Tom Cruise and a tear in the universe

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

Tom Cruise’s new deal, Kevin Costner’s gamble, Tina Fey’s bluster, and space monks.

Let’s go!


TOM CRUISE’S NEW DEAL

Tom Cruise’s breakout role inaugurated the tradition of him running in films.

Risky Business (1984) pits a high-school Tom Cruise against Guido the killer pimp, played masterfully by Joe Pantoliano, who’s after Cruise for running a brothel out of his parent’s home.

What Cruise captures better than any leading man in Hollywood is his immense duality in portraying blistering confidence and internal self-doubt.

Never is this more apparent than in PT Anderson’s vision of Cruise in Magnolia (1999), where Cruise plays an ultra-cocky dating coach who flips to a tear-drenched son as he reckons with his father’s passing.

For the part, Cruise drew from his relationship with his father:

“I hadn’t seen my father for a number of years. I heard he was dying, and I didn’t know where he was. He didn’t want to be contacted. He left and didn’t want to be contacted for years. I think he was tired of inflicting so much pain on other people that he just had to get away.”

Even though Cruise was nominated for an Academy Award for that role, over the past decade, he has shed his vulnerability and exclusively played all styles of action heroes in reboots and sequels like Mission: Impossible, Top Gun, Jack Reacher, and The Mummy.

In a deal announced yesterday, Cruise has partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery to create original and franchise films. His previous partnership with Warner Bros. has yielded some of his most interesting roles:

This deal, while non-exclusive, signals Cruise’s eagerness to capitalize on the marketing genius of Warner Bros. after Barbie became the top-grossing film of 2023.

While it may be wishful thinking, the deal reinvigorates hope that Cruise may still be interested in capturing roles that stretch his acting ability.

For More:

The NSFW clip of Tom Cruise as the amped-up “Seduce and Destroy” dating coach. Contrast that with this clip of Cruise at his father’s bedside in Magnolia.

Tom Cruise’s breakout role in Risky Business featured him lip-singing to Old Time Rock and Roll in his underwear. Watch the throwback scene here.

In Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick cast Cruise as the charming Dr. Bill and put him in a psychological maze. Watch the trailer.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Game of Thrones creators launch new series, 3 Body Problem. After tackling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are adapting another wide-ranging genre epic with the Hugo Award-winning novel 3 Body Problem written by Liu Cixin, dubbed the “Chinese Arthur C. Clarke.”

The new trailer showcases a series of scientists committing suicide. What follows are frightening hallucinations, unknown dimensions, and a slow tear in the fabric of the universe encountering an alien civilization.

If Game of Thrones can be used as a predictor for success, this show will be wildly popular and critically acclaimed. Hopefully, Benioff and Weiss can nail the ending.

Netflix is releasing on March 21st.

Kevin Costner’s gamble. This summer, Warner Bros. Discovery will release a two-part historical epic produced, directed, written, and starring Kevin Coster. Each part was reported to have cost upwards of $100 M.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Chronicles a multi-faceted, 15-year span of pre- and post-Civil War expansion and settlement of the American West.

Here’s the teaser trailer.

Costner’s grandiose vision of the American West can be seen in:

  • Yellowstone (2018-2023, trailer)
    • Star/EP
  • Dances With Wolves (1990, trailer)
    • Director/Producer/Star
    • Won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture

Although recent westerns like Tom Hanks’ News of the World (2020) have struggled at the box office, Costner hopes to buck the trend as his Paramount Yellowstone TV show has been wildly popular, with some episodes on CBS reaching over 10M viewers.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Liz Lemon is back. Okay, not actually, but Tina Fey is returning to TV with her new series, The Four Seasons. Fey serves as the star and creator, marking her first lead role in a TV series since 30 Rock (2006-2013), which garnered an Emmy for Best Comedy Series for seasons 1-3.

The Four Seasons series is based on Alan Alda’s 1981 film, whose synopsis is as follows:

Three couples vacation together every season. After one divorces, feelings of betrayal and more spawn criticisms of one another, but the things that keep them together are stronger than those which might pull them apart.

There’s something banally delightful about the trailer that feels ripe for Fey to swoop in and insert her wildly lively creative genius.

Watch Fey and Alan Alda share the screen for a brief moment in this 30 Rock clip.

Kaitlyn Dever will star in The Last of Us Season 2. Dever was hilariously delightful as the goody-two-shoes high-schooler exploring debauchery for the first time in Booksmart (2019, trailer).

She’s played a range of characters, starting with the explosively bottled-up teenager in Short Term 12 (2013)– watch her let loose against Rami Malek and Brie Larson in this scene. Recently, she plays the brave and resourceful homeowner during an alien home invasion in No One Will Save You (2023, trailer).

Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the creators of The Last of Us, discuss their casting decision:

“We look for world-class actors who embody the souls of the characters in the source material. Nothing matters more than talent, and we’re thrilled to have an acclaimed performer like Kaitlyn join Pedro [Pascal], Bella [Ramsey], and the rest of our family.”

For those who know the video game, Dever will play Abby, a pivotal role in the show which drives a shocking opening scene.

Bill Murray is everlastingly quirky in Wes Anderson’s films, from the delightful inaugural sequence in The Darjeeling Limited (2007), where he plays an exasperated American traveler in India, missing his train by a heartbeat (clip) to the eccentric and melancholy aquatic explorer in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (trailer). Murray has acted in a total of nine of Anderson’s films.

And now he will star in Anderson’s latest.

Anderson explained, in light of recent accusations:

“My experience with Bill is so extensive. Bill was such a great supporter of me from the very beginning. I don’t want to speak about somebody else’s experience, but he’s really part of my family. You know, he’s my daughter’s godfather. In fact, he actually baptized her. He’s the one who splashed the water.”

The film is a father-daughter espionage story with a dark tone. It will begin production in the next few months.

Wouldn’t it be a miracle if it reunited him with Scarlett Johansson?


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

T. Rafael Cimino and his writing partner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) are looking for projects that champion female and LGBTQ voices for their production company, Akula.

Over the years, Cimino has been a staple of the film industry, working on a range of high-caliber projects:

Cimino explains what types of projects he’s looking for:

“We’re looking for writers with some really dirty, nasty shoes.”

If you’re interested in their development expertise, please share a logline for your material and a bio directly with them at:

m.silva@akulalit.com

Best of luck to all who apply.

Berlinale Co-Production Market. The 21st Berlinale Co-Production Market, part of the Berlin Film Festival running Feb. 15-25, showcases 34 film projects from 27 countries with budgets of between £500 K and £5 M. Notable in the Berlinale Directors section is Sally Potter (Ginger & Rosa, Orlando). Check out the full list of projects looking to garner international financing here.


TECH SECTION

Space Monks and the future of pitching. Kevin Shah has created the first original AI-generated trailer for his high-concept space saga, Space Monks. It’s heartfelt, expansive, and kind of funny.

Faced with limited funds that prohibited shooting in Tibet, Shah utilized AI to craft a proof of concept to pitch investors. While his process still involved traditional human scripting, storyboards, editing, music, and VO, all visuals were generated by RunwayML using prompts and the limited camera and motion controls at the time (which are improving rapidly).

As a result of the trailer, Shah is turning the treatment into a script for a production executive.

This approach will most likely become increasingly popular, removing barriers to entry.

AI Digital voice replication is at the heart of a potential SAG/AFTRA strike against the video game industry. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the guild’s director, has negotiated a contract with Replica Studios, a company devoted to building a library of AI-powered voice actors.

The deal sets minimum rates, ensures safe data storage, mandates content transparency, requires performer consent for replica use, limits usage duration, and demands ongoing consent.

Despite some protections , it seems like a slippery slope for the film and TV industry.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Director Benoît Delhomme has lensed an intimidating range of projects over the years:

Now, he takes the directing helm with Mothers’ Instinct, starring Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain.

He previously collaborated with Hathaway in One Day (2011) and Chastain in Salomé (2013).

Here’s the official synopsis for his upcoming psychological thriller, set in the 1960s:

Alice (Chastain) and Celine (Hathaway) live a traditional lifestyle with successful husbands and sons of the same age. Life’s perfect harmony is suddenly shattered after a tragic accident. Guilt, suspicion, and paranoia combine to unravel their sisterly bond (trailer).

It’s deliciously tense.

Neon is distributing, but the official release date is yet to be announced.

Amazon MGM has signed a first-look deal with Nigerian-American director Nneka Onuorah, whose work can be seen on HBO and Netflix. Her latest documentary, Truth be Told, produced by Macro (Sorry to Bother You, Fences), is a viscerally powerful story about black LGBTQ acceptance in the church. The trailer is heartwarming and devastating in equal measure.

She’s also directed these hard-hitting docs:

In 2022, Onuorah achieved a historic milestone as a queer woman of color director, winning her first Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program with Prime Video’s Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls (trailer).


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Film4’s chairman Daniel Battsek is stepping down. Battsek has had a monster year helming these projects:

His charisma propelled the company to select projects both creatively and commercially viable and, in so doing, was able to compete with the major studios with marketing budgets eclipsing his own.

Battsek, who also served as the President of Miramax and National Geographic Films, made a statement when he took the role eight years ago:

“I am a British and Irish filmmaking fan, I always have been, whether that is Mike Leigh, Danny Boyle, Steve McQueen or Lenny Abrahamson. Some of those I have had direct filmmaking experience with, others I have just been a fan of. I definitely hope to discover new generations of filmmakers and carry on that Film4 legacy…”

His replacement, Ollie Madden, who served as the director of Film4 for six years, reflected on Battsek’s tenure:

“[Battsek] leaves Film4 in outstanding form – with a truly world-beating, award-winning slate of influential films created by an eclectic and highly distinctive range of voices – and I am excited to maintain our trajectory and continue to fly the flag for British film.”

This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news of major cuts to Channel 4’s staff. Battsek’s resignation has not reported to be connected. Although the timing is suspect.

A new Australian TV show, Boy Swallows Universe, challenges the perspective of the traditional Aussie crime drama: it’s told through a child’s POV.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A lost father, a mute brother, a recovering addict mum, a heroin dealer for a stepfather, and a notorious criminal for a babysitter. Eli Bell [age 12] is just trying to follow his heart and understand what it means to become a good man, but fate keeps throwing obstacles in his way.

All orders of defense mechanisms are infused inside the ​trailer​, from surreal daydreams to inappropriate laughter.

Boy Swallows Universe premieres on Netflix on Jan 11th.


ON THIS DAY

1927. Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis premieres in Berlin.


See you tomorrow!


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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