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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Worst News of New Movie Century? Brett Ratner for "Wicked"

I wish I could tell you that Brett Ratner's recent grab for the director's chair on Wicked (yes, the Wicked) was a perfect gotcha Halloween scare joke but it's actually true according to the New York Times. Ratner calls it his dream project.

Begone Brett Rattner, you have no power here!

But this quote actually upset me more.

I’ve always challenged myself, and whether I failed or not, I didn’t fail in my mind. I went through the experience, and it prepared me for the next time I’m going to do it.”

What many egotists fail to grasp when they attempt non-private things beyond their talents is that there are other people in the world besides them. Whether you fail out or not is an actual issue. It matters. If you fail you ruin other people's dreams. You ruin the dreams of the fans of Wicked. You ruin the dreams of fans of the movie musical genre itself, which is always under attack by lazy thinking, deep ignorance of its functionality and which needs a real Hollywood hero to champion it, not an egotist who'll just move on to the next thing once he fails (but not in his own mind!). Musicals, and this is true of all specialty genres, DESERVE artists who understand and respect their peculiarities and who can bring new inspiration. There's nothing in Brett Rattner's filmography -- at least that I've seen though perhaps his short segment in New York I Love You was amazing? -- that suggest he could handle the extremely complicated task of serving up Wicked's joyful grandiosity with a light touch (a line even the over-produced Broadway show trips on occasionally). How could Rattner, who has only directed very standard forgettable movies imbue it with colorful stylized beauty, and make it soar with girlish melodrama and sweetly corny comedy? 

What has he done to deserve this?

One would assume that if Brett Rattner does make it -- you can never trust these things until movies are actually filming and Movie|Line is right that his future projects list is ever-changing -- that he will be given the job because he could a) talk himself into it and b) his films have generally done well at the box office. But Wicked the musical on stage has already grossed more than all but a few dozen movies in the history of the cinema; it's its own bankability. The producers could completely change the fate of future musicals here by taking a risk (which would pay off) on a director with big vision, a unique skill set and, above all, musical comedy aptitude. Rattner's imagination is too earth-bound to defy gravity. His films don't dance. He even made a parade of bizarrely powered mutants feel as mundane as an everyday crowd queueing up for a sports event.

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Reader Comments (26)

So is he already acknowledging that 'Tower Heist' is a failure, awesome.

This news, not so much.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnaZed

I think I remember hearing that he was supposed to direct a film version of Spring Awakening. He seems better fit for Wicked, although that's definitely not saying very much. They should just hand this project over to Bill Condon or Baz Luhrman (I can dream...) or even Adam Shankman. I'd say Rob Marshall but I think Nine and Pirates #18129471 speak for themselves...

I can't wait for the Wicked "Cast it" though... even though they'll go the obvious route and cast Lea Michele anyway.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Baz Luhrman, now that would be the stuff that dreams are made of.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnaZed

Sometimes I watch the "Diamond Dogs"-sequence of Moulin Rouge on YouTube and just swoon...

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Wicked could truly be amazing, they BETTER make smart choices.

I agree that the bankability thing makes no sense at all...Wicked needs a good director and cast. It making money is no question.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

I haven't watched Wicked (I only know a few songs) but I love it when you're angry!

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Whoever believes Wicked is bankable because it has already made a lot of movie is...delusional. And here's why:

According to yesterday's Variety, Wicked has grossed 589,210,127 on Broadway since it opened on October 30, 2003. That's a lot of money. BUT the average ticket for the show is $117.53. That means approximately 5 million people have seen the musical on Broadway.

Let's say with tours, international grosses and BW around 12 million have seen the show. Well, based on average movie theater prices now ($8, according to Box Office Mojo) that means if everyone who saw the musical on stage would see it in theaters, then the film would make around 96 million worldwide.

But let's be reasonable. Millions haven't been able to see the show because it's not playing near them, it's to expensive, etc.. So it wouldn't make only 96 million, but I hope you get my point that Wicked is not entirely bankable on its own.

And I'm not fighting for Ratner to get the job (I can't forgive him for X-Men 3) but rather all I am saying is that yes, they need either a big named director and/or star to make money.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

I have never been a huge fan of Wicked (I have seen it twice, once on Broadway and once on tour), but it really does have potential to be a big, splashy, magical movie experience. The fact that Brett Ratner is directing is a big downer, considering that I pretty much despise his filmography...and I agree with Matthew, Lea Michele will obviously be a front runner for Elphaba, and if she is cast, that will be the nail in the coffin for me. She obviously has talent, but I don't think it translates well to the screen at all. She emotes too much; there's not an ounce of subtlety in her...it's fine for the stage, but not for the screen.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

You brought this on yourself by continuing to bash Burton. Not that I have a dog in this fight--considering that Chicago is still the best modern musical. Yes Rob Marshall hasn't done anything decent since--why? I hate one hit wonders--especially the movie ones.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfull

Aww, this is really bad news. I just saw Tower Heist and walked away reminded of how Ratner just pulls the humanity out of stories. He just moves pieces around on a board.

Quick note to Matthew: You know, Baz Luhrman, Bill Condon, Rob Marshall and Adam Shankman aren't the only guys in the biz who are able to direct musicals. Can we think a little outside the box here? Shankman isn't any good at it anyway. And I don't think Lea is the obvious choice -- she's the only choice. The voice of a generation. It'd be dumb to go with someone else. Almost as dumb as...well, see above.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

This version needs to be made: http://www.theateradvisorblog.com/if-wicked-the-musical-were-an-animated-film/

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrubi-kun

Baz Luhrmann directing a movie version of Wicked would be pretty much the only way to guarantee I would see it. I've heard the soundtrack and read the script of the show and I cannot believe how poorly they bastardized that wonderful, wonderful book.

But, yeah, I would not wish Brett Ratner on ANY movie, much less an adaptation of a musical.

And Lea Michele is wrong for Elphaba. She may have the voice for it, but she's too... diminutive. If Evan Rachel Wood was as good as they say in her audition for Les Miserables, then she should do it.

But really, that animated version is the one that should be made.

October 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Mike -- wicked as a franchise with the tours, broadway, merchandise everything has already grossed over a billion dollars. It WILL be a hit as a movie -- i would be surprised if it didn't open to $40 if they went wide. But it will be a much bigger hit if it's any good. of course the time is kind of passing on it. It still packs them in but we've seen what happens when hollywood waits too long on adapting something Phantom was already kind of tired by the time Shumacher got around to it.

i guess the thing i don't get about hollywood and directors they deem bankable is they always make assumptions that seem just really idiotic. X-Men The Last Stand was not a huge hit because Rattner directed it. It's because he took over a franchise that was still growing that people were loving more and more... and then he sucked the life out of it.

Red Dragon same thing on a smaller scale arguably... except the loving more and more part ;)

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

He shattered my dreams with the Last Stand embarrassment.

Especially the way he crippled the Dark Phoenix :(

Blanchett should be cast in that role, with Aronofsky in the director's seat.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Wait...this isn't true, is it? He just said he wanted to?

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

In response to Kurtis, I'm not saying that those four are the only qualified directors for the job but they are directors who have proven they can at least handle the job, save for Marshall, who would probably set "Defying Gravity" in Elphaba's mind or on an unattractive soundstage, since I think that's as far-reaching as his ideas are. As for Shankman, he's an obviously (extremely) limited director, but Hairspray was really enjoyable and he definitely deserves credit for that. As for thinking "out of the box," although it would never happen, Todd Haynes could be wonderful.

And I'm sorry but yes, Lea Michele has an amazing voice but I hope they'd be smarter than to just cast a voice. She can be aggravatingly unwatchable on Glee and I really don't think that's just her character. I don't think she could even handle Funny Girl, which I'm so glad didn't pan out. She's certainly no Barbra. She's not even an Idina, even if she can probably out-sing her. The voice of a generation? She's probably not even "the voice" of Glee…

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

"The voice of a generation? She's probably not even "the voice" of Glee…"
I agree, that was quite a big statement, lol.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Not the voice of a generation, but she's definitely the voice of Glee. Looking at how many solos she gets over everyone else is pretty staggering, plus she's like the main character. I do think she could sing the shit out of Elphaba, but I would prefer they did like open auditions and only picked her if she could act the part well as well

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Two things. Firstly, "Wicked" is surely heading into the dangerous "Phantom of the Opera" stage of its existence where a movie would make sense, but excite few.

Secondly, as much of a dud director as Brett Ratner is, he *is* the only director to have given Gabby Sidibe a major role in a film post Precious. And he cast Tea Leoni, too. Where did she come back from?

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Nat, I loveeeee your passionate rants concerning movie musicals, because outside this blog no one seems to care about them anymore. You are the voice of many. Thanks.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeisgrados

I don't see many directors being able to direct musicals nowadays. Marshall, Shankman and Strohman all made awful movies. Bill Condon was fine, but Dreamgirls was bad, too. Chris Columbus? Please, no. And Baz Luhrmann can't direct all musicals - he is not even interested in it.

Do you know who I would cast for a big musical? Scorsese and Coppola. I love New York New York, it's fantastic, and Scorsese really understands the dynamics of a musical. Coppola, because I always wanted his Dracula to be a musical, because he directed it like it was. Only the sings are missing for it to be a musical. And Milos Forman, too!

And why not to hire a foreign director? I'd like to see Christophe Honore take on Americal musical.

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Watch Bring it On and Down With Love back to back and tell me that Peyton Reed couldn't pull off a movie musical. I wish his career hadn't taken a nosedive into unchallenging mainstream waters.and then he vanished. no movies since the disappointing "yes, man" (his worst) in 2008?

what the hell?

I think people would love him by now if they had given him Fantastic Four back in the day. He had strong (albeit stylized) ideas for it, the movie would not have been the shite it was and he would have had a huge career and things would have been so different.

CAL -- agreed on Scorsese and Coppola

SEISGRADOS - thank you. I feel like i have to speak out since no one does.

KURT -- i'm with you on Lea Michele. She seems to attract more than her share of haters (far more) but that voice is just unreal. Frankly, I could listen to her sing every song on Glee... not just most of them ;)

October 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

TBH I find this kind of hilarious since I've never been a fan of Wicked at all. But Brett Ratner? LOL even that bloated generic green mess doesn't deserve him.

Matthew -- That Todd Haynes suggestion is BRILLIANT.

But, really, unless major directors start show interests in directing major Broadway musicals (and it seems like the average director is scared shitless of diving into ANY musicals) we're not gonna have many more options beyond Baz, Rob Marshall, Condon or Shankman. I mean, can you imagine a proven credible directorial talent like Ridley Scott or Steven Soderbergh wanting to do this? They're just not interested.

Nate, I love your championing of Peyton Reed. He seems like a natural choice, honestly. Too bad he probably will never get a big moment again when he could drive something like this. :(

October 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

While I do love Lea Michele, I think the fact that she already sung both Defying Gravity and For Good on Glee should disqualify her from getting this role. Not because she wouldn't be good, but because we've already heard her sing those songs and therefore the joy of hearing her sing them for the first time will be lost (and, she wouldn't have Chris Colfer to duet with, I've always loved it the best when they sing together).

As for Brett Rattner, I also don't like this, but I've always been someone who likes to keep an open mind, because you never know. Adam Shankman surprised me with Hairspray (I'd never been a huge fan of his work before), and I'm looking forward to seeing what Tom Hooper does with Les Misérables (I'm sure nothing about him screams "musical", which is why I'm really curious about that one and I like everything I hear). Thenagain, the wrong director can always ruin a movie musical.

Is Alan Parker still alive and directing? I'm asking because he's no stranger to musicals. He did the original Fame and he did Evita. Maybe not the best credentials to take on Wicked, but you never know.

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Full disclosure: I've not read the book, seen the musical, listened to the soundtrack, etc -but do know Wicked is something of a phenomenon; I've even seen some fanfiction for it (some of it by very good writers, btw. And some not so good.)

Rubi-kun: thank you for that link to Heidi Jo Gilbert's animated version. That was the first I've heard of any of the original cast album, or indeed any of the songs (the climax of the song gave me chills, no wonder it was so popular); and Gilbert's vision, even as storyboards, matched the music so wonderfully. It did, indeed, swoop and soar as the song itself does. I can now envision it as an animated piece far more easily than I can as live action.

Nat: Good call on Peyton Reed, I hadn't even thought of him, and that in and of itself makes me sad. I haven't seen "Bring it On" but "Down with Love" is one of the few DVD's that I actually own in my small collection of titles (and bought with my own money, instead of receiving as a gift.) I'm extremely fond of that movie, it's affection for the past, deftly skewering conventions of past films without running a bayonet (or a cannon blast) through them, lightness of touch, reining in Ewan's charm (which can seem narcissistic in the wrong hands: see Big Fish), and the perfection of David Hyde Pierce, etc. What the hell did happen to his career? (And why didn't DHP get more movie roles, come to think of it?)

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice
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