Earlier this year, (February 4th, 2014 to be exact) director Gore Verbinksi landed a three film deal with New Regency. The first film to come out of that deal was a film based on the a comic book from writer/artist/animator Guy Delisle called Pyongyang.
The comic was about his experiences living in North Korea for two months as he over saw the production of a North Korea cartoon. It’s a great book, and Guy Delisle’s art and humor really shines through as he gives us an honest look at his time there.
As much as I loved the book, I never saw it as a film so I was really surprised to find out that a filmmaker like Gore Verbinski was planning on making it into a movie.
It got me excited. While Verbinski has an incredible and imaginative eye as a visual director, he does have a strange sense of humor in his films (re-look at the first Pirates of the Caribbean again or better yet, see his beautifully bizarre animated film Rango) Using the material from Pyongyang, I could see a really interesting (and small) film can be made from the book.
There’s plenty of Guy Delise’s dark humor to use in there, but the books subtle drama really could be a fantastic thing to explore in a film version.
Soon, Steve Carell was cast as Guy Delisle in the film, and his casting seems like a great fit. It’s the kind of role that Carell can excel in. It’s a story all about the reactions of the main character, and Carell is just good at milking comedic reactions to it’s fullest effect.
It’s the kind of quirky, unique film that I think both Gore Verbinski and Steve Carell wants to make right now, and with that want it might have been a nice little movie.
…but as of right now, we won’t know if the film is getting made at all.
Today has been a crazy and history making event in Hollywood. Encase you haven’t heard, a few weeks ago, Sony Pictures was hacked by a cyber terrorist group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace”. They shut down the whole company for a few days, leaked movies and released hundreds of personal information and emails.
The internet has had some fun with the leaked information (finding out about the talks between Marvel and Sony concerning Spider-Man, a 21 Jump Street and Men in Black crossover etc.) but things became serious when the Guardians of Peace threaten mass harm to all theaters and theater goers if the Seth Rogen and James Franco movie, The Interview (an action/comedy about killing Kim Jong Un) was released.
It was crazy to see how, in what feels like one hour, everyone started to buckle down.
First, we saw movie theater chains Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment all agree to not show the film. This eventually forced Sony to cancel the films Christmas release all together.
Between finding out about the theater chains and Sony’s decision to pull the plug, New Regency let the word out that they have shut down production on the Pyongyang.
Gore Verbinski talked to Deadline and had this to say about the shut down….
“Getting the facts straight:
Yesterday, I was told by New Regency and Fox that Fox will no longer be distributing the film. Prior to that, the film was green lit and fully funded by New Regency with Fox distributing. I have been told in no uncertain words that based on the situation at Sony, Fox has now decided to not distribute the film. Without a distributor, New Regency was forced to shut the film down.
I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear.
Right now, internet terrorism in a new kind of threat, that understandably, no one knows how to handle. Fear is the easiest emotion to succumb to, and people are reacting the best way they can. I get that.
What worries me is being afraid of putting out art. Granted, I have not read the screenplay for film version of Pyongyang, so I have on idea of the changes or the intent that Verbinski has done with the source material. (Is the film a thriller now? That’s what one of the headlines on Deadline called the film, but I feel that might have been a mistake on their end.) But the book that the film was based on was a lovely read, full of smart humor and fantastic art work. And as for Guy Delisle’s portrayal of North Korea? I think he did a truthful and none judgmental look at the country. It certainly wasn’t portrayed in a way that mocks North Korea.
I can only hope that this isn’t the start of a terrible series of events. I hope we don’t see more films with strong potential but a daring look at the world get canned (or worse, never even be given a shot to be a film).
I can’t guarantee if Verbinski and Carell would have made a great film, the sad part for me is us never finding out.