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DAILY BULLETIN: Duncan Jones to direct the Warcraft movie, Paperman is available online, Rian Johnson chats with Kevin Smith

I’ve only really got one piece of actual news for today. I guess a few things have happened, but I can’t really work up much excitement for the first image of Amy Adams as Lois Lane, or the poster for Trance, or casting updates for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Those are nice tidbits, but you can read about them at the links above, sans my insightful analysis.

Instead, I’ll hit you with the big news for the day upfront, and follow up with a couple of cool little things…

Warcraft movie to be helmed by Duncan Jones
wow-logoThere’s not much for me to say here, except consider me officially interested in the Warcraft movie. Up ’til now, I really couldn’t have cared less. I liked World Of Warcraft alright, but MMOs aren’t really my thing. And originally this movie was supposed to be handled by Sam Raimi, who didn’t really light my fire either. I love his horror stuff (particularly Army Of Darkness and Drag Me To Hell), but his leap into the big budget world with the Spiderman movies was a letdown. Well, okay, the first one was good. And I guess the jury’s still out on his upcoming Oz movie. Anyway, that’s irrelevant now…

Getting back to Duncan Jones, I think he’s a great choice. He hasn’t really done fantasy before, but he’s done great things with sci-fi, so I think he should be able to make the transition. At any rate, it feels more natural than going from “cabin in the woods” style horror to superhero stuff (a la Raimi). It’s definitely going to be huge step up budget-wise. The Warcraft movie is expected to cost $100 million plus (probably triple what Jones’s first two movies cost combined when all’s said and done). With the increase in budget will come an increase in studio interference, so I hope Jones’s directorial instincts aren’t second guessed too much. Come on, Warner Bros., the guy knows what he’s doing.

If there’s cause for concern, it’s with the script, penned by Charles Leavitt. Not that I distrust the guy or anything, but I mean, you know they’re not gonna be selling Warcraft as “from the writer of K-PAX and Blood Diamond!” It just doesn’t inspire confidence is what I’m saying. But it’s really way too early in the game to be getting worked up about that… The movie’s tentatively scheduled for release in 2015, so I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again long before I see it.

Oscar-nominated short Paperman now online
In case you’re not familiar, Paperman is the short that preceded Wreck-It Ralph in theatres. Wreck-It Ralph was a good film, but Paperman is a great short. And now you can watch it for free on Youtube! It’s well worth your time, so take a look:


So, pretty cool, right? The guy who directed it, John Kahrs, has done a bunch of work for both Pixar and Disney, but always as an animator. This short was his first time as a director, and hopefully it’s a sign of more great things to come. I just love the animation style – a blend of hand-drawn and CG. And the choice of black-and-white (with one notable exception, of course) feels perfect for the mood of the story. Naturally, having Christophe Beck’s music in there to push all the right emotional buttons doesn’t hurt either. Particularly since there’s no dialogue. All in all, this is wonderful stuff.

Rian Johnson guests on SModcast
rian-johnsonPresumably, you’ve heard of SModcast. But if not… Co-hosted by filmmaker Kevin Smith and his producing partner Scott Mosier, SModcast is a podcast all about two people who work in the movie biz talking about whatever random stuff comes to their minds. Sometimes it’s about movies, sometimes it’s just a lot of weed-fueled nonsense (Smith is an outspoken pothead). Whatever the subject, it’s typically a pretty fun show. I say “typically” because, truth be told, I haven’t listened to SModcast in a long time. At a certain point it felt like they started talking about the same stuff ad nauseam, particularly after Smith started getting high a lot. So I checked out for awhile.

But now I’m back! Reason being, I found out director Rian Johnson (of Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper fame) was a guest on the show recently, and that was definitely something I wanted to hear. Johnson’s a great filmmaker, and a good podcast guest (some of his appearances on the Slashfilmcast have been bloody hilarious). And Smith makes a disarming interviewer I think – very relaxed and informal. Back a long time ago I remembered listening to shows he did with Richard Kelly and Edgar Wright, and I found them both really cool.

Really, I wanted to hear what they had to say about Bruce Willis. Both guys have worked with him (Smith disastrously and Johnson pretty successfully). So I was hoping they’d compare notes.

Well, they didn’t. Not so far, at least – the full conversation is four hours, but only the first two are online so far (Edit: part two is now up). In part one, they cover several topics:

-A surprising amount of time is spent talking about religion (Smith was raised Catholic, Johnson was Presbyterian).
-How they got their respective starts. The approaches are quite dissimilar, although both guys were fortuitous in a lot of ways. Smith dropped out of the Vancouver Film School and went on to make Clerks for just over $27,000, scraped together by maxing out several credit cards and selling a large portion of his comic book collection. Johnson took a longer road. He graduated from USC in 1996, and from there it took seven years to get the financing ($450,000) for his first film together. Ultimately, a bunch of the money came from Johnson’s father, uncle and grandfather, all huge cinema fans who, fittingly, got Johnson interested in movies in the first place. After playing at Sundance in 2005, Brick sold for $2 million.
-How Witness helped Rian Johnson write Looper.
-And of course, film vs. digital.

Plus a bunch of other stuff. Can’t wait for part two!

That’s all for today. Seeya next time.

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2 responses to “DAILY BULLETIN: Duncan Jones to direct the Warcraft movie, Paperman is available online, Rian Johnson chats with Kevin Smith

  1. Luis A. Ramirez (@wordforger) February 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    First, in response to your previous post, I think you’ve done a great job posting your thoughts on the movie industry and film in general. By comparison, my failed attempts to comment on every post as a form of encouragement shows how you are outpacing the demand. So keep writing away. I find your opinions to be strong and valid ones.

    As for your current post, thanks for the heads up on the Jones-Smith interview. It’s always interesting to hear filmmakers discuss movies and this looks to be a fun discussion. As for Johnson directing the Warcraft move I’m a little less excited. It’s more having to do with the property than the director. Personally I think a Warcraft movie would be better represented as an animated film rather than live action given its roots and its scope. However American audiences and perhaps worldwide audiences are not yet ready to embrace fully an adult themed, adult rated animated film. That purview seem to remain with Japanese audiences and the anime lovers they’ve manged to recruit throughout years (myself included). I’d be more excited if Hayao Miyazaki were involved.

    As for the Paperman short, I wonder if it reminds anyone of The Red Balloon. I personally thought it was inspired by that short film (which was further bolstered by the appearance of a child with a balloon on the train). Just curious if it’s just me or if others have the same thought.

    Anyway keep writing and I’ll try to comment more often.

  2. Mike Lake February 5, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Thanks again, Luis. Always nice to hear some kind of feedback, even if it’s just one person. 🙂

    You mixed up Duncan Jones and Rian Johnson there. The Kevin Smith interview is with Rian Johnson, and Duncan Jones is directing the Warcraft movie. I edited the post with a link to part two of the conversation, by the way. A bunch of it is basically Smith trying to coax Johnson into saying something bad about Bruce Willis and getting nowhere. Kinda funny.

    Your concept of an animated Warcraft film sounds like a great idea, but I think you’re also right that it might be a tough sell.

    And I’ve never seen The Red Balloon. It looks like it’s on Youtube, but I’m about to hit the sack. I’ll give it a look later on though, so thanks for the heads up.

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