Michael J. Fox’s tsunami of misfortune

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

Michael J. Fox, Zac Efron, Wahlberg’s daddy problem and a rainbow.

Let’s go!


MICHAEL J. FOX’S TSUNAMI OF MISFORTUNE

Michael J. Fox’s indomitable spirit has faced a relentless onslaught:

Michael J. Fox’s indomitable spirit has faced a relentless onslaught: a spinal tumor surgery in 2018, a shattering fall that broke his arm in multiple places, and a near brush with losing a limb.

During this tsunami of misfortune, he remained grounded. But that wasn’t always the case.

At twenty-nine, after completing the final Back to the Future film, Fox received a stark prognosis: within a decade, he would be completely debilitated from Parkinson’s. Fox confessed:

“I was in an acid bath of fear and professional insecurity.”

Fox believed his diagnosis was a penalty for his fame.

He refrained from telling his family, his agents, or any of the film producers he was working with at the time about his disease, fearing his image as a kinetic celebrity would be incinerated.

During the next decade, a series of box-office flops followed:

Coupled with an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s, he fell into alcoholism.

“I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what was coming. So what if I could just have four glasses of wine and maybe a shot?”

Eight years later, in 1998, before The National Enquirer could break the story of his diagnosis, he decided to take control of his life.

Reflecting on his watershed interview with Barbara Walters, he said:

“I felt like I stood there naked in the town square and said, ‘Look at me. This is what it is.’ What I didn’t realize was how many other people had been dying to do that.”

From that point forward, he became a voice for those struck by the stigma of Parkinson’s disease.

The documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie captures this profound metamorphosis. Trailer here.

“I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking.”

Fox went on to say that Parkinson’s has affected his life in many positive ways: to date, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a testament to his altruistic legacy, has outpaced even the U.S. government in funding $2 billion worth of Parkinson’s research.

Fox had a single request for the Oscar-winning director of his documentary Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth):

“No violins.”

For more:

Still picks up seven Emmy Nominations.

Great Scott! Let’s look at that Back to the Future trailer for old time’s sake.

Michael J Fox thinks Back to the Future is his most over-appreciated film.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

The Bear is getting a third season! Jeremy Allen White has given us nothing but manic intensity as the star chef of the fledgling Chicago restaurant. The season will air sometime in 2024. Here’s hoping for more celeb cameos and claustrophobic fridge sequences.

The Actors strike is far from over. SAG-AFTRA rejected the studio’s final offer:

“There are several essential items on which we still do not have an agreement, including AI. We will keep you informed as events unfold.”

Read SAG/AFTRA’s full update.

The Industry’s October 27th cover story featured David Yates’ (dir: Harry Potter) shift from the wizarding world to the harsh realities of the opioid epidemic in his latest film, Pain Hustlers.

The movie is based on investigative journalist Evan Hughes; NY Times Magazine article that delves into INSYS THERAPEUTIC’s malpractice of bribing doctors to promote Subsys (a fentanyl-based drug).

Yates’ return to addressing social issues signifies a broader trend in contemporary cinema, where filmmakers are tackling pressing societal concerns to both entertain and educate their audiences. Pain Hustlers is currently streaming on Netflix. Trailer here.

Dish Network lost big in Q3:

  • 64,000 subscribers lost
  • $139M loss in revenue
  • 20% drop in stock value

The recent surge of streaming platforms has accelerated Dish’s losses. On the positive side of their balance sheet, they’ve gained 117,000 subscribers for Sling TV, their streaming service.

Despite Paramount+’s strong Q3:

  • 46% growth in viewing hours
  • $1.3 billion subscription revenue (up 46%)
  • 2.7M increase in subs

The stock fell 3.9% (to $13.22) on Monday, down 20% for the year. A top Bank of America analyst reported the lack of significant asset sales on the horizon despite credible bids for Paramount subsidiaries Showtime and BET.

Disney appoints Hugh Johnston, a 34-year PepsiCo veteran, as its new chief financial officer. The move comes after Disney’s stock went down by 27% in the last year, hitting a nine-year low. The company has also struggled to meet its ambitious subscriber targets for Disney+. CEO Bob Iger expresses confidence in Johnston, highlighting his leadership experience and expertise in global brands.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Zac Efron is in an A24 film—the Iron Claw (trailer here). The film, directed by Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), is summed up as follows:

The true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers (Efron, Jeremy Allen White), who made history in the intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s. Through tragedy and triumph, under the shadow of their domineering father and coach (Holt McCallany: Fight Club, Mindhunter), the brothers seek larger-than-life immortality on the biggest stage in sports.

Efron has been meticulously shedding his Disneyfied image since taking a 99% pay cut to play Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019). Discussing that role, he stated:

“I had a lot of reservations about playing a killer and in this genre of film. I wasn’t interested in glorifying anything, but I was interested in the psychological aspect of whether he was capable of real love.”

In Iron Claw, Zac Efron taps into the livewire of his character’s defining misbelief that a beautiful body is a shield against tragedy.

Kevin Hart tries his hand at “Mission Impossible.” His role in his latest film Lift is 50% Ethan Hunt and 50% Kevin Hart. He plays a master thief who assembles a team to rob $100 million in gold from a plane mid-air. We’d love to see Kevin Hart do a pure action film at some point in his career.

The movie is set to debut on Netflix on January 12, 2024. Trailer here.

VH1 & ET Present Matthew Perry: Life and Legacy. This tribute special airs on November 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on VH1, with an encore presentation on November 11 at 10 a.m. ET/PT. The special will feature archival footage and never-before-seen interviews of Perry reflecting on his career.


FESTIVALS

The 31st edition of Poland’s Camerimage Cinematography Festival overcame significant challenges in 2023, including regional crises, inflation, and the repercussions of the Hollywood actor’s strike. Despite these obstacles, the festival showcased exceptional cinematography, with a particular emphasis on Polish films:

The fest kicks off November 11th in Torun.

36 Saudi films meet global talent at The Red Sea International Film Festival.

Organizers said:

“Collectively, these strands will showcase the rich and varied work by established and new filmmakers from the region, including documentaries and titles produced by the Red Sea Film Foundation.”

With entries like Johnny Depp’s Jeanne du Barry (trailer) and Oscar-hopeful Four Daughters, the fest is well-positioned to bridge cultures. It takes place from Nov 30 to Dec 9 in Jeddah, celebrating diverse cinematic stories under the banner “Your Story, Your Festival.”

The Last Taxi Driver, directed by Stergios Paschos, is nothing like Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

The film is set to premiere at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Nov 2-12) and shares more DNA with the atmospheric Locke (2013), in which Hardy’s method performance is riveting.

In The Last Taxi Driver, Thomas works as a taxi driver by necessity and lives with his wife Maria and his teenage son Tasos. Although he studied to be a literature professor, he hasn’t managed to live up to his life expectations. A client’s suicide surfaces his repressed feelings and plunges him into an erotic obsession.

Trailer here.

The director, Stergios Paschos explained:

“The Last Taxi Driver was inspired by his reflections on life, aging and the many roads not taken as we grow older. I always had a fear that if I wasn’t able to fulfill some dreams that I had, that maybe I would end up around 50, with a lot of suppressed feelings inside me.”

INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Director Benoît Delhomme has lensed an intimidating range of projects over the years:

Now he takes the directing helm with Mothers’ Instinct, starring Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.

He previously collaborated with Hathaway in One Day and Chastain in Salomé.

His upcoming psychological thriller is set in the 1960s:

Alice (Chastain) and Celine (Hathaway) live a traditional lifestyle with successful husbands and sons of the same age. Life’s perfect harmony is suddenly shattered after a tragic accident. Guilt, suspicion and paranoia combine to unravel their sisterly bond.

Neon acquired the North American distribution rights, but the official release date is yet to be announced. But from what we’ve seen, it’s deliciously tense.

Dream Scenario director Kristoffer Borgli escaped his homeland of Norway through dreaming.

Borgli reminisced:

“I remember my surroundings in this little town in Norway looked nothing like the movies that I enjoyed. I was frustrated because I felt like there were no stories to tell there. Then I started thinking about how there was a place I could go though: inside my head. I thought of dreams as the most exciting location, and ever since I’ve been wanting to find a movie where I have an excuse to go into people’s heads.”

Borgli’s own dream began when he landed Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Search Party) for his short film Eer (2020).

He followed that up with his feature debut, Sick of Myself, which played at Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

He was adamant that in making his first feature in America, his art didn’t get tainted by commerce:

“I really believe that we need original ideas and authorship with integrity. Ultimately, we need love-based and inspired decisions. We need to be willing to invest in unique, even esoteric art that risks not making its money back.”

In Dream Scenario, Borgli seems to have actualized his wildest dreams, literally.

Tony Goldwyn, the actor turned director, has had roles in:

He is making his directorial debut with Ezra.

Drawing upon years steeped in the art of character acting, he possesses a keen eye for dynamic chemistry. The casting of Bobby Cannavale alongside Robert De Niro is a brilliant stroke, uniting two powerhouses whose energies resonate with electrifying synergy.

The film follows Max Bernal (Cannavale), who blows up his successful career and marriage to become a somewhat less successful stand-up comic.

Bleecker Street has acquired the US rights, and it will be released in 2024.

No trailer yet, but here’s Goldywn at TIFF, discussing the arduous amount of re-writes he went through to get the film in shape before taking it out to A-list actors.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Production company and International Sales Agent Memento Films has championed a set of boundary-pushing projects:

Their latest is a xenophobia-shattering Polish film, Woman Of… that depicts Aniela’s 45-year journey as a transgender woman in Poland. The directors said:

“This is the first Polish film to feature so many trans and non-binary people cast in trans and cis roles alike, we are so grateful for their participation.”

The trailer is sweeping and visceral.

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The release is set for March 2024.

Luc Besson EP’s a doc that causes audiences to contend with the possibility of nuclear war.

Rainbow Warrior delves into the notorious 1985 attack on the titular vessel, a pivotal event at the intersection of espionage and environmentalism. The documentary spotlights this narrative amidst modern nuclear anxieties. Director Edward McGurn captures this zeitgeist:

“This story is more relevant than ever with the seemingly constant threat of nuclear war and the environmental crusade that many young people will consider their life’s mission.”

The film will premiere at Doc NYC on November 9th.

A Sudanese film has just eclipsed Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon at the Egyptian box office. Goodbye Julia, a poignant Khartoum-set drama, marked a cinematic milestone as the first Sudanese feature showcased at Cannes. With a debut that garnered $56,637 ($15K more than Flower Moon), it resonates deeply as it traces the schism in Sudan’s history. The trailer packs a punch at the end.


ON THIS DAY

1976. Gone With The Wind, 1939 Oscar-winning film epic starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, makes broadcast television debut on NBC; aired in two parts over consecutive nights; earns a then record 65% share of TV viewers


Happy Tuesday!


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

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