SAG/AFTRA ratifies

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

SAG/AFTRA contract ratified, Nicolas Cage quits film, Penélope Cruz starts directing and a kangaroo.

Let’s go!


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

SAG-AFTRA ratifies the contract! Here’s what happened:

  • 78% voted “Yes”
  • 38% turnout
  • Agreement until Jun 30th, 2026

Union president Fran Drescher stated:

“This contract is an enormous victory for working performers, and it marks the dawning of a new era for the industry. Getting to this point was truly a collective effort.”

The AMFTP said:

“With this vote, the industry and the jobs it supports will be able to return in full force.”

Despite some last-minute fears that the contract would not get ratified, the deal is done.

Onwards and upwards!

A Disney-Pixar trifecta! After the pandemic sent Soul (2020), Luca (2021) and Turning Red (2022) straight to VOD, Disney-Pixar is releasing the three films in theaters.

Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter, expressed a bit of regret for conditioning audiences that his studio’s films were available on Disney+:

“We’re trying to make sure people realize there’s a great deal you’re missing by not seeing it on the big screen. In the case of Elemental, it’s a beautiful spectacle, there’s detail everywhere…There’s the shared experience as well, that you get to see it in a room with strangers, and there’s something about the energy that comes from other people that makes the whole experience more vibrant and interesting.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Soul releases on January 2. Turning Red (Jan. 12) and Luca (Mar. 22). Check out the combo trailer.

It looks like they’re training audiences to return to theaters ahead of their release of Inside Out 2 (Jun 12), especially after their last theatrical release, Elemental, suffered a low opening weekend.

Amazon MGM Studios’ Unstoppable stopped filming May 31st because of writer and actor’s strikes. It’s now a go. The film, starring Jennifer Lopez, Don Cheadle, Michael Peña, and Bobby Cannavale, follows the true story of an NCAA Division I champion wrestler who grew up without one of his legs. The film is the directorial debut of William Goldenberg, who edited Argo (Best Editing Oscar, 2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Imitation Game (2014).


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Nicolas Cage quits acting – follow up. Cage’s interview on Monday sparked an internet frenzy that he’s leaving the cinema.

It’s, of course, more nuanced, as he detailed in a follow-up interview:

“If I was ever going to say ‘adios’ from filmmaking and cinema, now would be a great time, because I got it all done, I’ve said what I had to say, I made my contribution to cinema, and I’m kind of ready to try something else. I’m not saying that I’m going to retire just yet, but I am saying that maybe I have three or four movies in me in total, and I want to go somewhere else. Maybe Broadway, maybe television, I don’t know. I think it’s time, as a student, to try something new and challenge myself.”

He concluded by saying he was done getting sucked up into the hype machine that would see his face plastered across everything from McDonalds’s Happy Meals to Walmart DVDs of Terminator 2.

Maybe Cage will go the way of Daniel D. Lewis and become a carpenter– but Cage feels too full of life to slip out of the spotlight completely.

When Ziggy Marley called Kingsley Ben-Adir about playing his father, Bob Marley, Ben-Adir didn’t want the role:

“I was completely convinced that there’s no point in auditioning for this. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. My question was if they’d been on a worldwide search, and they said ‘yes.’ And I said, ‘maybe they should go on another one.”’

They did, but when they came back to him for an audition, Ben-Adir, who has played Malcolm X (One Night in Miamitrailer) and Barack Obama (The Comey Ruleclip), decided to give it a shot. He began by dissecting a Bob Marley’s anti-war cry performance in London in 1977 (video), an astonishing musical event.

Ben-Adir went on to audition and win the role. He looks pitch perfect in the trailer. The film is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard).

Bob Marley: One Love is in theaters on Feb. 14. Great choice of date.

Marisa Abela is playing Amy Winehouse. First look photo here. There’s something very grounded about Amy Winehouse that’s apparent in Amy (A24’s first doc – trailer), which painted her as an authentic Brit who grew up in ultra-humble circumstances.

There’s a certain fresh naiveté in Marisa Abela’s performances in Industry (HBO) but also an intensity that she attributes to a prestigious training at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. With both these attributes, she seems ripe to embody the troubled singer.

Back to Black will be released on April 12, 2024


FESTIVALS

Film directors often have the best movie recommendations. The LA Times did a roundtable with Bradley Cooper, Michael Mann, Alexander Payne, and more. Here are their recommendations:

In this video, they reveal why the selected films impacted their careers.

Slamdance announces their lineup. This festival, famous for taking place in the home of Sundance (Park City, Utah) has often served as in incubator for super indie films, most famously launching the career of the Russo Brothers (video).

Here are a few of the feature films in their narrative selection:

1. The Complex Forms

2. The Bitcoin Car

3. Darla in Space

4. African Giants

5. Brando with a Glass Eye

The festival runs from Jan 19th – 25th in person and online on the Slamdance Channel from Jan 22nd – 28th.

Tickets are available here.


TECH SECTION

Ridley Scott uses four cameras to film dialogue. It’s his way of moving like a general, optimizing the time for actors to explore their scenes without worrying about continuity.

In his words:

“I discovered quite a long time ago that actors do not want 39 takes… The last thing he wants to do is hear me talk about the meaning of life before every take. He just wants to go. And through that comes a confidence and a partnership.”

Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) was also known to always have a B-cam rolling in case he ever needed extra footage in the editing room.

Obviously, this is a luxury that many filmmakers may not be able to afford, but it’s an interesting way to think of shooting dialogue scenes.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Penélope Cruz is directing a documentary. It’s an urge that’s been boiling inside her since she was 20:

“I always wanted to do that. I remember conversations with Pedro [Almodovar] when I was twenty, saying to him I really want to direct and produce, and he would tell me, ‘Why wait? Do it, do it now. Don’t wait for anything. Just try to do it as soon as possible.”

She’s had a “magical friendship” with Almodovar over the years and starred in many of his films. Here’s a short selection:

Almodovar’s advice set in during the pandemic when Cruz realized that she had limited time and she didn’t want to die without directing this documentary.

No word yet on the subject matter. But it’s humbling to hear that Cruz took stock of her life like we all did during those dark moments in 2020.

Mike Makowsky wrote Bad Education (2019), starring Hugh Jackman, an underseen but poignant film about the largest public school embezzlement scandal in history. Makowsky is now tasked with adapting The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos. Some juicy details for Makowsky’s script include: Santos has used donors’ funds on only fans and Botox, committed identity theft, lied about where he went to high school and college, claimed his mother died in 9/11, claimed his niece got kidnapped… it’s going to be an interesting film.

Frank Rich (EP: Veep, Succession) has boarded the project. The official logline reads:

The Gatsby-esque journey of a man from nowhere who exploited the system waged war on truth, and swindled one of the wealthiest districts in the country to achieve his American dream.

Makowsky is adept at asymmetrical scenes where one character is living in a light comedy, and another is in a dark drama (Bad Education clip)—flipping hilarious moments into pressure cooker scenes. This skillset seems perfectly tailored for the Santos story.

Eif Rivera’s debut feature film snags Al Pacino for a Fidel Castro & Malcolm X story. Rivera started his career directing music videos, garnering his first IMDB credit for 50 Cent’s Murder One (video). His DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber music video, I’m The One, has amassed 1.7B views on YT.

In the past few years, he’s started directing for TV (Chicago P.D., FBI, Raising Kanan).

His upcoming thriller film Killing Castro is produced and financed by Romulus Entertainment (The Banker, Driven).

They summed up the story:

In 1960, Fidel Castro comes to America to speak at the UN. He is invited by Malcolm X to stay in Harlem at the famous Hotel Theresa. Unsure of his intentions, the FBI, CIA and the Mafia, attempt to eliminate him by any means necessary.

It’s a wild piece of unknown history to unearth. It’s exciting to see that music video directing is still a viable option as a path to features.

The film is currently shooting in NJ. No word on who Pacino is playing, but there’s been talk of an undercover cop in the story… it may be too late for a Serpico sequel, but we can always dream.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Andrey Zvyagintsev, who wrote and directed Leviathan (Cannes, Best Screenplay, 2014) and Loveless (Cannes Jury Prize, 2017), is scouting for his next movie, Jupiter, about Russian oligarchs.

He described the project:

“We’re going to delve into the life of a very wealthy man, into his intimate life, into the conditions in which he lives. We’ll delve into his family…The nature of absolute power is a universal theme, and through this prism we can look at any cultural landscape or historical era.”

Zvyagintsev’s films are typically characterized by their deep exploration of complex human relationships and moral dilemmas, often set against the backdrop of contemporary Russian society.

Production is set to begin in April.

Zone of Interest trailer 2. It’s not the type of film that can be spoiled but we’re refraining from watching this trailer. The theatrical release is Dec 15 (US). Feb 2 (UK).

Studio Canal goes down under. A new Australian wing of their company, entitled Cultivator Films, has opened up. The production company aims to empower Australian creators who are producing sub-million-dollar features.

The official synopsis for their first venture, Kangaroo, reads:

A man who becomes stranded in an outback town after a car accident. There, he teams up with 11-year-old Indigenous girl Charlie, and the pair form an unlikely friendship working together to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned joeys.

The film represents Studio Canal’s increased push for international projects. they’ve also opened up subsidiary production companies in nine major European markets as well as in Australia, New Zealand and China.


READER SPOTLIGHT

George Buzzeo is an executive producer who recently completed a docudrama on the legendary Stuntman Kim Kahana, who has performed in:

Here’s the logline for Buzzeo’s doc, which has now been selected at four Festivals, including New York Long Island Film Festival and Cineworld in Sarasota, FL:

The untold story and life of Legendary Hollywood stuntman Kim Kahana, one of the most prolific stuntmen in movies and television. Still professionally active at the age of 94, Kahana transformed safety and the art of stunt performance through his storied 72-year career in the movies.

For more information, visit the film’s website here.

If you’d like to be featured in our “readers spotlight,” click here for more information.


ON THIS DAY

2002. Adaptation directed by Spike Jonze, starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep premieres.


See you Thursday!


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

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