Close this search box.

Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx & an inconvenient truth

This article first appeared as a daily newsletter. To receive these direct to your inbox every morning sign up to The Industry Newsletter!

Sponsored by:

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

Participant’s truth, Austin Butler’s flaming city, Riz Ahmed goes wes, Josh Mond is back and a Meerkat.

Let’s go!


Participant Media, which specialized in films with a strong social message, has shut down, laying off nearly all its 100 staff.

Here are their most well-known films and their impact on society:

  • An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
    • Drove global climate change awareness
  • Spotlight (2015)
    • Sparked interest in investigative journalism
    • Reignited the push for institutional accountability for victims of clergy sexual abuse
  • Roma (2018)
    • Led to landmark legislation for labor protections of domestic workers in Mexico

They also produced Best Picture winner Green Book (2018).

Their films garnered 21 total Oscars in their two decades of existence. They produced 135 total films, which netted $3.3 bn globally at the box office.

But for all the prestige and powerful impact, many of them were not able to recoup.

Including a few high-profile misses:

  • The Soloist (2009)
    • Starring Jamie Foxx & Robert Downey Jr.
    • $38 M worldwide gross
    • $60 M budget
  • Promised Land (2012)
    • Starring Matt Damon
    • $11 M worldwide gross
    • $15M budget + $X million in marketing

The company’s founder, billionaire Jeff Skoll, who was the first president of eBay said in a memo to his staff yesterday morning:

“I founded Participant with the mission of creating world-class content that inspires positive social change, prioritizing impact alongside commercial sustainability. Since then, the entertainment industry has seen revolutionary changes in how content is created, distributed and consumed.”

Read the full memo here.

It appears that the current constriction of the film industry was a driving force behind the shutdown. And Skoll took that as the impetus to move on to new opportunities.

The legacy has been unparalleled, but a few smaller production companies, like Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY and the Obama’s Higher Ground, have recently taken up the mantle.

Participant’s final films will be A24’s Blknws and Lionsgate’s White Bird (starring Helen Mirren).

For More:

Billed as the most terrifying film you will ever see. An Inconvenient Truth trailer.

How do you say “no” to the press? Spotlight trailer.

Alfonso Cuarón’s most personal film. Roma trailer.


Sony’s 3000 is on fire. Their latest project, City on Fire, has some hot attachments:

  • City on Fire
    • Starring: Austin Butler
    • Writer: Justin Kuritzkes (Zendaya’s Challengers, Daniel Craig’s Queer)
    • Producer: Butler and David Heyman (Barbie, Wonka)

Here’s the synopsis of City on Fire:

Two criminal empires together control all of New England.

Until a beautiful woman comes between the Irish and the Italians, launching a war that will see them kill each other, destroy an alliance, and set a city on fire.

Danny Ryan yearns for a more “legit” life and a place in the sun. But as the bloody conflict stacks body on body and brother turns against brother, Danny has to rise above himself. He becomes a leader, a ruthless strategist, and a master of a treacherous game in which the winners live and the losers die.

Don Winslow, the author of the acclaimed book on which the film is based, is a bit of a rock star. Read his first-person account of challenging a mobster financier for the full 100K he was owed.

City on Fire is currently in development.

Beep Beep! The next big Warner Bros. Animation (that hopefully won’t be shelved) is Meerkat Manor. The upcoming film is based on the 2005 – 2008 Discover Channel series, considered the network’s highest-rated show, reaching 204 M households.

Seth Green (The Italian Job) and his producing partner Tracy Falco will serve as producers.

They stated:

“Meerkats have been secondary characters in animated feature films and it’s time they get the star treatment they’ve deserved. We believe that the heartwarming and entertaining story of Meerkat Manor, replete with all the drama, emotion and humor of the human experience, will resonate with audiences of all ages.”

The original Discover creators (Caroline Hawkins and Clare Birks) will serve as EPs.

WB Pictures co-chair and CEOs Pam Abdy and Mike De Luca aim to make Meerkat Manor their next flagship animated film.

Stop your day and watch this clip from the show (which aired in 2005) of tiny meerkat pups.

Gosh, we miss Animal Planet.


Lee Hollin, EVP Television & Head, Current Programming at Lionsgate, signed a multi-year deal to stay at the company. Hollin oversees a plethora of shows, including Apple’s Mythic Quest and the Power universe (currently CBS’s Power Book III: Raising Kanan).

Tyler Perry renews all eight of his BET shows. It’s part of his new non-exclusive multi-year deal with the cable channel. Notably, Perry bid for BET network last year when the network considered selling.


Who stands up to a man in full? In the new Jeff Daniels-helmed Netflix series A Man in Full, Daniels plays a hopped-up real estate mogul who, upon facing bankruptcy, goes hellfire on his enemies. It’s hard to tell from the trailer if his performance is constantly at a 10 or if the edit just earmarked him at his most hyperbolic, bile-spitting southern rage.

Who stood out in the trailer was Daniels’ nemesis in the series, played by Bill Camp.

Camp has played across so many incredible projects:

In A Man in Full, Camp tackles Daniels’ bile with a smirk and some acerbic dialogue of his own.

The series will be released on May 2nd on Netflix.

Riz Ahmed takes on Comedy. He will join Wes Anderson’s new film Phoenician Scheme. This is generally against type for Ahmed, whose last comedic role that comes to mind was in HBO’s Girls (clip), where he plays Lena Dunham’s baby daddy.

Ahmed has an immense flair for stylized performance that may fit nicely into the Anderson world, with the most pronounced example being Nightcrawler (2014). Watch how he slips into the skin of a nervous freelancer while meeting Jake Gyllenhaal for the oddest job interview of all time (clip).

Ahmed usually plays characters that get the short end of the stick (The Night Of, Sound of Metal), which births a squirmy physicalization that might feel alien in the meticulously architected Anderson performances.


A flurry of casting updates:

We’re excited to see Anderson step back into the spotlight.


Stonestreet Studios offers summer residency programs that immerse actors in a state-of-the-art film studio set.

They equip actors with an understanding of screen performance techniques and the entire filmmaking process, from scripting to shooting to editing, so they can become the producers of their own careers.

Some of their alums include:

  • Miles Teller (Whiplash),
  • Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
  • Idina Menzel (Frozen, Wicked)

They offer one residency program in New York & one in Los Angeles professionally or for credit* that includes:

  • Screen Acting & Production
  • Directing the Actor
  • Creating Your Own Material
  • Producing Your Own Career
  • Screen Audition & Industry Prep
  • Weekly Industry Auditions

Successful completion of the full program leaves students with a polished original pilot, film, or series, as well as a newfound familiarity with the NY &/or LA landscape.

This residency provides an unparalleled opportunity for screen actors to advance their career.

The NY residencies begin May 20th & July 8th. The LA residency program is a four-week program from June 3rd – June 28th.

For More info:

*Stonestreet Residency Program can be taken for credit or non-credit as Stonestreet is the exclusive screen acting & production residency program for NYU Tisch Drama degree program.

Cannes’ Director’s fortnight is announced. Here are a few films of note:

  • Good One
    • Premiered at Sundance
    • Plot: During a weekend backpacking trip in the Catskills, 17-year-old Sam navigates the clash of egos between her father and his oldest friend
    • Distributor: Metrograph Pictures
    • First look still
  • Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point
    • Starring Michael Cera, Elsie Fisher, Francesca Scorsese
    • Plot: On Christmas Eve, a family gathers for what could be the last holiday in their ancestral home. As the night wears on and generational tensions arise, one of the teenagers sneaks out with her friends to claim the wintry suburb for her own.

Check out the full line-up here.


Josh Mond’s returns with another Christopher Abbott-starring indie. If you managed to catch James White (2015), Mond’s directorial debut which won the audience award at Sundance, you’ll know it’s a fever dream of asphyxiation, a masterclass in first-person filmmaking tied in with a taut narrative about the demon’s of impending loss (trailer).

Mond’s latest, his first in almost a decade, is It Doesn’t Matter.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A dramedy exploring the redemptive bond between a lost Staten Island man and a young filmmaker.

If that sounds pedestrian, Mond is impeccable at upending expectations. Check out this surreal first-look image of Abbott and some tweety birds.

The film will premiere at the Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema in France, parallel to Cannes.

We’ll circle back with a director’s interview at a later date.

There’s a long history of stunt coordinators turning to directing. Famously Chad Stahelski (John Wick) and David Leitch (The Fall Guy). Now, Zoë Bell will take the reigns for her directorial debut, Free Fall.

Bell has stunt coordinated:

  • Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Here’s the official synopsis of Free Fall:

A father attempts to mend fences with his separated daughter during a climbing trip that turns tragically wrong when an incident leaves them stranded.

Zachary Levi (Shazam!) is set to star.

Bell stated:

“This script is the perfect combo of heartfelt and heart-stopping… between the producing team, the cast and the New Zealand crews, words don’t do justice to how thrilled I am to be bringing this film home.”

XYZ Films is the production company. Free Fall will film later this year in New Zealand.


Fremantle has extended its first-look deal with Fabula, helmed by Pablo Larraín and his brother Juan de Dios Larraín, to develop and globally distribute original dramas and films. The pair previously produced Jackie (2016) and Spencer (2021).

Under their original partnership with Fremantle, they produced three series, including the upcoming Apple TV+ medical drama Midnight Family.

Fremantle’s COO of global drama stated:

“Pablo and Juan encapsulate the bold and inventive filmmaking we proudly support at Fremantle and I am delighted that our renewed deal means working even closer with them.”

We look forward to seeing their next film produced with Fremantle, Maria starring Angelina Jolie.


2011. Game of Thrones premieres on HBO.

See you Thursday.

Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

Share the Post:

Other Editions