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Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

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Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Donnamarie on Tue Dec 01 2015, 01:54

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Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies
By Michael Buckner/Getty Images.
by

Julie Miller

In 2015, it’s impossible to discount Brad Pitt and George Clooney as merely movie stars—they’re also humanitarians who have used their celebrity heft for good, and Oscar-winning producers who have done their best to combat Hollywood's glut of franchise blockbusters with substantial dramas. And in a new interview, Pitt confesses that the two heavyweights, who have co-starred in their own franchise blockbuster in the past, have clashed when it came to adapting certain properties for the screen.

“[It] can get competitive,” Pitt tells New York magazine, when asked about his competition with fellow actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, and Clooney, who all have their own production shingles. Pitt, whose latest film under his production company, Plan B—Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book The Big Short—continues to say that he and his Ocean’s Eleven co-star particularly have a habit of going after the same books—most recently with Paul Barrett’s Law of the Jungle.

“In all fairness, he outbid me on Argo,” Pitt concedes of Clooney, who edged him out for the Ben Affleck–directed picture that won Clooney’s company, Smokehouse Pictures, a best-picture Oscar. “We do naturally have a lot of the same tastes and interests. With The Big Short, I think maybe we got the upper hand at auction because Michael Lewis and I got tight on Moneyball.”

Even casual film fans could probably tell you that it is getting more and more difficult for filmmakers to make smaller dramatic fare that does not exactly lend itself to merchandise- or sequel-revenue streams. But Pitt, who has managed to make more than two dozen films with Plan B, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Departed, Eat, Pray, Love, 12 Years a Slave, and Selma, explains, “The studios don’t want to make them because it doesn’t fit the business model anymore. It’s complicated material, it’s a gamble. They need some guarantee with marquee.”

And Pitt, knowing his marquee weight, is perfectly happy to lend his on-screen services in an attempt to build up some development momentum.

“So often I jump in and take a part first because I love the project, and I gotta get in to make sure it gets made,” Pitt explains. “Then, when Steve Carell and Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling all jump in [in The Big Short], I think it is a testament to the subject matter, and the story, and to Adam McKay’s script. Michael Lewis was able to find the story, to make it interesting—he has such a knack for taking complicated, even mundane material, and making it understandable and even thrilling. [...] Adam was brilliant, and our team was brilliant at getting the budget down.”

Even Lewis, who has written for Vanity Fair, voiced his skepticism about Hollywood actually coming through on adaptations of his books. “I assumed the movie people, after they had sent me a check, came to their senses and realized how much harder it was to make a movie about mortgage bonds or baseball statistics than to make another Spider-Man,” Lewis wrote in a piece published in December’s magazine. He continues of the industry: “It’s also a place where movies of books happen, but only in response to a specific kind of accident. The accident is when the book collides with one of about 100 people on the planet who either are willing to pay for a movie to be made or have the ability to persuade other people to pay for it.” That person, in this case, proved to be Pitt.

To read Lewis’s full piece, click here, and to read an adaptation from his non-fiction book The Big Short, click here.

The Big Short opens in theaters on December 23.


Last edited by Katiedot on Tue Dec 01 2015, 08:31; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added text)

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by carolhathaway on Tue Dec 01 2015, 06:44

I can absolutely imagine that George and Brad both like the same sort of movies and screenplays / books so they outbid the other one every once in a while. Good scripts and themes are rare so there's always a competition.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Katiedot on Tue Dec 01 2015, 08:33

I think there's probably no shortage of good stories, but there's a huge shortage of companies able to bring those stories to the screen.

Maybe it takes actors to drive good filmaking because, after all, the better the material, the more satisfying it is for an actor to play so people like Pitt, Clooney etc etc have better eyes for the good stuff?

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by carolhathaway on Tue Dec 01 2015, 08:44

Katie,
I guess you're right about that. And actors who also produce like George and Brad can always act in a movie to make money if they need it. I also think that big companies can't really make movies that are not (as George once said in an interview) 'designed to be successful, to open in thousands of theatres'. They have to explain themselves to their investors who want a dividend payout.

So other producers who are willing to take the risk but don't have big investors take on these projects. They don't need to make money, or in George's words: 'If the movie makes money, good. And if it doesn't I've still made the movie I wanted to make.'
And usually actors get a lot of money to star in a movie, but George and Brad can always act in movies they produce without getting a lot of money and they can ask their friends to star in it so it's on a much lower budget.
This financial independence is something very valuable, I think.


Last edited by carolhathaway on Tue Dec 01 2015, 08:48; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added text)

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Donnamarie on Tue Dec 01 2015, 13:00

I often wonder what other movies George's company bid on but lost acquiring the rights to.  I saw a preview of The Big Short and wondered if this was a story that George was interested in.  And I guess it was.  Two new movies this fall -  Truth, a journalistic story about the downfall of Dan Rather (a well known news anchor for decades) was another story that I thought George would have wanted to tell.  Plus Spotlight, which just came out about how The Boston Globe newspaper uncovered the abuse of children in the Catholic Church.  Both of these films could have been satisfying vehicles for him.  
But he may not be interested in pursuing more journalism stories since he has taken on Hack Attack.  But it is a genre that he knows quite well.

Interesting bit of trivia.  The guy who directed Spotlight, Tim McCarthy, has actually worked with George many times.  Good Night and Good Luck, Michael Clayton and Syriania as an actor.  But he ventured into writing screenplays and  has now broken into directing.  He is getting rave reviews for Spotlight.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by fava on Tue Dec 01 2015, 13:54

Donnamarie wrote:I often wonder what other movies George's company bid on but lost acquiring the rights to.  I saw a preview of The Big Short and wondered if this was a story that George was interested in.  And I guess it was.  Two new movies this fall -  Truth, a journalistic story about the downfall of Dan Rather (a well known news anchor for decades) was another story that I thought George would have wanted to tell.  Plus Spotlight, which just came out about how The Boston Globe newspaper uncovered the abuse of children in the Catholic Church.  Both of these films could have been satisfying vehicles for him.  
But he may not be interested in pursuing more journalism stories since he has taken on Hack Attack.  But it is a genre that he knows quite well.

Interesting bit of trivia.  The guy who directed Spotlight, Tim McCarthy, has actually worked with George many times.  Good Night and Good Luck, Michael Clayton and Syriania as an actor.  But he ventured into writing screenplays and  has now broken into directing.  He is getting rave reviews for Spotlight.
I saw Spotlight and it was great.  It is the kind of movie that I have been hoping George would make since GNGL and has not pulled off.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by party animal - not! on Tue Dec 01 2015, 16:27

Somehow this story doesn't surprise me - and I'm sure they stay in touch. Wonder if the next 'heinous' prank could be around something like this.

And I think His Nibs has plenty on his plate. The list of scripts they have taken options on looks humungous..........

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by PigPen on Tue Dec 01 2015, 16:28

Still waiting for The Catcher Was A Spy...great book.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Donnamarie on Tue Dec 01 2015, 17:53

I'm not surprised either that George and Brad have similar tastes in storytelling.   But  I would like to see some pending projects making it to the screen.  Sooner than later.   Looking forward to getting my fix with Hail Caesar and Money Monster.  And honestly after MM, Tomorrowland and Our Brand I think George does have to redeem himself a bit.  I hate to say that.  I really do.  I love George and the past work he has done.  But lately ....

I did not get to see Our Brand Is Crisis.  Maybe it was a good movie that a lot of people just weren't interested in seeing.  But he hasn't had much success since Argo.  I know George is passionate about moviemaking and I want him to really "hit one out of the park".  Either with the critics or the audience.  Both would be ideal.  Maybe Hack Attack will be the one.

PigPen, I'm not familiar with The Catcher Was A Spy.  What's it about?

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Katiedot on Tue Dec 01 2015, 18:19

Donnamarie wrote:  And honestly after MM, Tomorrowland and Our Brand I think George does have to redeem himself a bit.  I hate to say that.  I really do.  I love George and the past work he has done.  But lately ....
I'm with you on that, I really am.

I guess it's not that easy to make a good film otherwise he'd be doiing it more often but nowadays I'm a little worried when I hear he's involved in the production of a film.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by LizzyNY on Tue Dec 01 2015, 19:45

Katie, I agree with you and Donnamarie that he needs a big hit, but to be fair the kind of movies he's been making aren't likely to break box office records. They aren't geared to that broad an audience.

MM did  respectable box office and really wasn't a bad film - just not as good as it could have been. Our Brand opened at a time when apparently nobody over 12 years of age was going to the movies. Everything bombed that week.

The only film that had tentpole potential was Tomorrowland, and that was screwed up by the writers. George was only an actor in it and worked his ass off promoting it. It was in no way his fault that it wasn't a runaway hit although everyone seems to be laying its failure at his doorstep (which is weird, since they all praised his performance when the film came out).

I think Hail Caesar will be the one to bring him back on course.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Donnamarie on Tue Dec 01 2015, 21:50

I'm sure you are right Lizzy.  Caesar will be his turnaround role.  He's a natural in all the Coen movies.

I agree.  George doesn't care to do tentpole movies.  I don't even like those types of movies anyway.  But he needs either the audience or the critics to get behind his next film.  In checking past box office and overall critical reviews of his films George has never done big box office.  Reviews have generally been a 6/7 out of 10.  Oceans and The Perfect Storm exceptions.

Yea, he got a bad rap for Tomorrowland.  But he is who everyone remembers from that movie ... not so much Brad Bird.  

I have been thinking a lot this fall about George's film choices .... past and future projects.  There have been some real quality films that have been released recently.  i want George to be in that mix.  Fava said it earlier.  He needs to pull another GNGL .... strong script/story, powerful performances.  It could be Hack Attack.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Katiedot on Sat Dec 05 2015, 14:17

LizzyNY wrote:Katie, I agree with you and Donnamarie that he needs a big hit, but to be fair the kind of movies he's been making aren't likely to break box office records. They aren't geared to that broad an audience.
Totally agree with that. I think he's not really interested in the huge blockbuster films (although I'm sure he wouldn't say no to being in one if it worked out that way - see Tomorrowland (and I still can't figure out why he did that as it was so out of character for him). But what he does need (and I think this is what he's after) is the critically acclaimed films and these seem to be few and far between for him nowadays.

LizzyNY wrote:The only film that had tentpole potential was Tomorrowland, and that was screwed up by the writers. George was only an actor in it and worked his ass off promoting it. It was in no way his fault that it wasn't a runaway hit although everyone seems to be laying its failure at his doorstep (which is weird, since they all praised his performance when the film came out)
I guess it ends up as his failure as his was the big name on the film.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by LizzyNY on Sat Dec 05 2015, 15:27

Katiedot wrote:
I guess it ends up as his failure as his was the big name on the film.  
I know you're right (and I don't know why my computer insists on using italics - not my choice!) but I think it stinks! People forget that making a film is a collaborative effort with dozens of people-sometimes hundreds of people - adding their input and opinions. Writers, directors, producers, actors, technical people, editors, - I could go on all day, and these people all have an effect on the final product. Sometimes I think they'd blame George for the success or failure of a film if he was just an audience member and had nothing else to do with the film!

(This is weird! When I was typing my post I couldn't get rid of the italics, but when my message was posted the italics were gone. Twilight Zone?)


Last edited by LizzyNY on Sat Dec 05 2015, 15:30; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Perplexed)

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by carolhathaway on Sat Dec 05 2015, 17:36

Maybe that's - when a movie with George is successful likd "The Descendants" he's praised for it and then it's always him who talks about the director, writers, other actors, cinematographer etc. People tend to break down a movie to just the leading actor whether it's successful or not. I saw quite a few interviews with the cast of "The Descendants" and most of the questions went to George, no matter if it was journalists or just audience who asked him. He then often talked about the others or passed the question to the others. And if the others were asked anything it was often how it was to work with George, if he pranked them etc. 
Quite disencouraging sometimes, I guess...

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by LizzyNY on Sat Dec 05 2015, 18:08

Carolhathaway - At least he was actually in the Descendants. I've seen reviews where he was criticized for the fate of Our Brand Is Crisis. Granted he was a producer of the movie, but what about the director or the writer or the editor? Shouldn't they be held accountable, too? When George does those things they hold him responsible for the film's success or failure.

It just ticks me off (obviously!) that if George has any attachment at all to a project he's the one everyone blames if it's a flop. They're not so quick to give him credit if it's a hit. Then suddenly they discover the brilliant writers and the awesome director. Phooey!!! (Rant over. Embarassed )

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Katiedot on Sat Dec 05 2015, 19:22

Hahahaha! That's an excellent rant!

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Missa on Sat Dec 05 2015, 22:19

George does tend to get a lot of the blame when he's produced a film that doesn't do well, but in fairness, if it does do well the checks and the trophies have his name on them too.  Gotta take the bad with the good.  Brad has a pretty solid track record as a producer, both interns of success and quality, while George's is a little spottier, especially when you take out films like Michael Clayton in which he only came on as a producer after he'd been approached to star instead of the other way around.  Hail Caesar seems like a return to form, at least so far, but I'm nervous about Hack Attack.  That subject matter could tickle his self-righteous, son-of-a-newsman side a little too much and result in a lecture rather than an entertaining film.

I saw Spotlight too, and throughout imagined George would have been terrific in Michael Keaton's role (although Keaton is wonderful). Hopefully Money Monster will be as good as it seems on paper and he'll get his groove back.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by LizzyNY on Sat Dec 05 2015, 23:17

Missa - It's not about the checks and the trophies. It's about the criticism he gets for stuff that isn't his fault but faint praise when he does something well. (Not counting award nominations - those come from within the industry - I'm talking about the "critics".)

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by party animal - not! on Sun Dec 06 2015, 00:07

Well, I think 'Hack Attack' is a huge responsibility. 

Such recent events and with everybody in the British Establishment from the Royal family down part of the story.


Many legal implications. All leading characters still living and some with massive empires of their own, including Rupert Murdoch.

I don't expect to see it for some time............

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by LizzyNY on Sun Dec 06 2015, 02:07

PAN - I totally agree. This might be the most difficult project he's tackled so far. He really needs to get it right, and the legal problems won't make it any easier. I think it's going to be a while before they're ready to go into production.

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Re: Brad Pitt and George Clooney Are Fighting to Bring You Smart Movies 11/30/2015

Post by Donnamarie on Sun Dec 06 2015, 02:15

George has had less success as a producer/director than say Brad Pitt.  Michael Clayton and Argo are standouts for producing.  GNGL and Confessions are standout directing projects.  I don't think George impressed the critics too much with Confessions although in hindsight I think he should have.  Even Harvey Weinstein was sorry he didn't go out on a limb in promoting this movie - he thought it was that good.

I still don't think George should have directed Monuments Men.  I just don't see it as his kind of movie.  
Seemed out of character for him to undertake this story. He's much better at telling cynical and darker material.
Though it was a bit too silly and over the top I thought Leatherheads was a better film and more fitting of  George's talents than MM.  But I understand why he did it.     

As an actor the critics have been pretty fair in their reviews. George was especially in top form in Michael Clayton, Up In The Air, The Descendants and Syriana.  The reviews for O Brother were mixed but I personally thought he was terrific in that one. 

Yea, George has to take the bad with the good.  Some of it he brings on himself.  Picking the right material to act, produce or direct takes a natural aptitude that I think George is still honing.

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