Paramount

Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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Beverly Hills Cop

Otay, here’s the deal. For the past few years (at least since 2000’s Nutty Professor II), all humans have been clamoring for Eddie Murphy to get back to what made his comedy work so well: sarcasm, a little edge and Samuel L. Jackson robbing a McDonald’s knock-off with a shotgun. Now after Norbit and Meet Dave and a few cashed checks, Murphy is taking that suggestion to heart in the most literal way possible. According to Deadline Hollywood, he’s working with Paramount to make a fourth (fourth!) Beverly Hills Cop movie. After CBS passed on the TV version from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan and co-starring Brandon T. Jackson, Paramount (who was on board as the rights holder) hired Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) to shift the character back to the big screen. So this is happening (for now).

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IntroGongman

We are guaranteed to see them before every film, most of them we can recall beat by beat with perfect memory. They were made by artists whose names we don’t know, and feature mystery figures and unknown places we’ll never see in real life. But they were real at some point, and in some cases still are. Here are the people and places behind the studio logos you see every day.

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hansel and gretel witch hunters 04

If you want a sure sign of what the global market looks like, Hollywood has got you covered. Even though Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters only earned $55m domestically, the movie scored over $150m internationally, and those numbers are prompting Paramount and MGM to partner on a potential sequel. According to Variety, the studios want a second helping of the Tommy Wirkola-directed film, but it’s unclear as to whether they’ll be able to get Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner back. Pure gut-reaction guess? The pair won’t be back, and it won’t matter. They’ll made Hansel and Gretel 2: Witchier with two new faces, trade off the name recognition of the first to make back diminished returns and leave Terry Gilliam to scratch his head over what happened with The Brothers Grimm.

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Francis Ford Coppola

Despite the fact that he’s best known for his sweeping, epic-in-scope work from the ‘70s like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has been spending his recent years making smaller, more experimental, or at least more under the radar projects like Tetro and Twixt. Yet, even with a smaller scale bringing lower expectations, his most recent work hasn’t been able to gain the same level of esteem as the smaller films of his past, like say 1974’s The Conversation. So what does a directing legend have to do to make a dang impact in this town? Some comments he made while pushing his new five film Blu-ray box set to Inside Movies suggest that he’s planning on returning to his epic roots. When explaining why he’s recently moved from the relative seclusion of his Napa Valley vineyard to new offices at Paramount, Coppola said, “I have a secret investor that has infinite money. I learned what I learned from my three smaller films, and wanted to write a bigger film. I’ve been writing it. It’s so ambitious so I decided to go to L.A. and make a film out of a studio that has all the costume rentals, and where all the actors are.”

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Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

It must feel pretty good to be Christopher McQuarrie right now. The writer/director has Jack Reacher coming out in a month’s time, which is hopefully as cool as the footage we’ve seen, but that’s not the only reason McQuarrie must be pleased with himself. With the big promotional push for a risky Christmas Day release, Paramount is putting a lot of confidence into McQuarrie’s movie. Now, with news of the Usual Suspects writer in line to helm Mission: Impossible 5, the studio clearly wants to stay in the McQuarrie business. And good for him. Ever since The Way of the Gun, he’s been stuck in director’s jail, or at least it seemed that way. His excellent, overlooked directorial debut was critically divisive and far from a box office hit. His lack of directorial work doesn’t mean he hasn’t been keeping busy, though. Over the past few years he’s struck a good working relationship with Tom Cruise, and after Jack Reacher, it’s apparently gotten better.

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Comic actor Adam Sandler, his production company Happy Madison, and Sony Pictures all have a rich history of working together. They’ve brought us a litany of steaming piles of comedy crap, including titles like Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and the Kevin James-starring Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And, despite the fact that Sandler’s last horrible excuse for a comedy that he made with Sony, That’s My Boy, didn’t perform up to the standards of his previous films, all indications have been that the studio and Sandler were still perfectly happy in their relationship and ready to continue work on a Grown Ups sequel and then some sort of untitled Western comedy. But recently there was a glimmer of hope. Sony has been experiencing some money troubles, and has, as THR puts it in their report of all this inside baseball stuff, started, “actively seeking partners, divesting and abandoning specific projects.” This means that guys like Sandler, who may be showing signs of slowing down as an earner, are starting to look like a bigger risk to the studio, and that they’re less likely to fund risky projects unless they can get some sort of partner to come on board and split the cost. Suddenly, that untitled Western comedy was in trouble. Might it be possible that it could get put in turnaround, thus sparing us from having to see another terrible Adam Sandler comedy for a few years?

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Vessel Clark Baker

We praised Clark Baker‘s Vessel back in May as part of our Short Film of the Day feature, so it’s beyond exciting to hear that the short has led to a feature film at Paramount. According to Variety, the studio has hired Stephen Susco (The Grudge) to write a feature film version with Baker set to direct. Unfortunately, that means the short film is now nowhere to be found online – behind privacy setting lock and key. A small price to pay for the chance to see it up on the big screen. The short featured a fantastic blend of practical and CGI effects, as well as some sharp dialogue even in the midst of a mid-air alien invasion when an airplane collides with another ship. It’s also another example of new funding methods leading to larger success. The film was funded on KickStarter, and now Baker has translated the finished product into work within the studio system, but beyond the symbolism of the achievement, it’s excellent to see such quality work being recognized. Hopefully it gives birth so something dangerous, slimy and awesome.  

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Chris Pine as Jack Ryan

The good folks at Paramount dropped this image in our inbox (which you can click to enlarge), and since it’s a little late in the year for National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day , it must be in support of the forthcoming Jack Ryan movie where Chris Pine takes the Tom Clancy mantle from so many who came before him. The film – also starring Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh – isn’t out until Christmas of 2013, but Branagh (who also plays the director) is already filming the story of Russian billionaires, international intrigue and terror plots. Of course, it’s impossible to get a good idea of the movie itself from a single picture, and it’s not like this is a period drama or superhero flick with costumes to show off, but it’s still a great reminder that the character will be back on the big screen next year.  The promise of an exciting motorcycle chase isn’t half bad either.

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Todd Phillips

After dominating the world with the comedic stylings of three hungover delinquents, Todd Phillips is making the wise decision to transition into serious drama. It makes sense. There’s a whisper thin line between laughs and abject sorrow, especially the kind of laughs that Phillips is used to eliciting, and he’s the kind of storyteller that can almost assuredly handle both with equal skill. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Phillips is about to take over the seat for The Gambler from a huge name in filmmaking. Martin Scorsese was previously planning on directing from a William Monahan script (which is, you know, not a bad partnership), but now Scorsese is out and Phillips is in talks with Paramount to craft a remake of the 1974 Karel Reisz movie starring James Caan as a literature professor who demolishes his own life with a gambling addiction. Obviously, obsessed men with behavioral problems fit right into Phillips’ wheelhouse, but the question is how he’ll work Mr. Creepy into the script. If the Monahan screenplay is still in play, Phillips may have just landed in a hell of a position to surprise a lot of people. Paramount would be wise to draw up the paperwork.

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In the grand tradition of movie-making teams like Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his entire family, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (okay, maybe not those last two), comes a new duo of creative types hoping to make a mint and produce laughter by spoofing the works of others, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston. THR reports that the duo has just sold a pitch to Paramount that will see them making a spy comedy in the vein of a silly James Bond. Think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character, but less…something, and more…I don’t know. Okay, so just think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character. According to sources at the studio, this still untitled comedy will tell the story of a spy who “is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, a moronic soccer hooligan.” Six years ago Cohen was coming off of his hit series Da Ali G Show and its subversive and successful feature film spin-off Borat, and he seemed like he was pretty much the most vital and progressive comedian working in films. But since then his career has taken a huge downswing because of disappointments like Brüno and his recent mess of a movie The Dictator. I guess the big question here is, given Cohen’s sudden downturn in quality output, is there any reason why we should be excited for him doing a spoof of spy movies?

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They say the world is divided into two types of people: those who prefer Star Wars and those who prefer Star Trek. Of course, they also say the same thing regarding Elvis Presley/The Beatles, chocolate/vanilla, and Charlie Sheen/Emilio Estevez. I’ve always leaned towards the Star Wars side of things (along with The Beatles, chocolate and Estevez), and to that end I’ve never before watched an entire episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The original series I’ve seen from beginning to end over the years, but The Next Generation? Never gave it the time. Which reminds me… the world is also divided into people who prefer Captain James Kirk and those who prefer Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The show ended its seven-season run in 1994, but the series has never received the high definition treatment that fans have been clamoring for. That HD drought ends this week as CBS-HD and Paramount bring all 25 episodes of the show’s first season to Blu-ray along with a strong complement of special features. And now I’m no longer an NCC-1701-D virgin.

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Kenneth Branagh wants to hurt Jack Ryan

When news first broke that Paramount would be bringing Tom Clancy‘s adventurous accountant, Jack Ryan, back to the big screen few people were all that thrilled. The character’s three previous incarnations (across four films) struck some as a series of diminishing returns creatively and a box-office flat line. But hey, even Ben Affleck‘s turn in The Sum of All Fears collected just under $200 million worldwide, and Paramount isn’t stupid enough to let go of a built-in audience. As long ago as 2008 word was that Sam Raimi would be helming Ryan’s return, but news and interest seemed to dry up shortly thereafter. A year later Chris Pine enlisted for the lead role, but the film seemed no closer to production. Earlier this year though Kenneth Branagh tossed his hat into the ring and signed on to direct. Would that finally be enough to get this thing going? Per Variety, Branagh is moving forward and has even gone so far as casting the lead villain to play against Pine’s heroic CIA analyst. Following in a long-standing Hollywood tradition he’s gone ahead and hired a British thespian to play a Russian bad guy.

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Fun Size Movie

Josh Schwartz is taking the success he found on TV with shows like The OC and Chuck and translating that into a directorial debut fit for families. It also manages a slutty kitty and a humping chicken. You know, for kids. Fun Size stars Victoria Justice as a teen on the cusp of the popularity that comes with being hunted by the hottest guy in school, but she’s charged with looking after her little brother on Halloween, a job that seeks to undermine her ability to attend the coolest party of the year. Conflict! Then she loses her brother, who happens to be dressed up like Spider-Man. Fortunately, he’s found by a young man who asks if he likes gladiator movies, and…wait. What. What exactly is going on in this trailer?

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Remember that reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise that Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes was making? The one that was just called Ninja Turtles and that spawned a bunch of fan debate when it was said it would re-write the turtles’ origins to make them aliens? Well, if you came down in the camp of those who were dreading a possible bastardization of your beloved childhood icons, the latest developments surrounding the film’s production might have you breathing a sigh of relief. Despite the fact that the film has already done quite a bit of pre-production for its planned shoot in Vancouver, THR is reporting that work has stopped on set and the film’s release date has been moved from December 2013 to May 2014. How long has work on the project been delayed? Some sources are saying ten weeks, but some are saying that they’ve heard the production’s hiatus will be “indefinite.”

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The past few years have seen the film debuts of a new generation of science fiction auteurs, and as with any filmmaker following up a strong debut the pressure to avoid a sophomore slump is intense. Duncan Jones followed the brilliant Moon with the solidly entertaining (and somewhat more commercial) Source Code. Neill Blomkamp impressed with District 9 and is currently filming his next movie, Elysium, with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The third director in this tiny fraternity is Joe Cornish, whose Attack the Block thrilled and entertained the dozens of viewers smart enough to see it in theaters last year (and the many more who discovered it on DVD). Cornish hasn’t been sitting idle as he also co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and has been attached to Edgar Wright’s long rumored Ant-Man movie. But his next directorial effort has been a mystery until now. Per Deadline Ancient Sumeria, Cornish has just signed with Paramount to write and direct an adaptation of Neal Stephenson‘s bestselling cyberpunk novel, “Snow Crash.” The 1992 novel follows the adventures of a pizza delivery guy trying to stop the spread of a deadly new computer virus that kills users exposed to its effects. The book’s Wikipedia page offers a detailed breakdown of the story, but the following synopsis should be enough to either whet your appetite or confuse the hell out of you.

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While not officially announced, Aint It Cool has dug through the entire internet to find Paramount registering a ton of websites for Jackass 4 which 1) point to it being in the works and 2) point to it being subtitled or otherwise linked to the phrase Bad Grandpa. As the piece points out, core member Ryan Dunn died in a drunk driving incident in June of last year. Still, is there a more fitting tribute to a fallen friend than daring another friend to squeeze an entire bottle of mayo up his anal cavity before riding a Vespa down a playground slide? The question is rhetorical. Of course there isn’t. So get ready. Registering domain names is often an indicator that a movie is in development (although it doesn’t always prove that the movie will be greenlit) and with the money these movies make, there’s a common sense element to the news as well. There’s a better than average chance that Jackass 4’s rascal grandfather will be hitting screens sometime in 2013. To the betterment of all of society    

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J.J. Abrams

According to Variety, J.J. Abrams‘s Bad Robot and Paramount are working together to develop a spec script purchased from Matt Stuecken (associate producer on the soon-to-be-seen  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Josh Campbell. It’s a small budget, science fiction thriller, and there’s literally no more information than that. Most likely, per Abrams’s request. Finding a director could be a crucial element in discovering some excitement here beyond the basic idea of having Abrams produce something with both science and fiction involved. But there’s the larger question. Is Abrams’s name and his usual sense of mystery enough to get you interested in something he’s producing?

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Flashback to the spring of 1998 — yours truly is living in Philadelphia and desperately looking for another city to call my home. I am not ashamed to admit that I plan on basing a significant part of this decision on the quality of programming at movie theaters in each city. Austin is the clear favorite in this category. I fondly remember falling in love with the Alamo Drafthouse during SXSW 1998 (beer! food! movies!), but it is my virginal foray into the Paramount Theatre that remains emblazoned upon my mind. Despite earning a masters degree in cinema studies, I never had access to a repertory cinema before. Sure, I studied the history of cinema but I watched all of the films on television. Now, I am finally experiencing those films in the way that they were intended to be seen! It might be hard to believe, but up until that fateful summer, I had never seen a film released prior to 1975 on the big screen. Flashforward 14 years — I find myself at the Hideout Cafe sitting across the table from the Paramount’s film programmer, Jesse Trussell, on the eve of the official release of the 2012 Summer Classic Film series schedule.  Trussell hands a photocopy of the schedule to me. I scan it quickly. My jaw drops.

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This new era of re-releases has definitely got its perks. Whether it’s seeing a modern classic like Jurassic Park return home to theaters or a movie from out of the mist of the past, it’s the kind of cash-grab that should be celebrated. What other time in your life would you be able to see the 1927 silent flick about pilots in WWI bravely battling (and kissing each other) as it was meant to be seen? Cinemark Theaters will play Wings – the first Best Picture Oscar winner – in select theaters on Wednesdays May 2nd and 16th. Those participating theaters can be found on the Cinemark website. The print has been completely restored. What’s crazy is that they’re showing in their Extreme Digital auditoriums, which means they much have restored the hell out of it.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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