Good Morning Hollywood, June 16: ‘Dumb & Shallow’

Originality might be coming back in style, but piracy stays hot

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, originality might be coming back in style, but piracy stays hot.

With a string of franchise films that were supposed to be safe bets underperforming, Claude Brodesser-Akner finds a couple of sources to tell him he’s spotted a Hollywood trend: studios are now desperately looking for original material. Yeah, but will that change now that “Karate Kid” (a remake, below) is a huge, surprise hit and “Toy Story 3” (a sequel) another likely blockbuster? Stay tuned … (Vulture)

The Vulture piece puts Jeff Wells in mind of a conversation he had years ago with “a director-writer” who told him that the experience, seasoning and smarts of studio executives “had plummeted sharply.” So he went back to the guy, who remembered saying in 2000 that Hollywood execs were “getting dumber and shallower by the minute” and points out that more than five million more minutes have gone by since then. Wells, of course, eats up this line of thought. (Hollywood Elsewhere)

Jaden Smith of “Unthinkable,” which ranks high on the Internet Movie Database’s interest-gauging “Movie Meter” on the basis not of a legitimate release, but a pirated copy that has been a favorite on downloading sites for the past month. Producer Cotty Chubb tells Goldstein that he’s torn: he loves the fact that people are debating the issues raised by his film, in which Samuel Jackson plays a Jack Bauer-style interrogator brutally questioning a Muslim terrorist played by Michael Sheen – “But on the other hand, while everyone is debating all these important moral questions, I want to ask them another important question — hey, guys, what about the morality of watching this movie on the Internet for free?" Of course, that’s the kind of moral question that rarely gets debated among the folks whose behavior has made it a hot topic to begin with. (The Big Picture)

“These days,” writes Kyle Buchanan, “it seems like everyone wants to direct ‘The Hobbit’ except for Peter Jackson.” With names like Bret Ratner (“Rush Hour”) and David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) being bandied about, Buchanan thinks he spots a crafty corporate strategy on the part of Warner Bros. and what’s left of MGM: publicly entertain the idea of “completely inappropriate” directors in the hopes that Jackson will realize that he has to do it himself. To that end, he posits five nightmare scenarios: versions of “The Hobbit” directed by Walt Becker (“Old Dogs”), Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”), Stephen Sommers (“G.I. Joe”), Uwe Boll (too many pieces of dreck to mention) and McG (“Charlie’s Angels”). You know, I don’t think that Jackson will believe that any of those guys are really in the running. (Movieline)

The biggest movie production in the history of China, says Edward Wong, is a $100 million action film called “Empire of the Deep,” a “mash-up of ‘Avatar,’ ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ all thrown together in a Chinese hot pot” and currently shooting outside Bejing. The idea, he says, is to establish China as a “global moviemaking powerhouse,” though “Empire” seems to be taking a odd route there: the producer has never made a film before (but he’s watched 4,000 movies!), the project is now on its fourth director, the biggest name in the international cast is former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, and the Chinese government has already insisted on creative changes. Oh, and cast and crew members have been complaining that they haven’t been paid. (The New York Times)