Paris, Texas: Don’t Change the Ending

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

Wenders’ courageous studio battle. Steven Soderbergh Scissorhands. Jon Hamm takes us to the movies. And not so yummy S’mores.

Let’s go!

Paris, Texas: Don’t Change The Ending

Win Wenders Paris Texas

Close to 40 years after Wim Wenders won the Cannes Palme d’Or for Paris, Texas, the film’s enigmatic ending serves as a masterclass in the sanctity of artistic integrity.

If you have not watched Paris, Texas, stop reading the newsletter, call out from work, and binge.

We believe it’s one of the greatest films ever committed to celluloid.

We rarely do this, but SPOILERS FOLLOW:

Auteur directors are no strangers to studio battles. During a recent Lumière Film Festival masterclass, Wenders reiterated his conviction for the final scene:

“I was very, very convinced that the ending of Paris, Texas was right. For me, it was a heroic act by Travis to leave the mother and son together. He knew he had done so much harm that they were never going to make it as a family, while the son and the mother had a good chance of making a life together if he left.”

When 20th Century Fox bought the film at Cannes, they gave him one note:

“We’d like to add one shot at the end where we see Travis crying in his car… We’d like to add a shot in which we see the car do a U-turn… we’re sure the film will be a lot more successful.”

Wenders stood firm against 20th Century Fox’s demand, declaring he’d rather the film be shelved than altered. After a protracted battle, the studio relented, allowing Paris, Texas, to be presented in its original form.

We believe Wenders’ resolute determination and unwavering belief in his artistic vision carved his path into the cinematic pantheon.

Many renowned directors underwent similar struggles.

David Fincher was forced to revise the ending of his first feature, Alien 3, to avoid similarities to Terminator 2.

P.T. Anderson was locked out of the editing room for his first movie, Hard Eight.

These director’s resilience, not just their talent, is a beacon for filmmakers.

For More:

By way of a cautionary tale, when Tony Kaye lost final cut of American History X to Edward Norton, he decided to go to war. He brought a rabbi and a priest into one meeting to play mediator. He took out a 100K front page ad in the NY Times demanding his name be changed to “Humpty Dumpty.” Ever since he’s been effectively expelled from Hollywood. It’s a shame; we wish more of his unaltered projects had made it to the big screen.

A bit of history. Auteur directors shined in the 1960s because they stood up to studio bosses. From Peter Biskind’s fantastic book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls:

“Studios, which seemed impregnable from afar, had been rotting since the late ’40s, when the judgments against them had made the industry more vulnerable to the onslaught of television. The old men who ran the studios were increasingly out of touch with the vast baby boom audience that was coming of age in the ’60s, an audience that was rapidly becoming radicalized and disaffected from its elders. The studios were still churning out formulaic genre pictures.”

The Industry News

TylerPerry

Tyler Perry signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix. His upcoming original with the steamer is Six Triple Eight, a film about the Women’s Army Corps during World War II starring Kerry Washington (Django Unchained). We’re guessing that Perry, another filmmaker reluctant to relinquish control, must feel bolstered by Netflix’s growing Black audience.

Maha Dakhil stepped down from her role at CAA due to her social media post​ about the Israel-Hamas conflict. She served as the co-head of the motion picture departmentHowever, Dakhil will continue representing her CAA clients like Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Natalie Portman. No word yet on how that arrangement will move forward.

Fallout on PrimeGrab your pip boy and radiation pills. We’re all about to unlock the vault and explore the wastelands of Fallout.

Based on Bethesda Game’s post-nuclear apocalyptic RPG series of the same name, we finally have a premiere date of April 12, 2024, on Prime. The series takes place in an alternate future for America. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (the same duo behind ​Westworld​) immerse us in this 1940s world of nuclear war, virtually stopping most culture and noncombat technology.

Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight) is set to star as a radiation-mutated humanoid that roams the wasteland.

Pause your show? Prime will knowThe emergence of “pause ads” in streaming services, including Hulu, MAX, and Peacock, reflects an attempt to enhance advertising revenue while minimizing disruption for subscribers. Users pause their shows, and a giant on-screen pop-up displaying everything from snacks to toilet paper will be advertised—maybe Trojan can get in on the action for the “Netflix and Chill” pause.

The Actors Spotlight

Heather Gramham looking ugly

Heather Graham does body-swap horror in Suitable Flesh.

After becoming possessed by her psychology patient, Graham’s character goes on a joyful, out-of-body killing spree:

“Just to get to play sort of like that powerful male role as a woman, you never usually get to play one where you’re like the ultimate villain that can’t die. It’s just like something I’ve never gotten the chance to do.”
Seeing her slashing her way out of her comfort zone is great. Watch the trailer here.

Jack Quaid is set to portray a man immune to pain in the forthcoming Novocaine. It’s a stark contrast to his character in The Boys, who grapples with intense physical and emotional distress. Though we believe Quaid’s comedic tendencies sometimes seem inauthentic, his performances rooted in trauma resonate deeply.

We think he’ll do great! Filming starts Q1 next year.

Tech Section

18k Camera

Darren Aronofsky, with a 12-person crew, harnessed the Big Sky 18K camera to film Postcard From Earth for the Las Vegas Sphere arena’s massive LED screen. This audacious cinematic endeavor, chronicling Earth from the POV of two aliens, drew admiration from Vegas Sphere audiences:

“I actually didn’t know that jaw-dropping was a real thing. You hear that word, but it’s fun to look around, and people are just like, their jaws are literally dropped, and they’re all pointing at different places on the screen. So it’s a joy to have audiences go along for that trip.”
It’s great to see Aronofsky harkening back to his early filmmaking career with skeleton crews—no word yet if Requiem for a Dream is coming to the Sphere.

Can AI be ethical? Veteran Microsoft AI exec Jonathan Foster leads discussions on ethical considerations of LLMs next month at The Future of Film: Cinematic Arts in the Age of AI. Notable panelists include Producer E. Brian Dobb (Black-Ish). It’s good timing, considering the writer’s strike has ratified the use of Chat GPT in scripts.

VFX workers are at immediate risk for job loss because of AI. Automation of mundane tasks has already entered into many VFX house pipelines.

Dissolving tasks that were once the responsibility of renderers or compositors threatens to destabilize parts of the industry. These concerns were at the forefront of the “View VFX and Computer Graphics” conference in Torino, Italy.

Featured speakers included Renderman Dylan Sisson (The IncrediblesInside OutUp) and lead digital modeler Andreas Maaninka (Blade Runner: 2049).

Indie Filmmaker Spotlight

Jesse Garcia and Eva Longoria on the set of Flamin’ Hot.

From Desperate House Wife to Indie Director. Eva Longoria has dusted off the veneer of reality TV stardom with grace and intent. Her directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot, is not just about the inception of a Cheeto product but a poignant reflection on the Latino journey from a challenging upbringing to triumph. Longoria passionately declared:

“My life’s purpose is uplifting other Latino creators… [to use] my influence and my spotlight, and shine it on everyone who deserves to be heard and seen.”

In Flamin’ Hot, she does just that, amplifying voices and stories that resonate deeply within the Latino community.

Shoplifters’ director Hirokazu Koreeda clinched best screenplay at Cannes with Monster. The film, out November 22nd, is distributed by Well Go USA, the studio behind Triple ThreatTrain To Busan, and the Ip Man franchise. His movie surprised audiences at VIFF with its nuanced portrayal of challenging subjectsTrailer here.

Steven Soderbergh can’t keep his hands off the editing keyboard. He’s re-edited his 1991 film Kafka (starring Jeremy Irons) and is premiering it on November 7th in NYC under the new title Mr. Kneff.

We’ve always loved Soderbergh’s fascination with editing. In 2014, he cut a B&W no-dialogue version of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones to study the blocking. In 2019, he conducted a 3-hour interview with Francis Ford Coppola after his Tribeca Film Festival screening of Apocalypse Now Final Cut.

Check out the ​trailer for the original​ Kafka. We just booked our tickets for the screening.

Film Festivals

The Menu. Searchlight Pictures.

International Production Design Week is in full swingA recent talk with The Menu production designer Ethan Tobman revealed how he constructed 430 individual resin pieces for the final course: a giant self-immolating S’More. There are some great talks lined up. Don’t miss out!

Former Sundance Director starts his own podcast. “The Film That Blew My Mind” podcast reunites former Sundance Film Festival directors John Cooper and Tabitha Jackson, featuring a star-studded line-up of guests, each sharing a film that deeply impacted them:

  • Molly Shannon on Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Ryan Coogler on Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2009)
  • Jon Hamm on Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Thanks, Jon, we love that one!

$60,000 unrestricted stipend from Sundance. The Artist Accelerator program for documentary filmmakers at Sundance Institute provides creative and professional support and a dedicated paid humanities advisor. This initiative was generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan.

Congrats to all twenty who received the stipend! For more information on the winners, click through the above link.

International News

Columbia’s Oscar entry, A Male, is the debut feature of Fabián Hernández. The film was also selected for the Cannes Directors' Fortnight last year.

Columbia’s Oscar entry, A Male, is the debut feature of Fabián Hernández. The film was also selected for the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight last year.

Inspired by Hernández’s youth, the movie follows the journey of Carlos (played by newcomer Dilan Felipe Ramírez Espitia) as he navigates the challenges of life in a Bogota youth shelter and confronts the complexities of masculinity in the face of urban violence.

NYC-based distribution company Cinema Tropical recently acquired it. Check out the Spanish-language trailer here.

Italy slashes €800 million in film funding. Italian Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, plans to reduce its annual film production funding, citing underperformance at the box office compared to the pre-pandemic period.

We feel this decision overlooks cinema’s profound capacity to shape the human soul. To those unfamiliar with the transformative power of film, its worth may seem negligible.

Yet, this perspective gravely undervalues cinema’s essential role as a crucible of culture. To diminish its funding strips society of a vital means of reflection, expression, and connection.

We hope that in the future things will change again for Italian cinema.​

Happy Tuesday!

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