Author Topic: Across the Universe  (Read 11804 times)

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hedwig

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Across the Universe
« on: January 02, 2007, 08:40:04 PM »
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Across the Universe is the upcoming live-action/animation/puppetry hybrid musical romance from director Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus).  starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Martin Luther, and Joe Anderson.

originally mentioned in the Women Directors thread two years ago

All You Need Is 'Frida' Director for Beatle Pic

Two-time Tony Award winner Julie Taymor has come on board to direct the musical romance "All You Need Is Love," which will feature 18 songs by the Beatles.

The love story about a British boy and an American girl is set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the 1960s. Although not about the Fab Four, the musical will use their songs to drive the narrative, with the actors singing and dancing to the classic tunes.

Production is expected to begin in September for a Thanksgiving 2006 release.

The film, written by veteran British scribes Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais ("The Commitments"), is being produced by Sony-based Revolution Studios.

Taymor, who won two Tonys for the Broadway production of "The Lion King" also directed the films "Frida," starring Salma Hayek, and "Titus," starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.

Plot Summary: A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. A young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father. He winds up in Greenwich Village, where he falls in love with an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs. Together they experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60s.

some pics:







and finally, an article about the "urban transformations" that took place in Lower East Side during the shooting of the movie.


polkablues

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2007, 08:45:44 PM »
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Finally, a film that satisfies my passion for both Evan Rachel Wood and giant puppets.  Mostly Evan Rachel Wood.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Pubrick

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2007, 05:47:22 AM »
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still one of the best of the decade (so far).
under the paving stones.

modage

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2007, 08:30:38 AM »
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i'll see it because those pictures look cool and that Lower East Side stuff was filmed about 2 blocks from my apartment.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

MacGuffin

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2007, 11:17:02 PM »
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Trailer here.

Release Date: September 28th, 2007 (wide)
 
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Martin Luther, Eddie Izzard, T.V. Carpio 

Directed by: Julie Taymor (Frida; Titus)

Premise: A romantic musical told mainly through numerous Beatles songs performed by the characters. A young man from Liverpool comes to America during the Vietnam War to find his father. He winds up in Greenwich Village, where he falls in love with an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs. Together they experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60's.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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matt35mm

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2007, 12:06:02 AM »
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Goddamned hippies.

SiliasRuby

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2007, 09:32:28 AM »
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This is possibly going to be my most antipatiated movie of 2007.... Man this is a dream come true.
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Ghostboy

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2007, 10:09:55 AM »
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Hmmm......up until the last thirty seconds or so, when it got all Taymor-tastic, I was cringing.

mogwai

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2007, 11:08:21 AM »
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i felt it was something i'd seen before, judging by the trailer. if you change the music from beatles to galt macdermot you'd have a remake of "hair". but as ghostby mentioned, the last 30 seconds was pretty good.

MacGuffin

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2007, 12:07:42 PM »
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i felt it was something i'd seen before, judging by the trailer.

“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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mogwai

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2007, 02:30:54 PM »
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my mistake, i was referring to "hair".

MacGuffin

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2007, 09:33:08 PM »
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Film Has Two Versions; Only One Is Julie Taymor’s
By SHARON WAXMAN; New York Times

LOS ANGELES, March 19 — In Hollywood creative differences among moviemakers often make for more interesting results on the screen. But rarely do those battles escalate so much that a studio takes a movie away from an award-winning director.

Such is the case — for the moment — with “Across the Universe,” a $45-million psychedelic love story set to the music of the Beatles, directed by Julie Taymor, the stage and screen talent whose innovative interpretation of the Disney animated film “The Lion King” is one of the most successful modern stage musicals.

After Ms. Taymor delivered the movie to Joe Roth, the film executive whose production company, Revolution Studios, based at Sony, is making the Beatles musical, he created his own version without her agreement. And last week Mr. Roth tested his cut of the film, which is about a half-hour shorter than Ms. Taymor’s 2-hour-8-minute version.

Mr. Roth’s moves have left Ms. Taymor feeling helpless and considering taking her name off the movie, according to an individual close to the movie who would not be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. Disavowing a film is the most radical step available to a director like Ms. Taymor, who does not have final cut, one that could embarrass the studio and hurt the movie’s chances for a successful release in September.

Ms. Taymor declined to be interviewed, but issued a carefully worded statement: “My creative team and I are extremely happy about our cut and the response to it,” she wrote. “Sometimes at this stage of the Hollywood process differences of opinion arise, but in order to protect the film, I am not getting into details at this time.”

Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his ’60’s-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Freedomland.”

He said that Ms. Taymor was overreacting to a normal Hollywood process of testing different versions of a movie, something he has done many times before, including with Michael Mann’s “Last of the Mohicans.” He called his version of “Across the Universe” “an experiment.”

“She’s a brilliant director,” he said. “She’s made a brilliant movie. This process is not anything out of the ordinary. Her reaction through her representatives might be. But her orientation is stage. It’s different if you’re making a $12-million film, or a $45-million film. No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie.”

And he warned that the conflict could hurt the movie. “If you work off her hysteria, that will do the film an injustice,” he said. “Nobody wants to do that. She’s worked long and hard, and made a wonderful movie.”

A spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to comment, saying the project was developed by Revolution.

“Across the Universe” stars Evan Rachel Wood as Lucy, an American teenager, and Jim Sturgess as Jude, a British import, who fall in love during the turbulent 1960s. The movie, set to 35 Beatles songs, seems to spring from Ms. Taymor’s experimental sandbox, combining live action with painted and three-dimensional animation and puppets, and featuring cameos by Eddie Izzard, dressed as a freakish Mr. Kite; Bono, singing “I Am the Walrus”; and Joe Cocker, singing “Come Together.”

Ms. Taymor has been editing the film for the better part of the last year, after completing the shoot in 2005. An initial release date of September 2006 was pushed off.

Mr. Roth said he had been working with Ms. Taymor on and off during nine months of editing, and that the problem was merely one of length.

Under pressure from Mr. Roth and after test screenings, Ms. Taymor trimmed the film from an initial 2 hours 20 minutes. She told associates she considered the film finished.

Fights between visionary filmmakers and studios are nothing new. Orson Welles spent most of his career fighting with studios that took away his movies, editing options and even limited his film stock. And those fights commonly focus on the running times of movies, which, as critics have noted, seem to grow inexorably longer.

But it is rare for an executive to step in and cut the movie himself. Ms. Taymor was still making her own final edits to the film when she learned several weeks ago that Mr. Roth had edited another, shorter version. That version was tested last week in Arizona, to a younger audience than the more mixed test group than saw Ms. Taymor’s cut in Los Angeles on March 8, according to an individual close to the film.

Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie “Gigli,” said that the various versions were testing well, but that he had a responsibility to find the most successful incarnation. “It’s ‘show’ and it’s ‘business,’ ” he said.

Ms. Taymor has been showered with numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1991. The stage version of “The Lion King,” which currently has nine productions worldwide, is notable for Ms. Taymor’s unusual staging and the use of mechanical masks that make the actors seem like real animals. (Mr. Roth, who ran Disney at the time, admitted to having been skeptical about the masks but later told Ms. Taymor he’d been wrong.)

Ms. Taymor has had more mixed results in Hollywood. Her bloody Shakespeare adaptation, “Titus,” bombed at the box office, taking in just $1.9 million. “Frida,” in 2002, about the artist Frida Kahlo, was successful, winning two Oscars and a moderate financial windfall.

Mr. Roth said he believed that the current tensions would be worked out, and that Ms. Taymor would find the best, final version of the film somewhere between his own and her last cut.

But those in Ms. Taymor’s camp were more skeptical, saying the director was not inclined to make any more changes. Ms. Taymor herself struck a more conciliatory note in her statement: “I only hope that we will be able to complete the film we set out to make.”
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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polkablues

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2007, 10:37:04 PM »
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Mr. Roth, a former Disney studio chief who proclaimed his ’60’s-influenced, artist-friendly ethos in 2000 by naming his new company Revolution Studios, is himself a director, of films like “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Freedomland.”

I can only imagine this sentence was intended to embarass the hell out of Joe Roth.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

matt35mm

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2007, 12:56:15 AM »
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Mr. Roth, who vowed never again to allow a director final cut after the disastrous 2003 Martin Brest movie “Gigli,”

I'm sorry, what?  That's the lesson he learned from Gigli?

MacGuffin

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Re: Across the Universe
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2007, 03:34:49 PM »
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Why Did He Hire Her In The 1st Place?
Details On Taymor vs Roth Not In NYT
Source: Nikki Finke; DeadlineHollywood

What a mess surrounding Revolution Studios' Across the Universe thanks to the idiocy of hiring director Julie Taymor, who may be lauded as a visual iconoclast in the pages of The New York Times but also derided as a cinematic loon based on what Hollywood sources tell me. So now this musical romance pic has dissipated into two warring versions, and its scheduled September playdate hangs in limbo. Meanwhile, distributor Sony Pictures is tiptoeing around the issue of not releasing the pic, especially with a full frills marketing campaign, unless Taymor compromises; the studio is supposed to distribute all of Revolution's film product under Joe Roth's about-to-end deal there. In a perfect world, Sony would love to get behind Across The Universe because it's synergistic. Told mainly through numerous Beatles tunes performed by the characters, it takes advantage of that Sony/ATV music publishing catalog owned with Michael Jackson that boasts some 250 Fab Four songs. Of course, Roth has only himself to blame for his fight with Taymor. This is just the latest of the many missteps he's made at Revolution whose films have mostly bombed at the box office despite expensive Sony marketing campaigns. He is, after all, the one who hired Taymor in the first place even knowing her notorious Hollywood reputation for directorial pretension and indulgence, which is exactly how people describe her impossibly artsy-fartsy cut of this pic which audiences dislike. When Taymor wouldn't listen to reason, Roth (himself a pretty lame film director) went in with an editor to cut his own version which is not just shorter but more commercial. So I can't understand why Taymor isn't kicked to the curb since she doesn't have final cut. And I'm perplexed why The New York Times took Taymor's side in this squabble and ignored the terrible truths people have told me about what a disaster she was on this project. Today's article compares Taymor to Orson Welles. Ridiculous. The article fails to mention Sony's Beatles biz synergy. Good grief. And there's not a word about Taymor's history of awful fights over length and content as the director on Titus (with producers and the MPAA over a possible NC-17 adults-only rating for too much sex and violence and gore, and with Anthony Hopkins who threatened to walk) and on Frida (with Harvey Weinstein, culminating in a loud expletive-filled fight in the lobby of NYC's Sony Lincoln Square as shocked preview-goers filed past.) The NYT must have let its Nexis research account expire. Also, the paper of record implies that Across The Universe has been "taken away" from the director. Not yet. Now the details.

So why did Roth hire Taymor in the first place? Obviously, they knew each other during The Lion King stage production when Roth was head of Walt Disney Studios, and Taymor had a rep in the New York theater for creating eccentric but visually stunning productions of often hard-to-stage material. But it was really Tom Schumacher and even Michael Eisner at Disney who worked closest with her to bring Lion King to Broadway. (Sources note that Disney hasn't done a major project with the Tony award-winning director since. There was talk of bringing Pinocchio to Broadway under her helm. Then she started calling herself "the Steven Spielberg of the theater" and Schumacher began calling her "a loon.") Insiders tell me that Roth put Taymor on his Revolution's Across The Universe "because he had a relationship with her and thought she had a vision for it." I say neither is a good enough reason to overlook the fact that she gave new meaning to the Hollywood definition of a "difficult" director on both Titus and Frida. "It takes a lot to make Harvey sympathetic," one source close to Roth's production quipped to me.

I'm told everyone began the movie with Taymor expecting trouble. And there was. By some accounts, the film was even flawed from the very start. "She went into production on the movie without a good script. Instead, she went into production on just a great idea." As one insider described the process: "You try to help her, but it's only ever a one-way street. She has a narcissistic disorder."

But her behavior reportedly grew worse after she delivered a cut of the film last October at 2 hours, 32 minutes,and started receiving criticism about the film. Without giving details, Roth himself made reference to Taymor's "hysteria" to the NYT. "I gave her a note to cut two supporting characters, one white and one black," a source told me. "And she starts screaming, 'I'm not cutting all the black people.'"

Unlike the NYT portrayal, I've been assured that problems with Taymor's version went way beyond length to the point where the pic simply doesn't work. "It is visually a really interesting and arresting movie," says one insider, "but as usual with her it veers off into the absurd." Says another source: "Her cut is indulgent and pretentious." Explains an insider: "The visuals get in the way of the narrative, which makes no sense. And the pacing is all wrong. They have a scene with Bono that's psychedelic, and goes on and on, and has to be cut down." Still another source chides: "By the time the dancing puppet heads come out, you're just like no, no, NO."

Despite all this, Taymor again and again expressed unrealistic notions about Across The Universe's box office prospects. "Here she'd made the world's most expensive art film. Yet she kept claiming it was 'the next Titanic,' a movie that did $1.8 billion worldwide," a source told me. (While Revolution puts the movie's budget at $45 million, NYC money guys tell me the original budget was $77 mil and has ballooned from there.) Another insider says: "She told Sony her movie was going to be 'so much bigger than Bond. We have the Beatles.' A Sony exec replied, 'It's not like you have the Beatles performing. You have Beatles cover songs.'"

Sometimes agents can broker peace in wars like this. But Taymor's agency CAA "kept lying to everyone concerned. To her, they said they'd take her side against everyone. To the producers, they said they'd take their side against the client."

The movie's first preview in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was disastrous despite the Taymor-friendly arty crowd. "Everybody's notes were the same; the movie's too long," an insider explained. So then Taymor delivered a cut that was 2 hours, 15 minutes. "Still the previews said it was too long. But she was now refusing to take any more out of it," a source told me. "Everyone was very frustrated by the fact that five months had gone by and she didn't listen and she didn't care." Said another insider: "We were dealing with a woman who has absolutely no sense of commercial potential. At one point, Amy Pascal took her to dinner and diplomatically told her 'how good it could be' if only she'd cut the movie. But Julie still refused. Indeed, that's the refrain of everyone: there's a great movie in there, somewhere. But, as it stands now, it's so complicated it's just a bad movie."

So finally a frustrated Roth handed the movie to an editor and cut it to 1 hour, 45 minutes. That version was shown in Phoenix, Arizona, last week to an audience packed with young girls who are perceived by the conventional wisdom as the primary audience for romantic musicals of this ilk. Sources told me the pic suddenly scored 86% in the top two boxes. Taymor "immediately has a meltdown," I'm told by insiders. Roth offered to preview both cuts of the movie side by side to another audience, but Taymor refuses.

Now insiders tell me that "Sony has made it clear that if something isn't done to the movie, then it wouldn't support it." So the question is: who's going to blink first? Sources say the problem here is that no one wants to be the bad guy even though Taymor doesn't have final cut. "Both Amy and Joe are running away from a confrontation with Julie because they'd rather be popular than take a hard line." All this brouhaha has further soured Sony Pictures' relations with Roth: they've gone from good, to bad, to worse, to awful because of all the major marketing moolah the studio considers wasted on Revolution's mostly piss-poor product. There are audible sighs of relief at Sony that Across The Universe is one of Roth's final projects under that too-autonomous arrangement. "In the old days, Joe would have said to Sony, 'You need to release this.' And Amy Pascal would have humored him. But now Amy barely tolerates him." After all, it was Sony czar Sir Howard Stringer who deserves blame for bringing in Roth in the first place. And for reasons that defy logic, Roth will have a face-saving new deal with Sony, albeit a very small one.

As for Taymor, one insider told me, "I can't imagine anyone giving her another shot. Nobody would make a movie with her after this." Well, that's what people said about Michael Cimino who brought down United Artists. And still Hollywood hired him to direct pics even after that.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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