Steve Carell is not a 40-year-old virgin

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

Steve Carell’s tragicomedy, a Breaking Bad breakout, Willem Dafoe’s face and a mustache.

Let’s go!


STEVE CARELL: NOT A 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN

Steve Carrell doesn’t believe there’s a difference between comedy and drama.

This April, he will be making his Broadway debut in the title role of the challenging masterwork Uncle Vanya.

Here’s one of his first lines:

“Cheat on an old husband you can’t stand–what’s immoral about that? Stifle your youth, your deepest feelings–now, that’s immoral!”

Imagining Carrell deliver this line, one wonders if he’ll imbue it with his brand of self-agonizing comedy that characterized his 7-season + finale role of Michael Scott in The Office or the tortured dramatic dryness that epitomized his Academy Award-nominated performance of John DuPont in Foxcatcher.

For him, it doesn’t matter:

“Ultimately, I prepare for them in the same way – it’s all about trying to make it as truthful as you can. A character in a comedy doesn’t know that they’re in a comedy, and the same goes for drama. You don’t act a drama as if you’re in a drama – it’s just life, it’s just what’s happening.”

Carell has understood this sentiment since his youth, honing his craft for nearly a decade at The Second City Improv Theater in Chicago.

Watch a 32-year-old Carell navigate this tricky scene where he confesses to a fellow laundromat patron that he’s a serial killer.

As Steve Carell takes his first steps onto the Broadway stage, he faces the intricate task of bringing to life Uncle Vanya, a character steeped in disillusionment and unrequited love that demands a performer who can skillfully navigate between tragedy and comedy.

The challenge of live theater, with its immediate audience feedback and the nakedness of performance without retakes, will be the ultimate test of his versatile talent.

For More:

Carell accepts his Golden Globe for The Office. But he forgot to write an acceptance speech.

“I want to win.” Watch an unsettling clip of Carell in his Academy-nominated Foxcatcher performance.

Carell mixes drama with humor in The Office.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Netflix is not the Master of the Universe. They spent $30M over two years attempting to develop the juggernaut IP Masters of the Universe, a live-action He-Man film. They pulled out before investing the full 200M in the budget. Attempting to slay the Mattel property instead is Amazon MGM Studios, who is in talks to scoop up the abandoned Netflix project.

If the negotiations succeed, this will mark a significant achievement for Amazon’s newly appointed head of film and streaming, Courtenay Valenti.

Even Warner Bros. needs help financing its films. They’ve just struck a new co-financing deal with Atlanta-based Domain Capital, who helped them finance this year’s mega-hit Barbie. Clearly, this partnership was a romance made for the silver screen. Domain Capital is slated to help finance:

CEO of Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group, Mike De Luca, released a statement that hinted at the volatile nature of theatrical that has impacted their business:

“[We’re] pleased to have this co-financing agreement with Domain Capital in place given their deep knowledge of the entertainment space, and as we continue to build on the studio’s 100-year commitment to theatrical releases.”

BBC poaches Apple executive. Tom Williams is the former Apple TV+ Europe commissioner behind:

He has left Apple and is now joining BBC as the Head of Development for Drama:

“BBC Studios has a long history of producing some of the best and most loved shows in the UK and around world, so the opportunity to play a part in shaping the creative direction of this exciting new era for the studio was simply too good of an opportunity to turn down.”

The division had another major shake-up last week when Kate Oates became the new Head of Drama.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Giancarlo Esposito, Gus from Breaking Bad, stars in his own series in AMC’s Parish. The high-adrenaline teaser trailer sees Esposito as a driver with a hell-bent vengeance.

“I’m tired of being a passenger.”

He croons out in the trailer, his voice encased in gravel, now a few octaves lower than his tinny voice in Breaking Bad. It ushers in a new era for the actor who has taken a back seat in these great supporting roles:

Esposito has the driver’s keys. The 6-part series is set to be released in 2024. Let’s go!

Anne Hathaway is experiencing a renaissance. In recent years, she’s pursued work with top directors like Doug Liman (Locked Down), James Gray (Armageddon Time, and Todd Haynes (Dark Waters).

She told Porter magazine:

“I’ve always been really upfront about being an ambitious person. I have goals, I have dreams; they don’t look much different than they did when I was [younger], but I’m still pursuing them.”

In her new film Eileen, Hathaway pushes her limits, portraying a complex, psychologically twisted prison counselor, a role distinct from her previous work (trailer). Neon will distribute the film, set for release on December 1st.

Release the Dafoe! The actor’s strike is over, and now Willem Dafoe is free to open up about his latest performance in Poor Things (dir: Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Emma Stone). Dafoe is known for his great range:

This time, his transformation into the character took 6hrs/day in the make-up chair:

You can’t sleep because it’s intricate enough that you’ve got to keep your eyes open and they’re gluing … Slowly, you see yourself recede and you see this other person emerge, at least superficially. But when you look in the mirror and you don’t see yourself anymore, you see something else, that allows you a huge leap into this fertile place of pretending because you aren’t yourself anymore.”

His face looks like a mask out of Eyes Wide Shut in the trailer. Release date: Dec 8th (US) and Jan 12 (UK).


FESTIVALS

Vimeo celebrates 15 years of pioneering short film curation with its Generation Vimeo campaign, revealing the intricacies of its Staff Picks selection:

  • Originality: How unique is the style and story? Is this a new voice or perspective we haven’t heard before? And is the filmmaker taking risks that challenge the form and push boundaries?
  • Exceptional craft: Does it look and sound amazing? Does it innovate and push the medium to a new level?
  • Engaging storytelling: Does the film pull us in? Does it make us think and ask questions? Does it elicit authentic emotion through compelling story and characters?
  • Diverse perspectives: We are curating for a worldwide audience, does this work help us reflect a diversity of experiences and stories?

Although these points seem a little general, Vimeo’s video explainer of these concepts is so well done it could be a staff pick itself. Vimeo Staff Pick recipients include:

The director’s names link out to their Vimeo Staff Picks.

Vimeo is more than a legitimate platform for filmmakers to showcase their work. Over the past 15 years, it has become a place for filmmakers to gain peer recognition.

Yet filmmakers often fall short of being able to create longer-form series or films because they have not found the right team to help support their vision.

As we continue to expand the Festivals section of the newsletter, we hope to present future opportunities to filmmakers.


TECH SECTION

Some believe YouTube poses the biggest existential threat to the streaming companies. YouTube has 2.5B active users (30M paid), user-generated content, premium video channels (ABC, AMC, BBC, Disney, ESPN, Fx, Paramount), and now the NFL. Their revenue last year was 29.24 billion, just shy of Netflix’s 31.6 billion.

So, what keeps YouTube up at night?

AI.

YouTube VPs Jennifer Flannery O’Connor and Emily Moxley explain:

“Generative AI has the potential to unlock creativity on YouTube and transform the experience for viewers and creators on our platform.”

With that power, though, comes great responsibility. To that end, they’ve written an article about implementing safeguards for users to protect against AI-generated deepfakes and soundalikes. Here are some takeaways:

  • New content labels on all videos will disclose the use of AI
  • AI technology to power content moderation by increasing the speed at which videos can be removed, therefore safeguarding users and human reviewers
  • Capability for users to seek the removal of AI-generated content that mimics a person, including their face or voice

Let’s hope the Film and TV industries adopt these types of tools.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Kathryn Thal, a former executive at the production company Anonymous Content is jumping ship Vendôme Pictures, which produced CODA (Academy Award Best Picture winner 2022).

She has an impressive pedigree:

  • Intern, WME (2011)
  • Agent Trainee, ICM (2012-2013)
  • Executive Assistant, HBO (2015-2016)
  • Executive Assistant, Netflix (2016-2017)
  • Development Manager, Hunting Lane Films (2017-2019)
    • Derek Cianfrance’s production company
  • Creative Executive, Anonymous Content (2019-2021)
  • Vice President Black Bear Global, 2021-2023

She has just been appointed as Senior Vice President of Development and Production at Vendôme Pictures.

Vendôme CEO said:

“I have consistently been impressed by Kathryn’s strong work ethic and unique combination of experience. She has a keen eye for source material and a proven track record developing film and TV properties. I’m excited to welcome her to Vendôme as we continue to grow.”

We can’t wait for her next projects.

Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) is back directing Sci-Fi.

Ever since her 1995 cerebral, virtual reality inspired odyssey Strange Days (trailer) starring Ralph Feines, we’ve waited for her to bring her biting realism to the genre. Enter her new project with Netflix: Aurora. Based on a book by David Koepp (Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park). The synopsis reads:

The lights go out across the globe. A divorced mother now must do everything she can to protect her teenager and trek across the country to her estranged brother, a fantastically wealthy, neurotically over-prepared Silicon Valley CEO, who plans to ride out the crisis in a gilded desert bunker he built for maximum comfort and security. But the complicated history between the siblings is its own end of the world.

Sounds like the Bigelow sci-fi war zone film we’ve been dreaming about.

First-time feature director Imran J. Khan has scored a big EP for his SXSW Audience-Award-winning film Mustache. That would be Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal). He was blown away by the project:

“Imran is the real deal. The visual flair, the quirky humor, the heart-melting emotion of his vision were instantly clear. All of these superpowers are on display in his debut feature, Mustache, and we are thrilled to come on board.”

The film follows Ilyas, a 13-year-old boy who navigates the social hierarchy of his new school in California with a mustache his parents won’t let him shave.

In this video, Khan discusses the awkward teen movies that inspired his own.

Khan and Ahmed met through the Pillars Artist Fellowship. With Ahmed on board, we hope this signals to distributors that this is a bankable film to release in theaters.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Universal Pictures International has secured French rights to Paola Cortellesi’s directorial debut, the Italian box-office hit There’s Still Tomorrow. The Italian drama premiered at the Rome Film Festival and swept their awards (Jury Prize, Audience Award, Best First Feature). It has also achieved remarkable success in Italy, becoming the top-performing local film since 2020 with two million admissions and €13m in revenue.

The film’s synopsis reads:

Trying to escape from the culturally stifling Italian post-war society, Delia plots an act of rebellion against her violent husband.

Xavier Albert, head of Universal Pictures International, France, stated:

“Not only does this beautiful film address a very important theme, but it is also exactly what the theatrical audience is expecting: a strong, original, emotional story told with so much audacity by a visionary female director. We really believe this film has some universal appeal, and we are very impatient to have the French audience discover Paola Cortellesi, one of the biggest Italian talents.”

We don’t speak Italian, but the trailer looks intriguing.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. The title says enough. The trailer is dark, peculiar, and radically sensitive. The film, an official selection at this year’s TIFF, is the Canadian French-language debut film by director Ariane Louis-Seize. It offers a fresh take on vampire mythology, featuring a teenage girl named Sasha who grapples with moral dilemmas.

British indie producers lobby for higher tax incentives. PACT, representing independent UK content creators, decried in a letter to the Department of Culture that:

“The U.K.’s independent film sector is struggling and is now at the point of market failure. Challenging market conditions, increased cost of talent and crew and changing viewing habits have made it increasingly difficult for indie films to compete with HETV [high-end TV] and big budget U.S. Studio films.”

The organization proposed a 40% tax break for productions with a £1M – £15M budget. Studios like Paramount and Film 4 echoed their concerns.

We urge the government to assist filmmakers in reducing the cost barrier for creating and showcasing their films, ensuring they are fairly compensated to continue their craft.


That’s all for today. See you Thursday!


ON THIS DAY

1989. Batman starring Michael Keaton is released on videotape.


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

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