The making of Danny Boyle’s “Yesterday” (2019)

Danny Boyle’s Beatles jukebox musical, Yesterday (2019), originally began as a screenplay titled Cover Version by Jack Barth and Mackenzie Crook, with Crook slated to direct, according to The New York Times. After approaching executive producer Nick Angel for his connections in the music industry, Angel asked Richard Curtis, writer of Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and his own Love Actually (2003), to rewrite the script, sharing a story credit with Barth. Curtis’s production deal at Working Title and Universal got Boyle involved, and Apple Corps and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the copyright holders behind most of the band’s discography, were persuaded the film would be prestigious and lucrative enough to share the rights.

AMC Theatres introduces “AMC Artisan Films” as an alternative to blockbusters

AMC Theatres is launching a new programming-marketing strategy called “AMC Artisan Films” to draw attention to more character- and narrative-focused features as opposed to blockbusters, according to Variety. Elizabeth Frank, the company’s executive vice president of worldwide programming, says not only is AMC known in the industry for distributing blockbusters, they also carry more artist-driven titles than any North American competitor. In an effort to boost the success of these lesser-known movies, AMC Artisan Films is seeking earlier runs from platform releases, as well as playing them longer in the theater in the hope that there will be enough time for positive word-of-mouth to reach audiences.

Inside New Jersey’s filmmaking renaissance

After the New Jersey Legislature approved tax credits for film and television production and Governor Phil Murphy signed it into law in July 2018, industry revenue could double and local businesses could expect hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Asbury Park Press. Todd Phillips’s Batman flick, Joker (2019), Alan Taylor’s prequel to HBO’s The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Many Saints of Newark (2020), and Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical, West Side Story (2020), are all shooting in the state. Former Governor Chris Christie, in an effort to curb the budget, suspended the film and TV program in 2010 and allowed it to expire in 2015, blocking the 2009 incentive for MTV’s Jersey Shore (2009-2012).

Disney recruits top Netflix executive for new streaming service

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Disney+, which is scheduled to launch November 12, will be a commercial-free monthly subscription at seventy dollars a year, offering up new and old series and films from beloved franchises. (Image Courtesy: CNBC).

Walt Disney announced Tuesday they had hired Matt Brodlie, the director of the original film division at Netflix, to lead international content development for their forthcoming family-friendly steaming service, Disney+, according to CNBC. Under Brodlie’s leadership, Netflix released Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) as well as Alex Richanbach’s Ibiza (2018), and it also picked up Academy Award darlings like Dee Rees’s Mudbound (2017) and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018). As part of his new position with Disney, Brodlie will arbitrate which properties need to be produced or acquired for Disney+ customers outside the United States.

How Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) saved Prince’s career

With the thirtieth anniversary of the release for Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) coming and going this month, Prince’s Batman LP still shapes creative partnerships between filmmakers and musicians today, according to Variety. After Albert Magnoli’s Purple Rain (1984), Prince overspent on production costs while touring for the soundtrack, until Batman producer Mark Canton reached out to the singer’s management team as part of the film’s saturation marketing strategy. Drawing from a rough cut of the film for inspiration, despite not knowing how to score a cinematic composition to the frame, Prince produced much-needed hits such as “Batdance,” “Partyman,” and “Scandalous.”

Hulu review: Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” (2017)

A film that receives both boos and a standing ovation during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, is a film that demands to be seen.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017) is available to stream on Hulu. Sixty-nine percent of the reviews aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes for the psychological horror film are positive, but audiences polled through CinemaScore graded it with an “F.”

Its opening weekend marked the worst debut for a Jennifer Lawrence vehicle in which she earned top billing.

A plot synopsis is not easy for a reviewer to put down in words. Suffice to say, the movie opens with an unnamed poet (Javier Bardem) and his wife (Lawrence) living in an idyllic country home evocative of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism.

When a man (Ed Harris) and a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) come to stay as guests at their house, this paradise begins to fall apart.

Although not a narratively straightforward picture, mother! is an exercise in production value.

The performances of its four decorated stars are dramatic tours-de-force, and Matthew Libatique’s kinetic cinematography externalizes the surreal panic characterizing Lawrence’s titular “mother.”

Whispering alongside them is Johann Johannsson and Craig Henighan’s atmospheric sound design, echoing with the breathy non-diegesis of Aronofsky’s own Black Swan (2010) like chills running down your spine, and creaking with all the dread of the poet’s house.

The trailer misrepresents mother! as an homage to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), which arguably answers for much of the popular disappointment in the final product.

Indeed, the text can be interpreted as an allegory for Biblical creation, or the artistic process, or sociopolitical and environmental decay (or all three.. or something else).

It is an experimental release marketed as a mainstream scary movie about creepy neighbors, and it fails to meet its own expectations.

But even in its true, arthouse context, mother! can be self-indulgent and pretentious. Some of its metaphors are heavy-handed, and others try too hard to be “ambiguous,” instead coming off as “half-baked.”

The filmmaker wrote the screenplay in five days, and it shows. At its stylized, dreamlike best, that’s a compliment. At its forced, incomprehensible worst, it’s not.

Whether it gets you to cheer or jeer, mother! is sure to be unlike any other film you’ll ever see.

New tax credit for filmmakers to go into effect in Montana

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Friday evening, volunteer Justine Conlan opens the doors to the Covellite Theater in Butte for a Covellite International Film Festival screening. (Image Courtesy: The Montana Standard).

The Montana Economic Industry Advancement Act goes into effect July 1, offering a production expenditure tax credit of up to thirty-five percent of filmmakers’ total base film production investment for films shot in the state, according to the Montana Standard. Filmmakers must incentivize the hiring of local crews, employ students, or film in impoverished counties, with a budget of at least $350,000, a Montana promotion featured in the final product, and a total claim for tax credits of less than ten million dollars a year. Fly-fishing tourists still visit Montana because of Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It (1992), and filmmaking encourages economic stimulation for many communities through money spent on housing, food, and supplies.