The theatrical model I grew up with is dead.
Sure, theatrical release is still the first stop for studio films, for the most case, but the window between when something plays in a theater and when it arrives at home is shrinking rapidly, and today, Universal Pictures unveiled a startling plan to bring the big-budget comedy "Tower Heist" to VOD a mere three weeks after it hits theirs on November 4.
They're going to be testing the idea in Portland, OR and in Atlanta, GA, and it's got a steep ticket price. $59.99 is more than any typical PPV movie charges, but it's not typical in any way. If this does work, it could change the way studios handle big-ticket releases, and I would bet they'll telescope the release dates even more. If they can get people to pay $60 a pop to sit at home and watch a big new release, why not do it on opening weekend? Why not go ahead and start at day one?
The theatrical model I grew up with is dead.
I foresee a future in which every single franchise film stars either Computer-Generated Johnny Depp or Computer Generated Robert Downey Jr. or, on occasion, both of them. It is inevitable.
The latest step towards this sure-to-be-reality is the announcement today that Robert Downey Jr. will be the star of "Perry Mason," a new film and potential franchise that Warner Bros. will be releasing. I've been reading some of the pulp work of author Erle Stanley Gardner recently, and I'm surprised by how sharp and contemporary much of it is. He's most famous for creating Mason, and it's exciting to hear that they're not only going to use his work as the basis of the film, but they're also planning to set it in the period 1930s Los Angeles that Gardner captured so well in his work.
As I started flipping through headlines this morning, one of the first that caught my eye had to do with Johnny Depp apologizing for making a comment in a recent interview that compared photo shoots to being raped.
I am amazed how much time anyone in the public eye spends apologizing these days. We have reached a point in culture where there is so much energy spent getting crazy about words that offend us that we seem to have stopped listening to the intent behind them. Publicists have to put out daily fires that could easily be avoided if people just shrugged things off instead of organizing rallies over stupid off-hand comments. It all makes me think of a word Berkley Breathed coined in "Bloom County" some thirty years ago, "Hyperoffensensitivity."
This was on my mind already when I saw a message appear in my inbox that simply said "A Statement From Lars Von Trier" in the headline. Before we discuss it, I'd like to run the statement in full:
I don't care what anybody else says. At this point, I am flat out excited about the impending release of "The Adventures Of Tintin".
It's exciting enough that Spielberg and Jackson are working together, and whatever you think about this film or that film, specific titles from either filmography, if that combination of brainpower doesn't excite you, then we simply don't have a common starting point in any conversation about film.
It's exciting enough that Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish were brought in to finish what Stephen Moffat began, and again, that's one of those equations that puts lead in the pencil, figuratively speaking.
And after the reaction many people had to Andy Serkis in "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes," it's a safe bet that there will be a lot of attention on his performance as Captain Haddock, which has always been one of the most enjoyable characters in the Tintin universe.
I've been saying for years that Werner Herzog strikes me as a Bond villain in search of a movie, and now, it appears he's going to be playing the main bad guy in "One Shot," the first film adapted from the wildly popular series of novels about Jack Reacher written by Lee Childs.
I've written already about my irritation at the casting of Tom Cruise in the role of Jack Reacher, and no matter what Lee Childs says, I can't get past it. I think the Reacher series is one of my favorite ongoing modern pulp series, and a big part of that is the sheer pleasure that happens when big giant Jack Reacher decides it's time to rain some hurt down on some deserving scumbag. And as written, Reacher is a giant. He's a huge hulking brute of a guy, and there is much time and energy spent describing him that way and making sure that pays off in the way confrontations unfold in the books.
I like Tom Cruise. Don't get me wrong. I think he's fun to watch, and in the right roles, he is absolutely iconic. But he's not Jack Reacher as written.
Serious question. By a quick show of hands, how many of you are seriously excited about or interested in a film version of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"?
I ask because I'm a little confused by the way this one's coming together. Or not coming together, as the case may be. According to Variety's Justin Kroll and Jeff Sneider, Blake Lively has now officially passed on playing Elizabeth Bennett in the film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel. I actually had to go look up who the current director of the film is, and I'm wondering if Craig Gillespie is going to stay on the film for much longer. This thing's been through a lot of hands in the last few years, and it's no closer to making it to the screen now than it was at the start of the process.
As a book, I guess I can acknowledge the joke, but I made it through about four chapters of the novel when it came out before I set it aside. I'm all for post-modernism and mash-up culture, but it has to add something beyond a gimmick, and I'm still not convinced that "P&P&Z" does.
One of my least favorite moments of the year so far was writing a mediocre review for David Cronenberg's new film "A Dangerous Method." I love Cronenberg's work, and I consider him one of the most interesting and exciting filmmakers working anywhere today. Even when I don't like a film he makes, which is rare, I like the conversation about it, the experience of seeing it, and the knowledge that he's still working.
One of the most remarkable parts of his career is the way he managed to shake the horror genre, something many horror filmmakers are incapable of doing. Studios and audiences love to put filmmakers into easy boxes, and Cronenberg's work was so outrageous that it would have been very easy to imagine him spending his whole life working in horror. Instead, he managed to redefine himself so completely that it's possible that there are film fans who don't even know him as a horror filmmaker.
Before I left for Fantastic Fest, I showed the 1977 "Star Wars" to my boys.
I left the Blu-ray box set sitting on the shelf where I have all of my "to be played" discs, standing up so the boys could see the cover. I did that specifically to torture them. I wanted them to itch every single time they walked in the room while I was gone. And I know them well enough to know that they would manufacture reasons to be in my office to do things, because that's what they do every day all day. My shelves are a constant source of discovery for the kids, whether it's books or movies or games or music. They're always asking to sample something.
And after I left for Fantastic Fest, I talked to the boys on the phone, and each phone call would begin with Toshi saying some variation on "Daddy, when you get back, it's going to be Friday, and on Friday, it's going to be too late, and on Saturday, we're going to watch 'Empire Strikes Back,' right?"
"How many days is that?"
Anna Kendrick is awfully young to be typecast already, but it just goes to show you how Hollywood thinks about people.
She made her first impression on audiences in "Rocket Science," and it's easy to see why. Her work in the film is precise and sharp-edged. I have trouble saying much about her work in the "Twilight" series because she doesn't have much to work with in those films, but she manages to steal whatever moments she has with her energy that's so different than the intentional languor of the rest of those movies.
With "Up In The Air," it felt like they were directly reacting to the work she did in "Rocket Science" by casting her as another bossy, smart, hyper-anxious type, and she did great work in the movie that made people sit up and take notice.
The danger, of course, is that she's going to get stuck playing that type of character, and I think she's very aware of it. When we sat down at the Toronto Film Festival to discuss her work in the new film "50/50," we talked about that issue, and about the way "50/50" presents a very different side of her personality. It's a very good film overall, but for her, it could be a real turning point.
As if I hadn't just had an exhausting but amazing month-long orgy of film, as if I wasn't sitting here in the airport, ready to fly home, spent and worn out by how great it's all been, there just had to be one story breaking today that I couldn't resist writing up before I hop on the plane.
Why? Because it makes me ridiculously happy, that's why.
In a recent podcast, Scott and I lamented the idea that Kevin Costner was dropping out of his proposed role in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming "Django Unchained," and I really am sad he's not doing it. I think it would be a nice fit.
However, if Costner dropping out means that Kurt Russell is going to play the part, then sign me up twice. That's awesome. I love Russell in "Death Proof," and I think he is, in general, under-utilized by filmmakers. The role he's stepping in to play is a nasty one, a guy who works for Leonardo DiCaprio, onboard to play the main bad guy in the film. Samuel L. Jackson's got a great role in the film already, as does Christoph Waltz, and Jamie Foxx is onboard as the lead in the film.
For those who don't know what the film's about, it's a big sprawling Western, but set in the South of the Reconstruction Era, where Foxx plays a freed slave who teams up with a German bounty hunter to learn his trade and track down his wife, sold away from him. DiCaprio is a slave plantation owner who pits his slaves in gladiator-style battles, and Russell will play the guy in charge of training the slaves to fight for the games.
We're only about a month away from the film starting production, and I'm thrilled to think that we're a year away from a new Tarantino film, especially one with a cast this strong.
The Weinstein Company will release "Django Unchained" in theaters Christmas Day, 2012.