It almost seems inevitable.
First, you've got that moment when a comic performer breaks through giving a performance in a supporting role in someone else's film, and everyone goes crazy about how good they are and then next thing you know, scripts that have been sitting around in development get hastily rewritten and that supporting part that was created for Jim Carrey is suddenly just right for this person, and this film that was just sort of stalled out is suddenly a priority because that's the reward for that breakthrough moment, even though nine times out of ten, that reward ends up being sort of terrible.
It is a perfect example of how the best intentions, and the most logical business practices, can still result in a flat-out terrible movie. Right now, we're about to see what happened because of every single review that pointed out how funny Melissa McCarthy was in "Bridesmaids." When I visited the set for that film, it was obvious immediately that whatever McCarthy was doing, she wasn't doing it halfway. She was very funny in conversation, but she was also very clear about how much work she'd done to help figure out the character she was playing. And by the time the work-in-progress screening at SXSW finished, it was obvious that she had pretty much wrestled "Bridesmaids" to the floor and beaten it senseless.
It almost seems inevitable.
At this point, I will only be treating it as news when JJ Abrams is not attached in some way to a new film in development. It will be easier for all involved, I believe.
One of the first things I did when I got home from dropping the kids off at school this morning was hopped on Kotaku to watch them live-blog an event at the D.I.C.E. Summit where JJ Abrams was onstage with Valve's Gabe Newell, and while it seemed at first like it was an discussion of the ways that games and movies approach narrative differently, it also ended up being an announcement of a partnership that should surprise no one at this point since it is evidently impossible to get a science-fiction project made without Abrams being involved.
Valve has been a very strong company in terms of creating IP that seems like it is ripe for further exploitation. There are plenty of video game fans, myself included, who would love for Valve to make a "Half-Life 3" sometime this decade, and I'd be as excited for that as I would be for any movie that might get announced.
This is going to be a significant test of how much of a character belongs to the writing and how much is about the performance. If Disney wants to make a young Han Solo movie, I'm willing to watch that. Sure. Absolutely. Part of me hopes someone completely insane decides to spend $100 million on technology to let Harrison Ford give a motion captured performance as young Han Solo because I think that would be "Hellraiser"-level creepy, but accidentally, and I'd have to watch it every day because it would be totally deranged.
Obviously, no one is going to make that movie, and so they're going to end up casting someone to play young Han Solo, and no offense, Hypothetical Young Actor they haven't found yet, but those are some mighty big shoes to fill, and pretty much everything you do is going to get hyperscrutinized. You are always going to be compared to Harrison Ford in his prime, and even Harrison Ford can't win when that comparison is being made. It is a losing proposition because of the nature of fandom, and I contend that the moment you give the fans what you think they want, they will turn on you and tell you that they never wanted it after all.
It is the announcement of the midnight section of the SXSW festival that always gives me that final nudge to the ribs that finally signifies the end of Sundance and the start of the next phase of my year. Today, SXSW Midnighters reveals its line-up, and the festival snaps into complete focus, and unsurprisingly, it's going to be a ton of fun in Austin from March 8th to the 16th.
I think the fact that the still they chose to send out today is for "Big Ass Spider," the new film by Mike Mendez, pretty much sums up the attitude of this particular midnight selection. There is an irreverence that is part of their programming that always makes it a kick. It is worth it to stay up late at SXSW. You want to be there in that room when something like "Attack The Block" plays for the first time because you want to feel that energy from that crowd
Much of the SXSW line-up has already been announced, and you can see it at the festival's official site. Meanwhile, taco-crazed Jarod Neece fired up the e-mails this morning to send out a missive in which he details what kind of lunacy awaits festivalgoers this year. “Full of scares, sex, madness, laughs, chills and major mind f*cks, we hope there's a little something for everyone.” What's really scary is that when you're talking to Neece, you can hear the asterisks in his swearing. It's something else.
I'm not sure this is exactly breaking news so much as it's a confirmation of what they've been saying since the Disney deal was originally announced.
Yes… they are making stand-alone films in the "Star Wars" universe. Yes, they will feature characters you already know. Yes, Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are working on them. All of this has been reported already.
This is what we have to look forward to for the next few years. We're going to end up breathlessly reporting the same few things over and over in an absence of new information, just because each and every mention of "Star Wars" is a bonanza of SEO magic. And why not? "Star Wars" fans are out there frantically searching for new information. We've probably run ten or twelve stories about the series since the Disney deal was announced, and I've got a podcast going up sometime today with a ton of "Star Wars" conversation at the center of it.
Henry Selick is a ronin, a masterless samurai in a particularly difficult part of the filmmaking landscape, and any time he finds someone willing to pay for him to make one of his movies, I'm thrilled.
Being a career animator is not an easy life to choose, and I can't imagine anyone doing it for any reason other than a deep abiding love for the medium. Selick has conjured up some real magic in the films he's made and he certainly does great work with the various collaborators who have been part of his movies so far. Not every filmmaker can lay claim to one great movie, and I'd argue that Selick has made two so far. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is just gorgeous, as beautiful an example of stop motion animation as I've ever seen. "Coraline" is an eerie, sublime accomplishment, both technically and creatively, and is easily the finest example yet of Neil Gaiman's work brought to life.
I have a feeling you're going to see a lot of announcements about actors joining the cast of the upcoming sequel to "Anchorman," and when we see the final film, many of those people will end up playing one or two scenes at most. It's going to be a positively ridiculous cast, and that's because the original film has become a huge favorite for pretty much anyone working in film comedy right now. This is going to be a case where anyone Adam McKay wants, he's going to get.
Christina Applegate was the one who broke the news on Twitter, which is starting to become one of the most reliable sources of breaking casting information when people like Bryan Singer can't wait to share something. In this case, I can imagine Appelgate's got to be happy to be adding some funny female energy to what is already a very large roster of very funny dudes. Kristen Wiig will be onboard playing the wife of Brick Tamland, Steve Carrell's character from the first film. Carrell is just one of the returning characters, of course. Will Ferrell is back as Ron Burgundy, Paul Rudd will be Brian Fantana once more, David Koechner will return as Champ Kind, and Applegate is going to reprise her role as Veronica Corningstone. Just typing the character names again makes me happy. I was an early fan of the script, and I was thrilled when it was not only made, but when it turned out to be as consistently funny as it was. It seemed like it was such a gamble for the first film to get made that it's sort of amazing to be writing news stories about a sequel now.
Tina Fey is going to be a busy, busy woman now that "30 Rock" is finished. I get this feeling like the entire industry has been waiting for her to conclude the series so they can all get busy making her stinking rich. She is pretty much universally loved by the people making decisions in this industry, and she's as valuable behind the camera as in front of it.
I'm out the door in a few minutes to go see "Admission," and I'm curious to see how she is in it, although I think it's just one of what I'm sure will be many Tina Fey movies in the next few years as Hollywood tries to figure out what works best for her at the box office. The pairing of her with Paul Rudd is almost like doing a movie on training wheels. Of course they'll be charming and funny together, whether there's anything more to the movie or not. Those two seem perfectly paired in terms of comic sensibility.
I like the idea of her starring in something written by Paula Pell, who was a producer on "This Is 40" and who served as one of Judd Apatow's on-set sounding boards for new material as they were working. Pell has a very wry and active presence on Twitter these days, and she's known Fey since the "Saturday Night Live" days, so there's a comfort level there already. Pell just set up her script for "The Nest" with Fey's company Little Stranger Inc. to produce at Universal, and Jason Moore, who directed "Pitch Perfect," is currently negotiating to make this as his next film.
"In today's news, NOSTALGIC PROPERTY has been BOUGHT/GREENLIT/DEVELOPED by SOMEONE I GENERALLY LIKE and will now be made again."
I should keep that open in a document at all times on my laptop, because I write that story about 250 times a year these days. Today, it is the Thunderbirds, a property that is familiar to 100% nobody under the age of 20, and Weta is the hook that's got everyone writing about it. I am sure dozens of you could immediately comment under this story about the rich and interesting history of "Thunderbirds," and you can defend it both as commercial gamble and creative foundation. I'm not saying otherwise.
I'm saying that at this point, planting a flag in another thing that occupies a certain percentage of pop culture real estate is par for the course. I just recorded a podcast with Scott Swan where we talk about, among other things, yesterday's Super Bowl movie commercials, and he made a good point about "The Lone Ranger." If this version doesn't work, it is safe to say that no one will ever make a "Lone Ranger" property again, because at this point, it's had so many chances to re-establish its place in pop culture, and the last feature film was a disaster, and this one is crazy expensive and had the biggest commercial pedigree possible and the most aggressive marketing team in the business selling it and it HAS to work. So if it doesn't, I think it's scientifically safe to say it never will.
There is a very short list of reporters online who consistently and correctly scoop information that is supposed to be secret. I'm not talking about breaking a casting story because the studio sent you the press release ten minutes early, and I'm not talking about the shell game that gets played with information at the trades. I'm talking about genuinely revealing something that someone else does not want revealed at all. It is a skill set that very few outlets seem to value or cultivate.
Then you've got Latino Review and El Mayimbe, who evidently subsists entirely on a liquid diet of the tears from angry studio executives. Mayimbe cracks me up because of how alpha male he gets about scoops. When you're hunting down information on movies about dudes in spandex beating all hell out of other dudes in spandex, it seems to be a particularly funny time to get aggro about what it is you're doing. And that's what makes Mayimbe great.
It also helps that he's got a pretty ridiculous track record.