Amazon’s original series will explore storylines preceding Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ as part of an estimated $ 250 million deal.
Today, Amazon announced that it has acquired the global television rights to The Lord of the Rings to create an original, multi-season series that will debut exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Amazon Studios will produce a series that will explore storylines that precede Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, taking fans on a new journey through Middle Earth.
According to Deadline, the Tolkien estate had approached Amazon, Netflix and HBO about the project with an upfront fee of $ 200-$ 250 million, with sources claiming that Amazon secured the deal with an agreement close to the $ 250 million mark. That $ 250 million is only for the rights. Amazon will still need to pony up to pay for production, which could likely cost between $ 100-$ 150 million per season.
Remember the Starsky and Hutch reboot we heard about last week? Amazon is already behind it, giving the project a script-to-series commitment. Executive producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) is reportedly directing the pilot, which he’s co-writing with his brother, Brian Gunn (PG Porn), and cousin Mark Gunn (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). However, eboot may me the wrong word for the project because, in a recent Facebook post celebrating the original series and the deal with Amazon, Gunn wrote it’s not a “reboot or a remake, but a continuation of the original series that would deconstruct the buddy cop show in a fun way.”
Below, read what Gunn had to say about the Starsky and Hutch reboot.
The project will mark the first dive into television for Gunn’s production company, Troll Court Entertainment. The filmmaker is working with Sony Pictures Television and the powerhouse producer behind Fast & Furious, Neal Moritz. Gunn wants to make a Starsky & Hutch series that “would honor the genre while turning it inside-out.” He has a lot of love for the series, being the first “adult” show he ever watched and loved, so he doesn’t want to do a spoof like Todd Phillips’ 2004 film starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.
From 1975 to 1979 on ABC, David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul) watched the streets of Bay City, California. William Blinn created the series, and it’s nice to learn Gunn wants to honor his work instead of poking fun at it. Here’s what Gunn wrote about the series:
You may have just read the news that I’m doing a version of Starsky & Hutch over at Amazon, producing alongside Neal Moritz with Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn writing. Well…
When I was a kid, Starsky & Hutch was the first “adult” show I ever saw, and I fell in love. It instilled in me a lifelong love of gritty street shows, of killer 70’s threads, and muscle cars. So when Neal – the producer of the Fast and Furious franchise – asked me if I wanted to be a part of an all new Starsky and Hutch on TV, I was instantly intrigued.
So I considered it. For me, as so many of you know, I can’t become involved with something unless I really love and am committed to the project. So I started writing down some outlandish ideas for how we would handle Starsky and Hutch today – ideas that would be exciting and different and not at all what people expect. This would NOT be a reboot or a remake, but a continuation of the original series that would deconstruct the buddy cop show in a fun way. Like Guardians of the Galaxy did with the space opera, it would honor the genre while turning it inside-out. And it would definitely not be a spoof like the 2004 Starsky & Hutch movie – it would be gritty and driven by both characters and high stakes. I came up with a lot of wild ideas – things I can’t go into quite yet – but stuff that got me excited about the prospect of creating a TV show.
So I sent my ideas off to Neall and the guys and, instead of balking at the twists of it all, they fully embraced my vision and were excited by it. So Neal and I got the two writers I trusted most in the world to work with us, my brother Brian Gunn (co-creator of our PG-Porn web series) and my cousin Mark Gunn. They took my nascent ideas and ran with them, creating a complex storyline we’re all crazy about.
Out of all the places that wanted to finance the pilot script, we chose Amazon. At Amazon I believed we would have the most freedom to create something that is different, challenges the audience, and that strays outside the parameters of genre from time to time. I also have quite a few filmmaker friends who have been working with Amazon lately, and what sets them apart from most of the other friends I have working in TV is that they love them.
So, yes, I AM working on Starsky & Hutch for Amazon: I couldn’t be more excited, and I can’t wait for you guys to see what we come up with. Striped Tomato forever! Stay tuned!
The details: – This is the first foray into television for my production company, Troll Court Entertainment. – Sony Pictures TV is behind the show, and Brian, Mark, and I will executive produce alongside Neal Moritz, whose Original Films has an overall deal with Sony TV. The company’s head of TV, Pavun Shetty, is also executive producing. – The original series was created by William Blinn and produced by Spelling-Goldberg, airing on ABC from 1975 to 1979. It starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul as Starsky & Hutch as they protected the streets of the fictional and awesome Bay City.
“Outlandish,” “gritty,” and a story “that strays outside the parameters of genre from time to time” sounds great, especially from Gunn. He can write a story that is completely outlandish but still has real emotion and stakes. The tone of the Starsky and Hutch Amazon series doesn’t sound too different from what Gunn accomplishes with his Guardians movies, which tonally, are impressive in how the director can infuse so much heart and soul into some ridiculousness scenarios. Maybe we’ll see him pull off a similar feat with Amazon’s Starsky and Hutch, which sounds more promising than I ever thought a Starsky and Hutch reboot would sound.
Who was involved and how did that person (or persons) respond?
This is where story must inevitably goes.
Looking over a pitch outline for a TV series I wrote a while back, one awful thing was clear — how confusing the plot was. Discouraging. No wonder it didn’t go anywhere.
BUT the characters and their situations were intriguing. I had channeled some good stuff into their worlds. So DAMN. There is still hope for that one. I can’t let it go. I just have to smooth out a few things. I had knocked out the hardest part — my family of characters.
Because TV shows are character-driven. Breaking Bad wasn’t just about Walter White and his drug-making career. It was about his wife, his son, his in-laws and his partner in crime/surrogate son, Jesse.
Breaking Bad mined White’s extended family and, of course, the intrigues of Walt’s “business” over many, many episodes. Why? How? What was this magic Vince Gilligan judiciously dispensed with his creative team through the life span of the show? A 58 page pilot.
That script’s inner workings offers a lot of information about how a solid pilot needs to be structured. The DNA of great television is all about a strong protagonist with multiple practical and emotional goals, a workplace/family situation with emotional and visual appeal all spun together with consistent and relentlessly fervent creative juice on every page.
That can’t happen unless there is a vibrantly drawn set of characters — each with their own particular world view. This family of characters is primal to most TV viewing. Breaking Bad stayed meticulously contained within its family milieu.
In TV, as in film, character drives plot. In TV shows, there may be a protagonist, a star on top of a show. However, that protagonist is generally surrounded by a rich and varied ensemble — that family of characters which drives the plot and sub-plots on and on.
And, that TV outline I wrote with a decent family of characters — it’s in my queue again. Can’t abandon family!
I’m going to be bringing that pitch into the TV pilot workshop I will be running at Screenwritingmasterclass.com. Starts next week. Hope to see you there to work on YOUR original TV pilot script.
Tom Benedek has written screenplays for Robert Zemeckis, Lawerence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Richard Rush, Harold Ramis, Lauren Schuler Donner and Richard Donner, Ray Stark, Brian Grazer, Working Title, Jersey Film, Chris Blackwell and many others. He wrote the screenplay for Cocoon and other films.
For more information on Tom’s TV pilot script workshop, go here.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn just tweeted the lyrics to ‘Guardians Inferno’
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2director James Gunn just tweeted the lyrics to the song “Guardians Inferno” from the soundtrack to the film. You can check out the tweet below and scroll down hear the song. “Guardians Inferno” is performed by The Sneepers featuring David Hasselhoff. The picture he posted shows the lyrics written in the phone app Notes while he was in a car on the way home. “Guardians Inferno” was co-written by Gunn and score composer Tyler Bates.
TheGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2cast includes the return of Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Michael Rooker as Yondu, Karen Gillan as Nebula, and Sean Gunn as Kraglin. New cast members include Pom Klementieff, who plays Mantis, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, Chris Sullivan as Taserface and KurtRussell as Ego, the Living Planet.
Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. The film opens on May 5, 2017.
The soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, including “Guardians Inferno,” is available today. What do you guys think of the song? Are you excited about the film? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.
It’s an unfortunate given when you do a prequel series that you have to explain where your never-before-seen characters are during the action of the main franchise. This is something the Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars creators have struggled with — and the show’s fans have worried over — as the Disney XD animated series prepares to draw to a close with its upcoming fourth season.
Spoilers for Star Wars Rebels ahead.
The easiest solution to explain the absence of vibrant, beloved characters whose adventures take place before the original Star Wars films, is to kill them off. We can call this the Rogue One strategy. But what’s the point of having a rich, expanded universe if you don’t occasionally hint at its dense mythology?
Interestingly, it is Rogue One that reveals the fate of several Rebels character after the final season. The mention of “General Syndulla” and a quick glimpse of the droid Chopper and the ship TheGhost in the first “Star Wars Story” film seemingly ensure that certain members of the cast survive the fourth and final Rebels season.
Hera Syndulla in particular may even The Last Jedi, thanks to the Forces of Destiny animated shorts designed to highlight female heroes. The shorts are considered part of official canon and Rebels voice actress Vanessa Marshall is reprising her role as Hera Syndulla alongside Princess Leia in a short set during the events of Return of the Jedi, as Entertainment Weekly describes:
“Perhaps most intriguing to movie fans will be the story set on the Ewok moon of Endor from Return of the Jedi. Although plot details are under wraps, Hera Syndulla from Rebels and Princess Leia team up for an adventure with Han Solo – and lots of little furballs carrying primitive weapons.”
It’s exciting stuff. And if Hera, Chopper and the rest of the Ghost crew do make it past the Rebels season finale, there are options for them to become fully realized on the big screen in more Star Wars anthology films, or even to appear alongside beloved main heroes like Rey and Luke.
How Thrawn Almost Changed the Course for Rogue One
But what of the not-so-nice characters from Rebels? It turns out Grand Admiral Thrawn was a major unseen force in Rogue One, with the actions of the blue-skinned villain having repercussions in the live-action world.
In the third season finale of Rebels, Grand Admiral Thrawn decimated the Rebels in a devastating battle, the repercussions of which reverberated throughout the galaxy. In fact, the effects of that big battle was one of the reasons the Rebel Alliance didn’t trust Jyn Erso right away and send the Alliance to Scarif, Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni said.
“You see the after effect of [Thrawn’s victory] in Rogue One. They’re really hesitant to actually fight. It takes a lot to draw them out because they lost.”
The fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels starts in Fall. Rogue One is out now on Blu-ray.
If you’re looking for something to read over the weekend, we’ve got you covered. Here’s every review, editorial, list, feature, column, and rant published by the /Film staff and our team of freelancers over the past week.
Should the DC Expanded Universe have to change course to appease those who criticize the franchise? Why did Chris Hemsworth think he was fired from the Marvel Cinematic Universe at one point? What did Hugh Jackman originally want in the Logan ending? Did Samuel L. Jackson slip up by mentioning a certain MCU villain? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
Check out a preview for the 15th episode in the 2nd season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, featuring a character’s return.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards is a SXSW regular at this point. His first film, Monsters, premiered at the fest years ago. The first footage from his Godzilla screened there alongside a repertory screening of the 1954 original. And now, he’s back in Austin, Texas to deliver a keynote speech…and to answer questions about the upcoming home video release of the first Star Wars spin0ff.
I had a few precious minutes to speak with Edwards, and our spoiler-filled chat did include why the original ending of the film didn’t quite work, necessitating those reshoots everyone couldn’t stop talking about last year.
Can you talk about the original ending? We know there were reshoots, but I’d like know what wasn’t working and what you actually set out to change.
I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower. In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was. And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there. That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.
As cool as many things are, and they really are, you can’t outstay your welcome. We’ve all done it. We’ve all sat in a movie and even if you love a film, there’s that moment where you want to look at your watch, or you feel like “Okay, I hope it ends soon.” You don’t want the audience thinking that. You don’t want them to lag. If you feel that when you watch something back, you need to find a way to tighten it somewhere. That was a big win for a compression.
When the original Star Wars movies finally hit Blu-ray a few years ago, my friends literally threw a party to eat and drink and watch the deleted scenes. Are we ever going to see this alternate ending? Will it take a few decades?
That’s a decision way above me! I don’t think there’s any plans to do it
So don’t get too excited about ever seeing the alternate ending in its entirety. Maybe for Star Wars‘ 75th anniversary. The rest of our interview, which touches on the film’s third act and why certain characters had to die, will arrive tomorrow.
For now, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits Blu-ray and DVD on April 4, 2017.
For fans of the original Ghost in the Shell anime and manga who might be perturbed by the fact that the live-action adaptation from Paramount Pictures is starring Scarlett Johansson, creating another instance of whitewashing in Hollywood, the studio is trying to make amends in an interesting but potentially problematic way.
When a Hollywood film is released in Japan, audiences can choose to see it with subtitles or dubbed by actors. In the case of Ghost in the Shell, the actors doing the voiceover work for the dubbed version will be the original voice actors of the anime adaptation from 1995.
News of the dubbed Ghost in the Shell version came from the Japanese site Natalie (via Kotaku), which reports that Atsuko Tanaka will lend her voice to Scarlett Johansson’s character Mira, the Americanized version of protagonist Motoko Kusanagi from the original anime. In addition, Akio Otsuka will be voicing Batou, a role that he already reprised for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and Stand Alone Complex. Also joining him will be Kochi Yamadera as Togusa.
On one hand, this is good news for Japanese fans who want their dubbed movies to have gifted voice actors bringing a movie to life. Japanese audiences are very particular about the actors chosen to dub movies that aren’t in Japanese. Back in 2012 there was quite the backlash when some of the voice actors for the dubbed version of The Avengers were downright terrible, ruining the entire experience for many viewers. This happens because sometimes popular celebrities at the time are hired instead of actors who are the most talented person for a given job.
Ghost in the Shell anime director Mamoru Oshii had this to say about the hiring of his original voice actors for the Japanese dub:
“It’s been a while since they’ve played these characters. I definitely want them to deliver performances they see fit. They’re all pros, so there’s nothing to worry about, and I can only say that this is something to look forward to.”
Therefore, bringing in Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka and Kochi Yamadera to reprise their roles is a smart move as far as hiring the best person for the job. But on the other hand, it also calls even more attention to the fact that Paramount Pictures didn’t want to create a live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation with an Asian leading lady. Paramount has put plenty of Asian actors into this adaptation, but not having one in the lead felt like a slap in the face to fans.