John August

History of the World Critic

“Asking a writer what he thinks of critics is like asking what a fire hydrant feels about dogs.” No one has portrayed that Ann Landers quote better (or more directly) than Mel Brooks in History of the World: Part 1 in the sketch where a caveman critic pisses all over a newly envisioned cave drawing. Not only is the relationship between creator and critic as old as man, it’s also always involved urination. On the most recent edition of the Scriptnotes podcast, screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss the looming spectre that is The Critic – a terrifying boogeyman for some, a knock-kneed weakling to others, and a complete non-entity to more. “Well this isn’t going to endear me with many critics,” begins Mazin (who recently explained the depressing state of screenwriting as a career to Reject Radio listeners). “I don’t care. I do not care. I don’t write movies for critics; I write movies for audiences. My entire focus is on what the audience thinks of the film.” The thing is, that outlook does endear him to me. That may sound counter-intuitive coming from a critic, but it’s an excellent mindset to have as a creator. Here’s why.

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FRANKENWEENIE

The only thing in life better than Fantastic Fest would be winning the lottery while you’re at Fantastic Fest. Like every year, we’ll be covering the hell out of it with a preternatural dedication that often requires us writing our reviews with straight jackets on. That’s a lot harder than it sounds when you’re also singing karaoke and drinking a high quality concoction of hooch. The full fest line up hasn’t been announced yet, but it will undoubtedly be full of movie goodness, and the opening night film promises to set the tone. The flick? Tim Burton‘s forthcoming Frankenweenie – which promises a return to stop motion, a returning to working with John August and a return to a story from his youth that finally gets a feature-length treatment. The movie hits theaters October 5th, but Fantastic Fest attendees will see it before anyone else. Hopes are high here because Burton seems to have lost his way as of late, crafting stuff in his wheelhouse that feels stale, but perhaps the solution to the rut is to dig deeper into it. To return to the kind of magic this morbid magician built his name on. It’s a hell of a way to kick things off. And this poster for the fest is a great way to celebrate the end of everything:

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The flames are hot here in development hell, and there’s way too much cocaine. Way, way too much. So why wouldn’t we come back? When we first examined 8 Promised Movies That Still Haven’t Been Made, it was an exploration of the complex world of filmmaking where the smallest issue can derail an entire project potentially worth millions. Nervous executives, scheduling conflicts, hangnails. Getting a movie made is a miracle, and even those that get hailed in the press as moving forward are sometimes abandoned. Considering our national grand obsession with hypotheticals, here are 8 more movies we were told would happen that haven’t (including some that won’t).

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Bane and The Dark Knight

What is Movie News After Dark? This evening’s column, as evident in the above image and title, will be very Batman heavy. Because it’s impossible to live and work on the internet without running into a bunch of Bat-related stuff. So we might as well just get it out of the way. We’ll also mix in some Community. And Community/Batman crossover. We begin tonight with one of two brand new photos from The Dark Knight Rises. This one features Bane, as played by Tom Hardy, staring down Batman, as played by Christian Bale. Guess what happens next…

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After the rumors and speculation (and the years of development hell), DJ Caruso has utilized twitter to proclaim that he’ll be directing Preacher. Be waiting for the announcement of their PG-13 shooting goal fairly soon. Was The Salton Sea a good movie? Of course. It wasn’t off the charts, but it was a competent thriller, and Caruso has proven that he can make a movie look like a movie. Especially his action sequences. Unfortunately, his three most recent flicks have all been watered-down, convoluted messes that play out like a sophomore in high school discovered old Twilight Zone episodes. Trix aren’t for kids. DJ Caruso is. Maybe he’s been biding his time with schlock while trying to make a name big enough for himself to land something challenging like Preacher, but that’s difficult to believe. The only optimism here comes in the form of John August. Up to this point, Caruso has only directed scripts from the wet behind the ears and the averagely talented. Now, he has a veteran storyteller crafting a complex story. Who knows. Maybe that’s the key to success here. Maybe if Caruso gets a solid script, he’ll shoot the hell out of it. [Film Stage]

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John August, one of the more creative screenwriting talents working today, is an avid blogger. The man hustles out his own work and then has time to help aspiring movie writers with their stream of questions that range from confidence boosters to idiosyncratic formatting for three people speaking at once while a dog is barking. Seriously. How do you format that in a screenplay? We all know that there’s a Google movie brewing out there. The garage-created mythos of the company (that so many companies share) is too big, and their presence on the planet is too huge not to look toward the big screen. The project is hunting around for writers, and apparently John August was one of them. In a culturally important blog entry, August explains briefly why he wasn’t chosen for the job and goes further into the nature of Google and evil. It might seem small (and a quick story) but it highlights perfectly what some writers go through. Sometimes, even the most talented ones just aren’t right for the job in the producer’s eyes. Even if they have a great track record, their particular view of how the film should play out doesn’t line up, and the crickets start chirping.

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On the one hand, Tim Burton directing an adaptation of a board game that is an adaptation of monster movies in general might be seen with incredible cynicism. Without looking into a crystal ball, you might already see the Gothic tones, the text reading “Starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter” plastering the poster, and you might already hear the same score from Danny Elfman. On the other hand, a few small details might make you optimistic.

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A post-apocalyptic future where the rantings of a divorced cab driver have become the basis for a major religion. Who wouldn’t want to see that on the big screen?

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MWLBigFish

Will Bloom struggles to reconnect with his father Edward Bloom as Ed’s entire life is retold in epic, tall tale-style, and Tim Burton discovers primary colors.

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Despite your stately pipe, Josh Olson will not be reading your fucking script, sir.

The Village Voice lists the man who recently penned I Will Not Read Your F*cking Script as the “A History of Violence screenwriter,” but I prefer to think of him as the writer/director of direct-to-DVD masterpiece Infested.

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shazam_header

As scribe John August explained on his personal blog yesterday, Shazam! has died in the script stage due to some cold feet and misguided direction of the execs at Warner Bros.

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The Nines

Part One: Gary is upside down. After a handle of booze and a sizable crack rock, Gary (Ryan Reynolds) lands his car upside down the old fashioned way and ends up under house arrest with a cheery publicist named Margaret (Melissa McCarthy). He’s hoping a romance with his mysterious neighbor Sarah (Hope Davis) will cure his boredom. Gavin (Ryan Reynolds) is desperate to see his pilot television series get picked up by the network. He’s written it specifically for friend Melissa McCarthy (Melissa McCarthy), but when executive Susan (Hope Davis) tells him that Melissa can’t star, he’s forced to choose between a friend and his passion. Gabriel (Ryan Reynolds) is enjoying the countryside with his wife Mary (Melissa McCarthy) and his daughter Noelle (Elle Fanning). When their car breaks down, he meets a jogger named Sierra (Hope Davis) who inexplicably wants to steal him away from his family. If you’re confused, you’re right where screenwriter/director John August wants you. Part Two: The Nines is all of these stories – interlocking their themes and meanings as each plot plays out. Each character is the same person, played by the same actor, but living different lives that bump into one another. In an effort to be more confusing, it’s also fundamentally a science fiction film. But The Nines isn’t convoluted or difficult without a purpose, and that purpose is entertaining to the core. The brilliant story, told in three parts by veteran scribe John August in his first spin with the director’s […]

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shazam01.jpg

Perhaps to avoid confusions and comparisons to the 1996 blockbuster Kazaam, the new Captain Marvel project is being renamed.

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