’s book synopsis reads:

Armed with only hazy memories, a woman who long ago witnessed her friend’s sudden, mysterious death, and has since spent her life trying to forget, sets out to track down answers. What she uncovers, deep in the woods, is hardly to be believed. . .

No attachments have been made for writer, director, or talent. The paperback version of the book drops on December 5th.

India is now offering a 40% tax incentive for foreign production. India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, said:

“This paradigm shift in incentivizing film production serves as a testament to India’s commitment and support for artistic expression and reinforces our position as a preferred destination for cinematic endeavors.”

The new effort will streamline foreign film productions for projects with medium and large budgets. The incentives allow for up to $3.5M back (up from $300K last year). From the vibrant palace state of Jaipur to the smoldering funeral pyres of Varanasi, India offers a diverse canvas for the world of cinema.


ON THIS DAY

1931. The horror film Frankenstein is released, starring Boris Karloff as the monster, directed by James Whale and based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel.


Happy Tuesday!


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

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