Media Moment (05/22/20)

Netflix appears to have gone all-in on beloved children’s author Roald Dahl. Taika Waititi is set to write, direct, and produce two animated series. The first is based on Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, while the second is focused entirely on the Oompa Loompas. I am hoping that the second show isn’t done in the style of Minions, which I could see a short-sighted executive going for but not Waititi. My hope is that New Zealand filmmaker opts to make the workers in Wonka’s factory a version of his own Maori culture, reinforcing the indigenous aspects of the characters but bringing more depth to them. The other project in the works is a live-action adaptation of the Matilda stage musical, which has been running on Broadway since 2013. Ralph Fiennes has been cast as Trunchbull, the brutal headmistress of Matilda’s school. The show’s original London director Matthew Warchus and the playwright Dennis Kelly are both on board.

This isn’t the only news on Waititi’s plate as he was also recently announced to be in pre-development on a new Star Wars feature film. Marvel’s Keven Feige is producing an upcoming Star Wars project, and while it hasn’t been confirmed if this is the one I would definitely put money on it. Waititi will direct and co-write with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. There’s no news on the plot or what era of Star Wars the film will take place in. My hope is that we retain the essential flavor of Star Wars but with much-needed tone changes. A funny Star Wars film is needed, but I worry there will be pushback after seeing what happened to Lord & Miller on the Han Solo picture. I think the style of Thor: Ragnarok could be interestingly overlaid on the Star Wars universe.

Waititi is only one of two fantastic directors getting a deal with Netflix. The second is Edgar Wright, whose production company Complete Fiction will develop three original series for the online streaming service. The first show being produced is Lockwood & Company, a supernatural detective series based novels by Jonathan Stroud. The showrunner will be Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). Complete Fiction is finishing up on Wright’s time-traveling horror picture Last Night in Soho, which is scheduled for theatrical release in the late summer/early fall. If the COVID-19 closures persist, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it debut on Netflix as a result of this partnership.

David Robert Mitchell (It Follows, Under the Silver Lake) announced pre-production on a film title “Heroes & Villians.” It is reportedly a take on the world of comic book superheroes. Mitchell is very skilled at blending genres and upending expectations, so I am incredibly intrigued by what he’s going to do here. Under the Silver Lake is an imperfect but fascinating movie that has high ambitions. I can’t wait to see this one.

Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) is re-teaming with his co-writer from The Favourite Ton McNamara for an adaptation of The Hawkline Monster. The Hawkline Monster is a post-modern Gothic Western written by the late Richard Brautigan that is unlike any horror book you’ve likely read. Points of view and the flow of time are played around, resulting in a chilling and profound text. I think Lanthimos is ideally suited to deliver something fantastic here.

HBOMax announced its list of films from The Warner Classics library, Warner Modern film, Criterion, and assorted third-party pictures. I think this might be a Netflix killer. Some titles include The Wizard of Oz, Blade Runner, the entire Batman film franchise, both live-action and animated, The Lord of the Rings series, the Alien series, and so many more movies. The Criterion library alone is staggering. Check out the full list here.

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