This is what happens when you get the sniffles and ignore the beat for a couple of hours: the world of Hollywood deals starts exploding with awfulness. Something in the Elm Street-verse started feeling askew a few weeks ago when Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, said he thought it was a good idea to remake Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare on Elm Street and perhaps pass his claw on to someone else. Word arrives today that production house Platinum Dunes (of which Michael Bay is a partner) and New Line Cinema are setting a plan into motion to completely revamp the franchise, just like they’re doing with Friday the 13th and Jason Voorhees, which starts filming in early May. Platinum Dunes have previously set their signature glossy and tan paws on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eric Red’s The Hitcher and the upcoming Hitchcock-remake The Birds.
A writer will not be hired for the project until after the strike, and no director is attached. Like I said, Englund probably won’t be back. Platinum Dunes can have Jason, fine. Those films are addictive T&A crowd-pleasers and I’m sure they’ll make Crystal Lake shimmer and pop like an airbrushed painting on the side of a stoner van. But ANOES needs a visionary director that will keep the 10-year-old kids who sneak into the remake up in sheer fright for years. This is real deal psychological horror, complete with dream logic, and not simply “caller’s in the house” cliche after cliche, though Craven’s film did that well, as well. I mean, can you imagine the ghostly girls jumping rope singing “3, 4 better lock your door” in Bay-protege-o-vision? Why not just ring up Larry Flynt to do the casting and work the water hose?
The blame here really goes to New Line, though. Freddy Krueger saved that studio’s arse several times throughout its history, and while a ANOES remake is never going to compete with The Hobbit for box office, is it too much to ask to hand the franchise over to a director who will leave the throbbing hormones to the other schlock that passes for horror these days? Johnny Depp might have even done a cameo if it was up to snuff. As for Englund, if he’s okay with ending his contribution with Freddy vs. Jason, who can argue? He’s not right for a water hose reimagining anyhow.
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It amazes and terrifies me that so few filmmakers are as open, interested and engaged in the torrent phenomena as director John August. You might remember that earlier this month we reported on August’s curious announcement to fans that his indie film (and /Film favorite), The Nines, was available for illegal download online via Bit Torrent and sites like Mininova. He seemed to express that he wouldn’t hold a grudge if you saw his film that way. Well, August has posted twice more on the topic on his personal blog, and he now attributes a huge surge for The Nines on IMDB’s MOVIEmeter (which measures movie search trends) from 1,539 all the way to 11 to its exposure via the Internet’s torrents.
You don’t see a lot, actually any, directors making the correlation between illegal torrent leaks of their films, their films’ popularity and consumer interest, but August has voiced up. And it’s clear that August has received a lot of flack for doing so, as he’s extended on his prior statements and countered others’ directed at him in another blog entry.
I’m not bouncy with joy over my movie getting torrented, but I think it’s a stretch to equate unlawful downloading with traditional theft. As many commenters have pointed out, The Nines isn’t available in any legal form in many countries around the world, nor will it be in any foreseeable time frame. So I have a hard time arguing that a reader in Germany should pay for the movie when there’s no way he could.
August goes on to say that he has far less tolerance for viewers who download a film that is openly available to them, be it on DVD or theatrically, but even then, he seems to think that downloading his film is less harmful than buying a bootleg of it on the streets of New York, referring to the latter as “organized crime” and torrent sites as merely “far less noble.” Moreover, he says that Hollywood should lay off the downloaders and lay on an innovative solution.
I’d steer the legal machinery towards stopping the true black market – counterfeit discs and camcorder specials – and spend more time coming up with legitimate, convenient alternatives to the torrents, so that’s it’s not any more difficult to find and download a movie legally. Apple’s new rental deal with the studios sounds promising. That and a dozen other efforts could make the market competitive, which will be better for everyone.
But where August takes a next step in becoming a unique voice on this subject is with the following statement…
One of the things I hope to do with The Nines – sometime after the writers’ strike, when I can call Sony again – is work with them to release a low-res version of all the source material for The Nines, so budding filmmakers can try their hand at cutting (and re-cutting) a real feature. So I’m watching this first wave of torrents carefully, hoping the people who are downloading The Nines are doing it because they love movies, and not because they want to screw over some mythical The Man. Because to a very large degree, I am The Man in this case.
Yes! This is the kind of forward-thinking the industry needs and props to August for doing it for them. I cannot express enough how frustrated I am watching Hollywood slowly but surely follow the same “all defense all the time” path as the music industry when it comes to ignoring downloading as the future (in favor of Blue Ray), going after torrent communities and prosecuting downloaders, and practicing what basically equates to an erred philosophy on human beings’ relationship and instincts in regards to sharing information.
The fact that 99 percent of all moviegoers around the world were put in the position of waiting to see The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, an Oscar-caliber film barely released theatrically in America last September, until it arrived on DVD five or more months (or years) later, or illegally downloading a pristine DVD screener a month ago, burning it to a DVD-R, and watching it in their home with friends or loved ones is preposterous. I have a separate post about this in the works, but I can’t help but notice how many more comments on /Film and other sites are now referring to a combination of smaller, less intriguing and under-distributed movies as “[illegal] download only” and “maybe I’ll download it to see what the fuss is about.” And it’s not just the “nerds, criminals, derelicts and college students” as the music industry used to label those who first adopted Napster.
As for whether illegal torrents can actually make films more popular, to me this is a no-brainer. Yes. They Can. In a global marketplace, we should all be able to view movies on demand via the Internet at the same time. And more and more, we can, except that it’s not Hollywood and the big corporations that are promoting, initiating, investing, improving and expanding this means of populist, and incredibly lucrative, distribution. It’s the people, whatever you think of “the people.” You can go the Daniel Plainview these people route if you want, but I’m leaving that mindset to the antiquated oil set.
Here is the aforementioned IMBD MOVIEmeter for The Nines. August attributes the huge surge in January in terms of movie searches to the film’s leak on torrents this month.
At /Film we try not to post anything that would be considered celebrity gossip. Last week in one of my Sundance blogs I wrote about my unfortunate experience meeting Quentin Tarantino after a screening of Hell Ride. A reader who had read my posting just sent me this video showing Quentin Tarantino attacking a paparazzi with a video camera while in Park City.
I’m not a supporter of the paparazzi, but at the same time, I think Tarantino’s reaction was totally unnecessary. My mom always told me that two wrongs don’t make a right. He could have easily just walked away. And even sadder, Tarantino’s comment leads me to believe that he actually believed the guy was a Park City local with a video camera and not a paparazzi, yet still acted the way he did.
What a badass… /sarcasm
[flv:http://slashplay.com/tarantinopap.flv 470 264]
Dimension‘s remake of Clive Barker‘s original Hellraiser has been pushed back from its scheduled September 5, 2008 release to an undetermined date in 2009. According to Bloody Disgusting, the Weinstein Co. and Dimension were not popping bottles of Cristal over the script by French director team Alexander Bustillo and Julien Maury (Inside), though the duo are still attached to bring Pinhead the $60 million box office grosses he craves.
Unlike Halloween and Michael Myers, I think it’s fair to say that most people can recognize Pinhead, but far, far less have ever viewed a Hellraiser film. The character’s highest grossing theatrical flick was 1996′s Hellraiser: Bloodline, the fourth installment, which cha-chinged $16 million in ticket sales. I count eight total films total, though several have been designated, unsurprisingly, straight to DVD. Truth is, these movies are a little icky like the word “moist.”
There’s still no word on whether the actor better known as Pinhead, Doug Bradley, will be back. Bradley ties Robert Englund for playing the same horror character eight consecutive times in a film. Who’s going to stop him now? Johnny Depp?
Director Terry Gilliam is said to have his sights on Johnny Depp to finish a presumable portion of what remains of Heath Ledger‘s role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The news comes from Rupert Murdoch’s scandal-obsessed UK paper The Sun, complete with a quote from an unnamed studio source…
“There is a point in the film when Heath falls through a magic mirror,” says the anonymous source. “He could change into another character after that and that is where Johnny would come in. It’s a weird, fantasy, time-travel movie so Heath’s character could easily change appearance. It would be a poignant moment. Johnny’s not working at the moment so everyone is praying he will do it.”
Now, this sounds like it could be legit, as Gilliam and Depp previously collaborated on the infamous The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a movie that was canceled mid-production due to an actor’s serious illness, as well as floods, a possible voodoo curse et al. And then there’s Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which clearly marked a personal career highlight for Depp. And as you can see, Depp and Ledger are often shown wearing fedoras, sunglasses and artiste ‘staches in photos, so there’s a shared appearance and sensibility.
On one hand, Depp would be paying a nice tribute to Ledger if he goes for it and saving Gilliam yet another dashed vision on his record; on the other, if Depp’s not interested, this is a messed up way to create an obligation via the media, no matter the source.
Joining United Artists, the Weinstein Co. and Worldwide Pants in the “If we can do it, so can you” club, Marvel Studios and Lionsgate made interim deals today with the Writer’s Guild that allow their studios to return to business as normal.
We’re very excited about our summer releases Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, and look forward to resuming work with writers on our future projects including Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, and The Avengers,” said Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel in a press release.
Wouldn’t it be dandy if Marvel took a cue from Troma’s Toxie and started releasing in-person statements via Ant-Man? And I guess The Avengers is top priority, for realz. Like a masked person’s secret identity, details of Marvel’s agreement were not disclosed, while Lionsgate’s is similar to UA and WWP. Furthering the cause, Lionsgate drew a rainbow with its finger, saying…
“The writers’ issue seems on its way to being solved, and Lionsgate felt it was an important time, particularly in view of our television series, to have our writer partners get back to work. We look forward to a broad industry agreement soon.”
Just as American Gladiators was putting a death grip on the nation’s feigning attention!
Quicksand? Stairs coming out of walls right out of an M.C. Escher work? A box labeled Roswell? Shia cracking teacher jokes to Ford? Is this what we can expect from the first trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that will be attached to The Spiderwick Chronicles on February 15th? The following description is from a spy over at AICN…
The trailer starts off with the Paramount logo, then shows the idol from the start of RAIDERS.
Words comes across the screen and say, “He found the Ark…”
Then clips from TEMPLE OF DOOM as it says, “He survived the Temple…”
Then clips of the third movie and, “He saved the Grail.”
Then it shows a clip of a car pulling up and Indiana being thrown from the car. Then it says, “On May 22nd… he is back,” and it shows him picking up his hat and the silhouette of Indiana Jones. Cue theme song.
Some really fast action scenes follow, and the highlight is a car chase scene in the warehouse where RAIDERS ends. One quick shot shows a box that is labled “Roswell”. The trailer shows Cate Blanchett with dark hair ordering around troops.
The teaser then shows what looks to be a huge Mayan temple where the actors fall through quicksand, and the temple opens up and they start running down a long staircase where the stairs are coming out from the walls.
After some more quick action scenes, the trailer ends with Shia Labeouf standing at the bottom of stairs and looking up to Harrison Ford. Shia says, “I thought you said you were a teacher?!?!”
After two quick scenes where Indiana is punching a guy, it cuts back to Harrison and he replies, “Part time!”
I wasn’t expecting much, but I was more than surprised and pleased with what I saw.
If this is not what the trailer plays like, it’s a bit of hilarious guessing. If it is legit, sounds playful, a little cornball and just enough to set fans’ anticipation a fire.
Twenty-three days into the month of January, Michael Moore is getting proactive about his New Year’s resolution: he wants one screen in every multiplex in America reserved for foreign films and documentaries. So, how’s your newly implemented exercise regime going so far, everybody? Here’s Moore…
“People want to see documentaries, but there’s a disconnect between that desire and the exhibitors out there,” Moore tells the Hollywood Reporter. “We’re not asking for charity. …This could be on the 15th screen of a multiplex that would otherwise have the sixth showing of the new Harry Potter movie. Some of these films make $200 or $300 per screen.”
If you’re saying to yourself, “Well Michael, I’d like to see that too, and I’d also like to see my college loans turn into Ferraris,” you should know that Moore says he’s spoken to board members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as unnamed documentary directors, industry publicists and marketers in hopes of setting his resolution in motion. His next step is to sit down with the heads of theater chains to get down to what a QT character might call brass tax. No word on whether he’ll sit down with a video camera on his shoulder, but I’d say one of his trusty hats is a lock for a cameo.
And hey, if the theater chains’ top suits won’t give him one screen per cineplex, he says Mondays, which draw reliably weak box office, are ideal common ground. Who else sees Mark Cuban getting involved in this shortly, because I’m getting visions like The Dead Zone? Moore’s ultimate goal is to see foreign films and documentaries unleashed from the “art house ghetto” and into the glorious pits of suburbia, where Diablo Cody once wrote the script to Juno inside a Starbucks nestled inside a Target (or so she says, I’ll go ahead and save you the comment, thanks).
Now, I think Moore’s mission is commendable. My mom needs something to do on Monday nights besides calling me up to fuss over election coverage and personally I don’t give a damn what Hollywood Elsewhere spews, Americans are more open to indie films and foreign films than ever. Unfortunately (but semi-fortunately), the torrent boom plays a huge part in this, but I’ll save that aspect for another post that is a longtime coming. But, yes, the distribution is out-of-whack, too. If Sicko, Moore’s doc about the health-care crisis in America, can gross $25 million, his ideas on documentary and indie distribbing deserve to be heard and pondered. Imagine Tony Kaye’s Lake of Fire playing five miles away from you next Monday.
There is nothing like walking out of a movie into the night and hitting an aloof stride on the parking lot with a wedgie in your ideologies. To adjust or not to adjust. That is the question we need more of.
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