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The “Star Wars” universe is getting much bigger.
As long suspected, The Hollywood Reporter shares that the sci-fi juggernaut series is teeing up a brand new spinoff feature, this one rumored to focus on Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. The outlet reports that Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Daldry “is in early talks for the film,” which would focus on the fan favorite, who has been played over the years by both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor.
Details on the project are scarce, as “sources say talks are at the earliest of stages and that the project has no script. If a deal makes, Daldry would oversee the development and writing with Lucasfilm brass. It’s not known at this stage if Ewan McGregor will reprise his role.”
It is also unclear »
- Kate Erbland
"I think we're still inside the No-End House." Imagine entering an immersive experience or escape room that was so real, it seeped into your psyche and intertwined with your reality. That's what the characters in Channel Zero: No-End House go through, and you can watch their mind-bending adventures beginning Wednesday, September 20th when the second season of the creepypasta-based anthology series premieres on Syfy.
Channel Zero showrunner Nick Antosca revealed the September 20th premiere date (earlier than the expected October TV debut) for No-End House on Twitter, along with one of two new teaser videos that you can watch below.
Directed by Steven Piet, executive produced by Nick Antosca, and based on Brian Russell's creepypasta, Channel Zero: No-End House contains six one-hour episodes and is the second season of the Channel Zero series. The first season was based on Kris Straub's Candle Cove, and a third »
- Derek Anderson
Horror fans have a lot to look forward to this Halloween season, and Channel Zero: No-End House should be near the top (if not the very top) of their lists. A creepy concoction of suburban scares and dreamlike dread, the second season of the Syfy series features an engaging cast that pulls you into their living nightmare, including Aisha Dee, whose character, Jules, awakens underwater in Room 5 of the No-End House in our exclusive teaser video that Daily Dead readers can watch right now.
You can enter Room 5 of the No-End House in our exclusive video below, and keep an eye on other sites for videos featuring additional rooms in the No-End House. We've also been provided with images from the new season that you can check out below as well.
- Derek Anderson
“The Dark Tower” is finally arriving in theaters after decades in development. Reports surfaced earlier this week that test screenings for the Stephen King adaptation were so awful that Sony Pictures considered replacing director Nikolaj Arcel and bringing in someone new to oversee post-production and turn the film around.
Read More‘The Dark Tower’ Tested So Poorly That Sony Considered Replacing Director
Unfortunately, news like this is becoming all too familiar in the age of studio-driven tentpoles. More and more, executives have the final call, not directors, and it’s leading to one production nightmare after another. As the studios become the driving forces behind blockbusters, directors’ voices continue to be stifled. No wonder the likes of Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, and Lynne Ramsay have all struggled in the studio system. Below is a rundown of the 9 most troubled film productions of the 21st century (so far).
“The Bourne Identity” (2002)
Nobody expected “The Bourne Identity” to become a worldwide hit and a franchise-starting success story, especially not director Doug Liman and screenwriter Tony Gilroy. The production was living hell from day one as Universal and Liman became mortal enemies. The studio hated Liman’s slow pacing for the film and his execution of small-scale, intimate action scenes (which led to certain set pieces being entirely re-shot so they could be more fast-paced). Liman was forced into filming re-shoots, which raised the budget by $8 million to the $60 million mark. Gilroy was delivering script re-writes throughout the entirety of filming as Universal kept scrapping scenes. Other points of contention included the studio forcing Liman to set some of the film in Paris in order to keep the budget down and Liman’s demand for using a French-speaking crew.
“The Brothers Grimm” (2005)
Terry Gilliam needed a hit after the box office failure of his passion project “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and that pressure kept him away from the big screen for seven years. He finally decided to return with “The Brothers Grimm,” a fairy tale blockbuster from MGM and Dimension. Problems started when MGM dropped out after struggling to raise the necessary budget. The movie went into production with an $80 million price tag, but Gilliam always knew a movie of this scale required a budget upwards of $120 million. He ended up in a tense relationship with the Weinstein brothers, who took control of the film away from Gilliam and fired his cinematographer and regular collaborator Nicola Pecorini after six weeks. Things got so bad that filming was shut down for two weeks. Gilliam ended up finishing the project and has admitted the final version is the result of two competing visions and neither winning.
“Fantastic Four” (2015)
“Fantastic Four” was released in theaters on August 7, but it was not the version director Josh Trank had cut, nor was it the one actors Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell signed up to make. Trank had originally pitched his movie as a superhero spin on a David Cronenberg body horror film, but this darker version was not what 20th Century Fox ended up wanting. The studio believed the movie hewed too close to Trank’s own “Chronicle” than a superhero tentpole.
Producers Hutch Parker and Simon Kinberg rewrote Trank’s original script and gave the film a different ending during filming. Fox still didn’t like Trank’s theatrical cut, so they began making changes to certain scenes and omitting entire set pieces without Trank’s knowledge. The director bashed the film on Twitter when it was released, claiming it was entirely different than the version he originally cut. Only later was it revealed that the poor relationship between the studio and the director led the latter to completely shut down on set. Trank reportedly trashed some of the sets and appeared intoxicated during filming. The film never recovered and was a box office flop.
“The Fountain” (2006)
It was only inevitable that a movie as ambitiously conceived as Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” was going to have production troubles. The director originally planned to kick off filming in summer 2002 with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, but Warner Bros. got nervous over the budget and threatened to drop out if a co-financier wasn’t found. Aronofsky brought in Regency Enterprises and a start date was set for October 2002 with a $70 million budget. It would have been smooth sailing, but Pitt wanted script revisions and left the movie just seven weeks before production was set to begin. Warner Bros. dropped the film and expensive sets and props had to be auctioned off. Aronofsky remained committed to the film and rewrote it from the ground up in order for it to be made on the cheap. His revision did the trick. Warner Bros. returned and signed on to make the movie for $35 million.
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- Zack Sharf
Exclusive: The controversial film Assholes from writer/director Peter Vack, who was an actor in Mozart in the Jungle has been acquired for theatrical release by Breaking Glass from Vack and producer Max Landis (Chronicle, An American Werewolf in London). Breaking Glass then pacted with Factory 25 to release the picture theatrically (in conjunction) this fall into New York, Los Angeles, and other markets prior to a DVD/VOD release. The film had its world premiere… »
Netflix original film Bright comes from director David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch, Suicide Squad), and stars Will Smith (Men in Black), Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Lucy Fry (11.22.63), Edgar Ramirez (Hands of Stone, Zero Dark Thirty), Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva), Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad), Jay Hernandez, Andrea Navedo, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Brad William Henke, Dawn Olivieri, and Kenneth Choi.
Set in an alternate present-day, this action-thriller directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, End of Watch, writer of Training Day) follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward, a human (Will Smith), and Jakoby, an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a deadly, thought-to-be-forgotten relic, »
- Phil Wheat
Photo Credit: Lou Faulon. Photo courtesy of Stx Entertainment. Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 Stx Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is writer/director Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi action/adventure film, starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as a team of special agents wisecracking and flirting their way through danger as they race to unravel the puzzle of what or who is threatening to destroy the interstellar city of Alpha. The film also stars Clive Owen, Ethan Hawk and singer Rihanna.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is spectacular visually, with one fabulous, colorful, fantastical vision after another, and the film completely delivers on that level.
The 3D action/adventure film is based on a French sci-fi graphic novel series, “Valerian and Laureline,” or just “Valerian.” The long-running comic series, »
- Cate Marquis
Will Smith and David Ayer started off Netflix’s San Diego Comic-Con panel with a bang by introducing the first full-length trailer for what is rumored to be the streaming service’s most expensive movie to date, Bright. See the footage for the fantasy action crime thriller (that’s a lot of genres) down below…
Smith’s co-stars Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Édgar Ramírez and Lucy Fry eventually joined him on-stage and were greeted to warm applause from the Hall H crowd. In addition to the orcs, elves, fairies and magical artifacts featured in the trailer, the panel promised a “social issue-inspired” story, a grounded approach to this strange alternate universe and a whole lot of “orc nudity.”
Bright seems to be a mish-mash of many of Ayer’s previous works, which, depending on your feelings toward the director, is either a good thing or a bad thing. The film »
- Justin Cook
Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have been co-existing since the beginning of time. Bright is genre-bending action movie that follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine patrol night and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.
- Derek Anderson
Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets opens, sans surprise, with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” launching our senses into orbit. A perfect musical selection, correct? Yes, until the song reveals a double meaning. As “Ground control to Major Tom” plays atop interstellar diplomacy, we realize that “perfect” can be swapped with “obvious.” James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy mixtapes display deep, connected curation, while Besson’s first track has been used and reused throughout sci-fi history. This sets a constant tone as motivations, dialogue, and casting all elicit audible sighs. Something so beautiful should never be this hollow, yet Besson’s shooting star burns premature and fizzles out with a put-put sputter.
Dane DeHaan stars as the titular Major Valerian, whose romantic interest in partner Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) remains his biggest challenge. Heists? Alien thugs? Snarling creatures? All a piece of mooncake for Valerian. »
- Matt Donato
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is undoubtedly one of the most iconic stories in science fiction, which is perhaps why it’s been resurrected in cinema on a semi-regular basis. Since the first version of the tale arrived in theatres in 1956, we’ve seen a further three takes on that same narrative – some attempting to apply the social concerns of the time to the themes explored in the story. Now, we have a fifth heading our way, and this one comes from Warner Bros.
The source material is the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney – which began life as a serial published in Colliers Magazine in 1954. For those unfamiliar, the story sees alien seeds drift to Earth through space, and grow emotionally void clones of unsuspecting town residents while they sleep. The residents are then turned to dust, and the clones replace them in their community. The clones do not reproduce, »
- Sarah Myles
Author: Zehra Phelan
This latest outing will be the fourth time in which the story has been resurrected, the first being in 1958 which had Don Siegel at the helm and had tones of film noir, the remake came twenty years later in 1978, directed by Philip Kaufman and starred Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Brooke Adams and was considered to be one of the greatest film remakes. The most recent, entitled The Invasion, came in 2007 and starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig was a complete box office disaster.
Based on Jack Finney’s 1954 sci-fi novel, The story takes place in a small town invaded by aliens who plant pods that eventually open to become humans, a copy of those who lived in the town. »
- Zehra Phelan
Nick Harley Jul 20, 2017
After the idea of a silent alien invasion that threatens to turn the world’s population into a horde of replicant drones was published by Jack Finney as a magazine series called The Body Snatchers, direct adaptations and countless other films and TV shows have made Finney’s concept a specific sci-fi genre. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956), which stuck closely to Finney’s source material, and a 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland, are considered horror classics, so it’s no wonder Warner Bros. is looking to return to the well.
David Leslie Johnson will pen the script for the new Snatchers. Johnson has had success »
The original 1956 movie is based on Jack Finney’s 1954 novel “The Body Snatchers” in which the small California town of Mill Valley is invaded by aliens plant pods, which replicate humans as they sleep. The resulting replicants have no emotion.
The movie, set in the fictional California town of Santa Mira and shot in less than three weeks in black and white in Sierra Madre, Glendale, Chatsworth and Los Felix, ended with the aliens taking over. It was produced by Walter Wanger, directed by Don Siegel and starred Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” grossed $3 million in its initial release and grew in critical stature to the point that it was selected in 1994 for »
- Dave McNary
19 July 2017 2:52 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has had many Hollywood iterations. The 1954 novel was first adapted for the screen in 1956 and focuses on a small town as it is invaded by aliens that mature to look like exact copies of the people in the town, but who are devoid of all emotion. »
- Mia Galuppo
Confession: There are times when I've been loyally in Luc Besson's corner – the visual splendor of Subway (1985), The Big Blue (1988) and La Femme Nikita (1990) established him as a master of what the French call Cinéma du Look. And 1994's The Professional – with Jean Reno teaching the assassin's game to a very young Natalie Portman – went deeper, blending style with a nurturing sense of humanity. Plus, there's a lot to be said in favor of both his sci-fi extravaganza The Fifth Element (1997) and last year's next-level ScarJo-evolution whatsit Lucy. »
A long time ago in our very own galaxy, Luc Besson dreamed of directing a movie version of “Valérian and Laureline,” a sexy French comic book series featuring a pair of futuristic crime fighters who travel through space and time to uphold the law. Although scholars consider the pulp source material to have been an influence on George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” movie, the equation clearly works the other way around in Besson’s hands, as “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” finds the director doing his best “Star Wars” impression.
It’s a bold goal in a marketplace that hasn’t traditionally been very welcoming to “Star Wars” imitators, but Besson is one of the few living directors with both the ambition and the ability to establish his own rival universe. At a time when “Star Wars” itself has gone corporate (granted, the tight control has yielded some of the series’ best entries), “Valerian »
- Peter Debruge
Spider-Man: Homecoming may have only been Jon Watts' second feature as a director, but he certainly knocked the film out of the park, much to the pleasure of critics and fans alike. Watts follows in a long line of directors who are plucked from the indie scene and tasked with directing the biggest of blockbusters, with a surprisingly high success rate. Though Josh Trank went from Chronicle lead to the complete disaster that was Fantastic Four (or FANT4STIC), other newbies have had much greater success. Joss Whedon's directorial debut was The Avengers, Colin Trevorrow's second feature was Jurassic World, and Guardians of the Galaxy was only James Gunn's third feature.
So, is Watts a shoo-in for the job of directing Spider-Man: Homecoming 2? Previously, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and Sony's Amy Pascal both commented on Watts returning to the director's chair, making it sound like he would be back. »
- Nick Doll
Last year, Tom Hardy and Josh Trank (Chronicle) linked up for Fonzo. Hardy will play legendary gangster Al Capone in the film, which begins production this summer in New Orleans. The story follows Capone near the end of his life. Below, learn more about Tom Hardy playing Al Capone after the jump. Trank wrote Fonzo, which John Schoenfelder (Tau) and Lawrence […]
- Jack Giroux
A few days ago, my colleague Owen Gleiberman wrote a scathing essay questioning whether Colin Trevorrow was the right choice to direct “Star Wars: Episode IX,” suggesting that the “Jurassic World” helmer’s in-between indie, “The Book of Henry,” is such an abomination we have reason to think he could ruin the franchise that has already weathered the likes of Gungans and Ewoks.
It was a tough essay, so much so that I genuinely feared Trevorrow’s job could be in danger. And then a funny thing happened. “Star Wars” producer Kathleen Kennedy fired the directors on a completely different “Star Wars” movie, axing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Han Solo project. What!?!?
The universe needs directors like Lord and Miller more than ever these days — and not just the “Star Wars” universe, mind you, but the multiverse of cinematic storytelling in general. Lord and Miller represent that rarest of breeds: directors with a fresh and unique vision, backed by the nerve to stand up for what they believe in.
Just look at their track record: After starting their careers as TV writers (they created the MTV cartoon series “Clone High” and wrote for “How I Met Your Mother”), the duo made their feature directorial debut with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a wildly imaginative reinvention of a 32-page children’s book that heralded them as bold, outside-the-box comedy storytellers.
Then they made the jump to live-action, bringing their trademark brand of hip, pop-savvy self-awareness to the feature-length “21 Jump Street” remake. Few animation directors have survived the leap from animation to live-action (just consider the likes of “John Carter” and “Monster Trucks”), but Lord and Miller took to the new medium like naturals (technically, they had experience from their TV writing days — and I remember hearing stories that they’d actually taken a break from “Cloudy” to write an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” just so they wouldn’t lose their Writers Guild insurance benefits, but that’s another story about animators don’t enjoy the same protection in this industry).
“21 Jump Street” took the concept of a tired old ’80s TV show — two baby-faced cops go undercover as high-school students — and rebooted it with a playful twist, turning the ludicrous setup into one giant joke. Then came “The Lego Movie,” in which they cracked one of the weirdest assignments in 21st-century filmmaking — bring the popular line of kids toys to life — in a wholly original way, embracing the fact that Legos had spawned an almost cult-like sub-genre of fan films (to capitalize on the trend, the Lego company had even released a “MovieMaker Set” in 2000, complete with stop-motion camera and Steven Spielberg-styled minifigure) to make the ultimate wisecracking meta-movie.
After that string of successes, Lord and Miller had become two of the hottest names in town, able to pick their projects. But like so many directors of their generation — children of the ’70s whose love of cinema had been inspired by George Lucas’ game-changing space opera, what they wanted was to make a “Star Wars” movie. For a moment, that seemed possible, since the producers were hiring indie directors like Rian Johnson (“Brick”) and Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) to helm these tentpoles.
On paper, Lord and Miller’s irreverent sensibility seemed like a perfect match for Han Solo, the franchise’s most sardonic character. One has to assume that it was precisely that take Kathy Kennedy and the “Star Wars” producers wanted when they hired the duo. But this is where modern critics, columnists and the fan community at large fail to understand a fundamental change that is happening at the blockbuster level in Hollywood: These directors are not being chosen to put their personal stamp on these movies. They are being hired to do the opposite, to suppress their identity and act grateful while the producers make all the key creative decisions.
Want to know why Trevorrow was picked to direct “Jurassic World” when his only previous credit was a nifty little sci-fi indie called “Safety Not Guaranteed”? It’s because he plays well with others, willing to follow exec producer Steven Spielberg’s lead when necessary. Going in to the assignment, Trevorrow had no experience directing complicated action sequences or overseeing massive-budget special effects. He didn’t need it, because those aspects of the movie were delegated to seasoned heads of department, while Trevorrow focused on what he does best: handling the interpersonal chemistry between the lead characters. (Personally, I hold Trevorrow responsible for the decision to film Bryce Dallas Howard running in high heels, but not the turducken-like gag where a giant CG monosaur rises up to swallow the pterodactyl that’s eating Bryce’s assistant. Surely someone else oversaw that nearly-all-digital sequence.)
Independent schlock producer Roger Corman memorably observed that in the post-“Jaws,” post-“Star Wars” era, the A movies have become the B movies, and the B movies have become the A movies — which is another way of saying that today, instead of taking risks on smart original movies for grown-up sensibilities (say, tony literary adaptations and films based on acclaimed Broadway plays), the studios are investing most of their resources into comic-book movies and the equivalent of cliffhanger serials (from Tarzan to Indiana Jones).
To Corman’s equation I would add the following corollary: On today’s tentpoles, the director’s job is to take orders, while producers and other pros are called in to oversee the complicated practical and CG sequences that ultimately define these movies. It’s an extension of the old second-unit model, wherein experienced stunt and action-scene professionals handled the logistics of car chases and exotic location work — except that now, such spectacular sequences are the most important part of effects-driven movies. Meanwhile, the one ingredient the producers can’t fake or figure out on their own is the human drama, which is the reason that directors of Sundance films keep getting handed huge Hollywood movies: to deliver the chemistry that will make audiences care about all those big set pieces.
How times have changed: In the 1980s, the only one who would make a movie like “Fantastic Four” was Corman, which he did for peanuts, whereas two years ago, Fox dumped more than $125 million into the same property. And the director they picked? Josh Trank, whose only previous feature had been the low-budget “Chronicle.” Let’s not forget that Trank ankled his own “Star Wars” spinoff, which I suspect had everything to do with realizing what happens when forced to relinquish control of a project in which he’s listed as the in-title-only director.
Back in the ’60s, a group of French critics writing for Cahiers du Cinéma coined what has come to be known as “the auteur theory,” a relatively quaint idea that the director (as opposed the screenwriter, star or some other creative contributor) is the “author” of a film. In the half-century since, critics everywhere have fallen for this fantastical notion that directors have creative autonomy over the movies they make — when in fact, as often as not, that simply isn’t the case.
The auteur theory makes for a convenient myth, of course, and one that lazy critics have long perpetuated, because it’s much to difficult to give credit where it’s due when confronted with the already-cooked soufflé of a finished movie. Critics aren’t allowed into the kitchen, after all, and though countless chefs (or heads of department, to clarify the metaphor) contribute to any given film production, it’s virtually impossible to identify who was really responsible for the choices that make the film what it is.
How much of “Citizen Kane’s” creative genius can be attributed to cinematographer Gregg Toland? Would “Jaws” or “Star Wars” have been even half as effective without composer John Williams? Did editor Ralph Rosenblum save “Annie Hall”? And most relevant to the discussion at hand: Is it correct to think of “Rebecca” as an Alfred Hitchcock movie (he directed it, after all), or does the result more thoroughly reflect the hand of producer David O. Selznick?
This is all complicated by the fact that an entire class of filmmakers — the so-called “film-school generation” — seized upon the auteur theory, turning it into something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the likes of Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas and so on left their signature on the movies they made. Meanwhile, the Cahiers critics (several of whom went on to become directors, among them Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut) were protected by a uniquely French copyright law dating back to the 18th century, known as the “droit d’auteur,” which entitled them to final cut (a privilege precious few Hollywood directors have).
But these remain the exception, not the rule. In the case of the “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars” franchises, the director is decidedly not the auteur. To the extent that a single vision forms the creative identity of these films, it’s almost always the producer we should hold responsible. To understand that, we need only look back to the original “Star Wars” sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back,” a movie “directed” by Irvin Kershner, but every bit George Lucas’ brainchild (he reportedly hand-picked Kershner for his strength with character development). The same goes for Richard Marquand on “Return of the Jedi.”
This shouldn’t be a scandalous revelation. It just doesn’t fit with the self-aggrandizing narrative that many directors have chosen for themselves. Yes, the 1989 “Batman” is without question “a Tim Burton movie”: Burton has such an incredibly distinctive aesthetic, and the personality to push it through a system that’s virtually designed to thwart such originality. But when it comes to the incredibly successful “X-Men” franchise, there’s no question that producer (and “Superman” director) Richard Donner deserves as much credit as those first two films’ director, Bryan Singer. Simply put, that franchise owes its personality to both of their involvement.
But when it comes to “Jurassic World,” that movie probably wouldn’t look much different in the hands of someone other than Trevorrow. And the same can almost certainly be said for the “Star Wars” movie he’s been hired to direct, because in both cases, it’s the producers who are steering the ship. When the stakes are this high, it would be downright reckless to give complete autonomy to relatively unproven directors.
That’s increasingly the case in Hollywood these days. Director Dave Green (who’d made a tiny Amblin-style movie called “Earth to Echo”) went through it on a franchise project produced by Michael Bay. He was tapped to helm “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” only to discover that he had no autonomy. Granted, Green was still wet behind the ears and had no experience with a nine-digit budget or big union crew. But that wasn’t the job, because Bay never expected him to handle everything. Instead, the producer pulled in more experienced professionals to oversee much of the action and visual effects, while Green followed orders and worked his magic with the actors.
You can bet Tom Cruise’s paycheck that the same thing happened on “The Mummy,” in which Alex Kurtzman is listed as director, but the producer-star was reportedly calling most of the shots. How appropriate that a Universal monster movie reboot should be the victim of what amounts to a kind of creative Frankenstein effect.
Likewise, Marvel has had more success (both financially and artistically) forcing directors to conform to an inflexible set of aesthetic guidelines than it did when art-house “auteur” Ang Lee experimented with his own ideas on 2003’s “Hulk.” And though Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón is celebrated for the personal touch he brought to the Harry Potter franchise, it was relatively malleable British TV director David Yates whom writer-producer J.K. Rowling approved to direct four more films in the series.
So where does that leave us with “Star Wars”? On one hand, it’s perfectly understandable that the producers would want Trevorrow to direct Episode IX, since he’s already demonstrated his capacity to play along with the producers. Meanwhile, it’s disheartening — but not altogether surprising — that a directorial duo as gifted as Lord and Miller have been fired from the Han Solo film, since they’ve been known to fight for the creative integrity of their vision.
But it’s a loss to the “Star Wars” world, since Lord and Miller’s previous credits demonstrate the kind of unique take they might have brought to the franchise. Warner Bros. trusted the duo enough on “The Lego Movie” to let them poke fun at Batman — arguably the studio’s most precious IP, previously rendered oh-so-serious in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Lord and Miller’s minifigure Dark Knight was a brooding egomaniac and the funniest thing about that film, so much so that Warners ran with it, producing a spinoff that stretched the joke to feature length.
Sony Pictures Animation (where Lord and Miller made “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) was similarly enthusiastic about their input on Spider-Man, greenlighting the pair’s high-attitude idea for an animated movie centered around Miles Morales, the Black Hispanic superhero who took over web-slinging duties after Peter Parker’s death. Though they’re not directing, the script is said to bear their fingerprints — which it seems is exactly what Kennedy and company don’t want on the Han Solo project.
With any luck, Lord and Miller will see the “Star Wars” setback as the opportunity that it is: Rather than being forced to color within the lines of a controlling producer’s vision, they can potentially explore the more individual (dare I say, “auteurist”?) instinct they so clearly possess on a less-protected property. Heck, maybe Sony’s Spider-Man project will be the one to benefit. Or perhaps they’ll be in the enviable position of pitching an original movie. Not all directors have such a strong or clear sense of vision that they can be trusted to exert it over a massive studio tentpole, but Lord and Miller are among the few actively reshaping the comedy landscape. Now is their moment, although as Han Solo would say, “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”
Related stories'Star Wars' Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Firing Is Latest in Long Line of Director Exits'Star Wars' Han Solo Spinoff: Lord & Miller Fired After Clashing With Kathleen Kennedy (Exclusive)'Star Wars' Han Solo Film Loses Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller »
- Peter Debruge
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