Originality is not dead in Hollywood. Uncovering it just requires that the industry take a chance on creative voices with something to say. Take Jordan Peele for example. The writer-director's psychological/satirical horror film 'Get Out' is the highest-grossing original debut EVER. 1999's 'The Blair Witch Project' held the top spot for nearly 20 years, until the success of Peele's first film. And the success is, quite simply, extraordinary. It continues to do things that are generally unheard of for low-budget, early-year releases without big stars. Dollars on dollars. Records on records.
This isn't going to be a column on how directors are lured into making boilerplate franchise films like Marvel's. I mean, Tony Stark only built his first set of Iron Man armor out of boilerplate. Since then it's all been high-tech, bleeding-edge alloys. and a limitless energy source, contained within a metal sphere the size of a softball, out of goat dung and spent 7.62mm rounds. In a cave...with a box of scraps. Maybe these days the only way they can actually get funding for their own films, is to direct a franchise film. Not just these days. Orson Welles more or less functioned the same way making films for studios while simultaneously filming something else for himself with the profits (and locations). Plus, it doesn't hurt to work on a big project with lots of moving parts like a Marvel movie and learn how they function. I'm sure it helps develop skills that directors can use in later work. Experience can only be gained, not lost. It also helps because it allows filmmakers to get an early glimpse of major studio involvement and how they can work with that.
It's fortunate he did this with Blumhouse. A) They're all about genre, especially horror. B) They aren't adverse to getting behind an arthouse movie. C) He just made them a boatload of cash so they should be open to his ideas. D) They have a boatload of cash. Also, Those guys don't give a f*ck. If you got spaghetti, they got a wall.
I like it when talented people are successful. I think Jordan Peele should do whatever he wants to do. He seems happy to compromise on budget, which puts him in the same company as the Coen's, Tarantino, the Anderson's (PT and Wes), etc. Seems like the sky is still the limit, creatively. Can't we just hope he turns out more original stuff? I'd rather have whatever he comes up with on a bad day (and, yes, I saw 'Keanu') than just have him plugged into the “Hollywood” machine. I would rather see Peele, and any talented genre director, for that matter, continue to march to the beat of his own drum before becoming yet another once-promising cog in the tentpole machine. He’s doing good work. To see his voice and directorial chops disappear into a remake as pointless as a live-action 'Akira', a film whose strengths lie in its animation and which truly doesn’t need to be updated or anglicized (as if any work ever does), would be an enormous disappointment. He delivered a fresh original horror movie with no stars and made it a hit. Let's have him do more of that before more of the same. For me, he most likely joins the ranks of Scorsese, Fincher, Tarantino, and P.T. Anderson – (assuming 'Get Out' wasn't a fluke) directors who consistently deliver original and captivating work and whose next films I'm always anxiously awaiting. With this, 'Moonlight', and Ava DuVernay's successes, it's possible that we'll get to see even more differing voices in films. Hope so, anyway.
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