Listen: Cinema Squad podcast

Discussion about this week in Hollywood and interview with… me.

Yesterday, I was a guest on the weekly Cinema Squad podcast. Along with hosts Sean Wathen, Skye Wathen, and Nicole Murnery, we discussed the week in Hollywood movies, plus a Q&A about the business of screenwriting.

It was a fun and informative 90 minutes, so go here to give it a listen.

For more Cinema Squad podcast episodes, go here.

To learn more about the Cinema Squad hosts, go here.

Twitter: @Cinema_Squad.

Listen: Cinema Squad podcast was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

‘The Shallows’ Director Jaume Collet-Serra Might Direct ‘Suicide Squad 2’

Suicide Squad 2 director

After a lengthy search, executives at Warner Bros. and DC Films may have finally found their Suicide Squad 2 director. Deadline reports that Jaume Collet-Serra, the Spanish filmmaker behind movies like Orphan, The Shallows, and the Liam Neeson vehicles Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night is now the frontrunner to helm the villain-centric comic book movie sequel.

The report stops short of confirming that Collet-Serra is officially in the driver’s seat, instead saying that the “studio is focused on” him to take over from David Ayer, who wrote and directed the original film last year. So while it doesn’t sound like the ink is dry on the contracts just yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if an official studio confirmation comes down the pike soon; WB distributed Orphan, Unknown, and Run All Night, and Collet-Serra has proven he can deliver profitable movies operating with mid-range budgets.

Will Smith and Margot Robbie are reprising their roles as Deadshot and Harley Quinn (respectively) in Suicide Squad 2, which has been a priority for the studio. The first film, which centered on a group of imprisoned supervillains forced by a shadowy government agency to team up and save the world, made over $ 745 million worldwide but was critically reviled – largely because it’s a sloppily-edited story that reeks of studio meddling. It famously had a laundry list of problems, including the fact that Ayer wrote the script in just six weeks and, most problematically of all, there were such powerful clashes behind the scenes about the movie’s tone that the studio enlisted a trailer editing company to create a separate edit of the final movie, which ultimately became the final cut that was shipped to theaters.

Warner Bros. previously met with Mel Gibson to potentially direct the sequel, but considering the way many of Collet-Serra’s previous films have fully embraced B-movie silliness while still showing a strong grasp of craft, he sounds like a better pick to direct Suicide Squad 2. And with the overwhelmingly positive response to Wonder Woman, we know Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are looking to ditch the dark and gritty vibe of the DC Extended Universe and make the movies fun. But I’m still worried about this movie because it’s being written by Adam Cozad, whose only produced credits thus far include the forgettable Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and last year’s The Legend of Tarzan.

The movie could begin filming as early as next year, but it doesn’t have an official release date staked out yet. Perhaps this time the studio will make sure the script is up to snuff and everyone is on the same page about what kind of movie it will be before they get in over their heads again.

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Chris Pratt Thinks ‘Suicide Squad’ Tried to Introduce Too Many Characters, Too Soon

Suicide Squad Criticism

Though there are plenty of passionate fans who absolutely love the movies release in the DC Extended Universe so far, there are also plenty of viewers who have been disappointed with the recent offerings of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, even fans who liked what director Zack Snyder did with Man of Steel.

One of the more rampant pieces of criticism is that Warner Bros. and DC are trying to bite off more than they can chew with stories that are convoluted and all over the place. Part of that problem comes from these movies trying to introduce too many characters far too quickly and expecting viewers to care about them just as fast. At least that’s what Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt thinks one of the problems was with Suicide Squad

In an interview with io9, the Guardians of the Galaxy leading man was asked about his opinion on the DC Extended Universe movies so far. Though he could have fed the fire that is the ridiculous DC and Marvel rivalry, Pratt actually praised the DC movies before offering one issue he had with Suicide Squad:

“I really like all the Warner Bros. [DC films], I think they’re really cool and I’m not a real tough critic on those movies. But one of the flaws might have been they were introducing too many characters in ‘Suicide Squad.’ They spent 10 minutes telling us why should we care about these characters, rather than creating trilogies for each character and convincing us to care about the characters.”

Indeed, the character introductions in Suicide Squad were perhaps the most difficult thing to pull off, especially when they’re villains who are supposed to become makeshift heroes striking a bond with each other by the end of the movie. But the backstory of all these characters was so haphazard and choppy that most viewers couldn’t buy a character like Diablo sacrificing himself so he doesn’t lose another “family” like he lost his real one. Pratt went on to reiterate why Marvel Studios seems to be having more success in building their universe:

“It’s like hardwood. They grew it really slowly so it’s strong. They didn’t create ‘The Avengers’ first. They did ‘Iron Man’. And they tested it to make sure it worked. Then they did [‘Iron Man II’] and [‘Iron Man III’], then they did ‘Cap,’ and then they did ‘Thor.’ And they created a thirst for these characters, and that’s when they put them in ‘The Avengers.’”

While I don’t think that each of the main characters in Suicide Squad necessarily needed entire trilogies to make us care about them, perhaps having fewer characters like Pratt says would have made that task a little easier. After all, we’re talking about a movie that is supposed to focus on the worst of the worst, but one of the characters is Slipknot, whose special skill is being able to climb anything, and has the sole purpose of existing so he can merely be killed off as an example meant to scare the rest of the team. We didn’t need that, and we certainly didn’t need Katana in this movie either.

Perhaps if Suicide Squad only had a team of five villains, not unlike how the first Guardians of the Galaxy had five heroes, director/writer David Ayer would have had an easier time keeping the story focused. That more focused ensemble cast allowed the movie to connect with audiences, and now it looks like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will expand that roster of characters now that they have the trust of fans.

Instead, Suicide Squad has six villains that you’re meant to be invested in as a team, not to mention their target, the Enchantress, who requires saving because their military leader Rick Flagg is in love with her human alter ego. And that doesn’t even include Amanda Waller and the Joker, who are both key parts of Suicide Squad.

Surely, this is something that will be endlessly debated, but I think Chris Pratt makes a fine point, and it’s something that fans noticed themselves, even those who have liked the DC Extended Universe movies more than those who are a bit more critical of them.

What do you think?

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‘True Detective’ Season 3 is Back From the Dead With David Milch on the Squad

true detective season 3

Like a decades-old murder case where the deranged killer was never caught, HBO’s True Detective won’t stay buried. While the show has been on indefinite hiatus since the end of its deeply unpopular second season, it sounds like the once-beloved anthology mystery show may be lurching back into life with the help of a television veteran responsible for some of the greatest shows of all time. Are you ready for True Detective season 3?

Entertainment Weekly reports that series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto has penned the first two episodes of a potential third season. More importantly, he has someone standing over his shoulder: David Milch, the creator of NYPD Blue and Deadwood, and one of the television medium’s bonafide mad geniuses. The only thing more entertaining than the stories of Milch’s sets, where chaos reigns and last-minute rewrites are commonplace, is the television he actually creates. He is a superb storyteller, a master dialogue writer, and the exact kind of person you’d want to see nudging Pizzolatto in the right direction.

Right now, it’s not clear to what extent Pizzolatto and Milch are collaborating, but it’s easy to imagine them gelling quite well. Both men have excelled in telling stories of broken masculinity and bad decision-making in dangerous places. They’re obsessed with haunted anti-heroes whose greatest strengths fuel their greatest weaknesses. After True Detective season 2, it was increasingly clear that Pizzolatto could use a guiding hand to help keep him on track. Could Milch be the guy for the job?

It must be noted that True Detective season 3 has not been greenlit and that everything is still in the earliest stages. This could happen or it could not happen. The important thing right now is that a third season hasn’t been completely tossed and forgotten.

The first season of True Detective remains a masterpiece, a mesmerizing blend of horror and police procedural that was so specific and unique that it seemingly defied parody. The second season, which featured a brand new cast and location, somehow proved the first season wrong by descending into self-parody. While I got along quite well with season 2’s absurd characters, hilariously indecipherable plot twists, and dialogue that felt like it was written with a Thesaurus proudly propped up next to the keyboard, I was very much in the minority. True Detective season 2 remains a perfect modern example of a clearly talented storyteller completely falling off the rails.

True Detective season 1 benefitted from Pizzolatto having director Cary Joji Fukunaga around for all eight episodes and the stories of them bumping heads during production speak volumes. They made each other’s work better. If True Detective season 3 comes into being, I hope HBO and Pizzolatto realize that some of the best art is born from artists challenging one another. Then again, maybe that’s why Milch is around in the first place.

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Mel Gibson Confirms Early Talks for ‘Suicide Squad 2’: ”We’ll See”

mel gibson suicide squad

Mel Gibson likely has more clout in his hands right now than he’s had in years. His well-made World War II drama, Hacksaw Ridge, grossed over $ 175 million at the worldwide box-office, was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, and picked up two Academy Awards last night. Following his biggest success in years, what’s next for the filmmaker?

Even after making a hit drama, possibly opening doors to direct some long-gestating passion projects, Gibson is still considering the sequel Suicide Squad 2. Below, the director briefly comments on the DC sequel.

Almost two weeks ago it was reported Gibson was in early talks with Warner Bros. about directing the sequel to David Ayer‘s comic book movie. Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), Jonathan Levine (50/50) and Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) are also under consideration, but Gibson’s name is apparently at the top of the list.

Gibson quickly confirmed the early talks, saying he was on a “first date” with the studio. While on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, the director told Entertainment Tonight “we’ll see” about Suicide Squad 2:

I don’t know. I just met some guys about story points. It’s not a done deal or anything. But it’s just fun to shoot the bull when it comes to stories. And if we can elevate any kind of concept it’s good. We’ll see.

When we heard Gibson was in the running for the sequel, it was surprising. His name typically isn’t associated with comic book movies. He recently even criticized the recourses poured into some big budget superhero movies to Deadline — but said he might feel differently about them if he made one himself:

I look at them and scratch my head. I’m really baffled by it. I think there’s a lot of waste, but maybe if I did one of those things with the green screens I’d find out different. It seems to me that you could do it for less… You’re spending outrageous amounts of money, $ 180 million or more, I don’t know how you make it back after the tax man gets you, and after you give half to the exhibitors.

Last November, he wasn’t “interested in the stuff,” but Variety’s Justin Kroll tweeted he is interested in working with Suicide Squad‘s cast. Years ago Gibson was keen on making The Accountant with Will Smith, but the studio passed. If Gibson wants the Suicide Squad 2 job, though, it’s his to take, according to Kroll.

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Mel Gibson Confirms Suicide Squad 2 Director Talks

Mel Gibson Confirms Suicide Squad 2 Director Talks

Mel Gibson confirms Suicide Squad 2 director talks

Yesterday, it was revealed that two-time Academy Award winner Mel Gibson was being courted to potentially direct Warner Bros. PicturesSuicide Squad sequel. Now (via Batman-News), Gibson himself has confirmed, at a screening for Hacksaw Ridge, that he and the studio are in the “Kind of a first date” phase of discussing the project. Variety also revealed other names on the list to possibly become the Suicide Squad 2 director, which you can check out below!

RELATED: Mel Gibson Sought to Direct Suicide Squad Sequel

According to the trade, Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), and Jonathan Levine (50/50) are also in contention for the gig. Fleischer is a solid shooter who at one point was in serious talks to direct Justice League for DC before his Gangster Squad bombed for Warner Bros., and since then he’s been mostly resigned to TV work. Espinosa’s sci-fi thriller Life with Ryan Reynolds shows promise, though we’ve heard from several sources that his war drama dud Child 44 was a bad experience for all involved. Mainly a comedy director (The Night Before, Snatched), Levine showed with Warm Bodies that he could work well on a big scale film, but he has been reticent in the past to take on a superhero movie, having been in the running for Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Plans for Gibson to helm the Suicide Squad sequel are far from done deal, but check back for updates as they become available.

Directed by David Ayer, the first Suicide Squad stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Jay Hernandez, Joel Kinnaman, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Will Smith, most of whom are likely to return for the big screen follow-up. Ayer, meanwhile, is working with Robbie on another DC Comics film, Gotham City Sirens.

Mel Gibson most recently directed the true World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield. The film is currently nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

(Photo Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

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‘Suicide Squad 2’ Might Get Mel Gibson to Direct

Mel Gibson blood father 2

Like so many other big stars before him, Mel Gibson is considering going the superhero movie route. But not as an actor — as a director. Warner Bros. reportedly wants Gibson to helm the sequel to Suicide Squad, which, despite the negative reviews from critics and the polarized reactions from fans, earned a healthy chunk of change at the box office last summer.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, The Hollywood Reporter cautions that Gibson and Warner Bros. are still “early in talks,” and that “no official offer has been made.” Gibson’s far enough along that he’s started to get acquainted with the material, but the studio is still eyeing other filmmakers including Daniel Espinosa (Safe House). Variety adds that Jonathan Levine (50/50) and Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) are also in the running. The first Suicide Squad movie was written by David Ayer, who’ll be tied up working on the spinoff Gotham City Sirens.

Gibson has spent most of the past decade bogged down in controversy for (among other things) making anti-Semitic, racist, and sexist remarks. At one point, he was so reviled that he couldn’t even film a Hangover II cameo without drawing the ire of the cast, crew, and fans. As recently as 2014, his friend Robert Downey Jr. was basically pleading with the industry to forgive Gibson, telling press he’d star in Iron Man 4 if and only if Gibson would direct. (That didn’t work out, obviously, so I guess Suicide Squad 2 could be his chance to direct a superhero movie.)

But in the past several months, he’s enjoyed a career renaissance — albeit not without plenty of criticism from detractors who haven’t forgotten his hateful comments. Hacksaw Ridge, his first directorial effort in a decade, was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and he’s been riding high off its success. In short order, he signed on for the sequel to Daddy’s Home as well as a cop drama called Dragged Across Concrete, from Bone Tomahawk director S. Craig Zahler. He’s even started talking again about making a Passion of the Christ sequel, called The Resurrection.

In the past, Gibson’s sounded kind of ambivalent about the rise of superhero movies in Hollywood. “Some are good. Some are kind of funny,” he said, citing Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man. “And some of them are just like retreats. I mean you can watch them do Spider-Man five times.” But he seems to view it as part of a larger change within the industry, adding, “I think you used to get more variety of stories, films and performances.”

Warner Bros.’ DC franchise has been off to a very rocky start (creatively, if not commercially) and the studio has made repeated efforts to reassure fans that they’re righting the ship. And that makes Gibson a really bizarre choice. I can’t imagine this will go down well with all of DC’s fans, and the last thing the franchise needs right now is to alienate viewers before the film even starts shooting. Again, though, keep in mind this is still in the early stages and there’s still time for the studio to change its mind. We’ll keep you updated as the story develops.

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