Johnny Depp plays Satan

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

Adam McKay’s serial environmentalism, Robert Downey Jr.’s starkness, Werner Herzog’s attempted murder, and the International Space Station.

Let’s go!


JOHNNY DEPP PLAYS SATAN

Terry Gilliam loves the end of days.

In his film 12 Monkeys (1995), a deadly virus is pre-destined to blot out humanity. In Brazil (1985), the world is already a bureaucratic techno-dystopia. And in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), the drugs hit like a mental hellscape.

Beyond that, Gilliam’s own experience as a filmmaker has been hellish. His 25-year development of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) saw seven failed attempts, including NATO target practice over the key location, flash flooding destroying gear, a key actor suffering a herniated disc which shut down production leading to the film’s backers pulling funding and the insurance company grabbing the script as collateral.

In 2017, Gilliam finally finished the first cut of his film only to be sued by the second actor who played Don Quixote (the first one died). And when Amazon didn’t release it as planned, Hulu created a shorter cut, just for the film to end up with a lackluster critical and commercial response.

The journey is detailed in two documentaries (Lost in La Mancha and He Dreams of Giantswild development hell trailer) that played back to back this week at the Red Sea Film Festival.

Gilliam just announced his new project, Carnival at the End of Days.

He described the film:

“God wipes out humanity, and the only character who wants to save them is Satan, and Johnny Depp plays Satan.”

He continued:

“This is a simple tale of God wiping out humanity for fucking up his beautiful garden Earth. There’s only one character who’s trying to save humanity, and that’s Satan, because without humanity, he’s lost his job, and he’s an eternal character, and so to live without a job is terrible… It’s a comedy.”

It’s unclear if Gilliam is channeling his own experiences on this one.

Either way, the hope is that now that the Don Quixote odyssey has been flushed out of his system, Gilliam, who hired a 33-year-old screenwriter to vitalize Carnival at the End of Days, will summon himself out of his quarter-decade career slump and ascend to the greatness of his previous cinema.

For More:

One of the best scenes Terry Gilliam has directed. Brad Pitt gives Bruce Willis the deluxe tour in 12 Monkeys.

Best actors to play Satan:

“The resident madman of the movies,” Terry Gilliam interview in 1996 where he discusses what intrigues him about the intersection of perception and reality. Ever the futurist, Gilliam says the hardest thing in modern society is to know what to listen to and what counts.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Netflix drops Adam McKay’s $150M serial killer politician film. McKay’s synopsis for the former project Average Height, Average Build reads:

A serial murderer (Robert Pattinson) hires a lobbyist (Amy Adams) to change the law so that he can commit murder more readily. The murderer attempts to stop a retired police officer (Robert Downey Jr.) from following his trail because he won’t give up on the killings.

McKay has shelved the mega-budget film and is reportedly pursuing an environmental feature film. No details have been released, but McKay has used his movies to advocate in the past (e.g., Don’t Look Up 2021) and, most recently, his anti-Chevron Chevron commercial.

Peacock flies to 30M subs. Here are some more feathers in their cap:

  • Revenue $10/user/month
  • Increased initiative to focus on domestic growth
  • Losses were $200M less than predicted

Still, Peacock is down $2.8B for the year.

Toni Fitzgerald of Forbes broke it down by quarter:

“Like other streamers, though, it is losing money, and a lot of it, even though the losses are easing. During third quarter, Peacock lost $565 million, compared to $614 million this time last year. Streamers must pour money into content, in an increasingly competitive environment with so many services available.”

The good news is that Comcast, their parent company, can easily cover the losses. In fact, an $8.6B check just cleared from their sale of Hulu to Disney.

CAA launches CAA Latino. The agency already reps top Latino talent: Salma Hayek, Pedro Pascal, Andy Garcia, Penelope Cruz, Jenna Ortega, etc. The new effort is being spearheaded by Rudy Lopez Negrete (Latin Music and Brand Partnership agent) and Toby Borg (Head of Global Client Strategy), along with 30+ CAA members.

Negrete and Borg explained:

“CAA Latino supercharges the company’s integrated and collaborative model of service, building upon years of success championing the underrepresented Latino and Hispanic communities.”

Over the years CAA has continued to invest in similar initiatives like Amplify CAA, an annual conference that discusses diversity, intersectionality, and social justice in entertainment. Their CAA Scholars program also showcases their steadfast commitment.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

How did Robert Downey Jr. strip away the layers of himself and become the stark Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer? It was a meticulous process that brought Downey Jr. back to his youth doing one-act plays at the Geva Theater in Rochester, where he made his theater debut at seventeen.

The amount of dialogue in Oppenheimer also reminded him of prepping for Tony Stark in Iron Man:

“The Iron Man screen test when there were these three scenes that I could have been off book in two days, but I just went crazy on them for two and a half months.”

Joking with Mark Ruffalo, his friend since their collaboration on David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007), Downey Jr. teased about the dialogue in Marvel films:

“Well, I mean, in the Marvel days, everything might change or we’re talking to a tennis ball. You and I, the science bros, we would’ve these long passages about absolute gobbledygook…”

But what Downey Jr. found in Strauss was absolute clarity. Away from his bombastic roles to uncover a new dimension of his self.

Watch this surprisingly sharp fan edit that showcases his reserved yet powerful work in Oppenheimer.

Bella Ramsey, the Gen Z star in The Last of Us and Game of Thrones, wants to make a career pivot. After playing the tough yet sweet-hearted role of Ellie, the actress stated:

“I’ve not really played a villain yet. So I want to play a baddy.”

She wants to play someone twisted like The Joker or Hannibal Lecter, full of “intricate” and “complex” dynamics.

As one of the first Gen Z stars to take on multiple prestige TV dramas, she also had the unfortunate privilege of being subject to harsh online abuse. She would scroll for hours, looking at all the negative comments while ignoring the positive ones, which she felt couldn’t possibly be true.

We’re very lucky this didn’t smother her confidence.

Let’s hope that future social media guardrails safeguard those Gen Z’ers who didn’t have the opportunity to draw strength from starring in an HBO series.

Benny Safdie has had quite the year in front of the camera. His methodical and quietly confident Hungarian-American theoretical physicist Edward Teller in Oppenheimer is a far cry from his sleazy wimp-ball TV producer on The Curse. It speaks to his massive range, not to say the least, that he created The Curse. In a video interview with his co-creator, Nathan Fielder, he discussed their shared obsession with reality TV. There’s a fanatical quality to the level of reality TV research they’ve done. It’s a methodical approach that Safdie brings whether he’s behind or in front of the camera.


FESTIVALS / TECH

Audrey Schomer, Variety’s media analyst, is leading a panel with AI and VFX experts to discuss generative AI’s transformative potential in film and TV. Focusing on VFX and content localization impacts, the session, inspired by Variety’s Generative AI in Film & TV report, will explore how AI will impact the current media landscape.

Watch the talk today at 4-5 pm EST. LinkedIn Live. Register here.

Getty Images to AI video workflow. Runway Academy has created a single software that allows you to:

  1. Use generative text to create images
  2. Use AI to turn those images into video
  3. Change the style/mood of the video
  4. Add camera movements

Watch the video demonstration.

The Getty Images Chief Product officer spoke about the collaboration:

“We’re excited to work with Runway to help enterprises further creativity and exploration with AI in responsible ways. When you combine human talent and skill with powerful technology, the possibilities are tremendous, and that potential is particularly exciting when it comes to creating with video.”

While it’s certainly more “creative” than other AI tools, the danger is it falls into the hands of young creators who may never pick up a camera themselves because AI can generate any images their mind can conjure.

But if they haven’t developed their own aesthetics, then how will they know what to type?

It brings to memory the now prescient parody The Edit Button.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Werner Herzog is the ultimate indie filmmaker. He tried to murder his lead actor, Klaus Kinski during the Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) film shoot. During production on Fitzcarraldo (1982), he tried to haul a steamship up a mountain and faced…technical difficulties. He’s eaten his own shoe and worked with Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson. A new documentary, Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer, examines his unending source of creativity. Interviews with directors Wim Wenders and Chloe Zhao populate the trailer. What comes next for Werner only Werner knows. The documentary is out on VOD today.

Ari Aster is the young master of horror cinema. During the Sundance premiere of his debut feature, Hereditary (2018), there were audible screams throughout the theater. His cinema seems to have a psychic grip on amygdala-generated terror.

Emma Stone has just been cast in his latest film, Eddington.

Here’s the synopsis:

Eddington is about a couple (Lindsay and Marc) driving through New Mexico on their way to Los Angeles, who run out of gas just outside of the small town of Eddington, New Mexico. Lindsay and Marc decide to enter the town for help. They are, at first, greeted very warmly, but as nightfall comes, the picturesque setting soon turns into a nightmare.

No word yet on when production will begin or what sort of nightmare Aster has in store for us next.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite has been poised to break into big-budget films ever since 2019 when she directed Our Friend, which was produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions and world premiered at TIFF.

Sadly, the film, despite featuring well-directed and evocative performances by Casey Affleck and Jason Siegel, took years to get picked up. Her most recent film, I.S.S., is set in space.

Bleecker Street’s describes the story :

When a world war event occurs on Earth, America, and Russia, both nations secretly contact their astronauts aboard the ISS and give them instructions to take control of the station by any means necessary.

While the concept is magnificent, the trailer doesn’t appear to expand beyond the pitch.

If a cataclysmic event wipes out the world, then what does the fate of two teams on a space station seem matter?

Our hope is that the trailer tried to play up the big-budget elements of the film, but that there’s a psychological center to the piece. Cowperthwaite is definitely better than what the trailer showcases.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Parasite producers head to Indonesia. The literally bombastic 13 Bombs is an action thriller, part Speed, part Die Hard with a Vengeance. It’s an Indonesian film set in Jakarta co-produced with Barunson E&A’s, the studio behind Parasite.

Their synopsis reads:

An organization races against time to uncover the mastermind behind the placement of 13 bombs in Jakarta before the city falls into chaos.

The trailer showcases some awesome gritty action sequences and stellar special effects (English subtitles can be auto-generated via YouTube). The film marks a significant step in Asian co-productions.

Barunson E&A CEO, Gene Hong Brian Park, explained:

“This investment in 13 Bombs… reflects our commitment to fostering creative partnerships across Asia. We believe that this project will not only be a milestone for Indonesian cinema but also a catalyst for more dynamic collaborations in the Asian film industry.”

It’s great to see these countries partnering together to increase the budget for these action films to allow them to play on the world stage.

WME Independant has the international rights for the film. No word yet on the US/UK premiere date.

Madagascar cinema. Disco Afrika: A Malagasy Story is the first film from Madagascar in over 30 years to garner international acclaim. It premiered at The Marrakech Film Festival and captured the cyclical nature of corruption in the Moroccan government.

Director Luck Razanajaona’ ignited the project during the Atlas Workshops and discussed what drew him to continue the decade-long development process of the film:

“Madagascar is not a superstitious country, but it is accustomed to living with the dead. We have many traditions, and a lot of legends about the dead coming back to life. In fact I’ve always had this fantasy in my head, so I wanted to thread those people into the edge of the film. It was important for the character to have some contact with the beyond, with all those who have already left.”

It’s great to see a unique perspective on an often-shielded political system breakthrough. Great perseverance.


ON THIS DAY

1974. The final episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus airs on BBC TV.


Happy Tuesday.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

 

 

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