This news makes me happy for a lot of reasons.
First, I'm a firm believer that the right imagination can make something great of the overall "Dungeons & Dragons" property, and I think David Leslie Johson is a wicked smart guy and a fun writer. They're using a script of his called "Chainmail" that they bought last year and they're turning that into the foundation for the "D&D" film. Roy Lee and Courtney Solomon are producing for Warner, which is interesting. Solomon directed the terrible New Line "Dungeons & Dragons" movie back in 2000, and it's interesting to see how far genre fare has come since that release.
At the time, it made sense to try to sneak a much lower-budget fantasy movie in before "Lord Of The Rings" got off the ground to try to make some quick money off of a potential audience. If you're going to take a run at this kind of IP today, you have to take it seriously. There is way too much competition for that dollar, and at this point, if you half-ass it, the audience is going to see you coming. The reasons for each of these major franchises connecting or failing may be different in the small details, but in the broad sense, it's very simple. Either people connect, or they don't. If they do, they will become your best friends, carrying the word to everyone they deal with, actively finding ways to prolong their interaction with the property. And if they don't, then it's over. Done. They'll just move on to find something that does.
This news makes me happy for a lot of reasons.
No matter how many times the topic comes up, there are still people who seem upset about the absence of the John Williams "Superman" theme from the upcoming Zack Snyder film "Man Of Steel."
That's a testament to the emotional connection that people have with film music, some of which is conscious, some of which is involuntary. There are things that we connect with at various points in our lives that have a nearly chemical reaction on us when we encounter them later, and you can rail about it or struggle with it or try to ignore it, but that's the truth of it. Most of the time, our love of certain pieces of art goes deeper than we can explain, and I suspect that for a generation of people, that 1978 "Superman" is a deeply felt piece of childhood. It certainly was for me.
And let's put that in perspective. Today, if you're a regular moviegoer, you're used to powerful sonic experiences as a routine thing. Even a basic surround set-up these days can be impressive, but in 1978, Dolby surround was brand new, and not everyone knew what to do with it yet.
I never expected to actually see a studio announcing "Doc Savage".
Sure, we've reported on the various blips and bloops about this one over the course of the development so far, and just over a week ago, we mentioned this as a very real possibility for Black to return to as his next film.
Now it appears to be official. Sony sent out the press release a little while ago announcing a formal deal with Shane to write and direct what I'm sure they all hope will be the first of many "Doc Savage" movies. This is a thrilling moment on a lot of levels. First, Shane Black has never been more white-hot than he is right now. Even the release of "Lethal Weapon" can't compare to this based on what a commercial juggernaut "Iron Man 3" has become. I'm sure everyone expected it to be a hit, but it's a sensation. The money it's earning is sort of amazing. Marvel defies all expectations each time out.
I'm still not entirely sure I understand the "Diamond Heist Challenge," but then again, I find myself baffled by a lot of the real-world tech games that fans love to play, so that's nothing new.
What I do know is this: Summit is try to come up with fun ways to get you thinking about "Now You See Me," their upcoming thriller by Louis Leterrier about a supergroup of magicians who decide to push the filthy rich by staging a bold series of heists. It's one of those trailers where I realized halfway through it that I'm not supposed to worry about what is or isn't real. They're not trying to make a movie that is about the real art of stage magic, but instead, they're making a souped-up Robin Hood riff with a lot of visual razzle dazzle.
Here is the official description that Summit sent over to explain what the "Diamond Heist Challenge" is:
I have a feeling every day is a big day for Tom Cruise.
Still, announcing a fifth film in any star-driven franchise is an uncommon thing, and especially coming off of what was, both commercially and critically, one of the strongest entries in the entire series. Tom Cruise has managed to reinvent the franchise film after film, and each time, it's been something different and something fresh. That's almost impossible to pull off, so I guess the title is appropriate.
Skydance, the financing partner headed up by David Ellison, has become Paramount's version of Legendary Pictures, and they're attached to co-produce this with Cruise, who is ultimately calling the shots on the series. Word so far has been that Christopher McQuarrie will be writing and directing, especially since his collaboration with Cruise on "Valkyrie" and "Jack Reacher" went so well, and that makes sense. Deadline repeated the rumor in today's reporting about the deal.
Okay, there's Simon Pegg. And next to him, that's Nick Frost. Good. Great. That's exactly what I want. And there's Edgar Wright's name, and a meteor in the sky, and… people… lots of people… with glowing blue eyes.
I now know about 100% more about "The World's End" than I did five minutes ago, and Tuesday, when the trailer for the film arrives online, I suspect we're in for a glut of new information and a much better sense of what we're getting from the film.
Evidently, Edgar screened the trailer the other night for people at the CapeTown Film Festival in Los Angeles, and swore everyone there to secrecy. It's been pretty successful, all things considered, too, because I haven't seen anyone overtly giving anything away. I'm very excited that we're this close to the release. It's a long ride that these three guys have been on from the first time I saw their work to now, and they've all had such great success in that time that it feels like a real treat to see them come back together on their terms to make this film, which feels like a big deal, and round out something that started as such a off-the-radar personal little independent thing.
Baz Luhrmann has made a career out of pushing stylistic boundaries past what seems like good taste or common sense would endure, and when it has paid off, the results are intoxicating. Unfortunately, when it doesn't work, it makes the artifice that much more distancing and it makes the excess feel excessive. Lurhmann is not the first filmmaker to succumb to the siren song of the book's beautiful prose, nor will he be the last, but his attempt highlights much of what makes this a work that best exists in its original form.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's book was written at the time that the novel takes place, and it is fascinating as a snapshot of a particular time in America's development, the roaring '20s at their loudest, raucous and wild and untamed. Jay Gatsby is a very knowing look at a new type of American, the self-made millionaire, compensating for some hole in their personality while amassing a huge fortune, rich but empty. His quest to win the heart of Daisy Buchanan is one of the great Quixotic romantic plays in all of literature, and the language in Fitzgerald's book sells it all. Dizzyingly well-written, emotional and evocative, it is a feast of language, a clear-eyed piece of pop mythology that positively disemboweled the world in which Fitzgerald worked and played. Working with co-writer Craig Pearce, Luhrmann has adapted "Gatsby" in a way that makes sense considering Luhrmann's voice, but it's such a foregone conclusion that it feels to me like it never comes to life. It's as if every bit of creativity dried up the moment the deal was signed. Yes, this is exactly what I would expect a Baz Luhrmann "Gatsby" would look like, but is that enough?
I am honestly surprised by just how omnipresent LEGO is in the daily play lives of my kids.
When I was young, LEGO was a make-your-own sort of thing. Sure, there were plenty of playsets, but they were still general things like "space" or "construction" or whatever. These days, LEGO is a licensing powerhouse, working with dozens of partners on videogames and toys and even movies.
Chris Miller and Phil Lord only have two credits so far as directors for feature films, but when "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" and "21 Jump Street" are the two films you've made, that's a pretty strong one-two punch. What those two films have in common is the way they took unlikely premises and spun them into very effective and sincere piece of entertainment. These are guys you can trust to take the difficult and figure it out, so maybe they're the perfect fit for Warner's upcoming gamble, "The LEGO Movie."
Right now, they're reaching out to you, the eventual audience for "The Lego Movie," and they're offering you a chance to have an impact on the film you'll eventually see in theaters. They're in the home stretch, and they want to make sure that anyone that might be interested has a chance to enter.
I suspect there are some people who simply aren't built to do press.
Winona Ryder has been, in every single interaction I've had with her over the last twenty three years, lovely each and every time. I spent a fair amount of time on the set of "Edward Scissorhands" when it shot in Tampa, and that was the early days of the tabloids being interested in her because of her co-star and then-boyfriend Johnny Depp. It was obvious back then that she loved the actual work in front of the camera and she loved the collaboration with Tim Burton and the other actors and she hated hated HATED the press and, in particular, photographers.
She has been far less visible in recent years, and part of that is just a natural reaction to the way the industry writes for women. Ryder's at an age that Hollywood doesn't know what to do with, and so there aren't a lot of things written that would interest her or that seem like the right fit for her.
If you consider "Star Trek Into Darkness" to be part thirteen of a larger franchise, you may walk away frustrated and tied in knots if the reactions I saw after a screening were any indication. Conversely, if this is part two of a new franchise in your mind, chances are you're going to have a great time with the continuation of what JJ Abrams and his collaborators began in 2009's "Star Trek." I find myself somewhere in the middle of those two camps, ultimately coming down on the side of the film as a pretty relentless piece of summer entertainment, anchored by what I consider one of the most exciting movie star performances in recent memory. I think they make some missteps in trying to service every "Trek" fan equally, but not insurmountably.
I feel badly for the hardcore "Star Trek" fans who don't like this new version, because I know what it's been like for them in the years where there were no new "Trek" movies in the works, and I know what it's been like for them loving something that was always considered somewhat left of center, always in danger of going away forever. While "Trek" has managed to survive for nearly 50 years at this point, there have definitely been lean times where Paramount didn't see much upside in continuing to throw money at something that just couldn't cross over to be a full-fledged mainstream sensation. And now that it's finally become part of the Nerd World Order in this new age of the Geek, the most devoted of the "Trek" fans seem irritated by the whole thing.