Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. And when you're starting out, you’re cheaper and easier to control, right? The fiscally responsible trends continue in Hollywood: hiring cheap, inexpensive filmmakers to helm tentpole-like pictures. And/or you can look at it in the glass half-full way: studios taking a chance on young, up-and-coming talent. Oh, don’t be so naïve. Kidding… sort of.
Let’s start with the fairy tale films that are still all the rage thanks to the $1 billion grossing “Alice In Wonderland” that made every agent in town dream of a “ca-ching!”-like opportunity. After flirting with directors like Tim Burton and David O. Russell, Disney has settled upon a much less name-brand director for Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent,” a modernized retelling of “Sleeping Beauty.”
Instead of those A-list directors, they’ve chosen Robert Stromberg, the production designer on “Alice In Wonderland,” “Avatar” and Disney’s upcoming “Oz: The Great and Powerful.” Also a visual effects designer and supervisor (“Shutter Island,” “The Golden Compass,” “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”), “Maleficent” will be his directorial debut, something that Jolie should be pretty understanding/compassionate about considering going through her recent first effort, “In the Land of Blood & Honey.”
Let’s note another side trend: A-list Hollywood actresses taking villainess fairy tale roles as they begin to age (Charlize Theron is playing the evil Queen in “Snow White & The Huntsman”).
Meanwhile, Disney has also found a helmer for “Matterhorn,” an adaptation of one of their theme-park rides. That director is Brian Beletic, a hotshot commercial filmmaker (see some of his work here), but the project is currently known as the "Untitled Explorers Project."
The film is about a small group of young, super adventure/explorers, each with a specific skill set, brought to the remote backcountry of the Pennine Alps under various guises for a trek across one of the planet’s remaining untouched realms.
So, easy to control and inexpensive, or are studios actually taking a creative risk on new comers?. Cynical jokes aside, let’s at least give Disney the benefit of the doubt as they let first-time feature-length filmmaker Joseph Kosinski helm the ultra-expensive “Tron: Legacy.” It cost in the ballpark of $200 million but eventually grossed $400 million worldwide, so it’s hard to give Disney too much heat for hiring people that aren’t named Burton, Russell or otherwise. [Deadline/Deadline]