Matthew McConaughey and a flaming bus

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

Matthew McConaughey’s ultimate calling, Zoë Kravitz lines up the shots, Sundance Winners and a fresh wave.

Let’s go!


MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY AND A FLAMING BUS

Matthew McConaughey is the ultimate disaster film hero.

In Interstellar (2014), Earth is subjected to an extinction-level famine that forces McConaughey to blast off and discover a habitable planet.

McConaughey took his career to literal new heights by blending his art-house pathos indicative of roles like Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and his larger-than-life screen presence characteristic of his early mega-budget work like Sahara (2005).

McConaughey explained the impetus for this synthesis at Sundance in 2013:

“I feel like I’ve done a version of rom-com and action roles before. Or I feel like I can do that tomorrow morning. And I think I’ve done enough of that for now, and I want something that I don’t think I can do tomorrow morning. I want something that scares me.”

It was just announced that McConaughey is attached to a Paul Greengrass (dir: Captain Phillips) disaster film, The Lost Bus.

Here’s the synopsis for the book, on which the script is based, that chronicled California’s deadliest fire:

On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a second. Less than two hours after the fire ignited, the town was engulfed in flames, the residents trapped in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead.

McConaughey would play Kevin McKay, a bus driver who commands a school bus full of children who must navigate through the fire to safety.

McConaughey’s adeptness at adding dimension to any role and Greengrass’s ability to add soul to disaster films could solidify McConaughey’s return to the mega-budget universe.

For More:

The cosmically profound Interstellar trailer (featuring a very young Timothée Chalamet).

Witness McConaughey’s skeleton thin cowboy with a big heart in the Dallas Buyers Club (trailer).

“The Ship of Death.” The campy but classic Sahara (2005) trailer.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Amazon MGM will distribute a film written by Sylvester Stallone. Stallone has adapted Chuck Dixon’s crime thriller, Levon’s Trade, as a vehicle for Jason Statham to star in. The book centers around Levon Cade, a former counter-terrorism expert turned construction worker who is forced to revisit his dark past when a girl goes missing. Stallone last penned a film for Statham back in 2013. David Ayer (Suicide Squad) will direct. Amazon MGM will distribute in the US theatrically and internationally on digital through Prime.

Production is scheduled to begin in London this spring.

Bitcoin Bonnie and Clyde at MGM. The NY Times viral story about a married couple that laundered $3 billion in Bitcoin is being adapted into a feature film by director Hannah Marks (dir: Don’t Make Me Go) for Amazon MGM Studios. Marks creates beautifully tapestried characters, exemplified by her 2021 film Mark, Mary & Some Other People, which won Best Screenplay at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

Razzlekhan is currently in development.

Sundance sales. At the close of the 2024 edition of Sundance, there was a small wave of sales:

Official synopsis:

Elliott Labrant, who has been advised by her future self (Aubrey Plaza) not to fall in love, is sure she can do so after being given the advice. That is, until she meets the boy her older self warned her about.

Official synopsis:

Christopher Reeve’s rise to becoming a film star, follows with a near-fatal horse-riding accident in 1995 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. After which he became an activist for spinal cord injury treatments and disability rights.

Official synopsis:

To save their career and relationship, a daredevil couple journey across the globe to climb the world’s last super skyscraper and perform a bold acrobatic stunt on the spire.

Last year’s combined theatrical earnings from Sundance films brought in $100 M. This year’s biggest earners could be Kneecap (Searchlight), Presence (NEON), or A Real Pain (Searchlight).


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Dev Patel directs, writes, and stars in the adrenaline-soaked Monkey Man. The trailer is best described as “John Wick in Mumbai.”

Here’s the official synopsis:

An anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. After years of suppressed rage, Kid unleashes a campaign of vengeance against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother and continue to systemically victimize the poor and powerless.

This is Patel’s first film as a director and despite a recent role as a warrior in The Green Knight (2021, trailer), he’s been largely typecast as an intellectually curious, meek guy:

With Monkey Man, Dev Patel has written himself out of stagnant parts.

Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw is producing.

The film, previously with Netflix, is being released by Universal on April 5th.

Zoë Kravitz makes her directorial debut. Kravitz’s biggest role to date was as Cat Woman in the most recent Batman (Robert Pattinson sunrise scene). Her latest film is Blink Twice.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Frida is a young waitress in Los Angeles who has her eye on tech entrepreneur Slater King (Channing Tatum). When she gets to go to an intimate meeting on his private island. Frida senses there’s more to it than meets the eye.

To convince MGM to let her direct the film, Kravitz put together a sizzle reel built from stock and original footage that was twisted, sexy, and macabre.

Donald Glover read an early draft of the script:

“I thought that the script was dangerous, which I liked, It feels really dangerous for a woman to make this story about power.”

Kravitz spoke about the thrilling and trying directorial process in this WSJ interview.

Amazon MGM Studios is distributing the film. In theaters August 23.

​Tilda Swinton has collaborated with David Fincher, Wes Anderson, the Coen brothers, George Miller, Bong Joon-ho, and Pedro Almodóvar.

And those aren’t even her best roles. Watch her break under the burden of mothering an evil child in We Need to Talk About Kevin (trailer), ethereally traverse the centuries in Orlando (trailer) or tender the value of a human life in Michael Clayton (scene).

Swinton has just signed with CAA.


FESTIVALS / INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

SUNDANCE WINNERS:

Grand Jury Prize (U.S. Dramatic)

Synopsis:

On a journey that spans the formative years of their lives, two sisters navigate their loving but volatile father during their yearly summer visits to his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Q&A revelation by the lead actor, Residente, who did a masterful job despite never acting:

“All of you guys make me feel so comfortable doing this. And Alessandra [Director], she took the time with everyone. And that’s very important these days because today, now time is money. And she was like, no, time is hard. Taking the time to make good art is very important. And she did it. So thank you.”

Care-free first-look image.

Audience Award (U.S. Dramatic)

Synopsis:

A 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy discovers skating, flirting, and the true essence of maternal love beyond his family’s teachings.

Exuberant first-look image.

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize

Synopsis:

When a cartel gunman is killed, he leaves behind Sujo, his 4-year-old son. The shadow of violence surrounds Sujo during each stage of his life. As he grows into a man, Sujo finds that fulfilling his father’s destiny may be inescapable.

A Sundance moderator described the film as:

“A complex lyrical portrait of coming to age in contemporary Mexico, depicting life in the shadows of cartel violence in a way we’ve never seen before.”

Rondero elaborated on this theme:

“Is it possible for young people to break cycles of violence, and what would it take for that to happen?”

Haunting and lonely first-look image.

Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic

Synopsis:

Follows the journey of 16-year-old Mira, whose sexy, rebellious coming of age is disrupted by her young mother who never got to come of age herself.

A complete list of the winners, including our personal favorite, Kneecap, which clinched the NEXT Audience Award, can be found here.

SLAMDANCE WINNER:

Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize:

Synopsis:

After being fired, Marcella, a gentle-hearted mother going through separation, buys a tow truck; she gets trapped deeper and deeper in a cynical and aggressive world until a terrible opportunity shines in front of her.

A full list of the Slamdance winners can be found here.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Richard Linklater’s New Wave. Linklater is making his first film entirely in French, shot in Paris.

Here’s the synopsis:

Retraces the genesis and filming of Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard.

Godard was a luminary of the film industry and a vanguard of the innovative French New Wave movement. His debut feature was Breathless (trailer).

Critic Richard Brody wrote:

“It was also a great success, a watershed phenomenon. More than any other event of its times, Breathless inspired other directors to make films in a new way and sparked young people’s desire to make films. It instantly launched cinema as the primary art form of a new generation.”

Linklater’s work has always been the spiritual cousin of New Wave cinema, with his penchant for deconstructing conventional narrative structures and reorganizing them in novel but always thought-provoking ways (Slacker, Waking Life).

Maria Kyriacou, President of Broadcast & Studios at Paramount Global, is leaving after four years amid the company’s shift in international content strategy. Paramount’s decision to focus more on Hollywood franchises and less on international originals comes amidst the studio’s declining revenue, decreasing subscriber bases, and weak ad sales. Paramount, led by CEO Bob Bakish, is preparing for significant layoffs to maximize content and streamline operations.

No word yet on a concrete buyer for Paramount.


ON THIS DAY

1964. Dr. Strangelove, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, premieres.


See you tomorrow.


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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