- The InSneider
- Has the War in Israel Delayed Quentin Tarantino's New Film?; Adam McKay's Serial Killer Movie Dead at Netflix
Has the War in Israel Delayed Quentin Tarantino's New Film?; Adam McKay's Serial Killer Movie Dead at Netflix
Plus, who should star in the George Santos movie, and Best Cinematography power rankings.
Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a good time dancing in the aisles at Beyoncé’s Renaissance movie. Unless you opted to see Godzilla Minus One (I’m going tonight), in which case I hope that the screams of all those people being stomped on weren’t drowned out by all the silver-and-black-clad Beyhivers singing along in the next theater.
I played basketball on Saturday morning (and hit a game-winning 3-pointer, FYI) and as all the comedians I play ball with scattered, I asked Wayne Federman if he’d seen his pal Judd Apatow’s new short film about Bob Newhart and Don Rickles. “Have I seen it? I produced it!” Whoops, my bad, Wayne! I’m not worthy… The reason I bring up this embarrassing moment? As a reason to link to Bob and Don: A Love Story over at the New Yorker, of course. Take 20 minutes to watch it and thank me later…
In today’s newsletter, you’ll find stories about Quentin Tarantino, Adam McKay, George Santos, Kim Kardashian, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Jared Freid, and the new HBO docuseries Murder in Boston. Read on for more… and enjoy!
Has the Israel-Hamas War Delayed Quentin Tarantino’s New Film The Movie Critic?
Tarantino wrote Inglourious Basterds and created the Bear Jew. He has Israel’s back.
A couple of days ago, World of Reel’s Jordan Ruimy reported that, after making some calls, it sounds like Quentin Tarantino’s new/final film, The Movie Critic, may still be a ways off.
Production had been ready to go this fall, but the SAG-AFTRA strike “completely derailed” the film’s momentum, according to World of Reel, and while an “early-to-mid 2024” production start is seen as the “best-case scenario,” according to Ruimy, his source claims “they’re not hurrying up or anything. QT is taking his time and he’ll shoot it when it all comes together.”
But is Tarantino really waiting for things to “come together” either creatively or financially, or is he perhaps distracted by the ongoing situation in Israel, where he lives with his wife and two small children? Any father with a young family would understandably be more focused on ensuring their safety than on making a movie.
There were also rumors that Tarantino was going to get the financing for this film either from or through his wife’s wealthy, well-connected Israeli family, allowing him to make a distribution deal with a studio down the line. Whether or not that’s true, it sounds like Tarantino would prefer to wait until things settle down a bit in Israel, as the situation no doubt hits close to home for the filmmaker.
A potential delay to next fall would also explain why rumored star Paul Walter Hauser is said to be in talks for a role in Trey Parker’s untitled slavery comedy at Paramount. If you’ll recall, Tarantino also delayed The Hateful Eight after the script leaked, waiting until he was good and ready. Expect the same here.
Patience is a virtue. The bigger question is whether we’ll see more of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton character from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Don’t Look Up, But Netflix Has Come to Its Senses
$175 million on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with a serial killer? Meh. Pass.
World of Reel, which is one of my daily reads, had another interesting story on Monday, one that was more or less confirmed by the trades. Ruimy claimed that Netflix had “dropped” Adam McKay’s politicized serial killer movie Average Height, Average Build, which had a rumored price tag of $175 million. Minutes later, Deadline reported that McKay had decided to pivot from Average Height, Average Build to an untitled film about climate change, given the urgency surrounding the ongoing environmental issue.
The bottom line here is that Ruimy was correct — Netflix isn’t moving forward with that serial killer movie. The difference, of course, is in the optics. In Ruimy’s version, which I suspect may be more accurate (Netflix didn’t respond to my email), the streamer wisely decided not to move forward with the project because it’s reigning in budgets and that project, at that budget, never made any sense, even when Netflix was spending more freely. The downside of confirming that narrative would be confirming the rumored belt-tightening happening both at Netflix and across the entire industry, where every company must project strength at all times.
And so Netflix gets to wiggle off the hook by saying it was McKay’s decision to take a step back, allowing McKay to project strength and look like the dumper rather than the dumped one, for lack of a better analogy. It feels like Netflix told McKay, ‘Hey, the New Netflix isn’t going to make this movie, but we’ll let you pretend like it was your choice.’ Sometimes, you have to look on the bright side to find the golden linings in tough decisions.
Was Netflix really only making Average Height, Average Build because McKay was directing it? If Netflix execs truly believed in the project, wouldn’t they would work with McKay to find a new director for the film, especially given the all-star cast that had been assembled — Robert Pattinson, Amy Adams, and Robert Downey Jr.?
Pattinson would’ve played a serial killer who enlists a lobbyist (Adams) to change laws that will allow him to more easily get away with murder. Downey would’ve played a retired cop who won’t give up on the chase, which leads to Washington D.C., where the killer becomes a cause celebre.
There aren’t any details regarding the climate change project, suggesting it wasn’t nearly as close to being ready to go before cameras, but McKay is a noted climate change activist whose last Netflix film, Don’t Look Up, also addressed environmental issues.
This is one of those tough decisions that Netflix simply has to make every now and then, as this kind of movie — a dark comedy, one of the two trickiest genres, in my opinion — should not cost $175 million. It has no franchise potential, and it’s not what people want from serial killer-themed content. I’m sure it was a tough decision for Netflix, but must we pretend that McKay really walked away from a “go picture” that he also wrote and had attracted several major stars, all for a climate film with zero attachments? It sounds a little suspicious to me…
And now, here are my latest Oscars Power Rankings, which forecast who’s up and who’s down each week…
Oscars Power Rankings: Will Killers of the Flower Moon or Oppenheimer Win Best Cinematography?
Pretty slick shot, huh?
Hoyte van Hoytema, Oppenheimer
Rodrigo Prieto, Killers of the Flower Moon
Lukasz Zal, The Zone of Interest
Robbie Ryan, Poor Things
Matthew Libatique, Maestro
Linus Sandgren, Saltburn
Dan Laustsen, The Color Purple
Erik Messerschmidt, Ferrari
Dariusz Wolski, Napoleon
Pedro Luque, Society of the Snow
Analysis: When it comes to Best Cinematography, this year is shaping up to be a race between Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon. Hoyte van Hoytema was nominated once before, for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, while Flower Moon’s Rodrigo Prieto has three prior nominations for Brokeback Mountain and a pair of Martin Scorsese movies — Silence and The Irishman. Killers of the Flower Moon is a far more “beautiful” film than either of those, but it’ll be hard to beat the Nolan-van Hoytema collaboration, which did a very cool job of visualizing nuclear fission.
Outside of those two heavyweights, The Zone of Interest seems especially difficult to ignore in this category, as Lukasz Zal has two prior nominations for Ida and Cold War — the same as Maestro’s Matthew Libatique, who was nominated for Black Swan and A Star Is Born. One of those films seems likely to get in, if not both, and Dan Laustsen is another two-time nominee for The Shape of Water and Nightmare Alley.
I also believe that either Poor Things or Saltburn will pick up a nomination, though I’m leaning towards Robbie Ryan, a past nominee for The Favourite, over Linus Sandgren, who previously won for La La Land. However, I fully admit that I could have that backward… I just think that Poor Things has a higher awards profile than Saltburn, though both are fairly divisive.
So those are my top six contenders, and I’m sure that Ferrari and Napoleon will also be firmly in the mix here, as the racing scenes in the former and the battle scenes of the latter are particularly impressive. Don’t forget about the bubblegum pink sheen of Barbie — Prieto again, which should help bolster his campaign for Killers — and keep an eye on Society of the Snow, however, as that visually stunning film is going to sneak up on people and could very well wind up with an avalanche of awards.
Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)
If he’s looking for a new gig, he could always be a Hollywood publicist! Just kidding?!?
Who Should Star in the George Santos Movie? - It was announced over the weekend, just after he was expelled from Congress, that HBO had optioned the rights to The Fabulist, Mark Chiusano’s new book about George Santos. Mike Makowsky, who wrote the Hugh Jackman movie Bad Education that HBO acquired, wrote the script, and he’ll also executive produce alongside Frank Rich, who served as an EP on Succession and Veep. Immediately, the question turned to who could play Santos in the movie, with Nelson Franklin (Veep) and Harvey Guillen (What We Do in the Shadows) the most frequently mentioned online. Both would actually be pretty good, and Franklin might even have the edge given the Veep connection with Rich, though part of me wonders whether HBO will really finance a Santos movie without a big star wearing the oversized glasses. The great Josh Gad comes to mind, but if HBO could convince Jonah Hill to give it a stab, do you think he would? Personally, I’m sick of the Santos story and feel like this is just a hot project of the moment that won’t sound too interesting a couple of years from now. But that’s just me…
Emma and Ari Sitting in a Fruit Tree? - World of Reel claims that Oscar winner Emma Stone is in talks to star in Ari Aster’s darkly comedic western Eddington, which is now said to take place during the pandemic. I definitely believe that Aster and Stone are eager to work together, as I’d also heard Stone was circling that Save the Green Planet! remake that Aster is producing. That news sounded a little premature to my ears, but this one passes my smell test, even if the project has faint echoes of The Curse, in that it follows an L.A. couple who find themselves stranded in a small town in New Mexico where they are warmly greeted but soon wear out their welcome. I have no idea what to make of Eddington — or Aster, for that matter, in the wake of Beau Is Afraid, but this is an intriguing pairing that deserves the benefit of the doubt and could pay off quite nicely.
Kim Kardashian: Attorney at Law - Kim Kardashian took a lot of heat for filming American Horror Story: Delicate during the SAG-AFTRA strike, but she’s now being rewarded for her loyalty to producer Ryan Murphy, who has crafted a new Hulu series for the actress along with writer Jon Robin Baitz (Brothers & Sisters) and Joe Baken. Described as a “high-end, glossy, and sexy adult procedural,” the series will find Kim playing LA’s most successful divorce lawyer who runs her own law firm, which is staffed entirely by women. Hulu bought the pitch in the room and gave it a straight-to-series commitment, which makes sense given that the streamer is already home to Kim’s hit reality series The Kardashians. This is the first series for Murphy under his new deal at Disney. Let’s hope he has more than stunt casting up his sleeve…
Live-Action Noir - Steve Lightfoot (The Punisher) will serve as co-showrunner on Amazon’s live-action Spider-Man Noir series along with writer Oren Uziel. The untitled series will follow an older grizzled superhero in 1930s New York City, and the character won’t be Peter Parker, as this series takes place outside the larger Spider-Man universe. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are EPs along with Amy Pascal, and this is the second Amazon series based on Sony’s stable of Marvel characters following Silk: Spider Society from showrunner Angela Kang.
From L.A to Philly - Salli Richardson-Whitfield did a great job behind the camera of Season 2 of HBO’s Winning Time and the network is staying in business with her, as she’s been tapped to EP and direct multiple episodes of Brad Ingelsby’s untitled crime drama starring Mark Ruffalo. Jeremiah Zagar will direct the pilot and other episodes as well. Set in the working-class suburbs outside of Philadelphia, the limited series follows an FBI agent who heads up a Task Force that comes together to stop a string of drug-house robberies led by an unsuspecting family man. Ingelsby created Mare of Easttown, and Richardson-Whitfield is smart to be throwing herself into this project, which sounds promising.
Ever Heard of a Poisoned Cigar? - First-time director Eif Rivera has assembled a strong cast for his indie movie Killing Castro, which will star Al Pacino, Diego Boneta, Xolo Maridueña, KiKi Layne, Alexander Ludwig, Ron Livingston, Titus Welliver, Logan Marshall-Green, Nicole Beharie, and Kendrick Sampson, the latter of whom is likely playing Malcolm X. The script hails from Leon Hendrix, Thomas DeGrezia, and Colin Bateman, and it’s based on true events that occurred in 1960, when Fidel Castro traveled to New York City to deliver his first speech to the United Nations shortly after winning the Cuban Revolution. Encountering hostility at his original hostel, Castro wound up staying at Harlem’s famed Hotel Theresa thanks to Malcolm X, who, at the time, was being investigated by the FBI. With both the CIA and the Italian mafia after Castro, a rookie FBI agent assigned to watch Malcolm X winds up having to keep Castro alive in NYC, though the film will be shot in Newark, naturally. This is an indie, after all! Romulus Entertainment is financing, and the company’s Brad Feinstein will produce along with Christina Weiss Lurie of Fourth and Twenty-Eight Films.
Before and After - The great Judith Light (Who’s the Boss) will play Billy Crystal’s wife in Apple’s upcoming limited series Before. Hailing from writer/showrunner Sarah Thorp, the 10-episode psychological thriller follows Eli, a child psychiatrist who is grieving the loss of his wife Lynn when he meets a troubled young boy who seems to have a haunting connection to his past. As Eli investigates his wife’s death, he discovers her hidden life and soon finds Lynn haunting him from beyond the grave. Adam Bernstein (Fargo) will direct the pilot, replacing Barry Levinson, and the series counts Eric Roth among its EPs. This one sounds interesting and is coming together quite nicely, as I loved Light’s recent work in Poker Face and American Crime Story.
The Boogeyman - Horror screenwriter Gary Dauberman has signed a first-look deal with Sony Pictures and its genre label Screen Gems, which is expected to increase its output in the months and years ahead. Dauberman is the franchise builder responsible for Annabelle, The Nun, and the hit It movies based on Stephen King’s classic novel. He also wrote and directed the adaptation of King’s book Salem’s Lot, which WBD’s David Zaslav is still figuring out what to do with. But horror has become an arms race, and with Paramount signing Smile filmmaker Parker Finn to a first-look deal and New Line locking up Barbarbian helmer Zach Cregger, Sony is wise to get into business with Dauberman, who is also developing a live-action Gargoyles project for Disney+.
What’s In a Name? - There’s no question that the Hispanic/Latino audience is the fastest-growing moviegoing demo in the United States and that Hollywood has come up woefully short when it comes to serving that audience. So I suppose it’s a good thing that CAA wants to shine a light on this creative injustice and do something about it with CAA Latino, an “agency-wide, cross-department initiative” to “drive” new opportunities to its Latino and Hispanic clients.” CAA Latino is described as a long-term commitment for the agency, but riddle me this — why does there even need to be an “initiative” to serve Hispanic/Latino clients? Aren’t CAA agents already doing that? Isn’t that already their job? I mean, Pedro Pascal, Jenna Ortega, Ana de Armas, and America Ferrera all seem to be killing it right now. The initiative boasts seven active leaders, though there are more than 30 staffers who will contribute, and their top priorities “are to change how the diverse community is depicted on screen, give greater voice to the work of Latino and Hispanic artists and storytellers, and drive new revenue for our clients.” Which, again, is all well and good, I just don’t understand the need to slap a label on something that should already be happening every day. It only serves to “other” the agency’s Hispanic/Latino clients, if you ask me. Then again, what do I know?
The Mitzvah Man - It’s been something to witness the steady rise of Jared Freid, who I grew up with in Needham, MA. Jared was a year younger than me but our brothers were friends, and so were our parents. Freid recently wrapped his first feature film, 31 Candles, from rising indie filmmaker Jonah Feingold (Exmas). The writer-director stars in his own rom-com, playing a 30-year-old New Yorker who has a bar mitzvah after running into his former summer camp crush, played by newcomer Sarah Coffey. I don’t know how Freid factors into the ensemble of this coming-of-age film, but it’s cool to see him wrap his first film, and I know other exciting opportunities await him, as he has a lovable everyman quality along the lines of Kevin James or a Jewish Tim Allen.
Congrats - To Gregg Kilday, THR’s longtime film editor, on his new Ankler newsletter Prestige Junkie, which I look forward to reading.
Trailer Time: Murder in Boston, HBO’s New Three-Part Docuseries, Is a Riveting True Crime Tale
This weekend, I binged HBO’s new true crime docuseries Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning. As a Boston boy who was only five years old when this horrifying crime occurred, the docuseries was especially fascinating to me, and I thought it was great — no surprise given that it hails from Jason Hehir, director of The Last Dance.
Hehir does a great job of tracing race relations in the city so that when Chuck Stuart tells police that a Black man shot and killed his pregnant wife, we see how the authorities are all too eager to believe him, allowing their own deep-seated biases to cloud the investigation.
With a running time of roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes, you can watch this three-part series in a single sitting, and you’ll be glad you did, especially if you’re from the Boston area. Watch the trailer above to get a feel for it though…
Got a hot tip, or an interesting pitch? Want to buy an ad or ask a provocative question for future mailbag installments? Email me at [email protected].