An Open Letter to Donald Trump
***Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones Spoilers ahead ***
Today ScreenBeats™ addresses Donald Trump’s question from his instagram video that was picked up and written about in several newspapers and blogs this week:
ScreenBeats™ has sent an open letter to Trump that is included for your review here. ScreenBeats™ will update this article if it receives a reply from Trump’s office:
It’s ironic that the Donald blasts them for wanting to do an all-female cast of Ghostbusters when he owns and makes money off of exploiting bikini-clad young women with his telecast of his 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant that was ‘broad’-cast this past week. Maybe he can only see women as display pieces on a catwalk? He complains about the new casting of Indiana Jones but he doesn’t know that Indy was an amalgam of the 1940’s action serial heros that were the inspiration for Lucas and Spielberg back in the day. Renditions of previous told-tales are done all the time and throughout the history of artistic mediums. Back in Shakespeare’s day it was common to see repeated exhibitions of famous historical and mythic stories retold. There have been hundreds of different versions of “Macbeth” and “Hamlet” over the eons. Films are no different. They are not only works of art and representation of the cultural myths that represent the current ideas in society they are first and foremost properties of value with an industry focused on money. Sequels actually have a long history of use in the American cinema.
The Fall of a Nation is considered according to “The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History” as the first feature-length movie sequel. The silent film made in 1916 was directed and co-written by Thomas Dixon, Jr., and was made as a sequel to director D.W. Griffith’s controversial The Birth of a Nation released in 1915. Dixon made the sequel to capitalize on the success of first film. It is a lost film today with no prints discovered as of yet. Both films are controversial for their glorification of the Ku Klux Klan and promotion of many ugly stereotypes.
The 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon, John Huston’s directorial debut, one of the greatest films in the noir genre and is a perfect example to refute Trump. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre it was based on the Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name. It was actually the third film adaptation of the novel. Previous versions were the pre-code 1931 adaptation directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Ricardo Cortez. Then the there was the 1936 version, Satan Met a Lady, which was a light-comedy starring Bette Davis and Warren William.
Huston wrote the script and his drive for remaking this material was expressed by Huston in an interview:
“There was something in the Falcon that attracted me, that hadn’t been done in the [two previous] versions…It was a matter of sticking to the ideas of the book, of making a film out of a book … I tried to transpose Dashiell Hammett’s highly individual prose style into camera terms — i.e., sharp photography, geographically exact camera movements, striking, if not shocking, setups.”
Huston said that the trouble with the previous screenwriters and versions was that they had kept trying to “lick the book,” and not to “film it.” The material’s appeal to him was the existential essence with the hero’s troubled predicament. The line “the stuff that dreams are made of” was Huston’s own invention. The Maltese Falcon was a critical and financial success. Variety called it “one of the best examples of actionful and suspenseful melodramatic story telling in cinematic form. Warner Brothers immediately made plans to produce a sequel entitled The Further Adventures of the Maltese Falcon, but due to Huston’s popularity and demand and unavailability of the major cast members the sequel was never made.
Another perfect example of where the previous version of a story was better than it’s parent was John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror, The Thing. Also originally based upon a literary source, John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?”, which was loosely adapted by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby in the 1951 film The Thing from Another World. Although not a huge hit when it first came out it is now considered a cult film classic that spawned a prequel in 2011. It has an 80% “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the site stating of it: “Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter’s The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.”
The 1986 version of the remake to 1958’s The Fly starred Jeff Goldbloom and was directed and written by David Cronenberg and screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue. Pogue’s idea was to add onto the original by showing a more extensive process of transformation that the protagonist goes through into becoming a fly. This version also explored more of the love story in the original and was a popular hit with audiences and critics. Many thought that there was an analogy going on in the film’s horror story to that of the aids epidemic. It originally cost $9 million to make and grossed over $60 million. A sequel was made of it and now there are still ongoing discussions to reboot this film’s story yet again.
Fatal Attraction is a 1987 American psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne and starred Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. Made for $14 million it took in over $320 million. This film was a major hit for that year being the highest grosser globally. It received six Academy Award nominations. It was actually based upon the British television movie Diversion, and the piece’s original writer and director James Dearden wrote the screenplay.
The Departed starring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin, released in 2006, was a remake of Infernal Affairs(2002) by Alan Mak and Andrew Lau, base on one of the most successful films in Hong Kong. The Departed won four Oscars including Best Picture of the Year and Best Director. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92%-95%. Roger Ebert had this to say about it: “What makes this a Scorsese film, and not merely a retread, is the director’s use of actors, locations and energy, and its buried theme.”
Finally, even Alfred Hitchcock was not above borrowing from material and he even did remakes of his films, such as with his remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Both an adaptation of the detective story by G. K. Chesterton. The later was made as a simple compliance to fulfill his contract with Paramount. But the film is by far superior to it’s former according to François Truffaut and Hitchcock replied to him: “Let’s say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.” The film was a commercial success, with a budget of $1.2 million, it grossed $11 million.
For screenwriters wanting to gain some inroads to the industry it might do well to look at previous film properties and attempt to breathe new life into them with a newer version that does a different take or spin on the old material. Submitting specs to studios that own their own properties that are based upon the spec reboot would be the natural step through an agent. Remakes are nothing new but not all remakes are successful. The key to successful ones are stories that have not only added on to the previous version but have taken the concept and added to it a deeper meaning or significance for current audiences. An all-female cast of Ghostbusters taps into this modern audience social change for women in business and also with the changing attitudes of gender roles between men and women. Now on to the Ghostbusters 3 upcoming film, here is what we know.
This project was confirmed from the Sony cyber hack last year. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directs and he has said that it is a “reboot” of sorts however there will be characters from the original series retained in this new series. The authors of the film are: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig (Screenplay) Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis (Characters). Based upon the script it appears that it will be an R-rating.
Ernie Hudson, Dan Ackroyd and Sigourney Weaver are rumored to have cameos in the film.
Dan Aykroyd on the approach to the new Ghostbusters franchise:
“The whole vehicle of ‘Ghostbusters’ has to be rebuilt. That’s the ambitious thinking that’s going on now. Taking on the model of Marvel where we take all of the elements that are in this movie and we put them out there as different ideas.”
Now more than 30 years since the first film and a 1989 sequel two animated TV series, video games, comic books and a novel, the Ghostbusters reboot has had a long troubled development process.
Original director Ivan Reitman was on board for the return along with Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson agreeing to reprise their characters, but Bill Murray was a hold-out. The first draft of the previous script to the Ghostbuster 3 film was written by Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky (Bad Teacher). That script’s plot centered around the remaining founders of the paranormal investigation service and specifically Dan Ackroyd’s character, Ray, recruiting a new ghost-busting team made up of fresh Columbia University physics students.
After Harold Ramis passed away last year from a rare autoimmune disease, Reitman bowed out of the project. Following his departure, Feig was brought on to direct and reimagined the series as a reboot starring an all-female cast.
Kristen Wiig will play Erin Garber, a published author on the subject of the paranormal. Erin works for Columbia University.
Leslie Jones will play Abby Bergman, co-authored of the paranormal book with Garber. After having a falling out, the two former colleagues go their separate ways.
Bergman chases ghosts in a pseudo-reality television program like Ghost Hunters. The central through-story and tension to the film is this dichotomy between the academic investigation (as posited with Wiig’s character) and the mainstream media entertainment of specters (as posited by Jones’ character).
Kate McKinnon will play Jillian, Abby Berman’s new partner.
Melissa McCarthy will play an NYC subway worker, Patty, who stumbles across the main, supernatural threat in the plot.
Producers are trying to lock down Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) for the primary antagonist, a “creepy mechanical genius” who allegedly dies and returns as a ghost to haunt the protagonists.
The other antagonist against the new Ghostbusters is a professional debunker named Martin Heiss, who’s job is to prove that ghosts are fake after the new Ghostbusters post videos of their spooky escapades online. Sony wants Bill Murray for this role. He will be the synthesis of the William Atherton role from the original series. Murray has been ambivalent about the series for some time. Even in the last film he refused to get slimed. However this get might work since he was the one to recommend several of the female cast for this rendition.
Alleged, there is one final treat in the story with the character that is a carry over from the original series and previous script. Sigourney Weaver let slip during a press junket that her character’s son will feature prominently in the third film. The baby was Oscar Barrett and now is grownup and also ghost busting. The new story will reveal that Peter Vankman was Oscar’s father.
A final casting addition would add a poignant coda for one Ghostbuster team lead: Rick Moranis’ reprising his role as Louis Tully. Moranis retired from the film business in 1991 after his wife Anne died to liver cancer.
” [I] pulled out of making movies in about ’96 or ’97. I’m a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the traveling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it.”
Ghostbusters 3 will be haunting theaters July 22, 2016.
Now for the Indiana Jones sequel #5 News:
Disney has cast Chris Pratt as the new version of the fedora-wearing archeologist. Hot off of his staring in the Guardians of the Galaxy that grossed nearly $775 million dollars. Pratt is currently working on Jurassic World and then starts the Magnificent Seven remake that shoots in a couple of months. He then is on the next Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The 2017 sequel will set the stage for the “Avengers: Infinity Wars” crossover films.
Chris Pratt is a great choice for Indy. He’s got a charming, rugged and wacky sense about him. He’s a certified action star that is bankable and popular with audiences like how Harrison Ford was back in the 80’s. He also imbues the dry, wry sense of attitude that Ford has. Pratt walks the part as he loves to fish and hunt. He also is into collecting old relics of sorts: together his wife, Anna Faris, and him have a dead bug collection.
The fourth iteration of the franchise cost $185 million to produce and according to Box Office Mojo, it made $786 Million worldwide. Reportedly Ford, Lucas and Steven Spielberg made out like bandits on it. According to Forbes, Ford struck a deal with the studio and split the film’s profits between him and Lucas & Spielberg with an estimated $65 million each.
Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), the visual effects company that Lucas founded, has setup a London-based office and below-the-line crew for the new Star Wars sequels and spin-offs have been contracted to work on at least 7 new films for Disney: Episodes VII – IX, three Star Wars’ spinoff films and the next Indiana Jones 5.
After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars Paramount to release the next installment of the Indiana Jones films setting the stage for at least a couple of films.
Steven Spielberg is back as director. Philip Kaufman and George Lucas are writing the script. Frank Marshall will be back as producer with Composer John Williams and Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and Spielberg-editor Michael Kahn rounds out the usual suspects.
Story notes on the new project are scarce but Lucas has confirmed that he has an idea being worked out with Spielberg and Harrison Ford. Ford will reprise the older version of Indy. This new story, alleged, will be told in a flashback akin to how Ford’s appearance in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was done.
Lucas in an interview:
“I told [Spielberg] about the story, but I really haven’t found the MacGuffin yet. I mean, I know what it’s about, but I just have to find a MacGuffin that fits into the arena we’re working in.”
One of the last reported ideas for the next film was a tale revolving around the Bermuda Triangle. The new Indiana Jones will probably lens around 2018.
Want more in-depth articles from ScreenBeats? Check out our Weekly Beat section of the forums. (Subscription required.)