It’s over.

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

The Actor’s strike ends, Mean Girls, Spike Jonze, and a candy cane.

Let’s go!


THE ACTOR’S STRIKE IS OVER

118 days of bitter striking have ended.

On one side, SAG/AFTRA members demanded wage increases, profit participation in streaming revenue, and protection from AI stealing their likeness.

On the other side, the AMFTP, whose initial attitude towards the strike landed like a warning:

“The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

On Friday night, AMFTP leaders, including the top four CEO’s:

  • Disney’s Bob Iger
  • Netflix’s Ted Sarandos
  • Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav
  • NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley

Presented their “last, best, and final.”

SAG/AFTRA leaders maintained that this proposal fell short on AI in three key areas:

  • Ability to veto AI “digital doubles”
  • Compensation and licensing agreements for actors who elect to have AI doubles
  • Indisputable consent contracts that don’t expire after death

After a marathon last few days, AMFPT has agreed to SAG/AFTRA’s demands in order to preserve their summer 2024 release schedule.

Kevin E. West, a SAG/AFTRA committee member, said there were:

“Tears of exhilaration and joy”

He continued:

“The final vote was unanimous. That’s a difficult thing to accomplish. It’s honestly been a really long two weeks.”

The full details of the three-year deal are expected to be released Friday after the national board vote.

As of now, actors can return to work.

This settlement isn’t just a contract; it’s a beacon for the industry as a whole. And so, for a town that crafts narratives of neatly tied loose ends, this ending may have come with its share of scars, but it also brings with it a collective sigh of relief—a Hollywood ending that, while costly, secures the future of its stars, storytellers and studios.

For more:

Read the full tentative agreement from SAG/AFTRA.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Tina Fey has written another Mean Girls—no, not that Walmart commercial from last week. She’s written a full sequel, taking viewers back to Northshore (trailer). Fey even plays one of the teachers. Lindsay Lohan, sadly, won’t be appearing in the film. Walmart seems to think she’s more bankable than Paramount. She doesn’t even go here!

Max and Discovery+ lost 700,000 subscribers this quarter. CEO David Zaslav remarked:

“This is a generational disruption we’re going through. Going through that with a streaming service that’s losing billions of dollars, it’s really difficult to go on offense.”

In addition, their parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, is:

  • 18% down on stock price
  • $417M net loss
  • Revenue up 2%
  • 2.4B cash on hand

The CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels acknowledged that while the uptick in free cash flow was partially from the strikes, the bulk of this financial upturn was due to the company’s aggressive cost-reduction strategies.

Disney will continue to license content to Netflix. But don’t expect the iconic “Ta Dum” to sound before Star Wars. They’re keeping their most valuable IP close to the chest.

Like Warner Brothers, they also have a massive amount of cash on hand: 4.89B. Additionally, they will:

  • Reduce content spending from $27B to $25B
  • Launch a beta test of an integrated Disney+ and Hulu app next month.

Ghostbusters has been through many re-incarnations:

The latest, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (trailer), is a sequel to 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife. In the new film, we return to NYC, where a frigid supernatural force has frozen the city. Although many think this has already happened. Luckily, Bill Murray is there to help save the day. Distributed by Sony. The film will be released on March 29, 2024, in the US & UK.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Searching for Sugarman meets Waking Life. That’s the feel of the latest Jeff Goldblum animated project, They Shot the Piano Player (trailer). Goldblum has a deep love for jazz; he often plays around at various LA spots, former haunts being Rockwell Club and The Bourbon Room in Hollywood. The Oscar-winning director (Fernando Trueba) was smart in targeting Goldblum for the lead role. The synopsis reads:

A New York music journalist (Goldblum) goes on a quest to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of young Brazilian piano virtuoso Tenorio Jr.

Sony Pictures Classics will release the film for a limited awards-qualifying run on November 24, followed by a wider release in February 2024.

Variety’s latest issue showcases the power of giving back. It will be released on November 15th and will feature the following honorees who have gone out of their way to use their platform to promote charity:

  • Carey Mulligan (Drive, Promising Young Woman) supports War Child UK and Children in Conflict, protecting children from conflict-stricken areas.
  • Lily Gladstone (Killer of the Flower Moon), advocating for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, aiding in ending violence against indigenous women.
  • Margot Robbie, will receive the Producer of the Year Award for her commitment to promoting female storytellers and filmmakers.
  • Emily Blunt will be honored with the Power of Women Alumni Award for her work with the American Institute for Stuttering.

We look forward to Variety further spotlighting these charities.

Eddie Murphy is back. Murphy had disappeared before 2019, but he resurfaced with:

His latest film, Candy Cane Lane, is a supernatural Christmas tale that encourages shoppers to read the fine print (trailer). The film releases on Prime Dec 1st.

Although Candy Cane Lane seems more tame than his usual fare, nothing could ever top the NSFW greatest scene of his career.


FESTIVALS AND PROGRAMS

The Blacklist is hosting a free talk today with Spike Jonze (Her) and Celine Song (Past Lives) that explores the process of screenwriting.

The talk starts at 8 pm EST. Register here.

The Sundance Institute offers a yearlong Feature Film Producers Fellowship starting June 2024, limited to 5 emerging producers with one to three producer credits. It includes a Producers Lab in Wyoming, mentorship, and workshops. Applicants must have a screenplay with a director and legal control of the project.

Deadline: January 3rd. Apply here for Narrative. Apply here for Documentary.

The Disney Entertainment Television Writing Program aims to prepare writers for staffing on shows. Running from mid-February 2024 for a year, it includes development curricula, and industry networking, and requires full-time commitment in Los Angeles at the participant’s expense, with a fixed weekly salary.

Deadline: Friday, November 17th. Apply here.

The Warner Bros. Discovery Access Writers Program in 2024 aims to offer underrepresented writers entry into TV writing. Candidates with minimal staffing experience must submit two original scripts of the same genre. The program, mostly virtual, may require relocation for staffing, running from March to mid-2024 with an in-person LA boot camp.

Deadline: November, Thursday 16th. Apply here.

It’s great to see these institutions championing young artists.


TECH SECTION

Virtual production is a portal into the future. Actors no longer have to work against a “green void.” Directors can see their VFX in-camera. The technology transcends green and blue screen, offering a facsimile of on-location shooting.

It’s already in use in a number of films and shows:

A growing number of Virtual Production (VP) studios in the UK and the US have allowed the technology to be offered to a growing number of filmmakers and creatives.

Danielle Legovich, the executive producer for VP at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) London, emphasizes the increasing integration of LED volumes in filmmaking.

“[VP] has developed into a regular part of the toolkit and is becoming a more comfortable place for people to use to create. We’re seeing education coming up in the universities and in government schemes to teach it as part of the curriculum in becoming a filmmaker now. It’s becoming more about what’s the right place to use it?”

We hope the tool won’t eliminate the need for on-location shooting but rather be a portal to enhance the experience of everyone on set when filming on distant planets, dystopian vistas, or parallel universes.

Canada’s VFX house Alchemy 24:

“Enhances the light behind each pixe.l”

e.g., they are the VFX artists behind some of the shots in:

Their reel showcases the scope of their work. Although they have plenty of vivid full-city environmental design and explosions, their subtle VFX clean-up in Tar is the most interesting.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

A24 on your phone. Is that a good thing? Trying to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once at the Laundromat or Swiss Army Man on a deserted island? Well, now it’s possible with the A24 App. Although it appears as if A24’s catalog of films will still need to be rented through the app for an additional fee, for $5/month, access will be granted to 100s of hours of BTS content.

You’ll be sure to have a Good Time.

Post-AFM, coroner’s report: a sparse flow of deals indicates a struggling film sales market amid SAG-AFTRA strike effects. If only the market had been pushed to this month, perhaps more deals would have gone through and bolstered the industry. Instead, the market saw a shift towards films with strong IP and genre appeal.

In yesterday’s edition, we spoke about Brit Marling’s new series, A Murder at the End of the World. Today, we want to mention her creative partnership with Zal Batmanglij (co-writer: The OA, The East).

Developing the idea for their Hulu series during the pandemic. Marling says:

“Zal came into one of our bedrooms, I can’t remember which. But he’s like, ‘God, I was doing some research on the history of the whodunit.’”

Batmanglij says:

“Brit was at the same time talking about how so many murder mysteries start with the annihilation of a young woman. That becomes the catalyst, the fuel for the whole narrative thrust — and the guys come to solve the case, and they put themselves in the shoes of the killer.”

When they’re together, there’s an explosion of ideas. Marling says:

“Very few people are getting to build original worlds from scratch anymore. It’s become so hard. And so the mythology and the world has to pass muster between the two of us first. We spend so much time doing it on spec in our bedrooms, for the love of it, that by the time we bring it to anybody, it’s so robust. When it really works. It’s about coming up with a distillation of complex ideas to the simplest number of variables.”

From the looks of the trailer, their series seems to have accomplished this in spades.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Totem Films, a Paris-based production company, has been quietly dominating the international indie film scene with a pair of outstanding films at Sundance:

  • Slow (trailer). A love story about a heterosexual woman and an asexual man falling in love.
    • Winner Best Director, International
    • One of the most interesting films we saw at the festival this year
  • Animalia (trailer). A supernatural Moroccan film about the end of pregnancy.

Totem has had great success selling these projects to a range of international distributors.

Series Mania is a French film festival that boasted 85K attendees this year. With Brian Cox (Succession) giving a talk about “holding the mirror up to nature,” it looks like it was a great time. They’ve teamed up with the Taiwan Creative Content Agency, which their Ministry of Culture created to support foreign productions filming in the region.

A collaboration between Europe and Taiwan, this new workshop aims to foster international TV series co-productions and reinforce Taiwan as a global creative hub. Open to six teams from Taiwan and East Asia, it includes mentoring from industry experts, spanning four sessions and culminates with presentations at TCCF 2024.

A $300M Tuscan studio. We reported a few weeks ago that the Italian government had severed funding for financing local film; a new studio in Tuscany promises to offer a paradise for filmmakers looking to film period pieces in the rolling hills.

The complex will feature a virtual water tank and a 360 studio. It will also include a 250-acre backlot and a luxury hotel with an integrated movie theater. Andrea Iervolino, producer of Michael Mann’s Ferrari, has invested $53M into the project. He is currently courting a $213M investment from a Bahrain wealth fund that specializes in petroleum trading.


READER SPOTLIGHT

Eric Phillips is a film composer who, after graduating from NYU began working under the mentorship of Mark Orton (The Holdovers, Nebraska). Now leading his own projects, with a collection of unique acoustic instruments (charango, hurdy-gurdy, lap guitars) he has composed for numerous features:

His work can be found here.

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

Happy Thursday. And happy end of strike!


ON THIS DAY

1939 Romantic comedy film Ninotchka, directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Greta Garbo, premieres.


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

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