Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

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  • #16
    Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

    does anybody know why Fuquoa got fired or quit and why Benecio walked off the set? what the hell happened in that production??

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    • #17
      Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

      >>With both Denzel and Derek Luke, I've read scores of Negro league scripts. The best pitch I heard in this genre came out of an ICM trainee lunch, where one of the agent trainees pitched me the true story of the only white player in the Negro league. I thought that was a good twist.
      BTW, I'm now at WMA.[/QUOTE]<<

      No, I know, I saw that you'd moved, but you were still there when you guys commissioned that deal, yes?

      The key to this script's superiority, IMHO, is that it's a fictional version which is more about a great friendship tested during a time of change than it is about the Negro Leagues, per se.

      It's why, again IMHO, this script works so well and the various Jackie Robinson and Josh Gibson stories don't work--they're handcuffed to the truth in a way that limits the stories.

      So, I guess you'd like to read this one...? Just give me the word and I'll happily reciprocate with a gourmet lunch at absolutely any restaurant of my choosing

      We had started working with one of your former ICM co-workers, but my partner fired her last month, and anyway we always had thought that WM would be a better place for it.

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      • #18
        Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

        Originally posted by Master of Horror
        Same with George Clooney. Name one movie George Clooney has been the real lead in (eliminate ensemble pieces like OCEAN'S ELEVEN and A PERFECT STORM) that was a hit.

        Give up?

        Thought so.

        You could ask this same question about John Travolta** or Bruce Willis or any other A list actor (except Tom Cruise). It proves nothing except Hollywood makes a lot of bad decisions (and that there’s hope yet for United Artists).

        FWIW, I think American Gangster is going to be a huge hit, because America loves Good Guy vs. Bad Guy shoot-em-ups (what they can’t stand is anything that taxes their brain cells).








        **Travolta hasn't carried a movie since A Civil Action in 1998, and made one of the biggest bombs in history in the meantime... so why is he still an A lister?

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        • #19
          Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

          To answer the original question...

          Yes.

          1) Because as someone else pointed out, it's great Oscar Bait. A well-timed release means it is the first out of the gate for Oscar Season. This can be a curse because most Academy voters might forget about the film when the time to vote rolls around... But with big studios, marketing (lobbying) isn't a problem. Hollywood is a packaged goods industry and the marketing department will be working well into January. Especially if the film does well with audiences next month.

          2) Because this is the kind of story that might have more international appeal than people think due to non-specific cultural and societal issues the movie touches on.

          Foreign perception of American is already skewed because of the movies and TV show we export, let alone any military or political actions we undertake.

          I will say, IMO, the core story is one a lot of people in other nations can relate to even more than Americans in a lot of ways.

          American Gangster is a classic rise-from-the-street-to-make-a-man-of-yourself stories a lot of cultures are more in tune with than a lot of Americans are. Even though Denzel's character is a criminal, he still values his family, wants respect and takes care of his own. These are very universal elements other cultures embrace and value more than Americans in a lot of ways.

          Also, I don't think having "American" in the title is going to be that much of a deterrent once word of mouth gets out about the actual story and how it has a lot of multicultural elements in it. Also, in my experience a lot of times the foreign marketers will retitle the picture to something like "Gangster" or "Black Gangster" or something. I could be wrong, but that is my take.

          3) Prestige... And to save face.

          The prestige of having Denzel, Russell and Ridley Scott all working on the same movie together...

          And to salvage the millions already put into production. Like CE said, there is money to be made at every phase and to have something just stuck in limbo... Not even development Hell... Does nobody any good.
          Positive outcomes. Only.

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

            I agree with Master in that HW is too quick to declare someone a movie star, someone who draws in audiences with their presence.

            Example Alicia Silverstone. She had one big hit w/ Clueless and everyone thought she was IT. Well, Clueless' success had little to do with her.

            I think it might be happening with Shia La Beuf (sp?) now. He had nothing to do with Dysturbia or Transformers being successes, but now he's in everything... until he has a couple of flops.

            Declaring someone a movie star after one hit is retarded.

            "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

            ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

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            • #21
              Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

              RE: Am Gangster's success

              I think we all pretty much agree that given enough time, no matter how well it does out of the gate (Dom & Foreign), AG will eventually make back its cost.

              As far as its initial success goes... I have a theory. It's not very oringinal but...

              Audiences want to see FUN & EXCITING movies.

              I haven't seen the movie or clips, only some stills. Does AG look FUN & EXCITING?

              Is there lots of violent, action, cool visuals, people doing cool things?

              If the studio can sell this movie as fun, then it will do well on its release. The kids will come out and see it.

              If it looks dull, slow or there's too much talking, the kids won't like it ... and if it's really not very good (ala Hannibal) all the word of mouth will be killed. FLOP.

              It has little to do with Denzel, Rusty or Ridley. It has to do with the movie itself--and how it is percieved.

              If it looks FUN & EXCITING it will do OK at the B.O. & everyone will be happy.

              Going on all the factors: Story, actors, director & the still pics, (and assuming the movie is good but not great) my prediction is that AG will underperform & they will have to wait a while for it to re-coop its cost.

              "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

              ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                Originally posted by WritersBlock2010 View Post
                Because as someone else pointed out, it's great Oscar Bait.
                But Oscar bait with a $100 million price-tag (before marketing)?

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                  Originally posted by kintnerboy View Post
                  [SIZE=2]Two questions. First of all, who cares? No matter what you do, you're never going to be right all the time. Success comes from being right a little more often than not.
                  No one said anyone was going to be right 100% of the time. That said, anyone with the power to greenlight a film is always betting that he / she will have a return on investment. Hopefully a substantial return on investment. Universal got cold feet numerous times on AMERICAN GANGSTER. The most well noted was with Fuqua, but they also couldn't get it to work with THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND's Peter Morgan. (I think it was Peter Morgan...)

                  So I think it's interesting -- and you don't, I guess -- that Universal is betting they got it right with a substantially higher investment than they wouldn have had without all the false starts.

                  Originally posted by kinterboy View Post
                  Second, it's pointless for anyone to try and guess what any given film generates in terms of revenue. Can anyone here tell me what the total revenue generated for any given film is? Domestic and international box office, dvd sales and rentals, television and future equity as part of a studio's library? No, you can't, because that information is not for public consumption. So what's the point of all this, other than the current trend of taking delight in others financial missteps, which is bad for all of us?
                  Where in this thread has anyone said anything about "I hope this film fails"?

                  This is a hypothetical "would you...?" and nothing more.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                    Originally posted by Franky Knuckles View Post
                    does anybody know why Fuquoa got fired or quit and why Benecio walked off the set? what the hell happened in that production??
                    No one quit. Universal pulled the plug as the budget started to balloon past what they had originally agreed upon and cuts couldn't bring it back down to an acceptable level.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                      Originally posted by Master of Horror
                      The problem with a lot of these actors (I'm talking about Jaime Foxx here because you brought him up) is that Hollywood thinks they're box office stars and they're not.

                      Same with George Clooney. Name one movie George Clooney has been the real lead in (eliminate ensemble pieces like OCEAN'S ELEVEN and A PERFECT STORM) that was a hit.

                      Give up?

                      Thought so.
                      Not really, 'cause I've never thought of Jamie Foxx as a B.O. draw. Or Colin Farrell, for that matter, though a lot of people did at one point in time several years ago.

                      As for Clooney, though I greatly admire his choices in roles, I would never list him as a B.O. draw either. But at least he's been smart enough to realize the "one for me, one for them" mentality that has enabled him keep getting his more personal films a greenlight.

                      Of course, he might need to make a couple more "one for them" back-to-back to make up for MICHAEL CLAYTON.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                        There are a lot of things wrong with Hollywood. George Clooney is not one of them. He makes good, smart films and he cares. The fact that he is outspoken politically upsets a lot of people (bloggers, mostly) who take every opportunity to point out the sub-par performance of one of his films.

                        The fact that Michael Clayton is, through word of mouth, quietly gaining momentum and becoming profitable will not be reported by anyone, because good news does not equate to film-blog web-traffic.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                          Originally posted by kintnerboy View Post
                          There are a lot of things wrong with Hollywood. George Clooney is not one of them. He makes good, smart films and he cares. The fact that he is outspoken politically upsets a lot of people (bloggers, mostly) who take every opportunity to point out the sub-par performance of one of his films.
                          Again, no one's saying anything to the contrary. At least not in this thread. HOWEVER, Hollywood is first and foremost a business and, like all businesses, it can only continue to run by making money off of its investments, i.e. movies.

                          So it's not inappropriate for anyone interested in film to talk about the box office returns of movies and comment that something was a hit or tanked.

                          Originally posted by kinterboy View Post
                          The fact that Michael Clayton is, through word of mouth, quietly gaining momentum and becoming profitable will not be reported by anyone, because good news does not equate to film-blog web-traffic.
                          You just reported it. Good for MICHAEL CLAYTON!

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                            It's not about Clooney or any one particular actor. It's the perception of stars by HW studios and the media.

                            They treat stars as if they are more important to the process than they really are.

                            When a movie is a hit, they praise the star. When the movie is a flop, they blame the star.

                            Same thing, to lesser extent, for directors (directors actually do have an influence on the quality, & thus BO).

                            People overestimate the influence of movie stars. This is why a lot (but not all) of these salaries are over-inflated & undeserved.

                            If you look at it cooly & intelligently, & examine all the factors, you'll see that stars are just ONE reason people go to see a movie, not the only reason, not even the MAIN reason.

                            And you can probably add Johnny Depp to the list of stars who are over-praised & over-paid.

                            Aside from the Pirates franchise, I can't think of a single blockbuster he's had. All his other big movies have under performed or have been outright flops.

                            What is his biggest non-POTC hit... Chocolat?... cripes...

                            The 1st Pirates was a hit b/c of the idea, script & execution by Verbinski, not b/c people thought Johnny was so great in Donnie Brasco & Don Juan De Marco and HAAAD to come out & see him dressed as a pirate.

                            "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

                            ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                              Master of Horror:

                              Sometimes the long term benefits outweigh the initial investment.

                              I think we all agree this is what prompted AG to be green-lit (aside from the setbacks and other delays) in the first place.

                              If AG does moderately well with audiences then the marketing department can have a field day this Oscar season and proclaim they have a "real movie for real people" so-to-speak because Oscar has that stigma of high art and critically acclaimed (mostly foreign in the last few years) films that the average moviegoer hasn't seen... Nor has a real desire to see beyond the hype. AG can shatter that mold in a lot of ways IF it does well with audiences.

                              Stvnlra:

                              I've seen American Gangster (advance screening).

                              It is a drama not unlike "The Godfather" or "Scarface". In fact, you can see a lot of influences from both those films which doesn't bother me because this late in the game it is inevitable. At least, they don't try and hide it which is refreshing in my opinion.

                              It is very slow moving and the movie doesn't really get going until 45 minutes in.

                              No real spoilers, but this is the kind of movie that takes its time to build up the Washington and Crowe characters in their separate lives dealing with separate issues UNTIL they cross paths because of their professions.

                              Most films would cut-to-the-chase and start at the point where Crowe is assigned to go after Washington... But this film doesn't do that. It creates two distinct characters so when they do clash you can see what kind of stakes are there and what kind of men they are. This is why it is more of a drama than a "fun" or "action-filled" ride. There are scenes of violence, but nothing very brutal. A few point-blank executions, some beat downs, but nothing we haven't seen before.

                              I liked the movie for what it is. In my opinion, this it is more of an Oscar run than a mainstream movie, however.

                              I think people will like it, but it might be one of those you love it/hate it kind of movies. I predict older (25-45+) audiences will like it a lot more than your typical 13-25 crowd... And that is to be expected since it is more of a methodical character study than a balls-to-the-walls action movie.
                              Positive outcomes. Only.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: Would you have green-lighted AMERICAN GANGSTER?

                                Originally posted by MacG View Post
                                Not really, 'cause I've never thought of Jamie Foxx as a B.O. draw. Or Colin Farrell, for that matter, though a lot of people did at one point in time several years ago.

                                As for Clooney, though I greatly admire his choices in roles, I would never list him as a B.O. draw either. But at least he's been smart enough to realize the "one for me, one for them" mentality that has enabled him keep getting his more personal films a greenlight.

                                Of course, he might need to make a couple more "one for them" back-to-back to make up for MICHAEL CLAYTON.
                                George has already dropped out of a period drama because of MICHAEL CLAYTON.

                                He's said to know that he has to do something commercial.

                                I have nothing against George. I don't mind him. But I do get sick of the press and Hollywood raving about certain people as if they're the second coming of Christ when they're clearly not.

                                The way that the media fawns over George and a number of others is sickening. As someone said about the interview with Denzel Washington in Men's Vogue, it was nothing more than "3,500 word fellatio".

                                Hollywood is far too quick to dump movies with $100 million plus budgets onto the slender shoulders of actors who just aren't up to the challenge.

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