4 items from 2017
Anghus Houvouras on the Han Solo director situation and a fight for the future of franchise films…
I’m still in a state of utter disbelief over the disintegration that has happened between directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord and the creative conglomerate that handles the cinematic Star Wars universe. It’s an absolute gobstopper of a conversation starter with endless potential for columnists to get comfortable in their armchairs as they postulate about the rift on every single level, from studio head on down the ladder.
To me, the actual drama is less interesting than the overreaching theme of this spat. Lord and Miller represent the future of franchise filmmaking. Young, extremely talented individuals who are capable of telling great stories. Lucasfilm, most notably Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan, represent the old guard. Experienced minds who understand both the creative and business side of the film industry.
We’ve watched for years as studios have gobbled up young, emerging talent and slapped them onto franchise films. The trend isn’t exactly new. Warner Bros. grabbed a young Tim Burton to helm 1989’s Batman. It worked out great until Warner Bros. decided Burton’s dark and quirky visions didn’t sell enough toys and they parted ways over creative differences.
What Lord and Miller have experienced isn’t exactly new either. ‘Creative differences’ is something that happens all the time. Directors are attached and jettisoned from feature film projects with the frequency of rest stop hand jobs. The average blockbuster goes through dozens of writers and directors before settling on a creative team to take the project into production.
It’s less common to see a director leave the project in the middle of production, but there is historical precedent. Superman II, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Exorcist: The Beginning and even classics like Gone With the Wind. Movies that famously cited irreconcilable differences between director and production and had to bring in someone else to try to stick the landing.
The less common part is seeing a creative team exit a project in the modern age of franchise friendly talent. Walking away from Star Wars is a bold move. One that I am in awe of. I have sat here slack-jawed for nearly 15 hours after hearing the news. There are so many interesting facets to this story, but for me it ultimately boils down to this:
We’re looking at a battle for the future of franchise filmmaking.
Lord & Miller vs. Kennedy & Kasdan.
To be fair there really isn’t a side that needs taking. This isn’t a knock-down, drag-out fight but a salient example of the current state of franchise filmmaking. Are you interested in a newer creative vision for your favorite franchise or do you want more of the same? This is exactly what this story represents.
Kennedy, Kasdan and company are protecting a brand. Working to ensure that the elements that made the franchise successful are rigidly adhered to. However they’ve created something of a hostile workplace. Hostile is the wrong word. ‘Less than hospitable’ seems more apt. J.J. Abrams famously turned down The Force Awakens only to eventually take on the role when it seemed no one else would. Rian Johnson came on for one film. Josh Trank was fired. Gareth Edwards was basically replaced and left out of all the final decisions on Rogue One. Now Lord & Miller have been fired. I wouldn’t exactly call that a sterling employment record. If I was Colin Trevorrow, I’d be more than a little bit nervous.
Why aren’t talented young filmmakers sticking around? Why does Disney bother bringing in singular voices if they have no interest in their vision? Are they clutching their franchise so tightly that they’re choking it to death? It would be nice if Disney could loosen their grip. Bring in unique filmmakers and let them create something that stays true to the Star Wars universe but allows a Galaxy Far, Far Away to broaden and become creatively diverse.
Right now Disney has become the evil Empire desperately trying to control their franchise universe. Lord and Miller may very well become the face of the resistance.
- Anghus Houvouras
We have another busy week of Blu-ray and DVD releases to look forward to, with 20 different titles coming home on Tuesday. For those who may have missed it in theaters, Gore Verbinski’s wildly surreal tale of psychological horror, A Cure For Wellness, is coming out on both Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox. We also have several indie horror films arriving on June 6th, including The Axe Murders of the Villisca, Aaron’s Blood, Prisoner X, Let Me Make You A Martyr, and Manhattan Undying.
Fahrenheit 451, based on the classic Ray Bradbury story, is being resurrected on DVD in time for its 50th anniversary this week, and for those of you Riverdale fans out there, you might want to check out Mill Creek Entertainment's re-release (this time with digital) of Archie’s Weird Mysteries: The Complete Series.
Other notable home entertainment releases for »
- Heather Wixson
Gabriel Bergmoser Mar 20, 2017
Whisper it, but are movie and TV prequels a little better than they used to be?
It doesn’t feel like all that long ago that sequels came in for a lot of derision. The second one, people reasoned, is never as good, with The Godfather Part II being the exception that proved the rule rather than a decent rebuttal. Nowadays, however, things have changed in a big way. It’s fairly unremarkable when a sequel is considered superior to the original, and in some cases films get a lot of slack from people who say “yeah but they’re just setting things up for a better second one”. For a long time now, sequels have been fairly respectable, meaning the derision of filmgoers has shifted instead to remakes and prequels.
Writing off an entire category of film is narrow minded, but to be fair prequels have »
William Peter Blatty, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter most famous for landmark horror film “The Exorcist” as well as the director of two films, “The Ninth Configuration” and “The Exorcist III,” has died. He was 89.
Blatty’s 1970 novel “The Exorcist” remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, and he subsequently adapted it for the 1973 bigscreen version directed by William Friedkin. That film was not only an enormous box office success, playing in theaters for months, but was Oscar nominated for best picture (becoming the first horror film ever so nominated) and won for Blatty’s adapted screenplay.
The film won several polls for scariest horror movie ever, and the Library of Congress designated “The Exorcist” for preservation as part of »
- Carmel Dagan
4 items from 2017
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