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 never expected to actually see a studio announcing "Doc Savage".
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.
At this point in my career, I like to think that I'm a pretty good interviewer. The more time you give me with someone, the better the conversation will be, and the deeper we'll get into certain ideas.
The real frustration of on-camera interviews is that they are, by their very nature, short. If you get five full minutes with someone, it's a luxury. And those aren't what I would call conversations. They are rapid-fire exchanges where you're trying to get one great answer out of it, and that's if you're lucky.
It becomes even more complicated in a case like my recent conversation with Michael Shannon for the new film "The Iceman," where he stars as Richard Kuklinski, a real-life Mafia hitman. It's a solid film and a great performance, and I wanted to talk to him about the work he did in the film and the research he did on the real guy.
When I sat down to talk to Sir Ben Kingsley, the first thing I told him was that I would hold the interview until after the release of the film if we ventured too far into spoiler territory. It's one of the first times I've ever said anything like that to an actor, but then again, not everyone plays a role like the one that Sir Kingsley plays in "Iron Man 3."
In the end, I think we were careful enough that you can watch and we don't give the game away. If you've seen the film, though, I think you'll appreciate how we talked about the film and his role in it. He doesn't dodge the questions, and he's not playing coy. He's just very careful about how he says things.
By far, the most controversial part of "Iron Man 3" fans is going to end up being The Mandarin and the choices that Shane Black made about how to depict the character. One of the reasons I think the movie works so well is because Shane Black and Drew Pearce took some chances in the script and they made some big choices about how to portray certain events and certain characters.