The first movie of the year to fall apart is John Hillcoat’s The Promised Land, and the outlook on the future of Hollywood is not very bright. This is a shame for the fact that it had a great cast, a great director, and a very interesting story.
The film was to be based on the novel The Wettest Country In The World, by Matt Bondurant. The novel isbased on the true story of Matt Bondurant's grandfather and two granduncles, and here is a description of this incredible tale.
The Wettest County in the World is a gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder. The Bondurant Boys were a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who ran liquor through Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and in the years after. Forrest, the eldest brother, is fierce, mythically indestructible, and the consummate businessman; Howard, the middle brother, is an ox of a man besieged by the horrors he witnessed in the Great War; and Jack, the youngest, has a taste for luxury and a dream to get out of Franklin. Driven and haunted, these men forge a business, fall in love, and struggle to stay afloat as they watch their family die, their father's business fail, and the world they know crumble beneath the Depression and drought.
White mule, white lightning, firewater, popskull, wild cat, stump whiskey, or rotgut -- whatever you called it, Franklin County was awash in moonshine in the 1920s. When Sherwood Anderson, the journalist and author of Winesburg, Ohio, was covering a story there, he christened it the "wettest county in the world." In the twilight of his career, Anderson finds himself driving along dusty red roads trying to find the Bondurant brothers, piece together the clues linking them to "The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy," and break open the silence that shrouds Franklin County.
This story sounds like it could have been an incredible film worthy of awards! I am so disappointed that the film has fallen through. Shia Labeouf, Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Dano, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon were all ready and willing to attach themselves to star in the movie and now it's over before it even began. Hillcoat explains where it all went wrong.
The joke on set and in the edit suite was that we had to get ["The Road"] out before it became a reality. Ironically, the movie industry itself now faces its own apocalypse. The perfect storm has arrived in Hollywood: a global economic downturn combined with piracy and the increase of downloading on the internet – what happened to the record companies years ago but with much higher stakes. The reactionary first phase has kicked in – few films in development, many films put on hold or shut down.
My own new project – with a much-loved script by Nick Cave and a dream all-star cast – has fallen apart. The finance company that we began The Road with has also fallen apart, having to radically downsize to one remaining staff member. The great divide has begun, with only very low-budget films being made or huge 3-D franchise films – the birth of brand films such as Barbie, Monopoly: The Movie – who knows what’s next, Coca-Cola: The Movie?
I end the year appropriately – gazing into the apocalypse of my own industry.
That’s quite a bleak outlook on things, but he’s right. Studios and Financiers are afraid to take chances anymore on films like this. They are looking for the big, shiny films with brand names, and big built in audiences. I hope that Hillcoat will keep pushing the movie and try and find a new financier to help bring this great story to life.
This situation is drawing comparisons to Hillcoats last film The Road which utterly failed at the box-office. The movie was amazing! But the Weinstein Company did an incredibly poor job getting the movie out there and marketing it. They allowed it to fail. If you fail to play you plan to fail, and the Weinstein’s are horrible when it comes to planning the marketing strategy for their films.
Is this a sign of things to come from the entertainment industry? This makes me sad.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on the current state of the entertainment industry. Where is it taking us?