As long as I've been working online, there have been "Scream" movies to cover.
I remember the frenzy around "Scream 2," the desperate rush to figure out what Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were doing with the movie, the fake scripts that were leaked to the Internet. And from the start of our conversation, it's apparent that David Arquette remembers those days as well.
It's been a long time since that happened, though, and in the time since, both the Internet and David Arquette have changed quite a bit.
It's a weird podcast this week. Scott and I digressed a bit as we were running down this weak in home video, and we spent almost a full hour on the first part of the podcast. I tried to torture him with this week's round of Movie God, but I failed completely because the more we talked, the clearer it became to both of us: we are not Wes Craven fans.
We'll get into it in the episode, but it's one of those things I hate bringing up because Craven's got such a major reputation in the world of horror, and in person, he's a pretty great guy. Smart, charming, with a wealth of interests, he's one of those guys who is always impressive in conversation, and yet, looking at his career as a whole, I have trouble wrapping my head around how he built that reputation.
As long as I've been working online, there have been "Scream" movies to cover.
Hobbits and WETA and "Apes," oh my!
Okay, I won't lie. Watching the production diary for "The Hobbit" was tremendously exciting. Three years of promise starts right now, really. Three years of curiosity and teases and glimpses and marketing, done the way really only Peter Jackson has ever mastered online. Nobody else has ever done for a giant blockbuster the same level of outreach, something that Jackson and the amazing New Line team orchestrated on "Lord Of The Rings" and that Jackson did again with Universal on "King Kong." And Peter Jackson standing in Bag End in 3D glasses is a mighty cheeky way to kick things off.
If the "Rings" films mean anything to you, there are some incredible things on display here. Goblin tunnels? Beneath the Misty Mountains? OMG. OMFG. And if you don't know the story of "The Hobbit," then let me just say that you've got some wonderful adventure storytelling ahead of you. I love Tolkien's giant triple-play, but I've always thought that "The Hobbit" is one of the best adventure stories ever written, self-contained and self-explanatory and just plain fun. Thrilling. Evocative. Suggestive. And beautiful.
Oh, lord… Ian McKellan. 13 dwarves. Martin Freeman. Andy Serkis in the make-up chair. WHO AM I KIDDING? It's fantastic. And the local New Zealand first day of filming blessing of the soundstages. I love where they chose to start the shoot. What a great thing to dig into, and now they've given themselves the rest of the process to nail down the performance in one of the most important and iconic scenes in the entire story.
It is, to say the least, good news to hear that Sony and MGM have worked out a deal for not one but two new James Bond movies.
There's been speculation about this possibility before now, but the confirmation today should be enough to make James Bond fans around the world relax now. I have to say I was genuinely upset at the idea that we might not see more of this new Daniel Craig version of the character. I know plenty of people who dislike this approach to the franchise, but I figure we've had decades of smarmy jokey Roger Moore style Bond films, and it's nice to finally have a Bond that makes me feel like someone actually read an Ian Fleming novel at some point.
I like the story that has been developing over the course of the Craig films so far. "Casino Royale" was a very strong introduction, and now, I can hope that on November 9, 2012, I'll be seeing the next chapter in that story. We've been building towards some answers regarding whatever the organization is that has been pulling the strings in the first film and in "Quantum Of Solace," and it feels like MGM and Sony, knowing they're making "Bond 23" and "Bond 24" together, can wrap that story up if they want to now.
The big picture relevance of today's press release is that Sony and MGM are now looking at a five year deal where they will be co-financing and releasing films together.
Welcome to The Afternoon Read.
I don't have a problem with Bradley Cooper signing on to play The Crow because of any special feelings I have about The Crow. It's more because it sounds like an amazing bit of career suicide just as things are heating up for Cooper. For one thing, no matter who plays the part, they're going to be compared to Brandon Lee, and that's a sucker's game. Lee's work in the Alex Proyas original is the very definition of a star-making performance, and there's not a lot of character to the character. It's a make-up job, a sulk, and some violence. I hope this is just an early round of the casting guessing game, and not something Cooper's really close to actually doing. But when Borys Kit uses terms like "in early negotiations," that's very specific, and frankly, in this case, sort of terrifying. Relativity, which just had a surprise hit with Cooper's movie "Limitless," seems determined to move quickly on this one, and with this casting news, it sounds like they're off to a really weird start.
So, uh, they appear to have discovered a new elementary particle, which cold possibly change our understanding of the properties of matter. Nothing major.
It is interesting enough to simply report that it looks like Tom Cruise is going to star for Joseph Kosinski in the big-budget PG-13 science-fiction action film "Horizons" for Universal.
But when you look at the decisions surrounding this decision, it's downright fascinating, and very revealing in terms of studio politics and the overall agendas for what is or isn't getting made right now.
"Horizons" was originally titled "Oblivion," and it was set-up while Kosinski was still in production on "TRON: Legacy." At the time, the buzz was high on Kosinski and his sequel to the 1982 cult hit, and he went around town with his Radical Comics presentation and, in the end, Disney decided that they wanted to be in the Kosinski business in a big way. That appears to be a decision they have since reversed, but I think it says less about Kosinski than it does about Disney right now, and in a sort of off-handed way, I think it says a lot about what we can expect from "John Carter Of Mars".
After all, when Disney says that they're letting "Horizons" go in turn-around because they weren't comfortable making a PG-13 action film, I don't think that's untrue. They seem to be focused on making their films skew younger and younger right now, and while they're certainly comfortable with adventure films like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, those walk a fine line in how rough they're willing to play. And while "TRON: Legacy" did eventually break $400 million at the worldwide box-office, it was a preposterously expensive film for Disney, and I'm guessing that if the Disney team was asked to make that decision again now, knowing what they know, they wouldn't do it again. I've been hearing for a while that "John Carter" is being played much younger, more as an adventure, toning down many of the more extreme elements of the Burroughs series.
Your reaction to "Scream 4" will depend largely on your reaction to the "Scream" series as a whole.
When the original "Scream" came out, I was not among the people who went nuts for it. I don't hate the film or anything, but it doesn't do much for me. As a horror film, I think it's flat, and as a mystery, I don't think it plays fair. I'm not the sort of person who enjoys being nudged in the ribs by references to other movies and pop culture, and much of the charge the film enjoyed came from the way it riffed on the rules of horror films.
What I've come to realize in the years since the film's release is that it was an important gateway drug for an entire generation of people who had never seen a horror film of any sort. And for those people, the last ten years has probably seemed like a very long time to wait between movies. For them, I think the wait will end up being worth it, because "Scream 4" feels to me like the most direct sequel to the first film, both thematically and stylistically, and I think it's one of the most confident films in Wes Craven's filmography.
That brings me to my next point, and I want to tread lightly here. Wes Craven's got a big reputation, and I'm not sure I understand why. I quite like the original "Nightmare On Elm Street," and I'm pretty fond of "The Serpent And The Rainbow," but aside from that, I am sort of mystified by Craven overall. He is, at best, a wildly uneven filmmaker. It's almost unfathomable to me to that same person who directed last year's "My Soul To Take" was also the director of this film. It doesn't even seem technically possible. Then again, "Scream" is only half-Craven. The other half is Kevin Williamson, and while there was some work done by Ehren Kruger on the script, you can feel Williamson's fingerprints all over it.
"Cloud Atlas" is one of those films that I forget is inching its way towards production until I see mention of it go by, and then I'm struck anew by just how odd the entire endeavor appears to be.
Now Tom Hanks is onboard to star in the film, which Andy and Lana Wachowski are working with Tom Tykwer to write and direct the film, and just that configuration of talent alone makes it sound like one of the strangest things in development anywhere right now.
Previously, we've heard names like Halle Berry and James McAvoy and Natalie Portman attached to this project, and it's been in development for so long that we've seen cast members come and go. Now, though, it sounds like it's finally going to happen in September, and it sounds like Focus Films has come onboard to help finance the movie.
It's a good week for long-suffering films that are finally stumbling towards production. I'm excited to see what happens with "World War Z," which Bleeding Cool claims has hired Robert Richardson as cinematographer. Allegedly, he's in London scouting locations now and gearing up for a shoot that will start soon. God, I hope that's true. It was just recently that we heard the entire film was in peril, but now it looks like Marc Forster's adaptation of the exceptional Max Brooks novel could be in production almost immediately.
When IMAX began to change their reputation, working hard to brand themselves as a special way to see Hollywood blockbusters, they did so by moving away from their image as a company that specialized in nature documentaries at museums and other similar venues.
The truth is, though, they're still in that business as well, and they still do a very good job of it. I got the chance to take the boys to a screening at the IMAX headquarters in Santa Monica, and it was my three-year-old's first 3D movie of any sort. I showed him the trailer a few times and talked to him about the admittedly heavy themes of the film before we went, though, because the movie could easily have been too depressing or upsetting for young kids based on the subject matter.
"Born To Be Wild" tells the story of what happens when animals are orphaned in the wild and raised by humans before being released back into their natural habitat on their own. We started the conversation with Allen when Warner Bros. sent out a little stuffed elephant toy a few weeks ago. When I gave it to him, I told him that the elephant needed a name because his mommy and his daddy got lost, and he needed someone to take care of him. I asked Allen if he was willing to do it, and he told me the elephant could sleep with him and his stuffed dogs from now on. He also named the elephant Allen, and he told me that the elephant now had a "mommy and a daddy and a Toshi," just like him.
When John Carpenter set out to make 1982's "The Thing," working from a script by Bill Lancaster, what made it exciting was the way he went back to the John Campbell short story that inspired the '50s film and created something very, very different. I have trouble even calling his movie a remake, because it doesn't bear much resemblance at all to the Christian Nyby film "The Thing From Another World," no matter how much it served as a precursor.
I mention this to try to set some context for the news that Matt Reeves, director of "Cloverfield" and "Let Me In," has signed to adapt the short story, "8 O'Clock In The Morning," as a new and at-the-moment untitled film. The story has been adapted before, and I find it fitting that it was John Carpenter who adapted it as "They Live." When Strike Entertainment first started talking about a remake of "They Live," it was easy to imagine that they'd do something that looked very much like Carpenter's movie. In that film, he created a great device, sunglasses that would allow the wearer to see the truth about aliens living among us, and he played the film as a broad social satire. It's pretty great in its own right, but is it the definitive version of the story?
Well, we'll see. Evidently Matt Reeves has decided that he's got a take on it, and Strike Entertainment's explanation of why his take is exciting is, I must admit, fairly persuasive.
Blue Sky Studios has been a reliable producer of family content for 20th Century Fox, but I can't say I love their movies the way I love, yes, Pixar.Â And while that may seem an unfair comparison to make, they're certainly all playing in the same sandbox, and they're competing for the same family dollars.
Every studio wants to have a company they can turn to for this story of movie, and it's an important part of the business model for a modern movie studio.Â With Blue Sky, they've built their brand on the back of their very successful "Ice Age" series, and having one go-to franchise that does almost unbelievable business each time out allows them to try different things.Â I think "Robots" has some major story problems, but I like the way they designed that world.Â In adapting "Horton Hears A Who," they did a nice job of creating a Dr. Seuss world on film.Â They work within the general "family film" genre, but they've tried several different visual styles and they don't seem to just tell the same story every time out.
With "Rio," their latest movie, they've told a very simple story against a backdrop that allowed them to make some big exciting choices with the soundtrack, and they've included just enough sophistication about the setting of their story that I feel like it nudges a simple film into the "better than expected" category.Â Rio is a thrilling place to set a story because it is a world of haves and have nots, and it is a dangerous and beautiful city.Â For a film aimed at a family audience to even acknowledge the existence of the favelas seems sort of brave, but to actually set much of the movie there and to try to capture some of the diversity of the city in a movie like thisâ€¦ that's surprising.Â And admirable.