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Producer Jon Kilik Rebuts Recent Comments By Soderbergh, Spielberg And Lucas In IFP Market Keynote

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 8:18am PDT
Mike Fleming

Jon Kilik, who has been producing films big and small from New York for as long as I can remember, gave Sunday’s keynote address to open the IFP Market. He makes some compelling points about the viability of film, countering warning cries from the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. I’ve trimmed it a bit, but here’s the speech by Kilik, who produced the Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher which bows December 20, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which opens November 22, and the Spike Lee-directed Mike Tyson one-man show The Undisputed Truth, which airs on HBO next month.

“I live near the Film Forum and last Saturday I went to see Jean Luc Godard’s “Contempt”, on it’s 50th anniversary. In the film, Fritz Lang plays the director of a commercial treatment of “The Odyssey”. His line near the end of the film sums up the separate but related realities of both love and filmmaking. He speaks his final 3 words, “ONE MUST SUFFER.”

A couple of weeks ago I was on a flight from Los Angeles to New York reading recent speeches and statements by some of our greatest American Filmmakers. This time, unfortunately, their words sent out more panic than inspiration. Steven Soderbergh, in his “State of Cinema” address at the San Francisco Film Festival claimed that “Cinema is under assault by the Studios, with the full support of the audience. The reasons for this are more economic than philosophical but when you add an ample amount of fear and a lack of vision and a lack of leadership you’ve got a trajectory that’s pretty difficult to reverse.”

In a recent talk at USC, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted that the film industry is on track to have a “massive implosion” because there just isn’t enough time in the day for people to support all the films released in theaters. Lucas complained that it’s getting so bad it is even hard for him to get a film in a theater and that this should make producers of films very nervous.

According to these great titans, CINEMA is in danger of disappearing from the theaters and MOVIES are to be relegated to a lurid sensational experience akin to a theme park ride or Las Vegas Dinner Theater.

Many people have predicted the end of the film business. Or at least a cataclysmic shake up that destroys all modestly budgeted films of quality leaving us with only 4D motion control Blockbusters. These End-of-Days predictions have come before in our industry. The advent of Color was supposed to eventually doom Black and White – in which case we would have never had “Dr. Strangelove”, “Manhattan”, “Raging Bull”, or “Schindler’s List”. Or “She’s Gotta Have It”, “Stranger Than Paradise”, or “Pi” – giving birth to Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Darren Aronofsky. Television was supposed to doom the theatrical experience – why would anyone want to go out to a movie when they can get it at home. Cable TV and DVD’s were supposed to do the same thing. Video on Demand and companies like Netflix were supposed to do it again.

It hasn’t happened – what has happened is that we now have more ways to make movies and more ways to get people to see them than ever before.

So my advice to us, all of us, from film students to Spielberg, Lucas and Soderbergh, all of us who make human movies that we care about, my advice is to ignore the prophecies, DON’T RETIRE, and keep on making films and showing films by any means available. Build and they will come.

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Lionsgate Courts Simon Beaufoy To Script ‘The Hunger Games’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is getting serious about the second installment of The Hunger Games. The mini-major is courting Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy to write Catching Fire, the second installment of the three book series that tracks the life and death adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). I’m told that Gary Ross, who directed The Hunger Games, is coming back for the sequel. He originally intended to write the outline for the second film and script it with author Suzanne Collins (they teamed to do a lot of writing on the first film), but the post production schedule on The Hunger Games has made that difficult. The film opens March 23. There is no start date on the sequel, but it is high priority.  Ross and producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik then focused on Beaufoy. Negotiations haven’t begun yet, but Lionsgate is pushing hard for Beaufoy. Aside from Slumdog Millionaire, Beaufoy also scripted 127 Hours, The Full Monty and most recently adapted Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. There is extra heat on the series after Lionsgate released the well received first trailer. Here is that trailer again:

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Jewish Group Protests UN Screening Of ‘Miral’ As Julian Schnabel, Harvey Weinstein Say Film Not Anti-Israel

Mike Fleming

Miral director Julian Schnabel was able to get an R rating changed to PG-13 after he and producer Jon Kilik recut it to downplay the implication of a molestation. Now, Miral faces a new obstacle as Schnabel prepares to show the film Monday at United Nations headquarters. The American Jewish Committee on Sunday urged the president of the United Nations General Assembly to reconsider his decision to sponsor a screening of the film for diplomats before Miral is put in limited theatrical release starting March 25.

The AJC letter prompted a quick response by Schnabel, the film’s distributor Harvey Weinstein, Kilik and Rula Jebreal. Latter wrote the script based on a novel she wrote, based on her experiences as an orphaned Palestinian girl who grows up in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict. The film stars Frieda Pinto, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave.

In a letter sent to UN General Assembly president Joseph Deiss, AJC executive director David Harris called the film “a blatantly one-sided event…the film has a clear political message, which portrays Israel in a highly negative light.” The entire letter appears at the bottom of this post. Read More »

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Will MPAA Reconsider ‘Miral’ R Rating?

By | Friday February 25, 2011 @ 3:36pm PST
Mike Fleming

After The Weinstein Company got the MPAA to okay a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech, will director Julian Schnabel and producer Jon Kilik be able to get the ratings board to change its mind over the R rating just given Miral, which The Weinstein Co releases March 25?

Schnabel, who persuaded the ratings board to reconsider an R rating on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, faces the same challenge on Miral. Schnabel directed the coming of age film based on the book by Rula Jebreal that tells her story of an orphaned Palestinian girl who grows up in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli war who finds herself drawn into the conflict. Schnabel and Kilik will argue the appeal, saying they feel the film is unduly restrictive and significantly limits the film’s ability to open a dialogue with young people about Israeli/Palestinian relations, the importance for peace in the region, and choosing education over violence.

“We made this film for all audiences to see,” Schnabel said. “I wanted this to be a PG-13 rating from the beginning. The movie is for, about, and dedicated to all of the children from the Dar El-Tifel Institute. It is made for the very people that an ‘R’ rating keeps from seeing it. The film is a cry for peace, and the kids who choose education over violence are the ones who are going … Read More »

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