Leonardo DiCaprio re-envisioned

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

Leonardo DiCaprio invades P. T. Anderson’s universe, Ryan Gosling’s SXSW stunts, Daisy Ridley’s bad luck and Grand Theft Auto Shakespeare.

Let’s go!


LEONARDO DICAPRIO RE-ENVISIONED

Leonardo DiCaprio’s on-screen persona has evolved from boyhood sweetheart to human scum.

In his most recent, Killer’s of the Flower Moon, his charm is leveraged to deceive the audience of his righteousness. That’s what makes the revelation of his inhuman cruelty so hard to watch.

In fact, part of the pleasure of watching a DiCaprio film is often this deception.

Because he’s always played wolves.

From an abusive super-star in Woody Allen’s Celebrity (1998, GIF) to a sleek con man in Catch Me If You Can (2002, still) to just straight evil in Django Unchained (2012, still) to The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) where he played… well a wolf of Wall Street (still).

DiCaprio’s next role will be in P. T. Anderson’s new film, which was announced yesterday. Although there’s been some speculation that he’ll play an ex-hippie in Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland, nothing has been confirmed.

What we do know is that P. T. Anderson envisions all his male leads as legends in their own minds or cosmic jokes.

The former is best articulated in Daniel Day Lewis’ oil man (There Will Be Blood) or Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader (The Master).

Meanwhile, the cosmic joke category is reserved for Adam Sandler’s bumbling salesman (Punch-Drunk Love) and Joaquin Phoenix’s hippie detective (Inherent Vice).

Whatever universe DiCaprio tilts into will be re-imagined by P.T. Anderson, unfettered territory for the veteran actor.

For More:

Leonardo DiCaprio unchained in this maniacally cruel scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (clip).

The classic The Wolf of Wall Street (trailer).

How Paul Thomas Anderson’s style changed. A cleverly crafted video essay.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Guy Ritchie’s next film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, will be released in the spring. Ritchie’s fast-paced, hyper-stylized violence is best realized in:

Here’s the official synopsis for The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare:

Billed as a true story about a secret British World War II organization; the Special Operations Executive. Founded by Winston Churchill, their irregular warfare against the Nazis helped to change the course of the war and gave birth to modern black operations.

The black Ops origins story seems ripe territory for Ritchie.

Henry Cavill, who last collaborated with Ritchie in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), will star in the film.

Ritchie’s adaptations have generally been box-office successes (Aladdin, as well as the combined box-office of the Sherlock films, each grossed over $1 bn worldwide.) But his originals have never broken over $110 M.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare will be released in the US and the UK on April 19.

IASTE – talks of a strike. The 170,000+ member guild, which includes almost every below-the-line crew position from DPs to gaffers to make-up artists to set decorators to script supervisors and editors, is considering a strike on July 31st when their contract expires.

The IATSE President Matthew Loeb explained:

“Folks are fed up. And I don’t know what to call it, if it’s a post-Covid wake of dissatisfaction, but people are ready to fight and the studios would be ill advised to think that they’ve weakened us to the point that we can’t.”

Demands range from streaming residuals to AI protections for editors to unaddressed concerns from the last potential strike in October 2021, where the crew was sick and tired of long hours and unsatisfactory raises due to inflation.

It’s been speculated that the studios cannot withstand another strike and will give into IASTE’s demands.

Prime Video and Amazon Studios laid off several hundred employees. Here’s a snippet from SVP Mike Hopkins’ company memo:

“We’ve identified opportunities to reduce or discontinue investments in certain areas while increasing our investment and focus on content and product initiatives that deliver the most impact.”

It seems the $8.5 billion​ acquisition of MGM is burdening the company and causing operational overlap. Amazon Studios and MGM theatrical distribution teams will be consolidated.

Here are the executive roles that have been cut:

  • EVP, Head of Scripted Programming for MGM+
  • EVP, Current Scripted Programming
  • Head of Production for MGM+
  • Head of Business Affairs, Unscripted

Also impacted are Studio Marketing, Business Operations and Distribution teams, and Amazon’s Local Originals business.

Hopkins’ company memo continued:

“Prime Video is one of the most popular benefits for Prime members.”

That final statement is representative of how Amazon thinks about its film/TV content – it’s just part of the greater flywheel of selling other Amazon products.

In a way, this is both business savvy and dangerous.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Ben Whishaw will play a 1980s photographer in an upcoming film from Ira Sachs. Whishaw first stunned with his savant-like obsession as the killer perfumer in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, trailer).

Since then, he’s had some great roles:

What he brings to each role is a studied intelligence trickling into all manner of characters.

It seems perfect for his upcoming portrayal of Peter Hujar, the photographer whose raw NYC images of friends and lovers are captivating, intimate, and timeless:

“When people talk about me, I want them to be whispering.”

That’s Hujar reflecting on his reputation after he’d passed. It’s a piece of dialogue well worthy of Whishaw.

Peter Capaldi gets to flex his acting chops in Criminal Record after an incredible turn as the ​foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It. He was soon swept away to play the 12th Incarceration of the Doctor. While Capaldi put his heart into a nuanced complex Dr. Who, he showed a bit of his simmering rage. We can’t tell you how refreshing and exciting it will be to see him in a new character-based crime thriller. In the trailer an old case he worked on is dug up by a younger detective (Cush Jumbo) and he uses his wits cunning, and yes there it is, that rage, all tools to stop her snooping by whatever means necessary.


FESTIVALS

SXSW releases its 2024 selections. Here are the major standouts, listed in order of highest profile actors:

The Fall Guy (still)

Official synopsis:

Colt Seavers, a battle-scarred stuntman, is drafted back into service when the star of a mega-budget studio movie—directed by his ex, Jody Moreno—goes missing.

Magpie (still)

  • Starring: Daisy Ridley

Official synopsis:

When Ben and Anette’s daughter is cast in a film alongside glamorous movie star Alicia, Ben is quickly drawn into Alicia’s world. Anette is left at home with the baby, pushed to her emotional limits and psychologically on the brink.

I Don’t Understand You (still)

Official synopsis:

Following a devastating adoption scam, a couple go on an Italian vacation in an attempt to reconnect. After getting their rental car stuck in a countryside ditch, things begin to go awry. Between the torrential weather and language barrier, Dom, Cole and the Italians around them descend into a comical fiasco.

One more with a great plot:

We’re All Gonna Die (still)

Official synopsis:

A struggling beekeeper is forced to team up with an emotionally raw EMT on a roadtrip to retrieve her bees (and his car) after their stuff is suddenly teleported across the country by a massive alien tentacle that looms over Earth.

And last one that’s been getting a lot of buzz:

Babes (still)

Official synopsis:

After becoming pregnant from a one-nightstand, Eden leans on her married best friend and mother of two, Dawn, to guide her through gestation and beyond.

Last year’s SXSW premiered Best Picture Winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. Maybe one of these films will make it all the way to the top.

Check out the full SXSW line-up here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

T. Rafael Cimino and his writing partner Cuba Gooding Jr (Jerry Maguire) are looking for co-producing/co-financing for their latest project for their production company, Akula.

Cimino has recently worked on a range of high-caliber projects:

Here’s the official logline for his latest project, which is described as Crash meets End of Watch:

A social drama thriller that deals with multifaceted and timely issues of police shootings, the experiences of black youth, and female voices in the police field. This story, set in Philadelphia’s Hunting Park neighborhood, explores the overwhelming impact of police shootings against unarmed black youth, leading to protests and a citywide crisis.

The characters are raw, relatable, and multi-dimensional.

If you’re interested in co-producing or financing, please email The Industry directly, and we will facilitate an introduction:

hello@theindustry.co

Seth Rogen’s Point Grey signs first-look deal with Universal. Rogen and his team released a dead-serious official statement:

“Becoming newly anointed knights in the kingdom of Dame Donna Langley is an honor and privilege we do not take lightly. We pledge to win grand box office battles alongside Peter Cramer, Erik Baiers and the rest of our partners at Universal, and shall duly make the Universal coffers overfloweth.”

While Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg could no longer be considered indie filmmakers, their third partner, James Weaver, has risen the ranks:

Weaver was eventually promoted to President of Point Grey. In this story, he discusses how his success was a combination of putting himself in the optimal place at the right time and working his ass off.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

British Serial Killer series from the BBC. The BBC is developing a drama series about Bible John, an infamous unidentified serial killer. Bible John, active in 1968-69 in Glasgow, Scotland, murdered three women, and despite several suspects, DNA disproved their involvement. The case gained media attention as its 50th anniversary neared, with a BBC podcast and documentary prompting a case review (trailer).

The BBC has not commented on the project.

A UK Film in SXSX, Grand Theft Hamlet, has a lovably-weird synopsis:

Shot entirely inside the video game Grand Theft Auto, this documentary charts the hilarious and profoundly moving story of two out-of-work actors as they try to stage a full production of Hamlet within this notoriously violent digital world.

It’s a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead kind of vibe.

Here’s a very strange still.


ON THIS DAY

1927. Louis B. Mayer, head of the film studio MGM, announces the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


See you Friday.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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