The Matrix gets trashed

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

Lilly Wachowski goes solo, Margot Robbie’s first look, The X Files gets a Scoop, Bong Joon-ho explores the sea and a bad egg.

Let’s go!


THE MATRIX GETS TRASHED

Free your mind.

Lilly Wachowski, co-director and writer of The Matrix trilogy, is directing a queer comedy.

While The Matrix Resurrections (2021), the most recent film in the series, certainly included its fair share of romantic comedy tropes, from a Trinity Neo meet-cute to tepid coffee dates – Lilly was not involved with the project.

She explained her absence:

“[Lana] had come up with this idea for another Matrix movie, and we had this talk, and it was actually — we started talking about it in between [our] dad dying and [our] mom dying, which was like five weeks apart.”

Lilly continued:

“And there was something about the idea of going backward and being a part of something that I had done before that was expressly unappealing. And, like, I didn’t want to have gone through my transition… to want to go back to something that I had done before.”

Lilly’s latest directorial work has been a function of this creative rebirth.

She directing two episodes of Showtime’s Work in Progress about a 45-year-old proudly fat, queer dyke. Played by a comedian whose struggles unexpectedly guide her to a life-changing relationship.

Lilly’s new project will be directing Trash Mountain, based on a script by comedian Caleb Hearon.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A gay Chicago man in his 20s who must return to rural Missouri to deal with the death of his father — an obsessive hoarder who has left a house full of items, some valuable and some not so, to pick through.

Lilly described the project as beautiful, funny, and sad.

With The Matrix trilogy Lilly and her sister created a seminal work of science fiction borne out of their extreme desire for transformation. What followed was a decade of being tied to the genre with less successful commercial and creative works (Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending).

Following her transition, Lilly’s narrative work feels creativly free and vibrantly authentic.

For More:

The Wachowskis have stated that The Matrix was a subconscious story about the trans experience, but at the time, it was impossible to tell that story, so they crafted the film as a grandiose sci-fi metaphor (video) about the desire for transformation.

Work in Progress trailer. It opens with the lead killing their therapist through boredom. Inspired.

Want to go down the rabbit hole? Watch The Matrix trailers:


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Two “First Look” deals. Here they are:

Margot Robbie key quote:

​​“We want to make more films that have the effect that Barbie has. Why can’t it be another big, original, bold idea where we get an amazing filmmaker, a big budget to play with, and the trust of a huge conglomerate behind them to go and really play? I want to do that.”

Robbie has been a champion of first and second-time feature directors, famously producing Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman (2020) and Saltburn (2023).

Beauty in Black official synopsis:

Two women with contrasting lives become connected. One fights for survival after her mother forces her out while the other runs a prosperous company.

This is on top of Perry inking a major first-look deal with Netflix for features last year.

Coup de Chance (Stroke of Luck), Woody Allen’s first foreign language film, has secured American distribution with MPI Media Group (Enter the Void, Human Centipede). The film was an official selection at the 2023 Venice Film Festival.

The official synopsis reads:

Fanny and Jean have everything of the ideal couple: fulfilled in their professional life, they live in a magnificent apartment in the beautiful districts of Paris and seem to be in love as on the first day. But when Fanny crosses, by chance, Alain, a former high school friend, she is immediately capsized.

The film has already made $7.3 M at the international box office.

This is Woody’s 50th film and has no release date yet.

For those interested, here is the trailer.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

One interview can change everything. Gillian Anderson had her fair share of interviews with unsavory characters, from death row inmates to mutants to shadowy government figures, in her iconic role as FBI agent Dana Scully in The X Files.

In her latest film, Scoop, she plays BBC journalist Emily Maitlis, whose bombshell interview with Prince Andrew pried open his connections to Jeffrey Epstein.

Here’s a link to the teaser.

It doesn’t give much away, but the original interview is a masterwork of journalism, with the hawkish Maitlis not giving Prince Andrew an inch.

Back in November, Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio were looking for the next Karate Kid. Well, not really them, but this Sony Pictures marketing team made a great announcement video for the next Karate Kid film.

They have just “found” their Karate Kid, Ben Wang, who can be seen in:

  • American Born Chinese (2023, Disney)
    • Torn between two worlds, High School and a mystical realm
    • Trailer
  • CHANG CAN DUNK (2023, Disney)
    • Helps his best friend reach social media stardom in a quest to dunk
    • Trailer

Karate Kid (2024) will combine the original series that kicked off in 1984 and the 2010 Jackie Chan reboot while accelerating off the popularity of Netflix’s Cobra Kai (2018-2023).

Fun fact: The Karate Kid was re-invigorated by a 2018 YT Red series that spurred the hit Netflix show.

Check out the first episode here.


FESTIVALS

Berlin Acquisitions. Two films have been acquired ahead of the festival:

Official synopsis:

When a heist goes dramatically wrong, leaving a hostage in peril, an unlikely trio finds themselves fighting for their lives and their sanity on bonfire night.

The film was written, directed, and produced and stars Andrew Lee Potts in his feature directorial debut.

Hawk-eyed readers will notice that Andrew Lee Potts (The Crown, The Witcher) starred in Pj Harling’s (Senior VFX Editor: Masters of the Air) short film The Morning After.

Official synopsis:

Austria in the 18th century. Forests surround villages. Killing a baby gets a woman sentenced to death. Agnes readies for married life with her beloved. But her mind and heart grow heavy. A gloomy path alone, evil thoughts arising.

Wild poster image here.

One more project: Clive Owen as Humphrey Bogart in AMC’s crime drama Monsieur Spade, which has been acquired by Fifth Season for international Distribution at EFM.

Check out the trailer.

The Berlin Film Festival will run from Thursday, Feb 15, to Sun, Feb 25.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Humans are useless. The hyper-absurdist Sci-Fi fantasy The Empire by director Bruno Dumont is heading to Berlin. The trailer is bonkers, at once playing like a small-town sleeper drama combined with outlandish The Fifth Element-esque set pieces.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A small village in Northern France is the battleground of undercover extraterrestrial knights.

Dumont, no festival stranger, has won The Grand Prix (2nd place award) at Cannes twice:

Dumont’s latest project will be a Romeo and Juliet-inspired film, Red Rocks, which will center on battling gangs in the French Rivera.

Cliff jumping included.

Riddle of Fire is Mad Max with nine-year-olds. In the trailer, a simple task to purchase eggs for their sick mother sends three children on a fairytale of epic proportions, encountering truckers and witches alike.

The film has an impressive pedigree:

  • Cannes Directors’ Fortnight
  • TIFF Midnight Madness

This is the directorial debut of Weston Razooli, who discusses his process of shooting on 16mm:

“Shooting digitally would kill the magic and the suspension of disbelief. It’s a subjective taste of course, but that’s just how I see it and feel it. Being an illustrator, I like to think that film is oil paint, while digital is acrylic paint: both have their own advantages, but oil is my medium.”

Razooli’s previous short film Anaxia (full silent 6-min short, 2018) covered similar territory, pitting two children warriors in Conan the Barbarian garb against each other in a Wyoming wilderness fairytale.

Riddle of Fire is set for release in the US starting on March 22nd

The solo cast phone call film is quickly becoming a subgenre. There have been two excellent ones in recent years:

Steve Buscemi is directing a new film in this genre, The Listener.

Tessa Thompson (Creed series, Sorry to Bother You) gives a tour-de-force performance as a helpline volunteer on the night shift who speaks with the lonely and broken while swallowing her feelings.

Watch the teaser clip.

The film, which premiered at Tribeca in 2022, was just acquired by Vertical and will be released on March 29th in the US and UK.

This is Buscemi’s 5th feature as a director; his most recent was The Interview (2007), about a disgraced political editor (Buscemi) forced to interview a soap opera star (Sienna Miller). Trailer.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Bong Joon-ho has directed some of the most visionary sci-fi films in recent years. Snowpiercer (2013) took audiences into a failed dystopia where the class system is re-imagined onto an ever-moving train that houses earth’s final inhabitants. Okja (2017) focused on genetically engineered super pigs.

While audiences may have to wait for Bong’s recently delayed Mickey 17 (teaser trailer), Bong is already working on his next project: an animated film.

The plot is being kept under wraps, but it is loosely about the relationship between humans and marine life, including deep-sea fish, and is produced as a full CG animation.

The film is the most expensive Korean film of all time ($52 M).

Sony will distribute.

Beatriz Campos, formerly the SVP Global Sales & Production Financing at Studiocanal, has been appointed managing director of Anonymous Content España, a collaboration between Anonymous Content and Morena Films, aiming to produce premium Spanish content for global audiences.

This venture seeks to leverage Campos’ extensive experience in film-TV production and international sales:

Campos stated:

“After a wonderful journey at Studiocanal, I am thrilled to leverage my experience to build and bring dynamic, compelling and ambitious stories that will resonate across borders. I could not ask for better partners as I step into this new chapter.”

Campos’ appointment is a strategic move to enhance the venture’s global reach.


ON THIS DAY

1972. The film adaptation of Cabaret, directed by Bob Fosse, based on John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical of the same name, starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey, is released.


See you Wednesday.


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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