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Ron Howard’s beautiful mind

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

Pixar’s buzzcut, Amazonian Animals, Cannes loves Mikey Madison, Glen Powell Can Wait, Dwayne Johnson is not Dwayne Johnson, and file sharing.

Let’s go!


RON HOWARD’S BEAUTIFUL MIND

Ron Howard’s passion project is a murder mystery.

Oscar winner Howard (A Beautiful Mind) caught the bug to direct Eden while visiting the Galapagos fifteen years ago.

Here’s the official synopsis:

A group of people fueled by a profound desire for change; in order to turn their back to society, they leave everything behind and set their futures on the harsh landscape of the Galapagos.

The film stars Sydney Sweeney, Jude Law, and Ana de Armas (Blonde) and seems to be a spiritual cousin to Howard’s older iconic work and recent fare.

Apollo 13 (1995) also followed a group who left society (temporarily on a rocket) and faced their own harsh landscape (a ruptured spacecraft).

Howard’s latest narrative feature, Thirteen Lives (2022), also dealt with a deadly landscape: a flooded cave in Thailand, which divers braved to rescue a trapped soccer team.

In both 13 projects, Howard employed the real-life astronauts and divers whom the scripts depicted to make his films authentic.

Howard discussed:

“When audiences invest in individual characters, you don’t know what scar tissue they will take away… what it might have been to live through it… we never wanted to sentimentalize this.”

What’s clear is that Howard’s bread and butter is diving into deeply terrifying stories of human potential, whether it be a rescue mission in space or a Thai cave.

What will be interesting about his latest Eden is to see if he can work the same narrative magic into this work of pure fiction.

For More:

Eden is rumored to premiere at Venice.

Apollo 13 trailer.

Thirteen Lives (2022) trailer.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Simon Kinberg is in talks to produce a reboot of Star Trek, focusing on a prequel film set in the original series timeline and not the 2009 world created by J.J. Abrams.

Kinberg is a prolific producer who was a driving force behind the X-Men film franchise. He started as a screenwriter with Mr. and Mrs. Smith and became a powerful producing force in Hollywood, going on to produce The Martian (2015) and Logan (2017).

This will not affect the planned Star Trek 4, which is currently being penned by Steve Yockey, but it will be interesting to see the public’s view of two different Star Treks existing simultaneously.

With the TV series also running, we are verging on 4 Spocks… that’s quite possibly too much.

Pixar cuts 14% of its staff. Sadly, the animation studio has announced that it has laid off about 175 employees. With Disney’s well-known content pivot, it’s sadly not a surprise. The company is trying to wrangle its streaming service, which, in many ways, seems to have done more harm than good. Blaming poor box-office sales on simultaneously releasing in theaters and streaming.

Although by no means a critical failure, the last four Pixar movies:

  • Elemental (2023)
  • ​​Lightyear (2022)
  • ​​Turning Red (2022)
  • ​​Luca (2021)

Have not shared the rampant critical or commercial success that epitomized the studio’s early work.

Pixar is not down and out, though. They have Inside Out 2 coming out in June, and the launch of their first original series is headed for Disney+ later this year.

Amazon MGM is turning to a life of crime. They will produce Crime 101 based on the novella by Don Winslow (author/co-writer of Oliver Stone’s Savages).

Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth are attached to star.

Here is the novella’s official synopsis:

A string of high-level jewel heists up and down the Pacific Coast Highway has gone unsolved for years, mostly because the perpetrator has lived by a strict code he calls “Crime 101”. Police attribute the thefts to the Colombian cartels. But Detective Lou Lubesnick’s gut says it’s the work of just one man. Now the lone-wolf jewel thief is looking for that fabled final last score, and Lou breaks all the rules of “Crime 101”.

This seems fairly routine, EXCEPT that American Animals (2018) director Bart Layton is the project’s director/co-writer.

American Animals was one of my favorite films of 2018.

The film tells the real-life tale of a group of college kids who decide to steal millions worth of rare books from their college library—the only one standing in their way: an elderly librarian. The film masterfully cuts into documentary interviews of the real-life perpetrators.

I’m beyond excited to see what Layton does next.

Fred Roos has passed away at 89. Here’s his stunning credit list:

  • The Godfather Part II (1974)
    • Co-Producer
  • The Conversation (1974)
    • Co-Producer
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
    • Co-Producer
  • St. Vincent (2014)
    • Producer
  • Priscilla (2023)
    • EP
  • Megalopolis (2024)
    • EP

He also served as casting director on The Godfather (1972) and Five Easy Pieces (1970) and launched the careers of Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford.

He will be missed.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Cannes falls in love with young starlet Mikey Madison in Sean Baker’s screwball comedy Anora.

Sean Baker, a master of beautifully portraying contemporary America in an overwhelmingly authentic way, just as he did in his critically acclaimed Florida Project (2017) and his most recent comedy, Red Rocket (2021), is making waves at Cannes with his chaotic and hysterically funny film, Anora.

The nightmare romcom, Anora, follows sex worker Ani (Madison), who finds herself in a genuine romantic entanglement with the son of a Russian oligarch that quickly turns messy and even dangerous, taking place in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

After leaving behind competitive horseback riding, Mikey Madison in 2016 earned a starring role in the FX comedy-drama series Better Things, created by Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, renewed for its fifth and final season in 2022 (trailer).

The young actress earned further recognition as the infamous Susan “Sadie” Atkins, a member of Charles Manson’s “Family” in Quentin Tarantino’s dark comedy Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). Most recently, Madison starred as the unlikable antagonist, Amber Freeman, in the fifth Scream (2022) installment (*spoiler*) and appeared in Scream VI (2023) the following year.

Madison’s spirited performance as the formidable lead Ani in Anora is true heart of the film. Baker seems to have a real eye for spotting underrated talent, clearly hitting the jackpot with Mikey Madison.

Glen Powell Can Wait. Powell is set to star in Heaven Can Wait, a reboot of the charming 1978 film starring Warren Beatty.

Here’s the official synopsis for the original:

A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die, returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

The film opens with a great scene of Beatty stuck in heaven, quibbling with an angel over his actual date of death, which they determine is:

March 20th, 2025

This right-on-time reboot is another perfect vehicle for Powell to flex both his comedic charm (Anyone But You) and dramatic chops (Hit Man, Twisters).

Aaron Eckhart Has Fallen into becoming president…again. Eckhart, who played the US President in Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), is reprising his role in a different action picture: Raider.

Here’s the synopsis:

The first independent president in U.S. history, and is sworn in, but discovers that the presidency has been controlled by a powerful shadow organization for decades. This president decides to fight back to save his family and the country.

Simon West (Expendables 2) will direct. Production is set for the fall.

Best of Eckhart as president clip.

Tidbit:

Triangle of Sadness actress Dolly DeLeon is set to play the mother of a catholic priest killer. Production for the series Severino: The First Serial Killer begins in September.

De Leon was the greatest part of the Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Triangle of Sadness. She played Abigail, a toilet cleaner turned captain of the survivors of a marooned luxury cruise. Her newfound megalomania is marvelous to watch (clip).

Dwayne Johnson looks unrecognizable in Benny Safdie’s (dir: Uncut Gems) new A24 film The Smashing Machine. First look still.


FESTIVALS

Cate Blanchett’s accelerator program has selected eight emerging filmmakers from over 1200 applicants.

​Here are my favorites:

  • Sisters of Scott County

​Synopsis:

When a foreclosure notice threatens their family farm, Cherry Mary and her redheaded sisters will have to pull off the biggest moonshine heist in history to save it. Inspired by 1970s films like “Smokey and the Bandit,” this action-packed female trucker movie is about family, legacy and destiny.

Synopsis:

When the feuding co-stars of a hit TV show find themselves flung back in time to the Salem Witch Trials, rewriting history is the only way they’ll survive.

And if you’d like to read the script for the finale of the last season of True Detective, written by Issa López. You can check out the script here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Joachim Trier’s cinema is louder than bombs. Trier has directed a trio of powerful films:

  • Oslo, August 31st (2011)
  • Louder Than Bombs (2015)
    • Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne
    • Official Selection Cannes
    • The ultra slow-mo scenes are burned in my cerebrum
    • ​Trailer​
  • The Worst Person in the World (2021)
    • Official Selection Cannes
    • An excellent surrealness to it
    • ​Trailer​

His films serve as meditations on love and time. His next movie is Sentimental Value.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Follows actress Nora and her sister Agnes as they mourn the loss of their mother and adjust to the return of their father Gustav. Gustav has written a script and offered the main part to his daughter Nora, but she categorically refuses the role.

Neon has just taken North American rights for the project, and it will be shot later this year and distributed in 2025.

Big Venice Film Festival winner Hanna Västinsalo’s new sophomore project is Will O’ the Wisp.

Set in 19th-century Finland, the story follows Elina, a courageous young woman who defies the darkness of her circumstances, choosing resilience over despair. When offered a chance at redemption by enigmatic water spirits, she embarks on a tumultuous journey, navigating the complexities of motherhood and survival.

The Finnish writer-director debut feature, Palimpsest (2022) (trailer), which took home the HFPA Special Prize at Venice, is a sci-fi tale about a new experimental trial that de-ages elderly bodies while claiming to keep their memories intact.

With production beginning this fall, Will O’ the Wisp will expand upon the narrative of Västinsalo’s 2009 short film of the same title.

Tidbits:

Metrograph bought North American rights for the Corsican crime saga The Kingdom (detailed in yesterday’s edition) following its Cannes Un Certain Regard premiere.

Head of Metrograph Pictures, David Laub, stated:​

“The film provides an entirely fresh and compelling perspective on a mafia movie, while also being a tremendously emotional father-daughter story. It is an absolute gem that will surprise, move, and stay with audiences, and we’re so excited to bring it out into the world.”

No word on the release date.

A24 loves Hugh Jackman in tights. They have just acquired US rights for The Death of Robin Hood, which stars Jackman as the man in tights. The director is Michael Sarnoski (PigA Quiet Place: Day One).

Paramount+’s How Music Got Free takes us inside the seismic turning point in the music industry, where the CD gold rush cratered with the introduction of file sharing. Trailer here.


ON THIS DAY

2009. Léa Seydoux receives the Cannes Film Festival’s Trophée Chopard.


See you tomorrow.


 

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

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

 

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