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David Poland

By David Poland

Guillermo Exits The Hobbit

First and foremost… this is yet another reason to see Harry Sloan run out of town.
I never believed for a second that those managing the rotting carcass of MGM would shoot themselves in the foot by allowing The Hobbit and Bond to sit around gathering dust instead of generating hundreds of millions for a company that desperately needs it.. if only to pay back its debts. But here we are.
The Hobbit will survive. You can be sure that no one knows exactly what is going to happen, in terms of the eventual director of the film, but you can be 98.7% sure that it will still involve Team Jackson behind the scenes and they will not let it sink in quality.
Bond, however, is about one year from missing an entire movie from the cycle. The clock is ticking. And really, even if there isn’t a lost film, there will be years without revenue that could have had revenue.
I am sure that the twisted thinking inside MGM is that the package that is the studio is more valuable with these commodities as the highest order of bait than they are as working productions that start to be weighed down by reality.
But shouldn’t MGM, for the sake of its creditors, be doing everything possible to generate every dollar that they can as soon as they can? The fruit is already overripe.
Bottom line… if these two franchises move on before the next life of MGM is settled, no one needs the cowboys now rounding up the company.
As for Guillermo and Peter and Fran and Phillipa… this sucks. Really a shame. I’m sure Guillermo had a great time in NZ with everyone, but sitting around waiting to pull the trigger on sure thing is brutal. Just ask Joe Carnahan of Mission: Impossible 3.
In terms of the wider artistic picture, this exit and delay opens up some time on the WETA schedule. So expect someone to jump into Jim Cameron and Joe Letteri’s avatars at the last minute in a bit to do more than 3D. And of course, if that happens, it means that WETA will not be available for The Hobbit, when its ready to go, without at least a year’s warning. Or maybe WETA will sit on the schedule a little longer.
P.S. The story broke through, as is often PJ’s custom. Those who like to accuse others of stealing breaking news without crediting the originating source should probably be told-ja not to throw stones in glass houses.
PS ADD – 10a Monday – The story has been reflected to credit the source. Good.

2 Responses to “Guillermo Exits The Hobbit”

  1. IOv2 says:

    Will someone do something with MGM already? Please? Someone? Anyone? Come on those cricket noise responses are just not cool.

  2. TVJunkie says:

    Sincere question, because I obviously don’t know. If MGM and New Line are equal partners in The Hobbit, can the problems and delays be squarely blamed solely on MGM? As I understand it, NL/WB would have acted as the production lead; and as mentioned elsewhere, WB allegedly had the (sole?) authority to greenlight. (don’t know if that’s true) So, are all the delays about positioning MGM to appear to have more value, or is it just that the films aren’t ready to go to camera and are more costly than anyone involved is willing to risk?
    Having said that, Harry Sloan really did muck things up at MGM.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin