The Paradox of Adam Sandler

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

The Paradox of Adam Sandler, Emily Blunt and a new boy.

Let’s go!


THE PARADOX OF ADAM SANDLER

Adam Sandler is a cultural mecca because his insecurity resonates globally.

Sandler’s honest depiction of characters struggling to get ahead is a through line in his work. From his studio tentpoles:

To his indies:

His work has generated over 2 billion viewing hours on Netflix.

But when he was in college at NYU in the mid-80s, he was nervous getting on stage, leaning into playing the guitar during bits to help provide a security blanket.

Even after Sandler achieved his dream of becoming a cast member on SNL (1991-1995), he was still trepidatious about performing on David Letterman, as seen in this anxious laughing video.

Despite finding a home performing iconic skits on SNL with Chris Farley and David Spade (Pepper Boy, Gap Girls at Foodcourt, Adam Sandler on Thanksgiving) by 1995, the network and the critics didn’t think Sandler was funny enough, and he was forced to leave the show:

“My heart was broken, and I was scared. And then you don’t like telling anybody, ‘Hey, you know that thing I was doing?’ They said I was no good at it.”

By the early 2010s, Sandler’s mid-career mirrored his post-SNL departure. After domestic studio flops like That’s My Boy (2012) and The Cobbler (2014), he encountered difficulty getting studios to greenlight his projects because they thought he had lost his universal appeal.

In 2014 the landscape shifted when Netflix leveraged their algorithmic data to show that Sandler was the most-watched celebrity on their platform.

He signed a four-picture deal with Netflix, and then, on May 25, 2020, he renewed his contract with Netflix for four more films.

Without having to bear the brunt of box-office ups and downs, he was freed up to take on an indie with the Safdie brothers in 2019.

Sandler spoke about the directors throwing out variations of lines to keep the dialogue from getting stale in between takes of Uncut Gems:

“This was probably the most free I could ever be in a movie just…he…he made so many mistakes and was so unlikable.”

Adam Sandler’s journey marks a profound shift from a pathological drive to be liked to an artist unshackled by traditional metrics of success, embodying a new era in his career where he can authentically express his creative vision.

For more:

Adam Sandler plays a lizard in his first animated film since Eight Crazy Nights (2002). Check out the trailer for Leo. Out on Netflix Tuesday, November 21st.

The heart-pounding trailer for Sandler’s Uncut Gems.

An Adam Sandler art house film. Trailer for Punch Drunk Love.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Guillermo del Toro takes on Frankenstein. The classic novel, written in 1818, has spurred over 100 film adaptations. The most iconic was Frankenstein (1931) starring Boris Karloff (watch the classic over-the-top It’s Alive! clip).

This has always been del Toro’s passion project:

“It’s a movie I have been wanting to do for 50 years since I saw the first Frankenstein.”

The film’s synopsis reads:

Dr. Pretorious who needs to track down Frankenstein’s monster who is believed to have died in a fire forty years before in order to continue the experiments of Dr. Frankenstein.

The movie is set to begin filming in February and stars Oscar Isaac, Mia Goth, Andrew Garfield, and Christoph Waltz—no word yet on who will play the monster. But Mia Goth is slated to play The Bride of Frankenstein. If anyone can find a fresh angle on this material, it will be del Toro.

Streamers see a major decline in ad revenue. With the proliferation of ad-supported tiers on major streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Max, and Amazon (coming early next year), advertisers are now paying less per ad:

  • Netflix ↓ 30%
  • Disney+ ↓20%

Major ad sales declines are also reported for Max, Peacock, Paramount+, and Hulu. This has led to streamers compensating by raising their subscription prices.

Scott Pilgrim goes Anime. When Edgar Wright, director of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010), reached out to the original cast (Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kierkin Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman and Brie Larson) about an anime reboot he didn’t expect this response:

“Within about three hours, everybody replied, which was amazing. So it is really beautiful in a way. It’s rare that you have the opportunity to continue something… Chris Evans replies within 20 minutes… They’re like a family, and that doesn’t always happen.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the seven evil exes. Scott Pilgram Takes Off is now on Netflix. Watch the energetic, nostalgic trailer.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Emily Blunt opened up about being a stutterer at a Variety event last week, focusing on the power of giving back. Blunt shared:

“I stuttered brilliantly for years and all through my childhood, and I still consider myself one – certain words will get stuck – phone’s a bit of a nightmare… We’re built as humans to share our souls and to engage and to converse and connect and to love and to fight, and our voices and our words and our stories matter so much.”

Blunt went on to share how the American Institute of Stuttering, with which she’s supported for the past 17 years, emboldens children and adults to take back their voices. She encouraged everyone, above all else, to be patient.

Terrance Howard is a powerhouse. He’s acted in:

But in a recent interview, he shared how he only made $6000 on Crash and $12,000 on Hustle and Flow and never got paid residuals from Paramount for the music he performed in the film. Despite all these setbacks, the actor has just signed with Independent Artist Group for representation. His latest project is a live-action re-imaging of Alice in Wonderland set in Budapest. Howard plays the caterpillar.

With his dominating yet empathetic energy, it’ll be a joy watching him deliver the classic caterpillar line: “And who are you?”

Mark Ruffalo wants to destroy how you think of Mark Ruffalo. Known initially for his rom-com sweetheart roles (13 Going on 30, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and then impassioned investigators (Zodiac, Spotlight) to a barrage of Marvel superhero movies where he plays The Hulk, he’s chosen something truly unique in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things:

“I’m not playing the benevolent dad or the depressed dad or the fucked up dad. I’m playing a bon vivant, a total egoist and megalomaniac. I feel like it opened up the brackets on how people see me as a performer. And how I see myself.”

He continued:

“It was so crazy and so exciting. It’s one foot on a banana peel and the other in a grave.”

In an interview published last week, he discussed how this was the most challenging and fulfilling role he’s ever played. Poor Things will be released Dec 8 (US), and Jan 12(UK). For the time being, check out the HBO mini-series I Know This Much is True, where he plays two twin brothers, one a paranoid schizophrenic in this gutting HBO series (trailer) by Derek Cianfrance (dir: Blue Valentine).


FESTIVALS

Cannes president gives a Masterclass. The Ventana Sur market, a joint effort by the Cannes Film Festival and Argentina’s INCAA, is featuring a special segment called Cannes Film Week, led by Cannes head Thierry Fremaux. Highlighting Cannes 2023 winners, the event also focuses on discussions about the future of cinema, particularly in the post-pandemic era:

“After the pandemic, it was said that cinema had died. From then, we’ve shown that cinema didn’t die and, better still, there are sufficient motives to maintain hope.”

Fremaux is expected to bring insights into the challenges faced by traditional film sales models due to the rise of streaming platforms. The event, showcasing a variety of acclaimed films, will be held at the Buenos Aires Gaumont Cinema.

One bullet. One documentary. Ten years. Carol Dysinger, whose short film Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone won an Oscar (trailer), has spent ten years on a new feature documentary project: One Bullet. The project delves into one Afghani family’s grief over the slow suffering and ultimate death of their son after being shot by a single bullet during the American occupation of Afghanistan. The trailer is hard to watch, but there’s a certain lightness in how the family asks the filmmaker personal questions. The documentary is set to open Slamdance on January 19th. Physical and virtual tickets can be purchased here.

Sundance collab Spotlight Event with director Alexander Payne (Sideways). The tw0-time Oscar winner will discuss his career and creative process, highlighting his latest film, The Holdovers. This period piece stars Paul Giamatti as a stern instructor who bonds with a troubled student. The virtual event starts tonight at 7 pm EST. Register for free here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Just when you think action has gone stale. Enter John Woo (Mission Impossible 2, Face/Off). His new film is the best action we’ve seen in a film trailer in years. There’s something about the combination of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and a silent Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) in a film called Silent Night. Watch for the throwing of a henchman through a glass staircase, and stay for Kinnaman, stopping a moving car with a crowbar.

This is John Woo’s first American movie in 20 years. He remarked:

“Very interesting movie. The whole movie is without dialogue. It allowed me to use visuals to tell the story, to tell how the character feels. We are using music instead of language. And the movie is all about sight and sound. The budget was a little tight, and the schedule was tight, but it made me change my working style. Usually, for a big movie, a studio movie, we shoot a lot of coverage, then leave it to the cutting room. But in this movie, I tried to combine things without doing any coverage shots. I had to force myself to use a new kind of technique. Some scenes were about two or three pages, but I did it all in one shot.”

Lionsgate is releasing Silent Night, which will premiere Dec 1st.

Cesar Diaz was awarded the Cannes Camera d’or for Our Mothers (2019), a film that he wrote and directed. The film follows a young anthropologist who travels through legal, emotional, and cultural peril as he unearths the reason behind his father’s death (trailer). Diaz got his start as an assistant editor on Alejandro Iñárritu Amos Perros (2000).

His latest script is for Elena.

The film centers on 19-year-old Elena, torn between supporting her mother’s activism against a Norwegian hydro-power plant and pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher. The film combines real-life experiences with elements of science fiction and magic realism. The project is supported by the Norwegian Film Institute, and filming will start next year.

The Diving Bell and the Divine. Julian Schnabel, the auteur director behind:

Has a new film with Oscar Isaac, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Gerard Butler: In the Hand of Dante. Focused on a man (Isaac) who defies the mafia to steal the original Dante’s Inferno manuscript, he escapes his hellish life with his love Giuletta, while a parallel tale unfolds with the actual Dante (Butler) escaping literal hell. The narrative bounces between the 14th and 21st century.

John Malkovich and Al Pacino, playing a hitman and a nobleman, have just boarded the cast. Filming is underway in Italy.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Warwick Thornton tells authentic Australian stories with a focus on Aboriginal history and a breath of magical realism. He is the writer, director, and cinematographer best known for his DP work on:

His new writer and directorial work is The New Boy, whose depiction of an Australian orphanage is rust-tinged and brimming with magic. The film explores the story of a nine-year-old aboriginal Australian orphan boy who arrives in the dead of night at a remote monastery run by a renegade nun.

That renegade nun is Cate Blanchett, who looks nearly unrecognizable in the trailer. The film won the top prize at the 31st Camerimage film festival. No release date has been set.

The UK production company Camelot Films, known for Prizefighter featuring Russell Crowe, expands with an infusion of money from Malta Enterprise. The company will fully operate from Malta, leveraging a 40% tax rebate on upcoming projects like The Psychopath Life Coach for Netflix and the action-adventure The Lost Book of Creation.

This marks a large pivot for Camelot.


That’s all for today. See you tomorrow!


ON THIS DAY

1958 American puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson establish Muppets, Inc. (now known as The Jim Henson Company)


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

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