LESSON #1: THE LITERARY WORKS OF STEPHEN KING ARE NOT ALWAYS FIT FOR FILM— As of the It remake next month, 66 film adaptations, sequels and all, have been created based on novels, novellas, and shorts stories of the legendary Stephen King. The film list boasts classics like The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, and Carrie. It will not include The Dark Tower. Sapped of its multi-volume depth of mythology and whittled down into a 90-minute loose spiritual sequel, a grand work like The Dark Tower should have been made into a mini-series for television, as 25 other King works have been before. Let’s see if Netflix can decant the mess that is The Dark Tower with some quality programming and attention to detail.
LESSON #2: DETROIT HAS BEEN A TIMELY STORY FOR 50 YEARS, ONLY NO ONE CARED TO REMEMBER–The historical incidents chronicled in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit is but one of ten national uprisings from across the country in what became known as the “Long Hot Summer of 1967,” has been timely, ignorance and all, for 50 years. Bottom line, it was timely next to any one of the over 40 ethnic riots that have occurred on American soil in the last half-century. This counts as better late than never. If it takes a piece of film entertainment telling serious stories to instigate hard reflection and improved new public dialogue, Detroit is poised to accomplish such a mission. Hard to watch as it is, consider the film essential viewing.
LESSON #3: STEVEN SODERBERGH IS ON TO SOMETHING— Promoting his first film in four years after flirting with retirement, the Out of Sight, Traffic, Magic Mike, and Ocean’s 11 series filmmaker outlined just how different the business model is for Logan Lucky. In a heady and fascinating interview with GQ (appropriately click bait titled “Steven Soderbergh is Back to Destroy Hollywood”), Soderbergh described how he went around the studio system to sell the foreign rights to Logan Lucky ahead of time to finance the production. He then brokered the streaming, home media, television, and airline deals ahead of time to pay for the advertising and marketing. By doing so, every theatrical dollar for Logan Lucky goes directly to the people who made the film without any studio taking a cut. That’s ballsy and genius and I hope it pays off and starts a trend of less studio tinkering.
LESSON #4: JEFFREY KATZENBERG IS ON TO SOMETHING EVEN BIGGER— The volume of and dependency towards personal mobile devices, especially handy smartphones, is creating an emerging go-to conduit for digesting entertainment content for a growing section of media audiences. The former Disney and Dreamworks exec wants to tap into that in an ambitious way. Outlined in a Variety feature, Katzenberg wants to foster a whole new line of short-form entertainment options targeting 18-to 34-year-olds backed by top-shelf talent and budgets equaling the production quality of primetime television. Examples include 10-minute series episodes, 5-minute talk shows, and 2-minute newscasts. This $2 billion pitch, dubbed New TV by Katzenberg, would be revolutionary. I will still say what I said last week in this department. It all comes down to price point. If it’s affordable, people will come.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.