What Happened to Robert Zemeckis

Nine days before Halloween 2020, with very little pomp or ceremony, the streaming service HBO Max released a new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel The Witches for the hopeful viewing pleasure of its subscribers. The film boasted Academy-Award winning talent both behind and in front of the camera. Playing the Grand High Witch, that nefarious sorceress who wants to turn the children of the world into mice, there was Anne Hathaway chewing the scenery up and down with a blonde wig and an accent located somewhere north of Transylvania. As a feisty grandmother, there was Octavia Spencer dishing out tough love with some CGI mice hanging around her jacket pocket. 

But you can be forgiven for missing out on The Witches. This film, like so many others in 2020, was originally intended to be released theatrically before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and upended the plans of so many mice and men. Instead, at the beginning of October, HBO Max announced the arrival of The Witches to its streaming shores and then, poof, there it was. Watching The Witches is a traumatic experience. For the 1990 version directed by Nicolas Roeg, it’s traumatic because the film’s special effects, camera tricks, and Anjelica Huston performance scarred so many children. For this version, it’s traumatic because the film is…well, pretty terrible. It’s worth noting here is that the remake came from a pretty impressive source behind the camera, making the film’s poor quality all the more frustrating: Oscar-winning writer/director Robert Zemeckis.

It’s a song you’ve heard before, though, with Zemeckis: a filmmaker so focused on the perceived possibilities of special-effects technology that he misses the CGI forest for the character-driven trees. Zemeckis’ career is defined by his adoration of technological breakthroughs, but it often has come at the expense of good filmmaking. Here’s the rub: it all started with what is arguably the best film he’s ever made, and arguably one of the most important and influential films of the last 50 years: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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The Witches video

What do you get when you take three of Hollywood’s most creative minds – Robert Zemeckis, Guillermo del Toro, and Kenya Barris – and set them loose on an adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel?

Answer: The Witches, Zemeckis’s upcoming take on the story of a boy who discovers a conference of witches staying at a hotel and is subsequently transformed into a mouse. The movie unveiled its first trailer earlier this month along with the surprising news that it will be debuting directly on HBO Max, and now stars Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci are here with a new video pointing out exactly how you can spot a witch in this version of the story. Read More »

the witches hbo max

Robert Zemeckis‘ new adaptation of The Witches, based on the beloved 1983 supernatural children’s novel by Roald Dahl, is skipping theaters and heading straight to HBO Max. Originally set to open in theaters on October 9, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed Warner Bros. to take the film off the release calendar. But now the studio is taking a page from Disney’s book and dropping it exclusively on its WarnerMedia streaming service this October — just in time for spooky season. Watch The Witches trailer below.

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Pinocchio Remake Tom Hanks

Disney’s live-action Pinocchio remake might be a reunion for Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks. Zemeckis is attached to helm the film and now a report states that Hanks is being courted to play old Italian puppet-maker Geppetto. This isn’t the first time Hanks’ name has been floated for the part – when the project was first announced, Paddington director Paul King was set to helm and Hanks was being considered for the Geppetto role then as well.

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Back to the Future Reunion

Hoping to help us keep our sanity while the coronavirus pandemic continues, Josh Gad has put together a nostalgic web series called Reunited Apart that remotely reunites the cast and filmmakers from some of the most beloved films in cinema history. The series kicked off with The Goonies reunion, but the second episode gets really heavy. The cast and filmmakers of the Back to the Future trilogy reunited to look back at the making of the movie, do some readings of memorable scenes, and even participate in some good old fashioned movie trivia. Read More »

Back to the Future Problem

The original Back to the Future is largely considered to be a perfect movie. It’s a tight, clever, and fun screenplay that pays off everything it sets up in a very satisfying way, and Robert Zemeckis directed and co-wrote the hell out of it with Bob Gale. However, there’s one long-standing question that fans have pondered over the years, and after Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn called attention to it recently, Bob Gale himself explained the “problem” away. Read More »

Welcome to Marwen

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch a video essay that dives into the filmography of Robert Zemeckis and how the director became too obsessed with the tools he wanted to use for filmmaking and lost quality storytelling in the process. Plus, see The Witcher star Henry Cavill break down a fight sequence the Netflix’s adaptation of the fantasy novels and video game series, and check out some amusing bloopers from the Disney+ series from High School Musical: The Musical. Read More »

ares robert zemeckis

Robert Zemeckis, who currently has The Witches in post-production, already has something new lined-up. The filmmaker is set to helm Ares, a sci-fi thriller from Captain Marvel writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet. The story follows an astronaut who discovers his mission was part of a much bigger conspiracy. And knowing Zemeckis, the film will probably be filled with a lot of special effects.

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Disney Pinocchio Remake

It’s been four years since Disney announced that Pinocchio would be getting the live-action remake treatment that the studio is obsessed with these days. Since then, directors like Sam Mendes (Skyfall) and Paul King (Paddington) have been linked to the project, but they both eventually fell away. Now Disney has lined up a new director, and this one has a hit or miss past with Disney.

Robert Zemeckis is now in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, the story of a wooden puppet who magically comes to life and wishes to become a real boy. After the hellish and abysmal Welcome to Marwen, I’m not sure I want to see Zemeckis tackle a movie that has anything remotely resembling a doll or a puppet. But here we are. Read More »

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forrest gump sequel

There was almost a Forrest Gump sequel, but we were never got to see more of the maudlin adventures of Tom Hanks’ accidental witness to history. In a recent interview, screenwriter Eric Roth revealed he completed a script for a sequel, and let’s just say the ideas contained therein were a bit off-the-wall. And to make this whole experience extra surreal, Roth claims it was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that officially stopped Forrest Gump 2 from ever seeing the light of day.

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