Showing posts with label Screenplays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Screenplays. Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Fifth Trove Of Treasure...

There's a lot of booty where that came from...




 





You knew that it was coming...

When something is as successful as the Pirates franchise, a film studio isn't going to let it die.  And as long as they can make interesting stories into films I don't really mind.  That means that "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" offers a bit of an obstacle.  If we judge by the good story standard then that film should put a bullet in the tale of these pirates for eternity.  It was bad.  It was boring, it was bland, and felt like a relative that had stayed too long after the clock struck twelve on New Year's Eve.

I didn't think it was a great continuation of the Jack Sparrow character, and it was a waste of a villain as deliciously evil as should have been Blackbeard played by Ian McShane.  And Rob Marshall should not have been the director, nor should he be the one behind the camera in any future Pirate films.  He was simply the wrong man for the job, unless Walt Disney Pictures planned on making the film a musical, which they weren't.

So today we find out that the Mouse has hired a new screenwriter to take over from Terry Rossio and craft a new story with a fresh take.  For those of you that haven't heard, Variety is reporting that Jeff Nathanson has been hired to be that writer.  I don't know what to think yet about this because Nathanson has done some great work (Catch Me If You Can), but he's also did a lot of mediocre work (Rush Hour 2), and even some bad work (Speed 2, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).

Now, time will tell if the drafts that made it up on the silver screen were actually his, or the result of a Frankenstein-like script process where many authors put in a clueless collection of their own words.  Sometimes the person to blame for something bad belongs to one man/woman, and sometimes the blame should be spread around.  When we see the results of his work on this we can then make a better judgement.

I'm hearing that Suits in Burbank want to do a Mission Impossible thing and bring in someone that can take over the franchise when Depp no longer wants to, or is just too old to be plundering.  The same way Jeremy Renner came into "Ghost Protocal" to be there for Tom Cruise to hand off the series once he's done.  Maybe that's why Nathanson was hired: to prepare for that day.  We'll know more as the year moves forward, but right now all we have is the name.

We'll have to wait till we see more of the map toward this new treasure...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Write Stuff...

And the Threepio goes to... 







 If you need anymore proof that the Mouse picked the right person, look no further...

For Star Wars, I mean.  Michael Arndt is a very talented writer.  He knows story.  He knows structure.  He knows how to take an arc and follow through with a payoff.  I don't know who will be the director that is chosen to film this chapter of the Star Wars saga, but I am confindant in the writer.

I have faith that the script he turns in will be well thought out, well written, and compelling.  The man knows how to tell a story, even if it's a toy story.  I trust Kathleen Kennedy guiding the project through, and it speaks volumes that she chose Arndt to work on the treatment and then the first script of this new trilogy.

If you want to see how smart a fellow he is, take a look at this video from 2007 where Michael Arndt gave a speech about his script for "Little Miss Sunshine" at a local San Francisco book store.  I believe that after watching his conversation about the screenwriting process, you'll feel safer about him being in front of a keyboard typing out the future of that galaxy far, far away.

No Midi-chlorians here, please...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Math Problem: Getting 52 Into 13...

One plus one is two, except when it isn't... 






The times are hard for everyone...

But when someone like Brad Bird hasn't gotten the green light yet for his new project, you know that people are saving their nickles.  Suits I'm talking about.  And I can't say I blame them with all the problems in the economy, and politicians that don't know a thing about how it (business) works trying to tell them how to run their business.  But it goes to show you how difficult it is to make a film these days unless it involves a safe property; a known brand, superhero, or best selling novel.  Suits want sure things with all the money they put up.  Only, we know there is no such thing as a sure thing.

Damon Lindelof is one of the biggest writers in the film/television business.  Brad Bird is one of the most successful film directors currently working.  We found out months ago that they were working on a secret project at Disney known as "1952," which the Suits were very excited about.  It was based on an idea from Lindelof, and, we thought, his script.  Now, we find out that he and Bird are co-writing the script.  Together they're trying to tie down a budget and get a worthy star (George Clooney) that will ensure the heads of the studio that this project will get the green light.

I have no doubt that when this all comes together we'll see the script move into a position where pre-production starts.  But the long process that film makers like this go through to get the Mouse to say "yes" is statement of the times we live in.  Should everything go swimmingly, this film should get going around the middle of next year.  That means we could see this new Brad Bird film during the holidays of 2014, or if production takes longer, spring 2015.  If that happens, that year is going to be a monster; there are already so many films being released that year.  Boggles the mind a bit.  If you'd like to know more, the guys over at Collider have a great interview with Lindelof that I'm sure will be of interest to you even in this grim economy.

But on the bright side, a new Brad Bird film starting is a great thing...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jedi Mind Tricks...

These are the writers you are looking for...






Whoa, more and more awesomeness keeps leaking from this Bantha track...

Ok, if you don't know Star Wars then that really won't help or make sense.  Let's just say that with each passing moment, everything we hear that the Mouse/Lucasfilm are doing for the third trilogy is very smart.  They appear to be treating this like the property they know fans value so greatly.

If you haven't heard the news, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: End of Days) have been hired to write the screenplays for Episode VIII and Episode IX.  It's not known if they will collaborate on each as partners or will one will tackle eight and the other nine.  Both will produce the film along with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.

So from notes by Lucas, Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) created a forty/fifty page treatment, and will write the first film: Episode VII, Kasdan and Kinberg will write the rest and they will produce all three?  Thank the Maker!  Now all we need is a director.  Sadly, Brad Bird won't be the director (maybe he'll be the Irvin Kershner of this batch and direct the second if we're lucky), so who will it be?  I have my own ideas, but that'll be for a later post.

The opening crawl can't come soon enough...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Force Is Strong With This One...

Star Wars films to infinity and beyond... 



Well, we now know who did that extensive treatment that Bob Iger mentioned in the announcement of Lucasfilm marrying the Mouse...

And it's not by George Lucas.

Vulture is reporting (and other sites are confirming) that Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) was/is the person responsible for the treatment for the storyline for the next trilogy of Star Wars films.  It wasn't just a proposal for the first film, Episode VII, it was a 40-50 page explanation/description of all three films.  And the treatment is supposed to go out to directors soon.  Brad Bird, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg are mentioned, and it may not be just to see if they want to direct, but what they think of the new trilogy.

This is great news, not only because Arndt is a great writer, but he's an avid Star Wars fan, which means we won't see something like Jar Jar Binks, or Medaclorians.  It means that Disney and Kathleen Kennedy are taking this seriously, and don't plan on releasing a film that fans will hate.  It means that they actually care what the fans think, unlike Lucas, who created this universe, and never let anyone question him.  It means there won't be a room of Yes Men that tell George everything he writes is gospel, and nothing is wrong with it, or could be bad about it.  It means now others can play in George's sandbox.

And that is a good thing for Star Wars fans.  It means that we may get adventures in this wonderful universe that are worthy of its creation.  Now, if only Brad Bird were to postpone "1952" until after he finishes "Episode VII" it'd be the greatest news ever.  Well, not ever, but today at least.

This was great news today...

Hat Tip to /Film.

UPDATE:  Lucasfilm has confirmed Arndt will write Episode VII.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Path To Valhalla...

What you call magic and science, for us are one in the same...





With the recent announcements of casting on the God of Thunder sequel, the story is finally, unintentionally being unwrapped...

Just thinking out loud here. Not that everything is going to happen, but when you look at a map you tend to have an idea as to where something is headed. The characters involved in the film tend to give you a hint as to where the story takes you. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje being cast as Algrim, a powerful Dark Elf that eventually becomes the character Kurse, kind of tells you what will happen. Let us explore the possibilities, shall we?

Malekith manipulates Algrim into fighting Thor, and ultimately becomes a character called Kurse, but in the end he realizes that his real enemy is Malekith. I won't bring into this equation that the Beyonder turns him into Kurse, since that would mean he would be in this sequel - I doubt that will happen.

But with recent news that Kat Dennings will be returning along with Natalie Portman, we know that some part of the real world will make it into this film. So what you can imagine is Portman and Kat's characters will probably get drawn into another realm: the Dark World, the world of the Dark Elves, known as Svart√°lfar.

This will likely be some trick that Malekith is using to capture Thor. His weakness for humans, and for Jane Foster specifically is the reason she's used for bait. Algrim will be used as a tool to kill Thor and at some point he'll be turned into Kurse to help finish his mission. And as always, Malekith will likely be trying to either take control of his world, or less likely Asgard. To do this, he's going to need some form of power (Casket of Ancient Winters, anyone?) and naturally, someone will be there to give him the tool to achieve his goal. Of course, there will be a price for that power. That price is the death of Thor. Now who would want that? Loki, naturally.

Is this right? Could this be the plot line for the script for "Thor: The Dark World"? Probably. But until we see a trailer it's all speculation and theory. But based on the casting, it has some merit. Each day a page turns, each month another chapter is revealed. And slowly, this dark world gets a little lighter. Now, this brings into speculation another part of Marvel's Nordic mythology that one wonders could be part of this film. Will this story lead up to Surtur for the third film, because that would be truly epic.

And we won't know for sure until the credits roll...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Willing Hostage...

Wheldon's World, we just occupy space on it...








So the details are finally starting to come out...

Marvel has issued a statement regarding the services of Joss Whedon:


Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well as help develop a new live-action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.


This is uncharacteristic of Marvel. They've shown little loyalty to the directors/writers of their projects. Jon Faveau is the only director to come back more than once and no writer other than Whedon, I believe has worked on multiple films for them. This shows an enormous amount of respect for Joss and his vision for the MCU P2 as it goes forward.

The statement also lets you know that "Avengers 2" will be out before June 2015 since that is when the deal expires. It also talks about how he'll help out on the rest of the upcoming slate of Marvel films. So we could see him contribute to rewrites/polishes on several of the upcoming scripts. Which is great news for fans of the films. I can imagine that he'll be involved in "Captain America: Winter Soldier" because of his past association with it, but "Guardians of the Galaxy" could be something of interest as well since his "Serenity" work.

But the future of Marvel Studios just became a whole lot more positive...

Hat Tip to /Film.

Artwork designed for/by Forbidden Planet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Anti-Social...

Will his idea be followed in the sequel, Paradise...





Damon Lindelof is a very prolific writer...

He is a screenwriter with many plates spinning in the air. From the controversial ending of "Lost" to the discussions that have surrounded the story of "Prometheus," he's taken the brunt of the criticism and graciously limited his credit in the story.

There's a great interview he did with the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy Blog that addresses much of what he's done, and how he deals with social media - both the upside and downside.

Blue Sky Disney
has spend a fair amount of digital ink talking about Ridley Scott's latest film, but there's nothing that says the debate has to be over/ended. At the very least, this could be an exclamation point on the subject.

Until the Blu-Ray is released, of course...

Hat Tip to /Film.

Guardian's New Guardian...

If this isn't good, Feige will be blacklisted...





So Marvel's newest film gets a new writer...

The original draft of Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" was by Nicole Perlman, who has written a few stories about space, but being as GOTG has a lot of humor in it, the Marvel Suits intent for a draft by someone with those talents.

Enter Chris McCoy, a talented screenwriter with a known ability to instill his prose with wit and quirky humor. He's been on Hollywood's Black List three times over the past five years, and that's saying something. Although none of his projects have made it to the screen, his work is highly in demand, and it appears that his take on the superhero group will be the first credit to make it to the silver screen.

Kevin Feige knows his source material and he and the inner circle at Marvel tend to have a great knack for finding the right people to translate it to film. Hiring someone like McCoy shows that they're willing to look in alternate areas for talent to tell their tales.

Now they just have to find the right director...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Building Better Grids...

Tron in 2015 in theaters and Shanghai...


We haven't gotten a green light for TR3N just yet...

But we have gotten clues that they are moving forward with it. First there is the animated series which debuts next year on Disney XD, then there are other projects being worked at in non-film related divisions of the company. Ahem. Now comes word that Walt Disney Studios has hired David DiGilio to pen a new version of the script.

This doesn't mean the film is going to start shooting anytime soon, but it does mean that the fire hasn't gone out yet on this property. It appears that a lot will wrest on how successful "Tron Uprising" is on television. If it is a hit and creates a loyal following, then you're like to see another film on the grid.

If not, you'll always have Blu-Ray...

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Talent Pool...


The Mouse has a lot of big named talent developing projects right now...

The verdict on Rich Ross is still out and it'll be a year or more before we start seeing the results of his taste, but I'm quite surprised and curious as to the people that he's attached to films in the Disney future. Examples? Just off my fading memory:

20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea - I would have never thought that David Fincher would adapt a family film classic like this with a script by screenwriter Scott Burns.

Oz the Great and Powerful - Sam Raimi is in line to direct this reinterpretation of the L. Frank Baum classic by Mitchell Kapner, that tells the story of how the Wizard became the Wizard. Currently, the script is being rewritten.

Oblivion - the graphic novel adaptation of Joseph Kosinski, Arvid Nelson and Andree Wallin is getting adapted by William Monahan as was announced last week.

The Black Hole - the re-envisioning of the cult Disney film, again by Joseph Kosinski, with Travis Beacham writing the new interpretation of the project.

The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made - the dream project of Jason Segel, who is writing and will co-star with the famous frog and friends. The name is not final, nor financially accurate, btw.

John Carter of Mars - the adaptation of the classic sci-fi film, directed by Andrew Stanton with a screenplay by Michael Chabon and Stanton.

Frankenweenie - the full feature envisioning of Tim Burton's short film made while working at Walt Disney Studios in the late 70's/early 80's. Instead of live action, it'll be a stop motion feature in line with "The Nightmare Before Christmas" or "Corpse Bride." Hopefully, it'll be closer to Nightmare than Bride.

Malificent - the look back at the Sleeping Beauty tale as told from the villainess' point of view. Tim Burton reteams with Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter from his "Alice in Wonderland" sequel. Rumors are that Angelina Jolie is the desired actress to play the part, but until a script is finished, consider these rumors to be just that... rumors.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - the fourth of the Pirates series featuring the further adventures of Captain Jack as he searches for the Fountain of Youth and dodges a flame from the past and her overly protective father (Blackbeard). Rob Marshall directs the film with a script by original screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott.

And the list keeps growing...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Warner's Brother...

Up, up and away...


And here I thought Guillermo del Toro was a busy man...

If you've seen the news, David Goyer has pitched a project that he's writing as a trilogy of novels right now to Warner Bros. and they've bitten, or better to say, they've bought it. The novel, "Heaven's Shadow," which is written with author Michael Cassutt, is the first in a series (Part Two: Heaven's War, Part Three: Heaven's Fall). He will produce the films through his Phantom Four Films production company. No word yet on if he'll write the screenplays, but it's likely, him directing the projects, not so likely. But he's got so many projects there, he's not a tenant, he's part of the Warner family.

This is another in a long line of projects that the writer has set in play with the studio. In addition to writing "Batman Begins," the story for "The Dark Knight," his rejected "Flash" script, his current "The Man of Steel" script or his upcoming story idea for the third Nolan Batman film, he still seems to find time for other projects. Wow, where does he find the time? He must have a staff of social assistants to organize his life. It must be nice to feel so loved.

Or at least, so wanted...

Many More Monsters...


Walt Disney Pictures has bought the spec script "Monster Witness Protection Program" by Ahmet Zappa and Michael Wilson, for a future Will Smith Jr. starring vehicle...

Wha? I know, sounds strange and it is. But the Mouse wants the script for Jaden Smith, whom is not yet attached to star. Zappa wrote a novel called "The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless" that Disney was planning on turning into a film. That project currently resides in a very rarely seen land in Disneyland called Development Hell-land.

Hopefully, this project won't wind up with the other Monsters...

Blue Sky Writing: Janet Scott Batchler...

The word starts here...


I've always been a reader, I love the word...

Every film starts with a great or bad screenplay. When I was going to college at USC, my friend and I would read the latest scripts since we were both interns in our spare time at production companies. When he passed me along the latest, hot script and told me that it was all the buzz, I stayed up late to read it. It helped that he said it was like "Raiders, Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia" all rolled into one. It was that day that I got introduced to Lee Batchler & Janet Scott Batchler. I remember being in Oceanography class reading "Batman Forever" while the teacher droned on about something to do with... water. I remember hearing about the Nemo script that they had written which Spielberg was supposedly interested in. I've read so many screenplays since then. But my mind always goes back to that script I read on a night I should have been studying for a midterm. And my mind always goes back to how Hollywood didn't make it. That's why when I wrote my "Unfinished Business: The 5 Best Scripts Hollywood Never Made," I included "Smoke and Mirrors." It was that good.

So, I must say that it has been my pleasure since then to have had the chance to talk to one half of the writing duo, Janet Scott Batchler and interview her about a few things. I thought you might find it interesting to hear from the screenwriter, who also now teaches screenplay writing at my Alma Mater's film school, and writes her own blog. It's always nice and informative to know what people that you respect and admire think about. What makes people who they are is the experiences they have along the way. The little moments that make up a life are always interesting, and I like finding that out about people.

So with that, here's my interview with Janet Scott Batchler...

__________________________________________________________________


First off, I'd like to say thanks for letting me talk to you. I've been a fan of your work since I first read "Smoke and Mirrors" while going to college at USC. My best friend gave me copy talking about the "buzz" that this script had and then he pitched it to me. Part "Raiders of the Lost Ark" meets "Lawrence of Arabia with the romance of "Casablanca." I was sold and read it in one night. That's the script that put you on the map, but how did you get to writing screenplays in the first place? Was it what you always wanted to do?



I fell into writing screenplays almost inadvertently. Lee had started off studying to be a playwright, working in musical theatre, but he didn't want to move to New York. I suggested that if he wanted to write other kinds of drama, we were certainly in the right city for that, and rather naively I suggested that we could write together. Astonishingly, it worked out.


What was your first script?


We started off with a practice script, adapting an Agatha Christie novel just to get used to screenplay format and to writing together. We then wrote a few spec TV scripts.


In regards to "Smoke & Mirrors," how did you come up with the idea?


We decided we wanted to write what was in the '90s known as a "weekend read" -- that is, a script that was so compelling that everyone in town would read it over the same weekend in advance of a script auction. We went in search of ideas we thought would make good weekend reads, and ran several of them by our writers group. Lee had read a bit about Robert-Houdin, and we put his story on the list. It was by far the one that got the greatest response from our group, so we started to write.


I know you write as a team with your husband, how do you do that? Do you each take turns writing a specific number of pages? Or is it more organic than that? Do you write an outline, a scriptment or just start with an idea and see where it leads you.


We work together at the story stage, doing a lot of brainstorming and tossing ideas around. Once it comes to the actual writing, even at the outline stage, we've found we don't work that well in the same room. We have separate offices, so we take off to write separately, rewriting each other over and over. Sometimes, once we have a full outline, we'll post the outline on the wall and sign up for the sequences we most want to do the first draft of, but each of us ends up writing every scene many times over before we're done.


Is there any script that you regretted not doing or turning down the chance to write?


I don't spend a lot of time on regrets.


People's taste tends to give you an idea of where they're coming from or their perspective take on films. What was your favorite film?


I have a few films I can watch over and over again. CASABLANCA. GROUNDHOG DAY. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. THE PRINCESS BRIDE.


I know that you wrote a script named "Nemo" that generated a great deal of coverage back in the 90's. With all the talk about Disney doing a new film based on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," first as a prequel and now as a remake, how was your take on the famous captain different?


The most recent prequel to 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, the Disney version that you're talking about, was written by Bill Marsilii, who is a good friend of ours. Because we have written what could be competing projects, we have never read his script and never really talked to him about it, so I can't comment on how our takes might have been different. Our CAPTAIN NEMO was epic in scope and a bit dark in tone, tracing the journey of a young British boy living in India through his fantastic invention of the Nautilus and his disillusionment with the society that raised him, culminating with his turning his back on the world to become Captain Nemo when his Indian wife is killed. It's necessarily a tragedy, one we watch partially through the eyes of Nemo's best friend, a man trying tame his friend's need for revenge.


Having written one of the scripts for the Batman series, what do you think of "The Dark Knight?"


I liked THE DARK KNIGHT, especially Heath Ledger's Joker, whom I found absolutely compelling and a vivid portrayal of the idea that evil is a choice, and doesn't need a cause.


Is there any other superhero that you'd like to take a crack at?


We'd be happy to write for any superhero with a good story.


How different do you think it would be to deal with Christopher Nolan and the current executives versus Joel Schumacher and those who asked you to write the third film in that franchise?


I don't know Chris Nolan, so can't begin to answer the question. We had a lovely time working with Joel Schumacher, Tim Burton and the WB execs.


How has writing changed since you came on to the scene? What do you think of scripts that are sold today? It appears that everyone is looking for "brands," names that everyone knows. Not many studios seem to want to take the opportunity to do something original like "Smoke." The studios seem to want a sure thing, which isn't possible, but they apparently think is with all these remakes or adaptations of video games, old tv shows, ect.


I don't think writing has changed all that much, though the marketplace has certainly changed. Movies cost so much to make that people tend to want to go with the pre-sold idea, hoping it will at least give them a chance to recoup their costs. I actually don't have a problem with branded entertainment, if it's respectful to what made the property resonate with its audience in the first place, and if there's a story worth telling. But I do wish studios could run a little less on fear and take some chances on original material. As the marketplace shakes out and people figure out how movies will be distributed in the future, I expect this will start to happen again. Everything is cyclical.


Speaking of tv shows, have you ever thought of writing for television? I've noticed over the past decade or so, a great deal more film makers and stars working in television. Projects like "The Sopranos," "Mad Men" and the upcoming "Boardwalk Empire" almost have a film-like quality while being able to tell stories in a longer format that some directors, writers and actors have taken an interest in. I mean, I never thought I'd hear that Dustin Hoffman would be doing a series.


We actually started out in television for a brief time, and we've pitched a few pilots here and there over the years. We always have some pilot ideas on the back burner, and we'll pull them out and update them any time it seems they're a match with what networks and cable channels might be looking for.


Is it true that you wrote an unofficial Harry Potter guide book? Are you a fan of that series?


Yes, I am a huge fan of the HARRY POTTER books. I wrote a book called WHAT WILL HARRY DO? between the release of book 6 (HALF-BLOOD PRINCE) and book 7 (DEATHLY HALLOWS), looking at the set-ups/foreshadowing of the first six books and predicting how book 7 might turn out. (I'm particularly proud of predicting that Harry would appear to be dead, and that his friends would all think he was dead, just before the final confrontation with Voldemort.) I also appeared on an A&E special called "The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter" that was released before the fifth movie (ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) came out; it also appears on the PHOENIX DVD extras. I have a book proposal for another book about HP, but haven't gone forward with it yet.


I know as well as a writer, you happen to also love reading. What is your favorite novel or series of books?


Obviously the HARRY POTTER books, which I have read probably half a dozen times through or more (obviously I've read the early books much more than that!). I am deeply in love with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which I've probably read 20 or 30 times. I'm a big fan of Robert A. Heinlein's work, and have read everything he's written. Right now I'm reading THE HUNGER GAMES with my family, and breathlessly awaiting the release of MOCKINGJAY in a few weeks.


Now, I have to ask this out of my own curiosity. What projects are you working on now, if you can give us anything that's not too top secret?


We have been breaking a lot of stories recently, but haven't committed to anything I can talk about right now.


And finally, what advise would you give to those writers that are trying to break into the business? What points of advise would you give to them?


The best piece of advice I ever heard for anyone wanting to work in the biz came from Steve Martin, who told a friend asking for pointers, "Be so good they can't ignore you."


Thank you so much for your time and I really appreciate the opportunity you've given me to do this interview.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Disney Sees The Light...


It's going to be interesting seeing how the opening of the Mouse's new film does this week...

Why you may ask? Well, it may have something to do with how fast this project gets going. But being as how the company paid such a high price for the script, and in this hostile market, it may have strong enough legs to get out of the gate despite any soft opening of Walt Disney Pictures' "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" box office. Now, don't read that I'm thinking it'll be a bomb or anything, I'm just saying that success, failure or disappointment will have some weight in how much breathing room Bruckheimer will have with pushing this film into production. Granted, it's Jerry and he has a great deal of wiggle room.

For those that want to know what I'm ranting about, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films have bought Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii's epic space adventure script, "Lightspeed."

The Mouse and the Bruck put down $3.5 million bucks for said script. This is an astronomical amount, and the fragile state of the economy only multiplies the significance of this purchase. Rossio and Marsilii were responsible for the Touchstone Pictures film, "Deja Vu" that came out a couple years ago. Rossio, of course, is one half of the team responsible for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, the Disney classic, "Aladdin" and the upcoming western epic from the Mouse, "The Lone Ranger." Marsilii is also known for the early drafts of McG's "Captain Nemo" reboot/prequel that Ross canned late last year.

The plot of tale is about a young pilot who qualifies for something known as the Earth Interstellar Racing Team and then takes his star ship on a dangerous journey through a galaxy that is on the brink of war. The film will be live action and most likely in 3D. Sounds like Star Wars meets Speed Racer.

Developing...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kung Fu Writer...


It appears that Katzenberg has got a big gun to come in and do a polish on the KFP sequel...

Charlie Kaufman, the brilliant screenwriter of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Adaptation" among many others has came in to tighten the story of "Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom."

This sounds like great news. I happen to be a big fan of Charlie's work. I have high expectations for this sequel and anybody who read my review knows how much I love KFP. It's the high watermark that all films from DreamWorks Animation have to measure themselves by. I don't know if this will be as good as the first, but the quality of the story definitely got elevated. Well, at least we have that Kung Fu Panda holiday special to look forward to until the sequel.

Here's to hoping there's no doom in boom...

Hat Tip to The Hollywood Reporter's HeatVision blog.

Monday, April 5, 2010

International Treasure From Persia...


Was there really any doubt that this was going to happen...

Really? One of the last things Dick Cook did before he got tossed out on his tookus, was announce plans for a third "National Treasure" film. Now comes news of who will be writing the sequel. Jerry Bruckheimer has hired screenwriters Carlos Bernard and Doug Miro to script the latest adventures of Nick Cage's historian adventurer. If you don't know, these guys are the ones that wrote the adaptation of "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time" for The Bruck and The Mouse. They seem to be the new go-to guys in Burbank. We'll get a chance to see their work later this year with Prince and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which they also wound up adapting for Disney. Are they worth of the sequel? Will it be an equal?

Time will tell...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tron 2 De-Rezzed...


Well last night what arrived on my doorstop would surprise some of you...

Actually, this time it didn't arrive in a nonedescript manila envelope like other secret packages most of the time here at Blue Sky Headquarters. Instead it came as a digital document. Appropriate for a copy of the "Tron Legacy" script, yes?

That's right, the Tron sequel script. Actually, I think it's an early draft of it, as there is only one writer listed on it, Richard Jefferies. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis' fingerprints are nowhere to be found on this draft. I was thinking of reading it, but I decided I wanted to go into the film fresh with no preconceived notions of what I was going to be seeing. I asked a friend that is a huge Tron-Geek if he'd like to review the script for me. Nada. It appears that he doesn't want to know too much before the actual film comes out in December... I don't blame him. So then I turned to another friend whom I'll call "Tron Unit" to review it. Thankfully, he said yes. He finished it very quickly and then asked if I still wanted his opinions because he could tell that this was an earlier version of the script and not the final one. Yes, I said. I thought that it would give fans the ability to see where they were going in the earlier draft of the script. The differences can be pointed out after you leave the theater this holiday. And with that, here is his review of the Jefferies draft of "Tron Legacy" for your digestion:

I will preface by saying that the following review is from what appears to be an early draft written by Richard Jefferies so I've no idea how much of his material will find its way into the finished film and therefore may contain spoilers so read at your own risk.

Imagine my surprise when I received an electronic document from Honor Hunter containing a script entitled "TRON 2.0 (aka TR2N)" with the condition that I write a review for Bluesky Disney. How could I refuse? To be honest, I had my reservations. I love the original Tron and having read the script to Star Wars: Episode I months before it was released and having 16 years of anticipation unexpectedly "derezzed" by the time I had reached page 11, I was convinced that the person who gave me the script had punked me with a fake script. Alas, it was the genuine article and all my hopes were crushed in one swift stroke. So I carefully pondered whether or not to potentially spoil any expectations I have prior to Tron Legacy's December 17 release. I was so impressed by the teaser trailer which poised some very interesting ideas and questions and I was blown away by the visual effects and the artistic design that has appropriately evolved to bring Tron into the 21st century. Needless to say I was more than a little curious to find out why Flynn appears in the trailer to simultaneously co-exist between the electronic and the real world.

Richard Jefferies' script begins with an intruder attempting to break into Encom's hacker-proof security firewall called X-Net. We discover that the program that has hacked it is Tron who has successfully eluded detection because his programming is so low-res and obsolete that the system doesn't see him to pose any real threat. Tron disrupts the system by causing an overload and is detected by X-Net who responds with intrusional counter-measures known as X-Takks. Tron successfully eludes them and crashes the system but meanwhile, back in the real world, Rush Nortebi, the security system's programmer for Encom is frantic that his perfect security system has been compromised.

Encom's CEO Gordon Sinclair has been preparing the media for the corporate launch of Encom's X-Net which guarantee's 100% security protection for any system. When news of the security breach reaches him he tells Rush and his team to find the intruder before product launch or it will turn into a public relations disaster for the company. So Rush along with an advanced projects expert named Megan Randall access the lab of Kevin Flynn who was presumed killed in a laboratory accident some years before. Meg back-engineered Flynn's Quantum Digitizer that breaks down physical matter and digitizes them into binary bits of data. Rumor has it that Flynn survived and was sucked into the computer during the accident. Sinclair and Meg decide to use the Quantum Digitizer to send Rush into the system to find the intruder. As they prepare to send him in, there is another system's breach and the machine loses stability and overloads just as Rush is digitized.

Inside the system Rush is mistaken as the intruder by X-Net intelligence program Mega, the counterpart of real-world Megan who detains him and takes Rush to the Central Control Server to be questioned by Plexor, X-Net's CPU and dopplegangert of real-world Sinclair. Rush tells Plexor that he has identified the intruder as Tron and tries to convince him and Mega that he is a User which they dismiss but believe he can help them locate and destroy Tron. To help them they are joined by another program named Krod, another called I-Beem and a gargantuan King Kong-like formatting program called D-Rezz who hurls a massive Romball that smashes data and derezzes it. They go to the ancient Game Grid sector where they intend to lay a trap for Tron who just can't resist a good grudge match.

Krod pulls out a light wand and rezzes up his light cycle. Rush dose the same and Mega climbs on. They head for the Game Grid. I-Beem and D-Rezz overlook the horizon of the grid along the rocky boundary as they prepare to lay an ambush for Tron. It isn't long before Tron is racing towards them across the grid on an intercept vector. They rally as Rush and Krod try to lure Tron into the awaiting ambush but Mega unexpectedly grabs the handlebars and veers off course. They jump from the bike before it smashes into the walls. Tron suspects something is wrong and sees D-Rezz hurtling his Romball that clips the the rear wheel of Tron's light cycle and it derezzes. Tron escapes into a tunnel and they pursue him into a maze of exposed memory leaks that derez anything that touches them. Tron hurls over the memory leaks and gains ground to throw his disc at D-Rezz but it is ineffective against the colossal program. D-Rezz hurls his Romball but is knocked away by Tron's disc and it falls into a memory leak and derezzes. Tron moves in for the killshot but Rush blocks him. Tron has no data of this program. He jumps up to a higher level and the others climb up after him but D-Rezz falls into a memory leak and lives up to his name. Rush squares off with Tron and demands that he identity his User. He sends a surging wave of energy zapping through Tron's nanocircuits triggered by entering all nine digits of his encryption code. Tron shuts down and falls into a memory leak and is derezzed. Rush picks up Tron's code disc. Mega is worried.

They are quickly surrounded by Finity Fighters and a dark limping figure appears who is revealed to be Flynn whose leg was badly damaged in the lab accident and barely escaped by activating the Quantum Digitizer. Flynn reveals that Mega has been working for him and he tells them that they have been playing for the wrong team and that Plexor's X-Net has taken control of the free system and that back in the real world Sinclair plans to hijack and control every computer system worldwide with his X-Net security software.

Meanwhile, in the real world, ATM's, traffic lights, and cell phones simultaneously go berserk causing widespread panic and chaos. Televisions all run the same add for X-Net's security software solution. Soon Encom is flooded with calls from all the major banks, airlines and governments from all nations demanding X-Net's security protection. Sinclair and his executives are pleased.

On the other side of the screen, I-Beem has returned to X-Net's central server and is revealed to be a spy for Plexor who tells him their location and that they are being helped by Flynn. He assembles his X-Net cruisers and X-Takk squads to find them. X-Net quickly crashes their hideout. Mega is captured. Plexor reprograms her. Rush is concerned that Mega is under Plexor's control but Flynn assures him that he gave Mega free-will to make her own choices. Flynn's Code Monkey's (no seriously) manage to hack a copy of the Hologon master encryption key to shut down X-Net. Rush is the only one who can power up Tron's code disc and becomes… wait for it… "Tronified."

They head for X-Net's power supply. I-Beem rejoins them and switches sides by shaking off his programming. They are confronted by X-Takks and bestial Cybavors. Flynn confronts Plexor. Rush manages to insert the Hologon into X-Net's control cell shutting it and Plexor down for good. The programs are liberated and free once again.

Back in the real world, Sinclair is giving his presentation for X-Net when it crashes. Rush re-materializes back in the lab. He is reunited with Megan and… Flynn whose leg has miraculously healed. Sinclair enters the lab furious that X-Net has crashed but when he see's Flynn he knows that his plan has been exposed. Flynn fires Sinclair and orders security to detain him so he can be questioned for charges from the SEC and the Justice Department and rewards the "heroes" by promoting them to executives in charge of the company. Rush kisses Meg.

END OF LINE.

I have to say that I felt Jefferies' script to be a big disappointment but knowing that this is not the final story as it will appear in the finished film does at least give me some hope and I remain cautiously optimistic that Joseph Kosinski will deliver a finished film that will be deserving of the legacy of Tron. The problem with this script is that it takes the original film's framework and reworks it for the internet generation. It's essentially Tron meets Hackers. Plexor is basically Sark. Encom has been transformed from a worldwide corporation with major military and defense contracts into a diabolical internet software company like Norton Anti-virus. The plot is predictable and cliched. That's not to say that the plot of the original film was much better because I will be the first to admit that it wasn't. Tron creator Steven Lisberger was heavily criticized for having a weak script that hampered Tron's critical reception when it was released but what sets the original film apart was that it was developing an entirely new mythology that had yet to be defined and was nearly a decade ahead of its time. Tron came out in 1982, the same year that cyberpunk author William Gibson released "Neuromancer" and coined the term "cyberspace" for the as-yet-to-be-defined electronic frontier. Tron was attempting to take these abstract ideas and concepts and work them into quasii-religious themes in an allegorical landscape while simultaneously pioneering a revolutionary kind of computer generated visual effects that not only gave the film a distinguished look and feel unlike anything that had ever come before it, but one that would remain solely unique in cinematic history. The techniques employed to create the world of Tron are in and of themselves obsolete and it would be impossible today to replicate the same aesthetic look, feel and nuances that gave Tron its defining characteristics. For example, the random "glitches" that occur throughout the original film were actually a happy accident caused by a problem with printing frames of exposed Kodaliths on film. Those techniques to process the film's visual effects are no longer used in the digital filmaking world. Certainly the technology has changed and advanced to the point where it would be relatively easy for the filmmakers to recreate the exact same environments and design of the original film digitally but have taken it to the next level by upgrading it to meet current 21st century visual standards. By that token, Tron Legacy will attempt to break new visual ground just as similarly as its predecessor did with a technically sub-standard script. I can only hope that Joseph Kosinski was aware of the shortcomings with Jefferies' script and that additional contributions made by writers Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal have reworked it into something much more sophisticated and philosophically intriguing. The trailer brilliantly hinted that Flynn was somehow able to mentally project himself within the electronic world as his younger-looking program Clu and that the electronic world can somehow interact simultaneously with the physical real world as if it is virtually juxtaposed three-dimensionally over our own. The Jefferies' script makes no allusions to this. My questions raised by the trailer are still unanswered. I can only hope that all will be revealed come December. Hopefully I'm not setting my expectations too high.

END OF LINE.
Well, I guess he didn't like it. That's fine, as this project has gone through several revisions and writers. The fact that the latest drafts were handled by people that have written "Lost" is reassuring. I've talked to a couple Bothans that say the final script and film itself are significantly different that this version.

And that trailer coming out soon has been described as very impressive...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bruckheimer Buys Shake...


The Hollywood Reporter is uhm, reporting that Jerry Bruckheimer has bought the noir-fiction story "Shake" from screenwriter Derek Haas for a future film through his deal with Disney (Touchstone, most likely).

Haas will write the screenplay, expanding it from the short story on Popcorn Fiction to a feature film. Bruckheimer, obviously will produce through his production shingle on the lot. The tale involves an FBI agent hunting down a killer as he slowly begins to lose the motor functions of his own body to a debilitating disease.

In related news, Bruckheimer has hired a writer to pen the script for an eventual "Bad Boys 3," which would reunite "The Bruck" with Michael Bay, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and crew. What a minute! Did they actually had writers on those first two films? Now that's a revelation to me. My opinion was that Bay would yell: "Action" and everything goes "BOOM!" and then he'd yell: "Cut!" at which point the credits would roll. Story? We don't need no stinkin' story!

Developing...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Generations' Star Wars...


So that's the feeling of Stuart Beattie...

He's the guy that wrote the "Halo" script that supposedly Spielberg fell in love with. Now, from all I'm hearing this is the same script that Peter Jackson was going to make. Which was the same one I read. And it was... good, but not mind-shattering or brilliant. At least in my opinion. And like I said, I can't spend an entire movie never seeing my main character as he walks around in a motorcycle helmet. I have to feel empathy, I have to relate to them and I have to know they're human. That's what a face is for, that's what eyes communicate, that's what a mouth is there to convey. Along with a million other facial ticks that we associate with humans.

And don't get me wrong, there are many other things that need to be better in this script for a Suit to justify shelling out somewhere between $150-$200 million dollars. I have a feeling there's a great story here, but maybe it needs a rewrite. Justin Marks, anyone? Just kidding. His "Supermax" script wasn't the best or worst I've ever seen, but somewhere in the better middle. If I was to have someone do a polish or rewrite on this, it'd be Mark Protosevich, one of my all time favorite screenwriters. He keeps having great scripts rewritten and turned into good scripts... perhaps it's time he took a good script and turned it into a great one? Now, if only the Suits would agree.

If you'd like to read what Beattie said about his love for all things Halo, then go HERE and check out what he had to say to Sci Fi Wire while he was on a press junket for "G.I. Joe: The Rise of ADD" recently.

Time will tell...