The Fast Five: Sony Cashes in on the MCU, and John Boyega Speaks Out
September 8, 2020
I hope everybody managed to have a relaxing Labor Day (or Labour Day if you’re reading from Canada or the UK) long weekend. Meanwhile, the industry had so much happening that the reopening of cinemas with the long-delayed release of Tenet and Disney’s push into PVOD with Mulan’s launch on Disney+ didn’t even make the Fast Five cut! Catch that news over at The Weekend Movie Takeaway. Let’s dive into the rest.
Another Week, Another Screenwriting List
The Black List is a professional script hosting website that I’m sure most of you are already familiar with. The site often partners with studios, production companies, and networks to create lists that highlight diverse voices. Entries are now open for The Muslim List, which is available to people who identify as Muslim and have written a script that features a Muslim identifying character. Entering these contests—or opportunities, as they are referred to—requires hosting a script on the site and paying for one or more evaluations, so it’s always worth doing your due diligence and looking into what prizes are offered before entering. Past opportunities have seen mandatory script deals, meetings and representation rewarded, but others offer nothing more than being a name on the list. I can’t find any specific prizes for being featured on this list, so whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze will be up to you. If you are a Muslim writer looking for a chance to get read in the industry—this may be an opportunity worth taking.
John Boyega Speak Out About His Star Wars Experience
John Boyega, who starred as Finn in the most recent Star Wars installments, has spoken at length to GQ for the first time since the trilogy came to an end, and what he has to say is not very flattering toward Disney and should be read by every writer out there. He opens up about the treatment of characters of color and how they were used to trumpet diversity in the franchise, but were then pushed to the side when it came to nuance and character development. As more spec scripts are being written with a diverse array of characters, it’s important to keep them in mind as characters first and not as a form of diversity so your project hits certain checkmarks. Putting characters with diverse backgrounds into your script is not enough if you are going to devote all your energy on writing the characters you identify with. Every character, no matter how small, needs to be fully fleshed out with needs and obstacles so they can fulfill an arc; otherwise, you’ll be repeating the same mistakes Boyega warns about.
Netflix Signs A Massive Deal With The Ex-Royals
Netflix launched what was considered in the industry to be the arms-race for creators, as writers were getting money thrown at them in a way that was unseen since the spec script took off in the mid-‘90s. Prolific creators like Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti, and Shonda Rhimes were among the many to sign nine-figure deals, and even staff writers were getting locked into overall deals with networks that feared losing them. But Netflix’s game plan of signing mega-creators and then dumping their shows without any fanfare is slightly confusing. FX made sure you knew when a new Ryan Murphy show was released because they marketed him as a brand, whereas his Netflix shows are one of a dozen when they release on the streamer. But hey, Netflix has the money to do what they want. And part of what they want now is signing socially conscious political celebrities to slap their names on projects. They did it with the Obamas, and now they’re doing it with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. When most people tell their parents they’re moving out to be independent, they have to get a job at Dunkin’ Donuts while driving an Uber at night, but Harry and Meghan walked out of the Royal Family and into Ted Sarandos’ warm embrace. They will probably produce a wide variety of high-caliber content that will be carefully vetted by a team of professionals—but part of me really hopes they just go crazy and make slasher flicks and TV adaptations of b-movies like Hell Comes to Frogtown.
Sony Keeps Milking Its Spider-Man Cinematic Universe
Sony saw those massive box office returns that flowed in Marvel’s direction every time the studio released a movie and decided they wanted in. The only problem was that Sony controlled the library of Spider-Man characters, which was heavy on villains and light on non-Spider related superheroes. But that won’t stop Sony from trying to get that shared cinematic universe money by pretending its movies are inside Marvel’s universe - and it’s been working. Venom, written by Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel grossed $856 million worldwide. Next up is Morbius, written by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway, which will be released in the coming year. Giving Spider-Man’s villains their own movies is working well, but Sony’s not stopping there. They’re copying the Marvel playbook by selling a slate of Spider-Verse shows, starting with Silk, from writer Lauren Moon. This will be the first in a planned universe of connected shows, the way Marvel did with its Netflix characters, which will be very appealing to networks now that Disney has locked up all future Marvel shows on Disney+. It may very well be the last opportunity for a cable network or streaming service to get their hands on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no matter how removed it is.
George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen Team Up For Grizzly II
This fall will see the release of a sequel to ‘70s classic Grizzly, with stars George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen. But why would these actors sign up for a movie like this? Because they did so in the early 1980s. Grizzly II is the long-unfinished project about a grizzly bear that gets revenge for the death of her cubs by hunting down and killing raucous teens at an outdoor music festival. Clooney, Dern and Sheen were all young into their careers at the time and cast because of their famous relatives, with producers figuring that it may help sell some tickets. The movie has a complicated history, which has been detailed by The Ringer, that includes producers absconding with money and mechanical bears going missing, but despite all that, Grizzly II is finally getting its moment in the spotlight this fall at the drive-in near you.
Written by: Conrad SylviaConrad Sylvia is the creator of the The Week in Television, a private industry newsletter that recaps the week's television news in a humorous and unique manner. Throughout the years he has developed projects for studios and production companies and continues to provide freelance research on the current television landscape and international marketplace. He is also a fan of drinking in the bathtub. A full tub if he's happy, an empty tub if he's sad.