Ethan Hawke is hard to find

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

Lord of The Rings gets greedy, Ben Stiller’s beast, Willem Dafoe’s frostbite, a triple Cannes threat, and a whammy.

Let’s go!


ETHAN HAWKE IS HARD TO FIND

Does suffering precede all greatness?

That’s the prime question at the heart of Wildcat, a Flannery O’Connor biopic co-written and directed by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise trilogy).

Hawke discussed how he was plagued by the fear of making a boring biopic:

“We would describe this movie as a young woman dying of lupus who really wants to be a writer, but she fails constantly, and she’s really unlikable, and she lives in the Jim Crow South and doesn’t really deal with racism. Think it’s a great idea? The answer is no.”

He continued:

“But I kept thinking about it; I think the Coen brothers would know what to do with Flannery O’Connor. She was so multi-dimensional as an artist. The aspiration for excellence was at such a high pitch.”

In the film, Hawke leaned into the Coen brothers’ style by showcasing a standout element in O’Connor’s work: violence.

In one blisteringly visceral fantasy sequence, O’Connor, played by Ethan’s daughter Maya Hawke (Stranger Things), imagines herself executed point blank.

The Hawke’s have found a window into O’Connor’s greatness by defining her duality:

O’Connor, through writing stories stained with the underbelly of human suffering, escaped her personal pain.

Wildcat is now playing in theaters across the US.

For More:

Check out the Wildcat trailer and showtimes here.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Warner Bros. Discovery Q1 2024. Gains and losses. And the comparison to Q1 2023:

  • $966 M net loss
    • $1.07 bn in Q1 2023
  • $86 M streaming profit
    • ↑ 72%
  • $184 M studio profit
    • ↓ 70%
  • ↑2 M DTC Subscribers
    • 99.6 M globally

David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, discussed his recent announcement to bundle their streaming platform Max with Disney+ and Hulu:

“As we look at what happens ahead, there likely will be a restructuring of how people view content. And there’s a lot of irrationality in the market that’s getting shaken out, in terms of the amount of money spent.”

One irrationality for WBD is that Disney will be the distributor of this bundle, with all subscription fees paid directly to Disney, who would own the customer data.

Warner Bros. Discovery will juice its legacy IP with Lord of The Rings: The Hunt For Gollum (working title) and an unnamed second LOTR film to be produced by Peter Jackson, set for release in 2026.

Andy Serkis, originally made famous for his portrayal of Gollum many years ago, is a pioneer in motion capture. He will return, not only as the film’s star but as its director.

He has become the go-to guy for extensive mo-cap (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle). He also was Jackson’s second unit director for most of The Hobbit films. All in all, Jackson’s team looks to be excited.

But something is fishy.

This film is based on a character that was given a fitting end in the original trilogy, Gollum being burnt alive in the flames of Mount Doom (clip). The new films also do not seem to be prequels.

Some of this fuzzy logic could be traced back to the owners of the Lord of The Rings IP, Embracer Group. While Jackson has more or less respected Tolkien’s will, Embracer has always been a bit lax. Amazon’s Rings of Power was, by many measures, a very expensive flop, and it soured a lot of excitement from fans. But Embracer has put Gollum through the wringer in other media. Recently, Lord of the Rings: Gollum was acknowledged as the worst video game of 2023. A game so bad and poorly made it shuttered the doors of the studio that worked on it.

Why did they make a game about Gollum? Why are they bringing Gollum back from the dead to star in a movie? Let’s go to the source material, shall we?

Blinded by their greed, they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness.

A snarling Cannes package:

  • Belly of Beast
    • Starring: Ben Stiller, Colin Farrell
    • Dir: Andrew Haigh (All of Us Strangers)
    • Production Company: Village Roadshow
    • International sales rep: MK2 Films
    • Domestic Sales rep: CAA, UTA, Village Roadshow

Official synopsis:

The timely story of the unlikely friendship between notorious literary titan Norman Mailer (Stiller) and his protégé, Jack Henry Abbott (Farrell).

Bolstered by Mailer’s mentorship, Abbott is paroled after nearly a decade in prison; he gains instant popularity among the literary elite but struggles with life on the outside. When Mailer, creatively frustrated and envious of Jack’s rising star, turns his back on his infamous protégé, Jack spirals – committing an unforgivable act of violence in a New York City diner just six weeks after his release.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Krysten Ritter is the one who knocks. Following her breakout role as the recovering drug addict Jane Margolis opposite Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman in the acclaimed AMC drama Breaking Bad (2008-2013), she will now play a Queenpin in Stone Cold Fox.

Here’s the official synopsis:

In the ’80s-set revenge story, the defiant Fox breaks out of an abusive commune in search of her family, but when the queenpin (Ritter) kidnaps her little sister and sends a crooked cop (Kiefer Sutherland) after her, Fox has no choice but to infiltrate the very place she escaped.

The director, Sophie Tabet, stated Stone Cold Fox is:

“An ass-kicking, high-octane film about the complexities of non-belonging and making your own family as a means of survival.”

Ritter is no stranger to roles that explore her origin through stylized violence:

She has a certain vulnerable wickedness that makes her pitch perfect for these roles.

Filming for Stone Cold Fox is set for the summer.

Tidbit:

Tom Hiddleston and Willem Dafoe will play the first mountaineers to summit Everest in Tenzing.

Here’s the synopsis:

The untold and inspiring tale of one of the most important mountain climbers in history who, with Edmund Hillary (Hiddleston), became the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Dafoe is no stranger to extreme wilderness endurance. He played an Alaskan sled dog driver in Disney+’s surprisingly touching Toho (2019, trailer) and a bounty hunter in the unforgiving Outback in The Hunter (2011, trailer).

Jennifer Peedom will direct. She met Dafoe when he narrated her documentary Moutain (2017).

Tenzing will launch at Cannes with domestic sales reps, UTA Independent Film Group, and Cross City Films (See-Saw Films).

No Whammies! Paul Walter Hauser’s hot streak (Naked Gun reboot, Fantastic Four, Chris Farley biopic) continues as he plays the wildest game show con artist since Quiz Show (1994). Hauser will play Michael Larson, who famously memorized the pattern of flashing lights in the Press Your Luck game board and walked away with $110K, the largest prize in game show history in 1984.

The similarities between Hauser (first look still) and Larson (still) are uncanny.

The film also stars Walton Goggins (Fallout) and Johnny Knoxville. Protagonist Pictures and CAA Media Finance are the sales reps.

The Quadruple threat, Natasha Lyonne and her production company Animal Pictures to join forces in a first-look deal with Sister and their new Global CEO Cindy Holland.

At Netflix, Holland commissioned Russian Doll, the mystery comedy-drama starring Lyonne.

Among three other on-air projects, Animal Pictures backs Rian Johnson’s award-winning Peacock hit, Poker Face, in production on its second season, with Lyonne starring, writing, and directing.

Lyonne stated:

“I am profoundly excited to dive in on our new Animal slate with the extraordinary team at Sister. Joining forces with this brilliant, seasoned, and radical brain trust, led by CEO Cindy Holland, is deeply inspiring and motivating.”

We can’t wait for what they come up with.


FESTIVALS

Oz Perkins (son of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins) takes on Keeper. Perkins’ most recent project, Longlegs, co-starring Nicolas Cage, became a bit of an internet sensation when Neon released three terrifying tearers (Teaser 1, Teaser 2, Teaser 3). While Longlegs won’t be released until July, his new project has already been set.

Here are the details:

Here’s the official synopsis:

Keeper follows a couple as they escape for a romantic anniversary weekend at a secluded cabin. When Malcolm suddenly returns to the city, Liz (Maslany) finds herself isolated and in the presence of an unspeakable evil that unveils the cabin’s horrifying secrets.

Neon is launching the film at Cannes.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

2024 marks a busy year for Element Pictures. After securing 11 nominations and 4 Oscar wins this past March for satirical comedy Poor Things, they will have three groundbreaking films in the Cannes official selection this month, including another Lanthimos collaboration.

Co-founders and co-CEOs of Element Pictures Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe are particularly excited:

“We couldn’t be happier with the mix of titles we have heading to Cannes this year. It feels like a big achievement and reflective of the range of projects we like to work across.”

In addition to expanding to TV development with successful productions like Conversations with Friends (2022) and Hulu original Normal People (2020), Element Pictures has significantly returned to the Irish film community.

Tidbits:

Tracie Laymon​, the producer, director, and screenwriter of the SXSW winner and John Leguizamo starring ​Bob Trevino Likes It,​ has signed with Verve.

Synopsis:

After searching for her estranged father online, a people-pleasing young woman unexpectedly forms a close bond with a grieving, childless man (Leguizamo) with the same name as her father on Facebook.

Inspired by a true story.

Thelma, the Sundance darling picked up by Magnolia, just launched a trailer. The film stars June Squibb (Nebraska) as a 93-year-old Thelma Post who gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson; she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her.

Magnolia’s CEOs, Eamonn Bowles and Dori Begley, stated:

“Brilliantly marrying Magnolia’s love of action, revenge, and grandmothers, Thelma is totally unique yet universally irresistible.”

High-octane nonagenarian on the loose.

Release date: June 21st.


ON THIS DAY

1952. 5th Cannes Film Festival: The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice, directed by Orson Welles, and Two Cents Worth of Hope, directed by Renato Castellani, jointly awarded the Grand Prix.


That’s all for the week. See you Monday!


Written by Gabriel Miller, Spencer Carter, and Madelyn Menapace.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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